Nine months of cultivating and carrying a little person around inside you is a long time. Some people want to find out as much as they can about their little bundle of joy before it’s arrival, including it’s sex, whilst others want to keep it a surprise.

When I found out I as pregnant with my first child I was keen to find out it’s gender at the first ultrasound, but my husband insisted that finding out the sex of your baby is like peeking at a gift under the Christmas tree. Once you know what you’re getting the surprise is gone. Having experienced this phenomenon a few times as a child when the lure of a wrapped present under the tree was too much for my curious mind to handle and having expertly peeled back a corner of the wrapping to take a peek, I never got the same joy out of that present, as I did a complete surprise. As I could appreciate his argument, we agreed to not find out the sex of our baby – although I was pretty sure it was a boy.

We kept the nursery neutral and bought pastel baby clothes. I obviously missed out on the female intuition gene as in fact, as our beautiful baby wasn’t a boy, but a gorgeous girl.

The following two pregnancies we again chose to not find out the gender of our baby, and strangely enough, I thought they were both going to be boys, only to find out at the birth they were girls. I was so certain with my third child that I had seen a ‘bundle’ between the baby’s legs in the ultrasound that I actually bought boys clothes in readiness. It turns out the ‘bundle’ was the umbilical cord!

By the time I was pregnant for the fourth time, I was certain that we could only make girls! Statistically, you are only supposed to have a 5% chance of having the opposite gender after you have three of the same sex in a row.

Due to concerning test results I chose to have an amniocenteses where they actually look at the genes of the child. I knew my husband didn’t want to know what we were having, but I couldn’t help myself and found out. I was shocked when I was told it was a boy. For five months I didn’t tell a soul that I knew what I was having, as I didn’t think it was fair for someone else to know when the father didn’t know.

I did however; take advantage of this time to buy loads of boy’s clothes, telling my husband that I would sell them on Ebay if we had another girl.

I must admit the surprise was gone from this birth, but the joy and unbridled love for your child is as intense, regardless of whether you know what you are having in advance. Irrespective of whether you choose to know your child’s sex or not, you still have the wonder of seeing your newborn for the first time, because no matter how good ultrasound technology is, you don’t know what they will look like, until you hold them in your arms.


(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici,



Every day I kiss my kids goodbye as they leave for school and goodnight when they go to bed. I don’t think that this is a strange custom within families, however two of my kids tell me that the fact that I kiss them on the lips is considered gross amongst their friends, whereas the other two have confirmed their friends kiss their parents on the lips.

So I want to work out what is the correct family kiss etiquette! To me, a kiss on the lips is a more affectionate way to treat family, whilst a peck on the cheek is more distant, therefore appropriate for friends and acquaintances. I think that it is natural for family to be closer – therefore to kiss on the lips. In fact, I still kiss my parents on the lips when I greet them.

For those parents who kiss their kids on the cheek, have they done so since they were babies or is there an age where there is a lip-kissing cut off?

I understand that fathers and sons will reach a point where they no longer kiss (as Western society demands), but should fathers stop kissing their daughters too? 

So I guess I’m keen to understand is lip-kissing a cultural thing, does it follow what your parents set as a guideline or is there lip kissing etiquette of which I am unaware?

I guess the main thing is the fact that you show your kids that you love them and are openly affectionate – whether you plant your lips on their cheek or their lips.

Please comment and let me know what happens in your household and if you don’t kiss on the lips, what determined the change in this habit – I’m really keen to get an understanding of what is the norm!

Thanks mwah!


(Picture courtesy of Salvatore Vuono,



The other night all my dreams came true! Without coaxing, our three daughters decided to prepare a three-course meal, each one taking responsibility for choosing and preparing a course (thanks to My Kitchen Rules, for their inspiration!)

We left the girls to their own devices preparing their dishes in the kitchen and my husband and I retired outside to have a pre-dinner drink. I commented to my husband that we were really living the life! Finally our kids had come to a point of preparing a meal for us, rather than just expecting a meal to magically land in front of them, as it does every night!

Our youngest daughter started with a bruschetta, which to my astonishment was as good as, if not better than, restaurant quality. She made an effort to plate the bruschetta nicely, with a garnish on the side. I must admit she set the bar pretty high!

