Baby, Behaviors, Dad, Mums, School Kids, Sleep, toddlers

How much sleep should they be getting?

At some stage, as parents we wonder whether our kids get enough of, or too much of sleep.  Sleeping is so important for growing, development and keeps kids moods regulated.  And for us parents gives us a chance to recover, rest or get other bits and pieces done.

There is no standard or normal when it comes to babies and children.  They are all unique and some more energetic than others, so its best that you play it by ear and work with them to create a  natural routine.

Etienne (2) is a morning person, he’s up at 7am, naps approx 1.5 hours during the day and is usually down by 930pm.  Chance (3), however, is a bit of a night owl.  We are in school holidays at the moment so he is up at 1030ish, sometimes doesn’t nap and goes down at 11pm on average — when we are unlucky he stays up till 2am…  On school term though, this all changes.

Anyway, for those of you who are wondering how much their kids should be sleeping, check out this guide I found below.  And remember that they will usually sleep more during growth spurts, after new experiences and when they are unwell.

 

sleep chart

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Dad, Development, Mums, Playtime, School Kids, toddlers, Uncategorized

School Holidays!

swing

Wow school holidays hit us like a slap in the face this time round.  Where did the time go?  As busy parents, Dave and I only caught on that holidays were coming up on the Wednesday before.

3 whole weeks of both kids at home – at a time where we actually don’t have a car available to us! What a nightmare!  We are one week in and…I haven’t had a moment for blogs or recording or work till now.

And boys are like puppy dogs, they have so much energy you have to take them out for runs, plays and activities.  If I keep my boys in the house too long, they literally start to destroy it.

Anyways having surrendered to the fact that I’m not going to be as productive these next few weeks, I’ve been trying to come up with activities to do with them in the house and locally.  Here’s a few things I have on the program.

Walks to the park

If the sun is out and it’s not raining, it’s a goer! I thought I would have a problem getting them to leave but after a good play they are more than happy for a drink of water and home time.

Cooking

Chance adores cooking.  This week we made banana and choc oat muffiny cookie things (I was improvising).  We also make pizza using wraps and tortillas with tomato and cheese.  They are so quick and easy.  Next week we’ll do cup cakes and pancakes.

Lego

Everybody loves Lego, till they step on one!  Building things with Lego is so good for their development and creativity.  We always opt to buy the genuine Lego brand though as they are built to last and wont crack into sharp bits.

Dancing

We have lots of Wiggles and ABC kids DVDs in reserve and the kids absolutely love dancing.  Plus it burns lots of their seemingly unlimited energy (ours too).  All in fun and exercise.

Art

My kids are big fans of Mister Maker so they love drawing and making things with cardboard, paper, clay, straws – just about anything.  Try to collect bits and pieces they can use for crafts: jars, boxes, toilet rolls, tins, lids buttond etc it is also a nice way to recycle.

So there is a good start.  I’d love to hear what other parents are doing on school holidays to keep their kids entertained.  Please comment below.  Remember that days of them dying for your love and attention are numbered so make use of the time while you can. One day you might be the one chasing after their attention 😉

Dad, Mums, School, School Kids, Uncategorized

Just show up

Today my son Chance had his half year assembly and presentation day. It was his and my first.

His class of 3 year olds came out and sang and recited a poem for a big audience of parents and friends.  My son being my son of course, came out and went straight for the microphone and hogged it for the whole performance!  I had to go up on stage to hold him back from taking the mic over from the other kids.  It was hilarious.  But the best part of it was when he looked out to the audience and saw me there. His face lit up and he shouted “Mum!’ and my heart was full.

It was optional but I attended.  And I attended because I remember what it was like to be a kid and not have anyone show up to watch.  My family couldn’t always make it due to work, lack of transport and other commitments and sometimes they did, but they were late.  Even though it wasn’t them being intentionally nasty, as a kid, sometimes it felt very disappointing and even embarrassing.

