They are listening.

In the perfect pre-parent world you lived in, would you want your children to hear gossiping, name calling and unsavoury things every single day? I’m mainly talking to myself. As a wake up call. Because hell no would I want my children to hear negative conversations only grown ups should have ears for and yet here I find myself in the dilemma of doing that exact thing.

Meet the accountability department of my blog. Nothing has shocked me more lately than having a trained professional tell me my 4 year old was blocking out his surrounds because I had made it too difficult to cope with. Holy crap this is scary to admit. Yeah I do it. I did it as just before she warned me. The constant offloading of emotions while in earshot of my kids. If I stand back and view our home as a third person, like my own guardian angel, and I feel deeply sad that I would irresponsibly take the moments of innocence away from the boys.

Not to be confused with merely a self-punishing article, I need to refocus to put a strategy out there for myself and for others who may be making this mistake, possibly unknowingly.

Why? Children are not equipped to process such intricate (and extreme) waves of emotion, particularly due to circumstances that are not dire. Not that they should never hear or experience other ranges of emotions, but this level of exposure can rob them of their childish innocence they should be able to indulge in. Death in the family, news of terminal illness and such are circumstances where expressing those emotions would be suited. But regular bouts of going from nought to 100 about bitchy gossipy nonsense sets a tone for the way they will approach scenarios.

I put this to myself, and to you.

Pick your timing. Simple. Bitch and moan outside of “kiddy hours”.

Mind dump in the old journal. Each time something becomes overwhelming and you want to pick up the phone while your kids are around, scribble it down. Review at a kid free time. Is it still worth the effort of speaking about it?

Remember THOUGHTS ARE NOT FEELINGS. You might think you are anxious, maybe about a new career move or a new social setting. But you actually feel anxious, and feelings naturally come and go. The more you deem it a permanent thought and give it negative traction, the longer it will stick around and fester. Let the negative feeling arrive and depart by understanding the link to the situation that created it. Nothing can change what physically happened so before you let that negative train of thought begin and speak it out loud…well…you know what Elsa sings…

Take it back to basics. Are your basic needs being met? Are you blabbing on because you are tired? I am a tired talker and I also catastrophize situations when I am tired. This creates the need to distract myself and zone out.

Do you need a nice space to sit in? To read a book completely irrelevant to your unhelpful thoughts.

Maybe smell a nice smell, if you are into essential oils.

Or like me, you need to decrease coffee/caffeine intake and just slow down a bit instead of pushing yourself to unreasonable limits.

The pay off for correcting these habits now is that your children are less likely to be anxious, over-exaggerating, emotionally unstable adults.

I was unsure whether to post this as it can be controversial but as mentioned, I need to publicly hold myself accountable.

Sha xx

Note: change takes time. I have slipped up on many occassions since I began writing this but I’m committed to sticking to it for the betterment of my life and for my boys.

Don’t be an asshole to strangers.

You’re in the local Westfield, rushing around grabbing gifts for the next kindy kids birthday and suddenly when approaching the next shop your 4 year old digs their heels into the ground screaming, “I don’t want to go in, I don’t want to go in!” for what seems like no apparent reason. Your 6 month old is crying because the teething pain and overtiredness has consumed them while you rush to get to that one last store before a cataclysmic tantrum strikes both children, which they so thoughtfully time together. You missed the boat.

You look to your right, a middle aged woman stares at you, shaking her head in disgust, snorting like a pig at how disgracefully you are handling the situation.

Well, mama has been up all night with teething baby. Mama has been sick with stress that all of the work she has put in to helping the 4 year olds behaviour means nothing in that moment. Mama is now so riddled with anxiety she is noticeably shaking (and frazzled) and those awful people-pleasing gremlin thoughts seep out, what devils they are. And what mama doesn’t need is a stranger huffing and puffing at a situation that has zilch effect on stranger’s life.

But alas, strangers be strangely obnoxious and rude and they give no fucks about the fact you got 37 minutes sleep last night.

Well parents, I am here to remind that you too need to give even less fucks about them and give more fucks about your own situation, and about building up other parents going through a shit time too.

A few weeks back I had a clanger of a morning but luckily enough a friend joined me and the kids for brunch at a cafe. Coffee was of the utmost importance. This was at a typically bustling cafe that was full, a third of the patrons had children in tow. We were seated next to two women. 4 year old was not listening to me and was banging toys on the table while I tried to have a conversation with my friend. I handled it immediately. Giving him a single warning that the toy would be put away if he continued and naturally, he continued. I removed the toy while feeding the hungry baby his solids. I heard horrible, snarky comments from the two women various times, sniggering about what I SHOULD be doing. They were sure to be loud enough so I could hear.

Fighting back tears, I decided to take the high road and not say anything to them. I wanted to pick myself up and be strong and set an example to my boys not to reward bullying behaviour with a reaction (even if 4 year old was teating my limits at that time). Because thats what it was, bullying. And for women aged 50 or so to bully a 30 year old woman who was handling her child’s behaviour, not ignoring it by any means, is appalling.

Here lies the grub. As appalling as I felt those women were (they even remarked at a baby girls squeals of delight stating “she had better be dying if she is making that sound”), I did not know their back story. Possibly one of them had a painful headache or an ear problem. Who knows.

All I can say is that I wish they shared a respectful and understanding mentality with me, or had a conversation with me instead. I desperately wanted to rip into them for kicking me while I was down. However I didn’t, because I wanted to display to my children that to behave with such offensive mannerisms to another human being who is trying their hardest, is somewhat inhumane. They did not know my back story as I did not know theirs.

I wanted to give you all a context as to why it is so important to think with an open heart and mind around strangers. Nobody likes that screaming child less than their own parent in the moments they shriek at the top of their lungs. Nobody needs to feel shamed and judged for every decision they make as parent, it is theirs to make and theirs only. Love thy neighbour. Have empathy. And if you feel you aren’t capable of walking a mile in someone elses shoes, then simply walk a mile the other way and don’t use your shoes to kick them in the ribs while they figuratively lie on the ground writhing in pain.

Reach out and offer help to a struggling mum who spilled 50 coins out of her purse at the checkout while she is preventing her toddler from ripping apart the chewy and mints display.

Throw an understanding smile to the first time Dad who is pacing in circles shushing and bouncing the crying newborn while Mum ducks off to the loo at the shopping centre. Sometimes we don’t realise how convincing our resting bitch face can be.

If only we spent more time being helpful to one another rather than constantly finding faults, then maybe we can avoid our children being in such turbulent and disrespectful chaos comparable to what the Australian Parliament has displayed this last week (or decade for that matter).

One way to build yourself up when you are feeling low is to do a good deed, not expecting anything in return. In my experience, positive energy almost always comes back to you. At the very least, you will feel full of hope that your efforts maybe changed someones day.

Sha x

Life With Baby Number Two

Life With Baby Number Two

I made my husband wait at least 2 years until I was willing to try for a second baby. Being the control freak I am, I wanted to feel “ready” and stable enough to cope with the logistical aspects of life with a second baby.

