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!

What Made You Happy Today?

Seriously, think about it for a while. It is so easy to get caught up in all the negative stuff that happens around us. Especially when the everyday is rolling away and chores and errends and jobs and tasks and demands and what-not fills up our days. We get stressed. We get tired. We get grumpy. Sometimes we get bored. I get bored a lot. Then the negativity spiral takes off. Damn it.

Negativity breeds negativity

I read this article explaining how emotions are contagious, the negative once even more so:

“Many experts believe that negative emotions are a lot easier to catch than positive ones. Some believe this is reflective of our evolutionary past wherein being highly attuned to other people’s negative emotions (pain, fear, and disgust) was directly linked to survival. Those who could pick up on someone else’s pain, fear, and disgust were more likely to survive than those who could not.

But – positivity also breeds positivity. Phew!

It most definitely does. Take it from the experts and take it from me, the self-acclaimed negative/positive expert that I am.

Saying positive things. Doing positive things. It spreads positive vibes.

So, am I positve all day everyday? Hell no. I am often the opposite. I am prone to dwelving in my own missery, but that is exactly why I need to do something active and conscious to force the positivity into my life – otherwise it all gets too dark and dull to handle. Worst of all, I can give my negative vibe onto my kiddos.

My bag of little tricks to boost my own and my family’s positive spirit is pretty jam packed. I think I need to use it even more, ay?

Well, this particular trick is a family one, because our family needs to calm the fuck down and be postive every night – we can be such a bunch of whingers otherwise.

What is it we do?

It is pretty simple and something everyone can do every day. We eat dinner together every night and while eating we take turns in telling the other which three things that made us happy during the day. Simple.

Does it really work?

Yes! Focusing on some positive things that we experienced during the day help us to:

1. Start good conversations about the day around the table.

3. Give everyone a chance to get a word in and be heard.

2. Focus on the positives and go to bed with that in mind – or at least we can remind us self that life isn’t that bad afterall.

It might sound basic, but, as you know, back to basic is the new black. Some days it is really easy. Some days it can actually be pretty hard. On all days it is a good idea.

Here are some examples from our dinner table:

Today it made me happy (kids edition)…

…to play with my friends.

…to eat pizza here with you right now.

…to play in the sandpit.

…that I love my whole family.

…to get lollies.

…to swim in the pool.

…to play games together.

And the adult edition…

to paint the bathroom.

…to have a nap.

…to see Lulu take her first steps.

…when you girls played nicely together.

…to finish my assignment.

…to hear back from that job.

…to get the shopping done.

And one that very often goes again around the table:

Right now, eating dinner together.

As you can see, it does not have to be huge magnificent things. It can be, but it can also be tiny little things that made your day better in some way or another.

Have a go yourselves tonight and let me know how you go. Also, be a bit patient. It somehow gets better over time. At least that is my experience.

What has made you happy today?

❤️

Sunday Blues and My Empathy Super Heroes

I have been a bit down this weekend. Especially today I basically just wanted to go back to bed. I have had no energy and everything has been a struggle. It might sound relatively normal for a mum with a teething baby, but for me it is an alarm bell I have to take seriously. If not, things can get a lot worse – I am planning on writing more about my mental health, but it takes time and curage, so for now I’ll just tell you my little Sunday story. It’s actually a feel good one, if you stay ’til the end 🙂

Mummy is just gonna paint a wall

Luckily Josh caught me before I really fell – he took the girls and sent me to bed in the airconditioned bedroom. A nap and a cool down (it’s bloody hot here atm.) gave me enough energy to go and paint the bathroom. As you do, right? Maybe not your average stress-down activity, but when I struggle in my mind it helps me to focus on a specific hands-on task. This bathroom has been a running project for weeks now. Stressful in itself.

I sweated and painted for four hours.

Meanwhile I could hear the girls play together in the garden. Play. Not fight.

Then, at one point I could hear screaming from the living room. Billie fell down the stairs and bled from her lip. Apparently Abby “accidentally” pushed her. Well, I went out to save, what I thought was, the sinking ship. While I gave Billie a cuddle, Abby came over and said sorry, gave her a kiss and they shook hands (that’s Billie’s thing these days) and hugged each other. Then all was good and they went outside to play happily together again.

Wait, what just happened?

A little later Abby came and slit a drawing under the bathroom door. She made it to make me feel better. You see, when I don’t feel good we let the girls know that mummy is tired or maybe even a bit sad. Then they accept that I need a break and they, somehow, get extra loving and caring towards me – but also towards each other. It’s like some kind of “family above all”- thing is happening.

