Friday, April 30, 2010

What to do this weekend...

So much to choose from in Cape Town this weekend. Here is my top 10 list for this weekend:

Creative Craft Day - Saturday 1st May, The Bandstand, Noordhoek Farm Village
Contact 021 789 2812 for details

Lots of crafts for little ones to indulge in while Moms and Dads you can either have a hot cuppa or have some retail therapy. Fully enclosed and safe. Morning session ends with a puppet show.

The Rainbow Puppet Theatre - Hansel and Gretel, The Constantia Waldorf School - Saturday 1st May
A classic fairy tale performed for your little ones at 10am and 11:15am

Imhoff Farm - check
One of my favourite places, just awesome for the kiddies. Bluewater Cafe is stunning but I really advise you book if you want to go for lunch otherwise you may be disappointed.

Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Waterfront
Always a firm favourite with the kids. My little one never tires of it. Great to also walk around the Waterfront after.

Dunes Restaurant, Hout Bay
Still an all time favourite with me. Awesome big playground, nice beach to walk on before or after...

Helderburg Nature Reserve
Stunning for picnics, walks, playing in the river, bird spotting. Peaceful and a great place for kids.

Those are my favourites for this weekend. Next week I'll send some more ideas for next weekend.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pleasure or pain? Going back to work after having your baby

I remember this day as if it were yesterday - the day I took Tristan to a nursery school for the first time and I went back to work. I had complete mixed emotions - a part of me was terrified, and there was another part that was excited. I mean I'd just about started to forget how to talk to adults - my poor husband was subjected only to nappy talk, milestone talk and updates on feeding. Who in the world was I anyway? So going back to work was gonna be good right? You would think.

After many agonising visits to different nursery schools I finally made my decision, but was still not sure - I mean surely nobody could take care of my child like I could? They had years of experience, me none bar being able to keep my child alive and he was flourishing. But that didn't matter. I was the only one who knew him well and knew how to take care of him. This whole process was made even more difficult as he was going through the separation anxiety stage - I'm not sure who has it worse, mom or child? Each time I would walked out the room there were wails of protest and of course wails of protest inside my head too. But the day came when it was time for me and my little one to be parted from each other. I could definitely handle this - I was a strong, confident career women who wasn't easily ruffled. So I put on my power suit, dressed Tristan in his Sunday best practically (clearly at this stage I didn't understand that Sunday best was not a good idea for school!) and we were off - sounds so easy, but the new morning ritual was torture. I couldn't understand how people did this on a daily basis and how was I going to do this? Showering, breakfast for both (hmmmmm - not so much!) and getting out on time. So off we went and I walked into the nursery school a confident woman taking everything in my stride. I handed Tristan over and the wails started - little chubby arms outstretched howling! The staff looked at me and I was falling apart - they said, it's best to go and he will be fine, will probably stop crying as you leave. OK, with big crocodile tears in my eyes, they're probably right. I said my final goodbye wanting with all my might to grab him and scream that no-one can look after him and he has to come home to me. Reality gripped and I realised that due to a small thing called household budgets that wasn't going to be possible. So off I went with the screams firmly etched on my brain - guilt like I've never felt in my life! I stood outside trying to compose myself and listened for the crying to stop - it never did!!!!! I had to get out of there, my child was being tortured!
I drove to work through a haze of tears and pain, mascara smeared down my face, the power suit all crumpled and the hair in a mess. What a great impression I was going to make - all those career hungry people who slighly detested moms who come back to work and get lots of 'special treatment' or so it was termed. And to top it all off I couldn't string a sentence together.
In I walked and as soon as someone so much as said hello to me, the tears just came and came and never stopped. In fact they never stopped the whole day. Excellent impression - well done me! I couldn't talk to anybody without getting choked up and bearing in mind I worked with a load of women who didn't have children, and certainly weren't even thinking about it. They must have thought I was a complete and utter loony - they had absolutely no idea what to say. That first day was a haze. I called the school every half an hour only to be told that Tristan was fine. In my head I was screaming 'they're lying to me, how can he be fine, he's just been separated from him mom for the first time', but I'd prove them wrong that he wasn't fine when I got there, and he just couldn't handle being away from me. Or so I thought!
So the tough career woman was where again? All I wanted to do the whole day was run away, but there was a small part of my brain (non baby brain) that started to work and tick and excite me. I wasn't allowed to enjoy this though - I should be with my child!
The end of the day came, and I charged out of that office like the devil was chasing me! I was off to fetch my boy. Of course the traffic was terrible, got caught up in rain, and I got there 5 minutes late - the shame of it!!!! I walked in to find a happy, laughing little boy thoroughly enjoying his new friends and all this attention and wow all these toys. I called his name and he cast a glance at me and just carried on playing. Didn't he know how to play this game? Seriously it's your long lost mother! Eventually I had to tear him away from the toys and drag him home. He really was happy to see me though - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
As I walked out of the school with a crying baby on my arm, I saw shattered glass and thought 'ah shame someone's car has been broken into' - well I should've saved that 'ah shame' for myself. It was a freezing London night, I had no window and no bag - which of course had everything in it. What a great first nursery school day I thought to myself. But then my knight in shining armour came to rescue me - of course that would be my hubby and took his content baby and wretched wife home! Oooohhh I thought, great excuse I don't have to go to work tomorrow. Phoned the boss, who thought I was a bit crazy anyway, she heard my voice, and said 'of course, see you when you're ready'. I can spend another day with my little boy I thought. My hubby was onto me though - I got totally caught out. The final outcome - Tristan still had to go to school and I would have to wait for the car to be sorted out. Excellent.
For a good couple of days I endured what I thought was absolute torture of hearing the screaming, and was convinced that there was something very sinister happening at that school and I was going to find out. That sound of Tristan's voice crying for me, I can still hear, but it does fade! I learnt that my gorgeous little boy was a complete actor, and settled down to be the happiest of any of the children literally 5 minutes after I left - just acting up for his lunatic mother!
Getting back to work however was a completely different thing altogether - I swear when I fell pregnant somebody deleted all my knowledge and my confidence. I was meek and mild and quite compliant - this certainly wasn't me. But eventually things started to settle down and I started making some sense in meetings through my sleep deprived state of mental health. Slowly, very slowly, I really started to enjoy work, and felt quite liberated by actually doing my own thing during the day and not being held ransom to bottles, nappies and nap times! It was great. But surely I wasn't allowed to enjoy work - I was meant to just yearn for my child and be with him permanently. Well not so for me - I was back at work, proud of myself and proud of my child. Tristan was as happy as larry, settled and quite the little charmer in a crowd - of course I took that to mean that he was going to be a really famous actor (ok perhaps taking it a bit far....) The independance really suited me and I realised that I'm just not cut out to be a stay at home mom - some people are, some people aren't. The balance of career and mom really worked for me.
I'm sure many of you have experienced this and ultimately you must do what suits you, and of course your budget! Our children are a lot tougher than we think sometimes, and we're a lot softer perhaps than we think!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Life in the fast lane for our kids....

