Monday, 29 September 2014

The Perfect Sleep Over for 9 Year Olds

It all began last Christmas when the then eight and a half year old decided that she would like to have a sleepover party for her birthday in June.  Sure, we said, it's no big deal and in six months, she may have forgotten all about it.  If she doesn't, it's only a few kids on the floor in sleeping bags watching movies and eating popcorn.  Right?


Closer to the day, it became clear that I may have under estimated the significance of the event.  Especially when other parents told me they were viewing our house as the guinea pig for the whole sleepover party scenario before attempting it themselves.  I was wished luck, patted on the back, advised to drink lots of strong coffee and told I would be seen when I came out the other side.  I became alarmed and rightly so.

Now that I have in fact come out the other side, I feel it is my duty to help other parents out there whose daughters want to have all their friends spend the night.  Here are my recommendations for a successful night.

Noise - multiple excited nine year olds make a lot of it and at a more or less constant rate.  In my case, it was for seventeen hours, but it may aswell have been seventeen years, such was its effect. Noise reduction headphones can be helpful, but it is advisable to have at least one adult in the house at all times loaded with paracetomel listening out in case of emergency.

Food - It turns out that even if you do spend two hours making six large pizzas from scratch, nine year old girls prefer the frozen chips and garlic bread you bought as back up, so you will be eating pizza for three days.

Bathrooms - If for example, you have fourteen nine year olds in your house, then the only correct number of bathrooms to have in your home is in fact fourteen. Not only do they all need the bathroom at the same time, but they spend a LOT of time in there and are quite vocal about their need for privacy. Do not make my mistake and violate that privacy, you will be left a shivering wreck on the floor.

Space - One nine year old girl, does in fact take up more space than four large adult males.  They bring stuff with them and lots of it.  My advice is clear out all furniture from the entire living area of your home.  Also, do it in advance, moving a large couch through double doors with two nine year olds chatting about bras on it, is not as easy as it sounds.

Bras - the subject of bras comes up a lot at this age.  They make them for themselves out of vests, t-shirts and pyjama tops and ask an endless stream of questions about your bra usage.  When did you get your first bra?  What colour was your first bra? Are you wearing a bra now?  Later in the night you get either - Why aren't you wearing a bra now? or worse, you really should be wearing a bra now. Try to hold it together during the questioning, fight the urge to cry and lament the days before babies when bras were optional, nine year olds don't need to know that stuff yet.

Disappearing Male Syndrome - At various points during the sleepover, you will notice that any males in the house simply disappear and cannot be found.  Usually during the bra conversations.  When this happens, check their car or the dark part down the side of your house.

Sleep - Just because it is a sleepover party doesn't actually mean that any sleeping will take place.  It's best to accept that now and hide cans of red bull around the house for a hit when you need one.  If you do in fact nod off, be warned - you will wake to at least two girls staring at you from a distance of two or three centimetres from your face.  Head butting is often an unavoidable side effect of this.

Scary monsters - they are real and when one child spots one, they all start to see it and freak out.  My advice is to divide and conquer.  Get the ones who have seen the scary monster as far away from the ones who haven't as quickly as possible for a calm down.  Don't bother being rational, it just comes off as ridiculous, better to tell them you bought a giant invisibility cloak for your house that stops the scary monsters seeing it.  If they ask where you got it, tell them the Internet, nine year olds believe you can buy anything on the Internet. While doing this, get another adult to distract the ones who haven't seen the scary monster as best as they can, I found jelly beans bought almost five minutes, whereas popcorn only got three.

Dawn - Staying up all night and seeing the dawn is a seriously big deal when you are nine years old.  My advice is to keep all the blinds and curtains closed with strategically placed blockers to prevent easy opening.  Children are like Superman.  They absorb the suns energy at dawn and use it for a supersonic burst of activity and an off the record increase in volume.

The Next Morning - Just because these girls have had little or no sleep for over twenty four hours doesn't mean they are not all hungry, lively, excitable, chatty, giddy or in any way subdued.  You may look and feel like you've been in the ring with Mike Tyson, but they are ready to go.  Breakfast is crucial.  Carbo loading is a must.  Make pancakes, toast and porridge with fruit.  Under no circumstances are you to give these girls anything that contains sucrose.  That is just asking for trouble.

Yourself - Where possible, do not plan any events or activity for the two weeks either side of the sleepover.  Take multi vitamins, drink herbal teas, meditate and you can get through it.

You will be okay, see you on the other side.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Reasons to be Grateful I'm a Mum

9 and 1/4 years ago this week I became a parent for the first time.  It was terrifying, overwhelming, emotional and exhausting.  I was completely unprepared and believed I was going to be the cause of my baby spending years in therapy when she was older.

Now a mother to three balls of energy I have chilled out a lot, because, honestly, what other choice is there?  I am coming close to the end of the nappy and sleepless nights part and have been reflecting on my family and the journey they have taken me on.

There are good days and bad days, just like every other home.  I've stayed up nights worrying, I've pulled over and cried after a disastrous school run, headaches are a regular part of my life, I've reverted to hating homework again and many other things that every parent out there knows all about.

However, just like every other parent out there also knows, every so often one of those little things happen that make my heart sing and remind me of just how lucky I am to have ended up on the unexpected path my life has taken.

In no particular order, here are just some of the reasons I am glad I got to be a Mum:
  1. I am hugged and kissed every single day.
  2. I am never bored.
  3. Almost anything can be turned into a cause for celebration.
  4. I can go out with an array of stains on my clothes that would make Picasso blush and wear them like a badge of pride.
  5. Baby talk is more entertaining than TV - e.g. the toddler screaming "Cock Porn" in the queue for pop corn at the cinema.
  6. The feeling of a little body sleeping soundly in your arms.
  7. Crocs and flip flops are mandatory.
  8. Learning that finishing things around the house isn't that important.
  9. Half a bottle of wine now has the same effect as a full bottle did ten years ago.
  10. I can survive on a lot less sleep than previously believed.
  11. The sound and feel against your skin of your baby feeding in the deepest darkest part of the night.
  12. I am no longer squeamish.
  13. All the great people I have met through my children.
  14. The joy of a Phineas and Ferb marathon on a rainy Friday afternoon.
  15. Learning that a lot of stuff I used to think mattered, really doesn't.
  16. The times when I am the only one who can kiss it better.
  17. Stretch marks aren't that big a deal.
  18. Neither is getting back into a bikini.
  19. Bed time chats about their day.
  20. Learning that absolutely nothing feels better than unconditional love, both given and received.
  21. Learning that if someone else thinks you're making a mess of it, that it's their problem, not yours.
  22. My 6 year old wanting to marry me because he thinks I'm the most beautiful girl in the world.
  23. Immediate understanding from other mums and dads.
  24. I can play on the swings in the playground without looking like a weirdo.
  25. I have a deeper love for and more appreciation of my parents.
  26. Learning the world doesn't explode when you are late.
  27. I have learned that family is the most important thing in the world, whatever form it comes in and no matter how hard it can be to keep together.
  28. Waking up to three little people who are happy to see me every morning, even if it is 5.30.