The Importance of Time.

Right now, I’m only 4 shifts away from a big chunk of annual leave.

I’ve written multiple times about how much I love my job. I’ve also written multiple times about the importance of good self care.

Taking time away – even from a job that you love more than anything – is absolutely critical to being able to bring the best of yourself to that job.

As nurses and midwives, our work is emotionally charged, all the time. Supporting people through huge life transitions isn’t minor stuff. We give so much of ourselves to those that we care for, and we are there for the very best and the absolute worst of people’s lives.

That can’t be downplayed.

And it’s true what they say – you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Taking the time to step away on a semi-regular basis means we can recharge, reset, and return to doing what we love, without the emotional baggage that can begin to get really heavy if it’s not regularly unpacked.

Spending time doing the OTHER things you love, without having half a brain still at work is crazily important.

So, when my next 4 shifts are done, that’s what I’ll be doing. Hanging out with my family. Playing with the kids. Visiting friends. Admiring the countryside. Drinking coffee.

And refilling that cup right back to overflowing, as it should be.

Look after yourselves, folks.

Emotional work is, well, emotional. And YOU matter too.

Take the time you need.

Big love,

Rysie.

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Birthday Boy

12 years ago, our story began.

I remember this photo being taken as I held you for the first time, in awe of you, and how unbelievably incredible you were.

I remember wondering how on earth your Daddy and I had managed to create something so utterly perfect.

I remember feeling so, SO proud of myself for what I had just done.

I remember feeling terrified that I would hurt you, but also knowing that I’d die to protect you.

I remember hoping that someone would show me what to do with you.

And I remember, for the very first time, realising exactly what life was all about.

Happy birthday, my darling Boy Child.

You were born, and so was I.

I love you.

Mama.

Life Blood.

Yesterday, I donated plasma for the first time.

I had attempted to donate whole blood in the past – knowing that my blood type was pretty rare, and often needed – but each time I did it, I found myself feeling pretty run down and crook, with shitty iron levels.

At that time, my body was making it clear that I actually needed the blood myself, so I stopped donating.

Working in the environment that I work in, I’m super aware of how precious and life saving blood donations can be. So I decided to go back and see whether donating plasma might be an option for me (which meant I could keep my own red blood cells and haemoglobin).

As they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

I spent my morning drinking more fluids than I’ve drunk in years, and subsequently pissing like a race horse. Super hydrated and optimistic, I showed up to the blood donation centre, figuring I’d give it a good shot, and if I passed out or couldn’t cope with the donation, then at least I’d given it my best.

I’m pleased to report that I didn’t faint, and it was all done and dusted within 90 minutes.

Today, I’m feeling great!

Someone out there who needs it is going to be getting my plasma in some way, shape or form, and I got a free sausage roll and some bikkies.

I’m going back in two weeks to do it all again (the sausage roll was really good!!).

So, here’s my Public Service Announcement:

If you CAN donate blood products, in any form, PLEASE consider it. I’ve seen first hand just how vital donations are in literally saving lives, and now that I’ve figured out a way that works for me, I’m going to be doing this regularly, and consistently.

You can find out if you’re eligible to donate, and get yourself booked in online at
http://www.donateblood.com.au or by calling
13 14 95.

Although we all hope to never be in a position where we or our loved ones need to be the recipients of emergency blood products, I can guarantee you, when it happens, you’re bloody thankful for the donations that are available.

Big love,

Rysie.

The King

A couple of years ago, the kids and I wandered into our local animal shelter, looking for a cat.

They wanted a pet.

I wanted a mouser, to sort out the pesky little bastards that kept getting into my kitchen cupboards.

We brought home a weepy-eyed, terrified looking stray, planning to love the shit out of him, and hoped for the best.

For the best part of two years, he’s been selectively affectionate; selecting the warmest lap to sit in, and smooching around whoever was closest to his Turducken. He’s gotten fatter, and fatter, and shiny, and healthy.

You’d think he’d appreciate this whole “having a home” gig.

But you see, there’s a reason we call him Unappreciative Cat.

