wild colonial girl

A freelancer moves to Castlemaine

Beyond the Mummy-Dictator

Disciplining your children, dictator-style.

They say that moving house rates up there with divorce or the death of a loved one in terms of anxiety stakes. I always thought this was a bit much. I’ve moved many times and it’s just a case of chucking everything in boxes, right?

But this time was different. And it seemed to integrate all of the above. There was both the grief (from saying goodbye to close friends) and the conflict (near-divorce at any rate: we all have different notions on how to pack a box). Moving interstate to regional Victoria with two little kids was tough going. For starters, we made decisions last minute. VERY last minute. We didn’t really anticipate a whole backyard of things that we didn’t want to keep — still on the lawn before the final house inspection. On our last day in Sydney we drove one hour to Campbelltown to stay overnight at a motel, just to feel we had at least started the journey.

No matter how many times I read Buddhism for Mothers, at times of tough-going I revert to Mummy-Dictator instead: you will do as you’re told. And helpful parenting tips like putting my hands over my ears and repeating ‘I can’t hear you’ in a mantra (I swore I would never do that). McCool (at three and a half) has decided the best option to get what he wants is just to scream at a very high pitch for a long time and not to eat anything at the dinner table unless he is spoon fed. Luckily GG (at 14 months) is gurglingly happy no matter where she eats or sleeps and just fills the days with delight. She is just taking a few steps at a time.

Sarah Napthali, Buddhism For MothersBut we have safely landed in Castlemaine. The house has a view from every room that doesn’t feature human-made structures. You can do a bushwalk up the dirt track at the end of the street to Poverty Gully (the writer’s life?). Big rabbits play in the backyard and we suspect a wombat or two. It’s cold but cosy. McCool can do a circuit around the backyard on his wheelie. He’s started child care right away where they serve hot vegetarian meals (good luck to them with that). He keeps saying, ‘This is my last day at child care’ and ‘When are we going back to my Sydney home?’ but he’ll get there. He sneaks into bed beside me every night (each night it gets earlier), his fingers like iceblocks. There’s a gently emerging humour. The other day in the shower he said, ‘Are you washing your turkeys?’ I couldn’t work out which body part he meant (probably best not to know) but I think it’s the first time we have both ended up in hysterics at one of his jokes.

I love the peace of the place already. The vibrant community that I hope to join (shyly). Facebook makes it so much easier for people like me. The Castlemania Group offers the chance to ask any question about local life and be swamped with friendly responses. There’s music playgroup. A lunch each week that welcomes locals. Nude drawing classes. Lots of yoga. And, most importantly, great places to eat. I look forward to slowly getting to know the town and finding the space to do more writing too.


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15 thoughts on “Beyond the Mummy-Dictator

  1. Well done for getting here!! It’s not just any move- an interstate move. Huge! I’m more of a dictator mum I think. I need to put limits on things – the kids don’t go to childcare (twins have three sessions of kinder) and there has to be some parameters on the day. I put the “closed” sign up in the kitchen. Literally. And feed them outside when I can! I also add incentives – an activity, trip to the park, some craft/painting/ cooking – if they let me do some work. I have been known to beg. Be kind to yourself and keep your turkeys warm!

    • Yeah, I also like to have the kitchen closed off. I can’t cook with kids hanging off my legs. I don’t know how people do it. Begging. I haven’t tried that. I also like to be in the bathroom on my own. It’s like a little sanctuary in the day.

  2. Great that it is done!

    And yes reading parenting tips is helpful- to a certain extent. I think at times of high stress just getting through it is the only way.
    We’re just about to pack and cart ourselves across the globe, traveling with a baby now seems like a piece of pie in comparison to traveling with a willful toddler.. I’m trying not to think about it too much and just take it day by day.

    I hope the settling in goes really well, how exciting!

    Lily Mae

    • The settling in is the fun part! We had a wonderful day today catching up with Melbourne grandparents and family. The town is great. Good luck with your move across the seas and see you in Ballarat (ish).

  3. Weeeeeeee! You made it! Enjoy the serenity xoxo

  4. When I’ve moved I’ve packed the kettle, the coffee, and some chocolate handy. And first up found the parks and kid friendly places. All else comes in time.
    So glad to hear you’ve finally got on the move. McCool will be a McCountryCool sooner than you know. I’m about to do a Good, Bad and Comforting about raising kids in the country on my site soon. It really is a great way to spend their lives.

    • Ha. Funny you mention that. We seem to have left the kettle and toaster in Sydney somewhere. And lots of other strange things have gone missing too. The moment I got here I KNEW it was the best thing for the kids. Just seeing McCool racing around the big yard going crazy on his trike made my heart sing. Look forward to seeing the post on your site.

  5. Congrats, Kirsten, on making the move in one piece! George & I were just talking about your move in the car on our way home from a trip to Sacramento, which we are contemplating as a place to retire. I was saying that you guys are going to be surprised at how different it is to live INLAND, away from the sea and coastline that you probably took for granted when you were in Sydney. It’s a good thing your kids are little; if they had been any older, they would not have been happy at such a move. At least you haven’t gone totally country–you are in a place with child care and other people and town amenities. Everyone we knew in Australia who decided to move out of the city and into the country took along very disgruntled older children who were bored stiff in a rural environment!

    • Thanks for your comment, E. I must confess, we never really went to the beach much as we lived in south-west Sydney and I don’t like crowds. I suspect Castlemaine isn’t as country as you imagine. It’s kind of like Newtown or Brunswick transplanted into the rural – so we are cheating really. It’s a thriving community with artists, musicians, lots of writing things happening, great food and friendly people really interested in environmental issues. So it’s a boom town at the moment especially for families with young children. You’re right, the teen years will prob be different but we’re not too far from Melbourne…

  6. I’ve read the book. I’m hopeless. Thanks for Rewinding.

  7. We packed everything up at the end of last year for 9mths of travel. As we weren’t actually moving anywhere (except into storage) I thought it would be easy. Nope. Definitely a stressful time. Trip planning went completely out the window for a couple of months. I find the best thing for me when I’m stressed is to take time out. If dad is around I announce I’m going for a walk, and leave everyone to it for 15-20mins. If not, then I usually put some music or something equally distracting to help remove me from the situation at hand 🙂

    • Where did you travel too? Sounds amazing, if stressful. Yeah, I find time out is best too. I just go to my room for ten minutes and have a cup of tea on my own (if someone is around). You just need to get your equilibrium back, don’t you. At those times too, I do find putting on the TV or ipad for the kids can just mean you have that bit of space (I try not to do it too often)…

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