Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to

How to keep the tears and tantrums at bay on your child’s birthday
Remember the parties you hosted for your first born child?
Until they reached a certain age, they always involved tears, and for some reason this always surprised me.
I would always ask myself: why is she crying? It’s her birthday... she’s getting all the attention, presents and junk food she wants!
There were tears because someone got the balloon she wanted, because someone else won pass the parcel, because someone else blew out the candles when they weren’t supposed to or just because it was all too much. Attention overload.
Tears and tantrums went hand in hand with fairy bread, balloons and too much sugar.
I’m not the type of parent who serves vegetable crudites and beetroot dip at children’s parties.
I am all for letting kids have a day off from the healthy stuff for a feast of lollies, cupcakes and sausage rolls.
I fully expect them to be on a sugar high all day and I don’t care... it’s their day, and I’ll handle the aftermath.
But for some reason when I was hosting parties for my first born child I never expected the tears that come with birthdays.
Now I’m older and wiser – all that means is that I’ve had another kid and know what comes next.
So for my little one’s second birthday I planned a total non-event.
I’m living in the bush now, so I don’t have the choice of amusement centre, water park, jumping castle hire or Muddies Playground.
It was a simple morning tea for family only.
No lollies, party bags, games or music. Sounds boring doesn’t it?
Well, it was lovely, and there were no tears... well, almost no tears.
Everything was going along beautifully as we had unwrapped presents, threw around a few balloons and ate yummy homemade pastries (thank you Grandma).
Then it was time for the cake so we lit two tiny pink candles, but this completely freaked her out and brought on the tears. 
Although I have given her the nickname of Miss Firecracker (she likes to go off in public places), she is definitely not a pyromaniac.
As soon as Miss Six blew them out, the tears were gone.
Back to playing with her new toys and eating cake. Yay!
It was the most stress-free party I’ve ever hosted, and maybe that’s due to the fact that it involved only one toddler!
So readers, if you’re planning a party for a child under the age of four, be prepared for tears and tantrums from just about every kid there. 
While the kids play like maniacs and the parents mill around hoping someone else will organise the fun for an hour or two, there will always be meltdowns that can turn even the most well planned party into a disaster.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The price of parenting

When did baby teeth become so expensive?
This week my six-year-old daughter asked me one of those questions that are nearly impossible for parents to answer.
The kind that make you “um” and “aah” while searching the empty parts of your brain for some creative genius response that will not only answer the question but leaves the child with no further uncomfortable questions.
She asked: “Why did the Tooth Fairy give Charlie $5 and I only got $1?”
First I have to say “Thanks very much, Charlie’s mum, for inflating the price of baby teeth!”
When I was a child, 20 cents was the standard reward for giving your teeth away.
Then when my daughter lost her first tooth last month I figured that a gold coin is a little more impressive than 20 cents, so $1 was slipped into the little felt pouch that had “Tooth Fairy” embroidered on it, and the tiny tooth went to live in a ring box in the bottom of a drawer.
But it wasn’t the first time my daughter had asked about the tooth fairy. 
Many of her peers had lost teeth already, some more than one, and the going rate for teeth changed day by day from $1 to $5.
Some even got toys as well as cash.
Parents, I implore you... there is no need to reward a lost tooth with a toy. You are only making it harder for the rest of us!
So when the first little wobble occurred within my daughter’s mouth, I prepared myself with a variety of loose change, a little pouch to put the tooth in, and bought a little container of fairy dust featuring a fairy sitting on the lid. 
This fairy dust was to compensate my child every time she asked why she didn’t get as much money as her friends. And so far, it has worked.
It’s sad state when we are trying so hard to keep an imaginary being alive, we will do almost anything (and pay almost anything) to stop our children finding out the truth.
I keep the Tooth Fairy alive in my house because I want to preserve my daughter’s innocence for as long as I can. My parents did this for me, and I treasure those memories of anticipation waiting for a fairy, bunny or jolly fat man in a red suit bearing gifts.
She wasn’t afraid to loose a tooth, and she was grateful for the gifts she received.
I recently read a funny article written by a mother called “I want to meet Everyone, and give them a piece of my mind”.
Everyone, she said, has an influence on her child because almost every day she hears a comment such as this:
“Everyone has an iphone.”
“Everyone has expensive shoes.”
“Everyone is going to the party.”
“Everyone is allowed to dye their hair.”
And so on, and so on.
Peer pressure is a mine field for both children and parents, and the older a child is, the harder it gets.
There is a whole other column I could write about this topic (stay tuned for next week) but instead I ask all parents to consider what messages they are giving their children, and what these message are doing to their wallets.
If the Tooth Fairy gives out $5 cash and toys for one tooth, what’s the next tooth going to cost? Remember there are 20 baby teeth that will fall out and this adds up to $100, plus extra for other gifts. 
To be honest, I’d rather spend that amount on toothpaste than reward my child for one of life’s most repetitive milestones.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sleep saviours

