WIN WIN

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This week my daughter’s basketball team played a group of women with special needs. At first, I wasn’t sure how they would react to being expected to play these women aged 18 – 55 who had varying degrees of physical and mental abilities.

I must admit my heart melted as I watched the girls instantly adjust their normal game to compensate for their competitors skill level. Our team ran slower, didn’t defend vigorously and didn’t challenge any lost balls in order to give the opposition a chance.

To be fair to the other team, they were awesome shooters! I think our team could learn a thing or two about their level of accuracy when it came to getting baskets.

The game ended with the other team defeating our team by almost 50 points, but I have never seen our team so happy as they really enjoyed seeing the joyful exuberance of the opposition taking control of the play on the court.

As the teams shook hands, I overheard one of the women from the opposition say in earnest ‘Better luck next time,’ to which the girl from our team replied, ‘Thanks. Well done, you had a great game.’ They both had smiles beaming across their faces, which goes to show that sometimes the team with the highest score isn’t the only winner.

Driving home from the game, my daughter said that she had really enjoyed the experience and suggested that she would like to donate her time as a community service to work alongside these women as she found them inspirational. It really was a win win scenario with the women enjoying the benefits of playing together as a team, whilst our team had the humbling experience of spending time with these very special people.

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Arvind Balaraman,freedigitalphotos.net)

PUSHING THE LIMITS

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It would be hypocritical of me to call my blog truth about parenting if I only gave you a ‘rose coloured glasses’ kind of portrayal of my life.

Of course I love my kids and most of the time they make me very proud, but then there are days where I wish I could resign from being a mum. Days when my kids frustrate and anger me, leaving me questioning where I went wrong! 

I always maintain consistency with my kids about what is expected of them. They know that I expect them to do their set chores, be respectful to other people (particularly their family) and complete their homework. They also know that if they don’t comply then there are consequences for their actions and that I will always follow through with those threatened consequences. 

One of my kids in particular is intelligent, articulate and confident. These are all attributes that allow her to take on leadership roles at school and participate in the debating team. Those same traits however also mean that when at home she can be obstinate, argumentative and disobedient if she is feeling out of sorts.

Periodically the values I have tried to instill in my daughter seem to be lost as her anger boils over, usually from something simple like being reminded to do her chores. When she is in a rage, my husband and I just can’t talk sense into her. She always has some come back and refuses to comply with simple requests. If I put my foot down her anger just intensifies. The only thing that works is if she has time out to calm down, but sometimes that just isn’t viable due to a tight schedule of commitments for the rest of the family.

After a tantrum the other day she told me that I use my kids as slave labour and that it is unfair that she is expected to unpack the dishwasher twice a week when I do nothing. I then offered to swap her chore of unpacking the dishwasher twice a week in return for all that I do each week: approximately 15 loads of washing; hanging them out to dry; bringing in the clean clothes; folding and putting them away; grocery shopping; unpacking all the groceries; making school lunches; preparing dinner; walking and feeding the dog; tidying the house; helping everyone with homework whilst managing multiple sporting teams. I conceded that I would have to continue to drive all the kids to their activities on account of the fact that she is too young to drive. She sheepishly declined the offer to swap chores and agreed to stick to unpacking the dishwasher twice a week. 

I guess all kids push the limits (particularly if there are hormones racing around in their bodies) and although sometimes I feel like tearing out my hair I just try to remain consistent and hope that it is a short lived phase.

 

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitialphotos.net)

PICK YOUR BATTLES

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If there’s one thing I’ve learnt raising four kids it’s that sometimes you need to compromise for the sake of your sanity (and theirs).

You obviously have rules and standards that you want your kids to follow, but you can’t be a dictator! Some issues just aren’t worth having an argument over! Sometimes you need to let your children win small victories so they feel that you are being fair and that you allow them a sense of independence. 

You need to gauge what battles are important and which ones don’t really matter that much. For example, my son loves to wear winter clothes in summer and vice versa. I can’t understand his mentality nor do I think it is wise as he will always feel uncomfortable wearing clothes from the opposite season, but in the scheme of things it’s not a big deal. Such an incidental thing is not going to harm him and whilst I am sometimes a little embarrassed by what clothes he chooses to wear, as long as he accepts his discomfort without whining then should I really care?  Hopefully he will learn his lesson and then choose more appropriate clothing next time.

If on the other hand he wanted to stick a knife into a toaster, then that is non negotiable! Any action that leads to the possibility of someone being hurt has to immediately be nipped in the bud.

Small victories for your child make them feel that their wishes are not falling on deaf ears. If you keep the large victories for the big issues, not only will you have less conflict but your child will understand your absolute boundaries on serious matters.

Life is all about a little bit of give and take and showing the ability to compromise is a good example to set for your kids.

 

 

(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

CHOOSING YOUR KID’S FRIENDS

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What can you do if your child becomes best friends with a kid who you think is a bad influence or who you don’t think treats your child well?

I once asked this very question of a child psychologist who was giving a speech at my kid’s school. His answer was that whilst you can’t choose your children’s friends you can influence with whom they choose to play. Of course if you say to your kid, ‘I don’t want you playing with little Freddie because he is mean’, the first person who will hear this comment is probably little Freddie (word for word straight from your babe’s mouth), closely followed by his mother. You can then expect to have world war 3 on your hands!

