Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Ah the blessed three-year-old stage. The tantrums of yesteryear have faded and in their place are cunning and strategic dialogues between a parent and a child, read: myself and my middle child, Minnie.
Corporal punishment is out. These days, parenting is all about negotiation, time-outs and consequences. And so, rational, verbal exchanges are all I've got to work with, and that's pretty tricky when my three-year-old hasn't quite reached the level of maturity required for the conversations... or is it that she has well and truly surpassed this level of exchange? See below example:
"Minnie, if you continue to write on the table, I will take away your textas."
"You can take them, Mum. I don't want them anyway."
"Minnie, pick up your blanket off the ground, or I will put it in the wash."
"Just put it in the wash, Mum."
"Minnie, it's time to come out of time-out now. "
"No. I don't want to. Go away."
You see, I've got nothing. She leaves me speechless. Consequences are inconsequential and time-outs cause a role-reversal where she forces me away. The rest of the day is more of the same. See below:
"Minnie, let's look at some different clothes, too much pink can look silly at times."
"I'm not silly."
"I know, I'm talking about the clothes...oh, just wear whatever you want. I give up."
And I have given up, on clothes anyway. It is extremely hard to teach an obstinate child about the delicate balance of matching, complementing and contrasting colours in an outfit. It's hard enough teaching them to wear a jacket on a cold day.
Everything is a battle of wills right now.
"Get my drink bottle, Mum."
"Why don't you go over to the coffee table and bring it back."
"No. You get it."
"I think you need to ask nicely."
"Hmm." Note silence as I begrudgingly picked bottle up.
I think I'm meant to be embracing my child's new-found independence, her ability to speak her mind and her forthright nature.
Instead, I'm longing for the days when children were seen and not heard.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The tricky thing about gastro is knowing the incubation period. I remember a time last year when the kids and I were struck down with gastro and my husband seemingly escaped symptom-free... It was not to be. Exactly two weeks later he took ill with a more violent episode than we had.
One of my friends admitted yesterday that she has a two-week ban on any face-to-face communication with people post-gastro. She said that rule has helped her house stay gastro-free for almost five years.
To me gastro can feel like the plague so maybe she's on to something. Anyway, it's one thing to enforce a ban like that, but another to properly adhere to it. There's no way you can avoid contact with other families across school and kinder runs.
So what do you do? How long do you wait isolated at home before you reintroduce yourself and your germs back into your social circle? And what happens if your friends, post illness have declared themselves gastro-free, but you're not so sure?
Hmm. Spew Food for thought.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
My daughter has been doing kinder gym for almost a year and she loves it, at the minute anyway - such are the whims of a preschooler. And it's because of those whims that I'm sometimes left wondering whether she should really do the class. There are days when she looks at me on the big blue mats, and says, "I'm not doing that." Instead of somersaulting her way down the wedge, she'll say, "No. I don't want to."
I wonder what I'm meant to say to that? She is only three after all, it's not like her life depends on it.
She's not alone, every other three-year-old will have their days when they think they shouldn't do the exercises either. And here's the thing, then parents like myself will try to cajole their child into it. "Aww, but you're so good. Show me how you do the somersault, I can't remember how to do it." Some kids will bite at that, forget their pig-headedness and get on with the task. Other children need more work, and this is where the waters of pushing get a little murky.
Is it okay to gently push your child into the activity, teaching them about times when they need to follow instruction? Are we expecting too much from such littlies by enrolling them in classes like these and stealing their childhood and unlimited hours of unstructured play?
Every now and then I find myself saying, "We've come here to do the class and we need to do the class. If you don't want to do it then lets go home." Then a neat little power struggle will play out, and eventually my child gives in and does the job. But once again, is that child too young to be argued into the task?
There is another mum, who sends shivers down my spine each week, as she yells at her child to perform. I liken it to the 'ugly parent syndrome': parents sitting on the sidelines of a sports match, yelling abusive remarks at players, coaches and their child in a bid to get a better game from their kid. This woman booms at her child, who prefers to be more wayward than obedient, "C'mon. GET OVER HERE NOW! I said, do it!" And the kid runs away - I would to. She's pretty scary.
