I can’t believe it’s been 2 months since my last post. It all seems like such a blur to me but the way things have been going, that could be a good thing.
Have you ever had a run of bad luck that just didn’t end? In the past 2 months my son developed croup and tonsilitis. Then nits. Then I backed my car into another car. Then the car my daughter and I were travelling in was hit by a truck, my dog was hit by a car, my dryer broke, my dishwasher broke, I ran a borrowed car into a fence, conjunctivitis spread from one child to another and back again and my grandma broke her hip. Oh, and we’re renovating so no calm home to return to, just more chaos.
I’ve had runs of bad luck before but I found this one particularly hard, probably because my daughter was in the car that was hit. It took me a good few days to even look at the damage. It just made me feel sick. With the continuous stream of events that followed, it felt as though every time I tried to recover, I was being knocked back down. And as i struggled to cope, I began to watch my 3yr old son, who is so very tuned into my emotions, begin to struggle too.
His behaviour became more aggressive, unrestrained and uncontrollable. After seeking help from parenting specialists, child health workers, chiropractors, doctors to no avail, I began to feel desperate. Mentally I was completely preoccupied with trying to work out how to help him calm himself and physically I was exhausted from fighting, restraining him and doing everything in my power to prevent him from hurting my 2 yr old daughter. When I realised that I had started vomiting every day from the pure stress of this situation combined with the incidents of the past 8 weeks, I realised that, again, something needed to change.
With the help of some wonderful therapy sessions (coffee with 2 amazing, insightful and honest friends) and the never ending support of my family, I again started to try and turn things around. I had been noticing my children both being given more ‘treats’ than usual and so I borrowed Sue Dengate’s “Fed Up” DVD in the hope I would find something I could relate to. Inspired by some of the stories she told, I decided to change our diet to become free of preservative, additives, colours and flavours (I told you I was desperate!!).
Having no idea where to start with this new eating lifestyle and completely overwhelmed by the barage of foods that we could not eat, me and my good friend, Google, sat down to search for help. The first website we came across was www.additivefreepantry.com. This website sells a shopping guide with over 300 preservative and additive free products available in Australian supermarkets. SOLD!
How wonderful for someone to be thinking so proactively as to concentrate on what we CAN eat as opposed to the millions of items that we can’t.
Knowing that I would also need to be able to recognise labels for myself, I decided to look for information as to which additives to be wary of and what affects each may have on a person. Again, I thought this would be an incredibly difficult task but nearly instantly came across a book called ‘The Chemical Maze’ which answered all my questions but raised a lot more – like ‘how are all these additives legal??’ Even better for me than the book was the iphone app explained on their website www.chemicalmaze.com which allows me to look up any chemical or additive by name or number and find its potential effect. It also allows you to search for additives to avoid by potential risks ie aggression, learning difficulties, behavioural problems etc.
And so we started… We sat the children down and explained what we were doing and why we felt it was best for them. I loved this part because I was genuinely surprised at how well my son took the news that there would be no more treats. Before every meal was prepared, we carefully examined labels, scrolled through the chemical maze iphone app and discussed our options. Once we realised how many additives were in everything and how many of these additives were linked to behavioural issues, we decided that this might be a path we seriously follow.
Within a few days my son’s behaviour had drastically improved. No more aggression and uncontrollable rage. He was calmer, kinder and I could really communicate with him. I had family and friends telling me that he was engaging with them and making eye contact for the first time but the most exciting part for me was hearing his genuine laughter again.
So that cemented our path. My husband, the anti-hoarder, had a fantastic time going through our pantry and donating all our preservative laden goods to charity. We have all eaten additive free for nearly 2 weeks and I have to say that I am feeling amazing. I have more energy, less fogginess of mind and feel inspired again. Of course this could be a direct result of my children actually enjoying each other’s company and me actually being able to achieve some very basic tasks that I can now set for myself such as putting away washing; I know that sounds lame but really, not being able to leave the room for 5 minutes shows just how bad things had become.
My spirited 3 yr old will always push the boundaries and inevitably find himself in many a sticky situation and I will always love him for that. Removing additives from his diet has replaced my moody, aggressive, wild boy with an affectionate, loving, sensitive, wild boy and his stressed, angry, desperate mother has been replaced by a happy, confident and calm mum.
I DO IT MYSELF!!!
I must admit that I was really looking forward to seeing some independance in my little people so I was thrilled to see my just-turned-two year old show so much ability and enthusiasm with dressing herself. My dream was to lay out their clothes and finish my last minute clean up before we all walked out the door together in half the time it had previously taken for me to dress us all… How wrong I was!!
My beautiful daughter is proud of her efforts (and rightly so) and my son, never to be outdone by his little sister, has really stepped up his efforts. On a nice easy day it is delightful to see them trying on new clothes, creating bizarre little combinations of clothing styles and colours. On a day when we have to move it is a nightmare.
Master 3 is very much like his father, not caught up with the little things in life and happy to keep going even if things aren’t perfect, so when he walks out with his shirt inside out, back to front or upside down, it simply doesn’t bother him enough to fuss about changing things. I generally don’t mind what outfit he choses but this does bother me; I NEED to fix it. Welcome WWIII.
Little Miss “I do it myself!!” on the other hand, is quite particular in dressing correctly. Her skills, unfortunately, in no way match her enthusiasm. She MUST put on everything herself including her nappy at bed time – I haven’t seen a funnier sight than a very determined 2yr old laying out a nappy then laying herself down on it and attempting to do it up. Needless to say, it was not a very successful endeavour… can I help her? no.
When she is fighting with her shirt, with the neck around her waist or trying to squeeze her head into an arm hole, screaming in frustration, can I help her? NO.
So now I find ways to help her in ways that she can never know about… Leaving clothing that she can cope within easy reach for her, talking them both through the dressing process without actually touching them, making sure her shoes really really simple and most of all, starting the process 45 minutes earlier than I ever had to before they became so independent. Oh, and buying pull up nappies!
If you enjoyed this article you can find more from Samsam at www.journeyofamodernmum.blogspot.com