Friday, 31 July 2015

9 totally mumsy things I'm looking forward to about summer

looking forward to about summer

That's it, I'm sick of winter. Why is it so rubbish? No one likes it, everyone gets sick and it goes on for freaking ever. I am now officially ready for the warm weather - although it's occurred to me that as a mum, I look forward to summer for very different reasons than I did pre-kids.

Back in the days before all the kids, there'd be very clear things I'd be looking forward to about summer: beer gardens, Christmas parties, new year celebrations. Of course, things are a little different these days. Now that there's kids in my life, I look forward to summer for all the 'mumsy' reasons.

Because winter with kids is a pain in the arse. Once you're done with the trips to the snow and got your thrills from wearing flannelette pyjamas and big cosy dressing gowns...all that's left is snotty noses, wet socks and freezing cold mornings.

So I'm mumsy now. Big deal. I'm telling you, my life as a mum will be easier in summer. Here's why:

1. Towels that we use for showers will actually be dry in time for the next one. During winter, our towels always have damp spots, even after 24 hours. It's gross. I can't stand it.

2. I'll be lightning fast at dressing the kids. For the last three months, I've been dressing the kids in multiple layers because of the cold. I won't bore you with the details, but applying six layers of clothing to wriggling, surprisingly-strong toddler twins, who think it's hilarious to run away and hide every time I loosen my grip on them, takes about three hours. It gets me sweaty. In the summer, I'll be all like: 'here's your singlet - yay, you're dressed!'

3. You can get away with lazy dinners for the kids. When it's hot, it's totally acceptable to serve cold meat and salad for dinner, or a BBQ chicken and fresh rolls. Cheap, quick and easy. I'm there.

4. Surely the sickness will ease up. I know we can still get sick in the summer. But without all the wintery germs flying about in public and that stupid wind-chill factor, the germs will whizz through all four kids in half the time, I'm sure.

5. There'll be less washing to do. In winter there are more clothes to wear and therefore more clothes to wash. It is unbelievable how quickly our washing machine fills up.

6. Stuff on the line will dry quickly. In the summer I can put washing on the line at 8am and get it in by midday, all crisp and dry...oh dear - I told you this list was mumsy. What's happened to me?

7. No more hunting for socks. I'm sick of these things. We're done hoping for matching socks in this house, nowadays we just hope for two socks that fit or don't have holes in them. It's exhausting. This summer we're all wearing sandals. Getting out the door will almost be a pleasure.

8. There are better options for days out. I can't wait to get the kids to the beach. I love early summer mornings when it's warm by 9am, and perfect for getting out and about. There are so many outside options during summer.

9. Sipping cold beer on a summer's evening is awesome. It might not be in the hip and bustling beer garden, but even the mumsiest of us mums can appreciate the value of a cold beer after a day with the kids. Right?

What about you? Are you finding the cold weather harder as a parent? Do you think summer will make things easier?  

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

How to enjoy your newborn

how to enjoy your newborn

The newborn baby has this ethereal quality. Tiny, delicate, fragile, sleepy. Magical. There is no baby phase like this one, which is also an emotional one for many mums. For such a momentous time, it goes by frighteningly quickly. Which is Mother Nature's ploy to get us to go for another one, obviously. 

In fact, most mums will probably tell you they can barely remember when their baby was this small. This is the time that flies by, and if you’re like me, it’s the distant memories that will keep those pesky ovaries twitching, whether you're done having babies or not. Of course, as babies grow, they continue to be wonderful. But the ethereal quality lessens - they become less delicate, less magical, and more like regular, bouncing babies.

The thing with newborns is that there is so much emphasis on them moving through that delicate phase quickly. And rightly so - we want them to feed and put on weight, to grow and develop strength and immunity. With all my babies I've eagerly anticipated the first vaccinations, being overly cautious about them catching something in those early weeks. 

And then there's all those 'firsts' that we new mums anticipate. The first smile can't come quick enough. I found myself wishing away the days with my first baby because I was so eager for that first milestone. With subsequent babies I slowed everything down and learned to enjoy each precious moment, without worrying about what was to come next. 

