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A Parenting Reset Button for your Heart

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… and then you stare at them too long with a dumb smile on your face, and they sense you are there are and WAKE UP.

And you freeze like a deer in headlights and back out of the room v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y ….

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Not Giving a Crap #inmyactivewear

Recently there was a hilarious parody video that went viral on social media, called Activewear (view it here). If you’ve not seen it, you should. It’s freakin funny.

But, since that video has come out, there has been a shift in attitudes towards women wearing so-called “activewear”. Or, perhaps the attitude was always there and I just didn’t notice?

Well, I have a confession to make.

I go to the supermarket in my active wear.

I do school drop-offs and pick-ups in my active wear.

I go shopping in my active wear.

I grab a coffee in my active wear.

I put petrol in my car in my active wear.

Strangely, I also go to the gym in my active wear.

You see, I am busy. I cart a relatively (read:incredibly) independent-minded and determined two-and-a-half-year-old with me where ever I go. I also go to the gym. Now, I’m not a small person by any stretch of the imagination, but since moving down here I decided to fill my time by going to the gym every day, and I love it. It is my only “me” time. I have lost body fat, I have increased my body muscle mass, I have lost weight – and, most importantly, I have gained body confidence.

It didn’t even occur to me that people might look sideways at me popping into the supermarket after the gym, still wearing the clothes I just did a workout in. Hell, I went to the gym for a month before I even realised there were change facilities there! And, despite that new found (and, I realise in hindsight, pretty important) information, I often don’t get changed at the gym anyway. Have you ever tried getting changed with a two year old around?

Furthermore, by the time I drag BabyGirl out of her creche, go through the not one, but two button operated doors at the gym, toddle to the car stopping every few steps to look at a rock, or a “boooootiful fwower”, get into the car, let her close her door, then wait another, oh, ten minutes for her to sit in her seat so I can buckle her in, I no longer have that attractive, red-faced, hideous post-gym glow that I get after a workout. So, once I finally make it to the supermarket, or the petrol station, or, heaven forbid, the coffee shop, I look pleasantly refreshed. My point being, I don’t look like I’ve been to the gym.

Recently in our local paper’s “whinge” section, someone wrote a scathing letting about “fat, unfit, hideous women doing school drop offs and going to the shop in their activewear” and I found myself getting really, really upset. Who are they to decide whether these women (god, they could be talking about me, for all I know) haven’t either just been to the gym, or are going? And even if they aren’t, who gives a crap? Maybe these women walked there. Maybe they just like their comfy pants. “Tidy yourself up”, it said. “Buy a nice pair of jeans”.

Ha!

Find me a nice pair of jeans, a comfortable pair of jeans, that won’t require me to sell my first born child in order to afford them, and I will get them. I dare you.

Suddenly I found myself to be self conscious. I started to allow extra time at the gym so I could rush into the change rooms and get changed before collecting BabyGirl (thus cutting back on workout time). I suddenly became very aware of what I was wearing. And then I woke up and thought, you know what?

I. Don’t. Give. A. Crap.

If I want to go out and wear my cropped pants, my sports bra, my singlet top, my hoodie and my running shoes, I’m damn well going to. Because in what world do we live, where women (or anyone) have lost the right to wear what we choose? It’s not indecent. It’s not offensive. And, most importantly, it’s COMFORTABLE and it makes me feel good. It reminds me of the hard work I put in every freakin morning at the gym. Work that I am proud of.

I understand the parody video, I thought it was hilarious, but lets not carry it over into our everyday world. Ladies. If you want to go shopping in your activewear, do it. If you want to pick up your kids in your active wear, do it.

Instead of attacking women who wear these workout clothes, lets applaud them, for giving exercise a go. Even if it is just to walk to the letterbox, it’s still lapping all those people on the couch.

I know what I’m asking Santa for at Christmas.

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Activewear.

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Twenty Seventh!

Princess had her very first Cross Country yesterday. These are an institution here in New Zealand. I remember my own school cross country races fondly. I grew up in a relatively rural town, so our cross country race involved running through the bush, scaling fences, all the while wearing either bare feet or, if we were feeling fancy, jandals.

It’s nice to see nothing has really changed. I mean, they had to wear shoes, but it still brought back memories of my own races. The line up to start. Taking off, running their little hearts out.

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Princess was really excited about this race, she couldn’t stop talking about it. She selected her clothes specifically, laid out the night before with her running shoes. She had been doing a lot of training at school, and even received a certificate last week for her “improvement in school athletics”.

