Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

I trust and still feel jealousy?   Leave a comment

It came up a little while ago in a discussion. Excessive jealousy. Don’t get me wrong, a little jealousy has it’s place in a healthy psyche. We are talking ‘you talked to a member of the opposite gender? How could you? ‘ or ‘you had an impure thought about someone else? You cheater!’. The kind of jealousy that puts unreasonable burdens on one’s partners. 

It is very harmful to relationships and it is one of those things only the jealous partner can really change. The object of the jealousy had no real obligation to mitigate their partners unreasonable expectations. They will only get worse if pandered to.

That, though, is only a part of what I have really been thinking of. What I am actually thinking about is where these emotions come from. They are real emotions, very powerful ones at that. Why do they afflict people, even when they know better?

I have an idea, and I don’t know how good it is. So please, humour me by giving it a little thought. The idea is very simple – it links back to how we define ourselves. I think trust and jealousy are related but different. I think jealousy, at least this kind, is less about trust and more about how one sees oneself with respect to one’s partner.
If one thinks of oneself in relation to one’s relationship then small things that normally wouldn’t matter become about oneself. One sees finding another person attractive as a direct threat to one’s self, instead of a natural and unimportant event. One finds all things in the relationship personal, even things that really are outside of the boundaries of one’s relationship, because one has not allocated ones own, and is therefore not allowing ones partner sufficient.

Anyway, what I am driving at is if one finds oneself unreasonably jealous, then maybe what one needs is a clearer sense of oneself as a separate entity. Healthy relationships always involve a certain amount of independent personhood. Things that belong to yourself without needing your partner’s approval or encouragement. Things that are yours. Maybe that could help? Hobbies they are not involved with that say ‘this is a part of who I am’

I don’t know. Normally I would read about it, but I lack the time lately. Perhaps I am wrong.

Posted 8 October, 2013 by erynnsilver in Relaionship

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How did you get dad so involved?   2 comments

So, mini update. I get this one a lot with mums (who see my baby in a carrier on dad’s chest cooing away). How does one help get dad (This also goes for second mum, step parents, and so on) involved? A lot of the time fathers really don’t know where they stand with the tiny baby and mothers have very strong ideas about how they want things done.

The most important factor here is trust – trust that dad will figure it out. The relationship between babies and their caregivers is unique to each care giver. The key is to provide for the baby quickly and with affection; as they get older giving them time and love and responding to their needs. There are many different ways to do this and the best way to find out what they are is abandonment – leave dad and baby to it. Be there if he wants help, but he is on his own. Settling the baby is between them, and your confidence and trust bolsters theirs.

Another factor is keeping the relationship unique. Having something that each of you does between you and the baby – something that reinforces the relationship’s unique nature. Something that says ‘I am important as more than just ‘a person’. Often dads feel shut out of baby rearing because they just do the same things everyone else does. Sometimes people get a bottle so daddy can feed the baby too – the truth is that that falls short of what is needed here. Daddy needs to be ‘the one who reads at night’ or ‘the one who takes baby for adventures in the kitchen’. Daddy needs something unique. It can change, but there always has to be something that says ‘daddy’ to baby. As they get older there can be games and stories between them – but having something unique between them (just as you will have unique things between you) cements a stronger bond.

I have found a few books for dads to read that help with young children. I personally recommend “My Love Will Be with You” by Laura Krauss Melmed, and “Daddy Cuddles”/”Daddy Kisses” by Anne Gutman. These are books which paint fathers as figures of affection, something which is difficult to find in children’s books which often relegate fathers to figures of activity. It can help fathers be more comfortable in an affectionate paternal role.

Push for the time now, and let them have it. All children need face-time, dedicated time, with their individual care givers to be at their best. And this can really help.

That is all well and good but how does one save money?   Leave a comment

So, last week “how does a stay at home mum stay at home” came up.

As it so happens I’ve been dirt poor most of my life, so I know a few things about saving money. I’ll share a few now. Don’t worry, there are more.

