Thought of the Day

Insight from Pulitzer-winning journalist and best-selling author Chris Hedges. SHARE if you agree.

Photo: Insight from Pulitzer-winning journalist and best-selling author Chris Hedges. SHARE if you agree.

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Having Your Cake and Eating It Too…

Among other things, one of the things I love most about finishing a semester of study is being able to get my thoughts back to myself. No longer is my mental capacity maxed out by trying to recall the diagnostic criteria for various personality disorders or distinguishing between mood, anxiety and eating disorders – riveting stuff I know! In all fairness this semester was pretty engaging for me but it does take its toll.

For the next few weeks I get to focus on my family, read for pleasure (for the few minutes of bedtime reading that I get before passing out) and generally just enjoy the lack of pressure and deadlines that come with assignments and exams. Bliss!

On reflecting what it was like for the past 4-5 months juggling study with a newborn I can’t help coming back to the old adage of having one’s cake and eating it too.

For the most part, I really can “have it all”.

I have a wonderful husband and son which make for a very rewarding family life, I’m fortunate to be able to be a stay-at-home-Mum, I’m finishing my psych degree so  that I can open up a range of new work opportunities for my future and I’m starting to think about what sort of work from home I might be able to do later in the year to bring in a few extra dollars. Clearly I have no complaints!

Credit where credit’s due, I’m lucky enough to have amazing family support which is the only reason I’ve survived this semester of study. Without it there’s certainly no way I would be sitting in my lounge room on the evening after an exam feeling cool, calm and collected. It’s because of their generosity of time and energy that I’ve managed to avoid turning into a bug-eyed monster propped up by caffeine running off of vapours (not a pretty picture let me tell you).

As I start to mull over potential work ventures, it dawns on me that for every new thing I take on, there’s at least one guaranteed consequence – I keep getting spread thinner and thinner. Unfortunately, these grand undertakings don’t come inbuilt with an extra store of attentional capacity so it stands to reason that the more I take on, the more I split my focus. Sure, that’s the juggling act we all manage on a day-to-day basis, but for the first time I have an extra variable that I haven’t had to deal with before: What impact does all this have on my son?

Don’t get me wrong he’s not being neglected or suffering in any way. Quite the opposite in fact. His grandparents have been more than happy to spend as much time as they can get with their grandson and there are plenty of arguments to be made about the long-term benefits of all this for my son but the question remains: Where do I draw the line?

Sure I can have my cake and eat it too but should I?

I don’t have all the answers yet but it’s certainly given me pause for thought.

Image courtesy of Microsoft ClipArt

And the Cherry on Top…

To add to the wave of relief that’s washed over me after a fairly frantic week of cramming for uni exams, there was a lovely little surprise waiting for me in the wonderful world of blogging. I was nominated for a:

It’s so lovely to see this type of peer support and recognition because you put yourself out there and there’s just as good a chance that someone could take a swing at you. Instead it’s been so encouraging to see the amount of positivity that’s floating around in the blogosphere!

But I digress, there a few ‘rules’ attached so firstly, a big thank you to Jim from And that makes two for the nomination. This blog brings a wonderful sense of humour to being a parent and I always get a giggle when reading about his daughter’s antics.

Secondly, I need to share seven things about myself.  Hmmm….

  1. I live in a household of boys: 1 husband and 1 son and I adore both of them
  2. I’m half Finnish
  3. I’m enjoying the world of blogging far more than I thought I might
  4. I’d love to have a pet lion
  5. The thing I’ve loved most about being a Mum is hearing my son laugh
  6. I married my high school sweetheart
  7. Florence stole a piece of my heart and one day I’ll be making my way back there to reclaim it

Thirdly, I’m nominating 15 other bloggers out there who I admire and whose writing I find inspiring or enjoyable: MUMmedia, Tofudie, iGameMom, Cauldrons and Cupcakes, When Ideas Fail, HOVERCRAFTDOGGY, Bill Chance, An Ordinary Life, Sweet Child of Mine Book, Coco J Ginger Says, Daycare Chronicles, SMILESALOT1969, Vicky… The Northern Chicky, LadyRomp and Pulchra Doctrina.

These are all lovely blogs and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them and look forward to their future offerings!

Last, but not least, I will now go and comment of each of their pages to let them know what I’ve done which will hopefully continue this cycle of enthusiasm and support.

