Friday, December 5, 2014

Put Your Cock Away Now Please

‘Look mum,’ my four [almost five] year old told me. ‘It looks like a peacot.’

‘A what?, I asked distractedly.

‘She means a peacock,’ the seven year said pointedly.

‘Yes. A peacot,’ Curly Mop said pointing at the fan she had splayed out in front of her and was now swivelling in her hand. Yes, it did look like a peacock, I had to admit, but what the hell was with her pronunciation, I thought.

‘Peacock,’ I said clearly.

‘Peacot,’ she replied.

‘Peacock,’ I said louder, because everyone knows that will work.

‘Peacot,’ she replied.

‘K’ I said, getting my crankypants on. ‘Say k’.

‘K’, she responded.




‘Say sock,’ I beg.




‘Good,’ I respond. ‘Say lock.’

‘Lock,’ she replies.



 ‘Cock, say cock! It’s cock,’ I practically shout in her face, not thinking all about what I am yelling at the top of my lungs.

‘Cot,’ she yells back.


‘It’s cock. Why can’t you say cock? It’s just COCK.’

Then that part of my brain – which should have been functioning long before now – wakes up and tells me to stop shouting obscene words in my daughter’s face.

‘Don’t you think it looks like a Peacot Mummy?’

‘Yes. Yes I do. Now put it away please.’

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Solution to the Wet Butt and Bather Problem [Review]

If I had to list one of my pet hates, it would probably be putting on undies when your butt is still wet. And if it’s someone else’s butt, then you can just double the frustration factor.

So as much as I love going to swimming lessons with my girls each week, I used to dread the part afterwards, where after a very dubious drying session with their ancient beach towels, we would attempt to drag their clothes back on without removing any skin.

So when I received a care package from Mamadoo containing two beautiful hooded robes from MooMoo Kids, it was like all my problems (or at least this particular one) had been solved.

To read the full review click here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Will A Third Child Make You Happier?

Last week I was contacted by a Yahoo journalist seeking a comment on some new research from the London School of Economics and Western University, Canada suggesting that having a third child won’t make you happier. Due to her deadline, and my being across the globe and in a completely unfriendly time zone, I never got to make that comment.

But her piece has been followed in recent days by plenty of other people commenting on the third-child-won’t-make-you-happy syndrome. I am a researcher by training so I know that you can often find whatever results you want within the myriad data you collect (you can find a summary of the results here). 

But without looking deep into their research methods, I am pretty sure that that the results are accurate. Did having my third child make me happier? Ah… no. But did having my first or second baby actually make me happy? Uh, can’t remember, probably not.

What the hell does ‘happy’ mean anyway?  The Oxford Dictionary says it means ‘feeling or showing pleasure or contentment’. Merriam-Webster says happy means ‘feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation etc’.

You know what I think of those words?

Let’s talk about the real words that describe how we feel when we have kids: 

I certainly never considered that I would be ‘happier’ after having children. That’s not why I did it, and certainly not why I had Number Three.

Who’s to say that the parents who registered as being less happy when baby three arrived weren’t overwhelmed by other factors – the physical toll on their inevitably older body, the emotional pull between partners and children, older kids causing grief either as toddlers or tweens, losing older kids to friends and school, less time with your partner, giving up work, having less money etc.

If ‘happy’ means all those words I listed before, then I am definitely more ‘happy’ with three kids. I feel more stable and grounded (even if on a minute-to-minute basis I might appear more flummoxed.) I felt pretty good with two but if I had been completely, 100% happy, then I doubt I would have chosen to have Baby Number Three.

Three for me feels more like the whole package, we are more self-contained. If two kids are fighting, there’s still another to fill the gap. At any point in time there is at least one of them not pissing me off (hopefully). And if some of them are at school or having a sleepover, then having the remaining one or two is easy, almost like a holiday. But, as I have come to realise, it’s not as easy as having three because that’s how our family was meant to be. And every family is going to be different

But I don’t agree with the basic premise of the research because it implies that we have children to make us happy: that our personal happiness is an actual factor in the decision to breed. I actually can’t remember why I decided to have children: it may have just been because it was assumed that’s what we would do. I may have felt a strong biological urge. Perhaps a less strong psychological curiosity. But it’s irrelevant now.

I am also concerned that their finding that baby number 1 and 2 only ‘briefly’ increases our happiness, before returning to pre-baby levels of happiness. Who are these poor, sad souls that were interviewed for the research?

I can categorically say that I am much more relieved-overjoyed-overawed-content-terrified-joyful-intimidated-fortunate- ecstatic-fulfilled -passionate now than before I had children. I think I am a better, more well-rounded, appreciative, empathetic and involved person for having them.

And if that doesn’t make me happy, then I don’t know what will.

Friday, October 24, 2014

I’m Going to be a Tena Lady

I’ve been pretty fortunate when it comes to pre and post-partum disasters: no prolapses or haemorrhoids. My unmentionable varicose veins went away after the baby was delivered. I made it through three pregnancies relatively intact.

Yet today, almost three years after my last pregnancy, I discovered what it was like to have a little leak, shall we say.

