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Monday, 30 September 2013

Sleep


  • Incoherent while reading to your toddler or talking to a friend?
  • Lack concentration?
  • Emotions disproportionate to the situation at hand?
  • Intolerant of loud noises and other minor inconveniences?
  • Having trouble remembering facts that are usually easily recalled?


YOU NEED SLEEP.


Best taken in large (consecutive) quantities, sleep has the power to improve your mental function, decrease irritability and improve your outlook on any day. Sleep also has the benefit of taking you to cosy, warm places on a cold day and is most effective when people under 3 feet are also sleeping or else otherwise occupied by a responsible adult.


Disclaimer: Sleep should not be taken when operating a motor vehicle / electrical equipment, or while holding infants. If symptoms persist, see your health care professional or consider consuming large quantities of chocolate. Please be advised that if your sleep deprivation is caused by tiny people that it really is all worth it. :) Just don't be afraid of going to bed at 7pm and, apart from feeding the newborn, staying there til 7am the next morning. 

Happy Mumma's Spot also recommends other precious commodities like solitary trips to the loo, and time to eat a decent meal.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Practical things I'd recommend for new mums.

Today I have been thinking about things I would recommend to other women who have just had, or are expecting a baby.

6 days ago I gave birth to a sweet baby boy. Totally worth it, but unavoidably painful. Every day has been a bit better, and today I am managing with just panadol... that is, after my trip to the chiropractor. Over the weekend I decided that half my aches and pains would be resolved if I saw the chiropractor, so I booked it in and have been there today. I was so right - I'm feeling pretty good without taking the additional pain killers I was given on discharge from hospital. So my first recommendation for someone who has just had a baby is that if you are experiencing back and/or neck pain, it is really worth the trip to the chiropractor... the downside to this is the cost if you don't have private health insurance, but something to think about nonetheless. I figure there's enough to deal with when you have a baby that eliminating a lot of pain is one less thing to worry about. And besides, you're important and deserve to look after yourself!

Another recommendation for mums is Hydrogel Disc Pads (which you can get from Coles) if you can and want to breastfeed. I suppose I don't have to go in to a great deal of explanation about that, but they definitely make things more comfortable while you and baby adjust to feeding.

There's a whole world of things out there that different mums feel they couldn't live without but today I think these are my top two!

Monday, 23 September 2013

One handsome and adored little man

Benjamin John Hutchings is 5 days old today.

Born Wednesday 18th of September 2013
Weight 2975gm (6 pounds 9 ounces)
Length 49 cm


Holding on to a wonderful daddy

After the c-section, they were finished and Jonathan walked with Benjamin to recovery before they took me out. After they'd gone ahead, one of the nurses there said to me how she walked in the room while Jonathan was holding Benjamin and that she loved the big smile on his face and how obviously proud he was of his little son. 

Yes dear boy, you have a pretty amazing daddy who loves you a whole lot!




Your sisters are pretty taken with you too. Every time they came to visit us in the hospital we had a chair either side of your cot and they would stand on it rubbing and patting your tummy or head. Then once they'd gotten to cuddle you it was all on! If Hayley didn't get to hold or at least see you as soon as she walked in the room she was pretty distressed. "Cuggle [cuddle] 'gain" was her little catch cry. Luckily Natalie was a little more patient, but she definitely wanted her chance too.
My girls getting to know their little brother
Yep, got all his toes
Natalie adoring her little brother - one of many cuddles to follow

Cuggle 'gain (cuddle again)
Not too keen on the bath
So many feeds in these first few days have been bleary eyed on both of our parts and at times it feels like it's killing me... but just watching your sweet little face and seeing your bright little eyes looking up at me from time to time is so worth it! If I wasn't afraid of falling asleep and dropping you I could hardly bear to put you down.


Love you baby,
From mummy.