Needing sleep? Looking for advice? Read on, as I review some of the best baby sleep books on the market
Early in April I wrote about my sleep-deprived state due to a toddler who seemed permanently latched on to my chest and refused to sleep.
Well readers, I’m very happy to report that our house is a completely different place. 
I am no longer being called every hour to attend a crying toddler through the night.
I am no longer breastfeeding whenever she commands it.
I am no longer yelling at my toddler to “Go the @$!& to sleep!” (incidently if you google this one liner with Noni Hazelhurst, you’ll find a very entertaining book reading!)
I am no longer feeling like a zombie in the morning.
And everyone is happy.
It did not happen overnight, and let me tell you that our little one, though sleeping much better, is still a work in progress.
So how did I do it?
Well, I’m a huge advocate of gentle methods to get baby to sleep so you won’t find me writing about controlled crying (partly because I tried it on my first born and was horrified with the results).
A crying child is a child in need, and leaving them to cry to sleep is not responding to that need or solving any sleep problems.
If it’s worked for you, stop reading now, but there will be many parents reading this who are tired. Very, very tired. And they look through bleary eyes at the various baby sleep books wondering which one will work for them. 
If they’re anything like me, they’ll buy the lot. So to save you the trouble, I’m reviewing the top books that will help you get your baby (and you) back to sweet dreams using gentle methods.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pester power

How to deal with the child that doesn’t stop nagging
Last weekend my family attended a local market which featured a large number of stalls selling baby items, girl’s accessories (hair clips, jewellery, etc) and toys, as well as the general bric-a-brac, antiques, plants, homemade cakes and so on.
Now before we had even got to the first stall on site, my six-year-old asked: “Can you buy me something please Mummy?”
My pitiful response was: “We’ll see”.
I say pitiful because it was all I could think of without using the “n” word, which I tend to use a lot these days with my cheeky toddler who loves nothing more than to eat playdough and draw pictures on the couch with a permanent marker.
But my response was not a lie because if I did spot something nice (and cheap) for my daughter, I would happily buy it for her.
So in we go browsing each stall and the nagging doesn’t stop. 
“Mum, can you buy me something?”
“Mum, can you buy me something?”
“Mum, can you buy me something?”
“What do you want?” I reply, starting to feel agitated.
“I don’t know,” she ponders and points to random objects around us, “How about this? how about that?”
“No,” I say.
We’re standing at a stall selling antiques and I’m looking at knitting books from the 1960s that are sitting next to a Bessemer butter dish and ashtray.
Unless my daughter wants to take up knitting, baking or smoking (God forbid!), there is nothing here of interest to a six-year-old, but she is so keen for me to buy her something, she’ll take whatever she can get.
We continue on through the market and she continues asking me to buy her something. 
I tell her to stop asking, and that if I saw something suitable then I would think about it. But she doesn’t let up, and in the end, I can’t wait to leave and we both go home empty-handed. 
This is a classic case of pester power.
When a child is surrounded by desirable things at their eye level, it can be very hard to understand that pretty, shiny or yummy things are bad for you, or can’t be afforded. Why is Mum saying no when there are so many nice things here?

How to make a baby

13 steps to getting a positive pregnancy test
When you and your partner make the decision to try for a baby, it can be an exciting (and let’s be honest, very enjoyable) time.
But the fun can very often turn into frustration when month after month you are still not pregnant.
If you’re ready to become a parent, or if you’re finding it hard to fall pregnant, there are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances of getting that positive test.
1. Start taking folate (folic acid) every day as this has been proven to help your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly right from the moment of conception.
You can also eat a healthy diet that includes folate such as fortified breads, breakfast cereals, beans, leafy green vegetables and orange juice, and it wouldn’t hurt to take a multivitamin each day as well.
2. The next thing you can do is get a checkup with your GP. 
Your doctor can evaluate your health and identify any risks in your health and lifestyle that may affect your pregnancy.
It’s also worthwhile visiting your dentist for a checkup and routine clean, but if there’s any chance you may be pregnant then wait until after your baby is born to have dental x-rays.
3. Eating a healthy diet and controlling your weight will ensure you start your pregnancy on the right track. 
Eat from the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, proteins (chicken, fish, red meat and beans), grains and dairy products. Avoid foods high in fat and sugar.
Keep your intake of caffeine at a minimum, remembering that it can be found in not just coffee but also soft drinks and medications.
Avoid unpasteurised milk products, as well as unsafe foods such as raw meat and fish which could be contaminated.
4. Stop smoking and avoid passive smoke. This is a no-brainer as it is common knowledge that smoking can greatly harm an unborn baby and increase their risk of SIDS. If you need help to quit, be sure to ask your GP for advice.
5. Stop drinking alcohol. Although you may enjoy a glass of wine or two at night, drinking alcohol can make it harder for you to get pregnant, and drinking during pregnancy can cause lifelong problems for your baby such as heart defects, developmental problems and fetal alcohol syndrome.