Turning 40

40 years ago the year was 1975. The headlines were sensational! The Vietnam War had ended, AC/DC released their album, “High Voltage”, Margaret Thatcher was elected PM in England while meanwhile in Australia Gough Whitlam was sacked. As 1975 approached its conclusion I was born in an outback hospital in the town of Mt. Isa.

Newborn in 1975
Here I am – one week old with my very young parents! (3 months later I went to my mother’s 21st!)

And so, this weekend, I turn 40. Milestone birthdays often make you pause and realize that time disappears quickly and you’re getting older. Turning 40 is particularly distressing because it has the attached what I think consider an unattractive label of “middle aged”.

How could I be middle aged? For starters I intend to live until at least 100, so I couldn’t possibly be middle aged yet.  Perhaps I should ignore the label and heed the advice of Mark Twain. “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

When I think about it, there are so many reasons why I shouldn’t mind turning 40. 40 may be older, but it’s also wiser. I would say I now possess a smattering of wisdom. It’s very nice being wise. It means that I understand so much more about life. And perhaps sometimes it means I make a few less dumb decisions compared to when I plunged into life with the inexperience of youth.

Sometimes the only way to gain life experience is to laboriously Trudge. Through. Each. Step. – I’ve waded through difficult situations and hardships and have overcome what appears to be insurmountable odds and during these times I’ve developed and added depth to my character.

Then other times it feels like I’ve gained wisdom by cheating. How can something as valuable as life experience be obtained by simply hanging on for the ride of this crazy roller coaster called life?  The literal ride of your life zooms you through the exhilarating descent of childhood, twists you around in the heady spin of romance, it takes you on turns you didn’t expect and sometimes it makes you scream with terror. But it also makes you laugh and cheer, it makes your heart pump and your eyes twinkle.

Roller Coaster Rides
Earlier this year. Taking my five year old on his first ‘big’ roller coaster ride!

The rich memories and experiences of my 40 accumulated years and is not something I would be willing to trade for less candles on my cake this year.

Even the tough experiences like crashing my first car. That day I learned a hard lesson that it’s not worth going slightly over the speed limit because if a car coming the direction at an uncontrolled intersection is also exceeding the speed limit it won’t be good for you or the car at the collision point. And then the humiliation of that incident will continue when your sister gets a poster size picture of your written off car and displays it during her speech at your 21st. Sigh.

Or there’s the memory of the delight and intoxication of falling love and then the reality after the wedding bells stopped ringing and we had a humdinger of a scrap on our honeymoon over the necessity of purchasing nail polish. That was a moment of realization that it was going to take a lot patience, humility and forgiveness to make our marriage work.

Plane
Newlyweds. On our way to our Tasmanian honeymoon destination.

Or there’s the tender moment when my firstborn son was placed in my arms and the overwhelming strength of a mother’s love that surged as I stared at his gorgeous face. Within seconds the reality of motherhood became apparent as my son released his bowels all over me. But already I was completely a mother and discovered that love does not diminish when be plastered in this particular human’s poo.

Newborn child moments old
Jonty’s first moments. (The photo conveniently cuts out the poo I’m caked in!)

I can clearly remember the card my father received on his 40th birthday.  There was a mountain goat skipping up a hillside and the card read, “You’re 40! But you’re not over the hill yet!” But when you opened the card, the mountain goat was balancing precariously on the top of a very triangular mountain and the message continued, “You might be at the tippy, tippy top, but you’re definitely not over the hill.”

So here I am. 40. Am I now standing at the tippy tippy top rather than still prancing up the hill?

God only knows. But do you know what? I can’t change it if I’m at the mid point of my life. But my goodness, it’s been something special prancing up this hill called life. There’s glee at reaching the summit when you realize that the excitement of life continues whichever side of the mountain you are on.

Call me middle aged if you must. It might take me awhile to embrace that label.  Right now, it doesn’t bother me because dressed in my twirly party frock, the view from the tippy top of Mt. 40 is spectacular! And this mountain top experience makes me spread my arms in Sound of Music style and declare – Life is wonderful!!!

