Posts tagged #parents

First Birthday

First Birthday Mama Pyjama

A year ago today I threw myself blindly into the blogisphere and launched Mama Pyjama. I’ll be honest and tell you I had no idea what I was doing (I don’t think I’d ever actually read a blog before!)…but I did have a very clear mission.

That mission was to connect with parents suffering from “Mama Pyjama Syndrome” and give them the drive to pull themselves out of the rut and back into life again! My driving passion was to be a part of other people’s journeys of rediscovery. In short, I wanted to be the catalyst in getting other parents to reconnect with their passions and their sense of self.

It’s been a massive learning curve for me…there’s been moments of self doubt, internal conflict and confusion. But these moments have been well and truly outweighed by the moments of hope, happiness and clarity that have been borne through the simple act of speaking openly and honestly about my life and the ensuing support of my readers.

There’s nearly 3000 of you now…and whilst that may not be a big number in the grand scheme of things – for a small town girl like me, that’s a heck of a lot of people in my corner. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my life with you all.

I have also had the opportunity to do some pretty cool things in Mama Pyjama’s first year. It’s hard to believe that not that long ago I was trapped in my pyjamas just going through the motions!

Now I can proudly say I’ve worked with some big industry names like Bonds Australia, Disney, GAIA Skin Naturals, Kosmea Australia, Johnson & Johnson, Natural Life, iVillage and Bub Hub. I’ve interviewed some truly inspirational people – like the founders and creators of both GAIA Skin Naturals and Madame Flavour Tea. I’ve won a couple of blogging competitions and been nominated for a few more, which has brought with it a sense of pride and achievement. But most importantly I’ve connected with kindred spirits all over the world, some of whom I now call friends, and some of whom have attributed positive changes in their life to Mama Pyjama. I can’t tell you how amazing that makes me feel and how grateful I am to have the chance to make a small difference in the life of others.

So as not to go on, I’ll finish up here by saying – it’s amazing what you can do in a year if you set your mind to it. Remember, I was zombie mama: living each day just to get through to the next nap time. Now I see doors opening everywhere I look. I’ve got so many ideas in my head that sometimes there are not enough hours in the day or days in the week. I want to DO stuff. LEARN stuff. LIVE stuff. And it only took a single moment to trigger that shift. Don’t wait any longer to make a change. All you have to do is want it, commit yourself to it and truly believe it is possible. The rest will fall into place.

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!

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.

Competition

"Save the pretending for parties!"

"Save the pretending for parties!"

I am very lucky to be surrounded by supportive women who share the same “no holds barred” approach to discussing our parenting experiences.  But I’ve heard so many stories from women about the pressures they feel in living up to the carefully constructed images that other mothers present. 

You know the ones…claiming to never have sworn, or yelled, or lost their temper.  Sprouting about getting a full night’s sleep every night with their newborn.  Comparing the milestones of your children with theirs.  Constantly posting updates on how wonderful their life is and how motherhood is a dream.  These are usually the same mums that are making the judgement calls on putting your child in daycare or being a stay-at-home mum, preaching whatever opinion suits their situation and putting down anyone that does the opposite. 

Ah good luck to them!  If this perfect little world really does exist for them, consider them the one in a million - the winners of the parenting lottery.  I’m happy for them, honestly I am!  But as for the rest of them, let’s get real.  You seriously have never ever, not once wanted to lock your child in a room and run out of the house screaming?  They’ve never pushed your buttons so much that you’ve lost the plot and yelled ridiculous statements like “what is WRONG with you?” two inches from their face?  You’ve never rewashed the laundry three times, or let dishes pile up for a week?  Never sat in a corner crying wondering how you got to where you are?  The statement “I’m failing” or “I totally suck at being a mum” or “I can’t do this” have never crossed your mind?

So flip it 'round and think of it a different way.  Instead of comparing yourself to these women, or buying into their opinions and mind games…think about how hard it must be to be them.  Imagine waking up each day and lying to yourself and everyone around you about how ‘easy’ everything is.  Imagine never getting any help because no one thought you needed it.  Imagine how hard they must work to ensure that their house is pristine so as to leave no hint of struggle.  Imagine how difficult it must be to maintain the facade.  Urgh!  No thanks!  I’ll take second guessing, guilt ridden, slightly lunatic, warts and all mum over that any day.

If you ARE one of these women – please stop.  Women have come a long way in recent years, and a lot of them have fought really really hard to get us equal opportunities and rights.  Stop sabotaging our gender!  We should be banding together, not putting each other down or creating unnecessary competition and pressure.  We need to support one another, prop each other up, share our struggles and celebrate our successes - together as one.  It’s a modern world, there’s a lot of pressure on mums to be a lot of different things now days.  Please stop adding to that pressure! 

If you’re right smack bang in the middle of being dragged into this comparison game…get off the train!  Now!  You’re tired, you’re vulnerable, you’re susceptible – they’re preying on you!  Don’t let them get their teeth in.  It’s not too late!  Run - run really really fast in the opposite direction.  In fact, run over to Mama Pyjama on facebook  – read the blogs, read the responses from readers – there’s a whole community of real, supportive, honest parents out there.  Get in amongst it and save yourself the pain of trying to live up to unrealistic expectations.

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!