I love Cup of Jo. The blog content and the community of readers that gather around it. It is a very beautiful space on the internet and what I secretly wish for this here little space.
She recently had a blog post on family rituals and I decided to steal a few to start with my child(ren) as they get older. So here goes and please also check it out.
To keep things simple at Christmas, we each get 4 gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. I am planning to use this model with my children (someday)!
My MIL had three curious kids who would shake gifts put under the tree before Christmas day. She invented Christmas “code names” to write on the presents. From then on the kids didn’t know whose presents were whose and would stop peeking. On Christmas day each kid gets to guess who’s assigned to each code name and she reveals the results at the end. My husband is now 33 and the tradition is still alive! She always chooses a different theme. Sometimes they are so abstract we spend hours just trying to guess what the theme is. Last year it was types of dairy cow (Holstein, Normande, Guernsey, Belted Galloway) and the year before it was cities in Ireland (Cork, Killkenny, Limerick, Dungarvan). One year she did locations of WWII battle sites. She keeps us on our toes and I always look forward to it.
“When my (very adult now) kids were smaller, I began asking for their self-portraits as my birthday gift. Many years later, I enjoy the most incredible archive of their growing artistic skills, evolving concepts of self, and interests at the time. It’s still what I ask for, and they happily explore new media, formats and methods each year — often their portraits coordinate incredibly well with no overt communication. Can’t recommend this enough. Only wish we’d begun even earlier!”
A nice tradition I have started with my kids is giving a special book on their birthday. Instead of a greeting card, we pick a book that means something that year (a book we borrowed many times from the library, a little story about a place we travelled to, about getting a sibling, etc) and we write a note on the front page or wherever we can fit it talking about memorable things of that year and hopes for the year ahead. I plan to give my kids a book with a love note every year for as long as I live
She doesn’t know it yet, but I invest money each month for my goddaughter, in the amount of her age. $1 a month when she was 1, $2 when she turned two, ect ect. She will be 11 next month! I plan to give her the money when she graduates high school or turns 18. It is a fairly low financial commitment from me each month, but should hopefully be a very nice gift for her one day. AND it will be a great lesson in compound interest and investing in your future 😉
The night before the first day of school we eat under the dining room table instead of on top of it. My kids are little (4 and 7) so they find this exciting and a wacky way to end summer and start the year!
I have occasionally thought that of the working parents, some were better than others but today, it hit me as they say in Kiswahili kila mtu apambane na hali yake (each one to contend with their situation / bear their cross). I also read this post that chronicled how some parents are sharing their child care needs – each of us is doing what needs to be done. That is all.
So how are we sharing the responsibilities?
- We discuss calendars on Sunday evening and coordinate so we do not have clashing calendars. This is necessary because one parent works in the morning as the other does child care/ house and all those demands.
- We each took on more around the house based on interest and strengths. Having said that, I suspect as the mom I do more 😦
- Early on, we shared with our respective bosses and teams the situation at home and the impact on overall availability and deadlines.
- We regularly check in with each other because its tough for each of us, on different days and in different ways. And we need to carry each other because as I keep saying to the Mr, if we think we are hanging on by a thread now, we
cannot afford to break down or get sick.
- I/ we both dropped our house cleanliness / tidy standards because no one has time or energy to keep those up. Also, no one is visiting the other so whatever.
- Lastly and most importantly, to be easy on myself. I had some grand plans for this year, both in terms of school, work and personally but God in His sovereignty has placed me here and now. So I occasionally say to myself, chill, be easy.
Underscoring all of this is such great privilege that we both kept our jobs and work in fields that allow us to work remotely. Coupled with this is a child who has the beginnings of being resilient and who rolls with the punches given by Mama and Papa.
So how are you coping?
In person, these feelings and reflections on the past year are mostly joyful but definitely extremely emotional. I cannot put into words what this year has been like but I would like to try.
- Motherhood takes a village. You can do it alone but it is so much better when shared with people you love and trust and with whom you can point your children towards. A pal of mine shared with me that you need four or five people that you trust enough to say to your kid if you cannot talk to me about anything, you can speak to ….. I definitely have those people, both in family and friends.
