Our (new) Routines

Routines are everything once you have children, right? At least that is what you get told. Over and over again. I know I have been, at least – and then I have felt guilty that we suck at sticking to routines in our family. Then again, maybe we are doing alright – maybe we aren’t that hopeless after all.

So, recently I asked a question in my Instagram story. I asked what you guys would like me to write about on this little blog of mine. Surprisingly I got quite a lot of answers. Thank you! One of the frequent answers revolved around our daily/weekly routines with the kids.

To be honest, the word “routine” in itself triggers something in me. You see, I do know it is beneficial for children to have routines. Especially the young ones. However, I also acknowledge that our life is chaotic, that I can be rather absent-minded and routines just doesn’t seem to fit in – at least those vert strict, long-term ones.

First of all, let me just debunk the notion that “routines are everything” a bit – set routines are nice, sometimes, but you can also live a pretty decent life without having every hour of your day revolving around them. Even after having kids. Just in case you, like us, are the not-so-organised kinda people and worried it all is going rumbling down due to your awesome ability to wing it at life. No worries, we usually wing it and make it work.

I do believe balance is key to everything, even parenthood routines.

All that being said, after adding a third child to the fam bam we have realised that having some kind of routine is – not only an advantage – but a necessity to keep our family’s wheels turning.

By now we have build up two daily routines that we strive to stick to all week.

Our Morning Routine

Our most important daily routine is definitely our morning routine. If we don’t stick to a routine in the mornings the situation easily gets out of control and no-one has clothes on by the time we need to get out of the door. Literally. Especially now that Abby has started school and we have to actually be somewhere (at school) at 9 am. every day, our morning routine is crucial. Crucial in order for us to get places on time and crucial to keep relatively sane in general. Our morning routine does create less discussions, stress and tantrums and more cooperation and happy faces all around.

The routine is pretty basic, I guess:

When the girls wake up – usually between 7-7.30 – they have to eat breakfast straight away. If not, it becomes a battle to get them to the table and they also get too hungry to function like actual human beings. Afterwards they clean up their bowls and put clothes on before having their teeth and hair brushed. Only then are they allowed to play. It sounds like a well-greased machine, in reality it is more like a rusty but trusty old road bike. Usually they don’t actually do all these steps immediately or on their own – BUT they know that they are supposed to, so they don’t argue (too much) when we remind them of doing them. They actually do it. Most days.

Since Abby started school we don’t have to leave home earlier than 8.30 am. so most mornings there is time for the girls to either sleep in or play before we need to go. They are not allowed to watch TV in the mornings during the week, so when they are more-or-less ready to leave the house they often sit and draw or play some kind of game until everyone is ready to go. Sounds harmonic, doesn’t it? It’s not always the case, but occasionally it can actually be really nice and calm in the mornings.

Usually our mornings don’t get stressful until I have to get myself and Lulu ready. There is basically no morning where I haven’t gotten in the car only to realise I have forgotten something and have to go back in. At least once. Yesterday I made a new record, I think. I went back in six times. Six times! To get a dummy, to get my coffee I had JUST poured, to get Abby’s school bag, to get Lulu’s bottle, to get my bag with my wallet in…and to close the door. Yep, I got in the car, started reversing – then saw that I had left the door completely open.

“Mummy, can you please stop forgetting things. How hard can it be to close the door. You do it every day.”

Abby Rose, 5 years old.

When I mention all those steps above I have left out Lulu, because she has her own kinda morning routine. Another factor that makes routines bloody difficult in a home with kids of different ages – one of them being a baby. Yet, also a reason why it is important that the big kids are relatively self sufficient. Lulu has to be fed her morning porridge, she needs to get changed at least once before we leave and she usually gets a bit tired at some point and then she will be nowhere but in the arms of Josh or me. The art is to have everything ready before she reaches this state – that rarely happens.

Night Time Routine

Our evening and night time routine is also relatively set. We try to eat together around our dining table every night. The TV is off and we usually have a really nice and hyggelig time doing our Three Happy Questions and talking about our day. Dinner often takes 45 minutes to an hour. Especially Abby LOVES this time of day and she can easily sit a the table for hours if we are up for it.

After dinner it is usually so late that we go more or less straight into our bedtime routine.

We don’t have a set bath routine. We have never had one. Our kids have baths when they are dirty or when they feel like having one. And then they also shower at the pool twice a week. It works for us. They don’t rely on a bath to calm them down for bed or anything like that.

Our bedtime routine consists of pyjamas, vitamins, teeth brushing, two books (one each for Abby and Billie) and then a song or five. Ususally we also massage/ground Abby while singing. And as a new addition we have started to put evening meditation stories on for them after we leave the room – it really works.

If both Josh and I are home for the bedtime routine one of us take care of the two big kids while the other one is “on” Lulu. She has gotten so big now that she actually has started to join the girls in the bedroom for their bedtime stories. It makes the entire process a bit easier. So far she is just playing in the room while they hear their stories, but if it evolves as it did with Billie she will eventually want to sit and listen as well.

