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The 7 types of friends every Mum needs December 21 2016 2 Comments

I am so weird, I have so many ideas for Blog posts to write all year round and barely the time to dedicate to writing them properly. This means they are either slap dash or not done at all. Then, four days before Xmas when our entire home has been transformed into a cubby house, my washing pile isn’t a pile, it’s basically a room and I am still only half way through my Christmas shopping…. I  get inspired to complete one of the pieces I started a while ago. Of course, it is about my Mum friends. Again, reflecting on 2016 and ALL that it was, I am grateful and exhausted. As PINK reminded me: 

All the women
in me
are tired.

The School Mum, the Kinder Mum, the Class Rep Mum, the Twincredible Mum, the Flat Out Mum. The sister, daughter, partner, confidant, drinking partner, coffee date and the pilates pal. She is tired. The cook, cleaner, uber driver, gardener and washer woman are tired. Especially the washer woman, she is very tired. We all are. 

That’s why there is an unwritten rule that you just don’t expect much from people after Christmas for at least a few weeks. We are not only allowed to pause, but encouraged. It’s time to slack off, slow down and shut up shop. We need it, we deserve it and it would be unAustralian not too. Just like in some of the best parts of the world where siesta’s are the accepted norm and the afternoons are for eating and sleeping. Bliss. I think I am secretly Spanish (ooh Sangria), or Mexican (yum taco’s). We could learn a lot from those cultures. 

So, how do we all do it? 

The tribe, the village, the girl gang. Whatever you call it, we all need one and I have detailed the seven Mum friends in particular I am lucky to have and that I think we all need. They range from the Fashionista to the medical practitioner, but they all have one thing in common. They are an expert in something and they will save you in your most vulnerable moment. 

Starting with the Fashionista friend. You know the moment when you can no longer do up the zip on that little black dress you relied on before your boobs expanded and then shrunk and then broadened somehow? That LBD you thought you could just throw on and now it has let you down on the afternoon of an important event. The type of event that you’ll willingly pay a babysitter to attend and hopefully not suffer an almighty hangover from? That girlfriend you call who owns a wardrobe full of suitable outfits. You can call and she will deliver. Snap.

That brings me to the pseudo emergency that arises when you urgently need to make yourself look presentable at short notice (or when you are the ONLY person in town to forget to book a hair appointment before the Melbourne Cup). Your talented friend who can blow dry like a Pro or whose endless hours watching You Tube clips enables her to apply makeup to dark circles that make even a 40 something Mother of four look fresh. Oh yes, when she arrives with champagne too, you know she’s a keeper.

Now back to that almighty hangover. The medical practitioner, who can tell you honestly if in fact you might have some rare type of food poisoning or no, its just the 28 glasses of champagne you guzzled before you were dragged home at midnight. Or like the time when one of my boys accidentally flung the trampoline pole into my face resulting in a large gash across my eyebrow. My trusty friend Rebecca gets a lot of strange medical questions from me, none less memorable than the evening I called her and she taught me how to butterfly clip my own bleeding brow back together over Facetime. She understood the threat of possibly spending the rest of my life with eye brows to rival Kriss Kross and neither of us were in a position to leave the house to fix it properly. My brows could do with some more attention but there is not a scar in sight. Boom. 

Speaking of medical advice, we also need a wiser “been there, done that” Mum friend in our life. She is probably older, she probably has more kids than you and she is probably calm in a crisis. She has seen it all before and nothing seems to phase her. All of her kids have “turned out all right”  as we say and she can tell you if this particular biting / cross dressing / grunting stage is “normal”. She will not only reassure you that this particular WTF phase is not only common, but recount the time that one of her tribe went through it in a way far worse / offensive / prolonged than you could ever imagine. Phew, I’m good. 

Like the wise friend, it helps to have the “twinning” friend. For me, that was quite literally other Mums of Twins who I could say “WTF no-one understands like you do” at any time of day or night via all forms of social media.

You might be lucky enough to meet her at Mothers Group, or likely at school. It helps if your kids are a similar age and possibly gender, as you can roll your eyes together and really understand what they’re talking about (before they move on to the next stage and the previous one becomes a blur). If your kids are at the same school / have the same friends or hobbies, then you can really step the friendship up a notch with your combined logistics skills and Uber driver credentials. The busy weekends of sport / parties / play dates are much easier with a small team of likeminded Mums you can text at the last minute to share the load. Specifically the car load :)

The next type of friend every Mum needs is the Master Chef. That friend who just looks into a seemingly empty pantry and can whip up a glorious dish. This friend may be your own Mum, but whoever she is, you need her on speed dial. When it’s 9pm and you remember it’s the school cake stall in the morning. What basic ingredients do you really need to make some half presentable pikelets?  Or when you receive the afternoon phone call from your Partner that instead of meeting at a restaurant, those important people are “just going to come to our house for dinner…it’s much more relaxing”. Hold crap, more relaxing? I couldn’t think of anything worse than speed cleaning the house (that means shoving all the mess out of sight and randomly vacuuming the most visible places) and whipping up an edible meal in between school pick-up, basketball and getting four ratty boys fed, bathed and into bed without protest. That MasterChef friend will hopefully calm you down with some “easy” recommendations or offer to drop off the Peking Duck she was casually preparing for her own family. If she is anything like my amazing friend Jodie, she will also drop the boys home from basketball and quickly sweep the front entrance before she disappears into the night like the superhero that she is.

Last but definitely not least is that 3am person. If you have more than one that is not related to you, you’re lucky. That person who would actually answer the phone not expecting you to be drunk, but knowing that you need them. The BFF type of Mum knowing that you want to escape, leave your husband or something tragic has happened. We hope to never have to make this call but knowing that we can is very important. 

There are many more types of Mum friends - the interior designer extraordinaire, the Mrs Fix it handy woman, the knowledgeable lawyer and the all important 'Mum you can drop your kids to for a last minute sleepover when the babysitter cancels' soul mate type of Mum. The point is, it takes a Village to raise a child and a small army to raise many of them. 

2017 has been fun. Exhausting but fun. 
And all the women in me are tired.
Find your tribe and love them hard.

Olivia x

 


I'm a hot mess Mum & proud of it May 10 2016 1 Comment

If you’re a regular reader you may have noticed that I haven’t written many blog posts lately. Actually I have written them, but only published a few. That’s because after four children and almost a decade of being a Mother, I don’t feel qualified. I have lot’s of topics I would happily discuss with my girlfriends and I get asked the same handful of questions all the time, so I think I know what you’d like me to write about. But I don't feel qualified to give advice. There are a lot of “Mummy Bloggers” out there giving their opinions on all sorts of things. What I know for sure is this.

After ten years, I still don’t know what I am doing. 

A lot of the “experts” don’t have it totally covered either. Wouldn’t it be lovely if there was one book we could all eagerly read that gave us all the answers. For all the types of children, in all types of families, all types of environments and facing all types of obstacles. That Baby Manual doesn’t exist for good reason. Every baby and every experience is so different. Each journey is unique and that makes it beautiful, as well as incredibly frustrating. 

The routine that worked for your first born probably goes out the window for your second. The sudden appearance of perfect teeth without even a fever, may be the case for one child, but unfortunately not another. The wide variety of organic puree’s you concocted for one child get thrown on the floor by another. It’s hit and miss. 

