School Run Etiquette

At 3 weeks in, I’m still a rookie when it comes to this whole school run bizo. Even so, at this early stage in my career I’ve already made a couple of interesting observations regarding parent behaviour during school pick up & drop off time.

In the spirit of being a supportive fellow parent, I’ve compiled a short list of handy points to remember when depositing your precious cargo at their educational institution.

1. Bus zones are for buses. Car parks are for cars.

2. Drop off zones are for quick drop offs, not parking.

3. Car parks are for parking cars, not quick drop offs.

4. Teacher only car parks are ONLY for teachers.

Now please stop me if I’m going to fast for you. I know it can be tricky…

5. The speed limit in school zones is 40. There is no “1” in front of it.

6. A speed bump is designed to slow you down. Building up speed on approach really does defeat the purpose.

7. I understand that some of you feel that shoes are optional attire. Pants, however, are most definitely NOT.

And lastly, but most importantly:

 8. Neither your time, nor your child, is more important than mine or anyone else’s. 

Please show some common courtesy and respect.

Does the school run get a little unruly in your neck of the woods?

A Christmas Wish

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The children rise early, as usual.

I hide under the covers for as long as possible before capitulating to their demands.

Milk, toys, a DVD.

I shuffle back to bed, hoping to steal a few more blissful moments horizontal before I face my day.

I climb back into my littler bower and billow the doona over me. As I snuggle in, a shaft of morning light streams across my bed highlighting a million tiny dust particles falling gracefully like snow.

I lay there in wonderment and make a final Christmas wish:

A bloody housekeeper!

What’s your final Christmas wish?

Image from We Heart It

A post about depression. Or motherhood? Or maybe both…

One of the primary reasons I started to blog was to help me to consciously reflect on everyday life (the good, the bad & the ugly) and to capture my boys’ childhood.

So much of their baby days are a blur. Where did it go? What did I do? I didn’t go out much. No Playgroup or mother’s group. Maybe the odd play date with friends who had kids. I certainly wasn’t the best at being Suzy Homemaker. I wasn’t even blogging until well after I returned to work.

What was I doing?

Surviving.

I’m sure at times I was in “the moment”. I have brief recollections and thankfully thousands of photographs to trigger memories of happy times but mostly it feels like time lost in an overwhelming sea of repetition and exhaustion. Punctuated by frustration and helplessness.

When I think too hard about it I cry. Cry for me, as that time lost can never be regained. Cry for my babies who on many days only had a mother in body, not in spirit.

Things will change. My focus is now on the present. I will be here for them. For me.

My favourite party theme: “Stress Free”

I know that for some people parties are a BIG deal. Months of planning, cooking and preparing in anticipation for the big day. I think when an innocent gathering of people requires a theme, you know it is serious business.

Out of all the possible party themes, my favourite is “Stress Free”

I grew up in a house where getting stressed and flustered was (& still is) par for the course when it came to hosting any sort of social gathering. I can tell you under no uncertain terms, it’s not for me. I know I get overwhelmed pretty easily these days so I try not to exacerbate the situation with added complications.

Don’t get me wrong, I love attending events that have been beautifully coordinated. I’m so amazed by people who painstakingly hand make invitations, decorations and themed party food. Rest assured if you’ve managed to coordinate your tableware with the birthday boy’s outfit, I will certainly appreciate your efforts.

I really hope your child does too, because the cynical practical side of me believes that when it comes to a small child’s birthday, all they really care about are balloons, the cake, the party bag and being the centre of attention. And of course, the presents. (This probably applies to many grown ups, too)

Nothing is going to cast a shadow over little Bobby’s birthday party more than mummy freaking out that her cake pops are pooped. Or when the fire truck entertainment rocks up full of male strippers.

That is why for the Wilful One’s birthday this year I did something the pre-kid me never thought I’d do. We had a party at Macdonald’s.

Yes, I know, it’s all a bit bogan, but he really wanted to have a party with some close pre-school friends who he won’t see next year when they all go off to school. He’s never asked for daycare friends to come to a party before, always content with our predominantly family affairs and I couldn’t say no.

My dilemma was that at this stage I had already set my sights firmly on the “stress-free” birthday theme, and with the mandatory family celebration was already on the agenda.  I examined various options for outsourcing and in the end Macca’s won the bid.

Yes, it was run by a clueless 15yr old. No, it wasn’t flash and it certainly wasn’t how I would have done it. But The Wilful One ate ice-cream cake, felt like a prince, had lots of fun with his mates and quite frankly, that is all that matters to me.

