Cave Babies Don’t Cry – Notes on Paleo Parenting

Cave Babies Don’t Cry – Notes on Paleo Parenting*

Plato's Cave theories might apply to parenting too...

Plato’s Cave theories might apply to parenting too…

Paleo diets we have all heard of, but what about Paleo Parenting?

Life lately has been a little fractious. We parents have been thrown a few curve balls that have kept us on the edge. We sleep on the edge of the bed, we sit on the edge of our seats, and our minds are on the edge of sanity as we think, ‘What next?’

We stare at each other, dumbfounded and surrounded by the flotsam and jetsam of a fast-paced life with kids.

Each time I find myself feeling frazzled, anxious and ‘over it’… there is a little voice in the back of my head that asks, ‘What would a cave woman do?’ I’m not sure where my cave voice has come from, but it is there all the same.

Most of my best parenting strategies have come from my grandmother’s generation (baking soda and vinegar for all cleaning, sunlight for getting out stains, homemade baking saving the day…) but what if we turn the clocks back further, much further, to be, like, Paleolithic?

Can we do without modernity, without expectation, without the mass ‘intelligence’ that is the internet? Could doing without the endless modern things we burden ourselves with potentially shine some new light on some of our old parenting problems?

Is Paleo Parenting the answer? I’m giving it a bit of air time.

On Philosophy and Feminism

I have struggled with my role as housewife. I left my job as a full time teacher to become a mother and I have resented the housework, the staying at home, the isolation and the running of the house that has become my new job.

I sometimes wonder if I would be happier if there was less expectation of me to achieve and more acceptance that being a mum/cave dweller is a full time job in and of itself. Pre-pre-feminism when women in the workforce were not even part of the equation.

Stop. Before you send a lynch mob – I don’t mean to abolish equal rights or to muffle any female voices, but it has occurred to me that IF I wasn’t so hung up on my own career and so caught up in what ELSE I should be then my role as a mother MIGHT be easier to accept.

Question: In a truly feminist household, who does the cleaning?

It still needs to be done and doesn’t it make sense that the person who is at home most should potentially be responsible for the lion’s share thereof?

My man can happily do the hunting because I am squeamish about killing things.

He can dig the drains because I am rubbish with a spade.

He can maintain the car because beyond tyre pressure and oil checks, I am less equipped to diagnose automotive problems.

He is stronger than me and he can do the heavy labour jobs outside while I take responsibility for keeping ‘the den’ clean and the babies fed and entertained. (see houseproud article here)

I have breasts…hear me roar.

IF I could get my head around all this philosophical stuff about the transition of a woman’s role as worker to house-keeper (which I still can’t most days), then potentially I would have less to fight about with my man. (It’s a recurring argument). I’m thinking aloud here – what do you think?

On Sleeping and Self Settling

A recent difficulty has been putting mister two to bed. He got a new sister nine months ago, a big bed and his own room around the same time. Before his little sister arrived, he went to bed and to sleep without any major drama. Now it is Drama Central.

He gets out of bed and cries. He clings to us and cries. He yells and cries. He hits himself and throws things and begs for kisses and more stories and cries. He slams his door and cries.

How does this relate to the cave?

I have tried closing the door. I have tried sitting on his bed with him. I have tried laying with him. I have tried telling him to stay in his room and I have tried growling at him with my stern ‘teacher voice’ (NOT to be messed with, excuse me).

But nothing has been working.

So, talking it out with my man, we tried to figure out WHY all this drama. To Paleo Parenting I turn…

In a cave he would probably just curl up in a corner near us and go to sleep, reassured because he could still see us. Reassured because he could see the flickering light of the fire (my cave picture is rosy isn’t it…) and reassured because he is with his clan and not outcast to his own separate den.

I’m not judging anyone for any kind of parenting or any sleep arrangements but we worked out that his performance was because he was not in the cave with us (so to speak) and he potentially felt insecure.

So, with Paleo Parenting in mind and listening to the cave voice, the last three nights I have kept his door wide open and told him gently (and repeatedly) to go to bed. He is not trapped in his room, he is not in the dark alone, the light from the lounge floods his room, he is nearby and he can still hear us, his sister is not stealing his place by the fire and, so far, my cave concept, appears to be working. Go figure.

On travel and trips

Last week I had my worst outing yet with mister two and it was entirely my fault.

I had a full vacuous 24 hours of solo parenting in front of me and I wanted to fill it with fun. Consequently I filled the day with errands and visits, with play grounds and activities and topped it all off with a late afternoon visit to a friend’s house to share Fish and Chips.

Mistake.

No nap + Big day + strange environment + interrupted routine + too many in/out of car dramas = MONSTER BOY

I don’t want to go into it but it was not fun.

What would a Paleo Parent do and how does cave philosophy solve this drama? It tells me to take life more slowly. Days don’t have to be filled with a hundred and one activities.

I rushed him and I overstimulated him and I overcooked him.

One trip would have been a big enough mission for a little cave boy’s little cave legs and little cave brain. We should have stayed near the den when his nap didn’t happen, we should have taken it easy and rolled the rock in front of our cave entrance and hibernated together in the cosy dark. The little monster may have still reared his ugly head, but I doubt to the same degree.

On babywearing

Where would I be without my babywearing devices?

Happiest is my baby when she is on me, with me, near me. It makes sense in a cave not to leave them on the floor or to sleep them far from you when lions and tigers and bears lurk about. (because we have those in nz don’t you know…)

To add to the ‘simple trips’ note above; if we wore our babies until they could walk, we would still only do short trips and potentially avoid the ‘overcooking’ of our children. (Doing too much in one day /venturing too far would mean that YOU would have to carry them back… so you only go as much as all of you can physically manage.)

Whenever I am in doubt or struggling with an unsettled baby, out comes a wrap or carrier of some description and I wear her. In most cases, this is the quickest way to calm her.

On baby food

Pre-blenders and pre-pre-packaged foods, what would you feed your baby?

When I find myself stressing about my baby’s diet, I try to keep things simple. She eats what I eat. If it is too tough, I pre-chew it for her.

Is that gross? Or is it just simpler than getting out a blender or relying on processed/packaged food stuffs?

Incidentally (factoid alert) the bacteria in your own saliva can actually help your baby’s digestion system. I read that somewhere… (glad I can read, let’s not go too ‘cave’ now…)

 

On maternal knowledge

How much do you rely on your mother for mothering advice? I call mine pretty frequently and it would be easier if she lived closer to us.

In a cave-dwelling society our mothers would be closer and knowledge could be shared more easily from generation to generation. We could have the village they say we need to raise our children.

Have you noticed that the passing down of knowledge from mother to daughter is not as natural as it used to be? We are having our babies later and later and the extended generational gap is making it more difficult for our mothers to recall what we were really like as infants. Their advice can be outdated and/or difficult to recall… Instead we rely much more heavily on the shared cultural knowledge of our contemporaries on the internet.

On play

Paleo parents would have to be creative. Rather than buy the latest toys, books and DVDs for children, parents would have to be resourceful and find things for their children to use with their imagination. A stick and some sand, some stones to stack or some leaves to sort would have to do.

Activities in nature are free and are often the most stimulating. Puddle jumping, stone throwing, sand drawing, leaf collecting, flower colour-sorting, stone stacking, mud smooshing, shadow making…

As an aside: Browsing pinterest recently I found a shaving foam painting activity. Armed with a can of shaving foam and a hose, I let my two year old paint on the windows and then wash it off. I supervised from inside where I was safe from getting squirted and it struck me that his little hand movements combined with the hand-prints he was enjoying making were not altogether unlike cave painting…

On isolation and the internet

I hinted earlier that housewifeliness doesn’t always suit me. It can be isolating being at home with children and the internet offers a sense of community in ways that could never have been imagined in the 1950s let alone in the Paleolithic Era.

What would Paleo Parenting suggest? See real people. I like to have people over to my cave. I like getting out of my cave and I also love returning to my cave by contrast.

In my experience, too many days spent ‘in the dark/trapped in the cave’ do not a happy mummy make. If you were to think about your home as a cave, would it make you more motivated to get out?

A daily walk keeps me sane. Seeing real people keeps my life real.

Philosophically, living a social life on the Internet is like being in Plato’s Cave.

I prefer to be part of the real world to help me to keep perspective.

On comparison and happiness

By extension, the internet must be responsible for an awful lot of unhappiness.

Social media is a highlight reel of everyone’s triumphs, holidays and heavily filtered versions of events. Do you think I want to share my worst moments for all to see? That monster boy I created didn’t get any mention…

We all edit our lives to paint a version of our world we are happy with others seeing.

‘Comparison is a thief of joy’ – Theodore Roosevelt

A Paleo parent would see a lot less of what other families are up to behind their door-boulders. Potentially then, could a Paleo parent be happier with less to compare their lives to?

What do you think? Are some aspects of ‘Paleo Parenting’ worth considering? Or should I crawl back inside my cave…

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

Kurt Vonnegut

* new term I invented just now

Thanks for reading This is food for thought anyway. Please click ‘follow’ (on the right) before you go and check out my little shop.