Sometimes I wonder if it's all just a bit much for our children. The reason I've decided to focus on this particular post, which is about teaching your children to deal with some pretty tough stuff that comes their way, is that I have learnt a lot over the last year and wanted to share it - trial and error got us there in the end. I am no expert, but I'm a mom that's been through a lot with my little boy, and hopefully this might help somebody out there.

I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt that 2009 was not a good year for my family. My little boy (and of course my family) had to deal with a lot. As a mom I had a car accident, 4 back operations and lost both my parents within 4 weeks of each other. For Tristan this was even worse - he saw me in pain permanently, both physically and emotionally and lost his granny and grandpa. I didn't have a clue how to deal with it, so I did my best and did what I thought would work. Through each of the upsets that we faced, I kept talking to Tristan, and focusing on how he was, was he ok, did he understand what was happening? By constantly focusing on the issues actually had the opposite effect on him that I was hoping for - he would immediately respond with 'I'm fine' and then carry on with what he was doing, not wanting to open up. He completely withdrew from me, which was very abnormal, especially when I was in hospital. It was almost like he didn't want to come near me - he was scared. He saw and felt the pain and to him I was a 'different mom'. I did eventually however learn the right way to deal with this - for him. Each family is different and each child is different. In a way I didn't deal with the problems on the outside, however, on the inside I was very consciously dealing with it.

I decided to spend at least half an hour a day just 'being' with him. By this I mean, I would ask him to come and play with me on the bed and I would take his lead. Whatever he wanted to play I went along with and told him that this was our special time every day.
We continued like this for a week and eventually, quite amazingly, my little one just opened up to me. He would ask about my operation, what they did to me, why I had to go into hospital and most of all he used to tell me that he missed me when I was there. By being able to talk about it, we were able to deal with his fears. Slowly but surely he would also ask about his granparents, particularly his granny, whom he was very close to. Why is she no longer with us, why did she go to be with God, and if God really loved us why did he take her away. All these questions were difficult at the time to deal with, but I made sure I had an honest answer for each of these types of questions before the time.
We were able to heal together - it was so important for him and for me to be able to talk about it, and try to make sense of it. Once he opened up, he didn't stop and it all came tumbling out.
While we were going through this time, I also spoke to the teachers at his nursery school to try and encourage him to talk and get his thoughts and fears out in the open. This helped tremendously as they were aware of it, and the communication was great, which also enabled him another outlet.
It took a couple of weeks and he was back to his old self.
As we were over this, it was time to tell him about my 4th back op - as we'd opened the lines of communication, it was sooooooo much easier. He asked questions, I drew what the operation was all about on a piece of paper, which he loved! When I went into hospital he dealt with it like a champion I have to say, he even asked to see the wound, which he wouldn't go near previously.
I guess the most important thing I'm trying to say is that it is so important to be able to talk to your children, and also to help them to deal with life - the good, the bad and the ugly, but always to be there for them and to help them through it. Most importantly they need to know that you are right there besides them.
Life is not always easy, and we all need the tools to cope - especially our children, we can't protect them from everything, its how we deal with the upsets that are important.