Instead you can talk to your child in abstract terms like, ‘What do you think makes someone a good friend?’ Let your child list what his criteria is, then add a few of your own. A follow up question might be ‘Who of your friends do you think has those qualities?’ This is a great opportunity to maybe list kids that you would like your child to play with and hope that your kid will question whether little Freddie actually is a very good friend.

You may also like to suggest a play outside of school with one of the kids that you would like to encourage your child to play with. There’s nothing like a play-date to cement a friendship. 

My final piece of advice is to acknowledge positive behaviour in your own child that reflects your values and hope that it will become clear to him that being rude or naughty are not properties that make people like you, nor that you should like in another person. 

You can’t choose your child’s friends, but hopefully you will give them the tools to make good choices and surround themselves with nice kids.

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn, freedigitalphotos.net)

I WANT

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When my kids come to me and say ‘I want …’ I find myself replying, ‘Really? I want an oompa loompa!’ (in a whiny Veruca Salt* kind of voice). The kids tend to look frustrated with me for ignoring their request. If they haven’t picked up on my not too subtle hint at using manners and repeat their request I then miraculously find myself transforming into my mother as the words ‘I want gets nothing’ escapes my mouth.

Having good manners drummed into me as a kid, it is my pet hate when a child doesn’t use their manners. I have friends who send their kids away for a period of five minutes every time they ask for something without saying please and thank you. It doesn’t take too long for the kids to cotton on to the fact that the easiest way to get what they want (within reason) is to simply use their manners in the first place.

It is universally accepted that in civilised society people should use manners in every day life. Everywhere except maybe New York. I visited there a few years ago, and as is the way there, everyone is in such a rush that manners seem to be an inconvenience. I was shocked when people were ordering and would just shout out across the counter ‘Give me a large coffee to go’. I felt as if I was a real nuisance when I would look across the counter and say, ‘Excuse me, could I please order a large coffee to go? Thank you.’ You could almost detect slight eye rolling and tapping of the feet in frustration that I was wasting their time with pleasantries.

Having said that – everywhere else that I have gone around the world expects and uses manners out of respect. It is our responsibility to raise our kids to use manners as a matter of course, so hopefully one day we won’t need to remind them to use their magic words!

Thank you for reading my post 😉

 

 

* The character from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie.

 

(Photo courtesy of Clare Bloomfield, freedigitalphotos.net)

STAYING IN LOVE

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Couples generally become parents as an extension of their love and commitment to each other. What starts out as a beautiful romance culminates in creating a family together, but it is often difficult to remember the romantic days of the start of your relationship when you are being pulled in so many directions. 

Having kids changes your priorities and all too often the person who used to be your number one priority in life slips down the list. Your partner can fend for himself so his needs are not as pressing as those of your sweet and innocent baby who requires your total care and attention. And honestly – it is exhausting!

It is hard to try to nurture your relationship when you have kids, but it is vital as this is a journey you are on together. This adventure all began from your love for each other and so it should continue, so that once the kids are grown up, you and your partner still remain connected.

Don’t get caught in the trap of just turning into the kid’s parents. You need to keep your identity and keep a healthy loving relationship as not only is it beneficial for you, but it sets a great example for your children to know what a loving, committed relationship looks like.

My advice is to make time to go on dates, share interests beyond just the kids, remind each other of why you love one another, make romantic gestures and communicate. Your kids will all grow up and leave home one day and that should be just the start of your next adventure together, not a time that you are left staring at a stranger who bares a resemblance to a man you once loved.

Happy Valentines Day!

 

 

(Picture courtesy of nixxphotography, freedigitalphotos.net)

MISCARRIAGE – THE SILENT GRIEF

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Miscarriage is a common occurrence – one in five pregnancies end this way, however people rarely share the grief and torment that they go through at the time. If is often, only years later when the emotion isn’t so raw that people open up about their experiences.

The moment you see the positive lines on a pregnancy test you start to bond with that child. You establish its due date and start to prepare (at least mentally) for the addition of the child to your family. To then suddenly, through no fault of your own, have your pregnancy end is devastating.

Everyone deals with this situation differently. Some choose to avoid people who are pregnant or have a baby because their grief is too raw for them to spend time with those who are living the dream they had for themselves. Others accept that life must go on and don’t want to be excluded from social situations where there are children, as that just accentuates their loneliness.

Given that roughly 70% of miscarriages are due to genetic abnormalities, a miscarriage is usually nature’s way of dealing with an unviable embryo. If a baby can’t survive in the ideal environment of the mother’s womb, then it would have no way of being able to survive in the real world. In the other 30% of miscarriages, it alerts the mother to any physical conditions that may make carrying a baby difficult and allows her obstetrician to intervene and closely monitor her the next time around.

The hardest part with a miscarriage is that since most people don’t share their pregnancy news until after the first trimester (for the very reason of the risk of losing the baby), it is a silent grief that the parents go through. To the outside world that has no idea that you were pregnant, life continues on as before, with them blissfully unaware of your earth shattering loss.

It’s difficult to not think about milestones – I would have been x weeks pregnant; I would have had an ultrasound around now or my baby was due today. The only comfort is the old adage that ‘time heals all wounds’. With time (and possibly a new successful pregnancy) these thoughts subside and life doesn’t revolve around your loss anymore.

So to anyone reading this that has suffered a miscarriage, just know you are not alone and that whilst you will never forget the lost pregnancy, you will find closure and come to terms with your silent grief.

 

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)