• All About Fern
  • I Could Be a Celebrity (and Other Random Thoughts)

    I’m really good at thinking, but not so good at doing. Take this week, for example. I had many thoughts full of many ideas about really good blog posts. And did I write the blog posts? No. I did not. It would be easy to blame the school holidays on my inability to just sit down and do the things I tell myself I will do, but the truth is that even if the kids were at school I probably wouldn’t have written the things I could have written. I am quite lazy, you see. And also I’ve got my YouTube channel, which seems to be a lot easier than blogging for some reason. Maybe because speaking is more forgiving than writing. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about, so I will move on.

    Because I am happy to both accept and admit that I am lazy, I am also happy to indulge my laziness. And so, I’m just going to bullet point some of the thoughts I had; some of the blog posts that could have been, if you will. This way I get to feel like I did blog the thoughts, and you, whoever you are, gets a small taste of what you’re missing out on (or not, as the case may be). So. Here we go.

    • I got my sister-in-law a copy of Yes Please by Amy Poehler for Christmas, because I was certain she would like it. She did like it, I discovered on Christmas eve, when I saw that exact book tucked into her suitcase. Crap. So, the new Yes Please went back to The Warehouse and was exchanged for something else, and the old Yes Please was passed on to me so I could read it, because yes, my sister (in law) had already finished reading it in its entirety.
      I haven’t made it past the preface, so I probably shouldn’t even be talking about the book yet, but I’ve got to say I found it all ridiculously inspiring. I’m not sure why, exactly, but Ms. Poehler was talking about how writing is really hard, and how it feels damn near impossible to make time to pen an entire book in between raising kids and working and generally being awesome. And somewhere in amongst all that my brain was all, Oh my god, Amy Poehler is just a person. 
      Now you might be reading that and rolling your eyes and thinking, Well, duh, but I’m pretty sure that most of us view celebrities as some sort of super-human subspecies. And it just started to occur to me that that is so not the case. All these people we look up to, whose work we watch and read and consume, are just like you and me. They’re really not that special. And I dunno, I just got to thinking that if a little girl called Amy could grow up to be a celebrated comedienne called Amy Poehler, then who’s to say that a little girl called Anita can’t grow up to be a kick-ass woman called Fern who is celebrated for her talents too?
      I mean, sure, it’s likely my imagination kind of ran away with me a bit, that happens to me quite a lot, but I’m beginning to feel like there’s nothing stopping me from achieving the things I want to achieve.
      2017 could be my year…
    • I’ve been getting really grumpy with my kids, and it’s not that they’re being extra annoying, it’s that I’m being extra impatient. This is one of those things that makes you feel a bit shitty about yourself, because the thought that you are the problem is a hard pill to swallow (cliche, don’t care), but whatever. Sometimes you just have to accept that you suck and then figure out a way to stop sucking so much.
      My way to suck less is to start my day with a slight attitude adjustment (please believe that I’m not trying to tell you how to suck less, this is just something I’m trying to do – I will probably forget all about this within a week). Instead of waking up and being all, Ugh my kids are so freaking annoying, why are they so loud, why are they so whiney, why do they want me to pay them attention when it’s only six thirty in the morning, I try to wake up being all, Wow, the kids seem pretty needy today, I better get up and help them get their breakfast, after all, I get super hangry about everything when I go too long without eating…
      It all sounds a wee bit lame, I know, but it does seem to make a difference. Oh, and turning on Netflix and dozing while the kids snuggle beside you and watch a shitty cartoon for half an hour or so helps too. May as well make the most of the school holidays, right?
    • We’ve been spending a crap ton of money lately and it’s really got to stop. First there was Christmas, and then there were general school holiday expenses, and now there is me sitting on my computer looking at all the emails that get sent to my spammy hotmail account advertising unmissable sales and unbeatable deals on pizza delivery.
      I’ve started thinking that I should attempt some sort of Frugal February thing (is that a thing? I feel like it should be a thing). Like maybe I should try and not spend any money outside of the essential living costs? Maybe I should try really hard to spend less on groceries each week, to stop buying takeaways all the time (Burger Fuel, I’m looking at you), to stick to regular blocks of cheese instead of treating myself to two or three rounds of camembert each week…
      I’m going to have to think about this one a little more, because I think we all know that I really do love to shop; I really do love to spend money. But I’m kind of realising that spending money doesn’t actually make me any happier, and as much as I fight it, my Dutch in-laws could teach me a lot about managing money and being content with what we’ve got.
      Not spending money is pretty boring though.

    So yes, that’s about it really. I mean, it’s not, but that’s all I can be bothered writing, and the kids are asking about lunch, and there’s only so many times I can say, Yes, I’ll get it for you soon, I’m just working at the moment, before they completely lose the plot.

    If any of those things sound like any of the things that you think about then let me know. And if you want to join me in attempting to be frugal in February then flick me a message, because I kind of reckon it could be sorta fun if I have someone to hold my hand through my month of cheap(ish) living.

    In the mean time, you can watch this video about my plans – not goals – for 2017. None of it actually ties in with this blog post, but it does tie in with the theme of random and somewhat jumbled thoughts, so I feel like it works.

