Parenting

What they don’t tell you about being a parent

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If you’re anything like me, when you made the decision to become a parent then you did a whole lot of googling.

You read about the joys of being a parent. The first smiles, the first steps, the first words, hearing them say “I love you” for the first time.

You read about the trials of being a parent. The sleepless nights, the nappy blow outs, the tantrums, hearing them say “I hate you” for the first time.

But what you don’t read about, what no one tells you – is that it can be absolutely heartbreaking.

Your child is like a raw nerve walking around on the outside of your body, and every time they hurt, you hurt ten fold.

Every time they have a hard day, and you see the stress in their little eyes as they hold back the tears… your heart absolutely breaks and you have to keep it together and tell them it’s going to be okay. 

When they fall over and scratch their knee and you watch them trying not to overreact and holding back every instinct to swoop in, when you let them get up and dust themselves off because you know that they need to decide if they need you for themselves… it’s the hardest thing.

Being a parent, it’s incredible. Most days you go to bed feeling totally fulfilled about the little humans you are sharing this life with.

But some days you find yourself up at midnight worried about an event that upset your child that day, more worried than you would ever be if that excact thing happened to you.

Because your children are your rawest nerve, and no matter how much you protect them it’s inevitable that they are going to have shitty days.

And as their parent, it’s heartbreaking to watch. Even though that we know this is a part of life, an important part of life, it doesn’t make it any easier… 

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School holiday hacks

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Happy new year guys!

Phew, now that the silly season is behind us, I am finding it harder and harder to keep the kids entertained these school holidays. And the crazy weather we’re having in Melbourne really isn’t helping (30+degrees and storming).

I have, however, come up with a few hacks that keeps the kids busy (and this Mama sane)!

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  1. Indoor hide and seek.
    Duh, right!?! But seriously, you can play for HOURS, hide in the same spot over and over again and even get the toddler to seek if you’re after a few more minutes of R&R.
  2. Minecraft.
    Screen time, square eyes blah blah blah. Guys, “It’s an implicit way for them to develop self-regulation skills that then transfer to offline spaces—through having this freedom to create on Minecraft, they learn how to identify and work towards offline goals like finishing class assignments or graduating from college later in life.” Read more about it’s education value here.
  3. Good ol’ fashion Mums and Dads.
    Let the kids play the parents and you play the kid. They love it, but they also learn how challenging it can be to have someone at the absolute beck and call. Play an hour of this baby, and then sit back and enjoy at least 5 minutes nag free.
  4. Foam  dolls crafternoon [NOT SPONSORED]
    Not only does this keep them entertained (and the baby fed in our case, its okay guys we didn’t let her swallow it) it’s a really interesting way of seeing how your kids perceive themselves and you. Task them with creating a foam doll of each of your family members, then sit back and watch the hilarity ensue. “Mum, I want to put prickles on Dad like when he doesn’t wash his face and gives me a goodbye kiss.”
  5. iPad in bed
    Yeah I did! Seriously, being a kid is exhausting and if they’re anything like Oliver they go and go and go and go… we’ve downloaded a few games on the iPad and let him watch an episode or two of his favourite show on netflix. It’s a great way to get him to stop, and an even way to give me a break… because let’s be honest, it takes a lot of energy to keep the kids happy on school holidays and it’s okay to take the easy way out every now and again.

How do you keep your kids busy whilst you’re stuck at home these school holidays?

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Dear Imogen, on your first birthday…

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(Well, a week and a half later.)

Dear Imogen,

I can’t believe you are one. My baby, my last baby.

You are a shining light in all of our lives. We just adore you, and whilst I find it so hard to believe that anyone could love you as much as your Mummy and Daddy do, when I see the way Oliver looks at you I know that you make his heart skip a beat too.

He wants to marry you. He wants to spend every day for the rest of his life with you. And I know why. You are perfection.

My one wish is that you both adore each other as much as you do now for the rest of your life. You are his best friend, and he is yours.

You are graceful, there is something about you that is SO elegant. You move, you crawl, you have taken a few steps but you don’t yet walk. You crawl so fast, and you like the security of it. You could walk tomorrow or you could wait a month. And you climb, boy do you climb. But not blindly, you calculate… you push your stall up the couch/bed/wall, and up you go.

You talk, you sing, you yell. Your first sound was Mama, but your first proper word was Panda. You don’t say Mama any more, your vocabulary includes: Panda, Dadda, Oliver (Obaba), Babcia, Hello (Hebo), and Ta.

You love playing the Ta game. You pass it and say Ta, and we pass it back. You could play for hours. You also enjoy pointing at yourself in the mirror, chasing Oliver around the house using your walker, poking your tongue out, anything to do with water and smacking Ollie (mostly on the butt).

You love animals, food, milk and us. You’re not overly interested in your toys… unless of course Oliver is playing with them. You are cautious with new people, and take a long time to warm up. You are so cuddly with us, and clingy when you’re tired. But around other people you are very chill.

You’ve had a tricky relationship with sleep, but then your schedule has been all over the shop. Now that we are home, you actually love sleep and I actually get some. It’s fantastic!

