Celebrating milestones

Last week Souljourneyboy and I took the kids to a local shopping centre after school. We decided to eat dinner in the food court – which of course sounds much easier than it actually is! Everybody wanted something different and it took a good half an hour for us to help each child get their meal from their desired food outlet. When we finally sat down together I remarked to Souljourneyboy that I am looking forward to the day when we just give the kids $10 each and they are all capable of sourcing whatever food they want themselves.

Thinking upon it later, I was reminded of similar times, when I’d look forward to various milestones that held the promise of making parenting just that bit easier. It’s funny – you desperately look forward to the time when your child is capable of some new feat, but when they actually do achieve it, it’s easy to rush forward into the new stage without really celebrating that the old one is over. And so, with a 6-year-old, 9-year-old and 11-year-old, here’s what I’m thankful for right now…

Everyone’s finally mastered this sleep thing 

I really think sleep deprivation is the single most exhausting, frustrating and difficult thing about parenting. I remember being up with a newborn in the middle of the night,  just crying, wondering why on earth I’d even bother trying to sleep when I knew I’d have to be up in an hour anyway. And then the years of everyone waking up and demanding attention at 5am! It’s a wonder I’m at all sane. Anyway, I’m pleased to report now that, apart from the odd bad dream, everyone pretty much sleeps in their own bed all night. They go to the toilet by themselves and when they wake up they do their own thing and don’t wake us up. It’s quite, quite wonderful.

Everyone can get their own drink

I know this doesn’t sound like much, but to parents with toddlers this is a REALLY BIG DEAL. I always felt like I’d just sit down after hours of playing/baking/cooking/cleaning and I’d hear a small voice – “I thirsty”. They can get their own drinks and their own food, and it makes life so much more enjoyable!

Having their friends over makes life easier  

When kids are little, there’s a limit to how long a play date can last. They really enjoy it for the fist hour or so – but then all of a sudden your kid doesn’t want to share their “favourite train” (you know, the one they haven’t played with for three years) or their friend throws something and it hits someone’s head, and it’s all over. Now, when they have friends over they disappear for hours and I rarely have to sort anything out.

When they help, it actually helps

I recall gritting my teeth when a little voice asked to “help” cook or mop or use the vacuum. I felt like it drained all my motherly reserves of patience! But now, it’s actually helpful 🙂 They can vacuum and clean and even cook without too much assistance.

There are no more naps This literally changed my life. My day is no longer carved up into pockets of time, with that constant underlying fear that you’ll stay somewhere 10 minutes too long and someone will suddenly get overtired and throw a tantrum at the shops. I really am so glad the napping stage is behind us.

What milestones have your kids reached that you are grateful for?

Advertisements

A few of my favourite things…

Today I had a wonderful Mother’s Day filled with some of my very favourite things…

A trip to Max Brenner

Chocolate! It really is one of life’s pleasures. We indulged in hot chocolates and Tutti Fruitti pancakes – and even Picasso had to admit at the end he could not possibly eat anything else (Picasso is currently having 3 bowls of cereal for breakfast). The kids haven’t been to Max Brenner’s before, and fully embraced its “Willy Wonka” ambience.

A visit to “the Dymocks building” 

One of my most favourite places ever is the Dymocks building in Sydney’s CBD. Three floors of books, stationary and reading-related paraphernalia – what more could anyone want? I spent a small fortune and had such a lovely time browsing the shelves.

A nap

I’m not sure what it is about a nap that is so much better than ordinary night-time sleep, but I just love naps.

My assortment of gifts from the school Mother’s Day stall

Okay, okay, I’m being slightly tongue-in-cheek. But my fluffy bed socks, manicure kit, “World’s Best Mum” mug and handbag organiser are truly tokens of love. And hey, that handbag organiser will really come in handy.

I hope you Mums out there enjoyed your Mother’s Day and got to do some of your most favourite things!

Lights, camera, action…

I often feel that, four weeks out of five, our lives run pretty smoothly. It’s busy and somewhat chaotic I grant you, but generally clothes are washed and people are fed and homework is handed in and no one is left at the side of a road (which is my dear colleague and fellow-working-mum’s standard of success for any given week).

But then we get to the fifth week. And that’s when the wheels fall off the wagon. It’s when kids get sick, and you both have super busy days and no one can take sick leave. Or worse – I get sick, and as everyone knows the Mum can NEVER get sick without the house tumbling down around everyone’s ears. Often it’s that my work load has gone into overdrive (the curse of being at the mercy of the media!) or that unexpected emergency with the kids occurs. Or it rains for days and no one does any washing or the dog literally does eat someone’s homework.

