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Mums can throw tantrums too

Mums can throw tantrums too

temper_tantrumHave you ever seen a toddler throw a momentous tantrum in a supermarket? Dropping to the floor, dead weight, red face squeezed so tight you wonder if it might stay that way if the wind changes? Children everywhere are throwing tantrums for endless reasons…wanting a lolly, not wanting to leave a park, simply being tired. I was recently reading this article on Kidspot recently about toddler tantrums and how to tame them. However the question beckons…have you ever seen a Mum throw a tanti? I’m sure that there are many Mums out there who have looked and felt like this angry little toddler. Mothers everywhere often have every reason to chuck a wobbly and I’m sure that they have thought about doing so. Being tired, exhausted, work, housework, dog poo, human poo, dirty nappies, laundry, nothing to wear, nothing clean to wear…the list goes on. I’m sure Mothers could be forgiven for throwing a little (big) tantrum once in a while.

Well I sort of did just that last week. In fact I think that I have done it more than once in the last year. My husband and I have always loved the fact we never fight. We are best mates, pretty relaxed and always have a good laugh. We are both Gemini’s – born three days apart. People often talk to me about Gemini’s having split personalities and I’ve always said that this does not describe me. Well after this week, I stand corrected. I now know that I am the definition of a Gemini. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

You see, after working full time for a week, I found myself putting Ella to be the other night and upon reaching into her drawers for a sleep suit, found nothing there. She had no clean sleep suits, no clean singlets. I am embarrassed and sorry to say, that I put her to bed in pyjamas that she wore the night before. From there things got worse. I got my clothes ready for work the next day and found myself with no clean underwear. In fact in the laundry I found the washing basket full, with a huge pile also next to it. I hadn’t had a chance to do washing in a week, and now I was paying for it. In fact when I looked around my house I started to feel a sense of panic as I realised I was actually living in what looked like a bomb site. Heaven forbid anyone come over. Ella was getting three molars at once, my dog hadn’t been walked in a week, I ran out of dog food, dishes in the sink. It all felt like too much.

IMG_2856The next morning I completely lost it. Another bad night of teething we both woke up from only a few hours sleep. I went to bed as Kate and woke up as a psycho. Dan and I left the house for the first time without speaking with each other. I nearly fell asleep at work. I’m surprised that I didn’t have a tantrum right in the middle of our school car park (now wouldn’t that be a sight!). People had told me that lack of sleep changes everything, and this day it really did. We were getting more sleep than we had when Ella was first born, but now that I am back at work three days, a few bad nights combined with a messy house caused a huge chain reaction in my brain.

There is nothing like a good laugh to put things right. Thankfully I work with some pretty amazing people who helped me do just that. Working with kids ironically also helps make you smile, when you are feeling overwhelmed about your own parenting problems. Needless to say, I know that my problems are tiny compared to some. I’m healthy, happy and really am blessed. I guess I just needed to put it down to a bad week and like all other things, it must come to an end.  I probably need to be a bit kinder to my husband 🙂 Until the next teeth break through anyway…

Like the picture says…Keep Calm and Mother On!


Friday Finds: Finding the ‘right’ words

Friday Finds: Finding the ‘right’ words

This week’s Friday Find is more a chance for me to have a bit of a whinge than anything else (sorry). It’s not about a great product or cool gadget that I have found. This week rather, I need to voice my frustration about something that I have not found….

New Mums and Dads everywhere will tell of their need for advice and guidance for all things parenting. Whether it be sleep, breast feeding, sickness or safety, new parents everywhere seek advice to help them make the best choices when it comes to their bubbas. Along the way, you are faced with a vast variety of different theories, suggestions and practices. No one seems to agree. I get it…all babies are different, and therefore cannot follow one set of guidelines. To be honest, I’m not someone who ever really searched for a regime or routine to help me through each minute of the day. In my hospital and in my Mothers Group, we were almost ‘scared’ away from these ideals, and names such as Tizzie Hall were flouted as ‘unrealistic’ and ‘unnatural’. It’s not in my nature to stick to a strict schedule, but then there are also people who need such schedules to keep themselves sane. I myself, have tended to look for advice, ideas and suggestions and then take from them what made sense to me. Robyn Parker’s ‘Baby Love’ was recommended to me from the beginning, and this book gave me confidence that I was doing the right thing.