Mwah! Love Outie.

‘Not just a mum’ – How to take charge of your career at home in five easy steps

It’s a frightening thing to share a goal. It’s as if once you put something out there, that people might hold you accountable. But in the same breath, they might be able to help you reach it or remind you of it when you are having a down day or if you are feeling like ‘just a mum’.

I thought that becoming a mum would force me to tread water in terms of my career while I stayed home to be with my kids, but instead it has opened up brand new doors. My career path has changed so much that my ‘old job’ is probably no longer the best fit for me.

How can you use parenting to your advantage?

Step one: Find your love.

The great thing about being home with children is that you can try new things every day and nobody can see you trying them. This means that the fear of ‘failing’ is much less fierce. You could try golf, watercolour painting, crochet or practice head-stands. You could jump on a trampoline or become a crossword expert… without the weight of ‘work’ on your shoulders, you are free to try anything you like – and ‘like’ should be the drive for whatever it is that you do.

If you loved sewing as a kid, why not take some online courses? If you loved drawing, why not draw?

For me, my loves are drawing and sewing. Both of these ‘old loves’ led me to start Outie.

Step Two: Upskill

It’s hard to believe that prior to having children I was an ‘anti computer’ type. I thought e-books were the ruin of reading (but then I realised how handy they are when you are breastfeeding), I thought painting had to be done with real paint (until I realised that digital paint couldn’t be spilled), I thought facebook was silly (until I realised that it is a valuable tool for connecting with people when you are stuck at home with your baby…). Enough said really.

I taught myself some new skills. I can happily say that I am now good friends with Photoshop, proficient with several social media tools and have become a better knitter and crocheter because I have been determined to make the most out of my time at home with my kids – for me as well as for them.

Some of the skills I have learned are not necessarily ‘career’ related, but they still mean that I feel like I am progressing in some way for my own sense of purpose/sense of being and becoming a better me as well as a better mum.

Things I still want to do include learning a new language, learning how to sew a perfect invisible zip and how to be more professional with my use of Illustrator for fashion design.

Step Three: Practise

Once you decide what it is that you love and/or what it is that you want to learn, it’s important to try to set aside time each day to do it. Of course, this is almost impossible once you tend to the needs of your baby/ies but making sure you find ‘some’ time ‘sometime’ is workable.

Five minutes stolen out of your day every now and then all adds up…

Step Four: Set Goals/Have a vision

I imagine future me is better suited to daily drawing/design and my ideal job would be designing fabric full time.

If I returned to my old job as a teacher, I imagine that I would be pursuing a more senior role. I like to think that my time spent at home with the acquisition of new skills all contributes to me being more employable if/when I return.

Step Five: Keep a record and share it

It’s a frightening thing to share a goal. It’s as if once you put something out there, that people might hold you accountable. But in the same breath, they might be able to help you reach it or remind you of it when you are having a down day or if you are feeling like ‘just a mum’.

It’s having a down day that prompted this post.

Today I forgot about all the personal progress I have made because I was bogged down with ‘mum stuff’ after a difficult day with the kids.

I had one of those days where if someone called me, ‘just a mum’ I would probably have just run with it even though it goes counter to everything that I believe about motherhood.

Being ‘just’ a mum is already quite the job description. It requires a big heart as well as managerial skills, behaviour management skills, gumption, enthusiasm, team-work, leadership, time management, organisational skills, social planning, accounting, hygiene management, active self esteem preservation, perseverance, accountability, other-centredness or altruism and more.

And it’s so easy to forget about your own development and your own path when you so carefully monitor and are embedded in the development of your children.

I don’t know where this is all heading yet  –  but I just wanted to share with you that becoming a mum has changed the way that I see my career because it has gifted me time to reflect on what I really want to do with my life, allowed me to try new things, prompted me to learn new skills and enabled me to try new things and maybe it will open new doors too.

fabrics for leggings feather falls batwing

It turns out that there are no predictable paths for creativity or for where your role as a parent might take you…

Thanks for following me and my family on our little journey.

Textile design showcase

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Shut up with your shoulds – dedicated to all the mothers who are fed up

I’m not normally negative, but I have had a gut’s full.

This post is dedicated to a friend who has just been told by her well-meaning Mother in Law that her baby ‘should’ be sitting already (when she is allowing her baby to find her own sitting position in her own time). This post is also dedicated to the mothers who make their own wraps in order to wear their babies proudly when they ‘should’ only be using X brand of ‘certified’ wraps. This is also dedicated to all the mothers (and fathers) who are feeling bad or who have been made to feel bad at any stage because someone has told them that they ‘should’ be parenting their child differently, or that their child ‘should’ be doing something by x stage of development or who generally gets what I am going on about when I say ‘ENOUGH WITH THE SHOULDS!’

Those who dish out the ‘shoulds’ should just shut up.

Recently I read a blog (Moata’s Blog Idle) and was happy to find that she has had similar parenting experiences to me. It seems that once one becomes a parent, lines are drawn in the sand in every direction. She wrote about how if you wear a pink cardigan in parenting land (paraphrased and added to) you accidentally are telling all parents that you are believer in pink cardigans and that all those who do not wear pink cardigans are inferior and ‘should’ wear pink cardigans.

It’s silly but true. What happens if you are just wearing a pink cardigan because you happen to like pink/like cardigans/your jersey is in the wash/you washed a white cardigan with red socks and you haven’t entered into and are not even interested in any parenting politics about becoming a wearer of pink cardigans?

I’m referring to baby wearers, baby led weaners, breast feeders, bottle feeders, co-cleepers, cot users, swaddlers, crunchy parents, natural parents, tiger mums, ‘normal mums’, milestone mums, super mums… because in parenting land it seems that whatever decision you make, there is a line drawn somewhere by someone that delineates your position politically as ‘baby wearer’ or ‘baby led weaner’ or ‘insert name here’ or WHATEVER just because you happen to be doing it somewhere and you were seen doing it or even by the way you look, you look like you would be doing it in private. (?)

With the input (and output) of social media, it seems that all of our decisions are bracketing us and trapping us within a mine-field of potential ‘shoulds’ by anybody and everybody who dares to occupy a different position.

I don’t really see an easy solution, but I do urge all those who have used the word ‘should’ in a cavalier fashion up til now to re-dress the frequency with which it is and will be dished out.

Before I had children I was spared the ‘should’ talk. As soon as I had a bump, I became public fodder for ‘should’ advice. ‘You shouldn’t be eating that pie’. ‘You should get your nursery ready early just in case…’, ‘You should buy cloth diapers’, ‘You should wear flat shoes…’, ‘You should watch your weight…’

Sigh.

Once you have a bump you are open for public critique in a way that non-parents are not. Once you become a parent, you are open for yet more critique because everyone (including those without children) has an opinion on how you should be raising them. The trouble is that a lot of this advice is unsolicited and the motivations for it are never clear. When a ‘should’ conflicts with the careful reading you have done and the care with which you are raising your own precious baby/ies, you can be filled with self-doubt, a feeling of not being good enough and of feeling ‘less than’ the great parent you probably already are.

Some anecdotes to make you feel better. (Here’s hoping…)

On breastfeeding

When I was pregnant some well-meaning friends of ours were offering advice on breastfeeding and how, in their opinion, babies shouldn’t be breastfed once they developed teeth. Their opinion was strong and included apparently ‘amusing’ anecdotes on five year olds ‘asking for the tit’ and how wrong it is and bla bla bla.

At nine months with my son, I weaned him not because I wanted to but because he was allergic to something and I couldn’t work out if it was in my diet or in his. He lost a lot of weight as a consequence and I beat myself up about it daily. I was haunted by other people saying ‘he should be weaned by now’ and the anecdotes from friends of ‘they shouldn’t breastfed when they have teeth’ and more ‘shoulds’ kept knocking at my door disguised as helpful advice. (By the way what I ‘should’ have done in hindsight is eliminated dairy and all would have been well but I never knew about that stuff then…)

I support extended breastfeeding now. Why shouldn’t I? I believe every family makes their own choices for what is right for them. I personally wish I had breastfed my son longer and now, at nearly nine months with my daughter, I am going to let her call the shots.

Babies ‘should’ be weaned once they have teeth? Well my daughter was born with two teeth. What am I supposed to do with that?

Shut up shoulds. Our babies, our choices. That is all.

(It might be worth noting at this juncture that the friends who had the strong opinions do not have children. Go figure.)

On Co-sleeping

We never set out to become ‘Natural Parents’ but a lot of our parenting has become that way accidentally just because we have chosen whatever path has the least resistance for us. Our son didn’t get his own room until he was two.

That’s just the way it happened. We had a side car cot on our bed so that we could safely co-cleep and many a visitor would chime, ‘Shouldn’t he have his own room by now?’ or ‘You should make sure he is sleeping in a big bed before the new baby comes’ or ‘You should start getting him used to being by himself now’.

So many shoulds and so many moments of wondering if we were doing the ‘right’ thing as a consequence when, without the should, it was all actually working just fine.

