5 things you should never say to a Mum FULL STOP

Ok, I’m calling it. This working mum vs Stay at home mum stuff is bullshit. I’m so sick of seeing lists and ideas pitting one against the other. It doesn’t help any of us. Or dads for that matter. You don’t see them copping this kind of shit. Let’s think about the psychological upheaval having kids does to one’s mind. It’s crazy. One day you feel in control, next you feel like you’re not cut out for it. One day you feel so grateful and blessed to be in the position you’re in, the next you feel ready to tear your hair out with the mundane and the Groundhog day. BOTH working mums and stay at home mums feel this. Doesn’t matter the location, doesn’t matter where the kids are. This is an intrinsic thing within us all. So let’s clear a few things up:

No, working mums don’t get to enjoy coffees in peace. Because often they are running around so madly trying to cram in so much extra work into a shorter time frame so they can get out the door to get to their kids. They too suffer from the cold cup syndrome.

No, stay at home mums don’t lounge on the couch eating bon bons and go have fun coffee chats and playdates every day. It’s a grind. A big grind. Of cooking, cleaning, keeping kids alive, running errands, keeping everything in line. There’s no let up.

Mum card
UNIVERSAL PAIN. We’re all in it together, sistas

There’s been a ton of these articles getting around late, espousing what not to say to a working mum, or what you should never say to a stay at home mum. For fucks sake. Let’s just stop it all now, shall we? We are our own worst enemies sometimes, perpetuating this division. So I propose let’s make a list- 5 things you should never say to a Mum. That’s it. A MUM. With no caveat about being at home or at work. Because that is irrelevant. Or you know, we could even stretch out on a limb and say things you should never say to a Dad. Ooooh errrr… taboo!

  1. Don’t ask a Mum what she does all day. Whether that be ‘lounging at work’ or ‘lounging at home’. Mums are freaking busy. No matter where or what they do, they are busy. There is no let up. The job just continues around the clock. Whether it be working outside the home and then rushing home to work in the home, and then having to take outside work home with them. Or whether it’s working in the home, from 6am until 10pm. We ALL work non-stop.
  2. Don’t tell a Mum she looks tired. No shit. She will be tired. Whether she’s at home all day (no she doesn’t get to have a rest) or whether she’s at work all day (no she can’t use her lunch break to rest. Because often she doesn’t get a lunch break), she’s going to be tired.
  3. Don’t say to a Mum “I don’t know how you do it” Whether working, or choosing not to work, coping can be tough either way. Being at work for a lot is a necessity. How do they cope being away from their kids? They do it bloody tough. Even when women work because they need that for themselves, they still don’t escape that feeling of sadness and guilt at missing their children. Being at home is also a tough gig. Giving up a career, walking away from a job which gave satisfaction and an income? That too brings its own guilt at times.
  4. Don’t bring up choosing career over kids, or choosing kids over career. Either way the decision is a hard one. And often not done flippantly.
  5. Never ask “don’t you feel like you’re missing something” Erm. No. No no no no no. Working mums ARE missing their kids and stay at home mums ARE missing that previous career. For the most part. There are some working mums who feel like they’ve got the best deal, and there are some stay at home mums who feel like they’ve got the best deal.
Mum funny
Uhh huh

We all come from different walks of life, with different values and different priorities. But no matter what our own values and ideas are, you know something? All of us are just trying to do our best for our kids. If we feel that’s us going out and working, then we’re out there doing it. If we feel that’s us being at home, then we’re doing it. Can we just cut ourselves some slack here? One type of mum is no more superior than the other, our kids are going to thrive regardless of our decision to work or stay home. Wanna know why? Because whatever we’re doing, we’re doing for THEM. And they know it. They don’t know any different- they see us working in the home and out of the home. It’s about quality, not quantity. And ensuring they know they’re loved, they feel secure and safe and they’re happy. That’s it. Happiness comes in many forms.

mum meme
Again. Universal truth

For all the studies that show children are better off with a parent at home, you’ll find an equal amount of studies showing children thrive when parents work. Research is a ridiculous thing. You can skew data to show you almost anything you want it to. Don’t be fooled by ‘scientific’ studies and ‘experts’. Truly. It’s all smoke and mirrors. There are often many caveats in their research and when it comes to human functioning there is no precise, hard and fast rule. What works for one might not work for another.

So what does it come down to? Respect. Simple really. Respect for others’ choices, or necessities. Respect that others’ situations work for them, and we have no right to go raining on their parade. And where do we think our kids learn respect from? If we can’t show it to other Mums, what hope do our kids have?

Disciplining Kids part 2…. What the hell do all those strategies mean?  

