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Lifestyle

How to get your kids to eat more vegetables

5th September, 2018

Finding ways to get kids to eat vegetables is a constant challenge for most parents. I know it’s something that we have to deal with in our household on a daily basis, and finding new and creative ways to make vegetables appealing can become an impossible task at times. This is why I’ve enlisted the help of paediatric nutritionist and founder of Wholesome Child Mandy Sacher, who shared her great insights on kids nutrition on the blog a few weeks ago. Here she shares her tips on how to deal with a child who isn’t really big on vegetables, and how to make it a process that’s less stressful and more fun.

Create a “rainbow” plate

“Many children I see are repetitive vegetable eaters—meaning that they eat the same limited range each and every week. Whilst all vegetables are beneficial, the ultimate goal is to eat a diverse range of colours and groups to get the maximum benefit. We all eat with our eyes first, so it makes sense to engage your child visually when encouraging them to eat more variety. Encourage your little one to create their own rainbow plate, it’ll engage their imagination and will lead to a nibble or two!”

Include one new veggie a week—and lead by example

“There’s often a strong connection between children who eat the same vegetables each week and parents who do the same. Through parents expanding their own repertoire, children will have an opportunity to see and taste a variety—and watch their parents enjoying the broader range, too!  Try salad veggies, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and starchy vegetables like pumpkin or sweet potato.”

Don’t forget beans and legumes

“Beans and legumes are our most nutritious plant foods. Rich in proteins, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, fibre, minerals and phytochemicals. Hummus, lentil soup, bean stews and chickpea falafels are a fantastic way to introduce legumes to your child. Try kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas and lentils. For canned varieties, look for BPA-free cans wherever possible and rinse well beforehand to reduce sodium levels.”

Include sea vegetables

“Due to its high calcium content, seaweed strengthens bones and teeth. It’s also high in iron, has antimicrobial properties and is a good source of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre which helps prevent constipation.

Nori, rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C as well as iodine also contains protein. Use it for sushi, shred it over salad or create veggie-filled seaweed wraps filled with julienned carrots, cucumber, shredded chicken (or protein of choice) and avocado. If your child likes the seaweed snack packs that are commonly found in supermarkets, seek out varieties that are free from additives such as MSG or added sugar.”

Remember to use fresh herbs and spices 

“Basil is packed with essential oils which are known to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Use in tomato-based pasta sauces, sprinkle on pizza and mix into rissoles. 

Mint soothes upset tummies and improves digestion. Chill mint tea with a dash of raw honey or add fresh mint leaves and orange slices to water and serve in place of juice. 

Oregano is often used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and urinary tract disorders.  Add to chicken, lamb or beef dishes. 

Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins and keeps the immune system strong, tones the bones and heals the nervous system.  It also helps to flush excess fluid from the body and support kidney function.  Add to smoothies, chicken soup and pasta sauces.

Spices – as well as adding flavour, spices such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are packed with nutrients too. Add turmeric and ginger to chicken soup, sprinkle turmeric on cauliflower and add cinnamon to pumpkin and butternut squash.”

Create a veggie patch

“Children love planting seeds, watching them grow, and eventually harvesting what they have planted. It’s the best way to help them make the association between earth to plate, and to engage their curiosity about different varieties of vegetables. If outdoor space is limited, start off with herbs such as basil or oregano, or better yet get involved with a community garden.”

Shop for and cook vegetables together

Encourage your children to touch, smell and engage with their food.  Let them help with grocery shopping and encourage them to pick up new vegetables from the shelves and place them in the trolley themselves – this begins the engagement with the new food.

Little ones tend to be more willing to eat what they’ve helped to prepare and it’s important for them to be exposed to vegetables in their raw state and to understand how the texture and look of a vegetable changes when it’s cooked. Get them involved by asking them to peel carrots and potatoes (using kid-friendly graters), cutting lettuce with a plastic knife or adding grated vegetables to muffin batter.

