Monday, August 18, 2014

Money can't buy.

Things I would really love right now that money can't buy:

More sleep. I get up early to work, but I've had wicked insomnia lately and 3-4 hours is just not enough. It isn't. Yawn.

A crystal ball.
I just want to see where we will be next year and what my business will be doing and to make sure I'm focussing my efforts where I should be. That't not so much to ask is it?

Specifically, clarity as to where my big boy should attend high school. He goes into his last year of primary next year. I have no idea how that is even possible but thinking about high school is giving me palpitations.

A new earworm.
My 3yo discovered Frozen over the weekend. She discovered it, then she rediscovered it over and over. Whilst I love her cuteness in insisting that she is BOTH lead characters and no one else is allowed to be one, and her singing and dancing is insanely gorgeous, I need her to let it go. Let it go. The cold doesn't bother me anyway.

A teleporter.
Because I miss my people.

A new foot.
Maybe I could buy one, but that would probably be a bit excessive given that the one I have is just a bit injured. It is injured enough to be messing with my mental health though. Which also cannot be bought. Frustrating.

Oh hold on. That can be bought. Just as well really, it might be the solution to 90% of the rest of that stuff.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How do you keep your kids calm in the car?

Keeping Kids Entertained on Roadtrips – An infographic by the team at Europcar Australia.

Keeping Kids Entertained on Road Trips

I will admit that as far as kids and car travel goes, I have been extremely lucky.

All four of my kids travelled well as babies, and we've only had the odd incidence of car sickness so far. I'm pretty sure that is because I'm a bit hyper organised and have a car-sick kit in the back (bucket, towels, wipes, bottle of water) for just in case. The day I take it out will be the day I need it I'm sure.

Where we live we do a lot of driving just to get to our regular activities. I average around 500 kilometres a week and most of that includes at least one child in the car with me, so I was interested to see that the parents who contributed to the Europcar survey were pulling all the tricks that I've learned over the years too.

70% of kids being entertained with tablets struck me as a pretty massive number! You too? But then anyone who has sat next to our car on a Saturday morning in the freeeeeezing cold while my big kids play footy and netball already knows that we do this. When you have a 3 and 5 year old pretty much stuck in a stationary car for a few hours at a time, you have no expectation of them playing sing-alongs or I-Spy the whole time. And let's be honest, they really aren't that excited by watching their siblings no matter how many goals they might shoot or kick.

We've also done our fair share of road trips over the years, and way back in the pre-tablet dark ages when my sister and I drove my then not-quite-two-year-old-son and 6 week old daughter to Canberra we spent an inordinate amount of time singing Wiggles songs and hoping they would sleep. They were too young for most games, but my son was quite old enough to demand 'Rock a Bye Your Bear' 78 big zillion times, interspersed with endless snacks.

Having grown up doing what felt like an impossibly long road trip interstate each year, squished into the back seat with my siblings and with very few of the luxury features that are now standard in most of our cars, I will confess I've been known to pull the 'back in my day' card if my kids start cranking it up.

It doesn't work, any more than it ever worked if my parents said it to me as a kid. But it does make ME think about how much easier those trips are for us than they must have been for my parents. At least we have the space in our car to divide and conquer!

So how many of those things up there do you do too? Does tech play a part in your travel plans like it does ours? And do you ever wonder how your own parents survived with their sanity intact, without the mod cons we take for granted when we're on the road?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What I'd tell you.

I shared this on my Facebook page last week:

The comments were so beautiful. One really stood out for me though. Kim, who I have the great pleasure of knowing in real life and who often looks out for my boy when he gets off the bus at school of a morning, said this:

"I remember it like it was yesterday. I wish I could wait outside the door of every 
doctors office and when each newly diagnosed family comes out let them 
know its all up from here. This is the lowest point."

It really struck a chord for me.

As the psychologist told me that my son had autism, I bit my lip and tried to hold back the tears even though I knew it was coming.

I attempted to smile, paid her and walked out to the waiting room where my Mum and baby daughter were waiting.

My Mum knew. I didn't need to say anything.

We went to a nearby coffee shop and looked over the reports which picked apart every element of my son's behaviour and development. I spoke to my husband who was sad but stoic and unsurprised. I called my bestie and wept. I messaged my good mate who was away on holidays, and had trouble speaking coherently when she called me back.

It was, as Kim so succinctly said, the lowest point. Confirmation of our deepest fears. The moment where you know what is wrong but have no idea what or how to deal with it.

It was freakin' hard. We had great love and support, and it was still freakin' hard.

But that was it. The hardest day was done.

Knowing that he was autistic didn't make my son any harder or easier to cope with, it just put his behaviour into context. It didn't change any of the day to day challenges, but it did give us a term we could share with others when they didn't know what to make of something he was doing.

And in time (and sadly not without a fight) it gave us access to services and support.

If a diagnosis is imminent or has recently happened for you or someone you love, this is what I'd tell you.

It's okay to feel like shit about it. Put on a brave face by all means, but give yourself the space to grieve and feel sad and angry and disappointed and confused.