The next course was a Spanish Tortilla prepared by our eldest daughter. She has chosen to prepare this as a cultural meal of Spain for a Food Technology assignment, so the practice came in handy. The meal was simple, but delicious, with my husband and I both having second helpings. Hopefully she prepares it as well as she did for us, when the pressure is on at school. 

Finally our other daughter prepared a dessert of chocolate mousse with crushed malteasers throughout, served with fresh berries. This decadent chocolate dessert was delicious but rich. Again the presentation was great, leaving us feeling like we had just eaten at a restaurant. 

The only difference between the experience of our home cooked meal versus visiting a restaurant was the kitchen aftermath. It looked like a bomb had gone off, with every utensil and appliance used!

As the girls dispersed after dinner, we enlisted the help of our son to assist with the kitchen clean up. I must admit, even elbow deep in greasy dishwater I still felt like we were living the life!

I now just hope that they are enthused to cook for us on a regular basis, as it is a handy life skill and relieves me of the tedious task of cooking! Seriously, Our Kitchen Rules!


(Picture courtesy of iosphere,



It’s that time of year when our kids head off with their school friends for a few days at camp. This week my two youngest have had their turn to go to camp. Their ‘camps’ actually consist of them sleeping in cabins with plumbed bathrooms and all meals prepared, so calling it a camp makes it seem so much more hard core than it really is!

Based on past experience, I gather they will be doing lots of team building exercises, getting clothes wet and dirty, not getting much sleep, playing games, getting clothes wet and dirty, eating plenty of food, participating in sport and getting their clothes wet and dirty!

It is the first year my son has gone to camp, so I have been warned by other parents of boys to expect to see him arrive home in the same set of clothes he left in. Hygiene is not very high on the list of priorities for boys without parents there to enforce it. If this turns out to be the case, the upside to this scenario is that at least not all the clothes will come home wet and dirty!

The camps do ramp up their intensity in high school where the kids actually have to sleep in tents and do have to prepare their meals. Last year, my eldest daughter’s camp shelter was just one tarp strung between trees over the entire group. The kids were all freezing, with some even opting to share sleeping bags for body warmth. They had to dig their own toilet in the bush with ‘Doug’ the spade and had to fetch and boil water before drinking it. My daughter came home stating she was traumatized by the conditions, but it was a character building exercise and she survived to tell the tale!

For now, the house is awfully quiet without half of my kids here, but I know come tomorrow afternoon, our home will be filled with excited voices recalling funny incidents that have happened on camp and discussing new friendships that have been formed. I look forward to being able to give my kids cuddles and hear their tales – before I begin washing the basket loads full of wet, dirty clothes!



(Picture courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS,



When kids are young, they have disagreements with other kids for a myriad of reasons. Maybe they haven’t mastered sharing, or their impulse management isn’t well developed or they believe they are right and the other party is wrong. As kids grow, conflict with others teaches them skills to learn to compromise, forgive and move on. 

Generally kids don’t hold grudges, so a child they didn’t want to be friends with last week, may be their best buddy this week.

There are some parents out there that get too involved in their children’s disputes and end up becoming a greater part of the problem. I think that unless a child is being bullied, that with some guidance, kids should be allowed to sort out their differences without too much interference from adults. It seems to me that when parents get involved, the heat of the argument escalates and unlike kids, adults can hold grudges for a long time! So you find the kids have made up and are happy again, whereas their parents end up being the ones holding onto resentment.

Unfortunately, bullying is a grey area. I know a parent who once reported to her child’s school that her child was bullied, as she was not invited to another child’s birthday party. It wasn’t as though she was the only child in the class not invited; only a small group of the birthday child’s closest friends were included. The school didn’t want to know about the complaint, but became involved as they have a duty of care to deal with ‘bullying’. The ironic thing is that the reason the kid wasn’t invited to the party was that she had been mean (aka bullying) the birthday child. When I heard of this debacle, all I could think was, ‘Those in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones!’ 