 I’ve said before that having identical twins is like living inside a science experiment. Nature versus nurture. As much as you admire their differences and consciously try to develop their individuality, there are some differences that are not celebrated. You just want the picky eater to be like his brother who shoves everything into his mouth with a grateful smile. But that same guy doesn’t sleep all night, nor did he toilet train himself. Yes I got lucky there. (Lucky I reinforce, as I did not follow a step by step guide).

Every day I wing it and every day I face a new challenge. Just when I think “I’ve heard it all before”, my boys invent a new excuse for not finishing their lunchbox or stop me in my tracks with a curly question from left field. Just when I think I’m on top of my housework…I find the entire contents of a chest of drawers strewn across a bedroom. Or I can’t even enter my lounge room because of the latest cubby house creation. The washing, the toilet cleaning (I wish we’d installed a urinal) and the picking up off the floor. Relentless, never ending, I’ll never conquer it. Or when I do I’ll be a lonely mess wishing my boys hadn’t grown up so fast.

I know it and every day that I use even more Pine O Cleen I try to remember that. 

Our doona’s are not alway co-ordinated but our bedroom’s are designed to have the greatest of sleepover parties. The shelves are nothing close to display cabinets but they contain the treasures of this particular phase and trophies that are now broken but still contain the same pride within. 

Our home couldn’t feature in any interiors magazine without a few week’s notice and a total makeover. It has potential, but no job is ever finished. Or when it is, a child’s artwork gets placed on top of my perfectly positioned wall decals. In the wrong colours. The rooms are rearranged and their beds are pushed together so they can sleep closer to their brother (I allow this one due to the cuteness factor). 

Our back garden resembles a junk yard with chewed tennis balls, ‘flat’ footies and half the garden bed strewn across it. It’s the “lived in” look. 

I never post my own recipe’s as I actually don’t enjoy cooking. I try really hard to give our boys fresh, real food in as wide a variety of possible. Sticking to a yellow colour palette has been testing with our second child. Mashed potato, scrambled eggs, pasta and toasted sandwiches are on high rotation. Thank goodness that banana’s, milk and cheese are also included in his current mood board. 

What gives me hope is that our eldest also went through a similar stage and now at almost ten he is a wonderful healthy eater who proactively gets himself some fruit or yoghurt as a snack, even though he can now easily unlock the “treat cupboard”. I think that just happened. Or maybe, just maybe my subtle but consistent references to how he could help his body grow “big and strong” were actually sinking in with each eye roll. 

Now to my organisation skills. I think they are finely tuned, but to an outsider watching me wipe breakfast off their face just as we enter the kindergarten gate or rush back to the car to collect the library bags, we may not appear so organised. I try to focus on the fact that the library bag WAS there somewhere, just not exactly where it was supposed to be ahead of time. 

I haven’t actually been to school drop off in my pajama’s but my outfits are rarely well thought out or worthy of a photo shoot. My hair is brushed at the traffic lights and I might scrape the last bit of lip gloss out of a tube as I grab the kids and their ensembles and arrive with only a minute to spare.

Flat shoes reign supreme :)

I am not on any school committee’s and I have been known to accidentally forget my cake stall responsibilities even though I love being a part of our school community. Nothing is hand made - cake’s, costumes or crafts. 

My kids have heard me swear and I have proudly walked away to giggle as they have dropped the F bomb in the most appropriate of circumstances. I get bored of their games quickly and have secretly had lots of children so they can play them together. I hate arts and craft’s at home, the mess and inaccuracy tests my patience more than the majority of motherhood challenges put together.  I do enjoy baking anything sweet though and I fight them to lick the bowl. 

Date nights are not scheduled, I very rarely put mushy photo’s of us on social media and I never give relationship advice. I am lucky to have someone who is made to feel special outside of the home, as inside he is just one of six. Take a number and if you get weet-bix for dinner you should appreciate that we had enough fresh milk to accompany it. Don’t get me wrong, we adore him, he is the King of the kids but he also has copped the wrath of too many sleepless nights and crazy days. He is lucky to have us and we are lucky that he too enjoys the chaotic lively home that he enters. It’s full of real love and he is a magnet for it. 

The fact is, I don’t really care what other people think of how I run our family. I don’t know how I became this way, but I never really have cared for the thoughts of the ill informed. I know that I’m doing my best and have the best intentions in each particular set of circumstances every day. I am not doing things to appear a certain way to other mother’s. Pretending I have it all together is not a priority to me. Nor is putting perfect images or recipes or advice on social media. I’m just winging it and sometimes that may appear to be working. 

Everything gets done, mostly just in the nick of time. We are a well oiled machine with several squeaky wheels. Inside our large and dirty car we do often turn the radio up loud and yell out the window at strangers to “have a great day” as we wiz past, all noise and grubby faces. After the initial jolt, those strangers seem to like it. I for one, will always remember it. 

I let my boys fall over and climb trees perhaps a little too high. They play outside where they use their minds, negotiation skills and develop their courage. They get very dirty, they stay out in the cold and swim in the pool in winter. I have band aids in every place imaginable and have learnt to live with the puddles and dirt constantly being brought back inside with them. 

We haven’t been to Disneyland, most of our clothes are not designer and we drive a Nissan. The facade of our home is dignified and beautiful, but inside it is dirty floorboards, broken toys and fingerprinted walls. The carpet is littered with dog hair and the boys bedrooms seem to have a constant smell of urine no matter how many times I wash, spray or open the windows. 

They are probably on their iPad’s too much and they have a TV in their bedroom. They will suffer the consequences of not doing their homework at school, I will never do it for them. They are taught to bear the responsibilities for their actions, whether it is time in the naughty corner and being ignored until only the sincerest of apologies comes out of their mouth. But out in the big wide world, I will be a Lioness protecting my cubs if they are double crossed. 

With me, I’m all or nothing and rarely in between. With friendships, food and exercise I’m either fantastic or hopeless. This changes daily. I try my best but often think “stuff it” and eat the chocolate or ignore the text for another day. I rarely drink alcohol but when I do I think I’m 21 with no responsibilities to wake up to. My hangover’s can last for days from only a handful of champagne’s and that’s when the wheels really fall off. The kids love it as they get McDonald’s and I fall asleep on the lounge room floor with them inside a magnificent cubby. 

I have a favourite child and lucky for them, it rotates frequently. Somehow I manage to squeeze in alone time with each of them, even if it is just a trip to the supermarket or a late night snuggle in bed. We are in the moment and it is our little bubble of love that we create each day, however fleeting. 

I invite friends over without cleaning up first and then I serve take away thai as dinner. The kids get a sausage in bread and we all live happily ever after.

I’m a hot mess mum and proud of it.
Openly and proudly imperfect. 

When I look back at this time as a blur of meals, early morning’s and whinging children, this blog will help me to remember how much fun it was. 

The only advice I feel qualified to give is this, try really hard to enjoy it.

The hilarious and irrational tantrums, the bath times that end up as rivers down the hall way and the time they threw their scrambled eggs at the wall. Inform yourself but stay open minded as to how your child will react to new things. Surround yourself with awesome people, even if there are only a couple of them. Keep your inner circle tight.

Embrace the chaos, laugh before you cry

and remind your kids every day that of all the things you do,

  it is your favourite thing to be their Mum.

  A hot mess Mum in all her glory.

Olivia x

 


Please don't say you're tired February 26 2016

I fell asleep in a bikini wax once. Yes a bikini wax.

