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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Monday, 27 April 2009

Children's music

I've just dropped the kids at pre-school and occasional care, and realised as I was pulling in the driveway that I had just listened to Hi-5 for the 10 minute journey home, alone. Does this show:

a) It's not that bad and I actually quite like Hi-5,
b) I have been conditioned so well by the children that I automatically choose their music over mine, or
c) I have trained myself to ignore it and just haven't heard it.

I think it might actually be a mixture of all three. I don't mind the music, I aim for peace in the car and if Hi-5 gets me that, then so be it. And I can largely ignore it if I have something I need to think about. I have learnt to zone out, as it were.

The other half, however, is not able to do this. He really, actively, dislikes having children's music in the car. I did not realise the extent of his dislike until a 20 minute trip to the gym a couple of weeks ago. Dad got the kids into the car, and there was Holly armed with her Hi-5 CD, ready to go. 'If you want me to come with you', Dad said, 'There is no Hi-5 in the car. You can choose, Hi-5, or Daddy'.

Unfortunately, Holly chose Hi-5, and I realised the other half was not joking, when he removed his gym bag and went to the other car. Having established that he was deadly serious, I tried to contain my feelings, and told him we were not going to let a 4 year old dictate that we take two cars instead of one, when it is completely unnecessary. I explained to the children that Daddy does not like children's music, and for the first 10 minutes of the journey we had tears and screams and thrashing in the back. Oh joy.

A slight compromise was reached and we were allowed to put the radio on. I picked my choice of music (Mix 106.5 in this case) and we managed to maintain a veneer of peace for the rest of the journey.

Personally, I was feeling slightly mad at the other half. He spends 5 days a week in his car going to and from work, listening to exactly what he wants to on the radio. Why, for 2 days of car trips (and it's not like we go far) could he not just let the children choose the music? After all, Hi-5 is not that bad (at least it's one step up from the Wiggles or Nursery Rhymes). Also, I think it is good for the kids to enjoy music, and the words and content are far more appropriate to their age group than any grown up songs we might choose. And, we grown ups are actually able to talk to each other as we drive, if the kids are happy listening to music.

But no, it was not to be. I fumed quietly for a few minutes, but then thought about my reaction to the other half's choice of music. He likes music that in my mind is too loud, music you can't hear the words to, and wouldn't want to if you could. Hard core rock. And I can't listen to it, especially in the car. It is music that needs space. So, we don't listen to that type of music when we take a trip. We compromise with some gentler options, often provided by the other half's best mate, who has a wider taste in music, but is his mate, so is approved. My choice of the Australian Idol winner doesn't cut it.

Also, let's think about who's in charge. The kids, or the adults. It's debatable on a lot of occasions, but ultimately, we can choose to be the boss.

So, towards the end of the trip, I talked to the kids again. 'Daddy really doesn't like children's music', I explained, 'so when Daddy is in the car, we can't listen to Hi-5 or any other children's music. But, when Mummy is driving during the week, you can choose the music. Daddy has lots of CDs at home, so next time we go out, we'll choose some of Daddy's music to take with us.'

This was accepted amazingly easily, and has been implemented ever since. I did take the kids to the gym at the weekend without Dad, and Holly's reaction was 'Good, we can listen to my music.', but generally there have been no complaints.

In fact when we finished that original trip, having listened to Mummy's music on the radio for most of the way, the kids both declared they didn't like Mummy's music, and wanted Daddy's music in the car next time.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Talking about sex with children (When the stair gate fails...)

We were caught in the act at the weekend. 'Oh God' the other half said, but there was no moment of pleasure involved. Our determined 4 and 1/2 year old had scaled the gate at the top of the stairs, designed to prevent such an occurrence, should the lure of the TV not be enough to keep her downstairs for 10 minutes.

Luckily for us, she wasn't particularly interested. I explained that mummy and daddy were just playing with each other and she said that she didn't know grown ups played. She was slightly more interested in mummy's toy, but overall the complete innocence of this age and the fact she came up for a reason, prevailed. What we were doing was not particularly important. What was important was that we came down and did what she wanted, right now.

It's easy as an adult to forget how completely innocent young children are. It is such a great thing and it'd be nice to keep it that way for as long as possible. I know of friends who have read books to their 4 year olds that explain the basics of mummy and daddy making love. Personally, I don't think we need to expose her to this unless she specifically asks and then a book that is factual in an age appropriate way would be very useful.

But for now, we need to use the lock on the door for a little while and avoid any further shocks to the system. It rather spoils the moment, and let's face it, we don't get too many of them at this stage.


Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Going back to work after children

The other half had a boys' night out a couple of weeks ago, and one of his mates stayed over at our place. In the morning, while the other half was still nursing a hangover in bed, his mate was up and about with me and the kids, trying to be sociable long enough to look polite before he escaped to his single life and presumably a more comfy bed.

I asked him about mutual friends, he asked me whether I was thinking about going back to work. He caught me a bit by surprise. No, I wasn't but let's think about it; I'm already doing an important job, and I'm also taking some time to work on our web business 8 hours or so a week.

I felt defensive. In reality, it was just polite conversation, but it still got me thinking (and got me annoyed that the other half wasn't down here to talk about sport, and music, and the big night out with his mate, so I didn't have to face challenging questions at 8 in the morning).

What if the other half had mentioned something? What if he wishes I was back at work earning loads of money so he could ease off a bit. Paranoid? Probably, but life would obviously be easier in some ways if there was more money coming in, and it might give him the chance to take some time out and work at home for a while.

