The Worst Advice for New Parents

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When you have children, everyone is suddenly your best friend and guidance counsellor. They know everything there is to know about babies and you ought to know, too. I understand that most have the best intentions and are genuinely nice people.
But could everyone just stop, please?!

Here’s my list of some generic parenting advice that is sure to cause an eye roll injury.

“Sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Okay, first of all: this advice is whack because babies don’t sleep. Secondly, you certainly can’t sleep when they are awake, so duh. And besides, everyone knows this is the only time you have to attempt to do everything at once, hence achieving nothing at all.
I went to the doctor the other week to talk mental health, and this was her advice to me. I almost laughed! I have three other kids, I’m never sleeping again!

“Enjoy them while they’re small.”
A good and wonderful friend informed me that people mean well when they say this, and they probably do. But I have an issue with this piece of advice.
Yes, babies do grow up fast. Yes it’s nice to slow down and savour baby-hood. But I fear that in telling people to make sure they enjoy every precious moment, we’re piling on unnecessary guilt and pressure.
Sometimes being a parent sucks. In fact, some days just suck, and no amount of ‘enjoying’ is going to fix that. I often feel guilt that I don’t love the heck out of being a parent every single day, and that does nothing to help me enjoy it more.

“Breast is best!”
As a mildly enthusiastic breast feeder, can I please tell you to get out now. We are all very aware that breast milk is recommended, and is the first preference for many. However, not everyone can – or wants to – breastfeed. And not every baby can or wants to breastfeed. And that, my friend, is none of your business.
A fed baby is a happy baby; and that’s all you ought to be concerned about.

“You should have your baby in a routine!”
I love a good routine, I do. But newborns and infants have their own agenda; they’re not going to conform to the ways of the world, thank you very much. Dinner at 3AM, let’s go wild baby! Parents and bubs will find their own routine in their own time. Fred is three months old this week and I still don’t get what the heck she’s up to.

“Does your baby sleep through the night? Blah-Blah’s baby sleeps through the night!”
Yeah my four year old still doesn’t sleep through the night. You’re cool.

. . .

I understand that when people get older and wiser they want to pass on their lessons, but I want you to put yourself in the position of the new parents. Would you have liked to be stopped and given unsolicited advice? And the thing is, the stuff I’ve listed here is pretty mild. I’ve heard some horrific stories from parents being approached, questioned or lectured on how to handle their baby. Perhaps we just shouldn’t; or at least wait until we are asked.

You know what I do find helpful? The dear older women who stop to tell me I’m doing a great job and to look after myself. That is something I genuinely enjoy. It’s supportive, encouraging and acknowledges the struggle of parenthood.
That’s the sort of old lady I want to be one day.

And while we’re here, I’m going to share my own (unsolicited) advice for new parents:

  • Go easy on yourself. You can’t do everything, and that’s okay. Let stuff go and delegate!
  • Accept help when you can. I’m hopeless at it, but I’m starting to understand the need for a village.
  • Reading stories, singing songs, napping, playing, heck even watching TV together is not wasting time. It’s okay to slow down.
  • Parent your own way, in your own time. No one knows your kids better than you. And if you feel like you need help – do ask. There are so many resources and professionals out there ready to help.

And lastly – you’re not alone! Parenting is hard as heck, but we’re all in it together.

 

Have you been given some ghastly parenting advice? Please share with us in the comments!

Raw Motherhood: peering through the cracks of a sometimes-together mama.

“I don’t know how you do it.”

A lovely older woman said this to me in a waiting room on Friday. I was holding the baby, keeping an eye on a toddler and pleading with the pre-schooler to return back to me, while the school kid read a book in the corner. “I don’t know how you do it” is a response I get quite regularly these days; whether I’m hauling the kids out alone to the supermarket, or after telling a story about our home life. It’s incredible, it seems, that one woman can single handedly manage four children and live to tell the tale; perhaps a little frazzled and worse for wear, but no real harm done.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t really do it. Not well, anyway.

