Tuesday, May 26, 2015

pocket money

Seven is such a pivotal age, perhaps even more so when a new baby arrives. The leap into the next stage of childhood is profound and because Che is our firstborn it's all new for us, too. Somedays it feels like we're doing an alright job, others it feels like we're fumbling.

With seven comes an independent streak so bright it's impossible to ignore. There is also an awareness of what can only be categorised as keeping up with the jones' - many of his friends at school come from affluent households and it's not uncommon for a child to own their own iPad. Enter lofty expectations, reality and the subject of pocket money. We first discussed it when he started kindergarten but he's only showed a vested interest in it recently. He wholly understands that the only way to earn money is to work (ie. help around the house).

Introducing: chores.

But this is where it gets tricky. Daniel and I firmly believe that every member of the family should, at a certain age, contribute to the day-to-day running of the household. Plates should be taken from the table to the sink at the end of a meal, shoes should be taken off and put by the door or in the wardrobe, dirty clothes should be put in the washing basket, toys should be packed away, rooms should stay (relatively) tidy. So where do we draw the line between the essential jobs around the house and the extra deserved-of-pocket-money chores? As you can see above, raking up frangipani leaves is one of the extra jobs that we feel is perfect for earning money and Che has done this every Saturday for the past few weeks. We don't own a dishwasher and we do create a fair amount of dirty dishes so washing, stacking and putting the dishes away is another time-consuming yet helpful job that we're happy to class as a chore (because, let's face it, it really is a chore).

Specific jobs aside, there is also the concept of money that needs to be discussed. The saving versus spending conversation is vital if we're to nurture a healthy and realistic approach to money. Che has a school banking account and we encourage him to save half his pocket money and spend the rest (so far, he's agreed). The grandparents also give him money for each birthday and Christmas and he understands that every cent of it must go straight in the bank.

Overall, his interest in earning money has fuelled his desire to help around the house. Coincidentally, we feel he is at an age where he is able to help in a more practical sense and perhaps this has been realised since Percy arrived (he can't make a cup of tea just yet but he's quite generous when spreading jam on toast).

This is the very beginning of his relationship with money and we want to make sure it's a healthy one. His future is looking to be quite expensive (how on earth will the next generation afford a house if we're struggling to do the same?) and we want to make sure he gets a good, albeit realistic, start (no wealthy parents here!).

But still, we have questions:

what jobs should be worthy of pocket money?
what's the going rate for pocket money? (he earned $2 for raking a backyard of leaves).
what do you do if a job isn't finished but he's tried really hard?


21 COMMENTS


Monday, May 25, 2015

the end of the fourth trimester

Percy is 11 weeks today and so begins the transition into the next stage of babyhood. While I don't remember the details all that well, I do remember that both Che and Poet went through a distinct unsettled stage around this time. There's generally lots of feeding, lots of waking, not much contented sleeping.

Oh, that's what's going on.

Percy has slept really well up until now but lately there's been a few nights where he has fed two-hourly and had trouble settling back to sleep.* And so begins the sleep deprivation that imbues early parenthood. It's not as much of a shock third time around but there's a familiar heaviness in my eyes and a definite lack of patience.

When the newborn bubble bursts there are chipped nails, hair loss (so long, farewell, pregnancy hormones) and, dare I say it, the hard work of life with a baby. Being here now, I am so grateful that I put everything aside to indulge and savour Percy's first few months. What a precious time it was; peppered with cuddles, deep inhalations of his pure scent, mammoth snooze + feed sessions, tea, banana bread and warm homemade-by-others meals. The house was light-filled as we cocooned inside, watching summer fade to fall. It was as special as it reads.

And now the pace has stepped up a notch. The shift was imminent and I'm ready; let's go! A beautiful friend of mine, a mother of three, was impeccable with her timing last week when she messaged me to offer some sound "been there, done that" advice. "The physical and emotional work of it (the first year with three children) was enormous," she wrote. "The relentlessness, the washing, the night-waking, the work of trying to be present and kind to your partner (let alone shag them as well!)..." She's witty and hilarious, that one. But yes, I agreed with her! And as I said to Daniel yesterday: "I'm busy, I'm really busy, and I'm not glorifying it, or trying to sound important. The fact of the matter is, there is always a lot to do and it's never going to get done, not all of it, anyway."

And I know, in my heart, that therein lies the key to happy motherhood.

Che was raking the leaves on Saturday afternoon and he swept them into piles before we went out for a drive. "But what if it gets windy and all the leaves blow away again?" "Well, if that happens, you'll probably understand my relationship with the washing," I said. "I wash the clothes, dry the clothes, fold the clothes (rarely put the clothes away) and then I wash the clothes, dry the clothes..." It was the perfect time to share Buddha's analogy: "Before enlightenment: chop wood. After enlightenment: chop wood."

This coming year may/will be my busiest to date. But I venture into it knowing that at the end of every day, there will still be chores to do, stories to write and clothes to fold. I can make a decision in that moment to either keep working or get some sleep.

