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The Only Teacher’s Christmas Gift Guide You’ll Need. EVER.

November 26, 2013 Bel's Blog, Parenting

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Christmas Gift Guide for Teachers

Do you have little ones [or big ones!] in school? Have you dropped them off at their class every day and wondered, with awe, how any sane person could choose to spend 6 hours a day with as many as 30 kids at a time?

As we get closer to the end of the school year many of us are thinking about how we can thank the teachers who taught our kids. How can we show our appreciation to those who took such good care of our children?

This is my 5th year of being a school mum and each year I am incredibly thankful for the investment the teachers made in my boys’ lives and education. Of course I know that it is their job to educate the students in their class and I also know they are paid to do so. I am very fortunate to say that every teacher I have come across has been fundamental to my sons enjoying their time at school. I feel that I owe them a debt of gratitude for and recognition of their insane brave choice to become a teacher.

The thing is, it’s hard to know what to get a teacher… because they’re not like normal people. You see them EVERY DAY and willingly leave your children with them and even discuss your kids behaviour and development but what do you KNOW about them? Do they even have a life outside of school? My kids nearly have a heart attack when they see one of their teachers out doing normal things like food shopping or something. “Oh my God Mum! It’s Mrs Teacher and she’s got COKE in her trolley!!!” Here is a significant person in your family’s daily life and you probably don’t even know if he/she’s got pets, has allergies, likes hip hop or pop, takes sugar in their coffee or lemon in their beer.

So from my own ‘extensive’ experience coupled with a survey of our online community and some input from some teachers I know, here’s the only Christmas Gift Guide you’ll need for teachers. EVER:

  1. A box of special tea or gourmet coffee. You will need to find out if your teacher is a tea or coffee drinker and then package something delicious up for them. You could even present it in a mug or tea-pot [though word on the street is they get A LOT of mugs!]
  2. A potted plant. Something that they can either keep on their desk, like a gorgeous succulent, or that they can plant in their garden at home like a rose bush or dwarf lemon tree.
  3. Gold Class tickets to the movies. This gift may be a bit pricey but if you’ve ever been, you’ll know it’s AWESOME! Could be a good idea for a class gift.
  4. Keepsake Christmas Decorations. Sometimes just a personal card and a unique Christmas decoration for the tree is a perfect thank-you gift. Country Road, House & Garden and speciality gift shops always have a great range of glass or metal ornaments.
  5. A gift card. Think of something generic like an itunes voucher or something indulgent like a spa or a manicure/pedicure. Just make sure that any massage voucher is from the ‘right’ kind of massage parlour… you don’t want to be known as ‘THAT mum’! Again, this could be a class gift if out of your price range.
  6. Wine/Beer/Gin. Who wouldn’t want to relax with an alcoholic beverage [or several] after a year of taking care of 25 school-aged kids?? A bit of non-weird stalking may be helpful here to find out what their tipple is [and if they even drink!]. A nice idea for male teachers who enjoy a drink is a six pack of boutique beers.
  7. A vase. It sounds simple but a vase is something that could be used at home or in the class room. Nothing too big, just enough to fit in the posies of hand-picked flowers I always see other mums bring in.
  8. Hand cream. Think something that they wouldn’t indulge in themselves like Crabtree and Evelyn or Jurlique.
  9. A magazine subscription. This is the gift that keeps on giving and a favourite choice of mine for many people. If it’s a bit pricey for your budget, it could be a great class gift or you could just get a collection of the latest in a genre [cooking, fashion, fishing, gardening]. Suitable for both male and female teachers.
  10. A foodie gift pack. Gourmet jams, sauces or spices is always a great idea particularly during the festive season and is suitable for male and female teachers.

Some other tips you should may like to consider are:

  1. Teachers get a lot of chocolate. LOTS. If you’re pressed for time and money, this seems like a great option, especially when Lindt balls are half price at Woolies but WARNING – they could get lost in the noise of all the other boxes or left in the staff room until next year!
  2. Your child is special… but that doesn’t mean their teacher wants a framed photo of them. Think about it. There are 2 dozen ‘special’ kids in their class and next year there’ll be another 2 dozen. What are they seriously going to do with a photo of your kid?
  3. A hand-crafted gift from a child is an incredibly thoughtful gift… but possibly not very practical. They have just spent ALL YEAR crafting with your child and sending that stuff home. A gorgeous, hand-made card may be just as thoughtful – and easier to store!
  4. Scented candles are an absolute fave of mine but proceed with caution… some scents can make the receiver gag or give them a headache so if you’re unsure, stay clear.

And finally, if you are not in a position to contribute to a class gift or buy one yourself, a simple heart-felt card of thanks would be genuinely appreciated.

I’ve even found the perfect quote for you…

An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. (Carl Jung)

 

Being a mother is not the most important job in the world but…

November 21, 2013 Bel's Blog, Parenting

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Let me start by saying I am NOT taking on Catherine Deveny.

I.AM.NOT.

And these are the reasons why.

1. Because I really like and respect her [as a writer and particularly after seeing her on the SBS program, Go Back to Where You Came From] and 2. Because there’s no way I could come out unscathed… so I pick my battles. VERY carefully.