There's a lot I've learned about how to enjoy a newborn. Most of it is around being mindful and living in the moment, making sure to really feel the experience without letting the outside stuff get in the way.

Here's what I'd pass on to any mum expecting a baby (you lucky thing!): 

You can't spoil a newborn
This is the most important one. And it's true - it says so here and here. During those early months, there's no such thing as too many cuddles. By responding to your baby every time she cries, you're allowing for a healthy, secure attachment to develop. You are NOT creating a rod for her back and she does NOT need to be trained.

Enjoy the cuddles
There's nothing on earth like the long contented cuddles you get with a newborn. I love the way they fit perfectly into the crook of your arm, and the way they nuzzle into your body. It still amazes me that holding and cuddling them is exactly what they need for their security and development. What a treat!

Take your time with feeding
If you've decided to give breastfeeding a go, be patient with yourself and your baby as you get used to each other. Get support if you find it too painful or difficult. If you decide that bottles are the way for you, that's ok too. Feeding your baby in the way that suits you both is lovely for bonding and staring into each other's eyes.

how to enjoy your newborn

Look at the little person you made - aren't you clever? Spend loads of time staring at their perfect little face and tiny fingers and toes. What an amazing piece of work.  Listen to those beautiful newborn grunts. Look at their curly, still-in-utero bodies. I could do this all day. 

Forget self-settling  
At least in those early weeks. Don't stress about whether your baby falls asleep in your arms or while feeding, it really doesn't matter.  Believe me, you've got plenty of time to work on the self-settling. The same goes for routine - your baby isn't going to understand times and schedules, and the whole thing is likely to cause you more stress than order. Save the schedules for when baby is older and understands more about their little world. Right now they need to learn that you're there for them.

Take photos
While your baby's doing all that sleeping, get busy with your camera. Take loads of photos of them snuggling into you and curling up the way newborns do. They grow so quickly and things get so busy that it's all too easy to forget just how tiny these little people were when they first arrived into the world. 

      Go for long walks
      When your baby is this little, it doesn't matter where they sleep, as long as it's comfortable and safe. Which means you can meander about town with your pram, while away the morning in your favourite cafe or spend time at the park catching up with some fellow mums. Enjoy being out and about. Once your baby is bigger and more aware of their surroundings, you might feel the need to be home for sleeps. For now, you're free!  
how to enjoy your newborn

    Seek help
      Not all newborns are easy and sleepy. There are plenty who don't sleep so well at first and they all go through their 'unsettled' periods. But if you suspect your baby is more than just unsettled, trust your instincts and seek support from your doctor or other health professional.

      If it's raining or you can't be bothered going out, you can spend all day in your pyjamas watching TV while you feed and cuddle your baby. It's heaven on earth. It's also a great opportunity to let your body rest-up after the birth ordeal. It won't last forever - so enjoy the lazy time.
      Put the books away 
      Not all babies are textbook babies. The minute the baby book you're reading starts to cause you any angst, throw it away.          

     How about you? Did you enjoy the newborn phase? Did you find it went too quickly or were you glad for it to be over?   

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The tired mum's guide to kids TV

When you have kids, you enter the world of children’s television, which can be an overwhelming place. And while we may have started out with parenting ideals about what we would or wouldn’t be letting our kids watch, it's likely these have been somewhat compromised completely overridden along the way.

Because we're mums, and we're tired. I don't know about you, but there's no way I can be everything to my kids, all day long. And when there's things that have to get done, I can't have four small people hanging around my ankles asking me for stuff.  Which is where TV comes in. I never thought I’d be a 'Wiggles mum' - I remember resisting anything to do with them when I had my first baby. But here I am, six years later, and I know all the freaking words (and actions) to Do the Propeller. Which is an awesome song but whatever.

