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 ! 

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.

A Constant Juggle

A huge challenge in being a working Mum is managing the illness.

  • The constant toddler cough that you try to convince everyone is just the daycare cough and not contagious.
  • The marathon worthy running nose (maybe that’s why V1 needs so much sleep, his nose is tiring him out with all that running). On the upside both my kids can blow their nose properly! (I’m extremely thankful for my better half for teaching them this skill!)
  • The post virus, during the virus, pre-virus rash that, given the number of viruses the kids get, seems ever present. Not contagious in and of itself, but still concerning and requiring at least 1 (generally 2 for good measure) trips to the Dr, and least one day off work/daycare.
  • The occasional bout of ‘conjunctivitis’ requiring at least 3 visits to the Dr (I use the term ‘conjunctivitis’ extremely loosely in this context, since is almost never actually conjunctivitis).
    • Visit 1 – to diagnose the type (very nearly every time we visit, it is diagnosed as an allergic irritation therefore not contagious, yet we still aren’t allowed to go to school, just in case).
    • Visit 2 – the can we go back to school yet? Usually responded by the Dr of, “let me see them tomorrow to check”.
    • Visit 3 – the “oh yes, they look absolutely fine don’t they, perhaps there was nothing there in the first place”. Great. Meanwhile we’ve already missed 3 days of daycare (and work) to get to this point. (I’m not commenting on the cost of these visits because, thankfully, our emergency Dr is a bulk bill centre!)
  • Last but most definitely not the least, the gastro. Since moving to a smaller daycare centre we have avoided the dreaded gastro (I think this is partly because they have the awesome foam soap dispensers and hand dryers – both of which are such a novelty it ensures the kids always wash, rewash (and wash again for good measure) their hands). However, this week we weren’t that lucky.

Thankfully this gastro waited until after the work and school day for both myself and V2. V2 waited until she had devoured her dinner, a very large serve of blueberries (I might never look at them the same way again), and fallen asleep. Her toys in bed didn’t stand a chance.

V1 made it through the night and arose unwell the next morning and, in his words, needed to burp into the toilet. We were incredibly lucky that the second day of the bug was not a school/work day and we were able to laze around the house watching TV, feeling miserable for ourselves and being looked after by my better half.

We are not usually so lucky with our timing. My kids go to daycare on Monday, Thursday and Friday (my workdays). This usually allows them the chance to catch something on a Monday, and through the Tuesday and Wednesday it germinates into something nice and buggy so I often get a call by Thursday lunch.

 

Since returning to work 3 months ago, I think I’ve had at least 7 or 8 days off with the kids while they are unwell (this doesn’t include time when I am actually sick, which I very rarely take because of the volume of time off for the kids!)

Being part time is a huge challenge. Add this to the day off here and there with sick kids and it’s one of the most challenging things I have to manage at the moment. There is barely a week that goes by where I don’t feel like I am choosing between two things:

  • Being a bad mother – sending them to school despite thinking they might be coming down with something.
  • Being a bad employee – keeping them at home for each instance the sick hat drops.

It feels like we never can win but I know everyone is in the same boat. It has become a little bit of a joke that almost all of the Mums I know have celebrated part of their first weeks back at work after parental leave, by having at least one of their work days off with a sick little one.

Bottom line is, they come first. The work will still be there the next day, and the next. Most of us aren’t playing for sheep stations and when the kids need a mummy cuddle, nothing else will do. It is just something to continue to struggle, to juggle and ultimately hope their immune systems build up as quickly as their noses run.

 

 

Having a ‘Moment’

It’s been a while since my last post (which came at the end of a rough week). It seemed that life continued to dish things out in a similar thread and the combined stresses of things piled up in a monumental way, forcing a break in routine and, more importantly, an understanding of the need for an attitude change.

  • I had been away from work for the week with the injured V2 (you might remember she touched the element of the stove while I was holding her!) The stress and worry (and guilt!) about the burn were playing on my mind.
  • I had been trying to work remotely as much as possible during my days with her, to not fall behind while out of the office but no matter how much I did, the emails continued.
  • We had a hugely social weekend planned (a trip to the Opera, a night out, trip to the Heritage Steam Train Expo, an afternoon shopping exhibition and a family afternoon tea). While all were lovely and enjoyable they didn’t allow a lot of room for rest.

Ultimately, the build up of a very stressful few weeks where I’ve been racing around in every aspect of life (work, kids, marriage, and a social life) meant I had a ‘moment’ while trying to clean the house to make it spotless for the next round of entertaining which brought things to a very abrupt and noticeable halt. (My efforts to make the place perfectly clean actually led to me leaving a fairly noticeable not clean mark!)

Many Mums know these ‘moments’. Mine usually see me having somewhat of an outer body experience watching myself disappearing into a rabbit hole of overreaction. Usually, the ‘moment’ passes and we continue along our merry (and busy) way until the next one appears.

Unfortunately this ‘moment’ lingered and proved to be an awakening moment (or rather an awakening half day) for me. I won’t go into the background of what I discovered to be the problem, other than to say it of course was not the cleaning that was the problem. I will say that it was this moment that allowed me to see just how much pressure I had placed on myself since my return to work. I hadn’t really given a shred of thought or time to ensuring that I, personally, was managing our hugely busy lives – which I have no doubt is something many Mums do on a daily basis.