But her recent article {here} made me feel uncomfortable. Just a bit, but uneasy nonetheless. To be fair, I agree with much of what she said and I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with her assertion that being a mother is NOT, by any means, the toughest job in the world. It does not compare to many, many other far harder/tougher jobs performed throughout the world – whether you’re a working mother OR a stay at home mother or a guardian or a father or a carer. She is right and most of the mothers I know would also concur.

However, if I was taking Catherine Deveny on [which I am not], I would argue that it is MORE than just a relationship. It is certainly a job to care for your children. I have a relationship with my sister but I’m not listed as her ‘In case of emergency’ person. The person most responsible for her is. Her mother is. And her father.

Do mothers actually say ‘being a mother is the most important job in the world’? Sadly, yes some do. Some sprout it at school coffee mornings and playgroup and on social media to justify their own decisions, yearnings, sacrifices and losses. However, most [that I know at least] do not.

In fact, the most common declarations I hear in my circle are:

“Being a mother is the most boring/relentless/exhausting/thankless/rewarding/mundane/gratifying/shitfully draining job I have ever done” And I would not be talking out of school to say that I have heard that all said over the period of one night with a group of mothers playing hookey with a bottle or 4 of sav blanc under their muffin tops.

I personally have said all of that. One trillion times. I have also said this. Being a mother is the most important job I HAVE EVER DONE. Because it is true. Because I have never had to run a country or be a judge or perform brain surgery or research a cure for cancer or counsel a child who has been abused. Because in my entire life, I have NEVER done anything more important than raising my kids. More stimulating? Sure. More respected? Probably. Critical to the bottom line of a business? Yep. Better paid? Abso-f*cking-lutely.

But more important? Not to me. Not to my husband. And not to my kids.

And this is where it all gets a bit grey for me. For… whilst I agree that being a mother [or carer or father etc, etc] is not the most important job in THE world, I believe that raising good people IS. Our children are the next generation of our world. They will grow into adults who will become the caretakers of our universe and our animals and our cultures and our history and the generation of children to follow. So with that in mind, ALL that are involved in this vital function of our future should also believe that it is, in fact, incredibly important. If there is a parent or carer or guardian [of any kind and regardless of how they came to be one] who has committed to taking their ‘job’ as the most important in their life,we should support them – NOT tease them.  Not try to ‘out’ them or ‘outdo’ them.

It is our job, our responsibility and our obligation to do our very best to raise our very best.

Is it not?

 

If you like this, check out these other great posts from Seventies Baby:

This post originally appeared at Seventies Baby – a gloves-off perspective of womanhood, parenting and modern family life in a world obsessed with being perfect and politically correct. It has been republished with full permission.

You can (and should!) follow the blog on Facebook here.

 

 

Top 10 Settling Tips for Your Baby

baby settling tips

Did you hear about the Mum who was pulled over by the Police for being sleep deprived? Well that was me.

Fortunately my baby was not in the car at the time. I was living in the country and on an errand and so tired that I was slightly speeding and driving with a swerving motion. The local policeman pulled me over, asked me to get out of the car, and started to explain why he had detained me. Within seconds I was bawling my eyes out and spluttering how sorry I was but I felt so tired I thought I was living in the ‘twilight zone’. He was a little surprised by my outpouring of emotion and not sure what to do in that situation (I don’t think it is in the manual). Anyway, bless him, he was a Dad and understood my predicament; he gave me a stern warning and the helpful suggestion to sleep during the day when my baby did. That was helpful advice and I share that pearl of wisdom knowing it definitely makes a difference to a sleep deprived parent.

There are many books full of ‘How to get your baby to sleep peacefully ’and they are wonderful but the key is to be awake and have a functioning brain so one can absorb the sacred knowledge.

I have researched a plethora of articles relating to sleep issues over the last 30 years and I have come to understand that one key element is crucial and without that element all the schedules and strategies won’t have the outcome you desire.  That element is ‘calm’.  ‘Yeah right!’ I hear some of you cry ‘how you are meant to be calm when you’re fatigued and your baby is so unsettled/ crying/ teething/’.

It is not as unattainable as you may feel, breathing deeply and rhythmically, and becoming aware of your emotional state, is the way to start. Remember how important and powerful breath is during the labour process, well it is in everyday life too. Our babies are subconsciously aware of our stress levels and can actually smell Cortisol, the hormone excreted by the Adrenal glands, when we are stressed or frightened. Cortisol creates ‘fight – flight’ reactions, and ‘brain fog’ in our being and when we are in this state our babies come along for the ride. When a parent is in adrenal overload and holding their child the child finds it very hard to relax and fall into a safe slumber.

OK, now I would like to stress to any of you who are pointing the finger at yourselves and going into shame and blame about being stressed out and dumping this on your child, stop it.  Stress is a normal part of our lives; you can teach your children to deal with their ups and downs and focusing on breath and relaxing the body is a great start. Being mindful of your state of being; especially at sleep time.  This will help create the peaceful state and secure feelings that enhance sleep time for your child.