We’ve been pounced at, bitten, and scratched, and to add insult to injury, he had never caught a bloody mouse (although they had kind of vanished, I suppose in response to his smell). He finds real joy in terrorising the Girl Child, and God help me if I try to move him from off my lap once he’s settled.

We’d kind of resigned ourselves to the fact that this house cat of ours was perhaps never going to love us quite as much as we love him, and we’d learned to soak up his sporadic affection as he offered it.

But wouldnt you know it, in the past few weeks, this regal looking feline has earned his keep by catching TWO mice and depositing their half eaten carcasses right next to my shoes.

I think in cat-speak, that means “I love you”.

This old mate already thinks he’s a King, no doubt. But I suspect that he’s finally starting to realise that his castle is right here, with us.

Strays can be hard work. It’s impossible to know their stories, and they can seem completely unloveable at times.

He can be such a jerk sometimes.

But, I think he’s totally worth it.

#adoptdontshop

Big love,

Rysie.

A Token Attempt

Raising kids is a rollercoaster of priorities, and demands, and self-doubt.

We spend about five percent of our time feeling confident that we’ve got this shit sorted, and the remaining ninety five percent absolutely convinced that we are actually destroying these kids irreparably, for life.

There’s been so many occasions in my parenting career thus far where I’ve literally caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, up to my elbows in God-knows-what, surrounded by screeching life-forms that at one point emerged from my very own body, and I find myself wondering where the actual adult is.

You know, the one who is equipped to make the decisions required to keep everybody alive, or something close to it.

If you were to ask me right now what I would consider to be the biggest challenge in raising my mini humans at this point in time, I would answer without a single moment’s hesitation.

Technology Usage.

Give me poo-ey nappies and toddler tantrums any day.

Raising tweens in a landscape of relentless screens, devices and gaming consoles is actually complete and utter balls.

They see those screens, their pupils dilate, and just like that, they are lost to me; absorbed into a world of obnoxiously loud, shrieking teenagers performing ridiculous stunts to the snorting laughter of their drooling friends, or shoot-em up games where they spend their time roaring through headsets that evidently completely obliterate their ability to hear themselves and the volume, at which they are communicating.

I’d gladly get rid of it all, like FOREVER, and I’ve bloody tried to, multiple times.

But just like a wart that you think you’ve killed with dry ice, technology keeps on coming back.

Hot Husband says I shouldn’t keep stomping, shrieking and removing everything at the power-points (as I’m inclined to do when I’m at the end of my tether and about to start hulk-style raging).

He says all-or-nothing approaches won’t work.

He says “Rysie, put down the hammer”.

And then he says that responsible technology usage is all about moderation, and that, as parents, we should be encouraging a healthy balance.

This guy works in I.T. so he should know what he’s talking about. And he sounds so wise, and calm (or at least, calmer than me, wielding the hammer) that I give him the benefit of the doubt.

And so the cycle begins, where we try and give the juniors a little bit of freedom to make the right choices, and practice some self-restraint. Until we find ourselves in the midst of a 6 hour gaming or YouTube binge session, 48 temper meltdowns, and the acute development of severe selective childhood deafness.

He wonders why I rage.

If you had any idea how many times, and in how many different ways we have attempted to navigate this arena, without success, I suspect you’d join me, hiding in the attic with wine. And honestly, I’ve been starting to despair that this whole bloody technology debacle was just something that was part and parcel of raising Digital Natives, as we are.

Last week, as I sat contemplating whether it would be unreasonable to set fire to the PS4 controllers, Hot Husband called us all to the table.

He had a plan, he said.

It’s a technology contract, he said.

It’ll work, he said.

It includes TOKENS, he said.

Our interest was piqued.

He laid it all out for us to consider:

Every Monday, each child would be given 14 tokens, with each token being worth 30 minutes of screen time.

Each child could choose to redeem these tokens for screen time for an amount of time that they nominated, up to a maximum of four hours at a time.

The total time had to be selected prior to commencing the screen time, and screen time could not commence until the tokens had been surrendered with permission to us.

Tokens could not be redeemed if there had been shitty behaviour in general in the time preceding proposed usage.

If a child was to go over their allocated time, even by a minute, a further token would be deducted from their account as punishment. It would be their own responsibility to set the timer on their device and to make sure they were off it by the allocated time.

