Shrinking Clothes Fairy. Just Stop!

Dear Shrinking Clothes Fairy

I know today’s economy is bad and I commend you for keeping a job in what is otherwise a tough job market. But I really need you to stop visiting my closet and shrinking my clothes. You just need to cut that crap out.

While I see your role being quite vital to the economy,  by making women (and men) whose clothes no longer fit to go and spend dollars buying new clothes. I can see how it is a win for the economy, retailers, and employees. But for me not so much.

It is a depressing thing going into my wardrobe to pick out my “fat” clothes and find they are to tight. These were the comfort clothes I used to wear only during “that time of month” when I was bloated and swollen and feeling yuck. The world starts to look a bit screwy when your comfort clothes are now no longer comfortable.

I can only conclude it is your fault and I am really very over it. The reason  I think it is your fault is because I am eating healthy, doing plenty of exercise (even exercise that makes me sweat a lot and turns me into a quivering puddle of jelly muscles). Heck I am eating just a salad for lunch. Yes I am one of those ladies who only order a salad at lunch time and people make fun of.

To add further insult to injury I do not seem to be able to shop in the “trendy” section any more. Suddenly the section in the Department stores that has clothes with elastic waists is sadly what I can now fit my ass into. I am still in denial about this despite the growing collection of half elastane waisted clothes I have.

So I am sore, feeling fat, discovering that elastic is ok, and sugar deprived. Which I am sure you could understand is not making me the happiest little camper in the world. As a result if I see you near my wardrobe in the near future all I can say is I cant be responsible for my actions. Let’s just say google has some interesting websites on how to stop fairies.

So if you could kindly stop shrinking my clothes it would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards

Caspette

I Have A Banned Shops List

Note: wow sorry I didn’t realise how long it had been between posts.We have had some gorgeous weather here and have been out fully enjoying it!

The other day I was distracting my little monkey at the shopping centre. Hubby was at the groceries check out, it was busy, and we knew there was no way our little man would stand still for us as he was borderline cranky as it was. So off I went for a walk with my son to find something interesting to look at.

And boy did we find something interesting. A window display full os trinkets, crystal figurines, jewellery, sparkly rocks, figurine frogs and dragon flies. My little man thought they were awesome. I however looked past the display into the shop, and really looked for once at just what was in that shop. It was a gift shop. It had drinking glasses on glass shelves, dangly things from loosely tied sticks (that were roughly with in reach), Stone crafts, pottery, random figurines, and jewellery. For a brief moment I thought I had found a real life little shop of horrors, as I stared wide eyed and in horror. A dare say I did an awesome impersonation of a guppy. It was at about this point that I made the conscious decision that this shop was pretty much a no go zone when I was with toddlers. Either my little guy would break something by accident (just random touching), or on purpose. Both ways would have been expensive. There and then I thought “never ever going into this shop with my son”. Thus was born my banned shops list.

As we left the shopping centre I realised I had unconsciously already developed a banned list. Pretty much top of the list was any gift shop. While I have been in gift shops since the birth of my son I have only done it during work hours. This was followed roughly by most new fashion shops because perviously the pram wouldn’t fit, and now because my ass wouldn’t fit into anything (well actually as I learned recently when I dared to venture in looking for a formal dress my chest is apparently too big for their clothes. I didn’t see that one coming at all. Haven’t decided if I should be happy or not). Naturally lolly (candy) shops are a big no no (which thankfully in my home town is not a big issue) and for me any shop that is busy or has a big queue (the only exception being grocery shopping and then when we get to said queue one of us takes the little monkey away while the other stays behind with the groceries).

So I am curious to hear if there are any shops you refuse to take your little one into?

The Inequality of Toys

There is nothing more fulfilling then giving a toy to your child. Watching their joy and happiness as they play with the toy is rewarding (and addictive). But not all toys are created equal, and already with 21 month old child I have encountered the three main reactions from a child when receiving a toy.

Reaction 1: Immense Happiness.

I don’t need to explain this one, you know which one I mean. There are shouts of glee, possibly squealing, a smile from ear to ear, laughter, hugs, and everything in between. This is what giving presents is all about. When a present hits the mark, you nailed it, you’re a winner. Everyone is happy.

