I just bought more expensive, healthier yoghurt pouches that I really can’t afford and I told my kids they can’t eat them.
I know, I know, you’re all like ‘uh Carmen, why did you buy them if they can’t eat them?’ Let me tell you!
It is because #biggestlittle starts pre-school on Monday and I’m already bracing myself for the lunchbox guilt.
We are a relatively healthy household. In June last year we cut out most of the basic junk from our lives (sweets, soft drink etc) and since then we’ve made additional tweaks here and there to hit that next level ‘healthy home’ – swapping regular flour for coconut or almond flour, giving sugar the flick, making spreads from scratch, actually making everything from scratch when we can.
But seeing some of the supermum lunch boxes that kids get these days has me feeling a little low.
I don’t even know why I’m panicking. Possibly (read: definitely) because of old mate anxiety. Our kids usually choose tomoatoes over lollies, they’ve never had soft drink, and they live for the free fruit basket at Woolies. There’s really not a big adjustment to be made. But that nasty little voice in my head is telling me it’s not enough.
Please don’t think that I’m sitting here all holier than thou looking down on others who choose to do things differently. No, no, no. It took us a long time to get here, and we are far from perfect. The kids still get the occasional Maccas meal and spend Christmas getting hyped up and Boxing Day crashing down. Easter still involves chocolate (and yes supermarkets, I saw you stocking the shelves with brightly coloured foil covered animals whilst the garbage trucks were still straining under the weight of scrunched up wrapping paper and empty Shopkins blind bags), and birthdays are still all about the cake.
The point I’m trying to make is that we are a healthy home and I still feel incredible pressure to provide a very specific kind of tucker for the little tacker. I’ve been Youtubing, Googling, and Pintresting my fingers off. My most used words may now be ‘lunchbox’, ‘Sugar-free’, and ‘kids’ ( kids because otherwise I get a heap of mason jar salads perfect for the office!)
I feel strongly that some of the pressure is good. No, seriously! Sometimes pressure is a good thing, because it makes me try harder. I strive to do better for my family.
And other times it just makes me crumble. I break, and instead of trying my hardest to adapt I retreat, sometimes literally – jumping into my bed and assuming the foetal position.
We need to find the balance. Not everyone is in the same place and that’s ok, it’s not my life, not my children, not my circus.
Of course children should eat healthy, nutritious foods, we all know that, but we shouldn’t shame those who don’t have the same mindset. We are all on our own journey. Perhaps we could gently see if someone is open to advice while being careful not to have a condescending undertone, or we could share our advice to the public in a place they can see and leave it in their hands.
My kids will have healthy lunch boxes majority of the time, but some days I just won’t have the energy to do anymore than a jam sandwich, an apple, and a biscuit and I shouldn’t have to feel guilty about that. No one should.
Strive to be healthy, cook together, make mistakes, try new things, and make sure you laugh while you do it – we’re making memories and creating lifelong connections with food here!
The Simpsons say you don’t make friends with salad, perhaps it’s time we consider that Homer may not be the incredibly sexy, intelligent, healthy role model he was so clearly designed to be.
Disclaimer, because internet – I am not saying that we should ever ignore situations where a child is actually being neglected. #commonsense #hopefullythatsobvious
Yesterday I lost my Great Nanna. The woman I was named after. The matriarch of our family. The greatest banana-sandwich-maker the world will ever know. The woman that collected coins all year round so that she could send a little bag of them to each of her great-grandchildren at Christmas. A woman with beautiful, cursive handwriting (a dying art if you ask me), who wrote letters that I still have stashed away in my memory box.
A mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, and even a great-great grandmother.
I don’t have visitors all that often, but I find that when I do I basically instantly lose myself in a pool of anxiety and shame. This is because my house is never in the kind of condition that I’m comfortable with them seeing. I don’t just mean the building itself, I also mean our family.
I love my family, don’t get me wrong, but other people understanding my family is a source of anxiety for me. What if someone says something embarrassing? What if one of the kids leads someone into their room to see a toy, right after they’ve decided to pull every toy out of the cupboard.
So to try any save on the added anxiety here are some warnings for what to expect when you enter the circus that is my home.
1. Don’t cry over spilt…everything.
I try to clean. Honestly I do. Unfortunately I have three tornadoes that leave destruction in their path. I put away a block, they bring out a handful of cars. I put away the cars, they bring out a wagon full of toy food, an old book, and Buzz Lightyear.
The T.V is covered in dust and fingerprints. There are always some sort of crumbs on the floor even though I vacuum a stupid amount of times a day, and if you come around 4:30pm – no, just don’t come then. Come after 8, when the kids are in bed and we’ve had a moment to run around and pick-up the tiny fragments of my soul that have come apart through the day…I mean, toys and used spew cloths.
2. We don’t do pretty.
We’ve basically given up for a while. We used to have our house looking good. We had pictures, ornaments, signs. We had candles, and incense. Now the only style we decorate in is ‘Hand-me-down-chic’ and on display you’ll find a the stunning ‘Mount Foldmore’.
One day we will have nice things – and if you have young kids and you have your house looking like the cover of Home and Garden then I’m in awe of you – for now, this is how it is for us. It’s ok.
Bonus tip: Expect me to be rocking the mum bun, hubbies t-shirt, and tracksuit pants. If I don’t have spew on me somewhere I’m doing great!
3. Knock, knock. Who’s there? No shame.
Ah, yes. Toilet humour is a huge thing here. The are four males in my house and I don’t want to go stereotyping here, but it is generally said that boys find potty jokes funnier than girls. In this house we all find it funny. When you have a child that likes to sing ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ with ‘penis’ replacing every word, you kind of have to get on board pretty quick. I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable. They don’t generally say it around strangers, but if they do I don’t know that I’d be that worried. I’d laugh actually. Because they’re innocent. There is no shame in those words when you’re a child. We aren’t born thinking penis is a rude word, it is taught to us and it shouldn’t be.
-Side note: Manners are an absolute non-negotiable here. So you might witness a sentence along the lines of “I fluffed!” And a reply of “thank you!”. So they’re crude, but polite, right?
4. Got earplugs?
There are five humans and a cat in this family, there is bound to be some noise. My kids are loud, hubby is loud, I’m loud, the cat is loud when she catches sight of Mr 2 running at her with glee. We are loud people. We laugh loud (at poop jokes). We sing loud and silly. The boys tend to scream…that’s not so fun, but it happens. They cry loud -hell hath no fury like a toddler who was served their toast in squares when they wanted triangles, or a baby who wanted their bottle five minutes ago but had to wait because there was a poonami that needed cleaning first. We are loud. #sorryneighbours.
5. We have our hands full…
…and our hearts even more so. Yes, we’re messy, and we’re crude, and we’re loud. We are also caring, and fun, and loving. We love each other so ferociously. For every piece of washing that gets worn before it makes it to a drawer, there is a hug given from one brother to another. For every crumb that is dropped immediately after vacuuming, there is a smile, or a look of adoration, or pride. And for every single spec of dust that has settled on every surface, there is love. I know we could have all of this and also have a clean, chic, pure, quiet household – lots of people do it. But it isn’t us.
This is who we are. And honestly even though it’s out there for everyone to see, I’ll still feel that all too familiar tightening in my throat when people turn up and the house looks like an episode of ‘Hoarders’, because that’s who I am. But at least you’ll know what to expect.
Please don’t judge us – we’re doing the best we can. As the saying goes:
We don’t have it all together, but together, we have it all.