Motherhood – What Am I Doing Wrong?



Motherhood What Am I Doing Wrong

She sipped her tea and then hesitantly asked, “So how do you get your kids to listen?”

“You keep doing what you are doing.” I replied. “I’m sure I’m not going to give you any advice that you are not already doing.”

I felt rotten for telling her that. I absolutely meant what I said. I have seen this lady every week at storytelling for over three years now. I have watched her parent. I have listed to her tell stories about parenting. I don’t hang out with her in between Monday mornings, but I know enough about her to be confident in the fact that she is doing a wonderful job. Her children are delightful, and when her kids are not so delightful, she handles them with dignity and understanding.

But I still felt rotten for giving her a glib answer. But honestly, glib answers sometimes are not really glib. They are just honest.

The real reason I felt bad was because I recognised exactly where she was at. Why? Because I have been there. I have been at my wits end. In front of my kids, I’m staying strong, I’m hanging in there. I’m being ‘consistent’. Except I can’t shake that feeling of doubt that perhaps I’m doing something wrong. I can’t help but feel guilty that the reason my children are misbehaving is all my fault. I can’t help feeling that somehow I’m failing them. And that things will never get better because I’m doing the wrong thing.

And so, I have been brave and gone up to women that I have admired and asked the same question.

“How did you do this?”
“What would you do in this situation?”
“Can you give me some advice?”

I ask these questions, genuinely humble, ready to learn. Perhaps a little desperate.

Most of the answers are things I already know and the reply makes me feel a bit frustrated because it’s not the answers I want. Not the answers I need to get through these rocky waters.  I want to assure this person I admire that, “Yes, I do that. I’m not neglecting the basics. But tell me more. There must be a great secret. There must be something I’m missing.”


When that mother questioned me on Monday, her face full of expectation, waiting for the great revelation that was going to unlock the elusive key to parenting, I recognised her desperation. And I wondered. “Why can I emphasise with her frustrations and be so confident that she is going to produce wonderful children and kind and respectable adults, yet I don’t have the same confidence in my own parenting ability?”

All of a sudden it occurred to me that perhaps the older women’s confidence in me was well founded. (And that the younger women’s judgment of me was actually misinformed.)

When older women I admire tell me that I’m doing a good job, regularly I doubt it. In my head I think, “But you don’t know what I do when no one is around. Just how badly I fail.” But I think they might.

I didn’t want to leave the woman doubting that she really would be trying the same strategies that I apply, so I gave her a few practical examples.

“I get my kids to listen by getting down on their eye level to talk to them. I make them repeat instructions. I don’t give them too many instructions at a time. I follow up on what they have been told to check they have done it. I am consistent to apply consequences if they don’t do it and when they get it right, I pile on heaps of praise.”

She was nodding. She knew I was right, she really was doing all those things. Her eyes still displayed guilt. She leaned closer and whispered.

“But I yell. I get so frustrated. I yell at them. Every day I yell at them.”

I understood. So do I. Praise the Lord, I’m getting better. It’s not every day lately. But there has been stages where it has been and I understood her guilt. But I also knew that some bouts of imperfect parenting does not necessarily equal failure. We are flawed humans, which make us flawed parents. We make mistakes. We recognise those mistakes, we make amends, we try to do better and we don’t give up. And we keep doing the things that are right.

When you are a parent, you cannot afford to give up on yourself. You can’t afford to give up on your child. Not Ever.

I hope this week that mother believed me. I hope that this week she had a bit more assurance that she is on the right track. I hope she realises that at the end of the day, parenting every child is challenging. I hope she knows that every child is different too. She will work out the best solution for her child, there will be similarities to the way I parent, and there will be differences. There is no formula, because every family is unique, every child is different.

I am thankful that this wonderful Mum made herself vulnerable enough to talk to me.  I admire her willingness to be transparent. I think us women need to do this more often.  To ask for help or advice when we are at our wits end. I think that people we trust need to be honest enough to tell us in loving ways when we can make improvements too. In the long run, they may see the situation in a different way, and their advice could make another mother’s life that little bit easier. And a little bit easier is all you need to make it through the days when you are in the trenches sometimes.  But most of all us mothers need to start to believe it when people we trust tell us we are doing a good job.

Do you feel like you are getting it wrong in motherhood? Do you need to start believing the good that others see in yourself?


Continue Reading

Working at Home Mum

Being a mother and prioritising and balancing paid work is like playing a game of strategy. It requires thought, planning, skill and sometimes just a little bit of luck.

I would classify myself as a full time stay at home Mum, however I do work in a paid job also.  I am a teacher by profession and since having my first child, I have worked limited hours supply teaching. I had been able to do this thanks to my mother who lived nearby. I was able to drop my children off to her on the way to work and then pick them up after school was finished. On average I worked about 1 day a fortnight, but sometimes I would go weeks without working, other weeks I might work three consecutive days within one week. I only worked at two local private schools so I got the right amount of work for me. I really enjoy doing the stay at home mum thing, but being able to work not only brought in a little bit of extra money, but it was also a good break from the every day Mummy role, and quite frankly would often feel like a little holiday!

The year before I had Trent, the supply teaching at those two schools slowed down for a little bit. I thought about contacting some other schools to start working at some other places, but I wasn’t sure about doing this since I was pregnant. I was very fortunate that a friend told me about a job working in the education department at our local university. It was less money then supply teaching, but it seemed to suit our needs at that time in my life. It turns out that working for the university has been the ideal job for me. After having the baby, I started getting days supply teaching again, and the uni work had a lot of flexibility that I was able to organise my days to fit both jobs in.

Reading Aloud to a child
The beauty of a flexible working environment. I can go out, work for a few hours, come home and be snuggled up reading a story with my child.

I taught up until I was about 20 weeks pregnant with the triplets, and have not returned to the classroom since. I still continue with my university job because of the flexibility and because I mostly do all the work at home. I used to go out and visit professional experience students (prac teachers) at schools, kindys and daycare centres, but now I mainly work with external students because I find that suits my current state of life. Plus, my mother now lives an hour away so it’s not practical to drop the kids around to her before work anymore. That and the fact I would be dropping five kids on her, not just one or two!

As I said, working while you have children is a game of strategy as you juggle the children’s commitments and needs with your work commitments and requirements. I am sure working mums, especially the full time variety, have a whole host of strategies for making it work. Here are some of my suggestions for making working at home work for you.

