Newborn Essentials- things that you will actually need

Anybody who has had a baby will know that the sheer amount of products out there for baby are mind-blowing and plain confusing. A newborn human shouldn’t need that much right? Wrong. Walk into any baby store and you’ll see what I mean.

Having done this twice already and expecting my third (in just 7 weeks!!), I’ve whittled down what a baby would really need to the following. They are tried and tested by myself and I genuinely love these products. I try to choose organic and ethically made products where I can.

See below image for more details and links… If you hover over image the corresponding numbers will show.

  1. BABU Organic cotton hooded towels, face washers and wash cloths.
  2. Baby Bjorn Balance bouncer– this has been sitting in my living for 5 years in the same spot and will probably be there for another 2 years. It is very practical, and isn’t a scary, battery operated bouncer with toys hanging off it. It moves with the natural movements of baby, aiding in muscle development.
  3. Wilson & Frenchy growsuits. Get the zip kind, not the one with a thousand buttons because nappy change time is hard enough already.
  4. Gaia baby massage oil. Makes bath times much more fun.
  5. Tooshies by TOM nappies. They only launched these recently and I’m using them for Z (my two-year old) and I LOVE them because they are made using organic materials, are made well, fit around baby’s waist snugly and don’t leak. What more could you want in a nappy?
  6. Gaia hair & body wash. See number 4.
  7. Bubba blue organic four piece gift set. A cute print with all the essential accessories: beanie, mittens, bib and socks.
  8. Manduca baby carrier. I have used my fair share of baby carriers and this one is by far my favourite. It’s easy to use and supports your back well, whilst keeping baby snug and close.
  9. Bassinet. My bassinet is very similar to this style. I like that I can see baby through the see-through mesh, I can roll it around the house and I also like its simple aesthetic.
  10. Lifefactory glass bottles. In one word; brilliant. They also fit onto a Medela pump which is a huge thumbs up.
  11. Muslin Wrap. Both my babies liked to be wrapped and muslin wraps are perfect for both winter and summer babies. Get one in organic cotton.
  12. Valco Snap 4 stroller. So with my first baby, I bought the Valco Rebel Q pram, which was awesome, except that it was one of those prams that had to be separated into two to fold and fit in your boot. When I first tried it out at the baby store I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I was totally wrong. I eventually grew tired of separating the seat and folding the huge base…and it literally took up all my boot space. So, I passed that onto a family member who needed a pram, and this time round swore that I’d buy something that folds in one swift motion. Enter Valco Snap 4 stroller. It was very well priced (just over $300, unlike other strollers that retail for an incredulous $900 upwards), it is easy to handle, it’s light and folds in ONE SWIFT MOTION. I was totally sold.
  13. Tooshies by TOM wipes. Best. Wipes. Ever. And the cute packaging is a total bonus.
  14. Purebaby singlets. Lovely organic cotton singlets. Need I say more?
  15. Eco.baby nappy oil. Again, made of organic ingredients, this is the only nappy oil that has actually worked consistently. The moment I see a bit of redness or the beginnings of nappy rash, I apply this oil generously and by the next nappy change, it’s cleared up.

Featured image source.

Best on the Net

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and are ready for the new week! Here are some lovely, positive and uplifting stories to make the start of the week that much easier…

  1. 30 Captivating Historical photographs that need to be seen.
  2. What a teen girl’s magazine cover looks like when a graphic designer gets her hands on it.
  3. And here is one girl’s magazine that is trying to do it differently.
  4. A loving father photographs his autistic son’s unique habits.
  5. An enchantingly-rare all white reindeer is spotted on the side on the road in Sweden.
  6. One school is replacing detention with meditation and it is brilliant.
  7. Rahaf Khatib on the cover of “Women’s Running” magazine is how getting featured in mainstream media should be done.
  8. The essentials of Maternity Wear, and a few more of my favourite maternity wear/post-maternity wear-able brands herehere, and here.
  9. Like, I really want this blush shirt dress that looks perfect for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  10. Oh and if you’re in Sydney, the “Raising Positive Children” workshop run by the Al-Ghazzali Centre is on this weekend. It is definitely one not to be missed. Register for it here. I’ll see you there!

Featured image via Nouba.