Any academic will tell you that in order to properly research a topic, one must delve into a variety of sources and look at conflicting opinions in order to satisfactorily decide on your own well-informed position on any given matter…

I say, take an academic approach and feel free to read up on whatever your topic is. But take the ‘shoulds’ you get from those around you with a grain of salt.

On teething

‘You should give your baby an amber teething necklace’, ‘You shouldn’t put anything around your baby’s neck’, ‘You should give your child medicine’, ‘You shouldn’t give your child anything that isn’t homeopathic’

Arrrrgh!

I’m not really a science-type but we tried a day with a teething necklace and a day without and we ‘measured’ the drool and took note of the discomfort. You ‘should’ experiment and find something that works for you. You ‘should’ also heed the advice of professionals. (Sorry two shoulds. Do with them what you will. Those were mindfully included but you may still discard them as you please.)

You ‘should’ avoid all the other shoulds because they can just make you feel bad.

On speech development

‘He should be saying Mummy by now’, ‘He should be counting by now’, ‘He should be able to recite the alphabet by now’. Should. Should. Should. Shut up.

Our son was a late talker. He seems to be catching up just fine now, thanks. Harried by ‘shoulds’, I took him to our Plunket Nurse and asked her if we had cause for concern. Apparently not.

On the spectrum –which is V A S T – his speech development is normal. Though not at the top of the bell curve, he was on the bell curve just the same.

My experience as a teacher is helpful to call on sometimes with times like these. Every student/every child achieves at a different rate. Every student/every child has different strengths. The bell curve has points on it in both directions.

I was a debating fiend at school and wasn’t so eloquent at catching a ball.

By contrast, my son is a superb hand-stander and early jumper even if his words have come a bit later than when they ‘should’ have.

On milestones

Earlier I dedicated this post to the mother whose MIL told her that her daughter ‘should’ be crawling and ‘should’ be sitting already. To her I say this, ‘hold fast to your instincts. You are your daughter’s mummy. Everyone else is a tourist’.

I also say ‘bell curve’ and ‘don’t listen to the shoulds’ because every child develops differently.

If you have cause for concern, see an expert but don’t let other people’s ‘shoulds’ weigh you down.

It made me angry to see that she was feeling bad when she had no need to.

On baby-wearing

I recently made my own woven wrap and I sewed two pieces together so that there was a central seam. I researched the seam and even looked up the construction of parachutes (?!) to ensure that I was not going to be putting my baby at risk by compromising the integrity of the fabric. I consequently had a bad experience where I was made to feel like I was a bad mother by inference because I ‘should’ only use approved wraps.

The negative inference of the ‘should’ was tangible and my feelings were hurt.

In this instance too, I say again: Be informed. Follow your gut.

The ‘shoulds’ don’t matter.

On how many children

A final anecdote to make the ‘shoulds’ shut up.

Recently I reconnected with an old friend who, being a mother of three, told me that I ‘should’ have another baby because “three is way better”.

I don’t doubt that her life with three is great. But I like my life with two right now.

Unwittingly, she made me feel bad about having ‘only two’.

We ‘should’ all be wary of how comparatives and shoulds can cause unnecessary concern. Let us all wear pink cardigans if we want to…

“Comparison is the thief of happiness” – that’s a favourite saying that I need to keep in mind when the ‘shoulds’ start getting more traction than they should. (Excuse the over-should-ing there).

Before you take on a ‘should’ onto your already heavily burdened shoulders, examine where the ‘should’ is coming from. Is it thinly veiled commercialism: “All good mothers ‘should’ wear Everything Batwings” (I’d never do that by the way), is it meant to be helpful or is it sneakily making someone else feel better about themselves because their baby ticks the boxes they ‘should’.

I didn’t say I had the solution, but I hope you can ignore the ‘should’ now that the negative ripples of its use have been unpacked.

Let the shoulds shut up.

Now for something a bit brighter – You SHOULD leave a comment below to win a free limited edition print. ;)

If you liked this post, please click ‘follow’ before you go (on the right) and take a moment to check out some of the stuff I make.

I have THREE Heartstacked Tiki Prints in GOLD or SILVER to give away. International entries welcome.

Just leave a comment about a ‘should’ that you have encountered recently (because we all have) and I will draw three random winners on Friday. X

tiki print silver framed tiki print gold framed

Calling Out All Mums: If you don’t do it twice, you are lying.

This is one of parenting’s great mysteries… This is a poem about it. Because I just caught myself out and I’d like to feel more certain that I am not the only one. Or am I?

I'll sniff your bum

I’ll hold your hand

I’ll make a stand

I’ll tickle your feet

I’ll help you to eat

I’ll wipe your chin

I’ll make you grin

I’ll strap your shoes

I’ll make you coo

I’ll wipe your tears

I’ll be all ears

I’ll rock you to sleep

I’ll stroke your cheek

I’ll read you stories

And make good memories

I’ll wash your hands

I’ll change your pants

I’ll clean up poo

I’ll always love you

AND

I’ll sniff your bum

Because I’m your mum

And I’ll sniff it again just to check.

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Love Outie.

‘The Benign Stranger’ – the truth about becoming a ‘Dad’

My man jokingly refers to himself as ‘The Benign Stranger’ and is brutally honest about his experiences as a dad. He tells other men who are expecting, ‘The first three months you may as well not even be there. All they want is their mummy and the boob… But once they are toddlers, that’s when you get to actually enjoy being a dad.’

He doesn’t mean to sound like he didn’t/doesn’t enjoy being a dad pre-toddler (because he has enjoyed ‘the whole fathering thing’ a lot) but there is a lot of truth in what he says. Playing Dad can feel like being ‘The Benign Stranger’ until the little person/little people begin to gain some independence and are more able to interact with figures ‘other’ than their mother.

Why ‘The Benign Stranger’?

Let’s analyse it. Grammar hats on now.

The (definite article)

He is the one and only. There is only one of him. He is ‘Dad’ or ‘Daddy’ but one of our children cannot yet call him that – so he is an ‘It’ or a ‘Thing’ and thus a ‘The’. He is not ‘a’ or one of many. He is ‘the’ person (other to mum) and he is ‘the’ man that comes home from work and leaves for work but always returns home. ‘The’ is capitalised because it is his title. Even though he is less familiar than Mummy, he is THE other mummy (as it were). He is ‘THE’ other provider of cuddles and companionship, of rough-housing and fun and, and, and…

Benign (adjective)

The Stranger is benign because he can be described by all of the following synonyms: kind, warm-hearted, good-natured, friendly, warm, affectionate, agreeable, tender, tender-hearted, soft-hearted, sympathetic, compassionate, considerate, thoughtful, helpful, obliging, accommodating, benevolent and caring.

He is the arms that are there when Mummy’s are busy. He is even the preferred arms sometimes. He is the strong-hold that lifts a little spirit higher than Mummy can reach. He is the mountain upon which little feet climb. He is the rock. He is the foundation. He is the heart of our family.

He is benign in another sense (which I think he refers to) in that he does ‘invade’ the family when he comes home. Sometimes it takes him a while to comfortably change out of his work-hat into his home-hat (one definitely needs a man cave…). Sometimes he can feel benign because he doesn’t know the home routines as well as mummy, he can’t read the baby signs as well as mummy, he doesn’t know how to fold the washing as well as mummy – but he is there and he tries and it counts.

I think he might also mean benign as feeling ‘ineffectual’ because he cannot take control of all parenting responsibilities. Deep down, men like to be in control or at least feel like they can take control let’s face it. The ineffectual feeling comes about because he has felt helpless watching a zombified mummy dragging her feet to yet another night feed, felt bad leaving armloads of crying at the door, felt worse when work has meant that he has come home too late to kiss the children goodnight. But if that sense of the word has crept into his conscience, it is dead wrong (for the record).

Stranger (noun)

The first definition of ‘stranger’ is “a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.”

The reality of having children is that one parent needs to stay home to look after them, at least for the first few months (or in our case ongoing…) A ‘normal’ working day often requires the working parent to leave before the children are up and to come home after they are in bed. The reality of being that parent is that you are less familiar to your children even if you might be the second most familiar person to them in the grand scheme of things.

The second definition of ‘stranger’ is “a person who does not know, or is not known in, a particular place or community.” Dads can feel like ‘a stranger in these parts’ when they come home purely because the nest has been taken over by another little life form’s needs.

Thirdly ‘stranger’ can mean “a person entirely unaccustomed to (a feeling, experience, or situation).” And it is this definition that might stick with more dad-figures than just our one. Women have nine months to adjust to the idea of a new life form growing and by nature, feel more ready to meet the new life than their male counterparts. Even the most ‘hands on’ dad during maternity couldn’t know the love-links that grow during pregnancy. Men can take longer to bond with babies and the conceptual adjustment of ‘becoming a dad’ has begotten screeds of literature because it is indeed a STRANGE feeling to get used to.

Fast forward two years and The Benign Stranger is not really so strange. In fact he is the favourite in our house. Him leaving for work results in mega-meltdowns. Him coming home from work causes faces to light up and a scurry of feet to the door.

