Weathering the shitstorm

I saw a post on Facebook today from a desperate Mum of a one year old daughter who was seeking relationship advice. She said that she was thinking of leaving her partner because they were going through some struggles and she was worried she didn’t love him anymore. It made me feel really sad and I didn’t even know the woman! It was just an anonymous post on a Mums group page.

I really felt for her and sad that she was considering giving up. Marriage (or any long term relationship) can be challenging but those first few years of parenthood are just a major shitstorm. Beautiful, yes. But a shitstorm nonetheless.

Almost every Mum I have spoken to about this say they have experienced a time of struggle in their relationship after having a child. And if you’ve had more than one child in a short period of time it is an even bigger, smellier shitstorm. And sadly it seems many couples make the difficult decision to call it quits rather than weather the storm.

We have not been immune to the struggle. I mean, when you throw hormones, very (very) little sleep, small people needing your attention 24/7, a fair bit less action in the bedroom and a shit tonne of laundry and dishes piled up things are bound to get a little….strained.

Now, they say that the key to any lasting relationship is communication. I just finished reading a great book by Alan Loy McGinnis called The Friendship Factor and in it he talks a lot about the ultimate friendship; a marriage. The author writes that many of us have a tendency to stop talking to the ones we love the longer we have known them. Makes sense, right?! He goes on to write about an experiment that measured the amount of conversation that occurs between the average married couple over the course of a week. The end result….17 minutes! SEVENTEEN MINUTES. Geez, the average male takes longer than that to take a dump!

This scares the life out of me. Especially since some day not too long from now the kids will be grown and we’ll be back to just us. Forever.

It’s definitely not always easy to keep the communication flowing especially during those difficult times. Though we should be able to be completely honest and transparent with our spouse it is often the hardest because we care for them so much and fear what might happen if we are. But the stories we tell ourselves and the resentment that builds up because, well, he should just know what’s wrong without me having to spell-it-out are always worse than just talking about it.

So in saying all of that, whether you are knee-deep in shitstorm or if you have managed to pop out the other side, I’d love to hear what you and your partner do to keep the conversation flowing (and not just about how many times little Johnny pooped today or what takeout to get for dinner). How do you make time for each other and what kinds of things do you do to keep your marriage pilot light lit?

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Are we officially old

Panda Bear | SLUMBERJACK | Cub Sport

Two People | G Flip | Malibu Ken

Do you recognise any of these names? Because if you don’t, you might just be coming to the realisation that you’re not just deep into adulthood, but that you very well might possibly be considered to be… ugh… old!

Let’s analyse this for a sec…

I thought I was up with the times in this modern world of ours. I know how to work an iPhone with no home button, I play Fortnite probably more often than the average 14 year old and I too have been victim of the black hole that is YouTube from time to time.

One of the series I’ve watched over the years on YouTube, is ‘Fine Brothers Entertainment’ with their ‘React’ series. I found it amusing watching videos from this series like ‘Adults react to modern music’ often finding myself laughing when these adults were played modern popular music and not have any clue what the song was or who the artist was.

Well, if you hadn’t guessed it already, those names at the top of this post… they’re all recording artists who have brought out new music (according to Apple Music that is (not a sponsor btw)).

I have always enjoyed flicking through the new and popular music charts in Apple Music, as I like to see if there’s anything new coming out that I might enjoy. But in doing this, I have increasingly become more and more aware of a growing trend.

And that is, that I have no f***ing clue who any of these people are!

I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel really f***ing old!

I’m sure there’s a bunch of teenagers out there laughing their pimple-faced arses off at this, all the while muttering under their breath… “haha, you old man”.

And let’s add insult to injury while we’re on this subject hey… because this is really going to put the icing on the cake. Not only do I have absolutely no clue who any of these artists are, I am also finding that all this new music sounds EXACTLY THE GODDAMN SAME!

Why is it that new music these days is all electro bullshit or incoherent mumble rap where you can’t even understand a single word they’re saying.

Please god take me back to the good old days of where musicians had actual talent, wrote their own music and lyrics, and knew how to play instrument (oh God, shut up Kaine, you sound like a Grandad).

Take me back to artists like Queen and Michael Jackson, where it was unmistakable who you were listening too. Take me back to bands like Korn, Fear Factory and Machine Head who paved the way for nu-metal in the late 90s and early 00s. Actually, I’d even rather listen to a boy band from the 90’s than today’s drivel. Backstreet Boys anyone??

Take me back to good music, by good musicians! Because if I hear one more mumble rap song about… well I have no idea what they rap about because it’s impossible to understand that mumble shit, I think I’m going to go f***ing postal!

So if you’re like me… if you long for the days of good music… if you hate mumble rap… and if you have no idea who half of these new artists are… then raise your hands proudly. You are, officially old!

Welcome to the club.