So at what point does the gently-pushing mum, who's given up on cajoling her child, turn into the 'ugly parent' and should any three-year-old be pushed into the lesson simply because they're scheduled to be there?
My daughter has been having a few of these non-compliant days. Each time I think about withdrawing her from the class, she tells me how much she loves it and that she can't wait to go back.
Tricky isn't it?
I do know one thing, we'll be cancelling classes before my voice bellows, "C'MON, GET OVER HERE NOW."
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I do. And to be honest, I felt a little sad ending a relationship with the doctor who delivered my baby. The finality of it, made it feel like a 'goodbye' I'd say to an old mate heading overseas to live.
Each pregnancy I had to help a little baby thrive in utero. A job I did with some expert guidance regularly overseeing the project. That doctor had to listen to all my anxieties about the health of the baby, the impending birth and any other concern I could think of (hormone-fuelled nuerosis). All of the sudden, once my baby came out, that guidance was gone. My fortnightly appointments were swapped with child health nurse visits and it was time to get on with the job of parenting this child.
Williamstown Psychology's Camille Folley, a psychologist specialising in postnatal parents, said the bond between a woman and her obstetrician may be formed (particularly during the pregnancy of a first child) "because of the continuity of care provided by this person and the support [a mother] gets from that relationship. Women who had a positive experience will report positively and often speak of their obstetrician fondly."
Ms Folley said the relationship ends at a busy time that can be somewhat challenging and confusing as women transition into their role as mothers. And there's nothing quite like the conversation at a postnatal check-up to finalise the chapter of pregnancy with your doctor. Suddenly the euphoria of birth fizzles out when it's time to talk about pelvic floor maintenance and effective contraception.
You might have left your doctor's rooms, hoping to be back in two years with another bundle of joy. After having three children, I said goodbye and walked out knowing this would definitely be the end of our relationship. And I was looking towards the next phase: walking around without a nappy bag!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Anyway, I took the kids to a play centre the other day. And after realising I left my son's water bottle in the car, I chose to share my drink with him rather than get off my lazy bum and fetch his. Later that night my throat swells up, neck promptly stiffens and I feel like I am constantly trying to swallow a boiled egg stuck in my oesophagus. This vindicates my 'kids as germ hosts' feelings.
So after a trip to the doctors, I bunker down with some medication and attempt recovery. And you know what, I feel rotten. Generally, I think I have a high pain threshold (not sure why, since I can't really compare it), but this illness has knocked me for six and I feel like attacking my throat with a chain saw, to perform my own tonsillectomy. Drastic I know, but I feel terrible.
I started thinking about my son last week and his complaint of a sore throat and how dismissive I was of it. Unfortunately for him, he comes from a long line of men who suffer from 'man colds' and many other forms of hypochondria and exaggerated illnesses.
So I told him to toughen up, have a drink of water and play. OMG - what if he really felt like me because I feel like death and not just warmed up, feverish.
I did a quick mental checklist in my head: he didn't complain of headaches and I would've noticed if he had a fever. He must have only had a sore throat. Score: Bad Mums 0, Mediocre Mums 1.
This has been a quick reality check to consider his symptoms a little more, before I throw him to the 'man colds' pile for unsympathetic mums.
As for me, my feelings haven't changed: kids are so germy, they are a hotbed of germs... luckily they're cute eh?
Friday, July 2, 2010
But... the parenting gurus busy publishing their advice never talk about the tantrum that doesn't end... They never mention what happens when time-out doesn't work. Even better, they never mention what happens if a child doesn't care for the consequence you've issued. And so, I get stuck. Because I've done all the parenting things I should have done and still, the child screams. And as he screams, he's throwing things, slamming doors, stomping his feet, grabbing my arms.
WHAT KIND OF SAINT CAN STAY COOL AFTER HOURS OF THAT???
