Category Archives: Parenting

Parenting

Welcome to all of my new friends.

The past few weeks has brought a lot of new friends to the blog, so , I’ve collated some posts that my readers have loved and I hope you’ll enjoy too.

In the next couple of days, you can expect a new post from me. Thank you for your patience and your ongoing love. You guys make me happy.

Award-winning posts

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9 Things People Say to People with ADHD

Debunking ADHD Myths   Hi there! I have neglected you!   The past few weeks have been busy and overwhelming and when the overwhelm comes, I typically go hermit. I think its a fight or flight thing. It’s definitely an ADHD thing. This brain of mine, while capable of achieving incredible things, is also incapable of managing the mundane. Things like making sure there is enough toilet paper in the house and remembering to actually look at the to-do list I naively wrote on Sunday night, convinced that this time I’d actually look at it and cross things off. Read the rest of this entry

What it Means to be Mummy

The first word I hear most days is “Mum”, followed by a tender “I love you” or “good morning” or “Do people eat breakfast in Heaven and who lays the eggs for their breakfast because everyone knows there are no chickens in Heaven?”

Before my eyes are even open, before my brain has fully adjusted to the reality of no more sleep, I am reminded that before all else, I am Mum and I have three little people depending on me to fulfil that role unquestioningly. There are days, of course, that I inwardly groan and silently beg for a break from this relentless responsibility to be their cook, cleaner, stylist, mentor, therapist, nurse, art teacher, entertainer, jailer, enforcer of unfair rules and referee in countless brawls over the middle seat in the car. When I wake up on these tired, uninspired days, I have to dig deep and remember that my children are innocent passengers in this trainwreck of my exhaustion. I have to be mindful always that even if it means regular visits to hide in the bathroom and silently cry for my lost, pre-kid independence, they need a Mum who looks at them with joy in her eyes. On those days, when I lose the battle and scream and yell because I’m not the perfect Mum that I aspire to be in the late, guilt-riddled hours before sleep, I will always take the time to apologise and explain that Mummy is tired and that just like them, I feel grumpy sometimes. I make sure they see that I am fallible and flawed and, more importantly, that I will always own my failures and apologise for hurt feelings. Read the rest of this entry

The Tween Parent’s Tug-o-War

Tween Parents Tug-o-war

Miss M is officially a tween. At eleven, she is beginning to show little hints of the woman she will one day be. Time has chiseled away at her face and is, startlingly quickly, revealing beautiful, angular cheekbones where chubby cheeks once were. Without me realising, she has grown in stature and is nearly as tall as me and only a shoe size away from becoming a sharing buddy. When she tries on my heels, she no longer totters around, comically playing at being a grown-up. My breath catches in my throat as I watch her instead, fitting almost convincingly into something that was once no more than a dress-up. Read the rest of this entry

Mornings With Kids Are No Fairy Tale.

Mornings With Kids Are No Fairy Tale

This morning, I woke up half an hour early, organised breakfasts, made school lunches and folded laundry. Feeling unusually ahead of my game and positive about the day ahead, I went to wake the kids. Mary Poppins-like, I woke the kids with smiles and kisses (everything short of scampering animated squirrels, I kid you not). They, in turn took a hundred years (not exaggerating, this is totally accurate) to do every. tiny. task. Read the rest of this entry

10 Ways to Empower Our Kids Against Predators

Daniel Morcombe murderer Brett Cowan

The past week, for us Australians, has been traumatic. We’ve been glued to our TVs as we’ve watched the final days of the Brett Peter Cowan trial. We’ve cried for the Morcombe family as they’ve had to face the monster who murdered their young son, Daniel, in court day after day.
This monster, Brett Cowan, showed not a shred of remorse for ripping away the life of thirteen year old Daniel Morcombe to satisfy his own sick pleasures. I won’t go into my anger at the justice system that released Brett Cowen twice after brutally raping two other little boys. One of those boys, Timothy Nicholls – only seven years old when he was abducted and raped repeatedly and so brutally that he almost died, says Brett Cowan took his life that day. For that crime, Brett Peter Cowan was sentenced to a hideously inadequate seven years in jail and was set free. I have chosen not to rail against this inept system here, however, because that’s a post that won’t achieve anything more than fuelling more anger and pain. What I will do is, in the small way I can, attempt to help other parents to arm their children against the sick predators, like Brett Peter Cowan, in our world. That way, something positive might come of the horror that Timothy Nicholls, Daniel Morcombe and countless other children have endured at the hands of these sick pedophiles. After much research, I’d like to share with you these 10 ways to empower our children:

1. Don’t force your child to hug sweet Aunt Bertha.

Why? we need to teach our children to trust their instincts – to listen to that inner voice that tells them that it doesn’t feel nice to be touched sometimes. Let them know that you back them up, even if it hurts the other person’s feelings. Chances are, Great Aunt Bertha isn’t a pedophile – but the lesson here is that they are allowed to choose who touches them and how they are touched. They need to know that they, and only they, are the boss of their bodies. They need to know, one hundred percent, that they have their parents’ backing to say “no”.

