Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

Saturday, May 3, 2014

a calling to come home

When I had a bunch of young cherubs I always imagined that I would have a lot of free time to myself when they all went to school. Now that all my cherubs are at school I am finding that thinking was wrong. I am finding I am as busy as ever!

So much so that I have been feeling within my heart a calling to come home. Which has been weird because I am a stay at home mum! What I am feeling is the need to cut out distractions, to disconnect from technology more and more and to be more available to take care of my family.

I feel I do take care of my family but my heart has been telling me I can do better. I can be more present, more in the moment with my children and more fun to be around.

Right now I find I am super busy and pressure driven in my decisions and actions. My words are not as soft as I would like, I am going to bed too late and my mind is full of demands and a long to-do list.

All of this flows over into the feeling of my home. I want that feeling to improve and I know it starts with me. As a mum I know in a lot of ways I set the tone of my home.

So, I am trying my best to listen to my heart. It is not easy to do and habits are hard to break.

My children however are growing up way too fast. They are becoming young adults and I don't want to miss any part of being there for them.

Being a mum is my number one dream in life and I feel so grateful that I have been able to be at home for so long. It is a dream come true for me. At times I let myself get distracted from that dream and that is alright. I never stop taking care of my family, I just get passionate about a new project!

Thankfully my heart always pulls me back into line and I slip back into the normal flow of family life.
That is until a new project comes along!

Monday, April 7, 2014

when you are the annoying parent who will not shut up

Recently, I was talking with a couple of Mum's about parenting. It started off really nicely with each of us sharing and talking about our parenting journey. Sadly, it ended pretty badly. Well. For me anyway.

You see, at the end of the converstation I was shocked to discover that I had become my worst nightmare - the annoying parent in the group that will not shut up or stop going on about how they parent their children.

So here I was standing there having a lovely converstation when it hit me.
I was talking way too much. In fact, I had moved on from talking to preaching.

Hello! Hole in the ground. Please swallow me!

I am still so embarrassed every time I think about it.

I personally have little time for people who go off and start preaching about parenting in a 'I know it all' manner.

I never want to be seen as the annoying parent who will not shut up.

We all have such different families and different experiences and different children with different personalities there is no one way to parent.

I passionately believe that.

Yet, here I was. Preaching my way or the high way ladies...

So I have to ask myself why? Why was I going off in such a way?

A couple of reasons come to mind.

Here are my 5 excuses/reasons for being an annoying parent who will not shut up:

1. Having an 'audience' to talk about parenting to is so fun! Seriously, who doesn't love to have a captive audience who will listen to them talk about what they personally love and are passionate about? Uh huh! I went for it!

2. I am gettting to that know that age where you are starting to feel more set in your way and you forget that you need to still be teachable and that you don't actually know it all! Well, it is starting a little early for me!

3. I had a really busy stressful week and I just wanted to off load it all on someone. This is not a good enough excuse in my eyes for such behaviour but that is how I felt at the time. I personally needed these women even though I was carrying on as if they needed me. Finally, someone who will listen!

4. Having a large family can make you feel like you know how to run a home a little more effienctly than other people because you deal in bigger numbers but that is not actually the case a lot of the time. We can still learn a lot from families who have less children than we do.

5. Talking about parenting felt so good compared to always writing about parenting that once I started I could not stop! Ha ha! I think I need to somehow schedule in more speaking opportunities instead of writing opportunities!

The reason I am sharing this whole experience with you is because one thing I really learned from this whole experience is that I need to be more careful how I judge other women who go off about parenting. I forget just how much as women we need other women for friendship in our lives.

The next time I am in a situation where a Mum is passionately talking about parenting and will not shut up, I need to stop and listen and to see that maybe she just needs to off load, maybe she feels she has some really good advice to share, maybe giving her the chance to share her heart will help her feel good for the rest of the week and maybe she just needs some attention and friendship.

All of those 'maybe reasons' are far more important to how annoyed I may feel at the time. From now on I am going to be far more mindful of my words and I am also going to be far more mindful of other Mum's needs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to achieve big goals when you're a Mum

Today I have the lovely Kelly sharing her wisdom with us about achieving big goals when you are a Mum. Yes, you can still chase those dreams and I love her tips for making it happen....

Life was pretty simple when I was 22. My only responsibilities were my job, my boyfriend and a family who made few demands on my time. This gave me the opportunity to be completely single-minded when it came to my big life goal at the time … competing at an elite(ish) level in my sport of triathlon.

And single-minded I was. I dedicated 15-20 hours a week to training and racing, and probably another 15-20 hours a week to thinking about training and racing.

Ah, those were the days! 

You can turn big goals and dreams into reality pretty quickly when you’re able to be so single-minded. You get to write plans and set mini-goals and be really strategic about everything. You get to do all the little one percenters. You pick up quickly when and where things may be going awry and make the necessary adjustments in a heartbeat.

In short, you get to leave no stone unturned.

When you’re a highly driven, goal-oriented, compulsive striver like me, this is the stuff dreams are made of!

But what happens when you’re this person and suddenly you don’t have that kind of time on your hands? What happens when you’re a mother of two, wife of one, business owner, writer, blogger, short order cook, laundress and household logistics manager?

Do you just give up on ever achieving anything ever again? Do you pack away your goals and ambitions until your kids have moved out of home? Or at least till they’re old enough to not want to talk to you anymore?

No, of course you don’t. You just have to approach things in a very different way.

1. Accept you can’t go after everything 
This has perhaps been the hardest thing for me to come to terms with. My whole life, if there was something to be gone after, I went after it. There was no need to be selective. No need to prioritise. 

These days however, it matters little how awesome an idea is or how desperately I want to work with someone. There’s just no time to execute or go after every single thing that captures my imagination.

But it’s not all bad.

The lack of time on my hands has forced me to zero right in on the one thing I want the MOST. And that thing is building a name as a writer. This is the thing that gives me the greatest buzz right now.

Those other things I want to do? Like doing more speaking work, building that web based app I think will go off and starting a super-cool collaborative blogazine? If they happen, it will have to be by the by. I don’t have the time I need to push for those things right now. All my pushing is saved for writing.