- Pregnancy takes a toll on you the mother and it takes a while for your body to adjust, both physically, emotionally, hormonally and just. Be patient with yourself also, don’t stress too much about your looks.
- A baby’s personality develops at birth, observe and work with that.
- A friend told me about a mothers’ instinct at my baby shower and I was doubtful. It is true that it does kick in and that I am the best person equipped to be her mother. No one can be a better mom than me.
- The dynamics of your relationship shift significantly. Talk about it, review where you both are/ how you are feeling and to discuss. Little people can otherwise impose a lot of pressure on your relationship.
- Having a baby helped me refine how much I love people. I also finally understood how much my mom loves me. If she loves me even a little of what I feel for her then I am loved. I also know what it means when I miss someone because I sometimes miss her so much my heart and body actually aches. How does my mom cope?
- I learnt that I can be efficient with my time. I commit better to things immediately. I can function with little to no sleep.
A friend is waiting to have her first baby any time now and a popular blog I read often asks participants what advice they would give a first time mama and only now am I kind of ready to attempt answering that.
- A birth plan is great, but don’t be too tied to it, things happen so be flexible.
- Have a plan for who you want to visit you once baby comes. Be clear what you expect and what you would like.
- If your mom or sister, or other trusted female relative can come, let them. In laws are great but for the first one its nice to have someone you are closely related to.
- Have someone who loves you look out for post natal depression. It’s a reality.
- Little kids don’t need too much stuff and they outgrow stuff so quickly so don’t over shop it might all go to waste.
- If you have a partner, your communication will take a bit of a knock but resolve to work on it and adapt together.
- Babies cry. Soon you will develop a tough skin when they do. When you can’t settle them, give them a bath or strip them of their clothes for a little while.
- Lastly, you are the best mama for that baby. No one can do it better than you. YOU GOT THIS.
Posted in Heart matters, home, life, Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged advice, babies, bath, birth plan, communication, depression, husbands, motherhood, parenting, partner, post natal depression
This being the last week of my maternity break, I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learnt as a new mom. Please share your own lessons in the comments, thanks.
- Newborns make interesting sounds right from the beginning. Leaving the hospital the little one giggled … we should have known she had grand plans for us later that night.
- They try to turn their necks from side to side initially, at least she did.
- They are your co-partner in breastfeeding. FACT.
- Breastfeeding makes you feel insecure – get a good lactation consultant on standby and attend a good birthing class that included breastfeeding lessons.
- It does take a village, first kids are naturally born resilient coz how do they survive with parents who don’t know what they are doing????
- … but you should also control the type of visitors you get. In the early days I caught myself making lunch and teas for visitors, very very sad.
- Trust your instincts always. This took me a while to get used to but it does kick in, thank God.
- You fall in love with them coz they pin you with that intense penetrating gaze and then one day they just smile and you are captivated.
- I will honestly admit to the fact that I did not initially fall in love, like day one. It took me a week or two but when I got there, I was fully in love …
- Newborns aren’t fazed by hiccups.
- They hate to bath, at least she did. It took
three full months for it to become bearable.
- You are initially tired, lack of sleep and childbirth, but you soon learn to cope.
- The nature of the relationship with your partner will change. The most important thing is to talk about it and give each other some grace. Also, get some zzz when you can, lack of sleep exacerbates errrrthing.
- Baby breath and baby farts don’t smell at all
- Changing dirty diapers is actually not the worst thing.
The best part of it all though is getting to know her an experience that I would liken to a slowly opening rose bud.
Posted in Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged baby, bathing, breastfeeding, childbirth, communication, hiccups, husbands, lessons learnt, motherhood, parenting, visitors
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged books, Books reading, cooking, Ethiopia, history, motherhood, parenting, potatoes, recipes, time, travelling, yoghurt
Posted in home, Motherhood/ Parenting, working
Tagged babies, belief, careers, cooking, faith, Heart matters, parenthood, parenting, Pasta, pasta recipe, recipes, Sunday Reads, women and work, work philosophy, working
Posted in home, life, Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged baking, food, friendship, Johannesburg, parenting, pasta recipe, recipes, salads, Sunday Reads, Urban dictionary, words we need
Please read this post on cute things that kids say and then look at the comments as well. Below are some stand-out gems:
- Setting the scene: peaceful Saturday morning. Cup of coffee, book, couch, blanket, fireplace, spouse taking care of the baby, bliss.