So, we’ve already looked at what the hell do to for our kids discipline wise. But now the question remains- what the hell is actually out there? What do all the strategies do? Are any better than others? Good questions, I’m glad you asked. Or, I’m assuming you asked. I have a bad habit of that sorry.

You’ve probs got your fave strategies that you like to adopt, and I’ll start out by saying I am a bit Triple P heavy because I facilitate the stuff, but there are a ton of ideas out there and you don’t have to stick to just one set of tips. Try a few things out, tweak them to suit your family. And if all else fails? Wine. There’s always wine.

discipline ecard
Scary sometimes, isn’t it?

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How the hell do I discipline my kid?

discipline meme
uhhh huh

This is a big question that we often ask ourselves as parents every.single.day. And as a psych, it’s something I’m often asked about in my job. The ever-gorgeous Lauren from The Thud posted a link yesterday to an article on iVillage (via Time) about disciplining kids. It featured two researchers, Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, who have done a ton of research on children, and on the way the brain works. They’re clever peeps. Daniel Siegel in particular is well known for his book “Parenting from the Inside Out”. He’s all about attachment, and mindfulness, and brain biology. CLEVER.

Their new book, No-Drama Discipline, has some good general ideas about discipline, like:

  • Empathy is the cornerstone of discipline. Getting into the mind of our kids and trying to understand why the hell they’re doing what they’re doing. Which can be near impossible at times. But so, so important.
  • It’s not about punishment, it’s about teaching. Using those moments to teach the child what to do, instead of what not to do.

Indeed. However, they then go on to talk about time-out, and how it’s a bad thing, and that it can change your kid’s brain. And putting them in time out is telling them they have no one at the time they need someone the most. Shit. Hello guilt.

discipline ecard2
Again. Uhhh huh.

There are SO many ideas out there on discipline. Time in, Time out, quiet time, controlled crying, removal of privileges, contracts, behaviour charts, planned ignoring, planned activities, 1,2,3 method, yelling, not yelling, talking, not talking, smacking, doing the anti-bullshit behaviour dance (OK, so that last one may be a made up one. But hey, could work?). They’ve all been tried and tested, a lot come with research behind them (except for the dance. But I like the dance. Test it out for me and let me know, k?), and their proponents will all praise them to the hilt.
So which one? Which research is right? Which one do you pick? Who do you listen to?

 

I’ll tell you which one…

 

Whatever the fuck works for you and your family.

 

Truly. You are the expert of your kids. Don’t let any shmuck tell you otherwise. You know what your child responds to, and what isn’t going to work at all. For some kids? They need some time out. They need a chance to cool down, to reflect and learn to self-regulate because in the heat of the moment there’s no reasoning with them.  Others? Others crave talking things through, problem solving. Some need that carrot dangled in the form of a behaviour chart, or rewards, in order to kick start a new behaviour.

Time out doesn’t have to be a bad thing. And it’s not like they’re in there for eleventy billion hours. The whole thing with time out is that you always go back in after a short period of time, and you always work through the issue with the child. WHEN THEY’RE CALM. Time out doesn’t necessarily tell the child ‘you’ve got no one’. Time out says ‘we all need a chance to calm ourselves down’. Even as adults, sometimes we need time to ourselves to reflect and gather our thoughts. We’re not isolating our kids, we always come back to them. So before you beat yourself up about using time out, there is totes another perspective on it. Want to look at research? I’d like to see a brain scan of a child in the middle of a meltdown when a parent is trying to reason with them. Hint: It’d be batshit crazy.

discipline cartoon
See? SEE THE GOOD RIGHT THERE

Regardless of the method of discipline you use, the most important things to your kids are that you love them, and you’re focusing on what to do instead of what not to do. They’re gonna muck up. They’re little humans learning how to find their way in the world. Shit, we adults still muck up. So we can’t expect them to be all over it so early on. A couple of things I find helpful are:

