The toddler survival kit

It seems I blinked and now I have not one but two toddlers on my hands. With two boys, aged 3 and 1, I have certainly learned a thing or two about life with toddlers.

In no particular order, here are my must-haves for surviving life with toddlers.

A hand-held vacuum

Toddlers and mess go hand in hand. Get used to it. Meal time mess used to be restricted to the floor under the highchair but toddlers prefer to eat on the go. This means nothing is safe! The floors are constantly covered in crumbs, squashed fruit and week old sultanas. Don’t even get me started on the couches, walls and windows. Enter hand-held vacuum. You can easily whip that baby out and quickly clean up the floor, lounge or child’s lap without the fuss of a bulky corded vacuum.

A bubble machine

Kids LOVE bubbles. A manual wand type situation will work just fine but if you really want to up your bubble game and keep your toddlers occupied while you remain hands free, you need to get a bubble machine. These suckers can pump out hundreds of bubbles a minute all at the push of a button. Genius! Just be careful where you use this. If you are out in public you will very quickly attract all the children within a 500m radius.

A “beach” caddy

Toddlers require lots of crap. Yes, even more than babies if you can believe that. A simple trip to the park or family outing requires precision planning and packing. Between food, drinks, toys to keep them amused, changes of clothes in case of accidents or mess, hats for in the sun, jackets if it gets cold. The list goes on and on. One of the best things we have ever bought was a “beach” caddy from Kmart (hint, most of the things on this list can be purchased at this wonderful store). It folds up and is big enough to hold all of the crap and a kid or two as well. Every time I use this I get comments about it. God send.

Snacks… a lot of snacks

I never really understood the power of snacks until my second toddler. Toddler one can easily survive a week on nothing but milk and kinder surprises but toddler two LOVES his food (got it from his mama!). Snacks can be used for loads of different purposes including a diversion tactic, tantrum diffuser, boredom cure, oh and sometimes even for hunger.

A happy place

Toddlers are assholes. This is not new information. But if you’re like me you always thought that seemed a bit harsh. Nope. It’s true. Toddlers have a way of breaking you down. They may be small but they can make even the most mindful of mums lose their shit from time to time. Your spirit will break a little every time you have to wrestle a toddler to the ground to brush their teeth or drag them out from under the desk because they think running away and hiding from you at bath time is hilarious (or is that just me?). At some point you will need to walk away from your child, close the door and punch the air or scream into a pillow. Then find your happy place before emerging to try again. Don’t worry, bed time will come. Eventually.

There is never a dull moment with toddlers around that’s for certain. And though none of the above is ground breaking, life changing advice, hopefully it helps you to navigate the mine field that is life with toddlers whilst keeping a shred of sanity in tact.

What are your toddler survival tips?

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Parents of daughters: the dating my daughter but is getting old

I’m sure you’ve heard people say it. You might have even said it yourself.

You know, that inevitable comment made by parents of girls. Something along the lines of how she’s not allowed to date until she’s 30 or how Dad will greet her future boyfriends with a shotgun in hand.

This so-called joke annoys me so much! I know it’s just a thing people say and it’s meant to be funny and light-hearted but really? I mean what message is it sending our daughters and sons?

As a Mum of boys the insinuation that they will be somehow unworthy of dating these daughters or that they will be incapable of respecting girls and are to be avoided at all costs is insulting and ridiculous.

Admittedly, I’ve never been a teenage boy and I know there are a fair few douche bags out there. But there’s loads of parents like us doing our best to raise exemplary men. Men that will treat ladies like Queens. Men that any parent would be lucky to have as a son-in-law.

On the flip side to this, what about the girls? What is this teaching them about themselves or their male counterparts? That we don’t trust them? Or that they are incapable of making good decisions? Surely, we are striving to raise daughters who can make quality decisions about who they associate with and eventually date. I know if I had a daughter I would want to raise her to be confident in herself and her judge of character. I’d want to teach her to respect and value herself and trust her instincts. The attitude that boys are somehow the villain or are predators of girls is just unnecessary and damaging.

