Dear parents: You need to put your phone down and watch your child’s swimming lesson.

 

phoney

Teachers bring it up in meetings, coordinators brainstorm ideas on changing the culture at the pool, and, yes, kids get upset.

This week one of our teachers came out of his shift and told us that he almost cried during a lesson, because a little boy in his class swam the length of the pool, looked up at his Dad for praise, and said:

‘Why won’t Daddy watch me? He’s always playing on his phone.’

His Dad was so engrossed in his phone that he didn’t hear his son call out to him. This particular boy had put in so much effort. He had listened well to the teacher, he had tried his hardest, and he just wanted his Dad to be proud of him.

Sadly, we see it all day every day.

I teach classes and see parents/grandparents/caregivers/whoever completely missing out on the effort that their children are putting in to this lesson, the comedy they bring to the classes with their imaginative ideas, the competitive streak that suddenly appears when a child realises they can do something and do it well.

You could walk into any learn-to-swim environment, and I bet you will see a row of parents sitting on their phones.

As an instructor I can tell you that overall, lessons are great fun, and we get so much out of them. We get to see children change, develop, grow. We get to hear about their days, we get to help them through what can sometimes be a frightening experience, and we see progression.

That progression can be huge; it can be a child finally trusting themselves (and us) enough to let go. It can be a child mastering bilateral breathing. It can be a child perfecting a streamline kick. It can be a child putting their eyes in the water, it can even be minuscule (in appearance), e.g. tucking a chin in further towards their chest; but that could have taken weeks, if not months to happen.

How are you going to see those accomplishments if you are on your phone or ipad, or reading a paper?

How are you going to know that your child IS benefiting from the lessons if you are not watching? Do you see how much they have to take in and do all at once?

Honestly, I get sad as a teacher. I am a little disappointed when ‘Michael’, after months of encouragement and gentle guidance, finally trusts me enough to push off from the edge and paddle out to me, only to see that his caregiver hasn’t noticed. They are not even looking our way.

That’s me, feeling sad, as an adult.

Imagine how ‘Michael’ feels.

I do get it, I know that sometimes it is unavoidable. I know that work can reach us any and everywhere, and while your child is in a safe environment, being watched by another adult, it is convenient to get those final emails done. It’s finally ok to book that appointment online, without your small person trying to talk to you or show you something.

It’s just that, they usually are trying to show you something.

I work for an ever-expanding company, and at the co-ordinators meeting this week, an item on the agenda was: HOW do we get parents to put their phones down?

We discussed banning them (not very realistic)

We discussed posters (will you see them?)

We discussed talking to parents and gently encouraging them to watch

We discussed creating an app where you can watch your children swim (in real-time)

We even discussed offering free wifi and changing the password to “please get off your phone and watch me swim”.

Then the following day, our amazing teacher told us about the boy in his class, whose Dad didn’t realise his son was calling out for him.

‘why won’t Daddy watch me? He’s always playing on his phone.’

Please just try it. You will be amazed how much you get out of it, and I’ll bet you your child will work their absolute hardest.

©notsogreatcatsby2018

Big thanks to K N for the pic.

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Can you ever just be ‘whelmed’?

(How I squashed my ‘overwhelm’ and started the best day with a stolen avocado)

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Last week I hit a wall.. and then I fell down, hit the ground and rolled until I reached the edge and free-fell off that, too.

Basically there was a lot of feeling low and out of control.

It was shit.

Baby was getting 5 teeth at once (because why not), he was also in ‘leap 8’ (aka a clingy AF phase in his development aka some sort of baby-life crisis), I had a court application to produce against our old real estate managers, and daycare was closed on my one kid-free day.

I was done.

I said: ‘I’m done’.

I said ‘I’m done’ a lot. So obvs my partner went out twice that week and left me alone with the offspring, and I broke.

There was a lot of yelling and some tears.. then a lot of stone-cold silence, before, finally, a decision was made:

I’m going to have to claim some life back.

On Monday I went to the gym and then we had a huge playdate with a friend (read: nate had a playdate while I offloaded all my anger to a friend).

On Tuesday we had swimming, gym, and then I went to the cinema (like a grown up) with the same friend, and with no children. Also cake.

On wednesday I swam, and then had yet another huge playdate (talk) with another friend.

On Thursday kid 1 had daycare, kid 2 went to creche while I swam, and then we shopped. Babykid even slept while I spent about 40 minutes in a glorious shop filled with stationery, browsing and taking my time with their sale.

And then there was today. Lovely, lovely today.

Ryan took the kids to daycare while I made smashed avo on toast.

The avo used may or may not have been procured by my 3 year old while we visited Australia Zoo.

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There’s a baby in that avo tree

The kangaroo-petting area  of Aussie Zoo may or may not be home to many great avocado trees.

I may or may not have had one of Steve Irwin’s avos for breakfast today.

Then a friend came over for a coffee and she completely convinced Ryan I needed some money for a new swimming costume. (Okay but I really did, because mine did NOT keep things in place while I swam backstroke).