I never realised how much we needed you before you came into our lives. But we did. All of us. It’s been the most amazing year with you my Imdog, I just love watching the little girl you are becoming.

Thank you for choosing us. You are everything we never knew we needed and I couldn’t imagine our lives without you.

Happy first birthday baby girl.

 

Navy boy

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James and I met the weekend before he joined the Navy. I didn’t know his name for an entire week and he was saved in my phone as Navy Boy. To me, he has always come with the Navy. And yeah, okay I knew what I was getting into but funnily enough I actually fell in love with him- not his job.

Crazy, right?

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I haven’t exactly kept my feelings about being a Navy wife a secret. Coming second to your husbands job is one thing, but seeing your child(ren) be constantly let down by the most reliable guy on the earth because of his job- now that is honest heartbreak.

After Oliver’s minor breakdown throughout our big separation  (12 months due to posting and me deciding I had had enough and had to move home) we knew James’ days as a serving member of the RAN were numbered. And thus, just under 12 months ago, he submitted his discharged and began applying for the police force.

This was moving along really nicely, when he decided to try his hand at securing an I.T job. And before we knew it, he had one (of course he did, he is amazing and an absolute asset to anyone who gets the pleasure of working with him).

Just two weeks ago, James’ discharge from the Navy came through. And in true Navy style it came through just hours before his last shift ended and only three days before he started his new role, but I digress.

So, after almost 9 years as a defence family- we are now 2 weeks into civilian life. And honestly, it’s not that different. I mean, for the last 18months we have been blessed with a land posting, which surely has helped with the transition.

But it’s the little things, like enrolling O into Primary School (good timing) and knowing he will be able to complete his school years there. And finding the perfect daycare for Im and knowing she won’t have to switch in a years time. Even finding the time to register the dog in Victoria- because we know we are here forever now. We can plan holidays, because you know- no crash postings. Oh and weekends, not duties so we can actually be sure James will be home.

So yeah, it’s not that different. But at the same time, it just feel so different.

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I mean, if you could imagine living life on a fault line- that’s kind of what our life has been like for the last 9 years. It’s been amazing, we’ve both had fantastic opportunities and BOY have we met some fantastic people. But you never really know when it’s going to all come crashing down. And you literally get no say in it, I mean you can build a stronger house but when that tremor comes, my gosh can it really shake you up.

I know there are going to be days harder than others in this transition. I mean, it was our whole life for 9 long years. But there will never be a day harder than ANZAC day 2015, James was deployed but came back to march in Canberra. O was so excited to have his Daddy back. When James joined the march down ANZAC parade, the look of fear washed over O’s face. He ran up to many men in their uniforms looking for his Dad. We finally found him in the parade and O ran up to him. I had to try and hold my 3 year old son back from his Dad whilst he was screaming, kicking, crying. He just wanted his Dad. He was terrified as he wasn’t confident that he would come home that night. The look on James’ face as he marched was just as heart breaking. People around us stared, some were annoyed- I explained to some the situation, but I gave up caring what people thought long before that. Fortunately our au pair was nearby and she helped to calm my heartbroken little boy, whilst James completed his march. And that was his life for 12 months, never knowing when his Daddy was coming or going.

It’s not easy being a defence family. We all made huge sacrifices, obviously James made huge sacrifices but the person who really missed out the most was our little O. It really shaped every fibre of his being for a long time, and it has taken almost two years for him to shake it off. It’s such a relief that he NEVER has to go through it again, and that Im will never know the stress that her big bro went through.

Being a navy wife has been an absolute privilege, not because of the Navy but because of James. I would do it all in a heartbeat to be with him. But I am glad to no longer but married to the Navy, and the best bit- I still get my James!

Why I don’t yell at my son

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My son, boy does he have a lot of energy and that ol’ thing called selective hearing. Honestly, he can be a handful sometimes- and for a while there I didn’t even like taking him out in public.

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It wasn’t so much the behaviour I couldn’t stand, because I have long learnt how to deal with that. It was the stares as I dealt with my son in my way.

Sometimes, the hardest thing about parenting truly is other parents.

So here’s the deal, I don’t yell at my son. Okay, I do, I’m human I lose it sometimes. But it’s not my preferred method. And sure, I’ve done a lot of reading on positive parenting and for the most part I follow it but I’m not necessarily the quint essential positive mum because in many ways I vary from the core ideals.

I believe in consequences. My son acts out, he faces consequences. We dish them out, or sometimes we tell him later. And we move on. We don’t hold grudges in this family. 

I believe in learning moments. My son might tease someone. I explain it’s wrong and why. We don’t tease in this family.

I don’t believe in hitting. I’ve smacked him before, when he was a smacker. The first time he smacked me back harder. The next time we ended up both crying. We don’t hit in this family.

And we try not to yell in this family. Why? Honestly, it doesn’t work. That’s not to say it doesn’t work for your kids, it is to say that it doesn’t work for mine. The second I raise my voice, he stops hearing my words and all he can hear is my tone. The only reason I see a change in behaviour is because I’ve scared him. He doesn’t learn anything, and he’ll probably do whatever it was that made me yell again because he hasn’t learnt a thing. Except fear.