Life is pretty damn good at 40!
Turning 40? Pfft, why should that make me stop smiling?

Linking up today with Essentially Jess – I Blog On Tuesday.

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Christmas Books

Reading Christmas books has become a family tradition with my children in the lead up to Christmas. Last year we had a Book Advent with the children daily unwrapping Christmas books in December. This year we will definitely continue you this activity and Scholastic has gifted us two delightful books which are going to be a delightful addition to our Christmas read-a-long.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town and We're Going on a Santa Hunt

Both books have bonus CD’s, which always adds a bit of excitement for the kids!

“We’re Going on a Santa Hunt” has a recording by popular children’s entertainer Jay Laga’aia which is going to make the triplets excited because they have been a big fan of Jay since watching him at a Kindy Counts concert earlier in the year. Jay has such a calm soothing voice, yet somehow still manages to get children excited at the same time. This book is written in the style of “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”, which is a big hit in our family, especially when we act it out. The morning the children open this story I am going to have a Santa Hunt ready and waiting. My plan is to string some tinsel from trees to mimic swinging from tinsel trees, we will do some ninja jumping, ride pretend trains and reindeer sleds before squeezing down a “chimney” (I’m still trying to work out what this will be – it’s a pity I don’t have a play tunnel at home.) Of course we won’t bump into the real Santa like Laine Mitchell and Louis Shea’s crew did! We’ll save meeting Santa during a shop visit!

We're Going on a Santa Hunt

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” has a CD included with this much loved song sung by Human Nature from their  platinum selling record, “The Christmas Album”.  I always was a bit of a fan of a boy band, and having an excuse to listen to male vocals crooning while hanging out with a storybook and your children – I call that a win! The vibrant illustrations of cute animals getting ready for Christmas by Nathaniel Eckstrom are delightful. But let’s face it – any book that promotes good behaviour – once again #winning! I for one, am a parent who will milk anticipation of the naughty and nice list during December!!! (Not as a threat mind you – I prefer to focus on it as an incentive!)


Santa Claus is Coming to Town

 

Are you getting any Christmas reading ready for your children? Have you got any ideas for me on what I can construct (it has to be simple!) for my children to imagine they are crawling down a chimney?

 

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Garden Party Attire for the Whole Family

Garden Party Attire for the Whole Family

Your whole family has been invited to a garden party. But how do you dress everyone in garden party attire for the whole family?

Well, let me give you some hints. The Accountant is hosting a garden party in my honour for upcoming 40th birthday and I am planning the family wardrobe at the moment.

Garden Party Attire is a dress code that indicates a more relaxed event, but you do need to ascertain what the standard will be somewhat based on the venue. A wedding in some formal gardens would indicate a more dressy event reminiscent of cocktail wear. Or you have know that it is going to be very informal and casual, in which case good casual would be appropriate. Generally though Garden Party Attire should be comfortable and appropriate for the outdoors while being classy and maintaining a little sophistication. Because of the outdoor location garden party attire also lends itself to be practical, hats and sunglasses and comfortable shoes that don’t sink into the grass are often appropriate. The colour palate often utilise lighter colours such as whites, creams and pastels.

Women’s Garden Party Attire

I love, love, love this dress! In fact, it would have been my ‘birthday dress’ if it didn’t sell out in my size when I went to order it. (I delayed because I wanted to look locally first.) If you are in the market for a gorgeous floral dress, you’re in luck, they’ve got in more stock, but be quick, Leina Broughton is very boutique with limited stock. (I’m looking for an excuse to buy some of her clothing now I’ve discovered the label!) I just love the floral print and the 50’s cut. I think a garden party is a wonderful excuse to wear a fascinator or a hat. It’s optional to wear headgear at most garden parties, but in my opinon there’s not nearly enough excuses to wear adornments on your head these days. If your fascinator offers more style than shade, don’t forget to include SPF in your make up routine. The great thing about wearing florals is you normally have plenty of colours to choose accessories. I’ve decided to go peach fascinator and bag with this dress and sapphire jewellery to pick out the beautiful blue and then keep the fabulous shoes neutral. Shoes at a garden party should be flat or have wedges to avoid heels sinking into the grass.

