Emily Jade Mother's Day

Emily Jade: Foster parent training has begun

Foster parent training has begun. Thank you for your overwhelmingly kind response to my husband Gerard and my decision to foster kids in need. I was truly surprised by the love, luck and advice we received. So much so that it felt like I had announced I was pregnant. One of my mates even offered to throw me a baby shower! Being the kind of girl who celebrates breakfast I understood the lovely gesture, but I had to decline. It might be a bit inappropriate to celebrate receiving a child who, despite their poor treatment, would probably have preferred to stay with their real parents. Such is a child’s forgiving love for their parent no matter what they have done.

A few people mentioned in their letters and messages that they would love for me to continue to share my fostering experience. Being the over sharer that I am, I’m happy to oblige. The interest to most being that fostering is a world they hear about and often think about doing but are too scared to take the next step, unsure of how it will effect their lives. Honestly, I’m deadest frightened too, I have a very comfortable, predictable and organized life. But the longer I put off doing it, the more I felt like the meme that goes, ‘I love you so much I’d take a bullet for you, but, like, not one in the face or anything, maybe in the leg’. I was putting my leg forward for the shot but it was time for my whole life to be put on the line to show another little human true love.

So the assessment on Gerard, my home and myself has begun and I’m not afraid to tell you that I am a bunch of nerves. I’m not worried about caring for a child, I’m nervous about not passing the foster parent test to get a child in the first place. I feel like I am on a reality show, ‘So you think you can be a Foster Parent’. The steps and procedures Gerard and I have to pass in order to be approved make me worried the judges won’t turn their chairs.

The first step for any foster parent is ensuring the home is safe. Pool fence and fire alarms need to be up to scratch, dangerous chemicals out of reach and the bedroom and home you provide has to be adequate. No tucking them away under the stairs a-la Harry Potter type stuff. It has happened.

The judges, I mean care agency insisted in a phone call the day before they arrived to not go to any trouble for the visit, but I wasn’t falling for that trap! I scrubbed my house from top to bottom and back to the top again. You would have thought the Queen was coming for tea. All the best linen was on the beds, the toys neatly put away, and my fridge was so sparkly it was blinding, I nearly wore sunglasses just to get the milk out.

The irony was that by polishing the toddler height finger marks from the fridge, hiding all the toys, and sending Millie to Kindy for the day so it was nice and quiet I hid all proof that a child already lived here happily and never hungry. Despite the lack of parental evidence my home passed the pressure test. The judges deemed that my house is ok to house children, which is convenient because there is already one actual child who already lives there, ours. Next comes the battle rounds. Parent Training. Wish us luck.

Emily Jade is half of the Flan & Emily Jade Breakfast Show which can be heard week days from 5am-9am on 1029 Hot Tomato.

This piece originally ran in Bmag here:
http://bmag.com.au/families/parenting-tips/2015/08/03/so-you-think-you-can-be-a-foster-parent/

Parents holding baby

Emily Jade: Motherhood is boring

Lily Allen, I love that woman, she is one of my favorite stars. Not because of her music, which is quirky and meaningful, but because she tells it like it is and I love her for that.  On a French radio station she confessed that she came out of musical retirement because motherhood was boring. And I quote “I thought I’d be a really happy mum just sitting at home, playing with my kids, that was my dream. I love my children, but I’m a very impatient, busy person naturally. So two babies, neither of them can talk, it was quite boring! Staying at home all day talking to people that can’t talk back.

At first I thought, finally! A celebrity prepared to tell the truth. Her interview had me nodding in agreement and yelling hell yes motherwoman right on!

Yes motherhood can be really boring, and if I were truthful to you, and me and my child, besides needing money to you know, eat, I went back to work to get my brain working again. To reignite my identity after it got very very confused on maternity leave. To enjoy a HOT cup of tea in one sitting, not drawn out over 3 hours, interrupted every five minutes to put on Playschool, or wipe a bottom or wipe the crayon off the walls, eventually finishing it when it is dead cold and the milk has gone all funny on the top.

Love this drink, it looks like mummy is being responsible but it is actually called an “adult milkshake” nearly blew my head off!

A photo posted by Emily Jade O’Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on

I went back to work to get dressed up again and not wear the mummy uniform of jeans and t-shirt when I’m out in public and a tracksuit when I’m not. And of course I went back to work to afford said cold cup of tea.