Tonight, if the stars align, I choose sleep.

*for the last two nights Percy has worn a Swaddle Up from Love to Dream and the difference in his sleeping has been phenomenal. I was skeptical at first but I can tell you that it definitely makes for content slumber (many mums agree).


9 COMMENTS


Sunday, May 24, 2015

21/52

"A portrait of my youngest children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Poet: my beautiful girl...she's been painting and drawing constantly; at the table, on the floor, outside, inside. She's also been spending a lot of time in her pyjamas (these gorgeous ones are handmade from Little Wren)

Percy: wrapped in a towel after a warm shower. He's just discovered his hands so he's sucking them constantly. My little sweetheart. 


6 COMMENTS


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

sick days



roses that grow along the fence...necessary pretty on dreary sick days

You know you're alive when you spend the night to-ing and fro-ing between breastfeeding the baby and tending to the sick pre-schooler who just wants her mummy. You also have to smile when you walk, albeit sleepily, into the children's room come morning and see your beloved partner sound asleep in his daughter's bed - feet hanging off the side because 6ft3 men aren't made for single beds. 

This is parenthood. And when you can see past the sleep deprivation and snotty tissues, it's still damn beautiful.

Poet has been snotty for a good month or so now. Last July when she started preschool she succumbed to about six viruses in as many months. It's the pre-school rite of passage, is it not? You send your beloved child off into a room with twenty other children and you have to accept the fact that she'll come home with messy plaits, paintings and a plethora of kid germs. Alas, this is childhood and the best path to building a strong immune system. 

Over summer Poet was snot-free and didn't have so much as a snuffle. Daily ocean swims and warm, dry air will do that. But, then autumn arrived and with it came the change-of-season cold; the snuffly nose came back. Poet has a "wet" constitution; when her immune system is compromised she'll get snotty (Che has the opposite and rarely suffers from colds...he's more likely to get tummy viruses). Unfortunately for Poet, this means that when her nose is blocked her ears are too. What we once dismissed as selective hearing is actually slight hearing loss from a blocked-up ear passage. 

Next fortnight we return to the audiologist to have a hearing test and then it's onto the ENT for a specialist opinion. I'm content with knowing that a snuffly nose is something that she will probably grow out of and I'm happy for her body to fight these little viruses on its own; she's energetic, has a fantastic appetite and is happy - medication isn't necessary right now. But, we need to sort out her ears and I know that ultimately the mucous is to blame. Subsequently, I've cut out dairy from her diet and am minimising fruit and "wet" foods to ensure that her body isn't producing more mucous that what is necessary. I also regularly diffuse oils and rub eucalyptus balm into her feet and chest every night. But still, in my mama heart I know that I'll feel much better once a specialist opinion is at hand. 

Are your children prone to snotty noses?
What's your go-to method for colds and coughs?
Do you have a child with a tendency to get sore/blocked ears?


15 COMMENTS


Monday, May 18, 2015

essentials for breastfeeding and the newborn days

I really enjoyed creating a capsule collection of pregnancy essentials but I admit, finding inspiring clothes for the post-partum period has been a little trickier. It's easy to find beautiful maternity wear but generally, it's quite difficult to find flattering, stylish clothes for the post-partum period. Yes, there's a big gap in the market and it's begging to be filled!

Before I shopped for new items I spent a few hours in my own wardrobe; separating the maternity wear from the nursing wear, the summer staples from the winter woollens. I re-discovered a few tops that are breastfeeding-friendly as well as button-down dresses that work with tights and boots. But still, there was a need for a few new pieces (especially basics) to see me through autumn and winter.

The key to creating a post-partum, breastfeeding friendly wardrobe, one that is practical, supportive and stylish, is to shop for now. You've just had a baby - you deserve to feel good in your clothes and you deserve to have clothes that fit and flatter today (even if they may not work so well in six months time). With this in mind, I've created a trans-seasonal wardrobe for the newborn season...

1. A loose-fitting white blouse is a timeless edition to your wardrobe, regardless of whether you're pregnant, breastfeeding or bottle feeding. I'm currently wearing this boho-inspired blouse from Bohemian Traders; it buttons down the front and falls to the hips - it's incredibly easy to wear when teamed with leggings or supportive jeans; slimline pants and a loose top is a flattering silhouette when you feel a little self-conscious about your belly.

2. I have a tub of Mum's Butter on my bedside table and have used it daily over the past few months. When you've got a newborn you have significantly less time to groom yourself and whilst this cream is great for cracked nipples, it also works wonders for dry skin (great for the stretching belly during pregnancy, too).

3. The Seventh Duchess sent me their Goddess - Organic New Mother's Tea when I was pregnant. I sipped it during the final weeks to prepare for labour and have been drinking a few cups a day since. It is incredible for hydrating the body, toning the pelvic and uterine muscles and boosting milk supply.