I cracked the other night. It had been building up for awhile, and the blow was huge. I won’t go into full details, but it involved a pre-schooler running towards a road and me losing my jam in front of a nurse (who was holding my baby and watching the other kids while I hunted down said pre-schooler). I was messy. I was shattered. I was a short fall from a deep depression. And I was pretty damn sure I didn’t want to be anyone’s parent anymore.

That feeling grew over the evening and was still present the next morning when I woke up. Thankfully, it passed once I’d showered and got my parenting-groove on. But what if I’m not so lucky next time? What if I crack so hard I break? It’s entirely possible (and yes, I’m in the process of seeking help).

The most disturbing outcome of this mini-breakdown – for me at least – was the realisation that I am a giant hypocrite. I often write about how it’s okay to feel like you suck at parenting or that you’ve failed as a mother, because everyone has those days. And it’s true! It is!

But it turns out that I’m not okay with failing. I’m not okay with sucking. I’m not okay with having a meltdown in front of a professional and a stranger in public. I will tell everyone else that this happens to the best of us; you’re only one person, you can’t do it all.

But me? Nope. I hold myself to an impossible standard which I fail every damn day.
No wonder I’m drowning here.

Despite my best attempts to self-sabotage, I can admit when I need help. Self-awareness is one of my strengths; I had already seen a doctor the day before to get the ol’ mental health plan rolling. I have a lot I need to work on, and life will continue to throw mud up on the way. But it’s a start. And that’s all that matters right now.

I don’t do life with four kids well.
I don’t ‘do it’.
I don’t always like it, either.

And those are all normal feelings of motherhood. Remember that, mamas. Take care of yourselves. Reach out when you need to. Your little people need it – but more importantly, you do too.

 

 

Being Mama to Four: My First Week of Parenting Too Many Children.

It’s been a week since we welcomed little ‘Fred into the world, and it has been … intense. In other words: “flipping insane; really who thought four small people (including three under-four) would be a good idea?!”

We did. Suckers.

I’ve found myself reduced to being nothing but a walking life support machine; the sole purpose of my existence right now is keeping four miniature terrorists small people alive. This basically looks like me shouting these things all at once:

  1. GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!!
  2. STOP HITTING/KICKING/BITING YOUR BROTHER/SISTER!
  3. DON’T TOUCH THE BABY!
  4. DON’T DO (insert various dangerous things here) !!!

Oh, and I’m also throwing sandwiches, bottles of water and fresh nappies at them, while drowning myself in instant coffee.

Ah, sweet family life.

There is good reason for this not being the face of modern parenting. No one would ever have children again. “Hey, want to sacrifice your body and sanity for little people who are going to slowly kill your will to live; whining, pooping, and forever scrolling on Netflix all the way?”
“… no thanks. I’m fine with my freedom, wine and not having to share a wheel of camembert with an army of shrieking banshees.”

Banshees love camembert.

Anyway, when it comes to creating new people, I am very, very done. I am incredulous that we have not come up with a better solution to growing people than inside other people. Last week I remembered just how damn painful labour is – conveniently while I was in labour.  I also decided then that it is all stupid and there is no way I was ever going to do it again because of how stupid it really is. Mature, right?

And newborns, man. They don’t let you sleep; and if they do, you’re constantly waking and flipping out over whether they’re still alive.  I had forgotten the feeling of pure exhaustion that burns behind your eyes; how a feed-burp-settle cycle can take two hours in the middle of the night; how it’s somehow magically possible to run on such little, broken sleep.

Throw in the insane amounts of laundry, coffee cups that end up half-drunk and left all over the house, and trying to divide your attention to a billion different places, and it’s all just too much to consider doing ever again.

Not to put off any expectant or longing-to-be mothers.
HAVE KIDS, IT’S GREAT. STOP READING MY BLOG, DAMN IT.

There are pro’s to having the baby earth-side though. For starters, I feel like a completely different person. I have so much more brain space, I feel productive and creative and like an actual human again. I can hug my husband without a four kilo lump in the way. I can put on my shoes without almost dying. My three year old gets to squish my tummy and tell me it’s just like dough. And of course, a healthy, happy baby.
So much goodness.

