The one where I am honest!

My friend Julia checks in with me now and then. She often specifically asks me “How are you doing?” – knowing Julia well enough to know she isn’t looking for the standard “I am fine” answer. She is asking how I am really doing and she is probably the one person I have admitted to that it is not really fine.

I know it may sound weird because Emma is nearly 9 weeks so we should be adjusted, have our routine and be more settled and I suppose we are but the last two weeks have been emotionally rough for me. Five people need me ALL.THE.TIME. FOR.EVERYTHING! ALL.THE.TIME! My head hurts at the end of the day from the constant “MOM! I need…” and “MOM where’s my…” and “MOM whats for supper?” and “MOOOOMMMM I NEEEEEED YOOOOU”

This week the tears have been there, waiting to burst through at any moment. I am overwhelmed totally with life at the moment – the children, the budget that just will not work out, the washing, the cleaning, the fetching and carrying, the cooking – all of it.

It was my birthday yesterday – all I wanted was a day on my own. No kids, no husband, no friends – just me doing NOTHING! No shopping for groceries, buying birthday presents, folding washing, cleaning – NOTHING. Sitting on my couch next to Woody, shoes all over the floor, empty mugs on the table watching TV all day! Tuning reality out just for one day and doing NOTHING!

Everyone keeps saying ‘I don’t know how you do it’ – at the moment – neither do I! I am in that “survival” mode new moms talk about. One foot in front of the other, get through today and then worry about tomorrow.

This afternoon is making so anxious I could actually cry. I fetch Jack and Kiara on a Thursday so my afternoon looks like this

13h00 Fetch Jack
13h45 Fetch Kiara
14h00 Fetch Cameron
14h40 Kiara to dance
16h00 Kiara fetched from dance
16h30 Cameron to soccer

So worst case scenario the 2 year old and the baby are in the car for almost 4 hours! Even worst case scenario I bring everyone home while Kiara dances which means Jack out car, Emma out car, settle Emma, then Jack back in car, Emma back in car.

I love my children and I love my husband but at the moment the responsibility of being a mother to four children and a wife feels too big for me.

Julia also says “this too shall pass” and I know it will – probably in 18 years   but today, today is rough!

In other more positive news – I had a really positive parents evening at Kiara’s school last night. All the teachers were super positive about her. It was the first positive one in 5 years :))

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Dear Family

My dear children, I birthed you all. I know you all better than you know yourself. I know when you are scared, happy, frightened and hungry. I know what makes you anxious. I know where you happy places are. I know you!

I also know where you go to school, who your soccer coach is, who your dance instructor is and how you need your shoes to be tied. I know what I need to know to get you to where you need to be.

What I do not know, however, is where you put your shin pads when you came back from soccer. I do not know where you put your school socks after you wore them. I do not know where your Lightning McQueen car is. I do not know what your English teacher said. I also have no idea where you glasses are or where your personal diary is.

I AM NOT THE ENCYCLOPEDIA KNOW-WHERE-YOUR-STUFF-IS!!! I DON’T WANT TO BE THE ENCYCLOPEDIA KNOW-WHERE-YOUR-STUFF-IS!!!

The good Lord has given you all a beautiful pair of eyes and a brain in your head! USE them to look for YOUR things or even better still – put your things in YOUR room – that way you will know where YOUR stuff is!

Despite popular belief I do not spend my days moving around just to mess with you. A part of me wishes I did have the time to do that!

I love you all more than I love dark Aero chocolate and vanilla flavoured coffee but if one of you ask me one more time where something is I am trading you all in for chocolate and coffee!

PS – please tell your father that the same applies to him!

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Help! My toddler has OCD

My day started off so well this morning. Despite my washing getting wet and being 10 minutes late for Yoga it was still a great morning.

Emma isn’t sleeping much during the day but she is happy to chill in her bouncy chair so I managed to get a lot done.

Then Jack arrives! And my zen all goes out the flippen window.

I know WHY he is acting out and that it is largely his attempt to get control but I still need some help in how to deal with it.

The biggest issue right now is his shoe laces! He will only wear this pair of takkies with laces (we have tried a variety of other shoes and he WILL NOT put them on). The shoes are fine but the problem is he doesn’t want to see the little loops that are made when you tie the laces or the plastic things at the end of the laces. So we have tie them and tie them until there is no more to tie and hide the plastic things. If the pop out all hell breaks loose!!!

HOW do I deal with this? He isn’t being naughty so I don’t feel that punishing him is the right thing to do? Taking the shoes away will solve the laces problem but then he will be bare foot which would be fine if it was still summer but its cooler now.

