When I grow up…

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A recent post on Human’s of New York‘s page made me smile about this topic.

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I remember wanting to be everything from a teacher, to a ranger (I thought the name ‘Ranger Kate’ sounded awesome), to an interior designer, to a ballet dancer! However, the teaching theme was really the only consistent one through the years.

Whenever I assess a new student I ask them what they would like to be when they grow up (or if they are highschool students, when they leave school). There are of course the standard ‘famous’ answers of, a professional sports person, a pop star, a dancer, a singer. I was told earlier this week by a student “a business owner so I can make lots of money!”. I hear the ones who would like to follow in their parents footsteps and become ‘a carpenter like Dad’ or ‘a Doctor like Mum’. Sometimes I ask them what their Mum and/or Dad do (this is all about making conversation and breaking the ice before we start doing the actual assessment). Some children know exactly what their parents’ job title is, others are a little more vague, ‘he goes to work in his office’, ‘she does things for other people’ ‘he fixes computers and stuff’. What I have noticed in the last year is the change of descriptions of Stay at Home Mums from ‘she just stays at home’, to ‘she looks after our family and makes sure we have everything we need.’ I love this a lot.

Some answers make me laugh, “a big boy”, “a mermaid”, “a gym worker and do push-ups and squats”.

Here are some of the answers I’ve had in the last month or so:

  • An inventor and a scientist (girl 10yrs)
  • An artist (girl 7yrs)
  • A zoo keeper, vet or singer (girl 10yrs)
  • A footy player (boy 10yrs)
  • A builder (boy 7yrs)
  • A farmer (boy 10yrs)
  • Something to do with being a shopping person (girl 8yrs)
  • A mermaid (girl 6yrs)
  • A scientist (boy 8yrs)
  • An aviation engineer (boy 7yrs)
  • A policeman (boy 8yrs)
  • An engineer who designs things (boy 10yrs)
  • A professional basketball player in the US (boy 15yrs)

I asked my Indi (4yrs) yesterday what she would like to be when she grows up and she said, “A Mummy.”

So what did YOU want to be when you grew up? – And what are you now?

Have you asked your child recently what they would like to be?

Send us in yours and their responses, I would love to hear the dreams of our future generation!

Family Organisation and a 4 Year Old

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With Indi starting school (kindy) this year, one of my aims was to become a little more organised. Knowing that for the past four years, mornings have been ‘our time’, I figured being out the door by 7:45am three days a week was going to be a challenge. For my own sanity I want to have a little more structure to our household so that weekends aren’t taken up with endless chores. I want to simplify daily needs, to not stand in front of the fridge in the evenings and wonder what on earth we should cook for dinner (or why everyone needs to be fed daily!). And I really don’t want to be that mother who is so very tired of the sound of her own voice constantly nagging her child to get ready, hurry up, get a move on….

So Indi starting school has been my major motivator. I want her to learn self regulation, responsibility, time management and I figure that this year is the time to walk her through these life lessons. She attends school (kindy) 5 days a fortnight, so this seems to be the perfect opportunity for us to trial and measure some new family organisation strategies.

Stage One: School Organisation

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I took to Pinterest to get some ideas on how to set up an area for her school bag. The aim here is to make sure that everything has a place and everything is in its place; no running around in the morning trying to find a missing shoe or where her school hat has disappeared to. We have a list on the fridge door to remind us what items need to be taken to school on any given day (wear sports uniform on Mondays, take library bag to school and home on the last kindy day of the week, homework goes to school on the first kindy day of the week and back home on the last kindy day of the week etc). When she comes home in the afternoon she takes her lunch and bottle out of her bag and puts them on the kitchen table. She then hangs her bag on her bag hook, gets out of her uniform (shorts usually get folded and worn again the following day and shirt goes in her washing basket), and puts her school shoes in the container underneath. If it is a homework day, her homework bag gets hung up on her bag hook also. Sun screen is kept in the container with the shoes for easy use, as are kindy sheets (sheets go to school on a Monday and return home for washing on a Wednesday). Our set up needed to be small as there is no space in her bedroom for extra furniture or an elaborate setup. Her school uniform hangs neatly in the centre of her wardrobe. I have found washing and hanging on a hanger has eliminated the need to iron (I’m sure senior years will be different). Her small bag which is used the other two days of the week (for family day care) sits next to her shoe box. We are three weeks into school and this system has been working a treat.

Stage Two: Simple Meal Planning

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Both hubby and I work from home and as lovely as this sounds, it can sometimes mean work happens constantly; there is no real finish time. Hubby has largely been responsible for dinner (I’m a lucky woman!) but to share this load a little more we are doing a very basic meal plan. We go to the markets (fresh fruit, vege and meat) and supermarket each Sunday. When we unpack our food I simply write up the basic meal for each night on the fridge chalk boards. This small act has meant that we know what we are doing each evening without having to think about it. Along with this I also write where Indi is each day, what time she needs to be picked up and by whom (this helps hubby know when he is on school pick up).

