Dad like a Champ with this ‘secret’ formula. (You. Man. Do This).

This is it guys. This is the secret list you have been waiting for that will make you the ultimate husband, partner, significant other (and dad). It’s a list compiled from the secret and hallowed rants and vents that mothers share when you do not do these few simple things.

This list will make things at home better.

At the very least you will have a reference point when you are wondering why your lovely wife/partner/mother of your children is frustrated and sad (Have you not been doing number one? Shame on you!)

I’ve numbered them to make it easy.

You can cross them off each number at a time. Whatever works.

But this list will work.

Do them like a boss.

THE FIRST FIFTEEN SECRETS TO BEING AN AWESOME DAD

  1. Tell her she is doing a good job
  2. Help her to make time for herself
  3. Never watch her doing chores
  4. Give her a hug without her asking for it
  5. Recognise that raising children is a job too
  6. Realise that she loves the baby/ies, but sometimes she needs time to just be by herself.
  7. Make time to spend with her each week – even if it’s just an hour and a half to watch a DVD together
  8. Ask her what you can do to help.
  9. Organise date night
  10. Prioritise family time in the weekends.
  11. Surprise her sometimes with a sleep in. Coffee in bed for bonus points.
  12. If you see something she hasn’t gotten around to and you have a spare minute – just do it. (It means she won’t have to do it late at night and she might get to bed earlier (Win-Win! Wink-wink).
  13. Plan the occasional outing with the kids (preferably while the house is tidy) so she can have a precious hour to herself
  14. Tell her she is beautiful even when she has puke stains and fat pants on
  15. Make time to talk to her at night – some days it may be the only face-to-face adult conversation she has

NB: Note that none of this has very much to do with parenting of the actual baby/kids. Let’s just start here. It’s easy isn’t it?

Where did this post come from? Well, recently I read some ugly statistics about marriage and life after babies and how there is a general sense of decline in daily happiness and I thought, bugger that. There is an easy fix – and the main thing is starting with how everyone feels on a daily basis…. and this list will help.

What do you think? Have I left anything out? Mums? Dads? Your comments count.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, please click follow before you go.

You know what I mean

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.

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

I’m not ready

I’m not ready.

We crossed a significant line today and cut some apron strings – or at least lengthened them a little. It was our son’s first day at preschool.

It probably shouldn’t be a big deal, but I felt apprehensive and a little sick. I had butterflies in my tummy like it was my first day at school (and he was pretty much oblivious and just keen to start playing).

My butterflies caused me to over-plan everything. I packed him an extra drink bottle (why?) and double-labelled his lunch box and I even stuffed in a puffy vest at the last minute ‘in case he gets cold’.

 

The worrying voice in my head was yelling at me:

‘He isn’t ready!’

‘He’s too young!’

‘Keep him at home!’

‘You’re doing the wrong thing!’

 

But another gentler voice was also whispering:

‘He needs to be extended’

‘More play with other kids will do him good’

‘He is ready’

‘Two days a week will be great for all of you’

 

(DISCLAIMER: I don’t ‘actually’ hear voices for the record)

 

But even when I ignored both voices, there was still a little squeak inside me saying something else entirely.

It was saying ‘you are not ready’.

So this problem is entirely my own.

 

Because at the other end of the day I have a happy kid who had lots of fun and still gave me delicious kisses before bedtime. I have a happy kid who is sleeping now and looking forward to another play-filled day tomorrow. I have a happy kid that is thankfully oblivious to the turmoil that he has put his mummy through.

 

And when I reflect on my lack of readiness the feeling is really familiar.

 

I haven’t been ‘ready’ for any of this stuff.

I wasn’t ready to get pregnant.

I wasn’t ready to become a mum.

I wasn’t ready to leave my job.

I wasn’t ready to give birth.

I wasn’t ready to wean him.

I wasn’t ready to put him in his big bed.

I wasn’t ready to tackle this big parenting ‘thing’.

– I have never been ready for any of it.

 

So what’s the moral of this little end-of-day tale?

 

We  are never ready for anything. Whatever will be, will be. And maybe it’s best to just go with the flow.

Be like water.

Be like the ping pong.*

Be like the kettle.