2. Teach your children to say NO.

Of course, our kids should have a healthy respect for authority, but they should also understand that that respect should never be at the expense of their own self-respect. Teach your kids to feel comfortable saying “no” if an authority figure asks them to do something that they are uncomfortable doing. Allow them the experience of listening to their instincts, acting on them and being supported. If they know they can say “no” and that their parents will support them and listen to them, they are less likely to be targeted. Pedophiles target children who fear authority and lack confidence to speak out.

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The Last Snowman {Book Review}

BUY THIS BOOK.

Really. I mean it. Read the rest of this entry

The Masturbation Conversation

Masturbation.

This word strikes fear in the heart of most parents. It’s the kryptonite of the parenting fraternity. When most parents look at their children, the last thing they want to think about is that they – gulp – masturbate.

Because there seem to be such taboos connected with this topic, many parents are unaware that it is , in fact, totally normal for children to be touching themselves regularly at the age of three and then again, from twelve well into adulthood.

It’s bizarre, really, this fear of the masturbation conversation. I’ve seen friends freely post on Facebook about how little Sammy ate a cockroach today! Marcus fingerprinted with his own poo! Jenny had an epic diaper explosion (with attached photographs for evidence)! But when they discovered little Toby masturbating: silence. This little milestone is shoved under the rug faster than the most shameful family skeleton.

I was fortunate to have been raised by two incredibly open and honest parents and had benefitted from the freedom to be able to discuss anything with them, This led to some conversations that my parents probably didn’t enjoy much (sorry, Mom and Dad!) but I grew up unafraid of my body and free of misguided hang-ups. I decided, when I started this parenting journey, that I was going to be the type of parent that answers questions frankly and openly and without reservation. Yes sirree, I was evolved.

Masturbation conversation

So, when the day came that I discovered my three year old daughter with her hands down her pants, I took a deep breath, plastered a non-freaked out smile on my face and calmly told her that touching herself was a lovely and normal thing to do but that it was something she should do alone in her bedroom. “Okay”, she happily replied and skipped off to her room. Patting myself on the back for being so calm under duress (because the inner voice was shrieking “omigodomigodomigod!”), I  went about making dinner and praying that that was that.

The Masturbatory Gods had a good laugh at that one. As if. The next day, I unsuspectingly walked into the living room with a basket of laundry and BAM, there she was, hands in pants. Deep breath. Calm, cheery (slightly squeaky) voice. “Darling, remember how we talked yesterday about how if you want to touch your vagina, you need to do it alone in your bedroom?” Sweet, innocent eyes looked back at me. “Yes, mama, okay.”, and off she went.

Phew. Twice wasn’t so bad. Now, she got it. Excellent.

Until the next day. Three times. And the day after that.

By this time, I was getting so good at this conversation that I didn’t even bat an eyelid anymore. I knew this was a totally normal phase and I was proud that I was handling it with such grace and maturity. Mary Poppins herself couldn’t have handled it better. The new mantra in our home, repeated in sing-song voices multiple times per week, was “If you want to touch your vagina, you have to do it all alone in your bedroom.”

One morning, we were all eating breakfast before day care when down the pants went her little hands.

As I poured my cereal into a bowl, I said, “Honey, you can’t touch your vagina at the dinner table.” 

Chewing her Weetbix, she replied,“But why, Mama?”

Good question. Now how to put it into a social context that a toddler could understand?

I answered, “Okay, Sweetie, let me ask you this: have you ever seen ME touch MY vagina at the breakfast table?” 

(Brilliant, Michelle! If she understands this, then she’ll get why it’s an inappropriate social behaviour!)

Innocent eyes stared back, as she thought, then she grinned as the penny dropped,“No, I never seed you do that, Mama!”

I grinned triumphantly,“You see, touching vaginas is not something we do at the breakfast table.”