The initial adjustment period of our first baby was long and traumatic. For both me and baby Zac. All the love in the world did not take the bitter edge off the horde of changes in my day to day being. Finally, once I dealt with some PND and anxiety issues, we added another delightful, demanding tiny human into our lives.

If I’m honest with you, the fear of not being able to love another child or give the second child equal attention never crossed my mind. I had watched my Mum cope well with this. She would mother us as if she was so blessed to have us both. If she ever had favourites, I never noticed.

That may be a lie, if you have read my second birth story you would know in an emotional rant on the way to hospital because I felt Zac was missing time prior to that day, and I knew his life would forever be changed when he next saw us. Poor Shane attempted to put positive spins on the situation, but I was way past that, nothing he isn’t used to every 28 days anyway. Sorry babe.

Back to my point, the parts that terrified me were making sure both children were fed, cleaned and had slept adequately and most of all; would Zac accept and get along with the new addition?

I can tell you that 6 months in (to the day as I write this), the boys are OBSESSED with each other. Their worlds are not complete without a good morning and good night hug, kiss or acknowledgement of some form. I secretly tear up over this on the daily, because I never expected such a bond between them and I know as they grow it will morph into other displays of affection that aren’t as heart-warming. Cue rough-housing and wrestling.

Apart from a few incidents where Zac gets a tad overexcited, where he jiggles Judd or tries to “help him roll over”, and a few moments where he shrieks in excitement scaring the living daylights out of the baby, we have yet to see a need to worry about him intentionally causing harm. Touch wood – and as I said, this probably won’t last forever. Overall, we’re sure Judd has caused more pain to Zac by pinching and pulling hair, being the chunky little bruiser he is.

Given our successes so far, I’d love to share what helped us to prepare our child and our home for the arrival of another baby in the house, for the parents that follow my stories and are thinking of/who have added another little peanut into their worlds:

  • Read books about getting a sibling. Our kick-ass Aunty Kate bought Zac “You’re a Big Brother”. He loves a good chuckle about the “babies being smelly” page.
  • Baby dolls with prams, bottles, nappies and dummies. Yes, even for a boy. Zac has always loved playing with dolls, but we decided to get him one specifically around the time JJ was born so that he could sit along side me copying my actions as I fed and changed the baby. This was the perfect opportunity for him to use the baby name he chose (clearly, we weren’t on board) hence we have a Baby Jake residing in the playroom.
  • Make an effort to have one-on-one time with the older sibling. This really is determined by their age, as a younger child is more dependant anyway but an older child who is independent may often get lost in the days activities and before you know it they’ve spent most of the time alone. Even small 15 minute play sessions (without technology interrupting) with just Zac and I, or Shane and him made all the difference. Yes, baby will go through phases of squawking if they aren’t being held. Chuck them in a carrier, bouncer or pram if you have to and do your best with the situation you are in. Zac had his fill of time with one of us and was content to play alone afterwards. Then he could see that Judd got his time with us, but he did too.
  • Have conversations on the way life will change when a new baby is involved. Share all the fun points such as another playmate and someone to talk to, but also be realistic in a concise way that Mum and Dad will share time between baby and them. And that they will need to share some spaces in the house with the new sibling.
  • Create a sanctuary in their bedroom that is ONLY theirs. We found this really important with Zac. We moved his bedroom to a larger one which allowed us to put baby in the room closest to us. I created a reading corner with a tent, pillow, blanket and soft toys and we moved some his favourite toy playsets in the room also. Sure, it took a while of us reinforcing that he doesn’t play all flipping night long (we do find toys have *magically* moved overnight sometimes), but that was worth the ease of adjustment for Zac. He has his OWN space which Judd is allowed in at times of Zac’s choosing, and as he grows older all the smaller toys will be moved there so that the main portion of the house is safer for a crawling baby and toddler.
  • Watch TV shows or movies where children gain siblings and are comfortable with it. Hate to say it, but Baby Jake and Ryan Toys Review were helpful in this department. Like, I really hate to admit that.
  • Now that Judd is older, he pulls and grabs and can even find skin to pinch on tightest parts of a neck or face. Judd gets told not to be rough and grab and encouraged to play softly, just the same as Zac. We feel like this helps Zac to recognise he isn’t the only one that makes mistakes or gets a bit rough and is told off, which in turn creates less resentment.
  • Hug and show affection to both children. Probably an obvious one. Judd gets hugs, Zac gets hugs. Simple, but seriously can be forgotten when baby demands so much attention. Zac is growing out of hugs anyway, so he only needs a quick one and he is good for a while.
  • Involve them in play together. We ask Zac if he can lend some toys to Judd and vice versa (not that Judd can answer, obviously) which doesn’t always work. Zac does get possessive over his toys, but it is still early days and we feel it is important to begin the habit of asking permission first.
  • Involve the older sibling in helping with certain tasks for the baby. “Zac, can you please pass me the wipes” et cetera. He thrives off feeling independent and as if he was helping his Mum and Dad.
  • Routine. We love routine. It grounds our family unit. It became looser with the new arrival but it’s existence gave Zac and us the comfort of knowing what was coming next and that we would eventually get time together when JJ was sleeping. JJ, on the other hand, was not a routine-happy baby until over 12 weeks of age. He was simply not ready and was extremely unsettled. We just let go of the concept until he had calmed down and felt comfortable. Now he is quite flexible (being dragged along to kinder drop off and pickup will do that), but also responds to routine quite well, plus I feel so confident in his cues.
  • Empower the older sibling to be independent. We figured that at some point Zac would need to discover he wasn’t the only young child in the family. Therefore, when I was pregnant we began doing less for him. In a way, we threw him in the deep end and help to guide his way to self-sufficiency. Previous teaching techniques did not work for Zac. This included him learning to dress himself, get himself snacks and drinks, pack up his toys when requested, use the toilet when asked (he was a late toilet user), washing and drying himself after a bath, me physically not carrying him around anymore (I still did this for him at 4 years old and heavily pregnant and simply could not anymore) and overall getting him used to responding to requests from us. Zac began kinder mere weeks before I popped so these habits were important regardless of Judd’s arrival.

 

My friends, forgive yourself if you can’t always “get it right”. Chances are the things that cause friction also hold potential to build resilience, within reason and with the right attitude. Guilt is imminent, and I often wish there was a way around it, but dodging negative emotions is not realistic and maintainable. It is healthy to feel pangs of guilt because your time is now in higher demand and you created made a mammoth global shift in the older child’s life. Try to accept it, and use it is a driver of change. You begin finding more pockets of free time that you never noticed before to hang out with your kids or partner.

Feel proud that you created another human being into a life where they are loved and given opportunity to thrive by parents who actually give a fuck. Which shows because here you are, reading this post about my experiences and tips on the second little squawker joining our crew.

 

Until next time,

 

Sha x

Coping With Returning To Work After Baby

Twice I have gone through the gut wrenching process of putting my 4-5 month old baby into a childcare centre and returning to work.