PLEASE share some words of wisdom with me.

On this note how would you deal with his other little “quirks”? It’s simple things that are relatively easy to deal with – like he will only eat with a certain spoon, only wants brown socks, only wants a specific shirt, only wears jeans (he now owns about 6 pairs of jeans), he only wants me to do things like put his DVD’s on, dress him etc.

Would you let those things slide? Indulge him? Or push through the tantrums?

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Win with Mr Price

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One of the things on my birthday list was clothes. I am in such desperate need of a new wardrobe.

Currently nothing fits me properly because I still have a baby tummy :-/ but the clothes that do fit me are all looking a little sad! It is really a sad state of affairs!

ENTER Mr Price.

They are running an awesome competition to win R2500 in Mr Price shopping vouchers – how very awesome is that!

Mr Price clothing is reasonably priced so R2500 will go a long way to making my wardrobe look a little less drab and little more exciting.

You don’t want to miss this one!

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This that and the other thing

We had a really good first 5 weeks with Emma. She fed, slept and didn’t fuss much at all. Then the wheels kinda came off and the last 3 weeks have been challenging.

Currently we are still battling thrush and a bit of reflux – neither one are the obvious cause of the cramps she is also having so really not sure where they are from. Paed says they aren’t likely from the formula. So I am not getting much done in the day except basic tidying and the washing. It is also a little worse because we had such a good 5 weeks and now I have to get used to her fussing a lot more.

Anyway it will pass, for now I have become super efficient and you will be amazed what I can get done in the 15-20 minutes she is happy to sit in her chair for. I just can’t, unfortunately, write in those short bursts.

Our weekends have been very quiet but we start getting busier from this weekend.

It is Kiara’s party on Saturday and I am having a small get together for my party on Sunday – we will be here if you want to join in.

Next weekend we are away and on the Monday Kiara and I are attending the Nissan Easter Festival event. Entrance is free so if you, or your kids loves animals then join us, its going to be fun.

Then the kids are on holiday again for a week. Fortunately David will be home too on the public holidays which makes it a little easier – our house gets VERY tiny when all of us are at home for an extended period.

Cameron has exams in May, Kiara has her dance competition week, we have the bloggers meet up, David is away for a few weekends, fortunately just local travel, soccer started last weekend so Saturday mornings are spent there, fortunately they are 40 minutes so is a lot quicker than cricket.

It’s go go go for us at the moment.

Jack and I are still butting heads but I seem to be making head way – bath times are less of a fight (not no fight but less). He has started saying “I sorry mom” when I moan at him but doesn’t change his behaviour or do what I ask. So I think he has just picked it up somewhere. But there is already a difference in his behavior.

I have steered clear of commenting on the Oscar thing but his testimony now is annoying the crap out me. I find him totally insincere and there are so many holes in his story. I can’t listen to the radio where he cries – I want to smack him. What are your thoughts on this?

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I am waiting for the high carb high fat diet!

There is so much contradictory and controversial information regarding diets out there at the moment – low carb, no carb, high fat, low fat, no meat, only meat. Each group has a very solid argument for their choice which make it all a little more confusing.

This morning after yoga we had a chat about diets. One of the ladies follows a very “minimalist” diet – I am sure there is a proper word for it but basically she is vegan with her main source of protein seeds and green veg. They have no meat, no carbs, no dairy and certain fruits. She had some very valid reasons for why they have chosen to eliminate all processed food. A lot of it made sense to me and in an ideal world I would love for us to be more organic and limit the red meat we eat but like Julia mentioned in her post, it is not cheap to be healthy. So for now we try as much as we can to limit what we consider bad foods.

I am not a huge fan of diets that cut out entire food groups, possibly because I love my carbs too much but also I do believe in balance. I have always been a fan of Weigh-Less because it has always been the easiest to incorporate into my lifestyle. As you know I am gluten and lactose free. It is now a way of life for me and I no longer miss it at all. I am a firm believer than gluten is evil. I have met so many people who have seen positive changes in their body when they have cut gluten out. The problem, in my opinion, is not so much the flour but what we have added to that flour over the years. I suspect if I was to grow wheat in my back yard using no chemical products that I could make the bread and no react but the flour we buy and use is far away from pure or actual wheat – despite what brands like to tell us. The same applies to milk – I really don’t think the milk we buy is anywhere near what actually comes out of the cow!

What the sudden popularity in Paleo and Tim Nokes has done is made people more aware of reading labels and what goes into the food they eat which I think is a positive because regardless of what diet you follow we all need to be more aware of what is going into our food!