Now week one is over, and slowly the newborn-fog will start to lift. I might start replying to messages in a timely manner soon, or even brave the outside with all four of them. Sounds a little ambitious, really. To be honest, I’m sure you’ll find me here for the next month – holding a baby on the couch, wearing pyjamas and downing endless cups of coffee while the other three run wild.

There are worse ways to be.

 

Are you a parent of too-many children? Got any nifty tips for me? Go ahead and leave them in the comments! Or catch me on Facebook + Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

Being The Big Bad Mum

Today I cancelled my child’s birthday party.

Well, technically it was the ‘small afternoon tea’ at the park that had already replaced a cancelled birthday party. Never the less, it is cancelled and there will be no birthday celebrations with friends this year.

I should feel awful about it, but I don’t. In fact, I have to do this sort of thing all the time. I’ve cancelled attending other friend’s parties, family dinners, sporting events, special occasions, play dates – the list goes on and on. I’m a Very Mean Mum and I’m okay with that.

I keep my children on a pretty short lead it seems. I don’t believe you can honestly compare yourself to other parents because who knows what families are really like at home; but the vibe I get is that I’m fairly strict. I’m always verbally pulling my children into line, and letting them know how I expect them to behave – particularly when we’re out and about. Expectations, warnings and consequences are all part of our daily conversations, which sounds tedious (and it is) but it works for us.

I haven’t always been like this, though. I think for the most part it’s something I’ve learned I need to do over the past almost-eight-years. While I’ve heard people say that my husband and I are “too strict” on the kids, I’ve also seen the looks and the whispers of others who believe I let my kids run wild. The truth is that no matter which way you choose to raise your children, you’re never going to win. Friends, family and strangers alike will always have an opinion about what you should or should not be doing – and it will rarely side with you.

These days I shrug off the glares of “feral children,” or throw away comments of “let kids be kids.”  I’ll give you a little insight into my parenting life that I don’t talk about often: I have a child diagnosed with ADHD. I’ll write more just about that another day; however what I will share with you now is that the condition is more than just the “naughty” / “hyperactive” / “needs disciplining” stereotype it’s given. It affects the person’s ability to listen and respond appropriately, to concentrate and follow instructions, to control impulsive behaviour and regulate their emotions. It’s a lot of hard work for the child – and the parent too.

We’ve only had this diagnosis for the past six or so months (though I’ve had concerns for quite awhile), but it’s something that affects the whole family and the way we function. Helping the child to manage themselves requires strict routine, consistency and consequences.
And while there are days that I cry myself dry about how I wish I didn’t have to be on all the time – that I could just be the fun mum for awhile – I know that tough love (combined with all the cuddly soft love children need) is going to benefit all of my kids the most.

So we’re not having a birthday party this week.
But hell, we may just have cake for breakfast instead.

 

Are you a Very Mean Mum too? Like my Facebook Page or find me on Twitter to chat more about life with kids.

I’m A Giant Whale Mum With No Chill

Hello, friends!
I’ve neglected you again. Sorry-not-sorry and all that.

Here’s where we’re up to in the life of Being Wifekins:

>> Life with children is bananas.

>> I know it’s a little late, but I’m just starting to freak out about having this fourth kid. I mean, that’s a lot of kids.

>> I’m due to have this baby in four weeks. And I have suddenly realised that that is not many weeks.

>> I have only just started getting organised for this baby’s arrival. And to be honest, I’m still being pretty lazy about it.

>> Which is giving me a little anxiety, to be honest.

>> I’m half way through this course. Woo! I was hoping to be further though by now. Boo.

>> School is back today! YES! No more school holiday madness and HELLO horrid rigid routine.

>> Oh, and it’s autumn so I’m back making things at Rocker Crochet Mama. Pretty little baby beanies and my favourite slouches are in store now, so go take a look.

