Month: January 2017

Gender Neutral Baby

Wanting to raise a child in a gender-neutral way is tricky. I guess I should have known. Of course it would be tricky. I was daft!

My first little gender-bias jolt was in the first month. I was a bit blue during that time, and I didn’t have some natural “motherly instinct” to talk or sing to my newborn. I would put music on, so we weren’t hanging out in silence, but I wasn’t chatting or singing to him. That felt stupid. It was like he didn’t even know I existed, so why would I sing or talk to him? Then one day, I was reading a study about the differences between girls and boys, the way that they are raised and treated, and how it affects them, and it mentioned that people talk to newborn girls more than boys. Oof! I had already been guilty of that. Even though it felt stupid and embarrassing, and I still felt sad, I forced myself to talk and sing to him.

Then, the clothes.

I didn’t want to dress my baby boy in blue – then we received a million gifts when he was born, and they were mostly blue baby clothes. It felt ridiculous to put them all aside and purchase “unisex” baby clothes.

I occasionally purchased items. It wasn’t too difficult to find baby clothes that were colourful but not overboard “girly” (frills and stuff).





As my bub got older, it became harder, though. Toddler boys’ clothes are 80% blue, grey, black, and in the 20% that’s left, there’ll be things like a red T-shirt that has a huge grey shark on it, or a green T-shirt that has little black digger trucks on it. Y’know?

Whoa, what a difference if I looked in the girls’ clothes section! Aqua, pink, red, orange, yellow, sequins, silver, gold, lime, peach, purple… so many fun colours, and even more than that: fun pictures! A yellow and green pineapple on a navy-and-white striped shirt. A pink ice cream on a light blue shirt. Red bunnies on white pyjamas.

My bub didn’t yet recognise a picture of a dinosaur, or a digger. But he loved ice creams, and fruit, and biscuits, and teddy bears, and bunnies.

I tried, here and there, to buy some clothes from the girls’ section. There were no pyjamas with bunnies on them in the boys’ section. There was no T-shirt with an ice cream on it in the boys’ section.


(And boys’ shoes are the worst. Navy, navy, navy, or black. Or some black with that navy? If I want something colourful but still kinda unisex, I can basically only get some red boots or sandals, because all the girls’ shoes – which are super fun and colourful and also have glitter and sparkles and lights!!!!!! – are over-the-top girly, with frills and bows and girly-shoe-shapes. Argh.)

Toys were easier. I tried to choose any and all toys, without bias, from the toy library. Dolls, trucks, tea sets, car games. That was fine. But one day, we were at a friend’s house – in her little girl’s room – and my kid picked up some toy jewellery and curiously started putting it on – I hadn’t thought of the other things that girls would get, that my boy hadn’t ever tried.

(Side note: Oh my goodness. The feeling of guilt, regret, and bad parenting when you think you have let your child down – when you have not allowed them to experience something they could have experienced and maybe would have enjoyed/loved it. I know it will sound totally stupid, it’s just toy jewellery! – but there was this tiny, strange feeling of loss for my kid. I have had that regret on the smallest scale possible a couple of times; I can’t imagine what it is like for guardians who can’t provide significant things for their children. It would be heart-breaking.)

Anyway. We have been plodding along since then, and I’ve paid more attention to the other kinds of experiences that girls get, but boys don’t.

And now… my kid is over two years old, so we’re gradually entering the world of him having preferences and making his own choices. A new tricky terrain. For example, I showed him pictures of kids’ drink bottles and asked him which one he would like, because he needs a drink bottle for “occasional care”* this year, and I was curious about whether he had developed any preferences yet.

He looked at all the photos, then pointed.

“Flower one.”

He walked off to do something else. His decision had been made. He liked the drink bottle with flowers on it. So then I was left with the ramifications of my offer: OK, if I buy him a drink bottle with flowers on it, will he be teased at occasional care? Will he get a couple of months in, and refuse to use it anymore, because he’s started idolising the older boys, and they all have superheroes on their drink bottles, and he only wants one of those? Am I overthinking this? UHUH OF COURSE.

(But, you know, that’s what happens when you write thoughts down. They tend to sound ridiculous. They were fine in your head, when they were private and took one milli-dilli-hilli-second to think up.)

So, that’s where I’m at, so far. In the end I couldn’t find the drink bottle with the flowers, so he has a blue and pink drink bottle with dogs on it. He loves it. So far.

* Occasional care is 3 hours a week. I have signed him up for it because I think he’s going to find it really interesting, and so I have one morning each week when I don’t have to think of something to do (and be his guide).

Procrastination & Momentum & Babies & Momentum

Yeah, awkward title.

Procrastination & Momentum

Anyway! I read this theory once about procrastination and momentum, and it was the first time that procrastination ever made sense to me (i.e. how to stop it). I can’t remember where I read it, so here’s my shabby summary:

When we’re procrastinating, we have a certain momentum in the direction that we’re going. We’ve set a certain pace, we’re stuck in a certain track. We’ve decided to browse YouTube movie trailers, so we’re dawdling, and once we see one, then we see another couple thumbnails for other ones that look interesting, so we decide that it won’t hurt to watch another couple, so we go on, and on, and on… and on… then we do something else, then something else, then before we know it, three hours have passed and we haven’t done what we set out to do.