It is good to be home again. The girls have both been very excited but have also been quite sensitive. Hayley especially will be quite beside herself about little things that she'd generally take in her stride. It's nice to be at home now and able to spend time with them and do things for them, and to reassure them that mummy isn't just all about the baby now! Given a bit of time, they'll hopefully start to feel secure about things again and despite the changes know that they're just as important now as ever. :)

There are so many people to thank who have helped Jonathan and I so much in the past few weeks of preparing for and having our little baby... people who have helped us sort out our house... have looked after our girls over the first few days of being in hospital, etc. ... people who have visited, given gifts, sent well-wishes, brought us dinner... Thank you all so much - you know who you are. xo

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Birth (Natalie's)

So, I have been thinking a lot about the births of Natalie and Hayley lately... (don't know what might be coming up in my life that made me think about that!) I shared Hayley's birth story around her first birthday, but I thought I'd share Natalie's. I know some people like birth stories, others don't, so feel free to read at your discretion.



Natalie: EDD 1/03/10, knew we were having a girl


  • Got to the hospital at 7pm, Sunday March 7, for scheduled induction with my midwife
  • Before the induction they monitor you to make sure you're not already in labour
  • At some point during this process, the midwife is out of the room and Jonathan gets me laughing which looks like on a contraction on their monitor
  • They must begin again and Jonathan is under strict instruction to stop making me laugh... which he largely ignores, haha!
  • Anyway when they get through that and after the induction the hospital staff tell Jonathan he should go home and get a good sleep, because nothing would start 'til the morning but it would be full on when it did!
  • Barely sleep and by midnight am feeling contractions so I press the call button in my room
  • Midwife (not my MGP one) comes and says this is probably just the effect of the gel, but nothing serious and will fade for many hours before the real fun starts
  • Midwife offers me panadol, which I feel is very condescending and wonder what she thinks panadol is going to do for this ridiculous pain
  • When she leaves the room I promptly desolve in to tears because I feel so misunderstood, lol
  • Contractions continue. As I thought, panadol did nothing!
  • Sometime in the next 30-60 minutes, called the midwife and told her pain was continuing
  • She looks at the monitor and says, "oh, you are having contractions" (really, I hadn't noticed) and possibly realises that I wasn't just whinging about a niggling pain
  • By now it is Monday, March 8!
  • About 5am I text Jonathan telling him I wished he were here and not to be too long
  • This does not communicate the fact that I am actually in labour and he is quite surprised when he arrives a little while later, not having been able to get back to sleep anyway
  • Labour is fairly standard, and I deal with it by not making a sound
  • About half way through my labour I actually manage to get out of bed and walk around etc, which greatly improves on lying in bed
  • At some point I say very quietly to Jonathan that I don't want to do this anymore
  • The midwife and Jonathan decide that since my objection was so meek, they won't worry about pain relief at this time
  • My MGP midwife makes it back to the hospital just in time to deliver Natalie, about 2:30pm
Ah, the memories. I dealt with it at the time by not really being present - no idea what went on around me during all those hours - but it is interesting to look back and think of the things I do remember.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Preparing for baby

Well, yesterday and today have been a flurry of baby preparation activities. After feeling for so long like I had plenty of time to prepare, it dawned on me at some point earlier this week how much there actually was to organise in order to be ready... like we had all the essential things like clothes and car seat sorted, but we hadn't really gotten very far with moving the house around to accommodate our new addition.

Yesterday once I had gotten the girls to childcare and been to the chiro I did a huge grocery shop... lest we be caught off guard with the arrival of a baby just when our cupboards are starting to look bare and/or don't really feel like doing a full grocery shop right after baby is born. (Had that with Hayley - not something I thought of at the time!) Then I came home and just got as much as I could done before leaving to pick up my girlies again.

Today - with the much appreciated assistance of various family members - we continued preparing. There was a trip to Ikea for a new set of drawers for baby, a lot of sorting, throwing out, finding homes for things, and rearranging our house in order to fit the new addition in to his room... and generally just not come home from the hospital to chaos! Oh, I also got my hospital bag packed - win! Thank you so so much to those who came over to help today - it was definitely appreciated and I'd say we wouldn't have achieved that much without you!

Now it's mostly a matter of nervously but excitedly waiting on the baby and seeing how things pan out, while also spending as much time enjoying our family as we can manage before we open our hearts further to a new little joy.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The low-down

So, a while ago I mentioned a report I was doing for school and that I would share it once it was done... this be that!

What are the factors that impact the emotional wellbeing of a child under 5, and what can parents do to support it?