My Emphatic Super Heroes

While I was wrapping up my painting I could hear the girls talking to Josh:

“Mummy has painted a lot today. I think she’s trying to make us proud of her. I am proud of her, but she doesn’t need to paint so much. I am always proud of her”

Oh, my heart!

I am so proud of them. They often drive me nuts, but their intuition of when they need to step up is (almost always) spot on. It becomes so obvious that they do have loads of empathy hiding underneath their cheeky, rascal surfaces.

The Flower Dilemma

Actually Abby is in quite a dilemma due to her emphatic nature. It can be hard to have loads of empathy and be an aspiring scientist at the same time, I tell ya.

So, Abby wants to find out if flowers have feelings (don’t ask). Josh set an experiement idea up for her: get two similar flowers. Plant them in similar pots, place them next to each other and give them exactly the same amount of water. Then, one flower you keep telling how much you love and the other you keep telling how much you hate. Then, if flowers do have feelings, the loved one will flourish and the hated one will die. Logic.

Abby gets the idea and really wants to try the experiment. However, she is very worried about doing the experiement in case flowers actually DO have feelings – because she doesn’t want to make any flowers sad. Oh dear.

Mummy, are you okay?

At dinner Billie said to me: “now mummy, you don’t have to paint anymore” and gave me a kiss and a cuddle. I think it was her way of saying “mummy, are you okay? I hope you are feeling better.

And I do feel better. Exhausted, but better. Fingers crossed for a good nights sleep. Ready for the Monday rush in the morning.

Oh, and I actually do have to paint some more. The little sucker of a bathroom needs another coat. Exciting when that’s going to happen.

❤️

Helicopter Parents In The Making

We felt like naughty, little school kids getting sent to the office, but we did it. We went to the principal’s office to have a chat to her about Abby’s class situation as we will like her to change classes. We have been talking about doing it for a while – basically since Abby started school. Yet, we doubted it a lot during the past weeks. Were we over-concerned? Or over-controlling? Should we just let it go?

Having children is such a constant learning process. As soon as you have adapted to their current development stage they change and their circumstances change as well.

We have never had a school child before and we know that she will have to learn to act withing the immediate school setting she gets put in – she can’t just change teachers or class mates whenever she (or we) feels like it.

However, this is only prep and getting a good start to her school life is so important, so we decided to follow our gut feelings and take action. And I am glad we did.

We Have Tried it Before

Last year, when we just moved to Brisbane, we put Abby and Billie into a preschool which they absolutely hated – not from the word go, but after a short while. It was horrible. Still, we could have said “it will probably get better soon”. We considered doing so. Thinking we were overreacting and that it’s normal that kids are sad when starting a new place.

But it just felt wrong and we had to trust our gut feelings. We moved them to another preschool and it was the best thing we have done for them. The new preschool – the one where Billie is in now – is amazing and the girls immediately blossomed there.

Abby hasn’t been miserable in her current class. She’s doing okay, but she’s not loving it either. Especially socially. She hasn’t really connected with the other children yet – and to be honest, I think there’s already a bit of a toxic environment going on there. A couple of, apparently popular, girls already teaming up ignoring the other girls when they feel like it. Girls! Seriously, they are five years old!

In the other class Abby has a couple of friends already and the girls seem pretty chilled – as well as the teacher.

The chemistry between us and her current teacher could be better. Her way of teaching is quite conservative and old fashioned and I hope the other teacher will suit us and Abby better. You see, to really florish Abby needs to be set free a bit. She is so true to authorities that it almost becomes a hindrance, if you ask me. She will do anything to please the teacher, so if the teacher is very strickt, Abby won’t try to think “out of the box” or follow her own creativity – she will just sit straight up and down (with her hands on her knees, because that’s “the rule”) and “always do as the teacher asks – also when the other kids are being little chatter boxes”.

That ability probably will be a general advantage in this rather conservative australian school system, but if we can push her a bit in the other direction we will. Afterall, I did write a post only this week about how being scared of making mistakes has always been a huge disadvange for me and still is to this very day.

So, Will She Move or Stay?

Anyway, the final decision whether to move her or not will be taken next Friday, when we go there for a follow-up meeting.

The principal took us very serious and her and the two prep teacher will observe Abby during next week and then make a decision based on their findings – together with our informations about Abby’s behaviour before and after school (she has complained about stomach pains a couple of mornings).

No matter what, just the fact that we acted on our concerns feels good. And even if she stays in her current class I hope that her teacher, now being aware of our concerns, will be encouraged to integrate the kids better socially.

