How Not To Fail As A Parent.

How Not To Fail As A Parent.

How not to fail as a parent




How not to fail?

Now I have your attention – let me assure you that failure is not an option in parenting.
How could it be?
The sheer miracle of growing a tiny human being in your own body, is in itself a phenomenon that to this day, I can’t believe actually occurs.

From the time that a baby is only one-sixth of an inch long, the backbone, spinal column and nervous system are already forming and the kidneys, liver and intestines are beginning to take shape.  At just 20 days old your baby’s heart begins to beat and will continue to do so until the end of their life.
Also by the 20th day, your little one has developed the foundations of the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.  Taste buds are beginning to form and milk-teeth buds are present by just over six weeks.

“Motherhood is an apprenticeship, with very poor pay, long hours and
constant learning from your mistakes”.

All that happens within a woman’s body without her actively doing anything at all.
This human incubation is quite simply a miracle.

I saw a quote recently on a mummy Facebook page I follow and initially I was eager to read it, believing it would be an encouraging and uplifting start to my day.
It read like this:
How to be a mum in 2018…
Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional and social needs are met, whilst being careful not to overstimulate, underestimate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free, two-story, multilingual home, preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard.
Also – don’t forget the coconut oil.




You may need to lie down for a bit after reading that. I surely did.

After reflecting on these words, it made me think about the pressures that parents face in the 21st century. Even though we have more gadgets, faster technology and superior knowledge at our fingertips, it hasn’t slowed life down any.

We are to be constantly present and available
, owing to smart-phones and international connectivity.
Communication has never been faster. Or more draining.
The seemingly unrelenting pace, the choices we face and the pressures to keep up, are keeping us all on our toes. And rest can appear impossible.

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And motherhood? It’s a maze of choices and indeed information, that can feel overwhelming and more than a little bit frightening.

Let’s be honest, motherhood is hard.
Don’t let anyone infer that it is a breeze. Precious adults are a result of years of time spent shaping and moulding humans from a base note of love and patience.
And also making mistakes. Often.

I have yet to meet a mother who has never once in her entire lifetime made a single mistake.
I am positive, absolutely 200% sure she does not exist.
However, similarly, I am 300% confident that a tonne of mother’s like to pretend they have all their ducks perfectly placed in a row, alphabetised, on-time, on-trend, politically correct, genius-brained, colour-coded, on-point, flawless bringing up of humans.

These are not my people.

I mean, I made my first parental mistake, oh, within approximately 120 seconds of birthing my first child.
She was duly placed on my chest, beetroot red, which one can understand, given that she had been squeezed like a watermelon for the past two hours, waiting in the small confines of my birth canal.
Given her puce colour, I immediately enquired whether she had a giant birthmark on her entire face.
“No”, said the midwife, “she is just taking her first few breaths of life!”
Number one of millions of mistakes I would make as a parent, had begun.

But, we all know that parents grow in their skills, just like babies grow and develop. When we are handed our little one, they don’t come with a manual, dvd, matching mummy tee-shirt and baby onesie.
Parents become parents but not instantly.
It is a lifetime of learning, together.



In this space of encouragement, here are some things I have learnt along the way of my own parenting journey:

As mothers, we are all doing our very best but we all do it differently and different isn’t wrong.

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In other words, be proud of your journey. You may skip, whilst others run. Or hop when your friend prefers to amble. We all want happy, healthy and successful children.
There are many paths to choose from to reach the destination. Enjoy your ride without worrying if your neighbour is doing it better.

In the realm of motherhood and perfection, I’ve also realised over the years that my house is a home, filled with little moments that become rich memories. Don’t believe the lie that other mothers keep tidy and clean homes. LIVE in your house. I think it is almost impossible to maintain a perfect home with little people (or big people) to run after.

“Mothers are masters at faking it!”

And whilst I do love myself a bit of social media, I have to remind myself that Facebook and Instagram generally only paint a rosy picture and not always the gritty in-the-trenches moments of reality.
Whilst they are brilliant ways to connect with others and glimpse the lives of people whom I admire and/or aspire to be more like, I have realised if the perfect photos and well-laid out grids are pulling my heart down, causing me to feel like a failure, I put the phone down.

Similarly, regarding what we feed our families, whilst some live on take-outs a few nights a week, others may never grace the sliding doors of the golden arches. Many children need to be on special diets due to illness, allergies or culture and every mother has differing views of nutrition which is right for their family.
If you choose to feed your children green, protein, kale smoothies every morning, whilst your friend’s kids eat only pop tarts, it’s not a sign of failure to be different.

Remember different is normal, not the other way round. No matter what society tells us.

Some days my children eat cake for breakfast (generally when I am Face-timing my best friend in Australia and they know I am a pushover!).
Other mornings we eat whole-wheat oatmeal with dates and thick greek yoghurt.
Both is ok.

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“We are the gate-keeper of our children’s hearts”.

And remember mama’s, just as your children have their own personalities, so do you, as a person and a mum.
Don’t berate yourself for not being able to handle it all. Nobody can, despite what you think you see in others.

Mothers are masters at faking it
because we don’t want to appear as though we aren’t equipped for the job.
Nobody on this earth is 100% brilliant at everything and neither do you need to be as a mum.

Motherhood is an apprenticeship, with very poor pay, long hours and learning from your mistakes
. This is what makes a great mother!

So do I agree with the complexities of the quote? Yes I do. I really do.
I think mother’s of 2018 have very, very full plates.
But from those weighty plates we give, nurture, love, sacrifice, compromise, juggle (how we juggle!), cheer, devote, support and encourage.
Every single day.

We are quite simply the gate-keeper of our children’s hearts.

And you know what? We are enough.
The perfect balance of imperfect and the only person in the whole wide world that our children can call Mummy.

You only get approximately 18 summers with your offspring at home with you.
Enjoy your unique ride and take your hands off the steering wheels and free-ride some days and embrace different.

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What Happened to Simple Birthday Parties?

What Happened to Simple Birthday Parties?


“The kids were dropped at the door, because it was a child’s party,
not an expectation for the parents to stay, lurking and scowling in the corner,
whilst inwardly seething about their weekend being lost on another kids party”.

 

When I was a kid I have fond memories of my 5th birthday.
I remember the anticipation of waiting for my pals to ring the door bell. I also recall using my new cardigan as a skipping rope (as you do when you are a fresh and cool 5 year old).
The inevitable happened and I tripped, my face landing heavily onto the corner of our wooden kitchen stools, delivering an impressive gash right across my eyebrow, with copious amounts of blood.
I also recall quite vividly, screaming at the top of my lungs at the sight of the gushing scarlet blood.  A quick trip to our local country hospital and 8 stitches later, I was slightly more subdued but still in fine spirits and ready for the partying to begin.

Said party was in fact a simple affair, consisting of the time-honoured, pass the parcel, a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, musical chairs and lots of running around the garden playing tag.

Party food was always fairy bread (an Aussie favourite, of soft white bread, spread with butter and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, crusts off and cut into little triangles). If you haven’t tasted fairy bread, I’m calling it, you haven’t lived.
Every Aussie parent appreciates the child-like joy of sneaking a few fairy bread pieces when nobody is looking, savouring the crunchy sweetness of the sprinkles amongst the soft carbs of the bread.
Its not just for the adults I can tell you.

There was also always home-made sausage rolls with good old tomato sauce as a side, a bowl or two of Cheezels or Twisties (another Aussie favourite – basically crunchy cheesy moorish bites of loveliness), a plate of ham sandwiches and a platter of cupcakes, decorated with a messy swirl of buttercream icing and a glace’ cherry on the top (you know to be fancy…)
Oh, and my mum always had a small bowl of Smarties on the table, just to make sure there was a high enough percentage of sugar running through our veins.
Everything was served on cheap, bendy paper plates and the only other decoration that could be seen, was a few token balloons floating under the kitchen table.