The plan for us, in as much as we have one, is that as the children go to school and pre-school, I start working part time. My objectives are three fold; to earn a bit of money, to have something else to focus on other than children, and most importantly, to still be home for the children when they are there.

In reality, this means I'm either working from home, or I have a part time job, which I probably wouldn't be able to do until Michael is in 3 days of pre-school. My major problem is that I don't know what I'd do. My previous career in IT and Finance doesn't lend itself easily to a 9:30 to 2:30 day, or work from home. I've moved away from the hands on, to team management, and that really needs you there, with the team. Also, I'm really not interested in IT or Finance anymore, and I'm completely over the corporate working environment (minor problem....)

So, where do I go from here? I have some time to get myself organised; after all, Michael is only 2 1/2, so I can do some research, maybe look at work experience, or additional training and try to get myself headed in the right direction.

If you're in this same position, there are various things you can try.

One approach is to get some help from a Life Coach. They can work with you to look at your objectives and priorities, your character and skills, and help you find the right career direction.

If you have a business idea, but don't know how to get it off the ground, you can speak to a business coach. They can provide both creative and practical advice, with knowledge of the financial aspects, registering your business, whether you need to register for GST, filing your tax returns and most importantly, how to market your business.

Sometimes just having someone to bounce ideas off and provide a bit of motivation can get you going in the right direction.

If you know what you want to do, but are not fully qualified, you might want to look at some additional training or education. There are plenty of part time or distance education courses out there, so it is possible to do it around the children.

If you think this is the way to go, but you are wary about investing in a full training course, why not try some work experience first. Organisations are often happy to have a willing volunteer and show you the ropes for a few days or a few hours over a number of weeks. That way, you can decide if the job would be what you're after, before you commit to training.

Finally, if you are just after some ideas, I have a list of work from home jobs that I believe are genuine opportunities and not get rich quick scams.

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Thursday, 2 April 2009

The joy of children's music - can we have it again please??

After a full on day at the office, I often used to have work thoughts going round in my mind as I tried to go to sleep. Now, after a full on day with the kids, I have Wiggles songs, or Hi-5. Surprisingly enough, they are just as effective at keeping me awake, and possibly more annoying.

We managed, somehow, for 4 years, not to have any children's CDs in the car. This was partly because our old car didn't have a CD player, partly because we haven't done any really long car trips and partly because we never let on to the children that it was actually an option. So, for 4 years or so, we were able to continue to listen to grown up music on car trips, and the youngest in particular will head bang with the best of them.

But somewhere along the line, the kids CDs have crept in. In one regrettable moment, I let them into the car, and we are now condemned to a lifetime of music not our own. Well, maybe not a lifetime, but long enough for these songs to be etched on our brains for life.

When Holly was born and the Wiggles first came onto our radar, I was positive that there was no chance of my children getting hooked. My first impression was that they were unsophisticated, and unappealing, that the songs were not particularly clever and the Wiggles books I'd seen were not well written. Three years later at our first Wiggles concert, I felt like I was seeing old friends on stage.

I'm still not entirely sure what makes these four grown men and their friends so completely appealing to a two or three year old, but it must be something to do with the simplicity of the words and the tunes, the repetition, the actions that they can copy and the bright colours. Personally, I prefer the later DVDs where they have used other people's songs to a large extent. I was also quite impressed with the Wiggly dancers at the last show we went to. The live performances seemed more polished and well performed, but when I looked at the kids, it wasn't the dancers they were most interested in, it was the Wiggles themselves and the old favourites; 'Rock a Bye Your Bear', 'Hot Potato' and 'Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist'.

I have to accept that what is appealing to a two year old, is not going to hold the same appeal for me; after all, it's not designed for grown ups. I'm just glad they have made the shows more sophisticated, so we adults who sacrifice our mental health to go to these concerts with the children, can appreciate some of the dance and acrobatics at the same time.

For Michael, the Wiggles are a big part of his love of music. He likes to dance and move to the beat, and luckily for Dad, he'll happily dance along to 'the Cure', 'Greenday' and 'Nirvana' as well. He gets the whole family 'playing music', handing out the guitar, keyboard, drums and maracas.

But it extends beyond that. Michael has, since 18 months, been able to put together a 20 piece Wiggles jigsaw on his own. Given that, I invested in more jigsaws, not realising that because they were generic pictures, and not the Wiggles, they wouldn't hold the same appeal or challenge.

When we went to the UK for 6 weeks and struggled with quiet time and sleeping, I could resort to putting Michael in front of the Wiggles for half and hour. As a baby, if he was unhappy after a sleep, or got cranky at the creche, the Wiggles were a guaranteed distraction. And as we move into toilet training, the Wiggles undies are the way to go.

For Holly, the addiction was not quite so intense or long lasting. She is currently a Hi-5 fan and there are specific songs (which I won't mention because then they'll be stuck in my brain all day), that she will listen to over and over again.

Last night I went to bed with 'Stuck in the Mud' in my head - 'He was lucky to get mucky and then he got stuck...'. I tried to concentrate on some yoga breathing to clear my brain, but I was never very good at that, so I had to accept I would go to sleep with this song, and probably wake up with it. But no, in the middle of the night, Michael hopped out of bed, switched on his music, and clear as a bell over the monitor came the 'Big Red Car'...

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