Please Don't Give My Kids Birthday Presents Blog Post - Presents

Please Don’t Give My Kids Birthday Presents

Please Don't Give My Kids Birthday Presents Blog Post - Presents

Mama Plea

You – yes, you. And you. And you. Birthday party invitees, school friend’s parents, the general population. Everyone who reads this who is not a close family member or part of a very small circle of friends (you know who you are) …this is my plea to you:

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

There I have said it. In the most straightforward way I possibly can. Direct? Tick. Simple? Tick. Offensive? Hopefully not.

 

Assumption Free

Look, I am not making any presumptions about your taste, financial situation or quality of your present. We are very grateful for the generous gifts our kids have received in the past. I am not trying to insult anyone here. But this year, for a change, I would respectfully request:

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

 

The Good Side of Boredom

Having too much stuff in childhood has been linked to overwhelm, a lack of curiosity and perseverance and sometimes even mental health issues.

Having less stuff as a child is correlated with improved imagination, cultivating an ability to deeply play (get in flow), deal with boredom in creative ways, and to discover and independently pursue their own interests.

Yes, boredom is not something to be avoided, but to actually ensure happens occasionally. I want my children to be bored, so I am respectfully asking you:

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

 

Toys Galore

I had one Barbie doll for my whole childhood. My daughter is not three yet and she has 14 Barbie dolls. Admittedly, these were not all gifts, some were hand-me-downs, but 14!! We had no Lego growing up. My son has four good-sized plastic boxes of Lego and he is not even six years old.

Between the two of them, they have dozens of toy cars, sackfuls of soft toys, hundreds of books, plus puzzles, plastic animals, blocks and enough train track to cover the lounge and right up the hallway into the bedrooms. They also have a lot of outside toys like balls and bikes.

Despite this, for a considerable period of time over the past weekend they took turns hiding in a large cardboard box. So…

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

 

No Downsides

Once we all get over a little social awkwardness at my incredible appeal, we can probably all agree that there are no downsides to this plea. I don’t have to pick up as many toys, my kids will grow into happy and healthy adults and the planet, with less stuff cluttering it up, will live to see another day. So, for the final time, I am imploring you:

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

 

 

Other Articles

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/80155246/the-tyranny-and-expense-of-modern-childrens-birthday-parties

https://raisedgood.com/extraordinary-things-happen-when-we-simplify-childhood/

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_happens_when_we_shield_kids_from_boredom

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/bunmi-laditan/im-done-making-my-kids-childhood-magical_b_5062838.html

Please Don't Give My Kids Birthday Presents Blog Post - D and E Mar18

 

 

Parenting Easier Blog Post - Parenting Toolbox

Does Parenting Ever Get Easier?

Parenting Easier Blog Post - Parenting Toolbox

Tools Down

I would really like to know: does parenting ever get easier? I skimmed through a couple of my favorite parenting books again this month trying to glean some nuggets of wisdom. This was due to some poor behavior exhibited, mainly from my kids, and occasionally from me.

I don’t know what has brought the poor behavior on or how best to deal with it. I thought a few years into this parenting gig that both causes and solutions would be easy to spot. Not so.

So far I have narrowed down the possible causes to any or all of the following: food, sleep, a possible growth spurt, adjusting to returning to school/kindy, the weather or the phase of the moon. Replace ‘school/kindy’ with ‘dirty diapers’ and I am essentially back to trying to determine why my ‘baby’ is crying. With the moon a possible cause.

And how best to deal with it? Ignoring it, distraction, time outs or showing empathy with cuddles have met with varying degrees of success. Nothing has had a massive positive impact. These are the main tools in my parenting arsenal but right now they feel a little worn out.

 

Messy

Where does this thought that parenting would get easier even come from? It is probably from cultural messages that state things like ‘now he is seven he makes his bed each morning’ and ‘my ten-year-old does her homework on her own’. The teenage years seem a bit dismal, but after that your kids were adults and surely then they were less work?

But this stage-by-stage approach doesn’t take into account the inherent messiness that comes with parenting. That seven-year-old could still be wetting the bed some nights. The ten-year-old may be scared of another child in her class. Or you may get a knock on the door one day from your 27-year-old needing a place to live.

