Back to School: Tips for Getting Back in the Saddle

back to school
Word

The Christmas tree has been packed away (hallelujah. Sorry, leftover Grinchmas here), fun in the sun has been had. Or sweating half your body weight away, same same. Lazy mornings, relaxed lunches, bedtime routines pushed out a little. Ahhhhh holidays. You so pretty. But then as quickly as it started, suddenly you’re staring down the barrel of routine again. Early morning wake ups, rallying the troops with military precision, organising, preparing…… where’s the wine? What do you mean it’s only 9am??

For some, school is a big part of this equation. It’s like going into labour, head down, intense for 10 weeks, then you breathe for 2 weeks. Rinse and repeat. Happy 2015! For others, it will be their first foray into the wonderful world of having to get your kid to school every.freaking.day. I’ll be one of the newbies, madly kissing my cherub goodbye and spit polishing shoes (probably not. But you get my drift).

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Talking Trauma with Children

trauma kids

I think it’s safe to say we’re all in a bit of shock right now. What has gone on in Sydney is heavy. I mean, there’s lots of heavy stuff going on all over the world, but something so brazen, so full on, happening right here. Right now. I was only in Sydney a couple of short months ago, wandering through those same places with my little ladies. It doesn’t seem real.

As with anything of this magnitude, it is alllllll over the media. On every platform. Some of us cope ok with this, in fact we relish the fact we can keep up in such an immediate manner. For others, it can be a bit much. As adults, we tend to be able to switch off for the most part, but what about children who might have seen something on TV? Or heard something on the radio? Little ones process things in a much different manner to us, they’re still in that black and white, concrete stage of understanding the world.

Of course we all know the most important thing to do for young ones is to try and minimise attention to traumatic events. Try to keep the TV off, or have them occupied in other activities. But in this technological day and age, sometimes it’s not always possible. TV’s on in the windows, other children seeing things and talking. So what can we do to manage any fears and trauma that may arise from exposure to such events?

  • Talk as openly as age appropriate. Allow children to get their fears out. No need for details but something as simple as ‘yes something pretty bad has happened, but the Police have been right onto it and are there to protect us’
  • Normalise all feelings. Yes, it’s ok to be concerned, to feel worried. But they are ok, you are ok and we will get through.
  • Show children ways to calm their bodies down if they are getting physically worked up. Calm breathing (or milkshake breathing), muscular relaxation. This helps distract them from being fixated on the traumatic events, and also physically reduces stress levels
  • Reframe their thoughts. If they’re fixated on ‘baddies’ and ‘people coming to get them’, help them to reframe to ‘there are so many more good, kind, helpful people around and I have lots of people around me who will look after me’.
  • For little ones, let them draw. Drawing really can help process many feelings that they struggle with. Playing in sand also is a wonderful way for them to work through any issues they may be experiencing.
  • Just focus on little steps at a time, if they are scared to go outside. Bring them to the here and now. Step outside and feel the warm sun on our faces. Walk to the letterbox, walk to the end of the street. Slowly build them up
  • Reduce the amount of ‘what if’s’ which they may worry about. Talk instead about ‘what we know’.
  • Modelling calm behaviour. Our kids look to us on how to cope in such situations.

Unfortunately trauma happens. And not just on our TV’s. When trauma happens, it’s like our brains hit ‘pause’ to cope, and sometimes if we don’t process properly our brains will keep showing flashes and getting caught in a loop. We need to rewind, review and then allow the video (our brain) to keep playing. Same with children.

There’s been some great tips shared by Jo Lamble, and Dr. Justin Coulson, via Sunrise and the Daily Telegraph respectively. And as always, if your child’s anxieties are over and above what you feel is age appropriate, chat with your GP to seek extra support.

Here’s hoping these tips are some you’ll never have to use with your children. xx

There’s a new kid in town…. the second child

There’s a new brand of crazy in town; the second child. Bugger this middle child shit, second children are sweeping the nation. With their crazed antics. Turning parents’ hair grey.  Fraying nerves left, right and centre. All with a cheeky grin and a sass mouth.

In honour of my littlest lady (because, we ALL know we have to be equal with all our children. I don’t want to be chipped for featuring one not the other, you know), I’ve been conducting some market research into the second child. And by market research, I mean whinging to all and sundry “holy shit! My kid is CRAZY! So completely different to her big sister” and then receiving knowing nods, sympathetic eyes,  gentle pats on the shoulder and a “yep, my second is a crazed nutter too”. Solidarity. #fistpump  So by my really super duper, extensively and scientifically validated market research I have come to a conclusion.  There is a syndrome for children that come after the firstborn. I’ve aptly named it “second child syndrome”. Oh yeah, I’m all edgy with my naming of said syndrome.

*NB: It must be noted that this syndrome only applies to our own offspring. It doesn’t apply to us in our own sibset. Oh no no. Because we are awesome and we don’t succumb to stereotypes. Also covering my ass for any second children out there reading this and thinking ‘wtf’.

Second child cray
Exhibit A. CRAZY. Perhaps she needs to lay off the beers a bit?

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Grinchmas

grinchmas cat 2
I’m hearing you, grumpy cat

Would you hate me if I said I can’t stand Christmas?

 

Yeah, I kinda hate me too.

