The Christmas Mental load

There’s something magical about Christmas is the movies. The picture perfect decorations, tables laden with food, Pintrest wrapped presents and everyone smiling. However, we rarely speak of how who carries the pressure of Christmas upon their shoulders. The true Christmas heroes who work tirelessly year long to ensure that magical experience of Christmas is felt by the entire family. The Mum’s.

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Us Mum’s know all too well where that load falls. I for one have had Christmas at the back of my mind most of the year. Starting in January I buy Christmas decorations on clearance and stuff them in my spare cupboards. During the year I hoard away stocking stuffers, and as of September I’m in full blown Christmas shopping mode. Somehow I’ve convinced myself that my constant preparation for Christmas will somehow reduce the stress I feel as the day draws closer. There is just so many jobs that need to be done ahead of Christmas Day itself; soaking the Christmas Fruit, ordering the food, buying the wrapping/ribbon/tape, wrapping the presents, decorating the house, baking….Not to mention all the other Christmas associated events that you need to be ready for. You need the advent calendars ready to go Dec 1. If you’re crazy enough to commit to Elf on the Shelf they’ve also go to be ready Dec 1 with new shenanigans everyday of the month. You need to have booked you Christmas photos and organised everyones outfits, and now there’s the new trend of matching Christmas PJ’s (make sure you’ve bought those too). The school and workplace functions. These often need food prepared, Secret Santa presents, thank-you gifts for teachers/bosses, concerts that need costumes, dinners that need outfits.There’s also all those gifts that have to ready ahead of time for family that you see before Christmas, Friends, colleges, neighbours.

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If you make through all of this there’s Christmas Eve- Attend Christmas Eve event, feed everyone, dress everyone in their Christmas PJ”s and make sure you leave out the carrots, milk and cookies. Once the kids are in bed eat said cookie, nibble carrots and drink milk. Next quietly dig out all the presents you’ve been hoarding all year. Build the toys that need assembly and silently wrap them and place under the tree. Start prepping food for the next day. Remember to go to bed before midnight so that you can have at least 5 hours sleep before the kids are up.

Christmas morning itself is magical. It’s the real pay off for all the stresses to see everyone filled with joy sharing presents, playing Christmas music and having fun together. As per usual the dad’s are sitting there pretending they know what’s in the box. If mum’s lucky they’ve picked up on you’re not so subtle hints about what you’d like for Christmas, and if not you’ve got another candle. But mum’s just don’t stop. You hand out the presents, you’re racing behind cleaning up all the paper, you’re taking photos and organising breakfast as well as starting on the Christmas lunch/dinner. Then you’re posting the pics you took to socials whilst stirring a pot of sauce and putting the roast on. Before you know it you welcoming guests, or rounding up everyone into the car for the next event.

The whole day can feel like a race for mum’s who like me probably swear they’re never going to do it again. We’re exhausted from the mental load of pulling off yet another Christmas. Surviving barely on the oxytocin from seeing the pure joy on our children’s faces on Christmas morning.

To all the Mumma’s out there you are the Christmas champions, the ninja’s, the greatest elves of all. We are all so lucky to have you spreading magic and your hard work is not unnoticed. I appreciate how hard it is, we just couldn’t do it without all of you.

Mumma Z xxx

Things I find hard with a baby & a toddler

Being a mum with a baby and a toddler is a wonderful gift but it’s not without its challenges. Lately I’ve been finding some routine things difficult and have often chosen to not do some things because the effort out weighs the benefit.

Buying petrol

This is something I have ranted about before but seriously in Australia we need more pay at bowser petrol stations. What should be a quick convenient service turns into a nightmare when you need to take two kids out of their car seats into the shop to pay and then load them back in the car. Now I know some people leave them in there but I just can’t do it. On a super hot day the idea of them sitting out there even for a few minutes send my anxiety into overdrive!

Buying Milk

Running out of milk is a nightmare. Again getting two kids in the car to the shops, setting up the pram, buying the milk, loading them back in the car, driving home, unloading them from the car all for the sake of 2L of Milk is such a mammoth effort. For the sake of mums could someone please invest in me opening a drive thru deli store???