The ultimate finale of the day was the retro Aussie ice-cream cake 
(only retro now – not in my day!)
As my birthday is the end of December and one of the hottest months of the Australian year, the cake was always saved until the end and whipped out for a quick happy birthday chorus and blow of the candles.  I still have fond memories of my birthday ice-cream cake.
Neapolitan flavour with lots of lovely, swirly, pastel pinks and chocolate browns amongst the obligatory vanilla.  With little piped violet-coloured flowers all around the edge, made out of cream and you guessed it, sprinkles in the middle.
It was simply heaven to a 5 year old.

Birthday parties nowadays look somewhat different.
And even though I have to smile when I read about the ‘vintage games’ being played, I can’t help but feel the heart of a child’s party has been lost somewhat.
When I was little, the kids were dropped at the door, because it was a child’s party, not an expectation for the parents to stay, lurking and scowling in the corner, whilst inwardly seething about their weekend being lost on another kids party.
Those parents couldn’t leg it fast enough. A kid’s party meant freedom for a few hours for parents. It was a win-win situation.
Everybody knew where they stood. I drop my kid off at yours and you do the same to me! Cheers and see-ya later.


Now entire hall’s are rented out for parties. Not to mention the entertainment, with the likes of a DJ, or placed in the hands of a slick party planner.
Professionally organised parties have become quite the niche for clever entrepreneurs, willing to lighten busy and overwhelmed parent’s wallets, in the name of a stress-free party.
If you have multiple kids, it’s music to their ears. If you do it for one, you need to follow the same course for the rest of your little loves.

We have been to many of these over the years and it makes me a little sad that the innocence of a child’s birthday, seems to be lost amongst the grand affair that often parents feel pressured to be a part of.
I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into another weekend party and found the poor mother looking exhausted and anxious, despite the professional’s running the show. Maybe it’s the fact that she is ultimately responsible and at the beck-and-call of 30 plus children, their offsprings and parents.

On a day that is so sacred and precious.

“This day, this birth day of your child, is the most precious date of the year.
Because it is the day that you met your baby.
It is the day that you laboured and held your forever love for the first time.
And whilst it is a celebration, it doesn’t have to be the grand affair that society seems to dictate we follow today”.


Our fourth child, Milly, recently turned 12.
Her request was for me to bake her chocolate chip muffins for breakfast and have a wander through Norwich in the sunshine and stop for an ice-cream gelato.
In our effort to live a slow and more simple and happy life, I couldn’t be more delighted at Milly’s request.
We have the privilege of celebrating her day together as a family without the pressure of time and commitment to other people.

I didn’t have to rent a village hall or take all day to set-up a venue outside the home. I didn’t have to worry about the cost of feeding lots of children and their parents. I was able to be with the child that made me a mummy for the fourth time.

Don’t misunderstand my heart though, I am not against parties! I just wish that these parties could be a simple affair, a gathering of precious and important people, rather than the huge event that I see time and time again.

We will, however, always and in large amounts, bring out the fairy bread because no birthday can be without it.
Australian or not, once you try it – you will be smitten for life.

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When Five Is The New Three.

When Five Is The New Three

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“Sadly for her, little Callum decided to push the boat out
and go head-to-head with
a public showdown”.

My husband and I recently placed our lives into the hands of barely out-of-nappies pilots and crew, when we flew from London to the South-West of France on a let’s say, a very budget airline.
We were seated over the wing and I somehow managed to cram my long, 6ft frame into their tiny, lego-sized seats. Just.

What I didn’t quite manage, was to successfully peel my eyes away from the seemingly flimsy wing-flaps, from my window seat vantage.
I mean those wings, to my untrained engineering eyes, seemed very thin and bendy. Surely they weren’t equipped to actually propel us above the clouds and manage to stay there?
I nervously asked my husband how often did he think the engineers checked the plane?
His answer, which didn’t help my anxious state in the slightest was “well as often as is needed – but of course there are things that just happen without them knowing. You know like when we are up in the air”.

Seriously? That was my point exactly.
How was this tiny, yellow tin-can actually going to make it all the way across the pond to France (and back hopefully)?

Fortunately, alcoholic beverages were available, at a wallet crushing £7 for a thimble sized sip. But nonetheless, it passed the time and eased the vice-like grip on my chest.
A  little.

I am not a nervous flyer, at all. Having worked for two major international airline companies for nearly ten years, my husband, kids and I have racked up many, many air miles over the years. But this no-frills aircraft – they are in a class of their own, on the scale of “are-we-going-to-die-today”?

One of the great blessings of being crammed into a tiny area, with reconstructed air-flow, the stale smell of urine and the noxious farts from the old men in the back of the plane, snoring with their mouths wide open, is the different styles of parenting that one can observe. Parenting being one of my most favourite subjects, this was in a fashion, a silver-lining.
And as I had nothing else to do besides try and find clean air pockets around the various foul intestinal smells, I learnt something new in the parenting world.

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Did you know that the popular and well-used parental strategy for discipline, of counting-to-three-until-your-children-make-the-wise-decision-that-you- are-actually-the-boss-and-anything-over-three-means-you-will-lose-your-shit, – is indeed out-dated?
It’s not three anymore. Get this.
Five is the new three.
Who knew?
I surely didn’t and not one, but two families on that dreaded flight, counted to five. I felt out-of-the-loop. Did I miss the memo? Why had nobody told me?

I mean, when snotty nosed Callum, (sorry if you have a Callum. I am sure he doesn’t have a snotty nose. This one did, unfortunately) kept standing on his seat and using it as a trampoline, his mum told him she would count to five, thus giving him much needed seconds to assess the naughty to nice scale.
At first I thought, “oh she means three, everyone says three”.
But no, she counted to five!
Sadly for her, little Callum decided to push the boat out and go head-to-head with a public showdown. Wiping his snot on his already green sleeve and occasionally on the back of the chair. Five didn’t cut the mustard with Callum. Possibly, mum should have stuck to three….

But then – and maybe these two families were related, now I come to think of it, as across the aisle, Maisy decided to have a lash at 101 ways to wind your parent up in a tin-can. She did remarkably well for a tiny human. Kudos for her manipulative negotiation skills, I was well impressed.
Maisy wanted Nutella dippers and Coke and any sane parent will know that this sugar-sugar combo on a good day, at a park with a tonne of space to go wild, is a gamble.
In a plane, it’s deadly.

But it’s not an easy call.
Either give the kid the sugar and be thankful for those few quiet, stolen moments of peace, before her little body goes into overdrive.
Or say no.
Mum, wisely (but in the short-term unwisely for us – the rest of the passengers) said no.

Maisy predictably sobbed her little heart out and mum started the count – to five.

Let’s be honest, five was never going to work for Maisy, or her mum, or us.
That mother could have counted to five hundred and Maisy would still be screaming. So she did the next best thing. She bought her the Nutella and Coke and for the rest of the flight we watched her whizz up and down the little plane, her insulin-fuelled legs working overtime, ducking and diving under and around the flight attendants, with frightening speed and accuracy.

However, in all honesty, I think it was Maisy’s constant distribution of weight in the middle of the plane, that balanced us perfectly and enabled us to land with our lives still intact.
And for that reason alone, I am so very grateful for the new three to five rule. Even if it didn’t work.

Five is the new three

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When Your Kid’s Are Worth The Fallout

When Your Kid’s Are Worth The Fallout


I read a quote today which made me think about the journey of parenting.

It says, “I don’t spend much time and emotional energy training my dogs.  Why?  Because honestly, I don’t care that much.  I like them, but they’re dogs.  I will spend endless time and emotional energy training my kids though, because I do care that much. They’re my kids!”