You know those ads, where the elegant older woman with silver hair and neat blue suits stand around laughing over some witty comment, and one turns to the screen and whispers, that whenever she laughs or bends over and jumps, she has a little leak, but it’s okay now - because she has Tena Lady.

Yeah, I was that lady today. Except I didn’t actually have a Tena Lady handy, because you know, even Mums sometimes forget to carry around incontinence pads in their oversized handbags on the off chance they will spring a leak.

The Curly Mop and I were on a date night. Once a month, my hubby or I take one of the girls out to spend some quality time. The Mop’s version of quality time apparently, was watching me waist deep in foam, tugging my track pants up, as I struggled to climb my way out of the foam pit at the local trampolining joint (and when I say local, I mean it was a 45 minute drive).

I tried so hard to have fun, but between losing my pants in the pit, being laughed at by four year olds, stared at (not in a good way) by the young bloke in charge of the trampolines and experiencing an ominous trickle every time I jumped, it basically sucked.

The first time it happened I stopped jumping suddenly, afraid of what would happen if I continued. But trampolines don’t tend to let you stop on a dime, they want to keep going, so I ended up falling onto my face (not for the last time), legs flying up behind me, all elegance and grace and wondering who the hell was going to make a million bucks by selling the video on YouTube.

The second time it happened, I squeezed my legs together slightly and looked at the clock. After that, I just accepted my fate, and hoped that this wasn’t going to become a regular thing.

Maybe it’s just me getting older. Maybe it’s because I had three kids and never bothered doing pelvic floor exercises. Maybe I have just been damn lucky up to now.

But I can tell you one thing for sure. You will not find me trampolining with my four year old ever again. Or if you do, I will be cheering from safety of the trickle-free sidelines.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Have a Favourite Child But I'm Not Allowed to Admit It

The other night I broke one of the cardinal rules of parenting.

I admitted I had a favourite child.

Image result for favourite child image

The looks on the faces of the two people I was talking to made it quite clear that I had stepped over a line, as was their comment ‘you should never say that, Shannon’ which also was quite to the point.

Not for one second does admitting you have a favourite mean you don’t love all your children. It doesn’t even mean you don’t love all your children equally, that you wouldn’t fight for them if they needed you, that you wouldn’t jump in front of a bus for them. Because I would.

It’s just – at the moment – I understand one better than the others. No one would bat an eyelid if I said ‘I love all desserts, but my favourite is crème brulee.’ And I don’t just eat crème brulee, because that would be boring and fattening: I still eat icecream and pudding and pie and cake and waffles. Because they’re fattening too.  Equally, I would never actively promote one child above the others, or tell them any of this. And I promise that is where the small child/dessert comparison will end.

I have had numerous, eye-rollingly frustrating conversations with The Bombshell about this very topic.

‘Whose your favourite, Mum?’ she would ask hopefully as I tucked her into bed.

I would kiss her forehead and say in that tone all mums use, ‘I don’t have a favourite. You’re all my favourites.’ And then I would stand there and think ‘I should really write a book about that’ and then I’d remember that someone already has.

‘But if you had to choose,’ she would press. ‘Who would it be?’

And I would give her that annoying, condescending smile that all mothers use and walk out of the room.

But honestly, if I had to choose:

My favourite person to hug is probably Baldy, because she is still small enough to pick up, and she holds on like a baby koala, so sometimes I don’t even need to hold her, because she is already holding me so tight. She is excited about little things and that excitement is contagious and energising. (And she likes to make people kiss each other which is pretty funny.)

My favourite person to cook for is the Curly Mop, because she is adventurous and doesn’t mind real flavour and I love cooking for people who love to eat. She gets excited about dinner and likes to talk about food which is one of my favourite subjects. And she ate $40 worth of sashimi last Christmas, which is kind of impressive for a three year old. (Just as long as she doesn’t do it again this year.)

My favourite person to talk with is the Bombshell because she is happy to chat about history and culture and people and all these topics which I sometimes wonder might beyond her seven years, but then she asks such pertinent questions and I am amazed by her empathy and intelligence. (And because she helps me with the washing and watering the garden while we are talking about worldly things.)

I don’t think there is anything controversial in saying this, because it is clear that a lot of what motivates my preferences is the age of my daughters.

I believe that you don’t really choose who you fall in love with. You can try to love someone, but that doesn’t mean things will click. And so with your children, sometimes you might just click with one more than another. It’s a function of age and personality and gender and timing and how much sleep you had the night before. And it changes constantly and regularly.

Kids always get to say they have a favourite parent and no one chastises them. I don’t doubt for a second that my kids love me even though Daddy is their favourite because he makes them pancakes and plays silly games and takes them trampolining. When he makes me pancakes, he’s totally my favourite too.

So while I am probably not wrong to recognise that at this point in time there is a child I prefer more (mostly because she is the one who annoys me the least) and that this preference will probably be different tomorrow, I realise that I probably should not have admitted it (especially not after a few glasses of champagne. And especially not in public.)

