A note on befriending school mums

I have to admit, when my eldest son started school 3 years ago I avoided other parents like the plague. I stood back at drop off and pick up time, only nodded and smiled at attempts to engage me in conversation and was basically as anti-social as one can be without being down right rude.

You see, I’d been scared off the school mum set by the sceptre of playground politics. I didn’t want to relive my own school yard traumas of clicky groups and bitchy besties. Besides, I already had a great bunch of fun, loyal, supportive friends and to be honest, between family, work, home and my existing social circle, my dance coffee card was full.

Then my kid started making friends. The thing about kids is that you get drawn into their world. Heck, their world IS your world. So when kids make friends, you are forced to interact with those friends, and in due course their parents.

It was awkward at first, but let’s face it, kids give you lots of conversation fodder. You start off empathising over forgotten hats and lost drink bottles, then graduate to discussing last week’s homework assignment or the upcoming excursion. Before you know it you are comparing sleep deprivation war stories and favourite lunchbox recipes.

The next step, in my experience, is sending a Facebook friend request which is the modern day equivalent of swapping phone numbers but mercifully less confronting.

Then something kind of magic happens. Without you even realizing, this amazing web is being woven around you. A web made up of supportive, like-minded mums who know exactly what you are going through.

Sure, there will be the clicks and bitches that cross your path but just choose to avoid the politics and focus on the good.

School mum friends have got me through a pretty crazy year. Without them life would have been a lot harder for me and my kids. They’ve looked out for my boys when helping in class, picked them up, dropped them off, guided them and treated them as their own. In many respects they have done the same with me.

So if you have been holding back from making friends with mums at school or are anxious about starting out in the school yard next year, don’t be. Take a punt and put yourself out there. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I know I was.

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5 learnings from a home organisation challenge

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I signed up to do The Organised Housewife‘s 20 days to organise and clean your home challenge. Those 20 days are up and I confess that my home is only marginally cleaner and more organised, however I thought I would still share a few of my learnings with you.

1. If a system isn’t working – ditch it.  

I’m not sure who I can credit this pearl of wisdom to, Kat or some other organising guru I have stubbled across in my quest for motivation but this sure is a goody.  Pinterest, internet forums and organising blogs like Kat’s are great for getting ideas on organisation and storage but just because it works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. It doesn’t matter how much time and effort you invest in a system, if it isn’t working it has to go. (Just quietly I think a few government agencies could take note of this one).

2. Harness the resources at your disposal.

Technically, as the stay-at-home parent, the housekeeping is my gig. However that doesn’t mean that I have to do all the things.

The husband has a HUGE hang up about watermarks and smudges on the cupboards and fridge. When I am in the kitchen, it’s usually to feed the hungry hordes so if he has the time and inclination to give them a quick once over, that’s awesome.

The children have always done jobs (The Wilful One is particularly good at doing his share, Bam Bam not so much), so I have formalised their chore’s list and have added a few little things to help keep me on track too, like striping beds to make sure sheets get washed etc.

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The boys’ bathroom in particular is a nightmare to keep clean and the Wilful One actually relishes his responsibility to make it all shiny each morning! One less thing for me to feel guilty about not getting to and one more thing my future daughter-in-law can thank me for!

I have also implemented a new laundry sorting system for the boys which is working a treat.

3. Sometimes you need to look past the surface.

Kat’s checklists for a clean and organised home go into every nook and cranny. Which is great for every now and then, but honestly I don’t notice these things on a day to day basis. I am, however, more conscious of these things now (apparently you need to dust skirting boards occasionally – who knew?!) and will endeavour to do them periodically. Which leads to the next point…

4. I will never live in a show home.

Cleaning is just not my bag. I don’t like filth and I don’t think I’m a dirty person, but I’m also not the sort of person to dedicate a day a week month dusting ornaments and colour coding the linen cupboard. I’ve made my peace with that and those that love me ought to as well. Life is too short to live in a museum.

5. I *may* have a slight problem with authority.

Hmm… so it turns out I’m not great at following prescriptive task lists. Here I was thinking I was thinking this challenge would be good to keep me on track but life gets in the way and I kind of resented being told it was the day to clean the laundry when I didn’t *feel* like it. I know, childish right? Having said that, Kat’s challenge is great in that you get life membership to the forum and you can adapt the task lists to your timeframes so I’m going to cut myself some slack and promise to get around to these things one day soon (ish).

So, if you come to my house one day soon, please overlook my disorganised desk and dusty skirting boards. I make a mean cup of coffee and always have chocolate biscuits in the pantry. I’m also pretty good company, even if I don’t live in a museum.

Are you a cleaner by nature? Are you good at following prescriptive task lists? 

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An old fashioned love story

It’s an old fashioned love story. It could easily be a movie or a country song.

Two young people meet and fall in love. She is an only child and a city girl at heart. He is a country boy from a large family.

They are wed in a little local church and move into her parents’ house, the house she has lived in all her life, even to this day.

c meier (nee spall) 7

Children follow; a boy, then a girl. They work hard, love their family and are generous with their time and helping hands.

The years pass and their children have children, who have children. As their family grows, so do their hearts.

Family is their world and nothing gives them greater joy than to be surrounded by the people they love so fiercely.

They are my grandparents and the 23rd October 2014, marked their diamond wedding anniversary.

