Thursday, 28 July 2016

Saying No to Mommy Guilt

Part of the basic anatomy of being a mother is wanting what is best for our children. However, as parents, sometimes that comes with doubt as to what actually is best for our children and for our families as a whole. With every decision comes positives and negatives, and with the negatives comes the mommy guilt that so many of us are guilty of inflicting on ourselves. I know I am guilty of it. (Disclaimer: while I refer specifically to mommy guilt, I am certain that much of this applies to daddies too.)

The mom who chooses to stay at home with her family may be filled with guilt about sitting at home all day, not contributing to the household income. She may spend her free time feeling guilty about having free time to do things on weekdays and wonder about whether she would have been able to provide more for her family if she had been a working mother. She may feel guilty about wasting any special talents that she may have which could benefit society at large by only seeing to her family's needs. She may feel guilty when she cleans the house instead of actively playing with the kids and she may feel guilty when the house does not look like something out of a magazine because surely as a stay-at-home mom she has all the time in the world to get it looking that way.

The working mother may feel guilty about not spending enough time with her children or about missing daytime sporting events. She may feel especially guilty if her family can get by without a second income but she chooses to work despite this, whether to provide for a better quality of life, for personal fulfillment or to make a contribution to society at large. Even the work at home mom might feel guilty about not giving her children her undivided attention while seeing to her work, or not giving her undivided attention to her work while tending to her children.

Even everyday decisions about what we allow our children to do may lead to feelings of guilt. Putting a firm stop on all sweets may lead one to feeling guilty about depriving them of fun and enjoyment while giving in will no doubt lead to guilt about enabling unhealthy food habits and possible health issues later on. You may feel guilty about sending them to play at grandma's house so you can sleep in a bit longer and just as guilty if you didn't, as you deprived grandma of the chance to play with them when you know she was looking forward to doing so.

Chances are, that as a parent, you will feel guilty sometimes about shouting your children too much or losing your temper when you shouldn't have. However, let's face it, children know how to press all the right buttons and it would take a saint to never get angry with her children. While we can all work on trying to control shouting matches before they set in, meltdowns (both of the child and the adult variant) are inevitable. The list is endless.
Personally, I often feel guilty about all these things, amongst many others (and I have not even started on the guilt that comes with being an imperfect spouse.) Today I am making a conscious decision to rid myself of mommy guilt, in the knowledge that whatever I chose to do today, it is what I feel will best benefit my family in the long run. I am making the decision to be firm against indecisiveness and doubt and to stick to my guns. I am making the decision to strive towards perfection but to accept and embrace the inevitable imperfection. I hope that some day, my children will come to understand the decisions that I have made and respect them as I have come to respect the many sacrifices that my mother made for us. 

Do you suffer from mommy guilt? Have you managed to overcome it? Or do you choose to embrace it? Please share your story.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

A Date with My Daughter

Do you ever spend alone time with just one child or go on a 'date' with your child alone? I have been reading a lot lately about the importance of spending one-on-one time with your children individually, to help them feel valued as individuals and to keep the lines of communication open. 

While I have lots of alone time with my son, who only goes to nursery school a few days a week, it is very seldom that I get to spend alone time with Noodle and I got the feeling that Noodle was craving some one-on-one attention. When Squish was younger, his nap time always used to be our special bonding time but he has dropped his midday nap a few months ago. We decided to declare this Saturday 'Noodle Day'- a day to do what she wanted to do (within reason). The two of us would have a girls morning together, while dad and son got some quality bonding time too.

The top item on her list, surprisingly, was to go for a haircut. She has been asking us to take her to get her hair cut for ages and her hair has grown super long, going all the way down her back so it was probably time for a trim. We went to Chop It, a child-centred hair salon at Lifestyle Centre in Randpark Ridge. It is a child friendly salon set in an 'enchanted forest'. The little ones get to watch a DVD of their choice while they get their hair done and they get treated to a lollypop and a balloon afterwards. It is a great place for younger children who are a bit nervous to get their haircut and you can even get a certificate for first hair cuts.

Besides the awesome hair salon, the other reason I picked Lifestyle Centre is because they have so many other things for children to do, making it perfect for our date. Noodle went on a couple of rides at the amusement park and had fun playing on the jungle gyms. We went for a walk through the nursery and the pet store (her favourite place) and had a good chat. Then we stopped at The Silver Birch for some hot chocolate (we couldn't finish them- they are huge!). Noodle and I had a good chat about anything and everything. 