Giving your baby the same cues for sleep will help teach them to recognise it is sleep time, and what your expectations are:

  1. Start winding down rituals when you notice your baby’s cues that they are tired
  2. Create quiet time, gentle cuddles and perhaps
  3. A massage in a darkened room is a great way to wind baby down; it can be just face, arms and legs or whole body. Keep constant eye contact to enhance this special intimacy.
  4. Feeding and changing
  5. Wrapping well or putting into a sleeping bag
  6. Every sleep time, sing or hum the same tune, softly and in a deep tone
  7. Create your own unique sleep dance, before you put them down
  8. BE PRESENT. Be aware of your breathing and expectations, if you’re in a hurry to get baby to sleep so you can ‘get on with it’, believe it or not baby will pick up on this.
  9. Remember it takes most babies approximately 10 minutes to go into a deep sleep, whether they are in your arms or in their bed.
  10. It is quite difficult for your child to say goodbye to you at sleep time, you are their favourite person

If you have had issues settling your little one in the past, be kind to yourself; there are no wrong ways, just opportunities to fine tune, let go of the old and embrace the new. Imagine the scenario you desire, the power of the imagination when we focus on what we do want can assist in making positive changes.

Do what is best for you and your child, living up to other people’s expectations is very draining. Honour your personal values, stay true to you and what you instinctively feel is right for you and your family.

Every child is different. Some babies require 45 minutes sleep during the day and are ‘nappers’ and others may need two hours. Most parents would love the 2 hours so they can do the day’s tasks, or have a snooze, but if that is not your child’s pattern do your best to find peace with that and not compare them to any other child. When we compare our life styles to others it only causes resentment and frustration, this then leads to stress, and the vicious cycle repeats and affects everyone in the family.

One more suggestion is ‘take time for you’, you are precious too. Filling up your own cup will help you get through the day and have the ability to give all that is required of you. So remember to take some time for you. Organise time so you can do whatever it is that will keep you fulfilled, and keep   your chimes ringing. The pile of washing can wait, it may drive you a little crazy seeing it there, so get out and have some fun, it will be there when you get back. Or even better, if someone offers their help say ‘YES PLEASE’ and point to the washing pile.

So next time your little one is stretching your patience; breathe in and let it go slowly. Put your baby down in a safe place and if it helps, grab a pillow and have a good scream into it, a healthy stress release, no judgement.  It is far better for all concerned if a parent is stressed to remove themselves from the situation. Let the tension flow out of your body, hang loose and breathe in a happy colour, and blow it out. With awareness and practise you will be able to shift your state of feeling stressed, and go back to your precious one with a calmer disposition. Now that is a much healthier, happier cycle to share.

Oh the wonder of hindsight.  Trusting my intuition and relaxing into motherhood my way, would have created a much calmer environment for assisting my baby to sleep. Respecting my own values and opinions instead of making other’s more valuable, would have eased tension, self doubt and the stress that was a major block in settling my baby.

Believe in yourself, follow your heart and head and enjoy the precious time with your little one, it can be exhausting but it is worth every second. Keep breathing, do the ‘Hokey pokey’ and shake it all about, its fun and will help you ‘chill out’.

 

Arnaum realised in her early career working with children, that when they received the guidance and love they required from their parents their behaviour was well balanced, and they were more comfortable in whom they were. This lead Arnaum to create a supportive and informative service for parents, realising that when parents are confident in their parenting role, and willing to acknowledge what they bring to the table, this enables a more positive parenting experience for all concerned.
Confident Parents = confident children.

Arnaum has enjoyed supporting and nurturing parents and their families as a Parenting Counsellor and Family Coach and Public Speaker for 28 years. She assists parents to develop their own individual, conscious parenting skills with confidence in their own unique style. Every child and family is unique so there is no one way to parent.

In 2008 Arnaum qualified as an Accredited Humanistic Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, which enables her to assist people in making authentic, healing changes that become evident in daily living.

Web:  www.parentingsolutions.com.au   Email: arnaum@parentingsolutions.com.au

 

Free Parenting Seminar – Breastfeeding: The Joys and Challenges

Are you a new parent or soon to be a parent?  Want to know more about breastfeeding?

Find out what’s involved and how to manage.

Come and hear about:

  • breastfeeding and how it works
  • common problems and how to manage them
  • living and working while breastfeeding
  • how partners,family and friends can help.

Babies, partners and supporters welcome

For further information contact Parenting SA

For information about breatfeeding go to www.cyh.com

Please note: Another seminar on ‘Breastfeeding: The Joys and Challenges’ is being held on Wednesday 7 August at the Hopgood Lecture Theatre, Noarlunga http://breastfeeding7august.eventbrite.com.au

Is Kate Facing Unfair Public Pressure and Judgement by Choosing Hypnotherapy?

When the Duchess of Cambridge reportedly pulled out of the ‘society wedding of the year’, concerned that her labour was close, the British media’s speculation reached fever pitch.

Yet when it comes to the birth itself, Kate’s plans have attracted some very public sneers.  She’d reportedly like a natural delivery surrounded by family, with hypnotherapy and even a birthing pool.  What’s so wrong with that?

Quite a few high profile journalists and social commentators seem determined to convince us that Kate is living in a dream world. Seriously.  I think it’s fantastic that she is opting for a natural delivery.  She might have married a prince in the perfect fairytale wedding but she’s still a real woman and is more than entitled to try for a natural birth. Trust me, after using hypnotherapy to get me through my two labours, it’s hardly going to be a fairytale!

