Archive for the ‘Behaviour’ Category

Monday Money – WHAT AM I WORTH AND HOW DID I GET HERE

This is a little personal history about where I am coming from when I am writing about the financial achievements which have occurred during my life. Hopefully this will give some insight into where I am coming from and that there is some real experience that I am basing my comments and information on. There are many experts in the field that are worth listening to, Paul Clitherow and Robert Kiyosaki are two authors that I would recommend reading and listening to the suggestions they make, following their advice is an even better choice.

I left school as soon as I could, not one for the classroom from a very early stage. I am left handed, so what you might say, but a year 2 teacher decided that I should use my right hand and broke several rulers across the back of my knuckles. Not character building or anything like that, just put me off school for a very long time. My first job lasted for a couple of years, full time employment, working for a children’s organisation on the grand sum of $85 a week after tax, heaps of money to a young man who didn’t have many over heads still living at home. I had some savings, not much and to my shock, was fired along with a couple of others, down turn in funding and we cost too much, replaced by a couple of 17 year olds.

My savings depleted I decided to look for a job, that very morning a call from my mother asking me to help her out and cover a job due to a bus accident. Not a big issue as I didn’t have anything else to do, and I knew it would be paid or at least I was able to stay at home and not feel guilty about not working. Without dragging out the love book and all the soppy stuff, I moved out of home at the age of 19, and for the first time had the experience of having to fend for myself. No one taught me how to manage the situation; hey I thought it would be a piece of cake. Wrong! After a few weeks I was in a total financial crisis, more money going out than coming in. The results of which I moved into a shared house with 3 others, and boy did that make a difference. Things started to change, financially as well as long term as one of the house mates later became my wife, we lived together for 4 years, gradually not replacing flat mates until we were on our own.

If this isn’t interesting, then skip a paragraph or two and pick it up later. I am sure that it will or won’t make more sense later; it is parts of what has helped shape the decisions that I make today, ones that I hope you can look at and perhaps think about how these might change things for you. I bought my first house after having a lease on a rental come to an end and looking at what we paid in rent and what we could afford to pay on a mortgage, 2 incomes and no children sounded good at the time.

Oh how quickly things change, and I am sure that some of you will be reading this and gasping, saying that is what happened to us! In my case, it was the most fortunate things that could have happened we moved into the house in May, found out that we were expecting our first child in February, got married in September, and experienced the eighties increases in interest rates, up to 17.5% in 1987. I learnt a lot about managing the financial running of the house.

We struggled from pay to pay for a number of years, the credit card became maxed out very early on and meeting the minimum monthly payments was usually all that I could manage. The insurance on the car didn’t get paid more and more often, more good fortune than management that we didn’t have an accident because that would have really stretched things further. As I have said before, there was a limit to making ends meet, and having a 2nd or 3rd and even a 4th job became the only way to keep things going. I could ramble on about the next umpteen years but that would be rather dreary, but suffice to say things slowly improved, especially when the interest rates went down. We didn’t change our lifestyles; rather I was able to cut back on the hours that I worked.

So jumping further forward, I divorced a number of years ago, with 1 child to support, as well as leaving most of the contents of the house and a significant part of the savings. We had a year before sold the family home so only had cash and possessions to sort. The credit card debt and loan on the car became mine, some $50,000 all up. There are no winners from this; both parties are going to come away with their own perceptions of who got what and what it was all worth. At the end of the day, I believe that I was left with what was reasonable.

I had a new lady in my life and we settled in together. It took me a couple of years to sort things financially. We took a punt on buying an investment property, something we talked about and researched for a few months before going ahead with. We looked at areas of growth, costs of housing in the area and what the rental returns could be. Fully armed with all the information we thought we needed we looked at 2 bedroom units, we set our price at under $100,000, armed with a newspaper and street directory, drove around looking. We had our finances organised, knew from our discussions what we wanted to buy and set about doing exactly that. Within a short period we had bought 4 units staying within our budget and the rules we had laid down.

We purchased our house over the Internet, using the photos online and asking the agent to take and email others to us. We found several houses and set about researching each of these, the purpose for the house was to get into the market, not as a life long commitment to the place. We found a place and put an offer in what we were prepared to pay, if the vendor was unhappy with this then we would move on, I made this very clear to the agent. So when he phoned back saying the vendor wanted $5,000 more than we offered, we thanked him for his time and hung up. A day later the offer we had put in was accepted. Sounds hard nosed, it was but we wanted into the market at the lowest price we could get and were prepared to work to get what we wanted.

