Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day Care vs Mummy

Last night I went to a presentation for the parents of toddlers at our day care centre.They talked about the activities they did with the children and the different stages of development etc. I have to say, I am glad they are doing such a fantastic job with my children (on Fridays) and it looked like all the things they do are a lot of fun. It's nice to know your kids are having a great time while in someone else's care.

I went home and discussed it with my husband, and I felt a twinge of emotion as I admitted to him that I thought the Day Care workers were doing a better job than I actually was. My lovely husband reassured me that I am a great mother, and reminded me of some pertinent facts about the day care workers- that this is a paying job for them, it is from 9-5, and they can go home after and have time out and get a full nights sleep. All valid points, yes, but I still sometimes feel guilty. I feel like I have been eager to be a mother FOREVER, and I assumed I would be a natural the whole job. Now here I am, day after day, wondering- what do I do? Is it my job to entertain them? Or, is it to provide them a safe, entertaining environment? Should I just be playing with them, or encouraging them to play alone? Is it a little bit of everything?And where is the compromise between never-ending housework and errands and never-ending parenting? (And yes, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section, I am not above asking for help!)

Generally each day has a similar routine- each day is broken up by meals, breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, bedtime routine. (I use the word routine loosely- it is not set in stone.) Between meals there is kindy, naptime for baby, errands or outings, playtime at home and all the regular housework and cooking. And let's not forget that it's not unheard of from them to be up some time in the morning starting with a 5, and not unusual for me to threaten to, and follow through with, locking their bedroom door with a 'lock' fashioned out of two old BankWest ties at about 9pm.

Today I decided I was going to try to involve the kids in everything that I needed to do. We had our breakfast and we read for a bit, and played a little. Then I decided to cook our dinner in the morning, so I cut up all the vegetables etc so the kids could join in making our quiche for dinner. Then we made brownies together. There was a minor incident with an egg, as Isabel said "It got out." Translation- the 'egg' got out of the eggshell (after she dropped it on the floor). In the afternoon I tried to recruit Isabel to help me vacuum but she lost interest pretty quick. How is it at 2 she has already clicked certain things are chores and therefore not cool anymore....?

I know that I do want to encourage independence in my children, and taking responsibility, which means allowing them to try things, and do things themselves while I supervise and quietly cringe at the mess involved. I could tidy the playroom myself in less than five minutes but I insist on making them pack away their own toys, even though it takes a lot longer and is actually harder work for me, guiding everyone onto their next step. I do think helping them develop these skills will pay off in the long run.

So, I guess today was a success. My house has been vacuumed, dinner is already taken care of, I have spent time with my kids involving them in my activities and also completed all of our errands. But surely success is more than 'the house is vaguely tidy and my errands got done'. I want to enjoy my kids more, and to have more fun with them.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Moments & the facebook status experiment

A few weeks ago my husband suggested I have a tendency to be negative. I responded that while sometimes I complain too much and can be negative, it is not as bad as he makes it out to be. So we did a little experiment. The "Facebook Status Experiment". He pulled out a notepad and a pen, and started to make a tally of how many of my status updates were positive, or negative.

e.g. Friday. "Whenever I leave the room, baby starts the search for me in the kitchen. Hmm..."
My husband says, "Negative." And marks it off.
"What??? That's just me joking around. You just don't get my awesome sense of humour."

"Public Holiday style big breakfast...Bacon, eggs, fresh fruit, nom nom!"
"Positive." (I should think so!! Mmmm...bacon...)

" experiencing the difficulties associated with being loved too much! My baby follows me EVERYWHERE, i can never distract her for a minute. I guess she has picked up on my awesomeness!"
"What are you talking about!! That isn't negative! I'm just joking around! You so don't understand my awesomeness!"

From there on, I started skipping updates I thought he would unfairly judge as negative. (Cheating...perhaps.) According to his tally the list came out pretty even. So I am trying to be aware of being overly negative. But give me a break, I have three kids under five, and....yeah that's pretty much it.

So here's to sharing some positivity!

