Friday musings and highlights… 

– the smell of salt and vinegar chips on a Friday afternoon train is almost making me disregard all I know of social propriety by reaching over and helping myself.  

– it’s difficult to comprehend or understand the distress of a parent that has just heard their toddler’s ‘lamby’ has been temporarily misplaced. *

– on the weekend just gone, V2 decided to help me with the washing. She is actually quite good. She manages to hang things up, for the most. But I must admit I am now wondering at the appropriateness of the fact that my underwear almost always ends up over her head as a form of necklace. 

– my kids have more toys than they know what to do with. Enough clothes to facilitate 4 daily outfit changes (usually the minimum) and, most importantly more books than they can read in a month. Yet today I spent half the day at work walking around in a pair of shoes for which the sole was held on by sticky tape. I hope I make it to the car before it finally falls off. 

– I made porridge for the family this morning. V1 and V2 had two helpings. My better half then asked ‘I thought you said you made some for us?’ It’s been three years and he still hasn’t grasped the concept that if the kids want it, they will literally get the food out of our mouths. The fact that they are well fed with good appetites is yhis morning’s sustenance alone. 

*after alerting all families of the loss of the ‘grey’ lamby comforter, he has been found in the back shed at school. Most likely once again more grey than his former state of white.

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Ego

After missing my train by the customary 30 seconds, I sit here in the cold (how on earth could it have been 32 yesterday and so cold today), pondering all of the ingredients that contributed to this morning’s lateness. 

In addition to the usual eggs (third breakfast of scrambled), milk (which was poured over the carpet requiring a quick remedy), and flour (what V2’s weetbix looked liked after she was through crushing then into the floor), we had the added element of a bit of spice in the form of ego. 

V1 decided he had the generosity of spirit to empty the crumbs of his cornflakes packet into the bin, but his generosity could only extend so far. The plastic wrapper was strewn with a sense of reckless abandonment onto the floor. I made the seemingly innocuous request that he put it in the bin too. Innocuous. Or so I thought.  

There ensued a stand off of sorts. My better half and I stuck firm. We were clear as to what was needed of him in order to secure his seemingly best in the world (he would have you believing this based on the emotions in his reactions to losing them) bowl of cornflakes. He just had to put the bag in the bin (we all know it wasn’t about the bag but rather the act of defiance). 

30 minutes passed (or the whole morning where we should have been enjoying ten minutes together for breakfast before getting ready for yet another absence from the kids for work). As we tried various methods of anger, soothing tones, stern but clear sentences of action and outcome, it quickly became apparent (to us as well as V1) that we might not win this. (I know it’s probably not right to say ‘win’. But when are in a standoff with a toddler, let’s face it, it’s what we are all aiming for – no-one likes to lose. The toddler more so than us it seems). 

We didn’t give in today. While he didn’t put the bag in the bin we extracted a seemingly meaningful apology for not listening and his reward was given (though it was now pretty darn cold and soggy). This only came after V1 was reminded that Daddy had to go to work and it wouldn’t be nice for him to leave without a cuddle goodbye and an apology).

So we used our absence and need to go to work as a tool to extract the result we wanted. 

These past few weeks I’ve been away from the kids for more than the usual days as I’ve been involved in some volunteer work. Extremely rewarding but on morning’s like this where I view every minute with the kids as worth more than 10 minutes because of the lack of time I have with them, the desire to give in and placate his ego couldn’t be ignored. I didn’t want to spend all of this morning’s 1 on 1 time listening to him cry (sob would be more accurate). 

Having finally finished Sapiens (Harari) I was reminded of a paragraph that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. 

Sometimes it does feel like our authority is in retreat. We don’t have the time to follow through on so many things. In an attempt to ensure the limited time we have with our kids is free from confrontation, perhaps we have had to become more relaxed in authority. I don’t know. Our lives are increasingly busy and jam packed with commitments and work. My instinct this morning was to cave but I knew the problems that would potentially lead to, might be much harder to resolve. It might happen that my kids blame me for something later in life (hell, there is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t blame myself for something that has happened in their lives, why should it chabge when they grow up?), but I hope that they will understand authority, boundaries, how to follow instructions, and the consequences for not. 