Car Service

Keeping your family safe not the road should not be hard! I booked my car in recently and asked for a courtesy car. Apparently courtesy cars were books out for the next 3 months. There was not shuttle service available either. So what do you do with two kids. Sitting at the service centre for 6 hours isn’t an option. Long story short I had to ask my mum to help me. She met me at the mechanics at 8:30am , where I uninstalled two car seats and installed them in her car. We all then got in her car and went back to my house. There we sat and waited for hours upon hours. The mechanic rang me to say I needed new tyres to which I approved and he said the car would be ready at 12. At 2 I rang to see what was happening and he apologised that he’d put it on the later pile and it wouldn’t be ready until 4. At 4 I rang and was told I could get the car at 4:30pm. We headed off to pick the car up, after paying I took the car seats out of mums car and reinstalled them in mine. By the time I got home it was dinner time, everyone was grumpy because we’d been stuck inside all day. Dinner wasn’t cooked, and I just can’t help but think that there has to be a more family friendly way to get this done.

Medical Appointments

Having your two kids tag along to your medical appointments is a nightmare. My 2.5 year old cries if anyone touches me, apparently the chiropractic table is going to kill me, and don’t even try checking my ears. These appointments need to happen, they’re a fact of life, and part of taking care of ourselves. But going on your own with kids is tricky there’s no easy way about it.

House Hunting

Why are these always scheduled in the middle of the day during nap time! The kids fall asleep in the car, your loading and unloading them between houses, or you have to enlist a babysitter to watch them just so you can spend 10-15 minutes wandering around houses..so frustrating

Mumma Z xxx

“I am raising a son that your daughter will be safe with. I PROMISE!

Last month we celebrated International Day for the Elimination of Violence and I noticed on Social Media there were dozens of women posting the following quote:

“I am raising a son that your daughter will be safe with. I PROMISE!

Now I’m the first to agree that we as parents hold a huge responsibility when it comes to changing the pattern of violence against women, children, family, friends, and human beings alike. But for some reason this quote really got me thinking. Upon reading it I felt pressure and honestly I’m still reflecting on why I feel this way.

One idea I have pondered is that I feel so passionately about raising my sons to be gentle, kind, supportive, loving partners. That won’t respond with violence in any situation let alone towards their families and friends. But what I realised is that I’m not sure exactly what I should be doing to prevent this. It’s all well and good to say that us as parents are responsible for raising our children to respond appropriately in every situation they face as teenagers and adults but how are we educating our parents to do this. I don’t have any experience of violence at home, I’m one of the lucky ones and I still am baffled as to how I’m going to raise my boys to be men that your daughters/sons are safe with. My boys are beautiful, intelligent people who are gentle natured and extremely empathetic and caring. It makes me feel so sad for them that they’re growing up in a world where men are to be feared and distrusted and I feel a immense pressure to raise them right and turn that notion around because I can’t imagine that they would be violent towards anyone. We don’t have violence at home so we’re not modelling violent behaviour, they’re not hit ever, and we teach them how to breath and calm down when they’re angry. When they do play too rough or hit each other they’re told off and we say ‘we don’t hit people’ and ‘that’s not the way we act’ but is it enough? are there other things I could be doing?

After a lot of reading one of the main suggestion was to teach young boys about their emotions. Teaching them to express themselves in healthy ways and not to bottle up their emotions. Encourage them to talk and avoid telling them that ‘boys don’t cry’. Ensuring that we don’t teach them in any way that they are smarter or more powerful than girls. This starts with the chores we set them around the house not being stereotypically male and giving them a range of non gender specific toys.

As they get older we need to ensure that we teach appropriate ways to communicate with all people, and model healthy relationships at home. Make sure the programs they are watching are appropriate and watch tv with them so that if a character is behaving inappropriately you can use it as a teaching moment. Focus on keeping your relationship with your son strong, talk regularly, a good relationship will ensure you know what’s happening in their life and you can give them advice when difficult situations in their lives arise.

Ensure they have good male remodels in their lives, this can include family members, coaches, teachers, family friends the more they see adult males responding with gentleness, kindness, calmness the more likely they are to behave that way as adults.

Teach them what inappropriate behaviours look like from a young age. This is very important for keeping them safe as well as others. Tell them who they should tell if they see any inappropriate behaviours. Teach them about consent, this include consenting to hugs and kisses even from family members. Teach them conflict resolution and give them phrases to use when they’re upset of angry “stop I don’t like it when you…” “when you did_______ it made me feel _________”

Call out people if they make sexist comments or jokes. In fact this might be one of the most important things you do especially if its someone your son sees a lot. If a grandparent or uncle is talking about females in a derogatory way even if it is a ‘joke’ use it as at teachable moment for your son and the adults involved.