    Happy day, yo.
    – Fern xxx

     

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  • All About Fern
  • Let’s (Not) Talk About Sex

    It was a while ago now that the email came through: The beauty editor of a nationwide parenting magazine had found my blog and wanted to know if I was interested in being featured in a piece she was putting together. Would I mind answering a few questions about beauty products and routines? Of course not! In fact, typing out my replies was an absolute pleasure.

    This morning I got my hands on a copy of the actual, real magazine that actually, really has my name and my face and my words printed in actual, real colour on page 98. It was exciting. It was cool. But when I saw that I’m considered a “well-known Kiwi mum who blogs” I almost exploded. I’m well-known? Me? Most of the time I feel like I’m just talking to myself!

    It’s confronting, to say the least, to suddenly realise that anybody, everybody, has free access to my life. For the most part I ignore the fact that there are people watching my videos and reading my posts, but when you see your picture in a magazine, or (true story) one of the school mums approaches you and says, “Oh I enjoyed your vlog about your daughter’s birthday gifts!” it all starts to feel very real, and very, very public.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’ve signed up for, and for the most part it’s exhilarating. Over on YouTube I can literally watch my numbers, both in terms of subscribers and actual viewers, grow. Here on my blog I’ve been enjoying reading through the comments you leave me. But every now and then I feel the need to pause and reevaluate my choices. Are blogging and vlogging in my family’s best interests? Am I disrespecting their privacy? Will my kids grow up to resent my decision to share my life, and theirs, on the internet? I mean, I’ve already spoken about the fact that I fear I’ve been inadvertently putting my children in danger. Am I really doing enough to keep them safe now?

    Whatever the answers to my questions may be, I’m not really willing to stop what I’m doing. I feel like I’m onto a good thing here, that these “hobbies” of mine can and will take me in the direction I want to be heading in. I do, however, have every intention of stopping and thinking before I post, before I vlog, before I share my innermost thoughts and feelings. The thing is, I know what sells. I know that there are many parenting bloggers out there who’ve made a name for themselves by discussing their sex lives, or their relationship issues, or what their vagina is like now they’ve given birth. And while those topics may result in a huge increase in traffic, discussing that sort of thing is a path I flatly refuse to head down. My kids will grow up and they’ll use the internet. No doubt they’ll check up on me at some point. I would hate for them to ever feel embarrassed or disturbed by the stories I’ve told. I just can’t do that to them. Ever.

    So far I think I’m doing okay. A few months ago I went through and privatised a whole bunch of videos I’d uploaded to my channel due to safety concerns, but I think I’m on the right track now. Though the kids’ faces have slowly started appearing in my vlogs again, though I have definitely been sharing some of their experiences, I do feel like the stories I’ve been telling are my own. And I’d like to think that I’ve been sharing them with care and respect. Sure, all parents embarrass their kids at some point, it’s inevitable. But if I can manage to limit that shame to in-person experiences only, then I’ll feel like I’ve done something right. Fingers crossed I can actually pull it off…

    – Fern xxx

    I’m featured in the latest issue of Little Treasures magazine. Look out for me!
    Or, if you don’t yet have a copy, stay tuned for a giveaway over on my YouTube channel.
    It’s coming very soon!

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  • Mum Life
  • I Can’t Stop Yelling

    You know that feeling when something you’ve been looking forward to ends up being a massive disappointment? Yeah, that one. Welcome to my week…

    I was so excited for my kids to go back to school. The holidays weren’t too much of a struggle, but still. The beginning of the new term was something I wanted so badly I could taste it. The house would be clean(er) and quiet(er) again. I’d have time to focus on my blog, and my channel, and my Jamberry. I’d be able to get back into my regular exercise regime. Basically, the new term was going to be the best thing that had ever happened to me.

    I shouldn’t have been surprised when that fantasy came crashing down around me (seriously, when will I learn?), but I was. In fact, I’m now completely bummed out because I feel like my life is completely out of control. I don’t think I could try any harder to teach my kids to be independent, to encourage them to do their few, simple chores each morning, and yet it’s a battle. Every morning is a battle. I’ve been setting my alarm earlier, I’ve been helping the children out more, but it’s not enough. Nothing I do is ever enough. The kids still run late, forget vital tasks, and ignore everything I say until I start yelling. I hate yelling! I’m so sick of yelling! But every morning, I yell. And then I want to cry. And then the kids cry, which makes me feel bad, or they don’t cry, which makes me feel even worse (if your mother screaming wildly doesn’t upset you, you’ve gotta be a little broken inside, don’t you think?).