Do you have a favourite child?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dads and Miscarriage: An Opportunity Lost

‘As soon as you see that little line on the pregnancy test, you already have hopes and expectations and are planning for the future… but a miscarriage? It’s almost like an opportunity lost.  Especially from a man’s perspective – you see that vision of the future disappearing and there is nothing you can do about it.’ Dave, aged 37.

In 2010, my friend Jessica* was pregnant with three different babies, and she miscarried all three. I was also pregnant at the time, and caught up in my own glorious experience of carrying a new life. I was oblivious to the pain she and her husband Dave were experiencing.

However, this story today is not about Jessica or me. It’s about Dave. It’s also about another friend, Peter, whose wife Abbie underwent a termination when they discovered their baby had anencephaly. If men tend to be backgrounded in the pregnancy process, when it comes to miscarriage and pregnancy loss, they are practically invisible.

In light of the upcoming International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, on October 15th today – with permission - I am sharing the Dads’ side of the story.

Dave and Jess*, both 37, always wanted more than one child. But they’d had a tough pregnancy and first year with their son Josh, so they decided to wait a couple of years before trying again. 

When the time came, Jess quickly fell pregnant, but by about six weeks she had realised something was wrong and she lost the baby shortly after. It happened again. And again. ‘After the third miscarriage, it was a sign to start going down the IVF path’, Dave admitted.

Each miscarriage presented its own difficulties, both physically and emotionally.  Obviously, Jess had the worst of it physically. She had a chemically induced termination; a surgical D&C procedure; and a ‘natural’ miscarriage.  There was nothing easy or natural about any of them.

There was little Dave could do to help. ‘There was nothing I could do at home’, said Dave. ‘It’s one of those things that you feel a bit on the outside. You don’t get to experience the highs and lows of it, but you have to be as sympathetic as possible.  But unless the experience is happening to you, you can’t ever put your feet in that person’s shoes’.

Peter (34) agreed with this sentiment. His second child was diagnosed with anencephaly at 13 weeks gestation. This is a congenital condition involving malformation or absence of the brain.  

Although they could have continued with the pregnancy, the prognosis for the child was early death, typically hours or days even if it were born alive.  Peter and his wife Abbie, 35, made the difficult yet understandable decision to terminate the pregnancy.

Like Dave, Peter often felt secondary to the process. ‘I can understand that a man wouldn’t have the physical connection’, said Peter. ‘I think a lot of people just think that guys will just soldier on, but this day and age I think we’ve changed… and I do think men get a bit gypped.  Not during the process because we have to take care of the person who is holding the baby physically, but afterwards – psychologically…’

Both men agree that the focus is – and should be – on the woman, but it is short-sighted not to see that the husband can also be badly affected. 

‘You learn that the IVF process is not about the guy and nor should it be,’ said Dave. ‘But you feel extra to the process, effectively removed from any involvement in the pregnancy.  I did everything I could to support Jess, but you very much get pushed back a lot of the time.’

The helplessness men experience in these situations is understandable.  Once a miscarriage has started, there is nothing that can be done to prevent it.  Medical intervention might hasten or modify the process, but the end result is inevitable. 

And while the physical burden of the miscarriage must be borne by the woman, the man is left with little to do. ‘I’m always trying to solve problems,’ Dave explained. ‘It’s a standard male thing.  I think “what can I do to make this right and how can I fix it?” But this is something you can’t fix.  You feel pretty helpless.’

Peter also felt lost in the process of losing his baby. ‘When my Dad died, I was the one who just got on with it, made sure everything was done right, and then I could grieve.  But this time, even from the start, I didn’t know what to do.’

‘The social worker gave us numbers of people in our area if we wanted to talk, and there was a support group for it [anencephaly]’, Peter recalled.  Ultimately however, he decided not to seek out any formal counselling or support services.  

Instead he found that friends and family readily approached him offering support and their own stories. ‘The amount of work people who have come up to me and said “we lost our first”. It really helped.’ Peter and his wife were quite open about their loss, regularly sending updates to close friends and family members about what ended up being a week-long journey from diagnosis to termination.

This contrasted with Dave and Jess’ decision to keep their miscarriages incredibly private.  Even their parents still do not know the full extent of their loss. ‘I found it hard, not talking about it,’ 

Dave admitted, ‘because it’s a pretty emotional thing to go through. Even from a male’s perspective, I’m a terrible communicator at the best of times, so I didn’t speak about it. But it’s something you spend a lot of time thinking about in the background, thinking about what could have been.’

Dave did not even talk much about the miscarriages with his wife, preferring to focus on physical healing. ‘We didn’t really talk too much,’ he recalled, ‘we focussed a lot more on Jess getting better because it was quite a painful and unenjoyable experience to go through.’

‘We chose not to tell people,’ Dave explained.  ‘It’s a taboo subject.’  

Ultimately it was a random encounter at work that provided the one opportunity for Dave to talk with another man about his experience.  A generic question about children led to the discussion of age gaps between offspring. Dave then frankly admitted that Jess had experienced multiple miscarriages.  

The other man was quick to admit that his wife had just experienced her first miscarriage. ‘I found it – not quite liberating,’ said Dave, ‘but a weight off my chest.  A problem shared is a problem halved.’