So I know what it feels like to be tired. Beyond the normal definition of tired and more like the kind that Hollywood celebrities check themselves into hospital for. Exhaustion. If it could be measured, I was probably living for many years with the equivalent of 45 tequila shots in my system. Hazy, incoherent and with my physical and mental faculties severely impaired. Intoxicated with tiredness.

If the normal definition of tired is ‘fatigued or sleepy’, then I am looking for a new definition. If you can fall asleep while someone pours hot wax on your nether regions and then rips away at half of your genitalia, it has gone slightly beyond fatigued. So if you are so tired that just because you are horizontal you could fall instantly asleep, then you know what I’m talking about. In the dentist chair, during the extended puppy pose or yes, even during a bikini wax. 

“Mombie" is a good definition. Maybe I will start a crowd funding project for a Mombie Warehouse. It wouldn’t need to be more than comfy bed’s, darkness and silence. You could check in for a few hours, a few days. Whatever you need.

I know Mum’s are tired. It just comes with the territory. Tiredness is not a competition and I hate hearing people compare notes. Vent to your partner. Vent to your own mother, but don’t make it the general topic of discussion. It is boring and like stress, it becomes self fulfilling. The more you harp on about how tired you are and how many times you had to get up in the night and that you watch the sun rise every morning, it is just reinforcing your tiredness.

It is dragging you down. 

Last night is done and there is another one coming, so positivity is always best. 

Yes Mums of little bubs need to count their night feeds and stay on a schedule, but don’t focus on the fact that you woke at 11.52pm

 and then AGAIN at 2.13am

 

and then AGAIN at 3.55am 

and then lay awake until 5.59am when you finally fell asleep until your bub woke ready for its 6am feed. 

No point.

If the average life expectancy of an Australian woman is now 84 years, when you throw in at least two kids then you should expect to be extremely sleep deprived for perhaps ten percent of your life. For many it is more. I am only just getting a full nights sleep as I pass 10 years since my first pregnancy. So unless someone can do something to help with your tiredness, don’t mention the war.

Get your Partner to get up in the night, or let you sleep in when you can. Guilt free. Get someone to come and help in the day so you can power nap. Take an annual leave day to sleep. Yes an annual leave day. It will be worth it. Check yourself into a hotel for the night. Take up meditation or whatever makes you feel less tired. But please don’t talk about it with people who can’t actually help you out.

It is a global phenomenon and you are not alone. 

So drink coffee, red bull, whatever. 

Inhale more oxygen…eat protein…just do something. 

And until I open my Mombie Warehouse, look forward not back. 

Olivia x 

 

 

 


School returns... with all its frustrations February 04 2016

As school starts back and I finally watch our first born happily get dressed and ready for school it warms my heart. I am so proud of how far he has come. He was THAT child crying and clinging to my leg for years. YEARS. He actually has always enjoyed school once he was there and has the most awesome BFF’s you could ask for, but he would just rather be at home. Blame the big back yard full of boys toys and the Dad who is a big kid himself, but the appeal of leaving our nest was never there for our eldest. Until now. And that makes me SO happy. 

At the height of his anxiety one stressful morning, he almost pulled one of the most senior teachers over in the mud. You see, she had kindly offered to help me try to remove his grip from the car door as I wrangled the other children and bags in the rain. We both believed he would respond better to her kindness but NO, he put up a fight. He is a very determined child and I am happy about that. BUT I wasn’t looking forward to pulling both him and this amazing woman out of a muddy puddle. Luckily it didn’t come to that, but it is an image I will never forget.

Having a child like this is equally heart breaking and equally frustrating. You know how confident they can be and you know that once inside the classroom, it is the best place for them. Luckily I was pretty confident that no issues with any other children, or teachers, or learning, were the cause of his anxiety. I just wanted him to let himself enjoy it. That’s where the frustration comes in. You know they will thrive if they just let themselves. Now I have learnt, at least with us, that you need patience and time to get to that point. 

He was the same for birthday parties. He would be so excited when he received an invitation and carefully planned the present and count down the days. Until it was time to go. I have since learnt that this is very common. The fear of the unknown. Not knowing that person’s house, what exactly was going to happen at the party and if I was going to LEAVE him there. Several times we were forced to pull out at the last minute or I was the only Mum who stayed and watched from the corner. It was so frustrating for us to watch him miss out. What child doesn’t want to go to a party with their friends? Ours. And many others apparently. 

So the reason for my post is this. Every child has their “thing”. As confident as they look striding into the classroom alone, or speaking confidently in Assembly or winning another blue ribbon, every Mum is dealing with something that is frustrating about their child. Don’t be fooled by appearances and the small glimpse into their life that you may get. Don’t compare your children to theirs and don’t be hard on yourself. As I said it takes patience and time. 

Last year we tackled his first school camp. Well wasn’t that months of dread and anxious conversations, (or non conversations) avoiding the thought of his upcoming departure? All for nothing. He was awesome. Yes the build up was horrible. Heart wrenching for me as I put on a brave face boldly promising him that he would love it. Surprise surprise, the tears I saw were from the children I least expected. Once you share your own story, other Mums tell you things about their child that you may least expect. 

If you are reading this and not relating, count yourself very lucky. And your perfectly well adjusted child. Families of many kids know how different they all can be. Nature versus nature. I have learnt a lot about this having identical twins. It is not ALL YOUR FAULT! The temperament and personality they are born with, determine so much. Of course nurture is SO important, but some kids are just born that way, and as parents we need to earn how to bring out the best in that individual at that particular stage.

I read a lot of Steve Biddulph’s literature on raising boys and last year I was lucky to hear him talk in person. He was amazing and empowering and I walked away with so many thoughts racing. One thing he said that resonated with me so much and I will never forget it, is this.

You do not MAKE your child, you MEET your child.

So simple, yet so powerful. From a young age we consciously and unconsciously create an image of the type of parent we are going to be. They type of child we are going to have. A mixture of the best parts of both parents. Our expectations are high and they are not often met.

Our first born has taught us to remove our own expectations and open our minds more to meeting him. He is amazing. He is different to how we thought he was going to be, he is so much better, because he is Charlie. His quirks and frustrations and steely resolve are amazing. He has brought on the grey hairs and extra bags under my eyes and tested my patience to no end.  He isn’t what I would have predicted, he is better. 

This week as I watch him take the confidence and humour that he has always shown us at home with him to school, I couldn’t be prouder. He has opened up my eyes so much as a parent and given me confidence too. 

Whatever their “thing” is, if you learn to MEET them where they are and work with them in their way a bit more, their time will come. One day they will speak in Assembly, or eat five food groups in one day or bring home a blue ribbon and your heart will just melt.  

You do not MAKE your child, you MEET your child.

 

 

 


How do you do it? August 26 2015

This week I was asked to write a post for a great blog Flat Bum Mum, written by Bron a blogger, teacher and stylist.  She is also a mum to three adorable but equally exhausting young girls and she puts it, the "owner of a pancake butt". Check it out here.  

My blog post was in answer to the question that I often get "How do you do it?" so here is is:

When I meet new people and tell them that I have four young children and that they are all boys, they are fascinated. When people see me piled with school bags, plus a twin on each arm with one grumpy school boy refusing to get in the car and another chasing his footy down the street, they often say “I don’t know how you do it”. I am definitely not the busiest mother, nor the one with the most children or the least help in my life. I am well aware that there are many many other Mums out there facing a much tougher day than me. But I also know how much I DO fit into each day and how most of the time I feel like I am running a school camp. 