I actually saw Tizzie Hall on the Today show here in Australia the other morning. She was asked why parents find putting baby to sleep so hard. She said that it isn’t hard, it’s actually easy. It’s just that we are making the wrong decisions. I was flabbergasted when I heard her speak this way. I get that there are a few simple rules that help babies sleep, but labelling the process as ‘easy’ in my view over simplifies the process. For those of us who are new to the game of being Mums and Dads, its not easy. It’s hard. Really hard. Dan and I have been really lucky to have a good sleeper in Ella, but we know people who pull their hair out in trying to get their baby to sleep. No matter whether or not you rock, pat or control cry, the endless information makes the whole process so overwhelming. Just sifting though the information itself is hard.

Don’t get me wrong. For many Mums and Dads, her views work. If they work and give you confidence then fantastic. Its just that after being a Mum for eight months, I’ve come to think that there is so much information out there for new parents, it is no wonder we all feel like we are going batty from time to time. My friends and I have often commented on the lack of continuity and agreement in all things ‘parenting’. Whether it be about how much sleep a baby should get, when to start solids or what foods a baby should eat and when, parents are getting bombarded with so much information that is often contradictory and confusing. I was talking with a friend a few months back about the fact that when you search the net, there WILL be a website somewhere that tells you what you want to read. Not eating at 6 months? Don’t worry. On the other hand, most research now says you should have your child eating solids from around four months. When you do find your baby is ready to eat, the mismatch of information about what foods to eat and when is unbelievable! Furthermore, many new Mums talk about their experiences in hospital in trying to learn to breast feed. With each new shift, a new nurse approaches you with a new theory on how to do it. Most give their advice with a caring outlook, but there are also some who tell you that what you are doing is wrong and you should change your whole approach. This would be fine if the next nurse agreed!

I guess the thing is, you don’t know who to believe and when. We all are just trying to survive and be good parents. I guess I should just stop whinging and get used to the idea of conflicting advice. Heaven knows that this is only the beginning! Thank god for friends and Mothers Groups. The best advice seems to come from those who have been through it, the good and the bad. Then again they have all had different experiences, challenges and successes!

I can’t wait for Ella to be able to tell me what she wants herself. Then again, it will probably be the complete opposite of what she should be doing. I guess when it comes down to it, the advice to ‘stick with your gut’ really makes sense. I just wish that I always knew what my gut was telling me, so I could do it!

Apologies for my whinging. It’s over now.

*Images are linked to their original source.

School’s back!

School’s back!

This week, I went back to work. I finished up at the end of the 2011 school year, and went on summer holidays, just like everyone else. Although I had planned, and knew that I would return to work at the end of 2012, when I finished, it honestly felt as though I was losing a large part of myself. I cried and cried. I remember ringing my husband on the way home from school on the last day balling my eyes out. I couldn’t even speak. My husband just laughed at me because he finds it hilarious that I love my job that much to cry about not being there. I guess I’m pretty lucky to have a job that I love – the kids, the families, and the teachers. The saying goes that if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life. That really describes me and how I feel about being in a Primary School.

I found that when everyone went back for the 2012 school year, it really hit home that my life was now taking on a new direction. I would always have work as a large part of my life, but when my baby arrived, she or he would take me to a new place, with new interests and responsibilities. Obvious that this all may be, it was really hard to almost reinvent yourself, to yourself. Hard to redefine your sense of belonging.

However, once I got my act together and Ella and I worked out this whole Mummy/ Daughter thing, my new ‘self’ was born. Once you get used to the new routines, responsibilities, sleep deprivation, nappies etc. etc. your sense of self comes full circle. I used to get such satisfaction from large accomplishments at work, now I feel great about the small things: Ella finishing a whole bottle, cooking and freezing her food, giving her a bath. My boss once told me that when you have a baby, your outlook on life goes from being outward to inward. You care less about the outside world and more about the things that are most important…family.