She’s not alone either.  A lot of women get laughed at when they suggest they’d like to try for a natural labour and avoid the epidural altogether.  I did.  A lot.  People didn’t realise they were doing it half the time.  Trust me, I noticed.

Listen, I’m not going to make out it was easy.  It wasn’t easy.  It was tough at times, but it was incredibly powerful.  INCREDIBLY.

So how did I get to this decision?  As a pack-a-day smoker for over 20 years, to my own delight (and trust me, surprise!!) I gave up smoking one day about six years ago by listening to a hypnotherapy CD.  I was skeptical.  Very skeptical.  I’d always believed the mind’s a powerful tool so I was determined to make it a success.  Let’s face it, if I could do THAT, I could make it through childbirth without an epidural. Surely! Thousands of women had done it before me and they’d survived.  I mean, the pain can’t be THAT bad can it?

For me, it was about wanting to feel the contractions, feel when to push and just be proactive throughout the birth.  Maybe it was the control freak in me.  Just maybe.  Either way it was my choice and one that got my husband’s and midwive’s full support. Trust me, I wasn’t after a medal, and an epidural wasn’t completely out of the equation, I just wanted to give it a go and see if I could do it.  It was MY DECISION and despite the sneers and sniggers from the older generation around me (and so many men who just didn’t get it … “You’re stupid, take the drugs” they’d say), I was determined to give it a red hot go!  And I did.  And it was nothing short of frigging powerful!  It wasn’t a walk in the park, but it WAS so totally amazing. So empowering. So downright WONDERFUL!

So for Kate, why do we feel the need to criticise her, and indeed every other woman who dares to dream of a positive birth experience?  Shouldn’t we be celebrating her courage and wishing her well, rather than putting her down and doubting her before she’s even started?

Birth should be an amazing day in any woman’s life but sadly for more and more women it’s become something to dread.  Sometimes traumatic, sometimes unpleasant and often feared.

Let’s celebrate the birthing process and hypnotherapy as a powerful way to encourage women to aim for a peaceful, relaxed and calm birthing environment and a positive and empowering birth experience.  Either way, we are amazing creatures and deserve to be given the opportunity to decide the approach we’d like to take.  It might not go to plan, it might change somewhat, heck it might go pear-shaped. However it goes, at least we gave it a go.  Who knows, we might even get the birth we wanted.  How incredible would that be?

From one mum to another, well done on your decision Kate, and either way, however it pans out, you’ll do great!

Have you used hypnotherapy in your labour and how did you find it?

But Hang On, Where’s My Epidural?

birth story

On the morning of my 38 week obstetrician appointment I woke up at 7am with an overwhelming urge to drop the kids off at the pool [my gen Y sister told me about that saying!]. While on the toilet, I noticed some bleeding which I recognized to be my ‘show’.  Fortuitously, Mark had taken that very day off for us to finalise the nursery so I bounded out and gave him a blow by blow account of my morning so far…at which point I felt a tightening across my swollen abdomen. Did I say swollen? Forgive me, I meant ENORMOUS. I had gained 20 kilos so far [contrary to more lies about the average woman only gaining 12 kilos during pregnancy]. In the time that it took me to explain, in great detail, what my show looked like, I’d had another tightening. Hmmm… these seem to be regular? Let’s time them. Hon, am I doing this right? Wow. I think this baby may come today. Put on the kettle hon, and I’ll just call the hospital [as my birthing classes had told me].

“Hello, it’s Tania P speaking. I’m actually not booked in for another couple of weeks but I woke up half an hour ago and had a poo and had some blood which I think was my show and now I’m getting this strange tightening which I THINK might be contractions, so my husband’s making me a cup of tea but I just thought I should touch base with you” I remember my voice had a sort of ‘lilt’ to it.

“Yes Tania, that all sounds great. How far apart did you say those tightening were?”

“Well they WERE every four minutes, but now they’re every three – that’s right isn’t it hon?” I’m practically singing by now… because I’m thinking – I can do this EASY.

Silence.

“Tania, how far away from the hospital are you?”

“About 20 minutes in peak hour, which it is right now – why?”

“I’d like you to come in straight away” the midwife’s voice took on an almost unnatural calm and I vaguely remember wondering why she was speaking to me like a mental patient.

“Ok, well I have an appointment there at 2.15 anyway so I’ll finish my cup of tea, get organised and come on in”

“No Tania, just grab your essentials and come now. We’ll be waiting for you.”

So, I call mum and tell her the entire story of the morning and that I’ll be heading into the hospital soon and then head for my shower [maybe I was skipping?] and it is just as I have stripped naked that I am hit with the most excruciating pain I had felt [so far] in my life. I fall to the floor on all fours and scream a guttural cry that I had read only native women had ever used. Mark runs in and is terrified by the sight he is facing which is, a naked, 80 kilo woman on all fours with bed hair and a massive distended abdomen skimming the tiles screaming like an animal.

In this time my mum has called back to tell me that she had a dressing gown for me and would I like to pick it up on the way. She is surprised when I come to the phone, hysterical, but is calm when she tells me “it’s OK Tan, you can do it and I’ll see you at the hospital”. IT’S OK TAN. The f*ck it is.

