5 Reasons Swimming lessons are non-negotiable for my children

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I first became a swimming instructor in the UK 12 years ago (!). I fell in love with the job immediately. In honesty; I wasn’t planning on working with children at any point in my life whatsoever, I was just ‘on a gap year from College’ and saw the course advertised at my local pool.

After a couple of months, my first employer (almost literally) pushed me into becoming a parent and baby instructor. For the first day or so of my in-water training I was petrified of the babies, and even more petrified of the parents.

Then I fell in love with it.

I also became a little bit obsessive and possibly a little bit preachy, but I am unapologetic. In my mind, swimming lessons should be compulsory for all kids (and they should be government funded, but that’s for another day). In the meantime:

Here are 5 reasons swimming lessons are non-negotiable for my children:

1. Swimming is the only sport that could literally save my child’s life.

There are an estimated 360 000 annual drowning deaths worldwide, as stated by The World Health Organisation 2018:

‘Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury-death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths.’

‘Globally, the highest drowning rates are among children 1–4 years, followed by children 5–9 years.’

According to the Royal Lifesaving National Drowning Report 2018 (Aus)There were 249 drowning deaths in aquatic locations across Australia between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018’.

Drowning is quiet, and it can happen to anyone.

It isn’t realistic to expect that you can just avoid water. Even if you chose to avoid beaches, pools, lakes, dams, rivers, streams, oceans and ponds for the entirety of your life, drowning hazards still exist in your home.

‘Young children are especially at risk — they can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimetres) of water. That means drowning can happen where you’d least expect it — the sink, the toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, or small bodies of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rainwater.’ – Kids Health.org

During swimming lessons, teachers work on numerous safety skills alongside general technique. You may not realise, but every step of a good lesson will be preparing your child for an emergency. I have outlined some below:

  • Breath control aims to reduce the risk of panic, meaning that precious air is not wasted
  • Floating minimises the energy used to keep a face above the water
  • Turning encourages little ones to find the nearest edge or flotation device
  • Holding on to the edge reinforces the habit of patiently waiting whilst remaining safe
  • Jumping in allows littles to experience the way their body feels when they land in different positions in the water, and how to get back to safety
  • Diving for toys encourages them to open their eyes and find what they need (i.e. an edge or an adult).

When my sister was just two years old, the family dog accidentally knocked her into a large pond. Her clothes immediately weighed her down and she sank. My Grandmother and Mother luckily saw it happen, and Mum jumped in and got her. While the likelihood of her swimming to save herself would have been slim (due to the heavy clothing) the fact that she did not scream and waste her oxygen would have given her precious seconds while under the water.

It was also incredibly, incredibly important that she was constantly supervised while close to the water.

2. Swimming is great for lung and heart development.

Swimming trains your body to use oxygen more efficiently and can also help to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. I liked this article here which goes into more detail. Sorry (not sorry) to harp on about my own experiences again, but I was born with a congenital heart defect which required me to have open heart surgery at around 18 months. Typically, a follow-up operation happens at 17 years, but so far, I have received the all-clear from my Cardiologist each year. I personally believe that my regular swimming has helped me to maintain a reasonable level of Cardiovascular health, and I want the same for my boys.

3. Swimming significantly enhances core strength and muscle development

While my children are growing, their bodies are developing at a rapid pace. Their muscles are going through a lot of changes, and being in the water strengthens them, but also allows them to recover.

‘The significant repetition of strokes improves muscle endurance, and because water creates more resistance against the body than air does in land exercise, the muscles are strengthened and toned. Swimming also significantly enhances core strength which is important to overall health and stability in everyday life.’ – Human Kinetics

A strong core improves flexibility, mobility and strength; which allows children to engage in a wide range of physical activities, from sitting up unassisted, to flipping into a foam-pit.

Swimming is also great for rehabilitation, as it can be low-impact, and the water itself provides support for your muscles, bones and joints. While this point may be more relevant for the older generations, you never know when you may need physiotherapy or some form of physical rehabilitation. If your first experience with a pool and water resistance happens when you are already physically vulnerable, it may be harder to find the confidence to get started.