Mrs. Fun and Floral
Leina Broughton “Tilly” dress – $279; Gregory Ladner Fascinator $70, Mini Saffiano Handbag $255 – David Jones; Earrings $39, Sapphire Pendant $79.90, Ring $49 – Prouds; Diana Ferrari Wedges $129.95 – Myer.

Men’s Garden Party Attire

So, I have started to imagine away here and construct an outfit that The Accountant would look totally sexy in if he were to ignore the price tags. (If he saw the price tags his grumpy face would totally wipe away all signs of sexy.) I know my Accountant is very practical when it comes to skin care so he will be cranking out his trusty Sportscraft trilby and sunnies for the occasion, but this Kenji little number is a nice little piece. If I had the spare cash, I would splurge on a new pair of Ray Bans for my man. Chinos are a great option for a garden party. Relaxed and comfortable yet still have a light colour to suit the outdoors.Tan accessories are a great option for the lighter colours. I also love the look of a crisp white trouser with a navy blazer for a garden party menswear. To be truthful, I’m not sure if The Accountant will even bother with a jacket. He gets hot very easily, so the reality is he won’t be wearing it the majority of the time, so it’s not very practical buying a new one for the occasion right now. (Unless he finds a terrific sale. Fingers crossed!) If the event isn’t highly formal, I think this is perfectly acceptable. In fact, some garden parties you could even get away with short sleeved shirts. Men’s accessories that you might like to consider are bow ties, neck ties, vests, braces and of course the dapper pocket handkerchief.

Mr. Classy and Relaxed
Kenji Hat – $14.95 (on sale); Ray Bans $215.96 (on sale); Pierre Cardin jacket – $299 and shirt $55.96 (on sale); Daniel Wellington watch – $209.25; Diesel belt – $59; Hush Puppy slip ons – $150. All can be purchased at Myer.

 

Boys Garden Party Attire
With four boys myself I have plenty of experience dressing little men. Outdoors in the Australian sun a hat is a must. Trilbys are always stylish, which often boys don’t care about. But I would bet this one will stay on little male heads because, well sharks. Totally cool. I also would keep boys in short sleeves. Let’s face it, they will be running around and you don’t want them to overheat in long sleeves. A nice chino pant would look nice, but for summer weather I would probably dress boys in a nice pair of tailored shorts. My party is two days before summer, I think my boys will be howling if they need to wear pants, so I’ll be on the lock out for some nice shorts I think, and even then I will probably have to justify why they shouldn’t be allowed to wear boardies.
Little Master of Fun
Boys trilby ($15), aztec shirt($18) and stretch chinos($20) from Target. Shoes ($30) Mathers.

 

Girls Garden Party Attire
Little girls frolicking around a flower filled garden in a pretty dress is rather idyllic, don’t you think?  This little tule dress is gorgeous, I know my little girl would adore it, although you would have to be careful with tulle if she was playing outside for too long because it tears easily. Cotton dresses would also be a cool and practical choice. A garden party is perfect opportunity for your little darling to not only find a beautiful little floral dress but also to use some cute little accessories that girls often like to tote like sunglasses and handbags. It’s also a lovely opportunity for your girl to wear a wreath of flowers in her hair, although I would still pack a hat and swap it before there was too much sun on her sweet little countenance.
Miss Pretty as a Poppy - Little Girl's Garden Party outfit
Dress – Myer ($50); Floral Woodland Crown – Etsy ($80); Handbag – Seed Heritage ($40); Hat ($15), Sunglasses ($17) and Necklace ($10 on sale) – Pumpkin Patch; Ballet Flats ($12) – Target.

