Archive for the ‘Behaviour’ Category

I think I might have found my motivation?!

Yep, I think I may have just stumbled upon it! And of course it is in the least likely place.

This morning I got up early.

Now my son is a nightowl so I am not going to tell you our definition of early, it would just be cruel. But I am up and about while he is still splayed out taking up 3/4 of a queen sized bed (as only babies toddlers all children can)

But anyway…I’m up. My husband is thrilled to not be the only ‘creature’ prowling round the house at this hour (the dog is still asleep too!) I have eaten breakfast, (which in itself is a small miracle), the swim bag is packed, my week is planned, folding has been done, clothes have been taken off the line. So far I have done more this morning than I have the entire weekend 🙂

And I think I like it.

I too am a nightowl, I would much prefer to be up into the wee hours of the morning and then get a sleep in the next day. But my life with a toddler doesn’t seem to work that way. I used to be able to get all the household jobs done when my husband and I were home from work, after dinner and a bit of relaxing. Now, by the time my lovely husband walks through the door, I am hanging out for my ‘shift’ to finish, so I can have some time to myself. And after the little sample of me time, there is no way I want to get up and start housework. I pretend I will, but it never happens.

But today is a bright and shiny new day! I have even had time to write about it! So I want to know…am I the first person who has made this brilliant discovery? Where and when are you motivated? Do you think I can keep it up? And please, if you do this, please tell me I can sleep in on the weekends?…

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I don’t want my kids to be nice

or good.  Definitely not.  You see ‘nice’ and ‘good’ are not actually nice and good things to be.  They’re about oppression, and definitely a feminist issue seeing most pressure to be nice is on, and comes from, women.

How can I say this?

‘Nice’ is the woman who is working herself into the ground because she can’t say no to another job.

‘Good’ is the little girl at the back of the class who’s being pinched, but won’t say anything because she’s been told to be quiet and taught not to make a fuss.

‘Nice’ is biting your lip while people say things that are rude or nasty.

‘Good’ is allowing other people to judge my behaviour, not myself.  It is living in a constant guessing game and being scared to do anything in case I get it wrong.

‘Nice’ is not standing up for yourself, and putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own.

No.  I definitely don’t want my kids, and especially my daughters, to be nice.  And unfortunately they, and I, will almost certainly cop criticism for it.  But I’d rather be criticised than bully my own children.

There are other things far more important (in no particular order).

  1. Polite – especially when you are going to disagree with someone, it’s still important to be polite and give them the same rights you expect.
  2. Kind – being kind is completely different to ‘nice.’  Kind is telling someone (politely) when they’re hurting other people, ‘nice’ is letting them get away with it so you don’t upset them.  Of course it includes all the other types of kindness, being helpful but with limits.
  3. Assertive – very different to aggressive, but it seems to be so rare they get confused.  But we all need to be able to stand up for ourselves.  How can the world change if we allow injustice to continue?
  4. Assertive for others – I wasn’t sure what to label this, but sometimes we need to stand up for others too.
  5. Compassionate – An important one, but hard.  I can be compassionate and sympathetic, which means supporting someone and feeling for their situation.  But it also includes being kind and calling them on it if necessary, not letting them get away with things.  As an extreme example, we all know about the cycle of abuse.  A child who is abused definitely needs our compassion.  But if they grow up and abuse others, are they no longer worthy?  To me, it’s not compassion if it comes with limits.  It doesn’t change, they are still deserving of our support and our understanding, and still need us to call them out on what they are doing wrong.
  6. Questioning – I don’t want them to accept something purely because it comes from authority.  Of course, knowing when to question is the trick!
  7. Curious – This is a source of so much joy, and I want them to have a joyful life.  Discovering, investigating, noticing what is around them.
  8. Reflective – Know thyself!  So much of what we dislike in others is a reflection of ourselves, I want them to be constantly thinking about what they have done, and thought, and said, and how it impacts on others.  Be open to criticism and willing to change, if they think the criticism is right.
  9. Generous – How can we live together as a society if we don’t help each other?
  10. Persistent – Don’t give up, keep trying.  Whether it is to understand something, or finish, or find a new friend, or understand why on earth people do that.  And don’t retreat into your comfort zone.
  11. Independent – Be able to stand on your own.  It doesn’t mean you have to, but if you do you’ll be OK.
  12. Confident – This is about self-worth.  About knowing that your opinion and experiences are as valuable as other peoples’.
  13. Gracious – Pick your battles.  In spite of being confident and independent and assertive and reflective, you don’t have to have the last word.  There are times you will never convince others, even if it is hurting them or someone else.  So have the grace to withdraw and allow them to continue.

