Posts tagged #kids

All Grown Up

All Grown Up Mama Pyjama

I’m pretty sure it was just yesterday that I was sitting on a school bench, giggling with my friends about what we were going to be when we grew up.  We talked about how old we’d be when we got married, how many kids we planned to have, all the things we were going to do when we were ‘free’ from the shackles of youth.  It all seems like a lifetime away.  Thirty seemed so old, and the thoughts of us being parents and career women, wives and homeowners, were like alien concepts – far far away in a land we were yet to discover. 

All of a sudden, we’re 34, married, with kids, careers and mortgages.  Yet when we get together we still look at each other, often erupting into a fit of giggles as we look to see our kids playing together on the floor.  We can’t be that OOOOLLD yet!  Whose children are they?! They couldn’t possibly all be ours?!

There are also times when we question our capability and readiness as parents.  We’re 34, and we’re still finding our way.  We’re still growing, we’re still learning, we’re still calling upon our mums and dads for help.  Sometimes it feels like we’re playing dress-ups.  We’ve sometimes wondered if we’ll ever have it ‘all together’ in the way we envisioned all those years ago. 

It’s a strange awakening when you realise that your parents would have felt the same way.  When you acknowledge that you never stop needing to learn.  You never stop growing.  When you realise that there’s really no such thing as ‘grown up’…unless of course by ‘grown up’ we actually mean ‘passed on’.  When you look at it that way, it changes your perspective.  If we’re not growing...we’re dying. 

It’s a lot of pressure hearing a little person call you “Mum” (or “Dad”).  It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed sometimes…especially on those days where you feel like you’re just dressed up, playing house, flying blind.   But it’s ok.  We’re not alone.  Millions of parents before us have felt the same way.  You pick yourself up and you keep fakin’ it ‘til you make it.  Our children will still view us as we viewed our parents.  As old, as wise, as safe, as stable and as home.

We need to remind ourselves that if we’re not learning, we’re not living.  If we were as ‘old’ and ‘together’ as our 11 year old self envisioned we’d be, we’d be boring as bat poo.  There’s colour in our flaws and depth in our weaknesses. This is the light and shade that people always speak of.  This is what makes us human, this is what makes us want to keep on living.  This is what makes us ‘real’, ‘normal’, functioning and approachable people. 

So I’m 34, I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a career woman, I’m a homeowner…but I’m not grown up.  I’m growing.  With every day that passes I do become a little wiser (and a little wrinklier), I gain a little more experience, and I develop a greater understanding of life in general.  But there’s always room for more.  I don’t intend on having it ‘all together’ or being all ‘grown up’ for quite a number of decades yet!

Holidaying with Kids

"It always look fun in the photos"

"It always look fun in the photos"

My mum and I were just talking about the Google guy and his multi-billion dollar fortune.  We were discussing the impact that having that sort of money would have on your state of mind.  What sort of goals would you set yourself (you wouldn’t need to save for anything and you could get first class training in anything you wanted to learn)?  How much would it impact the things that money can’t buy…like love and contentment?  What we would spend it on?  Travel - that’s what I’d spend my money on.  Traveling the world and experiencing as many different cultures as possible.   I’ve got to admit, that’s probably the only thing I really wish we’d done more of before having kids.

Holidaying with kids is a whole different kettle of fish.  We took our first son to Bali with us – twice.   The first time went pretty well – the Balinese love little babies!  The hardest part was packing.  We survived on carry-on luggage whilst he required two full sized suitcases to accommodate nappies, formula, shelf stable foods, and about 35 spew rags and clothing changes. 

The second time we went back I was pregnant with my second child.  Looking back I do wonder if I was not actually temporarily insane at that point in time. Well, if I wasn’t then, I can tell you that by day three of the ‘holiday’ I certainly was. 

