Posts Tagged ‘good parenting’

40 Life Lessons For My Kids (I Wish I’d Known as a Kid)

Dear Musical M, Dreamy D and Cheeky K

I’ve wanted to write something like this for a while but I put it on the backburner. Let’s face it, I’m probably the least qualified person to teach you valuable life lessons apart from stuff like:

– don’t lick that
– If you think it’s the wrong hole, it probably is
– there are few problems in life that a massive chocolate sundae with marshmallows and extra chocolatey sauce and some of those multicoloured thingies can’t fix (mainly because you’d be so sick after one of those that you’d forget your problems for a bit).

Seriously though, goodness only knows, I’ve only managed to implement half of the following list in my own life, so I hope you have more success than me. I know I’m meant to lead by example (honestly I do actually try) but in this case:

It’s do as mummy says, not as mummy does!

Most of it is serious but you know my cheeky ways…some of it is not. I just hope I’m raising you well enough to tell the difference between the two.

40-life-lessons-for-my-kids
1)  I’m going to start with one of my mantras: Be happy with what you have. Don’t spend so much time chasing what you don’t have that you don’t appreciate what’s right in front of you. I want you to be comfortable (more than) and not struggle.  Just don’t rely on material wealth to make you happy because that’s just the path to misery, my loves! And even if we struggle, there is still someone far FAR worse off than us.

if-you-have-food-infographic-web-version

2) Remember the importance of healthy eating…but don’t forget that a life without cake is…well…pretty rubbish really!

3) It takes all sorts of people to make the world go round and I’m not going to tell you that we are all the same because that’s just Utopian nonsense.  But we ARE all originally made of the same stuff….even if we turn out very differently. So try to respect other people’s opinions no matter how hard you may find it. Obvious exceptions to the rule:
racist twunts, homophobes, anyone who doesn’t like U2 or Michael Jackson.

4) Find wonder in the small things. Cry, laugh, feel. It doesn’t make you an emotional sop, it makes you human. It makes you my child. If someone ridicules you for it, it’s alright…they’re just not ‘connected’ like you. Their loss.

5) Have fun. LOTS OF FUN. Because life is too damned short not to.

life-is-short

6) Stand up for yourself…but pick your battles wisely (and for heaven’s sake know when to just shut the hell up).

7) If any of you think/realise you’re gay, tell me and your father. We’ll never turn it into a problem or turn you away. Ever.

8) Travel as much as you can, try your best to stay safe, do some stupid shit too and purleese remember: spare me the details you can tell me anything.

Mark-Twain-Quotes-Twenty-Years-From-Now-9

9) If you find love, cherish it, never take your partner for granted and respect them. If it turns out your partner doesn’t deserve your respect…don’t be afraid to walk away no matter how awful that option may seem at the time.

10) It’s important to follow the rules…and know which ones to break…

break the rules
11) Never stop listening to music. Ever. You hear me?

12) When things go wrong, try not to search for a reason. I honestly believe things (well most things) during even the toughest of times happen for a reason.

Sometimes-when-things-are-falling-apart-they-may-actually-be-falling-into-place.

 

13) Find your passion and follow it. I’m not going to tell you that as long as you follow your passion, the money required to survive in life will automatically come, but at least find a passion!

14) Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Listen to them; I mean really listen to them. SMILE. Say ‘pardon’ or ‘excuse me, not ‘what’. I know you already say please and thank you and sorry. Don’t ever stop. Humility isn’t old fashioned. Manners matter.

treat-people-the-way-you-want-to-be-treated-talk-to-people-the-way-you-want-to-be-talked-to-respect-13896273454g8nk
15) Don’t be hard on yourself. I’ve spent years doing just that. It’s such a waste of energy and doesn’t get you anywhere except down. And comparing yourself to others is just as pointless. Just be the best version of you and that’s enough.

16) Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.