Reaction 2: Complete Indifference

This is when  you get the blank stare, if your lucky. Maybe you will get a look between the toy and yourself as their eyes say clearly “WTF? What is this rubbish? Do I look like I would play with a limited edition Jedi Knight Light Saber?” Most of the time it’s just a turned back as they ignore your toy completely. Something you think will be a smash will get the cold shoulder as your child picks up an empty plastic bottle and plays with it for the next hour.

Reaction 3: Absolute Hatred

This is possibly the worst reaction. When you get tears, screaming, and  if you are really unlucky a meltdown. Sometimes removing the toy out of sight will be enough. But in extreme circumstances, the toy has to be removed from the house completely. I can pretty much guarantee this will happen with the $100 or more present you bought and not the el cheapo $10 one.

Whatever the reaction you get, make sure you have a video camera handy because it can make for some pretty funny moments.

Do you have any recommendations or tricks for getting the right toy?

What My Toddler Has Taught Me

  • Silence outside of bed time is not golden and should be mistrusted.
  • Toddler cuddles and kisses are best.
  • If it is disgusting/unhygienic/gross you can bet your ass your toddler is all over it/in it/eating it.
  • I have a much higher tolerance to screaming children then I used to.
  • Impromptu gifts are a lucky draw, they can either be really sweet (like a flower) or really gross (like a dead cockroach).
  • Just about every parenting ideal/belief you had before you became a parent pretty much goes out the window as you lower your standards.
  • Food on your toddlers plate is poison and food eaten by some one else is fine.
  • Be careful what you say as you don’t really have a toddler, you have a parrot.
  • Just when you stock pile your child’s favourite food, your child will never eat it again.
  • Saying no is like flicking on the demon switch in your child.
  • Watching a movie/tv series over and over is totally acceptable if it buys you time to cook dinner.
  • You find new ways to not say the word that will trigger extreme excitement or a tantrum if it doesn’t materialise right now!
  • If you don’t want your child to do it they will, over and over.
  • If it is the worst possible time for you, expect a major melt down.
  • Your tolerance to ick will sky-rocket.
  • You wont even blink when someone says “eww what is that in/on your……”
  • You really learn the meaning of multi-tasking and time management.
  • The cat didn’t really need that chunk of fur.
  • If you even think about eating that chocolate bar, your child will know about it.
  • A smile or laugh from your toddler will bring a smile to your face. Always.

The Work/Life Balance Myth

One of the greatest myths that the modern working world has, that experts and businesses alike would like you to believe is real, would be the work/life balance. You will see it mentioned every where. It is the latest Corporate buzz word, and everyone is talking about ways you can go about achieving it. The sad reality is most of us (I am prepared to admit there are a minor few who seem to achieve this mythological balance) will never reach it.

The fact is very few workplaces are really flexible. Most workplaces think working part-time  and giving parental leave is being flexible enough. Some workplaces will even let you work from home if you are at the executive level or maybe even a web designer but only really if your child is sick or you are sick. While this is a good start it is not really meeting the ongoing needs of working parents and the work life parent.

Even if your work place has part-time work arrangement policies the actual staff may be resentful of you using it.I remember when I returned to work part-time after my maternity leave having immense pressure put on me to be there when they wanted me to be there and to do the same level of work as a full-time worker because resources and staff was stretched.

But what happens if you don’t have a choice for working part-time? what if you are a single parent, or you have debt (like a home loan), or perhaps you are the main wage earner in your family and going part-time simply is not an option. What do you do then?

You hear of rare stories where some work places are introducing innovative ideas to help their staff get back to work. Some companies have either a child care centre on site for their workers children or they an arrangement with a nearby child care for their workers. Some work places have breast-feeding room for their working mothers and even allow them to take time out from work to express breast milk with out it coming out of their lunch break time (but if your work has a breast-feeding room please check what your HR policy is and your bosses expectation is of you taking time out to express. For example I worked previously in an office that an allocated breast-feeding room yet if I were to use it then it was considered my own personal time and I would have to make up any time spent in there).

Ita Buttrose was recently slammed by feminists for suggesting women can have included in salary packages cleaning or nanny services. Personally I think it is a great idea. There is nothing more disheartening coming home from a full day of work to a messy house and knowing you then have to spend at least 3 hours cooking and cleaning for the family. Then its bed time routine and whammy there goes your day and any chance of real time with your family. So a cleaner in my house cleaning yes please I will take it!