If they were found to be sneaking screen usage WITHOUT a token, they would have token privileges revoked for the following 24 hours, and 2 tokens would be deducted from their account.

Once the 14 tokens were used, there would be no more tokens for the week.

If none of the 14 tokens were used during the week at all, then a further 2 tokens would be added to their token account.

These rules would not apply when they were out at a friend’s house, or visiting someone, and the television usage was A-OK, provided that we were watching something together.

To my surprise, the kids loved this plan, and made their own request – that Hot Husband and I stay off our phones, unless to answer a phone call, until after they were in bed, or out of the house. We agreed.

After discussing this all at length, we all sat down together, printed up some tokens, and typed up these technology rules into a family contract, which we all signed, and stuck on the fridge, right in plain view.

It took a day before the drama began, and the Boy Child was screaming about the unjustness of it all, when he found himself at the end of his self-allocated time.

It took two days before he told us his friends thought we were terribly strict, and that we were the harshest parents, because he had to leave a game for dinner.

It took three days before he attempted to sneak away with his iPad, and found himself with 24 hours, token free, while his sister (who actually completely loves the structure of a set up like this) happily enjoyed her token time.

And by the fourth day, the dust had settled, and the withdrawal seemed to be over. Although we had to re-visit the rules, multiple times during those four days, pointing out the four gigantic signatures staring back at us from the bottom of the page, there was no denying what the expectations were. For them, and for us.

It’s now been over a week, and, well, the tokens seem to be WORKING.

I’m genuinely scared to say it, lest I jinx it completely.

They’re sticking to their time slots.

Our heads are out of our phones until they’re well and truly in bed (which has actually been really challenging, and a bloody good lesson in practicing what we preach).

There’s less roaring, more listening, and I haven’t felt even remotely compelled to set fire to anything.

Keep your fingers crossed, folks, because if this is the magic bullet in eliminating the angst associated with device usage in this house, then I’m coming out of the attic, retiring the hammer, and preparing to enjoy the teenage years ahead.

And if it all goes to shit, well, we go back to the drawing board (again).

Stay tuned.

Big love,

Rysie.

The Ritual.

I spent the vast majority of my teenage years living with my dad, and my grandparents.

Every morning I would awake to the sound of my Nanna setting the breakfast table before she went for her morning walk to the corner shop to collect the newspaper.

Sometimes, if I woke early enough, I’d get up and lay out the table with her. Teapot and cups. Porridge and fruit. The bread for toasting, the spreads, the occasional grapefruit, and Pa’s favourite cheeses or meats.

It was the whole she-bang, every day.

Sometimes I’d get up after she’d left to get the paper, so I’d pour the tea for us all. And sometimes, I’d sleep in, and wander out to find breakfast well underway, with Pa scouring through the classifieds for bargains, and Nanna pondering the crossword.

I can’t adequately describe the sense of security and certainty that this morning ritual gave to me as a teenager.

At a time when I was figuring out who I was, and how to navigate the world, my Nanna managed to create a space in my day, every day, where I felt I could just be myself.

Sitting at that table, spreading my toast, and warming my hands with my cup, I knew that I could raise absolutely anything on my mind, without question. And more importantly, I knew that if I didn’t feel like talking, then that was okay too.

The tea and the toast, and the companionable silence as the newspapers were shuffled around, were exactly what I needed.

She’s a wizard, my Nan. And my Pa was too.

Raising my own children, I’ve never forgotten the importance of this morning ritual. And while my work hours make it difficult to maintain the consistency that she achieved every day, one thing that I make sure to include at some point in OUR day is a pot of tea.

We prepare it together. We sit together. And we talk. Or, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the words flow freely, and I find out all sorts of interesting things about my little humans. And sometimes, they say very little, just dunking biscuits in their tea cups, hoping I won’t notice that they’re onto the fourth one.

It’s my favourite time of the day, just as breakfast time with my grandparents used to be.

I’d like to think that my children will come to appreciate this little ritual, as much as I do. Right now, it probably doesn’t mean much to them.

But it means everything to me.

Big love,

Rysie.