Garden Party Attire for Baby

Of course you could bring a baby to any event dressed in nothing but a bonds gro-suit and bubba would look completely adorable! However, if you are bringing a baby along to a garden party and what an excuse to buy some adorable clothes – happy days! There are plenty of pretty floral dresses that would be ideal for a baby girl. Baby boys can wear shirt and shorts or a cute romper or dungaree. Don’t forget the hat to shade babies fair skin!

Garden Babies
Girls Smock Dress and Rompers $49.99, Boys Cap $10 – Pumpkin Patch; Girls Hat $10, Boys Shirt & Vest $25, Shorts $15 – Target.

When taking the family to a garden party always dress take the venue and the weather into account and then dress accordingly. Be guided by florals and lighter coloured clothing. Once you get there, don’t forget to take a family snapshot at the beginning of the event of everyone looking ship shape and stylish! (Before the kids start running around playing games and getting flushed and rumpled!) Have fun!!!

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Introducing Baby Triplets to Solids

Introducing Solids to Triplets

This post is brought to you by Heinz Infant.

Starting babies on solids can be a big decision. I found when I was starting solids with the triplets, I needed advance planning and be mentally ready to begin. Factors that can influence your decision when to introduce solids include:

  • Appears hungry after milk feeds.
  • Watches closely and appears to want to eat your food.
  • Can open mouth for a spoon.
  • Is old enough to sit up with an unsupported neck.

Every child is different, so there isn’t a necessarily right or wrong time to start solids. Generally solids are started in between 4-6 months old.

Heinz has produced this helpful info-graphic detailing some hints on introducing babies to solids.

IntroducingBabyToSolids_HeinzInfant

My triplets didn’t completely start eating solids until they were 6 months. We had tried to feed them solids at 4 and 5 months and they weren’t interested.  To be truthful, this kind of suited me. I knew it would be more work once solids started, (and it was), so the lazy mum in me was happy let them gum Heinz teething rusks until they were a soggy mess and prolong the inevitable.

triplets eating rusks

Their first meals were Farex rice cereal. All my five babies started on Farex baby rice cereal and loved it. For the first couple of months Farex was always their breakfast. My babies liked the various Farex flavours and I would also mix some pureed fruit, vegies or juice in it to introduce different flavours.

Feeding triplets solids 6 months

 

Feeding baby triplets solids is a lot of work. I liked to give them home made food as much as possible. It would take so much time to steam the food and puree it!  A box of vegetables would be gone within a few days! There’s something very fulfilling blitzing freshly cooked vegetables and fruits to make nutritious food for your baby. It can be exhausting as well. Sometimes you just have to give yourself a break, so for the hard days I always had a supply of Heinz baby food jars in my cupboard. It wasn’t quite as economical as making my own food, but I knew that it was still good value and nutritious for my babies. I also liked that Heinz sources Australian products where possible and manufactures the food in rural Victoria. Mostly I like that Heinz Infant food is natural with all the good stuff. The food is steamed and heat sealed so it doesn’t need the nasty additives and preservatives.

I tended to also use commercial food instead of homemade food when we were out. Personally I felt that the jars or pouches of baby food were easy to carry and store. My babies didn’t mind eating straight from the jar also and so I didn’t need to even heat it up when we were out and once they were finished I didn’t need to cart around dirty dishes. I tried not to take it personally when the triplets used to bounce up and down in excitement when they saw the Heinz jars. They got far more excited compared to when they saw their ‘ordinary’ home made food!

Triplets in highchairs

Tips for multiple birth mothers when introducing solids to your baby.

  • Wait for a time which is convenient for you to begin so you don’t feel pressured to introduce a new routine
  • Take cues whether to feed babies separately or together. (When mine were little we often fed separately because they were too impatient to wait patiently for the next spoonful!)
  • Use only one spoon and bowl when feeding the babies together. (It makes feeding quicker and easier. Let’s face it, they already have one another’s germs!
  • Give the babies rusks or finger foods on their highchair so they can nibble between mouthfuls. (When you are feeding their sibling.)
  • Have a face washer ready to make clean up easy at the end. (Or a warm bath ready after dinner!)
  • Use store bought food if you need a break or need to create extra time to spend some quality time with your family.
  • Be prepared to get messy! (Them and you!) Wipe down splatter after meals. There may have been a few occasions where I had puree vegetables stuck to the walls!