It’s important for parents to be patient and to recognise that change is often slow with children.  Don’t be disappointed if they don’t eat the new vegetable or food the first time it’s offered – stay positive and freeze what’s not eaten and offer it again – persistent repetition is key here.”

What are some creative ways you’ve used to encourage your kids to eat more vegetables?

Lifestyle

Celebrating Father’s Day

2nd September, 2018

Celebrating Father’s Day every year is always special for the girls and I as we get to spoil Luke and honour the wonderful father that he is.

I always knew that Luke would be a natural at parenting but he never ceases to amaze me with just how made for fatherhood he is. He’s always extremely hands-on with the girls and is always the one to play silly games with them, read to them and do everything he can to put a smile on their face. Also, I am constantly thankful for how easy it is to parent with Luke—we’re constantly on the same wavelength with how to raise the girls so we never really ever have issues with how to approach it. I know this isn’t always the case with everyone so I’m always thankful that I get to go on this crazy journey of parenthood alongside Luke.

As the girls get older it’s nice to see that their relationship with their dad just gets stronger. They’re always wanting to chat to Luke or show them their latest toy or invite him to play with them and I hope that this bond is something that continues to grow. I can already see that Sophia and Grace will be as close to their dad as I am to mine which makes me so happy.

I would celebrate Luke every day of the week if I could but it’s nice to have one day which is dedicated to acknowledging all that he does for our little family. We’re certainly going to spoil him today! And for all the other dads out there I hope you also have the most wonderful day.

Lifestyle

Reader Question: How do you deal with jet lag and colds when travelling with kids?

29th August, 2018

I absolutely love hearing from all of my readers especially when it comes to receiving questions whether they be about fashion or parenting or just a beauty question that you’ve been dying to know the answer to. I received the below question from Elizabeth in the comments section of this particular blog post about travelling and I was excited to see it as it’s a topic that I’m sure other parents out there can relate to (especially if you’re about to go overseas on a family trip). If you ever want to submit a question for my reader Q&A don’t forget that you can do so by leaving a comment, contacting me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

“I see you travel a lot with kids – how do you keep them away from catching a cold on the plane and also what are you tricks for jet lag?” – Elizabeth

We all know that planes are absolutely full of germs and my kids have been known to catch a cold on them in the past so I now try and do as much as I can to stop it.

The first thing I do is around two weeks before we go away I give the girls probiotics. I use the powder form and just pop it in a drink for them. Alternatively you can also buy chewy gummy ones if your kids would prefer a lolly to a drink. I continue this ritual during and after travelling to help boost their immune system as much as possible.

When we’re actually in transit I am quite militant about using hand sanitiser on the plane and also washing the girls’ hands regularly. You just never know what they’ve touched so I prefer to err on the side of caution and just keep their hands as clean as possible. Also I tend to rug them up as planes can get chilly and I make sure to give them lots of fluids.

In terms of jet lag (which can be quite torturous when you’re travelling with children!), I just try and get them into the local time zone as quickly as possible so we can get them back into their regular routine as soon we can (with an hour or two leeway). This sometimes means that I will need to wake them up when they are still tired but I have found they always bounce back pretty quickly. There’s always going to be an adjustment period but if you get onto it straight away they’ll generally be on local time before you know it. And of course, you start the process all over again when you get home.

Travelling with kids is admittedly a lot trickier than when you’re sans children but it’s all so worth it when you think of all the happy memories you create while you’re away.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me? Just pop it in the comments section below and I’ll answer it soon.
Fashion

A paediatric nutritionist shares her tips for how to make prepping healthy kids meals easier

15th August, 2018

Mandy Sacher is a paediatric nutritionist and founder of Wholesome Child and she’s here to making kids and healthy eating work a little more seamlessly together. I sat down with Mandy for a chat about how to prepare nutritious meals when you’re time poor, the pantry staples every parent should have on hand and her quick and easy go-to meals for every meal of the day including snacks. If you’re scratching your head about what to feed your children for dinner tonight then read on because there are plenty of amazing ideas up ahead…

Parents are generally time poor so may not always have the time to prepare healthy meals for their children. What are some of your tips for making the process a little easier?