So, to summarise: I’m exhausted. Being almost thirty-six weeks pregnant means my body just wants to fall apart and / or sleep for a thousand years. Benji and I are feeling a little strapped for time around all of the kids needs (plus you know, work and the horrid life of an adult) so we’re getting pretty run down. Thankfully, this season will not last forever and we’ll remember what true sleep deprivation looks like in another few short weeks. HOORAY.

For now, though, I’m bouncing between frazzled mum-brain and bouncy-creative-brain… while always being time poor. So while that is incredibly frustrating, I’m planning on making the most of my time and writing as much as I possibly can before the last little monster arrives.

So make sure you’ve liked the Facebook Page and have found me on Twitter to keep up with the latest writings and ramblings.
You’re the best xo

 

 

 

 

 

Five Things About You (Me)

We’re playing a little game over on the Being Wifekins Facebook page (go like it here!). I’m asking you to share five things about yourself. Or more, or less; as personal or impersonal as you like. There’s been a couple of great responses so far – I’m excited to learn more! So head on over and join us, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

I think it’s only fair that I share a little about myself too. Here goes!

Five Things About Me: 

  1. I had my first baby at 19. That wasn’t the plan, but I wouldn’t have life any other way.
  2. I’m a terrible student. I get decent marks but I struggle with procrastination and perfectionism. I’ve studied Event Management, Community Services, Youth Work and now Professional Writing and Editing. I’ve finally found my thing!
  3. I met my husband on Twitter. My sister made it quite clear that he could be a serial killer when I dragged her out to meet him with me for the first time in St. Kilda. But I married him in the end, so I win.
  4. I’m more of an introvert than I ever thought I was. I don’t feel the need to see people often, and need time to myself to maintain good mental health. I’m sure this has lead to lost friendships and strained relationships, but it’s important for me to have that space in order to stay sane. I’m also very quiet in groups until I get to know everyone very well. That doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions or ideas, I just don’t feel the need to share them often.
  5. I’m quite tall. Not compared to the rest of my six foot family, but you know, compared to the average lady height. I often feel like I’d rather be short and cute, but height is a weird thing to get caught up on I guess. I do have strangely short legs though, so buying jeans is always a hassle.

So that’s me done. It’s your turn! Feel free to post in the comments or go find me on Facebook (Being Wifekins).

Thanks for playing! xo

Things My Kids Taught Me

Six o’clock this morning and all three children (plus the house panther) have decided to begin their day. That means it’s time for fighting, screaming, crying, running, manic laughter, high demands and the token sullen child trying to zombie out in front of the television. 

Amongst all this, I’m seated on the couch, clutching a luke-warm instant coffee and trying to ignore the world. There’s only so much shouting an adult brain can handle before seven. Older and wiser folk have told me that this is the best time of the day. Perhaps this is true, if you can be up alone without having to look at, listen to or pretend to like anyone before chugging two cups of coffee. 

Half a coffee down, and I found myself reflecting on the antics of my children. Each day is new with something to learn and explore. Here’s some of the things they have taught me:

Patience. Slowing down. A sense of humor. To cherish the moments.

– hahahahaha here’s the real list –

Things My Kids Have Taught Me:

Someone else’s food is the best food. Even if it’s exactly the same as yours. 

Your parents are only sometimes grumpy if you wake them up before six, so it’s worth the risk. 

Anything on television is worth watching. Even if it’s boring. You watch that crap.

There’s enough time in the day for just about everything – except finishing a cup of coffee while it’s hot. 

The Wiggles are the best band in the world.

Human bodies make the best car race tracks. 

There is literally no point to tidying up. Ever. 

Jokes don’t have to make sense to be hysterical. 

Clean piles of laundry belong on the floor.

Scrambled eggs are a food group. 

Every day is new, with a fresh amount of love, grace and forgiveness. There’s nothing a good rest can’t fix. 