  • Research. Don’t just read my blog. Read everyone’s blog.
  • Budget. Know where your money is going and how much you have to spend. If you have trouble staying on budget in the supermarket, take cash only. Then you won’t have a choice.
  • Budget with what you already have where possible, not what you expect to have.
  • Credit cards are for a credit rating. Only spend what you have in your bank account or on your person. Pay it off ASAP. Carried balance does not increase your rating. On time payments do.
  • www.Mint.com
  • www.Creditkarma.com
  • Put up curtains; energy saving blackout curtains. In the summer they keep the heat of the day out, and in the winter they keep the warmth of your home in. No money? Hang summer sheets up in the winter. They’re light and they’ll help.
  • Keep summer temperatures as high as you can and winter temps as low.
  • Maintain these temps; don’t have them just when you are around. The energy it takes to maintain is far less than it is to create.
  • Always cook multiple things in the oven if you can; it takes a lot of energy to get it hot – but again, not as much to maintain that heat. Might as well only heat it up once.In fact not just in the oven; whenever possible cook things together.
  • It is cheaper to steam veg over pasta than cook it separately. So invest in a steam basket.
  • Keep your hot water a 140F/60C or just above. It’s the lowest you can go and still sanitize.
  • Cool wash when possible if you own your washing machine. It saves a lot of hot water, and most things will come out in a cool (40C) wash.
  • Line dry. Use a clothes horse inside in winter. It is cheaper than your dryer.
  • Walking is very low cost, and good for you. 20 minutes is not a long walk if you have a healthy body.
  • Second hand holds no shame; boot sales, garage sales, second hand shops, craigslistgumtree and freecycle are all good resources. Use them!
  • Plan your meals out.
    • Know how many calories you and your family need – this will take some time to tweek correctly because everyone is different – and plan your meals around this, sufficient protein, and 5 portions of fruit and veg AT LEAST. Erring on the side of veg, but fruit still matters. 1/2 cup is a portion.
    • Based on age and activity levels and age, younger needs more  calories and protein as do more active people, and nursing mothers. My husband needs about 4000 calories and umpteen thousand proteins because of his job, or his ribs start showing. I need closer to 2000 calories and 50g of protein.
    • Do not force anyone to finish their plate. I know it seems wasteful but you encourage overeating and excess hunger by overstretching the stomach.
    • Use smaller plates to control portion size better.
    • Slightly too much is better than too little; as long as no-one is overeating on any one meal you can slowly reduce your amounts.
    • Keep some meals you made in the freezer; that way on days where you can’t or don’t want to cook you have a microwavable out.
  • Buy your meals with this in mind. Calculate price based on what you want the items for – weight, grams of protein, calories. Freeze what you are not going to use.
  • Freeze what you didn’t use: leftovers are food, too.
  • If fact, even fat is leftovers – you can cook with it. Keep it refrigerated and be aware that chicken fat can carry salmonella.
  • Organic is out of your price range, make peace with it.
  • Eating out and ordering in are not a thing anymore. Make peace with that, too. If you need to create or buy microwave meals to have for sick days. Tinned soup also fills this roll. Beware the BPA.
  • Eggs are good for you.
  • Protein is usually your highest food cost. You can cut it by couponing, sales, bulk buying, or showing up when the daily switching out of old stock happens and buying the freshly marked down food.
  • Dried beans are, sadly (for us meat lovers, anyway), cheaper than meat.
  • Stock is made by simmering your off cuts with a little white vinegar. It makes good flavouring, soup base, and gravy. Do not use tomato stems or rhubarb leaves.
  • Peas pudding is made by boiling dried split peas in  a cloth in stock; traditionally ham or bacon water, but any stock works. It is quite good.
  • If you have pets, costco memberships pay for themselves in cat litter or dog food.
  • Always be on the lookout for cheaper versions. Name brand medicines, for instance, do not work better than generics. Check out the ingredients lists on your food and decide how much cheaper you can live with.
  • If you can make it instead of buying it, do so.
  • Consider whether or not everything on your list is *really* a necessity.
  • Write down what you spend. Electronic updates on your cards will *not* instantly update.
  • Something to know about sell by, use by, and expiry dates: No health body governs them. They are set by manufacturers. Often with good reason, but often a little earlier than they need to be. Bread is, for instance, only good for a few days. Honey, however, lasts forever. Check items before you throw them out…. and before you use them.
  • Unplug or switch off at the mains any electronics not in use.
  • Switch off lights.
  • Use energy saving bulbs; LEDs if you can afford them – traditional energy savers release mercury if broken.
  • Use your laptop or phone instead of your desktop when you can. They use less power.
  • Netflix is cheaper than cable.
    • Amazon prime is cheaper than netflix.
    • Hulu is free (or BBC Iplayer, if you happen to be in the UK)
  • Your library has a lot of resources for entertainment… Use them! An audiobook can be a great family activity.
  • Take a look at your phone plan. How much are you using, how much do you need to use? Skype, for instance, offers excellent flat rate internet calling subscriptions. Would that make it cheaper?
  • You do not need a smart phone if the data plan is hurting you. I know. I know. It hurts.
  • Magazine subs and newspaper subs aren’t worth what they cost unless you are extreme couponing, and your magazine allows for this.
  • Speaking of which: Unless it’s free, only buy it if you were going to buy it anyway, stock up on when it is on sale, or it can replace something you would already buy. Even if you have a coupon.
  • You would be amazed what you can make at home; google ‘baking soda shampoo‘ and ‘home made deodorant‘.
  • You can also make a great cleaner from vinegar with citrus peels left in it for two weeks.
  • Failing that, hydrogen peroxide is near as effective as bleach on surfaces – and you can get it in the dollar store! It’s also safe for use around children, which bleach is not.
  • If you have babies, use cloth nappies. I recomend also using a specific detergent like ‘rockin’ green’, but otherwise they’re STILL cheaper. $25 size changing daiper good from 7lbs to 30lbs +washing… or $25 for what, a few days? It really does stack in your favour quickly. The name brand rule? That does not apply here. Some off brands are good – individual etsy sellers can be great… but cut price on eBay will cost you in the long run.
  • On this subject, with babies, breastfeed! Don’t just breastfeed, *full term breastfeed*. Your milk is virtually free, and milk has something like a 98% energy transfer. It’s the most efficient food known to man. Your gut works better than your child’s will until quite late in their development. The milk top-up will save you a lot in groceries *and* they will be healthier. Don’t worry, they won’t breastfeed in to college – most children stop breastfeeding on their own between 2 1/2 and 4.
  • Babywearing is cheaper than a stroller, and allows you to use a trolley or stroller to carry shopping if your local stores are within walking distance. Ergonomic devices start around $30 for an infanto mei tai, and many ring slings are available at a similar price form individual sellers…  there are also lots of different kinds of carriers you can make quite cheaply if you would rather. Personally I also find it easier to travel with a baby strapped to my chest than lugging around a stroller.
  • Baby led weaning. It’s a thing. It’s a thing in which you don’t feed your baby expensive mush, you give them little-finger chunks of whole food to eat as best they can. The goal of early weaning is not to get the calories of the food – it is to get your infant used to taste, texture, and chewing. Yes, even toothless infants. Breastmilk provides everything an infant needs, and formula is still better than whole foods at this stage. Just let them play with the food and feed themselves. No purees required. Just make sure the food is small and soft (steamed carrot, ripe pear) enough that they don’t choke! Gagging is normal. Know how to react to an infant choking, regardless of how you wean.
  • A final point on children. You don’t need fancy gear, and you don’t need to get them fancy toys. Children are creative, and so too can you be. Who needs a highchair, you can have a picnic on the floor with a towel. Who needs an electronic car, you’ve got a box and markers! They won’t always love this, especially as they get older, but there are far, far worse things. Also, cardboard toys can be pretty cool if you plan well.