Here is a video of me feeding 10 month old triplets. They all have qukes (mini cucumbers) from Grandad’s farm to keep them occupied in between mouthfuls. Not that it distracted Toby who was obviously very hungry. Obviously if you make more noise, you will also get more food when you are a triplet!

 

You might like to also check out an earlier detailed post I wrote about feeding triplets solids

What do you like to feed your baby when introducing solids?

Linking to Essentially Jess.

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The CrocoDolly

The Crocodolly by Martin McKenna

 

The Crocodolly by Martin Mc Kenna is a fabulous book! The children absolutely love the story, but I just adore the underlying message that girls can smash stereotypes yet still retain some of their inbuilt natural inclination towards ‘girly’ things. I love that girls beginning to receive greater encouragement to push barriers yet still retain a degree of femininty.  It’s been slow going, but thank goodness the days when a woman had to behave as ‘one of the boys’ in order to be successful are slowly disappearing.

Adelaide gender smashing type of girl. She can make all kinds of things because she can hammer, saw cook, sew and weld.

The Crocodolly by Martin McKenna

She discovers a crocodile in an egg while she is baking one day. Being a creative and inventive individual she names the croc Ozzy and comes up with a cunning plan to keep her crocodile unlike her previous unsuccessful experiences with pets.

She disguises Ozzy as a dolly. The remainder of the book is such a funny tale detailing Adelaide’s exploits keeping a crocodile undercover. The illustrations are absolutely brilliant and tell much of the tale. Finally, thanks to a death roll in a supermarket aisle, Ozzy cannot conceal his dolly identity any longer. Adelaide has to come up with another plan for her crocodile.

My favourite page is a shot of all the disgruntled townsfolk lined up at Adelaide’s door to complain. Not only is it a delectable smorgasbord of comedic characters using a delicious array of adjectives voicing their disapproval. I love the cut out squares of the curtains which suddenly explains how Adelaide adjusted and patchworked the dolly dress on an evergrowing body.

The Crocodolly by Martin McKenna

I think I might love this book so much, because I can already see that my little girl is one of those power packed females who doesn’t let a gender stereotype limit her actions.  I love that she is being brought up where fictional girls like Adelaide only normalise an real life attitude that empowers growing females. I would suggest this as a must read for little girls, but don’t stop at reading it to your girls. My boys loved this book, and let’s be real here. Not only do we want to raise strong females that smash stereotypes, we need to be raising young men who have a multi-dimensional view of genders and don’t box males or females into narrowly prescribed gender based roles.

Disclaimer: I was gifted this book from Scholastic, but truly. I do love the book!

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The Triplet's 4th Birthday

The triplets are four! The occasion of the triplet’s 4th birthday and having four year old triplets signal a milestone for me! From when I was pregnant, I said to myself life would probably get easier that when the triplets turned four years old. I think it is starting to get easier, but I probably hadn’t factored in sibling rivalry and the continued challenges of negotiating three strong willed little individuals.

Nevertheless, my four year olds are absolutely adorable – in looks and personalities.

Turning four is a very exciting birthday. You are old enough to know exactly what a birthday is and have an increased attention span to look forward in advance to the big day. Therefore excitement in our household had been feverish leading up to the birthday and the party day.

I did a lot of searching to find their birthday present. I really wanted something that would last ‘beyond birthday week’. My children are very much into construction related toys, so I went hunting for something magnetic in this category.

P1100438

We found “Magformers” at a delightful store called Crayons. (Not sponsored, but it was such a great toy shop, with exceptional service and I’m not the type to keep this type of knowledge to myself.) I bought all the children a box each, so now they have an impressive collection together. They have done some great playing with it. We also got them some kinetic sand. This stuff lived up to the hype! Such a great sensory experience!