I know, I know, it’s just a joke. Well, I’m not laughing.

The Multi-Tasking Myth

In today’s world multitasking is king. Women are commended for their ability to have a million things on the go at once and men are teased for their supposed lack of ability to focus on more than one thing at a time. 

But is multitasking really all that it’s cracked up to be? 

I hear from many women, mum’s in particular, that it is utterly exhausting and quite often ineffective to have so much on our plates. Just the mental dialouge and to do lists alone are wearing us out. We’ve been raised to believe we can have it all; a successful career, fulfilling family, a body like Michelle Bridges and a sex life out of an episode of Sex and the City. But can we really?

Maybe we can. Just not at the same time. 

I recently read ‘Happy Mama’ the guide to finding yourself again by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz. In the chapter on Grace, Amy talks about the ‘multi-tasking trap’ and it really struck a chord with me. She dared to suggest that multitasking doesn’t work and that it was actually the “source of most of my meltdowns, most of my tears and most of my shameful mummy moments”. 

As Amy went on to give some examples, it was as if I’d written it myself. The times when I have lashed out at my husband or kids is usually when I’m trying to do too many things at once. Cook dinner, send business emails, show interest in my husband’s work day, soothe a hungry baby and make a bottle for an impatient toddler all at the same time. Not to mention the internal dialogue that’s constantly screaming in my head, reminding me to pay that bill, put a load of laundry on, text my friend who’s had a rough day and what groceries we’re running out of.

Arrggghh….just writing it stresses me out.

In the book Amy says that she learned to be ‘mindful’ (isn’t that the word of the day!), to be aware of her thoughts and focus on one thing at a time. Giving that moment her full attention. She goes on to give examples of reaching for her phone while breastfeeding instead of soaking in the special time with baby or reading a bedtime story but not actually hearing the words you’ve read, as your mind is too busy thinking of other things. 

I’m reading this getting all geed up. Yes! I’m going to be mindful. I’m going to focus my attention on one thing at a time. I’m going to be present and available for my children. And then a thought hit me. How the hell am I supposed to get anything done!?!

If I can’t read while I’m breastfeeding or send emails while cooking dinner or write my shopping list while playing with my toddler then when can I? When everyone’s asleep at night? Then when the hell do I sleep??

Multitasking might be the enemy and cause of our stress but maybe it’s the only way to fit it all in sometimes?

I don’t have the answer to this dilemma. And maybe there isn’t one. I suppose it comes down to what’s important vs what’s urgent.  

And what’s important to me is that my husband and children feel valued and not constantly battling for my attention. 

On that note, time to put the phone down and turn off the internal dialogue for a few minutes. It’s time to go give my big boy a piggy back and make silly faces at my baby to make him laugh. 

You know, the important things ❤️

My Pregnancy ‘Survival’ Kit

I am now well into the third trimester of pregnancy number two so I thought I would share some of my favorite things to use, do and have during pregnancy.

So, in no particular order here are some of my tips, tricks and favorite things for ‘surviving’ pregnancy.


Supplements

Now, it can be hard in those early days to just keep your breakfast down let alone a truck load of pills and potions, but optimum health is super important throughout pregnancy. Especially in those early days. I am a fairly avid vitamin taker anyway but I do switch it up slightly when pregnant.

I chose to take Nutriway. They are completely organic and actually contain food, plant and minerals; nothing synthetic which I love. Double X is my base daily habit to which I add Omega 3, Cal Mag (great for managing cramps and restless legs), Tri-Iron and Folic, Vitamin C (helps to absorb the iron and keep away nasty colds), Fruit & Veg (to supplement all the carbs and chocolate I’m inhaling) and Vitamin B if I need some extra energy. Admittedly, I haven’t taken Omega 3 since my first trimester because it was making me vomit… boo!

