Monthly Archives: May 2012

Parents: Are You Getting Any?

Alone time, that is. What else would I be talking about?! Pfft.

 

be free. not cheap - by shahir zag
{via Shahir Zag}

This one goes out to the introverts. Which are you? An introvert or an extrovert?

I am an introvert. I restore my energies with time alone. When I don’t get enough (or any) time to myself I become highly stressed. Things that never bother me really get under my skin. I shout at the kids more. I become critical of myself, talk myself down. I become my own worst enemy.

I don’t know a parent alive who doesn’t understand those feelings. Because as hectic as life is before you have kids, as busy as you are, as hard as you are working – before kids you can shut off. You can choose to not go out, you can choose to rest when given the opportunity, you can quite easily make it a priority to look after yourself.

But with your beautiful family comes enormous responsibilities. Unending responsibilities. And at certain seasons in life, those can really weigh you down.

 

Can You Make Time for Alone Time?

Sparky (bless the man) and I decided we would make my alone time a family priority. Because, in the end, I am a better family member when I am restored.

Each-ish weekend, we choose a half day that is my designated alone time. And I get the hell out of the house. Even though I may want to garden, or am overwhelmed by a mountain of laundry that needs doing, I just get. the. hell. out. Otherwise I get sucked back in to all the things I should be doing.

Nine times out of ten, I go to the library. Because I am a dork awesome.

It’s quiet, I can write or read, or people watch. I can rattle around in my own head, and think full, uninterrupted thoughts.

It’s a very simple act, very plain and boring and mundane. But it’s also really wonderful.

How Do You Learn to Put Your Needs First?

Firstly you need to tell that little voice in your head – you know the one, the nagging one with the high-pitched voice telling you that you’re a jerk for wanting this – to shut the hell up, and then get out of the house as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you will think of many reasons to put it off. To stay at home. To undervalue your own mental well being.

Guilt was my constant companion for the first few alone-time excursions.

“I should be home. I’ve got so much to do. This is selfish. I shouldn’t need to be away from the kids and Sparky. I’m a horrible mum.” etc etc.

But then a funny thing happened. I started to see the value in my alone time. I am calmer during the week. More fulfilled. More satisfied. And do you know what? I started dreaming for myself again. I started to feel like a person in my own right again. I started to think I was capable of great things.

And do you know why? Because I was investing in me. It was only a few hours a week, but I was saying to myself, “There are 529 other things I could be doing with this time. And yet here I am, spending it on you. So make the most of it.”

I am a mum and a wife, yes, and it is the most important and exhausting job I will ever have. But I am also me.

And one day, in the not too distant future, our kids won’t need me like they do right now. They won’t rely on me so much for all their earthly requirements. And I will have time. And space. And what good will that time and space be, if I have completely deserted myself? What could I then build, if the very foundations of me have been eroded by neglect?

So, yes, to say that a few hours at the library every week is soul-saving and life-affirming feels as ridiculous as it sounds. But it’s true.

Investing in yourself, just a little, will leave you happier, healthier and better equipped to deal with the chaos life brings.

Do you spend time alone on a regular basis? Have you seen benefits from your time alone? Or do you need to be with people constantly?

How to Make Yourself Happy

how to make yourself happy
{via dsamn via Pinterest}

No-one is seriously ill, no-one has lost their job, no-one’s relationship is breaking down. But it’s still a really shitty day.

Dog poo on the floor, teething kids, a headache or PMS, a messy kitchen, piles of laundry and just a bad. freaking. mood.

You know the ones, right? It’s not just me, is it?

Yesterday morning, as I felt the urge to shout at the kids (unfairly – they’re just being kids), to rant and rave at Sparky (unfairly – the man is a gem) and to write it off as a bad day before I’d even had breakfast, I found myself stopping.

“Surely the day isn’t destined to crappiness? Surely I can do something about this horrible, cranky feeling that’s welling up? Surely there is a way to make yourself happy?”

So I decided I would turn my day around. And here are three simple tips to help you make yourself happy:

1. Music Soothes the Savage Beast

What song makes you really, overwhelmingly happy every time you listen to it? It can be stupid, or make you want to dance or sing at the top of your lungs. Whatever it is, listen to it. Let it shift that crankiness from your mind. Even just a little bit.

For me, it’s Girls by the Beastie Boys (RIP, MCA).

2. Do Something

We all have endless lists of things to do. Sometimes that feeling overwhelms us and contributes to our overall shittiness by making us feel like there is no point. Why bother starting when the work keeps piling up?

Instead, force yourself to do something. Just one thing. Do that load of washing. Make that phone call. Pick up that dog poo. (No, seriously. Pick up that dog poo. Someone’s going to step in it and squash it into the carpet.)

And once that thing is done, allow yourself five seconds to celebrate. You just had a win!

Shitty Day = 0 You = 1

3. Tell Yourself that Today is Going to be a Good Day

Say it out loud. Say it while standing in front of the mirror. Say it in a ridiculous accent. I don’t know why, but it helps.

 

These three things worked in turning my bad day around. And, while it wasn’t all sparkles and unicorns, it was a hell of a lot better than crying into my coffee at 9am. If, however, these three tips fail you, it’s always helpful to go back and read the first paragraph of this post.

 

Do you think you can turn a bad day around? What do you do to fake your happiness until the real deal takes over? And what’s your favourite happy song?

Easy Homemade Paint

homemade paint recipe

My kids Love painting. Isla would paint every day. Except I won’t let her. Because I’m a jerk like that.