AFTER A WEEK OF TANTRUMS LIKE THAT??
And so it happens... I snap. I physically cannot bear to listen to his ranting anymore, and so I point my head skyward and let off a bit of steam, or should I say 'scream'.
Yep, that's my 'crazy' point, where the only way to stay sane, is to rip out a scream. Don't they say, 'If you can't beat them, join them'? Never a truer word spoken. You see, he always drives me to that point. He hammers me until he finally sees that he's worn me down to the ground...and so, after jumping out of his skin from hearing my gorilla-like 'Auugrrrhhhh', he stops.
Ah the serenity.
In an effort to keep my voice from sounding horse, I refer to those moments as 'mummy going 'crazy''. And these days - now that he's seen it a few times, all I have to do is say, "If you keep going, Mummy is going to go to that 'crazy' place and nobody wants that, so it's time to stop." And give or take another 10 minutes, he stops.
After mentioning this to a few mummy friends, I've realised that most mums have an element of 'crazy' and they need to. It's like a lioness giving a sharp roar to let her cubs know that her tolerance has waned. A quick squeal to the heavens, and suddenly the kids realise that this time, their mum is well and truly p****d off.
Thankfully something works...
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
In my house, most forms of muck originate from my cosmetics drawer. Yes, I can remember the tears stinging my eyes after seeing expensive foundation smeared across the bathroom vanity. Twice I have narrowly missed opening a new cleanser before it was painted over the toilet.
Other favourites from my brood include nappy cream, toothpaste and interestingly, instant coffee granules - on their own they sound harmless, but if they've been taste-tested and spat out, they stick magnificently to carpet. My daughter chose to smear all of these under her brother's bed - at different times.
I'm just thankful those Pro Hart carpet cleaning ads are no longer running - imagine the inspiration they could garner from them!
And before you judge me (oh go ahead and do it anyway): I think I have been very diligent in shutting doors and putting locks on drawers. After the novelty appears to have worn off and my child has seemingly outgrown the need for smearing, they catch me unawares. One false move, one door left open for too long and that's it, there's nappy cream from tiles to toilet.
I have cleaned up many messes and I as I showered this morning, I looked over at my cosmetics drawer and considered my nine-month-old baby. I've only got less than ten months until she joins the ranks.
Mind you, it hasn't been all bad. You can imagine what the worst kind of smear campaign involves: yes, faeces. Luckily for me, my husband copped that one. I was out for my first stint of solo shopping when he opened up the nursery door to find the cot coated in a new shade of ochre and my son squirming with delight at his open nappy. Erk.
Thankfully that's been the only poo experiment in this house.
I'll be wishing and hoping and thinking and praying that I am not cursed with that mess. Surely my nine-month-old is too old for that? Surely...
Thursday, May 20, 2010
My three kids are utterly brilliant in everything they do and I'm proud of it. They're special in the way that your children are remarkable to you.
Yet I often feel like I can't talk about their achievements. There's an unspoken rule amongst my parenting friends that prevents anyone from perching their child on a pedestal. And I'm not sure why. If anyone will understand the absolute joy I get from my children achieving, it should be other parents - because they get it too.
Yet my friends feel uncomfortable with trumpeting their children's skills and so it creates fodder for awkward conversation: people feel like they have to justify their child's brilliance with their mediocrity. I've heard many exchanges like this:
"Did I hear your son reading the other day?"
"Yeah my son has taught himself to read but it's nothing you know, he's still throwing tantrums and wearing a nappy at night."
It is ridiculous!
I think it stems back from early parenting groups where mothers became too sensitive towards the parent whose child didn't roll until 10 months, or whose child didn't speak until 18 months. Everyone was being careful not to hurt their feelings that they shut down their own abilities to crow about their children.
At the other end of the scale, it could be really annoying to listen to someone detail the clever way their child gets out of bed to the flawless way they fall asleep at night. So perhaps it's best to pick which items are worth talking about and to do it in a humble yet delighted fashion.
