One day I will… 

  1. Do all the filing that sits in cupboards, on tables and shelves. 
  2. Make my bookcases look like those fancy ones on Pinterest.   
  3. Take photos of all my son’s artwork that keeps coming home in droves so I can make an album sans originals (don’t tell him) 
  4. Match all the DVDs to their cases. Edit 
  5. Put up a calendar and fill in the dates of upcoming events so I stop double-booking. Will probably then just ignore the calendar and continue to annoy everyone who makes plans with me. 
  6. Stick all the recipes in the recipe book so they don’t drop out all over the kitchen floor everytime I open the book.   
  7. Take all the clothes my kids don’t wear out of their cupboards instead of shouting at myself when I can find “that” shirt because there are heaps of old clothes filling the drawers. 
  8. Clean all the cupboards or the fridge. Either or. Will never do both at the same time, let’s be honest. 
  9. Back up the photos on my phone. 
  10. Finish my first child’s three year scrap book and start my second child’s three year scrap book. Poor second children. 
  11. Do the ironing.
  12. Sort the Tupperware… Maybe not.   
  13. Remove the clothes from the car so it can return to a car as opposed to a wardrobe on wheels, whereby returning to my husband’s good books. 

Our top Netflix shows for under 5s 

By ‘our’ I mean shows my kids will ask for and that I condone. There are some shows I try get them to watch that they are not interested in and then shows they beg for that I don’t agree with. 

  1. Doc McStuffins. Who doesn’t love Doc McStuffins, with her stay at home dad, working mom and supporting characters who have their own personalities. In case you haven’t seen it before, it’s an animated show about a little girl who fixes her toys in each episode one of the toys needs her assistance. I love that there is a princess who wants to save the knight and a big lamb who just wants to be a girly princess. Each episode has a good lesson to learn about interacting with others or understanding your feelings. 
  2. The Wiggles. We may have just immigrated to Australia but my kids already think Sydney is their home. With four lead characters, three males and one female, a dinosaur, octopus and pirate who all sing and dance it’s musically orientated with a story line which runs through the episode. It’s a great show for little kids, my one year old stands and dances on the lounge floor throughout. There are lessons in each episode too, hand washing, teeth brushing etc. My three year old has just decided he doesn’t mind it.
  3. Superwhy is all about a reading. It features a little boy superhero who, together with some friends, fixes classic stories to deliver child friendly / happy endings. It is animated and good for pre-schoolers. 
  4.  Magic School Bus is old school animation. In each episode Miss Frizzle shrinks the school bus so that the kids can go on an interactive learning experience, in one episode they go into a classmates body to see why he has the flu. It’s a lovely show focused on learning. 
  5. Leap Frog: Let’s go to school is very simple in terms of animation and it’s lead characters – two twin frogs – but it’s tops when it comes to teaching and education. It focuses on educating the kids with numbers, letters aznd also helping address issues they may have eg fear of going to school, sharing. The only downside is that this is 30 minutes which is quite long.
  6. Sophia The First. For those who have never watched Sophia, a little girl from the village becomes a princess when her mom marries the King. In each episode she learns a new lesson based on common virtues eg helping others and being humble. She’s kind, polite and helpful, all in all a good character. 
  7. Sid the Science Kid is a Jim Henson animated show (digital puppetry). While Sid must be in school his inquisitiveness appeals to my 3 year old – like my son, Sid has lots of questions, what things are, how they work, where things are, why things do what they do… You know the questions you get asked a million times a day. 

Other shows my kids love which are okay conceptually and which are non-frightening for under 4s are:

– Octonauts

– Jake and the neverland pirates 

– Puffin Rock

– Sarah and Duck

– Masha and Bear (dubbed from Russian I think) 

– Dinosaur train 

– Curious George

– Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom 

– Paw Patrol

– Blaze and the Monster Machines 
Most shows nowadays have educational consultants on board to make sure there is good content so anything in the above list should add some value to your child’s life, aside from just letting you get the washing folded or dishwasher packed. And… To be honest, you can’t discount that these shows help develop their imagination and vocabulary. 

Golden Jubilee Field, North Wahroonga

Big path to cycle around, big sweeping bush land views. The area has plenty of parking and is completely accesible with a pram making it perfect for a pram walk and trike / scooter ride. 

  
It is referred to by the Ku-ring-fai Council as a “sport and recreation spot” which is a strange way to describe such a big piece of land that houses soccer fields, one or more baseball diamonds, a playground, a mountain bike training area, a model aeroplane club, off-leash dog walking, playground and an rural emergency service.

