Author Archive

It’s not cannelloni it’s tomato pasta…..honestly!

I often find myself having a giggle at the song and dance I have to put on around normal day to day activities – partly to keep the peace but mostly because I enjoy making life as easy as possible for my kids and also for myself! I have a relative whose suggestion in moments of meltdown is a “clip around the ears” but given that isn’t an option for us, making everything as fun as possible (within reason – there are some things we just must do “because I say so”!) gets us through pretty much everything!

It was almost dinner time the other night and we were travelling home from my folks house in the car. My daughter and I were chatting and I asked what she felt like for dinner – already knowing cannelloni was on the menu (so perhaps I shouldn’t have asked!). She said that she wanted mashed potato! I said “how about we have some cannelloni?” which I know she loves but wasn’t sure she knew the name of. To which she replied “I don’t like cannelloni”. Thinking fast I said “oh really? Well how about we have tomato pasta then?” I could hear the smile in her voice as she said “Ok Mummy, let’s have tomato pasta. I really like tomato pasta”. Tomato pasta is our new name for Cannelloni! 😉

Reverse psychology is just starting to come into play with my 3 year old too. Actually perhaps I have been subtly using it for much longer! However if I think she will need a jacket on when we go out and I make that known to her she won’t miss a beat before saying “No Mummy, I’m not cold, I don’t need a jacket”. So it’s not uncommon for me to now suggest that she doesn’t need a jacket so she will race straight off to her room to get one! 😀 Or if I want her to get another wear out of a pair of pants before putting them in the wash and know that suggesting that will be met with “I think they need a wash” I will say that I’m putting the pants in the wash and then suddenly they are the flavour of the day!

What I am really enjoying lately though is my daughter’s ability to come to conclusions all on her own if left to do so. I grew up being told what to do and even if it fell into the “don’t sweat the small stuff category” it was sweated! It had to be done because it had been mentioned and not following it through would apparently mean my parents would look weak in our eyes so they would insist.  I don’t insist. I suggest, give reasons why I think it might be a good idea, remind, and then leave it up to my daughter (if it is not a safety issue of course). For instance the other day I suggested she might want to zip her jacket up because whilst running around at the park it was falling off her shoulders. She told me “No Mummy, it’s fine I don’t want to zip it up”. About 15 minutes later I did remind her again because it just looked annoying sliding down and again she said no. I decided to leave it at that point – who really cares if the jacket is zipped up or not. I know mine would annoy me sliding off my shoulders like that but she is not me, she is my 3 year old daughter. About half an hour later I was pushing her on the swing and lo and behold the jacket was still falling off but I had really stopped noticing at this point. Isabelle said to me “Mummy can you stop the swing, I need to do something” (red alert! red alert! red alert! We are NEVER asked to stop the swing so I wondered what might be up!). When I stopped the swing she turned around, looked me in the eye and said “Mummy, you were right you know?” I asked her what I was right about having forgotten about the jacket, and she said “You were right about my jacket being annoying falling off my shoulders. I am going to zip it up now, OK? Then you can push me again”. It might seem like a small thing to some but I was just so thrilled and proud of her. Such a big girl, thinking about things and making a decision for herself and finding what works for her – not just doing things because I say so.

This has really diverted from the initial cannelloni thought but I think it all fits into the “thinking about parenting” category – what works for you? What doesn’t work? What could you do differently” And what are you doing that you like? What works for one of your children and does it automatically work for another? If you are even thinking about one or any of these things then good! I think you need to think.

“boys” toys played with in “girl” style…….

…….and vice versa!

Now I should preface this with the fact that I don’t go in for gender stereotypes at all however I am well aware they exist. Handbags and fairy wings are bought for boys in our household as well as for girls just as trucks and cars are bought for girls as well as for boys!

My interesting observation lately (at least I think it is interesting! 😆 ) has been what looks like the gender stereotypical way my children play with toys that are not specific to their gender!

Work with me on this! 😉

So, Isabelle and Samuel’s cousin gave them a heap of monster trucks and cars on the weekend. I was playing with Isabelle with them today…..she LOVES them!  I was revving them and crashing them into other cars/trucks/objects in the games room and getting quite into the huge monster truck wheels mounting her shoes (that were off and in the middle of the floor) and crashing over them. Isabelle pulled me into line quickly! The trucks were all named (Jake, Jade, Anchor, and Angy) and they did NOT want to crash everywhere they wanted to go to the post office to post some letters. They didn’t want to crash up the curb when they got there or rear-end each other 😆 they wanted to park neatly and chat to each other and then they wanted to go for coffee (we NEVER do this – we are not a cappuccino/baby cino family!).