It is TOUGH, and that is putting it lightly. Coming from experiencing stay-at-home parenting and full-time stints there is no mistaking my appreciation for parents that tackle either or both of these lifestyles. Each come with their pros, cons and some serious personal demands and sacrifices. For one, when you are at work, it is nice not being screamed at to wipe a small humans butt, or needing to play duck duck goose with teddies for 5 hours a day whispering “FML” under your breath, but at the same token you MISS those moments when you are stuck at a desk replying to 50 emails, answering calls of angry people.

Work/Life balance seems like a mythical creature that I am forever in search of. Which is why I settle for the idea that some aspects of life are more demanding than others at particular times and as long as I feel comfortable communicating this to family and am meeting their basic needs, I know that we can get back to the fun stuff afterwards.

I am only required to work part-time, but I have pointers that make life run a tad smoother while I juggle demands of being a working mum:

  • This goes without saying; ensure the facility you leave your baby at meets your expectations. Research the crap out of them, ask every question imaginable. If you feel confident your baby is being cared for at a high level then obviously you will beat yourself up a little less. Check the centre’s National Quality Standard rating here.
  • Lay out clothes the night before. No matter how tired you are, you will be more tired and remember less at 5 in the morning.
  • Prep lunches/baby bottles/breakfasts as much as possible the night before. Zac gets a snackbox for snack time with any 3 of the following; “cheesy chips” (tortilla chips), Tamar Valley Yoghurt pouches, strawberries, blueberries, cheese cubes, cucumber, avocado, carrot, popcorn, Jumpy’s snacks. He then get a sandwich, and an apple for fruit snack time in the arvo. He always has his reusable water bottles in the fridge. We use Cambelback and Zak! bottles. This is all stacked in the fridge, as well as my lunch, ready for the zombie-morning version of me to grab.
  • Set bags out ready to pack lunches into in the morning.
  • Wake up before the kids. This is where I put my hand up and say I find this extremely difficult. I love sleep, and mornings usually scare me. No longer can I fulfill my selfish desire to use my doona as a cave to hide me from the morning. If I don’t get up and get ready before the kids it can ruin my morning -and day. I constantly remind myself of the shitty mornings where I turn into a panicked “yelly” mum because I am not feeling ready to take on the day. Reminding myself of the guilt of that, or alternatively the feeling of independence and pride I get by actually getting my shit together is normally enough to get me up.
  • I feed the baby before I get the kinder boy out of bed. Then baby is dressed and fed, happy and playing so that I can dedicate some time to getting the older child ready.
  • Prep a couple of dinners or draw up a meal plan. Try to have cooked or prepped at least one dinner in advance so you have quick go to for the night you are too exhausted to function. Or arrange a meal that is simple to put together. For example, steak with pre-made salad and microwavable Uncle Ben’s rice. It might not be organic, home grown, free from any sugar/salt or things that god forbid you may ingest, but it is better than rubbish takeway. Then the last option is to have the shitty takeaway, if it is within your budget, because life is too short to mentally punish yourself for not being a supermum that can do it all at once. Good on you if you can manage it all and not burnout, that just ain’t me. See earlier post about “dropping the ball”.
  • Washing: if, like me, large washing loads give you nightmares put small manageable loads on quickly at night and in the morning. Smaller and faster to fold and put away! I use a drier too. Not environmentally friendly, or wallet friendly, but for me to cope better with my second child I decided I would use the drier and not beat myself up over it like I did when I had my first and thought I could be the perfect mother. Which, by the way, doesn’t exist as I am sure everyone knows by now.
  • Make sure your cars fuel tank is filled before your work week starts. For me it works better this way. Each time I think it would be more efficient to fill up once I’ve dropped the kids off and head to work, traffic is at an extreme level of crapness and I don’t really have the time.
  • Write lists. Or invest in a noticeboard. Even if it is to just get you started so you remember what needs to be done, what needs to be packed and in what order before you leave for the day, it is still a huge help and eventually it will all become habit.
  • Online grocery shopping. Takes 10 minutes, you do it once and it saves your previous items so you can simply go to that section of your profile and quickly reorder if need be.
  • COFFEE. Keep a generous supply in your house.
  • When you get home quickly unpack the dirty dishes, dirty washing or bottles needing to be washed. If I leave it for later I forget and it snowballs into a mammoth effort at a time of night where my body and mind need to relax.

Each day presents new challenges. I would be lying if I said the above happens every single work day. It doesn’t. The morning after I wrote most of this post both of my kids woke at 5am and would not go back to sleep. That impinged my personal time and threw a spanner into my morning regime but I had to try and roll with it. The truth is that with kids you never really know what lies ahead, but you make the most of the time you do get to spend with them. These tips above allow me more time to do that. They allow me to relax and have fun with the boys at appropriate times rather than being frazzled constantly. Perfection is not the goal with my coping mechanisms but rather maintaining the purpose behind it and learning to go with the flow in between. Some days (like today) the “yelly” me appears, but by being organised I can move onto the next task faster and enjoy the boys without added overwhelming guilt of working. I no longer cry on the drive to work because now I know Judd is settled, I feel confident in his and Zac’s carers/teachers because I did my research and went with my intuition and I am able to focus on the tasks at work.

Good luck to the rest of you Mama’s that are returning to work – I hope this helped ♡

Sha xx

The Things Nobody Told Me About Pregnancy And Childbirth

What I really looked like within the hour after childbirth (and a shower). Smudged makeup, tired eyes, relief beyond explanation and shock.

Often I wondered why no other woman told me the gory details of their pregnancy and birthing experiences. Being a person that loves to research and know what situation I am walking (or waddling or pushing) myself into, I was utterly bemused as to why all of the women in my life withheld information. Oh the betrayal! After my second child I gained more perspective. They didnt want to SCARE me. Plus there is so much to tell that it sometimes is best to let a person process it alone. Not everyone wants to know what they are in for. Also being a classic oversharer, after my first baby I would tell anyone about any snippet of my experiences, whether they wanted to know or not!

Now, I present you with a choice. See, this benefits me and I get to respect the easily-queezy folks boundaries by telling you that this is where you need to exit the article if you don’t like to know all of the deets of my experiences.

Nobody told me…I’d grow insane amounts of hair when pregnant. Like, alot of hair. I had to maintain at least 4-6 weekly appointments just to trim it and thin it out. The colour may also change. You would be surprised the information an experienced hairdresser can tell you about yours (and your babies) hair when you’re knocked up. My nails also grew like they were on roids.

Nobody told me…I would get debilitating sciatica pain which felt like lasers shooting down my butt, inner thighs and hamstrings. It’s usually due to pelvic instability as result of the relaxin hormone but SHIT does it hurt. You become afraid of sitting, standing, pooping. Everything!

Nobody told me…you have trouble pooping when pregnant. And god help you if you have low iron and need to take supplements. Not only is it painful, but irregular pooping makes people cranky and short fused. It does for babies and kids, why wouldn’t it for adults. Hint: use Iron Melts if you need a supplement. Second time around I was way less backed up.