Kids need to learn resilience and they won’t do that if they run to their parents to solve every conflict in their life. Parents can help best if they provide calm, logical advice on how to resolve the problem. Of course, parents need to use discretion, because if their child is being seriously harmed, then of course they need to step in to protect their child. Knowing where a childish spat finishes and bullying begins is a hard thing to define, but we can’t wrap our kids in cotton wool and expect them to never experience disappointment and disagreements. 

For conflict resolution, our kids’ school teaches GOMO (Get Over it, Move On!), which I think is sage advice for kids and, maybe more importantly, parents too!


(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici,



When I was pregnant for the first time, I took the idea of a labour plan very seriously. I had very honourable and virtuous intentions of having no pain relief – after all, women have been having babies for thousands of years without any intervention. If a lady in Africa can squat beneath a tree to give birth I could easily do that in the comfort of a hospital delivery room! 

My labour was induced so I had time to set up Kenny G music playing quietly in the background and as my labour pains began in earnest I was incredibly focused on breathing my way through the pain. I continued on my virtuous path for about half an hour, at which point my nervous excitement had turned into true gut wrenching pain that I couldn’t believe any human body could endure. At that point I requested a little bit of nitrous oxide gas to help me on my birthing journey. 

That quickly escalated into a request for any drugs the nurse could put her hands on! I was given pethadine, which just made me nauseous. Eventually, as my original birth plan was completely shredded and incinerated, I requested an epidural. ‘No problems’ the kind midwife responded, then unbeknownst to me turned and whispered to my husband ‘We can’t find the anesthetist.’ In hindsight I was so glad she didn’t share that with me, as at least I felt there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

Shortly thereafter I was told that my baby was crowning and that there was no time for any more drugs. The time had come for my bundle of joy (or wicked pain inducing monster as I thought of her at the time) to be born!

Four hours after being induced, my screams of pain, were replaced with cries of our beautiful newborn baby girl.

The next pregnancy I had to be induced again. This time when the midwives asked if I had a birthing plan, I responded, “As soon as I have any labour pains I want you to give me an epidural.” They laughed until I told them I was serious. I had tried the righteous path last time and this time I wanted an easy ride. I spent most of my second labour sipping tea and eating biscuits, feeling no pain as I watched my contractions on the print out from the machine attached to my belly. “Now, this is the way to do labour,” I thought!

I again chose to have an epidural with my third child, however the anesthetist had me lie on my side when he inserted the needle, so I was only numbed down one side. If you have excruciating pain ripping through one side of your body it defeats the whole purpose of having an epidural! My third daughter was born within an hour and half so I had no time for any further intervention.

I guess whole point of this post is to say that every labour is different and whilst it is a great idea to have a birth plan, the best plan is to be flexible and do what is right for you. At the end of the day, the only important thing is the health of the Mother and Child and not whether you ‘succumbed’ to pain relief in labour.


(Photo courtesy of Keerati,



The other week our kids were driving me insane. They weren’t doing anything too terrible, but collectively they were all failing in one way or another to behave the way we have raised them.

Instead of just hitting my head against a brick wall, I tried to think of something out of the square to reinforce our expectations of them – above and beyond the constant nagging that they seem to have become immune to! 

I drew up a behaviour contract that outlined what we expect of our kids:

  1. 1.              Show respect to one another, parents, teachers etc
  2. 2.              Do your chores without complaint
  3. 3.              Use manners and be grateful
  4. 4.              Take responsibility and be organised
  5. 5.              Do as you are told by parents and teachers


Consequences: Loss of any or all of these:

Phone, wi-fi, computer, xbox, stars, pocket money and going out privileges

After I printed off this list (which incidentally is no different behaviour to what we have always tried to instill in them since they were toddlers), I sat down with each of the kids and explained, point by point, what behaviour was required to comply, citing examples of previous breaches. I then explained the consequences of failing to comply. 

The kids thought this was a joke, until I got each of them to sign the contract to show that they understood the behaviour we expect of them and that they understood the consequences of misbehaving.

It may seem hard-core to get your kids to sign a behaviour contract, but I was looking for some serious form of commitment from my kids that they would behave in a manner that we see as appropriate. They all signed (some more reluctantly than others) and I reaffirmed that if they were well behaved then they wouldn’t have to worry about the listed consequences. I then hung the contract in a place of high visibility that they will see everyday.

