My favourite podcasts/Tedtalks/books on parenting

I have been asked to compile a list of my favourite ted talks, podcasts, books/audio books and resources that have shaped me into the parent I am  today.

Let me start by saying, that the parent I am today is not even close to the parent I was 6 years ago. It has been a conscious process of furthering myself, learning, unlearning, taking myself out of my comfort zone, being subjected to criticism and judgement but mostly just listening to my instinct as a parent.

My style of parenting is not going to work for everyone, it’s not going to work for everyone’s lifestyles, everyone’s children or everyone’s ideas of what parenting should look like. I’m not sayings it’s the right way, because there are many ways to raise a child.  But, my style works for us and I know it works for my children and most importantly, it is backed by science, psychology and history.

So, take this blog post as a stepping stone to discovering a style of parenting that works best for your support. Take it all on board or take bits and pieces and create your own unique style of parenting that feels best for you.

My favourite podcasts:

If there is one series on parenting that you listen to, it has to be the ‘Your Parenting Mojo’ series. This has changed my way of looking at parenting, given me the confidence to back my choices and has made me so much more relaxed as a parent. The best part about this series is that it covers so many topics and they always incorporate experts in the field that they are discussing- whether it be letting children take risks (my favourite in their series, ep 062) or about teaching gratitude.

The ‘Stuff You Should Know’ podcast series also covers ‘How Free Range Parenting Works’, which is quite an interesting episode. Definitely listen if this whole concept is new to you and you want more insight into who it all ‘works’.

IMG_20190412_165351

My favourite books/audio books:

‘Free to Learn’ by Peter Gray is a MUST read for all parents. It covers why children are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and unhappiness today than ever before and links this back to a disconnection from nature, lack of independence, over scheduling by (loving) parents and lack of freedom due to (again, loving but) overbearing parents. Please try to get your hands on a copy of this, you won’t regret it.

IMG_20190412_165337

Now, this is a book that I haven’t personally read but I trust those that have recommended it to me and it is one that I so desperately want to read as soon as I get half a chance. It is called ‘Last child in the woods’ by Richard Louv. I won’t comment too much on it, because I haven’t read it, but this looks like a must read as well.

My favourite Ted Talks:

Julie Lythcott-Haims is a genius. She did an amazing Tedtalk on “How to Raise Successful Kids-Without Over-Parenting”.

Gever Tulley did a great podcast that spoke to me on so many levels about “5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do”. This is probably my favourite Tedtalk, as I feel like it gives me permission to let my children be wild and take risks.

Emma Marris has also done en excellent Tedtalk on nature- “Nature is Everywhere- We Just Need To Learn To See it”. 

So, there you go. A very quick, off the cuff list of my favourites. I’m 100% sure I’ve missed quite a few, so when I think of extras (and get the time) I’ll add more. But this should get everyone who is interested in some eye opening, further learning started for the time being! Enjoy!

Advertisements

A Burnt Out Mama’s Discipline Plan

I’d spent the morning yelling at my kids “Get your shoes on! Where’s your lunch box? If you hit your brother you will not be watching tv this evening. Stop FIGHTING! WE. NEED. TO. GET. TO SCHOOL!” Less than an hour later I stood in the carpark with tears rolling down my cheeks, my almost two year old spread out on the bitumen- refusing to walk, going limp whenever I tried to pick him up, with no amounts of effort or threats making any difference to his behaviour. I just felt like a huge failure. None of the boys listen to me until I yell. There is constant fighting. My eldest seems to constantly misbehave even though he is almost six and knows what I expect of him. I just felt completely burnt out, fed up and powerless. So I turned to you guys. My amazing community who I seem to turn to every time life throws me a little curveball. I asked you all for your best advice on discipline, coping with ‘bad’ behaviour, basically just how to get my kids to do what I want and NEED them to do. And, like you always do, you stepped up to the challenge and gave me some AMAZING advice. I received hundreds of messages from mums, teachers, psychologists, child behaviour specialists, grandparents etc. A lot of you messaged me and said you felt like you were in exactly the same boat as me, so I thought I would compile all of the advice and have it in one place (here) for you to look over, and take what you want from it. Because what works for me might not work for you (but I hope it will!). So here is a list of the best advice I received (in no particular order):

