Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I have a little girl who has a little curl right in the middle of her forehead...

And when she is good, she is very, very good and when she is bad, she is horrid!

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."

And this:

"Minnie, pick up your blanket off the ground, or I will put it in the wash."

"Just put it in the wash, Mum."

Or this:

"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."

"Get it...Please."

"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.

For better or for worse

Mothers Matter walks the relationship tightrope between a mother and daughter-in-law.

The relationship between a mother and daughter-in-law has long been the subject of jokes and folklore because of its inferred volatile nature. Hollywood’s recent comedy with Jane Fonda as the Monster-in-law further cemented this notion of tension between a wife and her husband’s mother.
Anne Hollonds, vice president of Relationships Australia, said every relationship needs to be realigned when a marriage takes place and this can overwhelm a mother. “What was a special relationship between a mother and a son changes. And [mothers] feel fearful on many levels that they’re no longer important to that person.”
She said new wives may similarly feel apprehension about marriage, what kind of partnership they’ll have, and how the mother-in-law will fit into that.
Clinical psychologist Dr Vivienne Cass said if the mother has been close to or dependent on the son then she might feel threatened by or jealous of the daughter-in-law.
“The in-law relationships always require some finesse, some capacity to compromise and some capacity for biting one’s tongue!” said Dr Cass. She said that while a wife may want to vocalise what’s on her mind, often that’s not the best solution because she has to continue with the relationship later, particularly if there are children involved.
Ms Hollonds said occasionally the mother-in-law may act malicious or deliberately try to sideline the new wife.
Mothers Matter spoke to Melbourne mother Rachel Gibbons*, who was aware of the tight relationship between her future husband and his mother when they first became involved. “I knew that she had this strange relationship with her eldest son, my husband-to-be,” she said. “So I used to manage that relationship. I would speak to her every week, be interested in what she was doing, be interested in what she would think.”
Ms Gibbons said she consciously and actively worked at the relationship to involve her mother-in-law and make her feel more secure about becoming her son’s wife. She said her husband had been playing the role of spouse to his mother by managing her finances and running her errands.
Consequently, the mother-in-law had a lot of influence in Ms Gibbons’ marriage, to the extent her son would call her after every marital disagreement and she would advise him what to do.
Ms Gibbons said the relationship triangle between her husband, mother-in-law and herself started to deteriorate during her two pregnancies when she suffered severe morning sickness for the first 20 weeks.
Vomiting every day and losing an enormous amount of weight, Ms Gibbons couldn’t work and had to rely on her family to do everything.  The stress of her predicament came to a head on a family holiday with the mother-in-law, when she was 12 weeks pregnant with her second child.
“It was like she was gathering information [in that two-year period of dating and marrying] and it just came out on holidays.” Ms Gibbons said her mother-in-law delivered a rant that chronicled her daughter-in-law’s actions over the previous two years.
“She let fly and started all these accusations…I just sat there and listened. Three times I asked her, ‘have you finished?’ When she finally had, I just sat there and said ‘it was nice to know your opinion.’…I looked at my husband and asked if he had anything to add and he said, ‘Well, I actually agree with her.’”
The stress of the situation left Ms Gibbons so depressed that she felt almost unable to bring her second child into the world, and the confrontation was the catalyst for her marriage breakdown.
After giving birth to her second child, the couple tried for two years to salvage their relationship by undergoing marriage counselling, but the situation did not improve. After the separation, Ms Gibbons said her mother-in-law told her son that she “wouldn’t interfere in [his] relationships again.”
In a situation like this, where relationship struggles between a mother and daughter-in-law become public, Ms Hollonds recommended the husband move swiftly to diffuse it.
She also recommended the husband address any issues with the parent, alone.
“There’s not much [the wife] can do as the target,” said Ms Hollonds. “You’re not part of the family, you’re the interloper in that situation. It’s got be the husband who steps in and pulls his mother into line, but in a compassionate way.”
She said negative behaviour comes out of fear and anxiety, but the husband has to give clear messages about what is ok and what is not ok.
“That’s where you and your husband or partner need to be on the same team. You need to work together on agreeing what are…the ground rules that you want to have between your relationship, your family and your in-laws.”
Ms Hollonds said sometimes problems arise when a new wife steps into an issue that already exists between a mother and son, though the problem may not be obvious. “You become the focus of attention rather than them having to sort out their own relationship.”
However, in most cases, Ms Hollonds said the wife should look carefully at her own role. “One of the biggest mistakes we can make in any of these important relationships is that we try and get the other person to change or we blame them for stuff. We do that a lot more than we are prepared to look at our own behaviour,” she said. 
Dr Cass advised women to look for the positives in what a mother-in-law might be saying to see if she has good intent behind her comments. “That kind of reasoning can help you to put it into a different category than someone who is truly being manipulative.”
Adelaide mother-of-five Elaine Boswell* has struggled to maintain a good relationship with her mother-in-law. “She’s very intelligent and manipulative. She’ll do things very calculatingly and then pretend that she had no idea that it could be offensive,” she said.
Ms Boswell said her mother-in-law was one of the main reasons her family moved interstate five years ago from Sydney. With occasional visits their relationship is now much better.
Ms Boswell’s relationship with her mother-in-law hit a deep low when she walked in on her attempting to breastfeed Ms Boswell’s infant while babysitting. Ms Boswell only stumbled on the situation after re-entering her unit because she had forgotten something.
Ms Boswell was so shocked she couldn’t speak, so she took her children into a separate room and waited for her husband to come home. “She violated my trust and my husband was mortified. Even now he’ll say ‘don’t leave her alone with the baby (Ms Boswell’s latest child).’”
Ms Boswell said the difficulty lies in the long-term nature of the relationship with a mother-in-law. “If I could just wash my hands of her, I’d do it in a second.”
Ms Hollonds said, that people usually only behave in negative ways when they are incredibly fearful. “Anyone who feels comfortable and secure in themselves doesn’t go around maligning somebody else,” she said, and added that people showing fearful behaviour need to be placated with positive messages before they can be told about the boundaries.
Dr Cass offered an alternate solution. She said that if the daughter could speak positively, without antagonising the mother-in-law, then she should call her up, offer a cup of tea and sort it out, even if the mother-in-law has been absolutely nasty.
“Sometimes I have seen mothers-in-law melt at that because in truth, most people don’t want conflict. Only a small percentage hate their daughters-in-law and don’t want to fix it up.” 
Dr Cass said if a mother-in-law repeatedly speaks her mind with little regard for the people she’s hurting then she’s probably just someone that doesn’t have a great deal of sensitivity in relationships, as other people might. “So part of the problem with some difficult mothers-in-law is that they are probably difficult anyway.”
Relationships Australia hotline: 1300 364 277
*names have been changed in this article. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gastro ban