This is a topic that often comes up in my workshops and with clients in my clinic.  We are all incredibly time poor—so it’s an understandable pain point for families who are keen to improve their nutrition sustainably and achievably.

Batch cooking freezer-friendly meals and snacks to have on hand goes a long way towards saving time, stress and money!  A few hours of prep on a weekend will soon result in a freezer filled with nutritious, homemade ‘convenience’ food like spaghetti bolognaise and beef and veggie meatballs. I also suggest making a little extra each time you cook – for instance, when roasting vegetables or steaming cauliflower, save portions for the next night’s dinner or for use in other recipes.

Planning ahead is also crucial to success and ensuring that you have the right ingredients on hand. My book contains a range of different meal planners which is designed as a practical guide for busy parents. Getting the family and kids involved in the planning, shopping and cooking process is another top tip.  Not only will it be a great way to spend quality time together, the family will feel included and more engaged with meals and fussy little eaters will be more likely to sample something that they have helped prepare (which is always a winner!)

What’s your idea of a healthy meal for kids? What should be on their plate?

Typically, I encourage meals to be varied, whole foods based and most definitely looked at as more than something to simply fill little tummies – rather it’s an opportunity to support healthy growth and development, improve their ability to concentrate and boost energy levels for physical activities.

Meals should contain a serve of quality protein, one to two serves of a slow-release carbohydrate, two to three vegetables (aim for a variation of colours for maximum phytonutrient benefit), a single serve of a healthy fat and a calcium-rich food. Include little ones in menu planning and involve them in the shopping and preparation – these are great ways to encourage enthusiasm and give them an element of limited choice. I generally recommend that fruit be included as a morning or afternoon snack, to keep blood sugar levels in check.

I’m quick to advise parents that fruit shouldn’t be used as a substitute for veggies – a topic that my book goes into detail around.  Vegetables are nature’s insurance policy against disease and so it’s worth persisting with encouraging vegetable intake (as challenging as it may be!).  Setting children up with a genuine appreciate of whole foods and vegetables is so important.

What are your top 5 healthy go-to…

Breakfasts:Pumpkin Spice Porridge , Scrambled Eggs with Leftover Veggies, Strawberry Beetroot Smoothie, Pumpkin, Banana and Cinnamon French Toast and nutritious Homemade Granola (I feature a few different recipes in my book)

Lunches: I’m a big fan of using leftovers for lunches – or dishes that have been bulk cooked and repurposed.  Recipes like my Beef and Veggie Meatballs, Mini Salmon Quiches and Chickpea and Pumpkin Patties are ideal for this. Other great additions include: Broccoli Tots and Zucchini Crackers alongside some homemade tzatziki or some versatile veggie dipping sauce.

Dinners:Healthy Mac ‘n Cheese, Easy Fish Curry, Cheesy Cauliflower Pizza, Chicken Drumstick Casserole and Coconut Lamb Meatloaf.

Snacks:Trail Mix 4 Ways, Veggie sticks and crackers with Beetroot Hummus or Butternut Hummus, Tahini Carrot & Date Bliss Balls, Cheesy Polenta Chips and Apricot Coconut Muesli Bars.

What are some big issues that arise if a child isn’t on a healthy diet?

Little ones have very precise nutritional needs given their intense phases of physical and cognitive development.  Deficiencies in core nutrients like protein can lead to poor muscle tone and development as well as fatigue. A low intake of iron rich foods can lead to anaemia, the most commong nutritional deficiency in childhood. Low levels of healthy fats in the diet can impact brain development and hormone levels.

