27 May 2015

On clean floors and kid chaos ...


How clean are your floors - do you really care, and does it even matter? Much to a close family member's horror, Amanda Hudson recently discovered that an unexpected bonus of her new floors was that they take a long time to look dirty............

There’s about 650km between my mum and I, so we catch up for a chat on the phone every week or so.

Not long ago the topic turned to floors. We’d recently had the floating floors replaced at our place and mum and dad have just moved into a new house, so we’ve both had the (fun) experience of poring over samples, debating for hours and finally chosing one – fingers crossed – that we hoped we’d be happy with. The conversation went like this:

Mum: “So, are you happy with your new floors?”

Me: “Yep, very happy, they look really good.”

Mum: “How do you go with keeping them clean – how do they wash up? “

Me: “Ummm … well I haven’t actually washed them yet.”

Mum: (silence. I can practically hear crickets as she adds up the weeks since we’ve had them done – about seven at this stage).

Mum: (finally, after what seems an eternity, in a kind of strangled tone) "You haven’t mopped your floors yet?!”

Me: “Well of course I’ve spot cleaned under the highchair and where things have been dropped but no, the colour and style seems very forgiving and I haven’t had to mop them as yet.”

I can’t actually remember what my mum said from here, but I quickly changed the topic as I could feel some well-meaning mum advice coming on and I wasn’t in the mood.

Later, recounting this story to Sustainababy founder Laura, got me thinking about good 'ol mother’s guilt. I found myself justifying to her that I did vacuum a couple of times a week and while I probably wouldn’t eat off the floors, they certainly weren’t (noticeably) filthy! Laura knows me well and just laughed along with me, but driving home I began to worry that just like my mum, she was probably quietly horrified at the state of the floors and the kind of mother I am.

So do you know what I did? I took a photo of my loungeroom and texted it to Laura to prove the floors really didn’t look that bad.

Pretty pathetic hey! Why on earth was I so concerned about what someone – a good friend at that – thought of the state of my floors?!

It’s called mother’s guilt, and it’s a useless emotion. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it can be quite harmful.

We all parent differently and have different standards and expectations when it comes to so many things; recent topics among my group of friends have included ironing (or not), lunchboxes, house cleaning, exercise, kids’ sport commitments and what our husbands do around our homes – and of course everyone has a different experience on each of these.

There’s no point worrying about what other people think or feeling guilty for not living up to unachievable standards. In my case, this means I need to make peace with the fact that I have three children under seven and the only time I am going to have clean floors is for about 23 seconds after cleaning them. Plus, a little grot on the floors is good for their immune systems, isn’t it?!

Of course, you know what happened next don’t you? Later that night I was sitting on my couch and with the right light, my floors looked did actually look kind of grotty … so at 9.30pm at night I dusted off my (much ignored mop) and gave them a quick clean.

That was three weeks ago and they still look pretty good to me …

PS – speaking of cleaning, I’ve just signed up for Laura’s Home Detox Boot Camp. I’m a reformed bleach addict and while I’ve accepted that my bathrooms don’t have to reek of chlorine to be clean, I still use way too many chemicals. I can’t wait to learn all about the safe, natural alternatives and it’s not too late if you want to join us, but sign-ups close TONIGHT! Find out more here.

CATEGORY: home detox, eco, household, Cleaning | POSTED BY: |

6 May 2015

The Birth of a Mother

Mothers don't make mistakes, do they? Of course they do! But there's so much pressure on parents (especially mums) to be 'perfect' that often we're consumed with doing everything right, and forget the value in sometimes getting things a little bit wrong. Julia Jones from Newborn Mothers tells us why it's really OK to make mistakes ... in fact, she says it's an important part of growing into motherhood.

Motherhood is hard. It's probably the hardest thing you'll ever do, but you might not realise that until you are in the thick of it and it's too late to turn back.

That's because our culture tends to gloss over the messy aspects of motherhood and present a somewhat sanitised and angelic portrait of mothers. It can be a shock to get to motherhood and realise that you are still YOU. Imperfect and human - not an angel after all.

It can be even more of a shock to realise that your own mother has just been making-it-up-as-she-goes-along for all these years too!

It can be very tempting to 'rescue' a new mother from her mistakes. "Don't let the baby get over-tired" or "don't create a rod for your own back" or perhaps worst of all "enjoy the moment cause they grow up too fast." AAAAAAAGH!

This is the motherhood equivalent of handing a mother a fish, rather than teaching her how to go fishing.

Mistakes have value!


When you learn by making mistakes (rather than doing what you are told) you don't just learn one solution once. You learn how to trouble shoot with your baby and work as a team and you can apply that process to all future parenting adventures. Right now you might be making mistakes getting your baby to sleep. In a few years you'll be making mistakes trying to get your toddler to eat greens. After that the mistakes will be about getting your kid to tidy his bedroom and so on and so on and so on.

Mistakes help you find your own unique parenting style for your own unique baby. Despite what many baby-care books suggest there is no one-size-fits-all parenting solution. The only way to figure out what works for you and your baby is to try out a few different things, and keep doing whichever one worked.

Most valuable of all, mistakes teach you to forgive.

There is a African proverb "Beware of the naked man that offers you a shirt." Meaning how can you offer something when you need it yourself? How can you love another when you don't love yourself? How can you forgive your baby when you can't forgive yourself?

Make mistakes, forgive yourself, and let them go. Only then you will be able to offer the same kindness and generosity to your baby when she throws a ball in the house and smashes your best vase, or stays out past midnight on a school night.

NOT making mistakes is in fact the biggest mistake you can make. Mistakes have many benefits in learning and growing as a mother. I think it's high time we started admitting our mistakes and embracing our imperfections as part of the teach yourself process of motherhood.

Julia inspires pregnant women to make the six weeks after your baby is born the best six weeks of your life. Get pregnancy, sleep and breastfeeding resources, including a heap of freebies at Newborn Mothers. Be the mum you want to be.

CATEGORY: motherhood, parenting, mother guilt | POSTED BY: Meg Supel |