The meals and the washing seem to be the most relentless. The twins are now 3 and a half so their eating habits have caught up to the rest of the family, but throw in fussy eaters and a Dad coming home late, dinner prep can start at 5pm and seem to cover a dozen courses over several hours. Don’t even get me started on the washing! 

There are ways to get organised and to get the children involved in helping with household chores, systems to put in place. I plan ahead, write a lot of lists, my (paper) diary is my most prized possession and am a good multi tasker. On top of that, I rarely sit down, unless I am on a sun lounge or at a beauty parlour (rare unfortunately), but I don't really like sitting down for long any way.

What I actually find to be the most exhausting is not physical, it is the emotional stuff. 

Giving everyone the attention they deserve. Not letting anyone feel left out. Remembering all their little nuances and pre-empting what could be a hazardous situation for one of them. I definitely think that your heart expands with each child, but sharing yourself with each of them equally when you are utterly exhausted yourself, can be very difficult. 

So what do I do? Each day I just do my best. In that moment, on the day, the best I can do.

I know that I won’t remember the details of the days or the never ending nights, but hopefully I do remember  that on each of them, I did the best I could. 

Some days were terrible, especially when the twins were babies. I was a mean, impatient pajama wearing mum. They ate left overs. They wore dirty clothes. I drank too much coffee. I didn't return phone calls. I was late to school pick up. I bribed and I bluffed my way through the day. 

Some days I was amazing. I was a kind, patient and skilful multi tasker. I baked, I cleaned and I entertained. My house was tidy and my hair was clean. You need to rejoice on those days. 

My best is enough. Our good days outweigh our terrible days. And those amazing days make up for those horrific nights. Those nights where it took every ounce of my strength to make it through each minute. Where I wanted to jump in my car and just drive away. 

So my advice is simple. Just do your best with what you have in that moment. What you have left inside you and what is within your reach, it will be enough.  

Did I mention coffee? Chocolate? A walk around the block with your BFF. A long hot shower (alone)……you can do it, just like the millions of amazing Mums before you. No-one expects you to be a super hero, just try baby steps. 

Oh and if you can’t find the energy any other way, just stare at their perfect faces. Hold their chubby hands. Smell their beautiful purity. Suck it in. Be grateful for what you do have. For every exhausted frustrated mum, there is another in a different type of pain. The type of pain that doesn't just go away after a good nights sleep. The type of pain suffered by those who would love to be in your shoes, but have not been able to join the ranks of Motherhood yet. Be grateful. 

Keep things in perspective, don’t blame yourself for everything and don’t compare yourself to what you PERCEIVE other’s are doing. Motherhood is hard work. The early sleep deprived years can be horrendous. As the children grow older, their problems and fear’s grow more complicated. As Mums know, the benefits far outweigh the struggles, so just be. Your best is more than enough. 

Olivia x

 


How I know that you're a good Mum August 05 2015 2 Comments

Last Sunday as we enjoyed the first glimpse of clear sky for days, I ventured out into the back garden with the twins. I attempted to tackle the endless weed crop that seems to have sprouted overnight while they played happily together.

Having twins seems like more than double the work sometimes as you have the individual needs of two babies to deal with, plus the energy created from their interactions together. But when they finally reach an age when they can genuinely play happily together, it is just bliss. Their own built in play date and best buddy to face each new day with. It is gorgeous to watch and listen to their self absorbed conversations as they are beautifully unaware of time passing and the world around them. 

This afternoon they were in one of their happy zones. They were playing some type of imaginary game on the trampoline that I don’t really understand as each time I tried to engage or participate I was politely ushered away. As I pulled out another weed I again contemplated the whole “nature versus nurture” debate. Since we have four children all of the same gender and the twins are genetically identical, I feel like I can comment confidently on this subject. 

If I had to pick one that I feel has more influence over a persons life, I would definitely say NATURE. When you have twins, especially identical twins and they are on the same schedule, eating the same foods and going about their day in a very similar way, it is fascinating to watch just how differently they can react to the same things. It’s like living within a science experiment. 

When I had my first child if he didn’t have long day time sleeps I was constantly analysing if he was over tired, or he had too much sleep the night before, hungry, teething etc etc. As you know, the list goes on and there are so many variables that can affect a child’s mood and sleeping habits. There is no single obvious answer and that is why the book stores are filled with a gazillion books on a myriad of different parenting styles, techniques and schedules. 

With my first child, I beat myself up over this. If my baby didn’t sleep well it must have been something I had done. If he didn’t eat all of the food offered to him, maybe I hadn’t made it tasty enough, picked the right time to give it to him, or was offering it to him in the wrong order? What I know now is that NO, a lot of the time it wasn’t me! Yay it wasn’t me! 

My baby had just woken up in a bad mood as that is his temperament…he is still not a morning person at 9 years old. He loves action and movement and rarely sits still (except for on Minecraft). With hindsight and with the benefit of my live-in twin experiment, that is perhaps why he never wanted to be in the high chair for long. Or low and behold, he was never happy to be strapped in his pram for long periods of time watching a girlfriend and I catch up over coffee. He is not interested now, so why would he have been at nine months of age? 

Each of our four boys are so different in temperaments, personalities and the way they react to what life throws at them. One in particular embraces change and any new adventures, while another is a real home body who needs consistency. The twins too are already showing distinct differences in personality. One springs out of bed with a smile, while the other is grumpy until his Weet-bix have well and truly digested. One yells out hello from the car window at unsuspecting strangers, while the other prefers to suss things out for a while first before he makes friends. One eats almost anything and is adventurous with his tastes (yay!). The other, not so much.

One twin will sit happily reading one book, looking very intellectual. The other will eat that same book or put it in the toilet. Together it’s a crazy combination. As I said, fascinating. 

So what does this mean for other Mums? 

You are doing good job!

I can spend hours researching, creating and serving up a nutritionally balanced, organic tasty meal and one twin with engulf it, while the other will spit it back on the plate. So...it’s not your fault. 

I’m not saying to throw the routine out the window, to stop trying to feed your children the best possible food, or to give up trying to get them to bed on time. I’m just saying that if it doesn’t go as you planned, don’t beat yourself up about it. Some days will be good and on others, no matter how hard you try… the shit will hit the fan. What you have to see is that that shit was probably going to hit the fan anyway, even if you were the "perfect mother".

My advice? Just do your best each day, embrace the chaos and remember that another day is dawning.

Olivia x

 


The Yellow Food Phase July 15 2015 5 Comments

All of a sudden my nine year old is an adventurous eater. More importantly he seems happy with the choices I make to put on his plate each night, even grateful. Hallelujah! This is a really big deal. 

It hasn’t always been this way. Being the first born, I was full of good intentions and I armed myself with the latest knowledge on which foods to introduce to a baby at that particular age. Thoughtfully prepared, organic and home made meals were politely served several times each day. They were nutritionally balanced, age appropriate and displayed beautifully on a colourful non-spill plate. Did someone say non-spill? 


In the early days as a new mum I did not have the composure or see the humour in the situation to photographically document these frustrating occasions before I proceeded to clean up the carnage time after time. Now these images would give myself and Master Nine a good laugh. 