Cheers!

Do Parents = Technological Dinosaurs?

Well it’s finally happened, I’ve crossed over from being the ‘young’ generation to being one of the ‘older’ generations.

Alright, in all fairness that probably happened a little while ago but not having spent a lot of time around young people I’ve been able to live in blissful ignorance. That is until I started living with one full-time.

I’ve come to realise that, in time, my son is going to have the same type of reactions to my stories of ‘days gone by’ that I had to my parent’s stories which I’m sure is the same reaction they had to their parent’s stories and so forth and so forth.

You know the rolling of the eyes and bemused facial expressions that roughly translate to ‘Good on ya Mum’

It strikes me that, as is usually the case, the stories that are going to elicit the strongest reactions and make me seem ‘so old‘ to my son are those that involve technology.

We chuckle about the fact that the technology that our son is going to come to take for granted hasn’t even hit the mainstream yet and I don’t mind telling you that’s just a little bit weird. My husband and I are both reasonably technologically savvy (my husband probably a little bit more than me) and like to keep up-to-date with new technologies but it’s an inescapable truth that at some stage, in the not so distant future, our son is going to far surpass our understanding of technology and the student will inevitably become the teacher. Hopefully that day is still a little way away but like it or not it is coming.

There’s no denying you’ve moved up the generational ladder when you start reminiscing about ‘how things were in your day’ and when you start looking at the kids of today thinking to yourself ‘we were never like that’.  When I see kids who look like they’re about 7 pulling out the latest smart phones I can’t help but be a little bit amazed.  Never mind the kid I saw recently in the doctor’s surgery who couldn’t have been more than 4 asking her Mummy for her iPhone.  I know I didn’t get my first mobile phone until I was 19 and let me tell you, there was nothing overly smart about it and I really only had it for emergencies.  I had limited credit, calls were so expensive and there was no such thing as SMS conversations (this is the part where you’d expect the eye rolling to start).

There’s no denying how far technology has come in the short time since I was that age (well shortish anyway).

Not to mention the wonderful world of computers. I smile to myself thinking of my childhood when I used to get excited about playing the Commodore 64 on the weekends and the hours of fun during my teen years that were spent playing games like Carmen San Diego and the various Quests (Kings, Police and Space). It’s strange to think that my son is not going to understand a world where you don’t have constant access to some form of personal computer 24/7. He’s most likely going to laugh when we tell him about our first computer lessons in primary school where, once a week, you’d all file into the computer lab where there were maybe 10 Apple Macs that were to be shared amongst a class of 25-30. A world where word processing was innovation, email didn’t exist and the internet was only used by intelligence agencies is going to seem positively ancient.

So in the spirit of embracing the harsh realities of life (yes, the ageing process will continue despite these miraculous technological advances) I’m enjoying the strolls down memory lane as I start to catalogue the golden oldies that I’m going to be able to pull out to tell my son.  While I’m in no particular hurry to get there, I do think I’m going to enjoy imparting my little snapshot of history and hopefully, just because I continue to age,  it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll turn into a technological dinosaur in the process.

We’ll see!

Image courtesy of Microsoft ClipArt & FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Baby ‘Experts’: Sage, Saboteur or Something In-Between?

6 SLEEP MISTAKES PARENTS MAKE AND HOW TO AVOID THEM!

This was the subject line that jumped out at me from my inbox last week and it got me thinking….how much stock do I put into the so-called baby experts out there?  I’m all for seeking out as much information as I can find, but is it always helpful, especially when it’s at the expense of intuition and personal experience?

As a newly pregnant woman I feverishly signed up to all sorts of baby forums and newsletters. After all this was entirely new territory and, at the time, aside from knowing where babies come from and how they come out, I felt hugely lacking when it came to understanding babies, parenting and motherhood. So I figured it couldn’t hurt to get as much help as I could get. As it turned out, I knew far less about the ‘how they come out’ part than I’d originally thought, but that’s another story.

I happily read the books, websites and emails when I’m caught unawares and have no idea where I am or what I’m doing. Where’s the wisdom in ignoring the experiences of people who have already gone through this and are willing to share?  But when I reflect on emails like the one above and, more importantly, my reaction to said emails, I realise that they also need to be taken with a grain of salt sometimes.

