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

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.