It’s MESSY. And they have FUN. And get CREATIVE. It’s horrible.

Obviously I’m joking. But I do find painting one of those play time activities that I avoid more than I should. But last week via Pinterest I discovered something that will make Isla incredibly happy and me less concerned about what surfaces (or humans) will wind up covered in paint…

A Super Easy Homemade Paint Recipe

This recipe is for chalk or sidewalk paint. So as it dries, the colours become more pastel but more opaque. It’s actually really cool.

It’s incredibly simple and once we’d mixed it up (great little maths lesson) it occupied the kids for an hour! An hour of outside, creative play! An hour for me to clean the toilets! An hour where I could make phonecalls. Plus it’s non-toxic. And you likely have all the ingredients in your pantry. Bonus: it won’t kill the dog if he drinks it (scientifically proven fact). Incredible indeed!

easy homemade paint

All You Need is:

  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 1 cup water
  • a variety of liquid food colouring
  • a muffin pan or plastic cups
  • paintbrushes or sponges
  1. Mix the cornflour and water together, stirring to remove lumps.
  2. Divide into muffin pan or plastic cups.
  3. Add a few drops of food colouring to each cup or pan and mix.
  4. Give the kids the paintbrushes, a patch of paving and carte blanche.

(The food colouring does stain the hands, but it washes off quickly. By the time shower-hour rolled around, it had already worn off the kids’ hands.)

Super simple and ridiculously fun.

 

Do your kids love painting? Have they painted anything/anyone inappropriate?

Last time Isla had free rein with some paints and a paintbrush, she turned herself into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Hence my hesitancy with the whole painting thing!

what happens when a toddler is unsupervised while painting

Stop Pretending. Start Being Real.

the only thing you do today
{via Pinterest}

*Alternatively titled, “Dear Brooke, Stop Worrying So Damn Much What Others Think of You and How Well You Live Your Life.*

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

930am. Phone Rings.

FRIEND/MUM/SISTER/DAD: “Hello love. I thought I might pop around and have a cuppa. Will you be home in ten minutes?”

YOU: “Of course! I’d love to see you. I’ll let the kids know you’re coming!”

(SILENTLY): Shit. We’ve had a slow start today. The kids aren’t even dressed, they’re in there watching a movie. The kitchen’s not packed up from breakfast and there’s food on the floor. The laundry’s not hung out and the play room is a mess of toys, books and crumbs. I can’t let Friend/Mum/Sister/Dad see the place like this. They’ll think I’m Not Coping. Or that I’ve Let Myself Go.

I race around, tidying, dressing the kids, shoving toys into cupboards, brushing my hair and teeth, shouting, sweeping and stressing. Then I consider quickly whipping together something to bake. (Seriously.)

All because I don’t want to look like I’m failing.

 

But being real, and being realistic is not failing.

By all means, be organised, be efficient, be on top of things. That’s a wonderful way to avoid many of the stresses of life and I’m all for it.

But when things don’t go to plan, CHOOSE TO BE OK WITH THAT.

Don’t perpetuate the myth that stay-at-home mums need to be domestic goddesses all the time. To be visitor-ready at any time of day. To have something freshly baked, just waiting for a knock at the door. And that anything less is a failure.

Because that world only exists online.

And comparing yourself to that fake world, is even worse than comparing yourself to other people.

 

I think we owe it to our Friend/Mum/Sister/Dad to be real. To be honest. To be OK with less-than-perfect. Because when we are OK with less-than-perfect, we give ourselves the room and freedom to actually LIVE our lives. Not just exist in them. Don’t you think?

When was the last time you pretended?

How To Hide Vegies – Salmon Patties

hidden vegetable recipe - salmon patties
{via Pinterest}

Does anyone here have fussy eaters in the home? Kids who will. not. eat. that. thing?

Or even more frustratingly, stubborn fussy eaters who will gobble something one night, but refuse point-blank to even try it the next?

Yeah. We have one of those. So my vegetable-disguising skills are under development. I’m hoping to reach the level of Ninja-Cook by spring.

This recipe is one of the greatest ever invented, because:

  • you can hide all manner of veges in it
  • the kids can still see the evidence of veges (I’m a big proponent of the fact kids will eventually begin eating well regularly if they keep trying new foods. It’s just the trying that’s, well, trying…)
  • they taste delicious to kids and adults alike
  • I feel satisfied that the kids have eaten a good, nutritious dinner

Needless to say, it’s on high rotation in our meal plan.

You need:

  • large tin salmon, drained and flaked
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp self-raising flour
  • small onion, grated
  • small carrot, grated
  • 2 potatoes, grated
  • handful chopped parsely
  • canola or vegetable oil, for shallow frying

I also add some or all of the following, depending what’s in the fridge:

  • sweet potato, grated
  • brussel sprouts, finely sliced
  • zucchini, grated
  • frozen peas
  • pinch of cumin
  1. Heat oil in a hot frypan.
  2. Mix all ingredients well, to combine.
  3. Using your hands, take about one tablespoon of the mixture and form a loose ball in the palm of your hand.
  4. Cook in batches, pressing down lightly as you place each patty into the pan.
  5. Cook approx 3-5 minutes on one side (until golden), flip and repeat.
  6. Drain on paper towel.
  7. Serve with salad or homemade, oven-baked sweet potato chips and a dollop of mayonnaise.

And presto! Dinner. And everyone’s happy.

These also keep quite well for lunches the next day or leftovers the next night. Which makes them even more awesome.

Do you have any good strategies for fussy eaters? Or just good, healthy meals in general? This mum would love to know!