Though the role of father is tricksy terrain and he may still refer to himself (tongue in cheek now) as ‘The Benign Stranger’; to us he is Daddy – the devoted and dependable big person we look forward to seeing every day, even if he is a bit strange.

 

Like this post? Click Follow before you go (on the right – or join us on facebook or Instagram) and please take a moment to check out some of the lovely things I have been making as a stay-at-home mummy. X

Making the baby is the easiest part of a pretty tough life-long job...

Making the baby is the easiest part of a pretty tough life-long job…

 

Happy Birthday Outie!

Happy Birthday Outie!

Today Outie turns two and it feels like a really big deal. We are officially up and running and our logo is now an up and running toddler we have modeled on our son running along our local Piha beach.

New Outie logo small

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Birthdays are a good time to celebrate and we want you to join in. For the whole month of September we are offering FREE SHIPPING with the code ‘happybirthday’. We would also love you to nominate a friend with a prize you think they would love each time you make a purchase. You never know whose day might be made just a little bit brighter…

We’ve also printed a limited edition collector’s print of our Heart-stacked Tiki design in gold and silver. These will come signed and numbered to celebrate.

tiki print gold framed tiki print silver framed

Turning two also means there are some changes going on. Our belly bump tees started this whole thing off and we feel we have outgrown them a bit. Fundamentally they are all about the drawings on the bump and these prints will all be available as greeting cards to congratulate a special someone or welcome an extra-special new someone soon. All maternity tees have more than 50% off as they are reduced to clear.

Drawing and design is the heart of Outie. Whether it is drawing a new pattern to help you to DIY, selecting the best bits of advertising to upcycle into Outie Splat Mats or drawing something sweet for your wall, Katrina is embracing her roots as an artist. The latest NEW and exciting range includes Outie organic cotton blankets, pillowcases and duvets with images that are all designed by Katrina with you in mind. It’s all Fun with a capital F.

Also at the heart is an interest in problem solving. The maternity tees solved the problem of ‘boring maternity fashion’. The Everything Batwing dresses solve the problem of feeding on the go, the Splat Mats solve the problem of babies making so much mess… We solve the niggly annoying things and make life easier so that you can focus on what life should be about – play.

That sums up our new logo and slogan. Outie: Design. Adventure. Play.

What can you look forward to now? Stay tuned for greeting cards, more fun nursery prints, custom designed organic cotton blankets, a GIANT OUTDOOR CHANGE BAG (speaking of adventure…) and more. You can tell us what you want to have on the perfect blanket (and even choose your colours) and Katrina will design it for you.

A custom blanket design. "Hippo Dreams" for Kristin.

A custom blanket design. “Hippo Dreams” for Kristin.

This little update comes with a BIG THANK YOU to all of you who have helped Outie begin and take our first baby steps. We are so pleased you can celebrate our second birthday with us.

Love Outie

Katrina and the Outie bandits.

P.S. Thanks for reading and please click ‘follow’ on the right before you go. X

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We do not talk about Sleep Club

Whether you know you are a member or not, we are all members of a secret society called The Sleep Club.

 

The first rule of Sleep Club is that you do not talk about Sleep Club.

 

You joined unwittingly at conception.

 

In early pregnancy, excitement keeps you from getting any.

In late pregnancy, discomfort prevents you from getting any.

In the newborn phase, sleep becomes its most elusive.

 

After that, it must remain secret. Talking about it risks a sleep jinx.

If your baby slept well last night, you must not talk about it. Talking about it increases the chances of a bad sleep the following night by 78%.

 

Replace all talk of Sleep Club with a mysterious nod.

 

 

Ten Easy Rules of Sleep Club

 

  1. You do not talk about Sleep Club.
  2. You DO NOT talk about Sleep Club.
  3. Smile and nod at people who ask you if your baby is sleeping through.
  4. Use the mystery nod at people who tell you their baby is sleeping through.
  5. Avoid the phrase, ‘sleeping like a baby’ at all costs.
  6. Learn thy lullabies.
  7. Believe in the sanctity of naps.
  8. Believe in the sanity that naps bring.
  9. Keep calm.
  10. Take one sleep at a time.

 

NB: Though this post be silly, the truth about talking about it has been true in our house. We have known the sleep jinx so consider yourself warned. Now when we all have a good night’s sleep, we give each other a secret smile (or the mystery nod) and try not to talk about it. A good night’s sleep is like Voldemort – it is better left unspoken.

Sleepless + mad busy + pregnant + baby brain = ?

Outie: Design. Adventure. Play.

 

Check out our website for a massive SALE on all maternity tees and our new logo to celebrate turning two and officially being up and running. X

 

101 ways to be a better MUM starting today

The best Mums (or Moms) steal some time away from underneath the ‘Mum’ label and make sure they find some time for the me that they were before they had kids.

Here are 101 simple things you can do without too much effort to tend to the ‘me under mummy’ which will make you a better parent too.

M.U.M – ‘Me Under Mummy’seed heart leaf

 

  1. Put your baby down and stretch
  2. Use your baby to do some baby weights
  3. Start a notebook and write down three things you want to do for yourself this week
  4. Book a date with a friend for next week
  5. Make sure you have one thing you are looking forward to doing tomorrow
  6. Make yourself a mummy-only container of something you love in the pantry
  7. Pull a random day out of the calendar and dedicate it to being a ‘me’ day
  8. Choose a new book to read
  9. Read your favourite book again
  10. Delegate one boring chore to someone else
  11. Hang your favourite clothes up somewhere where you can see them and start planning for an occasion to wear them
  12. Wear your favourite shoes just because
  13. Choose a pair of lucky socks
  14. Make a list of five new things you want to learn how to do before the end of the year
  15. Start learning one new thing this month
  16. Write something affirming on a note and put it in your wallet
  17. Start a daily compliment routine with a friend (it must be reciprocated).
  18. Set an exercise goal
  19. Identify a weakness and work on it
  20. Put a nice note under your pillow to read before you go to bed
  21. Make a date night jar of ideas
  22. Plan a date night
  23. Do a recipe swap with a friend
  24. Teach your children something you loved as a child
  25. Draw something
  26. Watch something that you find funny and let yourself laugh
  27. Turn your phone off
  28. Get outside
  29. Find a new place that is nice to eat ice cream at
  30. Write down three work-related goals for some time in the future
  31. Start a five year plan vision diagram
  32. Put your favourite music in the car
  33. Drive through a car wash
  34. Declutter your wardrobe
  35. Sing your favourite song
  36. Find a new genre of music
  37. Rent a foreign film
  38. Choose a new language to learn
  39. Learn a new language
  40. Read a non-fiction book
  41. Choose a place at random and learn five things about it
  42. Look up and watch the clouds
  43. Make a collection of things that make you feel good and put them in a place where you can see them
  44. Find a new celebrity crush
  45. Find a new celebrity role model
  46. Make yourself a mocktail (or cocktail)
  47. Cook your own favourite dinner
  48. Have a candle-lit bath
  49. Book an in home massage during naptime
  50. Write a haiku
  51. Learn about haiku
  52. Use a new word
  53. Research a class you would like to take
  54. Donate old clothes to the op shop and buy something fun while you are there
  55. Take the long way home
  56. Go to the beach
  57. Drink a cup of tea in nice china
  58. Make a success list of all the things you rocked at today
  59. Write your child a letter
  60. Make a time capsule for future you (for your kids as well)
  61. Do something today that will make tomorrow easier
  62. Put an inspiring quote up on the fridge
  63. Start a new savings account to spend on yourself
  64. Make time for a subject you wished you did at school
  65. Exercise your brain with some sums just for fun
  66. Do a crossword
  67. Hula hoop
  68. Wear make up (or don’t)
  69. Do something mad with your hair
  70. Wear a new bright colour
  71. Run up some stairs
  72. Share your goals with a friend
  73. Become an accountability monitor for a friend’s goals
  74. Start a diary
  75. Start a blog
  76. Find a new blog to follow (this one?)
  77. Write down one thing you miss about life pre-children and get over it
  78. Cuddle your kids (mummy perk)
  79. Walk in the rain
  80. Wear fun jewellery
  81. Make your own reward chart
  82. Share your personal goals with your significant other
  83. Write a letter (not an email) to an old friend
  84. Start planning your ideal holiday
  85. Write your partner a love letter
  86. Write yourself a love letter
  87. Write a ‘things I am mad about’ list and then throw it away
  88. Enter a competition to win something you really want
  89. Make a wish list and put it up somewhere
  90. Plant some seeds
  91. Go to the gym
  92. Find a pram class or baby-friendly class
  93. Practise a new yoga pose
  94. Learn sign language
  95. Become a better accountant
  96. Include a night off in your meal planning
  97. Start a new collection
  98. Turn a facebook friend into a real friend
  99. Watch your favourite movie
  100. Get a cactus (hard to kill and cool when they flower)
  101. Stop comparing.

If you liked this post, you might like to see what I get up to. I like making stuff for my babies and all of the best things have turned into a little shop. You can check it out here:

http://www.outie.co.nz X

What do they do with the real children?

