Parenting Cliches Blog Post - Nearly Five Dylan

Parenting Clichés are SO Irritating!

Parenting Cliches Blog Post - Baby Dylan

The Days are Long But the Years are Short

Tomorrow, my gorgeous son Dylan will turn five years old. Where have the past five years gone? He has grown up before my eyes. I can’t believe how fast time has flown. I can’t believe my first-born baby is five years old already. I can’t believe I am stating all the parenting clichés to explain my incredulity at how fast time seems to pass.

Aren’t parenting clichés annoying? Lets take a look at some of these old chestnuts. Then tell me if you don’t find them irritating. And true. And irritating because they are true.

 

The ‘Life Will Never Be the Same’ Cliché

When you are about to have a baby you get a lot of statements along the lines that ‘life will never be the same again’. Well no shizzle, Sherlock, another entire human being is going to enter this world. Then somehow I will have to keep him or her fed, warm and dry. That is epitome of a description of a life that is about to change.

When baby arrives, you get on the cliché bandwagon and state the obvious like ‘I can’t imagine life without him’, or the slightly more surprising observation ‘It is like she has always been here’. Thus perpetuating the ‘life will never be the same’ cliché.

Before baby arrives, and you get told that you life is likely to change, it is often followed up with some advice along the lines of ‘do stuff now that you won’t do with a baby’ – like travel or go to a movie or sleep.

Gah, irritating advice clichés – lets tackle these next.

 

Unhelpful Advice Clichés

‘There is never a right time to have a baby’. Whoa that is a real zinger that one. What am I supposed to do with that? What am I supposed to do with that when told it while I am trying to get pregnant? What am I supposed to do with that when I am eight and half months pregnant?

‘Parenting is the hardest job in the world’. Oh really. I had no idea. I thought I signed up to sunbathing and cocktails at the pool every day when I pushed two babies out of my body.

‘You have to work on your marriage’. What does this even mean?

And my personal favorite, in terms of most irritating and clichéd advice: ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’. That is dependent on a number of factors like is there dinner to be made, washing to hang out, shopping to do, Facebook to catch up on, or simply whether I feel too frazzled to rest. It assumes that the baby sleeps quietly or for periods longer than ten minutes or in his own cot and not on me. It assumes the baby sleeps.

Does anyone in the whole world get his or her baby to sleep and immediately fall into instant slumber? ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ should be banished, relegated to a far off land of outdated clichés like ‘a woman’s place is in the home’. Never. Uttered. Again.

 

Simplicity is Key

So if clichés about time, change and advice are all unwarranted and irritating, where does that leave us? What parenting clichés can we still find an ounce of wisdom in?

Take kids birthday stressors. When I am looking at Lego sets for birthday presents and trying to remember which ones Dylan doesn’t already own, or working out how much snack food we will need for the birthday party or worrying if we bought enough balloons, then remembering this parenting cliché often helps: ‘Its the simple things in life that matter’. He is my son, I am his Mama, I love him. Not much else matters, except maybe cake.

So to my darling, delightful, dazzling boy, Dylan, happy fifth birthday. It is so clichéd, but that is what makes it true – I love you to the moon and back and always will.

 

Parenting Cliches Blog Post - Nearly Five Dylan

 

Turns Everything Blog Post - Shopping Trolley

Having Kids Turns EVERYTHING on its Head

Turns Everything Blog Post - Shopping Trolley 

The ‘Now Scary’ List

A couple of months ago, my four-year old, Dylan and I were in the car and just about to back out of the garage to go for a quick trip to the supermarket. My almost two-year old was all the way upstairs, with her Daddy.

Except she wasn’t.

I don’t know why I got out of the car before I backed out. But there was Eloise, just standing on the driveway, directly behind my car. Maybe I saw her out of the corner of my eye as she sidled past my car and didn’t quite register it consciously but it was enough to get my body to move. Or maybe it was the universe whispering to me that we should shut (and even lock) the internal door from the house to the garage when we go out. Or maybe it was dumb luck.

I will never know but I am beyond grateful that a tragic accident did not occur that day. We immediately put in place more safety procedures around leaving the house. I know that driveway accidents do happen, but when it is that close to home, it scares you. A lot.

Having kids turns EVERYTHING on its head. Now things that I had never thought of as harmful are to be feared. Add to the ‘now scary’ list – mall escalators, TV’s (that are not attached to the wall) and anything that can hold an inch of water.