I CRAWL to the bedroom and put on whatever I had discarded onto the floor from the night before. I still have bed hair, sleep in my eyes and furry teeth when I get into the car to face the peak hour traffic on the way to the hospital.  And here’s where the fun really starts.

Our chosen hospital was a private hospital which resembles a 5 star hotel. It has a cafe at the entrance which at 8.40 in the morning was full of gorgeous and fresh interns, doctors and nurses. Mark pulls up OUT THE FRONT of that café, puts on the hazards and helps me out of the car. I am unable to walk properly due to the almost heart stopping contractions which are coming every one and half a minutes. So my gait is not dissimilar to an ape. Nor is my face. Gorgeous doctors are looking.

In my memory they may have even been pointing and gasping as the receptionist RUNS out of the hospital with a wheelchair and yells, dramatically ‘we’ve got a pusher!’

child birth

I’m feeling better from the moment I’m through those doors and comforted further as two midwives meet me in the lobby [yes, it’s a LOBBY] and one wheels me, while the other wheels a trolley chock full of every medical supply you would need. I find it weird that the birthing suite is clearly ‘BYO’ [I found out later it was in case they needed to deliver my baby in that very same lobby, outside the café with the gorgeous people] but I don’t ask. I can’t ask. I can’t speak. I just groan. A LOT.
We finally get into the suite and they get me out of the wheelchair and on to the bed. Bottoms off and baby monitor strapped onto my belly at which point, I remember my birthing class advice and say “I’ll have my epidural now”. Midwife #1 steals a glance across my belly at Midwife #2 and then says ever so gently “Oh darling, your baby’s coming now”. WHAT THE F*CK???

At this stage I start to panic. BIG TIME. The pain is excruciating. It feels like my body is being torn apart from the inside out. They offer me gas. Gas. Whatever. I have the mouth piece and I make that bastard sing… for what it’s worth which is not much. The pain is so bad, so unnaturally excruciating that I’m sure there’s something wrong. I’m convinced in fact. No-one, NO-ONE, ever told me it would hurt THAT much and that quickly. Where was my 8 hour labour that came in stages? And why did no-one tell me that it is even harder to not push than push?

No-one broke it down and said it feels like you’re DYING. And you know, to this day, women keep telling that lie! When I break out my birth story, in all its glorious detail, in a group of women to an expectant mother, they gather together and try to shut me down. Shushing me like a gaggle of geese. “Don’t scare her!” “Don’t tell her that, it’s not THAT bad” “Why would you SAY that??” Really girls? Because it’s the TRUTH!!! It’s terrifyingly painful. It feels like you can’t go on. It feels like you couldn’t possibly survive such a traumatic experience. You are weak with exertion and screaming with fear and pain. That is what having a baby is like for a lot of women. Did I forget the moment I held my gorgeous new son in my arms? F*ck no. I still had to deliver the placenta and THEN I had to be stitched up because I needed to be cut and I needed to be cut because that HOLE IS NOT BIG ENOUGH!!!!

So, from go to whoah my labour took about 2 hours. I woke at 7.00am facing a normal day and Nathan was born at 9.40am. No cups of tea, no relaxing in the bath, no back rubbing, no breathing, no epidural. Stefan came much the same way.

Dear first-time, expectant mum, I am not really trying to scare you. Having my sons was the greatest thing I have ever done in my life. The entire, uncomfortable journey of pregnancy and childbirth IS miraculous and exhilarating and awe inspiring. It is, unquestionably, worth every bit of it. But it hurts and it’s scary and I’m fortunate that my story doesn’t include the need for other scary things like cesareans and needles the length of your forearm in your spine and breach babies and prem births etc, etc. I just think if you HEAR real life stories from real women who are honest and brutal in their account, and you head into your 38th week expecting the worst… then anything better than that may just make it not terrifying. Maybe bearable. Perhaps even wonderful.

So to break it down, my top ten bits of real advice:

  1. Ask for an epidural at 38 weeks
  2. Pack a camera [disposable if need be] in your hospital bag
  3. Have something gorgeous to wear on hand wherever you are so you’re not mistaken for a gorilla on arrival
  4. Don’t bother with that cup of tea if you’re having cramps every 4 minutes
  5. Prepare your partner to see you begging, screaming, crying and in excruciating pain. I have found so many partners did not expect to be affected by seeing a person they love so much in so much pain, without being able to help
  6. If you’re pushing, getting the head out is the worst. Go hard and listen to your midwives. It really does sting but the shoulders are easier and then you’re done. Except for the placenta. But that’s a walk in the park comparatively.
  7. If you find yourself without an epidural [makes my eyes water just thinking about it], then take the gas. It barely took the edge off for me, but it did help me to ‘not push’ which the midwives may ask of you
  8. Don’t bother to ask your obstetrician to ‘sew the whole thing up’ while they’re down there ‘cause you won’t need it anymore… take it from me, they won’t do it
  9. Pack something alcoholic in your hospital bag. At least one of you will want a drink after that baby comes out
  10. Be prepared to fall in love… but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen the moment they put your just-born, screaming, covered in blood and goo baby on your chest, still attached to the umbilical cord. It may take a minute for you to catch your breath x

 

This post originally appeared at Seventies Baby – a gloves-off perspective of womanhood, parenting and modern family life in a world obsessed with being perfect and politically correct. It has been republished with full permission.