I couldn’t believe how excited I was about the race. There is something about seeing your child participate and do well in something, that just melts your heart. Now, I’m no Tiger Mom, but I do want to see my kids do well. Did I want her to win? Hells yes, that would have been awesome! But more than anything, I just wanted her to do her best. I know, right? I’m such a grown up some times.

And so, it was time. They lined up all the Year 0 and Year 1 girls together (there were a million of them) and boom, they were off. And by “off”, I mean, they disappeared out of sight. Down to the river, to run along the river bank. The race was only 500m so I was surprised at how long the kids were gone for!

We waited … and waited … and then we saw a little girl emerge from the bushes. Was it Princess? Goodness, no. This kid? Usain Bolt, I tell ya. She was miles ahead of anyone else. MILES.  And then came more. And more. And more little girls, all wearing, it seems, the same as Princess. I began to wonder if I’d missed her. I looked towards the finish line – nope, not there. More girls came, and there she was. My heart? It died. It puffed up to six million times its normal size. There was my big kid, running her hardest. She wasn’t winning, but by gosh was she trying.

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She overtook a couple of kids on the home stretch, and ran across the finish line.

I won’t lie. I was yelling. Calling her name, jumping up and down in a manner that will most certainly embarrass her in years to come. I mean, no one else is going to cheer for my kid. That’s my job. 

I was so happy, I nearly cried. Ridiculous, really. But it’s that crazy pride thing that we parents get. That crazy pride thing that makes us nearly lose our minds at times, I swear.

And, as Princess ran up to me, beaming from ear to ear, she proudly held up her hand and said, “Look, Mum. TWENTY SEVENTH! That’s MY number!”. And with a kiss and a giggle, she was skipping off to her class with her friends.

Did I want Princess to win her race? Sure, that would have been nice, for her to get up onto the podium and get a certificate. But she is 6. She doesn’t yet have the drive to need to win, and that’s great. She had a wonderful time, she later said to me, “I’m so proud of my race, Mum”.

And you know what? So am I. As far as I’m concerned, she might as well have won that race. So we went out for celebratory frozen yoghurt, and Princess got extra sprinkles, because she came TWENTY SEVENTH.

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Anatomy of a Six Hour Car Ride

We just returned from a two week holiday back to our home town and, in order to save well over $1000 in flight costs, we made the choice to drive six hours to a major airport rather than flying direct. Good idea? Sure. I mean, saving that money makes it worth it, right? I mean, how hard can a six hour drive be, with three small kids?

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I know, I know.

And so, this is the summary of our trip.

The Questions

Oh my, the questions.

Why is one eye round, and one eye normal?

Why are my cheeks red?

Are you asleep, Mum? (note: I wasn’t driving. And yes, I was trying to sleep)

What do brother sheep look like?

Is it dinner time yet? (note: 10:30am)

Are we there yet?

Who scratched my face? I think it was me?

Why is snow?

Are we almost at Grandma’s house? (note: we are not going to Grandma’s house)

Are we there yet?

Is it dinner time yet? (note: 11:30am)

Where is the lake? (note: right alongside the car. A very large lake)

Where is that bus going?

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Why are we driving?

The Games

The Finger game. How many fingers am I holding up? How many fingers am I holding up? How many fingers am I holding up.

(note: I won’t lie. I held up my middle finger on more than one occassion)

The Car game. We pick a colour each, and then keep a vague count of each car. We’ve played this game so many times and the kids still haven’t figured that picking silver, white, red or black gives you significantly higher chances of winning than picking, say, purple or orange. Nevertheless, we play.

The Animal game. Two points if you see a sheep. Three points for a cow. Ten points for a llama. 17 points for a monkey. 460 points for a dinosaur. 6,000,000 points for an elephant. This game is thrilling.

“THERE’S A SHEEP THERE’S A SHEEP THERE’S A SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP ….”

We do, after all, live in New Zealand.

The Fights

Princess looking at BoyChild.

Babygirl putting her foot on BoyChild.

BoyChild singing.

Princess singing.

BabyGirl singing.

BoyChild is looking at Princess.

The wrong cd is in.

The window is open.

The window is closed.

The Threats

On at least six occasions, it was threatened that at least one child get out of the car and walk.

On at least one occasion, the car was stopped to remove one child from the car.

On at least three occasions, I requested the car be stopped so I could get out and walk. Once was while driving past a Cidery.

The Scenery

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We saw some wonderful sights. We drove through some of the most amazing scenery in this beautiful country. And we enjoyed it, as we drove through it. Note: we drove. We didn’t stop. Because, you stop, all three kids want to get out. And all three kids don’t want to get back in. There is no such thing as a quick stop. Oh, except the one time we pulled over simply to clean BabyGirl who had managed to smother herself in ice block. I quickly hopped out, wiped her down and off we went. With the car boot open. Yup. I did that. My bad.