  •  Karate/martial arts. Now don’t get me wrong, when a few of you messaged me to suggest this I kind of thought “Did they even hear the part when I said they were already being violent?” But after reading more about it and having quite a few of you message me saying the same thing I can see how it has the potential to work. Karate and martial arts teach so many things-discipline, respect, knowledge, following instructions, to name a few. It would also help get rid of any built up energy/frustration. A really valid suggestion!
  • Essential oils. Now, I don’t know enough about essential oils to comment on whether or not this would work.  But again, quite a lot of you messaged me to say that you have had huge success using essential oils to manage your children’s behaviours With some of you even saying that you were able to finally take your children off medication after commencing oils. I would recommend talking to Jazze from The Calm Compound, she is a wealth of knowledge and is happy for you to contact her if you are considering essential oils for managing your child’s behaviour.
  • Steve Biddulph– He is the Author of ‘Raising boys’ and ‘Raising Girls’. Again, I dont know enough about him but 90% of my inboxes were about this guy, so he must be doing something right! I’m definitely buying his book ‘Raising Boys’.
  • Jo Frost- Super Nanny. We have probably all seen at least one episode. She’s definitely not for everyone. She’s quite ‘old school’, very strict and can lean a bit too far to the side of ‘Authoritarian’ parenting, rather than ‘Authoritative’ which seems to achieve the best results. But she definitely has her merits. She is the Queen of consistency, she is very clear and doesn’t bend any rules. I think it is definitely worthwhile watching a few episodes on Youtube to pick up a few of her techniques. I’ve started doing this and I feel like I already have some effective techniques to get me started.
  • Maggie Dent. Again, I don’t know enough about her but a quick look at her website and she looks AMAZING! Seriously click on the link and have a look. There is a wealth of knowledge there. I will be going through this website asap!
  • Books: Siblings Without Rivalry, Raising Boys, Newbies Guide To Positive Parenting, 1, 2, 3 Magic, The Conscious Parent’s Guide To Positive discipline, The Whole Brain Child, No Drama Discipline, Perfect Parents/Perfect Children

Now, I think I’ve actually figured my situation out. I’ll explain it to you because it might help you make sense of your situation. I have three boys- 6, 4, and 2 (well, they’re all almost those ages). My husband is incredibly hands on with them. He is the most amazing father I’ve ever seen and they are obsessed with him. He started FIFO work (for the first time ever) about 2 months ago now and their behaviour has also become worse over these two months. In a nutshell, I think my 6 year old is misbehaving and ‘acting out’ aggressively/violently/talking back etc because he wants attention. If he behaves then we all cruise along as a family unit and I spend my time interacting with them all as a group. When he misbehaves I remove him and talk to him and tell him what he’s done wrong. Sometimes he cries so I spend more time with him. Sometimes he is even more defiant so I yell at him. But that doesn’t matter to him. I learnt at University during my Childhood Psychology units that sometimes, for some children any attention is good attention. I actually cant believe it’s taken me this long to realise. He is craving my attention and he doesn’t care if it’s me reprimanding him, because I’m still with him one on one. I think it is also no coincidence that his behaviour has become worse now that he is in his first year of formal schooling (so he is spending much less time with me at home). So, with this new found knowledge here is my plan:

  1. Spend one on one quality time with him every single day. I want to aim for at least 1 hour. This will probably mean putting the younger boys to bed and sitting up with Noah doing something he likes- reading a book, watching a movie, talking about his day etc.
  2. Praising all his positive interactions with his brothers during the day. I think I am already pretty good at this, but I really need to increase this so I’m pretty much praising every single positive thing he does (at least in the beginning).
  3. Give one warning for ‘bad’ behaviour and be clear about a) what I expect him to change/do differently. And b) what will happen if he doesn’t change his behaviour.  For example: “Please don’t hit your brother again, I don’t allow hitting in this house. You need to stop hitting right now. If you hit again you will go and spend 6 minutes in time out.”
  4. If he doesn’t change his behaviour then I have to be 100% consistent. This is where I know I go wrong. It is so hard to be consistent. We all get fed up, tired and plain sick of saying the same thing over and over, ya hear me? But this is something I know I need to do. I need to follow through every. single. time.
  5. When he is in time out he gets zero attention from me. Remember, attention is his ‘currency’. This is what he wants more than anything and he has learnt up until now that if he misbehaves he will get attention (any attention is good attention). So, now when he behaves he gets no attention.
  6. Once his time out is over, I explain to him why he was put in time out and what I expect from him moving forward. He has to agree to improve his behaviour. As soon as he shows even the slightest positive change in his behaviour I will shower him with positive attention.

I honestly think this will work. I have faith that if I stick to this 6 step plan I will see almost immediate results. I will say that I am not in any position to recommend or advise anyone on how to discipline their child so please use all of this as an insight into what I am doing and take from it what you want. Always speak to a doctor if you have any concerns surrounding your child. I hope this list might help you if you’re currently feeling helpless, pregnant with your first, second, third or fourth or planning a family in the future, or just looking for some parenting resources. I feel like our collective brains are so valuable, so this is what we’ve all created. Thank you, all.