Well last week was one of those weeks. Work was manic and Souljourneyboy had reports due and Bookwork was going through a tough time and and the final straw came on my day off when I simply couldn’t face making lunches again – and so I gave everyone the day off school. Which in hindsight was exactly what we needed – we just lazed around in our PJs all day and did nothing.

Sometimes on that fifth week I wonder despairingly what on earth I am doing. Is all the mania really worth it, I wonder? I look longingly at the stay-at-home-mums and fantasize about spending hours cooking nutritious meals and calmly picking everyone up from school and chatting about their days while we have home-baked cupcakes. But then – I have been a stay-at-home Mum, and I know that’s not really the reality either. More likely everyone had a fight on the way hone and the cupcakes were confiscated as punishment.

Like I read somewhere not long ago, we always compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s stage show – so no wonder we find ourselves lacking.

I like working (most of the time 🙂 ). I like keeping my mind busy and bringing in an extra income. I like the fact that when I took Little Miss to a party today I got chatting with other Mums and we laughed about baskets of washing all over the house and forgotten school notes and the chaos of the morning drop off. I think we’re all in the same boat, really, and we need to remember that when the lights dim and we watch someone else’s show, wondering if ours looks as good.

So hang in there, Mums – we’re all doing the best we can 🙂

 

A restful break

I have been on holidays for the past week and feel really refreshed, even though it’s only been 7 days. Here were the highlights…

A stay-cation

The past few months at work have been really stressful. It was so nice to spend the week at home not really doing…anything. Lots of sleep-ins, afternoon naps and coffees on the verandah.

The weather!

Autumn is always my favourite season, and last week proved exactly why. Gorgeous golden sun, just perfect for picnic weather, followed by cool nights where you can snuggle into your blankets and get a good night’s sleep.

Picnics

We enjoyed a few of these – with friends, family and by ourselves too. We rode bikes, ate ice creams and even squeezed in some water play in the fountains before winter sets in.

A sleep-over

My niece slept over one night – she is Little Miss’s age, they are in the same class at school and sit next to each other. They are cousins and best friends, and it was wonderful to have her come and stay. It was even more wonderful that they played perfectly and we hardly heard a peep from them. But what made it super-dooper wonderful was that Little Miss finally found someone able to match her in her craft obsession. They crafted all day and all night and I barely had to open a glue stick. Heaven help me when that girl discovers Pinterest.

Reading and writing

I read some books and wrote a few chapters of my book. Perfect.

I hope those of you who had school holidays enjoyed them too 🙂

Odds and ends

I don’t have anything significant to share today, just a few bits and pieces from the week that made me smile, or reflect, or just be glad to be alive.

A trip down memory lane…

I went to my old high school on Friday night because this year is its 30th anniversary and there was a whole day and night of festivities. It was so strange walking around, remembering parts of the school and not others. I know some people hate school but I have to say, I LOVED high school. Probably because I am a self-confessed nerd, and also because I started going out with Souljourneyboy in Year 11, but also because it was jut a great school and I had a really good education. We even invited a few of our teachers to our wedding. Trees that I remember planting towered over me and the crappy lockers we all hated are now replaced with very snazzy looking ones. It was a really nice night.

Bookworm

He amused me the other day. I was picking him up early from his classroom when he said breathlessly, “Oh Mum, I just have to quickly tell the teacher something” and dashed off back inside. After several moments he reappeared and we started walking towards the car. “What did you have to tell him?” I asked, thinking it was something to do with homework or a note. “Oh, I just had to tell him that your lungs are actually an involuntary muscle while you sleep,” he replied.

Of course! No reason why that could wait a second longer than it had to 🙂

Picasso

He really is very sweet, my Picasso. I might have shared this before, but he saw a recruitment ad for nurses about a year ago and asked me, “Mum, can boys be nurses?” So since then he has decided that he wants to be a pediatric nurse. The other day we went for a walk – just the two of us – and he told me that he really wants to be the nurses that looks after the sick babies in the NIC unit. I reckon he’ll probably end up doing it too. I’ve never heard of any other 7-year-old boy choosing that as a career path, but that’s just like Picasso. He is a big marshmallow.

Sugar-high

I have decided I really MUST do something about my eating habits! I tried Michelle Bridges last year and lost a few kilos, but lately seem to have been eating like a bear about to hibernate. One of my closest friends and I said we would try and give up sugar, but I was an abject failure. I really just need to give up snacking on junk. So why this morning I decided to bake a delicious passionfruit slice is beyond me.

So there you go! It’s Sunday here and poor Little Miss is lounging on the beanbag with a high temperature and a cold. The boys are playing Monopoly, Souljourneyboy is marking schoolwork and I think I might read a book. Enjoy your day!