I love magazines and I love pinterest. I also love browsing baby stores and looking at gorgeously dressed nurseries. Sometimes I am shopping, sometimes I am getting inspiration but mostly I am thinking, why doesn’t my house look like that? And I am weighed down by the little green monster as well as the toddler climbing on my shoulder and the baby pulling at my breast. (Really).

I have to read the magazines with a virtual green monster fork in my hand so that I can stab the little green monster in the eye and tell it firmly, ‘real life is not like that’.

Or is it?

When I come home from an outing with two kids, I come home to a house that looks like I have real kids. They are real live and kicking mess-makers. Little miss has left little white spots over my lovely woollen rug and mister two has made noodles go where no noodle has gone before because he was swinging them like a helicopter earlier that day…

I have a Splat Mat that gets pretty well splatted every day and I have a kitchen that gets full of dishes from our baking adventures. Mister two’s room has a few cool designy elements – wall decals, another Splat Mat and some neat things that I have made for him – but the bed is tousled and covered in books and the tee pee is a bit lopsided due to being climbed on.

So here is a quick critique of some of the enviable nurseries that I have seen lately.

Nursery One has stacks of vintage books placed in beautiful piles of three. It has vintage teacups on display and a Baboushka cushion with long tassles.

It has white carpet and colour-matched walls and curtains and I love it.

But real children can’t live there, can they? Vintage teacups would be smashed in my house and putting them on top of books is a disaster waiting to happen. Putting books out that are not for touching is like toddler torture.

And tassles on cushions get pulled at, torn off or sucked.

I can meet them half way though…

My vintage books are on the top shelf for ‘special reading’ when mummy can help and the vintage teacups are also well ‘away’. My son has melamine teacups from my grandmother’s old picnic set (sweetly nostalgic) and they are ‘allowed’ (just).

Once I had a Cars and Trains Golden Book that I thought might be nice for mister two to go to bed with. It didn’t last and now I only have loose pages that I am either going to have to make bunting with or decoupage onto something one day when I find some time…

Nursery Two is themed with black and white and everything matches. The babies even wear the same designs and can be camouflaged in their own bed. There are no fingerprints on any of the shiny white things and the black and white styling looks, simply, rad.

But my kids go to the beach and go puddle jumping and are often too muddy for white things. Sometimes I put my toddler to bed with jam still on his face and sometimes, we aren’t supposed to talk about it, but sometimes he poos and it goes everywhere and his sheets are not spared.

Once I even put him to bed still wearing his gumboots because I was too scared to yank them off his feet for fear of waking the little beast up.

The black and white nursery also has low shelves with precious things on the bottom shelf. There are porcelain ornament out for display.

Porcelain ornaments?

Do the children that live there have no hands?

I don’t think real children live there either.

Nursery Three has a crane mobile hanging artfully above the cot. There would be close to 100 cranes and they must look lovely swaying and bouncing in the breeze.

I recall hearing a strange noise when my son eventually ‘caught’ his mobile and sent the fish shooting up to the ceiling because he liked the crashing sound it made and how it bounced so well on elastic. Imagine the sound of 100 cranes…

These nurseries must have hidden storage that is out of shot. In addition to all of the stuff that they have clearly swept out of the way and climbed on to take the shot, the real children must be hiding too. Or am I missing something?

Where are the real children?

 

Here are some tips for your nursery if you, like me, have real children.

 

1)      Choose a few ‘signature things’ to make the room fun

2)      If you buy white, buy more than one if you want it to stay white.

3)      Invest in more storage than you think you need (and then some more)

4)      Predict a climbing, yanking, drawing monster and try to provide spaces that allow for this growth

5)      Always have an Outie Splat Mat on hand for an eco-design option for messy play

6)      Hang mobiles higher than you think your child can reach

7)      Install high shelves for precious things and/or vintage books

8)      Add your signature with cute nursery prints (free set of six available too!)

 baby elephant crown of butterflies grow wise me love muchoarohagrey and yellow with copyright shinebrightlittlestar

Every way is the right way around for once

I have been thinking about my Art School days a lot recently. We learned a certain way of thinking that pushed us, as artists, to revisit an idea from every angle until we were happy with an outcome. The same applies to critique of objects and aesthetics, that it takes a few angles and changes in perspective to truly appreciate an idea and/or form.

I didn’t really see that certain forms that I was interested in all those years ago have been repeating themselves in ways that I hadn’t noticed. It seems it just takes time to work an idea out in order to bring it around full circle.

In my paintings I have been obsessed with circles. I have used them to frame portraits and looked at them as symbols of halos and suns and holes in the atmosphere of painted worlds. In my business, I love putting images into round shapes , framing them within circles. My series of t-shirts was always inspired by the round bump of pregnancy. Similarly, my favourite shape for my Splat Mats has always been the circle. Some argue that a square is more functional as a messy mat under the high chair, but I just love the aesthetics of a circle because it can never look crooked and it seems to frame the designs better (I reckon anyway).

And recently I was thinking about circles and the way they keep repeating in  the things that I make and do and I was looking at my Snuggle Shrugs and I was admiring how there are no corners and how the shapes of the pattern pieces are all round…

And the idea just hit me in the face.

I am not sure why I haven’t thought of this before, but it makes perfect (circle) sense.

Introducing ROUND merino swaddle blankets.

The benefits:

  • there is no right way around
  • they look perfect when laid out flat on the floor
  • they are like a coloured ‘spot light’ to show off your baby
  • they can be folded along any edge to be used like a conventional swaddle blanket
  • they can drape over car seats as a shade and there are no corners to drag on the floor
  • they are large for a swaddle blanket so their utility is enhanced
  • they are now more like a real-life baby burrito
  • they are the perfect accompaniment to the 120cm round Splat Mat (which provides a super-durable and waterproof backing underneath)
  • they are just better all round

 

I know it seems like these are ‘just a blanket’ but they are actually much more than that to me. They are the realisation of a set of ideas all falling into place. Like a perfect circle.

 

Get yours here.

Love Outie

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Houdini Baby? Keep Calm and Swaddle On

My baby is a Houdini.

She settles best when she is swaddled but we have had real problems with her hands getting out when we swaddle her with standard muslin and stretch swaddle blankets. With her hands out, she scratches her face, knocks her dummy out and generally becomes distressed until I re-swaddle her.

This ends up being a bit dramatic in the middle of the night…

She is also a ‘warm baby’. She doesn’t like her feet being covered (at all!) and I worry about her overheating if I put her in a Sleep Sack AND swaddle her with a blanket…

Hmmm.

I went into my studio hunting for a solution. And I came up with this. X

The Outie Snuggle Shrug TM – designed by Katrina Ward (me).

 

Step One: Lay your Outie Snuggle Shrug flat

 

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Step Two: Position your baby so that their neck is at the bottom of the horse shoe shape. It should look like your little angel has ‘wings’.

 

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Step Three: Fold one wing down over your baby’s arm and under their back to make a shrug. Pull it firmly through on the other side. This prevents the Shrug from shifting if you have a Houdini baby.

 

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Step Four: Fold the other ‘wing’ down and under baby and pull firmly as before.

 

 

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Step Five: Fold the Snuggle Shrug’s shorter arm over baby’s arm and wrap across body. You can choose to either tuck it behind baby’s back or leave the end loose to tie in the next step.

 

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Step Six: Fold longer length of Shrug over baby’s arm. Pull across body and wrap around back firmly.

 

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Step Seven: Pull end around and either tie to first end in a simple knot OR if first end is tucked, simply tuck second end in over middle v-shape made from fabric of Snuggle Shrug on baby’s front.

 

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Step Eight: Tuck loose ends in securely. Tickle test and put baby down for a nap.

 

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FAQs:

How do I wean off swaddling? You can simply leave one arm out at steps five or six so that the fabric wraps under the arm rather than over the arm.

Can I wrap with arms by the side? Yes. Leave baby’s arm down as you wrap the arms of the Snuggle Shrug across.

Can I use this with a Sleep Sack? Yes. The Outie Snuggle Shrug is designed to be used with a Sleep Sack so that you can get more use out of one. You can also happily use the Snuggle Shrug without a sleep sack in warmer months.

What if my baby is rolling? If your baby is rolling, it is safest to swaddle with one arm out.

What is the Outie Snuggle Shrug made from? You can choose from either 100%cotton (like the printed one in the pics) or you can choose 100% merino. Both of these fabric options are breathable and merino is a great baby sleep fabric option because it helps baby regulate their own temperature.There are lots of benefits to dressing your baby in merino which I have listed on the merino Outie Snuggle Shrug shop listing.

Where can I get an Outie Snuggle Shrug? From our website!

Do you ship Internationally? Yes we do. Please send me an email (sales@outie.co.nz) so that I can send you a personal invoice with shipping for your country included.

Thanks for stopping by!

Love Katrina

Outie: we make parenting more fun

SECRET CHILDHOOD TRAINING: A list of games with stealthy provisions for parenting

SECRET CHILDHOOD TRAINING: A list of games with stealthy provisions for parenting

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Today, in the late afternoon terror hour, I had a flash back to the first time I had to console my two very upset children in the middle of the night. One needed patting (after being fed) and the other needed rubbing (to be consoled after a night mare) and I had an epiphany: This is why I learned to rub my tummy and pat my head at the same time as a child. This is why. (And I had always wondered what the point of that game was, really, and why you couldn’t just pat your tummy too…?)