4. A tub of healthy biscuits to reach for when you're starving and don't have the time (or the free hands) to make something more substantial. Franjos Kitchen is the creation of three mums who wholeheartedly understand the importance of eating well in the first few months of motherhood. The range of biscuits includes pregnancy and lactation biscuits - yummy and nutritional...created by a cook and a naturopath.

5. Breast pads; because wet patches on your top is never a good look. I am currently wearing washable organic breast pads and these cotton ones. If you prefer disposable, TOM Organic recently released a pack of 30 made from organic cotton (recommend their maternity pads, too).

6. Nursing bras - where to begin? It can be difficult to find comfortable, supportive and flattering nursing bras and whilst the good ones are expensive, they are definitely worth the investment. This cake lingerie nursing bra (pictured) is comfortable and easy to wear, as is the Esprit padded bra. I also highly recommend the range from hotmilk, especially the first light nursing bra (currently on sale).

7. Do you need a sleep bra? Yes, you definitely do! Buy at least two as one will always be in the wash. They are also fabulous to wear in late pregnancy and during the first few weeks of nursing; because they are less structured than most bras they don't cut into the skin and therefore lessen the chance of developing mastitis. The range from QueenBee is fantastic! Try the Aubrey OrganicMarika Cotton or Bamboo.

8. Leggings - preferably the belly lift and support variety. Consider these a pregnancy and new mama essential. I wore these during my pregnancy and they were the first thing I put on after birth. The support band was a godsend after birth and ensured that my lower back and abdomen was supported during the first few weeks. I also recommend these seamless maternity leggings - belly band can be worn up or folded down.

9. Perfect for supporting during pregnancy and flattering the post-partum belly, this nursing singlet is comfortable and easy to wear (washes well, too). If you prefer a tank top to take you from pregnancy to nursing, I love this striped number (I wear it often with a high-waisted linen skirt).

10. Much like the leggings, this blanqi belly support tank is an absolute essential. It was the most supportive "supportwear" I had during pregnancy and the first top I wore post-birth. Along with the leggings, it saved my back in those first few weeks and helped to strengthen my core (by drawing the abdomen in, I'm less likely to slouch).

11. Consider a cotton henley one of the easiest tops to wear as a nursing mother. Yes, it's definitely casual with leggings but wear it with jeans or a high-waisted skirt, add a scarf and a pair of earrings and voila - dressed and ready to go. Nature Baby gifted me their organic cotton henley which is incredible soft and a brilliant cut - I wear it a few times a week. If you want to wear something a little more discreet when feeding, consider this or this.

12. A breastfeeding-friendly dress is a great piece to have in your wardrobe. This maxi wrap dress is easy to wear with a nursing tank and this and this is great for discreet feeding.

See my past posts on essentials for pregnancy and essentials for baby


13 COMMENTS


Sunday, May 17, 2015

20/52

"A portrait of my youngest children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Poet: childhood in suburbia...and a black eye as a result of chasing her big brother through a maze of towels and sheets on the washing line (and then banging head on into the metal pole)

Percy: his sweet little personality is emerging



7 COMMENTS


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

yoga : a humbling post-partum practise

I got back on the mat yesterday after a rather long hiatus.

I confess that I find it quite difficult to practise at home; very un-zen of me, I know. But when I'm on the mat I look around and can't help but notice the dusty floors, the odd piece of lego, the pile of unfolded washing out of the corner of my eye. It always seems like there is something more important to attend to. However, with the arrival of Percy I know that getting to the studio for a class is a good few months (and a fair amount of planning) away. I can get on the mat at home or not practise at all.

So, with a freshly washed mat (I soak it in the laundry sink with water and a bit of lavender oil) I set up in the front room. Percy sat in his rocker at the top of my mat, his eyes following me as I moved up and down, side to side. It was a very stereotypical mum-practises-yoga-at-home scene; toys and books scattered to my right, a dining table decorated with breakfast plates, cups and tiny bits of eggshell to my left and a baby keeping a watchful eye on my alignment.

I maintained a somewhat focussed mindset as I moved through some gentle limbering asanas (my goodness, my upper body is sore!) and then stood in tasasana (tree pose) in preparation for some sun salutations. I enjoy a vinyasa practise; flowing in and out of poses, warming up and actually feeling my body; the way it aches, the tension, the tightness. After spending nine months focussing solely on my self and the baby I was growing, I am now so caught up in Percy that any awareness of my own body has well and truly disappeared; hence the dire need for yoga.

Once I was moving, rather clumsily, through sun salutations I was feeling quite good about my body; my hips felt strong, I could still fold over and touch my toes. But then - plank pose. I moved from downward dog and prepared to gradually lower myself into plank before lifting into up dog but instead I just flopped onto the mat. Arm and core strength - zero.

I laughed at my floppy plank. Yes, I am the yoga teacher collapsed on the mat; a grounding practise if ever there was one.

It's time to return to yoga at the kitchen sink (especially apt considering I don't have a dishwasher).


6 COMMENTS

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