1.  Find times to work when time with the children isn’t being compromised.
I try not to turn the TV on just to get my work done. Although, I think most work at home parents will admit this is sometimes a necessary evil. With a bit of planning I can find time to work during nap times or after they have gone to bed. Sometimes I am able to spend the morning playing with the children, and then let them to continue to play independently and I will sneak in some work. Or the reverse, if the children are playing happily in the morning, I don’t intervene, but sneak away, get my work done, and then when I can hear they are starting to lose interest, (ie. when they start fighting it is the most common indication of this!), I shut the computer down and start the day with them. After all, if you have the opportunity to be with the children during the day, you want to maximise your time with them, they will be grown up and the time will be over soon enough.

2.  Maximise times when you are most alert.
Working in the evenings are the easiest times to work because (mostly) there are no children around. However, sometimes I find that at the end of a long day with the kids, my brain just turns to moosh and I find it difficult to compose coherent sentences or not make mistakes when sending out emails. Sometimes it’s more productive to go to bed early and get up early and work before the day starts. Or, if  I can get someone to help out, I try to work during the day when I’m more alert. (See point below.)

3. Don’t make excuses.
Sometimes when you are working from home, you drop the ball.  It may have been because of a whole heap of unpredictable circumstances, but this is just the pay off with working at home. You do get interrupted. Sometimes you can give an explanation of what is happening, but I am very careful to not make excuses. Even though it’s tempting and I might have a whole set of brilliant excuses that I have been rehearsing in my brain all morning. It’s much better to apologise and fix it up pronto. If you don’t allow yourself to make excuses, it will also force you to do better.

4. Remove distractions
It’s so easy to procrastinate and drift over to Facebook or swing by Pinterest when you are on the computer, but before you know it, the time is gone and you’ve wasted your window of time, and when you are working with children around, time can often be very limited. I find it helpful on those days when I’m easily distracted to shut down all other tabs and only have work related things open on my computer.

5. Utilise Other People to look after your children.
I’m fortunate that I have an In-Home-Carer so I will often set aside a time during the day that I allocate to do my paid work and let her take care of the children. You may be able to do a baby sitting swap with a friend who also needs time to do something without the kids. Husbands can also be great for getting kids out of your hair if you are needing some time. Sending the kids to the park with Daddy is a great option because they come back tired and you have peace and quiet when they are out of the house!

5. Communicate with your colleagues.
Sometimes it’s easy when you are working at home to be your own little island. It’s worthwhile to remain in contact with other colleagues so that you have a relationship with you when it is needed. It can be really simple like replying to emails with a friendly tone. Asking a question here or there, sending an email to update where you are up to with something or making a phone call and talking to someone about something rather than just relying on email.

Do you balance any work with raising your children? What have you found beneficial in balancing the work/home/child game of strategy?

Linking at Life Behind the Purple Door

Continue Reading

How to Combat Post Mother's Day Depression

I feel a little bit guilty admitting and writing that Mother’s Day often makes me feel a little bit deflated. But I’ve noticed this week that I’m not the only one who struggles with feeling a little depressed after Mother’s Day.

For so many years when I was struggling with infertility I would dread Mother’s Day. I so desperately wanted to be a Mummy and my exclusion from being honoured on that day was sorely felt. Back then, the worst part of the day, without a doubt, was during the church service when the mother’s would be asked to stand up, and they would be given a small gift to honour and thank them for the contribution that they are making. I still feel slightly embarrassed when I stand up, but I do stand. Not because I want others to feel excluded, but rather because it is right and good for motherhood to be honoured. Which is why I still attended church when I had no baby to hold and call my own despite it being an emotionally painful Sunday. (I know lots of women avoid attending services on Mother’s Day though, and no condemnation to you. You know if you are mentally able to cope with the event, you do what you need to do.)

Fast forward to the first Sunday I finally could celebrate Mother’s Day. Oh the joy, the anticipation, the eagerness I felt to be a part of church service and the family lunch that always followed.

I did not expect to be depressed by the end of the day. I did not expect that I would be crying tears of sadness and feeling undervalued and insignificant and very, very inadequate. Over the years, I’ve noticed that some Mother’s Days are better then others, but it’s common that I feel a little bit down as the sun sets each Mother’s Day. Here are some of my tips to pull yourself out of the post Mother’s Day funk.

1. Be Grateful
It’s easy to feel guilty that you aren’t feeling grateful on Mother’s Day. Stop looking at the things that you aren’t feeling grateful for and acknowledge all that you are grateful for on Mother’s Day. Start with your gorgeous kiddos. I’ve found that if Mother’s Day isn’t living up to my expectations, at the very least I can use it as a day to reflect on how incredibly blessed I am. I think perhaps it’s easier when you have been through infertility to know how just immense this feeling of blessing is. When you remember the yearning that was once there and the joy that it has been replaced by, your heart overflows with gratefulness. Mother’s Day is a time to cherish each cuddle and to reflect on the things you love most about each child.

2. Lower Your Expectations
Oh Pinterest. How I love you and hate you. Your mother’s day might have looked like the picture below. And if it did, I’m happy for you. Ever so happy for you.

Image Source

But most of ours didn’t look picture perfect.  And if it did, most of the time, it only looked like that this year. Next year it will probably look like this.

This was my son’s bedroom. To be fair, the day before Mother’s Day, after several hours of cajoling and threats, it was remarkably tidier then this photo. Two days later it had reverted back to this state though, I might add. 

Because that my friends is the real world. Proceed back to step 1. Be grateful that you have children to mess the room up in the first place.

Perfection is something we constantly see on Pinterest. But perfection is a picture. A snapshot that doesn’t show the reality outside the frame. Picture perfect leaves out the exhausted mother, the ugly cry as she sobs with frustration, the dirty dishes and the toys littered over the floor. Yet, we look at the small corner of perfection and feel inadequate. It has to stop. Life is not perfect, it never will be. There will be perfect moments, rejoice while they are there, do not expect them to last forever. On Mother’s Day, there will be sweet moments, cherish those moments, but don’t be surprised when a second later you will be changing a dirty nappy while another child has dropped to the floor and performing a well executed tantrum.

3. Don’t Expect a Complete Break From Mothering
There seems to be a lot of publicity that Mother’s Day should be relaxing. And oh yes, as mother’s we totally buy that line. Because let’s face it. Motherhood is just plain hard work. And it exhausts us. And we want to have a break.