Now for those who are total animal-lovers, please don’t shoot me.  I love our pets as much as the next person.  But if I had to decide between my fur-babies and my children, of course I choose my children.

That said, our labradoodle, Queenie, is very loved and cherished, as I have spoken about here.  She just doesn’t receive the same sort of attention as the children do.  And here she is to show you how much a part of the family she is, basking in the sunshine at our family picnic!


The other day, my four children had been happily playing outside in the sunshine, bouncing on the trampoline.  I was sewing at the kitchen table and noticed that three of them slinked into the room, whispering to each other, obviously sharing some sort of secret, shifty move.
I instantly became suspicious and asked them what they were up to?
The answer was predictably, “nothing!”
I also noticed that their sister, Olive, had been left outside and immediately smelt a very stinky rat.  So I enquired as to why they had abandoned her?
Their answer was, “it’s just a joke and she won’t mind”.
Literally two seconds later, Olive, being the whirlwind that she is, flew inside crying and sobbed that her siblings had abandoned her and she had been waiting for them to return.


In essence, she felt rejected, and I, was cross and disappointed at the others.

Herein lies the dilemma that all parents face.  I had a choice to ignore their behaviour, putting it down to silly and childish games and preferring instead to smooth the situation over and give Olive a hug.
Or, I could butt heads with the children over it.

We all know that diligent parenting will bring conflict.  It’s messy, inconvenient and time-consuming, and honestly, some days it’s so tempting to avoid it at all costs.  Certainly there are some hills that are not worth dying on, but many are worth the battle, which deal with matters of the heart.

I love my children so much, that temporary uncomfortableness is worth these lessons of the heart.
And I want my children to know that I will engage with them, correct them and train them, when I am tired, and I will challenge their behaviour, when I truly don’t feel like it and would rather ignore their actions.
Because I am not their best friend, I am their mother and loving beyond measure is hard work.  I know that giving into the small things, will only lead to bigger problems further down the track – and a lot more heartache.

Even though our incident appeared to be a small issue, I knew it was a key training moment.
In terms of being respectful to their sister who was left outside and truthful to me when I asked them what was going on. There were a few issues at play that really needed to be dealt with and nipped in the bud.

Teaching respect to small children leads to having respectful tweens, teens and adults.  In our family, this is a total no-brainer.  I not only want to have lovely offspring in my home, I want them to be lovely in your home too.


Basically, I love my children enough to bump heads with them
.
And even though it’s so much easier to be the fun parent, the one who plays and laughs and doesn’t cause her children to feel upset or uncomfortable as a result of their actions, being that other parent takes effort.
Discipling is hard work and I would rather not do it, but daily I choose to be the parent who temporarily falls out with her children and set some rules.

According to Parenting.com “rules reassure kids, because no matter how often children act as if they want to be in control, having too much power is frightening.  They intuitively know that they need an adult to be in charge, and they count on their parents to guide their behaviour”.
In other words, children who have firm boundaries feel more secure than those who don’t really know where the fence lies, how long that fence is and where the gate locks.  It means that they are constantly testing the waters to see how far they can dip their toe in, which causes stress on their hearts and can be a nightmare for parents.

I promise my children that although there are so many times that I long to let things slide, I won’t.  I just won’t.
Because I care too much for their hearts and their futures, not to tighten and maintain that fence daily.  I love them beyond measure and can’t bear to think of them feeling insecure daily, dipping their toes in to see how deep that water is.

The fence is there and so am I.

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Recognising When Your Child Is Anxious

Recognising When Your Child Is Anxious.


I have been a parent for nearly 21 years now and throughout the many and varied seasons of child-raising, some of those years were focussed on helping some of our children through stages of anxiety.

Not that long ago, we found ourselves in a very tricky situation with our 10 year old daughter, Milly.  She became terrified of sleeping on her own at night.  She found the darkness unbearable and every single night would whip herself into such a frenzy of crying and panic, it broke our hearts.  As I write this I can feel tears welling up at the thought of her distress, night after night.

One particularly difficult night, Milly asked my husband and I, if it would be easier for her to leave us and join another family, as her tears and anxiety must be too much of a burden on us.
You can imagine how deeply affected we were by her words!  Our sweet 10 year old expressing this so tenderly, nearly completely undid us.

Then on the other side, was our son, Harry, who began first year high school and became so deeply distressed and anxious during school time, due to group bullying.  However, Harry showed his anxiety in different ways and for a long time, we were unaware of how bad things had become for him at school.

Both children experienced severe anxiety, but were poles apart in their representation of this emotion.  And even though, both children are very quiet, their anxiety was uniquely displayed, often making it hard to read as a parent.

There are key signs to look for if you suspect you have an anxious child.
Our family, have actually faced all of these and whilst this list is comprehensive, it doesn’t mean anxiety or fear can be dealt with through a textbook strategy.  All children are so different and we know that what works for one, may definitely not work for the other.


1.  Feeling unwell to the point of wanting to vomit.

This is actually a very common complaint of children who are experiencing anxiety.  The reason for the sickness, is because the body slows down so that anything that isn’t absolutely essential will be conserved for energy later.  Think the flight and fight scenario (a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival).  Blood flow is directed from the organs to the brain and digestion slows.  This can feel like butterflies or nausea.  It is a very normal part of anxiety and completely safe but also completely awful to experience.

2.  Suppression of appetite.

If you notice your child is finding eating difficult, this may be an early warning sign that your little one is suffering from anxiety.  While the reasons have not been proven completely, it is thought to be a combination of a variety of factors which contribute to loss of appetite.  Some of these include the amount of stomach acid produced when anxious, can actually make the individual feel fuller for longer.

According to Calm Clinic, serotonin is also a key element to loss of appetite.  This neurotransmitter affects how full someone feels, as well as how anxious they are. If the amount of serotonin is abnormal, anxiety levels and appetite will also be abnormal.

In my experience, it isn’t wise to force your child to eat when they are in the throes of an anxious moment.  You may find it doesn’t stay where it should!

3. Worrying over seemingly minor things that shouldn’t factor at all.

Your child may begin to obsessively worrying about very small things.

For us, in Milly’s case, it was the fact that she didn’t want to be awake on her own when we all went to bed.  However, considering she was put to bed a minimum of three hours earlier than my husband and I would retire, it appeared to be a small and insignificant worry.  Except for her, it was a huge deal and meant she was unable to naturally fall to sleep at her usual time.

We dealt with this by assuring her we would check in on her every 30 minutes until she eventually fell asleep.  These small actions were a comfort to her and she was able to relax, knowing that we would be watching over her until she dropped off to sleep.

Other parents report that their child would suddenly begin to worry about things that they usually loved to do, such as playing a certain sport or going to a friend’s house.  Remember that these situations alone often aren’t the cause of the anxiety, it is the anxiety itself that manifests into the situation.


4. Not wanting to go to school.

Not wanting to go to school is a very common trait in children and anxiety isn’t always the reason behind it.  Your child may generally just take a bit longer to adapt to the school environment, so I wouldn’t automatically assume it is because your little one is anxious.  However, if your child has been enjoying school, socialising well and coming home happy in the past – and all of that seems to change overnight, it could be due to anxiety.

Talk to your child’s teacher and/or the mother’s of your child’s peers.  They may be able to shed light on the situation.  Maybe an incident occured in the playground that you were unaware of, and this has had an affect on your child.

And of course, talk to your little one.  We have found it beneficial to not directly ask our children what is concerning them because often they are unable to vocalise the problem.  Instead we have spent quality one-to-one time with our kids, engaging in the things that they enjoy, such as bike riding or swimming at the beach.  It was during those moments that our children relaxed and conversation flowed to the point of finding out what it was that was bothering them.

Quality time is often the key to listening to your child’s heart.  It gives you both space in a calm environment to connect.  We have found this to be the best course of action when our children are struggling.