I’ll just call this whole area “The Field” throughout in an attempt to stick to its title but really it’s made up of fields but I’m getting sidetracked and want to avoid confusion. 

So, to get to The Field put Esk Street, Wahroonga into your GPS or Golden Jubilee Field, Wahroonga (or North Wahroonga) may work too. 

  
Driving to Esk Street along Westbrook Avenue turn left into Esk and the entrance to the Field will be on your right. It’s such a big space you can’t miss it. 

Initially what you will see is a massive field which is either set up for soccer or baseball. To get to the walking / trike track or the Mountain Bike track you’ve got to head to the field at the back. Below is an aerial view to help you follow me. The blue dot is where you park and the ‘sandpit’ looking thing to the right is actually a field which is the main baseball field. It makes no sense to me that it looks like that when it is actually lovely and green (you’ll see from the pics I took on out bike ride / pram walk). 

   

The second ‘sandpit’ looking thing is very much like a sandpit. As it is the Mountain Bike Course. It is huge fun for a 3 year old boy. I will get to this a bit later in the post. The buildings in the picture are the Emergency Services’ buildings. 

Starting out from the parking (where the blue dot is) you’ll need to go up onto the field level, there are plenty of entry points. You’ll either see the model aeroplane grandads in action (such fun) or there will be a soccer game or baseball game in action. On the days we’ve been there we’ve not seen a sports game in action. You’ll then have plenty of track to cycle / pram round and round. 

The views out over the bushland are impressive and it’s all fenced so you don’t have to worry when the little ones go off track. 

  

   
   
You’ll find a spot in the track where you can go right past the emergency services buildings and can ride to the other baseball field. You’ll know you’ve found the right turn when you get to the sign that says “dogs must be on leash from this point”. 

  

Going along this track will take you past the batting tunnels and down to a playground. The playground isn’t big or fancy but definitely a nice addition to the fun of cycling. 
  

On this occasion we didn’t visit the playground, we decide to keep left and make our way round the trike track again and then onto the mountain bike training park, Jubes Mountain Bike Park.

Had this been the weekend or anytime when there were actual mountain bikers on the circuit I wouldn’t have let my son on but as there was no one else there (like the other times we’ve been) we had free reign.  

There are three areas according to the web (KMC – Jubes Mountain Bike Park website): “Skill development – Designed to help riders improve off-road cycling with rock, wood and narrow sections. Pump track – Easy, medium and difficult levels to encourage the rider to use their upper body to ‘pump’ through the course.Single track -800 metres of track that meanders up and down the hillside.”

I’m not sure which sections we were on but my son rode over some mud mounds, rocks, paths, wooden ramps and then moved on from the bike and together with my daughter “practiced their running”.

   
    
 
A word to the wise: if there is mud, even a little bit rather avoid it. I know it’s meant to be fun and probably is huge amounts of fun but the mud is thick and sticks to the wheels and feet, shoes, legs, clothes and everything that comes into contact with it. 

  

Getting lost in the momlife 

When I was at varsity people couldn’t get enough of advocating the study / play balance (don’t go and party too much but by the same token don’t stay indoors and not enjoy varsity life) and then there was the work / life balance which most of us ignored while scrambling up the corporate rungs. But in this stage of my life I think the concept of a mom/life balance needs to be explored. 

At this stage in your life there are at least two people you are trying to be, if you’re married, there’s a third. You’re trying to be a mom, a wife and you. The you part is unfortunately the part that goes missing first. Sometimes it’s followed by the wife/partner/ spouse part. Somehow the mom part clings on for deal life. 

What’s so hard here is that you’re fighting not only yourself and societal pressures (probably) but also the expectations you have of yourself. These have been created subliminally over the years although maybe only having been awakened recently. And the worst part is there is no tougher critic of you than yourself. It’s like being a teenage girl going to a party and panicking about what you look like when in reality everyone else at the party is also worried about what they look like and whether they’re acting cool. I often see myself through other mothers’ eyes or the eyes of my mother and find a million faults. 

Coupled with your own critique is the ever present self-doubt. Should they eat this, if so, is it too much, or too little, too early or too late. Should they be outside today, but what if that sneeze is a cold or pneumonia or what if it’s not and they miss out on Vitamin D and an amazing experience. 

So in between of all of this in-fighting and constant worry about whether we are parenting well enough somehow we, the people we are outside of our roles as partner and mother, get lost. 

What I have realized, or what I’m realizing, is that you cannot be the best mom version of yourself or the best spouse version of yourself unless you look after you.

You’ll probably only notice that you’ve gone missing when you are too worn out to go out with the kids, or you haven’t slept in days, the washing is piling up, you can’t concentrate on long stories or your husband’s work woes and you snap at the kids but you can’t figure out what’s wrong. 