There has been talk across facebook, twitter and even at the old-fashioned playground about some bad gastro strains lurking around.

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

Kiddie sports: the art of pushing

My three-year-old's gymnastics class is hilarious and cute. There is nothing more divine than watching eight little bodies rocket jumping their way across a massive trampoline; their bodies like little bullets with rounded bellies.

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."

Fair enough.

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

Consulting grief

Do you remember that postnatal check-up with your obstetrician; the final appointment eight weeks after giving birth to your baby?

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.

It wasn't until a friend of mine popped over with her baby, just shy of four months, that I realised this could be a common feeling. We had shared obstetricians (two of them, since our first had retired) and were reminiscing about check-ups when she said, "You know I feel kind of sad that I don't see him any more." And I knew exactly what she meant. 

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. 

Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a school-girl crush (my first OB was at retiring age, remember?)! It was more like a little hero-worshipping. I idolised these doctors that knew so much. I was so appreciative of the eight-minute visits I had with them that I'd write my questions up in advance, just to soak up all that time in their surgery rooms. 

Not only did I adore these doctors, I was consumed with trying to get to know everything about them. Who were these men checking the beats of my baby's heart and what were their wives like? Were those women also grateful for their partner's on-tap advice? How many children did they have; natural or Ceasar; breast or bottle; and, what age gap between said kids? Every trivial question that I'd discussed with my mums group, I was wondering about these doctors. And I know some of the other mums were thinking them too. While the kids were making sand castles at playgroup we were discussing the amount of children our obstetrician had and whether the rumour of his wife expecting twins was true (it was). 

What is it with antenatal care that brings out the craziness in women? I've been visiting the same dentist twice a year for the past 20 years and I know he has kids the same age as mine, but I don't care. I have no desire to know about his out-of-hours life, so why the intense interest in the obstetrician? 

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."

I considered women who chose to have their babies in the public system, where continuity of care is harder to come by, did they experience this attachment with their on-duty midwife? I can imagine that women who hire private midwives for home births might experience a more intense relationship with their care providers, as they meet with them in their own home regularly over the nine months. 

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

Oh I feel guilty...

I am at home feeling very sorry for myself with an annoying bout of Tonsillitis. But I brought this on myself. As children have a habit of carrying around every active germ in their vicinity, I have a little rule with myself, not to share my kids' drinks. I'm not a massive germaphobic, but I really detest colds and feeling sick - particularly when breastfeeding because most medication is off-limits.

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

Go crazy? Don't mind if I do...

DISCLAIMER: For the most part, I am a reasonable human being and I know I have a lot of patience. Sometimes I'm so virtuous, I'm almost saintly... hey, I said 'almost'.

There is only one person that can send me to a little 'crazy' place. It's my five-year-old son. No one else can do it. No one else can make me lose my cool, or squeeze my patience sponge until it's bone-dry. Of course, no one else can go on a screaming rampage for one hour straight. No other child I know will persist with a tantrum for so long. But here's the thing. I always start off as the model parent: stand firm, talk calmly, repeat directions, force time-out, ignore his hitting, smacking and pants-dacking and try with some dignity (albeit, not much) to encourage good behaviour. I do all that.

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.



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

Stop this party circus!

It is birthday party season in my house. My three children were born between July and September so they are preparing madly for their parties - and they have been dedicated in their preparation.  