A high fibre diet rich in whole grains and a diverse range of vegetables helps to ensure healthy immune function, gut health along with the alleviation of other unpleasant elements like constipation.  It’s no secret that diets high in processed refined sugars and salts are detrimental – for both children and adults.  Numerous scientific studies and research have linked obesity, disease and concentration issues to these unhealthy and imbalanced diets. Educating little taste buds early on to appreciate whole food in its natural state, free from additives, flavourings and preservatives go a long way towards training children to enjoy healthy food.

What’s one easy standby meal parents can turn to if they have to get dinner on the table in a short amount of time but haven’t really had time to prep?

Cheesy Cauliflower French Toast with Mushrooms is a great option and a fun way to get the kids involved.  It’s packed with nutrition, quick and easy.  Its versatility means that the mushrooms could be substituted for other vegetables like asparagus, pumpkin, or sweet potato.

What are some food staples all parents should always have on hand?

Fruit and vegetables: Aim for a good mix of colours to maximise the phytonutrient benefits and go for organic wherever possible (especially for produce you plan to eat with the skin on). Ready chopped veggie sticks and fruit stored in containers in the fridge make the perfect snack and lunch box addition. Going with what’s in season is often a good choice and don’t forget to include fresh herbs and spices like mint, basil and ginger. They are packed with essential oils and nutrition.

Dips, sauces and spreads: A selection of on-hand sauces like Homemade tomato sauce and dips like Tzatziki and vegan Beetroot Hummus are a versatile option to enjoy in sandwiches or with flatbread chips or veggie sticks. Betta than Nutella Chocolate Spread is a healthy alternative to commercial chocolate spreads and homemade almond and cashew nut butters are also a great option.

Dairy and non-dairy: Great options include almond milk, coconut milk and cream, organic A2 milk, unsalted butter, unsweetened natural yoghurt (cow, goat, sheep), homemade coconut yoghurt., good quality cheeses (organic where possible) – cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, gouda and ricotta.

Protein: Protein tends to be a common nutrient missing from little ones’ diets so try to pack your fridge with as many different sources as possible. With meat, go for grass-fed and organic wherever possible. My book and website feature a range of recipe inspirations.  Fish is among the best natural source of omega-3s, so try Atlantic mackerel, cod, flathead, trout or snapper. Wild or organic salmon fillets are perfect for San Choy Bow, rissoles and mini quiches. Organic eggs are a nutritious and versatile option to always have on hand, as are a wide selection of nuts and seeds like almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia, pine nuts, chia, flax, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Ideal for adding to salads or using in trail mix for an instant boost of protein and healthy fats.

Snacks/biscuits/bread: Pack the pantry with delicious and nutritious alternatives to sugar-laden biscuits such as my Apricot & Coconut Muesli Bars, Gluten Free Honey and Coconut Biscuits and High Protein Peanut Butter Biscuits.  On the topic of bread, I believe that making the switch to a high quality whole grain option is one of the most important changes you can make to your family’s diet.

How can parents teach their children to establish healthy eating habits?

Positive role modeling is one of the most important and powerful influencers in a child’s healthy eating habits.  Little ones are sponges for information and are incredibly impressionable.  Seeing their other family members enjoying healthy wholefoods, celebrating their health, their bodies and discussing how important wellbeing is, are all crucial. In addition to this, being involved in food preparation processes and knowing to expect nutritious foods at snack and mealtimes will guide them on a lifelong path of health and wellbeing. It’s definitely more of a marathon than a race!

To learn more about Mandy Sacher please visit the Wholesome Child website. Her book “Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook” is available to purchase online and through iTunes, and you can connect with Mandy on Instagram and Facebook.

