For the ‘my child is the worst’ parent….

If your child has never thrown a hissy fit in a crowd feel free to leave your computer and put the telly on, I’m sure there’s a new episode of Downton on for you.

If your child has never raised their voice and caused heads to turn, isn’t it time for a cuppa?

If you have never shed a tear over something your little darling has done, or not done, then out you go, that dog needs a walk.

Right then.  The rest of you.  Let’s gather around those parent friends of ours who are having a tough time of it, and offer them some real and raw advice.

If you’re one of the ones still reading this, then no doubt you’ve had your own challenges and your own phases of thinking everyone is looking at MY child and you seriously feel like the worst parent in the world.  This parenting gig is a learning thing.  You finally get one thing sorted and then another challenge rears its (ugly!) head.  It is VERY easy to feel like your child’s behaviour is a direct reflection of you.  Especially when they are toddlers/ preschoolers. And to some extent it is – but then there’s this huge gap where the child’s own personality comes in to play and they are navigating their way through the jungles of learning to share, learning to express themselves, learning to be heard.  And I guarantee in any playgroup, any Mainly Music group, and preschool gymnastics/ swimming/ whatever group, there is always going to be at least one child with one parent who is feeling like their child is ALWAYS the one receiving attention for all the wrong things.

One of my children was an extremely busy toddler – so much so he earned himself the nickname of The Hurricane.  Child-safety locks had nothing on him, he climbed before he could walk, he made having an adult conversation an Olympic feat and we lost count of the number of times he escaped from the nursery at church.  He was the one that I was convinced would turn me grey.  I shed many tears over this little dude.  But you know what?  That season passed.  That Hurricane is now the most chilled out guy around. I do not have grey hair. Yet.

So to all the Mums and Dads out there who are shaking their heads and feel like they are at their wit’s end, and feel the weight of condemnation from others on them……you are not alone.

You are not alone.

So many of us have gone before you.  And one day, you too, will be that shoulder for others to cry on.  In the meantime……..my only words of wisdom to you are – consistency, consistency, consistency.  It will pay off…..it is darn tiring, exhausting work…..but it will pay off.  Consistency, consistency, consistency.  And caffeine.

So to all of you who have been in the same boat…..you’ve felt like your child has been the worst in the room, the one who is always upset and causing ‘issues’……what can you say to encourage those in this situation now?

Please add your thoughts and words of encouragement in the comments on here.

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Frugal Family Fun

STOP.  NOW.

Before you read the bulk of this blog post – please hear my heart…..this is not a blog post to put any kind of pressure on you.

Cos we’ve all read THOSE kinda blog posts before.  Right?  The whole not only am I supposed to be feeding my kids healthy foods and nothing but healthy, but those kids of mine are also to be doing a million chores around the house, happily, whilst being high achievers in every area of life, not addicted to electronics of any kind, giving back to the community in every free moment and speaking three languages and playing four instruments by the age of ten, kinda blog posts.

No pressure, people!  No pressure. I’m not writing this blog to create more pressure for you – rather – to offer some ideas and to ask others for more ideas, for things to make your life EASIER.  And more relaxed.

So…when you read the words…..Frugal Family Fun….don’t be thinking….’so now we have to plan all these fun family events now?, I’m struggling to even work out what we’re going to eat for dinner’…..no, no pressure……just some ideas and tips, if that is something you may be after…..one day….

This is a weird thing to admit, but ‘fun’ doesn’t come easily to me as a Mum.  I remember once signing up my oldest to be part of a University Study of four year olds.  I thought it would be an easy 20 bucks.  Turns out I was wrong.  I had to answer a whole bunch of questions about him, and then we were observed as I sat down to play with him.  Now that is a weird thing.  To have someone observe you  ‘play’.  Weird.  It was then that I realized that ‘fun’ doesn’t come easily to me.  I can clean/ cook/ organize/ plan like a champ….but I have to work at being ‘fun’.

Our family right now consists of a tween, an eight year old and a preschooler, not always an easy mix of ages to please.  And like most of you, we’re on a tight budget……so we’ve had to devise ways to have fun.  Frugal family fun.

These are some of the things that come to mind –

*  Board games – some of our favourites include Settlers of Catan, Risk and Ticket to Ride.  The trick to playing these with a toddler/ preschooler around is to delegate them some jobs to do – pieces to place, or to play them while it is naptime or bedtime for the youngest.

*  a lot of our family times center around food…..homemade pizza nights, picnics,  fondue, brinner (breakfast for dinner) etc.  One day a while back I surprised the kids by making them dessert. For dinner.  Dessert was the dinner.  In fact a trio of desserts – and two of them were fruity ones – so healthy! – but that was dinner.  After initially thinking I was completely wacko, the boys ended up loving it.