 

The ‘Now Not Fun’ List

On top of that, things that were fun are now not fun at all. Have young children? Cross going to a restaurant off your list of enjoyable activities for the foreseeable future (unless it is on a rare date night, just the two of you). Actually, visiting people, vacations and simply leaving the house to go anywhere is often less fun.

 

The ‘Now Difficult’ List

So as parents of small children we get a dose of more scary and less fun. What else? Oh, things that didn’t used to be hard are now extremely difficult. As noted above, going out is challenging, even to something you go to every day, like kindergarten. Where do kids shoes disappear to overnight?

But beyond that, all basic day-to-day activities are now harder. For instance, eating, sleeping and going to the toilet on my own.

 

The ‘Now Fun’ List

However, I have found things that I used to dread or found dull are actually now quite fun and something to look forward to. On my 40th birthday last year, I went to the supermarket on my own to buy party supplies. I can’t tell you how great it was to go grocery shopping by myself, especially for fun birthday party treats. It was a glorious hour. I still think about it.

 

The ‘Now Harder but Better’ List

We all know we don’t sign up to this parenting gig because it is easy. Everything is now scarier, less fun and harder with kids around, but ultimately it is also more rewarding, fulfilling, and worthwhile.

My husband and I have always had a system of folding the clean, dry sheets together as it was quicker with two of us. Our kids decided that sheet folding was an opportunity for a game of ‘parachute’. They stood underneath the sheet with expectant grins and we succumbed to their enthusiasm and fluttered the sheet down on top of their heads as they jumped underneath it. They couldn’t get enough. The ‘game’ could have gone on for hours.

Needless to say the sheet folding took forever and so we moved it to when the kids had gone to bed at night. Then we realised we missed terribly the infectious giggling that occurred during ‘parachute time’.

We switched it to daytime.

The Parachute Game is now a weekly highlight.

 

Extra amusement: Michael McIntyre – People With No Kids Don’t Know https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFQfylQ2Jgg

 

Turns Everything Blog Post - Parachute Game

Husband Blog Post - Andrew and Eloise on Beach

My Husband Would Rather You Didn’t Read this Blog Post

Husband Blog Post - Andrew and Hammock

February

The shortest month of the year has just been and gone. With both Valentine’s Day and my husband’s birthday nestled in February it is a month where a focus on Andrew, our relationship and love seems unavoidable.

 

Uniquely Mr. S

I fell in love with Andrew a long time ago but have found over the years many of his idiosyncrasies interesting, even lovable. Here are a few:

He is a quiet, stoic man. Case in point – we had elected not to find out the gender of our firstborn so when our son was born it was an exciting time. Andrew called up his parents and in a calm voice said two words: ‘Yep, boy’. He does however become animated whenever he finds a typo in a newspaper article.

He has a lot of regulations about how a dishwasher should be stacked correctly will rain wrath down on anyone who attempts to wash the sharp knives in there.

In no particular order he loathes crowds, mushrooms, Facebook, horror movies, spicy food, and most bizarrely, pizza. Yes. Pizza. Everyone likes pizza.

He peels bananas from the bottom. Just because.

He doesn’t think people should wear t-shirts of the band they are going to see in concert but it is perfectly acceptable to wear another band’s t-shirt to that concert.

 

Grumpy Pants

I like discovering these things about my husband. But my goodness at times, I get grumpy with him! As usual it is about the tiniest things – he was telling me off about my driving this morning. But really it is always about the big things. Obviously he doesn’t trust me, thinks I am a terrible driver, always knows better… all the things my angry brain says to me.

To reduce my cognitive dissonance – I married this man and we produced two incredible children together so there must be something there – I find it helps to do an exercise where I list out things I like.

So here goes…

 

Love Letter

Andrew,

Sometimes I find it hard to unconditionally love you so I thought I would write a list of some of the reasons (conditions??) of why I love you instead…

I always think you are very handsome, especially when you have the right amount of stubble (I never notice or care that you are bald)

You are a fantastic daddy – you are a rock star to Dylan and Eloise

You are very practical and do lots of things I wouldn’t ever do myself like fixing doors, fridges and toys

You have great teeth

I am very grateful that you don’t follow sports or spend whole weekends watching cricket or motor racing

You show love through action and I am eternally in your debt for washing and vacuuming my car

You make a mean stew and a tasty lasagna

I like your intellect, dry sense of humour and your ability to pick up cultural references (you told me what ‘jump the shark’ means)

You freely give out good hugs and sometimes if I am really lucky a nice back massage

I love you, Julie

 

Just writing this list has put me in a better frame of mind. I guess I should do it more often. It is probably good that there are cultural institutions like Valentine’s Day and birthdays that remind us to love what is right in front of us.