Take a moment…

These days I am getting a keen sense of how fast time is passing. It’s like I blinked and I had two children. I feel it even more now that I am expecting number 3. I can’t quite comprehend how 5 years, 2 children and expecting a third happened.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I found out I was expecting my first child? I remember the day that I found out so clearly. I remember calling my husband and telling him over the phone, right in the middle of his work day, because I have absolutely no patience and can’t keep anything from him for any amount of time.

I remember the day she was born, that incomparable feeling of having her placed on my chest where she immediately ceased crying, whereupon my own tears gushed even more. I remember how it felt to have her tiny frame pressed against me, and me completely overwhelmed by how much she needed me.

I remember the days that followed. The utter physical exhaustion, the stress and anxiety of trying to keep her alive, of the insane lack of sleep…

But what I fail to remember is how we filled the days from around 2 months to, well, now. Did I at any point just soak in the moments and enjoy having just one little girl to love, nurture and cherish? Or was I constantly worried about the next issue, about her future, about how she was growing, about her poor eating habits, her manners and so on?

Then before I knew it, Z was born and again, I remember the day she was born so clearly, I remember the unique struggles that she brought immediately after (she was colicky, she never slept during the day, she never wanted to be put down etc etc.), and again, I remember the stress, the worry and the anxiety.

img_5672

How did FIVE years pass with these two little girls? How did I spend the days with them? Did I pause to simply watch them in wonderment or was I constantly “feeling tired”?

Two months out from having baby number 3, I get the growing sense of nostalgia, of regret… The regret of not simply sitting back and enjoying the two girls in their baby phase. Before my very eyes they are growing so quickly and I just want to stop and pause everything.

We spend so much of our children’s early years wishing that they would just grow up so we can get some solid sleep, or so we can work, or read a book, or have time for ourselves, that before we know it, they are grown up, then we futilely wish they could just be babies again so we can cuddle them without them pushing us away. So we can stare in wonderment at their incomprehensibly tiny feet and hands, so we can breathe in their pure, uncorrupted newborn smell. So we can dress them in anything we want to dress them in, pick them up and take them anywhere without them protesting…

Z (my youngest) began to assert her wardrobe preferences a few weeks ago, and it’s only getting worse. She insists on wearing dresses, if they get stained they must be taken off and changed immediately (something I apparently did as a two year old, so I only have myself to blame), and she does not wear jackets or tops. She must also pick her own shoes.

And YES, it is driving me absolutely MAD. Today after another torturous tantrum session over her clothing, it hit me that it also made me sad  (you know, not just frustrated and crazy). It made me sad because it was a sign of her growing and maturing. That she was no longer a baby who had no consciousness of these things. That she was developing a personality and asserting her choices. Before she even turns 2.

God help me.

img_2909

And I know that when baby no. 3 arrives, she will seem huge to me, and she will suddenly grow up and mature overnight.

She won’t be the baby of the family anymore. And no, I can’t hold onto this, or cherish it properly, and before I know it, it will be a distant memory, to the extent where I will say, “I don’t even remember the time when Z was the baby of the family.”

Ultimately, expecting baby no 3 is making me realise in real terms how important it is to appreciate our children, as they are, in this very moment. Because childhood is so fleeting and trying to hold onto it is like trying to grasp sand in our fists. Yes. I am referring to the old cliche of time as being like sand. Shoot me.

So, if you have children, no matter what age they are, just take this moment to watch them, to talk with them, to wonder at their current phase, their likes and dislikes, their unique temperaments and quirky habits, at their torturous tantrums, at their bad habits… I’m trying to hold onto the time when J would stop us whilst out on a walk, and lie down on the grass by a path and point at the sky and say, “moon”. Or the time when Z saw a dandelion and picked it, and in her attempt to blow it she ended up shoving it in her mouth. Or when J nonchalantly asked me about how my day was going, and I rattled on about how tired I was, and how much I still needed to do, and in a matter-of-fact manner she advised, “Allah (swt) will help you…” Or the million and one other times that these children are awed by the world around them and force you to notice as well, or when they keenly pick up on your mood and are so gentle and caring with you…

Pull them closer and breathe them in, and know that this moment is going to pass so quickly, one day it will feel like a distant dream. Take a moment to push your tiredness aside, forget the stress and anxiety you are experiencing with your children, don’t think about what needs to be cleaned or cooked or bought… Just watch your children, watch them and acknowledge the depth of love you have for them simply for the way that they are now…

img_0960

Thinking of having kids? Think again…

Parenting in this day and age is without a doubt a tough gig.