I say throw off the shackles that are keeping you 'mum' and let those kids shine. They'll enjoy hearing their parents speak proudly of them, and you'll relish not having to keep those milestones quiet! You'll get to teach them to be proud of their own achievements and to accept compliments graciously.
Monday, May 17, 2010
When did you last experience one of those 'moments' when the cupcake exploded with good times in your mouth and where did it come from?
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Thursday, May 13, 2010
What do you do when your kids need to be looked after during the holiday break?
Do you plead with their grandparents to hold down the fort? How does that work if the kids' grandparents are still working themselves?
Do you bring them into your office? Are you allowed to do that and can you bear to do it against the dull chorus of, 'I'm bored, Mum. When do we go home?'
Do you use local holiday care programs for the term breaks?
Have you ever negotiated with a friend to take alternate weeks off and share child-minding during that time?
Given that school holidays run for approximately nine weeks of the year and most employees only have four weeks of annual leave, how do you account for the extra time needed?
I'd love to hear what works for you.
Friday, April 30, 2010
But being an older baby means she has also worked something out: the ability to cry on cue. Yes all babies cry, it's instinctive. But I think tiny babies give it no thought. They cry to be fed, they drink up and then sleep. What is there to think about?!
But once they hit six months they suddenly cotton on to the 'crying game'. They realise that if they cry, their mum will come to the rescue. And then they like to exploit it. So they cry to be fed, they go back to their cots with a full belly and then they cry again. This time it's just for laughs. Just to see what mum will do. She'll probably try to feed again but the wise little baby is not hungry. Instead, this bub will kick, gurgle and smile at their ability to bring mum back to the room. So mum leaves and the baby begins to cry - sobbing just to bring mum back.
In my brief years of parenting three children, I've found that all babies do it at some point between five and eight months. They're just testing the limits - something they'll continue to do in other ways as they grow older.
With my youngest crying and bringing me back into the room, she's not only tested the limits, she's jumped on and flattened them. Now I'll have to teach her to sleep. She must realise that I'm the puppeteer pulling the strings around here and I'll dictate when she sleeps. '
It's overly ambitious isn't it?
Thursday, April 29, 2010
"There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one" (Jill Churchill).
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Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Weaning is wearing.
The excitement of starting solids with a baby can quickly wear thin. I remember offering rice cereal to my first child, Tom when he was six months old and revelling in the novelty of it. I also remember the novelty wearing off about three weeks later when I realised the extra planning and cooking involved to feed this extra mouth.
Second time around with my daughter Minnie, I wasn’t as excited about the weaning process. But I was a little jovial as I tried to force that first spoonful in.
Third time around, I contemplated not starting solids and whether I could just breastfeed the child forever so as to avoid the whole process (a fleeting thought, mind you!). Anyway, as baby Daphne approached six and-a-half months, I sighed, pulled out the Farax and introduced her to the wonderful world of food.
Sure introducing new flavours to little mouths is hard work but at least you can share the load. Having breastfed my children, I find sharing the task of feeding solids a great way to enlist the family and give me some time out. The glass is always half full!
If you have chosen to breastfeed your children, well done on making that decision. You might be one of 90 per cent of Australian women that give it a go. If you’re still feeding when your baby is six months of age, kudos to you for persevering. According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, less than 50 per cent of breastfeeding mums make it this far.
Breastfeeding is hard work. Even if you succeed with your first child, you have to start all over again and teach the skills to your second. I’ve had cracked nipples and blundered my way through attachment for all three children. But somehow we made it past the first eight weeks. And in my experience, if you can get that far, it’s easy to continue - but, I never suffered from low supply or continual bouts of mastitis. I have met mums who struggled and were desperate to feed their babies. And you know what, for all its health benefits, I don’t think breastfeeding is the ‘be all and end all’. Not if it makes mum unhappy. All babies need a calm and happy mum and if that means giving your baby a bottle, then don’t feel guilty about it.