The decision by both Dave and Peter not to seek formal counselling for themselves is not unusual. Men are expected to be strong in these situations, and there is a widespread expectation that they will manage their partner’s grief and somehow fix what has happened.  

According to Mensline, one of the free and confidential services offered in Australia, the vast majority of calls received from men are about needing guidance on how to support their partners through a difficult time. Less than 10% of calls were actually from men seeking personal counselling for themselves.  

Guilt is not just a female emotion. When men are unable fix things, the guilt they experience can be overwhelming. At the same time if they don’t express sufficient emotion they can feel guilty about being heartless. Peter explained ‘I sometimes feel guilty that I don’t think about it more.  I don’t know whether I should sit down and dwell on it, or is it enough that I just think about it quickly and then get on with it?’

There is no prescription for how a man should respond to the loss of a child, just as there is no prescribed period for mourning a lost opportunity. What Peter did not realise though, was that he was mourning his child every day. 

‘We are planning on buying a lemon tree, to remind us of the baby.  In the shower there’s a lemon body wash, but I haven’t touched it since. I don’t know why, it’s one of those things, but I think about the baby when I look at the lemon body wash in the shower.’

In writing to the Dads today, and asking their permission to retell their stories, Dave replied to me:

‘To be honest you tend to block the loss from your mind until there is something that reminds you of it (like your email to me now) – no matter how long it has been it still stirs a lot of emotion and sadness that you generally don’t talk about or share. It is good to be reminded and to think about it really – it helps ground you. I think right now the sense of you don’t know what you have got until you have lost it is very real and can be hard to comprehend until you have experienced it firsthand (or really hand in hand).’

Dave and Jess were lucky enough to have a successful IVF round, and then to fall pregnant again soon after their second child was born. Their house is now full with three healthy children, a happy transcript to the years of sadness and loss they experienced earlier.

But as Dave says:
‘The losses impacted us both – however we are the lucky ones that have been blessed with 3 lovely (if not challenging) children – whereas others out there may only know and have experienced loss. 

So what can we learn from these dads’ stories?

Sharing is perhaps the closest thing to a solution the dads can offer. Dave admitted in the course of the interview he had spoken more about miscarriage than he ever had to his wife. ‘But the thing is it’s not discussed, it’s not talked about, it’s not shared,’ Dave said. ‘It’s not something to be celebrated but I guess it’s a fact of life for a lot of people.’

These stories are as profound as they are commonplace.  Miscarriage and pregnancy loss does not affect just the mother, and there will always be more than one side to each story. There may be no shortcut out of the grief, but by allowing these stories to be shared, we acknowledge men’s experience and role in the process.

I want to thank both these special guys who contributed to this article, and even though it is now some time after the event, I know you still have a special place in your hearts for your babies. I am eternally indebted to you and your wives for sharing these stories.

*names have been changed

USEFUL CONTACTS  1300 789 978 
A national telephone support, information and referral service for men with family and relationship concerns
A national service dedicated to helping families who have experienced the sudden death of a pregnancy or child regardless of cause

The Six Essential Lessons to Surviving Mealtimes [Mamadoo]

There was a time in my life when I used to enjoy cooking. 

I would spend hours surrounded by piles of cookbooks and magazines, creating menus and writing shopping lists. I would cook for adoring crowds, and except for that one time I made cauliflower soup (which my husband and I agreed we’d never mention again), I have done quite well at pleasing the people in front of me.

And then I had children. And a little piece of me died inside...

To continue reading at Mamadoo, click here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The End is Nigh

I have a bathroom book.

It’s usually a non-fiction book, occasionally what you might call a coffee-table book, but usually a parenting book that I read after my shower, while I brush my teeth, an opportunity to learn something (but really just an excuse to delay going back downstairs again).

My current book is ‘All Joy and No Fun’ by Jennifer Senior.

I am over half way through and there are a few dog eared corners already, as I fold them down, for that inevitable point in the future when everything goes to hell and I feel the need to refer to a book to help me find a solution.

Because that’s where the solution is, right? In books.

But last night I read this:

It’s not an accident that most parenting blogs are written by mothers and fathers of small children. Part of it, yes, is that these parents are responding to the novelty of their situation. But part of it, too, is that the challenges they’re writing about are usually so generic that they’re betraying no confidences in revealing them. It does not violate your children’s privacy to say they detest peas, and it’s not a particularly poor reflection on your parenting either. Whereas writing about adolescents is different. They’re incipient adults, with idiosyncratic habits and intricate vulnerabilities; they’re unlikely to welcome daily blog posts from their mothers and fathers about their lives. Their parents are no longer inclined to share these stories, either, at least not publicly…

Apart from the bit about daily blog posts, this entire paragraph could be about me. And quite possibly, about you too.

It is something that I think about every time I lash out at my eldest daughter, every time she does something or says something that makes me want to throw something at her. She’s seven but is already behaving like a teenager. A shitty teenager.

Notice how I don’t write any of those stories? I am reluctant to share them, partly because unlike complaining about my baby throwing poo out of the shower, stories about my relationship with my eldest does reflect poorly on my parenting.