A Pregnancy Pillow

This is an absolute must! Now there are some super amazing, mega expensive options when it comes to maternity pillows. Mine however, is a humble body pillow that has seen three women through two pregnancies each so it is on its last legs. But it gets the job done. Perfect for supporting my belly as it grows and supporting my top leg to help keep hips aligned. It is a bit of an intimacy killer and takes up a fair bit of room in the bed, especially with husband, toddler and belly all fighting for space. But totally necessary for a good night sleep.

Exercise

I like to keep as fit as possible during pregnancy. I’m not a fitness junkie or anything but there are a few things I do to try to keep active (after all, it is all labour preparation!).

Obviously, being a post natal fitness instructor, Kangatraining is a regular part of my routine with two classes per week. I also do high intensity weight training (once a week is all I need) and I’ve done a bit of prenatal yoga which I’ll talk about a bit more later. When all else fails you can’t go wrong with walking, even if it’s at a snails’ pace and more like a waddle. I sometimes get cramps or braxton hicks when walking so I just take it easy.

Maternity Clothes

There are so many great brands out there now with gorgeous clothes for pregnant and nursing mothers. But some can be quite expensive. There are however, a few key pieces I rely on to get me through.

It has been a super hot summer here in Brisbane so my denim maternity shorts (one a cheapie pair from Kmart and the other slightly fancier pair from Jeans West) have been a definite wardrobe staple. I love a good maternity body con dress for when you need to dress up a little or just feel like showing off your bump. I have a casual one from Kmart and two from ASOS that are more fancy.

But I have to say what I have been living in the most is my Cadenshae active wear. The smoothie crop is so comfortable and perfect to double as a bikini top. And the bamboo casual tanks are the bees knees. Roomy enough to still fit my 33 week bump and easy to breastfeed in once bub arrives with extra large arm holes.

When it comes to active wear I also highly recommend the Enji maternity activewear pants and 2XU pregnancy compression tights.

Raspberry Leaf Tea

If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably heard about red raspberry leaf tea and it’s benefits as a uterine tonic. It is said that when taken during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester, it can strengthen the mother’s immune system, ease morning sickness and help circulation. It’s believed to also help strengthen uterine muscles and tone the pelvic floor in preparation for childbirth.

Now, I don’t know if any of that is true but I drank it in my first pregnancy and it served me well with a relatively ‘easy’ birth and no pelvic floor or prolapse issues so I’m doing it again. Mama Body Tea has a great range of pregnancy and nursing teas, or I’ve also used brands from a health food store as well.

Me Time

During my first pregnancy with Jesse I had the luxury of time and had regular massages and monthly visits to the chiropractor. While that hasn’t happened this time I still think it is really important to give yourself permission to take time out for yourself to relax and bond with baby.

I especially love prenatal yoga and listening to guided meditations or hypnobirthing audios (you can find them on Apple music). They are both beautiful ways to slow down and connect with the baby while learning techniques for encouraging a calm and positive birth experience.

A relaxing bath, going for a walk or just laying down and enjoying the feeling of baby move are great too. I also love Bowen Therapy and am looking forward to trying a float tank very soon. Sounds like the perfect way to ease the strain of a growing belly on tired, achy muscles.

All the food

After my pregnancy with Jesse I promised I would have a better diet the second time around. Not that I was super bad with Jesse but I did indulge pretty much my every whim towards the end. I think because food was such a turn off in the first 3 months that I was making up for it in the last!

Well, it would seem that I have broken my promise and chocolate has become a food group unto itself lately. But you know what, I don’t care. I’m still eating plenty of healthy stuff too and exercising. So bugger it! I will eat all the food and if that means chocolate on the daily then so be it.

So there you have it. A few things that help me enjoy pregnancy as much as possible and start to prepare for birth.

What are your pregnancy must-haves?? I’d love to hear what you couldn’t live without during pregnancy.

