Night Shift

As most readers will know, I am a Nurse. This awesome, wonderful, and rewarding careers comes with it once teeny tiny little drawback, Night Shift. As 1.4 million Australians know, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that shift work is hard, a rotating roster is had, and Night Shift is just the pits. There are however a few things that you can do to help get through the shift and subsequent days following.

Plan your Sleep

Sleep doesn’t just happen, and if it does I don’t want to hear about it. You need to make sure there is a comfortable 8 hour gap were you are not responsible for the children, the in laws. or any other talks that requires your actual attention and input. Once you have planned your sleep make sure that there is room for the wind down from the previous Night Shift or daily activities. Also, allow for your sleep to go over. I know when I have my two nights the first day I only nap after dinner for 2-3 hours, I come home, sleep for nearly 10 hours, then tackle the last Night Shift, after which I spend a day without sleep until that night, colloquially called my “Zombie Day”.

Plan Your Sleep

Plan Your Sleep

Maintain your Medications

If anyone out there is like me, you have a boat load of medications to take at different parts of the day. They are also set up so that all of the “Sleepy” tablets are taken at night. This makes for an exceptionally awkward when the “Sleepy” tablets are doing their job, and your chugging triple shot expressos like they are lolly water just to stay awake. I have found though that I if I take my “Sleepy” tablets before dinner on a Night Shift night, I can manage well enough. You will need to find what works best for you, and if you are having any dramas please go and see your prescribing doctor.

Maintain your Medications

Maintain your Medications

Nourishment

It is easy on Night Shift to do one of two things, eat nothing at all, or stuff your face with chips, lollies, and other junk foods that seem to make their way into the workplace. Eating the meals you are awake for is key. It is also sometimes necessary to introduce a fourth meal to have around midnight. Otherwise you could end up being awake and active without food for 14 hours. Also, consider snacks that aren’t junk to take with your to work. This can be fruit, yogurt, muesli bars, or other “healthy” choices. I find that the only meal I miss is the Lunch on the day between shifts, I also find that a high protien yoghurt at around Midnight is awesome.

Nourishment

And that’s it. Everyone will have their own coping mechanisms, and we would love to hear from you in the moments below. Well I better use some of my advice and catch some shut eye before shift tonight.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

2nd Year

Well I thought the First Year went by quickly, it seems as if I blinked and the second has disappeared. I thank everyone for coming on this journey through depression, weight loss, nursing, parenting, and life as a whole. It has meant so much to me that you have decided to come along for the ride.

Second Birthday

 

Firstly, the numbers. In the past twelve months I have written 67 posts, starting with Quoth the Raven and ending with this one. I have written about my success, my stumbles along the road, and the treatments I went through to save me from myself.  I began to share about my struggle with weight, and the steps taken to change the image that was in the mirror before me.  I explored more of my own struggle, ideas behind death and the nursing implications, what it is to father someone who is not your biological child, and a pictorial view of the town I love so much. From these posts, and many more, we can sum up the year with some key numbers;

  • 64,659 Words Total
  • 696 Words per Post (average)
  • 139 Comments
  • 348 Likes
  • 6,288 Views, of which the top five countries were
    1. Australia
    2. United States
    3. Canada
    4. United Kingdom
    5. New Zealand / India

These are just the figures from the Maintain The Rage website and do not account for comments, likes and shares from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, or Reddit.

When I started Maintain the Rage I had the intention of sharing what I had learnt, my tips and tricks, and general advice. I quickly realised that I would immediately be thrown into the Do these five things if you want to be rich, successful, and sexy category. I shifted to sharing about my life, not in an attempt to illicit pity or praise, but to show that you can do all the things you want to do, to juggle the different activities, work, school, family, and life, to show that even if your are struggling, thats ok. I hope that this has been a well received shift and that I have made the right choice. But judging by the reads and conversations with people in comments, direct messaging, and face to face contact, I am going to say it was the right move.

For the future of Maintain the Rage I am going to stay the course, I will continue to share my journey as a Parent of both a 1 year old, a 3 year old, and a 16 year old, my life as a Nurse, my journey through life with my Wife, my Scouting life, and my struggles and successes with depression and anxiety, and the victories and struggles through weight loss.

I thank everyone of you who have come on this journey with my and hope you have enjoyed and taken away something from the posts. I encourage all of you to ask me what you want to hear about, and what part of my life you are curious about. I also encourage you to share this blog with family and friends, not for mere likes or views, but so we can expand the community that Maintain the Rage has and continue to share together.

Thank you again,

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Step Dad

As most of my regular readers would be aware I am a father to three beautiful children, two young girls who are One and Three, and a 16 year old boy. For those doing the math in their heads, no I did not have a son at 15, Joseph is my wife’s son to her first husband, and he is my son, period. Having a step-child is no real different to having children, you still need to love on them, guide them through trials and tribulations, and you need to be there when times are tough for them. I wrote a while ago about boundaries, and encouragements for the children, and all of this is extremely relevant, but there are some pitfalls, and they are quite deep.

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When I first came on the scene, dating Alinta, and generally being around Joseph he was Nine years old. I didn’t force any sort of title on him, I told him my name was Luke and he could make his own mind up. Over the proceeding months, I showed him how to properly set a table, showed him chores he could do around the house to be useful, playing imaginary games in the back yard, and generally hung out. One night, at the dinner table, about three months into the relationship, Joseph stops eating at looks at me, and he says I think I am going to call you Dad. My heart melted. The hardest thing with any step relationship with a child is creating a close enough bond with them so they feel as though there is no difference between you and who would be their parent. Our relationship has grown since the early days, he gives as good as he gets now which is refreshing, but he still calls me Dad, no matter how angry or twisted he gets.