After we had some family visit us in the afternoon, the fun continued in the evening with a visit to Montecasino- this time with daddy and baby brother too. We never go near the casino area here but there is lots of other entertainment for the whole family and the kids had a blast. They played games, had a bite to eat and ran laps at the big grassy patch outside. We have been watching Youtube videos learning about various geographical landmarks- the Kabah, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben etc. So my son was very excited when he spotted the clock tower at Montecasino, saying "look- there's Big Ben!".

All in all, it was a great day for the whole family and Noodle declared it the best day ever. Operation Noodle Day was a success!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Potty Training: Girls vs Boys

I am not a potty training expert but having had two children, a boy and a girl, I have noticed huge differences in the potty training habits of girls and boys. My findings are in no way based on scientific empirical evidence but merely from what I have observed from discussions with other moms, what I have seen in the potty training classes at my children's pre-schools, extended family members and most importantly, what I have seen with my two little ones.

To me, it seems like girls are WAY easier to potty train than boys. Case in point- Noodle was fully potty trained by her second birthday while Squish, at two and a half, is still pursuing an ongoing, seemingly unending potty training journey. He is getting better at going to toilet when he needs to but we still have some work to do. I have heard that potty training gets easier in warmer weather, so lets hope that spring brings with it new beginnings.

In the meantime, here are some of my observations of boys compared to girls.  


Uses potty. All bodily fluids flow downwards in a steady stream into the designated receptacle.  


Uses potty. Forgets to point urninary transmission apparatus down and sprays liquid on every surface but the toilet.
Has an accident. Shy's away in embarrassment. 


Has an accident. Thinks it is hilarious and decides to replay the scene, this time pretending he is a fire truck putting out an imaginary fire.


Wears a panty for the first time. Keeps it on proudly.


Wears an underpants for the first time. Quickly discovers the ease of removal and uses it as an opportunity to constantly play streaker. 


Needs to do a number 2. Indicates this need and goes to toilet. Blames the Minion on his underpants for making a poo.

Needs to do a number 2. Does it wherever he happens to be. 

What do you think? Are girls easier to potty train than boys? What are your best potty training tricks?

Friday, 15 July 2016

A First Visit to The Planetarium and Fun at Sci Bono

I gave my little ones the choice to pick a place for one last school break day trip and they both enthusiastically chose Sci Bono. We have been here before in November last year (read about our previous visit here) but they liked this visit as much as the last one, if not more. 

There were a couple of new things since our last visit. We got to watch an interactive show on how various parts of the body work. There was also a large new play area for 1 to 9 year old's which my little ones loved. Besides Lego etc to play with, this area has a lot of interactive science displays which are specifically pitched at a younger audience. A lot of the displays for older children are simplified and then there are some different ones too- like feeling different animal hides and identifying different smells blindfolded. (P.S. The Body Worlds Vital Exhibition is also on at Sci Bono at the moment. I went to this about five years ago and it is absolutely fascinating but I was not sure if it is age appropriate for my little ones.)

The other major highlight for my little ones was the Planetarium. Now, I had pictured a large auditorium like the big one at Wits University (which, while admittedly I have not been to in almost twenty years, I have very fond memories of). This one was much more simple and much more compact- in fact it was just a big dome tent with a projector. The R10 ticket price should have given this away but I guess I just thought it was really great value for money. Instead of cinema style seats like the Wits one, it is just an empty tent and you lie down on the foam floors and look up at the stars. The show is also quite short, less than half an hour, but with younger children I think that is ideal as their attention span does not last beyond that anyway.

My little ones enjoyed hearing about the solar system and space travel and I think Squish was almost lulled to sleep while gazing at breathtaking auroras, which the reclined floor position encouraged. Noodle seemed to absorb a lot of what she had heard and had many questions afterwards. This seems to be the start of a new fascination with astronomy. 

If you do decide on a trip to Sci-Bono, especially if you want to attend any of the shows, be sure to allocate a whole day to it. We arrived at 9h30 and by 15h45 I had to literally drag my little ones out of there as I knew we would get stuck in horrific CBD traffic if we left any later.