Right from the start of Mother’s Day 2014, I was trying to make my house tidy while also getting ready for church. Because the thing about Mother’s Day is that many of us are blessed to celebrate it with our Mother’s, so it is not a day just for ourselves. The kids were aware it was a special day, and in between bouts of their egocentrism, they were wanting it to be special for me. They had made breakfast with Daddy, and gave me the little creations they had made at kindy and school. But because everyone coming around to our place for lunch, I was frantically rushing around trying to do last minute tidy ups, since I had given up the night before and gone to bed because I was exhausted. In the rush we ran out of time before church for the kids to give me the gift they had bought. This made things strained with the children, and I was stressed that they were disappointed while being stressed at getting things right for lunch, even if I wasn’t going to be cooking. (Which incidentally the reason that we go out to a restaurant most years, but money was tight this year.)

Mother’s Day flowers from our garden.

Let me add, that I did relax on Mother’s Day. Alex has learned to make Mother’s Day special. He took care of breakfast, lunch and dinner! What a man! But at the end of the day, laundry needed to be done. Nappies needed to be changed, children needed to be dressed. Discipline needed to be administered. You just can’t switch of being a mother for a day. I have found that my attitude can get a bit sour if I expect the whole day to be relaxing, I now expect that there are still jobs I need to do, and I try not to feel resentful for having to do those jobs. And above all I am appreciative for the gestures and attempts the children and my husband have made to make the day special.

And here’s another hint to have a relaxing day! Stop doing stuff! I know some mother’s find it difficult to switch off. Just do it. Your children and their Daddy cannot do nice things for you if you keep doing everything! Allow them the opportunity to take control. We know it won’t be to the same standard, but you can always fix it up tomorrow

! If you don’t give them the opportunity today, they may stop trying tomorrow.

My brother-in-law’s salad. It’s called an ‘echidna salad’. Yup, men often don’t approach things the same way as us women! But we didn’t have to make the salad, so – SCORE!

4. Communicate Your Wishes With Your Husband (Or Significant Other or Someone Who Influences Your Children)
Sometimes we can be disappointed on Mother’s Day, (Or birthdays, Christmas, etc.) because we are wishing for beautiful gifts or meaningful moments orchestrated by significant people in our life (if you’re married, a lot of that expectation lies with our husband) and then it just doesn’t happen to some of us. I have noticed that disappointed mothers play the role of martyr quite regularly. We really ought to stop this. Especially if it’s happening year after year.

If you are disappointed regularly after special events, communicate your feelings lovingly with your husband. Don’t start with words like, “You Never…” or “You Should…” Sensitively explain to your husband (or other person) how you are feeling, make practical suggestions on what you would really appreciate. Don’t demand things that are too difficult to be delivered. Men actually appreciate direct talk. Subtle hints can often be a waste of time when you are trying to suggest what you would like.  In my Mother’s Day Prelude post I suggested writing a list for your husband to take with the kids when he goes shopping. Consider they male tendency to minimise shopping time and list which stores he can buy your desired item at. Having plenty of suggestions on the list means you will still get a surprise, but you are actually being kind to them and yourself.

After my first couple of Mother’s Day, my feelings had really been hurt by my husband’s proclamation, “It’s not about what I do for you on Mother’s Day. You’re not my mother.” Because even more so when the children are very young you need their Father to make the day special for you. I also communicated with Alex how feeling honoured as the mother of his children meant a lot to me. Since we’ve had that talk Alex has made big efforts to make Mother’s Day special by cooking meals, taking the kids shopping, do extra chores around the house and changing the majority of nappies on that Sunday. This year, because we had invited a lot of family around for lunch, he also helped with the preparations and cleaning up in the days leading up to the event. It’s just little things like this which makes you feel appreciated as a Mother and gives you energy for the never-ending mothering tasks.

5. This Is Not A Day For Comparisons
To be truthful, this is what got me down the most last week. We had a tough week leading up to the weekend with behaviour. Kids can’t just switch on and off. So if there are issues, they will continue to ‘manifest’ even on special days. We still started Mother’s Day with whining, arguing, angry words and tears. (The kids, not me. Ahem. Mostly.)

During the church service the big kids were lolling around in the seats, not following instructions and the little children were being noisy and very active. I was incredibly embarrassed and feeling like a complete failure that I couldn’t ‘keep them under control’. (Therein lies part of the problem, it’s not my job to keep them, ‘under control’. It’s my job to train them to make choices that are considerate and respectful to those around them. Although, had I thought ‘correctly’ I still would have felt dejected that I have not been inspiring them to have better behaviour choices.)

The kids church leader was running a very fun service, and it was brilliant. Jonty was involved in a game out of the front where he was a rooster and the Mum’s (myself included) had to run out the front and ‘stuff’ him with balloons down his overalls. He was very cute, crowing enthusiastically the whole time he was out the front, and getting lots of laughs. (Jonty loves making people laugh.) But because of his previous behaviour beforehand, I couldn’t even fully enjoy his cuteness. And then I felt even more awful for being so negative.

My son the rooster with his cousin.

There was also a beautiful video of some of the children saying things about mother’s. My two boys got a lot of air time. They were very adorable! It was one of the high points of the day, and I had to keep wiping tears away, because at the end of the day, no matter how naughty they are, I love them a squillion times over.

Here’s the video – my boys are spiderman (Trent) and his puffer vest counterpart. (Jonty) The three girls on the lounge are my nieces and the tall boy with the little boy are my nephews. (I just about died of cuteness overload when my little nephew whispered his answer in his big brother’s ear.)

But here’s the deal. My children are not perfect. No child is perfect. My children each have issues that they are working on. Childhood is one big work in progress. (And actually it doesn’t stop at childhood, does it?) And as a mother it’s my job to accompany them along their journey and do all that I can to assist them to grow and develop into the person they are created to be. Once again, it’s a journey, a long term project. This one day in the year is a part of their journey/our journey that we are on together. The issues never disappear overnight, so if they surface when you really don’t want to deal with them, it’s just time to pull your big girl pants up and continue with the job. Motherhood is beautiful, but most of the time it’s not comfortable. It just isn’t. But it is full of love, and when we’re tired and feel like we can’t keep going, we need to remember the depth of love we have for each child, then also draw on the love that is being given to us, from others and above, take a deep breath and keep on going.

