Trolleygate

Today a Warehouse checkout lady felt the need to comment directly to my children that they should be sitting down in the trolley.  I was already in a foul mood so as you can imagine, this went down as well as a cup of cold vomit.

Look, I’m more than happy to receive parenting guidance/help/suggestions from family, friends, anyone really, who is actively involved in the raising of my children (it takes a village right?).  And yes, the twins were standing up in the trolley, but it’s not like they were abseiling off the side of it and obviously I had already weighed up the relative risk of having them stand in the trolley and hold on to the sides.  So if girlfriend wants to come and babysit all three of my children so I can get a break from the fighting, whinging, whining, constant demands, lack of privacy and inability to care for my own basic needs, then she’s welcome to comment all she likes.  Until then, she can sit the fuck down herself and keep her lips zipped.

Now those of you who know me well will know that you don’t want to mess with me on a bad day.  Particularly if you don’t want to be the recipient of my modus operandi: the sternly written (and in this case, slightly snarky) letter.  So hold on to your bar code scanners Warehouse Upper Hutt, this email is winging its way to you expediently…

Dear Warehouse Upper Hutt team,

Following an experience I had at your store earlier today, I feel compelled to provide some feedback.  While completing a quick transaction at your checkout, the checkout operator who served me felt the need to comment directly to my children that they should be sitting down in the trolley.  I understand your policy regarding the safety of children in trolleys, however I would like to remind you that communicating opinions regarding someone’s parenting choices extends beyond your remit as a retail store.

Rather, along with providing a wide range of retail merchandise, I see one of your main objectives as providing customer service.  Good customer service should result in someone walking away from the interaction feeling better, not worse as was what occurred in this case.  I think you should know that I felt extremely upset by the comments.

Interestingly, I had a contrasting experience immediately after at Pak n Save.  The checkout operator took notice of me as an individual and noticed that I was having a rough time (not least worsened by my visit to your store).  Instead of taking a judgemental stance, the checkout operator engaged positively with my children in an effort to help and support me.  Even more interesting, was the demographic this person represented – a young male.

Since your employee felt the need to provide an assessment and opinion on the choice I made about the safety of my children, I’d like to return the favour and make some suggestions about how you can improve your customer service;

  1. Refrain from addressing people’s children directly without permission, especially with regards to parenting or discipline.
  2. Acknowledge your customers when they approach the checkout and instead of rattling off a script about whether they want to donate to <insert charity> and want a bag, treat them as an individual and ask how their day is going.
  3. If you’re so concerned with the safety of children in trolleys, provide trolleys that allow for more than one child to sit securely in the trolley.  These are available.

As a parent, I am constantly assessing the relative risks of my children’s activities.  I’m a sensible, intelligent person and do not appreciate being treated as otherwise.

I’m not expecting this letter to change any policies or processes, but I do hope that it may make you consider how you treat your customers on an individual level. After all, what are you without your customers?

Regards

DM

Post script: I probs won’t send this email by the way…

 

 

 

 

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Nutty Cluster F*#k

The word ‘cluster’ popped up on my radar recently, courtesy of some organisational change that is going on within an organisation I’m involved with.  It’s a great word – perhaps a bit naff in the context of organisational transformation if I’m being honest – but there are definitely some note-worthy clusters out there.  Namely the peanut cluster, or even better, their cousin the chocolate coconut cluster (um, yum?!).  But by far my personal favourite is the cluster fuck.

I’m sure most of you will be familiar with this term, however on the slim chance that you’re not, I have the perfect example of a cluster fuck that I prepared for you earlier.  Earlier today no less!