And the reason why it reflects poorly, is because I am her primary role model, and almost every hideous thing she does, can be directly traced back to something I have done or said.

I realise that at some point in the future, as all my children grow up, and can read and trawl the internet, Relentless will inevitably finish. I don’t want it to finish because I find such relief in sharing stories and also knowing that my memories have become concrete, that the special moments of being a mother to small children won’t turn to dust in my mind.

But just as Senior writes, writing generic stories about young children betrays no confidences. My kids love hearing about the dumb stuff they did when they were younger. I doubt they will feel so enamoured when they are pre-teens and the bitchy girls at school discover this blog.

So, even now as you watch the number of blog posts drop away, it is not because I don’t love writing for you (or writing for me).

It is because I am treading the fine line between sharing and over-sharing as the girls grow up.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 22, 2014

To my future sixteen year old

To my future sixteen year old Bombshell,

Today you are only seven, and I am still the centre of your world, but it won’t be long until you are sixteen and hate my guts. You will tell me I don’t understand you and that I never do anything for you.

With this in mind I am writing you this letter today, to let you know you were always loved, and are still loved.

The other night you left this note for the Fairies.

We’ll discuss your shocking hand writing and spelling another time, but when I saw it, I knew I had a small window where you still believe in Fairies (or are you just humouring me?), and I wanted to do something special for you.

So today, while you were at school and I should have been working, I went to the garden store. I spent time talking with the experts about seeds and bulbs, and came away with a special pot, some gladioli bulbs and a totally awesome ‘rubber duck’ watering can.

Then I dug up part of the garden to get some fresh dirt (carefully neatening it so you couldn’t tell I’d been digging), planted your bulbs, decorated it with this authentic Fairy toadstool, and hid it in the cupboard in a classy nappy box.

Then I wrote this:
We need your help! The Garden Fairies have been trying to grow this year's Peace Flower but they need the help of a Human Child to make it grow. We need the flowers for the Fairy Migration, they contain a special spell to unit the fairy tribes. Please love and nurture the flowers as they grow. Water them (we have left you a special gift). Most importantly - sprinkle them with a few grains of the Magical Peace Dust every week. We left a vial of Peace Dust in your care. Be careful - it can be very powerful. Thankyou for being the Chosen One. From Florinda the Peace Fairy.

Tonight while you are sleeping I will leave the note in the Fairy Letterbox and place the special pot and watering can by the front door. When you ask to check the letterbox tomorrow morning (like you have been all week), I will shrug my shoulders and pretend to be distracted and warn you that the Fairies are very busy and you shouldn’t expect an adventure just because you want one.

Then I will walk away and busy myself making lunches or putting the dishes away, and when you call me excitedly I will feign surprise, and all the time I will be restraining the urge to grab you and hold you and cover your joyful little face with kisses.

I can’t wait to see your face when the first bulb appears above the soil, and though it may be months before we see a flower, I will enjoy watching you sprinkle the Magical Peace Dust, like clockwork, every week. Because now you have an adventure and a mission, you will be focussed and determined.

And I know that when you are sixteen and hate me, or thirteen or eighteen, you will still be focussed and determined, although much of your energy will probably go into making me miserable. But when that day happens - and I don’t want it to, but it will - I will tell you to find this story and read it. And you’ll hate it and complain, but eventually you will, and you will be reading these words: I love you. 
And I will do anything for you.

Even pretend to be a fairy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Travelling with Kids: Why It Doesn't Need to be Hell on Wheels [Mamadoo]

See what I did there, with the 'wheels' pun? Funny, I know. A lot funnier than travelling with kids can be.

The Mamas at Mamadoo asked me for my top tips when travelling with kids, which you can find here. Seriously, with school holidays approaching, can you afford NOT to read it, just in case I mentioned the single, gem of advice that can make your holiday easier?

In all seriousness (and I can be, when the wine runs out) if you are planning a car trip these holidays, make sure you check your children's car seats before you leave. Check the straps are at the right height, and aren't twisted, have a professional look the connections over if you're not sure. But leave all the popcorn and cracker crumbs - it will save you having to make snacks for the journey.

Read: Shannon's Top Six Tips to Survive Travelling with Kids.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why I Don't Find You Inspiring (Sorry About That) [Mamadoo]

Recently I wrote a post about why I will never use the ‘D’ word in front of my children. Readers really responded to it, and used words like ‘inspiring’, and my husband, bless his warped man-view of the world, recently bought me a Women’s Fitness magazine, presumably to support me in my journey back to a healthier place.

Despite the concentrated ‘fitspo’ attitude running throughout the magazine, I found nothing inspiring in those pages. I saw a lot of thin women, or women trying to be thin, but none of their stories made me do anything different, because – quite simply – none of those women were me.

Fitspo (look it up, it’s now a real word) is short for fitspiration, which isn’t actually a real word either. It’s about being inspired to get fit by looking at women in their gym clothes or underwear, who take selfies of their lean and muscular bodies.

