Kindness, would it kill you?

The world would be a much better place if we could all just be a little kinder to each other. It is really THAT simple. We don’t have to go out and give away all our food, clothes and money to the people who are starving or build houses for the homeless. Don’t get me wrong all of this is good, we should be helping in whichever way we can, but what I am trying to say is, if you are unable to help someone financially or otherwise, you could simply help them with an act of kindness. Even just a “Hey, how are you doing today?” Just take other people’s feelings into consideration for a change.

Would it really kill you to smile at someone walking past you on the street or in a mall? They won’t want to become your new best friend. You don’t know what they have been through, and you might just brighten their day and give them hope by simply showing some emotion as you walk past, acknowledging their existence. For some that could be just what they need, because at home they might be ignored or abused and your smile might just help them get through the day. I take our one neighbours for example. The husband pretends to not see you when he comes home and we happen to be in the driveway, the wife will see you but also try not to make eye contact.

People in the shops, oh my word, they are the worst. Would it kill you to cut a mom with 2 screaming kids some slack? Glaring at her across the queue at the pay points of the local shop like she is the worst thing that could have come across your path that day.  Sure you might be having a shit day as well, but she is trying, giving her the stinky eyeball helps no one.

If you have kids you surely understand the situation she is in. Her kids are demanding sweets after she has said no, she is standing tall, putting her foot down and not backing down just because they are now crying in a public place and disturbing your “peaceful” trip to the shops. It really gets my blood boiling when people look down on others or judge them without knowing them or their situation.

I have experienced both the good and the bad of people whilst out with my two kids. I have had people say to me “Well done, I love to see mothers who don’t just give in to their kids because they are in a public place”  “You are doing a great job” Or I have people commend me for breastfeeding in public. Or thank me for trying to raise my boys to have propper manners by asking them to be too loud in a restaurant.

On two of these day’s were I received these “complements” I was having a super crappy day and you know what, I didn’t know either of those women and they didn’t know me, but I almost cried and hugged them, both times because I was having such a tough day and I felt like a failure and the worst mom ever. Just by saying something positive to me those women made my day and made me feel better about myself.

I have however more often than not, experienced “the stare” You know it….
You can literally hear them thinking “just shut him up already” “just give him the sweets for crying out loud” “she obviously has no idea what she is doing” Or something along that line.

It hurts the most coming from another mom. You want to tell me your child is an angel ALL the time?? Why do you feel the need to make me feel even more shitty about myself than I all ready do?

I have written a blog before about people moaning at me for allowing my boys to play with dolls, or paint their nails stuff like that.
But I have had many other comments.
One day I had to go to Canal Walk to do a grocery shop. My youngest was 2 months and my eldest 2 years. After their mid-day nap, we started off with lunch at Spur. At Spur I had a crap experience with a lady who kept eyeballing me and shaking her head because I was breastfeeding my baby. Then my toddler ran away from me in Spur as we were getting ready to leave. Thank goodness the manager caught him by just as he was about to get on the escalator.

From there we went to Pick n Pay. Now, I was tired and all ready quite stressed out by what happened at Spur. My toddler was not happy about being in the trolley, but I did not want him running around in the shop as I had the baby with me as well. When we got to Pick n Pay I thought, let me place the baby in one of those baby seats. The first 10min went well. As the trolley became fuller, my toddler started saying he wanted to get out. He wasn’t moaning, just asking me to take him out. I realised that I would have to take him out as I would anyway run out of space. Now, yes I know, not the ideal situation to be in, but I had no other choice, I had to have both with me and I had to buy groceries. Anyway, long story short, the paw paw hit the fan in the dairy section. The toddler ran off, there was a lovely elderly lady at one of those sample tables, with some or other cheese. She grabbed my trolley, which had my baby and my bag on, and she said “Go get him, I have this” Ran after him, picked him up, plopped him in the trolley and said “sorry boy, this is where you are staying now”

Now my toddler started to moan. I kept saying no and I explain to him why he has to stay in the trolley, from here there was a lady that was always in the same aisle we were in, she kept looking at me shaking her head. Four aisles on, my toddler is now making a big fuss. I decide to move baby to the wrap and pack everything over to a normal trolley without the baby seat so the toddler could sit in the seat and not the actual trolley. So I had made a plan, the toddler was stil not happy as he wanted to walk/run, but I said he can’t and he was making his peace with it as I was standing my ground. The entire trip to PnP was now taking so long that baby was becoming fussy. I was now trying to wrap things up ASAP. I was mentally and physically exhausted and just want to get back home.

