These 2 family rules might work for your family too. 

If you’re anything like me, you just spent the school holidays playing referee to your kids crap way too much. Sometimes I think the kids argue just to get me in the room. I also started to get really sick of having to explain everything over and over and over again. 

We don’t hit each other because ….

We share our stuff because…

Did you use your manners…

We say thank you in this house…

You can’t pick every movie we watch…

We clear the table because…

I got really sick of hearing the sound of my own voice. So I sat down, and I thought of a way to compartmentalise everything I was saying over and over again, and I came up with 2 basic family rules, and these are them:

  1. Be Kind
  2. Be Polite

That’s it. 

Go ahead and think about it. Almost every behaviour you need to remind them of or explain can be broken down into these two things Are you being kind? Are you being polite?

So I sat them down and said “ALRIGHT! It’s outside play time. There are only 2 rules you need to follow. Just two, that’s it. BE KIND and BE POLITE. Go.”

Did it work? Well no, not right away, of course not right away, I’m not a magician, or wizard, or lying. Of course they started bickering immediately. However, this time, (after an appropriate amount of time had passed to see if they would sort themselves out, which they didn’t), instead of giving a long winded speech about what they did wrong, and why and blah blah blah, I just turned on my mum voice, looked them straight in the eye and asked;

Are you being kind?

Oh, uh no.

Well then, you broke the rules, time out!

And the next time. 

Are you being polite?

Nooooooooo

Rule broken, time out!

And holy crap, it’s starting to work. When we go out I just warn them, remember be kind, be polite. When they go to play, I say remember there’s only 2 rules, be kind, be polite. 

I feel borderline genius, and be sure I know that I am not. But sometimes when you have a parenting win, you need to high five yourself like you just discovered Insulin. 

Do you have any cool family rules?  We have another one:

Jusy because you are being carrots, does not mean you can bite each other. 

I think that’s more of a situational rule though. 

I would love to hear yours, maybe I can use them. 

Cheers, Megan. 

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How to pack the perfect kids carry on bag for a long flight. 

We’ve made it! After 24 hours of travel between Australia and Canada, we are here, and we survived. Patience, perseverance and positivity got us here without too many dramas. 

I also think we nailed it with carry on bags this trip, which helped a lot. {Special thanks to my mother in law who organised the boys bags for early Christmas presents and texted back and forth with me as I tried to plan everything they needed}. 

Here’s what we did. 

  • Each kid (Travis, Jett and Felix) had their own carry on back pack (which were big enough to hold things but small enough that they could carry it themselves on and off the plane and through the airports. They sat under the seats in front of them and they could access them when needed. 
  • Wayne had his own bag, and he carried all our travel documents plus his few essentials. 
  • I had my huge bag and shared it with Charli (the baby). 
  • We had an extra carry on devoted solely to nappies, wipes and snacks. 

The boys were each in charge of their own bag to carry. Wayne carried his bag and the extra bag and I carried my bag and Charli. 

Back packs are great because they leave your hands free. But I prefer a shoulder bag, especially because I often had Charli in the Ergo. 

This is how we packed the kidsbags. 

  
The boys each had: 

  • Over the ear headphones. 
  • An activity book and a book to read. 
  • A pencil case with coloured pencils. 
  • A camera. 
  • A monster truck. (Or any fun, non noisey, non small parts toy will do). 
  • One change of clothes that they changed into on the last flight (they were long sleeve shirts and track pants since we were headed to colder weather) 
  • Pajamas that they changed into on the second flight (the longest one where we attempted to get the most sleep). 
  • Extra undies. Always important. 
  • A no drip water bottle (bring it empty and fill up once at your gate to avoide issues with security and liquids). These were so much better than trying to get the kids not to spill those tiny plastic cups, and stay hydrated because they always had them handy. 
  • Toothbrushes and paste, which were together in one bag since the toothpaste had to be in a small bag. 

They wore clothes that suited our first short flight and had socks and shoes on. I bought cheap light weight slip on shoes for the trip so they could get them on and off easy. (It’s nice to have no shoes on the plane, that is until you need to use the toilet). 

The activity book and camera got used the least. They really loved the endless supply of movies and having their own TV. However if we had got delayed, those two items would have been a godsend. Although our messes were a minimum this flight, I’ve had others where changes of clothes were a necessity. It was nice though breaking the journey up and changing outfits. It also kills time. 

For Charli I packed:

  • A change of clothes
  • Pyjamas 
  • An extra shirt
  • One toy
  • Her blanket (which really she carried most of the time). 

Our extra bag had all the extras, obviously: 

  • Nappies for Charli
  • Nappies for Felix 
  • Pull ups for Jett, for when he slept, just in case. 
  • A whole pack of wipes plus more. 
  • A small lunch box with snacks. 
  • A bottle for Charli (that she never used) 
  • Extra dummies (soothers) just in case. 

