Thought of the Day

Being busy does not equate to productivity. In actual fact it is laziness. It’s easier to be busy and going nowhere than to knuckle down and focus on a goal.


The Limitations of Having a Vision

Last weekend I spent some time with a friend who talked about a dream of hers and how she was at the place where she was ready to go for it. It’s a very expensive dream to have so I can understand why it’s taken her a while to wrap her head around giving it a go. It’s also a dream that goes against the norm – not always easy to put your head above the parapet.

Having a vision means that you are boxed in. And as you get older, the more you junk stuff you are not interested in and so that vision continues to glare at you more and more.  And if like me you have a vision board on your wall, it stares at you before you go to bed and first thing when you wake up.

You can’t run away from who you are any more than you can can run away from the dreams gestating within you. You can put them on hold or dance around them, but they will always be alive within you waiting for an opportunity to flourish.

When we use the word dream, the tendency is for the mind to always go to some major adventure, project or accomplishment.  The tendency is to let other people’s accomplishments determine what we think a dream is.

A dream is whatsoever your heart desires. A better relationship with your spouse or a loved one, a peaceful home, a healthy diet, time for yourself in a busy world- a dream is whatever you imagine that is not yet a reality.

At some point you’ve got to admit to yourself that you are either not brave enough; hardworking enough; tough enough; committed enough; caring enough; whatever ……….. enough.  At some point you have to admit that just maybe, all along, you are the only one in the way of achieving your dream.

Children Need Rules

I think children need discipline as well as love to flourish. And I believe, I hope, my kids get a good dose of both. I’ve blogged about my son’s obsession with football and football cards. Well it seems that he’s not the only one at school and they are all fuelling each other’s interest. They have been swapping cards at school (I don’t understand why the school allows it, but that’s another subject). So you have kids taking match attax folders to school and parents adding that to the long list of things to remember to bring home from school. After a couple of weeks of my son being more interested in football cards than schoolwork, I thought this is ridiculous and I unilaterally created a rule of ‘only once a week and you are limited to taking five cards ONLY to school’. You can imagine the trauma and the pleas that ensued but I didn’t back down. Thankfully my husband supported me in the rule although he has refused to follow the rule of ‘no more buying of football cards’ (again, another subject).

As I enforced this rule, I kept hearing how other kids were bringing their folders to school and how he’s losing out on trades because he doesn’t take all his cards to school and had to wait till the next week. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH! I didn’t back down. However, I felt like ‘mean parent’ and started to question why I set up the rule in the first place.

    What’s the big deal if he took the cards to school every day anyway?
    If he lost them, they were his cards.
    Everyone is doing it, why not let him? How was this harming him anyway?
    Even the school didn’t care so what exactly was my point?

As I asked myself these questions I wasn’t sure whatever I created the rule for any real purpose other than it just didn’t seem right – but why it didn’t feel right I couldn’t tell you at the time those questions harassed me. Of course I know why. One, we wanted him to have an interest but know there were limits. Two, his interests weren’t more important than school work; school is the priority. And three, you can’t always get what you want – I mean that’s the whole point of rules- the sooner he learns that the better. 🙂

So yesterday, my son comes up to me to and asks if he could take six cards to school and not five, and I said no. It’s five. Then in his usual way he asked if he could explain why he wanted to take six cards. I said yes, with an internalised eye-roll. “Well …. “, he began. ‘I thought since I can only take cards once a week and I’m not getting the cards I would like, would it be OK to take six cards over two days so I can trade on the first day and then see what else my friends’ need and then take the rest on the second day?” I have to tell you I was amazed. Cue proud mum, exit tiger mum.

I thought to myself, he’s growing up. Six months ago he would have still been moaning and moping about the place because his life had been ruined simply because his parents had got in the way of his card trading venture. But he had found a solution. My RULES had forced him to rise, like a phoenix, in the face of adversity. ROTFL. I agreed to this amendment to the rule because I thought it was an intelligent approach to the situation and that deserves some credit. Just to maintain that I AM the rule maker and still the parent, it’s still five cards and not six. Of course like any other wise child, he tried to slip in another amendment of spreading it over three days. Nah… no chance. He tried being the operative word.

I think this is a case for maintaining rules, even when it doesn’t make sense, they learn something.

Acknowledge Your Child’s Flaws

I don’t think anyone one could tell me anything about myself that I would be surprised to hear.  I am fully aware of my strengths and my flaws.  Like everyone else, I am a work in progress.  My children are also works in progress but it is my responsibility as a parent to challenge them to grow; not necessarily change, but grow.

For example, my son is two years older than his sister and has always doted on her from the moment she was born.  I think she is quite aware that he has a soft spot for her and gets him to give up a lot for her – like T.V programmes, food, sweets, toys- you name it.  He is nine times out of ten more willing to sacrifice for her.  As the younger sibling, I cannot say that she is as willing to sacrifice as much as he does, to put it kindly.  She is six times out of ten more likely to be coerced into giving up something for him.