As we get into the queue I take a small bottle of Coke from the fridge. I felt the need for a sugar rush because I was actually shaking. The lady that had seen us a few times in the aisles and who didn’t approve my parenting/coping skills was at the till next to us. I take a big sip of the Coke. My toddler starts “me, me, me, me to mommy, me”

Now everyone who knows me would tell you I never gave my kids Coke when they were little. But after the day I had, I gave him a small sip because I was just absolutely excited and didn’t want to now have him upset about this. Yes, I caved, but I just wanted the day to be over. The lady at the till next to us “Do you have any idea how bad that is for his stomach” I literally had zero energy to even comment. I took another massive sip, left a small mouth full for my toddler. Handed the bottle to him, while looking at her and just said “Really? I had no idea. Thanks for that” Paid and left.

Now, sure, the lady probably thought she would tell me something I don’t know. But I was very well aware of how bad Coke was. But she didn’t know that. She also had no idea what had lead to that specific point. She had no idea the kak 3 hours I had just before that point. My point with all of this is, when you see a child having a meltdown and you do not agree with how the mother is handling it. Or maybe the mother is having a meltdown, whatever, there is no need to comment. Why do some people feel the need to but in? I mean, it has nothing to do with them. Ugh, I don’t know, maybe it is just me.

I just think being kind to someone else doesn’t cost you anything. Just the other day we stopped at the mall. My husband and I got out, 2 cars from us there was a mom moaning at a child in the back of a bakkie. She was clearly frustrated, hands on her hips “honestly, get out of the car please” was the first thing I heard. I looked over, saw she had a baby in a pram and clearly another child in the bakkie.
By now my boys were out. They looked over and you could see the lady felt embarrassed by what was happening. My husband commented “the struggle is real” and I said “I feel your pain, that is usually us” She replied “he doesn’t want to get out of the car because his pants are green”
We wished her luck and walked off. My boys asked “who was that” I said “I don’t know, but it is a mom having a tough day and I sympathised with her” My eldest “Why” Me “because usually, that is me”

“Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see”  – Mark Twain

My first Birth was not how I planned it, and that is ok.

My first Birth was not how I planned it, and that is ok.

For those of you who are about to have your first baby and you are having a C-Section, this might help you prepare for what it will be like.

For me, my first birth was filled with SO much joy and yet also so much frustration, disappointment and anger.

On August 3rd 2011 I became a mom for the first time. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I was 30 when I had my first son, I thought I was ready, but I soon realised that I was not informed well enough about the whole experience. I so desperately wanted to have a natural birth and specifically chose a Doctor who was also pro-natural, as to not have to fight with a doctor about my choices.

At my 36 week check-up, my doctor told me that he is 99% sure that my baby’s head will get stuck and that I would need to have a C-section. I then, of course, burst into tears, because this is not what I wanted and had planned. I really wanted a natural birth. My doctor calmed me down and started explaining to me. He said that there are 4 ways of delivering a baby. The first being natural birth; this is the best/safest way to deliver a baby IF everything is in order. The second safest way is an elective cesarean as the doctor is in control of the situation. Next would be an induction, but he said he is not too fond of doing inductions, as they tend to end up in emergency caesareans. And lastly is an emergency cesarean. This is the riskiest. He said that if he induces me and baby becomes stuck or becomes distressed for any reason they have to do an emergency c-section.  After chatting to him about this I felt a bit better about the procedure but was still not happy.

Thinking back I should just have gone for a second option, but family members told me to just listen to the Doctor as he knew best. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my gut and decided to go with the C-section. I was very confused as so many people that I had spoken to who have has C-section complained about the pain afterward, one friend said she could barely pick up her baby. I knew that my husband had to work I would need to be able to do everything on my own. This was one of the many reasons why I didn’t want a C-section. I ended up going for the C-section, my husband had to travel during this time for work, so being able to plan around the c-section date, did help with my anxiety about everything that was going on.

The big day had arrived. We had to get up early; we had to “check in” at the hospital at 6am. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything after 10pm the night before. We got to the hospital and we were taken to our room. The nurses told me to get unpacked and settled in. During the next couple of hours, nurses came to check my blood pressure and temperature. They also attached an ultrasound transducer to my abdomen to check my baby’s heartbeat. I thought I would be super hungry but I was so anxious that I could barely think of eating.

Next, the anesthetist came to introduce himself and he also had a bunch of medical questions and does his calculations.

My time in theater was booked for 11:30. At about 11:00 the nurses came to wheel me off closer to theater. They took my husband to get dressed in his scrubs. I now became very, very nervous. Suddenly it dawned on me. I am about to have major surgery while being awake. I wasn’t scared or anxious about becoming a mother; I was petrified at the thought of having this surgery. 

I saw my doctor and his assistant, I suddenly felt very calm. He always made me laugh. They helped me onto the “table”. I was now becoming nervous again. I wasn’t aware there would be so many people. The anesthetist came over and told me it was time to start. My heart started racing, I hate needles. Is it going to hurt? How big is the needle? Luckily he was awesome, he kept chatting to me and explaining everything he was doing. This helped calm me down. My doctor was also great at distracting me. I receive a spinal block not an epidural.

The anesthetist told me that he would be giving me a small shot to numb the area before he doesn’t the spinal block. I was so grateful to hear this; I almost kissed him, as I was most afraid of the needle going into my spine. He told me the shot would pinch/burn a bit, and it did, but it wasn’t too bad. He then told me that he is now going to do the spinal. He said it would feel “warm” as the liquid goes into my spinal fluids and starts spreading. A friend of mine said that for her it felt like water running down her back. I had both sensations. I felt the warmth of the anesthetics spreading but also the sensation of water running down my back. It is a very strange feeling.

Once he was done the nurses helped me to lie down on what kind of looks like a crucifix. They placed a screen up, just above my stomach. On my one arm they placed a blood pressure monitor, which will help the nurses keep track of your blood pressure. On the other hand, they place a drip, the anesthetist can control your pain relief with this. My husband was given a chair right by my head. 

One nurse inserted the catheter and another had to shave me a little bit more, I apparently didn’t do a good enough job. My doctor told me that he is just going to check a few things and then he will start. 5 min later his head pops over the screen again and he says “can you feel that?” and I say “No” Suddenly I could feel a lot of pushing and pulling and it is becoming uncomfortable, now this was the most bizarre feeling ever. Feeling but also not feeling.

Both the doctor and assistant were both sweating. I hear the assistant say to my doctor “wow its hard work assisting you today” Apparently my little boy was quite happy where he was and did not want to be taken out. As the doctor had him he turned around. The doctor had to take him out with forceps in the end. The poor little guy had quite a few scrapes and bruises.

I got to see and hold him for a few seconds, then they took him away. Just behind my husband the paediatrician examined him and cleaned him up a bit. He also sucked out the fluid in his lungs. Perfectly healthy, all we ever wished for.

Finally, I got to hold him again. But also not for too long before they told me that he had to go into incubation. I was confused but so happy, relieved that he was ok, so I didn’t think anything of it. I told my husband to go with him. The doctor started closing the wound pain. Once the doctor was done closing the wound, I was taken to recovery for a couple of minutes. I asked the nurses where my baby was and why I could not hold him. They said because he was a “prem” (he was born at 38 weeks, which to me was not prem) he had to go into the incubator. I was so confused. He was 3,62kg and healthy, why? I moaned at them and finally they brought him to me, by now it was 3 hours after he was born. I was so upset. I was only now able to let him latch. He latched and started drinking. The remainder of the day was spent with my husband and little man in the room

The next day, just after 6am, 2 nurses came to clean my wound, clean the bed (bare in mind you are bleeding and you haven’t moved since the surgery) The one nurse removed the catheter. It didn’t hurt at all, the first time going to the loo did burn like a bladder infection, but was soon over.

The nurses asked if they need to assist me to take a bath/shower. I said no I will manage on my own and I did. My doctor told me that if I want to have a quick recovery I need to get out of bed as soon as the catheter is out and walk around the room. After my shower I felt like a new person, ready for action. I walked to the nursery to get my baby.

The 2 remaining days I was in the hospital was so crap, I just wanted to go home. I would fall asleep with my baby next to me, only to wake up and find that he was gone. I kept walking to the nursery to get him. I asked them why they kept taking him and they said: “you need to rest”. Yet people are in an out of the room the whole time, the baby never bothered me, they did.

My whole experience the first time around was not what I had expected or wanted.
1) I wanted natural and was told I had to have a C-section. Once I started doing research for my original Mommy Says website I realised I should have just gone for a second opinion. When I met one of the founders of Origin Hospital at the Cape Town Mama Magic Baby expo in 2014 as well as a maternity nurse who spoke openly to me about how doctors bully mom’s into having C-sections, just because it is more convenient for them. I was shocked at some of the stories. I felt very upset with my doctor. Why promote yourself as being por-natural when you are actually not.
Now I did find out the day after I had my son, that my doctor had lost a patient a few weeks before. The mom insisted on having a natural birth even though he had advised her otherwise. There were complications and the mom didn’t make it. Was he being overly cautious with me? Were there in fact signs that we would have had complications? I don’t know.

2) The fact that Henri was taken from me and I was only able to let him latch 3 hours after birth. I am 100% sure that this is why I struggled with breast feeding with him. I was only able to breastfeed him for 3 months. And only once a day because my milk supply was so low.

3)Besides that 3 hour gap, the other reason I think we struggled was that the nurses were feeding him NAN, without me knowing about it.
I was so upset. I walked into the nursery. Saw my baby listed on a board and next to his name it said NAN and then 10ml or 20ml. I asked them about it and they said it was “top up feeds” I mean, were they not suppose to discuss this with me?

So all in all this first birth was not ideal. But in all honesty, I have made my peace with it. For a very long time, I felt so guilty. I felt that I had failed my boy. I didn’t do what was best for him. I felt ashamed that I didn’t “give birth” to him. I felt like a failure. But you know what. He is a strong, healthy, kind, loving, happy 8year old boy. And that is all that matters. No, I did not “birth” him. No, I did not breastfeed him till 2 as I did with his brother. But he is perfect, in every way.

Your baby and your pets

Your baby and your pets

There are so many people that start to panic when it comes to bringing a baby home. You worry is your house going to be safe for your baby. 

Calm down, take a breath…your house does not need to be spotless; you do not have to have a house that is so clean that you can eat on the floor. And if you have pets, don’t worry; you don’t have to get rid of your pets because you are having a baby. 

I have read numerous articles written by Psychologist that state that a pet assist children with social problems. Having a pet not only provides companionship and entertainment for your baby/child but it helps with your child’s development and building up their immune system. 

Before my husband and I had children, even before we got married, we had our 2 dogs. They were my babies. They slept on the bed with us and went everywhere with us. When I fell pregnant someone said to me “what are you going to do with the dogs?” My response was “what do you mean?” The person said, “Dogs are dirty and they will knock your baby over and steal their food. You will change your mind and you will get rid of the dogs as soon as your baby is here, just wait” 

It is now 8 years later and we still have our dogs and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Both my boys love our dogs and the dogs love them. 

I have had moments where Peanut, our eldest (Jack Russell) has licked yogurt of my eldest boys face. Now this isn’t something that happens every day and it is not something I encourage, but it has happened. Guess what? My child is fine, he hasn’t gotten ill because of it. He plays with the dogs on a daily basis. He sticks his fingers in their mouths, checking their teeth, he shares his chips and cookies with them, and he is still fine. As a matter of fact, if I look at some of his friends he is healthier than most. 

Your pets are a part of who you are. Why would you get rid of your pet when you have a baby? Yes, you need to keep a watchful eye and see how your pet reacts to the new member of the family and should they become violent and act out you would need to address the problem. The sad reality is that a lot of people, instead of making the dogs part of the new experience, the lock them out. A once calm house dog who used to spend his days lying by his owners’ feet while they work and sleep in the owners’ bedroom now suddenly has to stay outside in the hot sun the whole day and even sleep outside. 

Off course this dog will then associate the arrival of the new member with loneliness and rejection and might even become aggressive. But is this really the dog’s fault? No, it is our responsibility as pet owners to also prepare the animals of the house for the arrival of the newest member. 

My dogs use to sleep with us on our bed. While pregnant I started moving the dogs to their bed at night, they were still in our room, but not in our bed. So the changes were made before the arrival of the new “brother”. The dogs are played with and get attention and love from us on a daily basis. When we brought our boys home for the first time, we let the dogs come and sniff and say hi. 

The dogs were never kept away from the babies. The one dog, Peanut loves when the kids touch her, she lies still while the boys poke and prod her. Our other dog Lilly is a bit high strung, she is not too fond of being poked and grabbed. She normally just stands up and removes herself from the situation. 

We had situations where our eldest when he was a baby, he would by accident rip out a hand full of Lilly’s hair and Lilly would bark or growl at him. I would not punish Lilly, as Lilly was right to growl or bark, my son hurt her and he has to also learn that dogs can and will bite him if he hurts them. 

We learn something new on a daily basis and so do the pets. The pets will grow with your child and they will get use to the changes in the house, as long as there is a loving owner helping them along the journey. Don’t forget about your pets when you have children.

Social media break

Social media break

With everything that is happening in our country and all over the world, I decided to take a break from Social Media. I mean honestly, every second post on my FB feed is about death, rape, brutal murder, missing kids, robberies etc etc etc. I can’t anymore. I have enough going on in my life as it is and feel so stressed out. It sometimes feel like the walls are closing in and I just needed to step back, take a break and breath. So the last 2 weeks I have taken a bit of a break. 

 Last year, while my boys were in school, as usual things were stressful and there was so much drama, but I mean “kinder kak” (high school drama) at school and I lost it on a school group because of it. I realised then I needed less drama/stress in my life.

 I have had a few mild panic attacks and one major one, 4 years ago. My husband and I thought I was having a heart attack and he raced me to the ER. I have to say it is quite scary. It felt like someone grabbed a hold of my heart, squeezed it and then started shaking it around. I started feeling like this 2 weeks ago again. Like someone was sitting on my chest and I couldn’t breath, that is when I decided to just step back. Probably also not the best time to be watching Mind Hunters and 13 Reasons why. 

 This year, with the kids being at home I promised myself NO DRAMA. I tend to overthink things and worry about everything. I wanted to have this year to spend time with my boys, making memories. Spend quality time, but it is September and I feel like we have had zero quality time together and I feel like time is running out and I am behind on work that I have to do with the boys. I worry about finances, I worry about health. I worry about the kids education, I worry about getting my business off the ground and start bringing in money, I worry about our safety. I do not want to read the news or go on FB anymore, it is just too depressing. I am completely behind #enoughisenough, because something has to be done, but for my own sanity, I just needed a break.

My biggest fear is not whether or not I am next but am I doing a good job raising these 2 boys. Am I teaching them the right things? I lie at night questioning everything I did during the day, could I have done better? How did what I said and did affect the boys in the long run? So all of this #menaretrash scares the shit out of me. Believe me I have had my fair share of trash men in my life, more often than not, so I know what I do not want my boys to be. I have been worried about how these boys will be when they are grown up, since the first day I found out they were boys, but these last few weeks have just made me worry about it more. 

I am teaching them to respect everyone equally, with kindness, no matter their race, sex or bank balance. I teach them to stop when someone says stop, no matter what the situation. I am teaching them to respect their friends personal space, how to use their words to express how they feel instead of getting physical (the 2 brothers hit and push each other when they get frustrated)

 But yes, men, even though they are not all rapists, they have all at some point in their life objectified a woman, cat called a pretty girl on the street, made a girl feel uncomfortable with a comment. So how do we stop this?  We hold these young men in our hands, our boys are the futures men. It starts with us.

Every now and again I read the news and then immediately after reading certain articles I remember why I stopped reading the news. Enough is enough, but will it ever really change? I mean this has been going on for decades. Men raping women, people being attacked and killed. Sure it is getting worse, but this is nothing new. How do we stop it, how do we make things change? We hold these young men in our hands, our boys are the men of the future. It starts with us.

Three years ago I felt the same as I do now, overwhelmed with everything going on. I had seen 2 videos from 2 different countries where a pregnant woman goes to a hospital asking for help and both are told to leave. It just made me wonder. Do we really care so little about each other? Why is there so much hate and negativity in the world? Even doctors, who swore an oath to save lives don’t give a shit anymore. I mean honestly. How do you turn you back on a heavily pregnant woman who comes to you begging for help and because she doesn’t have medical aid she is refused help. 

The one video I saw was of a heavily pregnant lady in the Philippines, who was homeless and asked for help. They sent her away, and right outside the hospital where she gave birth to her little baby. On the Pavement OUTSIDE the hospital.

The other video was so disturbing it still haunts me.

This happened in Cameroon. A pregnant mom of twins and a relative went to the hospital because the pregnant mom became ill. The staff at the hospital sent her away and she died outside the hospital. The family member that was with her went to buy a razor blade and a bunch of other supplies and cut open the mom in the hope of saving the twins lives. The babies were alive when she got them out, but due to not getting any medical attention, they both passed away minutes after being born.

This video is so disturbing to me, for so many reasons.
1. How, as a Doctor can you send this woman away? Ok fine, you can’t take her into the hospital because who is going to pay for it. But are you so dead inside that you have no urge to see if you can help her in some other way? You want to tell me there was not one Nurse or Doctor in that hospital that could have just taken a look at her, given her a minute of their time?

2. This poor relative, you can see afterward how devastated she is. She just lost a loved one. Not just that, she had to cut her open to try and save the babies. This poor woman will never be the same.

3. The hordes of bystanders, most of which are recording the event on their phones are all just standing there…. WTF !!! HELP the woman. What is wrong with people? 

I honestly don’t know what is going to happen with our world if this is how we continue. What kind of world will my child grow up in? With every post about a child that has gone missing, or a missing person found dead, babies being raped, women being attacked, I cry for my children’s future.

We need to do more. The future is in our hands. If you see wrong being done, speak up, stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. If you see someone having a bad day, be kind even if it means just a few kind words. Stop judging and rather ask how you can help. Do some good, start in your family, then the street you live in, then pay it forward to your community. Let’s rather spread love than hate than negativity. I need to believe that we can do it, that we can break this cycle, for the sake of my boys.

Do your kids do chores?

Do your kids do chores?

I believe there is nothing wrong with teaching your child from a young age to help with the chores in the house. Now I’m not saying that you should become Frau Rottenmeier and demand that chores get done before they are allowed to play or anything hectic like that. But it is good for kids to help around the house for more than one reason.

I believe that this will help your child learn responsibility, i.e. I make a mess, I help clean up. Your kids will learn new simple everyday tasks (being able to make their own bed) and this way become more independent.

Now, of course, the type of chores depends on the age of your children. At this point with my 2, they have a chore chart on the fridge. It is laminated so we can reuse it and the chores sometimes change. For example, my 8 year old helps pick up the dog poo as part of his chores, but on days where it was raining, we swapped that chore with something else.

So our daily chores for my 8 and 5 year old are:
Make your bed
Tidy up at 13:00 and 17:00
Do your dishes
Pack away your washing
Then for the 5 year old – feed the dogs and the 8 year old pick up the dog poo/make sure the dogs have water.

When they were little they still helped to tidy up whenever they made a mess. We use to sing “Tidy UP, Tidy Up, it’s Tidy up time” As they got older we started to make a game out of it.

The other “chore” is that the boys need to always take their bowls, plates, cups, etc.  to the kitchen when they are done eating or drinking. This is again a very simple way to slowly teach him how the world works. You can’t just make a mess and leave it like that. If you made the mess, you need to help clean up.

Without me having to ask, Henri helps me every day with everything. He is really such a sweet boy. When I make the beds or put clean bedding on, he jumps at the opportunity to help me pull the sheets down and tug the fitted sheet in under the mattress. He has done this since a very young age. We use to live in a complex and make use of their communal washing machines, this was always an adventure for him. I would put him on top of the machine and he would get to through the soap powder in, place the coin in the slot and push the button. Even now, when he hears me switch the washing machine on, he comes running, screaming “me me me” He always looks so chuffed with himself once he has pressed all the necessary buttons and the machine starts.

Sweeping is another favourite chore that my 5 year old loves doing. Now lets face it, sometimes their help with things like sweeping is not really helping because they miss spots or they might actually just be making more of a mess. I normally do not correct them. If my 5 year old is giving it his best and he missed 2 or 3 spots I do not tell him “thanks, but you missed these spots” I thank him, make a note on their chart and then once he is out of the room I clean the spots he missed. I believe in rather looking at the positive instead of the negative.

Then off course anything that involves working with water. When they were little and before the water crisis I would let them draw with sidewalk chalk on our outside walls. Then they each got their own bucket and sponge. Once they are done drawing on the walls, they wash the walls. They are still allowed to draw on the wall and brick, but we just don’t wash it off anymore. Another favourite, washing their “road” carpet.

There is also another favourite, but doesn’t happen that often, giving the dogs a bath. Both boys LOVE this.

Every day the boys check off their chores on the chore chart and by Saturday evening, if all their chores were done, they both get R10. If they were super helpful during the week and did extra chores they obviously get a bit more. Depending on what they have done they can earn an extra R5 or R10 that week.

I really hope all of this carries over to when they live on their own one day, for the sake of their wives and society.

I think chores do not just teach them valuable skills for the future, but it teaches them independence, a sense of achievement and also show them that everyone in the house contributes. We are a team.

The day I went NUCLEAR

The day I went NUCLEAR

Two weekends ago, I had a bad mom moment.

We were at a friends house for a braai. There was a new family that we didn’t know. The boys once went Mountain Bike riding together, but that was it. The 3 men were outside and the 3 women inside chatting. The 4 boys were all over the place playing.

We had dinner and then started playing 30 Seconds. The kids were playing all sorts of games and having a jol. All was well with the world. Then suddenly the power goes out. So the dad whose house it is gets 2 camping lights and puts them up. One in the playroom and one one the table where we were sitting. Candles were lit and we continued playing.

Suddenly the one boy kept running towards the table where the adults were sitting and he was shining the light in our eyes. This also meant that the playroom was dark. The parents ask him to stop but he kept doing it. Next, all 4 boys start running around the house and around the table where we were sitting. The one boy is now screaming/screeching really loud. My husband raises his voice and asks all 4 boys to calm down a bit and to please stop screaming.

Now before I continue, let me just give you some more context to how that week had been for me.

  1. Three days during that week I had such a hard time with Henri, talking back, being very cheeky in the way he spoke to me and just generally not listening. I had spoken to him and also taken privileges away as punishment.
  2. The Thursday night, my husband was out. The boys and I were watching an episode of Big Bang theory like we have done many evenings before. This episode started with Sheldon hearing creepy noises outside his office. I look at Liam (5), the reason for this is, Henri keeps scaring his brother at night. He hides and literally scares the living daylights out of him. To the point where Liam now does not want to go upstairs at night on his own. I have had many chats with Henri about not scaring his brother.

    So back to that Thursday night. The episode continues, I tell Liam that BBT is not a scary show and Sheldon is probably just dreaming, suddenly something scary happens, Henri screams at the top of his lungs and with a very theatrical movement jumps of his chair and falls backwards (imagine hand on the forehead, fainting) Now his little brother is looking at me with giant eyes. I told Henri that he must please not do that because he is scaring his brother. Liam got such a fright because Henri was sitting behind him and he was obviously not expecting that.
    The next min a glow in the dark skeleton falls from the roof. Henri again jumps up and screams in the exact same way he did before. Which now lead to Liam getting the fright of his life and came to me crying. I held him, calmed him and then showed him that it was Raj and Howard who were trying to scare Sheldon, as it was Halloween. He said, “the Skeleton didn’t scare him, but his heart hurt when Henri screamed”
    So I again had a chat with Henri and explain to him why I don’t want him doing this.
    Needless to say, Liam couldn’t sleep that night and now doesn’t want to go upstairs at all on his own, day or night.
  3. Friday morning, Henri hides behind the classroom door and give his brother a fright, to which Liam reacted by pushing him. Henri knocked his head on the corner of the table. He had a massive bump on the head. After icing Henri’s head I kakked him out and took more privileges away. I mean, didn’t we just have this conversation the night before? “No more scaring your brother”

So now that you have an idea of what my week was like and where my frustration levels were at with Henri, we can continue the story of what happened at the braai. 

The parents of the “new” boy asked him to stop with the flashlight, my husband asked the kids to stop screaming and running around the table where we were sitting. Then the dad, who’s house it was asked the boys again to stop running around, stop screaming and stop moving the flashlight.
Next minute they are off again, but now, my kids weren’t the ones screaming, but I notice Henri is chasing them. So I get up, I go to the playroom, I ask all of them collectively to please try and stay in the playroom as we can’t hear each other talking that is how loud they are. I then ask Henri to not chase the boys.

I went to sit down, not 10min later, running again and then a loud crash and crying. Henri had slipped and ran into the wall. Now I am getting angry, long past the point of being irritated or annoyed. I tell my husband that after his drink we are leaving. I go to check that Henri is ok and tell him “Henri, please do not scare anyone, and do not chase them either, it is too dark, and you just got hurt because you can’t see where you are running. This is your last warning” Ok he said.

I had literally just sat down and the one boy came out with the flashlight and there was screaming again. I walk to the playroom and I tell Henri that we are going to go home, they need to start tidying up all the toys. He looked at me with this blank expression and then laughed and said “sure mom” but with so much sass I felt like slapping him, I didn’t of course, I did, however, give him the look, you all know what look I am talking about.

Literally 5 min later all 4 boys come screeching out of the room, down the hallway and around the table, Henri at the end chasing them. As he gets to the end of the table where I am (he was opposite me, right behind his dad) I went nuclear, I was shouting like a demon. “HENRI, STOP!!!! TURN AROUND, FACE THE WALL AND SIT DOWN, TIME OUT!!!  AND THAT IS WHERE YOU WILL STAY UNTIL WE LEAVE”

The whole house fell quiet. The other 3 kids quietly went off playing. My husband said “I think you overreacted” Now, sure to someone, like the other couple probably, it might have looked like I overreacted. But did I?

How many times must 6 adults ask 4 kids to STOP and LISTEN?. FFS man. And besides that, a lot had lead up to this point between me and Henri and this was just the last straw. I took 5 min to just breathe and calm myself, then I asked Henri to come with me because I would like to talk to him. This is just how I do things. When I lose my shit, and I do quite often, not to this extreme, but it happens. I always take that 5min for both me and him to just calm ourselves and then we talk it out.

The first thing he said was, “I was not screaming” So I said, “I know, but why do you think I only shouted at you?” “Because I was chasing them?” So he knew why he also immediately apologised. 

I explained to him that all 6 adults at some point had asked them to calm down, and the fact that I specifically spoke to him twice about chasing and scaring the other boys and that is why he was in trouble. I also explained to him that the whole week he had been rude to me and wasn’t listening and I can’t just let things like that slide. There have to be consequences. He said “I know mommy, I am sorry”

I talk to my boys about everything. 3 years ago a bought a lovely book series that explains all kinds of emotions to the kids. “When I am feeling lonely, scared, nervous”. They are amazing, they help the kids understand their emotions. Now I am all for the gentler approach and I don’t believe in the “kids should be seen not heard” BUT I am also very old school, and if I have spoken 2 or 3 times, and I have warned you that the next time you do it there will be trouble, then you better know there will be trouble.

I honestly didn’t care what the new couple thought about me, I didn’t care if they thought I was a horrible mother. The friends, whose house it was, knows me, they know the type of mom I am, they know this is not the norm. All though I felt some guilt towards Henri for scolding him in front of his friends, I just feel that having friends around doesn’t make all the rules change. 

Motherhood is one hell of a ride. I both back myself for what I did and know that it was right, but at the same time, I feel annoyed with myself for not dealing with it in a calmer manner. I could have pulled him aside and scolded him. Would that have had the same effect though? I had scolded him that same evening and it didn’t do anything.

I think because there is so much information out there on how we should be raising our kids we can all be hard on ourselves, second guessing what we did, and was it the right thing to do? Could I have done it better? But there is no rulebook, right? They didn’t come with instructions and we are all just trying to find what works for us. But wow man, some days are just harder than others and I think what I need to take from this is to not be so hard on myself and to just keep talking to my boys. Talking about how certain emotions make you feel and react.