She smiled back and replied, “If we want to touch, then we have to go to our bedrooms!” 

Phew. FINALLY. She got it.

Off we went to day care. My little girl skipped in happily and put her bag in her locker.

Then she ran to her teacher and excitedly declared…

Wait for it…

You’re going to love this…

“Natalie! Guess what! My Mummy touches her vagina all alone in her bedroom!”

My mouth opened and closed. I blinked. I died a hundred deaths. I blinked and, fish-like, opened and closed my mouth again. I blushed furiously as garbled words of explanation fell out of my mouth in a tangled heap on the floor. I tried to explain that I REALLY wasn’t touching my vagina in my bedroom and my little princess hadn’t seen anything and ohmigosh am I really saying this out loud at daycare? I died again.

No amount of explaining was going to make this sound better.

The teacher laughed as she attempted to help me dislodge my foot from my mouth and she very sweetly reassured me that I wasn’t the first parent who had had this conversation with her, nor would I be the last.

When I left the daycare that day, I left knowing two things: 1) I had provided some outstanding staff room conversation and 2) This motherhood gig had finally stripped the very last bit of dignity I had left.

Motherhood: leave your dignity at the door

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Exciting News: Mama’s Getting Published.

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What I’ve Learned… (A Roundup)

       

Today I want to share with you my last two weeks’ weekly columns at BonBon Break Magazine. In a series called, “What I’ve Learned…”, I explore the little lessons motherhood throws at me each week. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Original Badge aTwo weeks ago, I wrote about how we speak to our kids using accidental metaphors and pretty insane descriptors… and how they take us literally:

What-Ive-learned-She-Takes-Me-Literally Read the rest of this entry

The Day I Became a Mother

        The Day I Became a Mother Read the rest of this entry

What I Said When My Son Asked Me To Explain The Meaning Of Life.

       

Today’s post is the second in my weekly column at BonBon Break Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned…”

What I Said When My Son Asked Me To Explain The Meaning Of Life

After a Boys Only shopping trip, Little Man and Darren arrived home, clearly up to something. Little Man disappeared into the study and came out a few minutes later holding a gift-wrapped present in his hand. “Mum, you do so much for us and nobody ever even pays you! (He was outraged.) I asked Daddy if we could buy you this present because I know it’s one of your favourite things.” He held out his hand and presented me with my gift. I unwrapped it as he bounced beside me, gleefully. Inside was a dragon fruit  – a fruit we first tasted on a holiday in Singapore and that I fell in love with. From time to time, we see dragon fruit at our local shops but I never buy it because it’s expensive and frivolous. He had seen it and decided that I deserved something expensive and frivolous. He saw me as someone who deserves recognition and a little spoiling. The enormity of this, coming from my eight year old son, totally floored me. He demanded that I cut it open right then and there and eat it. I savoured every mouthful, we enthusiastically discussed the cool colours and textures and I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious experience of sharing this treat with the kids. Later that afternoon, Little Man very solemnly and seriously requested that Darren and I go to his bedroom together at bedtime because “there are some important things we need to discuss”. I wondered what on earth was so serious in his life that it would warrant a meeting, so I nervously asked. He replied, “I want to know what life is all about… you know. Why are we alive?”

To continue reading this post, visit BonBon Break by clicking the icon below:

The Naughty Spot @ BonBon Break

 If you liked this, please click the thumbs-up button at the bottom of this post. I’d really love to hear your comments, so please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance).
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The Naughty Spot

       

Today’s post is the first in a weekly column I’ll be writing at BonBon Break Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned…” I hope you’ll enjoy this hilarious story featuring Little Man, the Terrible Threes and the infamous Naughty Spot. You will laugh and hopefully learn from mine and Darren’s misfortunes…

To read this post, visit BonBon Break by clicking the icon below:

The Naughty Spot @ BonBon Break

If you liked this, please click the thumbs-up button at the bottom of this post. I’d really love to hear your comments, so please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance).
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Facebook recently announced it’s going to make fan pages
 (including this blog) PAY if we want our fans to read what we post.
 That’s not something bloggers like me can do.
 So if you want to know when I post, please subscribe to my blog, below.
Thanks and I hope you’ll join me!
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Big announcement!