Indi planet box

Indi’s lunch is the second part of simple meal planning. I find that if I make her lunch the night before, our morning flows 100 times better. Indi has always been a little difficult to feed. She eats well but is extremely picky/sensory. We use the Planet Box Rover as foods touching other foods was an issue and I was getting sick of washing little containers every day.I’ve currently got a stash of homemade banana piklets and cookies in the freezer which I can quickly add to her lunch. Im looking forward to the day when mixed foods is no longer an issue and she will eat mini quiche and vege meatballs!

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Stage Three is quite a major one and is a combination of teaching Indi about family responsibilities, self management, time management and money management.

Thanks to the wonderful Amber from Mollydag Made, we have created some colour coded chore chips for Indi. The magenta chore chip disks represent tasks and chores that she needs to do to either be ready for her day or because she is part of our family and has responsibilities to help our family function well. Green disks represent chores that she can earn money for. The yellow chart is for her morning tasks and chores. The blue chart are afternoon tasks and chores. The orange chart are weekend chores. The yellow chart is in order of tasks that best suits the flow of our morning. When she has completed a task she places the matching chore chip next to it.

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This year is about walking her through the chores and tasks so that she learns good habits as well as teaching her expectations around how to carry out the more difficult tasks. The aim is that next year she will be more independent and need less of mine or her Dad’s guidance with them. So far, so good. She likes the new amount of responsibility. I like that I can refer her to her chart rather than just nagging to do a task. She loves the visual aid of seeing what she has achieved.

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Stage Three, part B: The Money Side

Not all green chore chips are compulsory, but she is learning that if she wants to earn some money, she needs to do something helpful. Money doesn’t grow on trees! We are trying to make sure she doesn’t have an ‘entitled’ attitude (we’ve all seen the generation who expect to be paid because they turned up to work, rather than being paid because they are working hard or well). At the moment, we complete most of the paid chores together. I’m teaching her ‘how’ to complete them. But what I didn’t expect, is that we are actually both enjoying this time! She doesn’t comprehend the value of the money she is earning as of yet, so there is no set amount around them. It could be anywhere from 20cents to $1. Obviously, as she grows, this will change. When she earns her money she puts it into her piggy bank. Her piggy bank has 4 compartments to it, and this is how we intend to teach her about money management. The compartments are: spend, save, donate, invest. As she doesn’t have comprehension of the value, she currently shares out her coins to each compartment. Over time this will change; for example, investing might be 30% of money earnt. But for now, when we are at the supermarket and she wants the Ninja Turtle Mashie, she can only have it if there is enough money in her ‘spend’ compartment!

So there you have it. 3 small yet significant things we are doing in our home to help with family organisation and creation of positive life long habits for a 4 year old.

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I would love to hear your tips on how you keep your family and children organised.

Links to purchase the products we use (oh, and no, this post is not endorsed by anyone, I’m sharing because I love them and they work well for us so perhaps they will for you too!) :

Games to Go by MollydagMade

Money Savvy Piggy Bank

Chalkboard labels from Officeworks

Planetbox lunchbox from Biome

Chemical free cleaning with Norwex

Your Child’s Self-Worth Depends on You

Guest post by Fiona Russo

Michael and I were paid the most unexpected compliment last week. Charlie’s ECDP (‘special’ pre-school) teacher told me that she’s impressed by our positivity when we talk about Charlie.

Now, we get quite a few comments along the lines of ‘you’re handling things so well’; ‘you’re doing a wonderful job’; ‘you take everything in your stride’; ‘I so admire the way you just get on with it’ and so on, and we appreciate every one of them, truly.

In this case, though, I was wrong in assuming that’s what she meant.

Gayle is a lady with years of experience in special education. She loves her job, and really cares deeply about her students (or does a brilliant job of faking it, haha). She’s always interested in little breakthroughs or setbacks, changes in routine and diet, likes and dislikes – all the things a good teacher cares about and more, because her little charges each come with some extra challenges.

I hear her every time I go to the school, patiently listening to parents talk about lunchboxes and drink bottles, clothes and toileting, splints, wheelchairs, calming techniques and medical issues.

The compliment Gayle was giving me was about the way we talk about those seemingly mundane things. 

She said that she had never heard us say ‘Charlie doesn’t like that’, or ‘Charlie won’t eat that’, or ‘Charlie can’t do that’.

Instead, she told me that we would say things like, ‘It’s not her favourite thing but give it a go’, or ‘I’m sure she’ll enjoy it but she may need a little extra help’, or ‘we’re working on that’.

In fact, she went on, the most negative thing she can remember hearing us say was that Charlie is allergic to something so she can’t have it, but she maintains that even then I said ‘We need to avoid those because of allergies, but Charlie loves these ones instead!’.

Makes me sound like some sort of deranged Stepford Mum, doesn’t it?After receiving this compliment somewhat awkwardly in the doorway of the school, I started to pay attention to the chitchat with some of the other parents.

I was surprised I’d never noticed it before – there was a lot of unintended negativity in their conversations. 

Here are some of the choice ones I remember (names changed of course):

“Noah has Vegemite sandwiches today, but he probably won’t eat them.”