So rather than worry about how much we should or shouldn't be watching, I've focused my attentions on what I can and can't stand having on the TV in our house. The way I see it, as long as I use the principle of moderation (i.e. the kids get plenty of screen-free time in their lives), then TV doesn’t have to be a bad thing. A good children's TV show can be great for social and emotional development, as well as entertaining for the adults in the house. And there are some great shows around, that easily pass my test:
  1. It has to NOT annoy me. This is why Lazytown is banned from my house. What the HELL is that show about anyway?
  2. It has to be at least vaguely educational in some way. If it's teaching them something, then that helps me, right? It takes a village to raise a child and all that.
  3. It has to hold their attention. Because there’s no point putting on Ben and Holly if they’re climbing the walls after five minutes.
Have you found your way around the world of kids TV yet? If you're still dazed and confused, here is my guide to some perfectly nice TV for kids that will keep them happy, may even educate them, and - most importantly of all - may offer you some light entertainment along the way:
Brum (CBeebies)
Brum is an old racing car who escapes the farmer's garage whenever he can to help the people in the Big Town. This show uses no speech apart from the narrator's voice-over, so kids have to use the actors' cues to figure out what is happening. I love it for its simplicity - there's no bells and whistles here, just old-school adventures with a car that does good deeds for its community.
Good for kids because: it's a sweet introduction to the world of goodies versus baddies, only no one ever gets hurt and Brum always kicks arse.

Gigglebiz (CBeebies)
If you haven't come across the talented Justin Fletcher before, you must see this. He's a comedian for kids, and is hilarious in this comedy sketch show. He does a variety of characters and knows what gets kids laughing. I may or may not have a weird mummy crush on him... 
Good for kids because: this is a great introduction to old-school comedy for kids. They will be amazed that all the characters are performed by the one person.

Woolly and Tig (CBeebies)
This super-sweet show focuses on the adventures of little Tig and her toy spider Woolly. Woolly helps Tig deal with new experiences and is always there for a chat when she's feeling a bit worried. 
Good for kids because: it aims to help kids manage their feelings and deal with new experiences, like a first sleep-over or family holiday. 

Shaun the Sheep (ABC KIDS)
This show is hilarious. The best thing of all is that the theme song is sung by Vic Reeves (from Vic Reeves and the Wonder Stuff - they sang 'Dizzy' back in the 90's. Anyone remember?)
Good for kids because: there is no speech in the show, so they have to use their comprehension to follow the story. It's also great for encouraging their imagination about what really goes on at the farm when the farmer's back is turned.

Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom (ABC KIDS)
The cutest show ever. Not just captivating little stories for kids, this is actually really f***ing funny.  
Good for kids because: they get to use their imagination about what really lives in the bottom of any garden. It's like The Enchanted Wood (Enid Blyton) for modern times. 

Peppa Pig (ABC KIDS)
I find Peppa and her family lovely. Sure, sometimes I wonder about the realism of this little town she lives in, and no, her family isn't perfect. But I love their little adventures and the quirks in each of the characters - including the variety of British accents.
Good for kids because: Peppa's adventures are easy for them to relate to and offers them a new perspective on family living.

Jackanory Junior (CBeebies)
Hooray! Someone else to tell us all a story. And not just anyone - an actor-type person, who is trained to be engaging and entertaining.
Good for kids because: story-telling is always good, and the readers on this show do a fabulous job of keeping their audience hooked until the very end.

The Wiggles (ABC KIDS)
Ah, The Wiggles. They might not be for everyone, but I have to hand it to them for their song-writing skills and ability to entrance every single one of my kids.They know what they're doing and they're good at it.
Good for kids because: this lot knock themselves out trying to teach kids a bit of everything - the alphabet, healthy eating, dancing, as well as some less explored territory, like managing food allergies and expressing emotions.

Have you got a favourite kids TV show? Anything you can't stand watching? Got a favourite Wiggles song?!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Is there a douchebag convention on this week?

I don't know if it's the full moon this week or that *ahem* feminine thing that happens to me every month, but it seems as though all the douchebags are in town. They're driving me mental. Usually I am patient - having four children around my ankles all the time means I have to be. But this week I am encountering so many douchebags that my patient and tolerant self has up and left, probably for a nice holiday somewhere.

Incidentally, I have never used the word douchebag in my life. But I'm all over it now. How else do you describe stupid people and their stupid, thoughtless ways? There's been so many this week that I've had to make a list.