17) Try not to lash out; it’s so easy to do (guilty as charged) but does no good in the end:

how-you-made-someone-feel

(there again some people just need to be put in their place but you never heard that from me…)

18) Compete against yourself, not against others. This world of ours is becoming obsessed with winners and losers…don’t get caught up in that ugliness. Your only competition is the one looking back at you from the mirror.

be-better-than-yourself
19) Daughters, be tough, be brave, speak up, date whoever you want to date but always be classy. “Less is more” doesn’t mean the less you’re wearing, the more good you look. Know that understated elegance is absolute dynamite; never underestimate the impact of covering up the right bits. Don’t ever EVER let someone make you believe you can’t do something because you’re ‘just’ a girl. Do everything because you ARE a girl. Oh and did I mention, be classy?

20) Son, don’t be a tool: If you’re not going to call or text her, for Heaven’s sake, don’t take her number in the first place. Know that females are not inferior to you so be careful how you inwardly view them, outwardly treat them and talk about them to your friends. And let’s just clarify something here: not holding the door open for a woman doesn’t mean you’re respecting equality; it means you’re just rude (and I didn’t do my job right). Be a gentleman. Always. If I catch you mistreating a woman, so help me God…

21) “I can’t” is no way to speak or think. Be fluent in “I can”. Don’t just give up at the first hurdle in a situation.

think you can ford
22) Have at least two items of clothing that make you feel absolutely amazing as soon as you put them; but remember none of that’s important if you can’t remember to brush your hair or wash your face before you leave the house.

23) You will meet some nasty people throughout life who will talk behind your back or be downright rude to your face and you won’t understand why they are like that. You can’t do much about them but you can change the way you react. Above all, don’t let their behaviour dictate how you live your life and just remember: if they’re trying to bring you down, they’re already below you.

how-people-treat-you

 

24) It’s not always me, me, me. Why? Voilà:

if-you-live-your-life-as-if-everything-is-about-you

 

25) It needs to be us, us, us. You’re part of the world around you so don’t think that something isn’t your problem if you know you can help (from helping that old lady who’s just dropped her shopping bag to actual causes). Give back if you genuinely can, live responsibly…just be decent.

1308-Mahatma-Gandhi-Quote-Be-the-change-that-you-wish-to-see-in-the

26) Defend your family and friends. If someone talks ill of them or mistreats them, do something about it.

27) Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably definitely isn’t. If it feels right, go go GO with it

28) When you are suffering hardship or heartache, remember nothing lasts forever.

darkest day

29) This is the holy grail: Never judge someone til you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, as the saying goes. It’s really hard. But just don’t.

30) When you’re too old for me to tuck you in at night, or I’m no longer around to do “Favourite part of the day”, please still do it, even silently to yourself as you drift off to sleep. Even on the darkest of days, we can usually find something that was worth remembering. Deal?

31) Be kind even when the other person isn’t giving you much reason to be.

be-kind
32) Don’t spend so much time looking back with nostalgia/regret you don’t focus enough on looking forward (besides…I do that enough for all of us…).

33) THIS!

watch-your-words

34) Always read the instructions.

35) Be accountable for your mistakes. Don’t try to pass the blame on to someone else.

36) Put your best effort into everything you do. You just let yourself down when you don’t. But recognise that sometimes a half-baked plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow (a wise man told me that…your father).

37) Listen to your mother! (Except for when she’s talking crap.)

38) If you drop it, pick it up. If you switch it on, turn it off. You’re never too important to clear up after yourself.

39) Be happy for other peoples’ success. Genuinely. Jealousy is poisonous.

40) I guess when all is said and done, it comes down to this:

744-Mae-West-Quote-You-only-live-once-but-if-you-do-it-right-once-is
Oh and I almost forgot:

– don’t lick that
– If you think it’s the wrong hole, it probably is
– there are few problems in life that a massive chocolate sundae with marshmallows and extra chocolatey sauce and some of those multicoloured thingies can’t fix (mainly because you’d be so sick after one of those that you’d forget your problems for a bit).

(I lied about 40…)

C’est tout.

What life lessons would you pass on? I’d love to know in the comments box below.