I try to teach them to negotiate when they disagree on say, what to watch on TV and the number of times I’ve heard my son say, “oh OK.  You can watch what you want”, is sadly not a rarity.  And like most people oblivious to their flaws, when she doesn’t get her way, she comes crying, “He NEVER lets me watch what I want”. 🙂  At those moments I marvel.  If I wasn’t present at most of those times, I would accuse my son of being selfish.  However, she is five – it’s my role to point out these tendencies to her and also create opportunities for her to be more giving, or force her if necessary.  She may not get to nine times out of ten like her brother but she can get to a seven and a half or eight, plus the added advantage of being self-aware so she can watch out for it herself as she grows older.

Parents can understandably get very sensitive about their children’s flaws.  Criticism about them is taken personally because it is interpreted as personal failure – being a ‘bad’ parent.  As there are no instruction manuals for parenting each individual child, and we are all trying our best to make the best of it, then it is right that we should take personal responsibility.   However, as tough as it may be to hear negative reports about your child, assess it.  I can’t tell you how to react to it but in your quiet moments assess it because it is your responsibility to ensure that they are equipped with mental, social, emotional and spiritual tools to cope with adulthood.  There is nothing worse than an adult who still acts like a child.

I’m Hungry

Eating healthily means I’m soooooooooooooo hungry. Last year my husband and I decided to give up bread at the same time. This was fuelled by a documentary I watched on T.V. I was mortified to discover that a lot of supermarket bread is not given time to prove which means that yeast is left to ferment in our bellies and hence the bloated feeling you may have experienced. I was really put off by that. So I decided to give it up. I initially substituted with Ryvita (which wasn’t that bad) but I eventually concluded there was no substitute for bread. By the end of the year, we were eating bread a lot less, not totally giving it up but it got me thinking about eating healthier, a goal I’ve always kind of ignored because I’ve been blessed with slim genes. Those genes have now gone A.W.O.L due to a combination of having two children, ageing and starting a cake business. Oh the dreaded cakes! 😦 I saw myself go up almost two dress sizes.

So healthy eating is NOW firmly on the agenda. I am motivated by the fact that I lost about 3 inches round my waist, without exercise, when I gave up bread. However, beyond losing weight, I really do want to eat healthily and not feel so tired all the time. I spent a lot of 2013 feeling listless and perpetually exhausted. The strangest thing is since I changed my diet, I’ve slept better and feel a lot more energised with seemingly less food. So I’m doing a lot of research about what to eat and what not to eat at the moment particularly on healthy snacks.

It has taken a lot of organisation though. Buying fresh fruit and veg, prepping them for lunch at work and making smoothies – not to talk about the expense. I will blog about any interesting discoveries.

Here’s one great tip that has worked for us as a family. Prepare your vegetables and place in an airtight container filled with water (where appropriate) and keep in the fridge for up to three days. I’ve been able to save time after work and stopped making excuses for not having a salad.


My Children Have Food Envy

Since I started eating healthily, I’ve been experimenting more with my food particularly my lunch pack and dinner. Every evening, as I prepare for the next day, my children kids keep staring hungrily at my food or smoothies. And I often hear ‘I wish I would taste that’. They’ve tried my Kale smoothie. They hated it. Surprise, surprise! They have shown a lot more interest in salads though and now they take salads to school for their snack which is a great surprise.

The moral of the story is get your children to envy what you are eating and they’ll want to eat it too. Lol.


Unconditional Love

I was on the phone to a friend and my daughter did something very naughty. I told her off severely and asked her to face the corner.

Whilst I was still on the phone, her time-out was over and we started playing. I begun to tickle her. My friend chuckled and asked why I was giving my daughter mixed signals as she knew from the tone of my voice that I had been quite upset with her. I replied,

I never want my children to feel that being upset about their action is equal to being out of love with them. I want them to know that they are loved, even when they are naughty.

Everyone who knows me knows I abhor bad behaviour. Nonetheless, the need to discipline or correct my children will (God-willing) never override the value of my relationship with them. It’s a constant litmus test for me.

It is my desire that no matter what they do, however old they are and however bad it is, my children will always come to me knowing they’ll find unconditional love.

I’ll be honest though. This has backfired on me a few times. There have been occasions when I’ve told them off and immediately after they are asking for a treat or chatting away to me about something unrelated. It seems they still need lessons in sober reflection. 🙂

This Parenting Thing Is Hard Work!!!!!!

Teaching children adult values is the hardest thing ever.   My children’s school is participating in Readathon which encourages children to read and gives to childrens charities at the same time. My daughter has just begun reading independently so she has embraced this challenge with great gusto.  My son on the other hand, who is an old hand at reading, has not taken it quite as seriously.  Every day my daughter gets home from school and after her homework, she independently gets a books to read.  Everyday I ask my son to get a book and he conveniently slinks out of the room and goes and does something else.  Rather than stress about it,  I decided (for my mental well-being) not to get agitated about it.  He’s a voracious reader anyway plus as a family we give to a lot of charities.  So, no big deal. No pressure.  I was embracing a more laissez-faire parenting style as opposed to tiger mum.