However, in all honesty this is an idealised view. In reality, all too often I don’t have the energy or resilience that this consistency requires. But just as i forgive my kids for their sometimes irrational behaviour, I must remember to do the same for myself. 

This morning was a small victory for us as a team.  My lateness is acceptable in exchange for the belief that we are guiding the ego of our newly 3 year old V1 and assisting him to become accustomed to boundaries and limits. 

All of the small instances are just that – small instances. They all combine to add up to a lifetime of learning and as long as we can try for consistency most of the time, the occasional slips will hopefully be forgiven. In the face of long days of full time work flexibilty is essential. (And sometimes we have to recognise a losing battle when we are in it !)

The Dummy Fairy… 

Being a mother means that you are more aware than anyone else about being judged for your actions. Funnily enough, however, it is usually mothers that are the most judgmental. 

As a mother, I don’t know how many times I’ve thought to myself any and all of the below in a day: 

  • That poor child must be so cold, they have no jumper.  
  • That poor child must be hot, look at all those layers. 
  • It’s too cold to let them paddle in the water! 
  • I wouldn’t let my child eat that – I only feed my child organic.
  • That baby needs a sleep, I would put their needs first.

Now just as an example today so far I have: 

  • Underdressed my kids for the grocery shop anticipating 28 degrees and forgetting supermarket air-con.  
  • Overdressed my kids for the car trip home from the beach, when it actually was 28 degrees and I rugged them up from paddling in the frigid water. 
  • Let my kids paddle in the frigid water. 
  • Fed my kids their usual 3 x weetbix breakfast. Then a full croissant from the bakery. Each. (V1 left 1/8 in the form of crumbs on the floor, an act too that I judge myselr for leaving). Then a homemade choc chip cookie each after lunch (along with the beaters from the batch). They will also have popcorn for Sunday arvo movie ritual. And I don’t even know who I’m trying to convince when I say we eat organic. I know our bills (already hefty at $300 per week) would at least double if we really did eat organic. 
  • Skipped V2’s morning nap for the sake of a nice activity on father’s day – she did have a teeny car sleep so I’m a little redeemed on this one. 

Maybe it’s just me (scary thought) but I do think we as mums are so worried how others perceive our actions that we passively  (often aggressively) judge others. 

It was as a result of some passive suggestions (passive in nature, yet lasting in impact) that my better half and I consulted with the dummy fairy.  

Amongst a few of the phrases I have heard of late from well meaning friends and relatives: 

  • ‘He doesn’t still have a dummy does he?’ 
  • ‘Well after 2 it will impact his teeth’ 
  • ‘It’s only going to get harder to get rid of it’

And the straight up no beating around the bush, ‘when are you going to get rid of it?’.

I guess ultimately I wouldn’t listen if these weren’t thoughts that ran through my head almost daily. But that is precisely where they are allowed to be housed, pondered, rejected and rainchecked for a better time. 

Of late however, I’ve lost control of a few things (that’s a longer story, believe it or not) and my better half and I decided this was one area we could control. 

After a dummy free nap at daycare on Thursday and an earnest admission on Thursday night that he was ready to leave his dummies for the poor kids (that’s where the dummy fairy takes them’) in exchange for a supremely amazing toy (que gasp – yes a very large, and might I say, rather expensive, bribe – please hold off on judging, the judgment upon myself is enough) V1 appeared to be mentally equipped for the challenge (and so were we).  

We had always said cold turkey wasn’t the way.  I worried about him becoming attached to his thumb instead. V1 being 3.5 and V2 being 18 months (almost) we are well past crying it out. We simply couldn’t go back.  So we chose to wait for logic and reason to prevail. We were lucky we weren’t waiting longer.  

I acquired the desired toy (Mack 3 Cars Transporter & Carry Case that holds, wait for it, 16 cars). He saw the box in the shed after daycare pickup on Friday (the dummy fairy was particularly rushed that day) but it served as a visual reminder of the reward for his undertaking challenge.  

He got ready for bed (after some gentle coaxing throughout the evening reminding him of his prize. And watching the YouTube video of the little boy unwrapping his very own same truck!) He went to the usual cupboard for his dummies and said ‘get them please mummy’. 

Uh oh. 

A hurdle. 