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Another complication which needs to be addressed is the Biological parent. In my instance Bio-Dad. Once Joseph had decided to call me Dad he was quickly getting confused between the two of us in conversation, I suggested that while he was with his mother and I he could refer to his Dad as Bio-Dad, keeps it all clean and simple. What I hadn’t  expected was when he visited Bio-Dad and he was talking about me as Dad and was corrected by his Nanna to call me Step-Dad, Joseph got quite fired up and defended me as just Dad. This isn’t the case for every parent, step-parent or otherwise, but it is still a complication.

The other half of this problem is arranging time with the Bio-Parent. I know plenty of people who loathe seeing their child go to the Bio-Parent, get spoiled rotten for two weeks, then come home. Initially, I loathed Joseph going away, as I would have to spend the next 3 months correcting him and directing him to get him back to where he was before he left. Since then I have softened, I do not stop Joseph spending time with his Bio-Dad, we arranged a number of years ago the Easter and Term 3 school holidays are free game for Bio-Dad, instead I encourage Joseph to do all the things his Bio-Dad wants to do, but stress that he doesn’t ask for any expensive gifts. His Bio-Dad is not a wish granting fairy. The short and tall of all of this is you need to be comfortable allowing your Step-Child visitations with the Bio-Parent. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to be rough, but it is in the best interest of the child, and that’s what’s important.

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Parenting a step-child can be difficult. Some children make it exceedingly difficult for you to really fulfil the role of Mum or Dad, others make it all too easy. As a step-parent you are not second rate, or just a fill in, you are their parent, sometimes more so because you chose to be there. You looked at the Child and decided that you can step up and be the parent they need. To all my brothers and sisters out there who are parenting a step-child, stand up, be proud, and know that you are awesome.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Christmas 2018

Tis the season and unless you have been living under a rock, with earplugs in, completely blocking out the outside world, you are no doubt by now completely overwhelmed with Christmas carols, sales, advertising, lights, trees, and that one person at work who seems a little too involved in the whole Christmas Cheer side of things. I am going to start by saying I am not exactly Christmas’s biggest fan, not the reason behind the season which is the birth of Jesus Christ, but the commercial, Santa Clause, snow effect, carolling, blinking lights, nonsense that the day and subsequent season has become.

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The main issue I have with Christmas is commercialism. Now I understand that our, and many other of the economies around the world are based on the premise of commercialism, and commercialism to the highest order. The idea of buying for $1, selling for $2, and putting it on sale for $3 reigns supreme. I also understand that lots of people’s welfare and income are based around the premise of buying and selling. What I don’t appreciate is being forced into buying things to decorate ones home to make it look like a winter wonderland, when  its 40 degrees celsius outside, 104 Fahrenheit for those in the States. I also don’t like the idea of an overweight Northern European man, breaking into my house, consuming food and beverages, then leaving suspicious packages around the place.

The entire premise behind the modern Christmas seems to boil down to buying gifts you can’t afford, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t talk to all year. Me and mine keep things simple. Our children are the only ones who get gifts, they are usually either practical or necessary, and friends and family are told that the only people who will have presents bought for them are the children, of which there are none outside my two girls. Even this limitation on the season still has my back up. I still don’t understand why there is a need for exchanging presents, hanging ornaments, and elaborate fables.

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I will add, I do participate willingly in a ‘secret santa’ with my friends and family. This involves all of my friends putting the names in and having to purchase 1 gift, and all of the family doing the same. This way we can meet the social preconceptions without too many financial implications.

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The other issue that I have with the majority of Christmas is the focus on the trees, the lights, the big guy in a red suit, the presents, the ham or turkey, and the decorations. The reason for the season is the Birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Now this post is not meant to be preachy, or beating you over the head with my bible, but it is only fair that I share my thoughts behind Christmas, and this means talking a little about Jesus.

Firstly, to quell the naysayers regarding the 25th of December actually being Jesus birthday or not, I will honestly say I have no idea, nor do I care. Historically people have pegged Jesus birthday in March 28th, somewhere in October, November 18, and a myriad of others. My thought is, the Queen has two birthdays a year, and only one of them is on her actual birthday, and frankly my faith isn’t hinged on whether Jesus was born on December 25th or not, the fact the He was born, lived, died, and rose again, matters.

Secondly, you can find any number of Nativity stories, songs that run the story, and so on, but to really get the story one has to get if from the source, Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. For those who don’t have a bible at home bible.com is a great free access bible, if you are on your phone then You Version is a great free bible app. I also encourage you to head to your local church to enjoy the carols and story of the birth of Christ. So my reason for the season is to celebrate His birth, and share with others his-story wherever I can.

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So thats my story regarding Christmas, it may not fit the stencil that everyone else lives by, it may even offend a few readers. The aim of this post was not to offend anybody, put anybody off side, or guilt anybody, the aim was to share my story and views on something that has a very assumed belief attached to it. I encourage everyone to enjoy the season any way they see fit.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

My Old Brain Back

Over the past couple of weeks since ECT I have been blessed by the almost complete removal of Suicidal Ideations, reduction in the feeling of depression, and the decrease in general negativity. With this all been said, as I have been back at work, endeavouring to be more proactive around the house with both chores and children, and participating in Bible study with my wife every evening. All in all things have been going pretty well, but there are a few things that have made me want my old brain back.

I like to think that I am quite good with my words, almost eloquent if you will, but over the past couple of weeks I have barely been able to string a sentence together without forgetting one of the key words. For example, when I was writing the introduction paragraph to this post, I completely forgot the word proactive. I sat here staring at my computer for several minutes trying to think of the word. Eventually I asked my wife, and we sat in our office going through possible words until something twigged. It isn’t always a difficult or foreign word that is forgotten. Yesterday I forgot dishwasherdrinkphone, and car. I know that we all have moments were we simply forget something, or our brains decide it’s on lunch, but when it happens with as much (like right now) regularity as it has done with me, I wish that I had my old sponge of a brain back, and the guys and girls from my Diploma of Nursing class will know what I mean.