Afterwards we put Lulu to bed in our bed. She has a bottle and we stay with her until she sleeps. Usually between 5-15 minutes.

Our Flexible Routines

As stated above we do actually stick to routines in the morning and in the evening. However, even they need to be relatively flexible to actually suit us. You see, it is a bit difficult for us to uphold set routines. We seem to just stick to something – until we don’t. Because our life simply has very little routine to it. Let me give you some examples:

Little things like, who leaves the house when, changes quite often. Then one of us needs to stay at uni longer than usual. Then we change the girls’ swimming lessons. Then Lulu gets older and needs to sleep at different times. Then we feel like going to the beach on a Friday. Then Josh works on a Tuesday night. Then he works all Saturday. Then he works Friday day. Then there’s exams. Then we sign the girls up for gymnastics. Then cricket starts. Then cricket ends. Then it’s uni-holidays. Then Josh has a – very exciting – job interview. And if that interview turns out as we hope – then all our routines will probably change once again.

I am actually quite okay with the way our lives unfold in terms of routines and flexibility. We do need some degree of routine, but we definitely also need to change things up sometimes. I would go insane if I had to go for the same walk everyday because that was Lulu’s routine.

Actually, when it comes to babies I know many people swear to very set routines. We are a bit opposite on that matter, I guess. We have never really stuck to any set routines with our babies and they have generally been, what you would call, “easy” babies. When they seem tired we put them to sleep in a bed, a car, a pram, wherever. When they are hungry we feed them. And they kinda just fit into all our other routines and daily chores. Babies are easy. Very easy compared to toddlers and … school kids(!)

New Times and Routines Ahead

Actually, Josh started working a couple of weeks ago – as a concierge next to his full-time uni studies. Up until now he has “only” been studying after we moved to Brisbane last January, so for him to start working as well is quite a different scenario for us. He will, obviously, be very busy as he gets less time to do his studying, so when he is home he is in his office a lot.

It has taken a bit of getting used to, but I am okay with it. I know it is not forever. Once we get to “the other side” things will be different. In fact, he has an interview with an engineering company next week. If he let me I will tell you more about it soon. It is very, very exciting for him – and us.

And obviously, if that interview turns out to Josh’s advantage it will mean that we need to change our routines once again. No biggie.

Our Week in Text – an overview

Abby has school Monday – Friday 9 am. – 3 pm.

Billie has preschool Monday-Wednesday.

Abby has swimming lesson on Tuesdays after school and cricket on Thursdays.

Billie has swimming lesson on Thursday at 10.30 am.

Josh has uni Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and usually Friday.

I have uni on Thursday.

As it looks now Josh works one evening shift during the week plus one or two day shifts Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

I will hopefully start working part-time relatively soon. For now my job is “only” to take care of everything home/kids related – it’s more than full-time.

For everyone interested I have written up our weekly program for this week underneath this cute photo of Abby wearing her rebel socks for school.

❤️

MONDAY

7 am.

Everybody wakes up, have breakfast, puts clothes on and play.

7.30 am.

Josh leaves for uni.

8.30 am.

I take all three girls in the car and drives to Abby’s school where we drop her off at 8.50 am. – in the class room, so have to get everybody out of the car to do so.

9 am.

Back in the car and off to preschool to drop Billie off. The preschool is around 15-20 minutes drive from our house in rush hour. I try to keep Lulu awake – usually I fail.

9.30 am.

Billie is in preschool and I am at the shops with Lulu doing grocery shopping for (some of) the week.

10.30 pm.

Back home with Lulu. Hopefully she is now asleep in her bed. If not, she’s eating or playing. Then we do our things like play in the garden, dance around, sleep, eat, drink, maybe we go the park, I do some house work if Lulu will let me and sometimes I even get to drink hot coffee and write a bit on my blog.

Lulu naps 2-3 times during the day atm. Usually she has a short nap in the car to or from preschool in the morning, then a longer nap around 11 am. and another late nap in the afternoon – this repeats itself every day.

2.30 pm.

I walk to the school with Lulu in the pram to pick up Abby at 3 pm. Monday is assembly day, so it is expected that parents come earlier than usual to show support for the kids and the school. We try to make it.

3.30 pm.

Home for a bit before we have to get Billie from preschool. I prepare a lasagna for dinner while Abby and Lulu play.

4.30 pm.

Josh is home from uni, so he can stay at home with Abby and Lulu while I go and get Billie from preschool. It takes roughly 20 minutes to drive there at this time of day.

5.30 pm.

Billie and I are back from preschool. The girls are playing and watching TV. Lulu is asleep. Josh is doing whatever. I am preparing dinner.

6.30 pm.

Family dinner. We try to eat together around our dining table every night. The TV is off and we usually have a really nice and hyggelig time doing our Three Happy Questions and talking about our day. Dinner often takes 45 minutes to an hour. Especially Abby LOVES this time of day and she can easily sit a the table for hours if we are up for it.

7.30 pm.

Bedtime routine starts. Pajamas, vitamins, teeth brushing, book reading, song singing. Lulu tags along in the girls’ bedroom.

8-8.30 pm.