The toddler survival kit

It seems I blinked and now I have not one but two toddlers on my hands. With two boys, aged 3 and 1, I have certainly learned a thing or two about life with toddlers.

In no particular order, here are my must-haves for surviving life with toddlers.

A hand-held vacuum

Toddlers and mess go hand in hand. Get used to it. Meal time mess used to be restricted to the floor under the highchair but toddlers prefer to eat on the go. This means nothing is safe! The floors are constantly covered in crumbs, squashed fruit and week old sultanas. Don’t even get me started on the couches, walls and windows. Enter hand-held vacuum. You can easily whip that baby out and quickly clean up the floor, lounge or child’s lap without the fuss of a bulky corded vacuum.

A bubble machine

Kids LOVE bubbles. A manual wand type situation will work just fine but if you really want to up your bubble game and keep your toddlers occupied while you remain hands free, you need to get a bubble machine. These suckers can pump out hundreds of bubbles a minute all at the push of a button. Genius! Just be careful where you use this. If you are out in public you will very quickly attract all the children within a 500m radius.

A “beach” caddy

Toddlers require lots of crap. Yes, even more than babies if you can believe that. A simple trip to the park or family outing requires precision planning and packing. Between food, drinks, toys to keep them amused, changes of clothes in case of accidents or mess, hats for in the sun, jackets if it gets cold. The list goes on and on. One of the best things we have ever bought was a “beach” caddy from Kmart (hint, most of the things on this list can be purchased at this wonderful store). It folds up and is big enough to hold all of the crap and a kid or two as well. Every time I use this I get comments about it. God send.

Snacks… a lot of snacks

I never really understood the power of snacks until my second toddler. Toddler one can easily survive a week on nothing but milk and kinder surprises but toddler two LOVES his food (got it from his mama!). Snacks can be used for loads of different purposes including a diversion tactic, tantrum diffuser, boredom cure, oh and sometimes even for hunger.

A happy place

Toddlers are assholes. This is not new information. But if you’re like me you always thought that seemed a bit harsh. Nope. It’s true. Toddlers have a way of breaking you down. They may be small but they can make even the most mindful of mums lose their shit from time to time. Your spirit will break a little every time you have to wrestle a toddler to the ground to brush their teeth or drag them out from under the desk because they think running away and hiding from you at bath time is hilarious (or is that just me?). At some point you will need to walk away from your child, close the door and punch the air or scream into a pillow. Then find your happy place before emerging to try again. Don’t worry, bed time will come. Eventually.

There is never a dull moment with toddlers around that’s for certain. And though none of the above is ground breaking, life changing advice, hopefully it helps you to navigate the mine field that is life with toddlers whilst keeping a shred of sanity in tact.

What are your toddler survival tips?

Our babies are growing up (sniff, sniff)

Sometimes I feel quite sad that I no longer have a baby. Jesse is three so basically a grown up and Jasper is heading towards 16 months and embracing full-blown toddler-hood.

Sometimes I miss those blissful new mama days when you feel so exhausted but so elated at the same time. I already feel a bit out of the loop especially since I’m surrounded by new mums and first time mums in my job.

But, as much as I miss it, I also absolutely adore the stage we are at right now.

The other day I had a lovely lunch date with my boys and I was relishing in the fact that, though they are still dependent on me, its very different now to life with a new baby.

We sat in a cafe (kid-friendly of course, let’s not get too carried away!) and enjoyed a meal together. Well, I ate a meal while Jesse consumed an entire giant cookie and Jasper shared my chips and dropped his sultanas all over the floor. There was also a few clean ups of spilled beverages. But all in all it was really nice.

Then afterwards they both went in the play area and played together while I looked on. I didn’t have to intervene. I didn’t have to nurse a baby while trying to keep an eye on a toddler. I could just sit. And be quiet. And sip my coffee. And watch as my two little boys played and laughed together.

In that moment I really appreciated how things are right now.

Now, I do need to say that it’s not always rainbows and unicorns. Just days before this I was absolutely hating life as I tried to hostage negotiate my way through the basic morning routines.

I still have just enough night wake-ups to keep me coffee dependent and a heavy reliance on nursing bras and easy boob access. So I’m not out of the woods just yet.

As crazy as it sounds I will miss all of that. But getting past the baby stage and seeing your babies grow into little people is also pretty great.

My week as a stay at home Mum

Last week, I took some recreation leave from work.

I would say that I had a weeks holiday, but as I quickly found out, it was about as far from a holiday as you could possibly get!

Let’s call it… ‘My Week As A Stay At Home Mum’.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Initially, I was thinking of just having the Friday off, as I was heading to the Broncos match Thursday night and considering I was planning on consuming one too many beers that night, I didn’t want to be hung over at work. I then offered my services to help Renee on Wednesday, and at that point I just though, bugger it, I’ll just take the week off instead.

