My two sons are chalk and cheese.
The eldest is a teenager and is quiet, reserved and a homebody. He is quite happy to stay home, talk to his friends online and be left alone all day as long as there is food and internet available.
His younger brother is a tween and is loud, sporty and loves going out. He goes stir crazy if he is home too long – COVID Lockdown was a nightmare for him.
They love each other, have each other’s backs, often argue and disagree on many things. However this week they are both in agreement. They do not want to go back to school. In Australia students get about six weeks off over Christmas (my eldest got a little longer as he is in secondary school). The time is up and they go back to school next week. While children think it is too short I think most parents agree that six weeks is too long for a break from routine.
While the boys are in agreement they don’t want to go back their reasons are very different. The eldest has anxiety and the thought of a new year level and the unknown it brings is much harder than remaining in the comfort of his bedroom. The youngest doesn’t feel we have done enough over the holidays and we have now run out of days. The waterpark beckons and we haven’t managed to get there.
So the final day tomorrow will consist of a battle where one doesn’t want to leave the house for even a second and the other wants to be out for every second. I will be caught in the middle trying to keep the peace while I label everything and shop for food for school lunches.
Bring on next week when I can take a breath, have a cup of tea and enjoy the quiet….all the while knowing the next holidays are about ten weeks away.
For young kids bedtime routines are so important. Bath, milk, book, cuddles, nursery rhymes and songs…..every parent works out their own version of what works and then tries to stick to it every night. The routine provides comfort and lets the body and mind know it is time to wind down, relax and go to sleep.
Then you grow up and all your ideas about sleep and bedtime change.
In my twenties I had started working full time. The focus was on trying to get enough sleep during the week to get through the work day. Then weekends were multiple late nights out with friends, and sleeping late.
Then in my thirties I had my children. The focus shifts to their sleep requirements, while you struggle through on what you can get. And you start to understand why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. My first child was a great sleeper, my second child the opposite and I was often heading to work on only a couple of hours sleep
Now I am in my forties. My attitude to sleep has changed again and I have gone back to realising how important those bedtime routines are. This time however it is for me, not for my kids. My routine changes slightly but in general:
- pjs on early,
- no eating after 8.00pm,
- small screens ( phone, ipad) down an hour(ish) before bed,
- Non screen based activity (eg. knitting) and herbal tea while watching tv,
- Read one or two chapters of book in bed,
- Lights out and meditate.
It is what works for me, although I am flexible and obviously don’t stick to it when out or with friends.
With an injured leg I have not been following my routines as I currently go to bed at the same time as my kids. I watch tv in bed to force me to put my leg up and stop moving. And while I am sleeping ok I have definitely noticed the difference.
My leg has also prevented me from doing my morning workouts and walks at lunchtime which also helps with sleeping and my mental health.
My lesson learnt – sleep is very important and bedtime routines help with the quality. That is why parents swear by their routines for children.
What are you bedtime routine tips? Any I haven’t thought of that you recommend I give a try
Three years ago, almost to the day, I posted on this blog about my eldest son and the perils of a kid on crutches. Three years later, almost to the day it is me on crutches.
I have a new appreciation for what my son has gone through. I have only been doing this for 24 hours and I am over it. He has had to suffer through it multiple times for long stretches. However, he has me to run around for him, pick up after him and provide whatever support he needs.
As a single mum I am used to being the only adult in the house, to being strong even when I don’t feel like it or am sick. But what happens when I am on crutches and have to elevate my leg constantly? When I don’t know at this stage how long this will be for?
My kids are trying to help. My eldest checks in constantly and understands the struggles of crutches. My youngest is great at helping but usually only when I ask. They have been getting their own food, carrying things for me and giving me lots of cuddles.
Then after work I went out in the kitchen and there was stuff everywhere. Making the food apparently doesn’t mean cleaning up. To their credit some dishes had made it to the dishwasher and when I mentioned the rubbish and leftover food they cleaned it up.
So tonight I’m tired after a day of crutches, working and my one outing to the chemist for pain relief. The boys are at their dads for a night and I have washed all the dishes. And although I wished many times today I had a me to help out, I got through the day. Who knows how many more there are but we will get through and maybe the boys can learn some new skills.
And it wasn’t even a cooking show!
My boys do not typically watch shows that I would say help with parenting. There is an occasional baking/cooking show for my youngest. And for a little while my eldest loved a show that had children managing the family budget for the week. However in general their choices are not known for their great parenting moments or realistic storylines.
So imagine my surprise when a storyline from the TV series “Talking Tom and friends” helped me with getting my kids to eat dinner. For those who haven’t seen Talking Tom it is an animated series about Tom (a cat) and his friends (mainly other animals) who develop mobile apps and investors and get up to a lot of mischief. Doesn’t sound that helpful really.
In our house we are on a quest to do more to look after our environment, reduce waste and help others. For me this also has a second benefit as reduced waste means less money just being thrown away.