Some games in childhood have echoes that we could never have predicted.

Here is a list of childhood ‘games’ paired with the real training that we got when we were playing them.

Games we Played (with secret provisions for parenting)

Sack races – This game taught you the basic and essential training for trying to leave your child in the care of someone else when they don’t want you to go. The hopping method is useful for manoeuvring with a toddler wrapped around your legs.

Pick Up Sticks – This game teaches you how the indispensable skill of carefully extracting a toy or book from a sleeping child without moving anything else and thus keeping them asleep.

Tug Of War – It seemed like a game of strength as a child but really it is how to grab something just when the other party releases tension slightly allowing you to take back for yours what has been mistaken as ‘mine’ in toddler speak.

Operation – This thrilling and intense game taught you how to skilfully get something out of a small space without touching the sides using a pair of tweezers attached to a wire. Really what it was teaching you is how get a syringe into a baby’s mouth in order to give them medicine without them tasting it or spitting it out.

Toys in the cart – Wasn’t it always fun to take your toys with you on the back of your trike, in your bike basket or in your cardboard box? This is a field exercise for when you have real live little side-kicks that will need to go with you everywhere. Everywhere.

Piggyback races – Rookie training! You will learn to carry a small person on your hip, over your shoulder, around your neck, attached to your ankles, wrapped around your legs, under your arm, around your little finger and across your chest and all at once.

All my dollies/All my puppies – All children want to play with all the small things all at once scoop them up to see if they can carry them all. This is reverse psychology for when parents have all the small things wanting to be carried by them and for when their arms are simply not big enough.

Cats Cradle – This seemed to be a fun game of patience making knots with string between your fingers. In actual fact you were being trained to have patience in the face of futility and how to gently ease knots out of your child’s hair and untie knots/undo messes in general without losing the plot.

SNAP – This was always a fun game that involved simple recognition of matching symbols. This is played as parents when we recognise parts of our other half’s bad traits coming to the fore in the little mirrors that are out children. Instead of slapping the pile of cards, we slap our partner. “He got that from you!” (Not really, but mentally, you know.)

CLUEDO – It seems like a fun mystery/problem solving game. The reality of this game is that you are taught to be accusatory and really want to know whodunit. Who left the dirty nappy on the floor? Who left the bath water in? Who left the fridge open? Who ate the last ginger nut? (I suggest it was Mrs. Peacock, in the Dining Room, with the Candlestick ??).

Snakes and ladders – This is advanced mental training for expecting and coping with ‘snake days’. On days like these you feel like all your progress (with sleep training/potty training/napping/eating for example) goes quickly downhill.

Connect Four – Similar to the training received in Snakes and Ladders, in this game you realise that trying to establish a routine or pattern in life will quickly be upset by some small person removing a whole row of little coins or pulling the rug out from under your feet as it were.

What’s the time Mr. Wolf? – This game teaches strategy for teaching awareness of the time and how the ‘wolf’ can dictate nap times. Every parent, at some stage at least, has to admit that there is a certain count-down going on till nap time or bed time. Go on. Admit it.

Murder in the dark – This game, by far the scariest, rehearses the skill of sneaking around in the dark without anyone knowing you are there. This is vital for sneaking into the kids’ room to check on them, for being Santa and for pretending you are not there when they are awake and looking at you in the middle of the night when they are supposed to be asleep.

Blind man’s buff – This is the game of all games in parenting stratagem because, let’s face it, none of us really know what we are doing. Right?

 

Love Outie

Fun stuff for fun parents

Image credit: c/- Usborne.com

P.S. We have a new SNUGGLE SHRUG in our range now. It’s new and exciting and you should check it outie.

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When ‘good naked’ goes bad – how to be ‘not bad naked’.

When ‘good naked’ goes bad – how to be ‘not bad naked’.

 

Fact: There is a lot of planned nakedness involved in the making of children.

Fact: There is a degree of expected nakedness involved in giving birth.

Fact: There is a whole lot of unplanned and unexpected nakedness after the arrival of children.

Fact by Proxy: Some of that naked is not ‘good naked’.

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There is a Seinfeld episode (The Apology) where Jerry dates a woman who likes to hang out naked. The idea of it is great at first. He has eye candy at every corner – but the reality of it (when she is doing menial tasks) loses its appeal. Her un-composed nakedness makes him uncomfortable because the allure of the nude has been compromised by the daily grind.

The first ‘crack’ in the nude woman’s allure is when she coughs naked. Jerry is repulsed and the mystique of the female form he used to covet is irrevocably transformed. When Jerry tries to return the ‘favour’ (of all-the-time- nakedness), she corrects him and tells him that, “[His nakedness] is not good naked.”

~

The goal of having sex (again) after you have had children is attainable. This will involve some nakedness (obviously) yet in the lead up to that composed event, there will be many other naked non-sex events that no one wants you to know about.

People have more than one child all the time – so there is accepted proof out there that becoming a parent does not mean death to sex. Sex post birth may take a while for a multitude of reasons including (but not limited to) the need to heal, the need to sleep, body issues/confidence, discomfort and the unforgettable fact that once the baby is born, it is there.

Right there.

And it has tiny little ears and tiny little eyes that are ever so close by…

But something that is not often addressed (or not dressed at all.. tee hee) is that despite trying to be naked together for a common goal, there will be a lot of naked episodes in between. In fact, the nakedness that will occur has nothing to do with wanting to be seen naked or getting naked together. Instead it is just a clumsy side effect of being busy with children and simply being caught out naked. This accidental and frequent nakedness when caught out doing ‘just stuff’ results in the ‘not good naked’ that Jerry was humiliatingly schooled in by his girlfriend in The Apology.

Becoming a parent erases your ability to do things in private as well as in a timely and organised fashion. Getting naked can be added to the list of these things that are difficult to do (privately/organisedly/fashionably).

Becoming a parent actually means that there will be a lot more ‘unbecoming’ parent situations you will need to tackle.

This idea of ‘not good naked’ (i.e. not appealing naked) happens frequently as a parent because parents get busy attending to the needs of their children and they just happen to be naked. This is not because they have arranged for a naked play date with their other half – but simply because they have not had time to get dressed, they have been vomited all over, they were in the process of getting dressed when something happened, they were in the shower when the baby started crying or they forgot to get dressed altogether…

The possibilities for unexpected nakedness are endless and it is a simple truth that parents have to get used to: Parents will be caught out naked and they will not have time to compose themselves appropriately.

Is it important to retain some level of mystique in a relationship post children? It might be, but good luck with that.

Pre-children couples trying for their first baby have time to be guarded, groomed, considered and composed and they can present themselves naked and really bank on presenting themselves as ‘good naked’. But post-children couples? Unguarded, ungroomed, un-considered, un-composed…

Post children couples catch each other out naked. They are exposed. ‘Not good naked’ happens.

But, truly, it is not the end of the world and you can avoid super bad naked with a little care. ‘Not good naked’ can be a happy side effect of parenting that is a sign of a comfortable family environment. ‘Not good naked’ can be skilfully evaded by following some easy ‘good naked’ rules.

Following ‘good naked’ rules will leave you with being ‘not bad naked’ which is really not that bad at all, considering.

 

Here is a list of ‘Always’ and ‘Never’ rules for parents to help keep naked ‘good’:

1)      Never cough naked (thanks Seinfeld)

2)      Always undress yourself last if bathing with the baby.

3)      When squatting to dry a child after the bath, always ensure you have a towel handy.

4)      Always put pants on first before beginning new tasks.

5)      Never take pants off first leaving just shirt and bare bottom when undertaking parenting tasks.

6)      Never wear just socks.

7)      Always take socks off first.

8)      Never put a shirt on before pants.

9)      Never try to put on clothes that are too small in front of your significant other (especially if you are still wet after a shower).

10)   Always put underwear on the right way around.

11)   Always remember a change of clothes for yourself as well as your child at public engagements.

12)   Always expect unexpected guests.

13)   Never stoke the fire naked.

14)   Always plan for an eventual ‘good naked’ meeting to hopefully eclipse accidental ‘bad naked’ mistakes.

15)   Always remember that many people before you have managed to have more than one child.

16)   Always remember that ‘not bad naked’ can be the new ‘good naked’.

 

P.S: I had entirely too much fun with double entendres writing this. Sorry about that. ;)

 

Love Outie

Fun stuff for fun parents

What’s your Breast-feeding Super Hero Name?

What's your Breast-feeding Super Hero Name?

You can call me Super Silver Top! We had a lot of fun coming up with these names – hope you have a lot of fun seeing what your new name is too!
Love Outie
http://www.outie.co.nz

I want my baby bump back

*talking*
Oh my god
Hubby, look at her bump
It’s so big
She looks like one of those ripe watermelons
She could pop at any second
She looks like her waters will break any minute
I mean her bump
It’s just so big
I can’t believe it’s so round
It’s just out there
I mean, it’s gorgeous
Look, she’s just so pregnant.

