All in good time

It hasn’t been plain sailing in the BSD household recently, and I’m squarely to blame.

Youngest cub has made the quantum leap to being potty trained. A real milestone in the transition from toddler to child. I’m ever so proud of him; he even goes to the bathroom standing up, after observing daddy in some uncomfortably candid moments.

I was conscious of this milestone as he entered the schooling system last September. His birthday is in late August and he had only just turned 4. Personally, I think that this is too young to enter full-time education, but such is life. I wanted him to be dry by the time he entered the system.

There is no shortage of reading out there with useful hints and tips. I knew what I wanted to achieve and set about doing it. I had the appropriate discussions with him and we spoke about what we would do to achieve it. We were both quite excited.

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At first, things went quite well. He would excitedly run up to my room in the morning to proclaim his dry night. Great success!

He then had a couple of slip ups, but this was fine; the road to success is rarely a straight one. We could handle it. Bed changed, cub washed, no harm done; on with our day.

We then had a frequency shift; the dry days were beginning to lose out to the wet days. As we awoke in the morning, the disappointment in his voice was heartbreaking. More cuddles and reassurances that this was okay and that he would get it in time were administered.

I changed tactics slightly. Both cubs usually bedded down with a bottle of water to combat nighttime thirst. This stopped. We also watched the volumes of drink that we consumed in the pre-bedtime hour. This was restricted too.

It didn’t help.

We then tried a reward system. The star system that was already established was utilised. A star would be rewarded for more dry nights than wet nights.

This was wrong.

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Things seemed to be getting worse.

Not only were we experiencing more wet nights but his skin also began to suffer. He’d clearly been peeing early in the night and then sleeping in it. The damage was visible.

He was also getting damaged inside with feelings of regret and shame of not doing as was expected of him.

I had a paradigm shift.

It  followed some soul-searching on my part and answering a few questions.

  • Why were we doing this?
  • Who would benefit?
  • How was it making him feel?
  • How was it making me feel?

The answers, were quite damming.

  • We were doing this because I had decided that we should do it.
  • Whilst we would both benefit, primarily I would.
  • It was clearly making him feel bad; he was neither dry nor earning rewards.
  • This made me feel bad.

Time for a change.

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We stopped. We had another chat and more importantly we re-bonded.

This took the form of a huge cuddle whilst watching his favourite film and eating popcorn. Eldest wasn’t left out; she got under one arm (and near the popcorn). I could, quite literally feel us all renergising in each other’s company.

There were some big learning points here and they were all for me.

I realised that I had let outside influences decide on what was best for my cub, rather than let him tell me.

Please understand, I don’t mean that I expected a 4-year-old to vocalise what he wanted; our children tell us things in so many other ways. We, as adults have to shut out the external noise and truly listen to what they are ‘saying’.

I was guilty of comparing him to his sister, to his classmates, to books e.t.c and in doing so, I ignored the only one I should’ve really listened to; him.

Attaching desired behaviour to a reward system is an age-old methodology but I applied it incorrectly. I’m still not sure I should have applied it at all.

He’s fine now. His skin shows no traces and he’s his usual, cheeky self. He’s back in the training pants for bed as the realisation that he is a deep sleeper will most likely mean that he takes a little longer to get dry.

I have every confidence that he will be; all in good time.

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BSD

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Editing Scripts

After a rather successful half-term holiday break, I haven’t seen the cubs for a few days. They’re with me for the next four days but I’ve missed them terribly.

I pick them up from after-school club on what was for me a testing day at work. All stresses fell away after I saw them. Youngest came out first, looking thoroughly fed up; 50% of him seemed to consist of tomato soup, the folly of a white, cotton school top.

Driving home, eldest gives me the full rundown of events from the last time we saw each other.

Someone has used the F word. One of her classmates.

My ears prick up.

‘I told her that I was going to tell the teachers; she begged me not to then started to cry!’

My inner psychologist spiked.

‘It was fake tears though, she kept looking to see if I was looking!’

So what did you do?

‘I told the teachers, but then she cried and they let her off. Then she told other people that I had said it and I AM SO ANNOYED!’

Why?

‘Because she never got punished! Then mummy text her mummy and they had a row!’

I smiled ever so slightly, but probably wider than I realised.

I dig deep for a response. I immediately think of the different ways in which my ex and I have approached this situation. For me, this situation does not require a knee-jerk response. There aren’t many situations in life that do.

What I felt was an appropriate response, was to help her deal with such situations when they happen again. I wanted to give her a script that she could call upon in future. I could fix the situation, but how would that benefit her?

I immediately thought of the differences in upbringing between my ex and I, and how this was playing out in our own parenting.