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To All The Fathers Trying Damned Hard To Get It Right

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Quality Time With Your Child

Musical M was recently off school the other day. After taking her to the doctors and running a few errands, I popped in to Hubster’s office nearby to say hi. A short while later as we headed off home, I noticed a lovely new café opposite his office. I’m always lamenting how it’s impossible to grab individual time with each of my kids so I thought it would be a great thing to just hang out with M for a short while and have some girlie time, considering I had the rare luxury of having just her with me. So, despite having a mound of packing and jobs to do before leaving for the UK the next day, I turned the car round and headed back to have a cheeky cappuccino and a chat with my eldest at the new cafe.

That decision turned out to be a life-changing moment for my child and a defining moment for her mother.

Should You Smoke In Front Of Your Kids?

As I came down Hubster’s road and started turning into his office garage, we were both so excited to see him again (I know…it’s pathetic right?), this time standing in front of the building having a little break. A split second later, I spotted it was a break of the cigarette kind. Musical M til then had been totally unaware that her father has the occasional cigarette. We’ve brought the kids up in a non-smoking environment emphasising the dangers of it. Well I have anyway. Sadly (sadly for me I mean as I’m the staunch non-smoker) Hubster has had the occasional cigarette once every few months/once a year for a while. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me. It just does. However, he’s never got addicted and it really is occasional so I’ve kind of made my peace with it (kind of)…or at least I had til the other day…

No offence to smokers. Go ahead. It’s your life. It’s just not for me and personally I’d be royally gutted if my kids wind up smoking when they’re older.

When You Make A Bad Mistake In Front Of Your Child

Back to that moment. Hubster’s eyes locked with mine and I spotted the panic on his face (he has a deadpan hard-to-read face usually but when you’ve been with someone for years, you spot flickers of expressions etc that others would miss). And what I saw looked rather like panic. In fact, no this was definitely panic as he then immediately threw the cigarette on the ground at lightning speed whilst looking right at me with the old ‘rabbit caught in headlights’ stare. Another nanosecond went by in which I prayed that M hadn’t seen him. Stupid me. Of course she’d seen him! The girl who adores her father and who is in a car just 2 feet away from him has obviously seen him just panic-toss his cigarette. As we started descending the ramp – because no I didn’t stop the car as usual to say hi to him as I thought How the flipping heck are we going to handle this? – she said “I can’t believe what I just saw” with a voice of total shock. Great. Way to go team Hubster. She’s never going to forget that sight. It was then followed by “Did you know about that?” Oh crap. Crap crap CRAP! What in Holy Hell’s name do I say here? Think. Oh God THIIIINNNNKKKK! Blind panic. Don’t know what to say. I’m screwed either way here.

Let’s see, if I go with option 1)

No I never knew he smoked

I’m teaching my child that couples keep secrets from each other. No, not wild about that one.

If I go with option 2)

Yes I knew

she’s going to think I’m the biggest hypocrite raising her and her siblings to see smoking as horribly unhealthy and unadviseable. Even though it is horribly unhealthy and unadviseable.

So I went with option 3)

A mishmash of the two.

I knew he has smoked a bit in the past but I thought he’d stopped.

Oh God. Nope. Not much better. He still comes off looking deceitful and I come off looking like the dumbo who never knew and this isn’t the right lesson to teach her. What the heck is the right lesson to teach her here? Seriously, Google, what say you?

The scene that ensued will probably seem laughable to half the people reading. What on earth is the big deal? She can’t be serious…this was a life defining moment?! But for Musical M and me, it was.

Hubster quickly came down the ramp to meet us getting out of the car. Even though nobody was to blame for what had happened I couldn’t help feel really annoyed that our daughter had seen him smoking considering I wish he didn’t in the first place. Neither M nor I could get a friendly hello out. I honestly didn’t know what to do or say. Neither did he, poor guy. I told him we were going for a coffee and off we went. He went back to his office.

