Louisa Claire

Parenting

Making Christmas Meaningful {for the last-minute Mum}

Making Christmas Meaningful

Tomorrow is the 1st of December, the start of Advent and a time when life gets really, really busy. I’m definitely something of a disorganised Mum and never more so than at Christmas – it’s always last-minute despite my best intentions.

Tomorrow we will put up our Christmas tree with family and friends; a tradition we started about 7 years ago. The truth is, we started this tradition, or rather I started this tradition, because I knew that if I didn’t create a tradition, a reason, for our family to do this together we would let the busyness of this time of year take over. By doing this on Dec 1 my hope is that we create the space to think about why Christmas happens and what is important about it over the coming 24 days.

7 years on and I realise I was right. We are completely ill-prepared for tomorrow; I forgot to invite people until about a week ago and I am not quite sure where the Christmas tree is (we opt for a plastic tree on the years we have Christmas in Sydney with my family.) It is in no way convenient for us to have a bunch of people around tomorrow and yet I am incredibly glad that we are doing it. That we will have a space for us, and mostly for the kids, to start thinking about Christmas and what it means is really important to me – despite my disorganisatin.

What I am reminded of each is is that you don’t have to be Pinterest-perfect to make this time meaningful. It’s not about having a perfectly planned series of activities and it would be a mistake to do nothing if you don’t have it perfectly planned.

Last night I posted this on my Facebook page …teaching kids about Christmas

( If you want to share your priorities with us please join the conversation.)

Tonight I’m going to sit down with hubs and ask him what he thinks our priorities should be and then I’m hoping we can talk about how to make sure that these values come through to our children over the coming month.

I’ve got some last-minute advent activities planned and will share them with you over the next day or two, just in case you’re also a last minute mum.

In the meantime would you do me a favour? If you know other mums who are a bit on the disorganised side, would you share this post with her? Together we can encourage each other that it’s never to late to think about making Christmas meaningful for our family.

 


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I seem to have lost my cruisy-parenting-mojo and I’m not sure how to get it back…

When Bliss was born I had my parenting books at the ready and of course, every second person came armed with advice too! I’ve probably only touched the surface of the books that have been written and while some of them have been great it has often made me wonder if that’s where our confidence is meant to come from? It often feels like there’s just too much information out there for parents and most of the time the ‘experts’ contradict each other!

There was one mum I was friends with who became my “go to” person. She had 4 kids and I liked them, and her, and the way there were with each other. I figured that was a good place to start. I think I chose well because every time I would ring with a question she’d ask me what I thought. She was happy to tell me what it had been like for her and how she’d approach certain things with her own kids but she always empowered me to work out what I thought by reminding me that no one knew Bliss the way I did. She was the only person who did this; mostly people just want to tell you what they did and why you should do it to.

Now that I’ve had three children myself I’ve realised that just because something worlds for one child doesn’t mean it will work for another and so her advice has stood me in really good stead. You can read as many books as you like but at the end of the day no one knows your child as well as you do and you’ve got to trust your own instincts.

But something’s changed.

A few months ago Bluey got sick and I missed it. Badly. We’d had a virus going through the family and when he got it I didn’t think much of it. One night he got quite worked up and The Architect and I considered taking him to hospital. Once we got some panadol into him and he settled in to sleep in my arms, I lay awake in bed for a while wondering if I should be waking him up and taking him in but ultimately I didn’t want to overreact and so let him sleep. I got him to our local doctor early the next day and he did a few obs and then told me we needed to go to the hospital. I casually replied, no worries – I’ll swing by home and grab a few things and then we’ll head in. That wasn’t quite what the doctor had in mind though; a few minutes later he had an ambulance and a fire engine en route to us – whoever got to us first would be taking us in. We spent the next six days in RCH with a few of those nights spent in ICU. Bluey’s oxygen levels had been down in the 60s and his breath/min rate was up in the 80s. If you’ve never had a child with bronchial issues these numbers will mean nothing to you. If you have then you’ll understand why he was where he was. (Oxygen should be 100 and breaths/min should be between 20-40, more than 60 and you’re in trouble).

