Category Archives: Parenting

Making Money

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So we had a run over a year ago at teaching thing 1 about money. How to save it, having pocket money, how to spend it. It didn’t go that well. For one, we as adults don’t keep cash around. So giving her a cash money allowance was reliant on us having cash. We gave her some and she immediately wanted to go out and spend it. She also didn’t quite make the connection on how much she had vs how much items cost. But lately she’s been making noise about wanting to buy some specific things. So I thought we’d take another run at this whole pocket money thing. Except the ‘we don’t really keep cash around’ thing came up again. Actually I have a small stash I use for paying for school things since they haven’t implemented online payments and for a while I got out extra money when grocery shopping (which I’d often forget and it was a pain) to pay Karate, but basically we don’t do cash.

Anyhow. My brilliant, if I do say so myself, idea was to give her fake money. I considered play dollar store coins or some kind of Monopoly or other play money, but I ended up printing out some clip art coins, letting them colour the coins in, cutting them out and laminating them. Mainly as it didn’t involve leaving the house and if one of the other kids eats them or something I can make more.

 

Right now I have some variable value coupon coins and some set value coupon coins. Thing 1 will earn a variable value coin every day regardless. At the end of the week she can redeem them for an agreed upon amount. Right now it’s probably $5. I reserve the right to bump it up to $6 (her age) if things go well. Or she can continue to save for a higher value item. Then we have some $0.10, $0.20 and $0.50 coins that she can earn by doing chores above and beyond her usual chores. She’s quite excited about the idea and has already earned $0.50 for picking up the lounge. I played with the idea of being able to fine her coupon coins as punishment, but not yet, not until money is firmly entrenched and if we can’t find other things that get through.

 

Here’s the setup:

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And the finished product all coloured in, laminated and cut out:20161007_141910.jpg

 

Excuse me while I sprain my arm patting myself on the back.

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The importance of the 6th Birthday party.

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This is way overdue, having happened about 3 months ago, but hey. I wrote it down. Here it is.

 

Here at least children start school shortly after their 5th birthday. There’s no set cutoff or anything, they just enter year round more or less. So the 6th birthday party is the first birthday party with classmates. And classmates parents. Most likely these are the kids your child will travel through primary school with. Believe it or not social striations are already being formed and lines drawn. I know I wasn’t really prepared for the Machiavellian bullshit that is six-year-old girl social politics, but there it is.

Things to consider for the party:

Venue: This is the first party for a lot of people where you meet the parents. They are gonna judge you and your house. You can have it at your house, but I recommend a venue for a neutral location. Less awkward small talk too, but the get to know you opportunity is still there. Save the home party for when they turn seven. The nice things about venues is they provide activities, often have a set party length, and may provide food.

Expense: If considering a venue consider the amount of children the cost provides for, if there is food provided and so on. It’s really easy to go overboard. We got a venue that allowed for up to 20 children, but then had to provide our own food (which I think came in at about half the cost of the venue- and that’s with me making the fruit, meat/cheese and cracker platters and cakes). Another venue I attended a party at was similarly priced to the one I chose, but provided for 6-8 children and provided food.

 

The date: This is a difficult one because you don’t really know when other birthday parties are going to be. For instance the weekend I was having my child’s party there were FOUR birthday parties scheduled in her class. She was invited to attend two of them (not including hers) and had to make a choice. Or rather I had to make a choice. In addition you have to consider how churchy your area is and if a Sunday morning party will lack for attendees. School holidays, the weekends before and after school breaks will be busier for parties, while you aren’t as likely to get as many attendees during the holidays. If you can coordinate with other parents do so. Otherwise it’s first in best dressed. Six weeks is too early to hand out an invitation and under two weeks is cutting it close. Three-four weeks is reasonable timing to get the priority spot

Specifying rules and expectations: I put on my invitations that siblings were welcome. I wanted an inclusive party without people having to leave babies and such at home. My kids’ siblings were attending, so why not the siblings of her classmates? If you do this you may also want to specify that parents should stay. Anyone who doesn’t stay make sure you have contact information.