After a lot of discussion and browsing, we found the most beautiful costume in a moment that genuinely resembled finding ‘the’ dress.

‘You guys, I think we’ve got it’
‘Really? Can we see?!’
‘What do you think?’
‘Yes! That’s it! That’s the one!’ (Cue tears and dancing etc etc)*

 

After our swim I went and got my nails done with a friend from work. (Also got a bit laughed at by the lady doing my nails because I haven’t had them done before and I was being socially awkward but whatever.)

Then I picked the babiest one up and we had the cutest baby playdate with cute baby cuddles and baby hide and seek..

And then it was now and I am so chilled and content that I feel like I am completely in the middle of being ‘whelmed’.

It is so bloody hard to accept that we need to take some time for ourselves. It is so hard to accept that we can’t actually always do it all and put everyone else first and not stop and breathe and replenish.

I’ve really just had 5 beautiful, indulgent days.. but my kids haven’t suffered for it at all. I’m happy and so are they.. Ryan is happy cos I’m not a raging stresshead. The boys have had big plays, and are pretty oblivious to anything else..

But I know it’s not just me that feels too guilty to ask for this stuff. I mean, I  definitely don’t need all this indulgence every week; I certainly don’t need weekly nail appointments, and I definitely need to study, rather than go to the cinema; but I also need a break every now and then before I spontaneously combust, explode and freefall, taking everyone around me along for the ride.

I’m off to eat some coconut icecream now. Hope you get some time for you.

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*reaction may be slightly exaggerated

 

Getting back into it

Ah, January.

The break over Christmas and new year was pretty good.. heaps of family time, heaps of beach days and heaps of junk food.

Towards the end I started dreading Ryan’s first week back at work, because life is so much easier when you have a ratio of 1 child : 1 adult, but I had agreed to cover swimming lessons for two mornings that week, along with beginning my new Sunday shift, so I was also aware that I’d be getting a break from motherhood every other day.

Yes, that’s actually how mums feel sometimes: going to work can be a lot more relaxing than staying at home, even if, like mine, your work involves teaching 4-6 babies/toddlers/children per 1/2 hour.

With regards to teaching swimming:
1) it’s fun, and
2) other people’s kids are more likely to actually listen to you. If they don’t.. you hand them back after 30 mins anyway and carry on with your life.

As the week approached, though, mum-guilt started fully kicking in and I started panicking about Nate escaping or behaving badly at the creche at my work, or about Beau being confused/frightened/sad and feeling like I’d abandoned him. (I should probably mention here that each shift is around 4hrs long, and I’m aware that I’m completely neurotic.)

Anyway, I had a baby play date with a friend (read: coffee) and basically offloaded all of my confusing thoughts about actually wanting a break, but feeling guilty, and wanting to stay at home but feeling guilty, then wanting to work but feeling guilty, blah blah you get it.

The chat helped me massively, as did the link she sent me afterwards (http://hurrahforgin.com/2016/07/07/the-shitty-guilt-fairy/ ) and the mention of the gym membership she just got, with creche included.

It’s like the clouds parted, a choir of angels began singing, and an impossibly bright light shone down on me.

Gyms have creche facilities. Duhh.

I can have an hour for myself every day, the kids can get out of the house (and into air-con), have a play, and I don’t have to go back to work just to afford the daycare fees.

Again: duhh.

So I signed up and began on Saturday. I’m completely stiff, and have the core strength of slightly undercooked scrambled eggs, but it’s so good.

The boys survived day 1 of creche at my work. I even managed to get a class covered midway through my shift so I could sneak out to feed my suddenly-and-not-so-conveniently bottle-refusing baby, and some more of the mum-guilt disappeared. Thank god I work for and with such understanding people.

The next task is to actually get back into studying 😂. I can’t blame Christmas madness or any of that any longer, so the first logical step for me is by writing here.

Buhhhh.

I hope you all had some time with your families, and getting back into it all isn’t too brutal.

Also, is it completely of the question to put the kids into the gym-creche, and then just lie on an exercise mat/take a shower alone? Or is it just mildly frowned upon?!20161231_105538.jpg

When you get sick of proving you’re healthy.

It was my birthday this weekend. Today, actually.

We planned on a breakfast the day before (daycare could have the toddler while we had some still-hot food), then a visit to the bank and some grown-up chores before I had a dentist appointment.

All was lovely and well; my beautiful family had surprised me with a bank transfer and I bought myself a skirt and dress with some of it.
Fast forward to the dentist. They noticed a tiny rash on my ankles, and throughout my appointment got more and more concerned that it was something sinister. Eventually they convinced me that I had to see a doctor asap to rule out meningococcal, and for the babiest one’s safety I agreed.

Below the dentist is a doctor’s surgery. It being 3.30 on a Friday afternoon I thought I’d save time and just visit him, rather than trying to get in to see my usual GP. I was rushed off for blood tests, and on our way back to the GP Ryan made a joke about him sending me off so he could have time to search Web MD.

You know how you can sneeze, search Web MD for possible causes and suddenly you’ve self-diagnosed the bubonic plague?