Getting a fussy baby or toddler to eat well and try new foods can be one of the most frustrating jobs for a parent. No matter how well the ingredients are blended, presented or served (that old aeroplane trick), there are times when our little one’s will simply refuse. Many, many times.

Before they are old enough to comprehend the notion of dessert, or be bribed with some other temptation, there are several years of frustration. And wasted food. Twins are great for that. The odds are higher that at least one of them will eat my lovingly prepared meal, as well as their brother’s leftovers. 

The frustration’s do not end after the toddler years either. Our six year old is currently going through a phase of “only eating yellow foods”. Besides a few exceptions for watermelon and tomato sauce, almost everything he eats is either a white/yellow/beige type of colour. I could probably count his preferred foods on two hands; bread, cheese...even better when combined as toasted cheese sandwiches. Potato in most forms, especially fries or mashed with butter. Pasta….with only cheese on top. 

Rice. Optional tomato sauce on top. Totally gourmet. Mashed Weet-bix with yellow honey. Lots of yellow honey. Scrambled eggs. Banana’s, especially lolly banana’s :) You get it.

The only meat he will currently eat is hidden inside a party pie or chicken nugget. Gross.

Please tell me that this is sounding familiar to someone else? I know I'm not alone as more than 11,000 people already like this Facebook page dedicated to "my kid can't eat this". Check it out, you will feel much better. 

Most of the time I grin and bear it now as I have seen the various phases come and go with my other children and I am a lot more relaxed. Plus I try to fill him with as much of the good stuff on his “yellow list” as possible. 

I am not abdicating giving up on trying to be the perfect mother chef, I just wanted to give some hope to those well intentioned Mums that are fighting this daily battle. One day you will suddenly be sharing some raw fish or spicy vegetable curry with your child and you too will look back on these early frustrations with a grin.

You will be proud that both you and your child came though it unscathed.

Please share your stories of your fussy eaters with us all!

Olivia x 


Finding their "thing" July 08 2015 5 Comments

If you’ve been following my social media this past week, you will know that our oldest boy Charlie turned nine years old. Being on holidays I have had more time to just ‘be’ with my kids instead of thinking about schedules and after school activities and homework. It has been awesome. They are all so similar and so different.

Physically they are clearly from the one family and they are all tactile, rough and messy. Boys. 

They are all equally as energetic and loud as the next one when running freely in their own space. They don’t sit still much. 

Except for when on the iPad. My best frenemy

When it comes to their personalities and temperaments however, they are all very different. We have extroverted and introverted, shy versus confident. Attached versus independent. As they’ve aged, I have learnt to love the shy, attached, cling to “only my mum” phases. Now, the growing independence and lack of public hand holding sends a pang through my heart every time it appears. A mix of pride and sadness contemplating my obsoleteness. 

I am treasuring the primary school years when we have ditched the nappies, bottles, portocots and day sleeps. We can go with the flow a lot more and if I don’t pack a huge bag of spare clothes, pre-prepared food and a whole lot of other riff-raff to take on our adventures, it’s no big deal. Finally, we are there! It seems like I’ve climbed Mt Everest to get there, but we are here and I am going to enjoy it before adolescence creeps up on us too quickly.

Charlie, being the first born has taught us so much. On the surface, he is shy, with a ‘slow to warm up’ type of temperament. Apparently very similar to his Dad as a young child and this surprises a lot of people. Like me, he is happy to be the listener rather than the talker most of the time. He now realises that being the first child to put their hand up in class or being the loudest, most extroverted leader in the playground, does not mean that you’re ‘doing the best’.

Being a thinker and more quietly spoken does not make you inferior. Sometimes other people need reminding of that. This past year has been really good to Charlie. Eight was the year he bloomed and finally appeared to others in the same way that we had always seen him when he was comfortable at home. 

The world now gets to see him being loud, confident, animated, determined and funny. He has an unique style of physical humour beyond his years. When he brings it out in public, people are surprised but very amused. I have always wanted nothing more for him than to reach his full potential, what ever that is. We are well on the way.

So what ingenious strategies have we implemented to make our first born blossom in his eighth year?

What type of parenting guru am I?

I am not one at all. He discovered basketball. 

Yes basketball, it is as simple and as complicated as that.

Somehow he found his “thing”. 

Something that was ALL his. Somewhere that he felt safe and confident with a small group of his best mates. It was an activity no one else in his family had talked about before. It was ALL his. 

How wonderful. 

He suddenly had his own uniform, his own number, a special hand shake and a coach he looks up to. His coach is still in high school himself, so is old enough to be respected, yet cool enough to be admired. The perfect mix of fun and firm, topped off with a ‘rad’ hairstyle. Bonus. 

Together with the other Mums we pile as many boys as we can fit into our cars once a week for after school training. This 15 minute drive is honestly one of the highlights of my week. Their little gang exchanges thoughts on the school yard topic of the day as they change uniforms and I listen nonchalantly, but intently

Gold

I learn more on this drive than the other four school days combined. They exchange pearls of wisdom in between shoving in afternoon tea and shoving out gas. The car is loud and stinky but full of laughs and my heart explodes as I watch them bond and treasure their true little friendships as if they were my own. 

The basketball training and games give Charlie the right mix of physical activity, discipline and continuous learning that he needs. The team picks him up when he is down and revels in his small triumph’s more than the tiny smile on his face shows. Just to confirm this blog is not about excelling in sport. He is an average player for his age. In between the many ‘travel’ fouls and missed shots, he shows small glimpses of physical greatness but that is not my point. He feels good. He feels a part of something special. 

His basketball career started off very slowly and often in a fiery way. There were many tantrums and displays of unsportsmanlike behaviour that were frustrating and slightly embarrassing to watch. As he learnt the rules and his body caught up to his brain, he has shown himself that perseverance pays. He knows how much ongoing practice it takes to get better at something. We too have had our patience tested as Charlie moves along each little milestone at HIS own pace, not ours. 

Charlie now knows that making mistakes is not the end of the world. Even though every boy on his team seems to keep track of the score and prefers to win than to play their best game ever, they get ‘over it’.

So for now basketball has been Charlie’s "thing". The confidence he has gained on the court has transferred off it. His friendships have been given an extra chance to cement themselves firmly away from the school yard politics and the classroom responsibilities.  His team includes boys that are not his ‘best friends’ at school and his broadening friendship group has helped him feel an even greater sense of belonging. 

Sport is so great at providing that opportunity. For many others it can be found in musical, performing or academic interest's.

Wherever it is, I’d recommend helping your child to find their ‘thing’. It might appear in the place you least expect. In an activity you personally don’t enjoy. I'd say, give them scope to discover what it is for themselves.

It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes:

I'd love you to share how your child found their 'thing"......

 


Bec Judd Interview June 17 2015 4 Comments

Arguably the most famous Australian footy WAG of them all, when you think of Bec Judd, you probably picture THAT red dress, her talented husband and some of the amazing pics she posts on social media….Her glamorous outfits, arriving at exclusive events and jet setting around the world. 

She has created a life for herself and her family that many aspire to. She has proved that beautiful women can also be smart, savvy and very resilient.

Put aside any thoughts you have about Bec Judd, other than this. Bec has the same concerns and many of the daily obstacles that all mothers have. Even though her shoulders are regularly covered in J’aton couture, she has a lot of pressure on them. She is juggling many things and she does it in style.

One of the Queen’s of Australian social media Bec wears many hats. Her proudest would have to be as the head of her household with husband Chris, her son Oscar (3) and daughter Billie (1). 