2. Accept that things will happen slowly 
This time last year I was just about to have a baby (my second). And I was determined to enjoy this new baby because with my first, circumstances dictated I didn’t get to enjoy his first precious few months of life at all. (Actually, I didn’t really get to enjoy his whole first year!)

For some people, ambition goes out the window for a while after the birth of a baby. Not me. The drive was still there to achieve … something. And I fretted that in taking time out to enjoy my baby, I would be missing out … something. That others without babies would be forging on ‘ahead’ of me. 

And I had to remind myself that it did not matter what others were doing. If ever there is a time to run your own race, it’s when you have young children (much less a new baby!)

So I made a really conscious decision to ‘float’. To curb the natural urge to push. For the past year I gave myself permission to only do what I could do, when I felt up to it.

And you know what? That year is done. It’s passed in a heartbeat. And I don’t really feel like I’m behind the eight ball at all. Best of all - I have really enjoyed this precious first year of my baby.

3. Accept you will miss out on stuff and it doesn’t matter 
I think the biggest factor in being able to successfully ‘float’ was being at peace with the fact that I was going to miss out on stuff. Initially this was hard because just about every opportunity that’s come my way in life has been the result of first working hard … then being in the right place at the right time to take advantage of that hard work.

When you’re a mum however, your opportunities to be in the right place at the right time are a bit limited. So we miss out on stuff. A lot of stuff.

But you know what? There’s always more stuff. As Richard Branson has said ‘opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.’

An example of this is the fact that I’d been chatting with Problogger Darren Rowse about running a one-day blogging conference here in Perth this year. In the end however, I just didn’t have the time and resources to make it all happen and was a little despondent about it. Then Darren contacted me at the end of February and wondered if we could make something smaller happen at the end of March. Long story short – we did. And it was awesome. And now I have the ‘template’ for that kind of event, there’s the potential to make something similar happen with another awesome blogger at the end of this year.

Swings and roundabouts folks. That’s an adage for a good reason.

4. Know what you want … then let it happen organically 
I think this is the biggest thing I’ve learned when it comes to achieving big goals despite all the responsibilities and lack of time I have.

I know what the big picture is … and I’m giving myself a good amount of time to achieve it without the desperate need to push and be single-minded. (I’ve found being desperately single-minded doesn’t work all that well when you have kids.)

My big, overriding goal is to publish enough books to Amazon over the next 3-5 years so that by the time both my kids are at school, I’m generating enough income from those books to be able to cap the amount of work I have to do. I want that work to fit comfortably into my kids’ school hours so I’m able to be there for them when they are home from school.

When you know what your big picture goal is, that knowledge informs all your decisions. It dictates what you say yes to, and what things you knock back. It drives you to carve out little pockets of time where and when you can.

It also allows you to be a little less frustrated when you can’t.

Mother, runner, writer, blogger. Serial over-committer. Kelly Exeter believes a busy life need not be a stressful life. She blogs about embracing the busy by living intentionally at A Life Less Frantic. Her new book ‘Your Best Year Yet – 7 simple ways to shift your thinking and take charge of your life’ is now available on Amazon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

making tough decisions as a parent

As parents, we all make decisions in life that will impact on the lives of our children. Lisa’s husband gave up his job as an Engineer and studied to become the Minister of a church in Canberra.  They love their life in Canberra and have a fantastic church family, but they know their decisions do impact on their children. Today Lisa shares her thoughts on why they have made these decisions in the form of a letter to her girls. Welcome Lisa from Mummy's Undeserved Blessings.

To my precious girls,
You are so young and have so many things to learn about the world. We are doing our very best to help you grow up to be the wonderful women that God wants you to be. Mummy and Daddy love you, each other, and God very much, and this why we have made big decisions about what we do and how we spend our time. We decided this before you were born, but not without thoughts of how it may impact your little lives. I wanted to write this to explain to you a little about why we have made the decisions we have.
The type of job your Daddy does seems completely normal to you at the moment, but as you grow up you will see that his job is different to other jobs. For now it’s fun to go to ‘work’ with Daddy once a week, or have Daddy go to school to talk about God, or have lots of people over for meals. But there will be times when it is hard to share Daddy’s attention, embarrassing to have him at school, tiring to have people over all the time. We promise to do our best to show that you, and our family are important and loved in the midst of that (and to keep embarrassment to a minimum).
Being the minister’s kids may also be hard on you sometimes.  You haven’t experienced it yet, but there will be times when others expectations of you will be hard to live up to. We don’t expect you to be perfect, and no matter what others might one day expect of you, we just want you to enjoy being kids. 
As your mummy, I am sorry that sometimes when you want my attention I am giving it to someone else. I will always do my best to give you all the attention you need, but I hope you will understand that sometimes other people need me too. Mummy may be helping someone understand more about God, or comforting someone who is hurting. As you watch me share my time with others I hope that you will learn the importance of caring for others. 
As you grow up, you may notice that Mummy and Daddy don’t always buy you the things you want. It isn’t because we don’t love you or long to give you the things we know you will love. It is because we want you to see that the way we spend our money isn’t based on how much we have in the bank, but on a desire to be wise with our money and generous towards others and towards you. We may not always have the nicest things (although we do love a good holiday) but we do have everything we need.
You will grow up in a family that teaches you the Bible and encourages you to follow Jesus. While we hope and pray that you will also choose to follow Jesus, we know that it will be a decision you will have to make for yourself one day. If you decide not to follow Jesus, we will be heartbroken but we will NEVER love you any less. 
My girls, there are going to be times when we get angry, or say and do the wrong things for no good reason. The truth is, Mummy and Daddy will make mistakes. In our hearts we want the very best for you, but we are human people who get tired and stressed and fail at this parenting thing. For that we are sorry. When we make mistakes we pray that you will forgive us, and know that we love you more than you could ever imagine.
We thank God every day for blessing us with you, our three wonderful ladies. We hope one day you will understand the decisions we have made, despite the impact they may have on you, and we hope you always know we love you and have tried our best.
Love Mummy & Daddy 

Lisa lives in Canberra with her hubby and her three little girls.  She shares her life as a Mummy and a Minister’s wife on her blog Mummy’s Undeserved Blessings

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Passionate Parenting List

Parenting is personal. Every family is different and unique. How we decide to raise our children is up to us and the opinions of other people should not stop us from passionately parenting our children the way we know in our hearts to be right and true for our family. If you are dealing with constant criticism I recommend creating a passionate parenting list.

