Life Right Now, Random Thoughts

Sit down, let’s catch up…

Jeez… three months since my last blog post! Where has the time gone?!

Life’s turned into such a rat race, hasn’t it? Rushing from the one to-do to the next. No wonder ‘mental overload’ is making burn out a reality! After a very long study session today, I’m sitting on the couch writing this post as Caitlin watches Despicable Me 3 and hubby watches his own programme in the bedroom. I can’t help but ask myself: since when did ‘screen-time’ become ‘me-time’? Or ‘family-time’, for that matter? Has the modern age of having our needs available at the click of a button changed our habits this drastically? Clearly, the answer is ‘yes’.

I truly miss the days when our catch-ups entailed a drive out to a destination unknown, chatting whilst the playlist of our favourite songs play in the background. No worrying about all the goods you need to pack and take with… just in case. Life was so much easier as a 22-year-old. Haha!

But, I’m digressing…

What’s happened since we last spoke?

Well, a lot and not a lot – all at the same time, really. That totally makes no sense, but somehow it sums it up perfectly!

Things are crazy – most of it self-inflicted, really. My own doing. The cost of turning out to be quite an ambition woman with dreams.

We’re closing up on our moving day… with the exception of hubby’s DVDs, not a single thing is packed yet! Second semester exams start next week and will continue up until a week before we move, as well. And work… work… work…

In between it all, Caitlin’s growing up so quickly. Our baby girl has turned into this bright, funny and whimsical little girl. Every day shared with her in our lives is so special! Who knew you could have your heart walk around outside of your body?

Being a parent is hard, being an anxious mom is worse. Still struggling to figure out how to manage the anxious part of being ‘mom’, however, I’ve found a few ways that help reduce anxiety and stress:

  • Exercise.

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress. Last year I had a walk buddy that really helped, but since she moved, I kind of let exercise fall away as part of my anxiety management. It’s something that I’m keen to take up again once we live in our new home as it is in a secured lifestyle estate, whereby now, we don’t have that luxury of added security when walking in the neighborhood.

  • Consider Supplements.

I have learned to take a few basic OTC supplements that helps keeping calm and relaxed. It really does help during exam times or extremely busy times at work.

  • Light a Candle.

Somehow a candle and the ocean has the same calming effect on me. Soylites candles remain a firm favourite of mine, however, having a toddler in the house its not the best thing to have around.

  • Reduce Your Caffeine Intake.

Something I really do struggle with is reducing my coffee intake. Especially on weekends. At work I’ve taken accustomed to drinking filter coffee rather than instant as it has a stronger taste, which in turn reduces the amount of coffee I drink per day.

  • Write It Down.

Not really something I’ve kept up to date with, really. Although, as a writer by profession it really does help getting your emotions out through putting pen to paper.

  • Chew Gum.

Or in my case, eat Halls. However, the sugar intake is absolutely shocking thus I’ve ended this semi-addiction and replaced it with a fidget spinner. I know, really… a fidget spinner?! But, honestly it helps.

  • Spend Time With Friends and Family.

I love spending time with my family and friends! Life gets so busy that it’s not always possible, yet it is an instant pick-me-up and stress reliever.

  • Laugh

It’s the absolute best remedy and one of the many reasons why I love my peoples (close circle of humans I can connect with) so very much! They know me, accept me and can lift my spirits in an instant – whether it’s a silly joke, a fun dance to music, a movie with tons of comedy scenes or just reminiscing about the good ol’ days.

I always ask myself – when did I turn into this anxious person?! The answer always remains the same. Somewhere between becoming an adult and a parent. AKA responsibility… Seems simple, right? Absolutely!

Mix it up with ambition and a pleaser personality trait; you’re left with a moderately anxious human being. So whilst the most stressful part of 2017 starts, I’m promising myself to make self-care a priority from now on. Starting with the above-mentioned things to help relieve stress and anxiety. Because being a better you means being a better mother and wife.

Do you also get anxious or stressed out? Share your advice on how you effectively manage it by commenting below.