Happiness at 5: Ice-cream cake

The Maccas soiree was followed by a low-key afternoon tea with the family en-masse, which once, again he loved as all the prerequisite boxes had been ticked. Balloons – check. Presents – check. Centre of attention – check. Oh and yet another cake – check.

This cake is ridiculously easy to make and is lots of fun.  I found it at The Tipsy Hostess (via Pinterest)

Apart from Macdonald’s I’m yet to pay for party entertainment. I think it’s prudent to save magicians and sumo suits for when pass-the-parcel and piñatas no longer keep pint-sized party goers amused.

I realise this time is fast approaching. That’s why I’m glad there are so many fabulous bloggers out there who rock some serious party mojo.  When my stress free no-frills approach to birthday celebrations no longer cuts it with the guest of honour, I’ll be turning to the following ladies to help up the ante:

Maxabella Loves: Bron is currently doing a wonderful series on all elements of hosting children’s parties. She’s got the whole planning caper down to a tee and there are lots of links and pics from other great online sources.

Great fun 4 kids: Simone is the party queen. Her parties inspire (& intimidate) me!  She has a whole page dedicated to invitations, recipes, decorations, the works. THEN she has a link up page where other bloggers can add their party posts as well. There are some amazing posts there.

Planning with Kids: Nicole is the Planning Queen and parties are no exception. She has lots of great posts and even has a Parties with Kids eBook.

So, when it’s time for me to step up, I know I’ll be able to find loads of inspiration and helpful tips in my hour(s) of need.

What’s your party style? Do you always have a theme or do you opt for stress-free like me?

Linking with Jess @ Diary of a Stay at Home Mum

Balloon image via We Heart It 

Things I know: Opting out

This is not the Things I Know post I had planned for today. I was going to finally do the party post. But I just wasn’t feeling it.

Today, what I really know is that I want to opt out.

Not for an extended period. Just a brief interlude.

I know it would it be nice to wake up and not have to worry about getting somebody else dressed, fed or entertained. Just to worry about what I’m doing. To be focused on my self.

I know it would be wonderful not to worry about who was going to perform the caring role all day, and perhaps even all of the next day too, because there was always this other default person to worry about those things.

I know how blissful it would be for a day or two just be able to opt out at short notice and go do something you really want to do. Just because you can.

I know it would be nice to be permitted to do that.

I know I can’t opt out. Not easily or without a bundle of logistical planning.

I know this is my choice. I know I am lucky that I get to do the things that I do. Live the life I lead. Have the beautiful responsibilities that I have.

I know we each have responsibilities and I do not dismiss lightly the burdens of others.

I know that some people will think I am selfish. Ungrateful.

But I know some days I feel trapped. Frustrated by the fact that simple every day tasks require a tactical response. Eating, cleaning, shopping, phone calls, making a coffee and even writing this blog post require preplanning, negotiation, distraction and usually evasive measures. Even then it can all go pear-shaped.

I know it would be nice just to let the million to-dos and issues to resolve just fly out of my head. Christmas parties, presents, preschool commitments, school preparation, meal planning, washing, toilet training, family issues, squabbling kids. Just let it all go for a while.  Leave it to the default.

I know I resent always being the default.

I know I would like the option to just opt out and let someone else pick up the slack.

If I could, I know I’d leave a note and all it would say is:  

“Gone Fishing”

Do you ever have the desire to just opt out? Are you the default in your house?

 

 

 

 

Image from Pinterest

It’s all fun and games: a letter to my boys

To my dearest boys,

When will you learn that it is all fun and games until someone…

  • gets punched in the stomach
  • headbutts the brick fireplace
  • gets hit in the face with a metal train
  • face plants the tiles
  • gets whacked in the boy bits

Yes, all of these things sound familiar because they have already happened and more.

I understand you are boys. I know you like playing rough.  I will even go so far as to say I vaguely understand how it is beneficial to your manchild development by building resilience and other important… stuff.

However, I am here to tell you that I am not a referee. Nor am I one of those trainer types who runs onto the field to staple someone’s eyebrow back together. (Although for a while there I did fancy being a team physio so I could massage torn hamstrings for the likes of Dan Carter. Your father’s torn calf muscle earlier this year cured me of all such delusions).

The long and short of it is, at the moment you are both small and the tussles you have are mostly play. They resemble WWE Wrestling – big and showy but no one takes them seriously.  