Considering we travelled with four kids, two of which are in diapers and all of them under 6, I think we packed very little. This made our travelling easier and we didn’t lose anything. 

You don’t need to bring lots for the kids to do. They are amazed being on the plane. Plus thank goodness for movies and tv’s. And if you’re lucky they will doze off to the whirl of the engines and air con.  Also extra blankets, extra essentials and extra food is all available on most long haul flights, just ask, although when they see you travelling with kids, they usually ask you first. 

What do you pack when you take long flights? Any must haves? Anything we missed? 

~Megan. 

I suck at being married, right now. 

And in another post you could file under keeping it real here’s how I feel about my marriage right now. 

**actually I wrote this at a different time, but it has a lot of truth right now as well. Realatioships are hard, and then you add in babies. **

When you have one child everyone is excited and just wants to know when you’ll have the next. They give you shit loads of advice and babysitters are a plenty. Life is hectic, as having a new baby is a complete life change, but family and friends will usually offer all hands on deck for you. After the initial bumps, things can run quite smoothly, until the next bump. 

Then you have the second. Hurray you’re done having kids. Or are you?! The parent to child ratio is even and you are at the average family size. All family vouchers are made for you, 2 adults and 2 kids. You can walk balanced with one kid on each side or with your partner, you can each take one kid. 

Then you have a third, which everyone assumes is an accident and things get a bit uneven. Two’s company but three’s a crowd. Your family can be its own party. Houses get bigger, cars turn into SUV’s. It’s harder to find a babysitter for three. But three kids is still a common family size. Your arms are stretched but there’s still enough time in each day for everyone. You still have enough energy to even make a fourth! No way, you aren’t having a fourth! 

Then you have a fourth. Four kids! No one reacts to four kids without shock and awe(horror). Clearly you know nothing about contraception. You must be done! Obviously they tried for the girl (nope, that’s just how the fertile gods played our hand). You’re balanced again but now there are no spare hands and there are less villagers around. By the fourth kid you got this right!? Now your time is beyond stretched. There’s no down time. There’s just awake and asleep. Sleep is almost always broken; four kids means four opportunities to wake. If we’re awake we are moving. There’s four times the fun and four times the activities/appointments/meals. Four times the hugs, four times the minions to teach and mold into great humans. Four times the stress. 

Going from three to four wasn’t hard ability wise. You worry a bit less. The fourth kid is basically raising herself -and thriving! Your days become hella organised based out of necessity. But your day is FULL. Time wise you are jam packed. 

Right now I feel like I can focus on 1.5 things max. So out of Kids, Me and Husband, I can pick one and then another that kind of gets my focus. 

So my kids are always the one. And the .5 gets tossed around, mainly on me. Yes that means my husband gets the least of my time. He knows it. I know it. 

BUT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO PUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP FIRST! 

My reality is I can’t right now. My kids are little, one’s still a baby. And I need to occasionally make sure I atleast eat properly and sleep when I can or I won’t be able to look after them well. Happy mummy, happy kids, am I right?! 

BUT YOU’RE NEGLECTING YOUR MARRIAGE. 

Yes I am. And it sucks. 

BUT YOU NEED TO PUT EACH OTHER FIRST AND THE KIDS SECOND. THATS HOW MARRIAGES STAY TOGETHER. 

Screw you. I’m trying. Have you met little kids? If I don’t put them first right now, while they are so young and dependant, they won’t make it into functioning adult humans who I can set free into the world. 

WELL THEN YOUR MARRIAGE IS OVER. 

It could be. But it isn’t! Maybe I have an awesome husband who feels neglected most of the time but understands and sees the sacrifices I have made to grow and birth these tiny humans of ours into existence. Maybe, so far, our love is filling in the gaps of our marriage that we are failing at. Maybe we both see that we can be so much better, just around the corner, just on the other side of babies. We are SO close. Maybe we hold on tight to the special moments alone that we do get, those times where we can see each other and know the love is still strong. 

Or maybe not. I have no idea. But we’re still here and we’re still talking, and fighting, and laughing, and arguing, and hugging. 

So right now my kids come first. I don’t know what it’s like to be married and not be pregnant or not have a baby or not be breastfeeding. I’m thinking that around that corner, once I pass this stage of the kids are my main focus, I will find a new stage of life where the kid, me, husband ratio is much more even. 

I love you husband. If you forget who I am, I’m the other adult in our house. The one who drives you crazy and steals the covers. But you drink all the milk, so I say we’re even. 