 

You should all have a bag of Fucks and here’s why.

I did a story on Instagram a while ago about my bag of Fucks and why you should all have your own bag of Fucks. You all loved it so here it is in blog form! Up until about 6 months ago I had been living my life caring too much about what others thought about me, giving energy to people that didn’t deserve it and giving a Fuck about things that I actually didn’t really give a Fuck about. Let me just say, it was exhausting. Then I read a few books that changed my life, one being The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck and I developed my very own bag of Fucks. I wake up every morning and decide how many Fucks I have to hand out that day. Today I have 7 (I’m feeling generous, I usually have about 5). Now I need to decide who gets those precious little Fucks. In that past I would have been handing them out like snags in a Bunnings car park on Sunday, or like Oprah “YOU GET A FUCK, YOU GET A FUCK! EVERYBODY GETS A FUCK!”. I would literally be giving a Fuck about way too many things in a given day. If someone pushed in line at the coffee shop- Fuck given. If I got disconnected after being on hold to Centrelink for 45 minutes-Fuck given. If a family member told me I looked unwell (I’m not unwell, I’m just not wearing make-up Susan)- Fuck given. The thing is, you don’t have an infinite amount of Fucks to hand out. If you give Fucks to all those things listed above you won’t have any left for the things you actually DO give a Fuck about. Now these are the things you SHOULD give a Fuck about: You kids (if you have them), your partner (if you have one), your friends, people who devote time and energy to you, your pets, your hobbies, nature, the ocean, good music, you get the gist. Another thing, don’t let someone take a Fuck from your precious bag. I’m talking about people that are toxic; one sided friendships where you’re devoting all your time and energy and it’s not reciprocated; friendships that have run their course; trolls online; family members that say things to get under your skin; anyone negative in your life who sucks the energy from you like leech on school camp. They will provoke you until you hand them a Fuck, all they want is one of your precious little Fucks. So don’t give one to them. Making the conscious decision to guard your bag of Fucks from them is only the first step. Now you have to follow through with it, no Fucks=no energy. You drop them like a sack of potatoes and move on with your Fuck Sack and find someone positive who really deserves a Fuck. So, go forth with your sweet little Bag of Fucks and live life carefully deciding who gets your delightful little Fucks.

*I may or may not have broken a record for most ‘Fucks’ in a blog post. 29. *

How I manage to study with three children.

One question that keeps popping up on my Instagram page is “How do you study while having three children?!” I get asked so many questions around this topic so I thought I would create a blog post that covered most of your questions and gave you a better idea of whether or not this is something you can do too- *SPOILER ALERT*- It totally is!

So, for a bit of background, here’s my story. I had my first child towards the end of 2012 at the ripe age of 21. I enrolled in University about mid-2013 with the plan to start studying at the start of 2014. I was super nervous at the time. I didn’t want to leave my 1 year old baby, I didn’t know how we would afford it or how we would afford childcare or how I would even juggle full time study with a baby. But I just went for it and hoped the universe would have my back. A week into semester I found out I was pregnant with baby number 2. As much as this was a blessing, it also threw a huge spanner in the works. How would we now afford two sets of childcare fees on one income and also juggle a full time study load with two children? I continued studying throughout my pregnancy, which was really hard. I was sick a lot, I was sore, I was tired but I knew that it would be easier studying while pregnant than with a newborn and a toddler so I pushed through. I gave birth in second semester 2014, and therefore took that semester off to spend time with my baby. I started again in semester 1 2015 and studied the whole year with a full time load. My children went to daycare two days a week while I was at uni and I was making it work pretty well. I found out I was pregnant at the end of 2015 which was another hurdle for us. But I had made it work in the past so I knew I could do it again. I studied again all through my pregnancy. I gave birth in second semester 2016 so I ended up taking that semester off. Then we moved to QLD at the end of 2016 with a newborn, a 2 year old and a 4 year old. I transferred uni to one on the sunshine coast and started semester 1 of 2017 and Ive been studying there ever since. So, thats my back story.

Now I’ll answer all my top questions that I get from you guys, so they’ll all be here for you to access.

What are you studying and why?

I am enrolled in a double degree at the moment- a Bachelor of Nursing and a Bachelor of Midwifery. I’m not sure whether I will continue with the midwifery at the moment or if I will drop that degree and graduate with the Nursing degree and start working sooner. I actually wrote a blog post previously on why I want to become a nurse. I had a near death experience during birth in 2012 and the level of love and support showed to me by the nurses and midwives was a real turning point in my life and I decided then and there that nursing was my life calling.

