- Do all the filing that sits in cupboards, on tables and shelves.
- Make my bookcases look like those fancy ones on Pinterest.
- 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)
- Match all the DVDs to their cases. Edit
- 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.
- Stick all the recipes in the recipe book so they don’t drop out all over the kitchen floor everytime I open the book.
- 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.
- Clean all the cupboards or the fridge. Either or. Will never do both at the same time, let’s be honest.
- Back up the photos on my phone.
- Finish my first child’s three year scrap book and start my second child’s three year scrap book. Poor second children.
- Do the ironing.
- Sort the Tupperware… Maybe not.
- 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.
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!
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:
- each hour you are awake between 4am and 7am
- each hour you’re woken up for a chat, question or debate between 12 midnight and 4am
- avoiding embarrassing your child in public (child must be over 10 years of age for this credit to accrue)
- carrying your child and his/her scooter home or up hill for a distance exceeding 50m and additional point for every 20m thereafter
- every children’s book you’ve read more than 10 times
- a tantrum in a public place
- any injury to your body that draws blood or requires a time-out except where it results in scarring
- having an audience whilst you’re on the loo
- 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:
- being vomitted on in public
- every time you stand on Lego
- two children simultaneously throwing a tantrum in public
- being injured to the extent that you scar
- irreparable harm being done to any of your favourite pieces of clothing (maximum of three incidences a year)
- travelling anywhere, in or on any form of transport, for more than 90 minutes (every 2 hours thereafter will accrue another 5 points)
- every time you replace a new item of clothing or equipment which was lost
- every vaccination (it hurts you more than it hurts them)
- 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.
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.
Today the kids and I ventured to the Sydney Olympic Park (yay, we had never been there before and wow, it is cool – like a whole mini town within a town but I digress, back to the Expo). I cannot imagine there being anything a parent would need that was not at this Expo today. It was pretty thorough.
This is going to be very brief as I want you to be able to get through it quickly, if you are going this weekend. I am only going to touch on the logistics, things I saw, picked up and where the kids played oh and most important – who is handing out balloons 😉
First up, logistics. If you have no clue how to get to Sydney Olympic Park their website is pretty good on directions (click here for a link directly to the Sydney Olympic Park directions page ). I just put Australia Drive, Sydney Olympic Park into my GPS and go there okay. The actual venue is Sydney Showground Exhibition Centre.
The website and your ticket, if you already have one says to park at P5 by the time I got there just before 10:30 (it only starts at 10) the parking was full as was the one just a bit further down the road. What is nice though is that there are walkways and ramps everywhere so it is very easy to navigate with a pram.
The capacity of the P5 parking is a good indicator of how busy it was today (Friday) and how busy it will be over the weekend but the space is huge and there was still space to wheel the pram around and space inside the play areas for the kids not to be overrun. There were a few places that had some serious queues and congestion – the Huggies nappy stand was the first stand we walked into after the entrance and there was a huge queue for some reason.
When you enter, make sure to pick up a wrist band for your child which you can put your phone number on should your child go wandering.
There is an excellent variety of exhibitors from Jalna yoghurt handing out samples to Tressilian handing out information brochures, NUK, Avent, Love to Dream swaddles, Priceline, various photographers and baby boutiques. There are vendors selling prams, car seats and cots and anything else you would need. If you are pregnant or a brand new mom this Expo would be great for you. The only problem is that there is SO much, it can be overwhelming and take all day. We could only be there for the morning as my children decided to stage a full-blown protest / meltdown.
Where did we stop to play – this is the ALL IMPORTANT question if you are taking the kids with you:
- Imagination Play Area – castle you can colour in, chalk and chalk boards, hop scotch, dress-up, play play shop and safe soft play areas.
- Nurofen has some iPads set up for the kids to colour in on.
- Gym-baroo has a circuit set up for little ones to play on. Sorry no pics, my son was too busy yelling about the yoghurt sample having ended.
- S-26 Has a stunning stand where the kids can play, listen to a story, colour in or pose for a photo. My littlest loved this.