After listening to her, we picked apart the interaction, adding a rationale to each step.

  • She swore – yep, some people do but not at your age. It makes you look bad.
  • She cried to get out of trouble – that happens a lot. It the response of someone who won’t take responsibility for their actions.
  • I got really angry – interesting response; you’re probably holding others to your own standards and values, then getting frustrated when they don’t meet them. That’s a fast track to heartache.
  • I want to see what she does tomorrow – why? she’s already shown you who she is.

She reflected.

I interjected.

You’re going to come up against people like her all your life. If you let them get under your skin, they’ll ruin your day whilst they enjoy theirs. Learn to blank them out and avoid them.

She went deeper.

‘So mummy texting her mum was wrong?’

I wouldn’t say it was wrong, but look at the motivation. We’re both trying to protect you; just in different ways. Both are done out of love.

I could see her brain ticking over. Then she shook her head.

‘I think I’ll avoid her for a little while daddy’

Mission accomplished

BSD

5 Life skills; prologue.

I’d like to give you a short preview of my 5 week series on the life skills I’m trying to impart into my cubs.

I’ve thought long and hard about this one and reflected on their upbringing so far. Eldest cub, for the most part was raised in a semi-stable home and relationship, although the signs that her mother and I weren’t going to make it were already there.

Her formative years were moulded by the dual influences of both parents, even though I worked long hours and my partner stayed at home. Bonds were formed and taught values were reinforced in behaviours I showed daily.

The co-parenting paradigm shifts things onto a more challenging footing, and my son is now away from the dual influences of both parents. It’s difficult to know what effect this is having on his development as you have to allow for individuality in behavioural differences. I doubt that it’s as straight forwards as nature or nurture.

This whole piece wasn’t straight-forwards.

Having the cub’s best intentions in mind, I want to give them the best start in life that I possibly could, without overlooking their childhood by extolling vicarious values. I tried to be objective, with a topic that is hugely subjective, and I struggled to get the list down to 5 life skills. It changed numerous times.

My list may differ from that of others and I’d be keen to see how mine measures up, but when I reflect on the times that I might have stumbled in life, these are the skills that got me to my feet again.

  • Courage
  • Self-worth
  • Determination/fortitude
  • Kindness
  • Humility.

Within each of these 5, I will attempt to explain why I think that the skill is vital, from the perspective of both an adult and a child. I will also attempt to explain how I teach this skill and then reinforce it in my own behaviour.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts and as always, I’d love to interact with you and have a discussion.

Happy New Year!

BSD

It shouldn’t take this long..

The cubs are with me for this week; I’ve managed to score some time off work. Early crossed wires means that the ex and I cross paths at 60 mph in the countryside. A quick phone call and we make the switch in a near lay by

It feels a little like espionage, but we haven’t seen each other in what seems like an age, so its fine. Off we pop home, with a brief stop to get some groceries first.

I think that it’s important for the cubs to understand the shopping process, so away we go.

I never learn

First things first, back to the car for my bags for life. I pat myself on the back as I usually remember them at the checkout.

The first squabble begins; they both want to push the trolley. Last time I allowed it, one was involved in a near fatal collision with a pensioner. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember which one of them it was.

He gets first go. She wants a cuddle and to hold hands anyway. He can’t really see over the top of the cart but this does nothing to curb his enthusiasm. Or pace.

Most collisions are averted by gentle nudging and one, timely kick. He loses interest as we get to the escalator and abandons it at the bottom.

Clothes

She needs a couple more tops. I acquiesce, as everything I buy seems to disappear but hey, you already know my thoughts on that one. He attempts to get me to buy him a bra, and breaks down in tears when I tell him not right now. A kind assistant places it back on the rack for me.

Food

He’s in flight of freedom mode and stays at least half an aisle ahead. The store isn’t busy so I allow it. Now she wants to push the trolley.

Being a toddler, this immediately reignites his interest in the trolley so squabbles begin again.

“DAD! HE’S GRABBING THE SIDE OF THE TROLLEY AND THROWING THE HANDLING  OFF!”

Welcome to my world.

Be good or no-one will push.

“Then how will it move?”

She’ll go far that one.

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Attrition

Weariness finds me quickly. We’ve only reached the bread aisle.

Croissants or Pain au Chocolat? I ask. Not the most challenging of questions.

No answer. I ask again.

‘Can we have kippers? we haven’t had kippers in ages!’

When was that an option??

Would you like croissants or pain au chocolat???

‘Yes’

Christ.

As it transpired, he wanted one, she wanted the other, so we ended up with both. She was quick to point this out. We also got kippers.