Nobody told me…hemorrhoids. Enough said.

Nobody told me…. I would get varicose veins when pregs. Everywhere. Even around my uterus. Yep. If you have ever felt the aching of the nasty buggers in your legs. Imagine that in your midsection and downtown. And there is literally nothing you can do about it. Thanks genetics.

Nobody told me…The exhaustion when pregnant is next level. Sure, when baby is here you are a mum-bie but when you are uncomfortable and unwell due to carrying a tiny human, then trying to manage other tiny humans and possibly working at the same time. Well, let’s just say we ate a lot meals courtesy of Menulog and EatNow.

Nobody told me…heartburn is an absolute pest of thing when you’re knocked up. It’s logical, there is less space for food in your tummy so it pops back out to say hello if you eat too much too quickly.

Nobody told me…you can get extraordinarily painful migraines that turn you into a sloth for days at a time.

Nobody told me…. my second pregnancy would be more uncomfortable than the first. Any symptoms I experienced the first time around were amplified ten fold. Hip and back pain being the main offender.

Nobody told me…. I may find it more difficult to lose weight the second time around. Zac was too old for a pram but wouldn’t ride a bike so I couldn’t go for walks like I did with him. Plus juggling two kids at once meant I found it tough to make meals myself.

Nobody told me…I would not necessarily know the signs of labour. Both labours were spontaneous but I mistook early labour each time for active labour. You would find me bouncing on fitness balls and walking half up and half down on gutters, having baths and showers hoping it would kick start the real deal!

Nobody told me…the buildup to the pushing sensation feels like you need to do a number two. And it makes you paranoid that you ARE pooping. I didn’t poop, well my husband and doctor never let on that I did. I’m happy to keep it that way even if the opposite is true.

Nobody told me…delivering the placenta is like going through childbirth again. It was not as painful for me but there were similarities. The OB pulls it out by the umbilical cord which I found really strange.

Nobody told me…if you tear, it doesn’t tear cleanly and in the places you thought. I had a couple of grazes and tears with Zac. One was a lightning bolt shape and went upwards, not to the side or bottom. Ouch.

Nobody told me…you need to pace how you push to avoid tears and added discomfort. In the movies you don’t see the doctor telling the women to slow down after a certain point of pushing, not often at least. I escaped my second delivery with a minor graze because I paced it out with breathing and waiting for contractions.

Nobody told me…you have a choice in how you are treated by nurses and doctors in labour and what medications you receive. Unless the baby is distressed, it is up to YOU how you labour and deliver. I was meek and lacked confidence with my first which resulted in delivering in a way I was not happy with. Speak up or get your partner to be your voice!

Nobody told me…you might burst blood vessels in your eyes and around your body from the extreme pushing. You will also feel sore afterwards as if you completed the biggest workout of your life.

Nobody told me…there will always be a little pouch where your baby belly was. Sure you can work on it and pose so it disappears slightly, but you always know it is there. I am proud of mine.

Nobody told me…. things do not always go to plan. You write a birth plan or at least think about one. Many close friends and relatives of mine had several interventions with their labours they never anticipated. And as you may know, my first labour was extremely fast while my second was 4 times the length.

Nobody told me…you may turn into a complete nutbag after birth. Not just if you get the baby blues (usually day 3 post partum but mine was worse after 4) but also for MONTHS after delivery. I am a hormonal woman at the best of times but the rages and emotional breakdowns post partum can really test relationships. I remember completely losing my shit at Shane for not mopping the floor when we first got home with Zac. Prior to which he had been travelling direct between work the hospital and briefly home and was in a car accident. Hormone monster!

Nobody told me…after birth pains can be just as painful as labour. And you might be able to put your hand in a gap between your abs. It feels like you are wearing a strangers body.

Nobody told me…you could cry at the drop of a hat. Shane told me a story about a footballer and I cried. Any news other than mundane daily things, I would cry. Happy, sad, angry, excited. All the feels.

Nobody told me…my hair would fall out post partum at alarming rates that even scared my 4 year old. The hair goes everywhere. I gagged when I pulled some out of Judd’s mouth. Sorry mate.

Nobody told me…you frow strange “baby” hairs on your sideburns that cannot be tamed by any product or treatment!

Nobody told me…breastfeeding may simply not work out for you. And the guilt lasts forever. The judged feeling you may never forget. But you will also never forget that your baby gained weight, was healthier and your post natal depression improved when you decided to formula feed. It was what worked for me and my family. And you will always look on at other women feeding their babes with an appreciation for the effort they put in regardless of how they feed. Fed is best whether boob, bottle or tube.

Nobody told me…mum brain is real. It increases with each child. They steal your memory!

Nobody told me…having a baby can bring out the most confident version of yourself! It forces you to step outside the box and speak to strangers who dote over your children, or ask strangers where the nearest parents room is. Or apologise for your child crying at an obscene pitch (even though you shouldn’t have to, you still do).

Nobody told me…. you might make amazing friends from having babies. Parents group, kids activities and sports, kinder or daycare all present more opportunities for you to meet like minded people. It is incredibly empowering finding another mum or dad to bitch about children with, and celebrate the wins of course!

There are so many more things about pregnancy and childbirth than the above but they really are unique to each womans experience. Which I am sure is why they are aren’t always shared.

Having children is a significant life event where you will be forever changed. So much emotion in such a short time. Enjoy what you can because before you know it your little ones are walking, talking and will not need your cuddles as much as before.

Until next time.

Sha x

A Letter To Our Sons

Dear Zac and Judd,

Once upon a time your Mum swore she would never write an “open” style letter and post it on the internet, for fear she would be judged. But she became confident and realised she actually really wanted her boys, and the world, to read this one in particular.

Throughout your upbringing we know you may resent Mum and Dad for setting boundaries for you or following through with disciplinary threats like; “Put down your Pokémon and eat breakfast right now or we will take them off you!”. And seriously, I literally told Zac this today and the day before, and I actually took them off you mate. Unfortunately you have that many of the little bastards that you have forgotten I took those specific ones.

Anyway, my point: You are very fortunate children. You were born and are living in a time were you are safe and have very little to be concerned about (we hope this continues).

Your great grandparents lived through World War II, which is why Mum and Dad will get so grumpy if you ever complain about not getting enough toys or superficial rubbish. Our family’s have starved and battled to live in this country and we hope one day you will understand the importance of that.

What you are about to read is like a manual of how your Mum and Dad were raised, with our own additions developed from our own experiences, that we have since raised you with. Without guidance we know, and have seen with our own two eyes, how out of hand a persons emotional wellbeing can get.

Our biggest wish for you both is that you grow up strong and healthy mentally and physically, and that you will be able to tackle the adversity life often throws at you. And we hope and pray that you don’t end up bratty like the “Cash me outside how bout dah” girl. You may need to Google that one.

Here it is;

WE DON’T CARE WHO YOU MARRY. So long as they respect you and you respect them in return. We also don’t care if you never marry.