 

The invitation exchange: Kids will use friendship as a weapon and birthday party invites as barter material. If you get an invite to someone’s party (and attend), it’s kind of courteous to extend an invite to your party.

 

The RSVP: Expect people to not do this. Seems to be the current trend. I managed to get yes or no RSVPs for all but five out of 14 invitees. Many of them gave the yes/no to me during the school run, but, ulterior motives, I have texts from some of them as well. So now I have some of my kids’ friends’ parent’s numbers. I’m not that creepy I swear. Prepare extra food. Expect extra food. Expect some no-shows and some unexpected attendees. Mostly expect to have extra food though. Plan to have extra food. Better too much than not enough. I made up some unnamed goody bags for the people that decided to show without RSVPing and I was glad I did.

 

Budgeting: Venue costs will vary by location and that’s one expense, but food, goody bags and favours, plates and accoutrements, cake and so on are all other things to consider. Preparing for other birthday parties can also be quite expensive. Right now I’m maintaining a stockpile of girl and boy toys in the closet. I buy things on sale and when I make an online purchase from a place with flat rate shipping I also buy some kid toys. Then when a party comes along I just have my kid pick one out of the closet. Getting out to pick toys for a myriad of parties is a huge time expense for me.

 

The gift: I’m a terrible over thinker on toys. The truth is I’m not sure if kids care that much. I’m in a position where I don’t know these kids. I’m making judgements on what they like from what they have on their backpack.

 

Here’s what it looked like:

Rainbow themed fruit kebabs

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Rainbow cone cakes with whipped cream cheese frosting. And sprinkles.20160703_101933

The setup and venue (a gym with trampoline and foam pit) Chips, meat, cheese, crackers and other snack platters. Also sushi.20160703_101945

The inside of the cake.20160703_104648

Parenting Peer Pressure

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I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Haven’t had too much time to sit down and hash out coherent talking points but I feel like the ability to recognize it has changed my views of people to some extent. Maybe it’s more that it’s peer approval rather than peer pressure so much.

It’s no secret that many people find parenting quite isolating and feel like desperate socially anxious lunatics at the prospect of making a friend. I see it on parenting discussion boards and forums all the time. I used to feel more or less the same way when I had less children (now I am too busy- side note, youngest is 18 months old and it’s been 18 months since I made a post. Coincidence?).

Being a more reserved person I wasn’t quite frothing at the mouth when someone talked to me, but I was still rebuffed frequently enough that I started feeling pressure to fit in more than I ever had in the past as a teenager. I was fairly non-conformist as a child and teen though (I notice when observing my kid with other kids is that one will do something and suddenly they are all copying. I was, I guess, the more original one as a kid and hated it with a burning fiery passion when people copied me. I remember pitching a fit in kindergarten because the girl across from me was copying my artwork –some kind of paper bag owl. Having a 5yo now, they really aren’t very creative in general) so maybe withstanding this is all new to me.

 

I can clearly see though how someone starved for some kind of adult interaction meets someone who talks to them multiple times in a row and they start emulating them. At the very least it gives another thing to discuss. Hey, we both have the same coat, how about that. And then you’re re-enacting Single White Female…

The multiple accounts of people who sees the same person at the park (Maybe it’s that there are 50billion parks here so having them be crowded or having regulars isn’t usual so I find this sort of thing baffling) a few times in a row and want to (non-creepily at all!) exchange numbers always sets my teeth on edge for some reason. Maybe because it is creepy and desperate, and as desperate as I’ve been for friends if someone did that to me I would be so weirded out. I mean, not that I’ve had success making friends organically and wish for mom-speed dating and similar things just so I’d know the other person was in the market for friends, and not desperately trying to watch their kid or answer an email or doing some other multitasking thing that happens at the park.

 

It certainly happens online too. Enigmatic people who are better with the written word, whether they are witty or just have engaging writing patterns, and they want that person to like them and you get the whole cult of personality thing going and then suddenly Amber necklaces and stuff. Then you get mum groups who all dress their kids in the same brands and have the same sort of accessories and online groups that engage in the same group-think following their leaders (and people who don’t like the attention the perceived leaders get for no distinct reason they can name). I’ve been plenty of places that have that going on to the point they develop an archetype to emulate. But that’s all kind of online interactions 101 I think. Or maybe it’s an epiphany.