Fashion

How to nail practical and stylish dressing as a mum

30th July, 2018

One of the most common questions I receive is how to build up a great mum wardrobe. I’m sure a lot of mums out there will agree that dressing when you’re looking after a tiny human is all about comfort and wearability. I can’t be wearing anything too fussy when I’m with the girls as I am often running after them, playing in the park or just generally on the go so I’ve got to be comfortable. Over the years I feel I’ve managed to really nail the key pieces that make my outfits cohesive and allow me to get dressed with minimal fuss. Here are some of my musts…

Have go-to pair of sneakers

I spend my life in sneakers whether it’s paired back with a dress or jeans and a tee. A pair of classic white sneakers is a must and is a worthwhile investment as it can work back with so many outfits. They’re ideal for those days when you’ve got a packed schedule with the kids and need to be comfortable.

Invest in great outerwear

During winter I often rely on my jackets to change up the look and feel of what I’m wearing. If I’m purely relaxing with Sophia and Grace then I have a puffer jacket I pop on as it’s casual and warm. However if I need to look smarter I often put on a nice coat or a blazer to help dress things up a little. The thing with outerwear is I can be wearing the same thing underneath— so jeans and a tee for example and changing up the jackets can instantly change the vibe of my ensemble.

Take the dress shortcut

Dresses have got to be the easiest thing a mum can have in her wardrobe. I just pop on a dress, pair them with sneakers and then I’m pretty much ready to walk out the door. They’re great for when I need to get dressed in seconds and don’t have much time to fuss around (which is pretty much every day.)

Look for pocket details

I love clothes with pockets. Since the girls are getting older I don’t need to bring a baby bag with a million things which is why I tend to gravitate towards coats and jeans with pockets. If we’re not going out for long I don’t need to pack a massive bag, and I just pop my key essentials in one of my pockets and I’m set.

Go for hands-free bags

Backpacks and crossbody bags are a huge trend and they’re a godsend for mums. I often opt for either style when I’m out with the girls as it leaves my hands free (this is ideal as most mums can attest you never know when you’ll need to stop someone from running off or need to wipe someone’s hands). I’ve invested in a quality leather backpack and crossbody bags as it can withstand the daily wear and tear that running around after two kids can bring. A simple neutral colour such as black, grey and navy is perfect as you can match it with virtually everything in your wardrobe.

Take the easy way out when it comes to fabrics

I love the feel of luxe fabrics like cashmere and silk but when I’m on mum duty they stay at home. I will always wear easy wash and wear items made of cotton or wool as I’ll invariably end up with something on me so need to be able to clean it off quite easily.

Build up a staple collection of pants

I’ve found that by building up my collection of comfortable pants— so think things like jeans, leather leggings and casual lounge pants— it has made getting dressed every day easier. I can pair them back with my trusty t-shirts or jumpers and I’m set.

Ensure you have a healthy supply of tees and sweaters

I’ve found that anything I can easily throw on (that doesn’t need ironing) makes getting dressed so much more straightforward. I’ve got a good range of t-shirts and sweaters in practical neutral colours that I can rotate every day. I’ve made sure that my tees and sweaters can work back with everything in my pants collection and vice versa so I don’t have the added layer of complexity of trying to figure out what to match with which.

What are some of your favourite wardrobe essentials as a mum?

Fashion, Lifestyle

The toddler essentials I can’t live without

18th July, 2018

Once we graduated from the baby stage into the toddler phase with Sophia, all of a sudden we had a whole new set of concerns to contend with. From wanting to jump out of bed a little too early to toilet training, she was all of a sudden in a new stage of independence that saw us having to adjust accordingly. We slowly discovered some handy gadgets and additions into our home that made things a little easier. Now Grace is about to enter into the same phase, we’re going back to these tried and tested favourites to help us once again. If you’ve got a little one that’s around the same age I highly recommend checking out the below. I always love it when other mums recommend things to me that they’ve found successful with their own kids so hopefully there’s something in the mix that might help you out too!

 

Sam the Sheep clock

This was a lifesaver with Sophia and I’m about to use it with Grace. It really helped Sophia as often she would wake up early and not know what time it was and just automatically get up even if it was 5am. But with the Sam the sheep clock, if the sheep was still asleep she would know that it was still bed time and would usually resettle herself. I’ll often still use the clock with Sophia if we’ve been overseas and she’s a bit jetlagged and is waking up too early or if she’s just a little out of her routine and I need to reset her wake times.