Of course, I would absolutely love them to have wisdom, which is how you know if you’re doing all the rest!  But I think that one will take a lot of time and experience to develop.

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Putting things away when you finish

I love the theory – I mean it’s so simple.  When you finish playing with something you put it away before you get the next thing out.  I’ve tried to enforce this since the beginning, first me then the girls when they could get the concept.  But 4 years on, my house is covered in half-done jigsaws, textas with or without lids, pull along toys and lots of little bits and pieces.  My kitchen floor is a graveyard of soft toys, fridge magnets, wipe cloths and little plastic containers.

Some of this is ‘good mess’ – the soft toys are there because the little girl knows she has to let go of whatever she has when she climbs or she’ll fall off, the wipe cloths are because both girls are really good at cleaning up spills and can’t get into the laundry to put them in the wash afterwards.  Some of it is the house – the plastics cupboard doesn’t close and is very high traffic, so all the little bits fall out then get kicked around.  Some is just the result of little kids – they love playing with the fridge magnets but of course that involves taking them off and they never seem to all go back on.  There are always clothes on the bathroom floor because they toilet independently, but can’t (or don’t bother to) get their undies and bottoms back on afterwards and I don’t know until later.

It seems that we generally start a new activity inspired by the last one, and stopping to put things away would ruin the flow.  Or if I’m really honest, I don’t think of it until later and then I don’t want to interrupt them when they’re concentrating/being creative/playing beautifully together.  And it’s causing fights with the big girl – every time she asks to get something out the answer is “As soon as you’ve cleaned the last one up” and she DOES NOT WANT TO.  She’s not going to get away with that, but I’d rather avoid the fights because it’s not a pleasant way to spend the morning.  (I went to play floor dominoes with the girls this morning and they were in their bedroom.  I asked why they were in there not the living room and the answer was “We don’t want to clean up there before we’re allowed to play.”)

Five minute clean ups at the end of the day work the best so far, but then I still spend the day stepping on small things with lots of corners, the girls skid on paper and hurt themselves, textas are left without lids, and vital pieces mysteriously vanish.  We’re reasonable and getting better at having homes for everything – there’s a box or a shelf they are supposed to be on, but not everything makes it back and as the day goes on we progressively drown.  Then it’s such a hassle getting the girls to bed that I just flake out and seeing napping is a bit disastrous/non-existent it’s my first break of the day and I want to get some of my stuff done, so every day starts a bit further behind.  My darling husband on weekends keeps the house ticking over.

I think after 4 years it’s time to admit the truth – I’m not going to remember to pack things away as soon as they’re done with.  It would be nice, it would be efficient, it would be easier.  But it hasn’t happened so far and I can’t see that changing.

So what do other people do?  Do you have really good memories?  Do you have extreme limits on toys?  (We don’t have limits as such, but a lot are packed away where they don’t remember them and we rotate.) Do you let it go then clean it all up afterwards?  I really need a system, I’m completely open to suggestions.

TV – Postpone and magnify

I’m happy with the way we use TV, so this post isn’t to get into that whole debate.  But I’ve noticed something in the last few weeks and it’s getting beyond coincidence.

We don’t watch much TV.  The big girl used to have a DVD while her sister was ‘napping,’ it was on, she’d have another activity as well.  Now she’s at preschool at that time, but DH often puts on a MacGuyver DVD before or after dinner (does that date us?).  So we’re only talking an hour or two a day, which makes her behaviour really noticeable.  TV doesn’t relax her or calm her down, except temporarily.  It postpones and magnifies.  So if she is tired and I pop on a movie on Friday afternoon, she happily watches and then she’s exhausted.  If she’s upset when something goes on she’ll calm down and watch, but when it finishes she’s beside herself.

I think it would be waaaaay too simplistic to blame TV itself – there are all sorts of other dynamics going on.  I mean if she’s tired and stays up an extra hour to watch something, of course she’ll be exhausted.  And if she’s upset and I really really need to cook dinner rather than being with her, of course she’ll be more upset later.  And if she’s happy before something goes on there’s really no problem.

It’s more an interesting thing I’ve noticed that I’m throwing out there as food for thought.  For us, it’s meant that I’m now very careful when to use TV.  If I think she’s overtired, I’ll do something quiet with them instead.  If she’s upset, the same.  I haven’t come up with a solution for getting dinner done, looks like I need to produce more leftovers for use in emergencies!  Or I suppose I could be organised?