School should be fun when you’re only five years old❤️

Missing Mis

Our cat is missing. Our eldest cat, that is. We have two of them. Her name is Mis, Danish for cat, because that’s how creative we are.

We got her when Abby was one year old, and she really is part of our family now.

She’s a bit of a weirdo in the cat world. She goes into other people’s houses – also the people who definitely doesn’t feed her. The ones who are allergic to cats and find it a tiny bit annoying that this random cat always tries to sneak in their door. Mis is very curious and trusting, I guess.

Unfortunately, she gets herself into Mischief(!) in some people’s eyes.

While we were in Denmark over Christmas I got a Facebook message from an animal shelter telling me that they had our cat in custody. At first I thought it was spam, but nope – Mis had taken a Christmas holiday at the shelter.

Our neighbour went to pick her up and got told that someone had found Mis tied to a tree next to Main Street, a couple of blocks from our house. Luckily they reacted and brought her to the shelter. Tied to a tree! Who would do that? Why? I mean, even if you don’t like cats that’s a pretty fucked up thing to do. Also, this cat would most definitely put up a serious fight. No-one ties her to a tree without feeling her “love” and sharp claws, that’s for sure.

Now, we have checked all trees in the neighbourhood and she’s not currently tied to any of them.

To do something, we have been out putting flyers in people’s letter boxes and hanging posters on poles.

Last night a lady actually texted us, saying she saw our cat in her yard on Sunday afternoon – I’m surprised anyone even remembers exactly which cat was in a garden at a given time. Anyways, that means she was seen two days after she went MIA from our house. Good. Hopefully she’s just gone walkabout and will return soon. She has done that before.

Fingers crossed. Abby and Billie will be devestated if she doesn’t come back. So will Josh and I – and when(!) she comes back, Josh is ordering GPS-trackers for her and Max, our other cat. No escaping then – Big Brother will be watching, kittens!

❤️

We’ve Got a School Child

Abby started school today. Real school. Big school, as she calls it. Wow!…I thought I was cool about it. I wasn’t. Not at all. I freakin’ cried when I left the classroom. What?! Obviously it was partly due to the fact that my first born all of a sudden has grown up and starts school – and that I lay awake half the night reminiscing all of our fun times together at home and out and about the past 5.5 years (somehow all the tantrums and conflicts had already faded).

However, it knocked me over that it wasn’t what I had expected. I had prepared for one thing in my mind and I wasn’t ready for this. I wasn’t ready for the chaos. It seemed extemely chaotic in the room and, more importantly, I wasn’t prepared for not knowing anybody.

Before Christmas Abby went to prep orientation on two different days. Days where she spent two hours in the prep-room with other future prep-kids while us parents (read.mums) were hanging out together in the yard. It was actually really nice. After those two days I had a great feeling in my stomach and in my heart – this was going to be good. Good for Abby and good for me. You see, Abby connected with some really nice kids, who she already started calling her friends – kids who had mums who I also connected with. Say what?!! Ever since Abby was a baby everyone has been saying “just wait ’til she starts school, that’s when you’re going to get a great network of friends amongst the other parents”. Yeah, I have always been a bit sceptical about this, since finding new friends amongst my kids’ friends’ parents have been a bit up hill so far. However, during those orientation days I actually felt like it was going to happen. It didn’t feel awkward, it just felt pretty nice and natural to hang out with these other mums. That, my friends, means a lot to someone who gets minor anxiety everytime I have to get near anything parent-related.

So, back to today. Abby started prep and in amongst all the chaos there were no familiar faces. No kids or adults we knew. All the kids who she connected with during orientation have gone into the other class. Auch!

She somehow felt the same as me, I’m sure. She started crying and didn’t want to let go of me. I hadn’t expected her to react like that at all, but I cannot blame her. She expected to walk into a room of familiar faces and there were none. Thankfully, a teachers aid who she had met during orientation came and helped her settle. And at least I didn’t cry until we had left the room. Geez. I used to be so tuff.

But hey, I know she’ll be fine. I know she’ll make friends in her class in no time. But I still think it sucks that she’s not in the class with the kids with the mums that I like – buhuuu! (I know, I know…there probably are some really nice parents amongst this new group as well, it was just so calming to know that I had already crossed the awkward “hi, so…yeah, I’m Abby’s mum – which kid is yours? Where abouts do you live”-part).

Phew! Okay, now that it’s out of my system (thanks for listening), I’ll try to enjoy the first day in a loooong time with only one child around. And I cannot wait to pick up my Abby in 4 hours – I’m sure she’ll be all smiles – and so will I❤️

WOW, WE INVITED STRANGERS INTO OUR HOME

We took a chance. And we are so very happy that we did.

