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Category Archives: Parenting

Don’t Just Survive Being a SAHM! The Thriving SAHM Checklist

I like to think that 50 years from now, somebody will be reading this and think how outdated this list is… But for now, it’s reality. We don’t need to just survive, we need to thrive!

Being a SAHM, is hard work, it’s never ending hours, often thankless and undocumented (expect for now we have social media as an outlet for our day to day woes). I once had some lady tell me I was lazy for being a SAHM, and I think my eyes almost fell out of my head! Not only is being a SAHM challenging, but often our pride and dignity get squashed when we compare ourselves to mothers who work. When we see photos on social media or know what our money making friends are up to, it can make you feel pretty worthless somedays. Here you are calling it a triumph of a day for wiping poo off the floor and baking some cookies… and what other people are doing at work, might seem much more glamourous.

And, there are lots of reasons why one parent ends up staying at home with the kids!

But, no matter what our reasons for being a SAHM (stay at home mum or SAHD, stay at home dad), or part time SAHM, these are the things over the years (going on 8) that have helped me thrive. After giving a short poll to my readers, they resonated with a lot of the same… Read the rest of this entry

Children Under 7 Have No Concept of Time: Helping Kids Understand ‘Time’.

Have you ever said to your kid, “We’re leaving in five minutes!” The time comes and they totally blow you off? Or, they legitimately ask you 399 times in the car “are we there yet?” even though you told them that the GPS says 10 more minutes?! Or, thirty seconds before you leave the house, they get involved with imaginary play? Even though you’ve been telling them all along that we’re leaving “in a few minutes“?

It’s because young kids have a very limited concept of time. For babies and young toddlers, you can just about forget about it. They live so much in the present moment, every moment to them is new and fresh. This is why kids can be crying one minute and laughing the next. It’s very beautiful, but can be super frustrating for us adults who are stuck in the world of time!

Don’t you remember, as a kid, how long everything felt? I remember summer vacation feeling like an eternity! And long car trips were torturous because I thought I might die of old age before we ever reached our destination. Or, the reverse. I would go out to play in the backyard, and get lost in time, playing with sticks and leaves and mud. Read the rest of this entry

The “Stop Judging Me” Epidemic

Some parents have become so defensive in their parenting practices, that they sincerely believe someone else’s triumphs are a direct attack on their way of living.

A home birth story turns into you judging another mother for having a c-section story. A photo of your kids enjoying a day of homeschool turns into a dig against kids who go to school. A photo of a smiling mother, happily breastfeeding, instantly becomes an insult to those women who couldn’t breastfeed. A proud photo of babywearing becomes an attack on parents who use strollers. A parent who openly says they will never do ‘cry it out‘, because it goes against their heart and against what all the research says, is dragged over the coals for judging other mothers who do ‘cry it out’.

It’s out of control. It’s ridiculous.

Since when have parents become so incapable of appreciating others experiences? Since when have parents become so unwilling to gain something useful from someone else’s life stories? Since when have parents become so defensive to the point that rather than admit they may have something to learn, they scream out, “You don’t know what my life is like, stop judging me!Read the rest of this entry

Parenting With Less Wasted Words

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When my first was little, I used to talk to her all day. Almost a steady stream of explanations, questions and observations. I felt like it was up to me to deliver an experience of the world around her, through my eyes. When I watch old videos of us together, I wish I could have lovingly told the ‘me‘ of seven years ago to just be quiet and let her enjoy the new things she was discovering.

I used to say, “Oh, look at the moon! Look at the doggie! Wave bye bye!” ect. Interestingly, she went through a period where she was scared of the moon and of dogs! It was almost as if me pointing these things out to her and drawing artificial attention to them made her anxious! I also started to realise that it gets tiring always explaining, asking and talking!

This post is about my journey in the way I speak (or choose not to speak) to my kids and other children. I don’t want anyone reading this to think that I’m obsessed over every little thing I say to my kids or that I count my words or something crazy like that! It’s been more about the general awareness level and breaking free of the ‘record player‘ (the way we’re programmed to speak to children from our own past experiences). I feel I have a much deeper connection with my kids when I stop ‘talking at‘ them and really consider if what I have to say is actually helping the situation, or if I’m imposing my ignorance or my past, on their new experiences. The journey of awareness of speech is gradual and on-going.

