Archive for the ‘sleep’ Category

Seven things everyone needs to know about children, whether you have them or not.

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

I’ve only got two children and neither has made their fifth birthday yet.  But it turns out that while their behaviour may be bizarre, frustrating and hilarious, often all before 6am, it is absolutely normal. And so it made me think what these little tyrants might look like from outer space. Or to my self-absorbed, recently single, corporate baby brother.

 

They do not sleep when required.

The thing about sleep is that it affects every single part of your life. And when you are not getting any, it feels like hell. You are cranky, short-tempered, frustrated, tired, miserable. You know when you’ve had a big night and you feel a bit scratchy the next day. Well it’s like that. All the time, except without the fun party night and embarrassing photos to go with it. And instead of heading off to work to hide in an office or behind a desk, or just have a sleep in or a lie on the couch, you remain at the coalface, deep in the trenches, fending off thrown food, responding to ridiculous demands and having to complete mundane tasks like putting a complex Lego Police Headquarters together with Peppa-freaking-Pig in the background. Sorry, still raw. So aliens/ helpful uncles if you see a parent lying face down on the floor of the playroom letting their children draw a treasure map on their brand new jeans, don’t judge, just pass them a pillow.

 

Children can survive without eating anything other than biscuits for a long, long time.

Parents of small terrorists, tonight after you cook dinner, put it in the blender, throw in some cold water, splatter it all over the table and on the floor and then throw half of it in the bin. Because at least this way you have saved yourself the angst of attempting to feed it to whichever child is on a hunger strike. And it’s not just the cooking, it’s the shopping. Okay let’s rephrase that, shopping with more than one small child in a busy supermarket should be an Olympic Sport, or at the very least a Reality TV show. Seriously if one hasn’t escaped the trolley, or stolen food, or hidden under the shelves, or climbed the shelves, they are hollering at the top of their lungs for whatever garbage food I have said no to. Then you get it in the car, out of the car, in the fridge, off the floor, out from behind the couch and then you cook it. So when they push it away without even a sniff dear alien/uncle, that is why I have turned around and am yelling into the freezer; unlike my children, the food doesn’t have feelings.

 

Everything is a weapon.

I have boys so perhaps this feature is more pertinent to the House of Penis that I live in. Everything that is mobile can be used as a weapon. Seriously, pretend you are Brick from Anchorman and just start naming random objects around you right now. Yes, yes and yes, they are all weapons. The cushions from the couch, weapon and trampoline. Plastic spoon from the yoghurt. Yes. Yoghurt. Yes. Bowl the yoghurt is in. Yes. Not to mention the sporting equipment, Lego, and the latest beautiful wooden toys. All effective weapons. Sometimes everyone is in on the battle that has taken over the yard. Sometimes it is just one crazy toddler desperately seeking revenge with the washing basket. Sometimes it is a bike, thrown across a playground in fury, but I try not to do that too often! So when you buy gifts, look carefully at it and ask yourself, not whether this could be used as a weapon, but just how much damage it might do.

 

When small children who are not toilet trained don’t have a nappy on, they shit.

You would think as parents we would know this. And yet the amount of times a kid without a nappy on has left some chocolate nuggets on my carpet, in the bath, on the deck is beyond belief – and the kid doesn’t always live here. Sometimes they shit their pants because they are too busy doing something else. Sometimes they leave one floating in the pool. And you know what the worst part is, they cannot clean it up. So the red-faced parent is left to almost vomit on themselves as they clean shit out of the carpet/ the undies/ the shopping trolley/ the bath/ the public pool. Hell the last camping trip even had one smeared all across the jumping pillow. Yep parents you are now rethinking the bare-foot jump you had on that last holiday and aliens/baby brother; yes they actually are that gross.

 

They cry.

All. The. Time. Sometimes it is for good reason. But mostly it is for the exact opposite of the reason they were crying five minutes ago. And man are they loud. They cry to get in the bath, then cry to get their hair washed and then cry again to get out of the bath. They cry because they are hungry, and because the sandwich is made incorrectly, and because it is on the wrong plate, or in the wrong shape on the right plate, or because it has fallen apart when they picked it up. And now because they threw it on the floor and the dog ate it. They cry because they are tired, and then they cry because they have to go to bed. Seriously half the time they don’t know why they are crying and I’m just too tired to figure it out. If you see them crying, I know they are annoying you, but at least you can leave the room, or house, or country. Me I’m still trying to figure out how to sneak into the bathroom with either of them noticing.

 

They are freaking hilarious.