Amnesia

I’m starting to forget stuff; I haven’t made a list. I end up backtracking down an aisle. As all men know, this is just wrong. We shop like snipers. This is a tell-tale sign that I’m worn..

I then accidentally turned down the crisp and biscuits aisle.. big mistake…

I tried to reverse before they noticed. I didn’t make it..

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They’re off like locust; scattering innocent bystanders as they go.

“CAN WE HAVE THESE DADDY?” times one million

My kung fu skills kick in and I’m throwing sugar out of the trolley faster than they can put it in.

I’m done; they’re giggling like crazy and I’m trying hard not to show that I’m done. A nearby couple are chuckling. Their children are probably grown up.

I’m bent over my trolley, contemplating how lucky I am.

“What are you doing daddy?”

Contemplating life darling.

“Constipating life?”

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BSD

Resilience

I see my hidden goal

As ensuring that my nurturing turns strong children turn into strong adults. I try to do this in the most subtle ways possible, taking every opportunity to reinforce subtle lessons with real life examples.

I don’t think I’m doing anything out of the ordinary, but I am conscious of who my cubs are, and how the world may view them as adults.

Inequalities

Over here we’ve finally had some solid data on pay differentials. Industry was compelled by the government to post pay grades, gender percentile and other qualitative data that basically, didn’t look good.

On average, women are paid less; people of colour are paid less. Not looking good.

On the plus side, my two are still in single digits age wise, and working a job isn’t what it used to be years ago. Nonetheless, I need to build my pack strong.

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Her

My daughter is a brainbox. Recall, attention to detail, enquiring mind, tick tick tick. Her desire for knowledge never fails to amaze me. Remembering me promising her things could ease off a bit though…

Historically, I’ve made her make her own giant leaps; from climbing up onto a chair before she could walk to riding without stabilisers, watching her tears of frustration turn to tears of joy when she finally mastered it. Watching her realisation, that effort brings rewards.

Now, when asked ‘How did you know to do that?’ by anyone, her answer of ‘the idea was in my head’ renews my pride.

Him

He’s still only 3, so the transition out of nappies to peeing standing up ‘just like daddy’ was a great moment. All those uncomfortable, accompanied trips to the toilet served a purpose.

Goal

As parents, we ultimately do our best. We have our ideal of what we want them to be. The nature/nurture argument plays into things as does free will.

My goal is to give them both the tools to know their worth in the world; to know that the path to success is rarely straightforward and that their ultimate power, lies within.

How they use those tools will be down to them.

Shape your thinking; shape your world.

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BSD

The race to zero pt.2

Hello all, and for some of you (at the time of writing) Happy New Year!

I’m not sure where the last 365 days went but it’s been one heck of a year. So much has happened and most of it was good; especially starting this blog.

I’m still not sure what it is meant to be but I’m throwing down some more coherent content here so I’m happy. It will get more focused the more I learn what I’m doing.

Down to business

Those of you that read part 1 of this thread will know that I am planning to eradicate my credit card debt over the next year, hopefully less. It’s not a massive amount but I would say it’s more of a psychological burden than a physical one.

I also stated in part 1 that the debt would initially increase as I planned to do some of my Christmas spending on it. I did, but I didn’t go crazy, thanks to self-discipline.

Success

good day

As stated in part one, the main strategy is to reduce the largest debt (and highest interest rate) card first by overpaying on the previous over payments. Done

Reduce any spending on them to the absolute minimum and emergencies only. I’ll have to report back in pt.3

Move regular payments to the cards where possible, then pay more of my salary into clearing those balances. On-going. The jury is still out on whether this method will work..

These are my robust rules of credit card spending. Discipline is the absolute key here.

I also discussed earning more. This is a work in progress to which I will report back periodically.

Fail

bad

Whilst on the topic of earning more, one of my strategies was to accept all available overtime that work offered me. Unfortunately, I dropped the ball a little on this one and have missed out on the initial offerings, due to not checking my work emails whilst off for the holidays. I suspect this may turn out to be a blessing.

Opportunities still exist, but I shall have to be more eagle-eyed.

Lessons from the best

good idea

I research everything, and I do mean everything. For the last 18 months or so I have been looking into ways at generating more income.

As I said in part 1, I’m a believer in sensible spending, rather than going without. I will explain more in a separate piece about extra income as one size doesn’t fit all and there are a lot of traps and get rich quick schemes out there.

Now, reading the section head and the paragraph below you may be mistaken into thinking that I think of myself as the best. I don’t. Not by a long shot.

I have committed many crimes to personal wealth and prosperity and am now in the process of cleaning it all up. I have great faith in myself but as with learning any skill, it’s harder if you try to do it alone.