If I look at an attractive women in her underwear, probably the last thing I am thinking about is picking up a pair of dumb-bells or jumping on a treadmill, but maybe that’s just me...

to read the rest of the article click here

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Would Your Kids Have Called the Cops?

There were three kids in the car, happily engrossed in a Scooby DVD. For once they weren’t fighting so when I pulled up in front of the bread shop and there was an empty space right out the front, I decided to leave them all in car while I ducked in to buy a loaf of bread.

It wasn’t hot. It wasn’t a dodgy neighbourhood. The bakery was practically deserted and I was served immediately. I could see them for every second I was in the shop. It was a judgement call – I left the kids alone in the car. 

But less than a minute later when I climbed back in, the Bombshell lazily commented to me: ‘You really shouldn’t leave kids alone in the car.’

My heart raced and I became instantly paranoid.

‘Did someone tell you that?’ I asked, looking around for the Today Tonight camera crew.

Instead the Bombshell pointed to a big yellow tag sticking out the side of the Baby’s carseat. ‘No, it says right here. It’s got a big cross and everything.’

Bloody schools, teaching kids to read.

I relaxed a bit and told her ‘you’re right, but if I was concerned about your safety I never would have left you alone, if it was hot, say, or we were in a not-nice neighbourhood where someone might take the car.’

It was the Bombshell’s turn to look around in paranoia.

‘I would hit anyone who wanted to take the car,’ she said bravely.

The Mop spoke up: ‘someone could have stolen us?’ she asked.

‘… or the car,’ her big sister told her helpfully.

‘A policeman would arrest you and lock you up for 99 years,’ the Mop told me, shaking her head sadly.

I sighed. ‘Well, please don’t tell any policemen that I left you alone for less than a minute.’

‘We won’t,’ said the Bombshell. ‘We don’t know any policemen.’

‘So,’ I asked. ‘You would have dobbed on me if you knew a policeman even if it meant I would get locked up for 99 years?’

There was a pause in the back seat as they put their heads together and reached a consensus.

‘No,’ decided the Mop. ‘We won’t dob because we love you.’

Yet for some reason, I’m still not convinced…

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Mamas and the Papas [Mamadoo]

As you may know, I recently got a gig writing hilarious posts for the Aussie shopping site Mamadoo (well I think they're hilarious, especially after four hours sleep).

And not only do I get cold hard cash (which is nice, because mostly I just get paid in 'likes' and 'I saw your blog yesterday, pretty funny' sort of thing), I get to write about things would I couldn't - or wouldn't - on Relentless.

Who would have thought there were off-topic topics on Relentless?

But I was recently asked to write a post for Dads, which is funny in itself, since I'm not a Dad. So I asked some friends who were, and not only did I get the beautiful Failure is an Option from my mate Glenn, but I also wrote Tips for First Time Dads which is full of gems from people who actually know what they are talking about. And you don't have to be a first-timer (or a Dad) to get something from it.

And so, in anticipation of Father's Day here in Australia this Sunday and in honour of all the dads in our lives (and in my case, my hubby Phill, father-in-law Terry and father Mike) I say 'here's to you, guys. Love your work!'.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Unwanted Help in the Mornings

For the past eleven weeks I have been getting up at some ungodly hour, turning on the DVD player and throwing myself around the room in an ungainly fashion. Some people call this exercise. I call it painful.

I don’t like getting up early and watching lycra clad Michelle Bridges telling me to ‘suck it up’ as her pumped up assistants drip sweat from their rock hard bodies. But I like what it has done for my health and waist line, so I am persisting.

I get up at the very very very small hours, so I can do it in private, because let’s be honest, most things that make you sweat when it’s dark outside should be done in private. Unfortunately, Baldy Baby (now two and a half) has the nasty habit of also waking at ungodly hours, which means I often have an audience as I wobble and groan my way through burpees and squats.

She is very supportive and as such, likes to get involved.

Often this means climbing on my back when I am doing a plank and yelling ‘giddup’, or when she is feeling more sedate, waiting for me to lie down to do sit ups or stretches and using my tummy as a pillow, her little head going up and down as I huff and puff.

Some days I am lucky and she takes herself off to the playroom to watch Dora. She will regularly come out to check I am still there, cocking her head when she sees me upside down in a downward dog. ‘Orright mum?’ she’ll ask, concerned about the colour of my face.

‘I’m alright, thanks Sweetie,’ I’ll reply.

When the DVD is over and I turn off the TV I will sometimes collapse back onto the floor, watching the fan circle overhead (yes, even in the middle of winter). She will lie down on the carpet next to me and put her head on my arm. We will lie there together in silence (except for my heavy breathing).

Then she will lean over and kiss my sweaty face. ‘I love you mummy’ she will say, before licking her lips and grimacing.

‘Yuk’, she will say, and disappear back into the playroom.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Little Name Big Heart [Review]

There are certain things in life where the name just doesn’t fit the object.

“W” is pronounced ‘double u’ but it’s actually double ‘v’.

We call them a pair of pants, but there is actually only one.

It doesn’t change the value of the object but it isn’t exactly descriptive either.