 

Dealing with the Realities of Aging

Let’s talk about getting old for a minute. Or more specifically, caring for our loved ones as they get old.

But first I’ll preface this post by saying that, although we both write openly and honestly about our lives; mostly our parenting experiences, I do admit to censoring what I write about when it involves other family members. In this case though, I feel it’s an important topic to discuss and one that might resonate with others.

My family is relatively young compared to other people my age. My parents are under 50 (just) and one of my Nan’s was a Grandmother at 34! But these past few months we have been hit by the realisation that our loved ones are getting older and the impact that can have on the rest of the family.

One of those times was the passing of Kaine’s granddad a couple of months ago. And although he was 96 and my side of the family is much younger, my family are facing struggles in this arena too.

Recently one of my Grandmother’s was diagnosed with dementia. Due to circumstances within the family I have found myself becoming one of the ‘primary caregivers’ I suppose you could say. I entered the world of all things ‘old people’ and found myself knee-deep in social workers, senior living options, care providers, doctors and having absolutely no idea what I was doing.

I want to help, please don’t misunderstand. I want my Nan to be taken care of, be surrounded by family and enjoy quality of life as she still has a lot of life to live.

But as I sat in a meeting with her newly appointed case manager and we talked about care plans and medical services and what to do if Nan gets lost almost as if she wasn’t even in the room, my eyes filled and my throat closed.

This is too much. It’s too overwhelming. What if I make the wrong decision. What if she gets so sad and lonely and confused she’d rather not live in this world anymore.

I already feel so full with an energetic toddler and a growing belly that will soon become a newborn, sending me back into the haze of cluster feeding and unbelievable exhaustion. I don’t know if I can do it.

But here’s what I do know. My Nan deserves to feel loved, wanted and cared for at a time when she must be so afraid and lonely. I honestly don’t care who’s feelings might have been hurt in the past by different circumstances within the family or who was at fault. She is a mother, a Grandmother, and has survived the passing of two husbands that she loved dearly. She’s a person.

Yes it’s scary and overwhelming. It might even feel like an obligation at times, a hassle. But I know in my heart that doing all I can to help is the only option. I can’t promise that I’ll always make the right choices or that I will be able to be available all the time. But I’ll do what I can.

I love you Nan.

xx

Irritating Things Dad’s Do Through The Night

I don’t know if it’s the same in other households but way back in the beginning of this whole parenting thing we agreed that I would be the main bearer of the night shift in our house.

And I’m really fine with it. Kaine gets up early to go to work through the week and my job is to satisfy the whims of our precious little one (who is now not so little at 16 months!).

However, that doesn’t mean I’m not driven crazy from time to time with the night antics that occur in our house.

With a child that has only slept through the night a handful of times, I am up at least once if not more every night. And there are definitely some things that Kaine does through the night that irritates me to no end.

Here’s a few irritating things dad’s do throughout the night. Or maybe it’s just my husband…

1. Sleeps. Yup, there is nothing more irritating than waking up for the third time in as many hours to feed or soothe a bub while husband sleeps soundly and blissfully unaware.

2. The passive-aggressive rollover. This manoeuvre is designed to let you know you’ve disturbed his sleep but he’s not actually willing to wake and offer help. There’s just a very loud sigh from his side of the bed followed by an angry rollover and tug on the doona.

3. States the bloody obvious. When the teething toddler is screaming blue murder in the middle of the night and no amount of pats on the bottom or cuddles can fix it, Mum begins to administer pain relief (which could only be made easier by putting the child in a straight jacket) when dad comes out in his undies, rubbing his eyes and says “why don’t you just give him some nurofen already”? If looks could kill….

4. Pretends to be asleep even when it’s the weekend. It wouldn’t be too much to expect that dad might handle the early morning bottle on a weekend right? Wrong! I’ll get up again shall I??? Oh, do you want me to get him he says knowing that you’re already half way out of the bed.