5. Being extra clingy to mum or dad.

If you find your child is suddenly insecure about leaving you, again it doesn’t necessarily mean anxiety is the problem.
There are so many other factors that are very normal and common in children, such as being over-tired, over-stimulated or simply genuinely missing mum and dad, which is not a negative emotion but a sign that you have a fantastic home life!!
However, if the separation time continues to be traumatic (for both parent and child), it may be a sign of anxiety.

According to Psych4Schools, “about 4 per cent of primary school age children experience excessive separation anxiety when separated from the parent or primary care giver.  These children persistently worry about being forgotten, or the parent being harmed or not returning.

That being said, separation anxiety is part of normal childhood development.  It begins around six months of age and typically ends by the time children begin kindergarten or preschool.  A healthy level of separation anxiety indicates the development of a close bond and attachment to parents.

The warning sign is really when your child has in the past, been happy to leave you, and that suddenly changes.  Then it is time to look into what has changed in your child’s life to contribute to those emotions.

6. Wetting the bed when your child has been consistently dry at night.

This is a common complaint of parents whose child has easily been dry for years sometimes, and then suddenly wets the bed every night for no apparent reason.  Wetting the bed when sleeping has been linked to emotional problems and the toll they take on the body.  Stress can interfere with the body’s normal sleep patterns and an increase in restlessness can cause an increase in metabolism, which in turn multiplies the production of urine while sleeping.

The good news is that bed wetting is normally a short-term problem and as soon as the cause of the anxiety is discovered and passes, so does the bed-wetting.  In essence, be patient as a parent, because like all of the other symptoms above, the problem isn’t the bed-wetting in itself, rather the stress behind it.

7. Crying at the drop of a hat.

Small children will cry to express their emotions, as it is a release for stress or emotional energy.  It can serve as a communication tool to share emotions or seek comfort, as they are not able to cognitively show their parents any other way to indicate hunger, tiredness etc.

In older children, who do have the ability to convey their feelings, sudden and prolonged crying may be an indicator of stress.  If your child is crying a lot, as a parent there are a few things you can do sensitively to tackle the problem.
An article in The Star, explains it this way:

  • Talk about emotions when things are calm, such as spending quality time with your child, as described above.
    Or another option, as detailed in The Star, is instead of discussing it in the middle of a personal episode, using characters in books or movies to connect to your child’s experiences has proved successful.
    “Parents can have these conversations with kids from pre-school through high school,” she said. “Remind your child too of times they have handled difficult situations well, or times when strong emotions had been overcome.”
  • Acknowledge that tears are part of being human. “Many children have been damaged by adults who unwittingly communicate things like ‘big boys don’t cry,’ or ‘it’s never right to shed a tear,’” Let kids know that crying is a natural outcome of pain, sadness, disappointment, fear, frustration, anger and even joy.

8. Withdrawing from friends and family.

Firstly, look at your child’s personality.  Is he/she a naturally quiet person?  Your little one may be growing into themselves and find that they prefer small groups of children to play with instead of large, noisy ones.  This isn’t a sign of anxiety but a positive outcome that your child is finding out what works for them in social situations.

On the other hand, if you have an outgoing and bubbly little one, who is overnight very withdrawn and anxious, there is probably something going on that needs to be investigated.  And remember, it doesn’t have to be a big thing.  Often very small occurrences in children’s lives, create big ripples in their hearts.  It could be that their seating arrangement at school has been altered and they are not sitting with people they know well.  Or, in our case, with one of our boys, it was the arrival of a relief teacher, instead of his normal one, that caused deep distress.  Once you find out what is the cause, you can make steps to deal with it.


So how do you combat these anxiety flare-ups and what’s the good news about all of this?

First of all, the good news is that it will pass.

Worrying is a normal and natural human response, so as a parent or care-giver, don’t rush in to sort out the problem straight away.  Take the time to observe your child, their routine, their interactions in the play-ground, what they speak of.  Oftentimes, you will see the source of the problem straight away through simply watching them.

Anxiety is simply another emotion that your child will need to learn how to process.  Look at it from a positive viewpoint and not the negative way it may be affecting them.  Give your child the tools to use when anxious and they will be set-up for life!  If only as little ones, we were all taught how to deal with anxious thoughts!  I think the world would be a much calmer place.

And lastly, be patient.  This one I admit, I found difficult with Milly, as from our perspective, she took a long time to work through her night-time fears.  Often it was a case of one step forward and three back.  However, when she finally understood that there was nothing to be concerned about, the strength of her conviction was outstanding.  And the experience she has gained from that space enables her to deal with anxiety much better in the present.

As parents, we are constantly training our kid’s hearts and anxiety is just another way of showing them how to journey through this emotion.  If you look at it from that perspective, it isn’t the beast it always appears to be in the beginning!

 

 

 

 

 

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52 Things Your Mother Never Told You.

52 things

52 Things Your Mother Never Told You

Have you ever stopped and thought “why did my mother not tell me this?”.  I certainly have.
It was the day after our first child was born and I had to get up to use the toilet, located at the far end of a very long hospital corridor.
And the thing is, I couldn’t walk and could barely manage a wobble.  It felt as though all of my insides had been squeezed and then poked back into my body, all bruised and swollen.

Nobody told me that would happen, or that it would take weeks to be able to sit without ice.

I also was never enlightened to the fact that when a baby projectile vomits, it looks like a sheet of liquid and surprisingly can reach the other side of the room.  I guess that’s why they use the word projectile!

Or that I would feel so tired in those early weeks with a newborn, that I literally lost the capacity to form words and I would cry when I saw my bed because I was so desperate to be in it.

So in the spirit of learning by mistakes, here are some that you may recognise for yourself.  And if it happens to be all 52, you are in good company!