The Hilarity

We drove through an area with canals. I said to the kids, “Did you know there are two types of canals? The near canal and the far canal?”

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And I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed at my expert wit. Mr T rolled his eyes. BoyChild laughed along with me, because he’s awesome (and laughs with anyone). Princess asked me, “Where is the canal?”

The Final 45 Minutes

I’m not sure what it is about a long car ride, but no matter how long it is, the final 45 minutes is always the longest. The kids suddenly snap and have had enough. Mr T and I have had enough. The final 45 is packed full of tears, games, songs, jokes, anything to keep the kids from ripping each other’s hair out. And from me ripping out my own.

Princess decided she needed to poop.

BoyChild decided he was hungry.

BabyGirl decided that 5.5 hours of me sitting slightly out of her reach was too long and she NEEDED TO TUDDLE ME RIGHT NOW.

I encouraged the kids to count to 153, and that we would be home once they were done. They got to 17 before BoyChild declared the game OVER.

BabyGirl cried some more.

I stroked my bottle of cider and whispered, “we are almost there, my precious”.

The Home

And then, we are there. Home. Oh, my lord. Home freakin sweet home. The kids leap from the car, all tears suddenly dry. BoyChild runs to his room and instantly tips out all of his toys. Princess and BabyGirl run to their room and start playing. I run to the loo (I’ve had three kids, remember!).

And just like that, we are done.

Next time, I think I’ll pay the extra $1000.

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Here’s to all the Single Parents

To all you single parents, I salute you. I bow my head, and tip my hat. Goodness, I kneel and kiss your feet.

Mr T has been away this week, the second time in three weeks, and so I have been thrust into the world of solo parenting. And it is, by all accounts, shit. I won’t lie. I won’t sugar coat it. It sucks. And I am well aware of the fact that while I am able to count down the days minutes until husband returns, many people don’t have that luxury.

And I admire you for that. Wholeheartedly.

The first time he went away, I cried when he told me. I tried really hard not to, I pretended the movie I was watching was really sad, but I cried. To put it into perspective (and maybe ever-so-slightly less psychotic), we are new to this town and I’ve yet to meet any proper friend-like grown ups. So, I really am just me’n’the’kids.

That week was tough, but we got there. Princess had school, BoyChild had preschool, I could still go to the gym and drop BabyGirl at the creche a couple of times a week. Night 2 (of 4) was the worst – I was finally asleep when I realised BabyGirl was playing with a freakin balloon in the hallway. At midnight. I stomped up there, picked her up, growled her and stomped down the stairs to my room. Naturally, that was the one time my pj pants would get caught under my foot, causing me to crash onto my elbow and bottom with full force. Never mind. I dealt with it like a grown up.

I’m lying.

I lay in the hallway at midnight and cried like a little baby. One of my shining moments as a mother, I must say. That night BabyGirl didn’t sleep until well after 3am. Like I said, the worst.

But, we got there. Husband came home, and all was well.

This time around, things are a little different. It’s school holidays, for starters. School HELL-idays. So, no school for Princess. No creche for BabyGirl, which means no gym for me. Luckily, BoyChild’s preschool doesn’t break for the holidays, so he still goes each morning. The downside of that being we have to leave the house at 8:30 each morning. I’ve mastered the art of looking temporarily presentable. I don’t even bother dressing the girls. Pjs suffice when you are 6 and 2.

I think what has been the killer for me this week, has been the lack of personal space. They are with me in the shower, they are with me in the loo. They are with me when I’m on the phone, they are with me when I check the mail. They are with me when I sleep, they are with me when I cook dinner.

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I’ve had some great ideas through the week. Like going for a walk. That ended well.

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Baking cupcakes was fun. Shame it didn’t last all day.

We did some science experiments. Also fun until we used up all the baking soda and vinegar. Thus ruining my next plan, making cookies.

I think the hardest part about solo parenting is that you have to be “on” all the time. You are the go to for the kids. There is no opportunity to slack off. When they cry, it’s you who has to solve the issue. When they wake in the night, it’s you who has to get up.

The house is a mess, the kids have been living off a diet of noodles, 100s + 1000s toast and carrot sticks for a week and the alcohol cupboard is noticeably emptier than it was five days ago.

But, the end is near. One more night to go.

And that is where I consider myself to be so lucky. Because there is an end in sight for me. Tomorrow my husband is going to walk in the door and things will go back to (relative) normality. I appreciate that many people don’t have that, and I can’t admire these people enough.

We’ve done it, kids. We’ve survived unscathed.

