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Image via foodepix.com
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Once upon a time there was a Mummy who cried and cried

Last night while laying in bed with my beautiful daughter, she asked me to tell her a story.  This is how it went.

Once upon a time there was a Mummy who was very sad and grumpy.  The Mummy didn’t want to be so sad and grumpy, she knew it was just her brain not working properly.  She knew it wasn’t her children’s fault and she was sorry if she ever upset them.

The Mummy had to sleep a lot during the day and didn’t have a lot of energy to take her kids to the park, even though she really wanted to.  Luckily her doctor knew how to help and gave her some medicine to help her get back to normal so she could smile and feel happy again.  The medicine took a little bit of time to work, but soon the Mummy didn’t need to sleep or cry so much.

What the Mummy did know, however, was that she loved her children so much and that her favourite thing to do was to kiss and cuddle them to sleep at night.

After I told her this story she smiled, rolled over and went to sleep.

Three little things this Thursday

I have lots to be grateful for, but sometimes it’s hard to notice.  Today is one of those days. Weeks actually.   I’m going to push through, and see what I can come up with.

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I’m grateful I have this blog and the gratitude Thursday thing going on to force me to think about what I have in my life, despite what my head may think.

I’m grateful for my sister who has been checking up on me.

I’m grateful for my brother who has helped me care for my kids while I’ve not been feeling 100%.  Or 10%.

Thanks guys.

 

How the alcohol-free thing is working out for me

water

I decided to give up alcohol for a month here.  Since then I’ve been meaning to write an update, and now that I’ve been off the booze for almost 2 weeks, it’s gotten so easy, I can’t quite remember the difficult bits to update you with.

At the moment it’s going really well, I’m not missing it at all, and am loving getting to bed early and sleeping most of the night, and not waking with a hangover of any kind.  Also loving that feeling of staying in control.  Not just the lack of control that goes hand in hand with being drunk or tipsy, but having enough control to say no in the first place.

The first week was definitely the hardest, where I had a few trying days with the kids, but I seem to have forgotten that alcohol is even an option this week.

So far I’ve refused a couple of offers to crack a bottle of wine.  I’ve been to a BBQ and had sparkling water and a solstice party and had mulled orange juice instead of wine.  My husband’s had a few beers and offered me one, and so far I’ve resisted.

I had a pretty trying day in the first week, where the kids and I had a few tiffs, I hadn’t had a lot of sleep and I was hanging for some adult company.  Noticing all these causes helped.  I had to remind myself a few times that cracking the cold bottle of champers in the fridge would cause more problems than I needed.  A few deep  breaths and a very considered and mindful cup of tea calmed me down enough for the craving to pass.

Image via foodepix.com

This was going to be one of those awful, craving inducing pictures of cold champagne…

I think the biggest revelation has been that maybe I don’t actually like drinking.  I like the idea of having a relaxing glass of wine or a celebratory glass of champagne, but after having that one relaxing drink I know I’ll feel anxious for more.  I know I’ll be unable to function normally and have to either commit to finishing the bottle because I can’t stay in limbo, or sit down and let the effects wear off.  I’m really starting to appreciate this and the relief I feel when I say “no thanks”, knowing I don’t have to go through these scenarios in my head.

Thinking a lot about what it actually is that I’m craving is helping, because I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Other than the taste and feel of champagne in my mouth. The culture of “relaxing” with friends over a bottle of wine perhaps?  But the actual alcohol and intoxication is not something I’m missing.

So now I’m able to say no!  Aside from during pregnancy when I was able to go without a drop of alcohol for well over 9 months (times 3 children), I think this may be one of only a handful of times I’ve refused a drink for no good reason and I feel pretty good about it.  And it seems to feel better than during pregnancy.  Much different to the feeling of knowing I couldn’t have a drink even if I wanted to.  You always want what you can’t have.

I feel in control and a bit mature actually.  Here I am writing on my blog, something I enjoy doing, instead of drinking, stressing about getting too drunk and being too tired to wake up to the kids in the morning…. feeling totally out of control.  I’ve also started knitting again, something I can do in the evenings to relax, which has the added bonus of being productive.

I’ll address the pros and cons I listed here next week.

 

Modelling minimalism to kids

piggy bank

Lately I’ve had a renewed motivation to curb my spending.  I’m trying hard to get back to a place where I’m always responsible with cash, whether my mood is up or down, instead of being such an erratic spender.  Previously things have evened themselves out in the long term, with me spending more than necessary at times, but then locking myself inside for months at a time and not spending a cent, mainly because I don’t have the energy to even bother grocery shopping.