What lessons have you learned from your kids? Do share in the comments!
Hey, want to connect? Find me on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram

Life Without Kids

I had a birthday on the weekend. The past two years I’ve celebrated by posting some reflections on aging, but not this time. My birthday this year was the absolute worst – and it had surprisingly little to do with growing old. No late-twenties crisis for me, thank you. Heck, bring on thirty I say (until I actually turn thirty. In that case, make it stop).

This year, I woke up just as I have every day the past month: desperately craving more sleep. There was no way the pre-schooler, toddler or giant puppy were going to let me even entertain the thought. I’m in the third trimester of pregnancy, I’m exhausted and emotionally unstable; so I cried for awhile about just wanting to lie in and be left to die in peace. Which is pretty much the theme for the entire day, really.

I won’t go into excessive detail, but to summarise Sunday: children fighting, running away, behaving dangerously, with attitudes which would infuriate even the most relaxed parents in the world.

And oh, how I day-dreamed and wondered: life without children, what would that be like?

Please, before I go on, do not misunderstand what I’m about to say. I love my children. I enjoy my children. I do not regret having children, nor would I change anything about them or their existence.

Here’s the thing though: I first fell pregnant when I was eighteen. I haven’t actually experienced adult life without kids. I’m allowed that curiosity, right?

I can only imagine what life would involve: Sunday sleep-ins, and lazy morning coffee with the husband. Reading for hours. Afternoon drinks with friends. Romantic strolls around the countryside. Weekend getaways to the city. Entertaining the idea of an overseas adventure. An empty sink and laundry basket. Believing that 9pm is not too late to put on a film.

The possibilities are endless. And yes, I know how big I’m dreaming here – this is the result of almost eight years of children full time. My biggest fantasy right now is that those two giant piles of laundry sitting in my lounge room never existed.

So I have no idea what the reality of life without kids would be like, and with a fourth on the way, I’m not going to find out anytime soon. I can tell you what it would not involve though:

  • Excessive use of the words “poop” and “bum”
  • Snotty noses and stinky bottoms
  • Screaming about the most mundane mishaps
  • Missing shoes
  • Every meal all over the floor
  • Questions repeated every five seconds
  • Toy cars on all surfaces all the time
  • Sleep deprivation.

 

A mum can dream right?

 

 

Stuff My Kid Says (why I’m a little crazy)

I’m just going to say it outright: children are ridiculous.

The things that come out of those tiny mouths make no sense what-so-ever. Sometimes it’s hilarious. Other times it is incredibly painful, and you suddenly realise what it is that has made you slowly lose your mind (i.e. years of nonsensical waffling).  But sometimes it’s hilarious.

Here’s the highlights from the past twenty-four hours:

Kid: I don’t like this biscuit.
Me: What’s wrong with it?
Kid: It tastes like bats. Cricket bats.

***

Kid: We should call the baby “Whoody” [think a cross between the lead in Toy Story, and a jacket with a hood] … or “Ketty” [yeah I don’t even know]

***

Kid: I’m going on holiday! Bye!
Me: Where are you going on holiday?
Kid: I’M NOT GOING ON HOLIDAY!

***

Kid: my name is Super Baby. But don’t call me Super Baby.

***

I have also been argued with about how the half an hour allocation of television time that day was somehow a different length to the half hour they’re allowed every other day.

Oh, and I never make anything for dinner that children actually enjoy therefore everything in the world is entirely my fault.
(… we’re having home-style fish and chips for dinner tonight. I’m expecting child services on my doorstep for starving my children)

 

So thanks, kids. I never really wanted my sanity anyway.

 

 

Self Care (get on it, mama)

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve been in hiding lately.
I haven’t been out to visit anyone; not one friend nor family member (excluding my parents) has been visited since … Christmas, I think.
I haven’t really picked up the phone for anyone, or sent out lots of messages. I haven’t posted a great deal on social media. And most disturbing of all – I stopped writing.

I think I’ve been a little burnt out.