This morning’s Plan A was fairly simple: my husband took the kids out to the library and a local exhibition while I cleaned the house as we are expecting company this afternoon (why else do we clean, amiright?).  They were due to be back by 11am as hubby had planned to take Mr 5 out to a martial arts class that they’d been looking forward to for a while.  However at 11.04am my YouTube playlist was interrupted by an incoming call from hubby to say that they had a flat tyre and were not going to be able to make it to the martial arts class.  Impromptu Plan B snaps into action: I would drive down in our 2nd car and help with changing the tyre, we’d switch over Mr 5’s car seat into the 2nd car and they’d leave from there, still being able to make it to BJJ on time.  Problem solved.  However, on arriving at the location of the flat tyre I see that I have 6 missed calls which were to advise me that the car jack is nowhere to be found.  Luckily (shall we call it Plan C?) we are able to use the 2nd car’s jack and I begin hiking the car up (throwing my bag into the front car seat as it’s getting in the way of my Superwoman moves) while hubby loosens the wheel nuts.  One of the little buggers is stuck well and good, so we explore the option (Plan D) of calling roadside assistance, but of course there’s at least an hour wait on a callout so we revert back to Plan C.  By this stage Mr 2 & Miss 2 are getting quite agitated, so I hand over my phone with another YouTube playlist – this time Peppa Pig (hoping it’s not the dodgy version).  It’s now looking like hubby and Mr 5 aren’t going to make it to BJJ so we have to break that news to him, bracing ourselves for a mega-meltdown but thankfully he takes it ok.  Hubby is able to finally loosen the stuck nut and it seems we’re out of the woods – the tyre’s changed, kids are content – we just need to get the flat tyre to our tyre guy by 12noon, in 15 minutes time.  So hubby quickly jumps in the 1st car, calling for me to take the 2nd car and meet him at the tyre place, and promptly speeds off…(you guessed it) along with my bag, which just so happens to have the keys to the 2nd car in it, and my phone firmly in the grasp of Mr 2’s Peppa Pig-loving hands…Cluster. Fuck.

After some consideration and debate with Mr 5, we decide that Plan E will be to wait until Dadda/hubby realises that we’re not meeting him at the tyre place and comes back to rescue us (sparked a good discussion about why it’s a good idea to stay in one spot if you’re lost, as an aside).  Which after about 10 minutes he did, with a big grin on his face, dangling my car keys cheekily out the window.

All is well now, we’re home, warm and will wait for the tyre place to open on Monday to get the tyre fixed.  I’m about to do some baking for our guests this afternoon.  Chocolate coconut clusters anyone? 

Dads are Parents Too

No shit Sherlock right?  But apparently this is a thing because I’ve seen a few items floating around the inter-web recently about dads (and mums) getting annoyed when, for example, a dear old dot at the supermarket sees Dad wrangling the kids and comments “Oh I see you’re babysitting the children! Mum having a rest is she??”  And then our generation of clearly superior parenting skills get up in arms about gender roles and equality.  I’ve done it myself.  But truth be told, I’ve also been guilty of adopting the ‘dad as the babysitter’ mindset in the past…

Case and point: my precious first-born son.  When he arrived, I took being his Mum, So. Darn. Seriously.  He was exclusively breast-fed (and continued to breast feed until he was 2 and a half), co-slept, wasn’t allowed any screen time (including being in the room while WE watched television, even the news because it’s too violent), didn’t have any sugar in his diet, was bathed only in a few drops of lavender oil in his bath and from memory, was over 18 months old before I spent a night away from him…mainly because I was the only one who he would allow to put him to bed!  Now, I still stand by all of these decisions and wouldn’t change a thing.  It’s just that I’ve since decided to remove the large carrot that was firmly stuck up my arse when making all of these (mostly unilateral) parenting decisions.  My poor dear husband could barely get an opinion in edge-wise.  I think I got to that point with good intentions.  I mean, I’m the stay-at-home mum right?  So it was my job to take responsibility for everything and get up in the night because my husband was providing for us and going to work every day so it wasn’t fair for him to miss out on sleep.  Then in taking the dominant role, I completely took over everything (*cough* control freak *cough*).