We soldier on through the mammoth list of tasks that are too multitudinous to list. We act as teacher, chef, cleaner, counsellor, chauffeur, friend and disciplinarian, amongst others, all before we’ve even headed to the office.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said the phrase, “if my kids are happy, I’m happy”. While I am of course happy when my kids are happy, this one tiny hiccup in the day and the resultant ‘moment’ made me see that a few things needed an adjustment to ensure that my happiness wasn’t just anchored around that of my kids.

My first step was to cut myself some slack so I took the week off work to have a rest, recover from the whirlwind of life that we have been living these past few months since returning to work and to take a hard look at what we can change to stop this ridiculous race to an unseen finish line.

Everything I have discovered is something someone has already suggested. Something I have read in a book and thought ‘that sounds great – maybe one day I’ll give it ago’. Something I’ve listened to someone else say they do and thought ‘it won’t work for me’. Until I could see the measurable impact of running at full speed 100% of the time, I couldn’t listen to the advice. (Funny how we often let our kids learn from doing – no matter how many times I tell V1 that if he rides his bike full speed into a wall, one of these days he might get hurt – it’s only the act of doing it, and the subsequent grazing of knuckles that lead to the change. In much the same vein, I have now been able to learn from experience).

I have committed to trying a few things. I say trying because I’ve spent 30+ years in my current ways, and they are pretty set so this is a gradual process. I’ve tasked myself to:

  • try to stop over scheduling every waking moment of our days.
  • try to utilise my urge to organise to my advantage. I’ve finally realised that being good at being organised means you are organised enough to have some downtime. When I tell people what we squeeze into the 2 weekdays I’m not in the office, I’m greeted by comments usually along the lines of ‘I’m exhausted just listening to it’.
  • try to let myself see that it is OK to not get something finished every once in a while, to need a bit more time to do something, and to ask for help from my team. These are all OK and a necessary part of returning to work part-time.
  • try to focus on having faith in the knowledge that I am a dedicated and honest Mum, wife, friend and worker and unreasonable expectations do not lead to success.
  • I will take time off when I need it, and I will enjoy it, not feel guilty about it, or spend the time planning how I can get more things done.

 

Friday Musings and Highlights

Aside from the obvious things we all know are part of being a Mum, I’m discovering some of the lesser known things that being a Mum often means:

– Waking up in bed with two men (ok, so one is obviously a boy!)

– Attempting to sneak out of bed without waking anyone (my shins are just as bruised as V1’s shins. We have owned our wooden frame bed for 8 years and I still do not know it’s dimensions).

– Giving up on finding workout gear in the noisy wardrobe or the mountain of floor clothing pile (I mean the completely organised stack of clothes that I have of course organised in piles and placed neatly on the floor ready to be put away) and doing yoga next to the heater in a dressing gown and pyjama bottoms (I simply couldn’t find my pyjama top. Hot yoga it was!)

– Leveraging V1’s love of dump trucks to put away washing. It goes on the back of the truck and he runs it from room to room quite literally dumping it out of his dump truck (see earlier note re clothing pile).

– Never getting dressed (or showered) until the last minute before leaving the house. No need to bother since everything ends up covered in Weetbix, yoghurt, mashed pear or surprisingly greasy digestive biscuit crumbs.

– Recognising that some days the only thing you will get to eat is the weetbix, yoghurt, mashed pear or surprisingly greasy digestive crumbs you wipe off your face, hair, Pyjamas or (dare I say it), the floor.

– An oldie but a goodie – never (I mean never, since now we have a puppy who follows me around constantly), going to the toilet alone.

– Getting excited about not having to do daycare drop off and actually being able to get to work before 8am.

These are just a few of the lesser things I’m discovering are all integral aspects of being a Mum!

 

 

The Race to 9am

I’m very excited. Tomorrow I am doing daycare pick up instead of drop off.

Instead of being mean angry mummy who yells demands all morning, while trying to pack bags, blowdry and put my face on until we finally get to the car. I get to be cool mummy who rescues the kids from daycare after daddy left them there !

This morning was just a comedy of errors, one type of comedy I’m not eager to repeat.

– V2 slept in til 7am. Normally this is a miracle but on school days this presents a struggle since we have to be in the car by 7.25am.

– It was freezing so we needed beanies. So we put them on. Then on again. Then on. Then lost the hot pink one and put the pale pink one on.  Then back on. Then we held it and listened to V2 whinge that she wanted it on. So we put it on. Again.

– We made it to the car only 5 minutes late (with beanies off) but this makes the 7.52am train an almost impossibility. Only an impossibility by 30 seconds.  Those 30 seconds were spent going back to the car to check it was locked instead of making the train. Need to work on the need to check.

– The 8.06am was jam packed and as a result of our tardiness I had people touching me on every side as more and more people jammed in, despite it being quite clearly full.

– Arriving at just before 9am I was too late to get my favourite standing desk (agile workplace!)

Thankfully, at work I managed to turn it around and knock a few small goals to redeem the day (3 double coffees didn’t hurt!) – and came up with the brilliant idea to switch drop off and pick ups for tomorrow and THAT is why I’m very excited for tomorrow ! It’s the little things.

Happy (almost) Friday! (And it’s croissant Friday too!)