  1. If you knock on a door and it doesn’t open, try another one and keep going – until one opens before you even get there.
  2. Preheat the oven before baking a cake. It matters!
  3. Put sunscreen on your child during an overcast day.  Don’t let the hiding sun fool you.
  4. Buying a puppy on a whim because your kids beg you to – usually ends in disaster.  Puppies poop and wee in the house for a solid six months (pardon the pun).
  5. Wear a mask when flying.  Aeroplanes are germ infested petri-dishes.
  6. If you are flying with kids – good luck.
  7. Don’t miss the opportunity to travel. Often and in far-flung places.
  8. Don’t become bitter.  Ever.  It’s a slippery slope to becoming one of those shrivelled, grey nasty people who ooze contempt.  Plus it makes you ugly.
  9. Smile always. Laugh often. Hug your loves for at least 60 seconds each day.
  10. Hold your kid’s hands when in public.  Losing a child whilst shopping is one of the most traumatic experiences a parent can ever face.
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to others.  Repeat as often as needed.  Daily.
  12. The grass is never greener on the other side.  Never.
  13. Take risks because you never know what is just around the corner – even if you can’t see it.
  14. Don’t shy away from difficult situations – they are the mortar that builds a house and make it strong.  Strength comes through adversity.
  15. When and if you become a parent, remember that your spouse was, and always will be, your first love.
  16. Don’t let your marriage go stale.  Invest in quality time together, even if it means hiding in a cupboard together so the kids don’t find you, drinking wine.
  17. Remember your kids are with you for a short time and your spouse forever.  Make your marriage a keeper.
  18. When the days are long – picture what your life will look like in ten years time.  Nothing stays the same.
  19. Teenage boys smell.  Invest in deodorant.
  20. Teenage girls will cry.  A lot. Be patient – at least once a month.  You were once that teenager.
  21. Embrace different cultures and don’t be pig-headed about your nationality being superior.
  22. Be prepared for storms to follow rainbows. The good news is, it’s generally a constant cycle of life  – so hang in there with the tough times.
  23. Relax – life is way too short to sweat the small stuff.
  24. Don’t give your kids too many choices. Remember they are little people and you are the adult.
  25. Don’t keep company with people who make you feel bad.  Toxic friends will pull you down.
  26. Don’t gossip.  It’s an unattractive trait.  No matter how tempting it may be to slander someone in the moment.  It always makes your heart feel black.
  27. Living a simple life is totally ok.  More than ok.  It’s paradise once you just let go
  28. Don’t chase money.  It’s like water and slips through your hands quicker than you can grasp it.
  29. Be content in the moment and stop striving for better.  Better is today.
  30. Don’t let your kids whine.  They will turn into obnoxious adults.
  31. If you allow your kids to answer you back, you are welcoming disrespect into your lives.  Guard your heart and theirs.
  32. Hamsters bite.  Get a rabbit instead.  Or a fish.  They don’t live very long.
  33. Invest in your kid’s hearts and not the stuff they want.
  34. Too many after-school activities can cause your kids to become exhausted. Protect their childhood.
  35. Let your kids play! Climb trees, skin their knees, ride bikes.  Fresh air is a child’s best friend.
  36. If your kids are bored – give them a high five and watch what happens.
  37. Competition with others makes your teeth grow fangs.  Think about it.  Fangs will repel people.
  38. Be content with what you have.
  39. Don’t over-analyse risks.  You won’t leave the house.
  40. Be kind.  Always.  To everyone.  One day that kindness will return to you tenfold.
  41. Having a small group of  ‘keeper friends’ is better than a gang of many, who make you feel lonely.
  42. You are your children’s greatest teachers.  Don’t underestimate the impact you have on their lives forever.
  43. Be still for at least 10 minutes a day.  Switch off and watch your heart rejuvenate.
  44. One day your kid’s will grow out of wetting the bed.  Grown adults don’t wet themselves, unless they are post-natal women and in that case, you may need to invest in Teena.
  45. Some days you will smash the world like a boss.  Other days you will put your keys in the fridge.
  46. Be happy.  It drives people crazy.
  47. Silence is the best reply to a fool.
  48. Don’t worry about the amount of vegetables your kids don’t eat – one day they will be steaming asparagus and eating raw broccoli.
  49. Surround yourself with people who get you.
  50. Know that you are a limited edition.  Love your soul.
  51. You may find you have nothing in common with people who wash, dry and put all their laundry away in the same day.  This is ok.  Welcome to the club of reality with kids.
  52. Dance in the rain.  It’s life-changing.

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Miscarriage – When Your Baby’s Heartbeat Stops – Part Two

miscarriage pt 2

Guest Post – Emily O’Malley
Miscarriage – When Your Baby’s Heartbeat Stops – Part Two – Angel Babies


Angel Babies

Dear sweet reader,

When my soul sister Catherine asked how I would feel if she wrote a blog post about miscarriage and if I would like to add my story, I jumped at the opportunity.  Yet now as I sit here at 12:45am, having a glass of milk after re-settling my eldest, my story suddenly feels overwhelming.  You see I should be unable to balance my laptop as I do right now, as I should have a 7 month baby bump.  But alas, all I have is post-baby belly.

My story is a common one.  According to the March of Dimes, as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage – most often before a woman misses a menstrual period or even knows she is pregnant.  About 15-25% of recognised pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. Doctors will quite happily tell you this as they go about the seemingly routine process of telling you that you are pregnant no more.
Some doctors may even refer to it as a ‘natural abortion.’   The amount of times when doctors have asked me how many abortions I have had, just astounds me.  Somewhere along the road these medical practitioners have lost compassion for women in their care. 


My most recent miscarriage was in November 2017.
We had finished our family and had all birth control methods in place.  I just happened to be in the 0.3% of women who fell pregnant on our particular birth control.  As you can imagine it was a H U G E shock to my husband and myself.  But we started to get our heads around it after a couple of days.  We talked logistics of where we would place this baby in our home, we laughed about the fact that we had just finished selling the last of the baby clothes and equipment, and we marvelled at the fact I fell pregnant, despite all birth control measures being in place.

But then the moment came….. it was a moment that had happened three times prior.  I wasn’t shocked, I took a deep breath…. And I flushed that blood soaked piece of toilet paper away.  I called my husband to come home from work so I could go to the hospital.  I felt calm…yet sick.  I got in the car and drove to the Emergency Department, calling a friend along the way, who insisted on coming and being with me, despite my claims that I was “fine” (and I am ever so grateful she did come!)

Once at the ED, I sat for several hours waiting to be processed and seen by the doctor.  And the bleeding slowed, thus my hope started to grow again.  However, when the doctor came and told me my HCG levels (pregnancy hormone) was not doubling as it should and he believed I was having a miscarriage, it felt all too real and very familiar.  Through tightly held lips and watery eyes, I said thank you and simply walked out of the room.

I held my game face on for a little bit…but then it started to crack.  And I sobbed.  Over the coming days and weeks I got so angry at God for allowing this to happen to me.  A baby we had never planned for, but loved SO deeply after such a short period of time, had been ripped away from us.  I think the worst part was having to continue on with life like everything was normal….but life wasn’t normal…and that baby will forever be on my mind and in my heart.

You see I’ve had four miscarriages.  Three of them were prior to having my eldest and then this last, most recent one.  My husband and I have been blessed with two beautiful earth babies.  The youngest one who is soon to turn five!  But my heart can’t help but long for our angel babies as well.  I once read a book about asking God to reveal the gender of your child, so that you can name them.
My husband and I did this and so we have Noah, Jesse, Lucy and most recently Rose, in heaven.


It has amazed me how many other women say they’ve had a miscarriage, when I start sharing my story with them.  Society tells us to keep quiet about miscarriage and has made it out to be an unspoken topic, but the more we talk and share, the more we can journey together and get rid of this stigma surrounding miscarriage.

I’m sad to say not a day goes by that I don’t think about my angel babies.
At times sweet reader, you won’t even realise you are thinking about your loss, until it hits you right in the face and you feel overwhelmed with grief and sorrow.  Or you may feel you’re ok, but then you see someone with a baby bump that would have been the same size as yours and it hits you.  All over again.

My message is simply this … mama you are not alone.  Let us band together as mothers…as women….and share our stories of joy and hope, as well as those of sorrow and pain.  We crave community and most of us are well aware of the concept ‘it takes a village to raise a family’ – so let us actually do that.  The conversations may feel difficult to initially start, but from a mama that’s been there….please go there.  Ask me how I feel, ask what you can pray about for me, refer to my angel babies by name.
And most of all….please love on me.

Because even though we might say we don’t blame ourselves for having a miscarriage.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t.

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Why We Love Our Wooden Toys

wooden toys 1

Why We Love Our Wooden Toys

This is an affiliate post which has links to products from Amazon.
If you click the links and purchase products we receive a small
commission at no additional cost to you.


We have had little ones spanning over 20 years and at the very start of our journey, I realise we tended to follow trends or found ourselves influenced by the things our friends were buying for their children.

When we had our first, Lamaze featured heavily in our home, which focusses on tactile play through soft toys in bright colours.
With our second it was Fisher Price Little People Figures, very colourful and bright with an enormous range of items from birth onwards.
When we had our third, the Little Einstein toys and Baby Mozart CD’s were a huge hit at the time, using soothing music for sleep and quiet play, as well as music appreciation through toys.
By the time we reached four, five and six, we were pretty much done with collecting a plethora of stuff and went right back to basics, focussing on the timeless items that our grandparents and their grandparents spent hours playing with.

Wooden toys have indeed been trendy for decades, if not centuries and whilst there are a lot of cool, new educational products out there, there is also wisdom in sticking with the tried and trusted lines.  Even if companies re-image the organisation, colour or design of their wooden products, they still have the same classic feel as well as educational benefits that children have been enjoying for generations.