Abby and Billie are in their beds listening to night time meditation stories. Hopefully falling asleep within 15-30 minutes. Probably will come out at least once to have a drink or a cuddle or to tell a secret.

Lulu gets a bottle in her (our) bed and usually falls asleep within 15 minutes. We stay with her until she sleeps.

9 pm.

All girls are usually, finally, asleep. The much needed adult time kicks in. Time to clean up, do uni work, read and/or fall asleep to a series on the lounge.

11 pm.

Over and out! I try to be in bed no later than 11 pm. every day. If not, I will be a grumpy face all day next day.

TUESDAY

7 am.

Everybody wakes up, eats breakfast, put clothes on, plays.

8.30 am.

Josh and Abby leaves on their bikes for school and uni. I take Billie and Lulu in the car to drop Billie off at preschool.

9.30 am.

Back home with Lulu. We do our things – see Monday. Hanging out with a baby is iterative, I tell you.

2.30 pm.

I pick Abby up from school in the car with Lulu.

3.30 pm.

After getting Abby from school we pick Billie up from preschool and go to the pool for Abby’s swimming lessons.

4 pm.

Abby has her swimming lesson and I am in the pool playing with Lulu and Billie.

Josh goes straight from uni to work.

Lulu and Billie fall asleep in the car on the way home from the pool.

5.45 pm.

We are back home. Kids are hangry. I prepare left overs for dinner.

6.30 pm.

Family dinner. Even when Josh are at work at dinner time we still do our best to stick to our dinner tradition/routine.

7.30 pm.

Bedtime routine starts. Without Josh at home it can be a bit harder to get it done especially if Lulu is clingy. But they will eventually get their stories.

8 – 8.30 pm.

All girls are usually in their beds by now, stories have been read, songs have been sung. Since Lulu and Billie fell asleep in the car on the way home from the pool they are not tired. At all. Abby falls asleep in 10 minutes listening to meditation stories.

9 pm.

Billie and Lulu are finally falling asleep – little fighters. I am done!

10.30 pm.

Josh comes home from job. I go to bed.

WEDNESDAY

7 am.

Everybody wakes up, eats breakfast, puts clothes on, plays.

8.30 am.

Abby rides her bike and I take Lulu in the pram and walks to the school.

Josh drops Billie off at preschool before going to uni.

9.10 am.

I am at a philosophy work-shop with Abby (and Lulu) in Abby’s school. It is a so-called philosophy school and I am here to learn more about what that actually means – and how they practice it.

11 am.

Home and Lulu is sleeping in our bed. I blog.

2.30 pm.

I walk with Lulu in the pram to the school to pick up Abby

3 pm.

Abby, Lulu and I go to the park to have a play and meet up with Josh who is getting home from university soon.

4 pm.

Josh is home and he takes Lulu and Abby in the car and drives to pick up Billie from preschool.

FREEDOM! I am, for the first time this week, child free. I go for a run/walk (after preparing dinner, but of course) by the river. Shit, I love this beautiful place we live in!

6.30 pm.

Everybody is home. Dinner is on the table and it’s family dinner time.

7.30 pm.

Bedtime routine starts. Josh is on the ball tonight.

8 pm.

Girls are in bed. Even Lulu (see I don’t actually know this yet, but I hope….)

Kid free time for the rest of the night. Both Josh and I have a lot of uni work to do, so that is what we are doing until bedtime. It is actually pretty hyggeligt when we are both studying in the same room at night time. Somehow it feels a bit like we are “just” students again. Students without three kids sleeping next door.

11 pm.

Zzzzzzz

THURSDAY

7 am.

Everybody wakes up, eats breakfast puts clothes on, plays.

8.30 am.

I leave with Abby on our bikes. I drop her off at school at 8.55 am. and goes straight to uni from there. This is “my day” at the university. I love it!

10.30 am.

Josh is at the pool with Billie and Lulu for Billie’s swimming lessons. They all have a swim.

3 pm.

Josh takes Billie and Lulu to Abby’s school. Abby has cricket from 3 to 4 pm. in the school’s oval. Parents have to be there to watch.

6 pm.

My day at uni finishes and I ride my bike home. Am home around 6.30 pm. just in time for…

6.30 pm.

Family dinner

7.30 pm.

Bedtime routine.

8 – 8.30 pm.

Abby and Billie are in their beds listening to night time meditation stories. Hopefully falling asleep within 15-30 minutes. Probably will come out at least once to have a drink or a cuddle or to tell a secret.

Lulu gets a bottle in her (our) bed and usually falls asleep within 15 minutes. We stay with her until she sleeps.

9 pm.

All girls are usually, finally, asleep. The much needed adult time kicks in. Time to clean up, do uni work, read and/or fall asleep to a series on the lounge.

11 pm.

Zzzzzzzz

FRIDAY

7 am.

Everybody wakes up

Josh leaves for work.

8.30 am.

I walk with Lulu in the pram, Billie and Abby on scooters to the school and drop Abby off.

9.30 am.