Avoid comments like ‘you run like a girl’ or ‘that outfit looks too girly’

Not every man that’s been violent towards his family learnt to be that way from a violent upbringing. So we can’t be complacent that just because our households aren’t violent are children won’t be.

There can’t be a perfect equation for how to ensure you raise your kids to be non-violent empathetic adults but every skill you equip them with will make us closer to that goal. It will raise awareness, it will change attitudes and it just may save a life.

Mumma Z xxx

Stay at home Mumma seeking to work from home… how hard can it be?

Job Wanted: Must suit mum with small children, can work from home, flexible, doesn’t cost a fortune to set up, earns decent income.

I wouldn’t be the only mum who’s looking for more flexibility in their work. Coming from a full-time position with 8-hour days work life balance is a joke. When I went back to work after my first, I was lucky enough to have my mum care for my son every day, but I still found the mental load of mum-life, work-life and homelife extremely heavy and draining. I was missing out on so many firsts with my son and when I was home, I was so tired I barely had energy to play. Now with two sons I have spent countless nights restless trying to come up with ideas that will allow me to work from home and be there for school drop offs and pickups. I’m seeking a job that allows me to work the hours I want whilst earning the same amount I was whilst working full-time..how hard can it be?

Turns out there’s a reason so many mums have to go back to work after babies. Establishing a business or income from home that provides enough income is bloody hard. Not to mention the fact that even entertaining an idea is extremely expensive. Setting up blogs, buying inventory/materials, marketing all comes with quite a substantial initial investment which sometimes isn’t viable whilst you’re living on parental leave payments. 

 For example, I brainstormed the idea of having my own baby clothing website. I research suppliers who quickly pointed out how much in advance you have to buy stock, and that they wouldn’t even consider selling to you until you’ve set up a website. Enter in another cost factor, setting up proper websites with payment options, logos and hosting even on a budget is close to $1000 minimum. Then add the marketing needed and small business insurance, it’s quite the risk for a stay at home mum to take especially if money is tight. Even if you do take the plunge and invest in yourself the hours required initially take you away from your babies the very people you are fighting to spend more time with.

In the great quest to gain financial freedom and work for yourself you may find you’ve ended up spending money and time instead.

I’m not particularly crafty so making something to sell would be quite difficult for me, but again selling your own work may also require selling at markets on weekends again being away from your babies.

Alternatively you could study something that allow you to work from home such as Marketing or Design but again there’s a large financial and time commitment to make before any income is made, and you may need to return to work whilst studying again taking you away from your babies. 

As a teacher I could hope that my Principal offers me part-time work but it’s rare and still wouldn’t allow me to do school drops offs or pickups. I could tutor but this involves working hours when the kids are home, normally around dinner and again defeats the purpose of me wanting to spend more time with them.

I don’t mean to dishearten you or your ambitions to work from home. You have every chance of succeeding in whatever goal you set. Even I’m not giving up yet I’m still going to try for my family. I guess that shows the world just how great us Mum’s are. Even when we’re working as full time Mumma’s and managing the household we’re doing extra work on top, always trying to make life better for our families. We are the heroes of multitasking and through all the hard work we’re teaching our children vital skills for life. Not to settle, to work hard, chase your dreams, and that family is the most important thing.

Good luck in your endeavours Mumma’s, and if you do come up with a solution for me let me know!

Mumma Z xxx

TWELVE years teaching how to have a career vs ZERO years to be a mum

In Australia our kids spend a minimum of 12 years in education. They get taught English, Mathematics, Science, Arts, Humanities and Health. We give them opportunities to perform, compete, design, cook and experiment. We reward them for high grades and focus on teaching home how to have successful careers.

Just think about it…TWELVE years teaching how to have a career vs ZERO to be a mum!

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Many parents are lucky if they even receive a 1 hour parenting class after the birth of their first child. We don’t adequately invest in preparing people for one of the most important roles they will ever play, the one in raising the next generation of citizens.

I’ve heard the argument that its not the schools job to do this, its the families. Although I agree with this statement, when parents work 8-6 and kids are at school 8:30-3pm there leaves very little time for teaching about family and values. You may say we have all weekend long, but again these days those weekends are filled with extracurricular activities.