So back to how the TV show helped me. One episode the boys were watching was about “Garage Feast Day”. Garage Feast Day is celebration of friendship and of not wasting groceries explains the characters. It is about taking all the food that is about to expire and making a feast for all of your friends to enjoy (some of their concoctions were quite disgusting).
My freezer has been crammed full to the point were it is scary to open it as something may fall on you. When I checked much of it was boxes, packets or bags with little food left. So I decided to seize my opportunity last night and cooked up all the bits and pieces – a few meatballs, mini meat patties, chicken nuggets, frozen chips and placed them in the middle of the table on a plate. Added vegetables to each plate (the non negotiable part of the meal) and announced to the boys that tonight’s dinner was inspired by Talking Tom. And to my surprise it was a hit – they loved helping themselves and that their were choices. Then we had dessert which was the odd icy poles left from different boxes.
In fact it worked so well that we did a repeat for lunch today. Left over roast chicken and salads, some Cocktail Frankfurts and spring rolls that were in the freezer. And again it was a hit.
I then baked some muffins using up some lemons I had in the fridge so I have some snacks prepared for this week. It is such a great feeling to use up all the little bits and pieces and have them eaten not going into the bin. Plus I didn’t waste money on food I didn’t need and the freezer is now half empty. I take this as a huge win.
Guess I am going to have to go shopping soon though…..the cupboard are looking a little bare!
This year my family has had four surgeries, one to fix my youngests teeth, two leg surgeries to correct my eldest sons deformity and one to remove a very large lump from my leg. And later in the year we will find out the timeline for the third leg surgery for my eldest.
So life this year has a little bit crazy, with each surgery there has been recovery, physio appointments and it is all being juggled amongst our everyday life.
Most people who check up on us comment on our crazy life/crappy year/how do we cope etc. However while we have had our ups and downs in general I feel we are managing well. Which made me start to think…is that because this is just the new normal?
At different stages of life I think your “normal” alters. There are things that you never think you would do that just become part of every day life. Think of major milestones in your life and each of them probably altered your normal – first love, moving out of home, getting married, having children there are so many of them. For me I add separating from my husband and getting my sons diagnosis.
And while my new normal is busy, crazy and often exhausting it is also what makes me who I am today. I am stronger, more determined, understand my core values better, and prioritise what is best for my family.
So while I would change some of the reasons why this is my new normal I also try to appreciate the good points of it.
And look forward to the next new normal – who knows what that will bring. Hopefully a little less crazy and a little more me time!!
Last week my boys were at their dads for the week as it was the second week of the school holidays. The house was quiet, the dog was restless and the million jobs I had planned to just didn’t quite get there as I worked too many hours. However not having to do dinner and bedtime routine every night meant that I had more thinking time as well. And one thing I thought about was how easily our life has fallen into a rut. Routine is necessary in my house – single working mum of two children with one having a serious health condition that means constant hospital visits. And sometimes it easier to take easy options than push for changes and listen to complaining and meltdowns. But something had to change – boundaries and comfort zones need to be stretched a little. Changing things in a house that thrives on routine can be like putting a puzzle together. Trying different pieces and connections until something fits.
So when the boys came home I told them every day we were going to do one thing that we either had never done before or had not done for a long time. Sometimes it would be big, other times small but it would be every day. It could be to do with what we eat, watch, play or where we go. I was worried about how they would take it but should of known their first suggestions would be a trip to Queensland (where we had gone two and a half years ago) and to America where they have never been. So the first few days will be my choice.
So we are now three days in to our something new every day and it is going really well. We are connecting more, trying new things and they are feeling really positive about it. And what have we done?
Day one. We made pita bread chips to have with dip. Started simple but they loved them, ate them straight away and want to do it again
Day two. Started watching a kids series none of us had seen before on Netflix which was based on the movie Turbo. We all sat and watched it together, my eldest put down his IPod and we had some laughs (they wanted to watch another episode today)
Day three. Played a new card game I had bought called Mars Needs Heroes. It was easy to play and lots of fun so we ended up playing two games of it.
I am certainly not expecting every day to go this well, especially when I start trying different foods. But at the moment they are loving the idea and I am loving stretching our boundaries and finding some bright moments in each day.
As part of my eldest sons treatment plan he is currently going through serial casting. This is to try and correct the positioning of his drop foot and loosen up some of the muscles that are not working as they should. So basically it is to treat a symptom of the NF2 not the cause.
For serial casting he goes into the Royal Children’s Hospital once a week to have one cast removed and another put on. The idea behind this process is to slowly stretch and reposition his foot.
The process started last Thursday when he had the first cast put on and will continue for at least four weeks. As there are no broken bones or injuries he can walk on the cast but with the current positioning that is not possible and therefore he is on crutches.
One week into the process what have I learnt?
- The crutches that I always thought were super cool and wanted when I was at primary school are not (for parent or child) when they are your reality.