Then we had twins.  I vividly remember saying to my husband “Shit’s about to change around here bro. You about to get a whooooole lot more involved boy-o!”  And so through sheer necessity, rather than enlightenment, hubby became one of the most involved dads I know.  Sure, there’s the odd thing that just -has- to be done by Mum.  Namely lunches (for some reason, hubby still manages to make a sandwich look like it’s been ravaged by wolves while cutting the crusts off) and peanut butter toast (Mum makes the best, but then I’ve had a long love affair with PB toast so I do happen to be an expert).  Also, Dad’s kid-outfit choices are sometimes a bit…interesting.

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I think we need to lay off the little old ladies though.  Based on the norm in their day, it’s a fair assumption to make.  Two stories that my Mum tells (now hilarious, but I wouldn’t have been laughing at the time – sorry Dad) are (1) After bathing and dressing 4 children solo my Mum would plonk one of us on my Dad’s knee to have a story read and he’d roll his eyes and complain and (2) After my Mum had been unwell and spewing her guts out all day, my Dad offered to do her a solid and dry the dishes after she had washed them. Poppa will now quite happily bath and dress grandchildren (still not keen on nappy changes though).  So it’s a societal acceptance thing.  And thankfully we’re an evolving species.

So mums (or dads, if you happen to be the primary caregiver), if you’re still on the journey to “letting” your partner truly co-parent, in the ever-wise words of Frozen’s Elsa – let it go.  Trust me, the benefits of letting them take the reins sometimes come in spades, for you and obviously your children too.  Yesterday, for example, I got out of bed at 9.45am.  Yes, you got that right – a quarter to ten in the morning.  Read it and weep bitches.

Post script: because I love reading your comments, and for a bit of a giggle, please let me know that one parenting thing (or ten) that your partner does that drives you nuts or cracks you up.

Hell Week

Now I know why the popular renovation programme The Block refers to the week where they have to reveal the main bathroom, ‘Hell Week’.  A couple of weeks ago we discovered a leak in our bathroom which had become really bad and essentially we’ve had to rip out the whole bathroom to repair the leak and replace the stinky, sodden floor, walls, vanity…and the list goes on.

Now, on one hand, this is pretty exciting as our once very ‘original’ bathroom is no more and in it’s place WILL be (it’s not finished yet) a nice, new, not stinky or sodden, modern bathroom.  Yes, it meant we wouldn’t have a bathroom for a week (based on original timeline, but more on that later) but let’s be honest, having children has meant that my personal hygiene levels have dropped dramatically, so it was only really going to affect the kids’ baths and hubby planned to just shower at the gym…

…oh how optimistic and naive we were. Well Blockheads, I’m about to see your Hell Week and raise you one Fucking. Shitty. Arse. Week.

Sure Amity and Phil, Darren and Dea, Alisa and Lysandra and the rest of the gang may have had to live in a construction zone, be away from their families for months, cop tough criticism from the judges and put up with Scotty Cam’s perpetually goofy smile while they competed on The Block…but did they have to keep their 3 young children bathed and napped and away from sharp, expensive equipment while work was being carried out?  I think not my friends, I think not.

Here’s a quick timeline for you: 

Saturday the hubby and a couple of mates ripped everything out.  I played the good host by handing out beers and even made a bacon and egg pie. 

Monday the builders arrived and the construction work began.  I’d baked muffins for the builders, the twins napped in the car while I drove around until school pick up and I bathed them in a flexi-tub in front of the heater. 

Tuesday I didn’t bother baking anything as the builders didn’t eat my baking anyway (made myself feel better about this by consuming a large portion of baking myself), took the twins to my mother-in-laws to nap, bathed all 3 kids at hers between school pick up and Mr 5’s rugby training and started feeling generally exhausted from running around town.  But it was in the car on the way home from rugby training that the wheels really started to fall off the whole operation.  “Mum?” Mr 5 pipes up, “My head’s really itchy and it feels like there’s something crawling by my ear.” My stomach drops.  Surely not?  But later on I check his head and sure enough.  Nits.  I go into full battle mode resulting in us shaving his long, blonde locks off so I can painstakingly pick every single nit and lice off his head until 10pm.  Our first case of nits falls on the same week we have no bathroom. Of course.