  • Remind yourself that it’s not personal. Your kid is not out to send you crazy. Much. At this point in time they’re totes egocentric, it’s allllll about them. They don’t realise half the time what impact their actions have on others.
  • Think about the age and stage of your child. Is it developmentally appropriate? Is it a brief phase or is it more longstanding?
  • Safety is what you’re focused on. If their behaviour is at a level where they are putting themselves or others at risk, do what you need to in order to keep them safe. Time in (a safe bear hug restraint) until they stop the behaviour, place them in time out if they need to be alone for a bit, physically remove them (in a gentle manner) from the issue.
  • Empathy IS the key. Put yourself in your child’s shoes, and when you’re talking to them afterward, always ask them to reflect on what others might have felt as a result of their behaviour. It’s never too early to start talking empathy.
  • If possible, always redirect to looking forward. Try not to dwell on the incident. Don’t force your child to say sorry, because that shit never works. Redirection is a good thing.
  • The louder they get, the quieter you get. Have you ever tried to argue with someone who is whispering? Impossible! When you get quieter, it forces them to quieten down so they can hear you.
  • Ensure you have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C- all of varying levels. So for minor behaviours- use something like a planned ignoring, and then talk with your child later. Plan B might be quiet time on the periphery of the activity, and Plan C might be time out/behaviour dance/time in/contract/whatever the fuck is going to work for your kid
  • The best possible defence is a good offence. Plan shit out. If you know your cherub goes nuts in public places, sit down and get a bit of a routine cracking. Talk to them about the expectations in public. Have a couple of key ideas they can take with them. Provide activities to help keep them occupied.
  • Use your village! Get support for you. When you’re feeling calm and supported, it’s so much easier to deal with crazy shit.

And finally- a word on smacking. We’ve been back and forth on this smacking debate for yonks. My take on it is- monkey see, monkey do. If you hit your child as a form of discipline, it kinda says to them ‘hey when something like x happens you need to hit’. And they then go out into the world and try that out on others. Not always of course, and many of us were smacked and turned out ok (except for that minor eye twitch. But we won’t talk about that), but I think when it comes to discipline, the main question is ‘what does this form of discipline teach them?’ Smacking doesn’t teach the child what to do, or how to handle a shitty sitcho. It just circuit breaks things and detracts from the real issue at hand. The other thing is with discipline strategies, you want something that can be transferrable across settings, and consistent. Because kids love that shit. You can’t take smacking into school with the child, and you can’t take smacking onto the sporting field either. Would be a tad awks. You want to make it simple for yourself, and you want your child to be getting the one kind of idea that can go between home, school, activities, the whole shebang. That’s just my 2 cents. Again, whatever the fuck works for you and your child, and of course as long as no harm is caused, to either of you!

discipline cartoon2

If you’re worried that you don’t have enough tricks up your sleeve, or if you feel your child’s behaviour might be starting to venture outside of the norm, go and see your GP and get a referral to a psych. Or your local Child Health Service should also offer some neat parenting programs for free. You can also check out:

And if you’re a bit ‘awww shit Dr. Sash. You’ve been a bit sketchy on specific discipline ideas’ yep I have. For now. Because every child is different and every strategy caters for different thing. There’s no one size fits all approach. But I’ll get another post out describing alllllll the ideas out there in more detail for you, and if you want a specific issue answered, drop me a message! Pop your query on the Facebook page or message or email and I’ll do my best to get some ideas together for you.

 

What’s your take on disciplining children?

 

How to work with your child’s teacher

I know. This sounds like a lesson in ‘how to suck eggs 101’, right? Well, seems simple enough but for some reason when we get in to our Mama bear/Dada bear mode all logic can go out the window. Fair enough too.

Our kids spend a ton of time in school. They’re going to have a ton of teachers guiding them along the way. For the most part, they’ll have fantastic educators, be guided, and build great connections. Sometimes it goes a bit pear shaped though, and we have to step in and do a bit of work with our child’s teacher. It’s life. Not everything is perfect. But there’s ways and means of going about it, you know?

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10 things we can learn from kids

Seriously, we don’t give kids enough credit sometimes. They are cool little creatures. They are learning a lot, and can get a bit cray, but you know, often I find they’re more perceptive than we adults. They haven’t had the chance to get fully jaded, or to get screwed over too much to start hating on the world and shut down.  And they’re too young to drown their sorrows in vino so they have to rely on other coping methods. Poor bastards.

children meme
See? SO MUCH TO LEARN FROM THESE CHERUBS. What adult could get away with this?

After years of working with kidlets I’ve learned a ton from them. I think they teach me way more than I ever teach them. Particularly about Minecraft. I can never un-learn that crap now. And before that it was Call of Duty. Or CoD for those of you playing at home. Information forever stored away in my ‘I’m never going to use this’ file.  But some things they just do, without thinking, because they’re feeling things out naturally. And that is pretty darn special folks.

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The New Wave….. Eeyore Syndrome

So you know how I like to enlighten you with information about various issues that we might face? Depression, anxiety, trauma, you know, the big stuff. Well, I have neglected to shed light on some important, but perhaps lesser publicised issues that are abundant in society. They might not come with the fancy names, or the diagnosis, but. They’re there.