How did you start studying and when did you know it was the right time?

Well, I enrolled thinking that I only had one child, but I do think that the best time (usually) is now. There is never going to be a perfect time to start, so just go for it. With university there is a thing called the ‘Census date’ which is a set date about 4-6 weeks into each semester where you can basically try before you buy. If you turn up for a few weeks and decide now isn’t the right time for you then you can discontinue your units or defer for 6 months to a year without paying for those units you were enrolled in. It is a really good option if you aren’t sure if you can commit. Personally, I think it’s easiest to study when you’re pregnant, then it still stays relatively easy until your baby is about 5-6 months old. Then you’ve got it hard until they’re about 3-4 years old and then it becomes easier again. So stop putting it off and just get started!

How many days do your kids go to daycare?

So, up until this year I’ve had no school aged kids. So it was daycare for everyone. Now I have one child in school which has its benefits and also its negatives. But basically my school child goes to school 5 days a week and my younger two go to daycare two days a week. One of those days is my ‘home study day’ because most of my work is online (all my lectures) and the other day is my ‘uni day’ where I go for my face-to-face classes.

How do you afford it financially?

We are on one income. It’s probably larger than most incomes but it’s not huge. We still struggle at times but there are ways for everyone to make it work. Firstly, there is a payment through centrelink called JET, which is income tested, for mothers who study. It decreases your childcare fees substantially. We are not eligible but it is a great option if you are. Find out more at JET childcare assistance. We are eligible for the Child Care Rebate (CCR) and the Child Care Benefit (CCB) however, these can be really confusing if you’re new to the game. There is some awesome information as well as a pretty spot on estimator on this website childcare out of pocket cost estimator. If you scroll all the way to the bottom they have links in red for excel spreadsheets that will let you input figures to get a really good estimate for your out of pocket costs each week. I just did it for our situation and it was $6 off. So pretty spot on if you need an idea of affordability. I have also created a sinking fund for my family and it has changed our finances dramatically. Click here for Clear info on sinking funds. So, I budget $500 a year for miscellaneous uni costs- uniforms, parking, the odd uni text book-Hint, buy secondhand textbooks-they’re almost always exactly the same as the current edition. Anyway, my $500 a year is divided into 52 weekly payments, which means I put aside about $10 a week into our sinking fund so at the start of each year I’ve got $500 ready to go. Seriously look into sinking funds if you need a hand with budgeting.

Do you have family that help you out?

No, it’s just me and my husband (who is crazy supportive). My husband is very encouraging and helps me out whenever I need time in the evenings or on the weekends.

How do you juggle a small baby and studying at home? Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 1.34.05 pmI think this photo sums that up quite well. This was me trying to study with a 2 year old and a baby. It was hard. I spent a lot of time looking like an exhausted mess. It’s really dependant on the baby, but I found that baby wearing was a god send while they were under about 8 months old. I would try to forget about the house work and concentrate on getting my baby to sleep so I could sit down at study for an hour or two. I would even lay my baby on the bed next to me and breastfeed him to sleep and have my laptop ready to slide over as soon as he was out, so I could listen to a lecture or two while he napped. As he got older I would put him in the highchair and feed him while I listened to lectures and made notes. You just have to do whatever it takes, which might mean downloading your lectures to your phone and listening to them while you push the pram around the block. You just have to learn to prioritise your studying over everything else and fit it in wherever you can. House work really can wait. Your future can’t.

How do you find the motivation?

I think this is such an individual thing. I find motivation in knowing that every lecture, every class, every week, every assessment, every semester is one step closer to graduating. I visualise myself at the end of my degree with my three boys standing next to me and how proud I will feel knowing I did it despite all of the hurdles. Short term though, I’ve just learnt not to procrastinate. I used to be the biggest procrastinators. But I’ve just trained myself to get things done as soon as I have a spare minute. I think when you’re a parent as well, you know how precious time is, and you become a master and multitasking and time management.

Now here are my tips on how you can make studying with children a possibility, because I know that if I can do it then you can too.