Bec has supported her husband Chris for over a decade through his amazing AFL career. Last week an injury forced Chris’s retirement and he praised Bec for the support she has shown him during his career. He said having his little family to go home to every night will help him get through his heartache.

Knowing that I've got you and the kids to come home to, makes me feel that whatever comes next the next chapter is going to be really exciting, so thanks to you guys” Chris said in an interview. 

From my life with Shane, I can relate to a lot of what Bec has been through, behind the scenes with her AFL husband. Those select few that become the very best in their field are those that do not stop at much to achieve their goals. Exactly what they eat, how much they sleep, how often they train, how they recover, being mentally prepared, the list goes on. The support they have around them is crucial and Bec would have been through more than we know. 

I was lucky enough to be able to ask Chris his exact thoughts on Bec as a mother “she is a wonderful mother, kind and patient he said “she’s an incredibly good teacher, having experience as a speech pathologist has helped her in this department as well”.

And something we all seek to do, Chris says that Bec “gets the balance right between being caring and firm”. He admits that just watching her juggle everything tires him out “she has always been an organised person, but it has gone to a whole new level since the kids arrived! Watching her work, while keeping the kids and house in order sometimes tires me out! But she does it all with great efficiency.”  

The down side to their life in the spotlight in the era of social media is that it brings out the keyboard warriors. The attacks Bec has survived online are disgusting. Underneath her soft looks and small frame, she is one tough cookie. She has the type of resilience, work ethic and confidence that we should hope to raise in our children. Cheers to that Bec Judd.  

So I asked Bec about her life away from the red carpet’s and social engagements. What did Bec say when I asked her what her number one tip for new Mums is?

“Don't put too much pressure on yourself to feel like you're having the best time of your life with your newborn. Bringing home a new baby can be the hardest thing you'll ever do and some days you may hate it, so give your self some time to adjust”. 

Bec says that the best thing a friend has done for her since becoming a Mum is reassuring her that “it’s ok if you feel crap some times, it’s ok if you give your baby formula, it’s ok if your kids didn’t get a bath today, it’s ok if your kids eat packet food sometimes. Just knowing that it’s ok not to be 'perfect' is reassuring”.

And on the flipside, the most useless piece of parenting advice Bec has received so far? It is something that all Mums have heard many times before - sleep when the baby sleeps. We wish it was that easy!

Yeah right” says Bec “and cook when the baby cooks and clean when the baby cleans and bath when the baby baths. Ha!

So what about some of the craziest moments she has experienced as a Mum? 

“Having sick kids can be quite hairy when you don't know what is wrong with them and they are too young to tell you. I've made quite a few trips to Cabrini (hospital) Emergency over the last 3 and a half years!”

Or when she hears herself saying things that she never thought would come out of her mouth, like “Billie don't bite the dog”. 

Oscar STOP playing with your…..

It seems like the average day in the Judd household is like many other Australian homes. So what products does Bec find indispensable these days? “Chux. Wipe down floors and furniture to get rid of pooh, spew, food etc and then straight in the bin”.

So with so much going on in her life and from what her husband terms her great efficiency, what is Bec’s best time saving tip for mums? To double up whenever you can!

Double bath and double bed time story. I read to Oscar and Billie together in Oscar's bed and then transfer Billie to her cot. Every night she wails like she has been shot when I take her out of Oscar's bed to pop her into her cot. It’s not a real cry and she's over it within 5 seconds. I'm not sure why she seems so shocked when it’s time for her to get into her cot as it’s what we do every night. She's hilarious!Sounds like she has inherited some of her Mum’s staying power to me.

And finally when I asked Bec what she would love in her life right now, she said “more time and weekends with my family”.

With Chris’s retirement from playing AFL, let’s hope that she gets her wish. 

As one of THE most stylish mums around town, what is Bec's favourite every day wardrobe essential?

Black leather leggings (great for wiping off anything and everything), long tops, flat shoes. 

And which flat shoes exactly are her current favourite?

Valentino stud flats. Flats can be fashionable too! 


The grass is greener where you water it June 09 2015 9 Comments

Looking back on the first few years of raising twins, I have learnt a lot. Many things I have already written about in my blog, but one of the lessons that has made me the most content is that 

THE WORLD CAN WAIT. 

Having a young baby requires a huge adjustment to your daily routine and your psyche. From my experience, this is amplified with your first baby, as well as with twins.

But, the outside world just keeps on spinning no matter what's happening within your home. No matter what's happening inside your head. No matter what's happening in your baby’s little universe. 

On those days that you can step out of your parallel universe into your "old life", you do appreciate the little things so much more. 

You discover just how many topics you can cover in a quick kid free catch up with a friend. How refreshing it is to laugh over an in joke. How satisfying it is to vent to an old confidant about your particular issue of the week. 

As you slip back into the loveliness of your home, you do treasure your little glimpses back out to the big wide world, but you do slowly realise that the world can wait.

The parties, the me time, the solitary exercise, the career, the pampering, the sleep in’s, the spontaneity...it can all wait. 

Just ask anyone with older kids, especially much older kids. They will always tell you "these are the best days of your life" and

"it goes by so fast" etc etc, we hear it all the time, like a broken record.

It’s like that famous Oscar Wilde quote youth is wasted on the young. We rarely appreciate it while we are there.

So this post is for those Mums in the trenches with little babies right now. Babies that don’t sleep, babies with health issues, babies teething, babies that just like to scream 24/7. Babies that decide to have the longest sleep EVER, the day you need to leave the house on time. 

I think that if Mums tell the 100% honest truth, most babies are challenging. Yes of course we all know that small percentage of babies that seem to be perfect day and night. Well, their time will come. Maybe perfect babies = horrible teenagers, who knows?

For all of those Mums currently thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else, or who are counting the days/months until the next milestone,

I stretch out my virtual arms to hug you.

Each day that you conquer and each night that you endure, is an achievement. It can be really tough. Physically, mentally and emotionally. The big trifecta. I say, milk it for all you can. The grass is greener where you water it. 

Now that I have the house completely to myself a few days each week, I am aware of the silence. I do love it and it’s allowing me to pursue more of my own interests, but I am also sadly aware that now I can’t turn back time. Those days when I had young babies at home 24/7 is over. Those days when it was not only acceptable, but encouraged, to sleep when they sleep, will never return. 

Those days when you can crazy dance to High-5 all day and relish in embarrassing baby talk. The times when new, clean pyjama’s with matching slippers is considered an outfit. Slip a bra underneath and you’re ready to greet guests.

It’s lovely. 

I can no longer eat a Tim Tam for breakfast and blame a sleepless night. Nor an entire packet and blame breast feeding. I can no longer decline a boring social invitation in favour of an early night. I can no longer justify making 48 muffins to pass the time while the babies are sleeping. Nor can I ask a friend to bring their own milk with them for a cup of tea. 

If you can, embrace these things. Watch crappy reality TV. At 3am if you have to. Talk to that grandma admiring your baby at the supermarket for a touch longer than you think you have time for. Take photo’s. Take so many photo’s that other people get annoyed. Breathe in your beautiful baby and just live in the moment. 

I felt very peaceful when I finally gave in to this notion. I say to new mums, especially to Mums of multiples, just give in to it. Stop looking over the fence and succumb to the beautiful world of raising little babies. Yes sometimes it sucks and if you could, you’d kick that fence over with the gusto of an angry bull, but just give in. Listen to the grannies and learn. The world can wait. 