We are faced with challenges that our parents didn’t face when they were raising us, we live in a society whose moral and spiritual values have been all but degraded, and it appears to be getting worse. Our food is not what it used to be, with all the genetic modification and the mass agricultural methods used to simply meet the dietary demands of an increasingly obese population, resulting in children with ADHD (apparently), behavioural issues, earlier onset of mental health issues and of course, obesity. The schooling system is becoming (or already is) heavily focused on “academic teaching” where children as young as 5 are subject to testing and assessments, with priority given to standardised testing as a measure of their abilities, yet ironically are not producing more intelligent people.

We are living in the ‘digital age’ with screens pervading everything that we do. Schools are introducing iPads in kindergarten, or giving homework that must be done on the internet. Children are being given their own iPads and iPhones at younger and younger ages, or are allowed to watch streams of videos on YouTube, unmonitored, for hours. Their access to potentially explicit content is thus made easier. We don’t even have the slightest idea how to cope with the effects of the digital age, and yet we are pushing it onto our children.

Our children are being raised in an almost dystopic society where the bonds of human connection are being ground down…and digitalised. Leonard Sax in his book “Why Gender Matters” devotes a chapter to discussing sexual activity amongst adolescents, and makes the observation that it is becoming an increasingly impersonal activity. Dating no longer exists. Teenagers ‘hook up’. Sax made this observation in 2005. A decade later I’d say that things have only taken a turn for the worse, what with the explosion in digital devices and social media.

The obsession with our phones is resulting in a generation of children, and even adults, who don’t know how to make conversation. Who don’t understand social etiquette. Who are slowly but surely being disconnected from their own humanity.

Throw into all this the age old struggles with raising children, the utter physical exhaustion that particularly mothers face in the early years, while having child after child. Post-natal depletion is totally a thing people. Not post-natal depression. DEPLETION.

Add to this the expectation from society to BE something OTHER than JUST a mother. The financial pressures to work so we can afford our mortgages, and cars on finance, and designer everything and new gadgets and holidays once a year… Oh and to pay for the childcare for our multiple children which costs practically what we are earning… Amongst all this we need to raise perfectly disciplined children, whilst not losing our patience, whilst allowing our kids to just be kids, but make sure they are dressed in perfect clothes, and eating nutritious foods and take them to swimming, karate, pre-kindy classes, and make sure they know their alphabet, their numbers and how to write their names BEFORE they start school so you can get them into a selective, academic, private school that costs over $1000 a term… From kindergarten.

And we are doing this increasingly alone. No longer do we live with others…The village support network no longer exists. And it is mothers who suffer the most. Even when the support system is there, we no longer know how to support each other with love, respect and wisdom. We’ve lived such busy lives for the past few decades that what we are left with are people and families living as isolated units who no longer know how to connect and nurture and uplift each other.

Gone are the days when family would simply drop in unannounced. When homes were bustling places with cousins and friends and neighbours popping by for tea.

We are alone.

And motherhood by nature is already a lonely exercise. That is now only compounded by how ‘busy’ and separated everyone is from each other. And when we are together, we judge, we criticise, we don’t take the time to build and nurture sincere bonds.

Ok so now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you all, and myself, here is the point that I’m trying to make…

Yes. We live in difficult times.

If you think that I’m going to say something dreary like, DON’T HAVE KIDS because all is doom and gloom, then no.

On the contrary, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to have children. There is no light in this world like the light that emanates from children. And being able to witness that… a privilege. Only children have the power to utterly transform you… if you allow them to.

What I do want to stress is that people really need to spend time preparing and acknowledging and understanding the weight of the responsibility that comes with raising children.

Having the child is one thing. Going through pregnancy and labour is another daunting task. But once that baby is out, you need to raise it into a decent human being.

And attempting to achieve this task requires conscious parenting. I’m not talking about ‘over parenting’ where parents get involved with every little detail of their kid’s lives thus stripping away any agency from them. I’m talking about parenting that is informed, thoughtful, questioning, reflective and… aware.