For whatever reason, he came home from school  desperate to read as many books as possible.  I said

well I’ve been telling you for two weeks to read your books and set a target of how many books you want to read so we can get people to sponsor you but you haven’t paid any attention to me.

He left the room forlorn and came back half an hour later holding a pile of about 10 books.  In his wisdom, his solution was to grab all the books  from their library that were at the reading level of his five year old sister.  😐 I was not amused.  He now, by his thinking, had ten books to record on his sponsorship form.  As calmly as I could, I told him it was not happening.  He has to pick books at his level otherwise he wasn’t getting involved and it was fine not to be involved.  Tears ensued.  Why are you crying I asked.  I don’t know he said.  Yet, more tears.

Every time they finish reading a book, they are to fill out a green leaf which is meant to be attached to a reading tree in the school. It turns out that he’s the only one in his class who has not had  a leaf on the tree.  Ah ah!  The plot thickens.   Well unfortunately I said,

if you had started reading two weeks ago, you might have finished at least one book by now.  I’m afraid you are going to have to start now and read whatever you can but you will not put those books on the list.  More tears!  Why are you crying now I asked.  I-sniff-don’t-sniff-know-sniff sniff sniff.

I’ve been trying sooooooooooo hard not to be one of those  mums who forces their child to participate just so that the readathon form would fill up.  There is a prize for whoever raises the most money and if we were going for the prize, I should have let him put all those ten books on the list.  In fact I should have read the books and just signed his name next to him.  Despite resisting the urge to be tiger mum and cajole him into winning the prize or not shaming the family by returning an empty form, we have ended up here.  I should be the one crying!!!!!!!!

Dinner was eaten in tears and lots of pitt stops to the bathroom to get tissues for face wiping.   He came into the kitchen to apologise for being upset – very bizarre and probably with an agenda– and I said I wasn’t upset at all.  He really didn’t have to do this thing but if he was going to, then he had to do it properly.  More tears!!!!!!!  I gave up the will to exhale at this point.

A few moments later, I was making a smoothie and he came into the kitchen again, no tears but a very forlorn face.  He asked if he could help cut the fruit.  I said sure.  By the end of cutting, dicing and blending, we had a happy son again who will tomorrow start the process of being diligent and not looking for short cuts as he participates in readathon.  🙂

This parenting thing is hard work!!!!!!!

WHATsoever your hands find to do, do it well

Lately I have been struggling to concentrate at work. There are several reasons for this. Chiefly because I wanted to explore a business idea, I accepted a role I’m overqualified for; in experience and professional qualification. At the time it seemed like a good idea. Get a less pressured job so you can concentrate on your passions – baking and writing. Simples. The one thing I didn’t bargain for was how distracting these passions would be during my day job. It has been an increasingly raging battle to do the right thing. The war within to plan cake orders or write a plot at work instead of data entry is overwhelming. Some days baking wins, most days my conscience wins.

Frequently, I’m haunted by a reverberating thought. When I own a bakery and I am employing people, would I want my staff concentrating on their work, which in turn allows me to pay their wages, or do I want to pay them for time they spent doing their personal agenda. That seems unfair doesn’t it? So my daily challenge is to do unto my employers as I would like others to do unto me.

I often find that life is enough of a teacher for us all as my recent experience will show you. I walked into my children’s room to find clothes strewn all over my son’s bed. I asked him to fold his clothes and he proceeded to fold some jumpers quite meticulously. At this point I must add that he’s only six years old and I wasn’t expecting tidy work, it was just the principle I wanted to get across. Bewildered I asked, ‘who taught you to fold clothes this way?’ I very much doubted his dad had. He proceeded to tell me a tale about how his dad took him to Gap with his sister to get some clothes. If you have ever been to Gap and Baby Gap, you’ll know that they have a culture of incessantly folding clothes because customers are allowed to touch their wares without restraint. And so my children observed a sales assistant doing her normal, mundane, everyday job of folding some shirts. I don’t even know if she saw or spoke to them, but now they both have a life skill without being taught formally. The wonderful outcome of that chance experience is that they are constantly looking for clothes to fold and they do so with such childlike excitement because they feel they are doing an adult job. Amazing considering that they are only four and six. It’s humbling to watch their enthusiasm for the simple things of life.

20130713-103427.jpgFour year old at work as I write this post

If you work at Gap and you constantly feel imprisoned by the unending pile of clothes left there by thankless customers who usually do not notice you. Please remember that as you fold those clothes, you never know how you may teach a child and change their outlook on life. Thank you for reminding me plainly that whatever my hands find to do, I must do it well.

20130713-100437.jpgNot bad for a six year old. (He can’t iron, YET!) 😉

Amidst the boredom, I am very grateful for my job because it pays the bills and I work with some very lovely people which makes a heck of a difference. I am now challenged by the Gap sales assistant to do my work with integrity. There are thousands of people who would give their right arm to get a job in the current climate. I better work with some gratitude. It’s going to take a lot of grace from above, but all things are possible. The other side of the story is finding your passion and getting paid to do it full time. That’s a post for another day. I’ll keep you updated. 🙂