- Golden Ridge Farm has brought some little animals including chickens, ducklings, goats and sheep. You dont have to pay for this (well we didn’t so I hope you dont have to 🙂 ). This is located outside the hall at the exit.
Next most important question – who is handing out balloons: I got balloons from two different sponsors: s-26 and 1300 Home GP.
The reason I dealt with the two sections above first is because you can’t do anything when the kids need to get some energy out so planning your day around having a kid friendly stop every couple of stands means you will be able to get more done.
Now, where did I get to stop and what did we pick up:
- Cetaphil gave us some great samples – hand wipes, body wash and daily lotion. We have just started using their body wash and I really like it so I am keen to try out their other products.
- Bubs has an impressive stand complete with two tiny tiny goats. All their organic food is on display but you dont need to buy it right away as you can get it at Coles.
- We bought the littlest some gorgeous hair clips and alice bands from Kaylee Rose Creations. I cannot wait to get her to wear them and neither can she! They were so pretty, I picked up some extras as birthday presents.
- Nanny2U is a company I had not come across so I had to stop and pick up some info and enter a competition to have a night of ‘care’.
- Angel Gowns are one of the companies that make gowns for little babies who pass away. Over 4000 gowns have been donated to hospitals, funeral homes and families allowing their precoius gifts to be beautifully dressed.
- Nurofen for the standard dosing information brochure.
- S-26 Here I signed up for their mum’s club because I feed my kids S-26 Gold and their play area was lovely.
- Swim Australia was a must to get information on swimming. living in sydney you cannot ignore how much water your child will be exposed to, either in your home, at school or when out with friends or at someone’s home.
- Jalna yogurt had samples upon samples of their delicious yoghurt.
- Aussie gave us a mini football which the kids loved.
- Tresillian had plenty of brochures on a number of topics and a fridge magnet with their contact details. I think they thought i was a mum in need 🙂
- GymbaROO and BabyROO let us sign up for a free class.
- NibblyBits for a teething necklace and some jewellery – I cannot speak better of these lovely ladies who helped me out with my very hungry and tired 3 year old. Not only do i love their necklaces and bangles but they are nice people which makes it all the better to support them.
Additionally I would have liked to stop at:
- Auskin Sheepskin – want to find out about the pram liner given we are off to the snow this year
- Baby Mum-Mum Rice Cakes – my baby loves these
- Britain Advisory Centre – need some advice on car seats but will have to revert to my faithful email antics
- Children’s Panadol – they have the best teethers
- Huggies – my kids wear these nappies and we go through millions so who doesn’t like a freebie but I was not going to stand in the queue
- Love to Dream – I have heard tons about their stuff
- Philips AVENT – needed some more dummies (sssh, dont tell my mother)
- Small print Silver Keepsakes Jewellery – combines my favourite things – my kids and shiny things 🙂
- Parking is $5 an hour and you can only buy hours.
- In case your kids are going nuts, there is an ice-cream stand outside 🙂
- There are a few cafes you can eat at in the food stalls inside or outside aren’t to your liking.
- I did see a package babysitting area where you can leave all your parcels to pick up later but I am not sure of the specifics.
- There are ATMs although most places seemed to take card.
- As with any good expo, there are changing stations and feeding areas.
GOOD LUCK AND ENJOY!!!
Anyone else’s children climb in their bed in the middle of the night and then spread themselves out with their feet on your face…
Sometimes I also get to sleep in the double bed in my baby’s room… Lucky me – not! We put a double bed in her room for when guests visit and then pushed it up against the wall so its safe for the baby to sleep (stay awake) in.
- Have lots of pillows otherwise yours will get ‘acquired’ by the bed invader.
- Sleep with your arm over your face so that kicking feet don’t break your nose.
- Remove heavy objects from the bed – chances are these will be found and used to wake you up.
- Keep lights, more specifically light switches, faaaaar out of reach.
- Get a long long duvet / comforter / blanket to cover your face when the light switch is found and used to simulate a disco.
- Keep a jersey and warm pants in arms length so you can keep warm when all the blankets are unceremoniously kicked off.
