At Home Mums' Blog

Take a light hearted look at the issues faced by mums home with the kids. Read some personal views on the challenges of raising children today, and the pressures mums face. My website - - has some more serious and hopefully useful stuff on all these topics. I'd love to get your comments and advice. If anyone out there can help this mum maintain her sanity, it would be much appreciated!

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Obsessed with chocolate

Before I had the children, I liked chocolate, but I could easily go without, but since babies, and actually since the Easter before Holly was born when we had a thousand Easter eggs left over from the neighbourhood Easter egg hunt, my chocolate obsession has grown.

My children now think mummy's favourite thing in the world is chocolate. They also know mummy to be a chocolate thief. No chocolate is safe in this house when mummy is around.

When they were little, smarties were a favourite bribing tool - one smarty for Holly for a wee on the potty, and the rest of the packet for mummy. I tried buying the small boxes, so I could only eat a few, but, hey, who's to stop you eating all 11 boxes in the packet? We eventually stopped buying smarties. They were definitely not good for me, and I think the children's manic levels increased in line with consumption. Sugar or colours, who knows, but either way, smarties are limited to birthday cakes, which incidentally get covered in the things.

I have reasoned my way through my chocolate obsession. Why? Because I'll feel better if there's a logical reason for it rather than pure weak minded greed. I stopped coffee when I was pregnant with Holly and haven't got back on the stuff, and the doctor advised no tea after lunch, in order to sleep better, so with almost seven years of interrupted nights under my belt, I need some sort of pick me up, and my choice is chocolate.

It's sugar actually. I know if you eat the dark chocolate, almost pure cocoa, it is better for you, but I don't like the stuff. My choice is the sweet, milky version, with or without fillings or toppings of an even sugarier variety.

And I know all about sugar highs and lows and how bad it is for you in the long run, but if it's there in the house, it has to be eaten.

In my more controlled moments, I have a low GI diet, to maintain my energy levels and reduce cravings, and we don't have much chocolate in the house, so temptation is not there, but there are certain times of the year when it all gets completely out of control, and I know it'll take weeks to get back to an acceptable chocolate level.

Mothers Day is a killer. I saw the other half in Kmart, near the chocolate aisle, choosing presents with the kids. 'No!', I said, 'I don't need chocolate', but he knows, and the kids know, that mummy was kidding. She loves chocolate. Why wouldn't she want a box or two and a couple of packets of Freckles for Mother's day. Why? Because three days later there is only a half empty packet of chocolates left, and they're the dark ones which I officially don't like, but given the right moment could eat if there was no alternative. I did share some with the kids. We had Freckles before breakfast on Mothers' Day. (Hey, it's my day, I'll do what I want.) and the other half definitely sneaked a few after I'd gone to bed. But most have been consumed by me.

I thought I was alright this Easter. We were in the UK for the egg hunts and chocolate bunnies and Easter cakes, and we flew home the Friday after. As you know, you can't bring food of any sort into Australia, so we let the kids know that they had to eat (or give mummy) their chocolate before we got off the plane, otherwise it would be thrown away. They were very good about this, and when we got home Holly's best friend had left her a little esky filled with Easter eggs as she knew she wouldn't have any. So sweet of her. And so dangerous for mummy.

Easter eggs are off limits, unless the children are feeling generous and hand them out, but in my experience, after a few weeks, they get put to the back of the cupboard and forgotten. And it is of course, my responsibility to eat them. After all, chocolate has an expiry date, doesn't it?

And to top it off, when Holly went back to school, she found she'd won second prize in the Easter colouring competition. And the prize? Yes, a basket of chocolate Easter eggs....

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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Flying with kids - coping with jetlag

We recently had a three week trip back to the UK to visit the grandparents. Having now had a week at home trying to cope with the normal day to day routine whilst suffering serious jet lag, we feel we need a holiday.

A friend questioned why anyone would actually choose to fly for 24 hours with children when there are beautiful holiday spots so close to home. I agree, but when it is our choice to desert our homeland and live thousands of miles from the rest of the family, we have to accept that a regular trip home is part of life.

Somehow, going over, the jet lag was not so bad. In fact for the first week, the children went to bed before 7:30 without a fight or a whinge or even a request for extra stories. Bliss. Coming back to Australia, they are also asleep before 7:30, but wide awake at 2 o'clock in the morning, ready to party. I am falling asleep in their beds reading bed time stories, and have accepted I have no evenings this week. I too am awake in the middle of the night, but for a sleep deprived mother I tell myself to pretend I'm having a lie in, and can quite happily stay there until I eventually fall back to sleep. Only to be woken again at 5am.

It won't last forever, I know, but it does put a damper on the holiday mood. Drugs have been suggested, as they were for the flight, but so far I have resisted. I cannot quite justify it, as I would be drugging my children in order for me to get a good night's sleep. For despite the lack of sleep, the kids still somehow manage to have their usual annoying amount of energy during the day. I was fully prepared to allow Holly home from school early several days this week, picturing my poor child falling asleep at her desk, but no. In fact, 3 days after returning to school she won the student of the week award for her class. She's obviously better in small doses.