Five Reasons why we love our wooden toys:


-1  They are built to last.

Children can be pretty heavy-handed with their toys.  The mass-produced plastic lines just don’t stand the test of time or the remarkable strength of a toddler’s throw!
We wanted our children’s wooden toys to last and be passed down through the generations.  Given their solid craftsmanship, it is hard for them to be damaged beyond the usual scratches or dents.
They are easy to clean and provide years and years of play in various different forms, from infants onwards.

We once purchased an old and very simple, wooden wine crate, that had been been given some love by an elderly gentleman, who lived in our neighbourhood.  He painted it a lovely sage green and placed four sturdy wheels on the bottom, fastened a piece of thick rope through two holes in the front, and presto it was transformed into a perfect wagon for our kids.  That wooden box received so much use and love over the years.  When the twin’s were little, they adored being pushed all around the house in their vroom car, their squeals of delight still a wonderful memory for us all.  It has been a doll’s bed, a lego storage box, a mobile library, a container for potted plants and now it is perfect for keeping the kids art supplies all in one place.  All from one simple renovated wine cart that an old man had sitting in his shed for years and years.

I just love toys with a story and a bit of history, which is why wooden ones have been such favourites of ours over the years.


-2  Wooden toys grow with your child.

We use wooden toys for learning-through-play.  Our investment has been in education as well as fun. We therefore wanted to purchase items that were versatile enough to grow with our children.  Our toddlers and pre-schoolers have engaged in simple imaginative play and basic manipulation with wooden toys, and the older children began to incorporate wooden toys in more complex scenarios, which can be worked into discussions concerning geometry and physics for example.  They are excellent problem solving tools and a wonderful base for learning and so brilliantly versatile, as they connect with a broad range of ages and ability levels.

-3  Wooden toys build imagination.

If you have been reading my blogs for a while, you will know that I am a huge fan of imaginative play.  When our twins were in Year One (for a brief time in a public school), their teacher instructed them to “put on their school minds and leave their imagination at the school gate”.  Pretty soon after that conversation, we decided to home-school the girls and throughout the next 18 months,  I used every opportunity to encourage them to use their imaginations.
Thankfully, they hadn’t been at school long enough for their wonderful, magical minds to be hindered in any way.
We would make up stories together whilst out walking in the country and picking flowers became a wonderful game of looking for fairies underneath small blooms or leaves.  We left the pixies and elves little notes, made out of pressed flowers and went on adventures to try and find them food, whilst dreaming about the types of places they would choose to live in.
I honestly don’t believe there is a greater gift that you can give your children, than the ability to expand their mind through imaginative play.

Albert Einstein explains it this way

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

In this vein, we have found that wooden toys have given our children the ability to improvise.  Whilst some wooden toys come in the shape of vehicles, food or common household items, they still encourage children to use their imagination to incorporate them into learning and play.  Other wooden educational toys come in basic shapes, such as sticks, blocks, arcs, triangles and circles.  These allow children to really explore their uses and come up with creative ways to incorporate them in different subject areas.
For example, we experiment in physics through building different structures with the wooden toys that balance and work together like a machine.  And geometry through manipulating certain shapes to create their own geometric patterns.


-4  Wooden toys are safe.

Wooden toys are designed to be safe and won’t break easily, as mentioned above.  There are no sharp edges or small pieces that can snap and they are generally non-toxic and made from natural materials, which means children can chew or suck on them safely.  And you don’t have to worry about polluting your home with plastic chemicals or any choking hazards.  For me, personally, this was a huge comfort, as safety in the home with toys was always a concern to me as a mother, particularly choking.  I felt much calmer knowing that the items my children were playing with were sturdy and certainly not able to be swallowed.

-5  Wooden toys are not very noisy.

Again, any of you who know me well, would appreciate I have a very low noise threshold!!  In fact, I am so adverse to loud noises, I can’t even cope with having the television volume up high.  My children’s reading skills have developed quite quickly through exposure to the subtitles across the screen.  Always a silver-lining to our quirky anxieties hey!
For me, there isn’t anything more beautiful than a quiet home. Kids happily playing their own games without the distraction of noise, which is the beauty again, of wooden toys.  Children cannot accidentally leave a wooden toy running and parents don’t have to be exposed to incessant beeps and sirens as their kids play.   It is a much nicer environment to be in, listening to the gentle sounds of my children’s voices and laughter, as they interact with their wooden toys – quietly.


And let’s not forget the simple beauty of wooden pencils!!  As an adult, I still experience the same thrill, as I did a child, at the thought of brand new pencils.  There can’t be anything more satisfying than holding a bunch of these timeless beauties – the woody smell, the mixture of rainbow colours and the perfectly sharp tips of un-used pencils, always, always makes my heart happy.  Which is why I am a total sucker for buying my kids a new set of these treasures whenever I have an excuse.  My said excuse being whenever we take a plane trip – nothing like a fresh notepad and colouring pencils to keep the kids happy for ages.  Not to mention, the same on Christmas morning, however that’s a slightly selfish move on my part to delay being woken too early.  Those luscious colourful sticks do me a big favour and keep the little one’s early morning wake-up, at bay for an hour or so.


This is just a few reasons why we love wooden toys so much.  I could write pages and pages about their benefits.  I certainly appreciate that whilst wooden toys may cost more than a lot of the mass-produced items, they come with such incredible value.  Rather than purchasing something with a set purpose and limited use, wooden toys have the potential to last for years.  These timeless treasures, will be the ones your children return to again and again. I am sure, like us, they are also the ones that remain in your children’s rooms and on their shelves for many, many years.

In the spirit of sharing the wooden toy loves, I have selected 20 of our top-picks from Amazon that will definitely start you on your wooden toy journey.  We already have quite a few of these items which is testament to the longevity of these investments.

Our choices range from newborn right up to 10 year olds. Believe me, it was very difficult to stop at just 20!
I hope this gives you a little insight into the wonderful world of wood for your little loves.
Next time you feel tempted to buy the latest gadget or trending item, stop and think of the other alternatives. They become more charming with age, love and use.

So much more than a toy and definitely a step towards a precious heirloom.

Our 20 Top Wooden Toy Picks from Amazon.

 

wooden toys1. Wooden Camera
2. Wooden Winter Vegetables
3. Wooden Abacus by Melissa and Doug
4. 6 Wooden Play Eggs in Carton by Decent Gadget
5. 24 piece wooden blocks train
6. Wooden Teether Necklace Octagonal Beads
7. 10 Piece Wooden Tool Box By Viga
8. Tangram Jigsaw Tetris Puzzle
9. Deluxe pounding bench wooden toy
10. Peter Rabbit Skittles by Orange Tree Toys
11. Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design Wooden Rainbow
12. Wooden push along lion by Orange Tree Toys
13. Noah’s Shape sorter Ark By Le Toy Van
14. Wooden Kitchen Accessory Set-Pots and Pans
15. Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design 12 Wooden Rainbow Peg Dolls
16. Wooden Brain Teaser Puzzle
17. Noble Kitchen by Viga Toys
18. Wooden Forest Stacker by Le Toy Van
19. Wooden Baby Teething Silicone Beads
20. Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design Conical Tower

 

 

 

 

 

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Miscarriage – When Your Baby’s Heartbeat Stops – Part One

miscarriage pt 1

When Your Baby’s Heartbeat Stops
Part One

On behalf of all the mother’s who have been through the trauma
of miscarriage and have angel babies in heaven.
This is their story.

We all know the fear.
Every-time we go to the toilet, we pray that there won’t be a blood stain on the paper.  We pray like mad it will be clear.  And we wait and wait, until we can’t wait any longer.

