Too Much Affection….

I love my child.  I don’t necessarily love that she’s a light-sleeper and a chronic cat-napper to boot.  Nor that she is hard to entertain in the car and likes to express her disdain loudly.  Nor do I love it when she poops in the bath.  But I love her.  Her personality.  Her smiles.  Her quirks.  Everything that makes her, her.

Most parents will tell you that when you have a child, your cleanliness radar adapts.  When bubba was a baby, we sterilised her bottles, her pacifiers, her utensils, everything within a 5km radius of her.  Then we decided that cleaning her things in hot, soapy water was enough.  Later, I thought, if she’s licking our hardwood floor anyway, why do we bother?!?  It’s a slippery slope.

Lately, I’ve taken to wiping her mouthful of porridge with my fingers and eating it myself (hey it’s much quicker this way and I don’t like things to go to waste).  That is until this morning.  There was a dollop of porridge on her chin. I swiped it off with my index finger with a flourish.  And put it in my mouth.  It tasted salty.  I realised it was her booger.  I’m coming close to the outer limits of my affection 😉

 

Play: Melbourne Museum Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery

Bubba and I visited the new Children’s Gallery within the Melbourne Museum (it’s been opened since December 2016); we both love, love, love it!

A lot of the dedicated children’s play areas that we’ve visited in the past are aimed at much older kids; it’s really hard finding something suitable for children under the age of 2.  This gallery is pitched at children from birth – age five, and it truly delivers that.  There are lots of mirrors, places to crawl, tactile play, lights, sounds, outdoor areas, sandpits, water splashes!  Stuff that bubba can really play with.  She was sooooo excited; squealing and laughing throughout most of it.  She even took her first few serious steps here today; I’m so proud of her!

There’s also a cafe inside the gallery and a super nice parent’s room……the only downside is it’s a bit far from us and parking is pretty expensive (cheaper if you become a Museum member).  Here’s the official video introducing it all:

And you can find out more information to plan your visit here. x

When Parenting Get Easier

When bubba was one month old, I reached for my mobile phone during one of her 3am feeds and typed one-handed into the google search bar, ‘When does parenting get easier?’ I felt ashamed to ask this, because I didn’t want to be ungrateful.  I was grateful.  Grateful for an uncomplicated birth, grateful for a beautiful daughter, and grateful for the overwhelming love and support from my hubby, family and friends.  But if I had to describe the first three months of bubba’s life with only one word, ‘hard’ would be the honest answer.  Though it wasn’t without its beauty (namely, the sweetness of many firsts which passed too fleetingly), it was also flippin’ hard.  Feeding issues, two to three hourly feeding cycles, lots of washing, lots of fear, lots of tears, lots of take-away food (and then feeling guilty for eating take-away food)…..

My google search that night/morning tells me that there is no consensus on when parenting gets easier (surprise, surprise).  I think Bronwyn McCahon sums it well here:

Motherhood is a constant challenge, just in different ways. When you’ve got really young kids the demands are very physical (getting them dressed, wiping bottoms, helping them eat) but I can already feel things slowly shifting from physical to emotional demands as they get older and have to navigate different issues at school.

When the going gets tough, it’s important to remember.  Remembering does two things.  One, it reminds you of your own strength, of how you have overcome difficult circumstances in the past.  Two, it reminds you that things will pass; everything is in a constant state of flux.

I remember that bubba would scream at the top of her lungs for the whole duration of car trips.  Nowadays, she sits happily with her book and sometimes even sings and claps along to the radio (and only screams when she’s tired).

I remember that bubba would scream whenever she was put in the pram.  Nowadays, she lets us sit her there for longer periods of time and can be distracted with food if all else fails.

I remember that bubba would cry every night from 5pm onwards for a couple of hours.  Nowadays, we can even take her out for dinner (and she is only a bit grouchy sometimes).

I remember that bubba used to scream whenever we changed her diaper or her clothes.  Nowadays, she only screams for half of those times 😉

I remember that I barely had time for breakfast or lunch, and that I would often have to make and eat sandwiches one handed.  Today I took her out to a proper restaurant, she sat across me in a high chair, and we shared a meal together.  She was officially my lunch date.

So on all those counts, parenting has gotten easier.  I think that’s what’s important: to remember where you came from, and compare it to where you are now (not to anyone else or anyone else’s baby).  The parent-child relationship is unique, we all have different temperaments and personalities and no one’s story/ journey is the same.

And when the going gets really really tough, sniff bubba’s head.  I swear there’s pheromones or something there – it makes you sigh and go, oh never mind that you don’t sleep and wants to party at 3am, I will always love you anyway.