Whistle when you are done.**

 

 

* Be the Ping Pong  -a philosophical post on parenting

* *the hotter it gets, the more we should try to whistle a happy tune.

 

Love Outie.

kawakawa leaf

 

 

 

 

I want to break free! A song for new mummies (and a must-read for new daddies).

Here at Outie, we are all about having fun. But we also happily address the ‘messy bits’ of parenting too. So here’s a song for all the new mummies who might be feeling a little, erm, trapped and overwhelmed by the extremely demanding, tiring (yet also extremely rewarding and amazing!) role of Mummy.

 

Sing it mummies (to the well-known tune by Queen):

 

I want time for me

and to be a great mummy

I want to break free from your cries

You keep me so occupied

And I just fed you.

I just need time for me.

Dad knows (or at least he should), Dad knows

I need time for me.

 

I’m going cray-zee

I’ve become a Mum for the first time

I’m tired and things feel surreal

even though I’ve fallen in love.

Yet God knows, God knows

I want to make tea.

 

It’s strange but it’s true

I can’t get over the way you need me like you do

So I have to find time

Before turning to wines

Oh how I need time for me, baby

Oh how mummy needs some sleep

Oh how I just need time for me.

 

But life still goes on

I can’t get used to living with a, living with a, living with a baby

by my side

I don’t want to put you back, hon

Got to make it on our own

But baby can’t you see

I’m a very tired mummy.

 

I need time for me,

I’m not super mummy,

Yeah,

I want, I want, I want to __________  ____________  (make tea/get sleep/break free).

 

 

Listen up daddies! Make sure mummy gets a break and always say thank you for the smallest things. Those small things make a big difference.

 

Mucho aroha to all new mummies who need to ‘break free’.

 

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Love Outie.

 

XXX

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grumplestiltskin – Can you guess my rage?

Grumplestiltskin – Can you guess my rage?

Image

 

I am neither spinning gold, nor am I promising my first born to a little impish man.

Bu I am spinning something (my head) because my first born has become something like a little impish man.

He has become a strange little creature indeed. (He is two).

 

At two, he is not yet verbal even though he knows a lot of nouns.

As a result, we are living a pretty interesting guessing game.

 

The following is a list (in no particular order) of why he has had a tantrum of late:

 

He wants the blue spoon.

He has avocado on his hand.

There are no raisins left in the box.

He doesn’t want to go into his car seat.

He wants to sit in his go cart for lunch.

He wants to play in the wood pile with Dad’s axe.

He wants chips.

He doesn’t want chips.

He wants a particular truck but he doesn’t want me to hand it to him.

He wants someone to give him the truck.

He doesn’t want his sister to have cuddles.

He wants to press the eftpos machine buttons.

He wants to put the DVD into the DVD drive himself.

He broke the DVD drive.

He can’t watch a DVD.

He doesn’t want to go to bed.

He is too tired to be awake.

He is hungry.

He is two.

 

(The picture has been chosen to show off his little imp-teeth to the best advantage).

 

What are your best tantrum tips?

 

 

 

 

Be the Ping Pong (Ping Pong Parenting)

ImagePing Pong Parenting. (Be the Ping Pong)

 

Last night my children played ping pong with me. When one cried, I flew to the rescue.

Moments later I was sent flying to tend to the other child’s needs.

They were tireless and played with me for hours.

I have woken this morning feeling fuzzy and maybe a bit more like an old tennis ball…

But parenting is about rolling with the punches and trying to stay light. Trying to be calm even though you are angry at having your sleep stolen, trying to be wise when really you have no idea… So I’m sure I can learn from this.

 

I can be Ping Pong. I can be smooth…

 

Be like water – Bruce Lee

Be like the Ping Pong – me

 

Be like the Ping Pong my friend. A ping pong is hard and soft at once. It does not deflate easily.
It takes the hits from things much larger than itself again and again yet it remains well-rounded.
It is full of lightness and flies high in the face of adversity.
It floats and bounces.
When you play with the Ping Pong ball it does not tire, it can be rolled through dirt and is easily washed clean.
Be like the Ping Pong my friend – at the end of the game it is nice to hold; just as it was before.

– Katrina Ward

 

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
Bruce Lee

 

More fun stuff for parents over at http://www.outie.co.nz