TRY, ALWAYS. This life does not hand you what you want accidentally. It does not reward entitled behaviour or grant wishes to it either. You will need to set goals and work your backsides off to get what you want. Know where to direct your best efforts to achieve your goals but always do your best.

FIND A WAY TO LOVE YOURSELF. That way you lessen the chance of being in unhealthy and toxic relationships.

BE SELF SUFFICIENT AND INDEPENDANT. Wash your own dishes, cook your own meals, and clean your own laundry. Do not rely on another human being to do all of this for you. That is one of the largest contributors to a failing relationship. Expecting your life partner to pick up after you or make your lunches when they too are working and contributing to your lifestyle is detrimental to a relationship.

TRAVEL AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. Even if it breaks our hearts to see you go, deep down we want you to experience as much as this world has to offer.

LEARN FROM YOUR OWN AND OTHER PEOPLE’S MISTAKES. Making mistakes is perfectly okay. What is not okay is repeating them and expecting a different outcome each time. This is often called “the definition of insanity”.

CONFIDENCE EQUALS SUCCESS. This doesn’t mean being boisterous, obnoxious and rude. It means being true to yourself. People will listen to you when you speak with embedded confidence and self-trust. Don’t second guess yourself, or let anybody else make you feel as if your voice is less important. If they do, find another circle of friends.

LISTEN. Mum learnt this the hard way. Sometimes you need to stop ranting and simply listen to what somebody has to say. There are many introverted people that are waiting for the opportunity to speak and what they have to say can be so valuable.

BE HEALTHILY IMPULSIVE. Planning is great, but sometimes real memories are made by doing rather than spending lots of time planning and procrastinating.

ALWAYS PRACTICE COMMON DECENCY. It is rare as I write this. It will most likely be even more rare by the time you read this. Assist the elderly, let them take your seat on the train. Even if you do not receive a thankyou, feel good that you helped another human being. Have respect for people’s boundaries and their property. Be aware that your actions effect those around you. You may have no concept of what type of life somebody has lived. A simple kind gesture could make their day.

FAILURE IS AWESOME. Keep practicing, keep researching and learning, keep failing until you get it right. Giving up is the easy way out.

DON’T FEAR CHANGE. Change is growth. It is hard but that is where the magic happens.

IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T RECEIVE. It takes real guts to stand up in front of a classroom or a crowd to ask a question you need an answer to but if you don’t withstand those moments of discomfort, you will forever regret it. Be bold.

DON’T LIVE IN REGRET. Clichéd, but true. In conjunction with the above – take the risk. Breathe in the awkwardness of a new situation or a trialling time, breathe out the confidence in knowing it is best for you in the long term.

RESPECT WHERE YOU COME FROM. You are fortunate to have loving family members. Ask them about their life some time. Get them to show you pictures or tell you about their children. Learn and grow from their experiences.

FIND YOUR BIGGEST SUPPORTERS. And support them back. They could be friends, family, colleagues, people you met through sports or co-curricular activities. They are instrumental in your wellbeing. When you feel down and out, make sure you have got someone to vent to that will not only listen but will help build you back up again so you can get on with life.

DWELLING GETS YOU NOWHERE. Your Dad told your Mum something once, “worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” One of his very few wise moments, kidding.

RESILIENCE. Although we try our best to teach you this, it can be a tough skill to develop. Bounce back. One dodgy morning or a few sad times does not set the tone for the remainder of your day or your life. You can control what you absorb so make sure whatever that is, that it is worth your efforts.

THERE WILL BE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT LIKE YOU, AND YOU THEM. You may never discover why. It is perfectly acceptable. At this point in time there is over 7 BILLION people on Earth, you cannot be socially compatible with all of them. If you have to be in each others lives, accept this and put your efforts to people you do get along with.

NO MEANS NO. This is important, boys. Nothing gives you the right to physically or mentally overpower someone into doing what you want. Domestic and sexual violence is not okay. Your family has NEVER condoned it. We will be the first on the list to report you to police should you ever try it.

KNOW THAT YOU ARE LOVED. Mum and Dad love you more than we can possibly tell you. We have faith in you. We trust that within you are bright and positive spirits with all of the potential in the world.

There they are, boys. The snippets of life experience and core values that we have to share and have tried to instill in you. One more very important one, HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR. Just please don’t let it be your father’s 😆.

Love Always and Forever,

Mum xoxo

Whatever you do woman, do not drop the ball

Whatever you do woman, do not drop the ball

That’s right. Parents have been working and parenting simultaneously for years, hop to it lady. And stop your whinging because it is not as if you are the first person to experience this. I’m saying this to myself by the way.

Get up, get yourself dressed and made up for the day, make the bed, have breakfast, feed and dress the baby, play with the baby or you’re an ignorant parent, wake and make breakfast for the older child whilst being a positive and excited Mum, eventually yell at him for not eating breakfast (you have asked him to do so at least 20 times already), ask him to get dressed, again, and again, then yell at him because he cannot hear a damned thing (constant ear problems), clean up kitchen, double check all persons bags for the day are adequately packed, pack items into the car, try to appease the crying baby and clean his refluxy spit up from his freshly changed clothes, change his clothes again, get older child to brush teeth and go to the toilet and brush his hair, sit on toilet floor while said child inconveniently poops because “he needs someone to talk to”, then argue about why he needs to brush his teeth and wash his hands, put baby in car while he screams like Chewbacca getting kicked in the nuts, request older child puts his shoes on, repeat another gazillion times until you give in and do it yourself because now you are going to be late, buckle older child into car seat whilst refusing to listen to some weird Pikachu song on YouTube, awkwardly deliver spewy baby to daycare along with wandering older child who is still mad at you for moving him from this daycare to a kinder, rush back to car, zip through school traffic to kinder while dodging other flustered parents, argue again with child this time about wearing his own backpack, sign child in and quickly get shown around the latest activities (even if you are needing to leave because your feel guilty af for yelling at him all morning), rush back to car and drive to work. Look at the time, it is not even 9am yet.

This is not any different to most parent’s mornings. In fact, I am very privileged to have the life I do, and I am aware of that. Which is exactly why I am being hard on myself. Which is exactly why I work myself up into a twisted ball of stress that is so tightly knitted, I snap at the mention of anyone expecting something slight from me. I whisper to myself, “please don’t expect any more from me.”

I have asked my Mum why I find it so hard. She managed to make it through years of working 6 days a week and running a farm while caring for us, getting up way before dawn and driving an hour from remote farmland to take us to our grandmothers only to get home at 6:30-7:00 at night and do the dinner, bath, bed routine. I don’t know how she did it. She replied to my question, “Sha, the pace of life was very different then”. She is right. We have smartphones strapped to our hands and they may as well be a part of our body because they even join us in the loo. Hey, I am the first to admit I am guilty of taking it everywhere with me. We are always accessible, always switched on, always processing information, being told via several channels how to parent, or that we do it wrong, or that we don’t eat a balanced diet, or that we should eat that tasty fucking burger that Facebook & Instagram ads so rudely shows on my newsfeed at dinnertime every night. Be polite, but don’t let yourself be walked over, be strong, but be politically correct or invest in a figurative shovel to dig yourself a hole, be an attentive parent, but research how to be that kind of parent because society says you are doing it wrong. So does the old lady in line at supermarket checkout, by the way. Just. Be. More.