To stop procrastinating, we have to kill that momentum. It’s not good enough to get up and make a cup of tea – we’re just ready to sit down again and continue what we were doing. We have to break the spell. After dinner, I might quickly fall down a procrastination/distraction hole, but at some stage I’ll need a toilet break, and then I force myself to also wash my face, clean my teeth – stuff that doesn’t need doing yet, but I know the longer I stay away from my computer, the more I break the spell.

Of course, this is easier said than done – often when you’re stuck in the momentum of procrastination, you don’t even realise it. BUT. Now that I’m more aware of what’s happening and how to stop it, I find I do stop it more often.

Babies & Momentum

The same thing happens with babies. (I say “babies,” but to be honest I mean “babies and toddlers.” But before I actually had a toddler, the word was kind of meaningless to me. Toddlers still seemed like babies.) Again, I’ve read this somewhere but I have no idea where:

Babies (and toddlers) get stuck in their own momentums. If they are doing one thing – like playing with all the toys in a room – they find it hard to switch to something else. For example, they find it hard to realise that they’re getting upset/frustrated because they’re hungry, and to communicate that they want food. They find it hard to realise that they’re tired, and to communicate that they want sleep. And if someone suddenly tells a baby, “OK, we’re going now,” and expects the baby to just stop what they’re doing and to walk out the door, the baby might angrily set the house on fire.

Many good parenting resources (like Raising Children) talk about this, and recommend giving babies lots of warning when they’re going to need to change what they’re doing. 10 minute warning, 5 minute warning, 2 minute warning, 1 minute warning. True dat.

Also – weirdly – sometimes you see the moment when you break the momentum spell for them, and you find that they’re actually relieved. They might have been doing something they no longer really wanted to be doing… but it’s like they’ve been stuck doing it!

Earlier today, I let my two year-old play on my phone, and by the time I’d done a bunch of things that needed doing, he had been playing on the phone longer than I’d anticipated. I said, “Hey buddy, time to give the phone back, okay, I have to go in the car now,” and I saw the spell break, and an expression of relief on his face; he practically threw the phone at me and started watching what his dad and his baby sister were doing, happy to be playing with them again!

Zen MF Progress

So, how am I going with the whole Zen Mothercuss thing?

Haha. Funny you asked.

The other evening (evenings are the worst, because everyone has decision fatigue, and we’re all out of personal resources – like creativity and patience – to deal with any problems, and after cooperating and negotiating with each other all day long, we just want to do our own damn thing), I was running the bath and heard the sound of paper rustling. I had been about to move my stash of christmas wrapping paper back into the storage cupboard, but it was still sitting in the hallway. I stepped into the hallway and saw that my two year-old had unwrapped one roll of paper and was about to destroy it.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO,” I said. Loudly.

Then I felt like shit. I don’t want to be a parent who says “NOOOO” loudly. I also felt bad because it was my fault – if I had returned the paper to the cupboard yesterday, it wouldn’t have happened. And who can blame a two year-old for seeing a roll of colourful paper and wanting to un-roll it?! Not me. He was bored, it was late in the day, he was frustrated! All he wanted to do was play an iPhone game or watch TV, because he was bored of everything else in the house, but we had said he couldn’t, because it was bath time.

And, worst of all, I know that anything I do, my baby will imitate and learn from me. I don’t want him to shout “NOOOO!” at other people! Argh! I did bad.

Sigh. All I can do at those times is to feel bad, but forgive myself, and try not to do it again. I really admire my gentle, incredibly patient partner when it comes to this stuff. He never raises his voice. He’s a good role model for me.

I’ll keep trying. For the most part, I’m doing okay. I’m not often stressed and I’m usually loving and calm with the kids. Usually.


Happy New Year!

In the past, a new year really felt like a sparkling brand new year to me. I’d be on one or two weeks of holidays from work. I’d usually be wearing different kinds of clothes on holidays, so I’d be feeling different. I’d organise some little celebration on NYE, so it would feel like a thing. I’d have a few gifts from Christmas – like a new bag, new diary, new pens (yes, I am that simple) – which would make me feel like the new year was a fresh start and had new, different possibilities. I would love thinking about some changes that I’d like to make – in myself, in my life – and in the holidays, I’d work out my plan for those changes.


On NYE 2016, my sister came over and we watched Lethal Weapon. (Terrible.) She left around 11:40pm and I crawled into bed, 110% fatigued, and put in earplugs so that I wouldn’t hear the fireworks or the dog barking at the fireworks. (I could still hear the dog barking at the fireworks.) I was too tired to send anyone a “Happy new year” message or anything like that.



I did get a new bag (a mummy backpack! haha), new diary, new calendar, and new pens.  So that feels nice. (I am like a child going into a new year of school!)

Kit is now 2 years old and Sky is 9 months. I didn’t have much motivation or brain-space for a long time, but I feel like it’s gradually coming back. I’m getting really good quality sleep now, but I think it took a few months of quality sleep to make up/catch up on the many previous months of broken sleep.

I’m now able to think clearly about what needs to happen to get this house organised (for example, I want to get a big storage unit from IKEA to store all of the toys and books in one place). I have no trouble doing life-admin now (like making a phone call to the power company to change a setting in our account). Before, that stuff felt so difficult!

I’m reading books, making plans, getting organised, feeling pretty good. Tomorrow I’m meeting up with a friend – we’re working on a little side-project together.

Hope you are well.

Happy new year kisses!