Emotional wellbeing includes happiness and satisfaction, effective social functioning, and the dispositions of optimism, openness, curiosity and resilience[1]. Positive wellbeing results from the satisfaction of basic needs such as: tenderness and affection; security and clarity; social recognition; feelings of competence; and meaning in life. It influences the way children react to their environment and can be affected by their experiences in early childhood. Sound wellbeing may be evident in a child who: is resilient and has the ability to persevere; can cope with day-to-day stress; shows trust and confidence in others; can acknowledge and accept affirmation; can cooperate and work with others; is able to spend some time alone happily; can accept new challenges and find new ways of doing difficult tasks; will assert their independence; is considerate of others; and is able to empathise with another person’s emotions.[2]

There are many factors that impact the emotional wellbeing of a child under 5. There are some, however, that will have a more significant impact during childhood and throughout life than others. Some of these key factors are: attachment in a secure relationship with a caring adult[3], opportunities for exploration and learning[4], social interaction with peers, and routines. These factors, or lack thereof, shape a child’s view of the world as well as their perception of their place and value in it. Parents and/or primary carers have just as important a role to play in their child’s emotional development as they do in ensuring their child’s physical wellbeing. The first five years of life are the most critical time for this to take place[5]. With the proper understanding, parents can empower their children to be confident, resilient, and powerful people – now and in the future.

Parents can support their child’s emotional development by developing a secure attachment with their child/ren. In a survey entitled ‘Emotional Development’[6], participants were asked which factor they considered most important to a child’s emotional wellbeing. 100% of parents and professionals working with children stated an opinion that the most important factor to a child’s wellbeing was ‘security in relationships with one or more caring adults and the security of their environment’. Children learn and develop most in a relationship with a trusted adult. A parent’s role is to support their children in their desire to explore, by encouraging them to go out and learn about their surroundings while keeping them safe[7]. Parents also need to be welcoming when their children want to be close because they are hurt, frightened, or simply wanting time to be with and connect with the parent.

A child who senses that their parent is uncomfortable with their exploration may feel that it is unsafe to explore or that they need to stay close in order to please their parent[8]. This limits their ability to learn and develop important skills that also benefit their emotional wellbeing. Conversely, a parent who encourages their child to explore while watching over them to ensure that they are safe, enables their child to explore and learn new skills without fear for their safety or the loss of relationship with their parent. This naturally leads to higher levels of self-esteem and a sense of safety, both of which will impact positively on a child’s emotional wellbeing.

A child who senses that their parent is uncomfortable with their need for comfort or relationship learns to hide their need, and will continue trying to deal with unsettling feelings they don’t understand in order to protect their relationship with the parent. This creates great anxiety for the child. Parents who can welcome and be with their child to help them understand their emotions teach them that feelings can be shared, understood, and don’t have to be scary. These children will learn in time to regulate and cope with their own emotions after they have done so with the support of their parents[9].

Providing opportunities for a child to explore and learn is a way that parents can support their child’s emotional development. A child’s exploration and learning can also be an opportunity for children to develop dispositions – or habits of mind – that assist learning and development throughout life. According to a resource commissioned by the Government of South Australia, ‘Dispositions for Learning. Workbook for Learning Together Families’ the dispositions are: curiosity, cooperativeness, confidence, resourcefulness, purposefulness and persistence, and communicativeness. Parents can assist the development of these dispositions by: allowing their child to explore their surroundings and answering verbal and non-verbal questions about what the child sees, allowing children to participate in household work and establish routines that allow their child to initiate things that they know will occur[10], encouraging their children to keep trying and/or find new ways of completing a difficult task, taking time to listen to their children, and allowing them to use any communication skills they have developed to communicate with their parent or carer.

Parents can support their child’s emotional wellbeing by developing a routine for their child[11]. This fosters a sense of security for the child as they learn to predict what is going to happen, and it increases their sense of independence and value as they are then able and allowed to participate in it. Routines also support children to develop valuable skills, referred to previously as ‘dispositions’[12], that will assist them throughout life and have a positive impact on their emotional wellbeing. When participating in routines, children will hear and begin to use familiar language that enhance their communication skills, they learn the value of cooperating and participating, and they gain confidence as well as demonstrating the value of persistence when their ability to do the task improves[13]. Parents who have predictable routines for their children are supporting their child’s emotional wellbeing.

