Spending Two Years Away From My Kids Made Me A Better Mom

Leaving my boys with their father was the hardest thing I’d ever do in my life.

How Accepting You’re A Bad Mother Can Set You Free

Because sometimes the worst labels are actually the best.

How To Survive The Daycare Drop-off

I’m terrible at quick goodbyes – I find it nigh impossible. Maybe it’s the drama queen in me – I just really struggle with short and sharp farewells. And it when it comes to my children, forget it! And so it is that I’m spectacularly bad at the twice weekly daycare drop-off.

It’s the ultimate anguish: leaving your beloved child in the arms of almost-strangers, while said child wails and howls like a banshee. It rips out your heart and the mother guilt following said drop-off is a cruel and relentless beast. And I know I’m not alone on this – many women struggle with the daycare drop-off, just as I do.

My smart, sassy little almost-three-year-old is fully aware of my struggle and has previously used it to her complete advantage. When my husband and I first put her in daycare aged 2.5, she was well and truly ready for interaction with small people. She loved daycare from day 1, but did hysterically cry/grab my legs/flail like an abandoned child at first. Thankfully, my daycare centre is fantastic and an older, firm daycare carer took me by the hand on day 1, and basically told me to “harden the f*** up”, for my child’s sake, though she didn’t use those words. You see, the more upset and emotional you are at the daycare drop-off, the worse it is for your child. So, here are my top tips for a stress-free transition:

Drop and run: Get out of there fast, sister. Don’t be the parent (i.e. me), whom the daycare workers, lovely as they are, roll their eyes at and have to usher out. It’s better for your little person not to see your upset. And she’s most likely crying crocodile tears, anyway!

Get organised: Familiarise your child with where her bag is located and where her lunch box and drink are in the fridge – this gives her a cosy confidence.

Be a detective: Being annoyingly nosey comes naturally to me, as a professional journalist; I recommend befriending another daycare mum with whom to swap notes on your centre, just to ensure your child is getting the best possible care in your absence. Caution is best. Confidence is key.

Play date: Once your little person makes some BFFs, arrange some play dates, where possible, to encourage the friendship. Nothing else makes the daycare drop-off quite so bearable as when your child squeals with glee when she sees her BFF in the playground.

Corner the young: There’s a barely 20-something at my daycare centre whom, while lovely, is unusually forthright. I corner her twice weekly for all the goss on the centre and exactly what my child has been up to. She’s got loose lips and I love it – I have happily interrogated her on everything as to who are the problem children (there’s a biter at the centre) through to how to make egg-free cakes (yes, there is such a thing) so as to cater for children with allergies.

Listen up: Above all, child psychs say to talk to your children and really, really listen. Ask them about their daycare day. Who did they play with? What did their friends have for lunch? How did their day make them feel?
Hopefully, these tips will save you some stress and heartache.

How do you cope with the dreaded daycare drop-off?

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By Nicole Carrington-Sima

How To Overcome The Mother Of All Guilt

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey: “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” I’m feeling burdened by mother guilt today and I know I’m not alone. Is it a curse of Generation X that in our eternal quest to “have it all” we expect to be able to seamlessly simultaneously juggle motherhood, work and relationships? Are we just setting ourselves up for failure, right there?

Mother guilt seems to be a very common affliction among my close friendship circle. In fact, almost every mum I’ve met struggles to strike a work/life/relationships balance – it seems we’re all struggling to be good enough, to be enough.

Today, I feel guilty for “hiding out” at my favourite cafe in order to meet a writing deadline, while my two toddlers are being cared for by family members. A friend of mine even sometimes shuts herself away in her pantry from her three children, for five minutes, just to de-stress. She is then wracked by terrible mother guilt, only alleviated by a glass of wine. Meanwhile, yet another friend is plagued by debilitating mother guilt after every day-care drop-off, especially after her mother-in-law insinuated she was “abandoning” her child due to her wicked desire to enjoy some much-needed time out to herself.

But back to me: am I selfish for wanting a creative and fulfilling career outside of my family life? Will I ever be able to fulfil all my obligations and keep my husband, my children, my boss and myself happy, all at once? How do we, as women, curb this awful, energy-sapping and ultimately pointless mother guilt and learn to accept that in striving to “have it all”, we will fail at times, and that’s ok? That there is no perfect wife, mother, friend and worker bee and we’re all just trying to do our best?

A-list actress Angelina Jolie once said: “I think if you love what you do, and the choice you’ve made in your life, somehow that drives you forward to enjoy it all. Even the chaos, even the exhaustion of it, and even when it seems out of balance.” And leading Brisbane psychologist Judith Retrot’s advice is for women to stop putting pressure on themselves to be perfect.

“For a child to develop in a psychologically healthy way it needs a ‘good enough mother’. She doesn’t have to be perfect, but in fact it’s imperative that she be ‘good enough’!” Mrs Retrot says. “Don’t waste time feeling guilty! The criteria for ‘good enough’ parenting could be: Do I, more often than not, strike a balance between my responsibilities to give my child enough loving attention and guidance and my own need to fulfill myself and enjoy my life outside of motherhood?”

“If you teach the child that you will compromise your own needs in order to cater to their wants and desires then you will, most likely, both undermine its genuine sense of itself as a caring considerate member of society, while giving it a grandiose sense of entitlement over others.

“The secret to having it all is starting early with looking after yourself and setting age appropriate boundaries for your child, because if you aren’t doing well then neither will your child.”

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By Nicole Carrington-Sima