But in all seriousness at the time, like Lily Allen, I thought I was bored with motherhood. I thought sitting on the cold floor of the bathroom for half an hour coaxing a wee out of my L plate toilet user was boring. I thought hearing her scream ‘watch me, watch meeeee, WATCH ME MUMMMYYYYY’ a thousand times a day only to stop, watch and see her spinning in circles for the millionth time was boring. I was bored trying to think of something interesting, nutritious and delicious for dinner each and every night that she would actually eat. And if I had to buy one more bowl of imaginary Weetbix from her $2 shop, (everything costs $2, even Ferraris, currency isn’t her strong point) I’m pretty sure my brain was going to eat itself.

Daddy? Is that you? As soon as she hears the front door click this is where she crawls too to see if its her dad. Adorable.

A photo posted by Emily Jade O’Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on

But then I went back to work, and all those little things I thought so boring, I MISSED THEM.

I missed her little face so proud of eating everything on her plate. I missed her learning a new dance move that progressed from spinning in circles to adding in some weird but wonderful hand flapping movement. I missed it when her $2 shop progressed to pricing things accordingly, a milkshake was $5 and a Ferrari $10. And as for boring, there is nothing boring about watching your child run to her daddy after doing a number two in a café toilet and hearing her inform him at the top of her lungs that she DID A POO DADDY in front of the 50 people sipping their lattes. So, after dissecting Lily Allens comments and perhaps putting too much thought into it I have decided motherhood isn’t boring, it’s far from it, what is boring is those that think it is because perhaps they are missing the little miracles happening in front of their eyes every single day.

No quirky caption, this is just a really nice picture of Millie and me.

A photo posted by Emily Jade O’Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on

Emily Jade is half of the Flan & Emily Jade Breakfast Show which can be heard week days from 5am-9am on 1029 Hot Tomato.

This piece originally ran in Bmag here:
http://bmag.com.au/families/parenting-tips/2014/02/26/miracles-witnessed-motherhood/ 

Soccer football

Flan: You want a real sports fan story?

Flan’s sport – 6:10 am on 102.9 Hot Tomato.

A big congratulations to the Socceroos who have had a successful week to move into the final stage of the something or other giving them a chance to pre-qualify to play off for a thing years from now.

“This is what the world cup would look like if it was full of money and Sep Blatter”

Trophy: © AGIF / Shutterstock.com | Sepp Blatter: © 360b / Shutterstock.com | Money: © visualdestination / Shutterstock.com

Trophy: © AGIF / Shutterstock.com | Sepp Blatter: © 360b / Shutterstock.com | Money: © visualdestination / Shutterstock.com

Our national side were expected to win but managed to defeat the might of Jordan handsomely to the tune of  5-1.

I looked at the score and got a shock.  5-1 is a whooping by soccer’s lofty standards.

A right royal hammering.

Unless, of course, the Socceroos played the actual Jordan, aka Katie Price.

In which case Katie did very well indeed, even managing to slip a goal through the Socceroos stretched defence.

Football Player: © Val Thoermer / Shutterstock.com | Katie Price: © Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

Football Player: © Val Thoermer / Shutterstock.com | Katie Price: © Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

You want a real sports fan story?

The Sheffield Shield final has been run and won by…..you know what?  Nobody cares.  If it isn’t Australia playing or a 20/20 match nobody gives a rat’s assets about cricket.

I talk from experience because God knows I’ve sat with five other people at the Gabba as Qld have battled away.  I didn’t talk to them I just assumed they were weird for being at the ground.  Me on the other hand….I just love cricket.

There’s nothing as sad as the caterer’s forlorn face in an empty Sheffield Shield venue.

He looked so sad I set myself mentally to singlehandedly make sure those Sheffield shield pies didn’t spoil.

I did it the old fashioned way too; I dug in and took it one pie at a time.

I’ve raised my fat to the crowd at 50 pies, kissed the emblem on my Aussie cricket supporter’s cap and said to myself “C’mon Flan, you’ve made a start, now go on with it.”

And so I did.  I kept my eyes on the pies.  Only to fall in the nervous 90’s.

These days I have turned my back on pies.  I’ve shed a few kilos and I play indoor cricket with a hopeless collection of desperate, winless, headless chooks.

Example: worst play of the day from last week; I missed the ball completely, the wicket-keeper caught the ball less than a metre from the stumps and I still attempted to run a single.  Indoor cricketers will know that’s about as easy as easy as walking on your hands across the M1 at 5pm Friday.

As I took off the wicket-keeper looked at me the same way my dog does when I read him Shakespeare.  Quizzically and sad.

My team is called Jesus Brian and this week Brian can’t play because he has to complete the last 20 hours of his community service.

However, it presents us with the chance to have our first win while the team’s namesake is away.  Poetry, man.  Poetry.