- Rid yourself of anything remotely interesting – earrings, necklace, jersey with a zip – these will become objects of desire and reasons to stay awake.
- Cover clocks and hide watches so you don’t know that you’re wide awake at 4am after being kicked in the face.
- Keep your eyes closed, just keep your eyes closed. If you open one eyelid the day would have started 🙂
Best of luck!!
Every mom knows the day actually starts the night before with the prep, research and multiple wake ups. So going to plan my day from there, from after the kids have been put in their beds, for theoretical bedtime.
19h00 – 20h00 Repeatedly tell the kids to go to bed and cook dinner for adults. Try clean up toys and Lego from the floor so husband doesn’t feel like he lives in a Creche.
20h00 – 21h00 Ask 3 year old to go to bed, in between reheating dinner and trying to eat it.
21h00 – 22h00 Try watch some form of adult TV while replying to all messages and emails from the day and catching up with your spouse on what’s happening in his life. Fold washing and put it away.
22h00 – 22h30 Unpack / pack dishwasher wash bottles, sterlise bottles and dummies and make up bottles for the night. Feed baby for the last nighttime feed, in the hope it’s the last feed of the day.
22h30 – 23h00 Remember all the things you wanted to tell your husband, keep waking him up in order to do so while researching what to do tomorrow to keep the children entertained.
23h00 – 4h45 Wake up repeatedly to try get 3 year old to sleep in his own bed / baby not to have milk and prevent one child from wake the other.
4h45 – 7h00 Keep baby quiet / get her to go back to sleep so she doesn’t wake the whole house because it is not actually a suitable time to be awake.
7h00 – 9h00 Try keep baby awake because she is now exhausted. Offer breakfast, have breakfast refused, get the 3 year old to eat breakfast, keep baby from eating 3 year olds breakfast or stealing his toys while he eats, keep him focused on eating. Try feed baby in high chair, try feed baby while she toddlers around. Make a cup of tea, forget the cup of tea, reheat cup of tea, put cup of tea somewhere you won’t find it.
9h00 – 10h30 Try get baby to go to sleep. Keep 3 year old quiet so baby sleeps. Stand on Lego and silently scream so as not to wake baby. Pack / unpack dishwasher, load / unload washing machine and try to remember to hang washing up. Clothe yourself, maybe get a shower and hair brush in too. Re-research what to do because everything has changed due to children’s temperament, weather or bad night.
10h30 – 11h10 Try leave the house for preplanned activity.
11h10 – 13h00 Child friendly activity where you try wear children out and cram lunch in. Wear yourself out more than the children. Fight with them to leave the activity and go back to the car, half way there stop and soothe them because the car is too far away and they need to go home right now. Get to the car and beg your child to get into the car so that you can leave.
13h00 – 15h00 Implore children not to fall asleep in the car on the way home. Children fall asleep in the car. Carry children from car to beds hoping to keep them asleep. Daytime sleep. Quickly rush around the house trying to clean it up. Plan dinner, take everything out that you need for dinner. Eat a chocolate bar for lunch. Communicate with husband so he knows everyone is alive.
15h00 – 15h40 Try leave the house for preplanned activity / grocery shopping / errand.
15h40 – 17h30 Child friendly activity or unfriendly activity like grocery shopping which is actually a ploy created by adults to ruin their children’s lives, apparently…
17h30 – 18h00 Convince children to eat dinner as it will not kill them. Negotiate, debate and eventually threaten. Dinner gets eaten. Woohoo.
18h00 – 18h30 Chase children around the house while trying to clean the bath, clean bath, locate children, bath children.
18h30 – 19h00 Chase naked children around the house. Stop children from jumping on the bed. Get pjs on and evening bottles made. Discuss why they can only have 1 story, read 1 story, feed milk, tuck them in and hope they go to sleep.
**SIDE BAR: My husband helps as soon as he is home from work, thank goodness!
*** ADDITIONAL SIDEBAR: This excludes days when I blog, run out of petrol and take the children for the dreaded vaccinations or anything equally dreadful.