A Shout-Out to the Single Parents! 

That’s right, a week or so ago I wrote about how I was heading away for a girls weekend, well last weekend it was my hubby’s turn. After 3 fun filled days and nights with my little Miss I have a whole new respect for single parents, or parents who manage alone while another parent works away. 

I guess I’d always thought about the financial challenges single parents face, not so much the mental challenges or exhaustion. 

So here’s a shout-out to those parents doing it solo, even if it’s temporary. These little people we love are like energizer bunnies – full of energy, but when the batteries run out, they definately run out and we know all about it. 

I can’t imagine how challenging it is doing your best day in, day out. How mentally and physically draining it would be. So to say it simply… Respect

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The “no’s”

We’re going through a stage of “no” at the moment, we could ask Miss 20 months if she wants her favourite meal or to go for a bike ride or if she wants to go to Disneyland, the answer would be a flat no, no matter what. So combining the no’s with meltdowns it makes for some fairly entertaining (for other people) moments. 

Today for instance we went to do the groceries. We’ve become a good little supermarket team, we have an understanding based on snacks. She happily sits in the trolley chatting to people passing by while eating 1-2 muesli bars and we’re done in 20 minutes. Well that was until my husband introduced her to sitting in the actual trolley instead of the trolley seat as I’d trained her. Today’s shopping trip started as they normally do until it was time to sit in the trolley seat. We had a full scale meltdown consisting of me trying to place her into the seat while she kicked the trolley with her feet moving it away. We had this battle for about 5 minutes at the doorway of the supermarket while a number of people passed by. 

Eventually I did the “we can’t buy you chicken if you don’t sit in the seat” bribery. All of a sudden she was as happy as can be in the seat. I go to strap her in & wouldn’t you believe it the clip was broken & I couldn’t secure her in. There was a moment where I weighed up the pros/cons of changing trolleys but I knew there was no way I was getting this kid back into another trolley and I could abort the shopping mission so we set off. We managed to get thru the fruit, veg and meat sections before … You guessed it, I turn for the tiniest moment & look back (still holding onto the trolley) she is standing up on the seat! Faaaaaarrrr out! So that ends the seat and here I am pushing a heavy trolley and carrying 11kg worth of toddler. 

Queue the observer comments… One older women states “well that didn’t last long, I saw you struggling at the front door!” Followed by “their sent to try us” 

It takes all of my restrain not to say if you saw me struggling couldn’t you have stopped to hold my trolley still? 

At the checkouts she proceeded to make passive agressive comments about me unloading my trolley with 1 hand & taking too long. 

Anyway it got me thinking… There are moments of kindness that happen all the time and it doesn’t take long to make the world of difference in someone’s day. I remember the lovely lady who offered to hold my heavy basket while waiting in line when I was very pregnant or the lady without her kids who could see my baby loosing it while I was unloading the groceries. So instead of ignoring the noise and playing on her phone she set about having a chat with my baby. And while saying ‘thank you’ mightn’t seem like much I can say these moments mean so much. 

Me time 

I love getting away, having time to be on my own. 

In the last almost 2 years life has become a whirlwind like any first time parents know. I love knowing that my beautiful daughter is being cared for by her doting father and that there is nothing at all for me to worry about there. 

Where we live we don’t have family we can call on to help. When we get sick we just have to truck on thru it. We don’t get date nights, except for those when our little darling is tucked up in bed at 7pm and we get take out and watch a movie. I love those nights. 

When family come to visit the offer to babysit and we gladly take them up on their offer. There might be 3 visits a year. 

I’m not complaining, I’m setting the scene. 

So when my husband and I get weekends away even separately we relish in the freedom. Freedom to sleep in, take our time to get ready, go to not so kid friendly restaurants and enjoy quality time with our friends. 

When people ask if I’m missing my daughter it’s difficult to explain without it sounding like I’m wanting a pity party. Sure I miss seeing her gorgeous little face, but it’s 48 hours I have to enjoy some ‘me time’ and I know I’m very fortunate to be able to get it. So every moment is precious, I know soon enough I’ll be elbows deep in my role as working mother so for now it’s just about being in the moment. 

Home

Airport security politely ask ‘home or holiday?’ 

There’s no short answer. Are you asking where I reside, because owing a wool coat it’s unlikely my home is here – because I’d never need it. Yes I reside here, yes I have a home here, we’ve made the decision to attempt to raise our child here – attempt I say because the job market is unstable and we may not be always able to live here. 

But ‘home’ is hard to classify – I’ve lived so many places that are homely. When I visit again I slot back into being ‘at home’ . So I feel as though I have many places which I consider ‘home’. 

So this time I say yes because it’s easier than explaining. 

The happy flyer

Tomorrow I will be a happy flyer. We’ve travelled a bit with our Miss 1.5 but tomorrow is a solo flight for me and I can’t wait. 

Our little miss is a great traveller, as great as a toddler can be. But as a parent heading for the skies with your small person there’s always that thought in the back of your mind how ugly it could turn at any moment. My worst fear would be THAT MOTHER whose child screamed the entire flight, or ‘the mother of the toddler who didn’t do anything to keep her toddler quiet!’ Ha quiet toddler, ha funny. People forget so quickly! 

So tomorrow I will board my plane solo, knowing its school holidays, knowing I’m likely to be sitting beside a crying baby or a talkative toddler, but you know what… none of it will be my concern. I’ll be busy reading a magazine, sipping my over priced coffee basking in the knowledge that during the flight I won’t have to rummage thru my bag finding anything at all to keep my little person amused. 

I won’t be giving judgemental stares or muttering under my breath because on the most part people are trying to do the best they can. I’ll enjoy the few precious moments of quiet in my own zone. 