Home again with Lulu and Billie. Lulu has a nap around 10-11 am. for an hour or two. Meanwhile I play with Billie and/or she watches a bit of TV while I do chores. Sometimes we go out for a while, maybe to a friends house or South Bank. We have also gone surfing sometimes.

2.30 am.

I walk with Lulu in the pram and Billie on her scooter to the school to pick Abby up.

3.30 am.

We are all home – including Josh from work. Let the Friday begin.

6 am.

Dinner – usually something easy and child friendly because today we eat in from of the TV for our…

6.30 pm.

Firday movie and Friday candy time

9 pm.

Movie has ended and the girls are going to bed. They don’t get stories on Fridays.

Time to watch a movie and have a beer, I think!

11 pm.

Zzzzzzzz

SATURDAY

7.30 am.

Everybody wakes up. The breakfast routine is the same on the weekends, but they don’t have to get dressed immediately.

8 am. – 12.30 pm.

Free playtime for everyone. We tidy and clean a bit. Do some garden work. Lulu has a nap.

12.30 pm.

Josh leaves for work.

3 pm.

I drive with the girls to Enoggera Dam to meet up with some friends for a swim.

5.30 pm.

I drive to said friends’ house for dinner and hygge and beer.

9.30 pm.

Josh comes to our friends house after work and we all go home together. All of our children are still awake.

10.30 pm.

Good night

SUNDAY

7.30 am.

Everybody wakes up.

9 am.

We pack the car for a day of playing, swimming and surfing at the beach

10 am.

We leave home just in time for Lulu’s nap. We have a 1.5 hour trip ahead of us. Currumundi Beach bound.

12 – 5 pm.

Living the good life at the beach. How I love this place!

5 – 7.30 pm.

Driving home with a McDonald’s pit stop along the way. Sunday traffic back to Brisbane is a bit of a killer. But still so worth it.

8 pm.

Kids are in bed, having their bedtime stories and songs.

Billie and Lulu slept in the car so they are wide awake.

9.30 pm.

Billie and Lulu will not fall asleep. I go and lay with them in our bed. It works – and I stay in here with them.

Zzzzzzzz

And that’s a wrap for that week!

In Other News

It’s back to reality around here. The University of Queensland is back on this week. Josh started on Monday and I am going there tomorrow – I only have to go once a week, every Thursday from 9am. – 6pm. Making a day of it, you know.

We still haven’t really figured out the logistics of it all but that will come. Right?

Besides uni, both Josh and I are currently looking for part-time jobs to pay our rent and our camping trips. It’s been a bit harder than expected, to be honest. It’s not easy finding a job in a city where your network is tiny and when your last real job was 6 years ago in Denmark.

Last weekend I actually took a 5 hour barista course to get a little bit more on my CV. If it will lead to an actual barista job time will show. No matter what, it was fun to learn something new and I now know the actual difference on a cappuccino, a latte and a flat white.

And yes, I dream of going camping a lot more. Once we’re all settled in with uni and jobs and what-not we’ll start planning. Straddie, Byron and somewhere up north is definitely on the list. Fresh air, sandy feet and surf beaches are a must.

We still haven’t finished painting our bathroom.

The weather has cooled down a bit here. We can really feel the autumn coming our way – today it’s only 27 degrees and I am actually wearing a long sleeve as I type.

Today is my mother’s 75. birthday. I really wish we were in Denmark to help celebrate her. It sucks being so far away on these occasions. Thankfully we have FaceTime and we will sing her a little song later tonight.

Ohh, and Abby just lost her first tooth in school today. My little trooper didn’t even tell her teacher, because she was scared of getting in trouble. The tooth fell our in the middle of a lesson where she was “supposed to be learning stuff, not play with her tooth”. We assured her she would never get in trouble for loosing a tooth – or the teacher would be in trouble with us.

We have started a family tradition around our dinner table each night. Everyone has to say three things that made them happy during the day. It can be big or small. Billie usually says something in the line of “I was happy in the sand pit” and “I just love my whole family”. Tonight I will definitely say, that I am happy to see so many people have tuned into my little blog lately.

Thank you!

❤️

IS IT OKAY IF I’M IN LOVE WITH MY KIDS’ PRESCHOOL TEACHER?

Today I woke up exhausted. For some reason I couldn’t sleep last night as I was feeling sick and miserable. The same night both of the girls slept really well for a long time and Billie and I had the bed to ourselves, since Josh worked nightshift. Typical.

Josh hadn’t even come home from work yet when the girls woke up and the thought of hanging out with them the entire day – preferably out and about so Josh could get some decent sleep – seemed like a completely unfeasable task.

So, when Josh finally got home he was my knight in shining armour and called the preschool. The girls only have one regular day at preschool, but we have the opportunity to put them in on a casual basis if there are any free spots available for them. Today was one of those days where I really, really hoped there was a spot for them.

Listen, I don’t want to sound as if I don’t want to hang out with my children. I do. I love hanging out with them. But I hang out with them a lot and it can be hard, I tell you. I am very happy to admit that and I am not embarrased to say that sometimes I need a break. Actually, so does the girls. The vibe between us all gets so much better when we have a little break from each other once in a while. Especially if the adult one of us is tired and semi-sick with energy levels that does not go well with two little energetic terrors’ need for stimulation.