Image via Pillow Talk

Brolly sheets

When Sophia was being toilet trained these were super helpful with overnight sleep and any potential accidents. You just lay them across the bed (like a towel) so if there is an accident through the night you could quickly rip off the top layer and not have to change a full bed.

I still use them if either child has a vomiting bug as they can be used the same way and it means I don’t have to fully disturb them and remake the whole bed. I will definitely be using them again when Grace is ready to be toilet trained.

The Original Learning Tower

Grace is using this now and it’s such a great addition to our kitchen. It’s a little step that allows her to climb up so she’s at bench level and can be part of the action. Whether she uses the bench space for snack time or play time, she can just climb up whenever she wants. It’s adjustable too so she’ll be able to use this little step till she’s six. This is especially great if you love having your kids get involved in cooking or baking.

Image via Target Australia

Bed rails

It can be a big adjustment going from a cot to a big bed and I found these to be a great way to ease a little one into the transition. Grace is still in her cot but Sophia used these when transitioning into a bed and it made her feel safe and secure so we will be getting them out again when the time comes.

Tell me—what are some of your toddler essentials?

Lifestyle

15 of my fave children’s books to read to Sophia and Grace

4th July, 2018

My kids love books—especially Grace who can’t get enough of them. We’ve always read to our girls from a young age and storytime is always one of the highlights of our day. There are so many brilliant kids’ books out there and whilst we always try to read a range to Sophia and Grace, we’ve definitely got a firm list of favourites that we turn to time and time again. The girls are at a great stage now where Grace is at the age where she’s enjoying the same books as Sophia so this makes bedtime reading even more fun as we can do it together, and both of them are engaged.

So what books do we like reading? Well, I’m sure a lot of parents will agree with this but a rhyming story is always a hit. My girls love them. It’s also quite fun to read them as well so it’s a win-win situation. However generally anything with animals, beautiful illustrations or just a really great fun story is always a favourite in our home.

At the moment there’s currently a rotation of about 15 books that will always get pulled out a bedtime. In fact we read them so much I’ll probably be able to recite every word without looking pretty soon! It’s always such a beautiful ritual to end the day by reading to Sophia and Grace and it’s something that I hope will continue for many more years to come. If you’re currently looking for a new storytime read, I highly recommend the following books, which have mine and my kids’ tick of approval.

Claris the Chicest Mouse in Paris by Megan Hess

This is currently Sophia’s favourite book. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story is fantastic with a great lesson.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

This is one of the best rhyming stories for kids, full stop. It’s a clever story about a crafty mouse outsmarting a snake, a fox and an owl along with the Gruffalo himself. It’s an enjoyable read for the whole family.

What the Ladybird Heard Next by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks

The author Julia Donaldson can always be called upon for a great kids’ read. This is about a ladybird outsmarting robbers with the help of her farmyard friends. And hey, there’s glitter on every page so it’s a definite crowd pleaser.

Princesses Wear Pants by Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim

This story has a great lesson about staying true to yourself and is especially great if you’ve got kids going through a princess phase as Princess Penelope Pineapple is not your typical damsel in distress. She’s intelligent, adventurous, driven and is a great role model. Oh and the story rhymes so double thumbs up!

Sugarlump and the Unicorn by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks

Anything unicorn-related is always a hit with my girls and this one is about a little rocking horse who has his wish granted to become a real horse. However he realises that maybe his old life wasn’t so bad after all…

Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss by Mandy Sutcliffe

This is a great read at bedtime because the it follows Belle, a little girl and her bunny friend, Boo as they go through their night routine from bath to story and goodnight kiss, so it resonates well with young kids.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Another great rhyming tale by the pair behind The Gruffalo. This one is about a witch and the adventures she has with all her animal friends in the forest, with a great message about friendship.