  • Set small, achievable goals. You need to start ticking off those goals so your brain associates studying with something positive. If your goals are too long term or unachievable then your brain will see studying as a negative thing. Goals such as: Call student support and organise a meeting to discuss studying pathways; buy a study diary and write down important dates and assessment dates; finish my first assessment a week before the due date. These small achievable goals will reinforce that you can achieve your bigger goals and all that positive feedback into your brain will keep you on track for bigger success.
  • Be organised-You need to know exactly when you assessment are due and stay on top of all of your work. Fall behind and you will struggle so much harder than your peers without children. This doesn’t mean going out and spending hundreds on fancy binders and highlighters. It means doing your work before class and coming prepared. It also means knowing where to ask for help-Student support is a great place to start.
  • Speak to your institution. Book a meeting with their student support and see if there are other pathways to completing your degree. That might mean you do all of your theory/online subjects now if you have a newborn or childcare is an issue, and you save your practical/face-to-face/more intense subjects for a later date when your child is older or childcare is sorted. I made the mistake way too many times to fall into a sobbing mess and threaten to throw in the towel when there was a hurdle in front of me. There hasn’t been a single issue that I haven’t resolved with the help of student support. That’s what they’re there for.
  • Always, always ALWAYS be ahead of the class. I know it’s not ‘cool’ to be the nerd of the class or to hand in your assignment day one of semester. But being ‘cool’ isn’t going to get you a degree-being smart is. As soon as your course work is available-that might be 4 weeks before semester starts or 1 week, get onto it. Start planning out your assessments even if they’re not due for another two months. You’ll be thanking yourself when a fortnight before your assessment is due the family comes down with gastro that knocks you for six, and you remember you’ve already finished it ready for submission. Because, trust me that shit happens all the time (pun intended).
  • Communicate with your teachers that you have a child/children and that the juggle might be tough for you. I always do this because there have been classes when I’ve had to leave 20 minutes early to do the school run and I have never had a bad experience. They’re more often than not, parents themselves so they understand that it can be tough, and they’ll probably be a bit more understand if you miss a few days here or there.
  • Have faith in yourself. Prove all those doubters than you’ve got this. Be a role model for your children. Show them that hard work pays off and that nothing comes in the way of your dreams. You only need one person who believes in you, and thats YOU. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks as long as you know you can do it (and you can!). Believe in yourself and thats half the battle.Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 1.33.08 pmMotivational-Printable-The-Crafted-Life.png

Bathtime with Sukin

I was recently contacted by Sukin to review their new range of baby skin care. I’m a long time Sukin lover so I jumped at the chance. I’ve never really been one to use products on my kids just because I never know what to trust and Louis’ skin tends to flare up with certain products. But Sukin has no nasties and is cruelty free (tick, tick!) so I thought I’d give it a shot. We’ve been using the baby range for a few weeks now and not only does the range smell amazing, they also haven’t made Louis skin react at all and now he’s forever running into the kitchen with one of the bottles in his hand begging me to bath him 24/7! Their range is available now at chemist warehouse.

I managed to hustle a great GIVEAWAY for all of you as well. I love this range so much so I really wanted to share it with you and let you try before you buy, just like I did. For full details on the giveaway and how to enter please jump over to my Instagram page ‘glasshousemama’. 

My most life changing moment

I get asked a fair bit why I decided to become a Nurse. I actually don’t ever tell anyone the real reason, I usually say something like “Oh, I love being around people” or “I really like blood!”. The truth is that it was a completely life changing experience that I had while I was pregnant with Noah that made me decide to be a nurse. It is something I have rarely even spoken about because it still brings tears to my eyes to this day. But I find writing cathartic, so it only makes sense to write about it.
I was 23.5 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I was at work as a Nanny when I felt some unfamiliar pains, similar to period pain but slightly worse. I knew in my gut something wasn’t right so I drove myself to hospital. At hospital they told me that it appeared that I was in early preterm labour. My heart dropped. I wasn’t anywhere close to my due date, my baby would be far too small. “If he is born tonigh he has a very, very low chance of survival. He may breathe on his own, but it won’t be for long. If he is born tonight do you want us to try to help him or do you want us to let him die in your arms?” they asked me. I couldn’t give them an answer, it was all too much to even consider. This was the baby I had spent night after night dreaming about, feeling him kick, talking to him, envisioning a life with him. I told them that I wanted them to do everything they could, they needed to have every doctor available when he was born and they were to never give up, not even once. The head paediatrician sighed and said “you need to think of his quality of life.” I couldn’t think of anything other than the one job I was supposed to be doing was giving my child the best chance at survival, and I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way. If I couldn’t carry him inside me, I would fight for him even harder on the outside. They managed to slow down the contractions, to the point where they weren’t sure if labor was going to stop completely or if it might start again. It was getting late, so they sent my partner home. At about 3am that night I woke up to excruciating pain, I buzzed the midwives and they told me that they baby was most likely coming and I needed to call someone to be with me. They were getting ready to transfer me upstairs to the delivery ward again. I called my partner but his phone rang out countless times. I called my Mum who was in Italy on holiday. I called my Dad who was in Hong Kong for business. I called friends, no one picked up. I was alone. “Is anyone coming, love?” The same midwife asked me. I couldn’t even reply, I was so unbelievably scared that I just shook my head with tears running down my face. “Okay, well I’m not supposed to do this, because I’m supposed to be on the ward, not in delivery, but I promise I will stay with you until someone comes, Okay? You are not alone.” She held my hand as they wheeled me through the hospital corridors upstairs to delivery, to the place where I was going to deliver my son. To the same place that I knew that if he was born that night he would most likely die. I can’t even describe how terrifying it was, every contraction was awful, not because of the pain but because I felt like my body was betraying me. I was willing my baby to hold on, ride it out, just stay strong little man and we will get through this together. Mummy is so sorry for hurting you. For hours the midwife stayed right by my side, holding my hand, stroking my hair and putting wet towels on my forehead. I can’t even type this now without sobbing. But for me that was the most raw, honest expression of human compassion I’ve ever witnessed. She didn’t know me, I didn’t know her. She had no obligation to do what she was doing, she actually wasn’t even supposed to be in that room or on that ward with me, she was meant to be somewhere else. But she saw that I had no one and how vulnerable I was and she was there for me. This is one of the most life changing experiences I’ve ever had. Around 6am someone was finally able to get onto my partner who raced in to be with me and took over from the midwife. And finally by about 8am my contractions stopped. My baby could rest. I could breathe a little again, knowing that at least my baby wasn’t born that night. We might get one more day together. I stayed in hospital for about two more days, being observed. I have never been more stressed in my life, not knowing if today would be my baby’s birthday and also the day I had to say goodbye to my baby. Two days passed, then two weeks passed, then two months passed. I ended up delivering a healthy baby boy at 39.5 weeks.