 

What To Do

So what to do? First, acknowledge that parenting NEVER EVER gets easier. Accepting that may be difficult. But it is much harder to live with a naïve assumption that parenting gets easier.

Second, try to enjoy, or at least accept, being in the parenting trenches. Life is not a movie montage. Sometimes the only thing you can do is take a deep breath or three.

Last, realize you didn’t become a parent because it was easy. You did it because it was hard. You did it knowing deep down how difficult it could be and you did it anyway. All the best things in life take hard work. That is why they are the best things in life.

And please don’t worry about us. As one of my go-to books state: ‘all behavior is communication’. If I stop wishing for it to be over, take a deep breath and truly listen, I know I will figure it out.

 

References

Of Course I Love You… Now Go to Your Room – Diane Levy  http://amzn.to/2Ha333q

Politically Incorrect Parenting – Nigel Latta  http://a.co/heKyjXj

Parenting Easier Blog Post - JFK Moon

 

 

 

40 Blog Post - Birthday Cake - 40

What Does Being 40 Mean?

40 Blog Post - Julie at 40

Milestone Birthday

Last November I had a milestone birthday – I turned 40. This is so momentous it needs emphasizing with some emojis.

After almost a year of being 40, it is not at all like I thought it would be. When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, I thought 40 was old. Old with capital letters. OLD. I also thought 40 meant many other things as well. This is a navel-gazing blog post on what I thought being 40 would mean versus the reality for me.

 

Destination: 40

I had thought that at the age of 40 I would have ‘arrived’. You know, have it all sorted. Be ‘there’. Whatever ‘there’ means. Confident. Assured. Successful.

Nup.

And I am OK with that. If I had reached a destination it would feel at best a little dull and at worst, like a death sentence. Instead I am flailing through a messy life full of chaos and surprise. Things I could never have imagined: Donald Trump as President of the US, professional Pokémon hunters, the popularity of hash tags and selfies. Life is anything but boring.

 

Multi – What?

I also thought I would be on a career path, have a great job and working my way up the corporate ladder.

Nup.

I have switched jobs and careers more than I care to admit. I haven’t found exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life and doubt I ever will. I discovered a name for this the other day: I am a ‘multipotentialite’ according to a wonderful TED talk from Emilie Wapnick. I don’t know if I have made all the right choices but at the moment I am having a blast writing books.

 

Tiny Humans

I imagined that my kids would be older, maybe even teenagers. After all, I was 16 when my mother turned 40.

Nup.

Although my kids can be loud, frustrating and downright exhausting at times, I try not to wish away these years. Dylan has just started school. Eloise is in her own bed now. They are still so young but seem to be growing up in a blink of an eye. These times go by so, so fast.

 

Information Underload

I thought I would know a lot or at least feel like I have a basic knowledge about key things.

Nup.

As time progresses I feel like I know less and less. Perhaps being 40 is accepting that you will learn the things that are really important and turn to others or the Internet if you really need the answers for the rest.

Here is a random list of just some of the things I know almost nothing about:

  • what electricity is
  • recognizing dog breeds by sight
  • how TV works
  • what RSS feeds are
  • Bitcoin
  • where all those hash tags that are the same end up – I am fairly sure they can connect somehow

 

Young at Heart

Being 40 does not mean being OLD in all caps. In fact, I feel quite young. Immature even. It may seem clichéd, but I feel like life is only just beginning. The first 40 years have laid a foundation and now I am finally getting to the good stuff.

In saying that, I do find myself doing ‘old people things’. I wrote a letter to the paper the other day. I have only ever used hash tags as an attempt at wit or irony, not ‘properly’. Like my late grandmother who never attempted to learn computers, I think Bitcoin has passed me by. Last week, I found myself agreeing with another 40-year-old friend who was complaining about millennials.

And I have absolutely no idea what any of the emojis are supposed to mean.