Then I watch Samuel. He puts on high heeled shoes, he slings a pink bag over his shoulder and he marches to the front door. He waves and says “bye bye, work” and pretends to open the door. Then he scuttles form the door to the big toy car in the lounge room and hops in, throws his handbag down, and makes revving noises as he “leaves for work”

I am just fascinated by the fact that I have these 2 beautiful children who really to the best of my knowledge haven’t been specifically exposed to gender stereotypes (any more than the average child out and about in today’s world) and are more than happy to play with toys that are stereotypically not associated with their gender yet they play with them in such a girly or such a masculine way.

How does this happen? Is it inate? Is it the very small amounts of TV they watch? Is it watching older children in the family? Is it me? Is it my husband?

It doesn’t matter, it’s just interesting………I think! 🙂

The start of an addiction…..

Little did I know when I attended a baby expo a few months before my daughter was born that that day was the start of an addiction far greater than my addiction to chocolate and icecream!

I had already looked into modern cloth nappies (MCNs) as I remember many years before even thinking about having kids I had seen some in a mainstream magazine being road-tested and remember thinking what a great idea they were. They had stuck with me and I had googled them when I first found out I was pregnant, purchased a few online and then spent most of the expo comparing brands, styles, and prices!

What a minefield……..where does one start when embarking on the cloth nappy road? Terry flats would be the obvoius place. Straightforward, easy to use, reasonably priced. My problem with these was that I am hopeless at folding, couldn’t find pilchers anywhere and had no idea that PUL covers or wool covers were available! I had never heard of uch a thing! So I was enticed by the look of MCNs and their ease of use and started out buying about 6 at this particular expo.

When my daughter was born she was too small to wear them so ironically she started out in terry squares (I had discovered covers following the expo!) then moved to the MCNs. I washed a lot and worked my way through those initial 6 expo nappies and the few I had bought online for a couple of months before trying out a new one here, a different one there, and “just one more” from my favourite online store! Before I knew it I had about 40+ nappies in varying shades of pink, purple, or white. Actually thankfully I always bought a few greens, and yellows too because child number 2 is a boy – the perfect excuse the gender stereotype and spend more money on nappies…….blue ones! Actually the majority of my son’s nappies are my daughters old pink ones and he wears them with pride but I did have great fun buying some new nappies for him.

I’m pretty stuck in my cloth nappying ways now but every now and then I’m on the look-out for what is new and the opportunity to spend more money……….and now is the perfect time of the year, hunt time!

Why is formula the saviour?

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and we are celebrating at Fusion Parenting.  Come back for a new post on breastfeeding every day!

 

I have had 2 friends in the past few days tell me that they’re so tired they almost gave their baby formula. Both of them have children under 16 weeks. I haven’t slept more than 4 hours in a row for over 17 months and it has never once entered my mind that formula would be something that might be my saviour.

Not that this is a sleep-deprivation competition! There seems to be many other reasons why people state that formula is their saviour whilst in the same breath saying “I wish I could breastfeed though, I would have if I could have”. However if you sit down and nut it out with them their love for formula seems to stem from either ill-advice or expectations of their baby that just weren’t realistic.

I do not judge parents who feed their baby formula – that should go without saying. We’re all trying to do the best job we can do and that also goes without saying. However when I get my back up is when I’m accused of making someone feel guilty because they fed formula. “Not everyone’s as lucky as you Tiff” or “I wish I had as much milk as you” are comments I have heard frequently. Why have I not needed formula? Why do I have so much milk? Could it be because sleeping through the night is not a priority for me but feeding my baby regularly whenever they tell me they need me is? Sure, what I wouldn’t give for a block of sleep longer than 3-4 hours but not at the expense of my milk supply and certainly not in the first 6 months. That’s not to say that breastfed babies don’t sleep through the night (considered a 5-6 hour stretch) and formula fed babies don’t wake during the night but by and large it seems that many people consider formula to be the sleeping through the night saviour. Formula top-ups for babies that could be exclusively breastfed without a problem seem to be becoming the norm. Recommended by child health nurses and GPs are routinely as the reminder for your 2, 4, and 6 months vaccinations. Why? I have no idea! My breasts work just fine, my babies love breastmilk and it wouldn’t occur to me to buy a tin of formula let alone hope for better sleep patterns after giving it!