So today I showed up for my kid. On time.  And I was proud and happy for him and for all the other parents that I saw there showing up for their kids.  I think that it is so important for them to know that there is someone there rooting for them, always, no matter how young or old or popular they are.  It’s such a great confidence booster and builds so much trust.

So if you can make it. Show up. It might be boring. You might hate it. It might be an effort.  It may be out of your way. Show up. And be early.  And clap and be proud and excited for them.  They’ll remember it for a long time.

Today my son showed me all of his work that was displayed on the walls at school, including the below drawing of the kitchen?  He’s a creative one 🙂

chance draw kitchen

Behaviors, Dad, Development, discipline, Mums, Playtime, toddlers, Uncategorized

Kids will be kids

boys play

I have 2 of them.  Active little monkeys.  3 year old Chance and 2 year old Etienne.  I actually don’t know where all of their energy comes from.  Always touching, climbing, jumping off or destroying something!  Sometimes I think they are on a mission to kill themselves.  As parents of small children we barely have any energy left for ourselves at the end of the day, when we take our boys out,  David and I get asked how do we keep up with them?  Truth is we are pretty relaxed with our boys, often we let them figure it out for themselves.  I mean that in a non-neglectful way of course.  We give our boys the freedom to run, jump, dance, throw, wrestle, climb as they please.  The rule is if its not gonna hurt them or put them in direct danger or destroy someones property, let them do it.

Children are meant to be seen AND heard.  Every action and sound that they make in these first few years helps them to develop and learn.  They are supposed to know how to climb — if you don’t let them they won’t learn.  They are supposed to touch and feel objects to learn about textures and for mobility.  The more they use their hands the better they get at it.  They need to jump off things to practise landing on their feet.  They need to fall to be able to learn to brace and pick themselves up.  And sometimes they need to feel pain to learn how to cope with it.  They are constantly creating new rules about what they can, can’t, should and shouldn’t do.

If you are constantly hushing your child every time he or she opens their mouth, your child may struggle with vocalising opinions and standing up for themselves in the future.  If you don’t allow them to make mistakes they will assume that life is easy and naive.  If you don’t let them take small risks now they will not learn to assess risk at a later stage.  If you give them everything, they will expect it from everyone else.  If you shelter them away from disappointment, rejection, loss and fear, they will struggle to create strong coping mechanisms.

So let them live.  Let them play in the dirt, let them get dirty, let them hang from a tree, jump off the ledge.  Just be there.  Be there to make sure they are ok and safe, then be there to pick up the pieces.

Don’t worry too much about mess till the end of the day.  Create a fun, safe and active environment for them at home.  We like to cook, draw, play chasy, soccer, wrestle and dance with our kids.  The whole family gets involved, even grandma! We take them to the mall, the park and the beach often because they need to get out.  And when they are well exercised, they sleep better at night. And so do you 🙂

I’d love to hear about how other parents deal with active kids, so please feel free to leave a comment below.

 

 

Baby, Birth Story, Mums, Pregnancy, Premature, Uncategorized

Etienne : My little miracle

 

It has taken me more than 2 years to write this post.  I guess it’s because it was such a crazy time of my life, but before I write anything about what I experience with him on this blog, I’d like to introduce my youngest son Etienne.

After a traumatic experience giving birth to my son Chance (you can read about it here: https://creativemamaau.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/my-birth-story/ ) I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through the whole process again.  Especially not any time soon.  But fate had decided that Chance would have a little brother. Just under a year after Chance was born I fell pregnant.