 

References

The Five Love Languages Book: The Five Love Languages on Amazon.com

‘Jump the Shark’ definition via the Urban Dictionary:

A term to describe a moment when something that was once great has reached a point where it will now decline in quality and popularity. The origin of this phrase comes from a ‘Happy Days’ episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. Thus was labeled the lowest point of the show.

Husband Blog Post - Andrew and Eloise on Beach

 

Jumping out of a Plane Blog Post - Julie Skydive 1

What I Learned from Jumping out of a Plane

Jumping out of a Plane Blog Post - Julie Skydive

Similarities

Jumping out of a plane is a lot like giving birth – it is an overwhelming sensory experience, it is painful (not physically, just on the wallet), and in both instances you ask yourself ‘what the heck was I thinking?’

 

The Top 40 Bucket List

A tandem skydive was the very last activity in my year of ticking off 40 bucket list items to celebrate my significant birthday milestone during 2016. I was happy to end the bucket list on such a high note (literally) but I was also kicking myself that I had not done the skydive much earlier in the year.

In fact, that is one of the main things I learned from jumping out of a plane – if you are really scared of something you should try and do it sooner rather than later. Anticipation can multiply your fears into a spider web of worry and stress, unless you manage them well (as I guess you should try to do for labour and birth). I didn’t just have a one hour drive and the twenty minute plane ride to think about the jump, but almost 365 days to stew on it.

So I would like to share with you some things I learned from jumping out of a plane. Then if you ever decide to do something as ridiculous as strapping yourself to a stranger and leaving a functioning aircraft at 13,000 feet above the Earth’s surface, you would have benefitted from my insights beforehand.

 

Wisdom from Two Miles Up

Firstly, as they say ‘eat that frog’. If something seems daunting, do it as soon as you can. Do not procrastinate. You will either not do it at all or do it with so many scary thoughts inside you that you won’t enjoy the experience. I am almost a bit jealous of the guy who turned up at the skydiving spot with a blindfold on and was told by his gleeful friends that he was getting a tandem jump for his birthday.

Setting deadlines is ultra important if you want to do things. I set a goal to tick 40 things off my bucket list during the calendar year of 2016. I jumped out of a plane on the 30th December, one day before my deadline. Yes it was self-imposed. And no one would care if I jumped out on the 1st January 2017. But I would. As I had completed the rest of the list and there was a deadline looming, completing the jump became more important than the fear.

Stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while is really good for you. And there are not a lot of things in this world that are further out of your comfort zone than jumping out of a plane. Afterwards, I felt like a superhero.

People ask me what I was thinking during 45 seconds of free-fall and I don’t really know. I can tell you what I was NOT thinking about and that was my inbox. Jumping out of a plane reminds us to live in the present moment, which is what everyone needs more of in this frantic world. Although from now on, I can remind myself of this with my feet firmly on the ground.

Perhaps the most surprising learning was now I have done a tandem skydive, other things seem less frightening. Since then I have seen a film (‘The Cabin in the Woods’) that I previously decided was too terrifying to watch. I am looking forward to where my newfound courage takes me – I may one day be quite okay being in close quarters with a spider.

 

Best Year Ever

Completing the bucket list, and especially the skydive, contributed to 2016 being the best year of my life (so far). I was trying to work out what made it so great and came up with a few reasons.

Firstly, I designed the bucket list to cover many things I had wanted to do for some time. I felt in control of my own life, and that is a rarity these days. Also, the whole idea took some planning and hard work to execute and when I put time and effort into things I often feel more satisfied. I was probably better off than the guy who got the surprise tandem jump gift after all. Plus as I set myself a challenge and told everyone about it I built discipline, confidence and integrity. These are attributes I always want more of and I hope they rub off onto my children too.

 

Fun

And in case this is getting too ‘rah-rah’ motivational for you, what I would really like my children and others to learn from all this is that life is for living.

So live it.

Have some fun.

This is not a selfish sentiment. It is actually the complete opposite. Doing something that fills you up inside and gives you a boost of joy makes you happier and this is then spread to your loved ones and the world at large.

So jump out of plane and save the world.

Jumping out of a Plane Blog Post - Julie Skydive 2