This is perhaps the most annoying and misunderstood feature of the creature we call small children. Now it is no secret because parents have been spending every second of their offspring’s first years telling everyone who has no choice but to listen that their kid is funny. In reality, only your own kid is funny. Oh and that kid who did a commercial for a health care company many years ago. Or the one in the toilet cubicle next to yours offering a running commentary on everyone’s wee.  But in your own simple world of cleaning up, entertaining, organising and parenting, the one innocent comment that makes you giggle with delight is bliss. They can crack you up, and when they do, they are absolutely delighted. It might hiding in their bed during the day telling you they are trying to get some patience, or ripping out some excellent air guitar to The Boss when they thought no one was watching, or just farting on their brother with a nude bum. It makes you laugh so hard you wet your pants, again. And you don’t actually have to understand this one, but just nod with us when it is the only story we have to tell at the latest family catch up.

They love.

You might see this from above, you might hear it talked about, you might even read some ridiculous soppy post about it on Facebook, but only cos it’s the kid’s birthday. But it’s true. They love. It is fierce and furious and feels like it will last forever. It comes in cuddles and sloppy full kisses on the mouth. It comes in the sheer delight on their faces when they see you. It comes in beautiful artwork from daycare with some cheesy pun. It comes in a midnight cuddle in bed. And when they are old enough and realise how much it makes your heart melt, it even comes out of their little mouths. It is harder to see, but you sure know when you’ve got it.

 

Just a little tiny ray of sunshine

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

I have a bit to do with Gen Y these days. And my oh my they are a funny bunch, but I’m starting to feel sorry for them. It seems as though every time I tap into some kind of media, even my favourite weekend newspaper magazine kind, the pages are splashed with notions of happiness. We are obsessed with happiness, finding it, keeping it, having it, sharing it, seeking it, being grateful for it.

And in the competitive nature of social media and the constantly checked in world we live in, it actually leads to far more unhappiness than we are prepared for.

Life is lots of things. It is monotonous, repetitive and boring. It is surprising, uncontrollable and delightful. It is devastating, cruel and unfair. And sometimes it is deliciously happy. The beauty of that moment of sparkling joy is its brevity. It is the contrast and the unexpected nature of the blissful moment that fulfils its promise. To stop, mid conversation, walk or chore to feel yourself fill to the brim with happiness is pure delight. Today for me it was in the middle of a kids rock concert, (okay so it was my town’s version of the Wiggles), as I watched my two, totally different little boys love the moment, I did too. I was there on my own, quietly sitting and watching them dance their hearts out. As they chased each other around and made sure they knew where their brother was, and where I was, and just lapped it up, I smiled.

For that moment, I completely appreciated my two healthy, wild, confident, unique children. I loved their energy. I loved their smiles. I loved being in a room filled with people doing something good for parents who had experienced the never-ending nightmare of losing a child to SIDS. And the funny guys on stage were the closest thing I’ve been to a rock concert for a while, so that wasn’t too bad either.I guess I bothered to notice it, or recognise that this was happiness, and that is a big deal for me.

Life is really busy at the moment. Really, really busy. Im back working full time, plus three other part time jobs and while my husband is doing a fabulous job at home looking after the boys, I feel completely stretched every minute of the day. Exhaustion makes happiness a little more elusive, but maybe it also makes it sweeter when it appears. So today was a nice surprise and it made me realise, no, remember, to just lower my expectations and keep my eyes out for the moments. We get caught up with making every thing perfect and I am terrible at just focusing on the negatives. In a long day with two little people, there are lots of moments of tension or frustration. Working full time amplifies these as I immediately regret any negative interaction with my kids, berating myself for wasting what little time I have with them in an argument.

But that’s parenting. Some days are revolting, or so they seem. When you actually think through the day, half an hour, or three separate ten minutes are revolting and the rest is pretty good. This is the bit that is worthy of my attention, not all the bad stuff. And that’s what I’m trying to remember. We don’t have to be ‘happy’ all of the time, but we do have to spend all of the time bothering to notice when we are ‘happy’.

Now if I can get that tattooed on my body somewhere, I can really start embracing the Gen Y mentality.

When 5am becomes a sleep in

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

I have many reservations about writing this piece. I fully appreciate how self-indulgent this whinge might be. But given that one of the main purposes of this blog is therapy for me, then it is a must. Especially as I am now hundreds of kilometers from my wonderful friends who normally listen to this kind of rubbish.

There should be another word for travelling with children. Holiday is far too misleading. And like everything with small people, it’s still wonderful, it just takes a sling shot back into reality to realise what you really signed up for. I do love travelling, maybe even a bit more than holidaying. I have more often than not, spent my time away visiting places, people, indulging in local food and culture and rubber necking. I do love lying by a pool, but I also like the feeling of going to a few places in one trip, plus it gives you and your partner something to talk about!

This adventure is most certainly travelling. It is planning, exploring, investigating, visiting and doing. It is not relaxing, in any way. In fact, it is tiring. But that’s okay, (like I said, bad problem to have being on the road for a couple of months with your kids!) I just need to readjust my headspace a bit. I need to remind myself that this was never intended to be a book reading, beach lying, sun-baking, coffee shop experiencing trip. This was always going to be, and absolutely should be, about playgrounds, takeaway coffee, surfing, kid friendly beaches and fun stuff to do. It is intended to be a change of scene, not life. And at their age, I do think it should be all about the kids, and the surf.