If you are thinking of having children, my advice is, think about it thoroughly. Know that it will be one of the toughest things that you will undertake in life, and it literally will span the length of your life. It will be the source of the worst heartbreak, difficulty, frustration and anxiety. Everything from keeping the baby alive in its early days to instilling good eating habits in your two year old, to disciplining your four year old, to showing them your pure love for them, to modelling good manners, humility and respect… Yeh, it’s a tough gig. But at least do your best to prepare yourself for it. Think about the type of parent you want to be, not the type of child you want to have (because that is not in your control), but the child and person that you would like to shape and nurture.

Just do not have kids because “it’s the thing to do”, or because you think they are cute (by the time they hit 4.5 they officially stop being cute. For reals.) Or because you want a pet that you can dress in cute, expensive clothing. Or because you want the designer pram and beautiful nursery. Or because you want a mini-me. Or because you want them to be a source of pride that you can boast about to anyone and everyone.

These motivations will wear very quickly after actually having the child, and you will find that you will do whatever it takes to get that child to be quiet. Or to ‘get rid of them’.

Know that a child is a new human being entering a world that they have no idea about and they need YOUR guidance, your informed, educated guidance, your unconditional love, your compassion and gentleness… they NEED a figure of authority who can place boundaries on what they can and can’t do, they NEED a role model to show them how to navigate through the complexities of this life…

If you are not ready to be this for someone, if you are not ready to take on this responsibility, or at the very least, if you don’t have children with the conscious mindset that this is what you need to be as a parent, then think again about having children. Because without properly acknowledging what it means to be a parent, you may be contributing to a lifetime of difficulty, confusion and destruction for another person, and not just any person, but your own child.

Isn’t it worth thinking about properly?

*Featured image via Jote Khalsa.

Baby Boy’s Nursery Inspiration

I am currently 29 weeks pregnant with Baby No. 3 and I am in shock as to how quickly it has passed. I essentially have two and a half months left and it occurred to me the other day that I have prepared nothing for this child, because #babyno3. I decided to head out and start buying some baby essentials, like muslin wraps, towels and the like and it hit me that I was actually having another baby. Excitement is setting in people! I am so so so excited to meet this little baby boy (yes it’s a boy inshaAllah!). Of course I’m terrified at the same time as to how I’m going to juggle three kids under 5 BUT!!! we’re going to have a new baby in the house! That means squishy toes and a fragile being who SMELLS heavenly of newborn, uncorrupted human.

Yep. I’m excited.

I was also in denial throughout this pregnancy about this baby needing a room, but then realised that I had nowhere to put his things. My bedroom has no extra storage. None. Even if I declutter. Does that sound horrible? It probably is.

ANYWAYSSS, I’m currently in the process of decluttering my ‘storage room’ which really means ‘the room we throw everything we don’t need into’. It has been totally therapeutic, or I’m just totally nesting lol.

And, I’ve been snooping Pinterest for some nursery inspiration. I don’t like to overdo a baby’s room, and I really want to keep this boy’s room calm, simple with natural wood tones, lighter colours and a patterned rug.

Below are some baby boy rooms that I am loving…

ec6e484fcad8c37eaf378e0e14a01c61d7b533ecf5c669ae0d0e2f6624ddc275031cb336bba020707aa1777eb01b893fd2951ed63d334dd4e7650d63dcf54d6dbb31cd998ff93329c7408bc2cba6823e63f7bdce171eac50acd26345d43f51ee4904cf5ade9138338256552f18bbaf9d.jpg75dab425487ff6a4aa5b42549c5b384d.jpg

*click images for source

Featured image via Paige Jones

Yes. Allowing your kids screen time on devices IS CRAZY

If you are a parent, and you keep up with the news, or are on social media, then you must have heard Today Show host Lisa Wilkinson’s comments about how parents who allow their children time on an iPhone/iPad are “crazy”.

And you must have seen/read the resulting hoo-ha from parents all weighing in on her “extremely judgemental” remarks.

I’m going to be straight- I totally agree with her.

Trust me, I understand how parents can be driven to simply pass on such devices to their children, but I have come to the firm belief that simply ‘surviving’ parenthood, and therefore doing whatever it takes to ‘survive’ it, is just not a good enough standard to hold ourselves to as parents.

I wrote before, when discussing my eldest daughter’s eating habits, that:

“A lesson that I have faced over and over again in the past four years of my parenting career is perseverance. If there were ever a test of your character, of your selflessness, it is trying to raise a child. Because over and over again you have to make the choice between what is best for them, or what is easier for you now…

And this last part applies to many, many other decisions we make for our children, from their birth onwards, beyond what we feed them.