But, let’s put my moods and spending habits aside and talk about how to model financial responsibility to children.  I know modelling is most of it, but sometimes I get caught out.    There’s times when the kids manage to tug on the right heart string and make me question myself and ask if maybe I am depriving them or being unreasonable, and maybe they are missing out?

When I’m trying to curb my own spending I’m usually able to just avoid shops.  I know that if I enter a nice store I’m more than likely to find something I need, so the easiest option for me is to not look in the first place.

Then, on a deeper level, reading stuff like this, and this, helps me gain a bit of perspective.  Do I really want a lifetime in the rat-race, or to feel forced into going back to work while my kids still need me at home?  Do I want to buy this beautiful but superfluous jacket, (it really was so lovely!), or do I want to be able to stay home and be there for my children?  In these ways, I can understand the benefits of spending less, but there are times that I still need to explain this to my children.  Explaining this when there’s just THE coolest dinosaur or book, or awesome new LEGO, or just another trip to the dinosaur show can be difficult.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Is unconditional love and quality time together enough?  Will they accept this?  Probably not, but I’m sure they’ll get over it, and grow up to be all the better for it, knowing that material possessions don’t bring us happiness.  Or will they rebel and go crazy with buying stuff when they’re older?  Maybe in an authoritarian house, where I spend and tell them not to, but if I model buying quality, locally made necessities less frequently they might grow up to believe this is normal?

How do we move beyond these temptations and explain the benefit of going without?

Here’s a few things we try, but I’d love some more ideas and inspiration.

Explain:

  • that it’s better to buy quality so we can enjoy it for longer
  • that this means some plastic toys break easily or are only designed to be used a couple of times which can be disappointing to everyone
  • that “things” might make us happy for a little while, but we soon forget about them
  • that items with licensed logos are exactly the same as the plain ones but are more expensive for no good reason

Tell them:

  • we’re just looking today
  • yes, it’s beautiful but we don’t really need it
  • lucky your birthday’s coming up
  • lucky we have a happy healthy family, so we don’t need stuff to make us happy
  • we could make something similar
  • different families have different spending habits for a number of reasons (priorities, income, culture etc)
  • let’s get what we came for so we know we’ll have enough money

Model by:

  • admiring items and then not buying anything
  • giving money to charities and homeless and discussing what it means to have nothing
  • not watching any commercial TV so children don’t want for unnecessary advertised items
  • buying locally made and hand made quality items and ignoring commercial trends
  • very rarely entering shops without a purpose
  • visiting the library each week for some exciting new books to read

There are some great resources out there, such as a whole range of simple parenting and frugal living blogs and websites.  A few for you to browse:
Penniless Parenting 

- Frugal Babe

- The Diary of a Frugal Family

- The Minimalist Mom

- Mr Money Mustache

Please share your own tips and ideas and inspiration, I’d love to know how you help your children understand your ideas on spending.

 

Learning to live with it

imperfections

 

Image via peacefulatmosphere.com

Image via peacefulatmosphere.com

Lazy Saturday

A few bits and pieces… first of all, I haven’t posted much this week due to laptop issues, so I have lots to share with you over the coming week.   Also, this means the weekly wrap up wasn’t sent yesterday, so you have a double dose due in your inboxes this coming Friday (with double the free printables!).

My mood has been a bit low the past few days, so I fear if I give myself the opportunity to spill my guts right now it’d be pretty bleak, so I might just share some phone pictures from my week instead.

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I watched as this little baby tried her hardest to be one of the big kids!

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We spun right round, baby, right round.

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This little girl helped me out while her big brother and sister were at school.

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I spent some quiet time cooking with my very careful and particular boy.

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We enjoyed our neighbourhood solstice party.  BYO soup and mulled wine.  I took some warm spiced orange juice instead!

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And I am accepting that for now, this purple pillow-pet is where I am resting my weary head.  On this “temporary” bed, right between my two girls, helping them both fall asleep peacefully and happily, while being close to their Mum.  And it seems to be helping me drift off too!

Oooh, I do feel slightly better, looking over these happy pictures from the week instead of dwelling on my low mood.  Tomorrow is a new day, let’s see what it brings.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Three little things this Thursday

gratitude changes everything
  • Coffee.  Thank you coffee for all you have done for me today.
  • Grateful for lovely family friends to have over for dinner and who have perfectly aged children to play with ours!  We’ll miss them while they travel the world for a few weeks.
  • Library books.  They bring us so much joy and excitement each week.