 

But it’s a game of charades I can no longer keep up. Actually, I don’t think I ever hid it. So in essence I suck at charades.  But Christmas drives me mad.  The over-production, the insane crazy shops, ugly Christmas shirts. No wait, I kinda dig the tackiness of them. It’s like totes hipster, right? If so, I’m in. The pressure. THE PRESSURE. To hold the perfect day. To be creating amazing food and have this spectacular house. Decorated to the hilt, courtesy of Woman’s Weekly (monthly, whatevs) Christmas Special. To have amazing special, never-to-be-recreated-again moments with all the family. And the obligation to have to spend the whole day with said extended family. Great if one has an awesome family. Not so great if it’s a little nutty.  Then it’s more akin to being locked in a panic room with a twitchy skunk. I am deep into Grinchmas town.

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You down with PND?

Having a child is a game changer. No doubt about it. If you believe the Huggies and Johnson and Johnson ads, parenthood is clearly all squishy cheeks, beautifully soft skinned loveable lads and lasses, with perfect Aryan features (what is WITH that?), running around in slow motion, giggling and joyous, while Mum with perfectly coiffured hair (well maybe a single strand down around her face, because she is clearly an everyday mum), smiles lovingly as she scoops her little darling off the ground to change their nappy, which probably smells like unicorns and love. Sounds divine. I’m in.

pnd huggies
UNICORNS AND LOVE, YO

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Duelling with the FF’s

It’s high noon. The sun is shining through the windows, the tumbleweeds are floating through the hallway (they really are. I haven’t vacuumed in ages. I know, I know). I’m at one end, Miss DP is at the other, trigger fingers at the ready. Eyes, narrowed to slits, staring each other down. This hallway ain’t big enough for the two of us, little lady.

You NEED to get dressed. Your cat dress is in the wash. Your Elsa costume is freaking brown with dirt dude. Pick something else…..!!

And I’m waiting. Waiting for the trigger to fire from the mouth of a 4.5 year old…..

BUT I can’t! My castle is broken. The witches have taken it over. And Betsy doesn’t like shoes.

Well… Wait. What? Did I just blank out for a microsecond and miss something? Did someone smuggle LSD in my coffee? Or did I just watch an episode of ‘In the Night Garden’ and not realise? No. It’s just 4 year old logic. Legit.

four year old ecard
Word

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Building Resilience in Kids Through Lazy Assness

The brilliant Lauren from The Thud has put together a wiz-bang, you-beaut series on the lazy ass parents’ guide to Halloween costumes. She’s da bomb, seriously. What can’t this lady do? My lazy assed self rejoiced no end at such quick and easy ideas. But my lazy ass can’t be assed to kick it to that next level of awesomeness. So I suggested sheets over the kids heads. Lauren, being the clever cookie she is, suggested even extending so far as to put eye holes in the sheet. Bless her. She is a devoted Mama. Me on the other hand? I’m all ‘heck, that’s a lot of hard work there’. Let’s go sans eye holes. I call this a lesson in resilience. I am all about good resilience and wellbeing, you know this. Let’s just not talk about the extreme lazy assed, and potentially negligent parenting on my part and we’ll be good.

Anyways I thought this would be interesting for the girls to see how they negotiate a task where one of their senses was taken away.  And also in trying something new. See? Always with the angle, aren’t I? Halloween seems to be big business these days, and with it comes a heck load of expectations and excitement from the kiddies. But what if they get no candy? What if they’re given a shit costume? All that hype can lead to a bit of a let down. Some kids can bounce back, while others fall flat. So resilience is pretty handy to have. Same for adults in dealing with sugar highs and insane trick or treaters. Let’s see how my ladies went, shall we? *NB no children were harmed in the making of these lazy assed costumes and ensuing experiment.*

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The sport of Parenthood….Adulthood….Life

Before I get started, I must warn you. I’m putting my Dr. Phil pants on today. Oh yes siree Bob. My Texan drawl is out. My receding hairline is at its finest. I’m channelling the doc and just saying it how it is. Bear with me, I’ll put him away soon!

It’s funny, I’ve been talking to some friends of late, and just seeing what goes on at one of my jobs, and I find we’re all feeling the same way. We’re all feeling like shit, uncertain of ourselves, trying our hardest to do the best job we can. But yet we humans, sometimes feel the need to run each other down. Over anything and everything. As adults we are constantly comparing- diets, exercise, jobs, partners, money we make. Paleo vs CSRIO. HIIT vs Crossfit. Labor vs Liberal. Thermomix vs…. I don’t know, what did we do before Thermie? (jokes, I don’t even own one. But I hear they’re top notch. Or if you listen to the other side they’re shit and a waste of money. See? MORE RUN DOWNS). She did what? He said that? Uggggh. Happens in adulthood as it is, but when you become a parent? Holy dooley. The opinions. The judgement. The criticism. THE COMPETITION. There’s always a fucking competition. Stay at home Mums vs Working Mums. Working part time vs working fulltime. Daycare centres vs. Family day care. Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding. Watching TV vs not watching TV. Girls vs. boys. Baptism vs naming ceremonies. Private vs public schooling. ENOUGH ALREADY. A darling friend of mine put it perfectly recently when we were chatting “I don’t think motherhood and children should be a sport”. Amen sista! I don’t think life in general should be a sport. Being a grown up sucks enough as it is at times, let alone being in constant competition.

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