When I was offered the chance to try out one of the handmade Binky blankets I was expecting something small, for in my mind a Binky is cute and little. I had missed the line on the website indicating that the blanket was the size of a single bed...

To read out what happened next click here to go to my blog post on Mamadoo and for the chance to win one of two Binky Blankets click here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I was recently asked to write a post for first-time dads, and as neither a dad nor a first timer, I felt unqualified. So I asked my male friends for their advice (that article to follow soon on the Mamadoo blog) and one response was so funny and heartfelt I asked if he wanted to write a guest post for Relentless.

Failure IS an Option: by Glenn Dungate

I can remember clearly the emotion and excitement that I felt as I walked through the sliding glass automatic doors of the hospital the day after Maisie was born. I had gone home the night previous and fallen asleep strangely free of burden and worry and, instead,  filled with pride in the strength of my wife and elation for our “bundle of joy”. The need to clean the living hell out of our townhouse and watch as much Foxtel as possible was also strangely thrown into the mix.

I have never felt peace and excitement like I did in those first few days. Overjoyed that I had a daughter. Overwhelmed that I had seen things happening between my wife’s legs that I was sure would scar me for the rest of my life and euphoric that two was now three. A family. My family. Our family.

Then she came home. Free from the support of Midwives and Doctors, Maisie was now alone with us. I laid her down on a play mat and stared at her. What was going to happen now ? How was “it” going to happen and what was “it” exactly ?

For me “it” was the fear of failure.

I failed at three months after I dropped her on her head onto the tiled kitchen floor. This happened on the first day that my wife had left me alone with her. I was in tears and a major panic as I called my wife, crying down the phone that a lump was appearing on her head. Cradling her as her cries subsided we hopped into my bed and I tried to comfort her. She started falling asleep. I panicked again. Sleep after head trauma equals concussion.  I tried to keep her awake, she didn’t like that. Maybe because it was her nap time and her dad was red eyed and bouncing her up and down singing “Wakey wakey Maisie” over and over and over again.

I failed when she was a toddler and  I grabbed her arm in anger. She wasn’t listening, it was bath time and she had better things to do. She was in a typical Maisie moodI grabbed her right arm as I leaned down to try and reason through clenched teeth and she immediately burst into tears saying “You hurt my arm”. I was heartbroken.  I have always felt that hitting a child in punishment is beyond wrong. The thought that inflicting pain in the belief that it will create reason and understanding is brain dead and pathetic.  Anyone with intelligence knows that there are times that you cannot reason with them. There are times that you cannot make them understand. There are times that you have to think happy thoughts and take deep yoga like breathes. This was one of those times. And yet, I had just hurt her in my attempts to reason with her. More tears from me and a major apology followed.

Then my wife became pregnant. Euphoria soon turned to unbearable sadness when at 12 weeks we had to terminate the pregnancy. The pride in the mental and physical strength of my wife that I had felt with the birth of our first child returned, though in completely different circumstances.  I wanted to take all her pain. I wanted to hold her and not let go. Even though it was nature and even though there was nothing we could have done……. I felt I had uncontrollably failed.

In the months and years that have followed I have experienced the Jane Austin-like highs of love, pride and awe along with the Shakespearean-like battles of sadness, fear, anger and rage that only a child with the combined DNA of two crazies like us can produce. 

Despite my fears I have succeeded many more times than I have either truly or falsely failed. Maisie is now 5 and the “it” has become the realisation that parenting is a glorious burden. Embrace it and every piece of luggage that goes with it.  If you are true to yourself and more importantly to the human in your care, you can’t fail.

Glenn Dungate

Friday, August 1, 2014

Would You Like to Review My Children's Books?

A couple of years ago, stuck in the middle of school holidays with my then-five year old Bombshell, we decided that we would write a book together.

Specifically, I would write it, and she would do the illustrations. I let her choose the most important aspects of the book, such as the name of the main character (Fairy Sparkle Rose), the colour of her dresses, and the 'twist' at the end of the story. It is a story about being yourself and not following the pack.

I enjoyed it so much, I wrote another book 'How the Rainbow Got its Colours' which is a story about sharing.

Then earlier this year, obviously with the 'D' word flapping around the back of my head, I wrote a story called 'My Body My Shape' (yeah, the title is a work in progress) which is a story about loving different shapes and sizes.

I don't know why the image is doing this, but I assure you the books themselves are completely normal

Each story is aimed at 4-6 year olds. They are very simple stories, with painted illustrations by my daughters. I have simply printed them myself on Snapfish, so the production is basic.

But I have a few spare copies, and I will post them to you if you wouldn't mind reading them to your kids, and then emailing me a few lines telling me what you think. Be honest, there's no point telling me they're awesome if you actually think they're crap. If you happen to own a publishing company and you love them, then yes, I am willing to sign a contract.

It's first in, first served, so please email me your name and postal address to (email only please, don't put your personal details on Facebook)*.

Update: thanks to everyone who responded, but I have had more offers to review the books than expected,and unfortunately, there are no more copies available.

I can send packs of two books to the US or Europe (2 on offer) and packs of three books within Australia (up to five on offer). (Sorry about the discrepancy, but it costs a lot to post things across the world).