Wednesday I keep him home and while I’m preparing a day’s worth of food and bottles and clothing for us to camp out at the MILs again while I nit-treat Mr 5’s head (bless her cotton socks) the builders announce that they’ve finished for the day because the liner for the bath isn’t ready yet, thus pushing the job which was originally (and possibly a little optimistically) scheduled to be finished by Friday at the latest will now hopefully be finished on Tuesday the following week thanks to the impending long holiday weekend.  If this really was The Block we wouldn’t have a room ready for judging, inspiring much tutting and disappointment from Shayna, Neal and Darren.

Thursday was actually my birthday and was a momentary reprieve from FSA Week thanks to my lovely family and friends who are well versed in my love of chocolate, sweet wine and comfortable pants.  Thanks guys xxx

Friday I think surely we must be out of the woods and I’m looking forward to a day away from the house, even if it is to START studying for an online exam that is due THAT evening.  However, as my head is itching beyond what is even normal for someone who hasn’t washed their hair for a week, I ask hubby to please check again to see if I have indeed caught the dreaded nits.  After a bit of tentative searching I instruct him to “get right in there” and he exclaims “Oh yep. You’ve got them.”  FARK!  So instead of getting to my friend’s place (who is a saint and was having Mr 5 for a play date while I studied) nice and early so we could have a coffee before I headed to the library, I spend the first few hours of the morning nit-treating my hair, and the twins’ hair, and changing the sheets on all 4 beds.  Without a bathroom.

Saturday my parents arrive for the long weekend (hallelujah!) and as usual my absolute machine of a Mum takes over with the kids and my ever helpful and resourceful Dad helps the hubby with painting the bathroom.  Hubby and I even get to head out for a belated birthday date night and it seems like balance has been restored.  Until…

Sunday I wake up from a decent sleep-in (thanks Mum) and I feel like crap.  Headache, achey limbs, sore back.  It’s almost like a bad hangover but surely not from one glass of house Sauv?  Making the most of the rare high adult to child ratio, I head back to bed.  A few hours later I wake with a rumbly tummy have to quickly head to the toilet…

So here I am now, with the worst case of bum-wees I’ve had in a while, bathroom still not finished, another exam on the horizon, parents heading home tomorrow, hoping like Hell Week no one else picks up what I’ve got, thus turning FSA Week into FSA Fortnight. Quite literally.  Wish me luck peeps…

You’re doing ok Mumma

Lying between my littlest boy and girl tonight, helping them to sleep, breathing deeply and slowly, attempting to stem the flow of rage as my mind races through the fears and frustrations and failures of the day.

Tears flow instead, silently, or so I thought but my wee boy must have noticed the change in my breathing, the tears catching in my throat or the sound of me trying to swallow back the emotion spilling out of me. 

“Mum?” he whispers. “Mumma?” His soft hand reaches up for my tear-dampened cheek, at first questioning, pushing my face from side to side to test both cheeks. Then tenderly, wiping away the tears. “Sor-wee” he says in his quiet little toddler voice “Sor-wee, sor-wee”.

My heart is full and breaks all at the same time. “Don’t be sorry baby, it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault” I whisper back. He holds my hand, lacing his fingers through mine, over and under, over and under until he drifts off to sleep.

And that’s when you know, no matter what ups and downs the day has brought, and no matter what tomorrow will bring, you’re doing ok Mumma.

A Few of Our Favourite Things

Ok so, it is my hope that this blog might not only entertain (I’m funny right? Sometimes?) but also be helpful to people. Not in a Nobel Peace Prize winning kind of way, but in a “oh that’s a useful snippet of information” kind of way. My kids are now 5 years, 2 years and 2 years old respectively, so surely I must have picked up some helpful nuggets along the way? One would hope.