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The steepest train in the world. Photo credit: littlehugelove.dk

This past week we have had a Danish family of four – Mom Jeanette, Dad Jonas, Marvin 5 years, and little baby Dexter 8 months – living with us. We had never met them before they arrived here – at least not in real life – so it was a bit of a gamble if having them here would be a success or a complete disaster.

Jeanette runs the Danish blog Little Huge Love and we have found each other on Instagram some months ago in connection with her planning her family’s trip to Australia and me being a Dane already living here. In August they moved to Canberra for three months in connection with Jonas’ job and are now doing a bit of a Down Under round trip. Their first stop was: Our house in Wollongong.

To be honest I was a little bit worried about how this would all turn out. I mean, what if we had nothing to talk about? What if the kids couldn’t connect? What if it got too intense for us to have strangers living in our home? What if? What if? What if?

I love being social but I also need my own space. And I can actually quite easily get mentally overwhelmed if I have to be around people I don’t feel 100% comfortable with. It drains me to be ‘ON’ – especially when I’m tired and pregnant. So, to say ‘yes’ to a whole family of strangers to live with us for a week was quite daunting for me.

But I did it. And I have no regrets. Neither has Josh. And the girls have had the best time.

Children are so damn cool.

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Kiama Blow Hole

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The Blue Mountains, Scenic World. Photo credit: littlehugelove.dk

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Making a castle. Photo credit: littlehugelove.dk

The kids have played extremely well together. There has literally been less than five conflicts between them all week. Even the language barrier, that I was actually a bit worried about beforehand, was no real issue. Abby, of course, understood everything Marvin said, since she understands Danish perfectly. The problem with her and other Danish children normally is that she doesn’t speak the language fluently. She answers them in Australian and that can create some major communication problems and even frustrations and conflicts.

But the fact that Marvin has lived three months in Canberra, where he got used to the Australian language and even learned some words and phrases, helped a lot. He actually understood most of what Abby said and I also think he enjoyed that she understood everything he said, since the children he played with in Canberra most likely didn’t.

They quickly found each other and not only did Marvin learn some more Australian, Abby’s Danish language has also developed tremendously this past week just by hanging out with her new friend. Even Billie has started to say some words in Danish now. I love it. I hope we can maintain and maybe even expand the Danish vocabulary they have build up. At least I now know that they have the ability to speak Danish build into their growing, little brains and it’s not hiding too deep inside. Hurra!

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Beach Time in Wollongong

 

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Little photographer apprentice in Kiama

Friendships truly were formed in our home during this past week. Hey, today I spent half an hour comforting Abby and Billie because they ‘already miss their friends!’

Actually, I got a little bit emotional too. I thought I would be relieved to have our home to ourselves again, but I didn’t really feel that. Instead I felt a bit numb.

Of course, it’s always a bit sad to say goodbye to friends leaving, even if they are new friends, but the fact that they are Danish plays a huge role for me. It felt really, really nice to have someone here that understands where I’m coming from, understands the issues I’m dealing with, and shares the same deeply rooted Danish values. And also, just to be able to speak my own language for a bit. And hear my children speak it too. It all felt very natural and pretty relaxed most of the time, something that isn’t always a given for us down here.

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Chillaxing after the girls’ birthday party

Hey, it was also quite practical to have some extra persons living here! When we were preparing the girls’ birthday party on Saturday they helped out heaps(!) Had it not been for Jeanette there would probably have been no homemade caramel slices, strawberry tarts or chocolate cupcakes to serve, and if it hadn’t been for Jonas our grass would not have been freshly mowed when the guests started arriving.

We owe them a HUGE thanks for the help – and we hope that we have been good hosts and given them a nice start to their wonderful holiday in Australia and Fiji. We did manage to show them around Wollongong a bit and took them on a day-trip up to the Blue Mountains, so there is no doubt that we have had a really nice week ourselves. Lots of good times and lots of good company. We cannot complain.

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A happy little family in The Blue Mountains

We can only encourage others to open their homes to “strangers”. It’s definitely a ‘seeeee ya, later’ to the Mortensen’s and we are already looking forward to welcoming other friends into our home someday soon – old or new.

But for now Josh will enjoy that he doesn’t need to wear clothes(!) around the house all the time and lets see if we can manage to get back into a normal daily routine before Christmas. I doubt it.

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Boys get tired too.

Have a happy Monday everyone!