Well, that was today’s info-dump. Nothing too out there, I am sure, but there’s the basics. There are two more points, however, that will help you be successful.

Do not spend windfall money as soon as you get it. If you NEED things, get them. Otherwise SAVE THE MONEY. Having money in a savings account means the difference between freaking out when your microwave breaks and saying ‘it’s ok, we can handle this’. It’s unpaid sick leave. It’s peace of mind. You want at least 3 months rent and food if you can save it.

That said… keep a slush fund in your budget. Have money for small things. For silly things. Not much. But if you don’t, you’re going to start feeling trapped. It needn’t be much. A bar of chocolate a month if it’s all you can afford. A microwave meal. $10. Some little thing built in to the rules that it is ok to have. Your discretion. But when it’s gone, it’s gone. I strongly recommend keeping such  fund in cash form so it is physically present and impossible to overspend. Should you wish to spend it online, it can be deposited back in the bank or used on a shopping trip first so the money is converted back to digital. A personal house rule with us is we are aloud to save up our slush fund if was wish to, as well. We try to base our spending on what was made last month, rather than anticipated paychecks.

Posted 9 August, 2013 by erynnsilver in Advice, Financial, SAHM, Saving money

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How does a SAHM SAH?   Leave a comment

So this question came up. How does a stay at home mum stay at home?