What about working remotely as well? I hear from plenty of friends that they could easily do their jobs from home. My job for example is 90% computer based. It is working in databases and processing information on a shared network. I do not physically need to be in an office other than for meetings and maybe to do filing. However the idea of someone for a big company working most of the time from home is crazy talk, businesses and people are still very resistant to the idea especially if you are “only” at a lower level. For some reason people still seem to think if you work for a big company you really need to have a presence in the office.

Family friendly can be more than just the obvious. It can be as simple as giving their staff some flexibility in the workplace. Like working perhaps 7am-3pm. Or having a cafe or cafeteria on site with healthy menus that are free for staff to use and save the worker time and money. A friend of mine worked in a place in europe where the office had a games room, yes a games room, so staff could take time out have a game of pool or a round of Mario Kart. And you know what they were not in there for hours, they would pop in for 10 minutes (or their lunch breaks) and relax then go back to their desks. Maybe we can do what the Spanish do and have 20 minute siesta during the day.

I heard the Facebook office has a staff pick up service where a bus collects its staff and drives them to work. Giving staff time to access emails and complete small tasks before they even get to work and thus starting the day in a bit of a better mood (and it saves them on transportation costs).

We have all seen the photographs of Google’s offices where are designed to almost be a home away from home with fun break out areas, indoor gardens, and even encourage working away from your desk.

All those little things would make your working life just a little easier and might leave you in a better frame of mind for when you got home. Because in this day an age of limited resources, and limited staff in the work place the pressures on individual worker is greater and greater. I wouldn’t even want to contemplate trying to find workplace/home life balance if I was a single parent, or a carer of a family member with a disability or illness.

As a culture both working and society we need to have a serious rethink of how we work and how we can stop intruding into personal lives. We need to stop looking at work practices that are out dated and out of touch, and change the working culture and perception to support these changes. Because ultimately you can have the most innovative practices, policies, and office in the world, but if your managers and staff do not support it then it will fail.

Let’s Talk About Privacy

I think I am the only person out of my friends who does not put photographs of my child on Facebook. Now I have nothing against those who do, I love looking at their photographs, and it’s not because I think Facebook is evil (In fact I love Facebook). It’s because I am a little bit paranoid. For a number of reasons. One I am not comfortable with Facebooks changing privacy policies and all that personal information in one place.

But my main problem is my concern about my son’s future privacy. What do I mean? well all those photographs and posts (“oooo little monkey  built a robot and called it Bob today and it built us a jacuzzi“), all those things you put on Facebook and twitter which detail yours and your child’s life. It is all there documented online, there forever even if for the average user it is hard to find.

So where am I going with this? well I often wonder could this innocent sounding post or photograph be used against my child later on life? Can a criminal  use some of the information I post to  easily steal his identity? Can a Pedophile or kidnapper use the information I put on there to lure my child into their clutches? I know these are horrific and extreme examples and I don’t want to scare anyone, but the possibility is there, even if it is very distant and it is something I think about periodically.

Also we do not know how the future of social media will look in 20 years time when my son will be heading out into the world. There are already reports of employers asking future employees for their Facebook logins and passwords as part of the recruitment process. It is well-known employers check Facebook and twitter pages to get a sense of their employee already. People have also lost jobs to after being “caught out” on Facebook doing something they shouldn’t have been. It seems we move faster and faster towards a future where all our information and life are live on online.

Just stepping back in time a bit, when I was about 12 and the internet as we know it was shiny and new, I started to use online chat rooms and online chat programs. This was to meet new people from around the world my own age as back then the chat program used a sort of old school pen pal system. People just wanted to meet, chat on-line and send emails. I actually met a lovely girl the same age as me and we have been friends ever since. I vividly remember my mother though lecturing my sister and I at length about the dangers of “dirty old men” on the internet. We were never to give out our names, address or phone number. Stranger danger was alive and well and we heard it over and over “DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS”. Somewhere along the line this message has become diluted, we have lost our fear of the internet and as a result our caution.