 

Where am I going with this? It’s mostly made me more sympathetic and less judgemental about most of the things I see people doing in parenting that I wouldn’t necessarily do.

What they don’t get about motherhood.

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I feel like the fundamental thing my husband doesn’t get about me having children is how I have to deal with my body being a big pile of fail. I mean, yes I gestate them adequately, no major issues there, but birthing and feeding just make me feel kind of worthless since things don’t work right there. I’m not sure men commonly go through anything similar unless they have a medical problem that Drs will diagnose. I mean, the only thing that comes to mind that’s even slightly comparable is sperm count or something. But even with that there’s not the sneering sanctimommy business to contend with. Or some equivalent. I mean, yeah ok with fertility issues in general there’s the people who say to just relax and it will happen, but are there actually a sizable contingent of people saying, in regards to sperm count, that you could try harder or that you did something wrong like there are with mother issues?

I mean I’ve recently been frustrated because I can’t go to just any breastfeeding group because my problems are not solvable, just manageable, and management means judgement. So there’s no group I can go to anywhere near me, and on top of that I have to just be really careful about talking to people about it, like at all. Internet, in person, medical people (who rightly should help, but often can’t /don’t). I have to really watch what I say and I hate being so guarded. So no in person support, which means I get to stew at home. Gosh, good thing I taught myself what to do the first time around when no one would help me!! /s  I mean, it’s more acceptable to talk to random people about vaginal discharge than it is my breastfeeding issues. Or at least no one is going to berate me and tell me it’s my fault my vagina isn’t discharging in the commonly accepted way.

I’m having some dad jealousy I guess. I feel like they don’t have to watch what they say, watch who they talk to about parenting stuff. Or at least not nearly as much. Yeah, ok, there’s a bad media presence about what dads can manage, so it comes off that anything they do is amazing, which sucks. So, yeah, there can be other social issues, but I guess (not being a dad) I don’t feel they are as pervasive. I don’t want to start a not all men sort of thing. I know there are issues for men too, but I just don’t see them as being as significant or pervasive in the majority of situations.

If a mother has an issue with feeding, carrying, birthing, or anything to do with raising  a child there will be someone to be shitty about it to her. Do people lecture/guilt dads about how their kids are fed or anything?

I mean maybe my husband is getting judged for not having a stay at home wife (by his peers with stay at home wives), but he doesn’t see it that way because he’s proud of me/my job, so it’s not an issue. But he didn’t really start off parenthood with this big bag of insecurity and total shock at not working right and having people be all up in his business about it so, bleh.

 

Fire in the belly

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When I first became a parent I had problems. Big ones from my point of view. I engaged in (online) communities and provided helpful (well I intended it to be helpful) information to people who were asking about similar issues. I experienced judgement, harassment and general meanness as a result of my problems and my openness about them. I cried a lot because people were mean.

I started a blog about my issues and had a lot of motivation to ‘spread the word’ initially. Then I attracted a crazy or two, was personally harassed by another mommyblogger and just decided I didn’t have time for that kind of bullshit.

So now? I do not care. Occasionally I am moved to provide someone with information on a casual basis, but mostly I am just getting on with my life and hoping that no one decides to harass me again. What the hell happened to me? Is it the prolonged lack of sleep? Am I traumatized by casual cruelty, made gunshy by hostility? It’s rather that I no longer have that fire in the belly. I am not evangelical, and perhaps I never was, but I just don’t have the drive to add my voice to the mix any longer.