I can’t stand it. And I break. It feels bloody impossible to parent the way that suits your family with the enormous aforementioned pressures being thrust into your face. The expectations add up so much so that I transform into a no-shit-taking demon like woman and god help you if you ask any more of me, even if it is to know where the loo is. I cannot afford to drop the “parenting” juggling ball as result of fulfilling another expectation. My children need me. And that expectation cloud around me soils my family goals.

My husband calls me the single-married-mum. Meaning, I am considered a married woman but he is home so very little because of his job that I am the one who keeps the cogs spinning in the house, while working and trying to be there for our kids. I closely watch other parents do the same thing and never will I ever stop being amazed at how hard they all work. Whether they work full time or not, it is nothing short of inspiring. We share the one goal. To give our children healthy, plentiful lives. We live in a lucky country and have that option thankfully. But the pressure of leading a “balanced life” is real.

You know when you are at the end of your tether and on the brink of burnout. You are so tired you could vomit, sometimes you might. It feels like you are a bottle of champagne, you get filled up to the brim with bubbly expectation, get shaken up by the need to be everything to everyone then eventually the cork pops right off and you are angrily and resentfully bursting the contents out directing it at anyone who dare stand in your way. Or, you implode, you take those feelings and you trap them inside like a turtle. A very, very sad little turtle.

So, do you know what I do? I drop the juggling ball. I have dropped the ball. I will continue to DROP THE BALL. Right now I write to you from my bedroom where I can hear my cousin-in-law babysitting our children. I asked her to come over and help me out so that I don’t go completely postal on the world. Working and mum-ing is such a huge adjustment. My baby is almost 5 months old and every inch of the mother within me is unsettled by the notion I have to leave him at a child care centre 2 days a week. Prior to this, even parenting full time at home felt like a huge responsibility because you are expected to have a cleaner, more organised house than others while teaching your pre-schooler some Beethoven on the piano. I’ve done both and both are as equally tough.

Listen here, reader. It is okay to surrender to your feelings and let them out. If you don’t you are opening up a future pandora’s box of undealt-with issues and that will snowball like a motherfucker. Take a deep breath in. We ain’t perfect. In fact, let me share with you what seems like anti self-help style advice because I’m certain I’ve never heard of Tony Robins or Louise Hay suggesting this so bluntly. Maybe you’re the kind of person that needs to receive information in this bogan-esque style…

Steps on how to drop the ball:

First, you need to accept that when you have too much on your plate, something’s gotta give.

Secondly, you need to narrow down if you need “you” time, “family” time or identify another space in your life that needs more attention.

Thirdly, accept that as a result of refocusing your attention, things such as washing, thorough house cleans or yard work may suffer. It is okay, those things don’t have feelings and you can always do it later when you get more energy again, or outsource them if you’re willing and able. Heads up, people may not like your refocussed decision. Repeat this mantra in your mind: “fuck off, it is my life”. Just kidding, but pick something to the tune of that and it wouldn’t hurt to mentally repeat it until it sticks.

Fourthly (is that a word?), be courageous and DO IT. Drop the juggling charade. Hardest step guys. This is what separates you from the pack of people stuck in a loop. You can continue a façade that you can manage it all, but ultimately it is about your lifestyle preference and what you can cope with. I attempt multitasking but it simply is not my strongest forte, so I need to separate things like a dude (P.S. not sure I believe that tale, my husband is better at multitasking than me).  

The reward of this is worth more than any people pleasing task you would complete. You fill the empty “self-care” cup shoved at the back of your to do list and suddenly the to do list does not scare the bejesus out of you anymore.

Trust me, I literally did this today and I feel so much more human.

Good luck my lovelies.

Sha x

 

READ (and watch)

I Don’t Know How She Does it by Kate Reddy

WATCH

Bad Moms 1 & 2

I Hated Myself.

Can you look at yourself in the mirror and love all of you?

Yes. And no. And both.

My entire life I desperately wanted to be so thin that I had thigh gap, I wanted straight hair, tanned skin, no acne, no freckles, bigger boobs, any coloured hair apart from red, smaller hips, feet at least a shoe size smaller and to make socially acceptable jokes while speaking in a socially acceptable manner.

Are you reading this? I wanted to be anything but myself.

Because I put all of the bullying I received down to those features. That is what was first pointed out when somebody wanted to hurt me. Because that is what I showed as my weakness. I did not like myself, and I sure as shit did not love myself. My appearance embarrassed me. There were days I would not eat in front of people (or at all) because I was not only embarrassed for the way I thought I looked, but I thought people were judging the way I ate and I was terrified they would find something else to dislike about me.

I was quiet in groups, afraid to speak up because I might stumble on my words and make fool out of myself. Struggled to say no to people. Putting my hand up in class to speak up, rarely, if at all, happened. If I did not understand what I was being taught, I would not question it for fear that I would be reprimanded for being dumb or ignorant. On top of that I believed I was terrible at sports. Convinced I was physically unable to participate in most activities because I had terrible coordination, or maybe I wouldn’t understand the rules and I would make a mistake. Therefore getting laughed at.

Often I would avoid new experiences, even if I was keen, because it meant stepping outside of my comfort zone. Again, I was scared to make a mistake, take the wrong train, buy the wrong ticket, be wrong in some way or another.

Do you hear what I am telling you?

The OLD me for lack of a better word, hated herself.

Posting pictures like the one above would be something I would never do because my body is the opposite of the unrealistic bullshit I told myself it had to be.

1 year ago I never believed myself capable of doing what I am doing right now. Writing this to you. Spilling the beans on my darkest secrets. Videoing myself on my instagram and not cringing when I replay it. This continued up until 6 weeks ago. I would say to myself, “I’ll just look like some try-hard blogging wanker”.

So for years prior to now, I waited. I waited for some type of moment that would make taking a risk feel easy. Previously, bailing myself out when the going got remotely tough was common.

But nothing changes if nothing changes.

And I, for one, do not want my children viewing themselves in such a way that they shy away from asking questions that can give life changing answers, or feel the need to avoid mirrors.

Things changed for me when I wasn’t accepted into RMIT’s Bachelor of Fashion, which is the holy grail of fashion courses in Melbourne. I was instead accepted into TAFE and the first 6 months did terribly. Quitting was on the horizon. Until a grumpy Greek patternmaking teacher, who was short on patience and often berated students in front of the class, heard of my intentions. Surprisingly, she pulled me aside and convinced me to do 6 month stint of patternmaking double units with her, before deciding on quitting fashion altogether. Working part-time, studying part-time, this woman, grumpy as she was, showed patience, saw strengths within me I was blind to, and built up my skills in practical application, mathematics and overall confidence. A true educator.