There’s lots of reasons for a stay at home parent (Yep, stay a home dads count, too!) to stay at home. Most of them relating to wanting the best possible carer for your children – which is you. Preschools and Schools are not bad choices, but your children will never get the one on one attention,  customised classes, or the emotional security (which only leads to a more successful children) that comes from you. Not every family can do it – not everyone wants to. If you do, this one is for you.

There’s lots of money saving tips out there. This entry isn’t about that. I’ll be adding to that body with my own collection next week. Before that, though, here is some advice that has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with success: Be good to each other.

The world has not become a better place for the worker in recent years. A lot of places which previously had excellent rights and a least a reasonable minimum wage no longer have. I live in the USA, so we have never had the former and it’s been a very, very long time since the latter.
Well, of course you know this. The thing is that this matters not just to your wallet, but to your relationship. Financial worry is stressful. It is also all but inevitable in your relationship as a working parent, child-rearing parent partnership.

So be good to each other.

Stay-at-home parent, remember that working parent is working a job that 40 years ago would have paid all the bills and still gotten you a holiday once a year. These days, they’re lucky if you can eat out (which you absolutely should not do… but that is for next week). There will be times when even though they work so very hard they feel they are failing when they can’t provide things you want. Please be understanding of this. Be understanding of their hard days, be appreciative of all the days. Acknowledge their contributions – even the small ones.

So be good to each other.

Working parent, remember that stay-at-home parent works as hard as you do. They don’t get lunch breaks, they don’t get days off. Even when you’ve been working a 14 hour shift and just want to get your footwear off, remember that stay-at-home parent has been working it, too. Your time off is their time off – share it. Help out. A good parent gives the child or children all the attention they need, and children need a LOT of attention for a secure attachment (basically the key to a life of success). That isn’t easy. You’re part of it, too. You need to be a part of your kid’s life (lives) as more than a breadwinner. Caring for them and fulfilling their needs does this. It also lets your stay at home partner spend 20 minutes playing Halo, napping, or knitting. That means a lot when one spends the rest of one’s day attending to the needs of others.

So be good to each other.

Remember that your partner is not a mind reader. No one is. If your needs are not being met, talk about it. Tell your partner how you feel. Even for the little things. Lots of little silences build up in to one big silence before too long. Remember to listen, too. You don’t always talk when you should, either, so even if it is something that’s been going on for a while, give it serious thought. Break downs in communication are a huge problem, and they start by saying yes when you mean no or worse, saying nothing at all when you want to speak.

So be good to each other, respect each partner’s contribution and talk to each other. Be the equal partners you are supposed to be. Sometimes you will disagree, but you are partners in this adventure. THAT is how stay at home parents stay at home.

I can’t believe you are so angry about…   Leave a comment

So, internet arguing came up. I know, right? Who would have thought it. This is a mini update on that.

Here’s the thing. A lot of the time, arguments really could be real discussions. Real discussions are good. They lead to understanding, and change to be had.

Well, how would one make a real discussion out of an internet argument? The way I see it, there is an invisible ring around my counterpart’s person. Their personality, thoughts and motivations are all inside that ring. That is a private place that only they know (and maybe not even they do). Anything they say they put out of their ‘ring’… Things they do are outside of their ‘ring’. However, no-one is a mind reader. When we begin to speak as though we are, insult and rudeness are the inevitable result.

If they step over my line, that is their bad. I am in control of myself, however, and mirroring that behavior does no-one any good – least of all myself. Acting on aggression reinforces that aggression. It is when we deny our aggression that it becomes easier to control. I do find people far less likely to step within my own boundaries if I don’t tell them what their motivations, thoughts or experiences are. Most of the time when one guesses… one is wrong. I know, another mind blowing concept.
This principle can be expressed as the following: “Read what is said – and no more”. If you put it in to practice, you read what is said by the person you disagree with – but don’t read between he lines. When you start filling in the blanks yourself, it leads to the idea you understand this person. Of course, you really don’t. You are not a mind reader, any more than I. In feeling you know more than you do, however, you have prematurely ended the conversation. Understanding them is now that much harder, because you must first lose your own ideas about them. Helping them understand you is also much harder because you are not in a position to respond to them as they express themselves.
Is this the same as ‘don’t judge me’? Well… no. Judgement is normal. It is natural. What this is is basing your judgement on evidence, and only evidence. Evidence based human interaction, if you will. This is, instead, where the phrase ‘for no reason’ comes from.