The Titan’s and the Suns have real challenges this weekend.  The Suns face the country’s biggest, baddest road trip when they take on Freo in Freo.

Word is when the Suns get home Flan’s sport locker will be the place to snavel free tickets to watch us beat the Carlton like dusty rugs.

It’s a lot to expect a win against Freo this week but a good fight is all a real fan asks, so have a dig, boys.

The Titans face a Wayne Bennett coached Bronco’s, a very difficult assignment akin to attacking a phalanx of Roman centurions by flicking your beach towel at them.

You’d have about as much chance as a paddle pop versus the sun.

Man with towel: © LifetimeStock / Shutterstock.com | Centurions: © alessen / Shutterstock.com

Man with towel: © LifetimeStock / Shutterstock.com | Centurions: © alessen / Shutterstock.com

Though this time there’s something a little different going on.

The Titans have shown a ton of fight this year (make you proud kind of grit) and are up against a Broncos team coming off a tough grand final rematch with the Cowboys.

We spoke to Bronco’s captain, Corey Parker, on Flan and Emily Jade for breakfast (1029 Hot tomato) and I was so over-awed I didn’t really register what he was saying.

My memory is Captain Parker said something like “The Titans will beat the Broncos this week and go on to win the Eurovision song contest.”

I thought wow, he needs a kip…or do I?

Whatever your choice of sport is, rip in.

Flan is half of the Flan & Emily Jade Breakfast Show which can be heard week days from 5am-9am on 102.9 Hot Tomato.

Millie Easter

Emily Jade: Our family Easter egg hunt last year

Our family Easter egg hunt last year inadvertently showcased the very different parenting styles of my relatives. My house won the rights to host Sunday lunch and as I have a small quiet park at the end of my street I decided the Easter Egg hunt could take place at this picturesque location. Unleashing 12 eggs-tremely keen cousins on this park made it anything but picturesque for a fast fifteen minutes of furious egg collecting, but it wasn’t the kids who were in heated and uncomfortable discussions, it was the parents as we negotiated what would be a fair hunt.

Millie was only 3 and was pretty much petrified of the big old Easter Bunny so it was my first time as a parent orchestrating an egg hunt and I had no idea there were rules to this magical moment. As the parents and kids descended on the park talk turned to hunt rules and making the collection fair and I started to wonder if it was an ALF game I was about to referee. Suggestions came thick and fast and all seemed reasonable, but for some reason didn’t sit comfortably with me. Suggestions like. •  Big kids have a 5 minute handicap before they can start so that the littler children have a chance before the older ones with more searching skills swoop. •  Each big kid to be partnered up with a smaller one so they can search together and share. •  Create a base and each child to return to it once they had collected 5 eggs and stay until all the kids have returned and then set out again •  Or it doesn’t matter how many eggs you collect, at the end they will all be shared out evenly despite who got the most on the day. Whilst I understood the motivation to be that no one child would miss out, or one have more than the other and to learn the art of sharing, mean old me decided as the umpire of the egg hunt I didn’t want to create an egg welfare system. It was going to be a free for all and who ever had the most won. My split decision motivation being ‘that’s life!’. There will always be someone bigger, faster, better and with more and even this hunt could be a lesson in life for our offspring. Not only that, but big kids eat more chocolate and each child would naturally collect the amount appropriate for their consumption size. AKA I didn’t want Millie eating her body weight in chocolate and then dealing with the toddler sugar high and nightmarish low.

My egg hunt style revealed that I fall in the category of parent that hate’s a gift in every wrapping of pass the parcel, not keeping the score in a 5 year olds soccer match, or kids getting certificates of participation when they came dead last. I want to arm my child with the reality of life, to learn resilience, to be happy with what they have, or work harder next time. Other parents in my group wanted to all hold hands and sing kumbaya…..or teach the art of sharing and learning to be fair. At the end of the day we all agreed that both were important lessons to learn but it was what unfolded during that egg hunt that surprised and delighted us all. With no rules in place at all the kids went hell for leather, but the big kids stopped and helped, and all of them shared at the end anyway. Sometimes we just don’t give our kids enough credit and we should.

Emily Jade is half of the Flan & Emily Jade Breakfast Show which can be heard week days from 5am-9am on 1029 Hot Tomato.

This piece originally ran in Bmag here:
http://bmag.com.au/families/parenting-tips/2015/04/07/every-child-shouldnt-win-a-prize/ 

Millie and Emily Jade

Emily Jade: How to hire an Au Pair

A few weeks ago my girlfriend reached out to me and asked for help. She wanted what I had and she wanted it baaaddddd.  “I’m drowning” she said. With 3 kids at home, a husband who worked long hours and a thriving home business, she was trying to do it all and wasn’t. She was suffering from The Rushing Womans Syndrome, except she never actually rushed to leave the house, or got out of her PJ’s. No use wasting time changing twice a day when you could just stay in the same PJ’s for 24 hours straight. Saves time and washing.