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The other thing I have lost is my tenacity or drive. Previously I was beyond driven, I had so many things on the go at once sometimes I didn’t know how I got them all done. I was volunteering at Scouts, the Diploma of Nursing Society, the SRC, the SPARC, studying my Diploma, parenting, assembling painting and playing Warhammer, and working. By anyones standards I was busy. I know that to work at that level for too long can burn anyone out. There comes a point when you have to hit the breaks and slow down for a bit. I unfortunately didn’t do that. I decided that the only thing to do was keep going and try and pile more on. I have no doubt this lead to my brain applying the breaks for me. Now I work 8 days a fortnight, study my Bachelor of Nursing, parent, be a friend, a son, and assemble, paint, and play Warhammer. A far stretch from where I was six months ago. The issue I have is, I miss being busy, I miss achieving things, I miss making the area around me better. I have no drive, no tenacity, and no push to achieve almost anything. I find it distressing and depressing that I don’t have the same level of drive as I have had previously and I am scared that I won’t ever have it again.

A mindset that I have found to be creeping in is mediocrity. Too many times over the past couple of weeks I have uttered the words ‘Meh, that will do’ or ‘Ps get Degrees’. Anyone who knows me will know that is not an attitude I ascribe to. During my Diploma studies I strove be be the best that I could be, know as much as I could, and generally attempt to be all that I could be. This is the reason I was nominated for two awards, received a High Distinction in one of my first semester units of my Bachelor, and a Distinction average on the others. I always pushed harder and reached further. Now I can barely motivate myself to achieve the minimum I need to just achieve. I am sitting on a credit average this semester, may have just passed two essays, and have not undertaken any extra curricular activities, vice this blog. I do miss the thirst for knowledge, the little voice that yearned to know more, the attitude of nothing is good enough until you have done all that you can. Instead, I am left with an apathetic brain that can barely remember the word dishwasher, a far cry from where we were.

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How I actually go about cherry picking the best parts of my brain and behaviour from before treatment and then apply them to life now is still a mystery. Maybe the only way to have the level of tenacity and drive is to have the negatives that come with it, negative feat for a positive feat. Maybe I am now stuck with the brain as it is and I just have make the most of it. I find it distressing to think that I have voluntarily removed almost everything that made me, me. It is almost as if I have been changed from an A type personality to a B type. I know as many of you read this particular post you will be thinking of how much I still do, and how I am being too hard on myself. The reality is the one of the behavioural traits that carried over almost flawlessly was my ability to self analyse and subsequently tear myself to shreds. It’s not the healthiest trait, but it does help me improve, or at least identify fault. Where do I go from here? I honestly don’t know. I know I need to improve my drive, but not at the cost of my mental health. I know I need to push more, but not at the cost of those around me. One day I suppose I will find that balance, unfortunately today is not that day.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Waiting Game

My wife is 38 weeks pregnant, which means at any point she could spontaneously spawn a new little human, and I can’t wait to meet her.

My wife was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes early in her pregnancy, which  meant that we had to closely monitor her blood sugar levels and also change the way we eat. It didn’t mean the elimination of carbohydrates, but rather spreading them out over the course of the day. Every meal was allowed three serves of carbs, each serve being 15g of actual carbohydrates, and every snack having one to two. Having these smaller meals and less of the carbs meant that while my wife has been growing a little person inside of her she has actually lost seven kilos. Now, before you all jump up and down, the baby has developed beautifully and is a health weight, if not a touch bigger than average.

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Actually our Baby

One of the consequences of being gestationally diabetic is that the infant tends to be a little larger than average. Currently our little one is tracking above the curve, and if she was to go to full term could weight up to 8lbs and 9ozs or 3.88 kgs. Having said that, our obstetrician has advised us that providing my wife is fortuitous and her body is in a fit state, he would want to induce the baby at around 38 weeks. He says this eliminates the likelihood of spontaneous fetal death, which is great. This also means, to an extant, we can plan around the birth. We can almost pick a day, which for a roster like mine is fantastic.

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I am looking forward to being a father again, holding a small person in my arms, feeding, burping, rocking, and generally caring for them. I am looking forward to the smells and sounds of the cherub and the joy they will bring the house. I look forward to seeing them grow, and learn, and absorb, and change with every passing day. I look forward to seeing the smile on my wife’s face as she hold the little blossom we made together. I look forward to our growing family. Stay posted Ragers, there will be photos to come.

Maintain the Rage,

Luke Sondergeld

Terrible Twos

So my darling little girl, Darby, is turning two in a little under two weeks, and she is in the full swing of the terrible twos. Though she is by no short order the worst two year old I have seen, looked after or heard of, she is definitely pushing the boundaries and exercising her authority.

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Her behaviour shifted, seemingly overnight, from almost completely compliant and lovely, to rejecting ideas that aren’t hers, ignoring directions till the person giving them almost breaks, and generally behaving in a manner that is quite unlike her. Just the other day we were sitting on the couch watching Hey Duggee while she finished her yoghurt. She finished, or mostly finished, her yoghurt and decided that she didn’t want the container anymore, so summarily threw it across the room onto the floor, laughed, and went back to watching the show. Naturally I wasn’t going to accept this behaviour, so I took her off my lap, directed her to pick up the container and put it in the bin, something she has done hundreds of times before. Thats when the fight started. The NOs came streaming out of her mouth, the tears started and at one point a lashing out of the hands. I calmly instructed her to pick up the container and put it in the bin. After 5 minutes of back and forwards, and the threat of a smack if I counted to three, she finally picked up the container and put it in the bin. But then the real punishment began. She would ignore me, avoid me, not want to sit on my lap, give me a hug, or even look at me for nearly an hour. She would eventually get over it, and it would be as if nothing had happened, but dinner was around the corner and it would all soon start again.