There is an absolute wealth of information on how screen time is affecting children’s brain, spinal and mental well-being. Take this one from Psychology today that claims that children who are diagnosed with everything from weak memories, to depression and ADHD can be helped by going on an “electronics fast”. It then goes onto highlight “six physiological mechanisms that explain electronics’ tendency to produce mood disturbance.” So when somebody is simply delivering the truth that any parent who allows their child to be exposed to such harm, I cannot fathom how parents can still shoot back with, “I’m just doing what I can to SURVIVE. So I can get things done. So I can get some peace.” Or that she is just being incredibly judgemental.

Let’s get a few things straight.

As I said above, and I have made this mistake myself (of excusing my parenting decisions with the ‘survival’ reason) so I’m not sitting here on my high horse being Judgy-McJudgeson, simply aiming to “survive” as a parent is just not good enough. Do we suddenly justify giving our children McDonald’s and lots of pre-packaged food thus absolutely destroying their gut health, impacting their behaviour and so on and so forth, because we need to “survive”?

Do we justify hours of time for our kids on iPads and iPhones so that we can “get things done”? Or just to get some “peace”?

Even when we are out shopping, or at the doctor’s waiting room, do we need to shove a device into their hands to “keep them quiet”? Our generation used to complain about how our parents believed that children should be “seen and not heard” and they would simply yell at us to keep us quiet, and how we are emotionally scarred from this experience.

What has changed? Aren’t we simply using the same line with our own kids, but worse, we are handing them a tool that will destroy their physical, mental, social and behavioural health? At least back in the day we were just yelled at but then we kept our eyes and heads up and were forced to observe the world around us, to be given the chance to absorb and reflect on what was happening around us, which gave us a chance to learn human behaviour and social skills.

Maybe it even resulted in us, heaven forbid, getting bored at the GP’s waiting room, which would lead to us playing with the secondhand toys on the table (and no, our parents didn’t carry around packets of wipes and hastily wipe our hands after playing with such toys), and inevitably interacting with the other children in the same predicament as us. Or we just sat there. Doing nothing. Learning how to keep quiet because we feared our parents.

Which apparently these days, is the worst thing that we can do to our children.

Also, I’m calling something else out, God help me for saying this as I probably will be crucified for it, but, the reality is that there is A LOT of lazy parenting happening out there.

I don’t agree that all parents are just doing the best that they can.

Let me give you some examples.

Recently, I witnessed a well-educated mother allowing her TWO YEAR OLD daughter to guzzle down Coke.

At the shopping centre, I have seen children sitting in prams holding iPads/iPhones on their laps while their mothers “get things done”.

When I was toilet training J (my eldest) I was looking for a potty for her, and I saw a Fisher & Price potty with an iPad stand attached to it. #WhatTheHell

Everywhere I go, I see parents looking down at their phones, and sitting next to them, their barely five year olds looking at their own iPads. Don’t even get me started on 10 year olds or teenagers.

We HAVE to be better than this. We HAVE to do better than this. For our children’s sake, and for our own sake.

We have to stop making excuses for our bad parenting ‘decisions’. Because the reality is that we, as parents, as a community, are getting things horribly wrong with our children. And I’m not talking about the inevitable mistakes that we will make because we are not perfect people and therefore cannot be perfect parents. Even the best of us will get it wrong.

What I’m talking about is the blind justification of decisions made for our children that are clearly and undeniably wrong.

Like allowing them hours on a screen.

And if you want proof, don’t just read the plethora of research out there talking about this, just observe our children. Look at their lack of social skills, look at their hyperactivity, look at their utter disinterest in the world around them, in their lack of manners, in their sense of entitlement, in their lack of empathy, in their lack of direction, in their lack of will to work hard.

We are bombarding our children with so much that is not natural that they are turning into automatons. Look at the number of violent children who abuse their parents. Yes. This is happening.

Or look at the rates of childhood obesity just in Australia. One in four children in Australia were reported as overweight in the period between 2007-2008.

ONE in FOUR.

And if we’re honest with ourselves, adults are just as addicted to technology as our children are. As adults we don’t know how to responsibly use these devices that have overrun our lives in such a short period. How can we just hand them over to our children?