My son was (still is) a terrible sleeper, so we were up half the night, then from the crack of dawn trying to keep him quiet (impossible) in a hotel with adjoining walls.  Every outing had to be timed to coincide with his sleep times, which meant by the time everyone else woke up, we’d walk down the street only have to start heading back to the hotel again.  He was walking...Bali streets… need I say more?  He got really sick with a fever two nights in…resulting in ear syringing, strange medication, and one million rupiah less in our pocket.  Two days later he runs full pelt into the ocean and gets slammed by a wave landing us back in hospital.  The next day he tried his hand at concussion, slipping and slamming his head on the concrete floor.  He got eaten alive by mosquitoes despite every effort to protect him.  He wouldn’t eat the food, he wouldn’t sit still in the restaurants and whenever we tried to let him run free he’d take off full speed in the opposite direction.  It was a nightmare – made worse by the fact that I was painfully sober, pregnant, hot and (put honestly) FREAKING OUT!  We returned home to wind up in PMH a week later with our son being tested for malaria. 

At that point I vowed never to travel with children under the age of about 8 years old EVER again.

Consequently my husband and I haven’t been on a proper holiday together for a long time…so when the opportunity to travel over east for a few days presented itself recently, my husband and I were just a little excited!  Our wonderful family has offered to look after our babies for us so that we can get away for an extended weekend.   Imagine, dinners at restaurants – on our time (not at 5pm) and at our choice (not HJs or a child-friendly venue).  Imagine actually being able to eat your food whilst it’s hot, talk to each other (rather than the constant diatribe “sit still, just a minute, I’m just cutting it up for you, it’s a bit hot, it won’t be long, don’t touch that, sit down, put that back, leave your brother alone, get that out of your ear!”).  Imagine being out after dark, strolling down the street, contemplating a casino visit, or a late night cuppa.  Oh, and shopping, markets, tram rides, theatre shows, SLEEP-INS…yep, this is sounding like heaven!

I really wish I could be all Angelina Jolie and travel the universe with my boys…but I think it is just going to have to wait (until I win the lottery and can afford private jets and live in nannies) or at least until they are a little older!  In the meantime, let’s hope this getaway is a success so that we can get our little travel fix every once in a while!

What have your travel experiences been like?

Respect

Respect Mama Pyjama

Is it getting harder to raise respectful well-mannered children? Or are we just getting lazy?  Is it a result of social evolution?  More rights; a greater voice; more responsibilities; better understanding of the effects of various ‘parenting styles’ on young minds; more children in daycare; more independence; less social interaction - more texting, more Facebook, more Twitter?  Whatever the reason…it’s a pet hate of mine.

What happened to “welcome to Hungry Jacks, please place your order when you’re ready”?…when did it become “Place you order….Drive to the next window” ?

When did it become ok for kids to sit and adults to stand? 

What changed and made it ‘normal’ for the elderly man down the road to be abused by a gang of youths?  What happened to kids running scared when they heard “get off my lawn or I’ll tell your father”?  When did they become so ‘empowered’ that they instead choose to respond with a threat to “beat his head in” for simply defending his own property?

I don’t want to look back in fifteen years and be responsible for having raised one of these kids.  But I’m scared about all the pressures I will be up against in trying to ensure it doesn’t happen.  Are his friends’ parents going to band together with my husband and me on the no mobile phone rule for pre-teens or the decision as to what age it is appropriate to catch a train into town, or go to the movies with friends?  Will we be supported by the majority in our rules surrounding internet usage and access to their own spending money?  Will our expectations of their contributions to our household be rebuked by some new statute regarding the freedom of rights for young people?

I want to raise my children to have a voice and to believe in themselves and chase their dreams - but not at the expense of respecting others and supporting their peers.  It’s a fine line between ‘dog-eat-dog’, and making some sacrifices in order to achieve your goals.  It’s a fine line between having a voice, and being disrespectful to the beliefs and feelings of others.  I want to raise children who show consideration for others’ opinions, but who have enough strength in their own convictions to stay true to themselves.  Children who will show respect even in the face of rudeness.  Boys who will say “good morning, Sir” to the old man down the street, and who will walk on the footpath instead of across his lawn. 

So here’s what I’m going to try and do.  I’m going to encourage my kids to get out and get talking and not to build their entire social relationships from behind their computer screen or mobile phone.  I’m going to get them involved in charities and try to expose them to lives that differ to theirs.  I will insist on good manners, on “may I please?” on “thank you”…on the often forgotten ‘you’re welcome”.  I will try (as hard as it may be) to get to know my children’s friends’ parents and to work together to be united in our expectations and boundaries.  I will insist that they treat their grandparents and their aunties and uncles with respect at all times, for this will provide the foundation for all their future relationships.  And lastly, I will try my best to recognise when I am falling short and when I need help.  Setting clear boundaries is something my free-spirited nature struggles with…I will work on this.