If you feel anxious or depressed, do seek professional help from the good folks at the following links or speak to your Doctor:

PANDA Perinatal and Anxiety Depression Australia

Lifeline

Thoughts on the Elves and the Shoemaker (and fairy tales in general)

Bubba recently got given a set of the Ladybird classic fairy tale book collection.  She loves, loves, loves it and spends a vast majority of the day pulling each book out of the box that it comes in and flicking through the pages (amongst poking my eye out with the sharp edges).  Tonight, she chose the Elves and the Shoemaker for her bedtime story.  I must admit, I’ve never come across this story before; it’s obviously a gaping hole in my fairytale education.  So I was just as intrigued with the story development as she was.

The start of the story was interesting; it said something along the lines of this:

The shoemaker and his wife were very poor.  Over the years they got poorer and poorer.  Finally the day came when the shoemaker had only enough leather to make one last pair of shoes.  Once the last pair of shoes gets sold, him and his wife will be destitute.

All I could think of from this point forward was: that’s a terrible business model.  If he’s consistently working, shouldn’t he make more and more?  And even if that’s not the case, should not the sale of the last pair of shoes give him the funds to make more shoes?  Isn’t that the point of a sale?  Or was he so far down the line of bad business, that the shoes will sell for less than the cost of the raw materials?

I mentioned these inconsistencies to my hubby.  Then we started talking about fairy tales in general.  Some of them are just plain weird.

Like the princess and the pea; why is it a good thing if you get bruised by a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty feather mattresses.  What is a real princess anyway…..Do we even want our children to be real princesses?!

And what’s the deal with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  Why is Snow White responsible for cooking and cleaning for seven men? And how can you resurrect someone by knocking the poisonous comb out of her hair, or the poisonous apple out of her mouth?  Obviously it’s a different type of poison to those used in Greek tragedies, where a single touch is deadly.  They need to get more powerful stuff for the fairy tale poisons.

And, and, and……why are beautiful people always kind and ugly people always evil?

Hopefully bubba be kind, irrespective of how she looks.  And hopefully she won’t judge the character of a person based on their looks.  I know, I know.  Fairy tales are just that.  Tales.  Sometimes life is easier if we don’t read too much into stuff 😉  But really has anyone else ever thought that fairy tales are perfectly normal stories when you read them as a child, but that they are perfectly creepy when you read them as adults?

Feeling Like Yourself

I had an illuminating conversation with a group of friends the other day. One of the girls described a workshop that she attended,

‘We were sitting around the table and the facilitator said, write down a list of things that you like to do. Next to that, write down a list of things that you’re good at. Now circle the activities which overlap; that’s where the magic happens. And here I was sitting in a room with the most amazing, talented, witty, clever group of women that I knew …..and everyone had blank pages. I wanted to leap out of my seat and grab someone else’s page. I can rattle off at least ten things that they were brilliant at, but I struggled to come up with my own list.’

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, many of us have lost sight of what we love and what we are good at. Or is it that somewhere along the way, we became far more critical of our output. And when there’s a disconnect between our intention and our work, we become disheartened. We stop writing. We stop drawing. We stop creating.

A ten year old version of myself would proudly declare that she was good at swimming, and that she loved the ocean. That she’s okay at drawing but she’s fantastic at reading. She would be just as quick to tell you that she’s clumsy and that she sucks at dancing. And it would be a fairly objective assessment of myself, without pretence or judgment.

Nowadays, I’m not sure what I’m good at. I’ve stopped doing a lot of the things I love because there are ‘more important things’ to do.  I’ve become good at the things required of me, but I’m not sure if they are what I’m naturally talented at.  This is further compounded when I became a Mother, because having a baby quite literally, rocks your world.  What little energy I have is focused on my family’s needs.  If you want a fancy term for this, there are many articles going around the internet which addresses this ‘Connection Depletion’: i.e. the idea that we become disconnected from who we are once we throw ourselves into being mamas.

“It’s the complete lack of thinking about what we need because we’re too busy juggling what everyone else needs” (see the book Happy Mama by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz which gives some good suggestions for how you can find yourself again).

Over the break, my hubby and I managed to get into the Ocean and go snorkelling. It was a great thing for my soul and for my energy levels. I felt like I could survive quite a few more sleepless nights, because I was refreshed by that one dip in the ocean. And that’s what we’ve got to keep doing. Keep going back to what we love and to make time for it. Sometimes the washing can wait, while you go for a swim.

As we breathe out 2016 and breathe in 2017, I’m going to be more intentional about making time for doing more of the things that I love. I picked charms and glass beads to wear on my bracelet, as a visual reminder to myself to keep going back to the Ocean.  To cultivate my strengths.

We lose ourselves in the things we love, but we find ourselves there too.

Pictured are the flip flop and starfish charms, together with some glass beads which reminds me of an octopus and the ocean (bracelet, charm and beads all from Trollbeads). PS. The pudgy feet you see in the background belongs to my daughter haha.