So when it came time this week to venture back to work (part time), it was with mixed feelings. I was incredibly happy to be at a work, with people whom I love, but it was really hard to leave my baby girl. Even though she was going to spend a day each with her beautiful Nanna and Baba, the moment I thought of leaving her, I burst into tears. I was fine up until a couple of days before. I had been speaking with a variety of people who had seemed surprised that I was going back to work with Ella being only seven months old. In this day and age, the reality of bills and mortgages mean that parents have to work. Both of them. It’s hard though when that feeling of guilt cant rationalise this reality. I wish it would.

It’s all about being organised. Nappy bag, food, pram, clothes…back ups for backs ups. Car packed the night before. I didn’t sleep very well the night before…hoping that Ella would sleep (and so would I), and also hoping that I would wake and not sleep through the alarm. Even setting my alarm was weird.

The fact is, I’m just lucky to have a job that I love and that can cater for my need to also be with Ella. Many people don’t have that flexibility. Although it will take a little time to adjust to the new routine, I’m so glad that I get the chance to do keep my foot in the door, and continue to be part of a fantastic school and community. I’m sure Ella will be better for knowing that her Mum not only works, but loves her job too.

Just not quite as much as I love her…..:-)

Hitting the Bottle

Hitting the Bottle

In four weeks I’m going back to work. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. It seriously feels like yesterday that I was finishing my last day of school and getting beautiful gifts off the children, parents and teachers. I was lucky enough to finish school at the end of last year (2011), and so it really felt as though I was just going on another set of summer holidays. It wasn’t really until school went back this year, that I found it really bizarre. Since then, time has flown. The first three months are a bit of shell shock, and it takes a while to find your feet and then you get to really enjoy everything that being a Mum has to offer.

I’ve discovered that being a Mum means getting used to change. Nothing ever stays the same for very long. You need to get used to being flexible and rolling with the punches. It’s funny because in the beginning, I found breast feeding overwhelming and challenging. Like most new Mums who decide to breast feed, getting used to a new function for these two things that have been a part of your body for 33 years is a little bizarre. It takes a lot of patience, persistence and sometimes, a lot of pain. I was lucky enough to work through my battles pretty quickly and came to love breast feeding after a few weeks. Although breast feeding means that you really are under the pump (excuse the pun) 24/7, breast feeding has its benefits: its free, its portable, its convenient, no sterilising needed, nor warming of any bottles. Before I had Ella, I was completely open minded about feeding. I thought I would give it a go, and if it worked…great. If not, then I new there were other options. So many mums feel such pressure to persist with breast feeding, even when they are going through hell with mastitis, blocked ducts (this was my vice), lack of supply, poor attachment etc. etc. It is so hard and can be made worse by the constant pressure by society. I personally believe that every mum just does their best. What ever they choose, it should be up to them. For me, I was lucky enough to achieve the ability to breast feed relatively quickly and whilst I found it exhausting, through the months I have developed a love of this time with my beautiful girl.

Like all things though as soon as you get used to it, something changes.  I had been thinking about my transition back to work and what we would do when I went back. It’s funny, before Ella was born I thought that she would be exclusively bottle fed by then, but now that I am six months in, things have changed. In the past few months I have been going into work to help out from time to time. Ella has had several bottles since she was born, for various reasons: medical appointments, hair appointments :-), date night etc. Most of these times Ella has taken to the bottle pretty well. However there was one day things changed. My Mum had been minding Ella and she would not take the bottle. Simply refused. After an hour of persisting, my Mum called me to come home. Let’s just say that for my Mum (a nurse) to call me, this was saying something. I arrived to find a sad little baby, slumped over my Mum’s shoulder and an equally distressed Nanna. It was heart breaking. She had almost passed out from crying so much. I felt like the worst Mother in the world. I didn’t want to give up breast feeding, but this just wasn’t helping Ella.

It was after this day that I committed to weaning Ella towards co-feeding. After speaking with my Mum and friends, my husband and I decided that it was kinder to Ella to gradually get her used to bottle feeding, so that when I returned to work, she would be fine. I guess my problem was that I knew I was never very good at expressing and the thought of trying to do this whilst working in a Primary School was not a very practical option. I knew that bottles for Ella meant formula and this was fine. I did lots of reading (probably too much) about the advantages of co-feeding for working mothers. I didn’t want to give up breast feeding both for Ella and myself and to be honest,  I hand’t realise that this process was possible. I found a great schedule to help me work towards breast feeding in the morning and evening, with bottles during the day. This schedule (BabyLove) was gradual and something that I thought I could do over a number of weeks, to get us both used to it. Currently I’m in the middle of starting two bottles a day, and Ella is doing fine. So am I.