Grandparents 60th wedding anniversary

Their marriage is one to aspire to. Sixty years of togetherness.

I am sure that they have had their differences and difficulties, as every couple does, but they have stayed true to their course. They have built a marriage, and a life, based on kindness and compromise, patience and trust.

These are the values they have taught me. They have shown and given me great love.

It is a love that I treasure, now and for always.

 

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Laundry: Lightening the Load

Last week I started The Organised Housewife’s 20 Days to Organised and Clean Your Home challenge. I’d love to say I’ve kept up with all the tasks and my house is looking schmick, but let’s be realistic. After all, it isn’t called 20 Days to a Completely Change Your Personality

However, one room which has had a good going over so far is the laundry. It amazes me how this one tiny, little room is the source of so much angst and disgruntlement. 

If we ever built a house I would take the greatest pleasure in designing the laundry. There would be a long bench for sorting and folding, inbuilt colour-coded hampers, a fold out ironing board…

But I digress. What I do have is a tiny space and a large apathy for laundry. 

I had enough trouble keeping abreast of the wash, dry, fold, repeat cycle when there was just two of us, but now there are five, I’m drowning in a sea of tiny underpants and mismatched socks. 

I must say that one of the best things I’ve found about The Organised Housewife’s challenge so far is the Facebook group of participants. That group is like a homemaker’s brain trust. You can look at all the idealistic Pins and blog posts on the net for inspiration but at the end of the day, a person like me needs workable, easily adopted solutions. To be able to see what other women who are in a similar position have come up with to make life easier is truly inspirational. The best part is, they are often ridiculously simple!

At the end of the challenge I’ll share my overall favourite tips and tricks but I just couldn’t wait to show you two great laundry hacks, newly implemented in our home. 

The first one is for sorting smalls. If I calculated how much time I spend sifting through baskets looking for missing socks I’d… well, I’d be very depressed.

I am also forever getting scolded for mixing up the boys’ undies. Considering they share a room and a wardrobe I’m not sure why this is a big deal, but it is!

One of the group shared this awesome idea: 

sorting smalls, laundry, washing

A washable smalls bag (avail absolutely anywhere) labelled and hung up on the laundry wall so the boys can do the sorting as soon as the clothes come off. The advantages of this are 3-fold (pardon the pun).

1. The laundry bag can be washed and dried as-is with all smalls staying together. Note: I’m ultra lazy and generally use the drier for smalls. Mainly because we have a small washing line and, well, I’m lazy. If you hang them up, you would simply sort the smalls back into the bag as you took them off the line.

2. The boys are learning life skills that will last an eternity. You’re welcome future daughter/son-in-laws! 

3. I don’t have to touch smelly boy-jocks! 

The other trick is for sorting the kids’ clothes once they are off the line. My boys actually like folding their own clothes but when they are jumbled in with the rest of the wash, it becomes a bit of a sorting nightmare if I don’t get to Mt Foldmore for a week or so.

Enter these little gems.

laundry hamper, washing, kid's laundry, mt foldmore, mt washmore

Two simple pop-up hampers, one each, which I sort their washing directly into. The hamper gets put on their beds for them to fold and put away. Huzzah!

As you can see, these solutions aren’t sophisticated or costly but the time and energy they will save me in the laundry is priceless!!

Do you get your kids involved in doing the laundry? What tricks to you use to make life easier when tackling Mt Washmore?

 

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Parenting: Opting out is not an option

quit parenting, parenting, runaway parents

There are lots of hard things about being a parent. 

It’s hard seeing your child hurt.

Toilet training is hard.

Making decisions that impact your child’s future is hard. 

Watching Yo Gabba Gabba at 6.30am in the morning is really hard. 

But the absolute single hardest thing about parenting is an inability to opt out. 

For example, I drafted this post at 4.05am in the morning. Why the heck are you up at that ungodly hour, I hear you ask. Well after a total of FOUR wake ups by Pebbles, I was confronted by a small shape looming over me whispering the words every slumbering parent dreads… “Mummy, I wet the bed.”

Now, judge me if you will, but at this point, all I wanted to say was “Bugger off” and roll over.

Alas, that’s the killer thing about this parenting caper – quitting is not an option.

I’ve got 3 little humans depending on me and they, quite frankly, don’t give a damn about how much sleep I’ve had, or that I’m not a morning person, or that I was in the middle of a really nice dream involving Channing Tatum and all 31 of Baskin Robbins’ icecream flavours…

It pains me to admit but I’m not the world’s tenacious person. I kinda get into stuff and love the guts out of it for a while, then drop it like it’s hot. Things like belly dancing and weight watchers and university degrees. 

But parenting is one thing I can’t drop. No matter how hot that spud gets, I have to hold on tight and feel the burn.

Difficult conversations – gotta have ‘em.

Endless meals of sausages and pasta – gotta have ‘em.

Wet beds at 4am – gotta have ‘em. 

My kids won’t be little forever but while they are, here I am right in the thick of it. Sure, I may be a little grumpy and my clothes are usually unironed. I also have some pretty mean battle scars in the form of stretch marks, bad skin and a debilitating caffeine addiction.

But I won’t give up. I can’t.

No matter how good that icecream dream of Channing was…

Somedays do you just want to quit parenting?

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