13 Things I’ve Learnt From My Children


Thursday 13

1.  You aren’t going to walk straight away, so get really good at standing and the walking will happen.

2.  Take time to smell the roses, and the grass, and look at the ants, and the caterpillar, and oh look!  There’s a dead leaf!

3.  Sometimes you need a really good cry.

4.  Just because this part of the slide is hot doesn’t mean it all is, so check it all out.

5.  The world won’t collapse if you write your S backwards.

6.  When you’re happy to see someone, race out, give them a hug and tell them.

7.  When you’re throwing a tantrum you forget what you were originally after.

8.  When you’re pushing someone on a swing, you have to keep stepping back as they get higher.

9.  It’s a really different world when all you can see are knees and shoes.

10.  If someone tickles you on the stomach, giggle and tickle them back.

11.  Sometimes you need to tell the seeker where you’re hiding.

12.  Even if you copy someone completely you won’t be just like them.

13.  Forgive and forget – stewing over it only hurts you, not them.

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13 Practical Things That Would Make the World More Kid Friendly

They are our future.  They make up almost 30% of the population.  And yet we ignore them and make no provision for them.

1.  Children’s public toilets.

We manage to have disabled toilets, which is great, and there are more kids around than people with disabilities.  So how about a slightly larger stall so they can deal with their clothes or Mum or Dad can fit in with a lower toilet, toilet paper they can reach and a low, big, easily turnable lock. My husband has just informed me that men’s toilets usually have one lower urinal, which says some interesting things about women’s toilets and designers.

2.  Children’s cutlery and plastic cups at cafes.

It’s hard to eat with cutlery that’s too big, no wonder they drop it all the time!  It’s not that hard to give them teaspoons and dessert forks, or even get some actual kid’s cutlery. Even better than plastic cups, plastic cups with a narrow mouth.  Wide mouths just end up pouring out the side.  How would you like to eat your meal with salad servers and drink out of a bucket?

3.  Play equipment and feeding chairs in shopping centres.

I remember when shopping centres used to have little garden areas, before they realised they could stick stands in there and get more rent.  I know sometimes privacy is good, but then you have to entertain the older child while feeding the baby, or use a hard wooden bench.  So how about providing some comfortable chairs with basic play equipment, even simple things like floor mazes or moving pegs on boards if you’re worried about kids getting hurt and suing you.  A place where both kids and parents can have a break before heading into the next shop.  You may miss out on the rent for the floorspace but you would get a heck of a lot more customers, and ones who are more relaxed and can look around.

4.  Menus that include something other than chips.

Need I say more?  My kids like chips too, but it would be nice to have some choices!  They also like dips and crudites, or salad plates, or eggs, or risotto, you get the picture?

5.  Miniature shopping trolleys.

Sometimes I only want a few things, and why should kids be cooped up in a trolley?  It can be hazardous in a shop, getting hit by a full trolley is both likely and serious when you’re only 3 feet high.  I see this as a win/win – give them a little trolley with a flag sticking up so everyone can see them and they get to be included and have something to do, which means a whole lot less whining and tantrums!

6.  Steps they can stand on at counters that are meant for kids, like icecream shops or food courts!

I confess, if there is a bench at counter height I let them sit/stand on it and bad luck anyone who doesn’t like it.  It’s not fair that in a shop that allegedly caters to children they can’t even see what they are ordering, let alone gasp! order for themselves. Some of them might even like to hand over the money and pay for themselves.

7.  Matinees or afternoon shows, or ones late at night.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take kids to see something like Cats?  Or Starlight Express?  Cirque de Soleil?  I’m probably just showing my age here!  I’ve got nothing against the various kid groups, but my kids would love to see other shows too.  A show where people sing and dance and rollerskate – they’d sit through it.  What are tweens supposed to see – too old for the Wiggles but really too young for pop, they’re stuck with growing up too quickly or nothing.  But unless you live somewhere like London they’re always on at times that are no good, when they are winding down and tired.  Or as a parent I’m barred from going because they are right in the middle of bedtime.  If I could get them to bed first then go out later it would work much better.  Don’t complain that teenagers and young adults don’t appreciate ‘culture’ when they have never been given the opportunity.

8.  Roped off kid areas at places like cinemas or sporting venues

Notice how cinemas always have huge waiting areas?  How about roping a bit off so kids have a place they can jump, roll around on the floor, and generally do those things kids do when they’ve been waiting a long time.  They’re not in anyone else’s way, no-one is going to walk into them.  Sounds good to me.  Obviously parents would still have to keep an eye on them, but it would be a much more relaxing wait for everyone concerned.