4. Swimming is inclusive

Swimming as a sport is incredibly inclusive. The water will provide support, the intensity is variable, and lessons can be held as groups, or as private 1-1 sessions. I have been privileged enough to have taught children and adults with diverse physical, mental and psychological needs; some as complete beginners and some working on techniques for triathlons. I love the diversity with which my job provides me, and I love that there is a sport that can change along with the needs of myself and my kids.

5. Swimming compliments a wide range of other physical activities

Knowing how to swim will enable my kids to participate in a wide range of sports (which would hopefully keep them out of trouble).

They are already showing an interest in surfing, kayaking and snorkelling, and as they grow older I expect that they will also enjoy diving, scuba diving, water polo and of course competing in swimming carnivals. I mean honestly, just look at this list of water sports.

I understand that I am in a position to ensure that my kids always have access to swimming lessons, and I am thankful for that. As I mentioned above, the dream would be for all children to have access to swimming lessons, but I hope that if you have a choice to enrol your child in any sporting activity, you choose the one that may save their lives.

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

 

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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.

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

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Boss Mummas

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Nanma & Nate – Wimbledon UK

My Mumma is a Boss-Mumma.

She raised two extremely different daughters, in two extremely different generations, solo, for two extremely different reasons.

I’ll give you some background:

My sister and I have an 11 year age gap.

Our Mother raised my sister as a single mother, during a time when it was almost unheard of, really.

It’s hard to comprehend just how recently unwed mothers were shipped off to convents under a veil of secrecy, to have their precious babies taken away from them and re-homed with ‘more suitable’ parents, but it happened, and it happened incredibly close to when my Mother had my sister. It even happened to another beautiful mumma in my family.

Thankfully, Mum was able to keep my sister. She juggled work and parenthood alone, right up until she met my father. They married, and had me.

I was born with a heart condition, and sadly, my father passed away in a car accident before it was operated on.

Mum now had two daughters, one facing open heart surgery, and was about to go through single-parenthood all over again. 

She did it, and she did it well.

I have no idea how, but she held down a stable, full-time job. She provided us with everything we asked for. She took us on holidays, she spent time with us, she made us feel secure and loved. I’m sure I had questions as a small child, but overall I only considered my childhood to be a normal, happy one.

That’s a huge testament to how much hard work she put in to motherhood.

I genuinely believe that if my Mother had $10 left to her name, and she even thought for a second that my sister and I were struggling, she would give us $4 each and leave herself with $2. Then she would feel guilty about it, and try to give us every last cent. 

Parenthood is not easy. Ever. You could have all the money, all the resources, all the patience and love; but it is still not going to be easy.

So, in honour of my Boss-Mumma, I wanted to do a shout out to all of the Boss-Mummas out there this Mother’s Day. 

Firstly to all of you single-mummas; smashing all the stereotypes, facing all the judgement, tackling all of the dramas and trying to desperately fill all of the roles: You are amazing, be proud.

To all of you mummas to be; dealing with your own hormones, your body’s changes, your fears and doubts, while also dealing with literally EVERYONE having an opinion on what you can and can’t eat and drink, what you should or shouldn’t do/buy/think.. even how you should sleep: You are amazing, it will all work out, you will work it out.

To all of you new-mummas; never sleeping, hardly eating, adjusting to the sudden influx of experts on your own life and your own journey, trying to remember your own name and keep your family afloat, all while trying to work out who you just became: You are amazing, and I promise you’ve got this.

To all of you working-mummas; tackling drop-offs and pick-ups, switching between a work-brain and a home-brain, facing your own set of judgement and your own sense of guilt: You are amazing, a solid role-model, and the appreciation will come.

To all of you studying-mummas; getting up early and staying up late, working your butt off to try and better yourself and your prospects, justifying your choices and looking to the future, while, yet again, facing all the judgement: You are amazing, you are strong enough and smart enough to do this; it will all be worth it.

To all of you stay-at-home mummas; keeping your family together, keeping them all clean, fed, warm, happy, holding everything down, and yep, facing all that judgement too: You are amazing, you are valuable, you are irreplaceable.

To all of you young-mummas; finishing off school/college/still deciding what direction you want to take your life in, starting from scratch and watching your peers live a totally different life: You keep focusing on you. Honestly, I don’t think we ever have our sh!t together, we are all just working it out as it comes: You are amazing, you can handle this.