I ordered my coffee, some food for M and as we waited for order to arrive, I noticed tears starting to stream down her face. More tears. Then more. Until she was actually sobbing with head buried in arms at our table.

He didn’t even tell his own wife!

I asked him ages ago if he’s ever smoked and he told me ‘just the once and I didn’t like it and haven’t done it since’

My friend’s dad just died a month ago because of smoking.

And on and on the bawling went.

How Not To Console A Child

I messaged Hubster to come down as I felt he really needed to explain his way out of it as I was struggling to know which side of the fence I ought to be on. He came down a while later and if I’m honest seemed rather puzzled to see M so upset. After chatting to her trying to reassure her that he was not a serial smoker he clearly – in typical Hubster fashion – felt that he had spent the required amount of time on the matter and turned to me and asked how my coffee was. I think I just stared open-mouthed at him. Our daughter was in a crumpled heap with her world having fallen apart after seeing her father smoking and here he was asking me how my coffee was. I couldn’t believe it. My eyes told him as much. He spent a few more minutes saying useful things like “Don’t cry” to our daughter which is always extreeeeemely helpful to someone who is a-l-r-e-a-d-y crying. After a while he asked if I was going shopping. I thought he meant so I could pick up a small thing for M to cheer her up. Nope. He needed me to pick up razors. Eff me. Is this guy for real right now? We’re facing the biggest hurdle so far in our parenting experience and he’s asking me if I’m buying him razors. God help me.  The response was “Oh I thought we’d finished talking about that”. One of those shoot-me-now-cos-I-can’t-handle-how-men and women-are-so-bloody-different from each other moments.

Betraying Your Own Child

I could go on. But the long and short of it is that Musical M’s trust in her father took a massive hit that day. And her father, not being the most emotionally aware/sensitive of people himself (having grown up in a culture/family where parents didn’t focus on their children’s feelings) was not able to handle it in the way she needed. Her comment “He didn’t seem at all bothered” confirmed that she didn’t feel he’d understood how hurt she was.

We talked to her at great length about the issue trying to comfort her as much as possible. Personally I didn’t think Hubster should be judged by that mistake. It shouldn’t negate all the years he’s put in as a loving father who works seriously bloody hard to pay the school fees, put food on the table etc.

Parents Make Mistakes!

My point is this: I don’t know what would have been the right way of handling this situation. To many reading this post, there was no issue. However, whether you are a smoker, non-smoker, drinker, non-drinker, or whatever, doesn’t really come into it. The point is she lost a lot of trust in her father that day and neither of us knew quite how to handle it. You can read ALL the parenting books. You can take a flipping course on child psychology. You can be the most ‘perfect’ faultless parent (whatever that is) every day of your parenting experience. Until you f*ck up.

And we all eventually f*ck up.

But it’s okay. Because we’re doing the best we can.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there trying oh so very hard to get it right. You’re doing a great job (despite the f*ck ups)!

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And then the fun began...

I’m A Mum Who

I’m honoured to have been tagged by two of my newest blogger friends – Tayla of Motherhood The Real Deal who is super funny and the lovely Laura of Life With Baby Kicks (who listens to me moan about blog tech glitches on an alarmingly regular basis and who I’m dragging out for a Mojito-fest when we meet one day ‘outside’ of the blog) – in the wonderful “I’m a Mum Who” series. I’ve been really enjoying reading the at-a-glance descriptions of various bloggers regarding their parenting experiences and themselves. It’s wonderful finding out more about them.

So here is mine.

i'm-a-mum-who

 

Could write a book called ‘Being The Not Now Mummy’. #TooBusyForYourKidsIsTheWrongBusy

Is rubbish at crafts. Cannot. Will. Not. Do. crafts. But finally learned to bake aged 38 and has made all her kids’ birthday cakes since the eldest was 3 (and yes you’ll have to work out my current age yourself) #NotBraggingJustSayinWeDoWhatWeCanDo

Is never happier than when she’s snuggled up for weekend movie night with her babies…or sipping a Rosé by the beach while they play. #HappyMemories