Now, she’s 7 years old, and the other day, she was braiding a belt for her pants that kept falling down. She was putting in a considerable effort into the task that she had initiated herself. But, I could see straight away that the yarn she had cut was too short. For a second, I wanted to ‘save‘ her from making a mistake. I could have told her to stop and consider if the string was long enough. But, I didn’t. I watched. She finished. She realised it was too short. She simply said, “Wow, this is WAY too short!” and bounced away from her project and didn’t try to make another one.

In the short term, my intervention would have meant she would have been successful this time, but what about the next time and the time after that? I guess I could have encouraged her to make another one, right? Wasn’t she disappointed that she hadn’t succeeded? No… Her final product was only a failure in MY eyes. She didn’t have to know about the dialogue in my head! Who am I to say what learning experience she had gained? She had completed her activity and wasn’t attached by the outcome, only I was attached the outcome.

I found that most of the time when I ‘talked at‘ my children (explaining, asking questions, being unaware of their learning journey), I was interrupting a really important learning processes.

My four year old recently learned how to scoot really well on her scooter. By accident, I told her twice how awesome it was that she was scooting so well! (Cheer leader style). She rolled her eyes and said, “Why do you keep saying that?!” Oops… sorry. They’ll catch you in that moment of unawareness and let you know how irritating you are!

Kids complain. We try to reason with them. Instead of hearing them out.

Kids cry. We talk and distract, rather than listen to their hurts and frustrations.

Kids are sad. We try to talk them out of being sad, instead of allowing their hearts to be heavy (with kids, the heaviness usually only lasts for a few moments)

Kids discover something new! We try to explain their discovery even deeper and accidentally make it seem like they might not be able to learn all the answers on their own.

Kids get scared of something. Again, we try to distract or won’t validate their fears, telling them to stop being silly, or to be a big girl, instead of holding them in their space and allowing the fear to express itself.

The same goes for getting kids to cooperate. Let’s says it’s time to leave the park, I say we need to get going a hundred times, but they know that the first 99 times I say it, that we’re really not ready to go. So, I’ve literally wasted my breath. Same goes for put on your shoes, brush your teeth, etc. Unless the sound honestly does not reach their ear drums… they heard you the first time! Whether or not they cooperate is another story.

Over the years, I’ve gotten so so much better at responding, rather than reacting, but it’s hard to break out of ‘react‘ mode! Even people who have practiced some sort of self help/self discipline for years, suddenly find themselves spewing out words of unawareness from their past experiences when they become parents. Children bring out the best and worst of us!

Kids usually don’t need lengthy explanations on life. They get it. But, sometimes they DO need extra explanation. For example this morning, miss. 7 was bouncing on the bed doing flips and splits. Instead of telling her to ‘stop it‘ a million times, I told her “I need you do do your flips and splits in the other room because Marty is getting distracted by all your noise!” So, she went off in the the other room.

While writing this, my 4 year old came to me complaining about her sister. I listened. I told her in a few words that I understand how she is feeling. She left, happy that she was heard. I didn’t have to explain for ten minutes about another course of action she could take that would make everybody happy. I mean, if she had asked me for some advice, I would have given it to her. But, really, she just wanted a shoulder to cry on.

Young children live in the present moment, so there’s really no need for too much explanation, planning ahead, pondering, etc. If they’re ready to absorb it, they will. If they’re not ready, the event or phenomena will simply pass them by.

Although I do talk now with more awareness, I’m not so serious and rigid that I won’t sing a silly non-sensical song to the baby and do silly fart jokes with the 5 year old. I still talk and explain things and point things out. It would be really unnatural and stiff not to! The key is to be natural with my kids and leave those past experiences aside to make room for something new!

If after reading this post, you feel like you want to speak with less wasted words to your children, but you’re not sure of how to get them to cooperate, there’s a fantastic book that I highly recommend, called ‘Attachment Play’ by Aletha Solter. 