To all of you older-mummas; trying to find a group of your peers to relate to, wading through an abundance of advice from friends who have lived it all already, still juggling the judgement and the self-doubt: You are amazing, you deserve to enjoy this, and you are allowed to still be learning.

To all of you step-mummas; embracing, raising and loving those children as though you made them yourselves: You are amazing. Blended families aren’t easy to keep harmonious, but what an accomplishment when it works.

To all of you mothers in-law; accepting, welcoming and loving the person your baby has decided to make family. You are amazing, well done for handing over the mantle, for expanding your hearts and your lives to these ‘chosen ones’.

To all of you Grand-mummas; trying to help, trying to love and parent your babies with babies of their own: You are amazing, and loving grandparents are a valuable luxury.

To all of you adoptive and foster-mummas; opening your hearts and your homes to children that need it the most: You are amazing, inspiring, and I am totally in awe of you. 

To all of you dad-mummas and mumma-daddies; you guys holding a family together without the societally accepted and generally expected female or male counterpart, whether you are a same sex couple or one parent flying solo: You are amazing, you are tearing up an outdated rulebook, and you are important.

To all of you mummas of babies no longer with us; whether those around you know about your loss or not; it counts. You deserve to be thought of, considered, and loved. Mother’s day can be so, so hard, and for those who suffered a loss, particularly one that was not openly known, it can be a day of solitude, reflection and grief. You are amazing, and you are not alone. 

To all of you with mummas no longer with us; my love and heart goes out to you.

Happy Mother’s day. ♥

©CatOwens2017

P.s. below are some of my favourite mumma pics, of the boss mammas in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones. Share and tag your mumma! I’d love to see yours?

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Nanma & Nate

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Me & B

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Rima’s little copycat

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Elaine and her girl

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Zaynah and Beebee

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The Rowe family

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Mumma Thompson and her babies

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Jess & her ‘over-accomplished Mother’ (direct quote)

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Bails and Cecil with Nan

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Bonnie and her ‘first and forever best friend’

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The Brown girls

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The Kelly ladies

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‘Aunty Cole’ and her boy, Jack

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Lana and the miraculously still children

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Danielle and her ‘rock’

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The Parker girls

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Promoted from Mumma to Oma

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TB and Lottie

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Karmen and mumsie

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Franklin and Christie

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Kristina and the 3T’s

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Abby and Jack

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Me and baby Nate

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One last one of Nanma and Nate ❤

P.p.s. I hope you want to share this with the boss mammas in your life! Annnnd sorry to all the people cropped out 😂😂

Sorry for the silence

20170403_115437_002.jpgWell, hello strangers!

The past few months have been hectic in my household. The big kid turned 3, we moved house, the baby started daycare for one day (read: morning) a week, and Ryan’s business is crazy busy.

Ryan works Mon-Sat and I work on the Sunday. Add a toddler and a baby into the mix, and we were left with a tiny tiny window for house viewings, packing, moving and unpacking.

For some reason, renting a house on the Sunshine Coast is a very last-minute procedure, which makes something already incredibly stressful that much worse.

In general, if we apply any more than two weeks in advance, we are told the house is ready to go and they really need someone in ASAP. That means you have to search, view and apply for houses with just enough time to be approved and get your life together before your lease expires.

Fun fun fun.

I am still 4 assignments away from finishing my cert IV in writing and editing, as, without fail, each week something will pop up that needs my attention a tiny bit more than the course. I actually set myself a personal deadline of January.. then end of Jan. Then definitely by the end of March.

Then it was now; May 11th.. and I am aiming for ‘before my course expires’.

On a more positive note, the blog I wrote: ‘ten things your child’s swimming instructor wants you to know’ was shared by Austswim and subsequently picked up a lot of site traffic. Like, a silly lot. That gave me a bit of a reality check about what I could and should be accomplishing; along with a healthy dose of fear.

Will I ever actually be able to match those numbers with another post? Did I just have my one hit wonder and totally forget to cash in on it? Was that all just random luck?

I am positive about it, regardless of those thoughts, though. Having so many beautiful responses and knowing that I struck a chord with other swimming instructors around the world gave me a wonderful sense of belonging that I will never forget.