So she wanted my little secret to having it all……and that is…… an au pair.

When I first started back in breakfast radio after a year off with Millie it became pretty evident that the only way we could manage was to employ care within the home. We had exhausted all our family and friends help, and although they would have kept on helping us, I didn’t want Millie’s grandparents and godparents to start to view her as a job. I know that sounds strange but my mother-in-law, who took on the lions share, started to get that weary new mother look in her eyes. When it became a daily thing, it was all discipline and daily routine as opposed to that lovely grandparenty thing of treats and day trips.

‘Grandad’s are silly and Nana’s just love’ – Millie Valentine.

A photo posted by Emily Jade O’Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on

My husband and I then tried adjusted work times. He started work when I finished, but it meant we barely spent any time together because with my breakfast radio hours I would be heading to bed as he got home. I wasn’t going to go back to work if it put our relationship on the line, I’d rather be poor and in love. Daycare wasn’t an option either as nothing was opened early enough for us and it seemed silly to pay for a whole day when I finished at 11am and wanted to be with my daughter. So we opted for an au pair.

The Millie Whisperer. Our beautiful Au Pair @naemie_ we love your work!   A photo posted by Emily Jade O’Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on

She changed our lives. Like Mary Poppins floating in on her umbrella she was practically perfect in every way, I’d even go as far as calling her supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. A German girl on her gap year she moved in and became part of our busy family. She cooked, cleaned, loved and played with Millie and was really great company. I finally understood why men wanted to get married…..I had found myself a wife and it was bloody good.

These girls are going bananas. When a three year old hands you a banana and tells you to answer it, you do. @naemie_

A photo posted by Emily Jade O’Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on

I had a newly married glow and it was infectious, which is why my friend wanted what I was having. After helping her find a new wife……I mean au pair…..she suggested I share my au pair finding tips because inviting one into your home is a daunting task, it works well for some and for others it can be a disaster.

So here are my top five tips for hiring an au pair:

1) Make sure you are people people. If having long term guests makes you break out in hives, it won’t work for you. You need to love opening your home and sharing your lives with others. I treat my au pairs like an exchange student that works for you… I share my culture with them, and they with me, it’s actually really awesome.

2) Have the space. My last 4 au pairs all came from other homes. We called ourselves the AWL, Au Pair Welfare League. They all were promised a safe and comfortable space but arrived to be shoved in garages, working home offices or sharing a room with the children they cared for. That is quite simply not on. They are normally young women and they need a room to themselves to escape to, but also to give you some private family time. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just clean, quiet and somewhere they can fart alone.

So giant snow globes are a thing this year, really shaking things up for Christmas…. ?

A photo posted by Emily Jade O’Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on

3) Know what you need and write it down for the interview process so they can accept the job or not based on your requirements. Some of the feedback I received from my AWL girls was that they were not told what they would be doing when they got the job and found all they did was clean. I have an even mix of childcare and house care and I don’t make them do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

4) Stalk them. I found my au pairs by word of mouth and online. Au Pair World is pretty good, it’s like eHarmony for Au pairs and families. You both register and then find each other and do the dating dance. But my point here is to meet them somehow before you employ them, even if its just Skype. Show them your house and family and ask to see theirs. That will give you a rough idea on if you are a bit similar and if there will be any barrier’s like language. I totally Facebook stalk the hell out of my girls. It can tell you a lot, like if they like to wear clothes on a regular basis or can skull a pint in 30 seconds…….true story.

5) Rules Rules and more Rules. Have house rules, make them clear and then stick to them. If they break them, get rid of them. One of my girlfriends discovered her au pair was secretly drinking wine out of a metal water bottle while caring for her kids at 9am! She fired her on the spot, packed her up and paid for a week’s accommodation for her at a backpackers. Make the rules and if they break them, let them know the consequences. If they are going to drink on the job, at least share. Kidding…….no, really I am kidding. Only I’m allowed to drink on the job.

I hope that helps and if you have any questions fire away in the comments section because I honestly can’t sing an au pairs praises enough, they are the wind beneath my wings…….

Emily Jade is half of the Flan & Emily Jade Breakfast Show which can be heard week days from 5am-9am on 1029 Hot Tomato.

This piece originally ran in Bmag here:
http://bmag.com.au/families/parenting-tips/2014/06/18/how-to-hire-an-au-pair/