    I’m at a total loss here. I keep thinking, Maybe I just wasn’t cut out to be a mother of four? Obviously that’s not helpful, I am a mother of four so I just need to get on with things, but most mornings I feel like that’s the truth. I feel like I’m drowning. I’m managing to get myself and the two little ones ready on time, but Miss Six is constantly overlooked. And Miss Six, for whatever reason, seems to be completely incapable of taking responsibility for herself. While I’m busy wiping bums and noses, forcing chubby arms through sleeves, and spooning mushy Weetbix into open mouths, Miss Six will get through maybe half a piece of toast. On a good day. And even though I’m doing my best to check on her, to make sure she’s on task, I only have one set of eyes and one pair of hands. I can’t be with her every step of the way. I don’t know how to keep her on track. Actually, the only thing I do know is that yelling really isn’t helping…

    I was speaking with a friend yesterday who told me that she’s been reading about how mothers in the 1950s managed to stay on top of everything. Apparently, as women, mothers, and housekeepers, our standards have dropped dramatically over the last 60 years or so. People used to keep their houses neat and tidy at all times. Children were expected to clean up after themselves. And though I’m not saying that’s not a good thing, I would love it if my house was sparkling and fresh instead of grimy and stale, things have changed. Everything has changed. Our children roam free now, playing and moving through the house at will, rather than being placed in cages playpens or being left outside in their pushchairs. Our houses are piled high with books and toys and craft supplies, which spew out of the kids’ bedrooms and into the communal living areas, because research has shown us that learning begins in the home, and children learn through play. As parents we are doing our best to respect our children, to teach them and speak with them and guide them, rather than just belting them into submission. And that’s good. That’s great. But it does mean the days of immaculately kept homes are behind us. It also means that Miss Six is going to continue to live life on her own terms, not mine.

    At the beginning of the holidays I optimistically purchased a fancy pants sticker chart, which I thought would help keep Miss Six on track. All the things she needs to do to get herself ready for school are written up on her chart. If she does all the things, she gets all the stickers. If she gets all the stickers, she gets all the rewards. I’m talking chocolates, and presents, and Friday afternoon Netflix sessions.
    Just follow the chart! It’ll be so fun! I tell her every night before bed. But despite her nods and smiles and promises, she chooses to sit naked on her bedroom floor for 15 minutes instead of getting dressed. And then she chooses to get up from the table 10 – 20 times when she’s supposed to be eating breakfast. And then she makes faces at herself in the mirror instead of brushing her teeth. And then it’s time to go to school and her face is unwashed, her bag is unpacked, and her bed is unmade. Cue yelling. Will this cycle never end?

    I just feel defeated. I just want to quit. People keep telling me that things get easier with time, but it seems as though it’s all getting harder. Each day feels more hectic than the last. I want to do better, be better, take care of my house and my family better, but I’m failing. Flailing. Flapping and flapping and flapping my arms, but never getting off the ground. My friend is aspiring to be a 1950s housewife, I’m just aspiring to make it through the day. This whole parenting thing is a hundred times harder than I’d ever imagined…

    – Fern xxx

    Come at me with your words of wisdom!
    What am I doing wrong? How the hell do I manage to get this kid to get herself ready for school?
    Why am I being punished?!
    Seriously, if you’re reading this, I need your help.

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  • All About Fern
  • Depression is Forever

    The problem with depression is that it stays with you forever. Once upon a time, a good 12 years ago now, I was so depressed that I did nothing but lie face down on the carpet for an entire day. That was it. I didn’t cry, didn’t eat, didn’t speak. I just lay there. Numb. Swallowed by an invisible fog. My mum ended up dragging me to counselling, which kind of helped in the end, but I do remember my first session lasting only 15 minutes, because I simply had nothing to say. I was broken. It wasn’t that I was sad exactly, it was more like a part of me had disappeared.

    I guess I’m one of the lucky ones, because that missing part came back eventually. I scraped myself off the floor and began making a life for myself. There were a few bumps in the road. Highs. Lows. But then I got things figured out and I headed off to university. I made friends. I met a boy… And the next thing I knew I was pregnant. Oops.

    I went into my first official antenatal appointment feeling excited and hopeful. The midwife, her dress purple, her nose pierced, had a long list of questions she needed me to answer. My name, my age, any known diseases, and depression: Had I ever, at any point, suffered from depression?
    Yes. But I’m fine now. 
    I felt embarrassed, but she just smiled at that, and nodded her head. Then she told me there was a good chance I’d get it again.
    Just so you know. 
    Why would you smile while saying that to someone?

    I’m not completely irrational. I understand why my midwife needed to tell me that I was at risk of developing postnatal depression. But that warning, along with gentle reminders from my doctor, has haunted me for years. I am At Risk. One day I might find myself unable to do anything but lie on the carpet. I could end up breaking down in front of my kids; falling, falling, falling into a deep, black hole… But what can I do about it? It’s said that knowledge is power, but knowing depression is an illness that could come back at any time seems to be doing me more harm than good.

    It’s no secret that I haven’t been feeling particularly happy of late. My moods have been low, my disposition less than sunny. But when I was talking about my current outlook with a friend and she responded with, That’s the depression talking, I was shocked. Am I depressed? Have I let my guard down and allowed the darkness to seep back in? I thought I’d simply entered a rough patch, that my lack of joy stems from feeling like I need a little more from life. But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe I am unwell. Maybe every bad thought I’ve ever had, and will ever have, is actually just the black dog scratching at my door.

    The more thought I give to it, however, the more firmly I believe that sometimes life is just a bit crappy. Surely feeling disillusioned or unfulfilled when things aren’t the way you’d like them to be is relatively normal. I’ve been expressing the fact that I’m not exactly overjoyed with my lot right now, because that’s the truth. I could be a hell of a lot happier, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily equal depression. If unhappiness is circumstantial, like mine is, then doesn’t that mean the unhappiness is justified? Even if I did go to my doctor to tell her I’ve been feeling down, I don’t believe she could do anything to make me feel better. Unless counselling or antidepressants are going to magically put my husband on the same page as me, or somehow turn my Bachelor of Arts and lack of significant work experience into the most impressive qualifications possible, then they’re not going to help. They just won’t.