We wake, early, its 5am and still pitch dark outside. But morning urine is stronger and maybe, just maybe there will be two lines.
Our legs shake, heck our hands shake and we pee on our fingers, as well as the stick.  We are so nervous and worry we haven’t done it correctly.  Will the test be a waste?
We tell ourselves not to worry.  There is a box of pregnancy sticks waiting for just this moment.  If this doesn’t work, we will try a fresh one.

Then we sit and wait.  We set the timer and tell ourselves not to look until the buzzer has gone off.  But impatience sets in and we take a peek.
We squint and check the picture on the box.  Could this be true?  Two lines?
There are two red lines!!!!  We are pregnant!!!!
We shriek and run into the bedroom, jumping on our husband’s sleeping form.
It has worked!  We made a baby.  We are having a baby!!

We try to hide the euphoric feelings that are buzzing around our body.  Calm down we say.  Can’t be good for the baby.
The baby!  There is a baby in there.
We place our hand over our stomach and shake our head.  What a miracle.  How we want to protect this tiny new life so very much.

Two weeks pass, the doctor has confirmed the pregnancy and done the bloods.  The HCG levels (pregnancy hormones) are a little lower than he would ideally like, but don’t lose heart, he says.


We go to work or look after other children, have coffee with friends, care for our families, all the while thinking and praying for our little bean to be safe.
We continually check for positive signs.  Are our breasts tender?  Has morning sickness kicked in?  We hope morning sickness will begin soon – a sign of strong hormones.  Do we have any cravings?
We can’t be sure.

Then one night a few weeks later, when we drag ourselves to the toilet for the hundredth time, we see it.
Blood.
Bright red blood on our knickers.  And a whole lot of blood on the toilet paper.
In that instant our heart drops, right down to our feet.
We feel sick, we shake, we keep saying, “no, no, no, no, not again, please not again”.

We crawl back into bed, trying to ignore the ache in our pelvic area that rises to a painful crescendo, dipping and diving and taunting us within our bodies, of which we have no control.
We tell ourselves that if we can sleep, the blood may be gone by morning.  It could just be break-through bleeding.  It’s common.  It happens – heck some women bleed the whole way through their pregnancy.
We start to Google ‘bleeding when pregnant’ and choose to read only the positive outcomes.
This for now is enough. There is still hope.

We call work and tell them we can’t make it in, we organise a sitter for the kids, we don’t tell a soul or we tell everyone and ask them to pray.  For the life of our child.  The child that we love with an everlasting fierceness that pierces our soul.  We want this baby so very much.
We have waited for this baby for such a long time.

We put off going to the toilet and the potential find of fresh blood.  We clench our legs together, willing that little seed to hang in there.
“Mummy is here. You are not alone little love.  You are so loved already.  So precious”.
We say this over and over like a chant.
We will all of our strength onto the baby.  Our hands don’t stop caressing our still-flat stomach.
“Please be ok baby.  Please be ok baby.  Please be ok baby”.
Over and over and over again.

Our name is called and we walk slowly into the radiographer’s dark room.  We lay down onto the crisp white paper, lining  the skinny bed with the squeaky rubber mattress.  We stare at the mattress.  Always the same colour.  Dark blue, like the ocean deep, matching the frightened blackness of our souls.

The nurse is so lovely and speaks very quietly and slowly.  We are asked to confirm the reason for the visit.
Yes it is bleeding we are experiencing.  Our voice is raspy and strained.  Our throats ache with the pressure of holding back the wall of emotions that threaten to explode.  Everywhere.
All over this tiny cubicle space and all over the people inhabiting it.  The dark corners of the room appear to sneer and beckon to us, a reminder that in a few short minutes, our whole world will shatter, all over again, just like before.


Again, very gently, we are told, this could be the start of our beloved baby miscarrying.  Our chin wobbles and our eyes fill with hot tears ready to spill any minute.
“Are we having any pain down below”?  Again, a nod, ever so slightly, “yes, yes we are”.
“Let’s have a little look at you and baby” she whispers.
The jelly will be cold we are told.
The screen is turned away from us.

There is silence.
The nurse’s face gives nothing away.  One minute, two minutes pass.
We don’t hear a thump, thump, thumpity-thump of a heartbeat. We think we may be sick.

Then our little bellies are wiped clean and we are asked to sit up when we are ready.
And it comes, the words we have been dreading ever since we fell pregnant,
“I am terribly sorry but it appears your baby has no heartbeat and the pregnancy is not viable.  The symptoms you are experiencing are consistent with a miscarriage”.
There are more words of condolence but we don’t hear them in the fog of grief, shock and overwhelming sadness.

The dam bursts and we sob and sob. Between gulps we manage to ask if it was anything we did wrong.
“Could it have been the sushi consumed whilst unaware of the pregnancy?  Or the glass of wine a few weeks ago”?

But her kind eyes says it all.
As many as 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
There is nothing that has made this happen.  It is an act of nature that baby just wasn’t ready for this world.
Empty words which feel so painful to hear.

Our bleak minds compute the fact that we could neither protect our baby or sustain life.  We are powerless in a way.
And that is the hardest pill to swallow.  This being outside of our control.  We feel so very broken.
But how we want this child!!!  So very much and it seems so unfair all at the same time.

This story literally describes millions and millions of women all over the world in this exact situation.  Miscarriage has been described as the silent grief.

These precious women warriors are unable to ever meet their children, the ones that were formed in their womb and grew as much as they possibly could.  And worst still, oftentimes there isn’t a solid reason as to why the miscarriage occurred.
It is an ending of confusion and grief, which is tragically all too common.
Empty comfort for those, whose pregnancies never have the opportunity to continue.

 

Here are a few things that can help a grieving mummy friend or yourself:

-1  Stop and acknowledge the existence of your child.

You have been a mother since your baby was conceived and the loss of your little one doesn’t make you any less of a mother.  It makes you a mother who grieves your child.  Have a thanksgiving service with close family.  Say a prayer, make a plaque and name your baby.  Say goodbye in a way that acknowledges life.

-2  Share with your trusted tribe that you are hurting. 

These need to be women you can cry with, who will sit with you whilst you talk (or not), ones who can hold you during your most difficult stages.
Part of the healing lies in fully comprehending the loss.

-3  Try not to alienate your partner because you were the one it happened to.

You are both parents and the loss is the same for mum and dad.  Even though your partner may be grieving in a different way than you, he is still grieving.  Give each other a double portion of grace and kindness and journey this painful path together.

-4  Take all the time you need to recover.

Don’t rush yourself back to normal.  If you need a period of time to reflect and heal, take it.  Believe me, you will be a much healthier and stronger person if you do give yourself some grace to work through the trauma of losing your child.
Seek professional help if you are struggling to let go.

-5  Take care of yourself.

Don’t allow grief to swallow you whole because it is so vile and will do so if you don’t try and build back into yourself.   Look after yourself with good food, have long soothing baths, read feel-good books, take walks outside, buy yourself a new outfit or some great shoes. Whatever it is that feeds back into your heart – go do it.  And do it often.  It will make an enormous difference to your healthy recovery.

-6  Lastly, expect for something to trigger the hurt and grief all over again.

It could be something quite innocent said to you by someone in passing, which hits right at the heart of your sorrow all over again.
Ride with it and tell someone what has happened.  Talk about it and before you know it, you will be back on your feet again.  You will find that these lows won’t occur quite so much and you can look back and recognise how far you have come in your grief and journey loss.

And finally, don’t lose hope because hope anchors the soul to keep believing for the one thing that you desire.  And absolutely, don’t give up.  Not on your body, nor your future little love.

‘Hope can feel a bit like a gentle breeze that ruffles your hair.
It is not always loud or courageous, swirling madly about your feet.

It is often swinging your legs out of bed in the morning and starting your day,
despite feeling so very sad and really quite unable.