It’s been a really hard slog, this not yelling business. Some days I feel like I’m trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. But now I’ve made him a square hole and he fits perfectly. It’s all coming together and I am really beginning to reap the rewards of this positive parenting business. And, primarily, so is he.

 

Four tips to get you through the four month sleep regression…

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I thought I knew what tired was. I had solo parented my first born for a large portion of his life. We got through our seconds newborn phase AND months of reflux.

Yup, I was sure I knew what exhaustion was. And I was sure it was all downhill from here.

But then the four month sleep regression hit us like an absolute freight train. Six weeks of sleep stretches averaging about an hour and a half, but ranging anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours.

I thought I knew what exhaustion was, but I now know I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I have laughed hysterically, I have ugly cried in the shower, heck I have literally pulled my hair out. I’m not going to try and describe it to you, because there is nothing like it!

But we survived. We made it out the other side relatively unscathed. And here’s four tips to help you survive too…

sleep regression

1. Sleep when the baby sleeps. I know, I know, how will you get any thing done or any ‘you’ time. But you’ll quickly learn that if you just do one load of laundry or sneak in one episode of GoT bubs will wake up the second you put your head down. When you’re suffering sleep deprivation every minute of sleep counts, so get it when you can!

2. Ask for help. When I was about 3 weeks deep into sleep deprivation I broke down to my mum. I was done. The next day, she and Dad came over- cleaned my whole house and gave me some down time. Not only did they seriously improve my home life, it made me feel so supported.

3. Work as a team. When I was exhausted, everything was my husbands fault. He couldn’t feed her, or settle her, or heaven forbid he sneezed and woke her… But then he took over for one night, and he nailed it. Then we started working as a team. When things didn’t go to plan, we didn’t blame each other- we supported each other. When I wanted to lose my shit at him because, well I was tired and wanted someone to take it out on, I would take a deep breath and tell him I was feeling upset. Being on the same team was a total game changer!

4. Go out! This is obviously in contradiction to point one, but in reality you should balance the two. At first I stayed home all day because I wanted to catch as much sleep as possible, but if bubs wouldn’t sleep is get really stressed out which I predict didn’t help her sleep situation. I mean, I often wasn’t getting sleep anyway so at least when I was out and about I wasn’t obsessing over how exhausted I was.

At the end of the day, you need to figure out what works for you. Sleep deprivation is no joke, and there is no easy journey through it. But know that you are not alone and you’ve totally got this, even when you feel like you don’t!

To any parents currently going through this, please know you are not alone. And if you are really struggling reach out to a friend, your GP or find some great resources from beyond blue.

To my six month old…

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There’s a lump in my throat as I write this, for I know that you are truly not a newborn anymore. Six months old, half a year old. My my, where did the time go?

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Six months ago, we checked into Frankston hospital, a planned c-section that was bumped to the top of the list. You were originally booked in to arrive christmas eve, but thanks to a lot of good luck (and a few early babies) we got to have you three days early.  We got to be home for christmas.

You were born December 21, at 1:36PM. 3.5kg of absolute bliss. Your birth was the labour I had always dreamt of. I was terrified, as anyone would be, that I had made the right decision. But as I held you in recovery and got to feel your skin on mine, I knew that we had made the right choice.

I could say the happiest moment in my life was the moment you got to meet your brother, boy was he excited to see you. But since then, the two of you have provided me with so many heart warming moments. I have never seen anyone love as fiercely as your brother loves you. And the way your eyes light up, I can see the feeling is very much reciprocated. I feel such peace knowing that you both have a best friend for life.

Imogen Lee, you are a thinker. Your smile has to be earned, although you always have one in waiting for Oliver and for your Dad. You don’t make a lot of fuss, but when you want something you know how to get it. You don’t cry much, but when you do boy do you scream.

Your relationship with sleep has been a tricky one. You really put us to the test with your four month sleep regression, and you still wake at least twice per night. But I know that you won’t need me forever. Know that when you do need me I will be here, whether you are 6 months or 36.

Boy, when did you get so big?

You love avocado and banana. You’ve tried a few others, but you’re not to phased by them. You’re not a big fan of baby lead weaning, although you do feed yourself with the spoon. The more you can get in your mouth the better. And heaven forbid you are made to sit in your highchair for too long before a meal.

Six months old and you are still breast fed. It’s not been an easy journey, and we have found a great balance with mixed feeding. I have not intention of giving up breast feeding just yet, but boy do you love your bot bot. And of course you love to be able to feed yourself.

Not a huge fan of tummy time, you have just started rolling a little. I am in no rush to get you moving, I can see you watching and I know that for now you are happy taking it all in. You have started sitting on your own, and you love that. It gives you a great vantage point in which you can take it all in.

You are gentle. I know that might seem contradictory to the fact that your favourite pastime is pulling our hair. But I can feel it, from the day you were born, I knew you were going to be gentle.

Thank you for picking us to be your family. You have brought so much light into our lives. We are all so totally in love with you.

Happy halfy my beautiful little lady.