Nothing in the history of forever has a single thing occurred ‘for no reason’… but when one does not know what the reason is, one might default to ‘there must not be one’. There is. I promise. If one works until one finds it, one will get better at uncovering reasons. Sometimes one will fail, but one will have further developed one’s empathy in the attempt. One honestly can not lose anything from striving to understand and to convince others through respectful discourse.  If nothing else, on the internet one always has an audience. One may just convince them through better behavior.

I have friends I’ve gained through actually trying to bridge an ideology map. We’re all human. We all have certain things in common. Find them, and you can only benefit.

I’m not perfect. I am writing this because I lost it and broke my own rules. They’re still good rules. If we all tried to stay outside of the personal ring, and read what is said (No more), we would all be better persons for it. . Especially if we apply it outside the internet, too.

A fitting first topic   3 comments

Well. Here I am. Writing. I’m one of those people who was always thinking about writing a blog but never really did it.
And now I am.
And what, you might ask, triggered my final decision to really give this thing a shot?
Well, it was of course something that happened to come up. So many of my mini rants are.
Someone posted a photo of themselves at their new, dieted, post birth weight, well on their way to their goal… and I wanted to scream at her.

I didn’t. I didn’t because it isn’t her fault. Getting back to your pre-birth weight is just something women DO, right? All those baby pounds have to go, right?
Here’s the thing. No. No, they don’t. Firstly, the idea you have a perfect weight is blatantly false. Health is far more complicated than simply taking your height, and weight, and saying one person is healthy and another is not. Health is about blood pressures, and cholesterol levels. It’s about stress reactions, insulin levels. It’s about all kinds of things. Body fat isn’t really one of them.
Here’s the thing. Being overweight can be a symptom of other health issues. It isn’t, in and of itself, unhealthy. And yet we are obsessed. The entire medical establishment is obsessed. The entire population is obsessed. With a symptom. There is this idea that if a BMI is right, then an individual is healthy. It simply isn’t true. Hell, people with normal BMIs don’t even live longer. However, here we are, dieting. Don’t get me wrong, a not awesome diet can cause issues. However, dieting rarely aims to fix issues with nutritional deficiencies and overabundance – it aims to perform simple math that makes calories into be pretty dire. That, ladies and entlemen, is how we get some people with eating disorders. Actually, a lot of our ideas about health are off. Such as, did you know, half of all heart attach patients have normal blood cholesterol – many even low?
Anyway. Weight doesn’t define health. So why do so many women who have babies become so uncomfortable with their weight?
The answer is in how the conversation went after I asked “How does it feel?”.
There isn’t an answer. There was confusion.  How it feels just wasn’t  important. That’s not why most post natal women loose weight.
It’s about body image.
There’s this ideal self in the minds of many women that they could be if only they could be thin enough. Curvy enough. Pretty enough. There’s this idea that something is wrong with you if you have body fat. Ladies – and gentlemen – that’s not really true. Sure, something could be wrong with you, but it’s not your fat.
Women who have been pregnant have been through a huge change greater than even that of puberty. There is nothing else like it in the human experience. With it comes great hormonal and physical changes. One of these is that there is weight to be gained, and one’s body does not wish to loose it. One’s body actually rather needs it. This race to be thin is not healthy. It’s not healthy for your mind, and it is not healthy for your body, mama. You’re looking at the scale when you should be thinking ‘how do I feel?’. Everything else is a distraction. Post natal exercise is good. Post natal dieting? Not so much. Especially in breastfeeding mothers, your diet should be varied, and based on how hungry you are. For a handy health gauge, look at your energy levels. A good energy input and diet should result in a VERY GRADUAL increase in energy. Good energy levels are a good indicator of overall health. If you feel good, chances are you ARE good.
Ladies, I’m going to drop some knowledge on you.
Dieting won’t make you healthy. Dieting will not make you beautiful. It will not undo what has happened to your body.
Nor should it, because my dear woman, you are amazing. You made life. You carried it inside you, you let it change you. You nurtured it as best you could, and sweetheart, it was amazing. Literally amazing. You should be in awe of yourself. Instead you are dieting. For some ill defined unattainable image of beauty, or some misapplied diagnostic medical tool. Whatever your reason – stop.
Eat healthy. Whatever that means. Pick something sustainable. Exercise gently…. and enjoy your baby. Enjoy you. Beauty is not a virtue. It isn’t something by which you should be defining yourself. You are so much more than that. You are so much more than your BMI. You are so much more than you give yourself credit for. Yet here you are, looking for people to say ‘well done’ at your shed pounds for a sense of accomplishment. You created life, lady. Weight watcher brownie points just do not compare.