When you get to this point STOP. Stop immediately and go find yourself. It will take a while and it needs to be a constant process but you’ve got to start. Make a start with 30 minutes as soon as you can, if you’ve got more time to spare, spend as long as you can. No kids, no housework, no husband, no drama inducing friends, just you listening to your own thoughts or drowning them out initially. Do anything, go anywhere just make sure it’s something you like. 

There is only one rule. By the time that you-time is finished make sure you have the next one lined up. It has to be like that or you will sideline yourself. 

In this way you will start to remember what you like doing, what makes you you and it will give you the energy, perspective and desire to continue in those two other full-time roles. 

What you decide to do is completely up to you, it could be 30 minutes sleep, walking around a shopping center alone, going for a run, a facial, reading a book, watching a movie… Anything that you enjoy and gives you some breathing room. 

It’s so hard to take time out for ourselves but it is so necessary. The longer you take to do it the less likely you are to. If you are feeling overwhelmed, uneasy, not yourself you need to take a break. 

You know I’m right! 

Parental Incentive Plan 

I’m working on a new incentive system. A rewards programme if you like, like AMEX or Woolies has. It is called the Parenting Incentive Plan, people will call it PIP, and it will be amazing. 

It starts in pregnancy where you enter into a contract with the expected child. You will be the rewards receiver and they will be the rewarder. The deal is signed and comes into effect immediately upon birth. (Can you tell I’m a lawyer – I’ve thought this through).

As the parent you will accrue points which you can then collect for rewards. 
You will accrue 1 point for each of the following: 

  1. each hour you are awake between 4am and 7am
  2. each hour you’re woken up for a chat, question or debate between 12 midnight and 4am
  3. avoiding embarrassing your child in public (child must be over 10 years of age for this credit to accrue)
  4. carrying your child and his/her scooter home or up hill for a distance exceeding 50m and additional point for every 20m thereafter 
  5. every children’s book you’ve read more than 10 times
  6. a tantrum in a public place 
  7. any injury to your body that draws blood or requires a time-out except where it results in scarring 
  8. having an audience whilst you’re on the loo 
  9. every night you go to bed with one of your kids’ songs, nursery rhyme or the like in your head

Five points will be credited in the following circumstances: 

  1. being vomitted on in public 
  2. every time you stand on Lego 
  3. two children simultaneously throwing a tantrum in public
  4. being injured to the extent that you scar
  5. irreparable harm being done to any of your favourite pieces of clothing (maximum of three incidences a year)
  6. travelling anywhere, in or on any form of transport, for more than 90 minutes (every 2 hours thereafter will accrue another 5 points) 
  7. every time you replace a new item of clothing or equipment which was lost
  8. every vaccination (it hurts you more than it hurts them) 
  9. your child tells a relative stranger one of your intimate personal details or theirs that only you and your family / spouse know. 

(This list is not exclusive, suggestions are welcomed.) 
There will be days when you get double or triple points: 

  • Double points for Mother’s Day and 29 February; and
  • Triple points for your birthday 

But there will also be exclusionary days when you can’t earn any points – child’s birthday and 5pm from Christmas Eve until 5pm on Christmas Day (these are high need days when you cannot be accommodated, I’m sorry it’s just the way it is).

The rewards are as follows (and for the cost of the child) 

  • 10 000 will earn you a night off 
  • 50 000 will earn you your choice of embarrassing photos of them to be used in public at their 21st birthday party or on social media 
  • 50 000 will earn you a new zimmerframe 
  • 50 000 will earn you the right to be their friend or follower on social media, all access 
  • 100 000 will earn you the right to set them up on a single blind date with one of your friends children or someone you met at the supermarket 
  • 100 000 will earn you a over-55s residence upgrade 
  • 100 000 will earn you an automated stair-lift 
  • 1 000 000 and their first born shall be named after you. 

Like any good reward / incentive scheme the whole point accrual and reward system will change every year when you will get new cards and a new pin 🙂 at this point make sure to cash in your accumulated points by writing it on a till slip and sticking it to the fridge – that way it’ll never get lost. 

How to host a playdate… The beginner’s guide. 

There are two types of play dates – play dates where the parents are friends and the kids are forced to forge a friendship the other type is where the kids are friends and the parents are secondary to the interaction. You will know the difference because in the second scenario you’ll be referred to as “soandso’s dad”. 

This post is about how to handle the second type of play date, the ‘hi, nice to meet you, welcome into my home stranger, please let this work and be fun.’