5. Complains about being tired. Um, excuse me? You don’t know the meaning of the word!

Like I said… It might be just my husband who does these things. But geez, on a really bad night I do admit to wanting to stab him in the (shut) eye with a fork!

And god help me, if he comes out in his undies at 2am in the morning again, directing me to give Jesse nurofen after another terrible night of trying to settle him and get him back to sleep, I may be driven to cut off what got us into this situation in the first place!

Okay, that could just be the sleep deprivation talking.

Or is it?

I love you, darling.

Let’s Talk About Internet Trolls

So let’s talk about online bullies… Internet trolls… keyboard warriors…

Whatever it is you want to call them, they are usually that pathetic kind of person you wouldn’t even waste a single breath for; who have nothing better to do with their time than hide behind the anonymity of the internet and post abusive and insensitive crap on social media platforms usually directed at a person or group of people and almost always to either feel better about their own pathetic lives or to get some kind of reaction out of the person to which they are directing their drivel.

Wow, that was a mouthful. Actually, have I just bullied internet bullies? Does that make me an internet bully?

Anyways, so what is it exactly we need to talk about in relation to these low life’s?

Well, for some reason, it seems we need to talk about internet trolls because people somehow seem to forget that they exist. And not only do they exist, they aren’t going to go away any time soon.

A few days ago a news article popped up in my news feed that caught my attention. A mummy blogger broke down on YouTube, after being personally attacked by internet bullies when a post she wrote about having a ‘quickie’ with her husband went viral.

While she has received hundreds of messages of support from fans since posting the YouTube video to her Facebook page, the reaction to the whole story has been mixed, with some people saying that if she can’t handle the abuse and negative feedback, than she shouldn’t share so much of her life online.

The author of the article even goes as far as to suggest that this mummy blogger shouldn’t be the one that has to put up with the horrible, nasty and insulting comments and that it should be the bullies and the trolls that are told to get off the internet. Come on… really?

Are we really that naive that we think we can just wave some sort of magic wand and make all online bullies and internet trolls disappear forever?

So with all that said, where do I stand on this issue… Well I’m sorry to say, I tend to lean toward those who are saying if you can’t handle the abuse from the trolls, than you shouldn’t be posting about your personal life online.

Let me just say at this point that this is simply my opinion on this topic. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to agree with. And I am writing this not having had to deal with online bullies or internet trolls ourselves.

But with that said, let’s just think about this for a minute. Internet trolls operate largely under a banner of anonymity. This means they can pretty much get away with saying whatever they want. It’s almost impossible to regulate what everyone does on the internet. When you post your private life to the internet, you are opening yourself up to both the good and the bad comments from others. And if you do decide to post your private life to the internet, you need to be prepared to handle any abuse and negative comments that are thrown your way.

Unfortunately, those are the cold hard facts. It may not be fair. But unfortunately, that’s the world we live in.

It’s like becoming a famous actor or musician and then complaining about the paparazzi chasing you everywhere. You put yourself in that situation. You have to deal with the consequences.

So getting back to the article. While I don’t condone what has happened to this mummy blogger on the back of her viral post, I find it somewhat hard to feel sorry for her due to the fact that online trolls are such a common problem.

Also, after reading the article and watching her video, I call bull s*** on her argument about not wanting to go viral. It’s pretty clear with the way that post was written that she was hoping it would get some sort of traction. And you don’t create a public blog if you don’t want some sort of popularity to enable you to make a living from it.

So what’s the solution? Well, we can’t get rid of internet trolls. So the best way to deal with them is simply to ignore them.

Regardless of whether you like her writing or not (I don’t personally but that’s just me), new blogging sensation Constance Hall has dealing with trolls down to a fine art. She just doesn’t give a f***. If she gets hate, she ignores it and moves on.

So I’m sorry you’ve had a rough time with trolls mummy blogger. But unfortunately, that’s the world we live in. If you believe in what your doing, just ignore the hate, and keep on going.

Because if we continue to let the trolls get to us, then they’ve won!