What are some other things we can do to help raise respectful children?  Comment below.

Two's Company

"Saddle up! We're in for a ride!"

"Saddle up! We're in for a ride!"

I miss my husband.

I miss: spending the whole day just messing around in the kitchen cooking up a storm with him; drinking a bottle of wine each and staying up all night just because we could; fooling around, popping coke bottles with a BB gun; aimless drives in our panel van, Elvis singing effortlessly in the background. 

I miss: the laughter and the banter; watching a movie together, with popcorn, and beer and no interruptions; dinner at strange restaurants watching him order the weirdest thing on the menu as I search for the chicken parmy. 

I miss: watching him laugh with friends; spending the whole day in bed with him; sundowners and the goofy ballroom dancing we’d inevitably end up displaying at the night’s end. 

I miss the holidays: discovering new worlds together; learning together; relaxing together… 

I miss my husband.

A few weeks ago I asked you guys to tell me something you took for granted before having kids.  I took for granted by time with my husband.

I wish we’d gone out more, travelled more, “lived” more.  I wish we’d spent less time in front of the TV and more time out in the world.  I wish we’d realised how much freedom and opportunity we had.  I wish we’d fully appreciated the ability to do just about anything we wanted to do at the drop of a hat. 

And now that we know all this and we are so grateful for even the smallest opportunity to be alone together – I wish we weren’t so damn tired!!

I know that these days don’t last forever and that with each day that passes the kids get more independent and the window of opportunity to hang out in another room and chat gets bigger.  But right now, it’s hard.  Really hard.

I also know that in those moments when the kids aren’t wrestling or head butting each other, when they’re not trying to stick cheese up their nose or tip yoghurt on their brother’s head… those moments when they’re just sitting together hugging like angels or giggling at how funny the word “butt” is... you look across the room at each other and know that together you made them, you gave them life.  In those moments there’s a feeling that you share that you couldn’t manufacture and you wouldn’t trade for anything.  But in between those moments, in between the sleepless nights, in between all the disciplining, food preparation, laundry and work…there’s little time to just be a couple.  Not Mum and Dad.  Just Kellie and Dino. 

So, for those of us lucky enough to be sharing this journey with a partner, if you’ve not yet had your baby I urge you to go out and make the most of your time together.  Even if you’re pregnant and tired and feeling like Shamu the Whale…get out there and watch a movie, eat at a fancy restaurant, take 15 trips to the shops together in one day just because you can.  Sleep in together, laugh together, cook together.  Go for a walk as the sun’s going down, talk, play a boardgame, go see a play.  Stay up all night and sleep all day, ring each other on the phone and just chat for no reason at all – because telephone calls without the sound of cats dying in the background will soon be a thing of the past. 

The times you have ahead will be the best but also some of the hardest years.  The tiredness, the lack of time alone and the constant pressures of parenting will test your relationships tremendously.  So do what you can to make sure the foundations are strong now. 

For those of you already in the thick of it, I wish you all the best in working through it, finding time for each other and coming out the other side of the toddler years with your relationship still intact.  I am so blessed to be sharing this journey with my husband.  It’s so important to remind each other of that.  To try and make the time to reconnect as a couple on a regular basis.  To support each other’s needs and to be as understanding and as patient with each other as possible. 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and these times don’t last forever.  In fact, in a couple of years I’m sure we’ll be looking back on these times and missing all the baby first moments and the way they used to say “Dah-dee and MaMaaa”.  We’ll miss the times we nursed them at 2 in the morning, and the way they fought for our attention (one on each leg both screaming our name, refusing to be shook off).  We’ll forget all the hard stuff, and we’ll look back together and think what a great job we did together bringing them up ;). 

But in the meantime…try to keep perspective, nurture your patience and do your best to put each other first sometimes. 

Guilt

"  I find the accused - GUILTY!"

"I find the accused - GUILTY!"