I have to say being pregnant the second time was easier, just because you knew what to expect and you aren’t freaking out at every body change, movement, cramp etc..  I was much more lax about it.  Being pregnant and having a 1 year old proved to be a challenge however.  My first child is and has always been active.  He also is very affectionate and likes to climb all over me.  Once I started to get bigger, I struggled to keep up with him and hold him in my arms.  I continued to work normal hours (I’m a singer and vocal coach) and had this amazing plan that I would take all the work I could get till the end of March then I would take time off in April – when bubba was due.  It was a great self organised maternity leave plan I had for myself.

roxy-pregs-e.jpg
1 week before give birth

Etienne came on the 22 February 2015.  A whole 8 weeks premature.  Right in the middle of my busiest work month.  The night before, I had contractions, which I brushed off as the ‘fake’ ones cause it was way too early.  But they intensified and at 5am I asked David to take me to the hospital.  Yep my baby was coming.  He was ready to be out it one easy go.  It would have been a real short labour, had we not had to prolong it.  You see, when a baby is born 8 weeks early, the lungs have not yet fully developed and so there was a massive risk that he would not be able to breathe on his own.  To help move his development along, I was given steroids and told I would need to wait 12 hours for them to enter bubba’s blood stream.  This would give him a boost and give the lungs a chance to further develop.  I also was given something to try to stop my labour.  12 fucking hours of him wanting to come out and and me and the doctors holding him in.  No pain relief drugs.  My uterus hurts just thinking about it.

 

My mum flew to from Melbourne to Sydney to join me at the hospital.  By now we were about 9 hours in and David’s eyes were falling out of his head from fatigue.  I sent him home and called my best friend Veena.  She was the angel that dropped whatever she was doing to help me through the last few hours and hardest contractions.  Each time they came I buried my head on her shoulder and squeezed her hands – I was sure I would break them.  At the 13th hour, I finally got my epidural.  Gosh, as soon as the pain was gone, I told the doctor — all good, no rush now, we can just chill.

Because I had had a c-section with Chance, under 2 years before, I was originally recommended to have another c-section with baby number 2.  The pressure of giving birth naturally after a c-section, having not fully repaired, could lead to the scar tearing open again.  But things were progressing quite fast (bar the doctors slowing things down) and Etienne was going to be tiny, so the doctor didn’t think it would be too much of a risk to have him naturally.  I took the natural birth route.   I gave birth to Etienne just after 11pm that evening with mum, David and Veena present.  My Epidural had worn off just in time to feel the push and Etienne was so small he popped out of me relatively easily.

But as soon as he did he was taken away.  The prodded and poked him and stuck wires into him and put him on machines and into a box.  He was born 1.6 kg.  My palm was the size of his whole torso.  My heart sunk when they told me he would have to stay in the hospital for 6 weeks.

 

 

I stayed in the hospital for 10 days and then every 4 hours I needed to return to the hospital nursery to breast feed my baby.  He always fought to stay off the machines. My boy was a fighter. He wanted to breathe on his own and on the 3rd day, they took him off the oxygen machine.  He still had to have a tube into his mouth and nose, which went down to his tummy because he had not yet learnt to suck, so he was fed milk through this tube with a syringe. There was a nurse with him 24 hours a day.  Thank god for those nurses.  It was hard.  I had a one year old who was needy and not allowed to see his brother yet, I had a full schedule of work and my partner and I were exhausted.  To top it off, we were also moving house. FML!

Choosing the natural birth option was the best thing I could have done for myself.  I was literally able to dance the next day.  I did however wait a week before my first gig (straight out of hospital and on stage as diana ross and the supremes lol).  By the 3rd week the intensive care nurses thought I was superwoman (or had lost my mind). Every 4-6 hours into the hospital, breast feeding or express pumping in between gigs and teaching.  I remember feeding, then of to the hair dresser for a massive 60s do and eyelashes, then coming back for 2nd feeding, then off to a “Starlettes gig” and then back to the hospital at midnight for a feed still in my gold sequins maxi dress.  Then the next day I was Tina Turner.  ‘What a glamorous life I had’ they said, But I was delirious 🙂

 

etienne skintoskin
Skin to skin

Pumping milk out of my breasts in between sets wasn’t fun either but I didn’t want to explode whilst on stage (it happens), so it had to be done.  Anyway, my little man was doing well in hospital.  We had a lot of skin to skin time and he slowly learned how to breathe and suck.  I will never forget holding him in the baby ICU and watching the red light flash on the machine that monitored him with his heart rate counter falling rapidly because he was tired and just momentarily forgot to breathe.  It happened twice in my arms.  His heart may have not stopped fully, but mine surely did.