I observed the students who did well and realised it wasn’t luck. They were somewhat pushy and asked questions. They stayed back after class when needed. They researched, went on solo trips throughout the city for inspiration. They were grinding and did what it took to get results. It didn’t come free. I realised I wasn’t being picked on nor was I hard done by. I quit before I even gave it my all. Cue pivotal juncture.

I admired the way many of my peers dressed, walked and talked confidentally. Learning of their bullying experiences or mental and physical challenges, it became clear they had adapted and used these experiences like ammunition. Converting negative fumes into a high functioning jet fuel and powering right through the barriers preventing self confidence, and success.

With such realisations, the constant resistance to things I enjoyed or wanted to take part in due to personal fear of risk became exhausting and I held up the white flag.

I became selective and surrounded myself with friends that loved me for all of my strengths and my follies. They did not want to modify me into a generic shell of a human. With this, and the adoration and support from my husband who has encouraged this transformation since the age of 16, I let go of unrealistic body expectations. Was I ever going to be the size of the beautiful Miranda Kerr? Never ever. Our body types are chalk and cheese. But I have got booty and curvaceous hips that are mine and nobody elses. Was I ever going to appear as a seemingly perfectly “composed woman”? Not with my sense of humor. But now I can call a spade a spade and spit out terrible puns with a goofy sense of pride.

The idiosyncrasies past me would shy away from are now accepted. I embrace them. Not always easily. Particularly hormonal days occur where I flashback into the angsty teenage Shaara where nothing fits and “I look crap in everything”. A little insight; this facet of my personality lead to 13 year old me kicking in my parents glass door because my mother wouldn’t answer her phone. A fierce temper somewhat humorously passed down to my sons.

I no longer cry at the reflection in the mirror pleading to be something I am not. If I would like to change my hair, get a tan or eyelashes then I do it. However when those faux adornments fade, I rock my natural look because what I previously believed the world was saying to me is no longer important.

I am a curly red headed, freckle faced, fair skinned, mum-bod donning, food loving, small breasted, size 9 shoe wearing, 30 year old footy mum. I can sing. Lift weights. Do yoga and pilates. Sew clothes. Kick a footy (skill building in progress). I can organize the shit out of things if I put my mind to it. And I can confidentally put my hand up to ask questions.

I can learn from mistakes and I know that failure is part of life and is essential to personal growth. I understand that I played the incubator and delivery receptacle for my two children which altered my body in various ways, and I own that shit. I love me. And I wish I could hit rewind and shake adolescent Shaara and force her to see that being a “ranga” with originality is okay.

The lioness does not concern herself with the opinions of sheep.

You are the one that has to live with yourself and your choices, more so than anybody else around you. Improving aspects of your persona or appearance according to what makes you happy is totally okay, if you are totally ok with it.

I will leave you with this golden nugget of a lyric from a Hailee Steinfeld track, because I’m no longer afraid to admit I love “mainstream” pop music;

Some days you feel so good in your own skin. But it’s okay if you wanna change the body that you came in. You look greatest when you feel like a damn queen 👑

Own your shit woman, or man

Until the next rant,

Queen Sha x

Resources

Hailee Steinfeld tunes: Most Girls and Love Myself

Olivia White – House of White (IG handle @houseofwhite)

Emmylou MacCarthy from Emmylou Loves (IG handle @EmmyLouloves)

Lizzo track Feeling Good As Hell– (seriously, listen to this!)

The best resource of all. Listen to the compliments from your besties, partners, hubbies. They say nice things about you for a reason.

Miscarriage. My Story.

Miscarriage. My Story.

You Do YouLosing (and gaining) your identity (1)

Not that I need to warn you now, you did read the title correctly, this is a confronting post and I debated over whether to write about it. Something tells me other people will understand.

We had no problems conceiving Zac, obviously, as he took us by surprise. When we decided to add to our wonderful little family of 3, the excitement of planning it all out was almost overwhelming. We didn’t have the chance the first time, so it was all new to us and we wanted to enjoy the journey.

We get to “work” and after a few months I started getting those changes that you only get when pregnant. Boobs and all. It was all happening and we were eagerly anticipating the future.

Mother’s Day morning I woke up to some severe cramping. Immediately I went to the toilet. The thing that you think won’t happen to you, happened. Undoubtedly it could not be mistaken for something else. I wanted to vomit. Someone was squeezing my heart and tightening with every breath I took.

I walked out of the bathroom and did not tell Shane. I did not want to say it out loud. Or admit to myself what took place. And so, I waited for a little while. The responsibility of destroying his world at that time, I could not cope with. Finally, swallowing the lump in my throat, I shared the news, and immediately felt as if I had driven a stake through his heart. He couldn’t speak. You see, we are a team. What happens to me, happens to him and vice versa. And the heartache and anguish I felt was cutting him too. I wanted to be selfish and have him hug me, feel sorry for me and focus on me, but the reality of miscarriage is that the baby is robbed from both of you, not just the mother. We cried and just moved around in a stormy haze. When you have another child to look after you put on a brave face, then ugly cry when they aren’t looking. Not that you should hide your emotions, but how the hell do you explain miscarriage to a 3 year old.

How ironic that day should be Mother’s Day and my Grandmothers 80th, which was an hours drive away. Feeling like we should keep up appearances and distract ourselves, we push on and head out to a lunch for my Grandma. Isn’t it amazing how when the chips are low you can still pull out a false version of yourself. It may not be the best version but it still resembles you in some way or another. We get through the lunch without saying a word to anyone about that morning. I wanted to go home, hide in our bedroom and cry.

We didn’t say a word to anyone for a few days. Why. Why would I want to talk about something that made me feel so much shame? Shane suggested we tell somebody so we can vent, let it out, and grieve. He was on the brink, as was I. But any pain I inflicted on myself seemed irrelevant in comparison to that previous Sunday morning. Eventually I tell my mum, and he tells his. For the first time I hear the word miscarriage and it may as well have been a knife stabbing me. I am told of many women I knew in one way or another that experienced loss of children or fertility complications. Some repeatedly. None of them ever spoke to me about it. You would have never known. I understood why.

We began trying again and eventually we were blessed with our second beautiful little man, JJ. We didn’t concentrate on “trying” as much as previously. The fun was sucked out of it by grief. One morning I realised my period was late and on a whim used a test we’d bought months before. When I laid my eyes on the positive result my heart again felt tight, but I could breathe through it and I let out a tear of relief. Showing Shane will forever be a dear memory. But the pain of the past still surfaces. And I ashamedly did not see a doctor, or tell any of the doctors including my future obstetrician about what happened. They ask you as part of protocol but I didn’t want to talk about it. When I lost the baby, it was so early on and I felt unjustified talking about it. Having it written down against my name on a doctors file was the last thing I wanted.

I want women who have experienced loss to know, I am so incredibly sorry that happened to you. You are not a faulty human. You are capable of love, there is so much love within you that the world needs. It is okay if you do not want to talk about it. But if you want me to come and just sit with you so you do not feel alone, message me and I will come and do that. I am so sorry you feel like a piece of you was stolen away and that you feel broken. You are not broken to me, you are amazingly strong and I admire you.