We calmly and quietly reminded of the bargain he had made. The wheels in his brain turned slowly (much like Mack’s wheels – it was pricey but remarkably not that smooth running!) as he ran through the steps that had led him to this junction.  But I offered to skip tooth brushing  (I know, I know – shhh) and remembered I had also bought a die cast Mater. This proved to be a sufficient taster. We went straight to bed for a big mummy cuddle, 6 songs from Prince of Egypt, Moana, Beauty and the Beast and Frozen. All the while Mack never left his hand. And lo and behold he was asleep and didn’t budge. 

We had done it. 

All of our angst was for nothing. 

At 5.40am he rose and came into our room. ‘Where’s my Mack truck?’ I heard in the sweetest little voice, next to the chink of the metal in Mack that was still safely in hand.  (Yes it easy early, but he had made it – I was as excites as he was!)

Since then Mack has barely had a moment’s rest. He sleeps by the bed with V1. And despite missing our day nap on a dummy free day 1, he is now solidly asleep having a rest (with Mack and Mater). 

Our recipe for dummy removal included a lot of bribery. A fair amount of money and a little bit of coaxing. Most of all, it was made up a lot of discussion with V1 to agree. He’s becoming such a real little person it is often hard to remember how much he is capable of understanding.  He knows he’s not a baby. He knew it was just a matter of time. And he knew a lot of his friends didn’t have theirs anymore. I’m glad that it was a relatively simple (and if I compare to the cost of replacement dummies between now and 4.5yo which is when I thought he’d have them til!), cheap and pain free exercise. 

I know it isn’t the case for all. And I know how hard it would have been for him. 

It is something individual to every child and we, as their parents, are the only ones that know when the time is right (even if some outside prompting did cause me to take a closer look and stop clinging to the reliability of day sleeps with a dummy as a means for my rest!) 

One of ‘those’ mornings 

You know when you have one of ‘those’ mornings where you just have to look at the bright side and say ‘well there is literally only one way for the day to go – and that’s up’ – well that’s today. A combination of grumpy toddlers has pretty much set the temperature of the day. 

– V1s grumpiness was being on account of his breakfast not being hot enough. ‘Sure’, I say ‘let’s warm it up again’, after I acquiesce to his demands despite my certainty of the result.  So I preface it with ‘but don’t complain to mummy when it’s too hot’. Many of you will of course ask, why did I bother? And you are of course correct. I already know the exact outcome of this action. We’ve walked this path many times. Definition of insanity perhaps.  Nevertheless tears of frustration emerge from Goldilocks.  ‘Is it too hot?’ I ask, in my best attempt to not use my I told you so tone. ‘Yes’ he sobs in a language that only a disgruntled mother can decipher. Easy fix, we added some cold milk. Done. Phew. But it didn’t stop there.

I suspect his new foray into the world of toddler sleep nightmares (borderline night terrors) has left him a little unsettled with things, so I should add that before the breakfast meltdown I had attempted a 20 minute sit down cuddle to attempt to console him. In soothing dulcet tones I attempted to elicit if anything hurt, what I could do to help and why he was so upset. V2 even helped by offering cuddles and patting him on the back. To no avail. In any event he’s learned something new in the past few weeks. That being sick means he gets to stay home from daycare. Hence his protestations at school drop off regarding his poor health.  Crafty little thing.  In perhaps a moment of weakness I’ve given in and promised an early mark if necessary. 

– Which brings me to V2. For the most we actually have no idea why she is grumpy on account of her limited vocab. Despite this, She has an innate ability to get her message across. Feeding her eggs to the dog I guess means ‘thanks mummy and daddy for taking the time to cook me a second breakfast after my three Weetbix, but I’m feeling pretty full so I no longer need my eggs and I know you love making yourself late to work to cook for the dog’. Hanging over the edge of the shower whole I showered and therefore getting her clean clothes drenched probably means ‘I love you so much I just want to be next to you all the time, and I don’t mind that you’ll have to redress me before we leave. It means I spend more time with you.’ Crying about the wrong shoes probably means ‘I love watching you put my shoes on and I’m like you Mummy, indecisive about what I wear, but a lover of shoes so I need to see them all on before I decide’. Pulling the egg out of the fridge and smashing it into the fridge door so it drained through the bottom draw until ultimately dropping onto the floor probably means… damned if I can understand that one. Aside from ‘you should have known not to carry me around while packing your food for work!’ She might have a point.  