Fast forward 20 odd years and the social media and smart phone revolution is here. Smart phones like iPhones, and websites such as Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised how we communicate, what we share, and how we share it. Love it or hate it you can’t deny the impact these things have had on society, business and family/friends. At the basic level family and friends who live far away can easily keep in touch. At it’s bigger picture level it has helped begin and fuel revolution sin the middle east, and recently brought to the spot light  a war lord in Africa and sparked a movement to bring this man to justice.

But it is clear that Governments, law makers and police have not kept up with this explosion and to be honest it seems currently, unless you are an internet pirate (as in distributing illegal copies of movies and music) or a pedophile, there is not much police can do to help you if you do get in trouble or protect you from trouble. But it is not all doom and gloom technology has helped capture criminals as well. People with iPhones can download a program that lets them track and locate their phones if they are stolen or go missing. Criminals have been caught this way.

But we do seem to be on an edge, an edge of where society is changing and something will need to happen (like a huge law suit for privacy breach or a law in some country will shape the way an online business operates. In the mean time I urge you to have a serious think about your (and your child’s) internet presence and security.

If you would like some tips here is a useful page I found on 12 Ways To Protect Your Online Privacy.

What do you think? Are you comfortable with the level of information shared online? Or had you just never thought about it before?

Shopping Centre’s Are A New Kind Of Nightmare

Shopping centres must surely be some diabolical level of hell. I was never a huge fan of shopping centres even in my  teen “hang around doing nothing but looking oh so cool even if we are the only ones who think so” phase. Usually food was just about the only way to get me there, oh and the promise of buying a book.

But when going to a shopping centre with a child it just takes on a whole new level of torture.

Yesterday we stopped in at the small shopping “town” (because mall sounds to low brow) to duck into our local grocery store and buy a few things. In the fifteen minutes we were there (yes we actually did a quick food shop with a toddler in tow. I am as surprised as you are) we still managed to get a toddlers arm stuck in the chair, nearly run over by a rampaging shopping trolley, get trampled over by hurumphing adults, and then navigate through a cloud of cigarette smoke. Sadly this was a good shop.

Shopping centres in general are just one big hazard. I will not go near one if I know its going to be packed with crowds (so lunch time is pretty much ruled out). You have an obstacle course of shopping trolley’s, prams, harassed other parents, teenagers, ice cream shops, delivery people, shop attendants, and then entertainment/game machines (you know those rides or toy dispensers with the claw).

Phew, and amongst all of this people (strangely enough, more often then not, those WITH kids) seem to think you should have this well-behaved child. When in reality the shopping centre is one massive sensory (and temptation) overload and it would be (I think) impossible to realistically expect your child to not go bat guano crazy. Which leads me to the next point;  you can almost guarantee that when you are trying to do your fastest shop, and/or your nerves are frayed there will be a tantrum/melt down/accident involving your child that will make you just want to die of shame or punch the glaring, pain in the ass stranger next to you.

A lot of the time family rooms (for changes and feeds if your baby is young enough) are so revolting you wouldn’t step foot in there without knowing your vaccinations were all up to date, let alone take a child in there. That’s if they even have a family room. There were many a time I trudged back to the car to feed little monkey because the family rooms grossed me out and I wasn’t going to sit in full view of everyone to breast feed.

But wait it gets even worse once your child can actually walk. Clothes shopping is just as traumatic with those high clothes racks that kiddies can easily and quickly slide under. Seriously you would swear someone had rolled your child in lard and pushed them hard as they sail with gay merriment under the racks. Do not underestimate the speed of a child who knows they have gotten away! I can guarantee, once your child can walk, that you will probably lose your child at least once during it’s child hood, which wont make you feel better when it happens but at least you have a small comfort in knowing you are not the only one. Loosing your child a the shopping centre will make every everything pale in comparison even if your child is only gone for a few minutes, you will feel the worst that you have felt ever.

Some shopping centres have a small children’s play area which is great, fantastic even except you can’t leave your kids there to do your shopping (you can’t right? Right? No I am sure someone would object). Oh and there are those little kiddie trolley things which are impractical (you can’t put much shopping in it) and uncomfortable for the kids.

So these days any joy I did used to have going to a shopping centre is long gone as a simple trip usually involves a degree of planning that would leave an army general in the middle of a battle blushing at his inadequacies. Find a system that works for you and stick with it, as it will go some way towards saving your sanity. But also be prepared for the fact that shopping is not going to be enjoyable for you with a child in tow for quite some time.

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