*  Family nights – a non-negotiable once a week event in our family.  We take turns planning it (kids included) – it could be a movie night, or a board game, or a ninja baking night (bake something and try to deliver it to people without being seen).

*  Family walk/ hike/ tramp/ bushwalk.  Our oldest once told us he’s only 6% into nature.  And its true.  All three kids would prefer to be dealing with something electronic than the great outdoors – but grizzle as they do before an outing to the great outdoors, once they are out and about the complaining stops and there is some level of enjoyment.

*  Befriend people who own swimming pools.  Also if possible befriend people with holiday houses and boats…..;-)

*  The #O’Brien Style $2 Mall Challenge – read about that here

*  Water gun/ water balloon/ slip’n’slide fun……or if you’re lucky enough to be near snow….snow fun…….

*  Donut parties – very easy to make yourself and cheap!  Make a batch, invite a crowd!

* ‘Flip a coin drive’ – before each intersection flip a coin, heads you turn one way, tails you turn the other way…..finish it up with McDonald’s ice cream cones….

*  Beach/ lake/ river.

*  Letterboxing/ geo-caching.

*  Costco samples on a Saturday – time it right and you don’t need to feed them lunch.

*  Seasonal fruit foraging – put those kids to work!  (blackberries were the best in Oregon as they are everywhere in summer – and free, another favourite of ours was peach-picking).

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Now, your turn.  What are your best frugal family fun ideas?  Please share!

Avoiding The Hamster Wheel

School lunches, clean and ironed uniforms, drop offs and pick ups, homework, after school activities. Dinner and dishes.

And repeat.

And repeat.

It isn’t going to take much before we could feel like we’re in that hamster wheel…….just keep moving………just keep the momentum going…..family life in full swing. We’re only a couple of weeks into the term, but I can feel the routine setting in…..And for my friends in America…..I remember it is about this time of the year when everyone starts longing for Spring Break.  The countdown down to that little vacation and then that one last haul before the delights and ease of summer….

Preschool life, school life, working life, hobbies and interests, church life, sports.  That’s a lot of balls to juggle.  How do you stop it all from consuming you?  How do you keep joyful in the midst of your taxi-driving and piles of paperwork that demands your attention?

And for those of you who are currently in the preschool trenches – when your nights are constantly interrupted and you’re not sure if you’ll ever get little Johnny to pee pee in the potty, and you’re concerned about behaviors and habits and EVERYTHING that goes hand in hand with the challenges of toddlerhood and babydom…..how do you keep your perspective balanced?  Because, I believe that perspective needs to be balanced, otherwise you’ll be eaten up, continually consumed by the demands of parenthood….if you don’t keep your perspective above and beyond the piles of laundry you currently face….

So….a two pronged post here………how do you keep your family humming happily, and avoid the ho hum hamster wheel of life when life is in full swing……..and/ or……how do you stop the concerns of life with little ones, from eating you alive?

I’ll share a few things I’ve learnt recently…….but please, do chime in with your thoughts and your experiences in the comments too…….remember – we’re all in this together……we have much to learn from each other….

*  Look at what other families do for fun – and copy – steal ideas.  Sometimes ‘fun’ doesn’t come easily….borrow ideas from others…..be intentional with creating ‘fun’.  It doesn’t always just happen.  I’ll do another post at another time on fun family things to do with spending very little or no money.

*  If organizing doesn’t come easily and naturally to you, work on identifying a few things that will make your family life flow a little better.  It may be starting the week with an empty ironing basket, or filling the freezer with some extra meals or snacks.  We all have things that cause little hiccups along the way to happier mornings/ after school or evenings…and sometimes it doesn’t take much to eliminate some of these hiccups.

*  Delegate more – to older kids, spouses, friends…….see if you can carpool more or swap babysitting duties.  Remember the whole ‘it takes a village’……

*  Try to socialize with others occasionally who are one step further along in life than where you are – your babies will not be babies forever, your tween will soon be a teen……..watch and learn by osmosis……I can not tell you what I have learnt from my dearest friend who has one child the same age as my oldest, and she has older children as well…..’cos it is so much….so very much……watch and learn my friends.  And know whatever stage you’re in – it does pass!

*  I think it is a good idea to try to read at least one international news item a day – there’s a big old world out there…..and it is easy to forget when our right here and right now is so pressing, but, this big old world is important to know about.  Our worlds become more meaningful the bigger we make them.

Ok, so those are my few, simple thoughts…what can you add?

 

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