The importance of being YOU May 27 2015 1 Comment

With all of the self help and positive affirmation mumbo jumbo on the internet these days, we can barely scroll through Instagram for two minutes before seeing another quote about being “true to yourself” or “love yourself and all of your flaws”. 

   

I agree, don’t get me wrong I am not criticising this new wave of positivity sweeping through mainstream society. Those hippies were onto something.

What I want to say, is that it is HARD to be these things. I have finally succumbed to embracing my own body and being grateful for my strength. Ten years go I would have swapped my strong frame for a lithe body in an instant. But if you’d told me that I wouldn’t have been able to carry four babies so well, or survive all of the ups & down that I did in my thirties without collapsing in a frail heap, I hope that I would have thought twice about swapping what I have. I have rolls and dimples I never had before, but I rarely get sick and I feel strong and healthy. Something I have only been grateful for since becoming a Mum and heaven forbid - older. 

Now onto the mental stuff. Luckily for me I have always had good self esteem. In my teens my frown and somewhat shyness may have given others the perception that I was arrogant or ‘up myself’. Somehow even back then, I didn’t really care what other people thought of me. This confused my friends. I didn’t need to be liked by every girl in school and if I didn’t get invited to every party on the weekend, I genuinely wasn’t phased. I definitely didn’t need a boyfriend, I was too busy for that. 

Now as a parent, I try to remember what my Mum and Dad did throughout our childhood to instill that in us. When I work it out, I will let you know. I do clearly remember my Dad stopping me to tell me I was beautiful every time I left the house (biased, clearly). I never remember my Mum fussing about make up, talking about her weight or being on a diet.

That stuff is so important. The little things, day after day after day just building me up.

To have a strong sense of self is SO important. I think even more important for teenagers today with all of the additional obstacles they have in front of them. I don’t even want to think about how it will be in another decade when our boys are going through the teenage years. Clearly I am no self help guru and I only did two years of the psychology part of my Arts degree so I am not going to go any further on how to raise kids with great self esteem. I wish I had the answer. 

Now that my children are entering school age, I am around Mums who have more of a “life” to themselves again. My friendship group has evolved from the “Mothers Group” type conversations about when to change from two day sleeps to one and the joys of toilet training, to more ‘adult’ responsibilities once again.

It is refreshing. The fog is clearing. 

These women have amazing careers, they have started their own innovative businesses, they volunteer for charities, they run the school parents association, all while raising mostly happy children. Amazing. 

But some have lost “themselves” a little bit. Totally understandable after being in the “trenches” of child rearing and putting themselves last for so long. I have been there too and it is definitely not a criticism, merely an observation. 

It is very common that after you send your last child off to school and if you are not working (in traditional paid employment), you suddenly have at least six hours to yourself through the day. Sometimes you just don't know what to do with all those hours to feel fulfilled in yourself. Of course there are plenty of jobs to take up your time like cooking, cleaning, washing, chasing after everyone else etc etc. But I mean the things that make you feel good, give you your own purpose

Once the buzz of coming home to a clean house and finally organising the linen closet wears off and you have settled into a good routine of actually doing consistent exercise, you start to think about “what else is there?” For the lucky few the answers are obvious, but for those who throughout their marriage or once their children arrived, have lost their sense of self a little, this can be a difficult question to answer.

Unfortunately life can not guarantee that you will be with your partner until you both pass peacefully in your sleep together one night. Even if you’re lucky enough to have something like this, as the years go on, there will be more time to yourself. For yourself. So if we can teach our children, in particular our daughters, to find their passions and what makes them feel good and somehow manage to keep that throughout their whole life, that is a huge achievement. That way they will never be alone. They will never be unfulfilled. 

Once they have children and finally get some hours back to themselves, they will have a long list of awesome things they want to achieve.  Or shock horror, they choose to never have children. Women are amazing and have so much to give. Yes sorry, we are givers. By having something that is truly your OWN, it makes you feel good. Not something you do with your partner or your kids, but something for you. A job you enjoy, a hobby, an exercise goal, a cause that you volunteer for.

My own Mum led my example. If you read my Mother’s Day post you’d remember how she studied, worked, volunteered and renovated us through our childhood. How she coped emotionally when she lost my Dad and she was alone for the first time since she was 16 years old. All with four kids. 

These children of ours are watching us, they are learning from how we cope with life’s everyday, little obstacles as well as huge hurdles. I think it’s really important to show our children that we are just not their Mum, running their home. We are so much more than that. Find your mojo for yourself and for your kids. You’ll be busier, but you’ll be happier I am sure.

The sooner us girls are really running the world, the better. 


An Ode to Social Media May 13 2015 5 Comments

I’m bleary eyed, it’s four in the morning

The nights are long & the day is dawning 

Little twin boys are up as they’re crook



The only thing keeping me sane is Facebook. 

 As they gulp on their milk, I have a quick read

Living vicariously through my newsfeed

Friends out partying, new babies expected

I try really hard not to feel dejected.

 With our family of six, we are so blessed,

Two more perfect boys, who would have guessed?

That drunken girl sinking shots was once me

In the midst of the party, taking a selfie.

 I’m not missing out, I say out loud

Of all I’ve accomplished I should be proud. 

But the grass seems greener on the other side

They’re all having fun, I must confide.

If it wasn’t for Facebook keeping me connected,

I’d be paranoid I was being rejected.

And now since I’ve discovered Instagram

My new accessory, more valuable than the pram.

So to all of those who’ve been annoyed by my posts,

The many baby pictures and the gratuitous boasts.

From the corny quotes, to the over sharing, 

You did seem like you were genuinely caring. 

I ask you to please understand my situation

That through gestation, lactation & even ovulation

It was your posts & pics that got me though,

In the past, what on earth did new mothers do?


My angry uterus :) April 29 2015 7 Comments

Well it’s official. I yell too much. Clinically diagnosed by a specialist ENT Doctor. You know, the type that you need a referral for and you spend five minutes in their office and pay hundreds of dollars for the honour of having a tube stuck right down your nose to your throat? Well that was my morning yesterday. Luckily of course it is just a couple of ‘nodule’s’ on my vocal cords and nothing more sinister, but to be told that nodules are caused by “vocal abuse” is quite eye opening. I didn't think I yelled that much.

The doctor must have taken the look of horror on my face and my constant interruptions explaining that I had four young boys as a hint to be quite casual in his explanations. Apparently it is common and yes, he agreed that I might not yell THAT much and yes, he was sure that “I was quite a calm mother”. However, the constant chatter to children repetitively explaining the way of the world, interjected with just a couple of sentences with “an elevated pitch” would be enough to create these nodules over time. He gave me an example of the tone of voice I should try to use most of the time and I felt like Rod Stewart warming up for his ten thousandth show. I didn’t bother explaining that a serene and soothing noise such as the one he was suggesting wouldn’t quite cut it at 6pm in my house. So off I trotted feeling better that nothing untoward was growing in my throat and went home for a cup of honey lemon herbal tea and to “rest” my voice for a few hours. 

As I sipped that tea I was content in knowing, after three months or various medical tests and one bout of day surgery, that I had a clean bill of health. You see, 2015 has marked the “year of Olivia”. The twins are finally at kindergarten so I have a few days to pursue my career goals and some extra time to go to the types of appointments that you tend to put off when you’re a Mum. Of course, if your child has something more than a sniffle, you will bundle them into the car to see a doctor. But for yourself, you can wait. 