Mother’s Day is not a time to look around and compare yourself with others. Your child is different to the others. You are different to the others. You are on a different journey. We all have our high points and low points. You might be admiring the ‘picture perfect’ family, but you don’t know what stage of the journey they are on. And you don’t know what is happening outside the frame. Most of the time the picture perfect is only one snapshot in time. Scratch below most surfaces and you will see a whole heap of issues. We all have issues. We all need to deal with each challenge. One challenge at a time. Over and over again. We can move forward, it is possible, and we will.

I could keep writing about a whole heap of other feelings that can take the shine off Mother’s Day. I haven’t even touched on remembering absent Mother’s or children who are not around to celebrate the day with us. There are so many other issues as well, I don’t dismiss any of the

m as greater or lesser. I just wrote from my own experiences in this day just past.

How was your Mother’s Day? Do you ever feel the blues before or after Mother’s Day? How do you deal with the complexity of emotions post Mother’s Day?

Continue Reading

The Mummy Tummy of a Yummy Mummy – Or – How to Hide your Mummy Tummy

For many of us, we are anxious to show off our beautiful belly while we are pregnant and then the moment the baby is out all we want to do is hide that very same belly. In reality, the belly is still beautiful, for within it beautiful life blossomed and grew safely until the time when that precious baby could join us on the outside world and continue to grow and blossom. As beautiful as that tummy is and what it represents, it often just doesn’t look the best in clothes! However the Mummy Tummy can be cleverly disguised by wearing the appropriate clothes that will make us feel sophisticated and confident Yummy Mummies.

After my post sharing about the complexities of the Post-Triplet Tummy, I thought I might share some fashion tips on how to flatter post-pregnant stomachs in the hope that it may interest other women who struggle with the mummy tummy.

To help me do it, I thought I would learn from my friend B’s tips on how to use polyvore. If you want to look at some gorgeous styling, check out B’s Bbeingcool blog.

What fun I had in Polyvore! If you indulge me, I may just dip my toes in the world of fashion blogging a little more regularly! It’s so nice to put outfits together when you don’t have to pay attention to the price tag! Click onto my polyvore site if you want to find any of the stockists. If the Accountant didn’t check the bank statements so carefully I could be very naughty with some of these little gems!

Underneath each collection below, I’ll explain why the outfit flatters the mummy tummy. These are all outfits I would wear. I was very particular when I put these together that they were, right down to the right sized heel. (I was very tempted to wear ridiculous heels with the playgroup outfit, they suited it so much, but I restrained myself to what I would actually be more likely to wear!)

A Quick Trip to the Shops Before School Pick Up

A nice light summery dress is fun to wear. Make sure it is loose around the waist so it will not attract attention to your post pregnant belly.

Meeting the Girls at a Cafe

Meeting the Girls at a Cafe by c-happyheart featuring slip on flats

I have a very similar blouse to this in black with white polka dots. I wear it all the time. Blouses are your mummy tummies friend. I mean it. T-shirts cling to your rolls. They will often show all the wrong curves. Blouses are a far more flattering option, falling loosely over the unwanted fat that you are yet to work on. Also skinny jeans are great for making you appear slim. Don’t think you have to be skinny to wear them, but do make sure you cover and disguise any muffin tops.

Untitled #3
OK, so wearing a dress isn’t everyone’s favoured item of clothing to wear to playgroup. But I do wear dresses when I feel like it. Providing they aren’t too short, you can still comfortably sit modestly on the floor with children, and truly, dresses are very comfortable. This particular dress would be great for a Mummy Tummy, providing you don’t buy a size too small. Stretchy fabrics help make the fit comfortable, giving room when necessary. This dress doesn’t have a tight waist, which is essential and the darker colour and heavier fabric will draw your eye away from your abdomen, or lack thereof. Another trick is to wear scarves. When they fall in front of your mummy tummy they distract the eye drawing it up to your face. Since I’m not American, I wouldn’t normally wear something so obviously Yankee, but I just really liked these boots and thought they looked really fun! 

Off to Parent/Teacher Interviews

This outfit is all class, because when you sit down to talk about your child’s progress, you really want to appear poised and in control. (Even if it’s only to get you to the end so you can cry in the car. Not that I’ve ever done that. Ahem.) I adore this outfit. It oozes sophistication. Just because you have a Mummy Tummy doesn’t mean you can’t look elegant. I find trousers very flattering, and once again a loose flowing blouse will help cover up any unsightly bits.

A Hot Date With Daddy

There’s nothing like getting dressed up to go out, especially when you have been stuck with the kids for what seems like forever and feel rather drab.  Black is an extremely flattering colour when you are trying accentuate your best assets and disguise the bits you aren’t thrilled about. A LBD (Little Black Dress) is essential for every woman’s wardrobe, and for a post pregnant tummy it is a winner. The best part of the LBD is that you can dress it up a zillion different ways using any type of accessories and colour. In this collection I have kept it simple and classy with black, white and pearls. (I couldn’t resist throwing in a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes! A dream of mine… I also had to add red lippy. The Accountant loves red lipstick – and red nails but I thought that a subtle shade would be more classy with this outfit. My husband also adores a nice perfume. Chanel’s Allure is my absolute favourite at the moment.
Super Mum

These superman earrings caught my eye because I knew my four year old would be so proud of me wearing them. I did a search and found I could indeed be a very super mummy! This shirt would be flattering for the mummy tummy also because it’s that little bit looser which always helps the fabric glide over the chubby bits. And aren’t the Converse fun? Sure enough, as I was finishing off this collection, Trent walked past. It immediately caught his eye and he asked what the shirt was. I told him it was a Mummy shirt and he proclaimed, “That’s so impressive Mum.” He asked if I were buying it, because he thought it would be fun if I could wear it and then he would wear his superman shirt and we could play together! I said I wasn’t buying it and he went on his way, only to reappear a few minutes later and proclaim in all seriousness. “Mummy, you should do some jobs to save up for that shirt. You should go and clean your room, because it’s very messy so you should get a lot of money for cleaning it.” He has got a point. My room is atrocious. I wonder if I could strike an agreement with The Accountant?

So tell me, which of the above outfits would be your favourite to wear and hide a Mummy Tummy?