I didn’t post about it at the time because, well, I was a bit distracted and even now some of the photos feel too personal to share. They probably don’t look like much but they fill me with emotion…

in the ambulance

bluey ambulance

in short stay, waiting to see which way he’d go
bluey sick 2

in ICU
bluey ICU

I was pretty calm that week; level headed enough to realise how lucky we were that it wasn’t more serious, to know that we were in an amazing hospital and that we would be going home soon enough.

But it’s really shaken my confidence.

I don’t trust my intuition anymore. I second guess myself and regularly unsure about whether I’m ‘missing’ things/signs/symptoms.

With three kids to look after a bit of extra caution doesn’t go astray but I don’t like how this feels.

We were back at RCH at the weekend and I ran into one of the nurses who had looked after us when Bluey was admitted. Amazingly she remembered me and we had a lovely chat (gosh the staff there are incredible!) As I walked away I heart her talking talking to another nurse about how calm I had been when a Bluey was in and they had called the MET to have him transferred to ICU. (MET stands for ‘medical emergency team.’ This is when they press a button and at least 15 medical staff come running – literally running – with carts, trolleys and machines to assess the child. Personally, I think the reason I didn’t panic was because the RCH staff had done such a great job at preparing us for it and we knew it was going to be the best thing for Blue). It was delivered as a compliment and I appreciated it – I like that I’m not an overly anxious person in these circumstances – but now I find myself constantly second guessing this trait, and I really don’t like it.

It seems I’ve lost my “they’ll be right” parenting mojo and I’m not really sure how to get it back.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Do you want your kids to fit in?

This afternoon Bliss and I had some quality time in the car driving around doing errands. She was being her usual, exhuberant self and I turned to her and said “You are SO beautiful. Do you know that?”

She smiled and then continued on with her antics, cracking herself and Bluey up more and more as each moment passed.

“Do you know what else you are?” I said.

Without skipping a beat she cried out “CRAZY!!!”

Got it in one kiddo.

Bliss fairy skirt

We celebrate the crazy in her – as exhausting as her degree of exuberance can be, we know it’s a huge part of who she is and we love that about her. We also don’t ever want her to feel she has to shut down, or conform. Yes of course there are times she needs to understand about behaving appropriately (though, from what her teachers tell us – she knows that already; they all say she is just a delightful girl to be around) but we don’t want her to think that there’s something wrong with her approach to life. In fact, we often think she could teach us a lot about how to embrace the moment!

The other thing we’ve heard from school is something we can see ourselves – somehow, throughout this first year as a school kid, she has managed to avoid becoming self conscious about herself. She says what she thinks without inhibition or fear of reproval from her peers.  She started school a happy, random little chickie and seems to be on track to finish her first school year in much the same fashion… only having learnt a bunch of cool stuff along the way.

Why am I telling you this? Probably because I’ve thought a lot about childhood this past year; what it means to leave the family home and move into the world – my beautiful girl now spends a huge amount of time with people who aren’t her family, people who aren’t wired to love and adore her. We gave a lot of thought to this when it came to choosing a school for her but still, this transition is a big one and you never really know how it’s going to go.

It can be tempting to want your child to fit in, to go with the flow – I guess with the idea that if they can do this they’ll get through unscathed.

Maybe that’s true, but for me – getting through school unscathed is a pretty low benchmark to be setting.

It seems to me that when we talk about “fitting in” what we are really saying is – let’s all be the same, let’s all conform to some external standard of well, being standard. Don’t rock the boat, don’t think outside the square – just get along and try to make nice with people.

So, do I want my kids to fit in? Heck no!