So here I was coming out of the weekend excited about not having to go to work, and excited about a week of taking it easy and enjoying some down time. Well, after looking at the schedule I had been given I quickly realised that this week was going to be far from a relaxing weeks “holiday”. It turns out, that stay at home mums lead very busy lives. And it was my turn to experience the hectic, non-stop, balls to the wall existence that these mums live every… single… day…

So my schedule went something like this: Monday was play group. Tuesday was Kangatraining. Wednesday, Teddy Bear Picnic. Thursday, Kangatraining and footy. Friday was Music Class. Saturday I cleaned the house. And Sunday, we had Jesse’s third birthday party.

Holy f*** balls batman, how the hell do you mums do this every week!!!

Now I realise we only had one event on each day (except for Thursday, but the footy doesn’t really count), but the organisation, preparation, and even the wind down when you get home with two kids is exhausting! I literally required at least a 1 to 2 hour nap each day just to cope with the stress of it all!

It was non-stop. Like Liam Neeson in that movie… Non-Stop. It was like trying to navigate and escape a skyscraper on Christmas Eve with the name John McClane. It was like… well you get the idea… it was fully hectic as bro!

I know that I’m sort of joking around about it, but in all seriousness, it really was exhausting. I have joked on occasions to Renee that when I go to work every day it’s like my break from the kids, but it really is like that. I now have mad respect for those mums (and dads) who are full time stay at home parents, because it’s a tough job. It pays nothing. And it’s a 24/7 job.

So well played stay at home mums. I take my hat off to you.

The question from here however, is would I do it again? The answer, is absofreakinglutely. I loved every single minute being able to spend every waking minute with Renee, Jesse and Jasper. And I think they loved it too.

Parents of daughters: the dating my daughter but is getting old

I’m sure you’ve heard people say it. You might have even said it yourself.

You know, that inevitable comment made by parents of girls. Something along the lines of how she’s not allowed to date until she’s 30 or how Dad will greet her future boyfriends with a shotgun in hand.

This so-called joke annoys me so much! I know it’s just a thing people say and it’s meant to be funny and light-hearted but really? I mean what message is it sending our daughters and sons?

As a Mum of boys the insinuation that they will be somehow unworthy of dating these daughters or that they will be incapable of respecting girls and are to be avoided at all costs is insulting and ridiculous.

Admittedly, I’ve never been a teenage boy and I know there are a fair few douche bags out there. But there’s loads of parents like us doing our best to raise exemplary men. Men that will treat ladies like Queens. Men that any parent would be lucky to have as a son-in-law.

On the flip side to this, what about the girls? What is this teaching them about themselves or their male counterparts? That we don’t trust them? Or that they are incapable of making good decisions? Surely, we are striving to raise daughters who can make quality decisions about who they associate with and eventually date. I know if I had a daughter I would want to raise her to be confident in herself and her judge of character. I’d want to teach her to respect and value herself and trust her instincts. The attitude that boys are somehow the villain or are predators of girls is just unnecessary and damaging.

I know, I know, it’s just a joke. Well, I’m not laughing.

Dear Mums, you’ve got this!

The other day I was escaping the Brisbane heat at the local shops with the boys. We stopped by the indoor playground and I sat and watched Jesse play while feeding Jasper and then he eagerly crawled off to join his brother.

At that moment I was struck with a memory of being at this same playground when pregnant with Jasper and I remember wondering how I was going to cope with two children in moments like this. How could I tend to nursing a baby while keeping a watchful eye on a toddler? It seemed incredibly daunting, impossible even.

I then thought back to a particularly difficult night with Jesse. He just wanted to be held. My back was aching but I held him close anyway. His bottom propped up by my pregnant belly and his long legs draping down either side. I sobbed quietly as I wondered how I was going to cope on nights like this with two babies. How could I possibly give them both the comfort they need if they need me at the same time?

I smiled.

I can do it. I am doing it. What seemed so impossible is now normal.

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Soon after, I struck up a conversation with a fellow Mum watching her children play. Two little boys. And she was nursing a 3 week old baby boy. Three boys under three. I was in awe.

I could tell she was exhausted. But the smile she wore as we chatted told me she would not have it any other way. I asked her how she was doing. We talked about the challenges of breastfeeding and the joys of raising boys. I was struck by the rawness of our conversation. Two complete strangers but we just understood each other.

It’s a crazy thing this being parents thing. Being a mother. It stretches us to our limits and so often passes them. It breaks us down and builds us up at the same time. It makes us want to do better, be better. Having children is like constantly looking into a mirror that exposes everything about us. All of our flaws and imperfections. All of our funny little quirks. And suddenly we realised how much like our own parents we’ve become.

I guess all I’m trying to say is mums and dads, you are amazing! You’ve totally got this. And on days when you don’t, tell someone. Even if it’s a stranger at the shops. She’ll get it.