Much love,
C xx

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Life Right Now, Parenting

The Potty Training Games

I have to admit something: so far, this whole parenthood thing has been quite easy. I mean, easy in the word that it could have been way harder – we’re lucky in that way. I’m only saying this because raising a child, as challenging as it may seem, can be a thousand times harder than what we think our current situation in parenthood is. (My current situation is struggling with a stubborn toddler that refuses to go to sleep) But somewhere out there in the world are other parents, just like us that are facing other challenges, some that we cannot even start to imagine, of raising a happy, healthy and loved child. We’re not alone in the hood of parents.

Yet somehow, it can feel that way. I tend to feel this way sometimes. Especially when my anxiety, fear of failure and fear of disappointment gets the best of me. This usually happens after a long day at work, having to try my best to get through household to-do’s and suddenly ending up with a screaming toddler that refuses to ‘to-go’ poo-poo on the toilet or potty.

I call the current phase of our journey in parenthood: The Potty Training Games.

I call it this for a very valid reason. Potty training, to date, has been the hardest part of parenthood for this mama. We’ve been at it since Caitlin turned two years old. That’s a whopping 18 months of on and off trying to get her to “be a big girl” and use the potty. “Babies don’t wear diapers”. Well, she reckons that she’s my baby, so it must be okay then to still use diapers. I’ve tried what seems to be all the tricks in the non-existing manual of raising a child and so far we’ve only managed to get half way through the process. Sometimes it feels like we’re never going to get it right.

And then I feel like I’ve let my daughter down. Failed as a parent in successfully teaching her something that surely should come naturally to her to grasp. 

We’ve had a rough ride in the potty training games that may have contributed to our struggles. Constipation, diarrhea, medication to treat the two, unwillingness to eat fibre and veggies, as well as changes of a new teacher, friends and school – they all play a part in why we haven’t managed to get a handle on it yet.

Potty training can be done in many ways. There’s no set time as to how long it can take, no set methods to success as each child is different.

In Caitlin’s situation, she’s a bright little girl that easily gets shy when it comes to ‘doing her business’, she’s an extremely sensitive soul, thus get’s easily upset and all of this makes the process so much harder, frustrating and quite frankly exhausting.

We’ve managed to accomplish certain stages of potty training:

  1. Acknowledging that you need to-go
  2. Ask or tell an adult you need to-go
  3. Use the potty to-go pee-pee

The stages that we cannot seem to crack:

4. Acknowledging that you need to-go poo-poo
5. Use the potty to go poo-poo before making an accident in your underwear

Something you need to know about me: I always worry. And in this case my mind tends to run away with me. What if she can’t get it right? What if they start to tease her at school? I don’t want that! No parent wants that!

In the world of motherhood, it can feel like everyone’s children are perfect – Instagram perfect! – so why isn’t your child? The fact is that they are perfect… perfectly human. Little human beings that are learning. And learning takes patience. Something that I’m not good at and learning along the way. It’s a process and something that I’m hoping that we get through soon (before my nerves give in!).

Tell me moms: Did you have any challenges like ours when potty training your little one? If so, how did you manage to successfully potty train? I’d love some of your tips! 

Much love,
Cxxx

Life Right Now, Random Thoughts

Life Update – #truthfultuesday

“Kids make life the best kind of busy” ~ Anonymous

I haven’t posted a new blog in quite a while. No, I’m still alive and well. And so is my family. Even though my first semester exams have finished, life’s still been busy. You’d think there’ll be so much more time available, but catching up on all sides of life is quite needed after finishing a series of five exams.

So what have we been up to, you may ask? Well, we’ve been fighting some mean, green and just plain awful sinus infections. That said, a lot of rest and TLC was needed. It was our third round of sinus infections for the year, with Caitlin just recovering from a cold a week after her sinus infection cleared up. Crazy, I tell you! Sometimes I pray that she becomes a doctor one day in order for me to at least feel that with all the doctor and pharmacy bills we’ve somehow contributed to her future career path. Haha!