The old “breast is best” debate seems to be frequently rehashed when it comes to the question of whether formula was necessary in a breastfeeding relationship. This is where the guilt-trips come into play too. I hear “I was exhausted and it was best for my baby because I wasn’t the best mother I could be. You are not going to make me feel guilty for doing what was best for my family”. Ummmm no. I have no intention of making you feel guilty. In fact a guilt-trip was never on my list of things to impart when we sat down and started chatting about our babies yet it is the first thing I am accused of giving when I dare to mention that I have been breastfeeding my 2 children for 39 months.  Why is that? Are Mum’s feeling guilty for their own choices and looking for someone to blame? Is the media responsible with it’s “breast is best” message? I read an opinion piece in Saturday’s West Australian Newspaper that ended with (paraphrasing) “it doesn’t matter if my baby suckles on a human nipple or a silicone one” – well of course it doesn’t but what is coming out of the nipple DOES matter. Breastmilk can come out of the silicone nipple in the form of expressed breastmilk or it can come straight from the breast and there is no debate that that IS best for both baby and mother.

If you chose not to breastfeed and you made an informed choice then own it. If you ended up not breastfeeding due to misinformation and poor advice then own that. The more we place formula on a pedestal as the saviour when it comes to infant (and toddler) feeding the more I believe our breastfeeding rates will decline. With only 1 – 2% of women actually medically unable to breastfeed there is either a lot of women given poor information so that they think they couldn’t breastfeed, had no milk, their milk dried up or was bad or their crying baby wasn’t crying because that’s what many baby’s do but because of a problem with their milk supply or that figure of 1-2% is incredibly inaccurate.

Sleep is for the weak!

Sleep is for the weak…………or so says she composing her blog at gone 1am after just feeding her 15 month old.

Hasn’t so much of what having a new baby is all about become sleep focussed? How long is your baby sleeping? How much are you sleeping? Do you share a bed? Do they sleep well? Do they sleep in their own cot? Do they have a dummy for sleep? And the big one…….drum roll please! Are they sleeping through the night?

Well I can safely say that I do not produce sleepers – well at least not at night. My daughter and son are great daytime nappers but when it comes to night time sleep let’s just say they’re sleep challenged!

For the longest time I was sure it was something I did wrong. I really don’t subscribe to the “I am such a bad Mum” school of thought however in this instance I did find myself questioning why my cousin’s 4 week old was sleeping in 6 hour stretches and my son struggles to go 2 hours in a row, just as his sister did before him. And I’m sorry but if I hear one more person tell me that co-sleeping will solve all my problems I think I may just scream! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of co-sleeping and have done it with both of my children but it certainly doesn’t solve night-waking in my experience and for me it doesn’t alleviate the constant tiredness that I feel! The fact that I can roll over and feed instead of hop up and walk less than 10 paces does nothing for the interrupted nature of my sleep as my son does not just latch on and suck he latches on sucks, pokes my eyes out, plays with my hair, tries to climb up me for the other side and the gets frustrated and might start to tweak my nipple with his fingers. Not relaxing for me! I must say though that when my husband gets up and brings him into our bed so I don’t have to get up I do stay far warmer and cosier! But the co-sleeping thing is tough for me as it’s just another thing that indicates I must be doing everything wrong with this sleep thing on the days when I do find myself weaken and question myself because it’s the one thing that seems to work for every other sleep deprived Mum, except me!

Controlled crying seems to be the solution to most people’s sleep issues if you listen to those in the know (is anyone REALLY in the know?) So why haven’t I left my children to cry? This may come as a shock but I have. I have left them whilst I was on the toilet, or if I was on the phone and couldn’t get off to get to them, or if I was with one child and the other woke. So when I have had no other choice. I have never however stood outside their door listening to them scream whilst watching my watch. That is something I am not comfortable with and will never do. I would not like to be left alone when I am upset and just wanting a cuddle and I refuse to believe my children are manipulating me with their cries. They are smart little cookies who have figured out that Mummy or Daddy come in when they cry but they’re not crying just to annoy me – in fact I don’t believe they do anything just to annoy me but that’s a whole other blog!