There are various other INSIGNIFCANT (this caps is more to convibce myself rather than anyone else) grievances with various other spheres this morning upon which I have no doubt I am placing too much emphasis. So I shall consider this my download and move onwards and upwards eagerly awaiting my Friday pain au chocolat (V2 ate my eggs after ironically feeding hers to the dog) and my second double shot coffee.  

Chocolate and coffee will solve all it seems. 

(And since writing this that has been thwarted as I receive the call to get to work as fast as I can to help with something urgently – guess that means my fix has to wait. I repeat to remind myself – INSIGNIFCANT in the scheme). 

Friday Musings and Highlights….

– it’s best not to think about how much time we as sydney Mums, spend sitting on platforms trying to get to work after missing the train by 30 seconds, every day. A lot of yelling, running, rushing and forgetting things went into missing that train. I won’t wonder at the total time but I will ponder why I try to get that train everyday.  Definition of insanity? 

– at least during yesterday’s 20 minute wait for the train, I learned about the birthplace of John Steinbeck (the lettuce bowl of America apparently!), that you used to be able to see America on a Greyhound  (the bus, not the dog!) for $99 for 99 days, and that the Monterey jazz festival is a must do! (Thank you to the kind gentleman who disregarded my gruff demeanour as I made room for him on our seat and listened to my little whinge about always being late despite my best efforts!)

– this morning we ran out of honey for the porridge. So I used ‘brown’ honey (tribute to readingmummasister for that name. Golden syrup to the uninitiated). I may have created a monster.  

– speaking of creating a monster. We have developed an ingenious solution (or so we thought) to V1 bailing out to our bed every night. He gets a matchbox car for staying in his bed all night. We may have peaked too early. 2 nights this week and I’m getting worried about nipping this in the bud before it gets out of hand and bankrupts us ! (Seems so many things in parenting these days leads to another challenge to overcome! Maybe we will tell him the dummy fairy took the cars since he won’t leave his dummies for her!). On the plus I’m starting to rember how big a king bed is.

Happy Friday! I’m celebrating with Italian for lunch. Because it’s been a big week and I deserve carbs ! 

Another Day of Sun

Obviously I loved La La Land (didn’t everyone?!) And thankfully my kids love the soundtrack too since they have to listen to it regularly.

But it’s not the film that has got me thinking today, but rather whether or not it’s safe for my kids to be out in another day of sun today.

Now that we are in August, daycare have implemented their mandatory sunscreen from drop off til pick up time policy, which is resulting in a bit of discussion in our house.

It’s early August and temperatures are below 20 everyday so V1 and V2 are in long sleeves and pants all day.

They have their bucket hats (mandatory) every day so, far as I can tell, their skin will not see any sun as much of the outdoor play area at school is shaded. They also have nap and quiet time during the peak of the day where the UV rating is highest (today it is 3 – moderate).

It has definitely got me thinking. Prior to V1’s birth my better half and I, much like many daunted new parents do, attended an infant first aid course where the topic of sunscreen was brought up. The guidance was along of the lines of ‘be sensible, and don’t overdo it’. For the little ones the skin is so thin so yes it’s at higher risk of sun damage however they also absorb everything put onto their skin more easily.  (We raced out and bought a chemical free edible sunscreen to limit chemical absorption but since it was probably more closely related to a food group than sun protection it expired very quickly – not to mention cost a bomb! The only way it would be financially sensible was if I actually started spreading it on toast.) That aside, the instructor’s advice was it is far more sensible to use common sense and cover up if you are out in the peak (but try and avoid being out in the peak all together).  Also, let the kids enjoy the sun prior to the UV peak and after it has dropped in the afternoon so they can at least see some sun.

Now I’m reading at https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/vitamin-d and Deakin University at  http://www.deakin.edu.au/research/research-news/articles/vitamin-d-deficiency-strikes-one-third-of-australians that Australia is experiencing an increase in cases of vitamin D deficiency, particularly at the end of Winter as vitamin D stores decline into end the start of Spring.