So where has this put me now. We sold 3 of the units as they had increased in value by about 200% in four years, paid off the house, and have now bought another 2 properties. Our property portfolio is worth about $900,000 with less than $150,000 in loans. The $24,000 limit on the credit card is gone! We have no other debts.

This isn’t bragging, I want to show you what can be achieved. It does require work to get things in the right place, yes there has been an element of luck in what we have done. This sort of thing can be done anywhere with the courage to get in and have a go, not just hope that things will work. And yes there are risks involved, hopefully managed so they are minimal.

13 Milestones of Parenting

”thursday-13″

1. The Emergency Shower…

Yelling “Come here quickly and take your clothes off!” to my husband and watching his face as he realised that it was never going to mean what it used to mean…now it meant getting in the shower to wash our son down after a ‘poo-nami’

2. The Poo Scoop…

Along the same vein as number 1. The horror of realising that your child has ‘number two-ed’ in the bath and the best way to get rid of it is to scoop it straight into the toilet with a bare hand. (Please note: My husband is very open to suggestions of better ways to deal with this situation)

3. The ‘Burmuda Triangle’…

Formally known as ‘the car’, the day you realise that toys, half eaten biscuits and odd shoes have all become part of the Burmuda Triangle in the footwell. Perhaps that’s where all the odd socks are too…

4. The Family Bed…

Anyone who tells you sleeping with a baby will kill any chance of romance needs to think outside of the box. While I know it’s not for everyone, there is nothing so special to my husband and I as waking up to our son’s big morning grin stretching across his face as he sees his favourite people.

5. The Public Tantrum Solidarity Nod…

Ok, I admit it. I used to be one of ‘those’ people in the shopping centre who always thought there must be a better way to deal with tantruming children. Now, I don’t pretend to know what parents should do…I just give a sympathetic nod of solidarity. There but for the Grace of God I go!

6. Time Share Toileting…

The day I left work to begin maternity leave I assured my boss that I would never, under any circumstances, allow a child into the toilet while I was in there. Two weeks later I was eating my words as I sat on the toilet, breastfeeding my baby. Ah, it begins…

Flash forward a year and we are still time sharing the toilet, only now my little boy sits on his potty and sings, until it’s time to press the button, clearly one of the favourite parts of his day. How can I deny him this very special treat?

7. The Public Stripdown…

This may occur if you unwittingly decide to try on clothes in a small change room with a gap underneath the door. Unfortunate timing may mean that your child crawls underneath and you find yourself with a major dilemma…the unwilling nudie run to retrieve them, or the child on the loose. Now I understand why people use strollers.

8. Those first few words…

They give everything away about your family. Smidge’s are:

“Tiggle tiggle” (tickle, tickle)

“Oooh look!” (along with pointing finger, which translates as “Mummy, tell me all about that!!”)

“Pat, pat, pat”

“Kiss Daddy, kiss Daddy”

“Blab-blab” (the new name for the dog. She even comes when called this)

And of course “Ooooh, gentle!”

9. The Mini-Me…

This is the day that you flashback to your childhood, when your own child does something so totally you that the last 25 years just drop away and you are the little boy laying on the rumpus room floor driving a Matchbox car back and forth as you rest your head on your outstretched arm. Grandparents love seeing these ones!

10. The “Oh no, why did I teach him that” moment…

The other day my son lifted his shirt, and with a look of surprise in his eyes, poked himself in the belly button. At that moment, without a single thought in my head. I made a raspberry sound. And now our life will never be the same… Every day since I have woken to the lifting of my shirt, the poke in the belly button and that sound, followed by a hysterical laugh and then the same process repeated on Daddy, then himself, then me again. And 13 month old children apparently have no sense of when and where it is appropriate to lift up your Mum’s shirt.

11. The joy of Christmas…

It’s back. The feeling of anticipation…the endless wait…the magic! It’s all back. Last year Smidge was just 4 months old and I had spent most of the last 6 weeks in and out of hospital, so the magic wasn’t as strong as it already is this year. I love that Christmas is the time of year where anything is possible, that wishes really can come true.

12. The Mummy Lioness within…

I expect every Mum will know what I mean by this one. The day that you have to protect your child. It doesn’t matter that you are the least confrontational person, or have never defended yourself.