Yesterday was Friday. Friday is the day of the week I most look forward to because my two oldest children go to daycare, and I stay home with baby and try to rest, do errands, catch up on housework and have general Caitlin time. Imagine me and baby standing on the driveway waving bye bye to the rest of the family, and as they drive away, me saying to baby,"PARTY TIME!" and squealing and swirling around excitedly.

Then comes time for my sacred Friday ritual.

I plonk baby in her high chair, fire up the stove top, and sing really loud to music by Bon Jovi ("If you were in theeeese ar-rmmmms"), Beyonce, Wolfmother, Glee cast (anything that is fun to sing really loud) while I make chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and baby laughs at my moves. Next I eat my yummy pancakes while watching The Office (and I turn it REALLY loud because nobody will stop me). Then I have a long luxurious shower and wash my hair while baby sits in her high chair in the bathroom with me to keep her happy. As soon as she is ready for a morning nap, I put her down, and then collapse into my own bed which is so lovely and cool and comfy and I spread out like a starfish since I don't have to share with anyone. Sighhhh...I sleep until baby wakes up, and generally save any chores until I think uh oh, kids will be home soon! After such a lovely day, I am then feeling awake and revived, and I am delighted to see them, and I love to play with them and hear all about their day.

I am reminded of a quote by M. Russell Ballard that seems applicable to me.
"Recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction."

I think after having a little break, or some time in there to enjoy my baby one on one, as she crawls all over me, laughing and trying to suck on my face, I can be aware of those moments. It's times like these when I am cuddling my baby girl and I know she loves me so very much that I realize I am having one of those moments.

And who can resist that face?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Britney's back! See the resemblance?

So as anyone who has seen my fb page knows, yesterday my 4 year old son cut off all of my daughter's long hair. This was during "nap time". I don't usually put them down for naps anymore, I gave up nearly a year ago, but we had had a really hectic morning out and about and they had been whingeing and crying and saying they were tired, so I did. While they were quiet, I thought, Oh, maybe they are asleep now (it WAS nap time, wasn't it??). However. Then I was greeted at my bedroom door with Isabel, or should I say the boy version of Isabel. I was completely gobsmacked. I'm pretty sure what I saw then looked a lot like those Britney shaving her head photos.

Of course this is not the first time Isabel has displayed "Britney-esque" traits- a few months back my brother and sister in law nicknamed her Britney after she kept forgetting to wear knickers. I think this is different though.

Today I took her to the hairdresser to get it 'fixed', or neatened up at least. I wasn't expecting much, I knew it would be very short. The hairdresser was also kind of abrupt with me and gave me dirty looks that I interpreted as possibly meaning "You irresponsible neglectful parent". In the past that would have really bothered me but now I am confident enough in my abilities to not care so much about what other people think.

Now I have a pretty girl who might very easily be confused for a boy. Lots of headbands, clips, skirts and pink I think! Although I will say she is pulling off the pixie crop look much better than I ever could.

Jack was very apologetic, he said "Mummy I promise I will never do that again." (Ya think??) He also asked me if I was still upset, and proceeded to sing me a song to make me feel better. Who could be mad at that? Despite the likelihood of being judged by strangers, the hats I will now be buying and the pile of hair I found in a drawer, I think my kids are awesome. Spirited. Even right now, I can't help but be amused as Jack tells Isabel, "You've got boy hair. Isabel, you've got boy hair."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lynx Stynx!!

Here is one example. Lynx deodorant (aka Axe in the US) perpetuates the idea that a woman's worth is completely based on her sex appeal (yeah I know, that's no different from a lot of advertising) and that a woman's function is purely to satisfy men's sexual cravings. This is an idea that is used a lot in advertising, but I think here it clearly crosses the line. Check out their air stewardesses ad here, one of their shower gel ads here, the 'girls look hot wet' one here. There are HEAPS of these, I have just selected a few.