And only once did I declare “That’s IT, I QUIT being a MUM! I’m DONE. GoodBYE. I wish you WELL. THANK YOU LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. Mum is OUT” *dramatic door slam*

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Where We Are Today

When I started this blog, I was mum to three-under-five. Princess was a precocious 4 year old, BoyChild a shy 2 year old and BabyGirl was, well, a baby.

Fast forward 21 months and it’s safe to say the dynamics have certainly changed in our house. The kids have changed. So, I thought it might be time to re-introduce them.

Princess is 6, and a very six she is indeed. Long gone are the innocent comments, the ‘isms’ she was so fantastically entertaining with. Life is hard when you are six, apparently. She is sensitive, dramatic and well-adept at eye-rolling. But she is still sweet and caring (when she is in the mood to be) and occasionally I get to see that little 4 year old peek back through again.

BoyChild is 4-and-a-half and has come so very far since we started this journey. He speaks well (a major obstacle for him) and he has a nutty sense of humour. He plays imaginary games and is by far the easiest of the three to look after at present. Hands down. I have a real soft spot for this kid, so I’m sure the entire world heard my heart break in two the day he said to me, “no kisses tonight Mum, you can go away now”.

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BabyGirl. BabyGirl. Baby-freakin-girl. She is so absolutely darling to look at, with her blond curls and big, brown eyes. “Butter wouldn’t melt” is a phrase often used with her. But, believe me, butter would melt indeed (ironic, as she has a dairy allergy). Most definitely the, ahem, most challenging of the three kids. Two years old for what feels like an eternity, and she’s not yet two-and-a-half. She talks and talk and natters and cries. She is Captain I-DO-IT-YOU-DO-NOT-HELP-ME. I feel like I sigh a lot more with her, than I ever have before.

So, what of me, over the past couple of years? Am I any closer to knowing what the heck I’m doing with these kids? God, no. Nope. Nu-uh. Not even close.

Do I enjoy being a Mother? Short answer? Yes. Sure. Why not. Long answer? Depends what time of day you ask me. Depends what day you ask me.

Do I love my kids? Abso-freakin-lutely. Do I like them? Depends what time of day you ask me. Depends what day you ask me.

Today is a sunny day. The house is a mess despite my having spent the whole day yesterday cleaning it. BoyChild is at preschool, it’s school holidays so Princess in currently in the kitchen, making a movie on my phone about the contents of our cutlery drawer. *shrug*. BabyGirl is watching Princess Sofia for the millionth time this week, with no pants on.

All in all, a pretty standard day in our house, really.

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Homework

I thought I was a patient person. I thought I had all the time and tolerance in the world for my kids.

And then came homework.

Reading.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that Princess gets homework. Home reading. I just … I’m ashamed to say I simply do not have the patience to sit through it. You would be surprised at how long a five-page story can drag out when a six year old is reading it.

Not to mention the subject matter of some of the stories! A book about how spiders EAT flies. A non-fiction book detailing the life cycle of a frog. I mean, nature blah blah, I know. It’s important. But to me, it’s just gross.

And, her most recent one. “Coco’s Bell”. It’s about a cat who catches a bird in her mouth, so they need to put a bell on her. And they take the injured bird inside, and put it into a warm box. And take good care of it.

“Look Mum, I’m going to turn the page but you need to know it will be sad, don’t cry ok Mum. Are you ready, Mum? Are you ready to be brave?”

“Yes?” I answer tentatively, having no idea of what is happening. I mean, they won’t kill the bird off, right? It’s a kids book.

A FREAKIN KIDS BOOK.

“The bird is dead. Mum? Can you see? It’s dead. See Mum? D-E-A-D. That spells dead, do you know?”

They. Killed. The. Bird.

I just can’t even.

Princess has a reading journal, with points and stickers awarded for consecutive reading nights. So, every night, we sit down for reading time.

“The …….. d-d-d-og …….. w-w-w-w-ent ……… to ….. the ……….. plane? Picnic? Park! The dog went to the p-p-p-p-p-p-ark”

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“There ……………………………………………… is a ………………………ssssssssssssssslide ……………at ………………the ………………………..park”

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“There ………………………….. is …………………………………….a ………………………………..swing …………………………….at ………………………….the ……………………………….park. I like parks, Mum. Did you know Michael in my class went to Australia? I ate my yoghurt at school today. Can I have a piece of toast please?”

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“I think I’ll read the book upside down now Mum”

“Please just read it normally”

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“Thar dooooooog lyyyyyyykes tharrrrrr parrrrrrrk” *giggles*

“Please read it in your normal voice”

“I like taking my dog to the park. That’s the end, Mum.

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I think Dad can do the reading tomorrow night.