I spent the Christmas break with my extended family in Auckland for about three weeks. It was your typical Christmas. I drank loads, read books and got fat. Standard. But something else happened. I got to hang out with my sister in law and her family and allowed the kiwi calm to permeate my intense madness. I came out of that house of calm a whole new person.
My sis is one of those exceptional humans that you kind of want to hate because she has everything, but she’s so damn lovely and awesome that you can’t even slightly resent her. Exceptionally talented and successful in her career, dedicated to her family, funny, great taste in everything, kind, generous and a wonderful mum. Ordinarily, I would be intimidated by someone like that, but she is so warm and laid back that she is just a walking inspiration.
Here’s what I picked up in my short time at her house:
I’m pretty sure kiwi’s invented chill. Probably because it’s too cold to be intense about anything. My sister is so laid back and just takes shit in her stride. She has so much patience with her incredible child and the whole house just has the vibe of calm. So foreign yet so appealing. This is probably the biggest change I have noticed since coming home. Less yelling, less fighting, more calm.
This very much feeds into the last point. How do you get so chill? Put things into perspective! Kids spilt something on the carpet – all good, clean it up. Kids are being loud and going mental – yep, they’re children. It’s what they do. Move on. Kids are having an epic meltdown – they kind of haven’t mastered the whole emotional regulation thing so chill out and let it pass.
No matter what is going on, it’s a phase. It will pass. You don’t have much control over what the kids lose their shit over but you can control how you react to it. Since I stopped losing my shit as a response, the tantrums don’t last as long or happen as often. Either that or my state of calm has put me in a coma. Who cares? Fact is, I’m not as stressed about it. Winning!
When it was just me and the first born, my guilt of not sending her to daycare drove me to fill her days with developmental, educational fun! The sound of her laugh meant everything to me. Then I started working, had another baby, life, commitments, usual story, and the fun stopped. My sister and her daughter play games, launch into impromptu water fights, chase each other, play sports or just hang out and watch movies. They do cool stuff together and have fun.
I always knew that was important but I kind of lost my way. I went into survival mode. Get the kids dressed, drop them off, go to work, pick them up, dinner, bedtime, start again. Now I make even the most mundane shit fun. We almost always have a dance party in the car on the way to daycare. I make them pack their own lunches. (this is genuinely fun for them). We play silly games and I make funny noises, we bake imaginary cakes. It doesn’t take much at all on my part but it makes a huge difference to them.
This one was a kicker. I saw how my sister really listened to her little girl. She gave her time and stopped doing whatever she was doing to really listen to her. This is probably what sparked the biggest difference in my own kids since being home. I have let go of the distractions and really listened to them.
None of this is groundbreaking stuff or completely new to me. It’s something I’m now more aware of. We all need a little reminder sometimes. Be more like my sister. She’s awesome!