I don’t want them diluting their sense of self in order to get approval from their peers and I certainly don’t want them going quiet about their passions and beliefs in order to be accepted.  I want them to have confidence in who they are and what they believe so that they can stand up for those beliefs and be comfortable with difference. I hope they will seek out and find the good company of other intelligent, independent young folk who are curious about the world and unashamed of who they are and what they stand for. Of course I want them to know how to get on with people and be able to relate with empathy and kindness to the world around them, but I also hope they will strive to be intelligent in their conversation and committed to their views.

This means we’ve got quite a job cut out for us and I pray we’re up for it…the world feels likes a harder place to resist than it was when I was growing up.

 FairyBliss

{Photo credit: Chris Allsop Photography}

What about you? What do you think about fitting in? What are your hopes for your kids?

 
 
 


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Hey parents, how are you going today?

In recognition of Postnatal Depression Awareness week I am reposting something I wrote earlier this year…..

Last week I wrote about spending a night away from the older two kids as part of a competition we ran here on the blog – It was such a treat! As I read the comments coming through I saw a common theme…

Mums tired
Mums messy
Mums thinking about their family, not themselves
And it took me right back…

When Bliss was born I was given a PANDA magnet as I left the hospital. I brought it home and dutifully stuck it on the fridge.  I would occasionally look at it and whenever I found myself at my wits end I would think about that magnet and PANDA. No matter how overwrought I was, I never thought PANDA was for me – surely what I was going through was normal? Surely…

PANDA #bepndaware
The few times I seriously considered calling were outside of their operating hours – I don’t know if I had postnatal depression with Bliss but I do know that I isolated myself to the point where I lost a friendship. I am truly amazed that I didn’t lose more because I simply withdrew; I didn’t return phone calls let alone initiate them and I felt like the biggest failure on earth.

How could it be that I didn’t take to motherhood like a duck to water? This was my lifelong dream! I found all the tasks easy, and we were pretty relaxed on the things that made other new parents anxious, but the emotional transition completely took me by surprise. I had always wanted to be a Mum, a full time stay at home Mum at that. I loved my daughter but I was scared and tired, so very tired. Well meaning comments meant to make me feel less alone like “that happened to me too” only left me feeling more isolated, more lost… perhaps somehow more generic? More than anything, I felt embarrassed.

A large reason I don’t feel embarrassed today is because I know that this is a really common experience and I know that because other people, including a lot of bloggers, have told me through their own stories. If in sharing my own journey just one person feels less alone then it is all worthwhile.

5 years and 2 more children on and I am incredibly clucky. Incredibly! With each child it’s been easier and with Bluey, I have finally taken to it like a duck to water. I love having a baby in the house and easily want another (our bank account currently does not agree with this sentiment). Yes having 3 children has been a total gamechanger and I have never felt busier, but I have also never felt clearer – like I have finally figured this thing out. I think that’s why I have the idea of another baby in my mind…I have finally gotten the hang of things, I’m not ready to stop! {update: Bluey is now 1, I am ready to stop!!!}

Bluey5mos
My story, so far, has had a happy ending. But I know this isn’t always how it goes…and I know that it could only take a few weeks, that turn into months, of sleepless nights to send me backwards.

Last year I started working with PANDA as a charity partner through Brand Meets Blog. I identified with their mission and shared their desire to make support services more available to the public.

Around 48,000 women will be diagnosed with post natal depression this year and PANDA (the Post and Antenatal Depression Association) is the only national helpline that offers counselling for struggling families.

Through my work with PANDA I have learnt that the PANDA helpline offers more than just phone counselling to people who call. PANDA actually take responsibility for making contact with the callers as often as required, for as long as required to ensure that the caller is able to access local support services. PANDA also offer in home visits for people in situations that require it – I find that completely amazing!

If you are struggling or wondering if what you are feeling is normal, please know you are not alone. You can call PANDA anytime, judgement free or visit their website www.panda.org.au If you’re bloke, or living with one and you think he might be struggling then check out www.howisdadgoing.org.au – it’s the new website PANDA have launched to provide support to men who are struggling themselves with postnatal depression or have a partner who is struggling.