Look, I could write so much more on this topic. But the ultimate point I am making is that we, as parents, really need to stop excusing our bad parenting decisions. We need to stop being so defensive and jumping down people’s throats about being “judgemental” because guess what? We actually need to learn how to positively and intelligently “judge” what is right, and what is wrong. We need to teach our children how to discern between what is positive, and what is negative, what is beneficial and what is harmful.

And if we, as their parents, as their most important and foremost guide in their lives, lay out everything as “O.K” for them, allow them to eat whatever they want, allow them to play with whatever they want, allow them to watch movies and shows without questioning, how do they become adults who have the capacity to think critically and make the right decisions for themselves if they grow up in a world that is “judgement-free”?

It is our responsibility and duty as their parents to make judgements about what is right and what is wrong for our children.

Let’s have the courage to build each other up as a community to support the right parenting decisions. Let’s be honest with ourselves about how we are parenting our children, about how consciously we are making decisions for them. Let’s be courageous enough, and humble enough to take on board constructive criticism. In teaching, there is a type of teacher called the ‘reflective teacher’. This is the one who, after each lesson, spends time reflecting on what they, as a teacher, did right, did wrong, could have done better, could have done a different way.

This type of teacher is generally the more effective teacher.

We should be doing this as parents. I know that we are tired. I am tired. I know that daily grind and endless cycle of cleaning and cooking and dealing with fights and trying to go to work and get kids dressed and riding their tantrums can break us. But we need to remember that our children are an amanah (a trust) given to us by our Creator. And while we may not be questioned on our children’s decisions, we will most certainly be questioned on what we did for our children, on our intentions in raising our children. On how much we tried to raise good servants of Allah (swt).

So let’s ask ourselves, and let’s be honest, are we doing the best we can as parents?

*Disclaimer: No, my kids do not have any screen time on a device. They are banned from using iPhones and iPads. I had downloaded some ‘educational’ apps for J years ago, but found that she became addicted to them much too quickly and she literally turned into a different, wild, angry child, when I tried to take the device from her. So I simply deleted the apps and since then have simply reinforced that a mobile phone is not a toy.

And here are some articles that look at the damaging effects of screen time on children:

Screentime is making our kids moody, crazy and lazy. 

Screens in schools are a $60billion hoax. 

It’s digital heroin: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies.

The Impact of screen time on children  from the Australian Spinal Research Foundation.

Parents’ smartphones harming children’s ability to hold conversation, say teachers. 

Featured image source.

How we talk about our kids

Before I became a parent, I would listen to other parents talk about and discuss their children with others. I would listen to them with trepidation and what eventually become anger and sadness at the way these parents would talk about their children to other people, sometimes relatives, sometimes colleagues, sometimes strangers. They would all try to top the other parent’s story about how bad their children were, about the bad habits of their children. To me, it sounded exaggerated, unnecessary and incredibly, spiteful.

It sounded a lot like backbiting.

Fast-forward a few years and I now have children of my own, and without even noticing, I  have begun to speak about my own children in this manner as well. Often when people ask me about how my kids are, I find that I roll my eyes and sigh and launch into the latest thing that they did to frustrate me. Like in my last post here.

#badparenting

I think what is really important to recognise is that parenting is not a competition of who is having the worst time of it, and who can tell the most horrible story about their children at Mother’s Group, or at the next dinner with fellow mum friends. You know, the kind of talk where mum after mum tries to oust the previous mother with a horror story about their child’s epic half an hour tantrum at Coles, because “NOBODY’S KID IS AS BAD AS MINE.”

Is this what we’ve come to? Whinging and complaining about our kids to gain the most sympathy?

There is a BIG difference between simply complaining and essentially backbiting the worst of our children, and discussing a bad habit that our child has with the sincere intention to seek help and advice, or to simply off load to a fellow trusted friend in a concerned manner about the difficulties in raising children.

I think we need to ask ourselves how we would feel if our children, when they grew up, went around complaining and whinging to their friends about OUR bad habits, which let’s face it, they DO SEE.

The reality is that our children do have their own dignity, and that they have as much right as we do for that dignity to be upheld. They have the right to trust their parents to protect them and their self-worth, and not lay out their difficult traits in a degrading manner to anyone outside (or even inside) the family.