I just hope that seeing our expectations formalised in black and white and the fact that they have acknowledged these rules that they will remain top of mind.

For the record, the initial effect was an improvement in behaviour, however one child has lost wi-fi privileges and the x-box remote has been confiscated (I just hope I remember where I hid it when the time comes to give it back!) 

What lengths have you gone to in order to get your kids behaving politely and responsibly? I’m always open to new ideas to help shape behaviour!


(photo courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom,



I was reflecting back on a time when my daughter was about four years of age and she was mucking around in the back of the car. I had told her many times that she must keep her seat belt on and that if she didn’t I would stop the car and she would have to walk home by herself. 

That will teach her a lesson, I thought.

Ignoring my pleas, she kept sliding the seat belt over her head. So in a quiet side street, I pulled the car over to the side of the road to get her out of the car to prove that I meant business! At this point I expected her to be remorseful for not doing as she was told and beg for me to let her stay in the car. Instead she jumped out of the car and began walking along the side of the road by herself.

I now found myself in the situation where I was terrified of her being hit by a car. The whole reason I had tried to teach her a lesson was that I wanted her to be safe whilst I was driving and now I had put her out on the side of the road where she had a far higher chance of being injured – talk about jumping out of the fry pan into the fire! I had to change from yelling at her that she would have to get out of the car, to yelling at her to get in the car. With a smug smile she said she wanted to walk home by herself. As a car entered the street she was less sure of herself and finally agreed to get back in the car. 

I guess the one who was taught a lesson that day was in fact me. I learnt that there is no use in making empty threats that you won’t follow through with! Even a four year old could see through my lack of commitment to the threatened consequences and didn’t she love seeing me do a backflip!




(Photo courtesy of imagerymagestic,



A parents struggle from the moment they have their child is between wanting to ensure their child loves (and even likes) them and enforcing rules that will set the basis for their child to have values and morals that will steer them through life. We have to balance giving them freedom whilst still ensuring their safety. There are no set rules about when a child has the maturity and intelligence to take on additional responsibilities, we just have to use our gut feel as to what is right for our child at that time. Sometimes that means that your kids won’t like you, but hopefully they will respect that you make decisions in their best interests. At the end of the day, we aren’t here to be their friends; we are their parents and have to take that responsibility seriously.

Kids will always play the “You’re so strict! My friends’ mums let them do x,y,z” card and more often than not it isn’t actually the case. Rather, the kids are all bullying their parents into thinking that they are the only ones not allowing their kids freedom. Often if you just talk with the other parents, you will find out that they share a common concern to you.

Years ago I saw a poem called ‘I Loved You Enough’ and it struck a chord with me. I would like to share it with all those parents who have kids who think they are too strict:


By Erma Bombeck


I Loved You Enough….to ask where you were going,

with whom, and what time you would be home.


I Loved You Enough….to insist that you save

your money and buy a bike for yourself even though we

could afford to buy one for you.


I Loved You Enough…. to be silent and let

you discover that your new best friend was a creep.


I Loved You Enough….to make you take a Milky Way

back to thedrugstore (with a bite out of it)

and tell the clerk,”I stole this yesterday and

want to pay for it.”


I Loved You Enough….to stand over you for

two hours while you cleaned your room,

a job that would have  taken 15 minutes.


I Loved You Enough….to let you see anger, disappointment

and tears in my eyes.

Children must learn that their parents aren’t perfect.


I Loved You Enough….to let you assume the

responsibility for your actions even when the penalties

were so harsh they almost broke my heart.

But most of all,


I Loved You Enough….

to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.

Those were the most difficult battles of all.

I’m glad I won them, because in the end,

you won, too.


When our kids are adults and are capable of looking after themselves, maybe then I can be their friend, but for now I’m just a Mother who loves her kids and regardless of whether they like it or not, I love them enough to be stricter than they want me to be and I hope that in the future they will thank me for caring, keeping them safe and raising them to be good people.


(Photo courtesy of photostock,