40 Blog Post - Emojis

 

Spectacularly Bad Parenting Advice Blog Post - Buffet

Spectacularly Bad Parenting Advice

Spectacularly Bad Parenting Advice Blog Post - Buffet

Buffet Parenting

The amount of spectacularly bad parenting advice out there is astonishing. When I was pregnant with my first child and then a mother of a tiny baby, I would carefully gobble up any morsel of parenting advice. A lot of the time, I would greedily devour most of what I read or was told as I was mostly floundering in bewilderment and needed all the help I could get.

Now, five years on, I am not as judicious. I readily dismiss opinion masquerading as fact, parenting articles that exude too much confidence, and advice that is, quite simply, terrible.

This is actually an essential part of the parenting journey. Rejecting the vast majority of parenting advice attunes you to what is right and essential for your family. If you don’t hone this skill you will sink in a sort of guidance quicksand, overwhelmed with conflicting and confusing advice.

Of course, some recommendations are excellent and I still love reading the odd parenting manual. Now I know when to apply it and when to laugh at it. Here are three types of advice I especially dislike…

 

The Impossible

Spectacularly bad parenting advice includes instructions that are impossible to follow, as they are too general. For instance, that you should only have a handful of rules for your kids, such as don’t hurt other people or things. Period. This is supposed to be helpful as it is less to remember but sweeping policy like this goes out the window when you find your toddler jumping on your bed with muddy shoes on. Which rule have they broken? The answer is who cares! JUST GET OFF THE BED!

Sometimes what you are told is impossible due to its impracticality. ‘Show integrity to your kids at all times’ sounds great in theory, but I don’t return the supermarket trolley to the right place if it is raining, and I certainly don’t floss every night, so that advice loses its credibility as soon as it is uttered.

Once you work out and embrace who you are as a parent, some advice, although sound, is impossible to adhere to. I am unapologetically a ‘helicopter’ parent. This is purported as bad but I don’t care. I would rather hover and jump in when needed than step away and not be there to catch them when they fall.

 

My Way or the Highway

Another subset of spectacularly bad parenting advice is in the form of ‘this is the ONLY method or the BEST way. I don’t know about you, but if someone tells me that what I am doing is wrong, then I will dig my heels in and firmly maintain my position.

There is almost nothing in raising children that could be considered the only, right way and thinking there is only creates a lot of guilt. I think some of this guilt stems from the fact that what may be good for our situation – using disposable diapers for instance – may not be good for the world at large.

The next time someone tells you something that starts with ‘you must’ or ‘the best way is’ ignore it straight away. Crying, sleeping, feeding, carrying, disciplining and playing all have a myriad of good options. Choose one you like. Change it as required. Try not to feel too guilty.

 

Good Enough Parenting

The last item of spectacularly bad parenting advice is that good enough parenting, is, well, good enough. I know that this advice is supposed to help busy, tired, stressed out parents feel better. But we are all busy, tired and stressed on a daily basis! Sure, sometimes ‘good enough’ is fine, but we need to try and live to a higher standard. My fear is that ‘good enough parenting’ will become the norm all of the time.

I want my kids to be great, strive to be the best they can be, fail and get back up and then grow some more and contribute to the world. I want them to be remarkable, courageous, resilient. And to do that, I can’t be merely ‘good enough’. I need to push myself to be great person AND parent. After all, how will my children reach their potential if they don’t see me trying to reach mine?

Good enough parenting is the bottom rung of the ladder, it is treading water, it is only getting to the half way line. It is an excuse. A story we tell ourselves that allows us to live in our comfort zone when inside all of us is a desire to be amazing.

How this looks will be different for all of us, but we all know deep down when we reside in ‘good enough’. Yes, pushing ourselves is exhausting, but it is the good type of tired where we have used our strengths reach for the stars and maybe, just maybe, touched the moon instead.

 

Fine Dining Parenting

Having kids has given me a huge gift of knowing myself better as a parent and a person. I can now easily discern when parenting advice resonates with me and when it is spectacularly bad. You may or may not agree with me on the above points, but that you have a strong opinion about what is right for you and your family is what is important. Now, taking parenting advice becomes more like fine dining than eating at a buffet.

Spectacularly Bad Parenting Advice Blog Post - Fine Dining