For us, as a family we love to go out together. All nine of us. We have an awesome time. We are loud, we laugh a lot, we move in a large group and often attract the attention of people around us. Sadly, it is pretty much a guarantee that some stranger will come speak to one of us and share their opinion about our large family. Most comments are negative, a few are positive. It is because of this continuous criticism that I have come up with 'The Passionate Parenting List' that I now keep in my bag at all times.

The desire and inspiration to create this list came from Brene Brown. I have been reading her book 'Daring Greatly' and in it she shares one of her strategies for practicing shame resilience and for cultivating a safety-net community is to carry a list in her bag of the names of people whose opinions really matter.

So I immediately created my own passionate parenting list. A list of names of people who know me, the real me, my real desire as a person and as a mother, who get my vision, who are passionate about parenting like I am, who understand why I do what I do, who know my background, who know how far I have come, who get that I make mistakes, who support me in raising my children, who love me for who I am, who know how tough this parenting journey really is, who are not quick to judge, who are not quick to criticise, who want me to have success as a parent and who sincerely care about my children and my family.

These names are sacred to me. They are the opinions of people who really matter to me in my life. Opinions that I really listen to, that I ponder deeply over, that I take on board and apply to my life.

With my passionate parenting list in my bag at all times I find I have a new source of strength. I have a constant reminder of what I value and who I value. Everyone else I meet or associate with who is only there to criticise and attack either myself or my family I have no time for. Sure, I take the time to listen to what they have to say, may respond in a polite way but I no longer take on board anything they share.

Plain and simple: they are not on my list. Their feedback does not make the cut.
You can create a list and apply this to any area of your life. Especially if you are a blogger!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

why I love raising book nerds

The other night I had one of the best experiences as a parent ever. I was sitting up in bed and my daughter (who I have struggled with for years to get to read a book!) came in and was in absolute torment and anguish. At first I was worried and concerned but after listening to her for a couple of minutes my feelings changed and I began to feel absolute joy and happiness.

It was the moment I knew I had finally succeeded in raising a book nerd.

You see, she had just finished reading a book (that she saved up for and paid for herself! let's just ponder on that miracle for a moment shall we....) and was absolutely devastated with how it ended and simply could not function without having the next book to read. She was pacing up and down my room holding her head, waving her arms in the air everywhere, ranting and raving about how the author could do that to readers. She wanted to know what to do was she going to sleep and get through the night?

I sat up in my bed and smiled. This little moment was absolute bliss in my book loving heart. It made all of those moments worth it where we read every single day when she was younger. Where I spent endless $$ trying to buy books that she might like and finally, finally here she was standing in front of me so in love with a book and it's characters that it was driving her crazy!

(By the way she read the blurb of the next book in the series and she discovered everything was going to be alright and was able to get to sleep) Ha ha! I know in a way this sounds terrible but if you are a book lover and reader like know where I am coming from.

Then last night as I went to bed late I noticed light coming from downstairs. I went to the stairs, peaked over the railing to see this below:

Two of my cherubs side by side up late on the pull out couch reading books. My heart I tell you! It was so hard to tell them to turn the light off. I remember wanting to stay up late when I was younger, lost in the adventure and imagination of a story. I believe that reading books will help them in so many other area's of their lives. Books have educated and helped me a lot throughout my life. So, my parenting dreams are coming true. I am slowly raising a family of book nerds and I couldn't be happier!

Monday, February 3, 2014

raising over confident girls

As a parent of four daughters, my goal is to raise my girls to be full of confidence.
To even be over confident.

Why over confident?
Simply because when they are teased or bullied or criticised it will only touch the surface.

They will have a buffer of over confidence to protect them.

When the over confidence is worn away: the confidence will still be there...holding them they can still smile.

My girls know who they are, what they value and at the same time know how to have fun, how to laugh at themselves and are not afraid to put themselves out there.

I want my daughters to know that true beauty comes from the inside and a girl or woman who is confident and radiates fun and happiness and kindness is truly beautiful no matter what shape or size she is.

I think they get that. I try to be an example of that.

In our home we have a lot of fun being ourselves. Every so often we share it with everyone else.

Here are my over confident girls being themselves and radiating beauty.

Seven Cherubs rendition of Let it Go:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

a treat a week

Now that the kids are back at school I am busy planning how to spend my day. One the first decisions I made was to give myself a treat a week. One little purchase, experience or moment that is just for me and not shared with anyone else in my family. Something that I can look forward to and involves rejuvinating myself.

Taking time out, even just for 10 minutes, can help clear you mind, bring you back in tune with yourself and your thoughts and allow you to breathe again. I treasure my time out as a parent of a large family. I guard it fiercely. I need it in my life and I don't feel guilty for taking it.

This week I decided to treat myself to a quiet moment on the couch with a vanilla slice. I don't even remember the last time I had a vanilla slice. Maybe because they really are so bad for me! So. Yes. It is questionable that this vanilla slice was actually rejuvinating for me but it was delicious and delightful. I felt fantasic when I was eating it so I am counting it as good for me...

For the rest of the week when I was tired and exhasuted with the back to school routine I remembered that moment on the couch. How wonderful it was to be still, to be quiet and to have something sweet in my mouth - that I didn't need to share!!

I mean. Seriously. Have you ever tried splitting a vanilla slice into 8 parts? Messy!

