A Tricky Parenting Secret

Do you want to know a tricky wee parenting secret? After three years of being a mama with a chronic illness, it’s just dawned on me…A Tricky Parenting Secret

It doesn’t take as much as you think to make a nice day for your kids.

Take a day recently as an example, I’m exhausted and my pain levels have been creeping up thanks to the baby waking up to six times a night. We went to church (with a baby and a three year old, it’s not so peaceful anymore) got frustrated with Nu not being quiet. We’re not crazy, we know he can’t sit quietly for just over an hour. But not yelling would be great.

Back at home, he was frustrating us, we were feeling cabin fever but also the weight of the incomplete housework (sorry our bathroom gets cleaned fortnightly now eek). Baby wasn’t playing ball with the napping. I was so tired I felt sick.

But we decided to go out. I wanted to be tired and sore out, instead of tired and sore at home. So we bundled into the car, drove half an hour, of which the baby slept 25 minutes (he’s a chronic catnapper) and visited a nice beach with a park. Parking was difficult, we got a 30 minute park, unbundled and faced the cold but beautiful scene. Nu happily rode his scooter up and down the beach, baby watched. On the way home we stopped for chocolate sundaes at a special chocolate cafe.

Nu was difficult to keep occupied as we waited for our order. He was loud on the drive home.

But at the end of the day, as I remembered how frustrating it was to wrangle Nu and the overtired baby and my own issues. While admitting I had a nice time. Nu remembered a great day. He had fun. He remembered the scooter, the birds, the swing, the chocolate sundaes. And our photos look so great.

All it took was a park and a treat. And I managed to give that to him (granted, with Husband’s help) despite pain levels of 5/10 and fatigue levels up the whop.

It is a timely reminder as I worry about my lack of energy and time. As I worry that I don’t have enough to split between two kids. But I do. I continually find reserves I didn’t know I had, for their sakes. And my little efforts to keep Nu occupied pay off.

On days where we’re housebound by baby and pain levels, Nu is just as happy to bake (he loves to stir!) and colour, an ride his digger (as long as I’m watching!) and snuggle while watching a movie.

So now my definition of a successful day is when I ask Nu, “did you have a nice day?” And he responds with an emphatic yes!

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Nu loved his chocolate sundae!

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Overwhelmed: A Book Review

I am reading Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No one has the Time by Brigid OverwhelmedShulte. Well, reading assumes a more peaceful process, I keep finding sections I adore and then either write them down or Google search something related to it.

You see, the concept of slowing down and looking after yourself is something everyone could do with, but especially a person with chronic pain and fatigue.

“She herself [an assistant professor of psychiatry] works hard at not feeling stressed. Among other things, she gets enough sleep, eats right, exercises, stops to breathe, meditates, sets realistic expectations, and makes constant adjustments to her goals and schedule – as life around her shifts.” P56

She sounds amazing. And like she has no children.

It’s the perfect time to read this book as I contemplate my new work/life balance as a mama.

Shulte explores the current employment law in America (very limited and not at all employee focused) and some of the innovative companies who are incorporating more employee focused measures. Things like flexible work hours, part time hours and less face time, surprisingly, lead to higher levels of productivity and retention of good staff.

I devoured this book.

I clung to it as if it could give me the answers I so desperately need about how to balance motherhood with work with a chronic illness. And it did give me a lot of guidance.

Shulte explores the concept of time and how gendered expectations can get in the road. She weaves memoir with research in a seamless story, leaving you feeling like you’re reading a stream of consciousness as it’s happening.

My learning highlights: Time is power; work smarter not longer; balancing work/rest periods; choose your most important goal and tackle that first; dads are as capable as mums; help kids develop resilience, perseverance and grit; play; meditate.