I never even managed to get the name of the midwife who was there for me that night in the delivery room, I don’t even remember what she looks like. But I will never forget what she said or how she made me feel. And I will never forget in the days after that night, lying in my hospital bed thinking “I need to be that person for other people. I need to be the one that holds a strangers hand when they’re alone and terrified and at their most vulnerable, facing their worst fears, even if they can never thank me for it later on.”

Are you THE parent?

My husband and I were talking the other day and he said something about swapping one of his car seats in his car with one of my car seats in my car. “We can’t do that, yours doesn’t have the right anchor point” I told him. “Surely, if it works in your car, it will work fine in mine?” he replied. And something clicked. I realised that he isn’t the one who had spent countless hours in baby shops asking questions about the 45,000 car seat models on the market. He isn’t the one who spent hours scrolling through google reading about extended rear facing, 5 point harnesses and anchored vs non anchored car seats. Then I realised this happens a lot with us. He will say something like “Any of the kids due for their vaccinations soon?” Cue massive eye roll from me, with me thinking “How does he not know their vaccination schedule?”. I don’t actually even think he knows what their blue book (if you’re born in NSW, red for QLD) is for, or where it’s located. Heck, he probably doesn’t even know they get one when they’re born. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s a bad parent, he’s just not the parent. You know the one I’m talking about? It’s probably you. The parent is the one that knows when their child’s vaccinations are due, the one that knows the date of the daycare cake stall, the one that knows the developmental milestones, the one that knows whether they are legally allowed to be forward facing in their car seat, the one that knows which car seat they have to be in for their height. The one that knows where all the important birth forms are, where the blue book is, where the vaccination records are kept, where the doctors office is, and even the doctors name. The parent knows which brand of nappies gives your baby a rash, they know the class birthday parties that are coming up, the name of their child’s teacher, school term dates, holiday dates and what vacation care options there are. Are you starting to see how mind-numbingly exhausting this is for your brain to carry around every day? And do you know how much of a difference a lot of their information makes to your life? Not a lot. Okay, so vaccination dates are pretty important, so ask the GP office to send you a reminder when they’re due. Done. You forget a class party, definitely not the end of the world.

I’m learning more and more about parenting and motherhood/parenthood every single day (mostly through my failures, let’s be real). And one thing that keeps coming up in almost every single situation that I struggle through is “Don’t sweat the small stuff” (if you have the time, google this book by Richard Carlson-life changing). Like my doctor told me, that time I thought I had early onset dementia, which turned out to be a bad case of ‘mum brain’ “Your brain is like a sieve, its just trying to catch the big, important bits”. So forget about the cake stall, the class parties, and all the bullshit information that I guarantee is clogging up every single one of our brains right this very second. Focus on today, get through today and enjoy it. Enjoy your kids, enjoy the chaos, the noise, the mess. Because one day you will wake up refreshed from a solid eight hour sleep, walk into a perfectly clean, quiet house, because your children will be older and will have moved out. And while my children are still so young, this reality seems dauntingly close already. If you are the parent, give yourself a much needed break. You can’t micromanage an entire household, finances, kids and yourself. Something has to give. Delegate tasks, delegate information-tell your partner, your mum, your best friend to remind you about important things and make sure they do! Say “No”. You can’t babysit your friends kid on a weeknight, you can’t help out with reading in your sons class, you can’t make the 3rd play date of the week. And one word I want you to say more of is “Help”. Don’t be proud, don’t try to be Supermum- she doesn’t exist. Ask for help with your laundry, ask for someone to watch your kids while you go to the supermarket solo, ask for someone to just be with you during the day if you’re struggling at home (we all know how isolating parenting can be).