This post is sponsored by Trollbeads Australia. Each bead is thoughtfully designed and individually crafted by hand. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support the original content on Brunch with Viv.

Play: Playdays Indoor Play Centre

Coming up with outings for a ten month old can be tricky.  Ten months is that wonderful age where I feel like we’re coming out of the haze of the newborn days.  Don’t get me wrong; newborn days comes with its own sweetness:  newness, delicacy, drunken-sailor milk-fed looks.  But ten months old is FUN.  Naps for Miss E is down to two, and there’s a bigger stretch of “awake” time which finally allows for some decent form of outing!  Shopping centre trips (whilst easy and fun for me) are getting to be pricey (shopping and eating out = dangerous).  I also want Miss E to be out of the house and moving!  So we decided to try Playdays, an indoor play centre for pre-schoolers.

Logistics:

Entrance fee is $8 for bubba’s age (free for adults), $7 if you become a member (as of November 2016).  The place is basically an indoor netball court, fitted to be a play centre.  There are a few locations, we went to the one at 350 Blackburn Rd, Doncaster East Victoria 3109.

Our experience:

There was heaps of space!  Miss E looked beside herself at the vast amount of space; she crawled excitedly everywhere.  Some of the equipment was aimed at an older age group, but there was plenty enough for her to do.  The ball pit was a hit.  As was the general soft slopey play equipment.  She also sat in one of those cars, which she manages to move around with her legs.  At her age, she needs to be closely supervised (some of the older kids can also be a bit rough).  There’s a “cafe” there where Mums can order a snack, a hot drink etc.  But think more like the Kiosk at the pool, rather than the local cafe.

We had a good time there, and will likely visit again.  $8 is probably a bit steep for a weekly visit, but every now and then it’s a good option.  I probably wouldn’t take bubs at any younger an age; 10 months is quite a good age.  Miss E got a good workout and slept soundly after!  She had heaps of fun.

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No Emotions are Off Limits

I have a very vocal child.  It’s so much better now that she baby babbles; it has dramatically reduced the amount of crying time, as she progressively learns to communicate in other ways.  But when she does cry, it’s not a whimper.  It’s a heart-wrenching, everything-thrown-in kinda wail.  When this happen, I’m flustered.  And I’ve found myself saying to her more and more, ‘It’s okay.  Mummy’s here.  There’s no need to cry.’

But today I take pause.  When I’m sad, I want to tell other people about it.  Anger, frustration, elation and everything in between are valid emotions.  No feelings are off-limits.  Maybe there is sometimes a need to cry.  Maybe it’s better to teach her that all emotions are valid and to name these emotions, instead of always rushing to shush them.  Maybe (when her basic needs are met) sometimes she needs to wail and for me to understand that, to get it out of her system.  Maybe she’s someone with a knack for language and communication, and I need to teach her to use that to her advantage.

Don’t know where I am going with this.  Just random musings this Thursday…..

On Babies and Sleep

The four-month sleep regression.  I don’t know if it’s a “real thing” or if it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby if you think about it too much, you attract exactly what you fear will eventuate.  Whatever the theory, our little bubs went through it to some degree.  We also transitioned her to her cot from her bassinet around the four month mark AND transitioned her from her muslin swaddles to her sleeping bag (as she was rolling a heap!) at the same time, so maybe it was too many changes at once.  Childcare was looming in the not too distant future and I didn’t want her to not be able to sleep on her own.  It hurts me to think that she might have to cry herself to sleep in an unfamiliar place for her naps.  So I was determined to help her to sleep.

Sleep is one of those touchy subjects, somewhat emotionally charged (like breastfeeding I find).  I read up on ‘cry it out’ methods, controlled crying methods, responsive settling methods, no-cry sleep solutions to everything in between.  We even got a sleep consultant (who was very helpful).  In the end I found that no one solution worked for us.  It really depends on your baby’s temperament and your own temperament (what you’re comfortable with) and a lot of trial and error.  I know that the mantra is that consistency is key, but for us understanding our child in a particular moment was the key.  Some days, she would ache to be held — I could see that she was insecure and scared, we would rock her to sleep on those days.  Some days, she didn’t want to be held or rocked and just wanted to be left to ‘do her thing’ — so we let her whinge a bit and she self settled.  If there was anything I learnt, putting a baby to sleep is more of an Art than a Science (just like everything else baby-related really).

I found these lines from a blog post useful:

In my experience of parenthood, these things have been consistently true: 1) Nothing changes completely overnight. 2) Nothing stays the same for very long. 3) Everything takes more patience than you think it might but usually it’s patience you manage to find. 4) Keep chugging along for long enough and you’ll eventually get to pat yourself on the back for having a tiny human who’s taken to sleeping, or eating, or peeing in a pot.