    Still, depression (whether real or imaginary) has this hold over me. I remember a letter my cousin wrote to me when I was at my worst, in which she included the acronym FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. That’s a lot of what depression is. It’s FEAR. I get that. But because I’ve known I have depressive tendencies for such a long time, I’ve ended up growing into a person who mistrusts every thought that crosses their mind. Would I really be happier if we lived in a bigger, safer, drier home, or if I had the opportunity to embark on a well-paying career, or is that just the FEAR talking? Or maybe I’m just hormonal. Or overly emotional. Maybe I’m just living in a fantasy world. How does anyone ever really know? I feel like I’m constantly doubting myself, never quite able to figure out what’s real and what’s FEAR, never knowing for sure if I’m thinking like a healthy person.

    Some days I think it would be nice to be medicated. Not because I feel like I need it, but because then I could just stop wondering. I remember what it was like taking anti-depressants, replacing one blinding fog with another. There was less anger and sorrow, but there was less of all the other emotions too. And though that prescribed numbness doesn’t appeal to me at all, the thought that I could just quit worrying about the depression swallowing me again is tantalising. I could be free.

    Other days I think that I’m doing pretty damn well for myself. I’m not my happiest, but I’m still achieving things. I’m right here working on my blog. I’m sticking to my YouTube schedule. I’m rocking the hell out of my new direct sales business. I’m exercising and eating well and I’m incredibly close to hitting my goal weight. None of that sounds like the actions of a depressed person. None of that suggests I need to be talking with my doctor. On paper it all looks as though I’m functioning just as I should be. No one is expected to be over-the-moon happy all the time, right?

    No, it really is the doubt that’s getting to me lately. It’s awful to go through life unable to trust your own emotions, constantly feeling like you’re not capable of making good decisions. Constantly wondering whether or not your expectations are realistic. And I can’t help but think that depression, whether it’s actually affecting me or not, is not all FEAR. I feel like some of it is truth. My friend says that thinking, What’s the point? is a sign of depression, and it probably is. But if I’m looking at the crumbs all over the floor only 20 minutes after I finished vacuuming, then surely that exact thought is justified. My head tells me that waking up and thinking, Great, here we go again, is a symptom of depression, but when I’ve woken up to my kids screaming and fighting, while the baby cries to be let out of his bed, then I’m pretty sure that thought is understandable. So what’s the verdict? Am I depressed, or do I just need a complete change of scenery?

    As always, I don’t have any answers. Maybe I am depressed. Maybe I’m not. Either way, there is some good news, and that is that I am strong. This whole depression thing is going to follow me around for the rest of my life, most likely, but I am willing to accept that. I’ll be Okay. I can talk about it, blog about it, share my thoughts in my YouTube videos. I can still get out there and do the things I want to do despite the ever-lurking cloud. I can push past the FEAR. I’ve made it through massive upheavals, car accidents, unplanned pregnancies, and worse, and I can make it through this too. The good thing about bad times, is that (usually) the good times are not too far away.

    – Fern xxx

    If you’ve ever felt depressed and/or you have some tried and tested pick-me-ups I’d love to read about them in the comments section below. 

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  • All About Fern
  • Searching for Balance

    This morning, while trying to decide what to blog about, I started feeling guilty for sharing the not-so-nice side of my life as a full-time mother. I’ve had friends withdraw from me for being “too negative” in the past (yeah, depression will do that to you), so I’m well aware that many people would rather not hear about the bad stuff. I suppose that’s why most family lifestyle bloggers focus on the good bits; I wonder if that’s why some of my posts end up being ignored…

    I feel a bit angry, actually, that I’m feeling bad for being true to myself. I keep thinking that I should be allowed to share my stories honestly, without worrying about whether my readers find them uplifting or not. But the truth is that I want people to return to my blog, and I want them to leave me comments, and if I keep going on about the negatives then that’s just not going to happen. Something’s got to give.

    So, while walking home from the school run, my boys in tow, I made an effort to focus on the good. The sun was out and the children were content. Mr. Three was holding my hand. A truckie tooted his horn when he saw us pointing at his load. That small gesture, coupled with my son’s delighted laughter, lifted my spirits. My heart felt full and I felt happy. That is how motherhood can be.

    But then we got home and reality hit. The laundry pile is overflowing, there are dishes all over the bench, and the carpets need to be vacuumed. Again. I could get those jobs taken care of today, but I’ll have to do them all over again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. And so it will continue. Indefinitely. That is how motherhood is.

    Right now the baby is asleep and Mr. Three is watching Thomas. That is good. I am at my computer. That is also good. But I am still surrounded by mess and it is bothering me, distracting me, making it difficult to concentrate on my writing. My mind keeps taking me to dark places. Why am I pouring so much energy into this blog? Why am I bothering with YouTube? Where are these projects actually going to take me? I listed them both in the CV I created for a job application last week, and I was rejected almost straight away. No reason was given (Thanks, but no thanks!), so I’ve been filling in the blanks myself. Any idiot can start a YouTube channel. A million parents write Mummy Blogs. It doesn’t matter that I’m working hard on it, because it’s not original. It’s not clever. It’s not a job. I feel like I’m wasting my time.