I was approached a while ago about becoming a  Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and my response was unhesitantly absolutely not. No time, and no interest. Though I liked having breastfeeding support I find the attitude of breastfeeding supporters fairly tiresome eventually. There’s always sniping about ‘Those Women’. The ones that lack education, initiative, motivation or whatever else they obviously lack (sarcasm– because they must be lacking something if they don’t want to) to breastfeed and fight for it. I fought for it but that was my struggle. Let them have their own choices based on what they know at the time. I don’t have it in my to argue over people who mean well but have their own agenda to push, nor do I want to become someone who means well but does harm by not listening or having my own interests to push. Similarly I was approached to promote my other blog and I declined and even eventually shut that blog down. Even though it’s a good resource, in my opinion, and I still link it when people ask about something I wrote up at one point, I just can’t be bothered with the hassle that comes with promotion (harassment, potential stalkers and doxxers, not to mention regular contributions).

I am a part of an online group for a fairly specific ailment. Though I can now probably diagnose it myself and haven’t ever really gotten help from the group, for some reason I haven’t left. There’s a fascinating thing going on where I can see overly crunchy, image concerned mothers with an issue preventing them from leading picturebook lives ‘doing their research’. And it’s freaky. I mean, lots of grasping at straws, no medical help, bizarre conjecture, pseudoscience being passed around as fact, self blame for the issue (that comes up a lot), and just people woefully educated in the ways of reason. A lot of the time it seems like a frenzy of the blind leading the blind and jumping to conclusions, which then are paraded as fact. It’s very surreal to watch. Some sort of groupthink problem solving because of a vacuum of medical assistance in an age where people have come to expect distinct diagnoses for every bump in the road.

But people there have passion. They want to understand and fix, prevent, and educate. I used to feel like that. Even about this specific issue.  I just can’t get that drive back. I think going through two children, looking for help and not getting any has drained me.  We are working toward another one and I have the intention to make one last ditch effort to get some understanding for my problems.  But I also have a sense of how and when to cut my losses and make do.  It’s what I did with Thing 1 and 2 and things haven’t worked out storybook, but they have worked out better than other people expected because of my education and effort. I feel like it’s more than good enough given everything. I like to think that having a science education I can evaluate information based on source and methodology and not just believe in crackpot things emotionally, but I may be mildly deluded.

I like to say that now I finally have my ‘fuck you judgy-mcjudgerson’ big girl pants on, though I worry that it’s really me not getting too invested in anything so that people stay out of my business and stop casually hurting me over something I’m doing my best with. Such is modern parenting. Put your big girl pants on or go home and cry.

Help, I’m a Pinterest Mom

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Just kidding, I don’t even have a Pinterest account. But I have been dubbed a ‘creative mom’ (said in a slightly derogatory way, hard to explain), and told I have too much free time because of my sewing, painting and other decorative activities I bestow on my children. I have painted on plain black shoes, sewn various articles of clothing (monsterfaces and skirts), and similar. I guess the critical things I hear (your mommy has too much time etc), is just jealousy manifesting over time, ability or the impression that I am making someone else look or feel inferior for not doing those things.

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What I’ve found is that I do do Pinterest worthy things (I guess, as I said, I don’t look at it other than having it linked at me on my Facebook feed), but I do them to occupy my kids. See, my kids are  in daycare. But only part time. Daycare is whole days full of drawing and crafts and activities. On the days I am at home with my kids they are bored. Sitting around while Momma frantically does laundry and cooks is not a whole lot of fun apparently. Gosh, who knew? The kids come to expect crafts and activities and all I have is boring old chores. Thing 1 is particularly annoying with wanting to be entertained. This means ME drawing her pictures, playing with playdough etc while she watches and tells me what to do. I dislike this immensely. So I’m always scavenging for activities that she will do with minimal input from me. So far painting is a bust.  This includes on paper, pinecones and cookies. I had this idea that we would make salt dough Christmas ornaments, but I figure that will go badly too. Still going to do it and then kick myself later.

I often feel like scum because I’m trying to set her up with these various crafty activities and she wants me to do it under her direction, so I end up growling at her because obviously I want her to do it, I mean that’s the point and all, and then I just feel bad because I’m trying to get her to do stuff that’s supposed to be fun and then I’m being grumpy at her.  Sigh.