* I promise not to stalk, harass or sell your personal details to anyone. Just in case you were wondering...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why I Will Never Use the D Word

‘Mummy,’ my middle daughter said to me a few weeks ago in utter horror. ‘You’re wearing… pants!’ 

She practically spat the last word and it probably matches my own perception of this particular item of clothing.

I have a few body hang ups and I dress in a particular way. I never wear pants, shorts or jeans. I only wear long skirts, preferably to my ankles, sometimes longer, never shorter than calf length. I often wear rather low cut tops, rationalising that if the eyes are drawn upwards, they won’t be looking at my overly ample bottom and legs.

It’s dumb, I know. No one actually gives a crap what I wear or what my body looks like under it. But I had body issues as a teenager and they don’t just disappear because you ‘grow up’, just because you get married, or just because you ‘know better’. Body issues get right to the core of who you are, whether you want to be bigger or smaller or more curvier or curvier in different places. Whether it’s something you obsess over, or something you put in the ‘too hard’ basket and decide to think about it later.

So apparently, it would appear my four year old had never seen me in a pair of pants before when she caught me one morning in a pair of tracksuit bottoms. She studied my legs as though she hadn’t realised I had any.

‘WHY are you wearing pants?’ she wanted to know.

‘I’ve been doing some exercise,’ I told her.

She gave me a good all over glance. ‘Why?’ she asked again.

To her four year old eyes, I look exactly the way I am supposed to look. Mum shaped. Specifically her-mum shaped. She doesn’t yet understand concepts like fat or thin or sexy or unfit or athletic or what is desirable or not. As far as she is concerned, the way I am now, is just the way I am meant to be.

As far as I am concerned, I am in the worst physical shape of my life. I currently weigh the same as I did when I was 9 months pregnant with the Bombshell. Over the past seven years I have put on about 25 kilograms (55 pounds). I can’t run a few metres without getting puffed. My knees protest about everything I do. I eat what I want, when I want. I drink too much alcohol. I can’t sit cross legged on the floor. I have a BMI in the obese range. I don’t feel obese, but I don’t feel good.

It aint pretty.

So, after years of watching my weight balloon, and solving the problem by just buying bigger clothes, I have finally decided to do something about it. I have been wanting to do something for years but there was always a reason, an excuse not to. I am pretty good at making excuses. I was either pregnant or breastfeeding, or wanting to get pregnant, or I had a bad-sleeping baby, or I didn’t want to sacrifice my writing time. Or any time, for that matter.

But six weeks ago I signed up for an online ‘body transformation’ program that I haven’t followed in the slightest, but it didn’t matter. My head was finally in the right space and I have been cutting down on booze, cutting down on snacks, reducing portion size and looking the other way when cakes, chocolate or other temptations are placed in front of me. Mostly anyway. Oh, and the exercise that is beginning to transform me.

I sneak downstairs before 5am every day, and do a different exercise video in the family room. In Perth at the moment, it stays dark until after 7am, so at 5am it’s pretty dark and quiet and lonely. Just the right place I need to get my wobbles out. And there is a lot of wobbling.

When the girls ask me why I am exercising, I say it is to make my body strong.

When they ask why I am eating so many vegetables, I say it is because they are full of goodness.

When they ask me why I’m not eating dessert, I say it is because I am listening to my tummy and it says it is full.

I will never tell them I am on a diet or that I am trying to lose weight.

There are two reasons why I will never use the ‘D’ word in front of my daughters. One, is because I am acutely aware that they will inevitably form their own body issues over time, and be damned if I am going to raise them in a household where mum is constantly dieting and denying herself in the name of numbers of a scale.

Secondly, is because I don’t want to be on a diet for the rest of my life. Nothing could depress me more than the thought of dieting and all the negative connotations that come with that loaded word dictating the way I eat for the rest of my life. However, I can realistically see myself ‘eating healthily’ for the rest of my days, with occasional treats and being able to still enjoy food, but just less of it, and perhaps avoiding certain foods 95% of the time.

I can live with teaching my daughters to ‘eat healthy’. I don’t think I can live with teaching them about the concept of dieting.

Sure, it may seem like semantics to some people, that I am simply choosing a different word to describe the same situation. But I have not discussed this with my kids. I haven’t told them I am changing the way I eat or the fact I now exercise. I haven’t made a song and dance in front of them.

I just do it. Like the advert says.

And it’s working. I can see it and I can feel it. Yes, the numbers are changing but I am trying not to focus on that (but on the flipside I feel proud of those numbers and I can totally understand why people obsess over them).

And even though I don’t think the 5am starts are sustainable in the long term, what I am noticing is that six weeks on I can do so more. I can run up the stairs (well, jog). I don’t need as much food to feel full. I don’t feel the need to eat dessert just because my mouth wants it. I am feeling happier with myself. I am not needing two or three glasses of wine at the end of the day.

I just want my kids to look at me and see a happy mum, to see that she is eating well and is happy with herself. Notice I didn’t say ‘happy with her body’. Happy with the way I am living.

Maybe one day I will even buy a pair of jeans.

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