    Next week I will be taking a break from posting and uploading. I need a moment to reflect on the choices I’ve been making. I need to figure out how I can bring more balance into my life. I need to know whether or not it’s possible to keep the house clean and the kids happy while pursuing my own interests. Right now I’m finding I don’t have enough time in the day, and I’m constantly playing catch up. I keep telling myself I’m working, but is this work? Or is it just a narcissistic hobby? Hopefully, by taking a step back, I’ll be able to figure it all out. I might even return with some more positive stories to share…

    – Fern xxx

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  • All About Fern
  • Speaking My Truth

    Last night I uploaded a video to my YouTube channel that made me nervous. Seated on the end of my bed, my wet hair still wrapped up in a towel, I openly admitted that I am struggling in my role as a full-time mother. I do not feel fulfilled. I do not feel content. I no longer want to sit back and shut up and pretend like everything is fine. I need change.

    I felt apprehensive for a number of reasons. I didn’t care that my appearance was sloppy, my face bare, but I did care about the responses I would receive. Who films themselves with tears in their eyes, whinging about the boredom, isolation, and lack of overall enjoyment in their lives? Who publicly admits that they feel trapped in their role as a mother, wishing they could uproot their family just because they want a new challenge? I was certain the comments left on my video would be negative, that I’d be accused of feeling sorry for myself, that I am selfish, that my concerns are merely first world problems and my expectations are too high. I worried that I was embarrassing myself. And my husband.

    Within the first hour of publicising my video I discovered there had been no reason to feel afraid. The response to my video has been overwhelming, with over 25 viewers offering their support publicly within the first few hours, while several others contacted me via private message.
    “I remember those days so vividly.”
    “You are far from alone!”
    “I can understand exactly where you are coming from.”
    “Yes. Just Yes. I get it.”
    I was blown away by just how many other women feel exactly the same way as I do. I thought I was the only one! But now I know I’m not, not by a long shot, I feel kind of confused. How come no one ever seems to talk about it?

    In recent years the support for mothers struggling mentally has improved dramatically. Postnatal depression is more universally accepted and understood, and women are encouraged to talk about it and seek help. Obviously this is a very good thing, though I can’t help but wonder why we are only sharing our battles once we’re at our absolute worst. Why can’t we be open about the fact that we’re bored with child rearing and housekeeping? And why are people telling me I’m brave for owning up to my feelings? Most of the feedback I’ve received over the past 24 hours is proof that there are a lot of women in my shoes right now. It’s not uncommon to feel like this. Yet I’m being brave by sharing my experiences? I always associated the word brave with extraordinary events. All I did was vent.

    I’ve been going on about it a lot recently, my determination to live authentically, and my desire to see more authenticity from the people around me. So I was pleased, in a way, when uploading my Honest Life Update video to a public platform confirmed just how important presenting ourselves authentically can be. I know that focussing on the negative is frowned upon (ha), but I feel like only acknowledging the positive aspects in our lives is causing other people harm. I know I’m not the only one who looks in on other people’s lives with envy. Would I be so envious if the women I associate with just admitted that there are some really crappy things going on for them? Would I respect them any less for hearing that they’re finding certain aspects of their life difficult? If anything I think I’d probably end up respecting them more.

    So again I will admit that I’m looking for more from life right now, and that I’m finding the monotony of motherhood both under- and overwhelming. And again I will encourage you all to speak your truth, to be open whenever you get the chance. If the people you share your heart with are disrespectful, then they are people you shouldn’t have had in your life to begin with. Which means you can let them go. Which means you are a step closer to living a richer and more fulfilling life. It’s a win-win situation, don’t you think?

    – Fern xxx

    Do you ever find yourself struggling with your life as a parent? What do you do to ensure you’re leading a rich and meaningful life? How important do you think it is to present yourself authentically?
    I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  • All About Fern
  • My Daughter is Annoying and It’s All MY Fault

    I was chatting with my mum the other day about the ways in which children are annoying. I’m one of five kids, so Mum’s a good person to whinge to about the realities of raising too many a lot of children. She gets it. We were laughing a bit, keeping it light-hearted and fun, when Mum said, “Most of the time, when children are at their most annoying, they’re doing things we do ourselves.”
    I don’t say this very often, but I think Mum was right.

    Lately Miss Seven has been groaning a lot. Whenever she feels irritated or she’s told to do something she doesn’t want to do, she lets out a loud, huffy, growl. Then she walks quickly yet heavily (imagine someone on the cusp of stamping their feet) through the house, just to demonstrate how unhappy she is with whatever the latest development may be. It gets under my skin every time, and I feel like I’m constantly berating her for her bad attitude and incessant moaning. But you know what? I do those things too. I do them all the time. And that means my daughter is annoying me by being like me. Eep. This is not a good thing.