9. Family/parent queues

Wouldn’t it be nice to move those kids through before they get to the stage of whingeing?  And seeing there aren’t that many adults who choose to do kid type activities if they don’t have kids, it’s not as if they will take anyone’s ticket by going through first.  But even if they do, I’d hope that the adult would be able to express their disappointment in an adult way.  Of course if there was a designated kids’ area that parents could see while they waited in queue, …

10. Playgroup for big kids

We have a brilliant play group, with amazing toys, dressups, play equipment and craft gear.  But it’s only accessible until they start school.  Once they are at school there are organised activities like sport, scouts, or music, or they are supposed to have friends over.  Now there’s a place for organisation and competition, but there’s also a place for creativity, imagination and co-operation.  It would be really nice to have access to the same range of gear and large groups of children so they can continue to play creatively.

11.  Flexible school hours.

Work with me on this one, it’s a bit harder.  Our school hours are a product of a society where kids went home in the afternoon to do chores or help out on the farm.  They needed summer off so they could work.  But is it the best distribution for a modern society?  What if teenagers could go to school from 11am – 5pm?  What if primary students could go from 7am-12pm then go home for lunch?  Or what if they did 9am-5pm but with a 2 hour break in the middle of the day when they could rest, play, do art, sport or something completely different?  It might be a great option for working parents.  What if school holidays were rearranged to have 4 blocks of 3 weeks?  In the NT we have 1 week at Easter, 4 weeks in the dry season, 1 week in October then 6 weeks in the Wet season.  Wouldn’t it be great if school districts could make these decisions?  It would be difficult logistically – if you had kids in different schools for example, but isn’t it worth exploring a bit creatively?

12.  Public transport

How about designated seats on public transport that had flip down booster seats? Not that hard to do, then kids don’t have their feet dangling and can see out the window, which automatically makes it more interesting. And they could even have harnesses attached!

13. Attitude!

Everything I’ve suggested so far is practical and do-able. But it will never really change the way society views children without a change of attitude. Children are human too, with exactly the same right to respect and dignity as adults. So adults need to be aware of this, respect them and allow them their dignity. Give them time to process questions and answer. Accept that they won’t walk as quickly as you do. Enjoy the fact that they have so much fun playing and smile at them. Assume that parents know a bit more about the context than you do and support them in their decisions. Understand that their sense of time is completely different to yours and they live at a much faster pace.

And if you can’t do that, remember what your mother said: If you can’t say something nice,don’t say anything!

How about some more suggestions?  And how do we take these to a higher level – lobby shopping centres? Councils?

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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A Happy Post

Just for SquiggleMum!

The other day I tweeted:

“I definitely have the most adorable, special, cute, wonderful, happy, loving children in the whole house.”

Someone else, the wonderful Wonderkarin, asked me why not in the whole of Australia?  I joked a bit, then amended it to ‘the whole world,’ but I’ve been thinking about it since and thought it might be nice to post about it.

I adore my kids, and they’re pretty special.  Apart from the ongoing sleep issue, they really are adorable, special, cute, wonderful, happy and loving.  There’s some normal toddler bickering, and big girl really doesn’t get that other people have a say too.  But she works so hard at listening and loves her little sister so much and is so caring that it’s easy to overlook.  And she’s just turned 4 for goodness’ sake!

Some of it’s luck, the whole genes/environment and personality thing.  Some of it’s circumstance – they have two parents who love them and can give them anything they need and a stable, nurturing environment.  Some of it is hard work on their part, especially big girl.  But I’ll also put my hand up to say some of it has been hard work on my part.  I’ll go against all the cultural conditioning that says I should be modest and say I’m really proud of the job I’ve done so far and I hope I can continue to do as well.

But they’re not the best kids in the world.

There isn’t really any such thing.  What I consider traits to cherish and nurture, someone else will consider bad manners.  What I consider minor annoyances or just being a little kid, someone else will consider mortifying.  And there will definitely be lots of people who think baby girl’s sleep (or lack thereof) disqualify her straight away.  We all have different values we want to pass on to our kids.

Which makes the whole competetive mothering thing absolutely pointless, doesn’t it.  Why would I compare my kids to someone else’s when I don’t want kids like theirs?  I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that I will guarantee that we have different priorities of what we want our kids to be like.  And that’s the other reason I don’t like saying my kids are the best in the world – I’m not competing with anyone and I don’t want to.

My kids are the most gorgeous, caring, kind, smartest, funniest, cuddliest, cheekiest, most confident, curious and just plain fun kids in this house.  They always will be, and that’s all they need to be.  Are yours?