They could have spent the whole day happily playing with their new toys, but we had people to see and places to be! The triplets have a regular playgroup on Wednesday mornings. It just happened that another little girl who attends also turned four on the exact same day. Her mother is an expert cake maker and she had generously made a cake divided into four themed quadrants for each child. Lucky kids! They were absolutely delighted!

P1100466

Afterwards the triplets met Grandma for a special birthday lunch at Maccas. (Happy Meals are fine dining when you are four!) They also received big kid two wheelers from Grandma for their birthday. It has been amazing to see them whizzing around on their bikes with no training wheels. Their previous balance bikes really set them up to confidently ride the two wheelers. It probably took 5-15 minutes (depending on the child) for them to learn to ride with pedals! The biggest problem is that there was a picture of training wheels on the box and two of the children took a little while to make the mentally adjust to the fact that this was not to be on their own bikes. As soon as they had the courage to sit on the bike it was smooth sailing pedalling.

More big kid presents in the afternoon from Nanny. For the junior Lego. Such a great product! Easy enough for the children to put together within the limits of their concentration span, yet challenging enough to keep their interest.

My children get to choose their dinner on their birthday night. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go for the triplets. In the end, it was done quite easily. Toby requested sausages. Imogen asked for pizza. Jayden, the kid with the wicked sense of humour, wanted cake and a belly flop in a pizza. So we had salad with sausage, pizza and leftover cake from that morning. Three happy customers – even without any belly flops!

Triplets 4th Birthday Dinner

The party was on the Saturday. It was so lovely having all their little friends around. The children had all requested their cakes. I did an all nighter on Friday night icing them!!! Believe me, I was ready for bed on Saturday night! Toby had a dinosaur cake, Jayden wanted Lightening Mc Queen, happily I was able to use the decoration from earlier in the week, which was great because this was much better then the toy car I was going to put on it! Imogen had wanted a Dora cake. I was trying not panic, but when she changed her mind to a rainbow cake, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Triplet's 4th Birthday cakes

The party food went down well.

Triplets 4th Birthday Party Food

We played classic children’s party games. Stuck in the mud, egg and spoon and pass the parcel. Even though these are age old games the triplets hadn’t played them before, so it was new to them!

Then of course there were presents! I know it’s a lot for parents to get three presents for one party, but we were very grateful for the lovely gifts that the children received, and days have not been boring since the birthday because they have so many new things to play with.

It seemed like the birthday that kept on going! Just when I thought it was all over, something else would arrive in the mail, like a card or these adorable costumes from their aunty.

Triplet dress up

Happy Birthday Toby, Jayden and Imogen! I am so proud of my ‘big kid triplets’!

How did your child go transferring to a two wheeler bike? What toys are popular in your house right now? (I’ll be listening carefully – Christmas is coming and I need some ideas!) Have you heard of magformers before?

 

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Teacup

Teacup
Picture book by Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley. “Teacup”

Some picture books have images that are not only captivating, but these images also leave a haunting visual memory. Teacup is a beautiful story examining large concepts and the hidden meaning in the story remains in your mind long after the book is closed, just as the images glue in crevices of the mind, shaping the way you think.

Within the pages of this moving picture book, Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley examine a pertinent social issue of refugees and accepting asylum seekers. This is not a book containing a grand political statement, neither is it an expose on the horrors and atrocities that people are trying to escape when they seek asylum.

What it contains is a whimsical and imaginative story of a solitary small boy who leaves his home in a small boat to find another with a few meagre items and a teacup of earth from where he used to play. The oil painting illustrations show the majesty of a vast ocean and even though they are beautiful, you get the very real feeling of how alone one must feel when navigating the seas to find a new homeland.

Illustrations in "Teacup"

As the boy travels, in his teacup, a seed begins to grow. Increasing the whimsy in the story, before long his boat contains a beautiful tree.