 

Sha x

 

Resources

Pregnancy Loss Australia

The Peninsula Mum has also written about her story here

Cope Australia

You Do You. Losing and Regaining Your Identity

You Do You. Losing and Regaining Your Identity

Have you ever got to a point in life where you thought, what happened to me? Some major event occurred in your life and what was important at that time shifted. Like a huge universal shift. This happened to me. And I know this happens to most parents, or anyone going through huge changes.

Before this version of me I was the partygoing, wild and crazy person. I was a “woo” girl. I still knew how to prioritise, budget and act like an adult, but high on my list of priorities was waltzing down to the local club, bar, pub, party, basically anywhere that my friends were having a “piss up”. I wouldn’t drink enough to erase my memory of the night but would drink enough to lose inhibitions so that I could dance around like a hippie at Woodstock (minus the acid). I loved to listen to music loud enough to make your ears bleed and with such randomness that you’d often hear me listening to Killswitch Engage and Edith Piaf in the same 10 minutes. I’d completed an Associate Degree in Fashion, worked my tush off with a variety of designers until I realised it wasn’t for me, then I continued partying some more. It was fun. There were minimal responsibilities and I was in the process of building a house and planning a European holiday with Shane.

If you know me, or have read any previous posts then you would be aware that what happened next flipped my world upside down and around so hard that it felt like I was slapped in the face. We fell pregnant with Zac and immediately I renounced who I was. I now had to be a mother. Mums don’t have fun. Mums don’t party, that would be ‘unacceptable’. Mums don’t spend time or money on themselves. That would be ‘selfish’. Mums simply cannot behave one iota of the way they did before falling pregnant. That would be ‘immature’. I call bullshit.

Now I know this because I spent a good few years pretending to be a mother, a person, that I was not. The pressure was mostly from myself and the lack of grit to ignore judgement from others. I psychologically beat myself up until I didn’t even know who I was anymore. This was not the first time I had done this. When difficult periods of life arose the same thing would happen.

I even found myself latching onto confident people as if they exuded some sort of contagious confidence disease that I may eventually catch. I lost myself so deeply that whenever I was placed under stress no matter how small, I would explode.

All of me was trapped inside like I was holding myself hostage. It was not sustainable and at various points I would just live each day, not feeling anything but utter emptiness. I silenced my soul, what truly made me happy and forced myself into auto-pilot mode because if I couldn’t keep myself happy then I’d better at least try to make my family and close friends happy so I didn’t feel completely useless. I did what I thought others expected of me.

This became such an issue that for a long time I recall forcing myself to laugh at things. And laying in bed at night wondering why I couldn’t legitimately laugh at anything, even if I thought it was truly funny. Fake me. Fake attitude. Fake smile. Fake life. What on earth was I doing.

I’d like to say that one day I just snapped out of it – but that would be incorrect. It took months and years of “ah ha” moments, reading, practicing yoga, watching inspiring movies (or just reality TV of people’s lives that I envied), exercising and researching on repeat just to get it through my head that if I did not start DOING something this would be my life forever. I would die not doing anything I researched about. I would die not having lived.

My son would not look at me with respect, he would look at me with pity or he would grow up in my image. Don’t speak up, Zac. Sit there, be quiet and be sure not to say what you feel because you might offend someone, Zac. Children are to be seen and not heard. Fuck that. Fuck that thought back to where it came from.

We teach him (and will teach his brother) to respect others but now especially, respect himself. Because if you don’t respect you, and who you are deep down into your core beliefs, then you will forever float through life like a mindless zombie. That type of damage is exponentially tough to reverse.

I remember apologising so often for Zac’s energetic personality that I prevented myself from seeing any good in him. A very difficult truth for me to share. He is a wonderfully motivated, bright child and how in the world could I smother the flame within him because I cared what jo-blo who I hardly know thought of him and my parenting abilities.

I want my children to grow up feeling secure, sure of themselves, confident to ask questions, because if you don’t ask then you don’t get, but also be kind and respectful. Zac is polite, manners have been taught. He is given healthy boundaries, but I simply refuse to apologise or try to mould what makes him who he is, into some robot child.

I want the same for you, whoever you are reading this. I want you to like you who are as a person and I want you to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know you are being true to yourself

The best advice I have received all year was from a midwife while I cried in the hospital room. You do you. Stuff what other people think or say. So long as you are respectful to yourself and the world. Just do YOU, and the people that truly love you will stick by you.

How, though. How do you pull out that wonderful persona back into the forefront?

Commitment. Do you know what is scarier than change? Staying in a shit situation that you hate for the rest of your life. Sometimes it takes getting to the end of your tether to be able to commit to bettering yourself.

The Penny Dropping tactic. Do you feel something is not sitting right? Like a mad scientist, observe and record what has taken place leading up to this feeling. A pattern will appear. Then “ah huh”, the penny drops and you have narrowed down what to tackle next.

Priorities. Write them down and number them in order of importance and consider if this is ACTUALLY how you want to prioritise, or are you appeasing other people rather than yourself. Now write the list again, this time numbering what you’d ideally like to come first.

Get your shit together. The less time and money spent chasing your tail, the more spent on things that you enjoy. Get a calendar or diary system that suits you. For years I tried to utilise hard copy diaries. I have doctor handwriting which made it totally illegible and I would forget to bring it with me . Now I use Google Calendar on my phone, which allows you to colour code and it syncs to your devices. Winning.

Planning and goal setting. Honestly, try it. A few months ago I mind-mapped goals for the year. what I listed what I wanted to achieve, and I am smashing through that list. Sometimes you just need a visual.

Journaling. Do a personal mind dump of the things that cloud your thoughts. Nobody has to read it. You don’t even have to read it. You can scrunch it up and use it for dunny paper if you really wish. It is all about creating space in your mind for things that hold value to YOU. Not thoughts about other people or topics that are not of personal importance.

Listen to old school music that made you happy and dance around in your lounge room like an idiot. This is probably the most important tip.

Empower yourself to be the driver of your own life. Nobody else will fix your problems. There is no magical knight riding on a unicorn that saves you from yourself. That’s why you need to remember who you are. Live life in a way that does justice to your soul. YOU DO YOU. Stick to your guns and be ballsy and daring in your own life.

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Resources

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Also a movie where Liz is played by Julie Roberts. It is a brilliant journey of self-discovery

Gary Vee (Vaynerchuck) – All out legend. Business mogul but the most REAL motivational speaker, even though he admits he isn’t one officially. Follow him on socials

Robin Sharma – Author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Leader Who Had No Title. By storytelling, Robin conveys many messages regarding self discovery and building your own confidence.

Maggie Dent – A seasoned school principal but shares her most effective strategies for raising children and building their confidence and resilience

Killswitch Engage, or Korn – because when you are mad, frustrated or emotional you need to let it out and a great way to do so is by listening to metal