So the purpose of this post is to remind you not to wait any more. As Mums we know how the wheels fall off the cart so quickly when we are sick or away or even just preoccupied for a few days. We need to be stealth like warrior princesses 24/7 and we need to be like this for a long time to come. 

So back in February I went to see my GP and asked for a “once over”. I had every blood/urine/saliva test available as well as an internal ultrasound. The tests were easy. Once you've had a child, you are used to being poked and prodded but I must say, waiting for the results was not fun. I was so used to being tired that I didn’t know if my level of tiredness was ‘normal’ anymore. I had felt all sorts of movements and pains coming from my uterus in the past eight years and had experienced so many different types of feelings at that time of the month, that I wanted to be 100% sure I was ok. The husky voice that I got for my 40th, was still following me around 18 months later...I needed some attention. 

As I suspected I was not 100%. Surprisingly I was reassured to know that most parts of my body are back to normal. Better than normal, I am shocked to say. For at least 12 months after the twins were born I felt so physically and mentally depleted but I have again been amazed at the human body and its capacity to restore itself.

However, I found out that my uterus is angry. Not just in the hypothetical way, but in a way that is now proven by medical science. I’d be angry too if I had carried seven babies, had three C-sections and housed twins all in the space of 6 years. Yes you read correctly, seven babies. My journey to motherhood has not been as straight forward as it may seem. I have had three devastating miscarriages along the way. More on that another day. 

So back to the angry uterus…..I had a condition called Adenomyosis (a form of endometriosis). It is fairly common in women my age and the symptoms are things that most of us can unfortunately experience each month. In a very intense way. So after a little attention via day surgery, my once angry uterus is now as good as new. Well almost, I don’t think it will ever quite forgive me, but it has served its purpose very well. I will forgive the anger in exchange for the four beautiful children that it helped me grow. 

So I urge everyone, especially mothers to access all of the health checks that we have available to us in our great country. With bulk billing and medicare rebates available it really should not be out of any mothers reach to take care of themselves too. Plus amazing offers like free mammograms to women aged 40+ and thousands of clinics appearing around Australia that examine the skin for potential skin cancer, there really is no excuse.

I also booked in for a mammogram and another skin check. Why? Because I can.

I have always preferred to sit in the sun than the shade and while I am blessed with olive skin, it is an examination I will continue to do for the rest of my life. I happily paid for my first mammogram before I was 40 for no other reason except that through Shane’s association with BCNA (Breast Cancer Network Australia) and all of the amazing “pink ladies” I have met over the years. I am well aware of how unexpectantly that horrible disease can appear in anyone. Man or woman. 

So for Mother’s Day this year please give yourself a gift too. Go and have a "once over". Best case scenario - peace of mind…worse case scenario - early detection. And while you’re at it, try to drag along your significant other, for they are worse than us :(


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.


My experience with keyboard warriors April 07 2015 6 Comments

So there was an article written about me, my family, my blog and a general overview of our life in the newspaper over the Easter weekend. Obviously I happily agreed to do it to help launch my business and to get some photo’s of me with the kids. Something Mums often forget to do. 

Wow, the reaction has really been interesting. Of course my beautiful friends who are always so supportive have sent me lots of messages and to my delight I have received a lot of emails and messages from people I do not know, but who related to the article and have consequently read a few of my blog posts. Gorgeous messages from every day people who have identified with a few of things I have been writing about. Thank you to those Mummies, it made my weekend. Oh and some Dads as well, reminding me that these Mums are so appreciated. 

BUT what about the barrage of negativity that has come from other women?

WOW!

Of course, I have heard about online trolls and anonymous protesters who confidently sit from behind their keyboards and madly type away their opinions. Firstly I will say that with my age has come wisdom and I have not taken anything personally. In fact I have found it quite interesting to be in the middle of a social experiment.

Firstly, the article accidentally stated that I was Shane’s wife. Although we have been together for the best part of 20 years, that created a lot of debate. Most of which I thought wouldn’t arise in 2015, but to be expected maybe. 

 

 

(Photo courtesy of the Herald Sun. Photographer Nicole Cleary).

 

 

 

 

Secondly, one of the pictures featured a roller skate with pink shoelaces. Shock horror, why would that pinkness be there in a house full of boys??!! This one was more of a surprise. 

Then there were the comments implying that I thought I needed a medal just because I have four kids. Again they missed the point. I am the first to say how good I have it (if they read the article I would have hoped they’d get this message) but how I still find it challenging at times. Yes there are SO many more Mums with MORE kids and MORE jobs and MORE stresses in their life.

Somehow they thought it was a competition that I had personally declared I was winning.

Again a surprise to me (and hopefully those who know me). 

 

 

 

 

The name for my blog “Flat Out Mum” reflects the busy-ness of my life AS WELL AS my love of flat shoes. A creative play on words aimed to resonate with other Mums like me. Mums with one baby or twelve. Mums stuck at home, Mums stuck at work, Mums everywhere. For the record, I do not see being busy as a badge of honour either. I try every day to simplify my life and to let our children be as "un-busy" as possible. Rushing and chaos is not the aim, even though it is often the outcome. 

The most interesting reaction was to the fact that since we had our twins, our family has used an Au Pair. For those that are not familiar, this is normally a young traveller who is seeking a safe place to live for a few months and not only gain the experience of living with an Australian family, but also earn a small amount of “pocket money” to fund the next phase of their travels. We have had eight of these lovely girls stay with and help our family in the past three years. It has been an amazing experience for us and for a few hours each day, a great help to me

In the spirit of honesty I was very upfront about our use of Au pair’s to the Herald Sun and in fact to anyone who will let me broadcast their benefits. I had the suspicion that the inclusion of this fact would cause the reaction that I have a full-time, fully trained super nanny living with me and shadowing my children at all times. This is far from the truth, but I wanted to be clear that I was not pretending to be doing everything by myself 24/7. The whole premise of my blog is that women should STOP pretending that we can do it all and have it all, at the same time as looking perfect. 

I guess my point here is that again some people (unfortunately mainly women) have used this as an opportunity to turn it into some type of sick competition. An opportunity to degrade and an opportunity to jump to conclusions about how other people live. As I said at the beginning, the amateur psychologist in me has enjoyed the entertainment and the positive replies more than outweighed the opinions of this small group of small minded people.

In fact, the reaction to this small, light-hearted article has actually confirmed to me that my message about motherhood and about being a woman in 2015 is simple. It can be very challenging at times, but it is an amazing experience that I am grateful to be having. I fought for each one of my four children and for all of their tantrums and idiosyncrasies, most of the time I actually think of each of them as perfect in their own special way. 

Life is not a race, nor a competition and happiness comes from within. You need to make the best of what you have, in that moment, in that place each day. Idealistic maybe, but a simple message. 

Unfortunately the people making these flippant comments are probably the same ones who shudder at the thought of their own children being cyber bullied in the future. The same people who if their own son ended up liking the colour pink, they would not flinch for a second. The same people who would much rather their daughter chooses to be in a happy, healthy relationship with a man she adores, than to watch her rushing down the aisle with another type of man who requires a piece of paper to certify their love. 

And the same people who put these quotes on their Instagram:

  
My thoughts after all of this? People should practice what they preach x 

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