Parents can also support their child’s emotional wellbeing by facilitating opportunities for positive social interaction with peers. In the emotional development survey previously mentioned, one participant noted that while they considered security in relationships with a trusted adult and the safety of their environment to be the most important factor in a child’s emotional wellbeing, “it is also important for children to interact with peers and to have opportunities for exploration and learning within a safe and secure environment.” Parents do have a role to play in their child’s social interactions that will support that child’s emotional wellbeing. Young children are still developing social skills, and parents need to be present to intervene when conflict arises. For example, a parent can help a child understand that although they may wish to play with the toy their young friend is holding, snatching is not appropriate and they need to take turns. In doing so the parent acknowledges their child’s emotion, while limiting unacceptable behaviour[14]. In this instance, the child learns about turn taking – another aspect of cooperation – and also learns that they need and are increasingly able to control their impulsive desires. This is an important skill that supports their emotional wellbeing and will be needed throughout life as they attend school and enter the workforce.

There are many factors that influence the emotional wellbeing of children, and parents have a critical role in supporting that positive emotional development. In the ‘Emotional Development’ survey, participants were asked, “Do you feel that there are sufficient resources for parents and carers about the role of adults in the emotional wellbeing of children.” While 51% of participants responded ‘yes’, some who responded ‘no’ offered the following explanations of their choice: “Many parents I have worked with have shown concern for their own knowledge about caring for their child, and have asked for advice.” “We are unable to reach all parents.” “Parents who struggle to recognise their role in developing secure attachments should be offered more one on one practical support”.

In decades past, understanding and information about emotional development was limited and parents did not have access to thorough and reliable information about their child or children’s emotional development[15]. This is something that we can and need to change for the future, because parents and primary carers do have a significant impact on the emotional wellbeing of children in their care. Equipped with understanding and practical support regarding the specific things they can do to influence the emotional development of children, this impact can be a positive one that empowers those in their care - now and in the future.



[1] Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, Belonging, Being & Becoming
[2] Ibid
[3] Cooper, Hoffman, Marvin and Powell, Circle of Security, 2000
[4] Dispositions for Learning. Workbook for Learning Together families, 2010, Government of South Australia, Department of Education and Children’s Services
[5] From ‘Engaging Families in the Early Childhood Development Story’. A national project on behalf of the Ministerial Council for Education; Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, published 2010
[6] Hutchings, T 2013, Emotional Development, <http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8KL9J7X>
[7] Cooper, Hoffman, Marvin and Powell, Circle of Security, 2000
[8] Ibid
[9] Ibid
[10] Government of South Australia, Department of Health, 2010, Parent easy guide 51 - Growing and learning in the family
[11] ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, Love, Learning, and Routines
[12] Dispositions for Learning. Workbook for Learning Together Families, 2010, Government of South Australia, Department of Health
[13] Ibid
[14] Ginott, H.G, Ginott, A, Goddard, H.W, 2003, Between Parent and Child, Three Rivers Press, New York

[15] Ibid

Monday, 2 September 2013

Hayley broke my glasses

Natalie: "Mummy, Hayley broke my glasses!"
Me: "What?!"
Natalie: "Hayley, you need to say sorry to my glasses"
Hayley "Sorry glasses"

At least they're cute, right?

And so what was planned for a quiet day at home turned in to a trip to the optometrist (luckily the glasses were covered under warranty) and then I thought we might as well get Natalie new shoes she needed and a few other things. Would you believe that the girls who will go many hours at home without  using the toilet needed/wanted to, but in any case insisted that we must, go to the toilet 3 time during the two hours we were out. Patience.

Life with kids sure can be interesting and sometimes it's hard to keep up with them... but I wouldn't trade it for the world. My girls are so affectionate, to me and Jonathan and to each other and you can't help but feel the love. Even when they're being a bit mischievous... it's hard to be upset when there is that level of cuteness! Meanwhile poor Natalie will be looking a little cross-eyed for a few days until the glasses come in, but I reckon the new ones are super cute.