Before we open our mouths to discuss our children with others, let’s take a minute to think about what our intentions are, and in whether what we are about to say is a hurtful thing to say about our children. And most importantly, let’s not only take the time to remember all our children’s beautiful positive traits, but to acknowledge that our children will not be perfect, that they are essentially CHILDREN who are learning and growing, and in this process, they will make mistakes.

And that’s ok, because let’s face it, we are supposed to be the ‘adults’ and we make mistakes too.

*Please do not use image without permission of The Modest Life.

Today, I am struggling…

Today, I’m struggling. I’m struggling with this whole parenting thing. I am doubting my ability to be a good mother to my two daughters. The fact that I am now expecting baby no. 3 is freaking. Me. OUT. When I tell people that I’ll have 3 kids under 5, they physically shudder, or shake their heads. Or tell me that it’s going to be sheer insanity. That I won’t leave the house for about five years. That 3 is the hardest number.

So yeah, I’m scared. Was I planning to have 3 under the age of 5? No. No I wasn’t. And I know that that has made it more difficult for me to mentally cope with this reality. But recently I had a pregnancy scare, and as I lay in the birthing ward waiting for the doctor, my two previous births in this same hospital came rushing back to me. I looked over to the bassinet and felt excited to experience the joy of welcoming a new baby into the world again. I felt honoured to be blessed with this opportunity. And just when I had these sentiments, I heard the first cry of a new baby being born in another room. I heard the midwives in the ward exclaim gleefully and happily that baby was finally born, and I felt privileged to share this moment with an unknown, unseen mother. Thankfully,  everything was fine and I was able to go home. I left the hospital in gratitude and excited at the prospect of welcoming a new baby, a new person into our family. I felt reassured that I could give birth again, because let’s face it, once you’ve been through labour, you spend all subsequent pregnancies in a state of sheer terror of D-Day, the “D” representing both ‘Delivery day’ and ‘Dooms day’. Ignorance is bliss when it comes to labour and birth, and by the end of your first pregnancy you just want to get it out of the way, because you have NO IDEA HOW PAINFUL LABOUR IS. With baby no 2, and 3 and so on, you live in utter fear of the pain of labour, counting down the days with quaking legs and waking up from nightmares of that pain.

1x4a3804

But I digress…

That was around a week ago.

This morning I woke up from a night of fitful sleep, a sleep interrupted by the baby kicking me from the inside, from the almost two-year-old who didn’t want to sleep in her own bed and kept waking up, from scream-out-loud they’re so painful leg cramps. I dressed the kids when they woke at 6:30am, and settled them for a quick breakfast of cereal, while I prepared my own tea and toast, and before long, my eldest had spilt milk all over her dress, stockings, chair and floor.

I yelled at her.

I lost my patience.

She just stood by her chair.

I continued to yell as I cleaned her up, then told her to go and change her stockings. Then Z (my little one) decided that she wanted to take off her stockings as well, and proceeded to have a tantrum when I didn’t let her.

I yelled some more.

Once that debacle finally settled, Z decided she didn’t want cereal, but chocolate instead and made her way to the pantry and pointed to the highest shelf where she knew the chocolate was kept.

I said no. Can anyone hazard a guess as to what happened next?

Yep. More tantrums from her and more yelling from me. I picked her up and tried to physically restrain her over my extremely large, larger than usual as most people took their leisure to tell me, almost-28-week pregnant belly.

When I finally settled her down she decided she wanted a chocolate chip muffin that I had made yesterday and was currently eating, but she was smart enough to demolish and tear it apart to pick out… you guessed it, THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS and left the bulk of the muffin in crumbs and pieces ON THE FLOOR, which my eldest immediately stepped on…

More yelling ensued.

I got them to sit on the couch and read some books while I drank my tea at the table and ate a piece of toast whilst getting lost in my phone. Because #badparenting.

No sooner had I gotten through half of my toast, fighting ensued between the girls because Z wanted to read whichever book her older sister was reading.

Y E L L I N G…

I ambled over to the couch to attempt at negotiating peace between the two when I noticed that Z had picked up the can of drink my husband left on the couch last night and was happily chugging through what remained (which really wasn’t much).

LAST STRAW. I snatched that can, squashed it in my fist and launched it across the living room, the remaining liquid in it sloshing the rug and couches as it sailed through the air.