What advice would you give a group of new mothers?

imperfections

Image via weheartit.com

Yesterday I had a chance encounter at our local library with an acquaintance from the very very beginning of my mindfulness and meditation journey! A fellow participant in my first set of mindfulness classes. The classes that changed the way I deal with depression and life in general.

So over 3 years later we meet at the library, her with her new bub for a talk about literacy with children and a welcome to the kids’ section of the library (a very awesome initiative WA, thank you!), and me taking my 4 year old son (and toddler) to choose his 12 books for the week.

And so we chatted about how the meditation thing worked out for us, both over the moon with the results and ensuing sense of peace, and I did something I haven’t done before. I mentioned my blog! Yes, for the first time, I haven’t even told my closest friends yet. I’m not sure why, maybe for fear of being judged as the unperfect-mother-blogging-about-all-things-parenthood? Or maybe it’s just my lack of confidence in my writing skills? Either way, I mentioned my blog, since it’s based on my mental health and parenting journeys combined, things we both have in common. And it felt pretty good, thinking that some of the links and references here may help another new mother starting out on their parenting journey. I guess mentioning it is the closest I would want to come to giving advice to a new Mum.

The other dozen or so mothers were milling around waiting for the literacy talk to start while I searched for books and were discussing their infants’ sleep. That old chestnut. The topic that dominants a massive 99%* of new parent groups conversations.

“And she won’t settle in the evenings, for like, 2 hours, I just have to hold her the entire time, and it’s just not good enough so I called the child health nurse and……” (Maybe they should have called Pinky McKay for advice?).

Oh, the memories! It makes me relax a bit about my own regrets, because so many mothers experience the same anxieties! We just want to do it right! But guess what? There is no right. There is just love and comfort for these new little beings. Why on earth are we so obsessed with doing it right?

So I eavesdropped a bit, because it made me feel a bit better to know there are other neurotic sleep obsessed new mothers out there, and the ratio of neurotic mothers to broken children is somewhat comforting, don’t you think?

I listened to the lengthy, detailed, obsessive discussions about sleep cycles, feeding times, settling techniques, swaddling techniques and routines because it made me realise, like everything in life, we have to make our own decisions and learn from them (notice how I stopped short of saying “own mistakes”?).

We each make our own choices because at some stages in our life we don’t listen to others, we think we know what’s best, or we think we’ve already been given the best advice and that everything else is substandard. And also, I guess because at some times in our lives, we get bombarded with so much advice, it really is necessary to switch off from it and go with the heart.

Image via weheartit.com I just had to, it made me laugh!

Image via weheartit.com
(I just had to, it made me laugh!)

So, of course I didn’t chip in with my 2 cents, of course not! Mainly because I knew it would fall on deaf ears and looks of utter incredulity, but also because we each have to figure it out along the way. We each have different priorities at any given time, and at the time of being a new, first time mother, shocked out of the predictable pattern of sleep, wake, eat, do whatever, eat, do whatever, eat, sleep, sleep, sleep, begin again, into something entirely different, our main priority is sleep. Of course. It feels like torture to be shaken from the pleasant dreamful lifestyle that was life before broken sleep. But, then, after a while, it becomes clear that this new, sleep deprived life is even more dream-like. An amazing adventure, showing our children this world for the very first time. Seeing their little faces light up at the simplest of things, things we had forgotten were magical. Being the one and only person who can make them smile the most peaceful and contented smile. And once you get to this stage, it becomes unfathomable how much time we spent obsessing about sleep, when the most amazing chapter of our lives was unfolding beneath our noses.

So, dear new mothers group, I know sleep is important to you now, as you have been thrust into this crazy world of broken sleep, but believe me, you will soon learn to live with it, adapt to it and change your lifestyle accordingly. And in the meantime, if you do want some advice from an old hand (well, 6 years and 3 kids in), my advice would be, get an Ergo and read Robin Grille’s Heart to Heart Parenting. That’s it. Oh, and if you want to know how my journey started off (possibly similar to yours), read this.

What advice would you give to a new and sleep deprived parent?

*quite possibly an accurate statistic.

But Mummy, do you still like me?

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Hmmmm, this morning my sense of calm (or lack thereof) was certainly put to the test (big fail).