It’s funny that the transition from breast feeding, to bottle feeding, or in our case both has been something that I have found really hard. Not so much from the physical side, but the emotional one. I know that at heart I am a very emotional person, but whilst my obstacles have not been greatly physical in terms of soreness etc. , the challenge of taking the step towards moving my baby away from something that I now love has been really hard. I know there are so many Mums who struggle with so many different facets of feeding, its endless. I know in the end that I am doing the right thing for my baby. Whilst I would love to stay with her each day, I’m also looking forward to working part time and returning to a job I love. She will be better for it and so will I. Include her Dad in that equation too. I’m sure that there are so many Mums and Dads in the same position. We all just need to stick together and do what’s best for our babies and our own sanity.

Wish us luck xxx

Solid Start

Solid Start

Let’s get one thing straight. Babies and solids is messy work. Very messy work. Starting solids should come with a warning – expect there to be more food on your child (and you), than in their tummy. I should have known this I guess, well in advance of Ella beginning solids. For some reason I thought it would be ok to feed her solids whilst wearing clothes that I would like her to stay in for the rest of the day. Nope. First time Mum fail. See I (naively) thought that something called a ‘bib’ would  neatly wrap around my child’s neck and conveniently catch any spit ups or bits of food that (for some reason) did not end up in the right place. Before Ella was born I even went out and bought her a few gorgeous bibs, hand made with loving care. Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

For months now, Ella has had a drawer of dozens of bibs, not being used. I also (naively) thought for a fleeting moment that maybe I wouldn’t need so many. How on earth could a child need so many bibs. Now that Ella has started solids….I understand why. Mess, mess and more mess. In fact, most of the bibs that I bought her just don’t cut it! New Mums should be warned against buying gorgeous little bibs with handmade embroidery and appliqué. The only advice you need is, buy big ones. The bigger the better. In fact, someone should make an outfit made out of giant bibs that Mums can slip onto their child before feeds and wip off into the wash afterwards. Now that would be money well spent! I’ve since learned that you can buy plastic ones and even one variety that has a large scoop like container on the front to catch all the mess. Wonderful! Something I would have liked to know a month ago!

Starting solids with babies is a confusing topic for most new mums. To start with, there is so much debate about when to start, how to start, what foods and when, how much, sweet or savoury, home made or bought, it’s enough to make you go batty! When Ella was born, the advice was six months. Now the advice is between four and six months. I had been looking for signs of readiness for a while…Ella watched us eat, was gnawing on everything (teething??) and lately has started waking in the night again for feeds after a somewhat blissful month of sleeping through the night. So starting solids was something that I thought would be fairly straight forward in that when she was ready, she would chow down like a master.

Let’s just say that I’ve worked out that it’s not as easy as that. For starters, we first gave her rice cereal and she did not seem interested in that one bit. Not that I blame her, it is disgusting stuff. So I mixed it with breast milk, then pears and tried to make the whole experience ‘fun’ for her. All I can say is that my little girl certainly hasn’t developed her appetite yet. She certainly enjoys the experience more with her Daddy. Yes, he thinks he is more fun than me! Don’t get me wrong, I love this new stage of her development, but at times it feels like a whole lot of hoop jumping! Steaming, stewing, blitzing, pureeing…all to end up on her shirt front. Needless to say for about a week, I was a little frustrated, and I’m sure Ella wasn’t far from it either.

Advice from friends has been a real blessing in terms of putting things in perspective and not rushing things. Every baby is so different. Focussing on introducing foods slowly to look for any allergies is really the basis for starting at this age. Since we started (about a month ago) she has now shown a real love of pears, but I guess she can’t survive on a sole diet of this sweet fruit in various forms. Pumpkin was next (much to her Daddy’s disgust) and she certainly shared his sentiments early on in the piece. My little pumpkin wore more on her face and clothes than anything. Today she ‘wolfed’ down sweet potato which is promising. I guess I’ll just continue to take it one day at a time and build up her taste buds and familiarity with using her mouth in this new way.

In the mean time, I’ll stock up on extra large bibs and lots of them.