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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Kids' Haircuts

The other half came home from work the other day via the hairdressers. He had a number 1 1/2 round the sides and a number 3 on top, which for those who don't know their numbers, is pretty short. Michael was quite impressed but became concerned when he looked at his own hair, which was last cut about 4 months ago and is a little long right now. 'Do you want a haircut like Dad's?' the other half asked.

'I had a haircut,' Mikey replied, looking concerned, 'but it didn't work..'!


Sunday, 8 November 2009

Kisses for our kids

Kisses and cuddles. Hugs and love. My 3 year old has a ready supply and I'm a willing recipitant. 'Give us a kiss' I say and he puckers up. I aim for his cheek and he takes my face in his hands and plants one on my lips.

Now, I come from an English family where hugs and kisses don't come naturally and I still hesitate in social situations when it comes to the hellos and goodbyes. To kiss or not to kiss. And one kiss or two, or just back off quickly and avoid the situation altogether.

The other half was the same, but he got into hugs at uni and has been working on his family ever since to get them to loosen up on the emotional front.

So for our kids, hugs and kisses are a plenty and we hope to continue that way, although I'm sure we'll become an embarrassement in the not too distant future.

Anyway, I've seen other kids give and receive kisses on the mouth, but with mine it's always been on the top of the head or the cheek and it was not until Mikey took control that I accepted that this is ok. He sees mum and dad display affection with a kiss on the lips and he too wants to do the same. Holly on the other hand loves a cuddle, but kisses are not in demand.

This evening the other half and I were discussing this subject while the kids were playing and I said that Holly wasn't into kisses (uh yucky kisses!) but Mikey was quite happy to give me a big smackerooney on the lips.

'Ýou want to smack me on the lips??' pipes up Holly. 'No,'I say. 'Í was just saying Michael likes to give me a big smack of a kiss on the lips.'

Holly whispered something to her brother and said 'go on mum wants a big smack and a a kiss on the lips'. So, looking slightly tentative, he came over, slapped me twice round the face and gave me a big kiss. :-)

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Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Sleep or sex - Can we have both??

I was just reading an article that said that 56 % of Aussies interviewed would rather have a good night's sleep than sex. And I have to say, right now, I'm with them. It didn't say how many men or women were surveyed, how old they were, whether they had kids, were in a relationship or gagging for it (sorry!), so my suspicions are that the figures might be over stated. But, I have to say, that if you surveyed a group of mums and dads with two or more pre-schoolers, the sleep might win out.

We have been saying for the last 2 1/2 years that it'll get easier when they sleep through. And that doesn't just apply to sex, but also to our social lives, watching a TV program after 9:30 without snoozing on the sofa, having the energy to talk to each other of an evening, waking up full of the joys of spring, or at least with half the energy of the children, and basically functioning like we used to pre-kids.

Michael is coming up for 3 and we still haven't cracked it. We live in hope that when he drops his day sleep, he'll sleep better, but for now we are almost resigned to the nightly wake up calls. We have tried control crying, and threats and bribery, and I honestly think he tries, but he just can't do it. Earlier in the year he seemed to be waking with nightmares, and I took to lying down with him until he fell asleep. This was not a wise move, as he loves sleeping with his mummy and it soon became a regular occurrence. And for me, I was taking the easy option, avoiding the tears and tantrums and getting as much shut eye as possible even if it was squashed on one side of a single bed with a toddler who has a habit of sleeping sideways.

When the other half took some time off work between contracts, we decided to tackle the sleep issue head on. For two months, mummy didn't get up when Michael cried. Instead, daddy went in, and daddy was much firmer and stricter, and refused to be a softy like mum. The plan was that Michael would get no benefit from waking up (or waking us up) so he'd eventually stop doing it. Three months on and with daddy about to go back to work and therefore stop being on call over night for the kids, we are only marginally better off. I can now go in, tuck him back in and return to my own bed, but I still have to get up.

We have tried lights on, lights off, night lights, music at bed time, different pjs in case he's getting cold, or hot, a new doona and talk, lots of talk about how impressed mummy and daddy would be if he didn't wake us up. We even tried moving Holly into the same room, but that meant evenings were a disaster as well, so that didn't last long.

So a full night's sleep, with no interruptions would be heaven, although I suspect I'll have forgotten how if I ever get the chance. And yes, given the choice, sex or a full night's sleep, I'll go for the sleep. After all we can always have a quicky while the kids are glued to the television, so long as we lock the door, forget any ideas of foreplay and don't fall asleep before we get started!

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Monday, 17 August 2009


I have been reading a book called 'How to be a Happy Mum', and found the section on friendships quite interesting. It made me reflect on being a mum and the friendships you find and lose over time.

A lot of mums feel very isolated when they first have their babies. They have moved from the working world where they had day to day interaction with their colleagues, and often socialised of an evening or weekend, to a world where the baby is the number one communicator, and socialising takes second place to sleep where ever possible.

If you are very lucky, your friends are having babies at the same time as you, but for the majority of us, timing doesn't quite work like that.