 

 

 

etienne coming home
Holding hands on the way home

It was a hazy 6 weeks and when it was time to leave we moved into our new place. Bringing Etienne home from the hospital felt so awesome, even though he wouldn’t have professional monitoring by nurses 24/7. I was excited to have him home with the rest of the family.  My heart was full when in the car on the way home from hospital, Chance held Etienne’s hand.  It was the perfect start to our new journey with our 2 boys.  Having 2 children under 2 is hard work but I’m glad I had them when I did, because they are close in age and they interact really well with each other now.  Also for us parents, we are still familiar with the development stages when the second one goes through them.

Oh and they are not the same, they are like chalk and cheese with regards to personality.  Etienne is no where near as social as Chance is much more sensitive (he is his father’s child for sure), he is fairer (like he actually might burn in the sun rather than tan) and he has straight hair.  He sure did catch up on his weight too. The little tank is almost the size of his brother now and has been wearing the same size as him for a year.

I wasn’t sure I had enough love in my heart to share between 2 children but the moment I lay my eyes on him, I had found another very special place to hold Etienne forever in my heart.  He is 2 now,  fussy as hell,  loud, sometimes grumpy, but my is he beautiful.  I still can’t believe he’s mine.  He will forever be my little miracle.

I’m still grateful for the nurses at RPA in Sydney, I’ve never seen a team so caring and hardworking.  They literally saved my child’s life and continue to save lives everyday.  My best friend Veena,  I mean, you watched me pop a baby out of my vagina, we homies for life!  I’m so blessed to have you as Etienne’s godmother.  To David, I never told you how fucking awesome you handled both births and pregnancies.  I love watching you parent and become a better dad each day.  To mum, who taught me to be a mum and who left her life to choose us and be a part of our little family.  Thank you for always showing up for me.  And to uncle Scott, whom we could not have coped without through the early months of both our sons.  We can’t wait to have you here with us again soon.

Lastly, thank you for taking the time to read my story.  It has been quite therapeutic to write and remember.  Till the next one (blog post, not baby).  :p

I’ll leave you with some recent photos of my Etienne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby, Behaviors, Dad, Health & Hygiene, Mums, safety, School Kids, toddlers

Safety comes first

Ok so I’ve spent the last 10 months on this tiny island of Mauritius with my family, after spending the last 30 years in Australia.  I think that Sydney is massively over-regulated and do like that there are far more freedoms offered to us here on the island, but one thing I think is a massive issue is that people do not seem to risk assess very well.  It particularly annoys me when it affects the safety and well being of children.

The ridiculous risk taking that I have seen here in the last few months is beyond me. Especially on the road: Carrying full gas bottles or a plastic tub of kerosene on a motorbike, massive rice sacs flopped over a pushbike – riding in traffic, people who choose not to use a blinker, or a seat belt or shoes and a bunch of workers riding unsecured (standing) in the back of an open truck.

I drive Chance to school every morning and pick him up every afternoon.  The amount of parents that let their kids ride in the car without a seat belt or an appropriate car seat is crazy.  It is not law to have to wear a seat belt in the back seat here.  But why the Fuck wouldn’t you?  Why the fuck would you let your child stand on the passenger or back seat of your car whilst driving. I’ve seen this twice this month.  Where are your fucking parenting skills?  How do you not see the risk in this and why don’t you know better?  As parents we have the responsibility to appropriately assess any situation and make sure our kids are safe before anything. But its like some people have the “It won’t happen to me” attitude and that is how they are navigating through life.  Until that unfortunate day that your child flies through the window-screen.  No one wants to see a child injured or worse.  So parents, For Fucks Sake, take extra precautions to ensure their safety, even if the cost is a litte higher.  You can always make more money, but you will never be able to replace a child you’ve lost.