We have only just entered the foray of the second scenario and I personally had NO clue what to do. I’m still fumbling through it like a over-attentive waitress – forcing things at the kids and then tidying up immediately in case the parent I’ve just met thinks I’m useless or messy. 

The first taste we had of this was when my son was 18 months old and it ended with my son dropping his nappy (I didn’t know he could take his nappy off) and showing the little girl who was visiting and her shocked mom his private parts. He then made a break from my grasp and ran out to the people painting our house and showed them how he’d learnt to wee standing up. Needless to say, I was mortified and we didn’t have another play date for a very very long time. 

So now I’m back in the game. Somehow I won the lottery and have been invited to other mom’s houses for the play date. This is fantastic. This way I got to see what they do and how they manage the situation. 

I’m also embarrassed to admit (for those of you reading this who know me) that I also siddled up to my son’s day care teacher one day and whispered ‘I’ve been invited to a play date what do I do? Do I go, do I drop and run, do I take something’. She laughed at me and made a few suggestions, I’ll include these below. 

What I’ve learnt about play dates for pre-schoolers is this: 

  • For the first playdate you go with. I did not know this 🙂 
  • Mornings are best because the kids get far too excited and then get worn out from the excitement before the play dates began.  
  • If you don’t know the mum at all maybe meet at a park weather permitting so the kids have the option to play or not play depending on their moods and you don’t feel motified if they ignore each other for a bit. 
  • Healthy snacks are generally available – fruit, crackers, yoghurt, muffins. 
  • Have one thing that you know will take up some time, either an activity (play doh, drawing, swimming, car track, cup cake decorating).
  • If it’s over lunch make sure you know what the child can or cannot eat. 
  • If parking near your place is confusing explain it to the mom coming.
  • I always take something for the mom or the kids but that’s just me.
  • Take some pics to commemorate and then swap with the other mom. 
  • The TV isn’t on at first 🙂 some moms do have music on though.
  • Have a place in mind where you can sit and chat to the mom but still have the kids playing, it’ll make it easier to connect to the mom and keep an eye on the kids. 

Don’t feel bad if the kids have a few moments where they decide they hate each other – it’ll pass and they’ll be mates again soon. 

  

A “pulled elbow” lands our baby in hospital

To stop our daughter landing on her face in the shops I grabbed onto her arm. It was meant to stop her from falling and hurting herself and instead she hurt herself and landed up needing to go to hospital. 

Our little girl’s lower arm (the radius bone) had slipped out of its normal position at the elbow joint. 

We knew something was wrong because 1) she was crying and 2) was keeping her hand and fingers still (which is very unusual for any active 1 year old) and 3) wouldn’t use her hand for anything, even to take her favourite toy or food. 

As she was in her car seat, hadn’t napped properly and is teething the crying is normal. We decided to get home, get her out her car seat and see if she would take anything offered to that hand. She wouldn’t. 

Off my husband went to the emergency department of our local hospital, Sydney’s Royal North Shore. We know this hospital to be great with kids and adults alike. And it was a Saturday afternoon so of course we couldn’t get a doc appointment. 

My husband was seen, after a while (thank goodness he had the foresight to pack formula and he favourite toy to keep her calm) and the doctor knew immediately what was wrong – she’d pulled her radius out of her elbow. She didn’t even need an X-Ray. 

  
According to the doc that saw our little girl, it is a very common injury amongst children under the age of 5. So common, that this hospital sees 2 – 3 of these injuries daily (again, according to the doc that saw our daughter). 

It took a second for her to roll her arm round and pop it back into the elbow. As soon as he had done it, she was off to touch all the toys with the hand she hadn’t wanted to use.

It’s such a quick fix and a common injury but it still is horrible and unsettling because you don’t know what is wrong. 

We were given literature from the hospital (evidentially obtained from Kids Health Info – RCH, Melbourne). I want to share this so if this happens to your child you know what to look for and what it is so you don’t panic. 

  • A pulled elbow can be caused by holding a child’s hand when they fall or if a child is lifted by the hand   
  • It is a common injury in children under 5 (after 5 the ligament and joints are stronger).
  • In most cases your child will cry straight away.
  • Signs of the injury is your child not wanting to use the arm or having the arm hanging by their side. 
  • The longer the injury has endured (the longer it has been out) the longer it will take to recover. 
  • A pulled elbow will not cause permanent damage.
  • Some children are more susceptible to this.
  • This injury can happen more than once. 
  • PREVENTION: don’t pick your children up by their lower arms or wrists. 

This morning our little one is back to normal and seemingly completely fine but we’re just extra careful with her hand, wrist and arm.