 

Breathe, relax, be kind to yourself because while the days are long, the years are short.

 

“Do you know what is a shame? That one mother would make another mother feel bad because of the way she births her child.”

I was talking to a friend who has recently given birth to her first child, at the age of 41. We were discussing everything from labor to breastfeeding to postpartum sex. The conversation went quiet for a while and I could see she was thinking about asking me something. We’d already covered most of the ‘taboo’ or embarrassing topics, so I was wondering what it could possibly be that she was so unsure about asking me. “Have you had others judge you for the way you gave birth?” She asked, with a slightly pained look on her face. “I’ve heard of others being in that situation, but not me personally, why?” I asked her. “Well, I had a stranger ask me the other day whether I had a natural birth, and I told her that I had a c-section, and she looked at me and said “Oh that’s a shame, I had a natural birth!”

Having a c-section is not a shame. Do you know what is a shame? That one mother would make another mother feel bad because of the way she births her child. That one mother would judge another mother on the age she has her child. That one mother would judge another mother on the way she feeds her baby. That one mother would judge another mother for how long she breastfeeds her child. There is nothing shameful about c-section births, vaginal births, formula feeding, breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, having a child at 16 or having a child at 45. The only shame is any of these situations is being that person that makes another mother feel bad about her path through motherhood. I remember when I was in the depths of post natal depression and I had recently transitioned August from breastfeeding to formula feeding. It was a heartbreaking decision for me at the time as I was still breastfeeding Noah who was 2 years old. But breastfeeding a newborn around the clock was not doing my mental state any favors. So I had started formula when August was about 6 weeks old. I remember a close relative saying “Oh, don’t do that, that’s not fair on August, just try harder!” I could have died right there on the spot. Like I wasn’t already feeling overwhelmingly awful about it. Like I hadn’t spent hours crying in the shower deciding whether or not to persevere. Like I didn’t already hate myself enough for not ‘trying harder‘. Comments like this and like what my friend had about the way she birthed are never helpful. You know what’s helpful? Telling a mother who looks completely exhausted and fed up that her baby looks so happy and loved. Telling a mother who has a toddler death-gripped to her ankle, screaming on the floor in the supermarket that she’s doing a good job and that you’ve been there too. Reassuring a mother who is trying her hardest not to break down while she rocks her screaming child to sleep in his pram that while it feels like forever now, her baby will sleep through one day soon and so will she.

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 2.53.14 pm.png

“Guys, ‘Mum brain’ is f****** real”

I really need to write about this ‘Mum brain’ phenomenon everyone seems to talk about. Ironically, I keep forgetting to. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that most people would have heard the term “Mum brain”. I definitely had, even before I had children. I always thought it was a scenario where you forget where you put your keys and blame it on a lack of sleep ’cause Tommy kept you up for 4 hours last night hanging off your nipple. Oh, and your baby woke up a couple of times too. Oh shit, did I just…? Anyway, more of a funny exaggeration, than anything else. Guys, ‘Mum brain’ is fucking real. Real to the point where most of the time I don’t know my kids birthdays. I can hazard a guess and get the month right (most of the time), but don’t expect me to get their actual birth dates correct.

This is how bad my ‘Mum brain’ has become- I once drove to a shopping centre, walked around for a good two hours, returned to my car to find every fucking door wide open.  I’m not even joking. The boot (trunk, for my American followers) included. I thought my car had been broken into, then I realised nothing had been stolen. Nothing. Then I had a flash back to me looking for something (again, ‘Mum brain’ so I can’t even remember what it was I was looking for, only that I was frantically searching for it before I went into the shop) and opening every car door to find it. I didn’t close any doors. I didn’t even lock the car. I just wandered off without a single care in the world with my car ripe for the picking. In a similar incident, I was on the phone to Pete as I arrived home in the car. I pulled up in the driveway to find my garage roller door wide open, front screen door propped open with a brick and front door wide open. “Pete, I think we’ve been robbed, I’ll call you back.” I said, down the phone. Nope. Again, little old me left  everything wide open, and just waltzed out without a care in the world.