    At school this term the kids have been training for cross country running. I always hated cross country with a passion, and refused to even try to do well. But when my daughter came home from school complaining about it, telling me she knew she wasn’t going to win so she’d just been walking instead of running, I was unimpressed. Forgetting what I’d been like at her age (and, actually, what I’m still like now in some respects) I kept at her for weeks, telling her she had to try, that she needed to adjust her attitude, that winning is not important but doing your best is. And every time I had to say these things, I found myself feeling more and more irritated by her lack of effort and determination. She is capable. She must try. Not once did I stop and think about whether or not I’ve been modelling the behaviours I expect from her.

    By some miracle, something I said actually got through to her. Two days out from the race Miss Seven decided that she was willing to give cross country her best shot. She resolved to run the whole way, and quickly convinced herself that she’d probably come in fourth, but maybe she’d even get second or third. This seemed like an amazing development, but it wasn’t. After trying her absolute best, my daughter was overtaken near the finish line, bumping her from fourth to fifth place. And though she was congratulated, and rewarded with valuable points for her house team, she was not happy. She was not happy at all. Apparently, coming fifth is no better than coming last.

    Seeing my child acting like a sore loser annoyed me. I spent a good five minutes crouching beside her on the school field, rubbing her back and telling her I was very proud, that fifth place is a great achievement, that there really is no need to be crying, but no. She would not be comforted. She would not stop crying. With my patience wearing thin and irritation clawing at my throat, I really wanted to tell her to just snap out of it. But in that moment I realised something: I am a sore loser. Possibly the sorest loser. My husband won’t even play Scrabble with me any more because I get so angry upset when I’m not winning. Sure, I’ve grown out of crying in public when I lose, but ranting and raving about how I deserved to win isn’t really any different. How is it fair to lose my cool with my child, a seven-year-old, when she’s acting just like me?

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to have to work on myself if I want to see less of these behaviours from my daughter. After all, there’s no point in telling my kids not to do something if I’m going to continue doing them myself. I think that if I can just focus on being mindful (it’s very important, you know), I should begin to notice improvements in both myself and my daughter. I need to stop and acknowledge my feelings, instead of expressing them via growls and heavy footsteps. I need to accept that I’m going to feel defeated at times while reminding myself that giving up is not the answer. I need to practice competing, in a range of settings, for the experience, not just because I want to win. You know that saying about being the change you want to see in the world? I feel like that applies here. I know it’s a cliché, but I really do need to practice what I preach.

    – Fern xxx

    Maybe I’m the worst mother in the world, or maybe you get annoyed when your kids mimic your bad habits too… If you feel like sharing the one thing your child does that irritates you most I’d love to hear about it!

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    Ooh, this post was named Choice of the Week in the Blog Fair Link Party!
    Ooh, this post was named Choice of the Week in the Blog Fair Link Party!
  • Mum Life
  • The Makings of a GOOD Mother

    I feel like hundreds of people will have blogged about this already, but when I woke up to the baby in the night this post came to mind, so I feel compelled to write it. Besides, if an idea or theme is unoriginal, that really just means that a lot of people will be able to relate to what I’m saying. Yeah? Yeah. Let’s go with that.

    Last week, as I was searching for inspiration for my YouTube channel, I came across “The Mummy Tag”. A series of questions relating to all things parenting, vlogging mothers from around the world record their responses (on camera, obviously), before nominating other parents to answer the same questions on their own channel. It’s kind of like a chain letter in video form. Well, aside from the fact that, depending on your answers, it could attract a lot of unwelcome attention. After all, Good Mothers don’t swear in front of their children, or pierce their babies’ ears, do they? And if a woman goes online and admits that she does these things, then surely she’s just opening herself up to judgment…

    I uploaded my “Mummy Tag” video last night, and have been thinking about my answers, as well as possible reactions from the public, ever since. Although I’ve had next to no feedback (definitely nothing negative anyway), I have no doubt that some of the things I said on camera could make me sound like a Bad Mother. What really concerns me though, is realising that some of my responses could imply that I think other women are Bad Mothers. Although this was never my intention, watching myself shaking my head with an unimpressed look on face in response to a question about ear-piercing made me realise that perhaps I do judge other parents, mothers especially, for the choices they make for their children. I mean, I definitely don’t feel like I’m walking around making assumptions about other mums, but maybe I am. Maybe I do.

    Who am I to decide what makes a Bad Mother anyway? I know there are some a lot of things I do as a parent that could take me out of the Good Mum category. I swear in front of my children. I yell. I shut myself in my room and cry. I let the three-year-old watch TV all the time. I allow the baby to eat off the floor. I’ve even been known to lock the kids outside when it all gets too much for me. And I continue doing these things even though I know they could be deemed Bad. But you know what else I do? I cook healthy meals every night, and make sure the kids’ packed lunches are balanced and nutritious. I take my children to the playground (even though I hate it), and I sign them up for extracurricular activities to build their self-confidence and coordination.  I breastfed my babies for as long as possible (the baby and I are still going strong), and I birthed all four of them naturally, without the use of pain relief. I read to them, I sing to them, I kiss them goodnight. I tell them I love them every. single. day. Is that enough to prove I’m not a Bad Mum? And why am I trying so hard to prove I’m not Bad anyway?