You can (and should!) follow the blog on Facebook here.

 

TOP 20: Hospital Bag Essentials

Hospital bag essentials

Have you noticed how many ‘lists’ there are doing the social media rounds lately? With so many to choose from, sometimes it’s hard to know which list is right for you.

Well at ABB, we value what our community has to say. We ask and we engage and we listen. We’ve put together a top 20 list which we have compiled from real mums. Some first timers, some veterans but ALL sensible and helpful. You may recognise some of these suggestions as your own and some of these may surprise you. Whatever the case, if you’re expecting, print it out and put it on your fridge as a go-to.

Our mums have told us what they couldn’t do without and we’re sharing the love.

1. Ural
Have you ever experienced a urinary tract infection? It’s horrendous. It feels like you’re weeing broken glass and Ural is your best defence. I suggest you start drinking it straight after you meet your baby.

2. Magazines
It’s likely that you may never read one cover to cover [ever again, in fact] but there’s a chance that you will have a moment to yourself and be interested in something OTHER than the new beautiful little life you’ve just created. It’s also great for visitors who may wish to avert their eyes distract themselves as you’re trying to get your baby to ‘latch-on’ to your enormous, engorged breasts.

3. Lollies
You’ll be KNACKERED and the sugar hit will help you out, particularly during labour.

4. Range of clothes for bub
It seems that many a mum has been caught off guard with a baby that was bigger/smaller than they expected. Most hospitals do actually provide little baby gowns [which is what I kept both of mine in until I left – so much easier than getting them in and out of tiny outfits] but lots of mums like to dress their little one in their own gear right from the get go.

5. Nice body wash
Make no mistake, child birth is incredibly traumatic on your body, irrespective of HOW you birthed. A little luxury when you’re alone in the shower is very, very welcome. Of course, just being alone in the shower will become its very own luxury once your baby comes home!

6. Maternity pads
Hospitals will provide you with maternity pads and you will DIE when you see them. They are enormous and incredibly uncomfortable. They also do not have any adhesive, or fancy wings, so they tend to move around in your [gigantic] knickers. You’ll want to use them for the first 24 hours ’cause it’s quite likely you’ll bleed like there’s no tomorrow, but once you’re up and about you’ll probably want something slightly smaller than a mattress between your legs.

7. Your own pillow
This was a popular suggestion and one I wish I had done myself! Hospital pillows look clean and fluffy but they sound like they’re full of potato chips. They are NOISY. If you can pack your own, it’s a good idea.

8. Big knickers
Pack lots. We’re talking huge. If you’ve had a natural birth then everything ‘down there’ is sore, swollen and possibly even held together by stitches. If you’ve had a c-section then your abdomen is tender and you’re definitely held together by stitches. On top of all the discomfort you bleed A LOT and need enormous pads so the bigger the knickers, the better. Think Bridget Jones.

9. Lansinoh
This is an absolute MUST in my [and many of our mums] books. Breastfeeding is not easy and many, many women even find it too difficult to persevere with due to the pain it causes. Lansinoh is pure lanolin which provides almost instant relief to ravaged traumatised nipples and is so pure that it does not need to be removed prior to breastfeeding. Which is important because you do not want to be wiping your nipples. You won’t even want to dry them after a shower. Air dry and Lansinoh. You’ll thank us later.

10. Front opening tops
Breastfeeding is tricky enough without having to navigate your clothes. Having button through or zip up tops make access to the breasts sooo much easier. Pack a few though ‘cause you’ll almost definitely leak milk onto at least two of them and old milk, even your own, is not nice to sleep in.

11. A few pairs of pants

Whether you’re in pyjamas all day or dressed, it’s sensible to pack a few pairs of pants. The likelihood of you bleeding through your gigantic knickers and maternity pads is HIGH and no-one wants to be THAT girl on the maternity ward with blood on the back of her pants.

12. Slippers
Well you don’t want to be walking around the hospital in bare feet and you’re probably not going to want to wear shoes.

13. Phone/camera AND charger
You think you take a lot of photos now. Wait until you’re a mum. It feels like you live your life through a camera lens. If you’re bringing in your phone and/or digital camera, make sure you’ve got your charger too. There’s nothing worse than going to catch that priceless moment only to discover your battery has run out!

14. Lip balm
The air-conditioning in hospital is nightmare on the lips and you do sooooo much kissing of that new little baby that your lips need some extra loving.

15. Hand cream
You’ll do a lot of handwashing and you’ll want your hands to be soft ’cause you won’t be able to stop touching your baby!

16. Dummies [if you’re into them]
Some say ‘no’ some say ‘hell yeah’! If you’re a mum who’s into dummies, pack them. The hospital won’t have any.

17. Toilet paper!!
Surprisingly, this was one of our most popular suggestions! Even though you may panic at the thought, you WILL need to go and nice, soft toilet paper will help your visits. Lots of mums also suggested taking a pack of those flushable wipes. Both are a good idea and trust me, you’ll want to be kind to your southern regions after what you’ve been through.