I’m going to list a few points based on the things I’ve seen here in hopes to enlighten some people (maybe education is what is lacking):

On the road 

  • If you have a baby, invest in a baby car-seat or capsule, and keep your kids in there until they can’t fit in it anymore (can be to 3 or 4 years old, and some boosters allow for children up to 8 years old).
  • Put a seatbelt on your children and tighten the strap to fit them properly.
  • Kids should never ride in the front passenger seat.
  • When you can, put your child in the back middle seat.
  • Babies do not belong on motor scooters.
  • Maximum 2 people on a scooter (i’ve see up to 5)
  • Children should not be allowed to pump petrol
  • Check and replace your tires when regularly.

Out and About

  • Don’t let your kid pet a stray dog, cat, human, whatever.
  • Pigeons are gross and carry disease, keep the kids away from them
  • It’s fucking hot here.  Put sunscreen and a hat on them. Yes coloured people still can get skin cancer
  • It’s fucking hot here, keep your kids hydrated (with water).
  • Get them into the habit of washing their hands regularly
  • Hold their hands when you are walking through outdoor areas where there are cars or a crowd of people 

In the Kitchen

  • If it has been left out overnight (without being refrigerated) throw it out
  • The microwave is not a place to store food,neither is the oven. 
  • Baby bottles should be sanitised (using boiled water)
  • If you have a water fountain that dispenses hot water, put a child proof handle on it 

Around the house

  • Wash new clothes before you give them to your kids to wear.
  • Do not leave plugged-in charger cables lying around.
  • Dust your fans regularly.
  • Medecines and cleaning products need to be put away so kids can’t get into them.
  • Don’t let them play on the stairs. 
  • Put a fence around your fucking pool!
  • Rusty items are dangerous.
  • Don’t let little kids touch the hot and cold shower faucets.
  • Don’t leave them unattended in any kind of water.

    This is just a start of a list. There is so much more I could add. Above all, Parents, teach your children how to be safe, play safe, and look after themselves and others.  Teach them how to identify risk. And when you ask them not to do something, explain why. They are sponges to information and will learn quickly how to keep safe if we put in the effort into teaching them. 

    Baby, Mums

    Back on track

     

     

     

    I started this blog awhile ago in hopes of sharing some of my thoughts and opinions on being a new mum and creative parent.  The truth is I’ve been so busy being a mum and a creative the time got away from me and the posts… well I just looked at the last on and gosh…3 years ago!!

    Ok so. I’m sorry for going MIA and I’m really happy to say that I’m back on track with it all.  So how have you been going?

    Chance is 3 now and has a baby brother Etienne who is 2 years old (yes David and I have been busy)  And we’ve made a pretty big change.  We’ve taken our family out of Sydney and moved to the tiny and beautiful island of Mauritius to spend more time with them and pursuing our creative passions.  You see, Sydney became all about working to survive and things got tough for us.  I realised that my inspiration was suffering and that to keep us afloat I would have to work full time and miss out on time raising my boys.

    The hardest decision of my life was to leave my home and friends and family in sydney for the islands.  We’ve been here 8 months now and although sometimes I miss the big city and my friends (mostly my friends), I feel as though we made the right decisions.

    So here we are now, a completely different environment and a completely new life.  I spend my time here gigging, writing music, online (skype) teaching and managine artists.  And recently I’m back on the blogging. The Boys are doing great.  They love the sun and the sea and get lots of attention here.

    In another post I will formally introduce my son Etienne because, well let’s just say he needs a full blog for his special self.  We’ve been through so many challengers and wins over the last few years and I can’t wait to share some experiences with you.  I’m trying to work out where to start actually, so I will ask the question to the readers out there:  What would you like to know?