Nature not nurture?

When you have kids you learn many things. Like how to yell in that quiet way so your child hears your insane threat at the shops but the lady in front of you (hopefully) doesn’t. Or that it really is possible to survive on 4 hours’ sleep a night. And that you are indeed capable of rocking a baby to sleep while cooking the dinner while playing fairies with your toddler while reading up for a uni assignment.

At the moment, Bookworm and Picasso are teaching me all about nature over nurture. My two boys are only 16 months apart, and while poor Bookworm copped the full force of my probably neurotic and crappy first-time-as-a-mum parenting, they have had a fairly similar experience. But no two different boys could you find! A couple of weeks ago I did the Myer-Briggs personality test for kids on each of them and was astounded at the accuracy of the results. While I know they are young and will change, I found it really helpful information. Anyway in the three categories (they only have three for kids) Bookworm got an E for Extrovert, N for iNtuitive and a P for Perceiving. Picasso, on the other hand, got an I for Introvert, an S for Sensory and a J for Judging. Yes, completely opposite on every scale.

It was reinforced for me as the school year began, and I watched them do their homework. Bookworm complains dramatically and when he finally gets his book out he dashes it off as quickly as possible. It’s barely legible and as one of the teachers pointed out to me this year, he’d write with his feet if he thought that would make it easier. Despite him talking the whole time it’s done in about 5 minutes. Now we come to Picasso. He is so painstakingly slow I want to tear my hair out, and I could, because it would actually grow again by he time he finished. Every word is perfectly formed, and rubbed out and redone the minute there’s a stroke of pencil out of place. And since his teacher told him to leave a two-finger gap between words, he has fully embraced the letter of the law. Two-finger spaces are carefully measured with a precision that would make an OCD sufferer proud. When I suggested he didn’t ACTUALLY have to be QUITE so specific his eyes welled up with tears so I hastily just left him to it.

Funny kids. It will be very interesting to see how things go as they grow up!

Life as a Working Mum

I’ve been thinking lately that there are many ups and downs to life as a (full time) Working Mum. Some of them I’ve blogged about already here. But there are a few things any Mum who is thinking of taking the plunge into full-time work should know…

The day will come when you are hiding from your own child in a wardrobe

It’s happened to me a few times, generally because my boss/the Managing Director/ senior politician has called my phone and the only way I can drown out the cries of, “Mummy!!!!” is by suffocating myself in a heap of winter coats.

You will multitask in the toilet

It’s amazing how many emails you can read when you lock yourself in there for five minutes.

There will come a time when something very important gets forgotten

It could be a lunch order. A schoolbook. A jumper or hat. Occasionally, it’s a child. Hopefully that doesn’t happen too often.

You will feel unreasonable disbelief towards your young, single colleagues who complain of being tired

Look, I do recall that before children came along, I got tired. Actually I don’t recall it at all, however I am willing to accept that it must have happened. But I have to say, whenever some bright young kid-free colleague yawns and says, “Wow, I’m just SO tired today, I don’t know why. I mustn’t have slept very well,” I have to stop myself replying, “Really? Well I’m tired and it’s because I was up three times last night with one child who had nightmares and then another one woke up with a temperature and came into my bed so I slept with an elbow in my eye for the last three hours of the night and then I got up, made three children breakfast and got them dressed and did a school run which took twice as long because one of them forgot their library books and we had to double back and then I took  the sick one to the doctor’s before rushing them to my Mums so I could get here for a meeting.” Instead, I smile and say, “Really? Yeah, I’m a bit tired today too.”

You become convinced of the restorative powers of panadol and a good night’s sleep

Whenever one of her kids says they feel sick at night, one of my colleagues (and dear friends) who is a Working Mum always says, “A sleep’ll fix that”. If it’s in the morning, I always say, “let’s try some panadol”. Both are practically miracle cures.

“Breakfast dinners” are not just an occasional happenstance, but actually planned two nights a week

A bowl of porridge is much more healthy than takeaway, right?

You will be in a very important meeting and your Mum life will intrude in unexpected ways

It could be a text from your husband saying he forgot he was picking up the kids and can you leave RIGHT NOW to get them. Or a phone call because your child has hit their head at school or eaten a rubber. Or you might reach into your bag for a pen and out falls a half-eaten rusk stick or a dummy. Or you suddenly remember your daughter plastered a large butterfly sticker on your back as you were walking out the door and you can’t subtly reach around now and remove it. It will happen.So – be warned! It certainly is an interesting ride, and it’s not for everyone. But when you’ve done a good job and you get rewarded – you get a payrise, a promotion, a pat on the back, or when your kids talk with pride about the job you do – that’s when you feel like it’s worth it.:)