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My advice to those who are currently going through what my wife and I are is, Patience. I know at dinner time when you have had the argument that the food on your plate is exactly the same as theirs, or that it is indeed bedtime, or that the white walls are not the same as the white paper, it can be difficult. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. They do eventually grow out of it, you will gain your precious little angel back. In the mean time, share the love, if you have a partner at home, tag team. When you feel at your end, tag in your partner. I don’t mean to threaten your child with If you don’t behave I’ll get Daddy/Mummy, as that only undermines one of the parents authority. I mean ask your partner to join you, and give yourself an excuse to leave, like the bathroom or getting a drink. Then let your partner start with a fresh attitude and refreshed patience.

If you do find yourself on your own due to fly-in fly-out work or other various reasons, remember your patience will already be thin, ask the child to step up and show you what they have pictured in their own head. If your child is set on the orange plate to match their spoon, they may not communicate it very well. So instead of yelling, try asking them to show you what they want, a child is far more likely to be able to point or grab at what they want then actually describe it.

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Stay strong and Maintain your Rage parents! Remember, you are awesome! If this is your first child, there is no manual for dealing with these little terrorising leeches that have been thrown into your family unit. If this is your second, third or tenth child, then remember that all children are different, so don’t rely on methods or techniques that worked with your others.

Do you have any tips or tricks from your children Terrible Twos? Any other advice for new or even the experienced parents? Please feel free to share it in the comments section below. Until Christmas Day,

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Placed Upon

Through out our lives we get called a lot of different things, whether by virtue of our job, by our loved-ones, our friends and those around us. These names, these titles, carry with them a certain level of expectation from the person giving them to us; it places us in a position that we may not fully understand ourselves.

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For myself, I’ve been called, and still am called many different things;

Each of these comes with their own level of expectation and assumed level of knowledge and understanding. It is a huge responsibility to accept some names, and for some people it can be what breaks them.

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When I was in the Navy, simply being referred to as Sir meant that I not only had an understanding of the situation being discussed but would have the answer to any questions and strategic oversight to know what to do next. In the same breath, when I was referred to as Mr. Sondergeld by a superior, that expectation shifted to a subservient role, I was expected be able to follow, blindly if needed, any direction that I was given to follow. Between my counterparts, my ship mates and those I served a while with, I was Sonny. The young officer who bent the rules when dealing with enlisted rates, took a relaxed outlook on most situations, believed that the best answers often came from those below, not above him, and someone who could get the job done, or at least know the guy who could. I was still just one man, one young officer, but all of these differing expectations and levels of understanding were valid.

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In our daily walk we often have differing levels of expectation put upon us, as a Father that is extremely obvious when a young boy starts the conversation with “Dad I want to ask you something” or when your little girl is standing at your feet, tears in her eyes, quietly sobbing and mumbling ‘Daddy’ with her arms extended. These are the everyday expectations that can break people, and we as a community need to support them and let them know its ok to not have all the answers, and know they are not alone.

There is also a change in our behaviour when these names are used, when we are called out by a particular appellation we respond in a particular way, like a child being referred to by First, Middle and Last name by a parent.

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My Son and I both participate in Scouts, myself as the Leader of the Scout section and my Son, who until recently was a Scout, is in the Venturer Section. I had a rule that the second we put the uniform on, I was no longer Dad, I am Bass. This did two things, it meant that he knew that he was on the same standing as any other Scout, and secondly every other Scout knew he was going to be treated the same. It was also a bonus for myself as I didn’t have to worry about trying to seperate my brain between Dad and Bass. The changes in behaviour between a Scout Leader and a Father are surprisingly subtle, both require finesse, discipline, honesty, integrity, leadership, quick wit, behavioural management and patience. The main difference is I personally have one Son and 20 Scouts. So the scale, and subsequent odds, are a little off.

Wife and I

In the relationship between my Wife and I, we refer to each other as Wife and Husband. To some this may seem odd, demeaning or detached. But we see it for what it is, a voluntary commitment to each other to the exclusion of all others till death do us part. I have referred to my wife as Wife in conversation with people who have not known the reasons behind our family tradition, and have been met with hostility, shock, and at times amusement. To me there is no greater pet name, than Wife, and nothing makes my heart sing more than hearing my beloved call me Husband. For us this works, for others, maybe not. But even this endeared name that we have embraced carries with it a level of expectation, that we will be supportive of one another, be a united front, openly communicate, place the other before ourselves, make time for each other, share, love and laugh together, but most of all Love each other. And that’s an expectation I don’t mind living up to.

Do you have a name that has been placed upon you? Something where the expectation is sometimes too high? Do you know someone who has a name bestowed upon them that they can’t live up to? Is there a name you don’t think fits? Write it down in the comments section below and share your story.

Maintain The Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Legacy

Last week I discussed Mentorship in my article Walking With where the idea of providing what someone requires to achieve the goal they have set is a kind of Patronage. This week I want to discuss Legacy. If we consider Mentorship as answering the question of How, Legacy is answering the question Why?

Legacy is what and who we leave behind to carry on when we are gone, in both the physical and mortal sense. As a Scout Leader I am imparting my collected knowledge and wisdom onto the Scouts in the hope that they take it with them into their lives and make their worlds a little bit better. As a member of CQUniversity’s SRC I try and leave the University a little better than I found it through culture change, policy changes and initiatives that better the Student Experience for all. As a Father I endeavour to teach, show and guide my children through life in the hope they won’t make the same mistakes I did, that they go further, do more and achieve their goals, just as my parents did for me.