Therefore, combining this sentiment with the fact that I know a couple of recent first-time parents and soon-to-be first-time parents, I thought perhaps I could compile a list of ‘things’ that have been invaluable/good value/worth buying in terms of baby and kid paraphernalia. Now to be honest, the baby stage of my children’s lives has become somewhat of a foggy memory clouded by sleep-deprivation and twin-induced delirium, so the list might be a bit toddler/kid targeted, but I’ll do my best. Also, please note the very large caveat that obviously as every baby/kid is magically unique and every family has different do’s and different don’ts, not all of these items might be for you and your family, but are worth checking out if they pique your interest.

Introducing my “A Few of Our Favourite Things” List….(in no particular order)

  1. Bobux footwear 

Bobux

The part of me that was a podiatry student in a former life has recently decided that it’s worth spending an extra 20 bucks or so on quality footwear compared with old mate Number One. And I haven’t looked back. There’s no way in hell that I’ll pay full price for these buggers though, so look out for sales and check out this Facebook page where there are bargains to be had. I only buy the new or excellent condition 2nd hand ones though as wearing 2nd hand shoes is worse than wearing cheap shoes. Trust me, I studied podiatry.

Pros: Good looking shoes that ensure healthy foot development.

Cons: Cost about the same as the GDP of a small country unless you get them on sale.

2. Silk baby wipes

Baby wipes

How on earth I survived before becoming a parent and discovering baby wipes I don’t know. If you’re a waste-free parent then skip this recommendation, but this brand is always the cheapest (and the fragrance-free ones don’t mess up my kids’ bums) at our local Pak’n’Save unless they decide to mess with me and the Pams ones are on special. Get a 140 pack for home and an 80 pack for the nappy bag.

Pros: What can’t you do with a baby wipe?

Cons: Not environmentally friendly.

3. Diono car seats

diono

I wish I had worked this one out when our 5 year old grew out of his capsule. It would have saved a lot of overdue renewal fees for the Plunket car seat we hired because I couldn’t decide which car seat was the best to buy. But these ones are great. Probably best if you do a bit more research into which model is best for you/your car etc, but in general these have a wide range of weight allowance and a long life (10 years) which means that the one seat should do you from when your bubba comes out of the capsule until they’re a bubba no more and no longer require a booster.

Pros: A good investment over it’s 10 year shelf life.

Cons: Heavy as a m*therf#cker to lift and move from one car to another.

4. Clothes from The Warehouse

warehousewarehouse 1

As you can probably tell by now, I’m a bit of a bargain hunter (read: tight-arse) and hence don’t like to spend a whole heap on babies and kids’ clothes when they’re going to grow out of them in 5 seconds. As long as it’s predominantly natural fibres (cotton, bamboo, merino etc) then the smaller the price tag the better. I’ve found clothes from The Warehouse to be the best value for money in terms of wear and style. Honourable mentions include Postie Plus and Kmart.

Pros: Affordable and cute/cool.

Cons: Slight (high) possibility they’ve been fashioned by child labour in developing countries.

5. Ecostore personal care products

ecostore

Now, I might say “yes” to McDonald’s and Chupa Chups for my kids (and all other manner of processed junk – I caved *waaaah*) but what I also say “yes” to is naturally-derived personal care products. In fact, we only ever bathed our first-born in a few drops of lavender oil added to his bath and used ecostore shampoo and nappy balm for the first couple of years of his life. The skin is the body’s largest organ after all. So I’m super excited about ecostore’s new kids’ range of bubble bath too! Can be a bit exspenny but if you’re super organised (ie not me) then you can always stock up when they have their online sales.

Pros: Less nasties for babies and kids’ sensitive skin.

Cons: Blimmin’ Pak’n’Save only carries a limited range of products.

Also rans:

Righty-o this post is getting a bit long and there’s still a few more things I wanted to cover, so I will try and do so quickly:-

Red Bands – the best gumboots ever.

Dr Brown’s Bottles – apparently help reduce wind and colic when bottle feeding. Could be a gimmick, but hey, we bought it.

Next Direct – for special occasion clothing. Just check out the bow ties. You will die.