1. The disgusting dog owner.
First on the list is this guy. As I loaded my kids into the car yesterday morning, I had to side-step the turd that sat right beside my car, right outside my house. Who let's their dog poo and not pick up after it these days? Are people really that devoid of conscience? And it's not the first time this has happened. Only the other day I had to pick up this dog's shit, because it was in the exact same spot and if I didn't pick it up, I or one of my kids would have stepped in it and traipsed it through the house or the car. I really f**king hate stepping in dog shit. So I picked up the shit again yesterday, and left the bag hanging on the tree next to my car. People, I am finding this guy, and am handing back his dog's shit. In fact, I can't wait. My blind is going up every morning and I will be watching for this early dog-walker.

2. The unfriendly mum
We've been at the same daycare for three years. I know all the faces. But there's this one mum with two daughters, one of whom now goes to Mr B's school (so I see her regularly in two places), who REFUSES  to acknowledge me when we pass in the street. It is unbelievable. Yesterday at the shops, we practically brushed up against each other. I got my polite and friendly face ready, looking for the obligatory hello, but she cast her eyes downwards and walked straight past me! What's with that???? Lady, we were both IN THE SAME PUB on Mother's Day this year, you were on the table RIGHT NEXT TO ME! We joked about it at kindy the next day! WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM??? All I can conclude from this is that she is either a) painfully shy, b) has serious sight issues or c) is actually a bitch who is totally threatened by my hot stuff.

3. The snooty jewellery lady
I had to take my wedding ring in for a service yesterday as a stone had come loose. Admittedly it was long overdue for a clean, which goes against the T&C of the free services. Snooty Lady happily pointed this out, telling me there'd be a cost involved, 'because the last time you brought it in was a year and a half ago'. When I left I felt really pissed off, mostly because I hadn't been more assertive. What I really wanted to say was 'Look, it's been eighteen months because I've had twins. Premmie twins. And then there were four kids under school age and everything was a blur for a year. Can you make an exception??' But I didn't want to in case it came across as pathetic excuse-making for not being more organised. But then I thought, 'Hang on a minute. Having premmie twins and adjusting from two to four kids is totally an acceptable excuse!' And I wished I'd stood up for myself. 

4. The thoughtless parker
I hate people that don't think about others when they park. So getting back to my car with four kids yesterday to see this really irked me. We have to use this side because the other side of the car is taken up with car seats. In the end I shimmied them through and it wasn't that bad I suppose, but you should have seen how much room this guy had on the driver's side. You could have fit another car there, or at least a double pram with toddlers in it, which I had to leave at the foot of my car while I got the big kids in. And don't get me started on the douchebags that blatantly use Parents With Prams parking without even having car seats in their car. Man, this shits me. It shits me to the point that if I had time, I'd wait for them to get back to their car to interrogate them about where the f**k their prams are.

5. The online book store
I ordered a book for Mr B back in April, hoping it would arrive from America in time for his birthday. It arrived late, and it was the wrong book. It wasn't even close to being the right one. I have emailed several times and am now at the point of pulling my hair out. In the meantime, rather than bothering to respond to my emails, they've informed me that they didn't charge me the right shipping fee for the wrong item they sent me, so they've taken more money from my account. Then they sent me a Customer Service survey. I'm not joking. I don't care how late I have to stay up, I am calling these people tonight. Which book company? Well, I mustn't defame. Let's just say it rhymes with Parnes&Moble. This is why I hate online shopping, it's a freaking pain in the arse when it goes wrong.

6. Miss P
Only joking. As if my little fairy could belong in such a list of douchebags. So what if she threw a massive tantrum while we were at the shops because she didn't get Frozen shoes (none in her size) or the Belle dress (none in her size) and didn't appreciate in the slightest the Frozen necklace and bracelet set I got her instead. This doesn't make her a douchebag, it just makes her a three year old. Although, I must say, opening her window in the car while we were driving home and tossing the bracelet onto the street suggests she may earn a place on the list in the near future.

Phew. All this hating on douchebags can be exhausting. Wine o'clock might need to arrive a bit earlier today, maybe it will lure my patience and tolerance back from its sunny holiday. I definitely need to chill out.

But dog-shit person, you are on the list. We will meet.

How's your week been? Come across any of these people this week? What really rubs you up the wrong way? And do you think the full moon has any weird effects on people?