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The creation of Legacy is less about planning and more about being responsive to the environment you are in. As a parent, the needs of my children change constantly. I can’t plan what they need to make their lives better. I can plan strategically by ensuring that I remain employed, feed them, ensure they receive a good education, and stay safe. But I cannot plan their career, their partners, their lives and where they are going to live. As a SRC member I must be reactive to the needs of the students, I can also be proactive and identify issues before they become problems for the students and the University. The Peer Assisted Study Scheme that I helped develop and implement was birthed from an inherent need the students didn’t know they had. I saw a void in the support structure of the TAFE students and endevoured to fill that void. This, I hope, will leave a lasting legacy on the University and the student body. When a student graduates feeling supported and feels empowered to go further with their study, I can stand tall knowing the legacy I left contributed.

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This whole blog, not just this post, is about Legacy. I share my stories, my life, my journey and my reflections in the hope that others will read them and make positive changes. I know people who have contacted me directly and shared how different posts have pulled them out of a tight spot, or steered their lives into a new direction for the better. That’s why I write, to inspire, to reflect and make real impact on people’s lives.

I encourage everyone to think about their Legacy and what they are leaving behind. If we don’t think of Legacy we are destined to leave either nothing, or worse a negative Legacy that is actually a detriment to the next generation. As a challenge, take a moment this week to reflect on what you are leaving behind and make a concerted effort to change it. Start living life selflessly for the next generation, start the small turns of the ship now before we run aground, make the world of tomorrow better today.

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What did you reflect on? What are you going to change about your legacy? Make a declaration today in the comments section below, who knows maybe your change will help someone else change their Legacy.

Maintain The Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Baby Lessons

There are numerous baby websites, books, journals, and magazines that will gladly tell you that there is a million things you should get for your new bundle of joy. Couple that with friends, family, mothers, in laws, outlaws and everyone in between, there is a lot of information to sift through.

With the announcement of My wife and I having our second child together, third in total, this week I felt it prudent to share some lessons learnt from the first one, Darby. I will cover the things that I Would do again and the things that I most certainly Wouldn’t.

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Would

  1. Invest in a decent bedroom fit out – Darby’s bedroom suite, graciously paid for by my Parents, was of a good enough quality, that we are actually able to pass it down to the next child.
  2. Buy Nappies, or diapers for our American brethren, in bulk – Quite frankly the 96 pack of Huggies that we were purchasing, sometimes felt inadequate
  3. Buy wipes in bulk – In the midst of a poo-nami you can never have too many wipes, they can be found in packs of nearly 400, and sometimes this doesn’t seem enough
  4. One Piece outfits – I WOULD BUY ALL OF THEM!
  5. Invest in a good quality Baby Car Seat – the one we bought Darby, well actually my parents bought this one also, is so good that we could use it for the new bub and buy a bigger one for Darby
  6. Teething toys/rings/jewellery – If the child can chew it they will, might as well make it safe for them
  7. Take regular photos – In the first 12 months of Darby’s existence I took something like 9000 photos, on my phone. I still feel like I don’t have enough
  8. Spend more time reading – I don’t feel like I have spent enough time reading with Darby, it is something I am currently rectifying but feel that I should have done more earlier
  9. Buy Nappy Poop Bags – These things are basically dog poop bags, for babies, and I tend to buy whichever is cheaper. When you child opens the back door to hell in their nappy, these things make it bearable enough to make it to the outside bin
  10. Feed my child Formula – We endeavoured so hard to make sure Darby was breast fed as long as possible, but you can’t squeeze blood out of rock, so my wife and I have decided this time we will go for as long as we can, and if thats 3 days before formula, then so be it
  11. Continue to Vaccinate my children – I will never not vaccinate my children, EVER!
  12. Let my wife spend more time at home – We were in a financial pickle with Darby, and as such my wife very graciously returned to work after 3 months. This time, however, we are going to try and have her home till the children are at least in school
  13. Let them eat dirt – Seriously there isn’t much in dirt that can hurt them long term, let them eat it
  14. Continue to encourage social activity – Spend time with other mums and dads, especially ones with children the same or similar ages, the children love the play and interaction
  15. Use a Bumbo earlier – These little foam chairs are amazing, supportive and encourage great posture. Sometimes I wish they made them for adults
  16. Heed this advice – There is plenty of advice out there, these are some simple things I have found with experience and common sense
  17. Johnsons Night time Baby Bath – Seriously, I don’t know if there is Nightquil in this or not, but it actually does what it says it does

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Wouldn’t

  1. Buy/use a baby monitor – Other than the fact that you can hear Darby from down the street, the monitor gave a false sense of security that was actually unnerving after a while
  2. Buy a huge complicated baby bag – They are heavy, expensive and complicated. Really a couple of nappies, a change of clothes and some food, you can fit that in any bag
  3. Buy a baby bath – Use the kitchen sink, child too big? Move into the laundry, use a Bumbo in the bath, they’re waterproof
  4. Buy any two piece outfits – Seriously the child is either going to be squirming, crawling or vomiting on the thing anyway, a one piece and a singlet is more than sufficient
  5. Try and dress for a fashion show – basically for the same reason as above, people may find it cute and adorable, but try changing a baby in a jump suit, that has no buttons, zip or other poop access
  6. Buy anything you can’t undo – if I have to remove something, or many things, to change the child, it’s too hard and needs to be thrown out
  7. Pack the kitchen sink – You can go to the shops for a five minute trip without anything, just the child and a rag
  8. Listen to all the advice – There is so much advice out there, if you try and do everything you will give yourself a hernia. However see point 16 of Would!
  9. Buy anything before the baby shower – Other than the fact you will no doubt inherit a lifetime supply of nappies and burping cloths, there could be something that you may not have thought of, or something that is expensive if not handed down
  10. Stress about people confusing your babies gender – My darling little girl has as much hair as George Costanza, and we refuse to dress her in pink. So naturally she gets called a boy fairly frequently, it used to bug me, but now I just laugh
  11. Try and see the child in the car – I set up an overly elaborate mirror setup in the car so I could see Darby when I drove, guaranteed she would roll over and knock it over, vomit on the mirror or otherwise ruin my plan
  12. Stress about whether or not she is going to wake up in the morning – SIDS is a real thing, and I know people who have been struck by it, so don’t mistake my words, but if you spend all night checking on your child every 15 minutes, you will be the one in hospital before long
  13. Fly with a baby – Unless I absolutely had to, I wouldn’t do it again