Hope is whispering, “yes”, when you want to scream, “no”.
Hope is believing that the gentle breeze will be there tomorrow
and acknowledging its presence beside you.

And one day, when the sun shines warm on your face and you smile more than cry,
and that breeze caresses your face once again,
you will realise how far you have come in this difficult and beautiful thing we call life.

Hope is trusting all over again that life will begin and flourish once more’.
-C Irwin-©

 

 

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Positive Parenting-Raising Entitled Children

Positive Parenting – Part Five

Raising Entitled Children


The final in our five part series of Positive Parenting is Raising Entitled Children.

When we had only been parents for a few years, we told our firstborn that we would treat her to an ice-cream. It was a hot day in Australia and the perfect way to cool her down.
We bought her a fluffy, vanilla flavoured, soft serve in a cone, and predictably, as it was such a scorcher of a day, the ice-cream had already begun to melt before we had a chance to give it to her.
I did what every parent would naturally do, and quickly licked around the base of the cone to make sure that our three year old didn’t instantly wear the sticky treat.

What followed was the most horrific tantrum we had ever seen!
Kicking and screaming at me for touching her ice-cream, let alone eating it! Her tiny back arched in her car seat, face puce-coloured in utter rage.

In this situation, we would all agree that I was in the wrong. It was her ice-cream and I had no right to eat it before she did.
And the easiest and quickest solution would have been for me to keep her ice-cream and buy her another.
Right?

Well actually, no. That’s not what we did.
In fact, I told her if she didn’t stop her screaming, I would throw it out the window.
I didn’t count until three, I didn’t threaten her over and over. I just told her there would be consequences to her actions.
Once.


Can you guess what happened?
Yep, it went out the window.

The tantrum didn’t wane. Not all the way home, or the following hour.
It was epic.

But the thing is, we didn’t want her to be ungrateful. We wanted her to know that her behaviour wasn’t acceptable.
Yes it was an ice-cream, but if we had let it slide, that sort of behaviour would have gone on and on.
Different object, same heart.

So, two things happened.
One, she never, ever, ever repeated that pattern again.
And two, she also never forgot mummy chucking her ice-cream!
That three year old is now 20 and still remembers!

So here is the thing- we didn’t want to raise a child that felt entitled.
We desired for our child to be grateful for what she had, and that meant dealing with something as small as an
ice-cream. And for sure, we didn’t ever want to see that pattern repeated and be the parents who feared touching their kid’s ice cream, or toy or book or however the next scenario played out. And believe me, it would have played out again.
That would make us bound to her behaviour and frightened of her kicking off again.
We wanted to teach her through life lessons and that day – it was ice-cream.

The seeds of entitlement are sown over the years, in a million little parenting decisions, such as our ice-cream scenario.


So how do you ensure that your children don’t feel entitled?

Here are five common entitled traits and their solutions:

-1 Ensuring your children are never sad

This is allowing your child to have their own way all the time. It may be giving in to them when they see a toy they want, whilst you are busy doing grocery shopping. Or allowing them to dominate a conversation you are having with a friend. The quickest and easiest way to avoid a conflict is to let them have what they want. However, it places enormous pressure on parents when their child is unable to cope with a “no”. What happens when they are older and they realise that the world actually doesn’t stop for them? Dropping everything to appease them makes them constantly the centre of attention, which isn’t an endearing quality to have.
The Solution: In order for your child to not try and gain your attention in negative ways, try allocating specific time each day to be with them, on their terms.
This will look different in every family, but in ours, we make sure each of our six children, have at least 15 minutes with either my husband or myself.
This gives them space to talk, play or simply sit beside us and be together.
It also teaches them that they don’t need to play up to gain our attention.

-2 The Entitler

When children feel entitled, it is a difficult mind-set to change. Like most things, this starts in small ways, but soon can get out of control. It might end up looking like fixing multiple meals because your kids won’t eat what you cook, or constantly picking up toys, clothes or dirty dishes on their behalf. Because, in the moment, it’s easier than dealing with the fall-out and poor behaviour.
If you find yourself annoyed because your children expect you to go out of your way, all the time for them, it’s a big clue that you need to change your parenting style.
The Solution: Explain to your children what is expected of them. Such as, “I will only wash clothes that are in the laundry basket. Not on the floor in the bathroom or in the corner of your room”. Believe me they will soon tire of wearing dirty, smelly clothes.
For your little ones, show them where the toys go. From a very early age they are able to do these small tasks on their own. I was always amazed when my children had been to daycare and one day, I witnessed all of the small people packing away their toys, of their own accord. At three years of age!
Set your children up for success by asking them “Now, what can you do to help you remember?” Then follow through and don’t step in and do it for them!

-3 The Rescuer

If your children can’t remember their packed lunch for school, or their sports kit for outdoor play, it may be time for you to step back and allow them to experience the consequences of their actions. The truth is, if you find yourself frantically helping your kids finish tasks that they should have already done (such as a school project) , you aren’t really helping them.
You are rescuing them. And there comes a point when they need to be accountable for their own actions.
The Solution: Tell your children you will no longer be rescuing them. And even though all you may want to do is protect them from getting into trouble at school, or feeling left out because they are unable to play outside, they need to learn to be responsible.
Work with them and help them to find their own ways of remembering certain things. However, when the situation arises, don’t become involved if they have forgotten. It is so hard to do, but you will soon discover your kids will make giant leaps in terms of being capable of handling responsibility and following through on a task.

-4 The Satisfier 

We have all done this because we love our children and want to bless them. However, if your children begin to call the shots, such as deciding on watching a movie that is not age appropriate (but all his/her friends are allowed), it’s easy to give in. It is our job though, to set the appropriate limits – because we are the grown ups.
Entitled children are known for thinking of themselves as above the rules and deserving the best of what life has to offer. This mindset can be changed by sticking with the limits we set, and ignoring the inevitable protests and negotiations.
The Solution: Allow your children the freedom to be in charge of certain positive things. This means giving them the ability to make decisions on various things. It might be choosing a certain meal for dinner, or an activity they would like to engage in. When children have more control over some aspects of their lives, they are less likely to play up when you say no or enforce limits in other areas.

5- The Excessive Parent

 If you find yourself going over and above in your efforts to make sure your children have the best of everything, it may make them regard these standards as the norm. If you set the bar high on lavish gifts, expensive clothes, the latest tech products, they will feel entitled to these things, and carry that into adulthood.
We all love nice things but children don’t really need them. Cutting back on these indulgences will make for happier, more contented kids down the road.
The Solution: Take pleasure in the small things and model this thought pattern to your children, encouraging them to express gratitude for what they do have, rather than focussing on what they don’t. Research shows that grateful people are happier overall. Involve your kids in daily gratitude rituals and help them appreciate what is most important in their lives.


Often, the smallest of tweaks can make a huge difference in the lives of your children, as well as their hearts.

We all want our precious tribe to be happy, not only as little people, but in adulthood as well. This takes hard work, especially when they are young, and it’s so tempting to let things slide and give them what they want. Instant happiness!
However, we all know that there is a nasty kick-back to instant happiness and self-gratification, so look at the long-term benefit and blessings, rather than the short-term ease of giving your children everything they want in the moment.

We learnt that parenting is a bit like owning a credit card. Using it when we want something and then paying it back over a very long period. We have been in this situation with our spending and I can honestly say, paying off a debt where I can’t actually remember what I spent it on, was not at all pleasant.

Parenting can be the same. Giving in to your children because it’s temporarily easier, isn’t the wisest move long-term. Because believe me, you will be paying for it years after. In fact, the older children become, the harder it is to change their ways. It’s all they have ever known.

Be the parent who takes advantage of every situation, to correct poor behaviour.
And as they grow up in that environment, the parenting becomes so much easier and your children become utterly delightful adults in every way.

 

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