“Didn’t enroll your child in swimming lessons by 6 months of age?” Guilty.  “Forgot to pack a jumper in their daycare bag?” Guilty.  “Didn’t get up and attend to crying newborn even though partner was with them?” Guilty.  “Enrolled them in daycare, and returned to work?” Guilty. “Had a bad day, took it out on the kids?” Guilty.  “Left them with their doting grandparents overnight to spend time just with your partner?” Guilty.   “Complained in full knowledge that you are blessed with a healthy child?” Guilty.  “Screamed like a mad woman, spit flying, face burning, because child wouldn’t stop whinging?” Guilty. “Spent night out with friends having a drink and letting your hair down?” Guilty.  “Left the TV running for a solid 8 hours because you just couldn’t be bothered?” Guilty. “Gave your child chips and nuggets three times in one week?” Guilty.  “Forgot that teething gel helps when they are teething?” Guilty. “Didn’t take them to sports, dancing, ‘Rhyme Time’, playgroup, ‘Move to the Music’…” Guilty.  “Forgot their 18 month check-up with the clinic nurse?”  Guilty

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. GUILTY!

Since becoming a parent, it is almost like ‘guilty’ has become a constant state of being.  Like an uncomfortable undercurrent that bubbles along in your stomach somewhere beneath the digesting food.  Most of the time, I’m feeling guilty about my shortcomings as  a parent.

Other times the guilt is reflected from the preconceptions of what it means to be a successful modern mother. And sometimes it's attached to things that are completely out of my control – like the weather, or something someone else said or did. The guilty feeling comes and goes but mostly just comes; sometimes warranted but usually completely unfounded.

So, if it is largely irrational and unproductive, what purpose does it serve and why do we keep letting it control our state of mind?  Here’s what I’m doing to try and stop the guilt from controlling my life...my success rate so far isn’t terribly high, but it’s a good start ;).

Cut yourself some slack – You’re doing the best you can.  Sure, sometimes you fail miserably and end up feeling like the most negative raving lunatic on the planet - but most of the time you’re doing a cracking job (particularly for someone who is sleep deprived and dedicating almost every waking thought to the well-being of their children).  If your kids are still alive at the end of the day, consider that a win ;)  I’d be willing to bet that even on a ‘bad’ day, your kids still would have laughed on at least a dozen occasions.  Kids are resilient, and they generally seem to get over things quickly.  Stop beating yourself up for something you did or said a week ago.  Chances are they forgot about it ten minutes after it happened.

If the guilt serves no purpose, let it go – You can’t control everything and everyone in your kids’ lives. As much as you want to protect them from life’s unpleasant moments, we need to allow them to experience all facets of life in order to grow and develop as a person in their own right.  They will survive – after all, we did, didn’t we?
If the guilt is productive, don’t push it down – harness it.  Use it to better yourself.  Use it as a trigger for addressing whatever it was that evoked it in the first place.

Accept that time alone is necessary for your health and wellbeing – Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about taking a little time out to do the things you enjoy.  If you don’t nourish your own passions every once in a while, you won’t have the energy or desire to do anything other than just get through the day.  Squashing your own wants and needs all the time serves no purpose other than to teach your children that it’s ok to let go of your dreams and to stop seeking new experience and personal growth.  Fair enough, if you were to put marbles into jars for time spent doing things with/for your ‘kids’, ‘partner’ or ‘self’, if there were more marbles in the ‘self’ jar than anywhere else, perhaps you’d need to rethink your priorities a little.  But I’d hazard a guess that this would not be the case for any of you.

Let other people do things for your kids – Feeling guilty about letting the kids spend alone time with their grandparents sounds ridiculous when you write it down, but the fact is we do.  We feel guilty because we’ve somehow got it in our heads that we are the only ones that can offer our children exactly what they need.  When you say it out loud, you realise how much of a martyr you sound like!  Kids need their grandparents, their mothers, their fathers, their aunts and their uncles to help guide and support their developing personalities.  Admit that we are not the only people with something to offer, and allow others to step up and take part.  Let go of the guilt on this one because it is straight up irrational.  If these people want to be actively involved in your children’s lives, chances are they have bucket loads of love and life experience to offer them.  In setting yourself free from this guilt you’ll find you can nurture your other relationships in the process, as well as help raise more socially aware, independent and well-rounded children.  They’ve been telling us for decades that “it takes a village to raise a child”… perhaps we as parents need to turn on our ‘listening ears’ and take heed of this advice!