Our disposable culture

Ive heard of a few marriages ending recently, which is beyond sad. But it got me thinking how it seems that everything in our lives seems so disposable now days. 

It’s strange we only started attending weddings a grown up couple in last 5 years and it seems like yesterday we were sitting in the pews listening to the couples make their vows, shedding a tear since the vows to each other were so beautiful and heartfelt. I wonder what happen to change that vision the couple had? Did they not work hard enough? Our was it not the right match? Did they go into their marriage with unrealistic expectations? 

From an outsider looking in it seems as though it’s just another aspect of our disposable culture, to oversimplify- like our broken toaster. We throw it away. It’s easier than fixing it. 

I’m sure there’s more to it, but what I can’t understand is how it all changes when people marry. Some people have made their relationship work for years, even had children prior to marriage, in those cases what’s changed other than legally? 

A sense of entitlement 

My facebook feed is littered with ‘friends’ who I picked up along the way. Many of which I keep on there purely for their entertainment value. 

I’ve noticed a trend of posts recently that frustrates the shit out of me. The people who feel the need to rant about the lack of support the government gives them financially after they’ve had a child. I’ve read blogs of other working parents who pump around the clock so that they can still feed their babies breast milk because their country doesn’t have maternity leave legislation let alone our 18 weeks paid maternity leave. And here I see people complaining that after their 18 weeks is up the governments not going to give them any more money….

Seriously?! We make a choice to start a family. We weigh up the costs and how we’re going to make it work. Sure the maternity leave payments aren’t a great deal, but they are something, and that’s better than nothing. What happened to us being grateful for living in a country where as women or men (as well) we have the right to 1 years maternity/paternity leave from our careers…. The option to spend the first full year with our baby knowing that our job (or a job with equal pay) will be there for us on our return. When did that not become enough? 

I just get so frustrated people thinking its the governments role to subsidize their lifestyle or their choice to be an at home parent. 

In my opinion government payments are a safety net not a hammock. 

The Blissful Disconnect

This morning I expected to return to the weekly grind with a jolt but that didn’t happen. 

The gorgeous toddler sleeping in (6.40am – that’s a sleep in) may have helped, as may have the triple shot latte. But you know what I think it was.. It was the 4 blissful days of being in the moment with my family and friends. I checked-out and disconnected. And I recommend it. 

I didn’t turn off my mobile, as your probably wondering. Actually my phone was my vessel for such a successful weekend. We organised so many activities and catch ups with our friends that it was essential. 

So when I say I checked-out and disconnected what I mean is that I was solely focused on my little family unit. Not interested in checking the news websites that I’ll normally look at a few times a day and I didn’t think about my work – at all. I didn’t consciously think I’m going to forget about work, i was just so in the moment that it never crossed my mind. 

We took the time to travel to visit friends we hadn’t seen for a long time & other friends traveled to visit us. It’s amazing how reconnecting can re-energize you. Our time was spent with our tiny little human who constantly surprises us with how grown up she actually is. 

We can get so caught up in our monday to Friday slog and the weekends can be just as busy preparing for the coming week that we don’t make time for things that nourish our soul. 

I know the long weekends don’t come around as often as we’d hope and that our weekday slog whether it be Monday to Friday or all over the show can be exhausting. But if you can try to carve out some time to reconnect, re-energize, disconnect from the interference/noise and be in the moment I promise you you’ll be glad you did. 

Mothers Groups – love/hate

Everyone has their own experiences, good, bad or different. I’ve had my own and I’m sure one day I’ll share more on those. But I guess the reason why I want to write about the ‘dreaded’ mothers group is that there really are some positive aspects to take away from them. For me I was realitively new to the town and figured even if I clicked with one person then it’d be time well spent. 

The group here starts off as a meeting coordinated by a baby nurse, there time to sit around sharing that weeks experiences and discussion followed by a guest speaker. Being able to ask questions from a qualified and experienced professional was invaluable – I don’t know if any other profession would get asked as many poop questions as that woman got asked. And the were guest speakers were great speaking about relevant things to new parents – PND, Speech development and first aid.

I guess the most important advice I want to impart is that it’s not a competition as much as other parent may try to initiate one. Arrive with an open mind and a gentle heart. You may have your own views on how to raise a child, but this isn’t your forum to lecture. The idea behind a mothers group is putting a group of women together who are at the same stage in parenthood, who can lean on each other because on the most part their facing she same challenges. 

A friend of mine went to one group explained she’d had a traumatic birth with complications then has breastfeeding challenges which mean that she struggled and eventually started her baby on formula. They were then all much happier. She approached the group in an open way, but wasn’t received the same way. Bearing this in mind I knew that for sure there would be some mums in my group who (for what ever reason) were using formula and I made it my mission to encourage the mums struggling with the guilt of no longer breastfeeding. I didn’t want these mums to leave the group because they felt like an outsider or frowned upon – like my friend did. 

Single or yet to have children friends may not have the same capacity to support you in this stage in your life plus your friends are likely to be working full time and these other mums of tiny babies do have time in their schedule for daytime catch ups. I loved being home with my tiny baby but boy did I miss conversation – coffee dates with other mums filled this gap. 

The point I’m getting to is mothers groups aren’t all bad, but decide what it is out of the group your looking for. Give it a chance. Treat people the way you’d like to be treated. Your baby isn’t a doll and putting him/her in their Sunday bests for mothers group where the babies lie on the floor kicking about and looking at the ceiling isn’t necessary, mothers group isn’t a fashion parade. Be you, be real and hopefully you’ll get some value out of the experience 😉