18. Hair ties
From the feedback we received, it looks like lots of our mums got caught out fighting with their hair during labour! Pack some hair ties to keep your hair off your face. They’re also handy to move from wrist to wrist as a reminder of which breast your baby last fed on. Oh don’t worry, you will forget and you’ll be grateful for the tip!

19. Snacks
We all know about hospital food but even if you like it, it’s not enough for a breastfeeding mum… and, contrary to what the media bangs on about, now is NOT the time to be thinking about losing your baby weight. Bring some snacks you can either keep in your drawer or the fridge. Nuts, soft cheese [how much did you miss that?] crackers, fruit, chocolate, chips, etc. You’ll be surprised how hungry you get and especially when you’re starving at 3 o’clock in the morning. Pack any sp

ecialty tea bags you may like as well. I can’t live without my Twinings Earl Grey tea so I packed a box of them and the cafe on the ground floor took care of my coffee needs.

20. Disposable camera
This is actually something I wished I had done. My first son came early and I didn’t have the camera packed and my phone was almost dead so we didn’t have any photos of when he first came into the world. I tell everyone to just put one of those disposable cameras in their bag JUST IN CASE you’re caught totally off-guard.

So there it is! Our top 20 Hospital Bag MUST-HAVES!  

What about you? Did you have something you just couldn’t live without? How about something you wished you’d packed?

 

10 Parenting Rules – and I broke them all

cosleeping with my firstborn

Confession.

I was one self-righteous, know-it-all bitch Before Children [BC]. It’s true. I knew it ALL. Anything wrong with a kid? It’s their mum’s fault. Sometimes their dad’s. But mainly mum… because she CHOSE the dad after all. In my, far from humble, opinion parents were entirely responsible for everything their kids did, thought, said and broke.

And I knew WHY. Those parents didn’t FOLLOW THE RULES. There are rules in parenting that will guarantee a perfect child. Simple rules that I would often remind parents, even when they hadn’t asked, to help them. To guide them. To fix their brat.

Rules I swore to myself I would uphold. As the perfect parent embarking on raising the perfect child. *Insert wild, unhinged laughter here.

#1 – I will not use a dummy

It took me less than a week to let go of that one. Oh sweet, sweet dummy. How I loved the feel of you in my hand as I groped in the bassinet next to the bed under the blanket of darkness in the dead of the night to plug the screaming hole of my first born son. I brought a packet of them to hospital when my second son was born. I BEGGED him to take it. I tried every shape and size, even coating them in breast milk to TRICK HIM INTO SUCKING IT. Be careful what you wish you for. Turns out with number two I WAS the dummy. Take that you pious bitch.

#2 – My child will never sleep in the same bed as me

It’s the second night of my life as a new mum and the midwife offers to take my screaming newborn to the nursery with all the other babies so I can get some sleep. ‘Ok’ I said as I watched her wheel him out of my room, ripping my heart out as she did. He was gone 15 minutes before I went to get him. This is how Mark found me when he got to the hospital in the morning. I promised myself it was just to get us through that one night.

Ahem. You know that feeling when you haven’t slept for 3 months and you’ve got up so many times in the night that you can’t remember putting the baby back to bed… where is the baby?? Did I feed him last time or just change his nappy? Did I feed on both boobs, or the same one twice? Why is he crying? Shhhhhh… rock, rock…. shhhhhhh… rock, rock…. shhhhhh rock, rock. Oh forget it, just lay next to me. THAT was how I broke rule #2 at home. And how, 8 years later, I simply just move over when I hear the sound of my 5 year old’s bare feet padding down the hall to my room in the middle of the night. He’s warm and cuddly. It gets a bit crowded when the 8 year old joins us every now and then, but I don’t turn him away either. Still feeling smug Tan?

#3 – I will not ‘pick my battles’. Every battle is worth it… and they need to learn that I’m the boss

Aahahahahahahaha. Ow, my sides are splitting. Dear BC TAN. You were an idiot. There are sooo many battles that have never been fought, won or lost here. Yes, you can wear your swim rashy on top of your jumper because it matches your rubber boots to the shop. Why not? Yes, you can take every teddy bear you own to bed because they will be sad without you tonight. Of course. No, you don’t have to eat the toast that I accidentally cut into triangles instead of squares. I understand it doesn’t taste the same. Just don’t cross me at bed time. That’s not negotiable. Most of the time.

#4 – I will not use food as currency to bribe my child

Well… what kind of values does that teach? I never understood the power of a promised [insert biscuit/yoghurt squeezy/ice-block/cupcake/smiley-face biscuit here] to ‘encourage’ a wilful kid to do just about anything really. Parenting Tip: carrying around any number of those bribes in your oversized handbag can make or break a public outing.

#5 – I will only feed my child organic, additive-free food

What?? Best intentions and all that…. My kids actually eat well. I’ve been pretty good at keeping their diet healthy. Additive-free is a stretch though and only organic? I’d have to take out a second mortgage to pull that one off. I have fed them McDonalds too. Oh the shame….