Tree in Teacup

The boy discovers land, and one day a little girl in a boat with a broken teacup also discovers the land.

Asylum seekers

The story ends with a simple image giving you a glimpse into the possibility that the two children had a happy ending.

Teacup Ending

This book is suitable for all ages, but I feel it is an ideal book to read to upper primary children. Too often we relegate picture books as only belonging to early childhood. We must not, we should not! There is so much artistry and joy that can be discovered in picture books. What a great opportunity it is for children (and adults) to discover meaning beyond the written word.

I actually this is a book that would do well to belong in all school libraries. It is not a book that preaches its message, but rather presents you with images and leads you to consider the world we live in and the lives that live within our world. It is an ideal book to promote discussion and encourage thinking.

 

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What to do if you argue in front of the kids

What to do if you argue in front of the kids

Communication is such an important component of marriage. In addition to communicating about life in general, it is vital that you communicate with your partner when you are feeling frustrated or hurt. Unfortunately these conversations can turn into yelling matches heated at times. I have heard people declare that they never argue in front of the children. I think that is really admirable. But it’s not us. There are times when Alex and I  argue in front of the kids over silly things like being late or the messy house. Sometimes the arguments are less trivial than this and sometimes they are more serious.

I feel so rotten when I’m giving my hubby a big tongue lashing and I remember the kids are in the room.  And being the recipient of marital scolding when the children are an audience is humiliating and frustrating.

If you have ever had a child come up to you immediately afterwards and say, “Mummy, you shouldn’t talk to Daddy like that, you need to apologise.” you truly feel put in your place. I’m not even going to say this may have happened to me. It certainly has happened to me, and that five year old Mr. Sensitive was 100% correct. (Silver lining, at least he knows the right way to behave!)

So what can you do if you argue in front of the kids?

  1. Just Stop.
    This is a great piece of advice I read recently about yelling. When you hear yourself doing it. Just stop. Sometimes I start yelling without thinking, but my motto has become when I realise, I just stop. Right then. In the middle of the argument if need be.  I will take some breaths and start talking calmly. If it’s a situation where it’s impossible to stay calm, I’ll ask for a time out and then seek to resolve the issue later. Most of the time, the issue doesn’t seem that large later on anyway. I used to hear myself yelling and think, “Oh well, I’ve started now.” or “I don’t care if the kids are listening, I’ve got to say this.” No, I don’t have to say anything in that tone of voice. I need to exercise self control. If there are large issues that you need to deal with, seek help. It’s better to battle out your issues in front of a trained counsellor rather than in front of your children. It’s better for your family altogether to work productively on your issues.
  2. Ask your spouse for forgiveness.
    Following Master 5’s advice is a good point to start. It’s always good to apologise. Not the “I’m sorry, but you made me so angry because…” type of apology. Apologise and be sincere and genuine. Apologising doesn’t mean you are going to ignore issues that still need to be dealt with, but it’s a commitment that you are going to deal with them the right way. If you have argued in front of the children, you should also apologise in front of the children. Kiss and make up in front of the kids. There’s nothing that gives a child more security than seeing Mummy and Daddy being loving, especially after a marital battle.
  3. Apologise to the children.
    I think it’s important to apologise to the children if they have had to witness you fighting. You have upset what should be their safe haven. They need to know that adults make mistakes and that it’s not OK. There’s no sense being hypocritical and insisting that your kids don’t fight with their siblings, but it’s OK if you want to have a stoush with their Dad, then there’s different rules for adults.
  4. Reassure your children
    Let your children know that you still love each other, even though you were mad at each other. There is so much divorce around, that even if you have a solid marriage, when children witness fighting, divorce is often a conclusion they jump to. Reassurance can give children the feeling of stability that Mummy and Daddy are going to stay together, even if they disagree.  You don’t always need to talk about it immediately after an argument, although, sometimes that is necessary.  Find a calm time and talk to your child about when Mummy and Daddy fight. If your child is worried, you want them to feel safe to voice their concerns to you also so you can put their little hearts at ease again.