And it’s taken me awhile, but I’ve decided I’m okay with that. I went through the guilt phase and the self-loathing stage, and now I’m decidedly comfortable with the fact that I’ve needed (and still need) my time and space. I have a busy life; at times an especially demanding life. I’m raising three little people – all with varying needs – while growing a fourth. I’m the primary carer and house keeper, which makes me the main organiser and coordinator of my family. I’m also attempting to blast through my Professional Writing and Editing course, while lamenting my apparent inability to commit to a blog writing schedule.

There really aren’t enough hours in the day. Hats off to working parents – I honestly have no idea how you do it!

As much as I’m fine with solitude, I realise I’m not going to be able to stay in hiding forever. So I’ve been thinking about how to better practice self care. Because right now my strategy is to remain caffeinated at all times and numb my brain with trash television every night before bed. Turns out it’s not particularly helpful.

Problem is, all the ideas I’ve been stumbling across really aren’t my kind of thing. Meditation, inhaling candles, walks by the seaside and drinking tea are all examples I’ve seen over and over again. First of all: I can’t meditate. My brain does not slow down, it is the most pointless exercise I have ever undertaken. Second of all, candles are for the dark and that is all. Also, I live very inland and not near any inspiring body of water and don’t get me started on how I feel about tea.

So what to do? Well, according to Reachout.com, self care is: ‘any activity that you do voluntarily which helps you maintain your physical, mental or emotional health’.

So probably not inhaling all of the snacks in the house the second the children are in bed, then.  But at least I don’t have to bathe in a green tea ocean surrounded by unnecessary candles.

That being finally dealt with, here is the quality self care post you’ve been waiting for:

The Being Wifekins Guide to Practicing Self Care When You Really Don’t Like Tea

  1. Drink more water.
    Instead of coffee. I may die here.
    In that case: remember coffee is life, and never trust a tea drinker.
  2. Walk more.
    Walking is so good for the brain. Also, my obstetrician said I have to, so you know. Also, I may have lifted this idea from another self care guide, but it said “take a walk in the countryside” … however, where I’m from, that’s called outside.
  3. Practice more yoga.
    A bendy body is a happy body. And my baby-growing body is feeling particularly unhappy these days.
  4. Make a point of showering.
    This actually sounds ridiculous to say out loud, but there are days I forget to shower. What?! I know, right?! I can see my school mum friends recoiling as they read this. But it’s true. And everyone loves a shower(ed person).
  5. Read more.
    Usually that’s a case of ‘ain’t no one got time for that’ but it really ought to be a priority. Mental stimulation is important for sanity when most days are twelve hours of “why?” and circular conversations that make literally no sense.
  6. Listen to music daily.
    In this house, music seems to make everyone feel good. It’s how my eldest relaxes in the evening, and how my young two get their crazy on in the morning. I often forget how good music is for the grown-up’s soul though. So I’ll probably have Green Day’s latest album ‘Revolution Radio’ on repeat for awhile.
    Also, how good are lounge room dance parties? More of them, please.
  7. Express gratitude.
    Some days it’s hard to feel happy about – let alone thankful for – a day full of lost shoes, piles of laundry and shouty small people. All the good stuff seems to get swallowed up sometime between bowls of Cheerio’s upturned at breakfast, and the glass of wine being chugged the second little heads hit pillows at night. I’ve heard expressing gratitude is good for you (probably from Oprah back in the day or something) so it’s worth a try, right? I’m going to start journaling five things I’m grateful for every day. Is it cheating if you write the list at the start of the day, before everyone is up?!
  8. Just stop.
    Play in the garden. Lie on the trampoline and watch the clouds go by. Take a nap. Cuddle on the couch and watch Sesame Street. Sometimes doing nothing is just as helpful as doing something.

So that’s the small-but-big things I’ll be focusing on to get myself back on track. You know, before I have a newborn in May and throw everything off again.

How are you travelling?  Do you have any fool-proof ways of keeping yourself sane? I hope you’re fighting fit and remembering how fabulous you are. Regardless of where you’re at: go do something for yourself (even if that’s sipping tea).

 

Oh, and may I ask a favour? Please leave book and music recommendations for me in the comments, I’m terrible on branching out and would love to expand my horizons some! xo