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So there is 30 Woulds and Would nots with the upcoming child. Do you have any hints, tips, tricks or Would and Would nots? Is there something you would move from one list to the other? Then add them to the comment section below. Or head over to our connect page and drop me a line.

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Maintain The Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Maintaining Boundaries

When I was younger, my parents, especially my Father, wanted to ensure that I was self-sufficient, self-motivated, but most importantly, self-disciplined. We all learn what is right and what is wrong, we develop a morale compass that points us in the right direction, the hardest thing to teach our children is how to read their compass and navigate by it.

One of the waypoints to self-discipline that I was taught by my parents was Boundaries.

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Boundaries come in many forms

We all give our children boundaries for protection from injury, shame, or from others, but our children, and others often see these boundaries as a fence to keep our children in, and not the harmful things out. These boundaries during the formative years of our children’s lives set the tone for years to come, if a child is allowed free reign in the first five years of their lives, they will grow up to believe that is normal and never respect any boundaries, whether at home, at school, work or beyond.

When I was a child my parents would set boundaries to allow me the ability to explore and learn, but to remain safe. They both allowed me to make my own mistakes, and learn from them. I remember a when I was around 13 years old, and we were on summer break. My parents were working and I was roller blading with the children next door. Before my parents left that morning they told me to be careful and not get hurt as we where going to the beach for a two week holiday that weekend. No where in their instructions did they say, no roller blading, no building jumps, no doing tricks, no restrictions, just don’t get hurt. So being the indestructible 13 year old I was, I built a jump out of bricks and plywood, set it at the bottom of a steep driveway and went for it. Needless to say my 12 hours of roller blading experience didn’t stack up to my ambition. I summarily landed on the right hand and fractured my wrist. Needless to say I spent the next two weeks of our beach holiday on the sand watching everyone else have fun in the surf. Lesson learnt the hard way.

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It wouldn’t be the last time I fractured either

I currently have two children, a 15-year-old son and nearly 2-year-old daughter. Both of them have different boundaries, not due to favouritism, or sex or behavioural traits, but because as we age and mature our boundaries need to grow. My two year old has a fairly tight boundary, she is allowed to explore most things, but she isn’t allowed to touch DVDs, nick knacks, rummage through drawers or cupboards, or play with things that aren’t hers. This is as much about teaching her that there are limits to what she is allowed to touch as it is about protection, as I am a nursing student and have all sorts of things that she could get in to.

My son, however, knows what is dangerous to touch and what isn’t, or at least I like to think so, so his boundaries are wider, and the expectation is that he himself would know what he can and cannot touch. His boundaries are now extended out to the point where he is learning when it is appropriate to use the things he is allowed to touch, like iPads, TVs, games and other distractions. We as parents don’t sit with him during his homework, we don’t do it for him, we only revise and give feedback if it is asked for. This allows my son to earn the mark he deserves, not the one I do. It also teaches him, sometimes slowly, that he needs to work before play.

The boundaries for my children will continue to shift and grow as they do. Eventually they will be removed completely, or at least as far as they are aware, to allow them check their compass’ alignment and decide for themselves what is good and bad, right and wrong, acceptable and not.

I still have to remind myself that my children are smart enough and strong enough to survive without a complete stranglehold on their lives. Sometimes my children tell me, painfully, when their boundaries are ready to be moved. Sometimes I move their boundaries too soon, at the detriment of their safety, their confidence or their trust. We as parents have to remember that we are still learning our craft ourselves and not to be too critical when things don’t go completely to plan. We also have to remember to set our own boundaries with our children; we are parents not friends, we are confidants not judges, we are to support our children and build them up not tear them down or destroy their self-esteem. Most importantly we need to let them know we love them no matter what.

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How do you Maintain Boundaries with your children? Do you feel that sometime they are too restrictive or not confining enough? Share your thoughts in the comments below and lets begin a dialogue.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Childhood Rage – Part Two

Continuing on from Part 1 that was published last week, I covered how my wife and I maintain boundaries and structure, push for improvement and love unconditionally, as a united front with both of our children.

This week I will be discussing how I try to, and sometimes don’t, hold it together when things don’t go according to plan. I will also be talking about how we are all human and lose our temper, but as parents we need to regroup and own up to those actions. And finally, I will cover how important it is to understand the children you love so dearly.

A quick shout out to Brian Gordon for the use, from Google, of the below image.

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Children will push you. They will look like little angels, playing in their room, smiles and laughter, then silence… fearful, fearful silence… then screaming, then finger pointing, then tears, and tantrums and kicking and flailing on the floor. Then, for no reason, a sudden declaration of hunger but everything you offer is not good enough, they then eat a bowl of dog biscuits, happily, and finally fall asleep face down in the dog bed. You may feel at this point, slightly elated, but you know sleep is fleeting and soon the small demon that lives in your house, that you named, nurtured and show off to all your friends as your little princess, will wake up.