- Everything takes longer and your patience is tested when your child can’t do things as quickly as you want.
- You don’t notice how many little things a child of almost nine can do for themselves until you have to help them.
- You discover that the bath is a lot deeper than you think it is when someone has to sit down while standing on one leg and hanging the other over the edge of the bed.
- And finally as a parent you never get it right when helping a frustrated, grumpy child – you don’t let them try and do things/you don’t help them enough or you need to get something to keep their bare toes warm/why would they want a sock over the cast.
So at this stage of the process I feel very sorry for him and want to avoid him all at the same time. One week down and three to four to go……hopefully it works and the grumpiness, from both of us, is worth it.
Last week was full of big and small incidents that left me drained and emotional. By Friday afternoon one small incident was enough to tip my emotional bucket and leave me in tears. And while the weekend (and my mood) improved I knew that with the boys heading to their dads for a week I was up for another tough week.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the quiet and having some time to myself after a couple of hours it is to quiet and too much time.
However knowing a week away from the boys is tough, and that I was already in a low spot I decided I needed to try and position myself for a good week as much as possible.
Step one: Sunday (last day with the boy) had to be about forgetting the terrible weather and messy house and more about having fun and building memories. Ten pin bowling followed by arcade games and lunch fit the bill perfectly.
Step two: get back to taking food to work so that I save money and eat healthier.
Step three: go shopping for healthy snacks and dinner ingredients. Then add a packet of Tim Tams – just because thy are my favourite and without kids I could eat all of them without hiding.
Step four: cook a huge batch of chickpea and vegetable curry to cover dinners for the next few days as having the motivation to cook healthy dinners for one can be difficult when I get home from work. Was very happy with how it turned out. There is something about slow cooking, curry and winter that all just goes together.
Next steps: fingers crossed for better weather so I can get out for walks. Weatherman is not filing me with confidence – after all it is Melbourne and winter.
And the rest is unknown at this stage.
I am a light sleeper.
I always have been and over the years it has got worse. Having kids obviously has a big impact on sleep, add to that a separation, child with chronic health issues and being an over thinker/worrier and an eight hour sleep is a pipe dream.
For some reason 3.00am seems to be the time I often wake during the night and then is when the brain and thoughts start ticking away. Sometimes it is a particular topic based on events occurring in my life at the time but often it is very random.
I decided to keep track of the weird places my mind goes at this time of night over the last few nights and share them for your enjoyment. Be warned in the light of day some of this does not make sense.
- How do I fill the gaps in the ceiling in the back room of the house without the gap filler falling out? (I am currently renovating my house)
- If I want to reduce screen time in my house what ratio should I reduce it by before it effects the amount of peace in the house?
- How do I best help my eldest son who suffers a lot with anxiety that is increasing due to his health issues?
- There is a charity gala for the NF (the genetic disorder my son has) – if I go on my own will it be a way to meet people or make me feel more lonely when they are dancing and I’m alone?
- Where do I find an 80s outfit for my girls night out in a couple of weeks?
- How do I get my kids to try more food especially healthy food and why do kids hate green food?
- What should I bake this weekend?
- Do I need a hobby or to do a course and when do I have time?
- If they say you should work in your passion to be happy then what do I do if I don’t know my passion?
- I need to start a business that will allow me to not have to get my kids up at 6am and be gone for 12 hours a day…….what is that business? (Many weird and wonderful thoughts on businesses at 3am)
- Did I give tattslotto the correct details as no one has rung me yet?
No wonder there isn’t much sleep happening – who has time. Luckily having a child that didn’t sleep for his first 11 months gave me a lot of practise on surviving on little to no sleep.
Today I have decided to do a review on a children’s book. Now I haven’t read the entire book but feel I can review this through the eyes of my children.
Currently in our house we are trying to reduce the use of screens. We have recognised we are becoming a little too reliant on them but for my children in particular, especially the eldest, it is becoming the constant go to. So as a result we are increasing screen free time. To assist with this I have been buying more books for the boys and trying to find ones that are a little different or focus on topics the boys are interested in.
One that I bought for my 8 year old is called “A funny thing happened to Simon Sidebottom” by P.Crumble. I was purchasing some other books and this one was at the counter. It is the first in what I hope is going to be a series as it has been a big hit. This book is a choose your own adventure but unlike the ones that were around when I was younger this book has quirky images and is very funny with humour aimed exactly at my boys (think gross jokes about bodily functions and dangerous stunts). Even the font used in the book is fun and easy to read. My boys are seven and eight and I highly recommend it for children in this age range. In the four days since he has had the book I believe he has read every version of the story at least twice.
Tonight in our quest for less screen time the three of us were making pizzas for dinner together. As they were cooking the boys came up with a plan to read the book aloud and at each decision point we took it in turns to decide which way to go. No screens and reading as a family happily at my sons choice – this book is a big winner for me and if there is a second I will definitely be buying it.