However, I know there will come a time when these little skirmishes will become more testosterone-infused and we will have an all out brouhaha on our hands.  Things will get broken and there will be serious injuries. This is not an appealing prospect for me.

So my darling boys, please remember: 

It’s all fun and games until your mother has to turn the hose on you.

Linking up with  Jess @ Diary of a Stay at Home Mum for IBOT.

 

Things I know… now that I’m a Mum

21st April 2009 - Bam Bam 1 day old, The Wilful One 2.5 yrs

With the 5 year anniversary of becoming a mother fast approaching, I’ve been doing a little reflection. There are so many things I thought I knew before I had kids, but being a mum has taught me a whole lot more than I expected. Spending time last weekend with women who don’t have children has also made me realise how differently I approach things these days.

Here are a few things I know now I’m a mum:

I know now that baby wipes are not just for wiping babies. I use them for everything! I’m not sure how I ever lived without them before.

 I know now oversized handbags do serve a purpose aside from making a fashion statement.

 I know now that a human being can survive purely on bananas and chicken nuggets for 6 months and still develop normally.

 I know now that bribing children is not only ethical, it is integral for the continued survival of our species.

I know now that a band-aid and a kiss can fix most things.

I know now that it’s possible for you to love someone so much you fear your heart may burst and want to throttle them at the same time.

 I know now what all those laundry detergent ads where on about.

I know now that wine really does have medicinal properties.

I know now that going to the toilet or having a shower by oneself  are absolute luxuries that should never be taken for granted.

I know now that the word “Mummy” can be the sweetest thing or the most irritating thing, depending on how many times you’ve heard it in the last 20 minutes.

I know now that Huggies have the most powerful marketing campaign. Ever.

I know now what unconditional love is.

I know now that being somebody’s mummy is indeed the hardest but most rewarding job in the whole world.

I know now where all those bloody clichés come from.

What do you know now that you are a mum?

Linking up with Shae from Yay for Home for Things I Know.

R U OK?

R U OK?

I was “diagnosed” with depression 18 months ago. I use the term loosely as this diagnosis was the result of a 10 minute conversation with my GP after the completion of a screening survey, which I suspect any but the most perkiest of mothers with young children would have failed miserably. I said thanks but no thanks to the antidepressants and psychologist’s referral and went on my way certain I could beat this on my own.

Heck, I work in mental health. I know about depression. I know what it looks like. How to seek help if things get bad. I wasn’t that bad. I’m also acutely aware of the stigma around mental health issues and in hindsight I wonder if this knowledge clouded my judgment and insight at the time (duh).

Besides all that, I had gotten this far hadn’t I?

No, I’m not in complete denial. I acknowledge I have had some clearly discernible depressive episodes in my time – 2 of which were after the birth of each child. These days are mostly a confusing blur of tumultuous emotions punctuated by periods of numbness.

Sadly, my story is not unique. When my first born was diagnosed with reflux after 3 months of screaming and no sleep, the paediatrician gave me a PND screen. I made a joke and faffed my answers on his questionnaire. He commented how I must be coping if I still had my sense of humour. He obviously overlooked the fact that humour is a powerful defense mechanism.

In any case, I was not going to correct him. I was coping. Wasn’t I? I knew I was feeling more than the overwhelming emotions of new motherhood but I stopped just short of seriously contemplating driving into a tree. That was something.

It wasn’t until 3yrs later that I was given my “diagnosis”. At this point I felt I was on the slightly lighter side of those very dark days. It’s ironic then, that it wasn’t until after a number of friends and family knew that I had been labelled with depression that anyone really asked me if I was ok.

Not surprisingly, of the few people who had actually asked, most had experienced depression to some degree themselves. A couple had unknowingly been my lighthouses from the very beginning. I can tell you under no uncertain terms that the love and support of these people still gets me through a lot of rough days. I cannot thank them enough.

There are still people very close to me who I suspect are more in denial than I am about the whole shebang (I may or may not be married to one of them). So many people struggle to talk about feelings, whether it be their’s or other’s.

Today, Thursday 15th September, is R U Ok? Day. I say: Man-up people and ask. It’s one simple question that can make all the difference in the world to someone who is on the brink.

Check out the website for more info about R U OK? Day and ways to open communication with someone you suspect isn’t OK. There are lots of support organisations out there as well. Beyond Blue has some wonderful resources on depression, including great info for friends & family (perhaps I should leave a few lying around).