Dramatic, I know, but a story that I am sure will resonate with a lot of parents out there. At times you have probably thought to yourself Do they do it on purpose? Do they just hate me? Did I do something wrong? Was it the salami I ate during pregnancy? I can assure you it’s none of these things. Children, like adults, have a fickle mind and can’t always articulate the ideas that are in their heads. I remember a moment when my daughter, only 18 months old, woke up and came barrelling out to give me a hug, I picked her up, go to give her a cuddle, then she started smacking me in the face while crying. So I put her down. She ran to the kitchen and began pulling all of her bowls out of the cupboard and throwing them everywhere. I assumed she is trying to tell me she was hungry. I offered her a myriad of fruit, nuts, crackers, cereal, toast, sandwiches and yoghurt. What didn’t immediately get denied and pushed away is accepted, placed in her mouth and summarily spat out in disgust. This then led to continued crying.

I was at a loss. I didn’t know what my daughter wanted, other than food, and it seemed that no matter what I offered it wasn’t good enough. Eventually, however, I managed to work out that she wanted the left over baked vegetables from the night before, which she saw go into the orange container, and I did not. It would have been very easy, and somewhat understandable, for me to have lost it during this exchange. I also know that there are parents out there right now who have had, or are having, moments with their own children and the just feel like they need to scream. But please, hold it together, they need you to be stable, understanding and nurturing. Most often the child doesn’t actually know what they want, or at least how to tell you what they want. And this goes double for emotions, a child will often bite or hit in frustration at a situation. So remember you are the parent, hold it together, wait for reinforcements, and tag out if you have to.

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Regroup and own up

My wife will be the first to tell you, I have a slight issue with my temper. I like to think that I am passionate and emotionally invested, which often manifests itself as an over display of noise and words. But I do. I get frustrated, annoyed, and quite frankly angry when I have repeated for the 437th time today for my son to chew with his mouth shut, or wash his hands after going to toilet, or not bite his nails, or to check both ways before crossing the road. I don’t always handle situations the best. I know my wife is not exactly Mother Theresa either. But we are only human, as are you, and we all have our moments.

I remember one faithful day, my son Joseph was simulating a once begotten herd of frozen snails, ALL DAY! I was trying to be patient, I was trying to be the calm, collected, cool Dad who gently reminded him to hurry up a little, and what chores he had left, and how there were only so many hours in a day. I even took a step back and allowed him to complete the tasks he had been given in his own time, within reason. After an hour, I decided it couldn’t hurt to go and check to see the progress of my son. He wasn’t even doing the jobs that had been given to him. He was playing, as most 14 year old boys do, and not really doing much of anything that would be considered constructive. And I may have lost my cool. I jumped up and down, I ranted, I raved, I yelled. I am almost certain children for three blocks thought they were the ones getting in trouble and stopped what they were doing.

It was not my proudest moment. I left him standing in the backyard after receiving a large dose of Rage Dad, and I walked inside with a loud crash behind me of the door slamming shut. My wife, God bless her, walked outside and very calmly instructed our son that it would be in his best interest to complete the tasks that had been set out for him post haste. I however, went into my room, and sat quietly and reflected for a while. I thought about how I acted, I thought about how it would have made Joseph feel and collected my thoughts. Joseph had still done wrong for dragging his heels the whole afternoon. So I found my son, gave him a hug which he begrudgingly accepted, I told him that I loved him, I apologised for losing my temper and we sat and talked about why I was upset, what he needed to do and how the afternoon was going to play out. I then reminded my son that I loved him, gave him another hug, and left him to his chores.

I am in no way a perfect parent, none of us are. The important thing to remember is, the words we say in anger can cut our children deep, as we often say them so impassioned that they believe them to be true.  They have to know that we love them, that we do everything we do because we want the best for them, and we need to apologise for behaving the way we did.

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Understand the children

As a nursing student we are taught about the developmental theories of the likes of Piaget and Erikson. These theorists describe stages that we all go through and what we achieve in these stages. Erikson for example talks about going through stages as being either successful and learning a virtue or unsuccessful and developing a deficiency. Erikson wrote for the infancy developmental age of birth to 1 ½ years;

If the care the infant receives is consistent, predictable and reliable, they will develop a sense of trust which will carry with them to other relationships, and they will be able to feel secure even when threatened.

The child will attain Hope if successful and Fear if unsuccessful. Now Erikson has himself acknowledged that his theories are more observational and general in nature then defining developmental truths, but the thought is the same. Most children will go through developmental groups, The Wonder Weeks group refer to them as Mental Leaps and describe 20 events in the early development of your child that will test you, but grow them.

As our children get older, they develop their own personalities, attitudes, feelings, ideas and moral compasses. We as parents may not always understand our children quirks, most of the time we won’t know where they developed that particular idiosyncrasy , but we accept them all the same. Our children are different and unique, God made them that way. Our job is to understand them, love them, and nurture them.

There are a myriad of tools to assist in understanding your children, three that I have used, or at least found to be useful are;

But as parents we generally know, instinctively, what our children are like. I know that Joseph is eager to help out around the house provided someone else is helping, he hates being forcibly isolated, he learns best when someone shows him, he hates being cold, he benefits from being told that you love him but responds best to physical touch and quality time, he likes to be included in what is going on, and is a stickler for time and structure. So get to know what makes your child tick, they are all different. I am still trying to work out my youngest, Darby, but I know if I keep at it I will find out eventually. I hope.
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To wrap up, try and hold it together, regroup and own up to your mistakes and understand your children. These three things aren’t the be all and end all, it is only just scratching the surface of how difficult it is to raise children and what we need to do as parents to ensure we not only survive, but make sure our children thrive. We need to continue to grow as parents, and to let our children know that we are all learning too, we all make mistakes and we all need a little patience sometimes.