One excessively long consultation later and I was being sent to A&E, with an explanatory fax and note for the staff.

The Doctor had convinced himself I had an infection on my heart, and due to an existing murmur I was obviously going to die unless I got it seen to immediately.
Possibly. Worst case scenario; but ‘if you don’t get it checked out right away I will panic all weekend’.

It was now almost 5pm, we still had to get back to daycare, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and we’d all had enough.

We got N, I tried my luck finding someone to watch him (last minute on a Friday night), gave up and headed to A&E.

Both kids were exhausted, Ryan was pissed off but trying to be supportive and I just caved. I cried the whole way there. Not because I was frightened, but because I am so fucking tired of worst case scenarios.

I was born with a serious heart condition, I recieved amazing care from Great Ormond Street Hospital, I have regular check ups, and have been ‘exceeding expectations’ ever since the op. I am greatful, and appreciate that medical staff have to be cautious, but sometimes I just have enough.

I get sick of proving that I am okay.

I’ve had chest pains (that turned out to be anxiety related), but that diagnosis was reached after a lot of anxiety-inducing tests. ‘To be safe’.

I’ve had a (still mysterious) numbness in one of my hands that had me at A&E for hours, ruling out life-threatening blood clots, ‘to be safe’.

I had an extremely stressful labour with N. Because of fear my heart wouldn’t cope, I was given one ‘highly recommended’ Epidural, instrumental birth and zero water to drink ‘to be safe’. The water decision was made once I had had the paralyzing injection, because of a miscommunication and a fear of excess fluid damaging my heart immediately after the birth. My pulse dropped into the low 40s, twice, and I came very close to losing consciousness both times.

I couldn’t get water for myself, due to the Epidural, and medical staff refused it. Safety, safety safety.

I need drugs for piercings, tattoos, and the dentist, just in case.

I know it’s irrational. I know I am incredibly lucky to have such attention and care given, no room for error. I know that these people have my life in their hands and they have to be cautious, but last night I had reached my limit.

A&E on a friday night, with two exhausted children and two seriously hungry adults, sat in a waiting room infront of a poor Heroin addict that was desperate for help, and in very close proximity to some fairly frequent vomit was not how I’d planned on my weekend beginning.

So now it’s my birthday. I have chosen to stay on the couch with the babiest one, while N and Ryan shop for tools, and I’m having a public rant, in the hopes of cleansing, mentally.

I am incredibly lucky, I get it. I’m just tired.

Embracing The Village

My partner went on a 5-night stag do this week.

Aside from all the usual un-fun-stuff that pissess off wives and girlfriends during times like these, I was left alone with the small people.

For 5 nights.

Alone.

I love my kids, but 5 nights alone with a 3 month old and a 2 1/2 year old is too many. I knew I had to suck it up and ask for help.

It was hard.

I realised that asking for, and accepting help was just as daunting to me as doing the dinner, bed and bath routines without it.

I have beautiful friends that really have never let me down; they are incredibly supportive, patient, understanding, and they are amazing with my wildlings  children,

but it was still so hard.

I don’t know if it’s something to do with desperately trying to cling to whatever pride I have left, now that I live amongst the carnage of 3 boys (2 little and one big), or that I feel like I have so many unrepaid favours already, or maybe I’m just in denial.. but now that I actually have this magical ‘village’ to help with my kids, I’m barely opening the door.

On night 1 we absolutely smashed it. Both kids were fed, bathed and sleeping.

On night 2 the toddler and I had rice cakes for dinner. The baby couldn’t bath with the toddler because he was such a grub, we had literally 4 powercuts and the only way I got them to sleep was on either side of me in my bed.

Night 3 I had help, takeaway, wine, and a mental breakdown.

Night 4 I was beyond exhausted, the 2 year old slept for 5 minutes before freaking out about ‘the man’ in his room; he ended up downstairs narrating Survivor for me: ‘raining! Man! Man walking! Fire!’ etc. etc.. and I was refusing to accept my partner’s calls.

Night 5, thankfully, came at the end of an extra daycare day I had requested. It was relatively calm, but I ended up between kids again, and dinner was olives and crackers.

I had a massive amount of weekend help from 3 of my friends, especially on Saturday night and for swimming lessons on Sunday, but since then I have also had a heap of comments along the lines of: ‘you know I’m always here’ and ‘just yell out, I’m happy to help’.

It’s so silly that I felt so bad about asking for something I so clearly needed.

I know that when I make comments, and offer my help to someone, I am completely willing to actually do whatever it is I’ve said I would.. Aside from the warm and fuzzies I get from helping a friend, my favour tally really is that long, I feel relief whenever I can make a dent in it. But it’s also nice to feel useful, and trusted. I know that these friends are absolutely part of my family now, and I shouldn’t feel shame in treating them as such.

At the end of the day, I know I’ll be insulted if they pick another babysitter over me when their time comes.

Unless I’m part of the reason they need one, obviously.

Anyway, my partner learned never to do that again, and I learned that I just have to open up, and embrace my village.