Every night, my eldest Tom, and his sidekick Minnie flick through old AWW cake books to choose a design for their forthcoming parties. Tom, nearly five, is convinced that a Spiderman or Vampire cake will be perfect (I've been pushing Spiderman - isn't five too young for a vampire??). 

Minnie, my almost three-year-old is still caught in her "pink" phase of childhood, and just wants a pink Barbie cake with marshmallows. 'Ok Minnie,' I comply. 'But you did have that exact cake last year.' Her dedication to pink is unwavering and she won't budge on changing her cake. 

Cakes aside, I always shudder at the party season. Because it is a perpetuating money pit. The first family only has to add one special feature like a jumping castle to their party, for the next family to feel compelled to add pony rides to theirs. 

From there, the options are endless: designer lolly bags, hired entertainers, catering companies, animal farms and even musical acts. 

These additions provide everything they promise to: fun, fun and fun. And that's the problem. The kids get so much enjoyment from this entertainment that their expectations for a great party, grow. 

Will this upcoming generation Z expect so much more than a game of pass-the-parcel and musical chairs? Who is strong enough to stop the party snowball and get back to basics by inviting five kids to eat fairy bread, party pies and play pin-the-tail on the donkey? 

Is it possible to talk up a low-key party to your beloved birthday child as a super event? I think yes because ultimately the day will be all about them and as long as they are the focus, they should have fun. It's an old-fashioned opinion isn't it? 

Friday, May 28, 2010

The smear campaign

Smearing is a rite of passage for all young children. Don't think you can escape it.

Somewhere between the ages of 18 months and three years your child will coat the walls, the carpet, the couch and their own body in muck.

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 child is the best!

I know my children are outstanding. 

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

CUPCAKES, glorious cupcakes!

Mothers Matter is searching for the best cupcake. We want to know what the perfect flavour, frosting and decoration is.

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?

For your chance to win $100 (AUS) worth of cupcakes for your next party, post your experience on our wall at www.facebook.com/mothersmatter.

Entries close 24/5/10 5pm EST.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Conundrum: child-minding during school holidays?

Next year my son will start Prep. And so our life, like so many others will be scheduled by term dates and school holidays.

I've been thinking about school holidays and what will happen to the kids when I need to be at work. I've been thinking about it so much, that now I'm considering teaching so I can be home when they are. Then I thought about it some more and thought there has to be some good alternative solutions instead of retraining in a whole different career.

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

The crying game

I have an older baby. Not a screaming newborn that only wakes to be fed but a baby that's passed her half-year milestone and is rolling across the floor madly trying to work out how to crawl. She spends her days babbling to her toys and watching her older siblings play.

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).

 WIN A HIGH TEA for two in your capital city: follow Mothers Matter on Facebook & tell us in three words or less what your mum does best (comp closes 5pm 5/5/2010).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Child care glut

The Federal Government has reversed its election promise to institute 260 childcare centres across the country. 

A 2010 study of vacancies found there were more than 70 000 places every day during the week of March 19 (see The Age article). 

Fearing a potential glut in the system, the government will continue with the construction of 38 centres, but scrap the remaining plans in order to protect the current services. 

Melbourne recorded the highest number of vacancies for the country. 

What have you found in your area? 

When Mothers Matter started in 2005, families living or working in inner bayside suburbs suffered the most from the child care shortage. Families within the City of Melbourne were also struggling to find places. 

From my Essendon base, there have been several new centres built over the last year - all with vacancies. It's the older centres, with longstanding good reputations that still have waiting lists that read like a short novel. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spoilt for choice

I am in the process of choosing a school for my son. 

Originally my husband and I planned for him to head across the road to the local Catholic primary school. We went to similar schools ourselves. The 'Catholic' part isn't important, we just want to send him to a good school and we love the fact that he can walk there. 

And being a diligent mum and a person who is mildly obsessed with research, I decided to tour several other local schools in the region. I wish I hadn't. 

I have never had any dealings/ experience in the state school system but I was really impressed by the way they run their schools. 

Compared to the local Catholic school, these facilities were positively engaging. From the computers located in every room, to the brightly painted walls with colourful pictures tacked on, to the mobiles hanging from the ceiling and the reading corners with cushions - I fell in love with primary education all over again. 

More than that, the state system appeared very progressive in its approach to teaching. There were several open plan classes where teachers mixed up composite with non-composite teaching. Even the class sizes were smaller. They aimed for just 21 children in a class. 

The facilities were better. All the local Catholic schools work on the ethos that asphalt is better for sport. I like nothing better to see a green oval (grass or turf). 

So now I've done it. I have marinated myself in too many choices and I'm about to burn from the stress of choosing a school. 

Unfortunately the best local state school is about 1.5 kilometres away - possibly too far for little legs to walk. And what about all the other children in our street? There will be several in my son's year and they will all be waltzing over the road to the local Catholic school. Some of the other mums from the street feel the Catholic school is a little archaic in its approach but they're putting the convenience ahead of the actual teaching abilities. I'd like to do that too, but it's hard when I feel there are other, better schools. 

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.