If you have a story about your children and the tests they have put you through, or have hot tips of your own that you wish to share, write them down in the comments below and share them around and don’t forget to subscribe using the Maintain Your Rage button.

Maintain The Rage,

Luke Sondergeld

Childhood Rage – Part One

Following my post last week about how my wife and I Maintain the Rage in our marriage, my 15 year old son asked me why I haven’t written about him, and the joys of being a Dad. So here it is, Childhood Rage how I endeavour to raise my two children to be somewhat respectful, independent, useful and productive members of society, and how I Maintain my Rage when my best intentions don’t quite work out.

This topic is too much for one post, so I am going to split this over two weeks, this week will be focussed on what I do as a parent to achieve all of the things I mentioned previously, and next week I will go over how I regroup and Maintain my Rage when things don’t go according to plan. With that said, along with my wife as we are a united front, we maintain boundaries and structure, push for improvement and love unconditionally.

Maintaining Boundaries

Any good parenting course, book, blog or otherwise will  always talk about the need to maintain boundaries, to have rules in place, to be a parent and not a friend, and to know when those boundaries have become blurred or ignored completely. I know that from an outside perspective I can be seen to be a hard task master. A dear friend of mine shares a similar regime and he calls his a ‘Dad-Tatership’. Ultimately, I want the best for my children, I expect the best out of my children, just as they should expect the best out of me. I have a clear set of rules for my eldest son, who is nearly 15, including a chores list, do’s and do not’s, pocket money, and expectations for schooling. These are all outlined in a contract, which he signs, and we renegotiate every Summer Holidays. The rules and punishments he helps develop (that stops the fighting later on) and the expectations are listed by myself and my wife.

I run pretty tight ship, there is an expected bed time, there is an expected morning routine, there is the expectation that there is work before play, there is an expectation of manners and respect, and there is an understanding of knowing ones place. My son knows he can come and talk to either of us about anything, whether he takes that up is another thing, he knows we love him, he also knows the reason for the boundaries and expectations are to prepare him for the real world.

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I am a firm believer in no empty threats, if you tell your child If you do that I am going to kill you, and you don’t actually kill them, its empty, the child knows that you aren’t going to kill them, and therefore the assumption will be, they can get away with it. The threat of the other parent also doesn’t sit well with me either, as a parent you need to be able to discipline and control your child when needed, if you use the other parent as a threat or weapon the child is going to realise you do not have control of the situation and abuse it.

Words can be powerful for children, as can actions, the child needs to know that the punishment for breaking the rules isn’t because your angry, but because they did the wrong thing. This could mean the best course of action is to send the child away for 5 minutes to collect your thoughts and calm down, then go and see the child and calmly explain what the punishment is and why. It is also important to know what is going to allow the child to reflect on what they have done, a smack on the hand or tap on the backside can sometimes be the most appropriate punishment, but I know, for example, my son hates to be separated from people, and not be included in things, so the most effective punishment for him is to remove him form what is going on and leave him alone.

We have recently taken to the 12 Labours of Hercules as a punishment. The idea being he will receive a list of mundane, boring, but constructive tasks, like pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and washing cars, and have no electronic devices until the tasks are completed, the punishment will last as long as it takes for him to complete the tasks. If its a day, sweet, if its a week, sweet, the record to date is 6 weeks, for a task that actually only took two hours when he finally sat down to do it.

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Push for Improvement

First up I am just going to say, I don’t celebrate mediocrity, not with myself, not with my wife, not my children, not with anybody. If you complete a task as given, or complete something that is an expectation, like your job, I won’t celebrate it and tell you how awesome you are. I will thank you for completing the task, because acknowledgement is important, but no celebration. If you go above and beyond, or do something unexpectedly well, that will get celebrated. I expect a lot from myself, just as my parents did for me and themselves. This attitude is how I purchased my first home at 19, joined the military at 21, bought my second home at 27, and how I am now studying Nursing at University. I push myself to the absolute limit and expect nothing short of awesomeness. I am therefore going to expect the best from my children. Having said that, if they are just starting to learn the guitar and they smash out smoke on the water after 15 minutes, that gets celebrated, if six months later, they can still only punch out Smoke on the Water and haven’t progressed, I will start to push. If we push our children and expect better of them, they will continue to grow and flourish. Fight mediocrity and Push for Improvement.

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Love Unconditionally

I love my children, I love them when they are happily playing, I love them when they are quiet, I love them when I at my wits end and close to pushing them out of the car. I love my children. And that is unconditional.

Love, especially with children, needs to be that Agape Love, the unconditional, not matter what, kind of love. My children, God bless them, test me every day. My daughter just the other night pitched a fit because she was hungry, she pulled out of the cupboard what she wanted, pitched a fit because we prepared it for her, then pitched a fit because we served it to her, pitched a fit when we left her to eat it herself and finally pitched a fit when we ignored the previous fits. But I still love her. My son continues to push the boundaries between being stationary and moving. I have seen herds of frozen snails move faster than my son in the morning. I am perpetually frustrated by constantly telling him to chew with his mouth shut, or not talk with a mouth full of food, or do the simple tasks that he needs to do every day, like put on deodorant or comb his hair. But I love him.

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My children know that I love them unconditionally, even when I lose my temper and yell and scream, I love them. They also know that I am here for them no matter what. That’s what we need to be as parents – there for our children. We are not their friends, their play pals, or their life sized dolls, we are their parents. We are their protectors, their confidants, their guides, their sages, their fences around the play pen, the guardians in the night and shelter in the storm. We as parents need to act like it more often.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld