The thing I love about Motherhood | Guest Writer Suzanne Jones

It would be fair to say that I needed a little persuading to enter the world of Motherhood. I was enjoying a fulfilling career with all the freedom and excitement a good income allows. What little I did read about motherhood was often negative with any positives listed only as a small footnote. I always understood the need to seek comfort in sharing similar experience with others but came to the conclusion that motherhood was an overall unhappy and exasperating experience.  After all, if it was all that great, why didn’t people write about those aspects? I would see sentimental memes shared on Facebook regularly enough but the long and detailed accounts of life with a baby or toddler were reserved for dissatisfaction and frustration. I did not want to be that miserable. No thank you.

Fast forward a few years and I was happily settling down with a wonderful, caring man. The urge to create a family between us crept in. As happens when you hit a certain age, friends started having families of their own and I was able to see these women go through the most wonderful transformation. They glowed with the love and joy of their babies and, most surprisingly to me, they were still interesting, vibrant and had their own identity. I thought maybe I could be a mother and still be the ambitious, geoscience geek that I am. And so, not long after we married we started trying for a baby. We were blessed with our daughter Madeline Theia in February of 2017 and nothing in this world has made me happier.

Coming up to Madeline’s first birthday I have been looking back over the past year and thinking about all the things I have enjoyed. I decided to write a list of just some the unexpected pleasures that come with being a mum to counterbalance the more negative articles I had read in the past.

I should say that the following are my personal experiences, not a generalization. I have deliberately kept it positive. There certainly are hard times and many challenges but those have already been covered so many times. I am not trying to gloss over the hard times or deny they happen, because they absolutely do. This is just my happy version of the “Dear First Time Mum” blog… and here goes…

Unexpected Positive Experiences When You Become A Mother

The moment a child is born, a mother is born - Rajneesh (Image Credit Lion Fox & Co)
The moment a child is born, a mother is born – Rajneesh (Image Credit Lion Fox & Co)

Just about everyone is friendly

Most trips to the supermarket take a long time. Not because the baby is unruly but because most older ladies you pass will stop me to chat to Madeline. She mostly obliges with smiles but even when she grimaces at them, they still smile back and chat a little. It’s not just the granny types either, the granddads wave and other children come up to say hello to a baby and parents make polite small talk. I overhear people whisper “oh she’s so cute” and yes, I will admit that I actively engage in these conversations and covet the baby compliments. They make me smile and I genuinely enjoy the interactions. Joking aside, there was a time when I started to feel very isolated. We have no family in Western Australia and my husband works away. These casual ‘friends’ I made at Woolies were what stopped me slipping into a dark place.  Thank you friendly strangers.

The Baby Vortex

I can lose hours each day just being with Maddie. We call it the Baby Vortex. When she was first born I could at her sleeping for such a long time I would get neck ache. Newborn babies quickly learn to control their eyes and they can maintain eye contact for what feels like hours. I would wonder what she was thinking and if she knew who I was. Nowadays I catch myself just watching her play, other times I am being silly to keep her laughing. Sometimes a whole morning can go by and I realise that I haven’t done any of the chores I set out to do and I forgot to prepare lunch. The Baby Vortex is amazing. It’s why it takes me so long to get anything done.

More ambition, enthusiasm and motivation (just redirected)

People used to tell me that I would probably lose interest in my career when I had a baby and that my life would be ‘put in perspective’, as if it were out of perspective prior to becoming a mother. I would find it so frustrating and patronising. Well, I have not lost ambition or enthusiasm at all. In fact, I feel more driven than ever. I have a daughter and I need to be a role model to her. I want to show her that she can achieve anything she wants. The difference today is that I may have redirected my ambition. Time is precious and if I am away from my baby girl, it needs to be worthwhile. I feel a strong urge to show young girls that they can be part of the STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine) world. Maybe I have found perspective, my interests have evolved, I am more ambitious than ever because I am now accountable. Its not just me anymore, I have a responsibility to this little girl and nothing is more motivating than that.

Birth can be beautiful

My birth did not go to plan. Not at all. My baby’s heart rate kept dropping so the obstetrician decided to intervene. Maddie was born in a bit of a rush with the umbilical cord wrapped three times around her neck. To make matters worse she was holding on to the cord and with every push she tightened the noose. Then, when Maddie was only two hours old I was taken down to surgery as I was hemorrhaging. It was four hours before I was reunited with my little family.

Thankfully, our little girl was OK. She was perfect and I was in a state of complete bliss. My poor husband was frazzled and in shock. It was now 2am and he had watched me go through a complicated labour, worry about our little daughter and then had to wait whilst I disappeared off to surgery for four hours. Amazingly, on that long day, not once did I feel scared. I had been seeing the same obstetrician for all my appointments and had a student midwife following my pregnancy. I knew the team we were with that day and they knew us. I could have had a very different experience had I not had complete trust in them. They kept me calm and I am eternally grateful for the wonderful care they gave to us all.

I love my stretch marks!

I didn’t particularly want stretch marks. I used three different types of lotions and oils in the hope of limiting the spread of these scars as they grew across my pregnant belly. However, after the birth of our daughter I experienced a kind of sadness that she was no longer inside of me; we were no longer physically attached. My reminder of the nine months of carrying her were these stretch marks and my wobbly, swollen belly. Now, a year later, my belly is almost back to normal but I still have some faded stretch marks and I love them. I smile when I see them when I get out of the shower and I hope they never fade completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chicks Who Lift | Guest Writer Michelle Wong

We live in an image obsessed world, and in most cases the ‘perfect body’ is what’s portrayed to us on the cover of a magazine. Whether it be the infinite ‘slimness’ on the Vogue cover, the ‘happy family’ featured in New Idea, or the current winner of the women’s INBA bikini model in Women’s Health magazine. We all perceive ‘perfect’ according to our own reality, lifestyle and choices.

I’m not writing today about the ‘perfect body”, the one that many celebrity fitness gurus have made their fortunes selling to the masses, I’m writing about a strong and healthy, female body.

Here’s an idea. How about, as women, we work on our physical strength so we can increase our metabolism, (yes, that means burn fat) live a longer and healthier life by deterring heart disease and bone disease such as osteoporosis, and live independently for longer, without the assistance of carers in our senior years. All this, above and before the cool side effect of carrying the children/shopping with ease, (whichever your lifestyle) and looking smoking hot in a bikini.

Yes, I own a gym, and many of our clients come to us to assist with, ‘the now body’ but I like to think about how we’re helping them and their families in their future years. This is why we as a gym and me personally as a woman, am so passionate about women lifting weights.

There is no arguing with the science behind the body’s reaction to weight training, increased bone density, more efficient metabolism, increased strength and reduced risk of day to day injury. However. The general consensus still seems to be, “I want to get skinny, I should jump on a treadmill.” Ladies, PLEASE LIFT SOME WEIGHTS AS WELL! *Insert bonus side effect of feeling empowered through strength and firm muscles

So, why don’t women want to strength train?

ONE: CARDIO RULES THE WOMEN’S FITNESS INDUSTRY WORLD

Cardio is to the female fitness industry, what the airbrushed model is to the fashion industry. It’s an iconic, extremely well-marketed, (*insert Lorna catalogue here) symbol of all that is good health, and apparently leads to the ‘ideal’ female body. I am in no way discarding cardiovascular training as an integral part of your training program, but it is exactly that; part of an overall program. A program that is also made up of healthy eating, mobility work, stretching and of course strength training. It is the latter that will ultimately lead to the round booty, to the sculpted shoulders and the firm, strong arms.

TWO: I DON’T WANT TO GET BULKY!

I still have a giggle to myself when I remember my first ever PT session with a trainer. I pointed to a picture of a female bodybuilder on the wall and said, “I don’t want to look like that.” Today, I can reflect on his polite smile, and simple answer of, “No you won’t”, as I am now educated and realise that to look like ‘that’, would require years of disciplined isolation training for several hours a day, along with the strictest of diets. Ladies, I can assure you, a daily workout in the gym using weights, will not result in you becoming a muscle-bound beast. It will result in progressive muscle development, strengthening of bones and an overall firming-up of the body.

THREE: I MIGHT HURT MYSELF

My background is in teaching, 15 years of it in fact and one thing I can assure you is this: With complete lack of; or the wrong guidance, instruction and introduction to something new, anything can be dangerous. Sadly, with an inundation of gyms, all catering for the masses, the initial induction to the equipment and training is barely sufficient. Whilst many people share the well-popularised, ‘Gym-Fails’ clips for hilarity and entertainment, I look at them with a sense of bewilderment at how bad the industry is failing many of it’s clients. At our gym, it’s simple – safety first with solid foundations.

Most of my clients are mothers, mothers that have to tend to children or pick up babies, none of which can be done with injury or a sore back. Girls, my message here is simple – choose your gym wisely, get a good trainer who cares about you personally and prides themselves on the correct technique of lifting weights safely and appropriately for your lifestyle and goals. Done correctly, strength training will actually reduce the risk of injury as your strong muscles work to do as they were designed, that is support the skeleton and act as levers and pulleys to get daily tasks done.

In a nutshell Ladies, strength training is HUGELY beneficial to your everyday life and future self. You will not become ‘manly’, (a sadly misused phrase that I personally hate, but use here are a relatable reference point), you WILL feel strong, you WILL notice a significant ‘firming-up’ of your body, and you will totally be a ‘chick who lifts.’

Wongy x

Images by Lion Fox & Co
Images by Lion Fox & Co

Michelle is an educator, passionate about improving the health and well-being of children, families and classrooms!

You can follow her journey at…

Family First Fitness

Bust-a-Burpee

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Positive Parenting: How to Achieve Great Behaviour by Raising Your Words Not Your Voice | Guest Writer Leonie Clements

Parenthood can be extremely rewarding, enlightening and enjoyable. Yet at times it’s hard to see the rainbows and fairy dust through the thickness of thunderstorms and hail. Parenting can be demanding, frustrating and exhausting. As parents we have the most important role of raising the next generation, yet most of us begin our parenting careers with little preparation through trial and error. The challenge for us all is to raise healthy, well-adjusted children in a loving, caring environment.

Positive parenting is an approach to parenting that aims to promote children’s development and manage children’s behaviour in a constructive and non-hurtful way. Positive parenting is based on good communication and positive attention to help children develop their skills and feel good about themselves, isn’t that how we all like to feel? Children who grow up with positive parenting are likely to develop their skills feeling good about themselves; they are less likely to develop behaviour problems.

There are five key points to establishing great behaviour through positive parenting.

First Key Point

The first one is ensuring a safe and engaging environment. Young children need a safe play environment, especially once they are on the move. Accidents in the home are the leading cause of injury in young children. By providing a safe environment means that you can be more relaxed about allowing your child to explore and keep busy through the day. An environment that is safe and full of interesting things will promote brain development and other sensory skills which will then reduce the likely hood of misbehaviour. Bored kids look for trouble. Supervision is always a must.

Second Key Point

The second point is creating a positive learning environment; parents need to be available to their children. This doesn’t mean being with your child consistently, it means being available when they need your help, care or attention. When your child approaches you for help or to show you what they have done in their play; Stop what you were doing and spend a few moments with them. Encouraging your child to try to do things on their own will help them to become independent. I’m now talking about the pre- schooler who can pack away their own belongings not an infant that needs you to feed them safely….so no bottle propping. Encouragement and positive attention will help your child to be motivated to learn. When you see your child doing something you like, tell them, praise them. By showing your child you like what they are doing they will be likely to do it again.

Third Key Point

The third point is using assertive discipline. Assertive discipline involves being consistent, acting quickly when a child misbehaves and teaching the child to behave in an acceptable way. When parents use assertive discipline, children learn to accept responsibility for their behaviour and develop self-control. Children are less likely to develop behaviour problems if their parents are consistent and predictable all the time. You can value your child’s individuality and still expect reasonable behaviour. When your child is misbehaving or having a tantrum/meltdown; it’s best for you to remain calm and avoid yelling, name calling, threatening and smacking.

Fourth Key Point

The fourth point is having realistic expectations. Parent’s expectations of their child will depend on what they consider normal for children at different ages, remember a two year old with limited language will not have the same understanding or physical skills as a four year old. Children are individuals and develop at different rates. Children need to be intellectually and developmentally ready before they can learn new skills, such as toileting on their own, feeding, or dressing themselves. Seek professional advice if you are unsure. Problems can arise when parents expect too much too soon from their children. Don’t expect your child to be perfect, we all make mistakes and learn from them. Most mistakes aren’t intentional.

Fifth Key Point

The fifth point is taking care of you! Parenting is easier when your own personal needs are met. Being a good parent is not about being with your child 24/7/, your child should not dominate your entire life. If your own needs as an adult are being met, it’s much easier to be patient, consistent and available to your child. It’s important for parents to have realistic expectations of themselves. It is good to want to do your best as a parent, but trying to be a perfect parent will only lead to feelings of frustration and inadequacy. Don’t be hard on yourself, everyone learns through experience.

Leonie Clements

Registered Mothercraft Nurse, Sleep Consultant, Lactation Educator and Creator of Motherhood Coaching Services

Gently guiding and supporting you on your Motherhood Journey

About Leonie

I’ve loved every minute of my journey of over a lifetime of experience with the unique families I have met and their individual bundle of joys. I started from humble beginnings as a Child Care Assistant then progressing towards my Mothercraft Nurse Training at Ngala. From the amazing education I received at Ngala I was able to sit state exams and become registered with the Nurses Board of Australia (now known as APHRA) to have a formal National and International Qualification of caring for Antenatal & Postnatal mothers and their children 0-6yrs old. I am qualified in all areas of child development including sleep behaviours, feeding and nutrition along with communication.

I have been privileged to work with Child Protect Agencies, Women’s Health, Education Department, Disability Services, Mental Health & Well Being and the Department of Health. I have continued my journey by obtaining a Cert 1V in Training and Assessment that enables me to run parenting groups and lecturer in the areas of knowledge that I have. I recently received a Certificate in Lactation Education which is assisting me to reach the level of IBCLC. My life wouldn’t be complete without my supportive family of three beautiful children and an amazing husband.

References to this article have been taken from Triple P Positive Parenting Program

 

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