Is hellbent on raising healthy eaters but will never deprive her kids of home made chocolate cake dammit! #LovinFromTheOven

Finally understood so much of what her parents had said/done raising her the very minute her firstborn was handed to her in hospital. #ThatsWhyOurParentsWantGrandchildren

Somehow conceived all her kids on the first try after the age of 35 but who has known the heartache of miscarriage. #MixedBlessings

i'm a mum who

Literally hates it in a toe-curling stomach-churning tear-inducing way when her hubby yells at the kids but then yells at them herself a few minutes later #ParentingTruths

Conquered her lifelong crippling fear of water to jump into a pool aged 39 knowing there was no other option after her 4yo said “Go on mummy you must”. #AboutTimeToo

Was never an outdoors gal but has got into hiking with her equally “can we just stay home Mama?” kids. #GetOffTheSofaNOW

im a mum who hiking

 

Is a super strict parent yet still receives compliments, hugs and “you’re amazing mummy” praise from her children #GoFigureAgain

Misses that golden time of the ‘afternoon sit down’ with a cuppa, Murder She Wrote on TV and a cheeky sleep while the kids had their nap. #ThoseWereTheDaysMyFriend

Has found her identity again and ‘met’ awesome talented people through blogging but is so busy running a blog about being a mother that she hardly has time to be a mother! #BlogMammaBlog?

Loves Sunday mornings, pottering about, baking to the soundtrack of kids playing and listening to chillout/retro 70’s/old soul tunes. #EasyLikeSundayMorning

Didn’t leave the suburbs of London from 1975 to 1988 but now has the crazy privilege of stopping off on the way home from school to go to her local beach #LifeHasPlentyOfSurprises

im a mum who end of road

 

Nags her eldest on a weekly basis to tidy her room yet hasn’t sorted this out since January.  #Hyprocrisy

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Clowns around and loves laughing with friends but has never been the ‘fun mum’ with her own kids. #SortThatOut

Tries to undo some of the mental conditioning of a very Indian upbringing swearing blind she wouldn’t turn into her parents. But…guess what…yep. #FacePalm

Honestly doesn’t know what she did in her past life to deserve three little monkeys like this #WhenYourHeartBursts

stunning hiking pic resize

 

Gets it wrong each day but still has kids who know they are loved. #MummyDoesntTryEnoughButSheTries

 

I now tag:

Yes Peas Mumma

Coffee Kids Ice Cream

Silly Mummy

The Holly Hockdoor

and a dad:

Dad Blog UK

 

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30 Things That Make Me Happy

 

30 Things That Make Me Happy

 

Happiness. We all want it don’t we? Personally, despite life’s inevitable low points, I think I’m more of a glass-half-full rather than half-empty sort (like I said, I think!). It”s what works for me. Yes, admittedly, when you live on a little island that is positively drenched in sunshine most of the year, it’s easy to be glass more-than-half-full. In fact, I honestly don’t think a day has gone by in the last few years, where I haven’t done a mental fist pump because of the glorious blue skies and sun we have here. For sure, I’ve bored my kids to tears (and probably half my FB friends) constantly saying how lucky we are.

So recently, a few things have got me thinking about the whole ‘happiness thing’. Pharrell Williams is one of them. He did something with that song; he got us thinking about the H word. (You might want to watch this fab clip of the man himself crying tears of yep, happiness about the impact of the song). It blew me away…such an honest real moving reaction.

Something else that got me thinking was a friend’s 100 Days of Happiness challenge documented over three months on FB. They made me smile and reminded me of something we’ve done ever since Musical M was three years old where we all share our ‘favourite moment of the day’ at bedtime. All three kids love it but even if we saw the Queen in a karaoke bar singing a One Direction song, you can bet money that if the kids watched a DVD that same day, then that trumps the Queen. Seriously though, even if you’ve had a rough day, it makes you focus back on the positive. Oh, don’t worry, no gloating here. I’m NO earth mother. Sometimes my favourite part of the day comes after I’ve got them into bed when I head downstairs to a glass of wine.