Suddenly the 4-year-old pipes up: “Mama. When are you and daddy going to die?”
- I got in a 30 minute heated argument with my 4 year old once over who took care of her when I was a baby. (I had shown her a newborn picture of myself and it blew her mind to pieces.) She shrieked… “BUT MOM!!!!!! When you were a baby, and I was a baby, who was taking care of me??!! You couldn’t take care of me if you were a baby. Gasp! Oh no, was I all alone?” No matter how much I explained, the more upset she became. We finally settled on… Grandma. Grandma took care of all of us. And with that, the argument was over haha.
- “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.“
- Sometimes I overhear a kid say something funny at a store and start laughing. And then one of my kids screams, ‘why are you laughing? Tell me Tell me!’ And then it gets awkward.
- My son was at about 2 years old when he saw me coming out of the shower and said “mumma, I love your bajina.” I could not have laughed harder.
- The other day, my 5-year-old daughter looked at me sweetly and said, “Mama, when you get old and die, can I have your phone?”
All this reminds me of a conversation with my 2.75 year old niece at the time who in a public bathroom asked me rather loudly whether I have a vagina and how I wanted to eat her up whole because I was not sure what would follow my answer! Urrrghs kids 🙂
Posted in Heart matters, home, Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged being an aunt, blog envy, blogs i like, children, Cup of Jo, kids, life, parenting, questions
Today, I want to focus on my parents and the values they have imparted in me that I admire and hope to replicate with my children.
- Their work ethic. My parents inspired my sisters and I to work hard, to be our best and not to be limited by gender, our circumstances or other life setbacks. They themselves came from such humble beginnings and accomplished so much that by their actions and choices, you were inspired to try your best.
- Their relationship with money. As far as I know, my parents never bought anything on credit. If they couldn’t save and get it, they did not get it. Also, to save all your money, save even if you have no immediate plans, just save.
- Family first. My sisters and I always knew (know) that we were important and that we mattered to them, that they gave us their best and withheld nothing from us. They loved and even, liked us, and we never doubted this. We are our parents best investment and choice and there is something comforting in that.
- I love that their parenting style did not require them to compare any of us. To them, we are unique, we are individuals and each success was celebrated on its own and each failure dealt with separately. As a result, all five of us are friends and continue to do the same thing with each other to date.
- Faith and the role of God. He is over and above all things, always has and always has been.
- Choice. Marry when you want, there is no pressure to marry or in fact conform because we are women. Study what you want at school – whether Physics or Home science. Learn how to slaughter a chicken or change a tyre, just because you are only girls, you still need to know.
- A love for books. Yes!!!
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged about me, books, family, finances, life, life lessons, parenting, parents, reading, saving, tribute, values, women, work
Posted in Heart matters, home, Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged Africa, Africa's a Country, bible god, Bible Study, cooking, gardens, grandparents, ice cream, ice cream maker, marria, North Korea, parenting, Quinoa, race, racism, recipe, technology, The Confidence Gap
As friends of mine are in that phase of having babies, I enjoyed this post and felt inspired to copy a list of things I would take with me when I next go to visit as in that moment you are often at a loss of what is appropriate.
- Time – to listen, help out with her errands, carry baby, fold laundry or cook. Just time.
- Easy to warm and eat with one hand food. Also drinks.
- What food did she miss during pregnancy that she can now eat? Stock up on that!!
- A cozy gown as the new mom will be nursing or up in the cold of the day or night.
- Comfy chill at home shoes/ other clothes.
- Hand cream/ hand sanitiser because new baby = washing hands often.
- A beautiful mug or water bottle as she might be drinking a whole lot more if she is breastfeeding.
When you had a baby, what would you have loved OR what great gift do you get new moms?