 

 If you’re a blogger with a story to tell please join up with Emma from Five Degrees of Chaos – together, we can help break down the stigma.

 
 
 


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And then there were five

On the eve of Little Blue’s 1st birthday I find myself reflecting on the changes that have come with his arrival over the past year. It would be easy to skip over documenting this because putting them to words feels quite hard; how do I convey all that is in my heart when I feel two equally strong, but very different emotions?

I felt like the luckiest woman alive the day that Bluey was born; in a way it felt like I was finally born myself when he arrived. Perhaps it was the endorphin’s flowing through me after my surprise epidural-free delivery? Perhaps it was that I had mentally prepared myself to slow down in the weeks and months following his birth allowing me to truly embrace that time? Perhaps it was something totally beyond my ability to control! Whatever the reason, he completely stole my heart the moment he was placed in my arms and I can’t imagine my life, nor our family, without him.

 

Baby Blue 2

Baby Blue 9

{photo credit: Teacup Ballet}

At the same time, this past year, has been hands down the hardest year of my parenting life so far. Everything is just ‘always’ – there’s never a moment where no one needs us or needs something from us. I have never juggled so much, spent so much time in doctors waiting rooms and hospitals, nor felt so frazzled.

All this has made it the most physically challenging, exhausting and most sacrificial year that we’ve experienced so far. I have had to accept that my life is permanently altered as a mother and while I am deeply grateful for the gift of motherhood and the gift of each of my beautiful, incredible children I have also realised the impact of the a personal cost attached to caring for little people, however delightful they might be.

I have found writing this post somewhat uncomfortable for I fear that it paints Bluey in a negative way – that in saying I find two children easier to three I am saying that I find Bliss and Bear easier than Bluey. It’s not so much whether you, dear reader, might judge me but that one day my children might misunderstand. Is this the challenge of the ‘mummy blogger’? To convey how two equal but opposite emotions can be held together in a way that feels bizarrely harmonious?!

It is truly hard to imagine a more delightful, easy going, charming little baby that could have joined our family than Bluey. I completely adore him! And I am so grateful for him, not just because he’s been the perfect addition to our little family and is doted on by us all (the other children love him so much I can’t believe they haven’t squished him into a tiny ball already) but because of the ways I have changed because he joined our family, and for the ways I have become a better mother because he is here.

Bluey

 {photo credit: Teacup Ballet}

I thought I would be sad to say goodbye to babyhood when his birthday came around but, as he perches on the cusp of toddlerhood I just feel so very excited about what comes next!

 
Happy birthday my sweet, beautiful, Bluey!
 
 


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Getting close to getting some answers

I poured my heart out here last week; we really were feeling at our wits end and I just needed to get it out. Sometimes I forget that people actually read this blog – I just need to write and process but then you remind me by writing back to me back.

My heart has been so full from the love and kindness you beautiful people have shown me this past week.

Thank you. Really.

A week later and slightly more sleep under our belts we are closer to some answers.

Maybe this little man will do better without his tonsils and adenoids…more appointments this week to discuss this as an option. I don’t think I’d realised until we started finding out more about this just how often little Bear is sick and with really nasty viruses. It seems like this opp could help us with all of the challenges he has been facing this year.

I’ve been told that it’s a big operation but that they recommend taking tonsils out for two reasons – the first is recurrent tonsillitis and the other is major sleep disturbances. Apparently having a toddler awake for 3-4hours a night every night and sometimes waking up with a chef knife in bed with you (courtesy of toddler) while other times with aforementioned toddler peeling a mandarin on your head counts as a “major sleep disturbance”. Who would have guessed?!

And so we march onward and I thank you for marching along with us and for sharing your stories of sisterhood and encouragement. They are most deeply appreciated. x

Here’s to my beautiful, fun boy and a lifetime of better sleep!

paul and paula clothing, shark jumper, parenting is hard,


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