Well, it turned out that the preschool gods were partly on my side today. They did have a spot for Abby but none for Billie. Fine, I’d take that. At least that would give me a break in the middle of the day when Billie would go for her nap.

I took the girls down there and it was the opposite world when I had to leave. Billie got very confused and even sad as she realized she wasn’t going to stay. Because she had to say goodbye to her favourite preschool teacher, Teleia.

Teleia completely makes the difference between Billie loving preschool or hating it. We have certain issues with the preschool the girls go to – but when Teleia is there it’s not too bad. At least we know that someone “sees” our child(ren), shows her the presence she needs, gives her positive attention, and gives her cuddles all through the day.

Billie loves her. Abby loves her too. All the kids love her. And I can’t blame them. She is present. She is energetic. She is caring. She’s responsible. She’s a fucking star, that’s what she is. As we had to leave she checked an extra time to see if they could possibly keep Billie there, but unfortunately they were all booked out. All good.

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Billie & Teleia @preschool disco

But then, at 10.30 am. the phone rang. It was the preschool and at first I thought they called to tell me that I had to pick up Abby due to illness or something. Bummer! But no, Teleia just wanted to let me know that a kid in the baby room had called in sick and that they now had a spot for Billie too.

Best phone call ever (at least this week, so far). Teleia could just have let it go. She didn’t have to call me – hey, I remember how nice it was back in my working-in-daycare days when a kid called in sick. One kid less to worry about during the day – but she did call me. Partly because I am sure she wants to help out and partly because I actually believe she enjoys having Billie there, after all she’s her little homie. Maybe the last bit is just me being naive and if so she has me fooled which is completely okay. It only shows how damn good she is at her job.

I told Billie that she got to go to preschool anyway and she cheerfully said: “I’m going preschool. Abby! Teleia!

Billie having fun with Teleia @preschool today

Today Teleia was not only Billie’s star. She was my star too.

Thanks to her, here I am. Just chilling on my little blog, drinking my *hot* coffee and I will probably eat chocolate pretty soon. This Monday is just what I needed.

So hell yeah, I love my kids’ preschool teacher. At least today. On other days I might just think she’s heaven sent. No biggie.

Hope your Monday is filled with love too ❤


M.

SWIMMING LESSONS 4.0

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Okay, I have earlier mentioned our incredible ability to talk around this house. Talk about things we’ll like to do, places we’ll like to go and classes we’ll like to send our girls to. Swimming lessons have been the subject of one of those repetitive talks lately. But then, last week we finally turned talk into action and put the girls back into swimming lessons after 8 months of absence. And it is a succes!

Since Abby started swimming lessons almost four years ago we have tried three different swim schools around Wollongong. Not because we disliked any of them, really. More because we didn’t love them (we might actually love one of them – read on and find out which). You shouldn’t settle, right?

Growing up in Denmark, where the indoor pools on average are second to none, I have had pretty high standards to the pool facilities we have visited here. For those of you that have never visited a Danish indoor pool, I can tell you that for instance the hygiene is extremely high. Everyone needs to have a shower – naked – and wash themselves with soap before putting on their swimmers and entering the pool. And no way you can bring a stroller into the pool area straight from the street. Actually, you are rarely allowed in the pool area at all unless you are a swimmer and have showered first – otherwise you will definitely need to wear plastic bags over your shoes.

That’s not exactly standard practice here in Australia. None of the above really is. Josh’s first visit to a Danish indoor pool illustrates that pretty well.

Back in the day, when Josh and I were hanging out together in Copenhagen, waiting for Abby to make her arrival, I took Josh to one of the indoor pools there. I didn’t consider that I had to explain to him how the going-into-a-pool-in-Denmark-procedure was. I figured it was like that everywhere. How wrong I was.

Well, after you purchase your ticket at a pool in Denmark, you go straight into the changing rooms. Many places you can’t even see the pool yet. So, Josh and I parted and went into our separate changing rooms. I did my usual pre-pool routine and took off my clothes in the changing area, went into the showers, put on my bathing suit and then I was ready to enter the pool area.

There, in the stairway, I found Josh. All confused and dry.

“Have you been in the pool already?” he asked me.

Puzzled, I asked him “no, but haven’t you showered?”

Where to he answered “no, why should I shower before going in the pool?”

Ohh yeah, he was also in a state of shock because he had just been in a room filled with other naked men. Yes, that’s how us vikings do it. We shower in communal shower rooms without walls around the individual shower. Josh told me that he thought it was very weird how all those men were just walking around naked as if it was the most natural thing in the world – I would argue that it is one of the most natural things in the world.

And back to the showers he went. He didn’t take his swimmers off, though.

Later on we have gone to indoor pools with my parents. Josh having to shower in the same room as my dad. Hehehe…he is not extremely comfortable with that, I can tell you, and my dad is the kind of person who doesn’t mind nudist beaches………

But back to Australia and the girls’ swimming lessons.