I’m not so naive, I understand that the emotionally charged titles are aimed at getting the readers in (and I’ve probably done something very similar with the title of this post) and topics like sleep and babies are at the forefront of many-a-parents mind.  Understandably, sleep and babies is a hot topic when it comes to parenting.

Well-rested babies are happy babies, happy babies make for happy Mummies and I’d much prefer to be a happy Mummy than a woman all-too-closely resembling a swamp creature.

Plus that precious sleep time provides some much-needed and coveted ‘free time’ which allows for endeavours such as this!

So, I can’t help but get sucked in by the lure of sleep advice from the numerous experts out there.  There hasn’t been a single book that I’ve picked up that doesn’t talk about sleep in one way or another and of course there are entire books devoted to teaching the art of getting these gorgeous babies to sleep and keeping them that way.

Even though our son has beautiful sleeping habits (and he is treating us exceptionally well), I can’t help but feel it’s a little like a deck of cards that might come crashing down at the slightest change to the bedtime routine (or at least that’s my fear).  So, in spite of myself, I read emails like the one above and I read through all the books just to make sure I’m not inadvertently doing something that might all of sudden transform our sleeping angel into a waking wonder who will never again know the pleasures of deep, uninterrupted sleep. I do know that this is slightly over-top but I’m not taking anything for granted!

In line with all the advice I’d read, I decided it was time to start teaching my son to ‘self’-settle’. No longer would I rock or sing my baby to sleep (because that sets up bad habits), it was time to start putting him down, tired but awake, and letting him learn how to put himself to sleep.

For this is what a parent with a baby of a certain age should be doing, or so I’d read.

Morning after morning for about a week, I listened just outside his door as he grizzled and tossed and turned before he would eventually fall asleep, probably out of sheer exhaustion.  Then, some 10 minutes later, he would awake either looking for food or just some company. But I thought to myself “that’s ok”, because he’s learning a valuable skill here and it doesn’t really matter if he’s not getting as much shut-eye as before because I was doing the ‘right thing’.

And then, all of a sudden, I stopped and laughed at myself. What was I doing? I had taken an approach that was working perfectly well for both of us, thrown it out the window and replaced it with one that was actually resulting in less sleep for him and more anxiety for me…and for what? So that I could proudly profess that my son self-settles? Never mind the irony that this whole approach was supposed to result in less stress for me and a more peaceful baby. It took me a little while to realise that, in fact, the opposite was happening!

This isn’t to say that there isn’t some merit behind the approach. I understand completely the desire and need to teach good sleeping habits and this approach may well suit some babies perfectly, but I’ve finally realised that this just isn’t the case for us. And that’s ok. To my mind, reducing the amount of comfort in the hope of producing better sleeping outcomes seems a bit counterintuitive, which is probably why it didn’t work for me.

So much of the advice that I’ve read recently warns about the dangers of techniques such as rocking and singing because you could wind up with a baby who will find it impossible to sleep without an intricate bedtime song and dance routine. Now don’t get me wrong,

I don’t particularly want an 18-year-old who needs his Mum to sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ before he can get to sleep,

but the more I think about it, the more I realise that the chances of that happening are probably slim to none. What I do know though, is that my baby has never slept more soundly during the day (or for longer) than when his Grandpa rocks him gently, singing in French with patience and persistence to get through the early tired grizzles.  From what I can see, it’s wisdom born from experience and why on earth would I want to mess with that?

So, I’ve decided to trust my instincts, return to the approach that not only has been working well but also provides some beautiful bonding time and of course continue to keep my finger on the pulse of the expert advice.  But from now on, it will have to fit in with what works for us, not the other way around.

So far so good!

Image courtesy of Microsoft Office ClipArt & FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thought of the Day

This little anecdote makes me smile – the wonder that is a child’s mind!

First time round pregnancy is, without a doubt, the most life-changing event any woman will experience.  But it also changes the lives of those around you, like the five-year-old who had been telling his teacher how excited he was about the baby brother or sister that he was soon to have.

One day, his mum let him feel her bulging tummy for signs of movement and the boy was obviously impressed, but made no comment.

When he stopped mentioning the baby in class, the teacher sat him down and asked, “Whatever has become of that baby brother or sister you were expecting at home?”

The boy burst into tears and confessed, ‘I think Mummy ate it!” ~ Heather James