Linking up today with Essentially Jess for IBOT

Continue Reading

Practical Strategies for Parenting Strong Willed Children, Part 2.

If you are parenting a strong willed, or spirited child, it is always useful to have some strategies up your sleeve to work through various issues with them. The strong willed child can be a challenge today, but stay strong, because ‘tomorrow’ he will be an amazing adult, and all the antics he (or she of course!) have performed will make great stories to tell! When we channel the strong willed energies and train our child self control, obedience and respect, the strong will becomes an asset in their life. Sometimes it helps to remember the bigger picture during their childhood. Because some days your pure objective (if you are like me) is to get to the end of the day without committing homicide. (That was a joke people!) Seriously though, I did explain earlier in the week the emotional toll that parenting challenging children brings.

So in the meantime, strategies help us to get from day to day. These are quite simple really, and you are probably already doing a lot of these things. If you are like me though, it’s always good to be reminded and put them into action, even with a slight twist. Yesterday I gave some strategies – check it out here. Here are five more that might be helpful, or at least a good reminder.

1. Give Them Cool Down Time

When the situation has become tense or out of control, allowing your child to cool down is useful. I often think that it is akin to pressing the ‘reset’ button. It is important to remember that the child is very aware that the cool down time is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Whatever you require of him/her still needs to be done. However, a cool down time gives them to pull their emotions together and re-enter the situation with a good attitude.

It sounds ideal. My experience is that this strategy is not always guaranteed success. Sometimes your strong willed child will use the time to strategise more hideous approaches to bad behaviour. Don’t give up though. Also, it’s important that during the calmer times, you sit down and discuss the benefits of correctly using the cool down time. If you can talk things through when the situation is not heated, it will have more impact when that time is required. You can also brainstorm with your child ways that they think could help them cool down. This way the strong will child feels a part of the process and doesn’t strive to buck the system as much.

Encourage the child to request cool down times as well. It is actually teaching them self control and awareness of the signals that they are becoming angry. The ideal is to get the child to regulate their own emotions after all. Be aware, if your child is like mine. They will try to manipulate the system, so make sure you make the boundaries clear. My child started to run outside at the start of being corrected claiming he was needing to cool down. I had to explain that he needed to obtain permission to cool down by asking politely. This in itself was a battle. But if I let him run out whenever he wanted, I could clearly see that he was not making a heart response and was avoiding being truly repentant.

“Cool Downs” I have used have been:

  • A simple time out. Especially when the child is younger.
  • Going outside for five or ten minutes. 
  • Read a book together.
  • Do a different activity together and then return to the topic that had caused dissension.
  • Go for a run. (I talked about this yesterday.)
  • Send them across the road to the neighbours for half an hour.
  • Go over to Grandmas (or someone you trust who can handle a child that is in an agitated state) for a little while. (This is after big meltdowns, it’s been one of my most useful reset button. Although if the child is too agitated, you need to know that the person will be able to handle any continued bad behaviour.)
Use an App to Reward Behaviour

For realz! There’s an app for that? Yes, there is! This is one my most recent strategies! I have recently downloaded Story Bots Beep and Boop onto my iPhone. The kids love it! I’m sure there are other apps out there. I haven’t gone exploring yet. If you know of a brilliant one – share it! Because at some point in time I’m sure Beeps and Boops will get boring, so I’d love to have something else to fill the spot.

Basically, it’s like a sticker chart, only on your phone. Which suits me, because I am hopeless at sticker charts. You get a beep for doing good things (and you can label the behaviours, such as being kind to bro/sis, or tidying room) and boops for bad. I actually am very sparing with my use of boops. I prefer to utilise this tool for pre-dominantly positive reinforcement. Mind you, the boys are always dobbing one another in to get black marks against each others name. (That’s a whole different issue.)

Spend Time Alone With Your Child

If you know anything about “Love Languages” some children value quality time more than others. That’s my Jonty. But like all love languages, it should be applied to all children whether it’s as important to them or not. I often look for excuses to take the kids somewhere alone. (Although, I really need to start doing it more regularly with the triplets.) According to the personality of the child, it depends on how you do it. Jonty will pretty well flourish with any alone time, even if it’s just holding my hand and chatting while we go shopping. We’ve often done this and he often comments how nice it is. A little stop for a bite to eat is also a big favourite of my little sweet toothed child.

We went to the night church service, just the two of us and stopped at Maccas on the way home.

Trent is a bit more about the action. I will often take him to a park. Being a little extrovert he will then normally make friends with other children on the playground and launch into a game with them. (Where he will reign as supreme leader.) It sometimes feels a bit meaningless to me, but it isn’t. His eyes have a shine by the end and he will talk about it for weeks. I do prefer feeding ducks with Trent over playgrounds though, there tends to be more time with just us, and I do so enjoy time with my little fella.

Another good thing about alone time is it gives you an open opportunity to discuss some of the issues that have been arising in their lives. Talking this over in a relaxed setting is far more effective than trying to correct behaviour in the heat of the moment.

Cuddle Your Child

This is capitalising on another love language, “Physical Touch”. This
is Trent’s primary love language.  When he is in the middle of a meltdown, I will often say, “Trent, hang on. Do you want a cuddle?” He will almost always come straight into my arms, I cuddle him until he lets go, and normally the situation is diffused.

I’ve recently tried it to Jonty during an intense moment, and I was surprised that it completely diffused the situation for him too. I’ve used it several times since. I am also finding it helpful with the triplets. If they are having a two year old tantrum, I will pick them up and cuddle them. When they have calmed down, and it may take a while, everything is so much more calm. Somehow it just allows them to know that despite any bad behaviour, I love them unconditionally. We are then able to continue a discussion calmly and if there was something the kids needed to do, there will normally be less or no complaining as they do it.


Did I surprise you with that heading? If so, that’s because it’s not a strategy that is promoted normally, especially by the experts! But hey, I live in the real world here! And seriously, bribery does not have to equal corruption.

Most of us respond well to rewards, and bribery is simply capitalising on that human instinct. The key to using bribery successfully is to use it sparingly. Choose your moment, and consider your wording, because if you say it correctly it’s not so much as a bribe, but rather the consequence of making wise choices. For instance. Instead of saying, “Tidy up your room and then you can play a game.” Say, “Your room needs to be tidied so that things are more organised in there. Once you have tidied it up, we will play a game together in there because there will be room to play comfortably.”