I experienced my first Lioness moment the other day when I saw 2 older children hitting my son on the back as he climbed out of a ball pit. I looked around for their Mums, but seeing no-one, knew it was up to me. I calmly picked him up out of their reach and said “Oh dear, we can’t hit babies, we pat them gently” and stroked his back. The little boy repeated “Pat bubba, gentle” And I felt proud of myself. Because as much as I would have liked to freak right out on those rough kids, I know that a Mummy Lioness treats other kids the way that she would like other people to treat hers.

13. Falling in love all over again…

While I sit here, trying to think of a last milestone, my husbands voice drifts up the hallway. He is reading Smidge a story as he puts him to bed. Every few pages I hear a yawn- Daddy’s, not Smidge’s. Even though he has had a long day at work, he still has time to give me a break, time for his little boy who he adores and who adores him so much. And so, even though our life has become all about our son, we have these precious moments where I fall in love with my husband all over again.

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13 Things that are normal baby behaviour!

The range of normal is wide, if your baby doesn’t do these things they are probably normal too and you’re very lucky!  If your baby does all of these, my sympathy but they really do become toddlers eventually.

  1. Newborns feeding 8-20 times a day and averaging 11, NOT every 4 hours.
  2. Feeding every 2 hours.  Or less.  My second fed every 45 minutes around the clock for the first 3 weeks or so.  She still doesn’t manage every 4 hours at 18 months and she loves her solids as well.
  3. Waking up at night until at least 12 months.  ‘Sleeping through’ means 5 hours, not 12, and quite a few don’t even manage that!
  4. Starting to dribble at 3-4 months – they haven’t learnt to swallow it yet, it’s not teething (necessarily).
  5. Getting much quicker at feeding suddenly around 12 weeks – it has nothing to do with supply, they’ve worked out how to do it!
  6. The 4-month monsters at, well, 4 months.  They start waking up and feeding what feels like all night, because the world is just far too interesting to feed during the day.  And if they’ve been sleeping through it’s a rude shock 🙂
  7. Starting to reach for food, keys, pens, phones, … basically anything you have in your hands from around 4 months.  It doesn’t mean they want solids any more than they want to drive, write or talk, they just want to be like you.
  8. Feeding pretty much continuously in the evenings – it’s called cluster feeding, and yes, they can be hungry again already.
  9. Wanting to suck, and suck, and suck, and suck, and suck a bit more.  It’s got nothing to do with hunger or supply, it’s a comfort thing.
  10. Only sleeping in 40 minute blocks.  This is the length of a baby sleep cycle.  While some will go for 2 or 3 cycles, some will only do 1 no matter how much you pat them.
  11. Waking up 20 minutes after you’ve just got them to sleep – there is a dip in the sedative hormones at that time, a top up should get them back to sleep.
  12. Having days, weeks, months when they just don’t want to be put down.  A good carrier is essential for living with koala baby!
  13. Needing help to learn how to go to sleep.  It’s weird, but it’s a learned skill.

You may also be interested in ‘The Human Baby as an External Foetus’ to explain some of it.

(As an aside, see if you can now describe my children’s feeding and sleeping habits :D)

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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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.

The 5 Love Languages

I had a blinding revelation the other day.

The 5 love languages are something I first came across while teaching, because in spite of the trendy name they are not only about love.  They are the ways we prefer to give and receive praise and include touch, time, gifts, acts of service and words of affirmation.  I’ve actually got the book floating around here somewhere, but I don’t think I’ve read it because for myself and my husband it’s extremely obvious – he’s gifts and I’m touch, with a bit of words of affirmation thrown in.

When you and your partner don’t match it can cause problems, because you may be repeatedly saying how much you love them and they aren’t hearing it.  Many of our depressed times boil down to “I don’t want you to buy me chocolate, I want a hug!”  So this is something I’m quite aware of and have been working on and allowing for for years.

But then the someone made a comment about their child being a gift giver and I had an epiphany.  My eldest wraps up several things a day and presents them to people, real or imaginary, with “Happy Birthday!”  When her little sister was extremely sick she drew her a butterfly (I know it was, she told me so 🙂 ) and stuck it up over her bed so she could see it.  I’ve been presented with a million flowers and leaves, and whenever she is drawing I’m constantly being asked what I want on my picture.  And here’s the really embarrassing bit – she’s been doing this practically since she could walk.  The flowers especially are a long term thing, the presents came into focus at her 3rd birthday.  I’ve been puzzled by her strange disinclination to hug and kiss a million times a day (which is what I would like to do), although reassured that she does like snuggling – at her times, on her terms.  And her father and grandmother are gift givers extraordinaire, but it still took me two years and someone else’s remark to work it out.