I have a whole bunch of time out moments planned and in the past I have taken time out by simply:

reading a magazine
taking a bubble bath (with an excessive amount of bubbles!)
pottered around in the garden (until I found a spider)
had a massage
watched a movie
written in my journal
watched funny youtube video clips (laughed so hard I cried)
walked around my neighbourhood (still looking for a house!)
gone on a flower walk (taken random pictures of flowers)
danced wildly in my kitchen to loud music
lay on my bed for 10-15 minutes and done absolutley nothing (why is an activity)
spent time on pinterest searching for a hot new hair style
gone window shopping (then accidently ended up coming home with jewellery)
gone out for sushi
painted my nails

So. I am looking forward to planning ways that I can treat myself.
Simply. Easy. Fun. Practical. Cheap.
Those are my key words for my treats.

It is going to be a good year!

You can also check out 20 ways to treat yourself for under $1

Friday, December 13, 2013

a year on radio and a hug in a mug

I took myself off for a treat today. A treat to celebrate facing my fears and for spending one year talking on radio about parenting. Writing about parenting is one thing but actually talking live about it is another thing altogether! 

To celebrate I decided to give myself a hug in a mug. A warm, sweet soothing hug. It was exactly what I needed. It is not easy putting your personal opinion, lifestyle choices and family stories out there for people to judge and criticise. I am far from perfect as a person and parent and have much to learn. I make many mistakes. 

It has been a wonderful year being able to have the opportunity to talk on ABC radio with many different parents. Being on a panel sharing tips, ideas and opinions on a regular basis has taught me many lessons. 

I had no idea I could feel so passionate about a topic, could have so much to say and could feel so vulnerable as a parent. I am glad I faced my fears and gave it a go. It has been so fun! Thanks for the opporunity and for making me feel so welcome 612 ABC Brisbane.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

embracing my imperfections as a mum

I always knew being a mum was going to be hard. Just listen to any seasoned mum talk about raising children and they will share moments of joy and happiness but also times of trial and challenge. Even though I know this and was prepared for hard challenging times, I really had no idea just how much my children would bring out my imperfections. 

You know, those little or sometimes big parts of yourself you know deep down are there. The parts that you don't like about yourself and hope that nobody ever has to see. Those imperfections that we try so hard to cover up...that you don't want to show anyone! Them.

Well, since becoming a mum and especially one of several teenagers, those imperfections have been coming out. They have risen when I have lost my patience, they have taken over my attitude when I have felt discouraged, they have controlled my thoughts and lead me to doubt my parenting ability and hardest of all my cherubs have pointed them clearly out to me in our daily life.

My parenting has become under the microscope in a new way with teenagers. They clearly see your imperfections and have no problem speaking openly about them in front of you. It is as if all the good you do as a parent falls away into the background. It becomes blurred, out of focus and all that can be seen is that current imperfection you have as a parent. In focus, open wide for the whole family to see.

Instead of hiding from these imperfections, I have been trying to embrace them. I openly admit that I need improvement in the area of my life my children suggest. I openly admit that I am not perfect, that I still have much to learn, that I am not a perfect mum. In fact, some days I know I am being the worst parent ever!

A couple of times I have had to have a cry in my bedroom to help me move forward. It has been a humbling expereince. I know that just like my children I am learning and growing into my role as a parent and mum. I have much to learn. I have a long way to go to being what I would call a great mum.

Embracing my imperfections instead of rebelling against them has helped me to learn the importance of being kind to myself. We speak to our children and tell them to be patient, that they are still learning and that all they need to do is try their best when giving something a go in their life. Surely the same applies to us as parents.

As parents we are after all real people, with real feelings, with real challenges and with real imperfections. Embracing that knowledge and those parts of ourselves that we don't like and doing something about them will help us feel happier and more at peace with our parenting journey. I am still working on the feeling at peace part but I take comfort in the fact that at least I am working on it!

Monday, December 2, 2013

parenting is the hardest job in the world

Parenting is the hardest job in the world.
It is also the most rewarding.

Before I became a parent, I had some pretty strong idea's about parenting. 

{There was no way my children were going to love any Disney characters, they would not be seen with runny snotty noses or wear mix matched clothes that clashed in colour and there was no way we would be spending hours in front of the television during our day. Oh yeah! I had it all planned out perfectly in my mind of how this parenting journey was going to unfold and surely I had it all under control!}

When I became a parent a lot of those idea's went out the window. 

{Hello seven children in nine years! Please, please my sweet cherub like a Disney character so I can buy it for you so then you will play quietly, never in a million years would I ever imagine myself walking through the loungeroom and instructing one of my children to wipe their nose on their t-shirt because I simply couldn't get to a tissue in time, never would I find myself arriving at the state of living where I really didn't care what my children wore at all and I was just happy as a parent that they were actually dressed! Also never would I ever find myself actually admitting in public that I used the TV as a babysitter to help me survive those early years with many young children.}

Now that I have been in the thick of parenting for 15 years, my idea's about parenting have changed.

{Over the years my parenting strategy and values have evolved. Just as my children have grown and developed, so have I as a parent. I still have very strong opinions about parenting but I have learned a valueable lesson...having an opinion and actually putting that opinion into practice are two very different things. Making your opinion real and liveable in a family situation where people can freely choose if they want to follow it or not is downright exhausting and takes great planning and effort. It requires being consistent and great patience. It requires sticking to your guns and also knowing when to let go. It may also require being personally humbled and acknowledging that your strong opinion is not what everybody else wants to hear or live. Finding that balance is one of the reasons why being a parent is the hardest job in the world.}

What have you changed your opinion about since becoming a parent? 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

easy learning roster for young children

When I had a bunch of very young children, I often found myself lacking inspiration during the day of play ideas I could put into practice with my cherubs. Every day seemed like 'Groundhog Day' with the same routine of 'mess making' taking place in my home. It was a exhausting routine and because I was very sleep deprived, I struggled to be inspired for new games and ways to be what I felt would be a good mum. 

This was of course way before the time of being able to use google to answer every need and question as a parent. There were no opportunities to search up on the internet for fun activities that would help and educate my children. Well, as far as I knew in my sheltered early mothering life anyway. I sure didn't know anything about blogs at that time and my source of inspiration came from friends and books. 