#6 – I will limit my child’s television viewing to no more than 30 mins per day

Oh don’t look at me like that. How was I to know that I would do anything to have an uninterrupted telephone conversation or cook dinner without tiny ‘helping’ hands or do a poo on my own or just sit and be quiet?? And with the new ABC stations there’s ALL DAY kids shows WITHOUT COMMERCIALS. The cheapest babysitting you’ll ever find. And you get to have a perve-fest on Sportacus. Eye candy eating sports candy… hmmmmm.

#7 – I will not ‘give in’ to my child’s constant nagging for something at the supermarket cash register

Unless I’m on my own with the kids and everyone looking has a grimace/scowl/frown/look of pain or pity on their faces. Oh wait. That’s every time.

#8 – My house will always be spotless… because that’s all I have to do. Look after my child and clean my house. Easy.

Yes, I’m shaking my head in disbelief too. One time while the tv was babysitting so I could enjoy one of my uninterrupted phone conversations, my, single, super-neat friend said to me “I spent all morning cleaning and my floors are so spotless you could eat off them” I looked around in despair and replied “You could eat off mine too… ‘cause that’s where all the fucking food is”

#9 – I will never yell at my child. Yelling is just a loss of control reserved for incapable mums

Yes. I was deluded. I yell at the tv when someone’s annoying. I yell at bad drivers on the road and cyclists who forget that they’re sharing the road with bad drivers. I yell at my mum, my sister, my brother, my husband. I yell at the PLAYROOM when it’s in a mess. I yell at weeds when I pull them out and the root breaks off and stays in the fucking ground. I yell at my cupboard if I’m out of coffee. How the hell I thought I would EVER not yell at my kids, who drive me insane, still astounds me. I yell. They look alive. I buy myself 2 minutes peace. They go back to whatever it is. It’s a loud, predictable dance.

#10 – My child will not dictate my schedule. They will fit into my life, not the other way around

Oh.. shut up.

This post originally appeared at Seventies Baby – a gloves-off perspective of womanhood, parenting and modern family life in a world obsessed with being perfect and politically correct. It has been republished with full permission.

You can (and should!) follow the blog on Facebook here.

 

The Truth About Milestones

parenting advice
I’m at a kid’s party. Lot of mums are there. Mums with babies. In slings. In their arms. Sitting at their feet on the floor. I make my way over and say hi to one of them. Gush over their baby a little bit and tell them how cute they are. I ask how old their baby is. And the flood gates open up. “They’re 9 months old, but they look older because they’re on the 90th percentile for weight. They should be crawling by now but they just can’t seem to get it. What age did yours crawl by?” I look at her like a deer in the headlights. I can’t remember.

My sons are 6 and 8 years old. I can’t remember when they crawled. I know they both walked at 12 months. They talked at different times. Rolled at different times. Sat up at different times. One slept through the night and the other one NEVER has. Both natural births at 38 weeks. Both breastfed. One came out of me talking and the other one took aaaaages. One had a dummy and the other one refused, no matter how much I begged him.

I was totally consumed with every milestone of my sons’ infancy and toddlerhood. I knew where they sat on the spectrum of development at any time and furtively watched other kids their age at parks and parties and kindergym. Comparing. Sometimes quietly smug that my kid was doing so much better than the others. Sometimes aghast that everyone else’s kid was doing so much better than mine. It’s a terrible stressful time during which I judged my own performance as a parent by the weekly and sometimes daily [‘cause it happens that quickly when they’re babies] achievements of my kids. I remember the time but I don’t remember the details and I don’t remember the details because, here’s the thing… THEY. DON’T. MATTER.

Don’t get me wrong. Milestones are important for broad monitoring of whether or not there is an underlying learning disability or developmental delay for your baby. And if your child is repeatedly not reaching any of them and you have a feeling in your gut that something’s not right, take them to your GP or paediatrician or Child & Youth Health. But guess what? If your kid is just not keeping up here and there with the mothers’ group kids, it’s ok. And I say ‘it’s ok’ because I know that to be true.

Dear new mum, all that stuff that’s consuming you is not going to matter once your little one is in school. I don’t expect you to listen to me, I certainly didn’t when other mums told me, but it’s my duty to tell you nonetheless.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Trust your instincts and if they’re a bit fuzzy, DON’T turn to the kids you see in the playground to measure your child[ren] by. Every kid truly is different and let me tell you why. It’s because every mum is different.

So little Johnny didn’t roll at the same time as little Sammy. How important do you really think that’s going to be when they’re in the class room together? Little Kylie could count months earlier than little Sophie but that doesn’t mean she’s going to be a maths whiz in grade 5.

I know this all to be true but I still have to give myself this same advice even today. Drawing on what I know from my time as a mum to babies and toddlers I have to stop myself when I become obsessed with whether or not my child is at the same level as everyone else right now. I tell myself to take a step back and not get caught up in the school mum hype. It’s not easy but luckily I have friends with kids who are older than mine and they keep it real for me too. It’s a vicious cycle of self-doubt, comparison and judging but take it from me it’s not the stuff that matters.

The stuff that I DO remember involves a warm baby’s head nuzzling in my neck. I remember the feeling of joy I had when my boys took their first steps. I remember the sweetness in my heart when I heard them first say ‘Mum’. I remember the laugh in my belly when I first saw them clap their hands. I remember love.

But milestones? Sorry. No idea.

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