NB:  I *may* or may not have made up some of the terminology and features, but they’re totes real. I’m sure of it. Humour me, my brain is fried and I’m forcing myself out of a writer’s block.

You know when you’re feeling pepped, smile on your face, spring in your step, ready to bounce into the day? Yeah, me neither, but it’s a nice concept, huh? Anyways, so you know those days where you’re feeling semi-functional, pretty happy and feeling like you can at least last until 5pm until you hit the wine? And then you meet up with that person. That person with that look. That look that says “are you REALLY that functional? Who is functional these days?” And then it starts

“Oh, you look happy”

“I wish I could be happy”

“Things are too stressful for me to be happy these days”

“Why can’t life be easier?”

And before you know it, you’ve entered into a D&M about the trials and tribulations of life and you’re questioning your own life and thinking that maybe wine at 11am would take the edge off things. The worst part is you know that they have a heart of gold, they’re lovely and they mean well, but they’re just so…… heavy. Everything is intense, everything is mopey.

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10 on 10: March

Taking a break from my usual psycho-waffle, I’ve joined this awesome little circle, whereby on the 10th of each month we each post 10 photos of anything we like- life as it is for that month. When I’m not banging on about green thinking and hanging out on beanbags with kidlets, I love taking photos. I have an unhealthy love for Instagram, but damn work gets in the way of me becoming fully obsessive. I’m still learning (A LOT! Gosh I take some shockers!), but it’s just so good to have something that’s for me, you know? It’s important for all of us to have something we like to do, something that’s just for us. You know, outside of being all the other roles we have to be for others. We have to do something for us and put ourselves first at times (oh yeah I have a whole post about that coming up!) But without further ado, please indulge me as I take you through just a typical afternoon in our ‘hood.

10 on 10 March

It was a bit of a slow moving weekend. With the exception of #parentsgonewild at Soundwave. Well, as wild as one can get when pregnant! So I totes got down with my water and rocked out. It was a sight to behold.

The day before though we headed to the park to run off some steam. It’s a nice small one down the road, easy to trek to. It’s usually quiet and empty. But of course it was busy when we headed down. And so taking pictures without looking like that creepy stage Mom all over her children’s shit, or trying to avoid accidentally snapping other kids in the picture and then looking like a creepy stalker was a mission. I could’ve just said I was a psych and gotten away with it. We’re pretty messed up.

1.Rubes-climbing-from-behind

Miss DP of course takes after her Mama and cares not for rules or regulations. In some aspects, but then hates getting in trouble. It’s a conundrum. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a mountain climbing set-up, honey.

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Where Are The Right Words?

I’ll bundle my cherubs off to kindy and school today, and spend the day chatting with other little cherubs, some who are scared, some who are sad, some who are angry. These innocent, open minds, ready to take on the world. They feel all the feels, and sometimes not being in a good place, they do things that perhaps in hindsight might not have been the best idea. They might hurt someone, they might say something they shouldn’t have, they might act out. But when sitting and chatting, they can often see where they went wrong, we work together to help them feel better about themselves and to move on.  When I see these children, I see little dudes and dudettes who have the world at their feet, their eyes bright and wide, excited for what the future holds. I don’t hold their actions against them permanently, I see that they are learning and changing.

Some 20-25 years ago, those bright eyes belonged to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. While hard to fathom for some now, they were once young children, with dreams of a big future ahead of them. We don’t know the reasons how or why they fell into the nasty trade that they did, but I can guarantee you that this current state wasn’t in either of their life plans.  As they sit in isolation, taking in their last breaths, running through their final moments. Hands wringing, waiting, wondering, do they think back to those bright eyed times? Maybe they wanted to be firefighters? Or race car drivers? I try to put myself in their position and I can’t. I can’t fathom it. The pure psychological trauma of waiting to die. After being rehabilitated. After a decade of growth and change.

death quote

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When Life Gives You Lemons….

You know that saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” Awwww, so much warm fuzzy. It’s lovely, and a gorgeous sentiment. But you know what? You don’t have to make lemonade. I think sometimes we stress ourselves out by making the lemonade. We struggle with these lemons, grapple with them. Sometimes they have bugger all juice in them, or they’re too tart. We become consumed by the lemons. We start to wonder if we could do something else with them? Could we turn them into a lemon butter? Do we have enough ingredients for any other lemon products? Sometimes our knife is a bit blunt, sometimes we need someone else to come in and help make the lemonade. Making lemonade can get tough sometimes you know? And what if this insistent pressure to make lemonade is all bullshit? Why do we *have* to make something out of these damn lemons?

lemon meme
Lemons can be EVIL…. you don’t need to make lemonade, cos they can get a bit vengeful…..

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