For me to get to the indoor pools here where people have changed into their swimmers from home and just walk all the way into the poolarea with shoes on some even bringing their prams – well, that has been quite a culture shock for me. And I think that I unconsciously have tried to find a pool that resembles a Danish one the most.

The first swim school we put Abby in was McKeon’s Swimchool. It’s a quite modern pool facility with several similarities to the Danish ones I am used to. It seemed like the right place for us. I mean, they have fostered several Olympic swimmers – surely they must know their ‘1-2-3 eyes under’- and ‘teddybear, teddybear watch me fall’-routines.

And it was good. But it was also extremely busy. The teachers changed every other week and it had this assembly line kinda feeling to it. Get the kids in the water, teach them whatever, get them out. Next group in! Repeat. No one knew Abby’s name – and the showers were inside the bloody pool area. Not in the changing rooms. No naked showers there.

After a couple of terms we chose to change to the smallest little swimschool called Nippers 2 Flippers. The building is situated in the middle of a suburbian street, they only have one tiny pool and there is carpet on the floors – in the pool area. Yep. Wow. This was a whole new level of poor hygiene for me. However, the teachers were really nice, attentive and personal. Abby got quite confident while being there and most importantly she had fun in the water.

Actually, she was there with my parents the day Billie was born. My mum sent me photos of Abby and my dad in the pool while I was in labour at the hospital. That was pretty cool.

Then Billie was born and we didn’t get Abby back into swimming until Billie was old enough to join her in the water.

For some reason we decided to try out an entirely third swimschool, Shellharbour Swim Academy. This one was pretty big, not new and smick like the McKeon one, but the reviews I read about it were excellent so I signed them up.

For the sake of teaching the kids to swim they were pretty good. Abby did evolve while being there and Billie got confident in the water. Perfect for our Thailand holiday in January earlier this year. However, while the girls attended Shellharbour Swim Academy I had this bad feeling in my stomach. I didn’t feel welcome at all. And I really felt that the teachers did not care about the individual children – they were just doing their job. Which can be okay, but in my opinion it’s not enough when it comes to small children. I know other people have had very different experiences at this swim school, but for us it was not the right place.

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When we finally got the girls back into swimming last week, I had to follow my gut instinct so we signed them up at Nippers 2 Flippers again. Because even though the physical sorroundings of the place goes against everything I have ever learned about good hygiene and how a “real” indoor pool should look and operate – I mean, they have carpet on the floors(!) – it felt right. It felt welcoming and including. It felt like our children mattered and that they were taken seriously.

I learned that my decision was right. Even though they still have carpet on the floors – but hey, they have actually fixed up their changing rooms and made brand new communal showers in there. Yay, I am danish and I am very much pro showing my girls other naked girls and women to give them a healthy and realistic view of the human body. And Abby & Billie love showering with their little swim buddies. That’s right, showering after sports can be very social. Seriously. Just ask any danish handball or football player.

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When it comes to the actual swimming lessons these guys (women) are ridiculously awesome. They had three teachers evaluating Abby in her first class, because they wanted to make sure she gets lessons on the correct level. Last time they even had two teachers evaluating Billie, too. She’s “just” in a baby class but they still tailor the lessons around each individual child.

They really, really make an effort to make sure the children are on the correct level to suit their ability so they make the most of their lessons. They do this simultaneously with being nice, funny and kind. Which I value so, so, so much when it comes to children and any kind of sport, really. Yes, I do want them to learn to swim – but, almost more importantly, I want them to have fun while doing so.

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At Nippers2flippers the girls have lots of fun – Billie even says so when she gets out of the water: “it was fuuuuuuun” and you can’t argue with that, so I think we might stick around there for a while now.

Luv M.

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TODAY I LOST IT

Half an hour ago I had one of my least proud moments in my ongoing career as a mum.

I yelled at Abby. I yelled at her because she wouldn’t listen to me. I yelled at her, because she challenged what I said. I yelled at her because she did something very, very natural for a four-year-old child to do. I yelled at her because she yelled at me. I yelled at her because I lost it – and it was wrong of me to do so.

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For some it might not seem like a big deal. I am aware that yelling is relatively normal in some households. For us it is not the path we wish to go down.

Instead we believe in guiding rather than disciplining and constantly correcting. We believe that children actually want to do the “right” thing, sometimes they just don’t understand what this “right” thing is. I do not believe in naughty children. They are simply just immature and need to learn how to behave in our society and we need to teach them. Teach them by doing – ‘doing’ is not yelling at them when they don’t listen. What does that teach them?

Often, in our case, the so-called bad behaviour comes down to one or more basic needs – such as sleep, hunger, over/under stimulation – which has not been fulfilled. In those circumstances our children simply aren’t capable of controlling their own behaviour in a matter that seems acceptable with adult eyes. Can you blame them? How are you acting when you are tired? Or hungry? – Or as we call it in our house, HANGRY!

In Abby’s case today it was a dangerous cocktail of the latter. She was up too early, she didn’t eat much breakfast, and she was bored and under stimulated at home with Billie and me.