Z started crying at my reaction, and I sat on the couch surrounded by toys, food particles, sticky soft drink remains, one crying toddler, another deflated elder daughter, one baby inside furiously kicking me, and me… Not a shred of dignity left, not a shred of confidence in my parenting ability left, absolutely and completely OVER IT with that overwhelming guilt washing over me.

I can’t do this. I just cannot do this.

1x4a3703

And OMG, I’ve just read over this and cannot stop laughing. I can’t stop laughing at the hilarity of all that I’m describing, but I’m also crying at the same time because it’s actually just ridiculous and I know it’s probably not that bad, but also that I am currently deep in the trenches of parenthood .

You know when you speak to parents of older children and you lament on the difficulty of smaller kids, and they shoot back with “oh that is NOTHING. WAIT till they’re TEENAGERS. I WISH my kids were BABIES AGAIN” and you just want to push them off a cliff (is that too sadistic?) because no matter what you do or say you can’t convey to them your sheer tiredness and lack of energy at trying to raise more than one highly irrational and illogical human being who wants to be with you ALL THE TIME while you try to do something for yourself outside of them, you know, BE SOMETHING besides “JUST” a mother?

Maybe when my kids are teenagers, I will also say the same. But right now, I’m tired, I’m losing patience and energy and I’m constantly wading in a sea of doubt which threatens to pull me under, every single day. Doubts about my competence, my ability as a mum, my lack of knowledge and wisdom to raise these children into good, Muslim, human beings, anxiety over sending my eldest to school next year when I REALLY want to homeschool (more on this another day), stress and insecurity over how I am going to juggle three children with the school run, fear that I am scarring and traumatising my children with my parenting…

Today, I am just, struggling…

And I need to hear from you fellow mothers, how are you coping? How do you keep sane? How do you not drown in self-doubt?

I’d love to hear from you all.

*Images taken by my dearest friend Zahrah of Love by Lah’za. Please do not use without permission of The Modest Life.

Girl’s Spring dresses

When it comes to children’s clothing I have a strong belief that they should be dressed age-appropriate. I don’t like the current trend of kid’s clothing that simply mimics adult’s clothing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a trench coat on a kid as much as the next person, but body-con mini-dresses with cut outs for a 5 year old? Hell no. But dresses in muted pastel tones with beautiful embroidery, in a baby-doll style, with a longer skirt made especially for twirling and in pretty floral prints? Yes, please.

Below are my favourite dresses for little girls, dresses to walk barefoot in emerald grass, to pick flowers in, to twirl around the house, to play with dolls whilst singing to themselves, to read books, and climb trees, to care for their younger siblings in, to live the wonderment of that dewy, magical and much too short phase that is childhood.

dress_leti_vieux_rose_1__93864-1470283683-1280-1280__04659-1470421620
Vieux Rose
dress_samsa_safran_1__78620-1470281784
Samsa Dress
stripe-dress_d6d1d18a-303f-436b-a456-47b418157c49_grande
Cotton seersucker dress
olivia-sailor-dress-peach-low-res_1024x1024
Olivia Dress
screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-3-26-08-pm
Frill Sleeve
screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-3-11-49-pm
Swirl Dress
il_570xn-1000372321_s68b
Harriet lace collar dress

 

Featured image via Printebebe.

Best on the Net

It’s been a busy week for me and mine… Eid came and went last week, it was my mum’s, brother-in-law’s and his wife’s birthday (all on the same day!), hospital appointments, surprise birthday brunches, classes at the Al-Ghazzali Centre and heading to my local Farmer’s Market for the first time in months.

How was your week? How do you spend Eid with your family and friends?

For the week ahead, here are our favourite reads from around the web:

  1. Peg + Cat aired a special Eid ul-Adha episode and it looks awesome. Yay DIVERSITY!
  2. And on that note, here is a great infographic on the lack of diversity in children’s books.
  3. So here is a link with children’s books that feature kids of colour being themselves. Because that’s enough.
  4. And another link with a list of 5 books that help you raise a globally minded child.
  5. Speaking of diversity in print and publication, how brilliant was it to see Susan Carland featured in the Sunday Life magazine?
  6. A poignant reflection on how mentoring can help mobilise children to positive action, to give them opportunities for more holistic learning opportunities beyond books and the classroom.

Featured image taken by Saltanat (Editor of TML).