I think the reason why bribery is discouraged is because there can be so many dangers attached when it is done incorrectly. Children can learn that they don’t need to do anything unless there is a reward attached and it can encourage greed.

Sometimes, bribery is simply a sanity saver for a mother. If you do use bribery infrequently, abolish guilt if you have to say, “Sit quietly and then you can play my iPad”. There are mounds of guilt we feel as parents. It’s not useful. Be aware of the pitfalls of bribery and make every effort to avoid them. But hey, if you’ve just had a really stressful week and you need to use the DVD as a babysitting service for a few hours, go ahead. There’s always next week, and you can plan heaps of face to face activities to make up for the screen time. Sometimes a parent’s sanity needs to be saved so that we all reach the next week!

Do use any of the above strategies? Got any good forms of bribery which work a treat on your kids? Is there an app that assists your behaviour management strategies?

PS. I’m finding it very motivating letting you know what is coming up next. That way I don’t back out of writing a post! So, next week I’ll share a great book to read with your kids and let you know of some activities we did with it. Also, since I’ve talked a fair bit about my older two boys this week, I’ll give you an update on what life is like with 25 month old triplets!

Continue Reading

Practical Strategies For Parenting Strong Willed Children

Having a strong willed child requires a lot of strategies to help your darling offspring grow into a valuable member of society. The key is to stay positive and never, ever give up on your child. That is why it is so important to keep on the lookout or be reminded of strategies to help you both along your journey.

On Tuesday I shared a raw and emotional post on my Insecurities while raising a Strong Willed Child. I also promised to share some strategies today to include in your parenting toolbox. This is not an exhaustive list, and these are pre-dominantly strategies, there are a lot more methods for administering discipline and order in your home. I will share the strategies first, because even though a lot of parenting experts believe you need to understand the method first, I know as a parent, I’m always hunger for some ideas, some how-to’s. Even if it’s to give me some temporary respite while I further research the ways to tackle the underlying issues. Having said that, most of these strategies will actually work towards addressing the root behaviour anyway.

Of course these ideas can be applied to your child that is not strong willed also.

So here are 5 strategies to help parent a challenging child.

1. Say, “I’m proud of you.” 

Be on the lookout to praise your child. I will regularly lean across to my kids, whether they are actually doing something really fantastic or even just looking cute and whisper, “I’m so proud of you.” quite often it is in the middle of something, so I don’t even say any more than that. But when I do this, his little face lights up and whatever he is doing, he does with renewed vigour.

I’ve often done this during a church service. When we are shopping I might whisper this in his ear. At home when I see him exhibiting a pleasing behaviour I will tell him I’m proud of him and then tell him exactly why that behaviour is something I’m proud about. This morning I told him I was proud of him sharing a special car with his brother and how important generosity is.

Another little phrase that also makes him lift his shoulders and head higher is, “I missed you.” After we have been apart for some reason. Jonty now often asks if I missed him.

On the beach recently without kids. I made sure I told me kids I missed them when I got home.

2. Follow through the strong willed child’s threats.

When my two eldest are angry, they make all types of threats of things that they want done or are going to do. Of course they don’t want it done most of the time, and are just trying to get their own way, and sometimes it is even their intention to hurt you as much as possible in the process.

I have been trying to teach my kids that they need to “Say what they mean, and mean what they say” (Right Horton?). Following through on their threats is one strategy that they use which has slowed down their use of rash statements.

On my post on Tuesday, I shared how my son went and threw his birthday presents in the bin during a tantrum. (I’m sorry if you are one of the people who gave him a present, it really wasn’t personal or any reflection of the quality of your gift!) Of course he fully intended to retrieve them, but when I went and got them and locked them away in my cupboard. I didn’t just give them back either. I made him earn back presents one at a time, or I have produced a present to do together (like puzzles or activities) as quality time.

Other examples of following through his threat:
I don’t want dessert. He didn’t want to eat his dinner. So I have packed up the dinner he wasn’t eating and sent him to bed. Trent is very slow to make this statement now.

We ALWAYS have dinnertime battles with Trent when pumpkin soup is served. This time he has safety goggles on ready for the occasion.  

I don’t want to go to the park. They didn’t want to do their jobs first. Guess what? They did the jobs. Then found the reward was missing.

I don’t want to share {that toy} So I took the toy away. And then they didn’t have to share it anymore.

Jonty also has made statements insisting he wants to do extra jobs when he is trying to get his own way and not do what I have asked him to. I have then allowed him to do those jobs, and then I still insist on him doing the original job I asked him to.

The thing with strong willed children, is they want to remain the one who is in control. If they learn that their loving parent is truly the one who is in control, they actually respond better in the future knowing the boundaries are secure and unmoving.

3. Go for a walk with your child.

I did this recently with Jonty and it had great results. We had been head butting a lot and Jonty had been losing his cool several times within a short time period. I left the other children with someone else, and drove him to a nearby short nature walk along a tiny little creek.

Jonty loved exploring. We got to talk about nature, such as rings on trees, birds and ecosystems. Towards the end, we sat down. I had brought my Bible and had a list of Bible verses on patience. We actually only read one passage. (The love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 – there’s a lot to discuss there.) Despite wanting to further explore, he did listen and start to ask questions. We then both prayed together. This was a great time to also apologise to Jonty about my own behaviour. Unfortunately, a lot of Jonty’s temper is my genes. So, he regularly sees me lose my temper also in a striking example of “Do what I say, not what I do.” And of course, that approach has very little success. It softens the relationship when you admit, apologise and ask forgiveness for your own inadequacies. It also gives your child the ability to observe how you work on your own issues. If I’m feeling angry, I have said to the kids. “Mummy is feeling really angry now and I’m about to lose my temper. I need to cool down before I speak to you anymore.”

We only have explore to the right of the track. I have promised Jonty to go back (it needs to be soon, because he keeps asking to return) and walk along the left of the track. I’m real

ly looking forward to it. And I still have my list of scriptures to keep sharing together.

4. Physically burn of the negative energy.

This is a great strategy to use when you see a storm brewing. Whenever possible, try to diffuse the situation before it becomes explosive. (While not giving in to their will. Work together if it’s possible, but don’t allow your child to make up the terms and conditions.) Rather then launching into a battle I will often send the agitated child outside with some instructions to do something physical to burn off that negative energy that is starting to surface. I might tell him, (because my girl is too young to use this strategy on yet), to bounce as high as he can 20 times on the trampoline.