Full blog post is from Reading my Tea Leaves here. 

PS. I’m happy to note (that for the time being), she’s sleeping a lot better now at the six months mark and would put herself to sleep for most naps!  Maybe she’s finished her leap.  Or teething doesn’t bother her as much.  Or I pulled back on the dairy.  You know what?  I don’t know why.  It’s unlikely anything I did 😉

How Do You Manage to Shower with a Little One?

Having a little one is learning to live again.  You come to rethink things.  And find creative ways of achieving every day tasks.  Like Showering.

Here are some possible options:

  1. Skip the Shower.  Sport the new-mum look.  Not tenable in the long run.
  2. Wait til my hubby comes home.  Bonus is I actually get to have a relaxing shower, BUT the downside is I have to put up with greasy hair the whole day.  Yuck.
  3. Cart bubs into the bathroom with me.  I used to wheel her bassinet / bouncer into the bathroom while I shower.  Not too bad an option, but bubs gets bored quite easily so halfway through she will start screaming.  And my heartfelt rendition of the Lion King sung for the umpteenth time will no longer work its magic.
  4. Wait til bubs is napping, then take the baby monitor into the bathroom with me.  This is a high risk, high returns option.  And my preferred option at the moment.  I can usually count on a decent 1 – 2 hour nap in the morning. So I make a quick dash into the bathroom for a shower once she’s asleep.  Here’s some very scientific back of the envelope wisdom:

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Yep almost without fail, if she does wake – it’s when I’ve shampooed my hair and lathered the soap and just before the rinse off.  She must have an internal compass which lets her know this is the best time to wake up, to see Mum in a funny state.

Anyone else have other more tenable suggestions?

 

When your Child Doesn’t Love the Car

car

My experiences with parenting (all two months of it! :-/) has made me more aware that a lot of life is about experimenting.  And that the more experiments I make, the better.  Before I had my daughter, it never occurred to me that my baby might not like the pram.  Or that she might not take the bottle of expressed milk.  To me they were just actions that babies did – they travelled in a pram and they often drink from bottles.  Afterall, that’s what I see the babies on TV and at shopping centres do.  (As you can tell, I had very limited contact with newborns/ babies before my own).  The only ‘research’ I did into buying baby things was whether the items looked pretty, whether I could afford it and whether they fit my aesthetics.  Naive and a bit vain I know.

Little did it occur to me that babies are people with very individual personalities.  And that they might not like a bundle of things, or that it might take them awhile to get used to it.  Lo and behold, my daughter does not like the car.  In fact, she dislikes it with a passion and makes it vehemently known.  Here are some strategies we have tried below (with a vague success rating next to it) – – in case you happen to have a spirited child who does not love the car either.  These might come in handy?

Strategies to make the Car Seat/ Car Ride More Tolerable for All Involved

  • Play sounds (Classical Music/ Nursery Rhymes/ Child’s Favourite Song/ White Noise).  Rating 3.5/5 Our little girl seems to like Mozart, the songs her giraffe toy makes, the womb sound on the white noise app we have and the Bobby McFerring Don’t Worry Be Happy song.  But there’s no sure win success and there’s only so many minutes of womb sounds I can take.
  • Hold her hands.  Rating 2.5/5  This seems to settle her a little, but needs to be combined with other strategies.
  • Put up Sunshades on the car windows.  Rating 3/5.  The sun and hot weather does seem to bother her a bit.  She’s much happier on cloudy and rainy days.
  • Talk to her / narrate a story to her.  Rating 3.5/5.  This strategy is extra successful if someone is sitting next to her.  My hubby would narrate whole narratives about her toys whilst sitting next to her and this seems to work quite well.  Only down side is that this is rather hard to do if I’m the only one in the car with her, and I have to concentrate on the driving.
  • Making sure she’s in a good mood before entering the car.  Rating 4/5.  This strategy is very successful but difficult to achieve.  Sometimes when you’ve got to get somewhere, you’ve got to get somewhere – regardless of little bub’s mood.
  • Timing car rides with nap times.  Rating -1/5 or 4/5.  This one can go either way.  She can either fall asleep in her car seat (dream!) or she can get extra, extra cranky and yell louder.
  • Take her on more car rides.  Rating 3/5.  Only time will tell.  Out of necessity, our daughter takes at least 2 car rides a day when we drive Daddy to the train station.  We’re about to take a LONG drive over Easter – – so that will be an extra exciting adventure.  Who knows what will happen!  She’ll either hate or love the car even more after that?
  • Things we are yet to try:  Putting a mirror in the back so we can see each other, sticking a photo of me right in front of her in the back seat, getting a Noggle, feeding her before the car ride.

If anyone has any other ideas for us to try, please do share!  I’m all ears and willing to give most things a go.