Not to mention their website. Ugh. As you enter the site, you select your own girl in a bikini, possibly covered in mud, or possibly even two together. If you think this is objectifying women, it goes a step further. The girls have no heads. All that we see of these girls are their torsos. They have been broken down only to particular body parts- sexual ones, reinforcing that the most important features a woman can possess are her breasts, her butt, you get the idea.

Now a new development, recently Lynx has made a getaway accommodation just for men called the Lynx Lodge, basically a brothel where guys can go be serviced by sexy women.

You get the point that I am not a fan of Lynx.

So here is where it gets tricky. Lynx is owned by the company Unilever. They have many other brands, including Dove (remember the campaign for real beauty? Hypocritical much?), Continental (as in soup), OMO, Surf, Flora, Sunsilk,and many more.

If I want to stop giving my money to a company that is getting rich from sexist and degrading attitudes towards women, then I don't buy any of their products.

HOWEVER... A few weeks ago I was doing the grocery shopping, and having decided not to buy Lynx deodorant anymore, I looked around for what I could buy for my husband. Rexona is also a unilever product, so that was out. (As well as Dove and Impulse, but I wasn't considering them for my husband.) Brut is also out (read Melinda Tankard Reist's article about Brut here). What about Mitchum? Check out this interesting website. Cross Mitchum off the list.

So here is a list of deodorants I have on my boycott list: Lynx, Rexona, Dove, Impulse, Brut, Mitchum. And this is JUST deodorant.

Now what the hell is left!?

Do I be stubborn, and refuse to fund messages I strongly disagree with? Do I forget about boycotting all together? Do I write letters to the companies in question? Or do I make a compromise?

I don't have all the answers yet, I am leaning towards a combination of all of the above. I will note buy Lynx, because Lynx in particular disgusts me. I intend to write to Unilever about this. But I also think I may have to make some kind of compromise so I don't make my life ridiculously hard...but I haven't figured out how I can do that yet. In the mean time, wish me luck doing my weekly grocery shop as I stand in front of the deodorant section for about ten minutes.

Battle of the boycott!

Hello there!

Sorry, it's been awhile. It's been one of those months with little sleep. However, my baby does have three teeth now, so, worth it? I'm sure you have all been frantically checking for new posts and getting very disappointed...all three of you followers, haha.

Well, writing this blog is kind of therapeutic for me, so never mind. Here's something that has been on my mind this week.

There are some things that I feel very strongly about, I suppose they would fall under the category of 'Women's issues'. Anyone who has seen my facebook page or even read this blog before is probably well aware of that. One of the biggest issues for me has been described as the 'pornification' of our culture. I think the word pornification is pretty self explanatory, but to explain it further I would say it is about the mainstreaming of pornography, or porn culture, or perpetuating an ideology where women are purely objects to be used by men. That is a basic definition of what I'm referring to, and if I go any more into it right now I will start getting really angry and typing really fast while clenching my jaw...whew.

I believe that I can make a difference to this problem, as we all can. Maybe just a small difference, but at least stir up some change. I can do this (and have several times) by speaking out where appropriate, writing letters to those who promote these ideals or those who are responsible for regulating particular industries, and boycotting certain companies and refusing to buy their products.

No, I don't believe that a huge corporation will be severely stung by my withholding my money. I do believe that maybe if many people do the same thing, or the companies are concerned that others will do the same, they may be pressured to reassess their advertising strategy (or whatever is the problem). I know many companies make products supposedly to meet customer demand, therefore if I don't purchase products made by sleazy companies, I am not proving them right. They can't turn around and say, See? Our product is selling really well, so obviously there is a demand for it, or obviously nobody is offended by our style of advertising.

More than these small things, this is a matter of integrity for me. I feel uneasy about giving my money to corporations who glamourise or promote ideas that are just wrong. Think about it, if I buy products from one of those companies, I am directly helping them grow and prosper. This does not sit well with me.

I might have to give some examples of dodgy companies/promotions, but I think that will make this post way too long so maybe next time...

So here is where things become blurry for me. Do I boycott everything that I deem to be offensive? How much trouble should I go to to boycott these products? Can or should I be more sensible while still being able to be comfortable with myself?

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