My Big Nutshell has also pulled together a Bloggers Collective in an amazing show of support for R U OK? Day. Please go check out all of the wonderfully brave bloggers who have contributed their stories

So, please, tell me, R U OK?

SAHM vs Working Mum

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Today is a rare day for me at home alone. I’m off work sick & the kidlets are at kindy/preschool.  I thought I would spend the day relaxing, sleeping, blogging and generally chilling out.  Instead I’ve mopped, vacuumed, attacked Mt Washmore (4 baskets folded & put away!), striped beds, cleaned out the fireplace, tidied the toy room and have plans for making some meals to freeze before popping to the shops and collecting the offspring.  Phew!  Doesn’t sound relaxing does it? But apart from still feeling pretty sick, I’m feeling fantastic about what I have been able to achieve without interruptions, kid’s snacks & meals to prepare and the general feeling of fatigue that usually accompanies my days at home with the children.

I work 3 days a week with the kids in care on these days. I’m so in awe of mum’s who work 5 days a week. I’m not sure how they achieve anything (or have any sanity left) however I know some wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today has made me question what my preference is. Being a stay at home mum (SAHM) or a working mum.   

Obviously I had time off when the boys were born but must say this was largely wasted on me for various reasons. I thought I would be organised. I thought I would be social. I thought I would be fulfilled. I was not. My post on Thursday will shed some further light on why…

After my first stint of maternity leave, I was keen to get back to work. In hindsight, I had never really disconnected from my work. I kept in touch with my colleagues regularly, knew what was happening and wanted to be involved again.  However, after I had been back a few months, I started to feel that I had robbed myself and my son of precious time together. This wasn’t altogether true, of course. We needed the money and the Wilful One was being cared for by his 2 grandma’s which has created wonderful relationship between him and them.  It was clear to me though that my priorities had changed.

My time off after Bam Bam’s birth was somewhat different. It was busier with 2 under 3 and even though I thought I knew what I was doing the second time round, a new baby always brings new challenges. And Bam Bam was (& is still) a very big challenge.  Even so, I wasn’t keen to go back to work but did after 13 months as The Man’s work prospects were already starting to look grim at that point.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back 18 months. It’s difficult, as even though I like my job and am only there part-time, I find all I think about are the things I have to do at home.  When I’m at home I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of achieving these things with constant interruptions from little people. I feel guilty that I’m not spending as much time as I should playing and teaching them. I feel guilty that the house is always in a semi-state of chaos. I feel guilty for sneaking off to have a coffee and do some blogging. I HATE feeling guilty.

I think a craving for intellectual stimulation was a big factor in my “need to work” after having my first child. Now that I have my blog, I feel I have an outlet for that. So would if be different now if I was a full-time SAHM? Would I be organised, social and fulfilled? Would I feel guilty for not contributing to our family financially?

I know every mum faces these dilemmas. The work/family/life balance is not a new quandary by any stretch.

Ultimately, my ideal would be having a business I could run from home. One day this might happen.  But for now I must be content to have a secure part-time job with the guarantee of returning full-time if when I’m ready. Our babies are well cared for when I’m at work and have ample (much loved) home time. I know I am lucky to be in this position but boy am I looking forward to 5 weeks holidays in October so I can play SAHM a little more.

Tell me, what’s your ideal? SAHM, WAHM or working mum?

 

 

 

 

Image from We Heart It

Control Issues? I know…

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I know I have control issues.

I’ve always called myself a control freak although I like to think that generally I’m  pretty easy going. Certainly when things are far bigger than me, I have no desire to seize control. There’s nothing worse than a control freak with delusions of grandeur!

I just get hung up on the little things. And boy do kids make my control centre go on red alert. Toilet training, defiant behaviour, self feeding… all make me twitchy. Don’t even get me started on craft. Eeeek!

But as I get older wiser I find my need for control abating slightly. (This is possibly due to the increasing dominance of the procrastination gene). I also know my kids have taught me a lot about myself and my need for control.

I know giving birth to a mini control freak teaches you a lot about letting go. Seeing yourself in action is a real eye opener and to teach him to chill out, I need to model that behaviour.

I know giving birth to an out-of -control freak forces you to let go.  Sometimes it’s much easier to go with the flow and clean up the mess later. (It’s also helpful when your mini-me is helping to clean up right along side of you!)

Are you the go-with the flow type or do you have a few control issues like me?

Linking up with Yay for Home’s Things I Know.

 

 

 

 

Image from We Heart It