Saturday, 23 January 2016

What not to say to a sleep deprived parent...

So I just read this article on 9 Things Not to Say to a Sleep Deprived Parent. It had the typical kind of guff you would expect to read - comments along the lines of "it will pass" and "sleep when the baby sleeps" know the sort of stuff that people with the best of intentions tell you, while you are secretly rolling your eyes inside your head and wondering if it is possible to learn to power nap with your eyes open when people give you well intentioned but thoroughly useless advice. Oh, that's just me?

As a well seasoned sleep deprived parent I have these to add to the list:

  • "And it never stops - when they get older and go partying at night, you lie awake until they get home" (er, which I'm sure is true, but I imagine it would be quite different - that is unless your child is a member of the Rolling Stones  and they actually party for nights at a time).
  • When a married/partnered man at work complains how tired they are because it was their turn the night before to get up for the baby so their wife could sleep (hey firstly, kudos to the guys doing this and I mean no disrespect - I think it's real awesome that you do this, but I'll fess up and say it really irritates this single mum purely out of jealousy - hey, I'm honest!)

Not that I would give away my irritation of course when having these conversations in the work kitchen while I make my fifth coffee of the day. At 9am. Out of respect that we all have our different journeys and challenges in life. But also because the one benefit of being sleep deprived is the constantly slightly dopey look my eyes have, so even if I did drop my jaw in shock or my eyes bulge open, I just look more awake. 

Instead I let people give their advice, relay their personal experiences or bemoan that they have to bathe and feed their children for one night because their husband is going out that night. And smile when they compliment me that I'm looking really perky that day.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The only thing for Evil to Triumph....

Last night I witnessed a minor instance of 'bystander effect' in a fantastic park in our area. There was a boy, probably around 16, riding his bike quite aggresively up to and around very young kids on the path, and braking hard just in time to stop hitting them. It was clearly harassment. There were lots of families around, but none of them (including many dads) said or did anything to stop this. My blood was boiling, but I felt a bit helpless. He had several friends near by, and I wondered how I could effectively stand my ground to set a good example for my kids, but in such a way as to not get him angry.

My eldest who was also seeing this, was getting both upset that he could hit our youngest child, and angry that he was trying to spoil the fun that other kids were having in the park.

So my dog and I stood in the middle of the path while my kids were playing nearby and he rode right up to me and was forced to stop because we were blocking his path. We eyeballed each other, I stood my ground and didn't say anything, before he rode up to another area of the park where bikes are allowed.

I find the bystander effect both fascinating and upsetting. I was saddened that noone else did anything - even those parents whose kids were almost hit. Angry that he thought that kind of behaviour was ok. 

I posted about this incident shortly after on Facebook, and I received a lot of supportive comments from my friends for standing up, which was lovely. But really - is this what society is becoming? Are we setting new standards for normal, so that rude behaviour is tolerated and someone who actually comments on it is applauded? Surely this can't be a good path that we're on if that's the case.

It's a minor version of "The only thing for Evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing".

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Not quite Martha Stewart, but...

I like reading pins and articles in my FB feeds about tips for organising as much as the next person *looks around*. Whether it's de-cluttering, organising, tips for managing morning madness with kids - I'm no Martha Stewart- but I love them. I've read so many, but I still click and click thinking there will be some new jewel that will make things totally fall into place and make my home resemble something out of a magazine. Or at least something I don't have to apologise for when someone new comes to visit.

But I've come to realise, that most of these articles are pure common sense. As an ex-stage manager and current PA and mum, the pickings for learning is getting a little slim. With the exception of learning about capsule wardrobes last year (if you don't know about this, check it out. It's probably really what your wardrobe is in essence once you remove the clothes you actually don't like/don't wear/or doesn't fit into anymore, anyway!). That was a lightning bolt moment!

But if I read one more article that claims to change your life with organising/de-cluttering tips such as throwing away towels that are riddled with holes, using labels or storing similar toys into the one container, I think I will scream into my pillow (that was previously folded in an attempt at this, courtesy of Martha Stewart).