Putting shoes on and run around the house, if you have a small yard, you will need to put a number of times to run around it too! I would get older kids to run around the block if necessary. A grandmother shared with me that she used to send her kids to run around the block when they were getting to difficult. This tip stuck with me, and since she has fantastic grown up kids now, I always thought I’d give it a try! She made her four kids run around the block in the rain once! They had been fighting indoors endlessly, and after the rainy block run, they came back best of friends! I have found a simple run around the house helps my little guy calm his emotions a little.

Make an obstacle course or physical challenge stations and tell them to complete the course three times. Record the time each time, and see if they can get quicker. Climb something.

A word of warning. If a strong willed child is dedicated to fighting a battle, this will not always diffuse the situation. But hey, it’s worth a try, because sometimes it does work. And you get to know the signs when distraction is futile.

5. Pray for your children at night.

Well, pray for children when you can and at all points of the day or night! But find a routine where you pause to pray for them regularly. For me it’s at night.

When I am tucking my children in before I go to bed, I will often pause, place my hand on them and pray. I will pray over a specific incident that has occurred during the day and ask God to heal any hurts. I will pray peace over our relationship the next day. I will pray that God gives me the right approach and strategies for dealing with each individual child. I will pray blessing upon their life. Sometimes, it will take awhile to do this, sometimes it will only be very short prayers. Sometimes I will notice a difference the next day if I haven’t prayed, and I stop for a midday prayer session by myself praying for the kids. Often, I don’t know the implications of praying for them, but I do believe with all my heart that holding our kids, and our parenting before God in prayer makes a huge difference in their lives. It also helps me to remember that my children’s lives belong to God. Their lives are his to mold and shape and grow. I am an instrument that He uses to assist this process. But at the end of the day, God is the one in control, and I don’t want it any other way!

I have another five strategies to share with you tomorrow. In the meantime, can you share a strategy you have found effective when dealing with your children’s behaviour? Let’s learn from one another!

Continue Reading

Mothers Day Report

My goodness. Busiest Mother’s Day ever. Loved it. Cherished it. Heartwarming. Gooey. Moosh. But … BUSY!

The triplets are eating solids. AND they.still.breastfeed. Tick tock, tick tock. More time is required to accomplish all these everday tasks.

Which makes it a tad tricky getting out the door for church. The truth is, we have always found it tricky getting to church on time. Getting to church on time with triplets. A lot more tricky. Not impossible, but very rare occurence. Now with feeding solids there’s an extra challenge. I’m sure in time we will sort a rocking red hot routine. We are certainly not there yet. I’m still at the lining three up, showing rice cereal in as fast as possible. (Baby girl refuses to be hurried.) Spoonful toT1, Spoonful to T2, Spoonful to T3, repeat, repeat, repeat… Of course T3 (baby girl) interrupts the rhythm, therefore decreasing her share in the rice cereal goodness. Other interruptions to the rhythm include sneezing (Otherwise known as “Let’s see how far we can spatter food in as many directions as possible), twisting and turning in the seat to put mouth in the most difficult to reach place, and crying because “the spoon is taking too long to reach my mouth and I’m so hard done by because I’m a triplet and I have to share all the time” often results in the irony of delaying the food reaching the mouth. To hurry the process up today, The Accountant and I had one bowl and two spoons and we were both stuffing food into the three hungry mouths as quickly as we could. If the mouth was empty, we’d stuff a spoonful of rice cereal its way.

You can speed up breakfast, but there’s always going to be dirty nappies to slow you down. And then of course there’s still the two older boys that need to be dressed, fed, questions answered, figting to be dealt with.

Oh, and there was also the important task of gift giving that happened Mother’s Day morning before church. This would be one of the heartwarming moments I mentioned. J Boy, was ultra proud to give his card and keyring chain that he made at school – packaged in “a very lovely envelope, because look, there are lots of lovely things stuck all over it. You can keep it forever.” (J Boy’s words.)

My boy and I – PJ Perfect!

 Oh, and it turned out Mother’s Day was foot warming as well as heartwarming. I got the classic Mother’s Day gift – slippers! Lovely pink wool ug boots. I’ve so been enjoying walking on them before the wool is squashed in. It’s like walking on clouds!

Anyway, we got to church about half an hour late I think. A tad embarrasing. Because you know, there’s no way of making a discreet entry when you’ve triplets. Even if you are ‘slipping into the back row’. For now, we celebrate that we still make it to church. Getting there on time. It will come.

I was fondly remembering as I walked into the service, my announcement to the church last year telling the church I was pregnant. During the service all mothers who had babies in the last 2 1/2 years were asked to stand. I did, holding up three fingers. Later I realised I’d miscounted. I’ve had four babies in the last 2 1/2 years. Way to go Caitlin!

As always, I never take motherhood for granted on Mother’s Day. (See here for why Mother’s Day makes me reflect back on my struggle with infertility.) I read some great blogs this year reflecting this sentiment. If you want to reflect on how Mother’s Day can be difficult for some, hop on over to sugercoatit and messymiddle

I don’t think that the fact that just because the day can be heartbreaking for some, it should be any less celebrated. Yes, we need to be sensitive, but also motherhood should be celebrated in fullness. Motherhood is worth that.

I think that just because the day is difficult for some, does not diminish the joy that can be enjoyed by so many mothers. For me, I looked forward to this day for so long. I cried because I couldn’t celebrate it, and now I can, I make the most of it and cherish every moment.

I read another article this week by a childless UK woman this week saying mother’s shouldn’t whinge because they are so lucky, and others miss out on kids. As much as I acknowledge her pain and the heartbreak of being childless. I can’t agree that mother’s shouldn’t ‘whinge’. After all, if she has a right to whinge about other’s whinging, well, it’s automatically not fair, isn’t it? Everyone should be able to vent with that which they are finding difficult. Childless couples should be able to talk about their hurt as much as mothers shouldn’t bottle up their struggles. You can be grateful for the chance to be a mother while at the same time as being frustrated with the fact that there’s poo smeared over your child, food squashed to the wall, kids screaming and you have a throbbing headache. Sensitivity is the key. If you knew that someone was struggling with the lack of children in their life, well, don’t rub it in. Although, I must admit, when I was childless, I had a friend who wouldn’t talk about her kids very much at all to me. She was trying to be sensitive, but I found it hurtful. She couldn’t talk to me about what she did every day any more. She wouldn’t share her struggles and triumphs. She shut me out of the most important aspect of her life. Consequently, the friendship died a natural death. I just no longer felt comfortable sharing all about my life to her because the conversation was not reciprocated.