Don’t get me wrong, she used to get sick a lot more, but as she grows older it seems to get ‘easier’ – if that makes any sense? Less paediatrician visits, less hospital submissions.

Apart from fighting the winter’s nasty cold and its friends, we’ve been enjoying some much-needed family time. I’ve realised that my little girl is growing up so incredibly fast that some days it feels like I’m missing half of her life, milestones and tiny moments (you can probably smell the #momguilt a mile away, right?). I’ve learned to take it a bit easier on her and though it may mean that she’s not in bed by 8pm, it also means that my child is getting her daily dose of love, affection and attention.

Our kids change our lives for the better. And though it may be challenging some days with you feeling like you just want to crawl into bed and sleep for days. I would not exchange this journey we’re on for anything in the world, dark under-eye circles and all!

So here we go, with the thought of sharing more blog posts in the coming weeks as we return from our hibernation and hope to engage a bit more with you all as we start to approach the fun, upcoming months of Spring and Summer! For now, I’m quite enjoying the winter weather and the indoor adventures it brings. 🙂

C xx

 

Life Right Now, Parenting

How-To: Teach your child about money values

When Caitlin was born, I handed over the pink piggy bank that I grew up with over to her by placing it in her room. Every so often, we clear out the small change from our wallets and throw them in there for her as a start to a savings account.

Fast forward a few years and Caitlin’s grown accustomed to putting money (small change, mostly) into her piggy bank. Every now and then her father will help her to count her money and place the high values in a safe place, starting the filling up ‘piggy’ process all over again.

Whilst Caitlin is probably still too small to understand the full value about working hard for your money and reward yourself for it, we’ve started to slowly explain the fact that if you behave, mommy and daddy will give you some money that you can either save in your piggy bank (which is what we prefer) or alternatively, you can buy yourself a sweetie the next time we go to the shops.

IMG_4061

So this whole process got me thinking about how I was taught money values and how it influences your approach towards money, spending, saving and so forth. Whilst I was one of those very fortunate kids growing up in a home where there was never a shortage of anything necessary, I still had the value of hard work entrenched into me. My parents are entrepreneurs by default, which means that shop-talk was always present and there was (and still is) always work that needs to get done. Whilst my kid-self didn’t understand why they were constantly working like all…the…time, my adult-self understand that raising four kids and maintaining a functioning household takes a lot of extra hours and hard work.

To me, understanding the values of hard work and the value of money totally goes hand in hand. So, the basic steps that we follow in teaching Caitlin the value of both are as follow:

  1. Entrench that money doesn’t grow on trees. We don’t usually carry a lot of cash on us, but it also provides the opportunity to show Caitlin that money isn’t always readily available and we need to work well with what we have.
  2. You can’t have both; sometimes you need to make choices. There’s always that moment in the shops when there is more than one item that Caitlin would like. Now, whilst the easies option would be to buy both for her, it also gives the opportunity to teach her that you cannot always get both that you want, you need to choose what you’d like most.
  3. “I need it” vs. “I want it.” The difference between need and want is still a difficult one for little ones to grasp, however we’re trying very hard to teach her the difference (especially when it comes to sweets and toys)
  4. Include her in the paying process when going to the stores. We always give her the opportunity to hand the items she wants from the store to the cashier and give her the opportunity to hand over the card (even if it’s just the store loyalty card) for payment.
  5. Combine money, math and chores. If you help mommy with the washing or picking up of toys then you are rewarded and so it adds up.

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There are various other ways of teaching money values to kids, however the above, I’d like to think, is currently appropriate for Caitlin’s age. As she’ll grow older, we’ll include her in decisions like:

  1. Setup a savings goal. 
  2. Decide which item is the best buy. 
  3. Making money in fun ways. 
  4. Giving to charities. 

Ultimately, we hope that teaching Caitlin the value of money and hard work will equip her for adult life.

Why not share how you teach your child(ren) the value of hard work and money?