I'm far from perfect, but I'm not a complete lost case. I regularly get change from the bank and keep it in my car so I never have to think about parking meter money (handy considering I am usually running late for work). I keep loose change in the house specifically for last minute excursion notes. I have a shoe hanging over the door thing in the hallway for keeping our gloves, sunglasses, random accessories for me and the three kids. I usually have a couple of meals up my sleeve in the freezer and do my banking online. I have a couple of random back up presents and cards incase I forget to buy for a party that weekend.

So seriously, can people who write these articles at least give them a rating, so I know whether to read or not? Something like:

  • Beginner level. i.e. you've just moved out of home.
  • Advanced level. i.e. you have been living in the real world for a bit and function quite well.
Or my least favourite:
  • Advertorial. I'm going to attempt to write an article which seamlessly weaves in the product I'm being paid for. (hey, I'm not begrudging people making a living from writing, but come on, these can be just as hard to read as they must be to write in a way that is interesting).
The reality is, that most of the best tips I've gotten are from having casual conversations with my friends anyway.
But if one of them starts to sell me a chux wipe mid conversation, I'm pulling out my pillow... 

Monday, 18 January 2016

I heart NY

For years I have carried this journal around in a box with other random stuff I don't look at. (c'mon we all do that righhht?). I've never been a serious journaller, but when I fulfilled a dream of travelling by myself to New York and Pittsburgh, I made notes of things I had seen and done that day. I noted some great places I ate in Pittsburgh, how it was meeting in person for the first time someone I had been writing to as a pen pal for years, and experiences like walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, through Central Park, and seeing theatre shows and art exhibitions.

It reminded me of the 20 plus hour train trip from New York to Pittsburgh. The trip ended up taking so long took because there was a fatality on the track and so the train was stopped for hours in the middle of the night who knows where. I remember how eerie it was waiting in the still, cold carriage alone until I met an older African American woman called Helen. It turned out she was diabetic and we befriended each other before I found us some blankets and looked where we could buy food for her levels (note, Amtrak service back then was beyond appalling).

Earlier that trip I had met Eric who started talking to me because I was reading a Raymond Carver novel. His eyes lit up and he lent me one of his Bukowski books, but I commented that "I'm still not sure what to make of them. A lot seem to involve drink and women. We discussed literature, relationships, and tried to guess each other's name. It turned out he was schizophrenic, so it was interesting to hear him articulate how he viewed the world as a schizophrenic, before the medication worked."

I also commented on brief exchanges with strangers - the man in the dinner who good naturedly mimicked my Australian accent when I bought coffee and a bagel, the passerby who complimented me on my outfit saying it was clear I was not American as they are too concerned with putting together a look. The brief friendship I made with Shae while I was staying at The Gershwin, who was taking a break from her partner because he was taking up too much of her energy and she needed to refocus on herself and her art. I think travelling or doing anything alone opens yourself up to new experiences and people you may not notice or invest in when you are with someone else.

I also made these self reflections all those years ago. I'm going to write them here as they are things I still need to focus on! They're probably a little naive to read now, but the intention is there:

  1. I am ok and I need to like myself. I can have many facets, but I can't be everything or everyone.  I don't have to prove anything or be anything. My expectations, goals, interests, capabilities are not humble or little, they are mine. 
  2. Independence is important. Being able to think, act and make decisions alone is important. 
  3. Relationships are important. I need to express to those close to me how I feel.
  4. I will be the only person to stop myself from achieving my goals.
  5. I can do whatever I want and not let what other people may think of it, stop me. I create my own enjoyment, fulfilment and those around me will understand that, for that is what they are doing also. 
  6. I don't need to impress anyone.
  7. Negative experiences don't need to affect me.
  8. Passion for life is important. There is always something to do, learn, make, something to experience, someone to meet, some new yummy food to eat, some book to read, film or play to watch.
  9. All experiences can be learned from.

I ended up throwing out the journal because it was peppered with commentary about my ex as we had just started seeing each other, and it irked me to read it. To be reminded there was a time when we felt strongly for each other, but that even then there were hints and questions I was asking myself about him then, which hinted as to why it would ultimately not work out between us.

(Side note - as a typical sign of the times, The Gershwin appears to now have been rebranded as a more upmarket motel.)