So to help myself, I sat down one day and wrote out an easy learning roster for my children. I divided up the days during the week and assigned them to different themes. I also divided up my time during the day according to our routine of naps and snack time for my children. I scheduled in some general play ideas for when I felt like a zombie mum and needed something to spark my imagination. 

The roster worked really well for me. Having a simple guide helped me to relax, to look ahead, to save fun activities for when they were scheduled and it gave me peace of mind knowing I was helping my children grow and develop. Some days I didn't need to refer to the roster at all and on other days we would whip through the activities at lightning pace and I was grateful that I had some plan in place!

Below is an example of what one of my easy learning rosters would look like:

I was going to make up a nice looking roster for you to look at but I couldn't not share my original crumpled, smudged roster. I have very fond memories attached to this roster above and as a family we had many an awesome play session with it in our home. 

As you can see I simply wrote in very basic activities and I found it was a great starting point for further inspiration. An example of what I would do and how I made it work for me would be....say for the Alphabet: I would sing the Alphabet Song, pick one letter in the alphabet and find items around the home that it started with, practice drawing a letter, practice saying a letter, looking for the letter in magazines and go outside for a walk and talk about what letters things we say started with. 

I don't know if many mum's today make up a learning roster to use in their homes so I thought I would share what I have previously done and what worked well for me. I know many of us as mum's are very time poor and we need all the help we can get so I hope you find it helpful and inspires you to work out your own plan.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

that moment as a parent when you just need to grow up!

I was sitting in my car at the lights during the week and for some reason my mind flashed back to a time in my life where I had three young cherubs at home. Three adorable blonde cherubs (well...Liahona was born with black hair but it changed to blonde very quickly) who were aged 3, 2 and 1. They were the light of my life and I felt so blessed to have them and to be a stay at home mum to look after them. 

I remember their sweet faces, the cheeky grins and the amount of work involved in taking care of them. I also remembered that I spent a lot of time crying in my room. As much as I loved my cherubs, I also felt completely exhausted and overwhelmed by what was required of me as a parent each day. 

I often felt like I was running on empty and was too exhausted to even work out what I needed to help myself feel better. Sure, it was my decision and choice to have these three children so close together and I knew I was totally responsible for taking care of them but it was a shock to me just how much hard work it was on a daily basis.

I clearly remember one day when I was in my room absolutely distraught and drained. I could not stop the tears from flowing. I was sleep deprived, unsure of my parenting abilities and my perspective on this whole parenting gig was way off. I sat on the floor, in the corner, with children climbing all over me and sobbed my heart out.

I rambled on to myself about how it wasn't fair, that this was too hard for me to deal with, that I was a surely entitled to more time to myself, that this was a huge burden taking care of so many little children, that I couldn't do this anymore, that the reality was as a parent I couldn't cope and announced out loud that I couldn't possibly keep up this routine for any longer. 

I felt trapped. I didn't want out of the situation but I didn't want to continue feeling this way either.
It wasn't post natal depression, it was simply exhaustion and weariness.

In my young mind I felt entitled to a better life, an easier life and felt frustrated that somebody should have told me it was going to be this hard and in my mind this was not how it was supposed to be!

Then it hit me. This is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to have these children and I wanted to be at home to take care of them. No amount of crying and complaining and whining was going to make it any better. Quite simply and bluntly, I knew the only thing to do was get over myself and to grow up! 

I knew it was time for me to step up, to grow up and to be the mature, responsible mum that my kids needed me to be. My young mind wanted to have children and to still be able to have copious amounts of time out to myself. Sure I could make that happen if I really wanted to but that was not the type of parent I wanted to be.

I wanted to be there as much as I could for my children, I wanted to see all the little achievements they made, I wanted to kiss sore knees, wipe away tears, praise scribbled drawings and help them grow and develop in every possible way. I also wanted to be a happy mum and to enjoy the process. 

I know that as a parent we grow into our role along with our children. It is a time of growth for us as well. But I also knew that sitting in my room every day crying over the situation was not going to help anyone at all! The real challenge was finding that balance of releasing emotion and feelings and being patient with ourselves and also stepping up and getting on with what we need to do. 

The only way I could see to survive was to get over myself and to grow up. I needed to fast track my maturity and to stop the whinging and complaining. I signed up for this journey and knew it was not one that I planned on escaping from anytime soon.

To help me cope and survive I worked out a family plan and started organising my home and planning in small moments just for me. Moments I could look forward to each week that made the tough moments as a parent that much easier. It has been a real key to finding happiness for me as a parent on this rollercoaster ride and journey. 

Along the way I have had many moments of having to just grow up and I know there will be more to come. I still have so much to learn! Have you had moments where you just needed to grow up?

Monday, November 4, 2013

my day to day routine as a mum

I am at an interesting season of life as a mum. Gone are the days of changing nappies, lugging a baby bag everywhere I go, chasing young cherubs down the street, wrestling with prams in shopping centres, baby proofing all my cupboards, washing teeny tiny socks and enduring endless sleepless nights. My day to day routine as a mum has greatly changed yet I find I am just as busy but in a different way.

My day to day routine now looks very different. 

I start my day early, stumble down the stairs and immediately begin pondering over what to put in lunch boxes. I line up 7 lunch boxes and work miracles with what we have in our cupboard and fridge. I pile them up and then take a shower to prepare myself for the day. I get myself ready without interruptions from children and then brace myself for the craziness that is about to come my way.

I help get school uniforms, brush hair, braid hair, help find socks, scout around for homework, listen to readers, find library books, fill in school notes, write notes to teachers, demand children wear deodorant, remind children to clean teeth, ask children to remove makeup, find money for bus tickets, remind children to take musical instruments, explain over and over again that cereal is expensive and no I am not buying that brand to eat, cook bulk lots of toast when we are running late, patiently wake sleeping children over and over again, close bedroom doors to ignore what really is behind it, listen to children share why they are too sick to go to school that day and find out the real reason why they don't want to go and wonder why every morning we just can't get our act together and we have to have a family prayer in the car instead of the loungeroom.

