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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.