Is breastfeeding to blame for this constant waking at night? Many would have me believe that it is. Formula is often the cure for night waking as it “makes” children sleep through the night. I have actually heard that this is not always the case and many a person finds themselves at the fridge and microwave at 2, 5 and 6am whilst I simply pop out my breast! So I don’t have the “official” answer to that question however in my little experiment of 2 breastfeeding does not cause constant night waking because both of my children breastfeed and only one of them is waking every 2 hours or less! We did try to night wean my son several weeks ago. My husband took holidays and the plan was that he would get up to our boy and cuddle him back to sleep and offer him water and that after a few days he would realise that he was not going to get breast milk when he woke up so there would be no point in continuing to wake up. I’m laughing as I write this! My son obviously did not read the same manual that my husband and I did because whilst he did not have a breastfeed before 6am for that whole week neither he nor my husband slept…….at all!

So we’re back at the start. We’ve bought the t-shirts that read “sleep is for the weak” and we continue to try and convince ourselves that is true – through tired, half-shut eyes!

What could this be? –> blue

Naughty or Nice?

More and more lately I’m hearing about naughty babies or naughty toddlers. The phrases “is she being naughty today?” or “she was up all night, she’s so naughty” really get my goat. I don’t know why. You can call your child whatever you want I guess. I just don’t understand the point in negatively labelling a child for age appropriate behaviour and then making some kind of “naughty child” contest out of it amongst your friends.

 Naughty adj: Behaving disobediently or mischievously: a naughty child.

 The second part of that definition is easy for me to disregard. Mischievous is fun! A child is supposed to be mischievous – that’s not naughty, that’s pure 3 year old! Disobedient is a whole different kettle of fish though. To me that is straight from the school of parenting that believes children should be seen and not heard. I was going to say that it was from my parent’s era but actually I know plenty of 2009 parents who are enrolled in the same school. If you’re heard too often then you’re being disobedient and by the above definition you’re also being naughty. So I guess that’s why the screaming 12 week old is being naughty at 3am because her parents have asked her to be quiet, she’s not complying so therefore she’s being disobedient. Naughty little thing.

 In the same category is the manipulative child. This is the child who cries but then mysteriously stops crying when you pick her up or breastfeed her. Well of course she has stopped crying – you have met her needs! Crying is communication and although I know too well that it can sometimes seem incessant and never-ending, in my experience it always has a purpose and what’s so bad about that purpose being a cuddle? If you pick up a crying baby and they stop crying then look out! They obviously have you wrapped around their little finger and you’ll have hell to pay in weeks/months/years to come. Best to leave them to cry so they learn whose boss and you can avoid another rod for your back.

 What ever happened to kids being kids? I don’t need to know the second my son opens my Tupperware cupboard – I know where he is even if I’m not standing right next to him and I know he’s in my Tupperware cupboard. He’s allowed to be there and he’s allowed to pull the plastic out – that’s why it’s in that cupboard, in his reach! If I’m not panicking then doesn’t it stand to reason that my visitors don’t need to panic either? Perhaps they think they’re being helpful but the dramatic “Oh no he’s messing up your house…….again!” and then “he’s such a naughty boy” really does drive me slightly mad. Actually it annoys the heck out of me. If you think it’s problematic then feel free to tell him “No Samuel, shut cupboard” but quit it with the labeling and the shrieking at me that implies I’m not on top of my game. Call me overly sensitive but if you hear it a million times a day it really does seem that that is what is being implied.

 If my daughter is tired and has a meltdown she’s not being naughty she just needs some help dealing with her emotions. I don’t believe we’re born knowing that we can take some deep breaths or use our words to help explain how we feel, I believe this is a learned skill and I believe that 3 is perhaps a bit young to have a handle on this all of the time. And what’s with having to kiss and hug every relative every time you see them for fear of otherwise being labeled naughty? I have one family member who if they don’t get a kiss every time they see my kids will claim “What is he/she in a bad mood about today? Or are they just being naughty?”

 The flip-side of the naughty child is the good child. The child who sleeps well, eats everything on their plate, never screams and shrieks, kisses and hugs upon greeting, and is never overly tired or emotional. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing if your child meets the good criteria it’s just a bit much for everyone to expect everything from every child.

 I have a daughter and a son. Their names are Isabelle and Samuel. They are not called “naughty girl” or “good boy” they are a beautiful mix of everything that makes a child perfectly wonderfully all rolled into one.