I stare at the dishes and breakfast on the table and floor wish I could get them done right then and there but prepare myself for the mess I need to clean up after the school drop off. I travel 25 minutes up the freeway and drop off my children for school. I listen to delightful and crazy conversations in the car, listen to music way too loud, answer questions about what is happening that day, play car games and remind children that once we leave the house we are not going back!

I return home to clean up the mess. I answer emails, I write blog posts, I attempt to clean bedrooms, I exericse for 30 minutes, I put on loads and loads of washing, I find left behind homework, musical instruments and lunch boxes, do the food shopping for the fourth time that week, I pick up music books, I buy more stationary supplies, I go to dentist, doctor and skin appointments, I go to Medicare and the post office, I plan meals for the week, I walk past my bed at least 40 times and wish I could get in it, I shop for shoes once again and make a mental note to tell my teenagers to stop growing, I shop for birthday and christmas presents, I think about family activities we can plan, I work out amazing ways to stretch our finances, I work out an afternoon snack, I worry about technology in our home and I double check we have enough toilet paper.

I pick children up from school. I listen to stories of the day, I deal with school notes, I freak out about high school maths and chemistry homework, I listen to begging about wants and needs that range from Vans, to latest songs, to makeup, to clothes, to movies, to facebook, to concerts, to high heels, to toys, to laptops, to ipads, to ipods. I listen to several readers at once, I use a varitey of techniques to keep children at the table to finish homework, I deal with emotions that range from tantrums to tears, I send children to bedrooms to calm down, I cook dinner and supervise children doing chores around our home. 

I help with more homework, supervise the use of computer time, schedule the use of computer time, get children bathed and showered, close more bedroom doors, listen to children who want to talk to me, get frustrated because I can't keep up with the washing, drop off children at activities, get more petrol, wonder how my children can possibly make so much mess whilst eating dinner, long for my pyjama's, confiscate ipods that are glowing under pillows in the dark, check the lyrics of song requests, pray that I can make it to the end of the night, hang the washing out in the dark, look at the vegetable garden and wonder when I will get the time to plant it, check on my children whilst they are sleeping, escape to Instagram for a moment, pay for school excurions, realise I don't have enough bread left for school lunches in the morning, work out a way to print an assignment when the printer decides to run out of ink, roll my eyes at children who leave assignments to the last minute, crave chocolate and decide to just leave everything else that needs to be done and crash it for the night. 

I get into bed and feel thankful for my day. I feel exhausted and yet wonder what I have actually achieved for the day. I ask myself if I was really helpful to my children. I look back and remember those early years with children and how lovely it was when they spoke nicely and lovingly to you, when the biggest issue was that they were a little late rolling over or walking and feel thankful I am past the stage of changing any nappies.

My day to day routine is crazy busy and very tiring. Just like every other parenting stage I have been through so far. It is one big long exhausting and demanding parenting journey. Along the way though there are the quiet whispers of I love you, the amazing growth and achievements of my children, the kind acts they show to myself, to family members and others, big squashy hugs, high fives, huge smiles, handwritten and homemade cards full of love, sweet cherub faces that need to be kissed, little hands that hold mine, late night chats about life, laughter and giggles and deep gratitude that these cherubs are part of my family. 

Yes. The day to day routine is tough in many ways but it is one I wouldn't miss or trade for anything!

You might also like to read:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

the death stare

In one of my recent one on one chats with an older child of mine, they expressed their great dislike of the fact that I am now very lenient with the younger children. According to them, when they were younger I was as a parent very strict and tough with discipline. Now they feel like I let the younger kids get away with everything and the only discipline I give them is the death stare. This is what it looks like below:

It really has me thinking:
Am I really softer with the younger kids? How often am I doing the 'death stare'?

No wonder I have wrinkles on my forehead!

What about you? Are you more lenient with your younger kids?
Are you guilty of doing the death stare?

Monday, October 28, 2013

5 tips for sexual abuse recovery whilst raising a family

Dealing with overcoming the effects of sexual abuse whilst raising a family is an exhausting, draining, taxing, fatiguing, wearing, arduous, soul stretching, demanding and gruelling task. I could go on and on about how challenging it is but I won't. Basically there is no way to sugar coat it. Just like recovery from any illness or sickness it requires planning, patience, effort and time spent wondering when this is every going to end!

Overcoming sexual abuse or any type of abuse whilst trying to hold yourself together for your children is possible but it does require superior effort and it really sucks the life and often the happiness right out of you too.

Most days you will find that you are so exhausted dealing with your thoughts and your memories and your lack of self-worth that even smiling requires too much effort. And you know what? That is O.K. Considering what you might be dealing with in your head, if it means you don't feel like smiling for a couple of days...then so be it!

Even though recovery from sexual abuse is hard, is exhausting and an often long process: it is possible to heal, to move past it and to feel that you are worthwhile as a person. Naturally, it is going to be different for every person. We all feel differently and have experienced different levels of abuse. We are also all in different times and seasons of our lives and have different support groups or lack of support groups around us.

We also react differently to what we have had to endure and becoming a parent will trigger different emotions and motivations within us. Some people may find becoming a parent is a constant reminder of what they had to suffer and some people may find becoming a parent is an opportunity to provide what they missed out on themselves.

With consistent work and determination to leave the past behind, with a new focus on the future, you can become the person you want to be and find recovery from sexual abuse.

You are in charge of who you will become.

With these thoughts in mind I wanted to share with you my 5 tips for sexual abuse recovery whilst raising a family. Not everyone is going to need or relate to these tips. In the past I have written about how I have no clear answers on parenting after abuse. I have been pondering over this and the below list is what I have found helpful from my own personal experience in healing from sexual abuse.

1. Find a Selfish balance. Yes. I am encouraging you to be selfish but with a balance. One of the main challenges I have found in healing myself whilst having a family is the requirement to be a little selfish and at times put myself first. There are times when you need to decide if you are going to set aside time out for yourself to help yourself progress or are you going to put off those moments when you know you could really move forward. It is hard when you know you could do some deep soul searching and you need to put it off for a more convenient time that would suit the needs of your family and not yourself. It is a tough call most days and finding that balance is important. You want your family to keep functioning and at the same time you need to keep yourself in a good state to take care of them as best you can.

