Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Wake-up call

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a million ideas about what parenthood was going to be like. Most of them were romantic and misinformed. Mainly my fantasies consisted of beautiful happy children running laughing through my house and giving me heaps of cuddles.
None of my fantasies included me feeling less than perfect. Although I have to admit being worried about having a migraine around kids, that seemed horrible... I did realise that lying in bed a whole day in a dark room was going to be more than hard. Besides, children are known for being loud, so that would be a problem as well since I get very sensitive to noise when I have a migraine attack.

Okey, so I knew the infant period was going to be tough, that sleep would be a premium and that babies scream a lot. But I had serious delusions about young children, and let's face it, our offspring are young children for much longer then they are infants!

No one tells you much about having young children before you have babies, and not many anecdotes about the 2-4year olds come out when you are pregnant. Everybody get very reminiscent about the baby stage. And when your baby is born and you struggle, the helpful people around you tell you that it's all going to get better, easier and that everything will solve itself, like magic. Which kinda lulls you into this false sense of, oh okey it must all get sorted by the age of 2.

No one I knew told me that 4.5 year olds still wake their parents in the middle of the night, several times a week, or that they can still go through periods of waking up at 5.10 in the morning and think its completely okey to come in to your bed and start demanding teve. And if anyone did tell me, I wrote them off as complete failures...

In South Melbourne the townhall has a beautiful old bell that rings the hours between 6am and 10pm. We used to tell the 4 year old to wait until he heard the bell in the morning, before he came in. At 5.20 one morning we asked if he had heard the bell, and my favorite reply was: yes.... (and very quietly) - Last week....

In other words, its really, really hard to stop this behaviour, and there are days when I dream of when they are 14 and 16 and fantasies about revenge...

For a long time we only had the 4 year old treating us midnight cuddles. Mainly since he was learning to sleep without his nappy and woke up to go to the toilet 2-3 times a night. Which for some reason he stronlgy believed we needed witness, every time. But, just as his little body was getting used to not needing to pee all night, his brother worked out how to climb out of the cot!

So now it's like a little lottery, who is going to come in, at what time, and how hard is it going to be to make them go back to sleep in their own bed?! If we do take the little cuddle-monkey back into their room, will he wake his brother and join forces?
We are generally lucky, only about 1-2 nights a week are disrupted before early morning. Mostly it's the pre-6am wake-up call which haunts me.

Therefore I have determined, that it is not the being pregnant, or the breast feeding or being awake all nights with an infant which prematurely ages mothers. It's actually the prolonged sleep deprivation which comes with small children.

I must say I was right about one thing when I was pregnant and delusional, I did end up with 2 beautiful, happy children that run laughing through the house and give me big cuddles, it's just that it's 2 in the morning.... !

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Confessions of a loud parent

In the last month my husband and I have been busy. Very busy. Not always positive busy, but we have worked very hard to improve our lives. We have relocated from the big smoke to a small country town, so we can give our boys the kind of upbringing we had.
Not only have we relocated ours and the boys home, but we have also opened a new office for our business. In the middle of this move, we had a 2 week holiday which we paid for in January, way before we decided to undertake these life improving changes.
The reasoning behind the timing was to relocate before the last week the schools take enrollments for next year, we didn't want to miss the cut-off to the local school.
In a nutshell, we had too much to organise and two children that still expected us to run a livable home with heaps of play, cuddles and good food.

Stressed parents are not good parents.

So a little more than 28 days ago, I joined the "28 day scream-free parenting challenge" which is run by a very wise lady named Jackie Hall. The challenge is to stop screaming at your kids in 28 days. Jackie helps out by sending motivating and informative emails every day, this is what I took away:
- figure out why I loose my temper and how to keep cool,
- understand and accept why my children might not always do as I ask them,
- work towards minimizing the stress in my life.

Well, the last point is the essence of what we have been working on. Small town living will not only give the boys a great upbringing, but costs of living are a lot lower, and life is much slower - in other words, we will be happier and more harmonic all around. Fingers crossed that it works for us!

So, why do I loose my temper? And why can't my children do as I ask them? Herein lies the challenge, which I have found is still very much present after the 28 days.
Jackie says to remember that children learn and grow through being curious, and sometimes that curiosity makes them wonder what will happen if: I say no to mamma regardless of what she wants, try the naughty thing one more time and see what happens, try almost the same thing again, etc.
Okey, I can accept that the children are learning through trial and error and that there is a reason to the constant testing.

Then we have the last cincher, my temper - I loose it. I have to admit. I have gotten a lot better the last 28 days at keeping hold of it, but it still runs away with me, regardless of the many tricks I have developed the last few weeks:
I turn away from my offending child and count to 10, I breath deeply in and out and try to imagine I'm on a beach in Thailand (this is really hard if someone is screaming at you), I go into the adjoining room and sit down and wait for the anger to pass, I even jump up and down whilst inwardly shouting at myself! (this still gives you away to the rest of the family and can scare young children if they are not prepared for their mother to start flying up and down, so I don't recommend it!)

Today has been a reasonable day, I only lost it twice. Both times in the supermarket. First when their erratic trolley driving crashed into an unsuspecting shopper, and second time when they continued to drive like two blind pensioners and took out another innocent bystander. " I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I HAVE TO TELL YOU, BE CAREFUL!!!"

Maybe the appropriate name for my challenge is the 28 year challenge! I'll stop screaming when they've grown up and moved out!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Idle time

I found myself with some idle time the other day. It doesn't happen much anymore and to be honest this idle time lasted for 6 minutes. Perhaps it was longer, but it took me a while to recognise the opportunity.
I was standing in our new house in Ballarat, and I was waiting for the removalists to arrive with our household. So I guess you could argue I was waiting, not just being idle. But it was when I stopped caring when the trucks would come around the corner that I realised that if I stopped actively waiting, I would have idle time.
A friend of mine blogged recently that idle time is important to the modern human, as there are too many things going on our lives and we would rid ourselves of stress if we added idle time into our lives. This is not a perfect quote, but her blog is linked on the side, so have a look.
Anyhow, this has stuck with me and was what prompted me to change myself from waiting (anxiously) for the removalists, to enjoying being idle. After all, I really couldn't do anything in an empty house except slow down and smell the cobwebs.
As I mentioned, after I realised I could be idle it was only 6 min until the trucks arrived, but those were precious minutes that I really enjoyed. They will stay with me as I try to organise our new house, set up our regional office, raise my two boys and all the things that comes with all of that. None of which offers any idle time.

Follow by Email