It’s our job to make our children feel safe and secure. Fighting in front of the kids does not make kids feel this way. But if it does happen, (because like my husband and I, you are a flawed human and have married a very  flawed human), deal with the situation and keep moving on. It becomes a great opportunity for you to teach your child how to resolve conflicts and maintain a healthy relationship. Creating communication with the children and being willing to apologise and demonstrate humility is also a great life lesson that your kids can observe by watching you.

Do you fight in front of the kids? What strategies have you used in your family to get over fights or to prevent Mum and Dad arguments in front of the children?

 

 

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Books About Dads

Books About DadsScholastic Press has some wonderful books about Dad. These are perfect to be reading with your children during the lead up to Father’s Day. We live in a culture that does not always honour fathers, where fathers are often presented as ‘dumb’, incompetent and childish compared to Mum.  Reading books to your children where Daddys are depicted as awesome, caring and fun is one small way to standup for fatherhood. Alternatively any of these books would make a great Father’s Day gift for your children to read to or with Daddy.

Daddy You’re Awesome (Laine Mitchell and Renee Treml)

This is a story for awesome dads everywhere! It has cute baby animals celebrating their treasured moments with their dads. It has engaging rhyming text, perfect for shared reading. Once this book is finished, it lends itself to a very natural discussion on why the child’s dad is awesome.

Daddy You're Awesome
Reading ‘Daddy You’re Awesome’ with my kids on a Sunday afternoon.

Dear Dad, I Want To Be Just Like You (Ed Allen and Simon Williams)

Reading books to children

Hands down, this was Imogen’s favourite book. It has gorgeous illustrations, and best of all, every second page there is a real letter to open the flap and read, or some of them, you can actually pull out the letter!

Dear Dad I Want To Be Just Like You

I always try to pull out these letters, because three year old fingers can be a bit clumsy, but Immy loves this one so much that we have some crumpled letters because she has snuck the book away to read to herself! At the end there is a blank letter for kids to write their own ‘Dear Dad’ letter. Immy has also scribbled over this, I was trying how to decide how to work this, one letter, five kids, not always a happy combo makes. I think we will still write letters and store them in the back. That way there will always be a part of them in the book for years to come.

I am already planning lessons around Father’s Day with this book when I return to teaching. It will be so useful to illustrate to kids how to write meaningful letters to someone you love. I’m hoping to get the big boys to be inspired and write some letters for Daddy on Saturday.

 

My Dad is a Giraffe (Stephen Michael King)

I’m not going to lie to you. This book is a bit quirky. The first read through, even I was trying to work it out! It starts describing the girl’s Dad standing in the shadow of a man.

My Dad is a Giraffe

Then she continues to describe all the things about her Dad and what he does, but she says that her Dad is a giraffe, so the illustrations are a giraffe.

My Dad is a Giraffe

It ends with her and a shadowy figure of a man walking into the sunset, but the man’s silhouette has the shadow of a giraffe.

My Dad is a Giraffe

For small children it is a bit confusing, but it was a great opportunity to talk about hidden subtexts. In any case the illustrations are fun, and to kids Daddies do really seem as tall as giraffes.

 

Daddies Are Great! (Meredith Costain and Polona Lovsin)

I’m going to read this book at playgroup today to a group of babies – 5 year olds. It’s just delightful. It’s a book about the special relationships between fathers and their children. The warm and lively rhyming text touches on the everyday events of family life – bedtime stories, cuddles and shoulder rides – while gently humorous illustrations show different breeds of dog, adult and puppies in adorable poses.

Daddies Are Great

Research shows the enormous importance that fatherhood in a child’s life is far reaching. Father’s Day is such a wonderful time to place value on fatherhood. We are going to spend father’s day together in a church as a family. We’ve got a fun morning lined up with games for the kids and Dads like piggy back relays and we’re all going to have pizza for lunch together. (Dad’s favourite food around here!)

How will your family celebrate Father’s Day?

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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.”

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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?

 

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