*rap*
I like big bumps and I can not lie
You other mothers can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with a biggy-biggy waist
And a round thing in your face
Your heart skips
Wanna start right now
Cuz you notice that bump aint stuffed
Hanging over the jeans she’s wearing
We’re hooked and we can’t stop staring

Oh, baby I want another baby

(Just one more baby)

My home girls try to warn me
But that bump you got
Make Me So Clucky

Ooh, rump of smooth skin
I wanna put you in a Batwing
I’ve seen them belly bump tees
To hell with being frumpetty…

I want my baby bump back.

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(This photo of my giganto-bump was taken one day before my little girl arrived at 40 weeks and 2 days. I miss it…)

 

Love Outie.

 

Houseproud House Cleaning Tips With A Toddler

I often pine for the delicious state my house used to be in pre-children – but I do get little windows of clean house that I like to enjoy alone before it all gets messed up again.

 

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The best advice I have for new mummies – is to do your chores with your babies so that you can rest when they do. I never did this with my son and raced around making myself miserable while he slept doing all my chores and never got a break!

I have only found the time to write this today because I have managed to get my cleaning done with both my babies awake. Now that they are both sleeping, I get to have some down time.

Here are some of my cleaning tips: (I also like to clean just before nap time so that all the activity wears my toddler out nicely. Hee hee hee he doesn’t know I am on to him…)

BABY

First make sure that the baby is changed and fed and safe from toddler terrorism. I like to wear my baby while I vacuum but I can’t really wear her when I want to clean the toilet or bend down for something. I use a baby bouncinette or I set her up with a play gym for the duration of my super-quick house clean. If she is not ready for a sleep, she just comes along from room to room with us.

 GEAR

This is my cleaning kit:

Bottle of white vinegar in a spray bottle

Bottle of 50/50 bleach and water spray

Spray bottle of water

Three cloths

An old tee shirt

Newspaper

Eco-store cream cleaning solution (like jiff)

 QUICK CLEAN UP

Involve toddler in a series of slam dunking ‘pick up’ activities to clear floor ready for vacuuming.

Use brush and shovel for fun ‘digger’ activity if you have lots of smaller toys.

SWEEP

Give toddler brush and shovel or broom to help.

VACUUM

Give toddler pile of books to sit and read in a special sitting spot. Wear baby to zen her out ready for nap.

Put baby down to nap and move on to other chores.

Sometimes I like to give my toddler some baking soda with a sieve to sieve baking soda over the carpet as a home-made deodoriser (he has fun and afterwards I get to ‘see’ how clean my house is).

BATHROOM/S

Occupy toddler in dry bath with bath crayons or give toddler bottle of water to spray around bathroom to ‘help’.

Spray toilet with bleach solution and leave.

Spray counters and mirrors with vinegar solution and leave.

Squirt jiff around toilet and quickly scrub bowl.

Run shower and swap toddler’s water spray bottle for vinegar spray bottle.

Scrub shower while in shower with toddler. (this is my shower) ‘Rub out’ drawings as part of cleaning method – get them to help by spraying vinegar.

Leave plug in shower for toddler to splash in bottom (if it’s a bath one like our one) while quickly wiping vanity down.

Use newspaper to polish mirror.

Polish taps with dry t-shirt.

Wipe down all surfaces. Finally wipe toilet and throw first cloth away/in wash.

Take wet toddler with you to do bedrooms.

BEDROOM

Dress wet toddler and chuck wet towel in laundry.

Strip beds and make tent with dry laundry for toddler to play in. (roll up and make a round ‘nest’ or hang over couch cushions to make a hut)

Add teacups for tea party.

Play ‘red rag to a bull’ or ‘whoosh’ toddler with sheets.

Put toddler on bed to jump and ‘help’ tuck in sheets.

Put toddler in duvet cover and carry around for a while like a mad santa.

Put duvet cover on duvet.

Finish making bed/s.

Use second cloth to dust surfaces in bedrooms and move to kitchen.

 KITCHEN

Set toddler up in high chair with pre-nap snacks.

While they eat, spray counters of kitchen with vinegar.

Boil kettle for coffee.

Empty dish washer while kettle boils.

Wipe all surfaces and load dish washer. Turn it on.

Polish taps with dry tee-shirt.

Make coffee.

Clean up toddler, wipe high chair and put to bed.

 

Relax with coffee and enjoy your down time.

 

OK. So I didn’t wash the floors yet. But that one has to be done when the toddler is out or asleep otherwise the slippery floor is dangerous…

And this way I get to have some me time in my lovely clean house. Even if it is only clean for me to see.

 

And finally, four small confessions:

Sometimes I scrub the toilet and leave the soapy stuff in the bottom so that my work can be ‘seen’. This is my ‘thank you prompt’.

Sometimes I fold the toilet paper and pretend I am in a hotel.

Sometimes I skate on the floor with wet towels soaked in detergent when no-one is around as a more fun way to mop.

I pay myself to clean the house instead of paying a cleaner so that I feel more valued and do a better job. (So I keep the money that I would otherwise pay a cleaner – that’s paying myself!)

 

How do you manage your chores with children?

Love Outie.

Ode to the Boob – a poem

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Breastfeeding can be an inspiring time. Just sitting there, unable to move… and thus a poem is born. Just now. X

 

Ode to the Boob

 

Ode to the Boob

Large and full

Ode to its function as a feeding tool.

 

Ode to the bonding, ode to the gaze;

Ode to the nipple and the littlest face.

 

Ode to the pressure, ode to the cry;

Ode to the accidental squirt in the eye.

 

Ode to let down and ode to the pump,

Ode to the rhythm of a hungry suck.

 

Ode to expressing and ode to nesting

Ode to being up all night and never resting.

 

Ode to the changes and ode to the veins,

Ode to teething and to the startling pains.

 

Ode to the ‘shower head’ and ode to the latch

Ode to the leak and ode to the wet patch.

 

Ode to ‘momentary Pamela’ and ode to cleavage,

Ode to the confidence before the leakage.

 

Ode to the Boobie,

To the breast, to the rack

Ode to the role of mother

And to never looking back.

 

-Katrina Ward, 2014.

 

Check out our breastfeeding wraps and dresses here.

 

 

 

 

Postpartum What?! Embarrassing stuff you need to know.

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Postpartum what?! Embarrassing stuff you need to know.

“At least if you have a C-section, you don’t bleed for six weeks.”

“No. You still bleed.”

“Oh”.

Birth is a subject that is widely covered. But what about the ‘scary stuff’ that happens afterwards? Here’s a list of things you might need (or might not) with a quick reason for why you might need it. Some are obvious and some are lesser so. If you have any questions, please ask – but don’t be scared.**

Knowledge is power as they say.

Maxi pads or incontinence pads

Whether you have a natural birth or a C-section, your uterine wall will take a while to heal where the placenta was attached. This takes around six weeks and in that time you will bleed while it heals over. Incontinence pads are also useful as they have a higher level of absorption – and you may even need them for what they are designed for until you can strengthen up your pelvic floor again.

Ah bras/Crop Bras

A crop top bra or ‘sleep bra’ will be a comfortable option day or night as they are easy to feed in and are stretchy to accommodate fluctuations in breast size.

Granny knickers and/or disposable knickers in dark colours

Things get messy, so you may as well be prepared.

Disposable ice packs or home-made ice packs (or frozen pads with witch hazel)

Post birth you may be sore and ice can be a great way to reduce swelling and reduce inflammation around any tears.

Stool softeners

Some liken the first ‘movement’ to having another baby. Things are pretty tender so why not make it easier on yourself.

Mag phos

As above, even releasing gas can be difficult. Mag phos helps.

Flaxseed

As above. Can we move on now?

Comfortable clothes

You will be spending a lot of time nursing, resting and healing. Comfort is key.

Soft toilet paper

Life’s little luxuries are important.

Prune juice and fibre rich treats

See previous points about the importance of stool softeners.

Comfy robe (We recommend Outie silk kimono top (of course))

For nursing or for privacy when receiving visitors, a comfortable robe is gold.

Spare changes of sheets

You will be leaking milk and your baby will spill and you will probably also have night sweats. All of this might happen without you having time to do any washing. Having a spare full set of sheets (or three) on hand is worthwhile.

Water bottles

Post birth you will want to flush any drugs out of your system quickly and drinking lots of water will also help reduce water retention. If you are breastfeeding it is also important to keep your fluids up.

Yoga pants

Yoga pants can offer a little more support around your tender tummy and they are comfortable too.

Old towels

You might have a spill or you might have leakage from your maxi pads or you might get blood on your towels after showering. Having old towels on hand is pretty useful.

Foot stool for the bathroom

Some women say that this really helps pass the first motion post birth.

A waterproof sheet or mattress protector

See the previous note about spare sheets. A waterproof sheet will help keep your mattress protected too. Much cheaper than a new mattress.

Long tank tops or shelf tanks

Wearing tank tops or singlets are easy for nursing and if they have a built in bra then they also reduce your need to buy a nursing bra. Wearing them in a longer length means that you can cover your tummy while you heal up nicely too.