I am currently trying to figure out what works best for me and ultimately my family. I know, for me, sugar is evil. Once I cut that out of my diet I start loosing weight nicely. It is also my weakness, more so than carbs so cutting it out is very difficult for me but I can feel the difference when I do it.

So I am curious – what is working for you? Paleo? lchf? Weigh-less? Or something else? Why did you choose to go with the choice you have made?

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When you take your eye off the ball

Parenting is not only about consistency but also about never taking your eye off the ball – EVER!

It differs from household to household what you need to keep your eye on. In our house it’s homework, attitude, Kiara’s eating, Cameron’s hygiene and my stationery drawer. The minute we are distracted these things take a dip, they get IMG_0116forgotten (or stolen in the case of my stationery drawer).

The current issue is Jack’s behaviour, mainly due to me taking my eye off the ball and letting way too much stuff slide. It started as little quirks – like wanting certain shoes, certain shirts, his movies etc. For the most part they weren’t things I chose to fight about it but what has happened now is that we all pander to Jack’s wants. If he wants to keep the same shirt on for days – I try and fight but eventually cave. If he wants to watch Toy Story for the 8th time, we try negotiate and then we cave. He has eaten mini cheddars for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the last 3 days. He has now started being cheeky – tells us to leave him alone, shut up and go away.

In short Jack does what he wants, when he wants and how he wants. It is largely my fault because I am with him 80% of the time and I have not only taken my eye off the ball, I have dropped it.

Last night David had enough and spent nearly an hour bathing him, changing his clothes and putting him to bed. Jack screamed and fought him the ENTIRE time. I am not really sure where David got the patience and determination from but he stayed calm the whole time.

So now we have a reset and we have to almost start again. Set the boundaries, enforce them and get control back from the 2 year old. I know people are adverse to using the word control in parenting but in our house I need control. I need the children to listen when I speak, to know I am serious and co-operate. It is not even about there being 4 kids and 1 of me – it is about raising a child who isn’t a brat and doesn’t always get their own way!

There was drama at school too. He cried more today than he did on the day he actually started. I am hoping that now that we are back in a proper routine again he will settle quickly.

Consistent discipline and boundary setting is one of the harder parts of parenting. They need focus and attention otherwise it all just falls apart!

How are things going with your kids? Do you have drop-off dramas?

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The truth about Stay-at-home-moms

Last week (or maybe it was still this week) I stumbled upon a shared link about the whole, rather tiresome, working mom vs stay at home mom debate. I don’t subscribe to the site it was posted on because I don’t enjoy most of their content and the comments even less so.

The article was posted by a friend of mine who strongly objected to the article. At the same time as a little Facebook discussion was going on a twitter one was too where the editor got involved, he suggested my friend write her own opinion piece in response to which she declined. I considered offering to write one but for all the reasons above I decided not to. Also the whole debate is tired. It is monotonous and similar to the breastfeeding vs bottle/caesar vs natural debates – they tend to go around and around in circles.

That said, though, I have had this post in my head since the debate so I am going to do a little myth buster here and share what the stay-at-home moms I know do.

One of the things mentioned in the article was how sahm’s make working moms angry because they are around for their kids 24/7 while the working moms can’t do that. I am not even sure if the author of the article is a parent or even has any clue what parents actually do outside of the collection of quotes she received for the article. I am a stay at home and I missed every single one of Cameron’s cricket matches last term – EVERY SINGLE ONE! Last year I missed most of his galas. Kiara arrived at her dance concert last year without the required make-up or clothes for after the show – I never had time to read the letter properly.

Jack has gone to school in his pajamas before and both bigger kids have, on the odd occasion had to wear the same school shirt twice. Cameron has actually gone to school with his slippers on before. When they step out the car in the morning I say a small prayer that no one will notice the missing button, mis-matched socks and I promise myself to get to the mending,washing , school shop that day to sort it all out.

I am not going to launch into an account of all the times I have messed up, forgotten things or sent my kids to school looking considerably less than perfectly turned out.

The point is that just because I stay at home does not mean I have my shit together. In all honesty, the reality of staying at home full time is very different to the idea I had in my head. It is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be.

I know you are probably thinking “how hard can it be to have to take and fetch kids from school and clean the house” – I thought the same thing as I was about to jump into it. When I was a working mom I had a host of people around me helping me out, sharing the responsibility. I had a phenomenal after care who ensure that the kids were fetched and taken to their extra-muruals, they did home work with the kids, they fed them. I had domestic twice a week and because we got home late each afternoon the house remained fairly tidy. So yes maybe I missed a few matches, stopped at Spar many a morning to grab cake for Cake and Candy en route to work but the kids were sorted out by someone else. There was a time I actually didn’t even really know the times the kids finished – the after care took care of all of that for me.