It’s just a thought, but maybe if society rethought what we wanted schools to achieve we might not have such a huge discrepancy in societies value of stay at home mums and career success. Just maybe they’d be less of a pay gap between men and women. Maybe the value of family time would override the expectation to answer late night work calls and working weekends.

We could equip people with a few more parenting skills instead of dumping us in the deep end and saying good luck. I know there’s not instructions for children or perfect ways of raising them. However, I personally would have loved a little more education on sleeping, feeding and coping skills for mid 2 year old toddler tantrums.

Parenting shouldn’t be learnt alone. It’s a role that goes on longer than most careers and there is so much wisdom to be learnt in a community that could help so many. Let’s place more value on being mums and dads because this life is all about family!

Mumma Z xxx

OMG IF I HEAR ONE MORE MUM COMPLAIN….

This really resonated with me this week because I have done a lot of complaining of late. But I think the fact that so many mums are thought to be ‘complainers’ highlights a much greater issue. Firstly, why is a mum sharing the reality of what she’s experiencing called ‘complaining’. Secondly, why does she have to complain online, where are her support networks?

Motherhood can be lonely and sharing the good, bad, humorous experiences of our day is important.

Here’s a thought- If you partner is ‘complaining’ think about this, she’s probably been inside all day with the kids and hasn’t had any adult company all day. This wonder woman has suppressed her emotions and not exploded at the kids and now needs an outlet to share what she’s coped with alone all day. Your partner has been amazing, she has loved spending the day with the kids but it hasn’t been a walk in the park. Listen to her vent, she needs you to be that person, support her. Do not silence her and make her and make her feel guilty for sharing.

We love being a mums. Personally if I could find a way to be a mum every day and not have to go to work I would in a heartbeat. But even people with their dream jobs need breaks. It doesn’t mean they don’t love the job. It also doesn’t mean that every day goes perfectly and they never complain about anything. Cut us some slack. Let us share our experiences and connect with other mums. When we build each other up we make the world of raising little people less lonely. It gives us power and energy, and sometimes the fuel we need to keep going without crying. So rant Mumma all you like, I love hearing other people are experiencing what I am. Your ‘complaining’ makes me laugh, cry and jump for joy that I’m not alone.

We got this motherhood thing ladies!

Mumma Z xxx

Mum’s NEED Cafes & Cafes NEED Mum’s! Please make them mum friendly

Cafe’s have been my soul food for many years. Not only do they sell my favourite beverage they make me feel human. Each cafe brings back memories of time well spent with friends, favourite dishes, or cold mornings waiting for a hot caffeine hit,

Recently my favourite drive thru cafe closed and it really got me thinking about just how important it was for to have a place like this when I was in the early newborn days.I couldn’t tell you how many times I loaded my eldest in the car and drove around the suburbs just to get him to sleep. That cafe was my sanctuary. I was so regular I could hand over my keep cup without having to speak my order. They’d let me know when my favourite mini carrot cakes were in stock and made the best breakfast toasties complete with gooey cheese . I could rely on them to make me nutritious food when I was sleep deprived and could have easily be lined up in the machos drive-thru instead. Now with my second son I regularly think of that cafe, there is no where close to home to get a good drive thru coffee and the thought of having to get two kids out of the car to meet my caffeine needs is exhausting. The only thing that could have made that place better is if they did drive thru milk and bread as well because I would be there daily.

Drive thru cafes are also amazing because they don’t make us mummas feel like unwanted and burdensome. So often when I do get to a cafe they have failed to consider young mums in their design. The staff want to hide you up the back, or outside if they can.

When my first son was a year old I stopped at a shopping mall cafe trolly loaded with groceries it had been a long morning and I just wanted a coffee and some morning tea. My son got hold of a spoon and started tapping it on his highchair, the lady on the phone at the table next to us shoosed me and rudely indicated to me to make my son be quiet. I know it must have been frustrating for her as she was on the phone but we were at a public place in a mall. She wasn’t entitled to make me feel small. I had every right to be there with my 1 year old. We need to support young mums. Getting out of the house can be hard and we should be supported when we actually do it. Forcing us to stay inside is not good for our mental health.