    I realised this afternoon that one of my friends got her daughter’s ears pierced at a very young age. And I know she’s a Good Mum. I have another friend who gives her kids a smack on the bum when they’re getting really out of hand. She fits into the Good Mum category too. In fact, every mother I know is a Good Mum. They’re all taking extremely different approaches to child-rearing, and yet they’re all Good Mothers. Do they screw up? Do I screw up? Yes! Absolutely! All the time! But that does not mean we aren’t worthy of the Good Mum title. Because we are. And if we could all just quit judging each other, and ourselves, I think we’d find that almost every mother out there is a Good Mum.

    When you really think about it, it doesn’t take much to be a Good Mother. I don’t care if you’re getting takeaways for dinner for the second time this week, or if you forgot to sign the permission slip for the latest school trip. It doesn’t matter if you lost your temper when your three-year-old wet themselves for the fifth time today (OK, that might just be me). What matters is that you love your kids. You care for them so deeply that sometimes it hurts. You go to bed at night and you worry about them, wishing you could do better even though you’re already doing your best. And while there are times when all you want to do is run away, you never do. You stay. You get on with it. You keep trying. Because you, my friend, are an extremely Good Mother. I promise.


    Still curious as to what this whole “Mummy Tag” thing is all about?
    Watch my video and find out for yourself.

    – Fern xxx

     

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  • All About Fern
  • The Week From Hell

    I’m not going to lie, I had a terrible week. The worst. My husband was sent away on a five-day training course for work, which left me home alone with the kids. All four of them. I spent a lot of time crying, and very little time sleeping. I always thought I’d make a good independent woman, but now I realise I was wrong. The dark is really scary when you’re the person in charge of keeping everybody safe. Plus I resent having to do the cooking and the washing up. Everything was too much for me.

    The kids were back at school and kindergarten after their two week break, which probably sounds like I was living on Easy Street, but no. I was not. Sure, it’s nice and peaceful when your children are away for a few hours during the day, but the morning, afternoon and evening rush is horrible. There is so much stress and pressure involved when you’re in sole charge of organising five people. Preparing meals and packing bags, tidying up and brushing teeth, putting shoes on feet and loads of laundry in the machine… And it seems like it all has to happen at once! I was constantly rushing from one thing to another, and without another adult in the house I had no one to vent to. Being unable to voice any little annoyances meant they built up into big annoyances. And that meant I ended up sobbing on the living room floor when the three-year-old managed to smear poo across the seat of my cream-coloured armchair. Why must toilet training take so long?!

    The worst (and most ridiculous) part of my week was being all worked up about a competition I had entered. A competition! The logical half of my brain kept reminding me that a competition is a gamble, that although I had worked hard on my video entry I couldn’t expect to be placed in the finals, let alone win. And yet the competition consumed me. I kept checking to see if there were any new entries. I began making plans for how I would earn votes when if I made it into the finals. I sent voice message after voice message to my friend telling her all about the latest video, wanting to know if she thought I was still in with a chance of winning. Being a supportive friend, she assured me I was in with a really good chance; she expected I would make it through to the finals. And though I loved hearing her say that, it filled me with a sense of false hope. As a grown woman who has never stepped foot outside of New Zealand, I managed to convince myself that I deserved the family holiday to Fiji. I was going to get it! But, of course, I didn’t. I didn’t even make the finals. Why would I? I was mortified that I’d spent so much time agonising over it all. There’s nothing more embarrassing than sharing something you’ve created with pride, and then realising that actually, your efforts were quite pathetic.

    In amongst the chaos of mustering children and obsessing over a holiday that would never come to fruition, I was struggling with feelings of jealousy. I’ve been at home raising babies for eight years straight, and I often feel like I have nothing going on. We do live in our own home (which means we are lucky), and I did conceive, carry and deliver four healthy humans with relative ease (which means we are incredibly lucky), but it can be hard to feel grateful for these things when the people around you seem to have so much more. While I was at home alone, my best friend was embarking on a new career – her dream job – and having an offer she’d made on an enormous section accepted, which means that she and her husband can build a house. She is also looking forward to heading off on a two-week holiday in Europe in the very near future (and let me just remind you, I’ve never even been to Australia). Meanwhile, my younger sister is having a brand-new kitchen put in and is remodelling her living area (which is miles bigger than what we have, despite the fact we have three times as many people living in our house), my parents are preparing to jet off to the United States, and my brother’s brand-new home is currently under construction. Though I do not need to be reminded that I have more than a lot of (maybe even most) people out there, it is hard to keep sight of that when the people closest to you are doing, achieving and receiving so much. It makes me feel like a nobody. It makes me feel like there is no hope. Where is my life going? Yes, I want to be a writer, but sitting at home and posting little snippets of my life on a Mummy Blog (god, I hate that title) is not exactly what I had in mind.

    My mother has suggested that I start keeping a gratitude diary, and maybe that’s just what I need. I do have a tendency to wallow (in case you hadn’t figured that one out already, ha!) and could probably benefit from looking at things from a more positive perspective. So, although an interruption from the three-year-old (yes, that child again) has me close to tears right now, I will give it a go.