So! Any and all positive thoughts are welcome (especially as the baby seems to have gastro, and the washing machine has finally called it a day). Hopefully tomorrow will be THE day I get my student brain back in.. or my thinking cap back on, or my creative juices flowing again.

Thanks for bearing with me. I’ve attached a photo of the baby as a shameless incentive to bring you back again 🙊.

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Ten things your child’s swimming instructor wants you to know

Knowing how to swim competently could save your child’s life. For this reason, swimming lessons are not only beneficial for physical strength and development, but should also be seen as providing a vital lifesaving skill that everybody should possess.

Swimming instructors take their time to get to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and try their hardest to bring out the best in their students; but in order to help them do so, here are ten things swimming instructors would like you to remember:

1) Children learn at their own pace

Some kids will swim like dolphins from the get-go, but others will take longer. They may need to build up a relationship with their instructor before they can physically progress, they may need to get to know the pool and their classmates, or their little bodies may take time to develop the strength needed to propell them forwards.

It’s all progress, it’s all development; it’s all important. Try not to compare your child to others, they are trying their best!

2) We all learn differently

Similar to learning at their own pace, children also learn in their own ways. Some respond well to gentle teaching methods, some excel under stricter guidance.

While we try our very best to teach in the best way for your child, sometimes they will be suited to a different instructor. You are more than welcome to talk to us, or to the coordinators about what (or who) will best suit your child.

3) Let them play!

Outside of lessons, the very best thing you can do for your child’s progression is to enjoy water together! Don’t worry about their technique, teach them that swimming can be fun and they will WANT to improve. Do reinforce the usual rules, though, such as staying out of the water until you are already in.

4) Your children really want you to be proud of them

Sometimes it can be frustrating to see your child’s progress plateau, or to see others catch on quicker, but as mentioned above: there can be so many developmental reasons behind this. They do want to do well, they do love your praise, and they do check to see that you are watching.

Sometimes we will see an improvement in their technique or their body positioning, and we will try to make a big deal out of it. It may be miniscule; but it may also signal a complete change in their ability.

5) We all have bad days

Sometimes your child will be tired, uncooperative, grumpy; human. We understand. Give us a heads-up if you can, and remember that we all have bad days. Generally speaking, the best way to handle this is to persist with the lesson. If your child climbs out early, they may expect the same result in future; when they aren’t having a bad day and they just want to do something different.

They may not accomplish the most on that bad day, but seeing the lesson through will set a precedent for the future.

6) Being on time is important

While this one is easier said than done, and we know lateness is sometimes unavoidable, arriving with enough time to get your child used to their surroundings before they are plonked in the water really does make the world of difference.

Children have no real concept of time, but they are incredibly in tune with their parents. If you are rushed and anxious, the chances are that anxiety will come with them into the pool.

If you do happen to be late, we understand; a deep breath may ease that transition into the lesson.

7) It’s best to stay committed

Physical activity and group sports are fantastic for your children; but swimming is also a vital survival skill. Maintaining your commitment to lessons is the best way to develop your child’s strength and capability in and around water.

8) Children pay more attention than we realise

This one is especially relevant for make-up classes. Routine is important to children, but sometimes life gets in the way of that. If your child has a lesson with a new teacher, try to be excited for them! Explain it in a way that will make them feel good about this change, and the chances are they will love it. If they don’t, remember it’s just one lesson, and the same rule applies about sticking it out until the end.

9) You can talk to us!

While we know the job; you know the child. Feel free to talk to us or one of the coordinators about any past experiences/injuries/illnessess/bad days that you may think are relevant.

That being said; we do deal with A LOT of children, so your faith and trust in us and our methods goes a long way.

10) We really do love your kids

Even when they are challenging. In fact, sometimes those challenges make the rewards that bit sweeter. Your children are strong, clever, funny, and the reason we are in this profession.

We genuinely enjoy our time with them; working out their personalities and watching them grow. We are so proud when a child masters a new skill or overcomes a fear; so thank you for trusting us to do so!

©CatOwens2017

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©notsogreatcatsby.wordpress.com

©CatOwens2017

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.