I recently went to a cafe with my two kids where I could barely get inside because of my pram. Once inside I felt in the way as they really wasn’t anyway to have the pram and highchair set up without blocking a walkway or someone else’s table. Later that week I went to another cafe to meet a friend again with the two kids in the pram. The waitress watched me struggling to find the highchairs and get the boys organised. When I asked her where they were she explained they were out the back of the restaurant making it pretty clear she want going to get it for me. I’m not sure how she expected me to get the highchair and carry it back whilst pushing the pram, or maybe she thought I’d leave my two boys unattended to go and self serve the highchair. I don’t know but both options made me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. Instead I had to wait for my friend to arrive, then I went and got the highchair. The whole thing was awkward. Later on when ordering our coffees I also ordered my son eggs and toast from the kids menu. When his food arrived it came with adult cutlery..he’s 2. When I asked if they had kids cutlery I was told again it was self service at the back of the restaurant, once more making it pretty clear I was expected to go and get it. . Look I get it some places don’t want to be family friendly and I pay that for bars and fancy restaurants but cafes come on. My son wasn’t eating for free and it really made me feel like I was being treated as lesser because I had little kids. Sometimes us mum’s just need to be cut some slack. Most of the day these cafes their empty, and us mums are good business. We not only order coffees and food, but babyccinos and snacks! We’re desperate to get out of the house and it’s highly likely we will go for the second coffee in house and maybe even a takeaway too. Try to consider us in your cafe layouts and make us feel welcome when we enter your establishments. It means so much to us and makes our lives a hell of a lot easier!

To the cafes that are already family friendly and provide those kids corners, or colouring books and pencils THANKYOU! You will never know how much you do to make me feel human again and allow me to steal 10 minutes of peace to drink my coffee.

Mumma Z xxx

How a Boy Mumma dealt with gender disappointment

Its weird before I had kids I never really thought about the gender of my kids I guess I just kinda assumed I’d have a boy and a girl. It never occurred to me that I’d only be a mumma to one gender and that that gender would be boys!

When I was pregnant with my first the gender didn’t really matter but I won’t lie. When I found out it was a boy I was momentarily disappointed. I think it was a mix between my mum saying she thought it was girl and the fact that I’d got it in my head that it was. Or maybe it was the idea that having a kid the same gender as myelf felt safer, like I would be more prepared for a girl than a boy.

The feeling didn’t entirely go away and I didn’t honestly believe it was boy until he was born. But as they say the moment he arrived it was overwhelming love at first sight and I have loved being his Mumma. He cracks me up everyday. I’m navigating my way through his construction obsession and love playing trains, cars and firemen with him. I love little boys fashion and spend way too much on chinos, boat shoes and gorgeous wooden jumpers for him.

When I found out I was pregnant with number two though I found conversation about what gender was really difficult. So many people commented that we must be hoping for a girl that I started to feel like I’d be a failure if my baby wasn’t. A good friend of mine with a boy the same age as me had just had her second and it was girl. I felt jealous that she had created the textbook family and wondered what my future held. At the 20 week scan they told us we were expecting a boy. the extended family were excited but there was definitely disappointment on a few faces that they weren’t going to be little girl outfits or seeing a mini me running around. I too felt upset. My good friend who’s second was a girl said something really profound to me though. She said” you have to mourn the one you don’t have. She hadn’t found out the gender of the second until she was born, and even though she had hoped for a daughter she had slight gender disappointment at the birth. You see when she realised it was a girl she had to mourn the boy she thought she might have. She had envisaged a little boy as well, picked a name for him, and part of her was sad about not having him even though she absolutely loves her daughter.

I too had to take the time to mourn the daughter I wasn’t having. I also had to mourn the idea that this may be my last pregnancy and I may never have a daughter. I will always be the mother in law. I will always be outnumbered at home, and may not have a sidekick joining me shopping or getting our nails done.

Interestingly though I found as I entered the later part of my pregnancy I started to feel relief that I was expecting another boy. I loved being a mum to my first boy and having sons felt like familiar territory. The two of them will be best buddies, they will be able to enjoy the same toys and similar activities not to mention all money id save on boys clothes. Boys love their mumma’s and they are so affectionate. I just love all the cuddles and kisses and the way they’re teaching me to look at the world differently. I am at peace with having two boys, and just want you to know that even though you may be disappointed now I promise you it will change when you meet your baby. Don’t feel guilty about how your feeling take the time to mourn the one your not having, it doesn’t mean you love your baby any less.

Mumma Z xxx