It is mostly being seen in older people and those that are indoors for most of the day but as Osteoporosis Australia notes sufficient levels of vitamin D cannot be gained solely by diet, I worry that our fussy kidlets who staunchly refuse to eat anything we profess to be good for them,  might not be not be getting enough because of our caution. (I’m relying on their egg consumption as the primary source since I haven’t got a hope of them eating tinned tuna, they don’t like bottled juice, and our cereal isn’t fortified!)

I’m interested to hear the thoughts of others as when I was out recently with the grandparents they agreed we should let them soak the sun, and very few kids at the park had hats on ( it was a sunny day and it was the middle of the day).

I dont really know the answer but for the next couple of weeks I will let the kids enjoy the warmth, while I keep an eye on the UV index so as to avoid adding too many other things to the daily worry list. Though I suspect this will sit in the bucket along with all of the things for which we as parents might not ever get right !

 

An Ever Evolving Role…

I’m currently reading Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind  (Yuval Noah Harari). This has been such a fascinating book so far, so many new concepts to consider so I’m taking my time with this one.

One of the concepts that has particularly lingered for me is that of the evolution of the way our brains think and process different pieces of information.

Harari comments that the evolution of script (primitive forms of writing) was the catalyst for changing the way our brain processes the world and its stimulants.

“The most important impact of script on human history is precisely this: it has gradually changed the way humans think and view the world” (Sapiens, Harari pg146).

So writing forced us to change the way we thought, viewed the world, functioned in every day life and just generally how we live. Our incredible minds are now so flexible we can change the way we think about what we are doing to consider the vast numbers of variables and stimulants we are presented with as soon as we wake up until we go to bed.

This made me think of the changes our brain and body undergo during pregnancy and becoming a Mum. As a Mum I’m constantly saying how things are different for me since I’ve had kids.

  • I place emphasis and value different things.
  • I worry constantly (while this not that new from my previous state, now the worry is usually fixed on child related concerns).
  • I sleep so lightly I can hear almost any peep from the kids.
  • Things that smell awful are tolerable because the kids need me to tolerate them.
  • I’ve eaten extremely questionable food that may or may not have come out of my kids discerning mouths (when you’re at the supermarket, what do you do!)

I started to think about the actual science behind actually why so many things change when becoming a Mum. It’s always been something that has been somewhat of a given but reading more widely about the history of humans has made me start to wonder just why this has happened.

I realised I was quickly stepping out of my scientific depth here (having not completed ANY Science for my final year of school) so I turned to Google. It was there I stumbled upon the Guardian’s article ‘Pregnancy causes long term changes to brain structure, says study” (Nicola Davis, 20 December 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/dec/19/pregnancy-causes-long-term-changes-to-brain-structure-says-study.

(I vaguely remember what it was like not having Google at your fingertips to answer all of life’s questions, a world I will one day have to explain to the kids no doubt!)

Here I learned of the empirical evidence in studies demonstrating a woman’s brain does in fact undergo physiological change, specificity in the form of a slight reduction in grey matter. The study notes that though it’s not certain, this could potentially allow for adaptation to the demands of mothering.

Our brain becomes focussed on helping us bond, nurture and protect our little ones as they are rely on us for survival. Yet, many of us return to work very soon after giving birth when we are still evolving our brains to manage the challenge of mothering an infant (and for many Mums, still sleep deprived and just generally exhausted).

It leads to a fairly simple conclusion. Humans, and the Mums that produce and grow little humans, are amazing.

Those Mums that stay at home are solely responsible for both the nurturing, education, development and entertainment of their kidlets. They are constantly on duty, at the beck and call of the little ones. Constantly prey to their little ones fits of anger. At the mercy of the little one’s precarious moods and responsible for stemming the spurts (or gushes) of tears (that often appear for no reason). But they are exposed to almost all of the smiles, giggles, cuddles and other priceless rewards.

Those that work and Mum somehow manage to juggle the challenges that both generally completely opposed spheres that work and mothering (including all of the above!) present them. The spheres often spill into each other (we worry constantly – we are programmed to do it. And the phone often rings on days off for work) yet we manage – no, we succeed!

So we keep adapting to all of the challenges multitasking mothering and work throws at us – ever changing and evolving to be best equipped to overcome the little (and often big) challenges of every day mothering.