2. Fall apart regularly. Now this may seem like a complete contradiction to the above suggestion but I am a big believer in the importance of letting yourself fall apart. You know, where you completely and utterly let it all out. You sob, you cry, you scream and you feel, I mean really feel that raw pain that you have been carrying around for so long inside and protecting everyone, including yourself from and you are at the point that you feel like you are going to collapse. Yeah! That! Now with a family to take care of falling apart is not easy. I have had days where I couldn't take it any more and I just fell apart there and then. Regardless of what was going on.

On other occasions I have actually scheduled in my falling apart experience. Sounds weird I know! To do this I made sure my husband could take the kids out for the day and I cleared my day to just feel and to do nothing else. By giving myself permission to fall apart it also gave me control over my feelings and freedom to express any hurt or anger I may have been feeling. Letting it out was healing and liberating.

{I also want to add that if you are going to let yourself fall apart - please do NOT hurt yourself in any way. Falling apart is a time to release built up emotion. It is NOT a time for self harm.}

3. Be patient with yourself. Healing from sexual abuse takes extra-ordinary patience. There are many levels of hurt, pain, anger, shock, shame and distrust to deal with to move forward. It can be like peeling an onion. With each layer that is removed there can be an even deeper, stronger feeling or issue underneath. It takes times to work through them all if that is what you need to do to heal. It also requires patience to know that your family needs are important and you can't just make this healing journey all about you. There are children who need you, require you to love and care for them and will take up your time. Be patient and understanding and give yourself the gift of time. We all want to heal quickly but rarely have the dedicated time or money to make it happen. Often this is a small sacrifice we make when we decide to have a family.

4. Look for progress. Being a parent is a wonderful, sacred work. It is rewarding and thrilling to watch your children develop and mature before your eyes. They grow so quickly and often we can see the growth that they achieve on a daily basis. However, generally what we can't see is the progress and development that we as parents and especially survivors of sexual abuse make. Looking for small achievements and healing milestones will help give you the encouragement and motivation to keep moving forward and dealing with difficult emotions on a daily basis. Just like we may clap and cheer for our children, we need to celebrate our progress as well along the way. What an achievement it is to feel free from shame and pain and anger!

5. Find a release. I believe every person needs a release. It could be an activity they enjoy, a sport they love to participate in, a book to escape to, a creative outlet to express themselves with, a place to visit or even a volunteer service to forget about themselves with. When times become difficult as a parent and you have the added pressure of also dealing with healing yourself, having a release will help give you that time away from either your thoughts, your demands or even your sadness. It will allow you to come back to your every day life with a fresh view, a hopefully uplifted heart and a different outlook. We all need something to look forward to in life.

Now these are just a few thoughts and tips that I wanted to share. I have tried my best to keep it short. Not an easy task but I hope that they will give you something to think about. Hopefully they might start you thinking about what you really need right now. As you know I am in no way qualified to give professional advice. This is just what I know from my personal experience and am trying to share what I believe might help. If you really need professional advice, please take the time to seek it.

If you are interested you might also like to also read:

Speaking the unspeakable
How to forgive but not forget when Sexually Abused 
10 Tips to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse 
From victim to survivor to thriver
There are more blog posts on sexual abuse on my Self Care page HERE.

Monday, July 29, 2013

How did you choose a baby name?

With all the excitement and fuss happening lately over Kate and Wills (Royal couple) baby here in Australia, it got me thinking about baby names. As it seemed the whole world waited and was holding their breath to find out what little 'George' would be called I wondered if many other families had trouble coming up with a name as well.

Naming a baby is a personal process. It is fun and daunting at the same time. There can be pressure from family to use a certain name, disagreements between couples and even friends who might take your name you had planned for your sweet cherub. You can choose between a traditional name or creating one yourself. You can also have the experience of finally choosing a name and then after the birth of the baby seeing that this name simply doesn't fit what you cherub looks like at all!

Matt and I always had a baby name ready when each of our children were born. They were all named immediately after birth. For Chelsea I had a dream whilst pregnant we were having a girl and her name was to be Chelsea so Chelsea it was. Nathan was the only boy name we both agreed on, so Nathan it was. For Harmony we both happened to separately read her name in an inspiring story that same week and it touched our hearts so her name stuck. Liberty was going to be my last child. I wanted to be set free from having any more, so Liberty is was.

Let's not even get started on how hard it is to name your child if you are a teacher!!
So if you are in the mood to share, I would love to know:

Did you name your cherub right away? Did you use a family name?
Did you have trouble getting a name to stick?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

pocket money system for children that really works!

For many years I have been searching for an easy money system for my children to teach them the value of money and also to teach them about charity and giving. As the parent of a large family, finding extra dollars for pocket money was never an option for us and making that sacrifice always seemed too hard. It took years for me to warm up to the idea of pocket money and to find a system that worked well for us. Once I started implementing it I wondered why I didn't start earlier!

Finally, we have a good, easy money system that everyone is happy with. 
Here is the money system I use in our family and home:

1. First of all, one of the reasons I did not want to have pocket money in our home previously was because I am a big believer in the whole family working together to keep the house running. I didn't want to pay my children for doing every day chores or jobs around the house. That needed to be spelled out clearly to everyone. You are not paid money to help out around the home in your every day tasks and jobs.

2. Having pocket money was an opportunity for my children to earn some extra money to save, to give and to buy some things they might want. To allow them to be a little self reliant as children, to be kind to others and to also have some fun.  

3. We worked out what the maximum amount of money would be available for them to earn each week. It needed to be an amount we could afford as a family and it was just enough to make them feel special. Just a couple of dollars for the younger children was plenty. 