    Leave me a comment 🙂

    Here we are (]left to right) Chance, Etienne, My tribe and our new island home.

     

    Beauty, Mums, New Mums

    MILF : Mama Is Looking Fiine!!

     

    yonceand bub

    You know they say that having a baby is quite expensive, as all of a sudden you have all these ‘extras’ to buy.  And with a whole bunch of money going out the window (not to mention time), we tend to cut down to the basic necessities.   But how far is too far cut??  

     

    Let’s put it into the context of grooming.  I’m a performer and that means I get up on stage and am regularly in the lime light, And therefore, am expected to uphold a certain “appearance”. Sooo… I use to wax, laser, pluck, tweezer, polish, buff, extend, colour, conceal, bronze, line, trim, shave, in-fill, curl, straighten, cut, file, paint and peel (obviously at different times an on various parts of my body.)  I spent a lot of money doing so.  Boy is “lady grooming” expensive.  Women spend an easy $400 cutting, colouring, treating, extending and styling their hair.  A set of eyelash extensions can set you back $150 and mani/pedi’s average $60 these days.  Laser hair removal all the way up to $300 a go…and the list goes on…

     

    Back then it was important. Important and necessary.  But now,  I’m surrounded by new mums who haven’t taken a razor to their legs in months, while I embrace the “Jungle Bitch” in me, as I wake up each morning with hair looking like something from The Lion King Musical.  Oh how the times have changed!  The 4 hour long spa treatments are but a memory,  the “day heels” replaced by trainers and the “re-gross” – I’m almost ashamed of.  Thank god for the balayage hair trend.  

     

    I’m not a complete feral though.  I cleanse, tone and moisturise and my make up kit consists of Mineral powder, Eyeliner and Lipstick and the occasional false eyelashes.  And I even try to fit in a hair cut every couple of months.

     

    So we pop a baby and all of a sudden, things become less important, and I think our perception of beauty changes.  I used to want to be a skinny (maybe even gaunt), smaller boobed, longer legged, Sex and the City high-heeled wearing fashionista.  And now when I see that I feel like I have to “hand that bitch a sandwich”.

     

    In my head, strong is the new skinny, fit is the new healthy and toned is the new sexy.  I want to be able to run around the park with my kid for 4 hours straight without getting tired.  I want to pick up that pram over my head with one toned arm, and no effort.  I want the body of a hip hop dancer and the sun kissed skin of a coconut princess.

     

    And what does he want?  Well fortunately for me, My baby “Daddy” wants the same thing for me.  I cringe about my stretch marks and he recognises them as my “battle scars” and the first home of our baby.  I don’t brush my hair in a week and he develops some kind of Jungle fever.  I wear high heels during the day and he laughs at my silliness.

     

    Daddy has seen me give birth. Daddy saw me struggle for 12 hours, contractions, a csection, not being able to walk, emotional rollercoasters, and physical pain beyond his understanding.  And survive.  And THAT is hella sexy to him.  But he is, after all, a man.  And men are visual creatures who appreciate beauty in many ways.  So before you throw away that hair brush and stroll on down to kmart for a tracksuit pant shopping spree, consider this — he already thinks your sexy on the inside.  So why not give him a bonus and be the sexy MILF that knocks off his socks.  He does deserve it after sharing in all the nappy changes and sleepless nights and being by your side when you need him.  And along the way you will start feeling better about yourself. And the “sexy time” moments that some new mothers have complained about not having, will happen more often.  

     

    Encouraging a healthy and fit lifestyle and embracing the right kind of beauty is a great way and to set a great example for our mini mes.  And all the extra money saved from less “lady grooming” can be spent on getting active, and family or just knowing that you can have a day off without stressing about the bills.

    In conclusion, start your sexy from the inside out, shake those child-bearing hips and rock those new Nikes and don’t be afraid to be that confident mama who knows that happy is the new “Fiine”.