I Hate Having Kids

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Sorry if I hold your hand too tight when we cross the street. Sorry if hover too much. Sorry if I ask you, “are you alright?” a few too many times. Sorry if I check all night long that you’re breathing. Sorry that I over react sometimes when I think you might get hurt.

What’s that cough? What’s that bump? Am I saying and doing the right things? I know I have to let you go and I have to have faith that you’ll be safe. But deep down, there’s always that nagging thought… I’ve learned to quiet that thought, but it’s still there. I’m not an anxious person, but you do something to me that defies everything I thought I knew about myself.

The same thing that brings you joy can also make you miserable. I KNOW this. If you told me this knowledge on life about anything else, I can get it. A new car that brings you joy, makes you miserable when it gets scratched. An exciting new job can get mundane after some time. A new love will turn old. A young beautiful body will get old and wrinkled. I know all this and accept it… but when it comes to my babies, it’s so different. I love you, I worry. I can’t help it. I love you so much that I hate it!

I Feel Like I Could Do This Forever

“It’s a thankless job“, said the elderly lady in the shopping center. She sat on a bench licking an ice cream cone while my kids ate some sushi roles next to her. She peeked at my 2 month old son, sleeping in the baby carrier, and complimented me on how well behaived my kids were acting.

I smiled back at her.

Thankless‘ I thought… what is she talking about?! I feel like I could do this shit forever!

There certainly are days when I wish the time away.  But right now, I’m so in the thick of it, I can’t imagine doing anything else with my time.

The good times make it easy for parenting to be a ‘thankless job‘. But, I also don’t mind too much wiping up messes, listening to cries, feeding mouths, cooking like it’s Groundhog’s Day, tackling Mt. Foldmore (not that I really fold my laundry anyway), picking someone up who needs to be carried, getting in the car and out of the car 800 times a week (if I had a dollar for every minute I spent waiting outside the car for a four year old to organise themselves, I would honstly be a millionaire). I mean, I could easily do without the challenging parts of parenting, but for now, I don’t mind them so much, it’s part of the package.

Children spend their lives so much in the present moment, it’s sort of contagious. I don’t find myself counting on my fingers the numbers of years left of hard work to be done, I just do it. And, most of the time, I do it with a half smile/borderline mad woman smirk on my face.

I realised that I don’t find myself wishing for ‘freedom‘. I’ve had that sort of ‘freedom‘ and I know that even living the most carefree life, in a tropical paradise, you can still make yourself miserable and stressed!

One thing that makes the thankless bits easier is that I take my self care seriously. Daily showers are a must (don’t laugh… unless you forget what it’s like to have your first newborn). Yoga and meditation every day, also a must. Exercise and getting out of the house for paid work occasionally is important for me. Staying at home is hard work, and it just happens to be unpaid.

Once every year or so, I do a silent meditation retreat to really get my energy back to par. I take my self care seriously so that I don’t burn out doing the mundane stuff that would otherwise be the end of me (dishes, wiping butts, etc). So, it’s not like I’m doing all this ‘thankless‘ stuff on an empty cup!

Maybe, one day, when I’m as old as the lady in the shopping centre, I’ll look around at all the young mothers and say that you couldn’t pay me to go back to those days… maybe… but for now, I’m doing it 100%, no regrets and no feelings that this will get boring any time soon.

They Can Know The Truth And Still Believe

When my oldest was 2 years old, she was petrified of the dudes dressed up as Santa in the shopping centres. It was real, legitimate fear.

Without thinking twice, I told her that anybody can dress up like Santa. It took her another year, but after a while, she wasn’t frightened anymore. She’s 6 1/2 now, and we still ‘do‘ Santa. On Christmas Eve, we put cookies and (rice) milk out for him (daddy). And, sparkly oats and carrots for the reindeer… My kids know the truth and it’s still fun. Something that adults often forget is that children have an amazing imagination. They can know something isn’t real and still play along with all the enthusiasm as if it were real.

I generally don’t lie to my children about anything, and let’s face it, telling kids that Santa is real, is actually a big fat lie. I know it’s a nice, sweet, well intentioned lie… but it’s still a lie.  I know a lot of my friends are conflicted about whether they should ‘keep the magic‘ of Santa, or tell the truth and then Santa is ruined. So, that’s why I’m sharing my experience. You can do both! Tell them the truth and still have the fun.