Netflix – even if you swore that your child was never going to be exposed to screens under the age of 2, or ever, chances are that unless you are an incredibly strong-willed person you will, or already have, given in to the temptations of the screen-time babysitter. In which case, Netflix is a welcome investment that all the family can enjoy. Plus, there actually are some good, development-rich, educational programmes on there for kids, such as The Wild Kratts. Have you ever heard of a Basilisk Lizard before? I thought not.

So there you have it folks. Hope it was useful. Please make this interactive and share your couldn’t-live-without baby and kid items. In particular, lunch boxes. I’m still searching for the perfect lunch box…

The Motherhood

Tonight I did something I would normally never do. There was a book reading and signing at our local library which just so happened to be at the highly inconvenient time of 7pm. Inconvenient because this is peak bed-time routine hour in our house (some people might have their kids in bed by 6.30pm, but definitely not us) and therefore 7pm usually coincides with much screaming and bare-bum streaking through the house and weeing on the carpet and pulling out toys that haven’t been played with all day and not-so-much calmly winding down or reading stories or dimming the lights or singing lullabies or straight-forward going to sleep. No, no, no – bed-time is a 2 person job in our house and if one of the parties dares to entertain the thought of attending an evening function, you may as well be asking the other party to slow-dance over hot coals or get an infected wisdom tooth pulled with no local.

But I had walked past the poster advertising the evening quite a few times and increasingly felt like I didn’t want to let this opportunity pass me by. So I asked my dear husband if I could go and he said “Sure!”, even if he didn’t mean it. I bathed the kids early, fed them by 6pm, bullied the recently 5 year old into doing his homework (do NOT recommend this as a rule), threw on some ridiculously tight pre-children jeans (made a mental note not to bend over), did my hair and makeup  (which equates to running a straightener through my hair and chucking on tinted moisturiser and mascara), pecked the kids on the head (forgot the husband, oops) and sprinted (nay, hobbled due to aforementioned jeans) out the door.

Why make the effort this time? Well, probably a few reasons, but mostly because the book, Rants in the Dark, is written by a local blogger Emily Writes who I feel like is my spirit-human. I’m absolutely in love with her writing because it makes me laugh, it makes me cry and I can’t help but be like, “Amen to that sister!!!” as I read every sentence (mostly in my head, but also sometimes out loud). Case and point, I bought her book today and started reading it this afternoon ahead of the event tonight (super last-minute natch) and I had a tear in my eye by the time I finished the introduction. 

Creeping in the dark at Rants in the Dark

I think when a chronically sleep-deprived person encounters another chronically sleep-deprived person it’s something akin to war veterans or survivors of a natural disaster meeting up again (NB: I do NOT under any circumstances seriously equate bad sleep with the indescribable horrors of war or surviving a disaster, but can’t think of anything else that pinpoints the depth of the shared experience…). It’s an achingly accurate understanding of what the other person’s been/going through and the imprint it leaves on their soul. Wow. Ok, time to dial it back a notch and lighten the mood.

Anyway, a few hundred words into this post and I’m going to get to the point. Never before have I felt so distinctly a ‘member’ of a group, as I do as a Mum. That feeling of membership and relating to someone else’s experience is so strong that it pushed me out of the door and motivated me to do something I otherwise wouldn’t have done. Which doesn’t say much for my pre-children life, but I’ve always been the kind of person that hangs back and mills around the edges of things. I’m shy, an introvert, and if you never fully commit to something then it’s easier to slink away when you’re overwhelmed by the interaction and want to retreat to your cocoon. Motherhood, sleep-deprived or not, may be incredibly individual and diverse but yet we’re all so fiercely binded by the love and commitment we have for our kids, it’s like a secret club*. I don’t know Emily, not even in a Kiwi 2-degrees of separation kind of way (I just creep on her at public events) but I kinda feel like I do know her because she shares her experience so generously and beautifully, that it’s my experience too.

*Extra points for picking up on the Peppa Pig reference. Yes? No?