Let me start by telling you a little about my childhood. My mother was, amongst other things, a writer. I would spend hours poring over her scrapbook with clippings of all the pieces she’d written for various magazines, voraciously lapping up her success and revelling in it. I’d stare at her byline under the picture of The Most Beautiful Woman In The Whole World and I couldn’t believe that this talented writer  – who was published – was my mother. As I grew up, I watched as my mother tore up rule books and wrote two books and a slew of TV series. Never mind that she was an ex-school teacher who was now a stay at home mom. I couldn’t have kept count of the times I heard her say “Where is the rule book that says I can’t do (insert giant, insane feat here)?” and then watch the world stare, open-mouthed, as she succeeded wildly in her crazy ventures.
If you want to achieve something, don't ever listen to anyone who says you can't. You can.

If you want to achieve something, don’t ever listen to anyone who says you can’t. You can.

You see, my mother was an adventurer. She didn’t ask the world for permission to be fabulous. She went out and granted her own permission slips with wild abandon. She dived head first into her passions and often landed spread-eagled, face-first, skirt over head. Did she cry? No, sirree. My mom laughed. Read the rest of this entry

The Day My Jewish Kids Met Santa Claus.

It was a regular day at the local shopping centre. Being December, the centre was decorated with tinsel and holly and all things Christmas. Carols were creating jolly white noise and the atmosphere was festive as we went about our business.   My kids know about Christmas and we give presents to our Christian friends (we’ve also been known to sneak next door to help decorate our neighbours’ tree) but, as practicing Jews, we don’t celebrate Christmas. We don’t have a tree. We don’t receive presents. We don’t do Santa. (I do sing Christmas carols, though, can’t help myself. Really, who doesn’t love a red-nosed reindeer?) Chanukah happens to coincide with Christmas, as calendars go, but there’s really no competition – lighting a candle and spinning a dreidel don’t have a hope of matching up to the excitement that Christmas brings.   We were talking about Christmas and what it means to our friends when we walked past Santa Claus. This red-tracksuited, red-faced (no doubt, from boiling in that red tracksuit in an Australian heatwave) man grinned at my kids and cheerily declared, “Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!” They shyly smiled back and we carried on, leaving Santa scratching his head and wondering about these weird kids, not enthralled by him.   We needed to go to the supermarket to pick up a few odds and ends and while we were in there, the kids huddled together and had a “private chat”. I was not allowed to listen but I could see, from their expressions, that whatever it was they were discussing was S E R I O U S.   Chat over, they came to me, a little gang of three, and asked, “Mum, can we each buy something for $2?” They looked so serious and I was hot and tired. So I agreed.   Armed with $2 each, they spent the next ten minutes painstakingly choosing ‘special treasures.’   We paid and, with huge grins, walked out of the shop. Again, we walked past Santa Claus. This time, in a rare pocket of sibling solidarity, they held hands and approached him.   “Ho ho ho! Merrrrry Christmas!”   Miss M and Little Man stepped forward, with Baby G peeping out from behind them. Miss M quietly and sweetly spoke, “Hi, Santa. We have some presents for you.” With such tenderness, my three children held out their hands and proffered their carefully selected $2 gifts to Santa: a bag of lollies, a Ben 10 watch and a bag of chocolate coins.   Santa looked up at me, startled, then knelt down on the ground and looked into my children’s faces, studying them. “Why did you bring me gifts? You’ve got it all upside down!”   Miss M explained, “We are Jewish, so we don’t have Christmas. But we know all about Christmas and we know that all the kids in the world who celebrate Christmas get presents from you. But nobody gives you anything, so we wanted to give you a present so you could have a happy Christmas too.”
“We are Jewish, so we don’t have Christmas. But we know all about Christmas and we know that all the kids in the world who celebrate Christmas get presents from you. But nobody gives you anything, so we wanted to give you a present so you could have a happy Christmas too.”
Santa shook his head and looked at me again as I snapped mental pictures of my own three miracle gifts who so open-heartedly decided to reward someone else for his generosity – despite the fact that they had never been on the receiving end.   Santa Clause’s eyes crinkled at the corners and he asked me, “May I give your kids a gift from my toybox?” I smiled and nodded.   And that’s how my three Jewish kids found themselves in front of Santa and his toy box.   They were each given a little pot, a shovel, a water squirter and some seeds. Santa smiled at me, high-fived my kids and off we went.   I looked at their gifts and smiled at how the world works.   If you plant seeds and nurture them, you never know what wonderfulness you might grow.

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A Thank You Letter to my daughter’s Kindergarten Teacher.

A Letter to my Child's Kindergarten Teacher

To my daughter’s Kindy teacher,
 
How do I begin to thank you for what you’ve done for Baby G this year? 
 