NONE of those feelings say anything about how much you love your child. They do not make you a bad parent. Your baby is still your baby, but you are being forced to face a reality different to the one you envisioned and it is okay to feel whatever you feel about that.

I would also tell you this:

It will be okay.

I didn't believe it back then, but time has passed and here we are. It isn't a walk in the park. We have hard times. But I don't spend every moment of every day with autism hovering at the edges of my consciousness any more. It is just part of our lives now.

We move forward. Some things get easier, some things don't. But we move forward.

For me, learning to run and embracing a lifestyle so far from where I was when he was diagnosed (pack a day smoker, 15ish kilos heavier, tired, resentful, a martyr to my life) has been instrumental in my ability to accept and cope. It forces me to put myself first a few hours a week, and I am a better parent for it.

Find one thing that is just for you; that makes you feel healthy and whole.

But most importantly know that how you feel now will change. It will be okay.

And that child is still and will always be your baby. Nothing, no diagnosis, can ever take that from you. In the odd quiet moments, hold them tight and know that you are a really good parent.

You're doing a tough job as best you can. You are okay. It will be alright.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Trying to work in the fitness industry without being a big fat hypocrite.

Bad pun. Sorry.

I can't quite get my head around this though, and I'd love your thoughts.

I have all the feels about fat shaming, the weight loss industry, the way we are manipulated by the media to believe that we are less than worthy if we don't look like some highly photoshopped bullshit ideal of the female form.

I don't believe that 1200 calorie diets are sustainable or healthy, and I do not like a business model that relies on people following such a diet and losing weight, only to put it back on between rounds and need to sign up again. I mean it is CLEVER business, but I worry about it as a lifestyle.

And I know people who that HAS worked for and I wouldn't ever try to undermine that for them, I just don't really believe it is a good thing for the majority.

But I do think if people WANT to lose weight for their own personal reasons that they should have access to good nutritional information.

They should also have the right to celebrate their successes along the way without anyone else trying to detract from it or tell them that what they are doing FOR THEMSELVES is fat shaming or in some way a commentary on the lives/weight/shape of anyone else.

I'm in the bottom zone of my healthy weight range at the moment and I am counting calories because I want to strip down to my ideal race weight which is a little below my ideal everyday weight. Apparently this means I am obsessive, anorexic, self involved, care only about looks and a million other judgemental type things.

As a former anorexic and bulimic I can assure you that I am neither of those, I care less about how I look (as opposed to how I feel) than I have ever done in my life and none of that has anything to do with anyone else anyway.

And THEN, aside from all that malarkey, there is the fact that my business sells programs that teaches women to run.

I LOVE what I do. I cannot tell you the joy it gives me to be there when women who thought they could not ever run in their lives take that first step. Or even more so when, at 6 or 8 weeks in, they realise that they are runners. It is the BEST thing in the whole world.

But to reach our audience and let them know we exist, we need to market.

To market a product like ours, there is no way to avoid the weight loss thing because for so many women learning to run is something they want to do to help them change their bodies as well as their lives. And that is totally fine. It is why I started too.

But when Facebook gives me around 200 characters to tell women why they want to join our programs, it is almost impossible to do so without playing into that crap thing where people believe that fat loss equates to looking better.

Which makes me as big a bad guy as anyone else.

I'm not going to lie. It is messing with my head.

So tell me internet, in the short grab of a Facebook ad, what would entice you to learn to run with us? How can I possibly explain how running can completely change how you feel about yourself, so much so that the body you maybe loathed and wanted so desperately to change stops being the enemy and becomes a source of pride and pleasure? Despite the fact that it might look exactly the same?

So many women join us because they want to change shape. And a lot of people will do that, and it is a perfectly valid reason to want to learn to run.

But how do I market what we do effectively without becoming part of the gruesome machine that keeps telling women that they just aren't good enough?

Genuine question. If you have a good answer, I would really really love to hear it.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My son is eleven.

The time after my first baby was born was so difficult.

It was a harsh introduction to motherhood. There is so much I don't remember from that exhausted hazy time, and the things I do remember are often disjointed. I can tell you what my son wore on his first outing to his grandfather's funeral, but I have no recollection of the service itself. It was all quite surreal in retrospect.

Eleven years have passed since the day of his birth.

I never could have imagined this tall, athletic, funny, clever kid when I gazed on that baby.

I never foresaw a future where I'd happily drag a family of six (who has four kids anyway?! As if!) out the door early every Saturday in freezing temperatures to watch this kid run around a football oval with such joy in his own ability.

I certainly was not going to let that precious baby ride motorbikes, let alone race motocross before he was even ten years old.

I had no idea what life beyond the now would look like with him in it. Like most new Mums I just got through with no real understanding that the baby days would ever come to an end.

My son is eleven.

He is so great to talk to. Every day he blows me away with his understanding of the world.

A few years ago we had a really rough patch and I was terrified when I thought about possible futures for him. I should have known better.

Just as that calm, happy, sweet baby was the one thing that made sense in a time where nothing else did, my son possesses a maturity and self-awareness that I underestimate sometimes.

My son is eleven today.

He is a great kid.

I am blessed to be his Mum.