It brings into focus her constant ‘Can I have?’  Of course some, probably most, of  this is typical toddler acquisitiveness, but some of it may also be reassurance – ‘you love me if you give me things.’  I don’t mean that in a bad way, because it’s not ‘you love me if you buy me things.’  We (I?) have an automatic rejection of giving children too many things, thinking it will make them spoilt.  But we wouldn’t think that if they needed hugs or words or time.  And all those kisses I give her, all those hugs as she walks past, she may not be connecting to.  I find it extremely sad that my little girl may not be hearing the hundred times a day I tell her I love her, because I’m speaking my language not hers.  It makes sense of her (frustrating) habit of getting a million books out of the library but not reading them, or asking for some of my yoghurt that I know she doesn’t like.  And rather than regarding yet another flower to put behind my ear with amused tolerance and then forgetting it, I need to listen to her telling me how much she loves me.  I need to stop telling her to draw a picture for herself and accept her offering to me.

And I need to start offering her gifts as well.  I need to be picking flowers for her, and she’s definitely going to be a notes in the lunchbox type of gal.  Now that I know to look for them, I know there are lots of opportunities to give ‘gifts’ that don’t need to be expensive or wasteful.  Of course she needs the other things too, but I know she’s going to see gifts the best.  And knowing how much I sometimes long for a hug, I know this is something my little girl needs me to do.

 

 

*If you like books, there is a book about children’s love languages at the link above.

Just ignore it

Just ignore it, we’re told as our previously placid little darling transforms into a screaming monster.

Just ignore it, as they throw themselves to the floor and beat their heels.

Just ignore it, as they violently push you away and refuse to cuddle.

For parents who have just got this feeding, sleeping, moving gig worked out toddlerhood can be a bit of a shock.

And just ignoring it is actually pretty good advice, so long as you know what you are ignoring.  Because there are two completely different interpretations of this common trick, and I’d argue that both can be useful at different times but absolutely disastrous at others.

The most common interpretation is to ignore your toddler.  Toddlers are little attention addicts, and if they feel they aren’t getting enough then they are quite capable of putting on a show to get more.  They are like junkies not caring if it is good or bad attention, just as long as they are at the centre of the world.  This is definitely a time to ignore them.  Doing anything, even yelling, threatening or any of the other things you might fantasise about, will just make it worse, because then it becomes a tactic that works.  They got your attention!  So that’s the time for calmly putting them on a rug or even in a bare room where they can’t hurt themselves or anything else, and quietly going to fortify your nerves for dealing with them when they finish.  Chocolate works well.

But that isn’t the only reason for tantrums, and in fact I’ve only seen that sort of tantrum in older toddlers, so what about the others?

Toddlers have no idea of what they need or what is good for them, they only know what they want.  So if you say no, a tantrum is a potent weapon to beat you around the ears and ankles until you change your mind in self-defense.  In this situation, ignoring the tantrum can work wonders.  If you can, hide whatever it was they wanted so it isn’t in their face reminding them they are angry, then you keep talking and interacting with your screaming, red faced child as if they are the smiling, cooing delight they normally are.  I find going outside an almost certain winner, not only do my kids love it, it stops the screams from echoing so much.  And there are so many distractions to offer, when one is indignantly pushed away there’s always something else.  And if all that fails, there are lots of jobs I can start that they can help Mummy with.  Giving them a handful of pegs and walking off to the line either works or gives me some space.

And then there is the third type of tantrum, which I don’t really think is a tantrum at all.  It is the sheer built up frustration of having so many things to do and say and not being able to get them across.  Of desparately wanting to be grown up but not able to get the pen to work properly, of being so tired of trying to get your message across to adults whose telepathy just isn’t working.  Of being tired full stop!  And the only thing that can help in a situation like that is a good cry.  Think about it – we all have a cry (or at least feel like a cry) when it all gets too much, and we don’t call it a tantrum.  We recognise that sometimes you just need a cuddle while you let it all out.  So when that happens to a toddler, they need the same thing we do.  Plus baby sign language.  (Personally I also go for the chocolate again, but that’s probably not a good idea with a hyperactive little person.)

So when your laughing, charming little bundle of joy transforms into the devil child, maybe you should just ignore it.  But first do a check of what you are ignoring and why.