I fell asleep last night while putting the kids to bed, and wasn’t woken until 5am, so I had at least 9 hours of solid sleep. A miracle in itself!

I sprung out of bed, so excited to be wide awake and in a relatively good mood. I felt pretty chuffed with myself as I put the kettle on and made the lunches. I even made cute little love heart and dinosaur sandwiches and chopped 4 different types of salad vegetables to go with them. Then I noticed my son had pushed the couch across the floor and scratched the timber. Of our rented house. And. I. Lost. It. “ROOAAAARRRRR! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I’ve told you NOT TO SCRATCH THE FLOOR. ARRRRGGGHH.”

In that moment all my calmness was instantly gone. Bam! Just disappeared. Where did it go?

“But Mummy do you still like me?”

Awwwww *heart breaks slightly* “Yes, of course I like you, I love you. I’ll always love you. BUT DON’T SCRATCH THE FREAKING FLOOOOOOOOR. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU?”

I ended up yanking my daughter’s hair into a pony tail, and screaming at everyone to get their stuff together for school. I could feel my heart racing and my shoulders tensing up, the wrinkles permanently forming on my forehead.

And things had started off so well.

I felt tense and on edge for the rest of the morning. I drove them to school because we were running late, telling them the whole way, quite loudly, that they need to get themselves organised in the mornings. Why are we always late? Why do you muck around when I ask you to get your shoes on? I’m very angry, I’m so sick of this… blah, blah, blah. Rant, rant, rant.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

And so I dropped them off and headed to my weekly meditation class. And now I feel calm again.

So this raises a few questions for me. First of all, despite my good intentions, my regular meditation and focus on perspective, my goals to get more sleep and drink less alcohol, how do I stop losing it at these times? Sure, he shouldn’t be scratching the floor, but how do I respond calmly? And still get him to respect the house we’re living in?

Also, it highlights the fact that a good mood, well rested mind and a feeling-on-top-of-it kind of attitude can easily be shattered by one little incident. But then I remembered that the same goes for the kids. I got to go to meditation and calm myself, he gets to go to school, probably in a bad mood because Mum shouted at him, will probably get annoyed with anyone that comes near him, and will probably re-enact the behaviours I displayed to him this morning. And when does he get the chance to calm down?

I know for a fact that if someone I respect has a go at me, or even if I think they’re having a go at me, it puts me in a bad mood. The entire universe comes down to rest on my shoulders and make tough work of the day that I was living quite peacefully, thank you very much.

So really, it’s only natural that if I lose it at one of the kids, that they will then be grumpy or annoying or annoyed and angry for a little while after, because that’s exactly how it makes me feel.

My husband came home from work the other day after I’d had 5 kids in the house since 7am and made a snide comment about the mess in the living room. Something along the lines of “Why can’t we get the kids to put things away before their friends go home…” or some such rubbish. The fact that he’d had less than 4 hours sleep then worked all day and now faced the impossible task of completing a due assignment while wading through toys and other crap seemed irrelevant to me in that moment. I was pissed off and took his comment very personally. And this put me in a bad mood for the rest of the evening. I couldn’t bring myself to smile at anyone, or even drag my sorry self around the house to tidy up. I didn’t want to tidy it up, just to make a point.

So why do I expect the kids to just bounce effortlessly back to their carefree selves after I’ve had a little dig at them over something or raised my voice more than necessary? I shouldn’t expect them to. They deserve to be annoyed too. And remembering this makes me less likely to get grumpy with them in the first place… until THEY SCRATCH THE FLOOOOOOOOR.

Yep, I can definitely see the point in learning and practicing c-a-l-m. Maybe I would have lost it hours before this point if I hadn’t been working on calmness so much. Who knows? But it’s also important to model and teach the kids to be calm. To calm themselves down when *someone* puts them in a bad mood.

Image via peacefulatmosphere.com

Image via positiveatmosphere.com

Right, so, over to you, my lovely, helpful reader, how on earth do you stay calm when it is totally beyond you? How do you get things across to your kids that are super important to you? Without losing your cool?

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to what they have to say

won't tell you the big stuff

Image via Pinterest

How do you do it?  How do you make time to truly listen to your kids?  Each one of them?

Also, I’ve just come across this list of things not to say to your kids.

I know there’s already so much to remember while raising precious young kids, but these are all really important ones, and understanding why I shouldn’t say them helps me to understand my role in parenting.