But, was Abby actually being ridiculously unfair? Was she over the top annoying? Can I, by any means, justify that I yelled at her like a maniac in a traffic jam? The short answer is no.

The long answer is that it in reality had nothing to do with Abby. She has been waaaaaaay more intense and challenging in the past and there was nothing extreme about her behaviour today.

Nope, it all came down to my own state of mind.

My mental energy level has been relatively low recently, that combined with and partly caused by Josh working nightshift the last five nights has made my mind tired and fragile. From I woke up this morning I could feel that I didn’t have the surplus of mental resources that it takes for me to be on top of things around here. Even tiny things annoyed me and my patience was basically non existing. It didn’t get any better as the day dragged on.

Most days when I feel that way I am able to pick myself up. I eat some good, healthy food.  I put some happy music on. I have a green smoothie. Then I have coffee. Lots of coffee. However, not even the coffee seemed to do the job today and all I was thinking about was when Josh would wake up so I could have a break.

My state of mind combined with Abby running low on several of her basic needs was a vicious cirkel where we kept forcing each other into a worse and worse position.

I basically just hated my life right there. So when Abby pushed my already threadbare buttons again and again, I snapped. I took all my frustrations out on her which I genuinely loathe doing. As we were yelling at each other – about something silly as a wheely bug – my guilty conscience already began to kick in. I knew what I was doing was everything converse of my ideal parenting style. To cut it off I grabbed the damn wheely bug and on the verge of crying I went into the bedroom. All I wanted to do was to throw myself on the bed and stay there for the rest of the day. Doors closed! Instead I woke Josh up and told him that I was loosing it. That I had just yelled at Abby and that I needed him now. Abby needed him. I think he immediately knew I was not fucking around. He went to her and I could hear them talking. Nicely and calmly she explained the situation to him. No screaming. No yelling.

After I had changed Billie’s pooey nappy – because shit always happens – I went to the lounge room to find Abby sitting on Josh’s lap. She looked at me with a bit of insecurity in her eyes.

I sat down next to them and instantly told her, that I was sorry for yelling at her and that it was wrong of me to do so. She looked at me with relief and we were good again. Just like that.

I believe it is important for parents to show their children that adults can make mistakes too – and they should also own it and say sorry. Today I was unfair to Abby. I did not help her when she was struggling, instead I tried to fight her and nothing good comes from that.

I am not proud of myself today, but I am proud of Abby and her level of empathy. She actually felt bad for me – for yelling at her. Little darling.

I didn’t learn anything new today, but I got reminded that I have to take care of myself in order to be able to be the parent that I wish to be, the parent that my children deserve. I tend to forget that.

One Of Those Mornings – Following One Of Those Nights

Confession time: all I was thinking about this morning was to get my children out of the house, to preschool, and I did not spare no effort to get them there. Or well, I kinda did. I cut all the corners I possibly could to achieve my goal of the morning, actually.

I did not brush their teeth. I promise to brush them extra carefully tonight. Promise!

I did not brush their hair. Not that it makes much of a difference, since I am absolutely incapable of doing their hair nice, anyway.

I almost – ALMOST – didn’t bother buckling them into their carseats. I reconsidered that as a scenario with a drug addict in a Commodore rushed before my eyes.

Ohh, and Abby is still wearing her pyjamas pants as I write. Or well, it’s not actual pyjamas pants, it’s the same pants she was wearing yesterday, which she slept in because getting her ready for bed last night was priority: non-excisting. No, last night her adorable little sister took all the attention.

Billie could not settle at all yesterday and as bedtime was approaching she got more and more whiny. I have never really believed in the full moon having any impact on the human sleep cycle, but I am seriously starting do doubt my otherwise tenacious scientifically based beliefs – after conducting a profound analysis of the situation, of course.

I checked her temperature, it was normal.

I looked for new teeth coming through, couldn’t really see any.

I checked her body for a rash, nothing out of the ordinary.

I offered her food and drinks, didn’t want any.

I changed her nappy, didn’t make a difference.

I put her doona on. I took her doona off.

I sung to her.

I cuddled her.

I even asked her if she was in pain – she said ‘nej, nej, NEEEEEEEEEJ’ (Danish for ‘no’).

I could not find any ‘normal’ toddler sleep issues causing her restlessness. A restlessness that kept on the. ENTIRE. night.

They say the sound of a crying baby is the most stressfull sound in the world. I tend to agree with them. Especially when you are already tired and thought you were going to have some relaxing kid-free time and indulge in red wine from your newly purchased wine glasses.

Instead of enjoying my wine in the evening, I was stressing about getting my restless child to sleep, and later on in the night I was stressing about my own sleep deprivation caused by afore mentioned child.

While I was lying in bed listening to her wimp every 5 minutes, I kept focusing on how uncomfortable it was. How annoying it was that I didn’t have my personal space and that she was, literally, lying on top of my head. I need my sleep to function. And I was tired.

Then my mind wondered off – it does sometimes. Often, actually.

It went to a scenario that will happen in less than two weeks. 11 days to be exact, but who’s counting? When I will fly alone with the girls to Denmark. Our first flight is nearly 15 hours long – 15 HOURS!