Much love,
Chantelle
x

Life Right Now

How-to: Teach your child to deal with change

They say that change such as starting a new job, moving into a new home or having a new baby are the top three that cause the greatest amount of stress on a human being. This got me thinking…

If moving home or getting another addition to the family are part of the top three stress-causing changes that we could go through as adults, how does this not affect our children who do not have the emotional capacity to yet cope with such massive changes?

The reason for these thoughts running through my mind lately is duly caused by the fact that we are planning to relocate to the Cape Winelands (from the Northern Suburbs) by – hopefully – the end of the year. Along with this, we’ve been on the big hunt of finding another suitable school in the new town to where we are relocating and along with this, Caitlin’s current school is also expanding and causing some changes in structure and teachers etc. Needless to say, come the end of this year Caitlin will most likely have changed day supervision five times. That’s insane, right?! So much change for such a little person in such a small amount of time..?!

This brings me to my next question…

How does one teach your child to deal (or cope) with change?

As they don’t yet possess the coping skills that (most) adults do, it is up to us as parent to teach them the basics in which they can understand the changes about to happen and communicate how these changes affect them.

I’ve gone and done some research (as I’m one of those that absolutely hate to be unprepared for anything that I go through) and have found the follow five ways of teaching your child to deal with change:

1. Teach them to express feelings through words

Big emotions in little ones can be very scary! Not always knowing how to cope with them makes them ‘act out’ sometimes in a manner that we as adults do not always understand. When we teach our children to connect words to the emotions that we are feeling, it enables them to communicate to us what is upsetting them and in turn we understand what they are going through and can manage it accordingly.

When you’re little one gets upset, why not try and ask him/her:

How are you feeling right now? Are you sad? Offer words that they can connect to the feeling such as happy, sad, worried, anxious, scared, angry or frustrated.
Where are you feeling this emotion in your body? Is your heart racing or does your tummy feel tight?
What do you think caused you to feel this way? Help them to understand why they feel this way in order for her to get a better understanding as to how or why the feeling came about in the first place.

If our little one’s vocabulary is still developing, it may cause her to get more frustrated when you don’t understand what she’s trying to say to you. The use of an emotions chart works wonders in this as they can show you on the chart how they are feeling.

2. Establish their triggers

Do a bit of thinking as to what makes your child ‘act out’ or what situations she struggles to deal with and consider how your own behaviour could change to help her manage these situations more effectively. For example:

Does she cry or yell when you instruct her that it is now bedtime? Why not try a 5 minute warning before the time? Or better yet, a colour coded clock always seems to help as warning. Use the three colours of a traffic robot to colour in the last 15 minutes before bed time and highlight them to your little one every time it moves from green, to orange and finally to red (meaning bedtime).

3. Utilise what makes her happy

Identify and use the ways that your little one already uses to calm herself. Whether it be a bit of colouring, riding a bicycle or building puzzles. Whenever she gets upset, why not ask her if she’d perhaps want to do one of these activities to calm her down? Over time, these activities may turn into coping mechanisms for them.

4. Be present and understanding

When your child is feeling the pressure of her emotions getting the better of her, don’t just brush it off. Give her your full attention by focusing on her, listening to her, being patient with her and guiding her through the emotion through questions that help her manage the emotions effectively.

If they find you to be distracted, it could just make them feel even more out of control.

5. Utilise the help of others when needed

And finally, when you feel that you’re not coping (out of patience due to tiredness or work overload) rely on others. This not only helps you, but it also shows your child that there are many areas and ways of coping with a difficult situation, of which accepting help from others are one.

The above might be a lot to take in and patience is required throughout the entire process, but preempting and teaching your little one the basic coping skills will not only serve them throughout changes whilst they are little – it will also guide them throughout life as they build on these skills whilst growing up.

If you’re going through any changes right now or will be doing so in the near future and have anything to add to what I’ve shared in this post, please do comment below. It’s always great to share the knowledge amongst fellow moms and dads. In the end of the day, it takes a village to raise a child.

LOVE | Chantelle
xx