Suddenly being home with the baby can be very lonely, and you have to make an effort to have adult interaction. I know for me, getting out of the house and at least being amongst other people is an important part of the day, even if it is just going to the park or shops, where I have a brief chat with the teller or the mum whose child is on the swing next to mine. Mothers' Group was great. It forced me to meet other mums with children the same age, got me out of the house and socialising, and was a great source of advice and reassurance especially in those early years. But having said that, five years on it has drifted apart and we have moved away from the area so catching up is hard and the kids no longer really know each other.

It's just another example of the transient nature of friendships once the children have come along. I have made friends since Holly was a baby, through Mothers Group, a pregnancy yoga class I attended, and with mums of the kids I looked after in Family Day Care. But, as the children attended different classes and then different pre-schools, friendships have dwindled and we've moved on.

When my first was little, we saw one friend with a child the same age almost every week. As the girls started pre-school and we both moved areas, catching up became more difficult and less frequent, but we still spoke regularly. The two girls went to each others' 4 year old birthday parties last year, but I have to say Holly had to be persuaded to invite this friend, and I suspect it was the same the other way round. Our children have other friends and neighbours they see every day or every week, and the old friendship turned out to be an adult friendship and not a child one. My friend and I ended up having a chat about birthdays, and accepted that we wouldn't be offended if our children didn't want the other one at their next party. After all, they were not likely to see each other very much and would have a whole host of pre-school friends to invite. But, the important thing was, that we agreed that as adults we could still have a friendship even if the children didn't.

But, a year on, 5 year old birthdays have been and gone, and it hasn't happened. We last caught up properly about 8 months ago, and Holly played with her brother, and my friend's two played with each other. I have phoned a few times since, and she squeezed in a quick catch up at the shops in between the sales, but since then, I've not heard back. I feel like I've been dropped. There's a part of me that mourns the loss of a friendship. And because it's my nature to, I worry that I've done something wrong.

But if I think about it, that's the way it goes when you have children. It's hard to maintain a friendship that came about through the children, when they no longer see each other regularly, and let's face it, don't particularly warm to each other when we do catch up. For us mums, catching up for a drink, or a movie in the evening seems like a good idea, but in reality, we don't even do this much with our own hubbies, so making time for a girly night out, when we live 30 minutes drive apart is a tricky one.

So which friendships do survive? For me, it's the friendships I had pre-kids, that have survived. We all have children now, of different ages, but it's not about them so much as about us. For others, it's those who they spend time with away from the kids; a mum's weekend away without the interruption of children, or an evening with the girls that's let them develop a relationship beyond the children.

Pre-school has been a good source of adult contact. Last year it was mainly hellos and how are yous. This year we have a chat and the kids play together, we've been to the social events and even the guys are getting to know each other.

Even so, as we face the move from pre-school to school next year, this year's friendships will move on. Our children are going to different schools, so we'll naturally socialise with a different group of parents, and let's face it, with the busy life of a 5 year old to plan around, there won't be much time for grown up socialising. But the 3 year old will be at pre-school and I'll be an old hand, happy to have a chat with new mums as they too look for a bit of adult contact and maybe even a friendship.

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Monday, 10 August 2009


Today the ants found the pantry. Until now I've been able to keep them to the other side of the kitchen where they regularly march in to see what tiny scraps we have accidentally left on the kitchen surface, or whether, to their great joy, I have left the honey out, again. We have sprayed outside and in, but they are determined little creatures and losing a couple of hundred of their comrades does not deter them. It is said that cockroaches will survive a nuclear bomb, but what about ants? They are pretty much the only thing the pest guys won't guarantee exterminating, and I know they'll be back.

This morning the familiar black line was hurrying up the inside of the cupboard, from shelves one to six. At each shelf, bands of them had split from the crowd to explore potential food sources, with the result that every shelf needed emptying to be sure I found the every last ant. Luckily their tastes are specific and they didn't find as much as I had anticipated, but the concern is that now they know the food source, one of those little creatures will have got back to the nest and spread the word, and they'll be back.

The cereal shelf was relatively unharmed, a few sweets from lolly bags shoved in the cupboard in the hope the kids would forget about them, were taken, and of course, they found the honey. At one point I thought I'd got them all, but then I reached the top shelf where we keep the alcohol that we don't ever drink, but keep in case of emergencies or cooking requirements. I'm not saying we don't drink, we just tend to stick to the red wine and beer options rather than the spirits, but it's always good to have a little supply for those visitors who we haven't entertained in 5 years, or that tiramisu I used to make, when I last entertained, about 5 years ago.

Despite the 5 year drought since these bottles were last opened, the ants were hooked. There must have been enough sticky residue on the outside to lure them in. The only consolation is, they died happy.

So, instead of spending my child free morning working, and taking some time out, I have cleaned the pantry out, and although I have won this battle, I still need a plan of attack for the long term war with the ants.

But let's look on the bright side. Cleaning the pantry would probably never have reached number 1 on the priority list, and I've thrown out all those jars and packets with sell by dates from 2007 and 2008. (We only moved in to the house three years ago, otherwise who knows what else I would have found.)

Now I just have to tackle the car. Oh, didn't I say? We have ants in the car too...

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