Batwing Nursing Dress (of course!)

batwing nursing

You can wear these as a top or as a dress over a shelf tank or long tank top and they can be easily ‘dressed up’ while breastfeeding on demand.

Binding tubes/Tubi-grips

You can wear these around your tummy to help support your abdomen while you heal. Some women find that these help to shrink your tummy faster too.

Sleep bra

See the previous note on ‘Ah bra’ or crop top bra. A shelf tank top will also work but you will need some support when sleeping with your larger than normal milk-filled boobs.

Pressure stockings

You might be given these post birth to help reduce swelling in your legs.

Donut pillow

Some women swear by these to relieve the pain of sitting with haemorrhoids caused by pregnancy and/or child birth.

Haemorrhoid cream

Enough said.

Porridge

Anything with oats can increase your milk supply. Porridge is a nice comfort food to have on hand.

A grabber

Kids have them, old people have them and you can have one too. It can be really sore bending down post-birth (especially after a C-section or tear) and a grabber might just help you put your own knickers on.

A peri bottle or tea tree oil spritz

You may have ‘raw’ areas that will benefit from ice packs but you might also want to bathe these areas in an antiseptic spray. A peri bottle takes the hassle out of that particular job.

Cloth breast pads (we recommend hemp ones from Laulipop’s Shop)

Waterproof on one side and absorbent on the other, you will need these if you are breastfeeding and you want to avoid spending unnecessary money on disposable breast pads. Buy as many as you can to ensure good hygiene as frequent changing is required (plus your washing machine gnomes might steal a few).

Lanolin cream

This is a fatty cream that can help with cracked nipples which is a common complaint of women when breastfeeding.

Comfy cardigan

Any front-opening warm top will do but you will want something to wear that is easy to breastfeed in and still cosy.

Trinity Nursing Wrap (of course!)

Blue Trinity NursingWrap

If you have guests and want some discretion, these are perfect for this purpose. They can be worn three ways – as a loop scarf, as a neck warmer and as a nursing cover. They can also keep you warm for those chilly night feeds.

Blue incontinence sheets

If you don’t have a mattress protector but you still want to be protected in bed, these sheets can be a disposable replacement or in conjunction with a mattress protector for ueber protection.

Prop pillow or Tri pillow

Anything to stop you falling over at night when you are breastfeeding for the fifth time and struggling to stay awake – these are also good for general back support and breakfast in bed. If feeding on the couch, these can also be used across the tummy as a replacement for a breastfeeding pillow.

** Some of these are Outie products but we wouldn’t have made them if we didn’t need them! X

 

Did we forget anything? Share your tips below!

Love Outie.

 

 Outie: bumps, babies, boobies. Boom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex-Free Romps – 5 Play Dates for Parents

This post is sponsored by the Outie Splat Mat (perfect for all things messy and fun with little grublets around!)

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‘Those that play together, stay together’ is a truth we hold dear.

Fun needs to be the fizz that keeps your love bubbling…

When you have a child, things change. Things can change quite a lot and your previous ‘entertainment’ habits may need to change too. Your sex life may be [a lot] quieter than usual and you might have to reinvent what constitutes a fun night in with your partner…

And it’s not just post-baby, post-birth, body bulges and baby getting in the way – budgeting, time, energy, sleeplessness and brand new feelings in a new role as parents can also dramatically affect life as you knew it.

Play dates don’t have to be ‘serious’ dates. They don’t have to be particularly romantic and they are not necessarily night-time specific either.

But they should be fun.

And we like fun.

 

5 FAVOURITE PLAY DATES TO HAVE WITH YOUR PLAY MATE

(Enjoying the little things is key…)

 

  1. Blind Play dough sculpt-off

 

This is a simple game involving play dough.

One person suggests an object or an animal and then you have two minutes (or determine your own time) to make the animal/object with your eyes closed. (No peeking!) Once the time is up, you judge each other’s work.

You can make it as hard (or as easy) as you like: tea cup and saucer, elephant, Madonna and Child, toaster, stag (with antlers!), a worm…

 

2. DVD munch-fest in a couch nest

 

This one is popular in our household.

We choose a DVD and our favourite treats, push our two couches together to make a big ‘nest’ and settle in for the night.

Cosy.

 

3. Rude word Scrabble 

 

For some reason my man and I always draw at scrabble. We are both very competitive and it always ends up as an exact tie when we play ‘the normal way’ – neither of us can explain it and it just keeps happening.

Add a ‘rude words only’ rule and the results are a lot more ‘colourful’. (And he usually wins…)

 

4. Ice-cream hunt

 

This play date is great for the whole family. We all (toddler too!) jump in the car and drive somewhere new for ice cream. Sometimes we end up driving quite far on our ice-cream hunt, and other times we get ‘takeaway’ ice-creams from a dairy (corner store) and drive somewhere new to eat them.

 

5. Silly dinner challenge/collaborative cooking

 

This one can involve other silly friends who might like to join you in a strange dinner celebration.

NB: You need to have understanding friends who don’t mind being interrupted by the needs of your child/ren. And if you don’t have friends like these – do it without them because clearly they are no fun. ;)

Some ideas for silly dinner challenges:

Themed by a globe spin (pick a place)

Themed by a cook book (we have a Kenny Rogers cook book where every recipe has pineapple in it…?)

Themed by ingredient (we once hosted a 5 course mince dinner – complete with ‘after dinner mince’… ha ha!)

Themed by a celebrity chef

Themed by your child’s favourite flavours (if they are still up to partake)

Themed by colour

Backwards dinner (pudding first!)

 

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Your journey as a parent should be fun.

Outie: we like having fun.

http://www.outie.co.nz

One brave little button

I’m writing this because I want you to hold me accountable and I want you to share in my story.

Recently I wrote a children’s book called, ‘The Lost Button’ and on a whim, I entered it into a competition. The prize was a full page critique of your submitted manuscript by KBR (kids-bookreview.com/) and your manuscript being forwarded to Penguin Australia. There was never any guarantee that they would publish it, but still I thought ‘Wow – wouldn’t it be cool if someone ‘proper’ would read one of my stories…”

I don’t publish my kids stuff really and feedback would have been prize enough.

So anyway, I sent in my manuscript and I won!

I won the International Category and I was swiftly transported to Cloud 9 in a state of disbelief. (Goes to show it’s worth putting yourself out there sometimes).

A few months later Penguin Australia came back to me.

The critique they gave me was amazing.

Here are some highlights:

” I found the rhythm and concept of this manuscript lovely, and was impressed that it worked well without visuals”

“The premise for the story is charming and fresh, who hasn’t lost a button themselves and then found it in the oddest of spots?  Buttons can be cute or striking, large or small, square or round and, as the author has so obviously identified, they are curiously anthropomorphic.”

“I found the section of the text where the button is rejected as being particularly clever and the words were great visual clues.”

“I would advise keeping an eye on, and in contact with, this very talented author.”

Woah!

A slightly disappointing outcome was that they don’t feel like the book was right for them in its then-current form and they suggested some changes.

So… I have reworked it and loved it up some and have decided to go down the self-publishing route. (I also cheekily sent them back a revised copy while I work on illustrations so you never know).

And this blog is inviting you to share in the process.

Who knows where this story might lead?

The certificate for my winning manuscript.

The certificate for my winning manuscript.

And just for fun, I am writing a story a day as a self-imposed challenge. I’m up to day 6 so far.

Here is one of my favourites  called ‘Silence Except’ that I wrote yesterday. It’s got nothing to do with buttons this one but you might find you like my writing and want to read more of my stories… (I’m feeling brave sharing this so please be gentle).

And if you like it, please share it because this little button-loving mummy could use all the support she can get.

SILENCE EXCEPT… (a draft – copyright Katrina Ward 2014).

Our house is usually quiet at night. Except on curry night it can be much noisier.

It’s mostly silent except Fweeeeeeeep

That was Mum.

You can also hear the clock ticking and then PWAAAAAARP.

That was Dad.

Sometimes there are footsteps. Pad pad pad.

And the fridge. Errink.

And something pouring. Ploid ploid ploid ploid

And somebody drinking. gulp gulp gulp then Aaaah. And Pad pad pad. Then Kaploomph.

And then silence again.

Silence except for Pfooooff.

That was the dog.

And Squeee-fweep.

That was mum again.

And Feeeeeeooorrrrrp.

And Plurrrrrrrrrthorrrrrrrrrp.

And BARRRRP.

And mum giggling.

Then PFFFFFFFTHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

That was me.

And then the house is silent again.

Like? Please tell me what you think X

Love and Buttons.

Love Katrina (Outie)

This is how we roll

The Wait

We are on high alert

He sits astride an ocean

Head down, expectant.

Quiet, focussed.

The world halts.

Suspended in time

our lives hang in the breeze

our breaths break like waves

we are the moon and the tide

waiting

but nothing on the horizon.

And then…

A ship.

The tide is out.

He beams.

We whoop.

The world relaxes and turns once more.

-KW, 19/10/2014

There is poetry in potty training. Really, there is.

There is poetry in potty training. Really, there is.