“Sarah has juice in her drink bottle because I can’t get her to drink water.”

“Jamie doesn’t do slides.  His legs aren’t strong enough to stop him at the bottom.”

And some were even worse…

“Good luck getting her to go to the toilet.  I’ve given up at home.”

“Joe won’t stop sucking his thumb, so it’s a waste of time to try to get him to clap.”

I should point out that each of these parents seems to me a loving, caring, involved caregiver. I’m sure they’d be horrified to think that they were being so negative.

However, their children were right there.  Within earshot. 

It’s not something I’ve ever given any thought to, but now that I am thinking about it, it seems so obvious. Self-esteem is as important for children as it is for adults, but their world is small.

Your children set their own expectations by yours. They base their self-worth on your opinion.

That goes for all children, not just the ‘special needs’ kids, and it’s a huge responsibility. My Mum and Dad always told me I was clever, that I could do anything I set my mind to. It’s this foundation that gives me confidence as an adult and I’m so grateful that I have it.

Michael and I are lucky to have had this example set so well for us by our own parents that it comes naturally to do the same.

So… I’m going to do something I don’t often do with this blog. I’m going to offer advice, to those who perhaps aren’t as lucky as we are.

I believe it, I stand by it, and I’m going to try to be more conscious of it myself:

Think before you speak.  Show your children that you have confidence in their abilities.  Tell everyone, and do it loudly where they can see and hear you.

It is the greatest gift you will ever give them.

It matters.


Thank you, Fiona for allowing me to share this with our readers. It is such an important message. This is one of the ways in which we write our children’s Life Script. We have a poster on our Learning Studio Wall which says:

“If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.”

I’ve learnt not to apologize for my daughter in many situations (ie when she wants to scan the grocery items at the checkout and the person behind has to wait a little longer). I’ve learnt that the way I speak about her to others is what she will grow to believe of herself. We are hopefully helping her to understand her strengths and her weaknesses, but to know that her weaknesses are not something to be ashamed of and that these too will develop and change over time.

You can find more from Fiona here

 

Their Life Script

If you were to run an audio track of a day in your house, what would we hear? What are the words you use and how are they delivered?

The old saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’, a child’s chant, with very little truth to it. Yes we need to raise our children to be resilient and stand up against the occasional harsh word but this is done through installing in them a strong sense of self. Something that requires thought. Something that requires your thought, and some reflection on the messages you are both intentionally and unintentionally delivering to them on a daily basis. Something that requires thought around the words you use every day.

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What names do you call your child? Pet names, nick names, names that build them or names that bring them down? It’s not just the words though; it’s the tone they are delivered in. 

In our home even though she is only in the first stages of acquiring language, we are very aware that our little one is observing everything, and this includes how we address her, and each other. It’s not uncommon to hear both her Father and I telling her how clever she is, how funny she is, how loved she is and how beautiful she is. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m a FIRM believer in raising our children to be strong and independent but this comes from a strong, secure foundation of unconditional love and acceptance. We also tell her when necessary that her behaviour is frustrating and “I don’t like it when you are yelling at me” (she’s 8 months old but it’s yelling at me all the same!). The thing here is when we come across negative behaviours we remove the behaviour from her. This means we tell her we don’t like what she is doing but we still love her. Never do I want to hear myself tell her ‘you naughty girl’. This will not be her life script.

I understand completely that her life script will be developed from the messages her Father and I send her and each other. We do not fight in our house. It’s not that we always agree with each other but her Father is my best friend, why would I want to yell at him? We discuss things; love, life and business, and we discuss them in front of her because she is just as much a part of this family as we are, and as she grows so will her contribution, thoughts, ideas, feelings, and her love. A daughter learns what to expect in her adult relationships by watching how her Mother allows herself to be treated by her partner/husband. What her Mother accepts, how she allows herself to be treated and how she treats herself will become her daughter’s life script. A son learns how to treat his future partner/wife by watching how his Father treats his mother. If there is something that I wish I was not passing onto my daughter then it is up to me to change it in myself first.

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So how are your children developing their sense of self worth, their sense of how they fit into your family and the world around them? What words are you giving them to express themselves? How are they seeing you play out your life script?

Have you even thought about your life script? – What are the records (or tapes and CD’s if you’re not old enough to remember actual records!) that play over in your head? Not the music ones from our past but the things you subconsciously tell yourself about yourself. Have you stopped and listened? Are they the negative “I don’t deserve any better”, “It’s too hard”, “I can’t cope”. Because like it or not, these are the messages you are passing on to your children. It takes time and effort to turn them around but isn’t it worth it? Let me ask you again: What life script do you want your children to have? “I can”, “I deserve it”, “I am good enough as me”, “I am proud of myself”, “I know how to love”.

Of all the things we say to our daughter this one thing is the most important:

Our Indi (6 days old) photography by Carly Webber Photography

Our Indi (6 days old) photography by Carly Webber Photography

“I love you every day (even when you’re asleep)”

And yes, we tell her every day.

So tell me, how has your life script affected you? Have you made the effort to change it in anyway? And of course, what do you say to your children?