Now all of this falls on me. With one child it wouldn’t be that hard, possibly then I could be a smug mom, but with two older kids with different extra-muruals on different days at different times and 3 school going kids each with different start and different end times the planning and organising really does my head in some days. I can’t be in more than one place at a time which is why one child generally has to understand why I can’t make the match or the gala. I very literally turn in to moms taxi from 13h00 every single afternoon until, on the worst day 18h00. Trust me, working moms when I say this, by 16h00 the sahm is wishing she was you! My evenings then turn into the same as those of a working mom – dinner must be cooked, homework checked and done, projects researched and the house tidied.

The article kept on highlighting this great divide between the two moms and I honestly have never felt this. In fact in my circle it is the opposite to how it was described. Working moms and stay at home moms work together to make life easier for us both. My friend Debby, who works full time, helps me out so much with Cameron and when she needs it I fetch her kids if she has a late meeting but she definitely picks up the slack a lot more for me at the moment. One of the working cricket moms and I work out fetching and carrying the boys to club cricket, I drop, they fetch or vice versa depending on who is available and when. If I have missed events there are other moms or teachers who full me in on how the kids have done or even send me pictures. No one looks down on anyone, we don’t judge or compete – we really are too busy trying to keep things together and running smoothly to have time for that.

The biggest misconception I think, is that moms who stay at home parent their children better. This is total and utter rubbish. Staying at home with my child all day does not, by default, make me a better parent than anyone. It is a naive statement to make. Parenting is not about whether or not you work nor is it about whether or not you attend every single sports event your child is in. If you are going to pass commentary on parenting then this is probably the very first thing you need to understand and know!

We need more content that builds bridges across these great divides and stops making women feel like they constantly need to justify the choices they make.

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Joburg Blogger Get Together

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We have a date and a possible venue for our blogger meet up!

Two different restaurants approached me, both are great venues but I need a little input;

Venue A – conveniently located but has no designated play area for kids.
Venue B – little bit out of the way but they have a large outside garden area, there are no jungle gyms but the children will be able to run around.

I am leaning to Venue B because I don’t want to exclude people who don’t have anywhere for kids to go for the morning. What are your thoughts!

Also PLEASE can you all share the event so we can get as many bloggers/tweeters/instagramers to attend as possible.

The FB event link is here. I have invited the people I am friends with but have left it open so you can invite people. PLEASE spread the word for me.

Also if you are a brand and want to get involved with the event please email me laurakim@harassedmom.co.za

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While the children are away…..

I think I mentioned David was in Nigeria last week, he was away for 4 nights. I don’t enjoy him being away but the kids and I sort of break the rules a little when he is away. I make quick easy dinners that generally involve oven baked chips, we are all in bed by 19h00, I hang around in my pjs for most of the day. We make the most of it but this trip was probably the worst one for me.

For the most part we have settled into being a family of 6. Going out together is still a challenge but we are doing well, I think. BUT we are doing well as a family of 6 – NOT a family of 5. Handling 4 kids on my own was not fun at all. By Sunday when David got home I was so very glad to hand Emma over, not because she had been difficult but because I was the only one holding her, feeding her, carrying her, soothing her for almost 5 days – it was exhausting.

David’s mom was going to take the older 3 kids for me on Friday but then was invited away for the weekend so she took them all yesterday for a sleep over and bought her domestic to clean the house for me. It really was like Christmas in March! It was just the break I needed.

My friend Suzanne came round for coffee after they all left, we chatted over coffee – it was so great to talk about nothing in particular with a grown up person. Then Emma and I went to sign her up for Club V so I can start gym again. David and I were able to have a proper adult conversation over dinner and a glass of wine. Seriously I can’t tell you the last time we were able to talk (not whisper) uninterrupted.

Today has been just as good. I went to my first yoga class in 4 months! I managed to catch up on some admin, finish off some articles I am busy with, get some new ones started, update the calendars with kids exams, dance competitions, holidays and what not. Because the house was clean, my domestic who comes today could clean the cupboards and walls and other things she doesn’t get too. I ordered part of Kiara’s birthday present, got her invitations designed and her party plans organised.

I feel a million times more in control now than I did a week ago. While it wasn’t quite 100% kid-free time it was just the re-charge I needed!

What is everyone up to? Are you feeling in control?

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