You welcomed my little girl into your classroom in the beginning of the year with your arms wide open. No booboo wasn’t worth a cuddle and a band-aid and, likewise, no achievement wasn’t worth a mighty celebration. It didn’t matter that the achievement was ‘not crying’ when it was goodbye Mummy time – you recognised the gravity of each and every moment in her year and respected her right to be little for as long as she needed to be. As a result, Baby G dances into your classroom, runs to you for cuddles and declares you to be the prettiest of all fairy princesses. How do I thank you for that?
 
You start every morning with a song and dance Read the rest of this entry

The Ugly Beautifuls

The Ugly Beautifuls

A story about looking a little deeper by They Call Me Mummy On a recent family trip away to breathtakingly beautiful Kalbarri, a small coastal town on the West Australian coast, we spent a lot of time walking the seemingly endless length of the untouched beaches and collecting shells. In the evenings, we’d lay them all out and sort through the treasures we’d found. Kids love to sort and categorise and this was especially true for Baby G. Long after the bigger kids had gone off to do what big kids do, she could be found inspecting each and every shell and carefully considering where it belonged. She had very specific piles. She explained that The Curlies were the shells that she could hold to her ear and listen to the sea. They had curly insides and that was the part that she thought was special. Eyes glinting, she proudly showed me The Pretties, named because they were pearlescent and lovely. Seriously, she held up one of the group that looked like mini volcanoes and declared that they were called, logically, The Volcanoes. Next to these were The Interestings, named so because they couldn’t be categorised but were cool and needed to be picked up and kept, nonetheless. Finally, with a solemn face, she showed me the last of her groups and, with reverence, she declared them to be The Ugly Beautifuls. I looked down at this group of shells and inwardly giggled. They really weren’t beautiful, but she sure was accurate when it came to the “Ugly” descriptor. They looked like little brains… small whitish blobs  of shell, shaped like pieces of brain. I asked her, “Baby G, why do you call these The Ugly Beautifuls?” Read the rest of this entry

Damn you, Barbie!

They Call Me Mummy teaches her daughter to see her own beauty

Bonbon Break
This morning, as I battled to tame her deliciously curly brown hair for school, Baby G very sadly uttered,

“Mama, I wish I had long, straight yellow hair and blue eyes.” 

That one sentence halted my world, Matrix like. In the microseconds that followed, I was forced to swallow the bitter pill that was her first yearning to be something other than herself. That one sentence had the potential to become the first brick in the foundation of the hateful self-doubt jail that so many of us women have built and locked ourselves in. That one sentence needed to be faced, head on.

I responded, faking nonchalance, “Tell me, why do you want long, straight, yellow hair and blue eyes?”

She replied (somewhat condescendingly), “Because EVERYONE knows that yellow hair and blue eyes are the prettiest kind.”

As I mentally beat Barbie to smithereens with a meat mallet and cursed Disney for Cinderella and Rapunzel, I dug deep for the right words to say to her.

Read the rest of this entry

MOMfessional: I was a home-wrecker.

Hanging out our dirty laundry

In case you’re new here, and aren’t familiar with the MOMfessional, I’ll explain. We all have secrets, don’t we? I certainly do – in fact I have so much dirty laundry, I have no choice but to air it. As bloggers, we hang it all out, every day and most of us have a strong network of friends and family who support us incredibly. This comes at a price – there are just some things that we don’t necessarily want to share with our nearest and dearest, plus the school mums, plus our work colleagues… you get the drift.

Out of this situation, the MOMfessional was lovingly born to proud parents, Chris from Life Your Way and I.  Without any further waffling on, welcome to the MOMfessional – a space where other parenting bloggers can let it all hang out. Some advice: Get comfortable. Today, Molley Mills from the hilarious blog, A Mother Life, is in the MOMfessional, talking about something that will (most likely) ruffle a few feathers. You see, Molley was ‘the other woman’. Read the rest of this entry

Learning to tame stoned ducks.

With ADHD, ducks do not stay in rows. As an adult ADHD sufferer with severe organizational and time management issues (and by severe, I mean crippling, suffocating, chaos-causing issues), I have found myself becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the volume of housework, kids’ school organizing and personal to-dos in the past few months. In true ADHD style, I find myself dealing with a zillion unrelated to-dos by running around in circles, flapping my arms and yelling at everyone. Here’s a heads up: this method does not work. Read the rest of this entry
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