It took me a few days to stop being pissed off that I had still not eaten a meal sitting down, or not cooked one for that matter. That I still had to do loads of washing, constantly negotiate with a wild child and baby proof surroundings. And I am still adjusting to the ridiculous wake up time of somewhere between 4 and 5 every day. This hurts. And as I have said before, not only at that stupid, dark, many-hours-till-sunrise hour, but all day. In fact, I got to meet someone I’d hoped I’d never meet. Some of my friends know him well; that bastard Anxiety. I would find myself short of breath, panicking and this feeling of dread would creep up when I remembered that even when I went to bed tonight, (at 7.30), this would still happen tomorrow. I would worry one of us would be in the car again the next morning, driving them hours up the highway hoping they go back to sleep again. I would worry about being in a camp park with two small children screaming well before dawn. I would worry about what it means for their development all this lack of sleep, or their behaviour by the afternoon, especially when the wild child will not even have a rest during the day.

But now I am becoming accepting of it. Sure, I can’t write very often because I am in  bed at night when they are. And yes there are a few more fights, and even some tears from me, when I get a bit too overwhelmed by it all. But the positives are that at least there was no-one at the hospital at 7am the other morning when we had to take Gordo in with chronic tonsilitis. And that we get to see the sunrise. And that where we are at the moment there are no neighbours. And that unlike one of my dearest friends who has put up with this for months, my kids might cut it out when we get somewhere and they don’t have to share a room.

So now I have my head around it, my body clock around it and can keep myself awake for an extra few minutes to write this, it isn’t so bad. The days are wonderful. We have sun, surf, lots to do, and really we have each other, which is the whole point of this anyway. There could be much, much worse things than waking up to the sound of your two boys laughing at each other, even if it is the middle of the night. And we didn’t need to travel up the coast to find that out, but it sure is a nice way to do it.

Sleep. Need I say more?

Monday, January 14th, 2013

The wild child is a bad sleeper. Always has been. He is a freak for being able to function on so little sleep. Yes I know you shouldn’t compare kids, but in this regard I can’t help it. Some mornings I look at the clock and we have been up for over two hours when I know some other kids are still fast asleep in their beds.

We had a 5am start again today. It was dark. It was cold. It was quiet. What on earth makes the little monkey want to get up out of his cosy bed at 5am in the morning? Now for the last couple of weeks we have had blissful sleep ins in our house. No noise before 6.30am, remarkable I know. The little chubba bubba finally worked out it was not necessary to wake the whole house at 5am. It took him a good couple of months to get this sorted out, but it seems to be going okay.

5am starts are painful. Now for those people who go to work at this crazy hour, or arrive home from work at this even crazier hour you know what I mean. But you also wake up, get up and go and do what you need to. And on the weekends or days off, I’m pretty sure you don’t wake up at 5am. With kids, it is every single freaking day until they break the habit. For some friends, the habit is now the norm and has been for months. My wild child did it all winter when he turned two. It is what put us onto to DVD’s because even the kids channel isn’t awake then! I used to crawl out of bed, get him up, plonk him in front of the telly and pretend to be asleep in my bed until the cockies started squawking, yep he was even awake before bird fart! Thank goodness for Finding Nemo.

The baby has just stopped it. Thank God. The only way I could cope with the fourteen hour day stretching ahead of me with no downtime, no lunch break or rest or even five minutes in the loo by myself was to go to bed at 8pm. Still daylight, often still stinking hot and fifteen minutes after cleaning up after the kids were in bed to myself, I had to go to bed. There is no time to write or read or talk to adults. There are no dinners out with friends, the movies are absolutely impossible and even a walk on the beach at dusk is out of the question. I don’t think I had a conversation with my husband without a child present for nearly two months. Needless to say I don’t like the early starts very much.

And to add to the pain, we had weeks of getting up all night as well. Nightmares. Gastro. Croup. You name it. One night I had walked down the stairs to the kids room eight times, and it wasn’t even midnight.

So I was absolutely delighted when we had a week of creaking one eye open to peer at the clock and read 6 something. Yippee! It was wonderful, I don’t mind getting up then, hell I’ve had a huge sleep in! And yesterday the wild child slept till 7.30. I had to check he was still breathing, no joke. So if the 5am start is a one off, fine. I was cranky, more so when he woke his little brother up and then my husband dashed out the door before 7, but I can do it. Just don’t tell me that this horrible habit is back. I actually read a book last week, and rang a friend, and had a glass of wine on the deck, and I even saw the sun set. The movies are still a bit ambitious as the threat of the 5am start always lurks there in the background.

Don’t get me wrong, the sunrise is beautiful too, I just don’t need to see it every single morning.

 



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