Monday, 11 July 2016

We Tried Out Sweepsouth... And This Is What we Found

Have you heard of Sweepsouth? If not, it is pretty much like Uber for domestic workers (or as they prefer to call them "professional cleaners"). You pay per hour for someone to come clean your house, when it suits you.

cleaning broom

The process is quite simple. They have a group of carefully vetted ladies who have gone through criminal checks, test cleans etc and you book them as at your convenience. You log into their website, tick when you need someone to clean, specify how many rooms and it will give you an estimate of how many hours you need to book for. Then you punch in your address and your credit card details and poof, a magical cleaning genie appears at your doorstep at the time you requested. They even work weekends and for an added fee, you can even get them to bring their own cleaning products!

Here is our experience. We have a regular cleaning lady who comes in one day a week (as she only has one day free) but she is near retirement age so were keen to explore other options for when she retires or for when we have a bit of extra work and need someone on a different day of the week on an ad hoc basis. Sweepsouth were kind enough to sponsor us with an eight hour cleaning session- every mom's dream!

Laureen was friendly, needed very little supervision and was very thorough in her cleaning. A once-off proper clean was exactly what my home needed and we definitely got that! The recommended time allocation for cleaning my house and having ironing done was eight hours (they give you an estimate based on the size of your house), so that is what I booked. The allocated eight hours was enough for her to get through all the cleaning but not all the ironing. However, bearing in mind it is school holidays and with two busy little ones causing havoc, my house was a bit of a tsunami, so the fact that a little bit of ironing was left behind  is understandable. The clothing Laureen did manage to iron were ironed properly with no burn marks or shiny marks left behind (my personal pet peeve). 

Laureen had a fascinating story. She is from Zimbabwe and is re-doing her matric in order to improve her marks in the hopes of going on to study physiotherapy. Sweepsouth's flexible hours allows her the flexibility to complete her studies while supporting herself and her eight year old son.

The verdict? Yes, I would use them again. If you need someone on a permanent basis, more than once or twice a week, a regular domestic worker would probably be a better bet as it will probably be cheaper and you can train someone to do things exactly the way you like it. However, if you just need someone occasionally and don't want to be stuck with the drama of dealing with all the labour law issues and other complications that come along with having a regular domestic worker, this is a great option and you can request to have the same person come back if they are available. In my opinion, that's a pretty good deal!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Work, Play and Other Random Things

Yes, this blog has been a bit quiet... Again.

With a combination of major deadlines, Ramadaan and two little ones at home and all of us having the flu it has been chaotic and busy. 

While I was so busy, I relied heavily on my Boredom Bowls to keep my kids entertained (click on the link to see what this was all about- I can now confirm that this operation was a success).

I also moved my office to the garden occasionally (one of the advantages of WAHM'ING) since the kids need outdoor play to stop them from turning into monsters and it is far warmer in the sun than indoors during winter in Johannesburg anyway. Besides papers blowing away in the wind and having to worry about battery power on my laptop, working from a picnic blanket actually worked surprisingly well!

My deadlines were mostly met the day before Eid and then the kids helped me bake a bit and then they made these Eid cards for family members. They were super easy for them to make but turned out well (or at least I think so). 

I drew the crescent moons on gold paper plates that I had lying around and Noodle cut them out and pasted them on the coloured cards. We had tons of gold stars from one of our Kids Book Club books and Squish enjoyed sticking these all over. Then Noodle used dainty silver alphabet stickers to spell Eid- just 'Eid', as we did not have enough a's to add 'Mubarak' on each card.

Now the deadlines have passed and we had a lovely, albeit very busy Eid. We got to spend time with family and extended family, eat all the yummies and the kids got spoilt rotten! 

Now, I have a week to just relax and have fun with the kids at home before some more really big things ahead. After being cooped up at home for the first two weeks of school holidays (except for trips for grocery essentials etc), we went to iJump today. The kids had the time of their lives! 
While I can't really comment on the main section of iJump, other than to say it looked like lots of fun, I can say that my little ones had a blast in the 2-6 year old section. For the younger kids, there were lots of tiny trampolines to jump on, a foam pit with a balance beam to dive off and some climbing walls, together with a mini-soccer field. 

The part my little ones liked the most was the upstairs maze, which ends in two huge, fast slides at the end.

iJump can work out pricey if you stay for more than an hour but an hour is more than enough for the younger ones (I am sure my daughter would have happily remained for a second hour but my younger one seemed tired by then and I could see a lot of the other younger kids got bored much faster). Also, I wouldn't recommend it if you have children of mixed ages unless you have more than one adult to supervise as you cannot really keep an eye on both sections at once (there are childminders for the younger ones but personally I would not risk leaving them unsupervised).
What have you and your little ones been up to these school holidays? I would love to hear from you!