~Megan 

Holly’s PND Story

I am very excited to share Holly’s story of pnd and the lessons she has learned. So many of her words ring true for myself, and it never ceases to amaze me how similar we can think and feel, all the time thinking we are alone and the only ones struggling. I love the positivity that Holly has from her experience, it’s truly inspiring. Here is her story:


About four years ago I had a breakdown. It was a Sunday morning. I had a six-month-old beautiful baby girl, a 2-year-old boy I adored and a husband I’d had a wonderful relationship with for 9 years, but I was unhappy. I found life in general very difficult as I did all my relationships with others. I cried all the time, wanted to scream, to run away, to sleep, but mostly I wanted to shut out the constant bombardment of negative voices in my head telling me I was repulsive, useless, a terrible mother and that my family would be better off without me. I was not coping, I did not recognise myself and I thought I might be going insane.

Finally, in desperation, I reached out for help and was diagnosed with severe Post Natal Depression (PND), a disease that affects approximately 16% of new Mothers. Up until then, I had quite frankly thought PND was a bit of a myth. With the support of my family and various professionals, I spent the following 18 months getting ‘better’ like my life depended upon it. Because it really did.

Sad woman statue

I don’t want to tell you about all the struggles I had – trust me there were many – what I would like to give you instead, is hope by sharing some of the lessons I learned from PND. It amazes me that now I can look back at this dark time in my life and actually be grateful for the insights I gained and for the person I have become. For a long time I was so ashamed of my illness, but now I am ready to speak up and reach out to other suffering Mummas.

Lesson 1: PND taught me about Depression. I honestly used to think that people who experienced Depression were simply choosing to be unhappy and that they could snap out of it at any moment if they simply chose to. Ha! If only it were that simple! Depression is a medical condition, an actual disease where there is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s a form of mental illness, extremely complex and difficult to understand because we usually cannot see it. We can see a broken leg or the effects of cancer or a kidney infection, which are all more socially accepted forms of illness than mental illness.

Lesson 2: PND taught me about kindness and compassion. That we need to reach out to other Mothers and love and support one another without judgment. We all love our kids and want the very best for them. We are all doing the best we can at the complex job of Mothering, for which there is no instruction manual. Women have the power to tear us down but women also have the power to build each other up. Be kind.

Lesson 3: PND taught me that Mums are the heart and soul of their families. We set the tone in our home. When we thrive, everyone thrives. When we struggle, everyone struggles. If we want our kids to be happy, confident and resilient individuals, then we ourselves need to model these attributes.

Woman for Megan's artile

Lesson 4: PND taught me about the importance of self-care. Having small children who constantly rely on you can be a selfless, thankless job and most of us Mums put ourselves last in the line of care. I am often the one leaving the house without having had breakfast or a shower because I have been flat chat getting the rest of the family fed, dressed and organized for the day. A Mother who is exhausted and unfulfilled and whose life only revolves around her children day in and day out can reach a place where it is hard to keep giving and giving in a calm and caring way. We need to recognize that time spent engaged in activities that allow us to take off our mother ‘cap’ and be our true selves, feeds our souls, even if it is just for a few minutes everyday.

Lesson 5: PND taught me that recovery is absolutely possible, but that there is no quick fix. For me, a holistic approach to PND was imperative and fortunately, successful. Once I better understood the disease that I was up against I fought hard, every day, to get well. I had regular visits to my doctor, psychiatrist and family support officer. I attended a PND support group, took anti-depressants, began journaling, chanted positive affirmations, changed my diet, took herbal supplements and started exercising. I began reading and studying mental health and began reintroducing nourishing activities that were just for me. It took me 18 months to come out the other side as a new and improved version of myself.

Lesson 6: PND taught be to focus on and appreciate the beauty, wonder and joy in my life as a Mother. I feel and relish the good times in my life now so much more intensely that I used to. PND set me on the path of the journey I am currently on, which is all about learning how to cultivate an attitude of joy and appreciation and is the very reason, the inspiration, for me creating this blog.

Motherhood is not always milky kisses, toothless smiles, laugher, bliss and elation. It can be a dark and scary place where we get lost in self-doubt, fear and anxiety. But we can get through it. We can learn to see the rainbow through the fog and eventually step out into the light.

  • written by Holly Hoffman

Holly photo

 

Holly Hoffman is an ex-teacher, ex-personal trainer, PND survivor and currently a stay at home Mother and Blogger on The Sunshine Coast. When she is not running around after her kids she enjoys baking cakes, going to the gym, reading, frolicking on the beach and listening to TED talks. Holly recently launched Feel Good Mumma, a blog dedicated to Mother’s with young children who would like to experience greater happiness and more moments of joy in their lives. You can read more from Holly and find her beautiful and inspiring blog Feel Good Mumma here. Please go and check it out.

Links Holly would like you to know about:

Check out Holly’s Post Natal Depression Board on Pinterest

If you would like to share your story, like Holly’s or mine, email me at learningtolovell@outlook.com

There’s more on the blog > Use the search bar to find out more about PND, Post Natal, Pregnancy and Mummyhood now.

 

~Megan