Not pictured is my 4 year old… for some reason, she was terrified of Santa this year. I’m not really into the pictures of crying kids on Santa’s lap and I mean… really, look at the dude, he does look pretty scary. (He was actually the nicest Santa ever)

Fit Your Own Oxygen Mask First: Parental Self-Care is More Important Than You Think

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What good can you be to your family, if you’re walking around drained and depleted?

I almost didn’t go. The timing, the money… And then, on the morning I was meant to fly to Sydney for The Art of Silence course, a four day silent meditation retreat, my nearly 4 year old woke up with a fever and a cough. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be mean to go away while she’s not feeling well?” Mega guilt trip.

I asked in one of my mother’s Facebook pages if I should go and there was a unanimous chorus of GO! One of the responses was, “This is a fit your own oxygen mask situation! 

The past six months, I had been grumpy, tired, and snapping at the kids. Stressed from work. About to move houses. Pregnant. You name it. It was only going to get worse if I didn’t do something about it.

When I said goodbye at the airport, the kids were sad. I was sad. Was this *really* worth it??? Read the rest of this entry

I Suck At Making The Facebook Pregnancy Announcement

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It’s not so much that I’m lacking the creativity, it’s just that I always think about who is going to see it.

I feel weird blabbing it on-line without looking directly into the face of the person I’m telling. I know, I blab everything else on-line, but this is different. I told most of the my friends I interact with in my day-to-day life, really early. I wanted them to know why I was flaking on meeting up with them, had barely enough energy to walk down the street and why I was repulsed by eating any food after 1 o’clock in the afternoon. But, we could talk about it. I could see their face. I knew their story. Read the rest of this entry

It Doesn’t Get Easier, Things Only Change

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ThngschangeFour years ago, I was chatting with a colleague about family life. Her husband was a fly in-fly out mine worker. Two weeks home, two weeks away. She admitted that the family was used to the schedule, but that it was still overwhelming for her when he went away.

I stupidly said, “At least your kids are older, so it must be easier.

Her kids were pre-teens and teenagers, you know, ones that could wipe their butts and weren’t asking to be carried every second and weren’t sucking on her boob all day. (That’s the phase of parenting I was going through at the moment with a 2 year old and a baby on the way).

She nicely said, “Actually…

And, went on to describe how things don’t really get easier, they only change.

Now I get it.

Yes, it does get easier in some ways.

They sleep better, need to be carried less, can speak more, etc.

But, the strain and shock of adjusting to a young child, and especially of being a new parent, morphs into something else… Something more mentally demanding. Something requiring more patience. Something more high maintenance and that is more refined.

The days when I thought I couldn’t lift another tiny human being have been replaced discussing how much and what sort of screen time is appropriate.

The days of little sleep, have been replaced with negotiating a million unreasonable and unusual requests.

We used to get by with one little walk outside a day, but now they need much more. Dance lessons, swimming, bike rides, you name it.

The days when I swear I could not wipe another butt, oh yeah.. sorry, I’m still in those days, let’s not go there.

And, over the years, MY needs have changed too!

When they were babies, I knew in my heart, I wanted to be no place but home. Now that they’re older, is this what I really want? How much of myself do I want to put back into the workforce? Is my outside-the-house-work fulfilling enough that it validates being away? And, if I am away, how much of the household and of the kid’s emotions should I be willing to sacrifice to do it? They still need me… but I need myself too.

And, do I really have an excuse to not have dinner on the table or a clean house? After all, I don’t have a baby anymore… so what do I do all day??? Can I justify my lack of ‘domestication‘ now that my kids are older. True, they’re older, but it doesn’t make it easier.

I’m sure one day it will get easier. Like really easier. Like, when they either move out, or turn 25 (arbitrary age, because that’s the age I seemed to sort myself out). But, for now, it’s not. Being a parent is a challenge, no matter how old the kids are!

Special Note: This post is not to leave new mothers feeling hopeless! If you are struggling in the early years, with physical pain, or emotional trauma, things will get better… be sure to seek the help you need.