Anyway, I digress. Seems like I’m feeling opinionated tonight!

To sum up the rest of my Mother’s Day, my sisters and our families went out to lunch with Mum, Nana and my Mother-in-law. It was lovely, and of course it’s always super dooper when you don’t have to cook or clean up.

The rest of the day was fairly ordinary. The Accountant had a long sleep in the afternoon, leaving me with the kids – I suppose fitting that I should mother on mother’s day. I hadn’t prepared anything because I thought that hubby was making dinner with J Boy, who was wanting to do a candlelit dinner. Obviously my son is more romantic than my husband, and with the babies being fed their solids and breastfed, bathed and put to bed, we ended up having leftovers, and I was breastfeeding and ate after the rest of the family anyway. (A familiar scenario at the moment, the babies always seem to be ready to settle down during dinnertime.) No candles present.

So what are your perspectives on Mother’s Day. What did you do on this day in 2012? And another little question – just curious – I’ve added a lot of links in this post – did you click on any?

Continue Reading

Mum's on Toilets

I once heard a Mum complaining that she never gets to go to the toilet alone. In fact, sometimes, she complained that she is often too busy that she doesn’t get to use the toilet at all until her husband comes home. I can’t say that being a parent has changed my toileting behaviour as much as that. I am guilty of choosing my bladder over my children, even if that does mean being watched. And my children are decent enough to let me go to the toilet on my own at least 70% of the time, or I’ll just shut them out and let them bang on the door while I have some form of privacy.

Toddler T can now open doors. Which means he can view my calls of nature with enormous curiosity whenever he chooses. This means my stats are probably down to toileting on my own 50%-60% of the time.

This morning was a new experience. I had Toddler T crying at the door and J Boy yelling requests combined with the incessant whining he seems to be specialising in at the moment. I heard the door opening and pleaded with them to leave me alone. When J Boy heard my reason for being in the loo was for the more potent kind of business, he quickly decided to postpone his whining for 10 minutes and disappeared.

Which left me with Toddler T wandering around while I was trying finish the task at hand. What is it with the smallest of children? Are their nasal passages not fully developed under the age of 3? Other people’s smells don’t seem to worry them at all. It’s weird.

Unfortunately for me Toddler T found a spray bottle I’d used on my hair. So there I was, chained to the toilet while being sprayed. Best joke ever, according to Toddler T.

Just another day as a stay at home Mum.

Has having children changed your toileting procedures?

Continue Reading


Mothers Day is always a lovely day to reflect on Motherhood.

I consider being a mother a gift from God. My husband and my children are the best gifts I have ever been given, and I treasure my family with all my heart.

I am constantly in awe that God has entrusted me with these two precious lives to raise. It is my strongest prayer that The Accountant and I are able to bring up two men who serve their God, are polite, strong, hard working and make a difference in this world. It is the hardest job I have ever done and the greatest job I can ever do.

For me, when I reflect on being a mother I always remember the journey to motherhood on the roller coaster of infertility. It took five years from when The Accountant and I began officially ‘trying’ until I discovered that I was pregnant with my J Boy.

Those years are some of the best and worst years of my life. I describe it as a roller coaster, because I can think of no better analogy. I have to admit, it’s not as fun as a roller coaster, and you don’t walk away laughing. When you walk away, you feel relieved that you survived.

I had the moments of clarity, at the high points. The moments when you push aside your pain for a moment, and just enjoy your husband. I thank God that we didn’t choose to constantly wallow in self pity, but made the most of our time alone together. We did some wonderful things, that you really can only do without children. We travelled to Asia, The Middle East and the USA as well as extensive explorations of Europe and the UK, (including living a year in London), we entertained friends and family without the hassle of factoring children into the equation, we were able to build up a healthy bank account (or course important to The Accountant) which has taken much the pressure off us when I did become a stay at home mother. We dined out regularly, saw shows and popped down to The Beach or made a trip to the city on a whim. And there was unique opportunities that we were able to serve God in our church without the responsibilities of parenthood.

And then there are the moments when you leave the heights and hurtle down steep slopes. You hang and pray that you’ll make it as emotions rush through you. “What if I never become a mother?” That phrase pounds in your mind, it clouds your vision, it weighs heavy on your heart. “What if I never become a mother? What if I never become a mother?” It is relentless, it’s always there, sometimes tucked away in the corner of your mind, sometimes there is nothing else you can think about. It is a worry, a concern it is your worst case scenario as your emotions hurtle down that slippery slope.

But then you pause. You reflect and consider that God is in control. You reflect that if you never do become a mother, it will be his will. The Bible says that God cares for us, He has the best planned for our lives, He has a plan and purpose. We have been placed on the planet for a reason. Could that reason not include motherhood? Is my worst case scenario in fact not the worst thing that could happen in my life? If God has other plans for my life, there may be pain, but surely his way is higher, his purpose is noble and true? As you consider this, you allow him to place an ointment on that open wound of infertility. You trust Him. You place all your faith, trust and confidence in Him, your future is in His hands, and even if it doesn’t turn out the way you plan, you know it will be great, and it will be good.

There is much solace in being in relationship with God.

Of course the roller coaster continues. There are moments of exhileration surging through you as you place your hand in God’s. Fear returns sometimes as you look at your circumstances and look at the twisting, jolting track before you. But you either shut your eyes or throw your hands in the air and embrace the life that you have been given and continue the ride with the best roller coaster companion ever, confident that you will not only survive, but it will be glorious.

Survive I did. I am always blessed that God did bestow the gift of Motherhood to me. I never understand why there are some of us who have to endure ‘the wait’ and why there are some that do not receive this gift of motherhood. But I know that there are other gifts that God has given them, that he is faithful and true and that he does not have favourites. Perhaps one day we will see the blueprints of his Divine masterplan, but until we do, we fix our eyes on Him, pick up our cross daily and follow Him. And as we do, we consider how fortunate we are to intimately know The God of the Universe who cares for us.

Continue Reading