Yesterday I realised I’d lost my wallet. I tore the house apart searching for it. I knew I had it the day before, at home. I knew it was at home somewhere. Then my stomach dropped, a vision of me cleaning out my car in the driveway, me tossing piles of junk from the car onto the driveway; 42,000 pairs of shoes, 36,854 sultanas, 12,790 pieces of daycare craft, 158 hats and my wallet. I remember throwing stuff in a bag destined for the wheelie bin. I finished cleaning my car out,  threw that bag of car junk (daycare craft) in the bin, took the wheelie bin to the curb (because Sunday night is bin night) and went inside. Guys, my wallet was in the bin. The bin was collected yesterday morning. My wallet is gone. Like, gone gone. To make matters worse I had my British passport in my wallet (don’t ask why, I don’t even know why but it’s been in there since 2012). “That’s going to be easy to replace”, said no one ever. When I realised that my wallet was ‘in-the-bin-gone’ I was furious. Furious at my ‘Mum brain’ mostly. Anyone who hasn’t been through ‘Mum brain’ can’t understand how frustrating it is. My husband cheered me up, like he always does (how is he always so fucking positive?!) “It’s just a few bits of plastic and a passport that you haven’t used since 2010. It’s a good excuse to get yourself a new wallet, Nic. Stop making this bigger than it is, you’re definitely not the first person to do this.” Bless him. He’s right, it’s not a huge deal, and now I can spend hours perusing the virtual isle’s of Etsy looking for a new wallet. It’s just incredibly frustrating to have a semi functioning brain.

I forget everything. Names, conversations, where I parked my car. I put milk in the cupboard and my keys in the fridge. Ask me what I did yesterday and will literally have no idea. Some nights I will lie in bed and think “What did I actually do today? I know I went somewhere, or we did something important” but I will literally have no recollection of what we did or where we went. This has been going on since 2012, when I had my first child, and it is steadily getting worse with every consecutive child I create. This all came to a point where I went to the doctor a few weeks ago, convinced I had early onset dementia. I explained everything to her and she said “How many children did you say you have?” “Three” I replied. “What are their ages?” She asked. “Four, two and nine months” I replied. She just went silent and looked at me blankly as if the answer was clear. I stared right back at her and gave her a sassy ‘Well, you gon’ tell me what the fuck is wrong with me?’ look. To which she burst out laughing and said “Your mind is like a sieve, it can’t possibly keep everything, so it’s trying to just catch the biggest, most important parts.”
So if I forget your name, a conversation we had, an important date, a birthday or a play date, I apologise. I’m in the midst of a serious case of ‘Mum brain’ and I’m struggling to remember to put my dog outside and my baby in the cot, not the other way round, so bear with me while my brain catches up.


Forgiveness

I was taking to a friend recently about her struggle to forgive someone that has wronged her. Her complaint was totally justified in my opinion, what had been done to her was definitely worthy of an apology. However it was clear she was not going to receive this apology she so desperately wanted. It reminded me of something I once heard “Forgiveness is not about them, it’s about you.” At the time I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the meaning behind this. But over the years I have had to forgive people that aren’t sorry, and accept apologies that haven’t been given. I think at the height of this is putting aside your pride. You know someone has wronged you and you want them to claim responsibility for what they’ve done and the way they’ve made you feel. But time and time again we find that the person wont accept their role in the situation. Where does that leave you? It leaves you harbouring feelings of resentment, contempt, negativity and anger. It’s like a Mexican standoff, with no end in sight. I’ve found that the act of forgiveness allows you to say “I know you hurt me, I know you did me wrong but I forgive you because I don’t want to continue harbouring these feelings, I want to move on.” The hard part is forgiving when the other person isn’t remorseful at all. That’s where you need to drop your pride. Again “Forgiveness is not about them, it’s about you.” You’re not forgiving them in order to make them feel better, you’re doing it to make you feel better. In all honesty, the other person rarely even needs to know you’ve forgiven them, it can be a totally internal process.

I forgive people all the time now, regardless of whether they’re sorry or whether they acknowledge their role. My husband thinks I’m a push over and that I should stand tall and wait for an apology and wait for the person to accept their wrong-doing. I have come to realise than all those hours, days, months or even years are wasted, waiting for that person to fulfill their ‘role’. And in that time, what have you achieved? I’ll tell you, nothing. Well, aside from stress and negative feelings. Do yourself a favour, next time someone wrongs you, take some time to process your feelings and then forgive them. The first time is always the hardest, every time it gets easier and easier until forgiveness becomes an automatic response and not even a conscious decision. Trust me, you will feel so much lighter and more positive for it ✨