But, yeah. I had this revelation after seeing someone say they set out to be a Pinterest mom and how they don’t have time/their kid isn’t able or inclined and it just makes them bitter because they felt like thinking up wacky crafts to do with, at, or for your kids was an integral part of motherhood. First off that attitude boggles me. Secondly, I do wacky crafts to get my kids off my back so I can hang laundry without having to pull rocks and dirt out of someone’s mouth.  Priorities…

Knowing a parent and what makes kids be good people

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Do you ever really know what kind of people your parents are when you are little? Now in my 30’s I’m finding out. I think in a family that had more contact I might have figured this out earlier, but due to recent circumstances I’m seeing  previously hidden depths to a family member that I already didn’t like but didn’t really have an active dislike for.

So, my grandfather died recently and there is some inheritance business. As my grandmother had died some years previous, he had intentions to change legal wording so that me and my siblings would be covered but didn’t get to it in time. Things are still up in the air (and thus I’m not publishing this until I get a copy of the trust myself), but last-minute legal changes were made. It’s a fingers crossed situation that my father won’t contest the new legal wording which will deprive me and my siblings of being covered under the inheritance. I’m not bothered whether anything comes my way or not. We are financially fine. My siblings could probably use it though. It’s just the intentions I guess. Relative intended (but procrastinated) for us to be covered. And my father may very well intend to deprive us of any cover.

Now I should have figured out my father wasn’t a great person from him leaving his wife and three children to go off and play happy families with someone else. But I’m not even mad anymore. I’ve been living with a pronounced sense of indifference to him for some years now. I guess I could, not like or understand, but accept that fathers leave families and that’s one level of scummy. But finding out that my father was more concerned with financial gain from his parent’s death than the actual death (and also depriving his first set of children further) is a bit jaw dropping for me. I think for my aunt and uncle as well. It makes me wonder what happened in his parenting that made him like that. My aunt and uncle are great people and their kids are all great as well. Moral, responsible, successful, working toward happiness and so on.

Of course it might not be anything. This has been weighing on my mind lately as my children get older. I don’t get on well with my mother and I am trying to figure out what she did to drive me away. I am so jealous of my cousins relationships with their mothers. I will never have that with my mother. It’s just too awkward and uncomfortable even if I were to bravely fake that level of camaraderie. I can hope and work to have that with my children though.

From all accounts my mother and I had a great parent-little kid relationship. At some point I grew to distrust her and dislike her and we will never be friends. I’m sure the things she was doing during the divorce didn’t help my opinion (she apparently knew my father was leaving her so she started enthusiastically sleeping around. Of course I had no idea what was going on in regards to my father and so I thought she was just being a bad person), and she did not deal well with my teenage years (I had little boundaries or discipline and nothing to rekindle trust in her. Frankly the only reason I turned out as ok as I did is because I had goals and I knew a pregnancy or arrest would interfere with my goals), also post divorce we were on welfare and poor, sometimes homeless. I have heard that girls drift from their mothers in their early teens and grow closer in their later teens. I had a tumultuous time with not understanding what my mother was going through in my early teens and then her not being relatable (I didn’t trust her, I would have never wanted to talk to her about anything scary or important. Still don’t really) in my later teens. I guess sometimes it can just be circumstance and a lack of following up. Of course I have heard tell that my father was a terrible teen and my grandparents kicked him out at one point. But all the time I was 12 and under we would go to my grandparent’s house and hang out with the rest of the family. So it’s not like he grew up and didn’t like them. Something eroded the closeness (in addition to distance) as an adult. Or perhaps he just chose his second family over his parents and siblings.

I just remember being three and a neighbor kid asked me if I liked my mother or father more, and when I was told I had to choose (kids can be mean) I cried because the idea of loving one of my parents less was too hard. I want my kids to have that forever. Oh I know that one or even both parents will go out of favor at times, but I want both of us to be important to them into their adulthood and beyond. Just today Thing 1 told me she wants to sit and cuddle with me forever (as I was grumbling at her for putting dinosaurs in my shirt and snuggling my arm while I was trying to eat breakfast). I hope I don’t take it too personally if she hates me every day during the teen years  (the closest she’s come at 3 is telling me that she’s not friends with me right now).