    1. I had a crap time without the husband, but now he is home and I appreciate his presence so much more than I did a week ago.
    2. Since I cried over his poo, Mr. Three has really stepped up his game in the toilet training department (the new Thomas the Tank Engine undies I bought him could be a contributing factor).
    3. The birthday party I was dreading taking the girls to yesterday actually ended up being a lot of fun. I spent the whole time gas bagging with the other mothers. There was a lot of laughing and a little bit of swearing. My favourite things.
    4. My YouTube channel is almost at 300 subscribers! I’ve only been making videos for six months, and I started from the absolute bottom, so I am proud of how far I’ve come.
    5. I successfully organised an ongoing collaborative series with a small group of vlogging women. This is a first for me, and I’m excited to see how it all pans out.
    6. I wrote my first ever guest post discussing my recent decision to give up sugar. This was posted over on my friend Glutey Girl‘s blog, and I have had positive feedback (the best kind of feedback, obviously).
    7. My new Facebook page is growing slowly but surely. I was dreading the return to FB, but so far I think it has been worthwhile.
    8. Even when I was crying myself stupid on Thursday evening, I resisted the urge to go on a chocolate binge. That is definitely a first, and is a huge achievement, believe me.
    9. Our broken ranchslider (that’s a sliding door, for those who aren’t from NZ) is finally fixed! Hurrah! The kids can open the door unassisted again.
    10. OK, so I didn’t make it into the finals of that competition, and I’m still practically dying to go on an overseas holiday, but! At least I don’t have to spend hours and hours hounding everyone I know (and even those I don’t) to vote for me. No doubt I would have become incredibly annoying with my constant begging, so knowing I can leave everyone in peace feels like a pretty good thing.

    Do you ever struggle as a parent? How often do you find yourself turning green with envy? And what is happening in your world that you are grateful for?
    I’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below.
    Come on, make me feel slightly more normal?

    – Fern xxx


    This is my first video in the Time For A Change collab. series I organised. Have a watch and let me know if you’d like to join in! The more the merrier. 

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  • Holidays
  • I Survived the School Holidays

    Up and down New Zealand, parents are breathing sighs of relief. Our kids are back at school. We made it! And we now have nine weeks of normalcy ahead of us!

    Somehow, despite very little effort on my part, these school holidays were the best term break we’ve had in an extremely long time. I’m not quite sure how I managed it, but even with four kids underfoot, I remained calm and in control. Even better, I actually found myself enjoying having the kids at home (Obviously I love them all very much, but when you’ve got two shouty girls, two screechy boys, and one incredibly small living area, you really do enjoy having at least some of them vacating the house each day).

    There were a number of factors that contributed to the success of our two week break:

    1. Three day weekends: The husband took the first Monday off work to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and the second Monday was a public holiday. Two short weeks is a lot more manageable than two long weeks. And while I often sometimes complain that the husband gets to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, having him home to help out made a massive difference (Note to self: Just explicitly state what you want the husband to do and he will do it).

    2. Pre-booked activities: Both Tuesdays I sent the girls off to an art class at our local art gallery. This was a pretty genius idea, I must admit. The classes ran from 1-3pm, which meant we had to eat lunch early (thus making the morning pass quickly) in order to get there on time. I then got to spend a lovely, quiet afternoon with the boys. I didn’t even have to worry about rushing back to collect the girls, as the husband works in town and volunteered to bring them home for me. Bonus!

    3. Grandparents: My mother, having had five children herself, understands the madness that is school holidays. So, in the first week she suggested we take the kids on an outing together. We loaded up the van with spare clothes and a picnic lunch, and headed out to an animal farm park (something I definitely wouldn’t have attempted on my own). There were farm animals to feed, caged animals to pat, and a flying fox to play on. Granny delighted us all when she announced she wanted a turn! It was hilarious watching her whizz along the wire rope, sitting atop an old car tyre. Apparently she loves a good flying fox, but I don’t ever remember her having a turn when I was a kid.
    Mum helped out again in week two when she had the girls for a sleepover. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d woken up to a quiet house, but it turns out I’ve really missed it.

    4. Netflix: Where would I be without Netflix? I had a good look through all the family movies before the holidays began, and was excited to find the Toy Story trilogy! My kids hadn’t seen any of the Toy Story films, and allowing them to watch all three (not at once) was fun for me too. I love a decent kids’ flick.

    5. Rewards and bribery: If you’re based in NZ and you shop at Countdown and you’re not using the collectible Disney cards as bribes rewards then you are doing yourself an incredible disservice! My kids will do almost anything to rip open a new card, so I made sure to hand them out any time the kids did something kind, helpful or thoughtful. I also got them to do chores around the house by promising them a new card, because that’s the kind of mum I am. Resourceful and lazy.

    6. Me Time: I kind of hate that term, Me Time, but I did take a break from my life to attend my dearest friend’s 30th birthday. It was a big day with a lot of travelling, but time away from the kids and in the company of some truly wonderful women was so refreshing. It also helped that I came home with my nails done. I quite like feeling a wee bit fancy.

    7. A Family Project: The kids and I devoted a full day (and then a good chunk of the following day too) to filming a special video to enter into a vlogging competition! Though I was probably definitely the one who enjoyed it the most, it was great to get the kids busy and focussed. The end result is something we’re all very proud of… You can watch it here:

    Be sure to check back here on Friday evening to find out whether we made it into the finals!

    How did your school holidays go? Were they a success or a failure?
    I would love to hear your stories!

    – Fern xxx

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