Here is what I’ve been reading to help me with this:

  • Forbes guide to budgeting – home of the 50,30,20 rule. They also have some nifty budgeting freebies and how to earn extra income.
  • Ramit Sethi’s I will teach you to be rich programme. Lots of great advice from a self-made success story. Automating Your Personal Finance is one of his teams free titles and is full of great advice.

As always, if you’re in serious debt, as in the kind that keeps you awake at night or worse, please, please seek help. Suffering in silence is never the answer.

If like me you have stubborn debt, then give these two links a look and let me know what you think.

win win

So that’s it for part 2 and indeed 2017!

I’m about to settle in for the evening to enjoy what television has to offer and go smiling into 2018. There’s so much to look forwards to because that’s the way I’ve planned it!

Thank you for your support and have a Happy New Year!

BSD


 

December 2017

Card 1 = 94.97% utilisation

Card 2 = 99.78% utilisation

Time to reflect.

It’s that time of year again where I like to take stock of the last 12 months. It’s a thing I do that allows me to press on into the oncoming new year with vigour and determination.

I try to weigh up the good and the bad in an attempt to learn the lessons that I was supposed to.

Sometimes I’m a slow learner.

The cub’s mum

We had more downs than ups. It’s still new and the wounds are still open I guess. This morning we managed to have a row after I asked how she was; the accusation? I phrased the question incorrectly.

I backed off. Part of my philosophy; it takes two to have an argument and I’m not playing.

stress

The lesson

This was one of a few flash points that we collectively experienced over the last year. So how do I avoid them in future, and why should I?

The easy answer is the stress that arguing brings. I just realised that my teeth were clenched whilst typing!

Some disagreement is inevitable, but it’s the handling of such that is all important; the reasons to avoid it are pretty obvious:

  • Poor health
  • Poor relationships
  • Unhappy cubs

The last one is crucially important.

I’ve spoken before about the fact that I will never speak ill of her in front of the cubs. It’s not fair; they only have one mum and they deserve to hold her in high esteem. I will do nothing to change that image.

This is where the teachings of the ‘7 Habits’ come in; seek to understand, before being understood.

In future, I’ll choose my words more carefully; consider my tone and watch my timing. Communication, not confrontation.

Failing that I’ll ignore her until the end of time, plus 15 minutes.

My home

I’ve mentioned already that I’m not overly happy where I am at the moment; it’s too far out for where I need to be, most of the time.

home

The lesson

Stop moaning! It’s warm, it’s dry, there’s food in the fridge. Some folk have none of those.

I’m sure that I will move in the not too distant future but for now, this is one blessing that I am counting.

Relationships

I’m single. I have been for a while now; the longest while in over two decades. For once, it actually feels ok.

love

The lesson

Historically, I used to bounce from relationship to relationship, without a break, without ever reflecting on why the last one didn’t work. Sometimes, perhaps inevitably, I’d go on to make the same mistakes again, and again.

I had to stop and ask myself why this was.

  • What was I compensating for?
  • what was I afraid of?
  • what was lacking in myself that I sought from a companion and could that ever be the successful driver of any relationship?

I know that I need to be the complete article before I can share that place in my heart.

I believe in the Law of Attraction; thoughts become things etc.

I also believe that the Universe will keep giving us the same lesson, until we learn it. I’m just thankful that the Universe is very patient.

I’m getting nearer to those answers by spending time with myself, discovering who I am, after all this time.

In the meantime, the most important relationship is the one I’m proudest of; the one with my cubs. They give the most amazing cuddles.

I’m sure that when the time is right, she’ll find me, or we’ll find each other. Then I’ll have to change my pen name.

Finances

Tough! as they no doubt are for us all. Everything seems to be going up apart from our wages.

green shoots

The lesson

Take control and keep control.

If you’ve read my last post on clearing my debt, you’ll know that I plan to smash this one in 2018.

My ultimate goal is to have 3 income streams. Something recommended by the successful out there. I’ll give you more on that one in 2018.

Health

I know the benefits of exercise, especially in the world we live in today. You absolutely have to do it. I use it to defuse stress too. See my first point, above.

why train

The lesson

Schedule my workouts!

I schedule everything else important, so why should this be any different?

I’m fit; I’m healthy and I’m thankful; truly, truly thankful.

More of the same next year and maybe something to aim for..?

So that’s about it for now. The planning is the next phase and the important thing is to set my goals early and write them down.

Commitment is everything!

XperiaZ3 762

So that’s it for now. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I know what I need to what I need to stop, what I need to start and what I need to keep doing in 2018.

Bring it on!

BSD