If I could only have the luxury(!) of lying down during the flight – even if it did include a 18 month old kicking me in the face – it would make the trip a breeze. And, believe it or not, this little mind trick that my own mind played on me actually had a positive affect as it made me relax and basically accept the situation.

So yeah, I still didn’t get much sleep – but at least I didn’t stress through the entire night, either.

I did stress this morning, though. Billie was still a bit sooky and Abby was craving attention. I was not in the mood to parent at all. I had a goal to reach, right. Kids aren’t that goal inclined, I have learned. Unless the goal is ice cream or a new pony. Going to preschool early isn’t really on their list of awesome goals to achieve.

We left the house with the radio running, the heater on, the milk still out on the kitchen bench. And I still only managed to get them to preschool at 9.30am. That’s pretty average. So if I achieved my morning goal – not really. I did, however, go out in public in my pyjamas pants.

Now, I think I might go and brush my teeth.

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Happy Friday, peeps ❤

 

How Small Changes Can Make a Huge Difference

All children are different. Even my children are different. So figuring out and satisfying their individual needs really is a question of observing, analyzing, adjusting, modifying, experimenting, and occasionally just going with the flow.

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So yeah, sometimes parenting really makes me feel extremely exhausted and lost even to the point where I just want to throw in the towel and run away from it all. Honestly, that used to be my solution to any sort of problem back in the day.

Now, giving up is just not an option. This is it. This is my life. And I just have to deal with it. And I try my best…

Lately, we have realized that the girls, especially Abby, have been somehow under stimulated with our daily routine.

It has come to show by a rising number of conflicts between the girls or with us, concentration difficulty, less in-depth play, less imaginary play, more destructive behaviour, and all-in-all less laughter and more whinging.

To try to deal with these challenges that we are facing, we have made some minor but efficient adjustments to our routine and to our surroundings.

LESS STUFF, MORE PLAY

First of all, we have tried to get rid of a lot of stuff and make our home a tiny bit more minimalistic. It might sound a bit irrelevant when it comes to the girls’ stimulation and wellbeing, however, it actually works for us. Somehow having a tidy home with less clutter and even less toys to chose from has made it easier for the girls to concentrate on playing with the toys they do have.

Another benefit of having less stuff is that our house is generally less messy than it used to be, which definitely helps to reduce stress for all of us. And even the girls are now helping tidying up every(other) night. It’s highly recommendable to get rid of the clutter.

THAT DAYUM SCREEN-TIME

Second of all, we are doing our best to cut down on screen-time. We are not fanatics when it comes to screen-time limits, but we have noticed that the number of conflicts are much higher when the TV is on for longer periods of time. So for us there is no doubt that too much screen-time has negative consequences for our children. I am still very guilty of putting the TV on whenever I need some time to make breakfast, lunch or dinner – or when I just need a little break from the craziness of having kids – but I am slowly getting better at turning it off again too.

GETTING OUR ADVENTURE ON

Third, and quite importantly, I am trying my best to get out of the house (and the garden) with the girls every day. Preferably to spend time outside where the girls can be physically active. It can be a trip to the beach or the skatepark, a bush walk or even just a bike ride to the local playground. The most important thing is that they get some fresh air, that they get to explore new, exciting places and first and foremost, that they get to use and challenge their bodies in a healthy and fun way.

Abby has always been very physically advanced and she is simply a happier child when she gets to move freely, so it only makes sense to get out there and get active. Besides, Billie has had a little bit of difficulties with her balance and general physical development, so making sure that we challenge her every day greatly supports her development and lately it has really paid off. Her balance is improving, she is getting a lot more confident with her movements and she even climbs things now. Our little trooper.

On days where we have been out and about the girls play so much better when we get back home and they sleep so much better when they go to bed. Even I get more energy in the long run. It really is a no-brainer that it’s good for everyone – I just have to get a little bit better at organizing snacks, lunch, drinks, naptime and bla bla bla, so we can go on more and better adventures in the future.

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LET THE KIDS

The last thing, that we have actively taken a decision to go along with, might be a little bit controversial, because we are actually giving our two, young children a lot of freedom to roam. Both the girls have very free range to play and explore in our house and in our garden – without our participation or involvement. Of course we keep an eye and two ears out for them, but we also give them privacy and room and time to just do their own thing.

Billie is getting quite good at focusing on one activity for longer periods of time and it really has made Abby’s creativity flourish. The amount of things that she has created so far is seriously incredible. She’s such a problem solver and a creative soul. To give her free range to create, explore and build is one of the best decisions we have made for her lately. And basically we haven’t done anything, really. On the contrary.

MORE LAUGHTER, LESS GUILT

So, have these little adjustments made our family all happy clappy? No, definitely not. We still have our conflicts and our challenges, like any other normal family, I guess. However, the overall mood in our home is better than it was a couple of weeks ago and no doubt it’s a work-in-progress – but very importantly, simply just addressing the matter instead of letting it grow bigger has reduced my parent guilt and made me less inclined to give up and more inclined to keep on keeping on.

I’ve got this!

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