The other big ‘what makes me happy’ trigger was our Easter break; in particular, the day I took them to Golden Bay. One of those perfect days with lovely friends, 13 kids playing easily, relaxed lunch, ice creams, sand castles, ball games, sun lounger chilling, coffee in the sea wind and musical nostalgia-fest on the cafe radio. By late afternoon, it was just me and my lovely ‘baker in chief’ friend (who also features in the below list…I wonder if she can work out where) with our six kids. She got out one of those neat little pocket kites and what unfolded was one of those moments that I’ll always treasure. Now, bear in mind that I grew up in the suburbs of Greater London; a pretty ‘regular’ Indian upbringing (who can spot the subtext?), no beaches nearby, kite-flying unfamiliar to us and not much sunshine…a different time, a different generation, a different culture. Yet here I was, decades later on a Mediterranean beach not far from where I live, my eldest having fun climbing over rocks with baker lady’s eldest, my other two running around on the sand without a care in the world chasing after their kite-flying friends, all of us laughing in the evening sun. Parents do their best. Mine did theirs in their way. Yet it hit me, probably more than at any other point in my parenting experience, just how much your kids’ childhood can turn out to be different from your own (that stands for any culture).

Where am I going with this? Well, if Pharrell ever comes knocking on my door, I’ll tell him this is my official list of what makes me happy (for now).

(My) Happiness is…

1. Coming downstairs in the morning to find that hubster has done the packed lunches.

2. The stunning coastline drive to my house.

3. Grabbing a 15 minute breather with a cup of tea (and cake) after non-stop chores before heading out again for the school run.

4. The squeals of “Mama!” from my baby as she runs down her kindergarten corridor towards me smiling.

5. Coming across a film that is such a gem, it leaves its mark on me, becoming an ‘old friend’ I go to when I need comfort (About Time and Something’s Gotta Give are up there).

6. Pulling warm cake out of the oven on a rainy afternoon.

7. Finally figuring out who sings a particular song (We are People or Home recently for me.)

8. Yoga at Golden Bay under blue skies and palm trees.

9. The sight of my kids going nuts in the lounge dancing to my Spotify playlist.

10. Watching Musical M effortlessly dive into a pool, remembering how at that age I was too terrified to even get in.

11. Coffee with girlfriends.

12. Melting under a long hot shower after a long blissful run and sinking onto the sofa afterwards for trashy TV.

13. Hubster paying me a compliment (about whatever…not fussy…after 17 years together, I’ll take anything).

14. Discovering I can do something I never thought I could do.

15. An afternoon of board games to a soundtrack of old school tunes (making Bowie/U2/Beatles/Wonder fans out of the kids).

16. Coffee with myself.

17. Rushing through homework and dinner on auto pilot only to remember the next day is a holiday which equals no school which equals movie night.

18. Movie night!

19. Stopping after school at a beach café to grab a drink in the sun while the kids collect shells.

20. Wine…and the sound of the cork popping and the wonderful glug glug of the first pour.

21. Conquering a life-long fear.

22. Hearing my daughter sing and knowing, beyond natural maternal bias, that she really has got something.

23. Having a friend who would actually leave her house at night, get in the car and come over to mine with a bottle of wine if I said I had none in the house. 🙂

24. Home-made ice cream…see Hubster smile!

25. A beach-side restaurant finally opening a minute’s walk from our house where we can laze over Sunday lunch and let the kids literally step out the back onto the sand while we both have a coffee and a chat.

26. Meeting two cool chikitas, one whom I first met years ago but never actually got to know, the other whom I met quite randomly just a year ago – and knowing they will both be in my life forever.

27. Realising the best things happen when you’re least expecting them.

28. Hubster returning safe and sound from business trips.

29. The sound of my kids laughing. OF COURSE.

30. Launching a blog that has led me to discover the most heart-warming, surprising, affirming things about myself and others that I never expected.

This is my truth. These are what make me happy. So I’m clapping my hands, like Mr Williams said.

 

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