4. To earn the pocket money my children needed to do extra work around the home. I always have extra work that needs to be done! Every week I ask my children to do extra jobs for me. If they willingly do them and do them to a good standard they get paid at the end of the week. If they choose not to help me out when I ask, then they don't get paid. It is their choice. I don't mind if I don't have to pay them :)

5. Paying my children pocket money has allowed me to teach them the importance of working to a good standard. When they go out into the work force, they will meet people who will not be as lenient as a parent when it comes to getting a job done correctly. Of course, I do take into consideration the age of the child and what they realistically can do in relation to the job assigned to them. The home is a great place for preparing them for future work standards and opportunities.

6. On pay day we often talk about how they went for the week. We have a mini self assessment. There have been several times when my children have come to me expecting to be paid but have not been paid anything at all because of their attitude or standard of work. It was a real shock to them and a great lesson was learned.

7. When I give my children their pocket money it is divided in 3 ways. 10% is set aside for charity or giving, 10% is saved and put into a bank account and the other 80% is for them to spend on any items they may want like clothes, or toys or books or games etc. Of course they do have the option to give or save more. You can work out the percentage rates however you want.

8. If they have an item that they really want to save for, we find a picture of it and hang it up in their bedroom. This gives them a visual to help focus on and it has been easier to reach their saving goals. Having some pocket money has helped them learn that everything we purchase comes with a price and often you need to be really patient and dedicated to get what you want. 

9. At first I found this whole system difficult to adjust to because I believe that children should not have to be paid to help me out when I ask around the house. In previous attempts of having pocket money every time I asked my children to help me out they would ask if they would be paid for it. Drove me crazy as I would pay for every individual helping moment separately. This way, it is a set blanket rate for all help given to me. Since starting this money system I no longer have children asking me if they will be paid to help me out. It is simple - help Mum and you get money at the end of the week. Don't help Mum and you get nothing.

10. Now that my children have their own money I no longer need to pay for toys or books or items that they want. They save up for them all themselves. I am no longer pestered constantly to get things for them and if my older children want to go out to the movies or buy a certain accessory, they have the money to pay for it themselves. Win, win for everyone!

This is not a perfect money system but it is working well for us. We are slowly learning together along the way how to be better at it. Me, at keeping track of the jobs that are done and the condition of them and my children at doing them more effectively. In the meantime, I am getting more help around the house and my children are having fun saving for what they really want.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

raising twins: same but different

In my travels I have discovered as a mother raising twins, that most (not all!) people who wanted to have twins never had them and those who didn't want to have twins, did have them. I fall into the last category. A mother who didn't want to have twins. 

After already having four children, having twins was the last thing on my mind! I cried for two weeks straight when I found out. After that, I pulled myself together and started reading books about triplets. Suddenly raising twins didn't look so bad after all!

One of my first decisions I made in regards to parenting twins was that I was determined to raise them as two separate people who were simply born on the same day. I was going to raise them the same but different, no matter what they looked like. Identical or not.

In every question I have asked them over the years, I have always asked them individually what they would like to do. I never assumed that they both would like the same thing. In my mind they have always had individual tastes and opinions. Even when it came to dressing them, I always picked out different clothes, different colours and always talked to them about what they liked. 

Even though they wore the same size clothing and shoe size, they determined what was going to below to who. They were the same but different. As they grew a little older they even decided what clothes were their own. I simply purchased the clothes and they worked it out themselves.

They even reached the stage where if I picked out an item of clothing for them to wear, they would tell me that it was Sam's T-shirt or Eli's pants and they wanted their clothing not their brother's. They made the decisions themselves. The pictures below are one of the few times I actually purchased a top that had the same pattern but different colours. You can see how happy they are about it!

Oh my heart! These pictures make me laugh and I miss those chubby cheeks! Now that my boys are a little older, they are very good at letting me know what they want themselves and are very independent. I have raised them to love and appreciate each other but also to do anything they want to do without having to rely on their brother being there. In fact, Sam and Eli didn't even know what a twin was until they reached school when everyone started calling them twins. As one of six children at the time, they had plenty of opportunities to do things apart.

They still have moments where they do things the when they lost the same teeth...which kind of freaked us all out...but they did it differently...different teeth on different days...same but different. It is also interesting that Sam is left handed and has a right foot kick and Eli is right handed and has a left foot kick. Another testament to me of how important it is to raise them as individuals.

Monday, July 1, 2013

when you want to stop the clock and know you have to let go

My cherubs are sprouting before my eyes. They are growing in leaps and bounds and I find myself muttering in my bedroom that I want to stop the clock, that life is going by too fast for me to keep up with and that I need to be better as a parent at letting go. To be honest, it is the letting go that I am struggling with.

A couple of weeks ago I went to my last Prep 'Fun Day' as a parent. I really didn't know how to feel. I was happy to go and to have fun with Liberty but a huge part of me was sad that we have officially come to an end of an era in our family. We are on the lasts....of many my youngest child now heads off into the big wide world of school and life. 

We are on the end of younger children's toys in our home. No more baby toys around my we have technology lists of wants and technology inspired games filling our home. I am fighting the battle of control of what they are watching and listening to and it is much more harder than having children fighting over who had what plush toy first!

My children are also starting to pass me in the height area. I am pretty short so it is not hard to pass me but boy does it change the parenting dynamics! Trying to have a serious conversation and instruct or encourage a child when they are towering above you and smiling down on you is a new experience let me tell you!

Even though I know we are experiencing a lot of lasts in our home, we are also experiencing a lot of firsts as well. I am changing my attitude and instead of feeling sad that we had our last Prep 'Fun Day', I am trying to focus on my children and how they feel and to remind myself that this was Liberty's first 'Fun Day' and to celebrate that achievement. 

Not only do I as a parent need to learn to let go of wanting to keep having those special moments in my life that will no longer happen, I need to let go of wanting to live in the past. I have a new stage of life, a new era happening in my home, with more teenagers joining the ranks. This is an exciting time of life for all of us and life with teenagers is sure different than life with toddlers and babies. 

I know I have no control over stopping the clock. My children want to learn, grow and thrive. My role needs to be to support them in doing so. I am learning just as they are and I am slowly learning to let go and to let them direct their own lives. It is no easy task!