I Don’t Want to Eat My Dinner by David Cornish

If you’re currently experiencing issues with your little ones eating their meals at night (or any other time of day for that matter) then this book is a must-read. It’s all about a young boy named Rollo who manages to make dinner time one of the most exciting times of the day.

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

This a funny read, with great illustrations and a really engaging character—what kid doesn’t love a dog? It’s one of those books that both adults and kids will enjoy.

The Very Ordinary Caterpillar by Garry Fleming

Set in the Australian bush, a little caterpillar is surrounded by so many interesting animals and plant life that he realises how ordinary he is. However he soon spins himself a cocoon and well, you know what happens next!

Oi Frog by Kes Gray and Jim Field

A funny rhyming story about a frog who discovers that all animals have their special places to sit. The illustrations are also great so this book will definitely incite a giggle or two.

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Written by the author of Pig the Pug this is about a little unicorn who yearns for a more glamorous life but soon discovers that her old life and who she was minus all the glitter and sparkle is exactly where she wants to be.

The Marvellous Fluffy Squishy Itty Bitty by Beatrice Alemagna

This book is about a little girl trying to track down the perfect present for her mum. The colourful illustrations are a favourite with my girls.

Where is the Green Sheep? By Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

This book is a good one to read before bedtime as it culminates in finding a (spoiler alert!) sleeping green sheep. It’s one of Grace’s current faves.

My Zoo by Rod Campbell

Grace is into any books with animals and this one is a great, with lots of cute illustrations. This a good one to read when your child is going through the phase of learning about different animals.

Lifestyle

My fave shortcuts as a busy mum

5th April, 2018

As a busy mum I have a few time-saving tricks up my sleeve

Working and having two kids means that every day can be quite the juggling act. I don’t think I’ve ever been as busy as when Sophia and Grace came along. All of a sudden I went from being able to manage my time the way I wanted to having to fit everything around them and their schedule. As I’m sure most mums can attest, there’s not a whole lot of time left to get anything done after you’ve tried to get everything on your child-related to-do list checked off.

From taking the girls to pre-school, ballet, play dates and then having to do everything from making dinner to cleaning around the house, it can be a long, exhausting day. So wherever I can I like to take the easy way out. Yes, shortcuts are any busy mum’s friend and they’re definitely mine. Here are a few I’ve adopted to free up a bit more time during the week.

 Get groceries delivered

Anyone who has ever tried to keep their kids entertained whilst simultaneously trying to do their grocery shopping without forgetting pretty much everything they needed in the first place deserves a medal. This is why I’ve taken to shopping online and having my groceries delivered. I can peacefully shop on my laptop when the kids are asleep and then have a week’s worth of food appear in my kitchen without any hassle. If you’re not doing it already, please try it!

Vacuum from anywhere

Vacuuming is one of those chores that needs to be done regularly but it eats up so much time that I always find it a struggle trying to get around to it. So I succumbed to the allure of having my floors cleaned without having to lift a finger. Check it out here Electrolux PUREi9. It’s a robotic vacuum cleaner that I can not only program to follow my own particular cleaning schedule but I can control it from wherever I am using the PUREi9 app on my phone. I was initially worried that it may run into furniture and get stuck while I was out however  it has a 3D Vision system which scans the room and makes sure to avoid obstacles. So I can pretty much just schedule it via the mobile app, leave it and then come home to totally clean floors.

Turn it on and forget about it and come home to magically clean floors

Schedule it via the mobile app

The Electrolux PUREi9 in action

 

Cook once, eat twice

The last thing I want to do is have to spend hours in the kitchen cooking each week. So to halve the time spent on making meals often we’ve taken to whipping up bigger batches of whatever it is we’re having then freezing it as that means we can revisit again on those days when we really can’t be bothered cooking.

Organise as I go along

I’ve noticed that if I try and do things as I go along I don’t have such an epic cleaning job ahead of me at the end of the week. I’ve now tried to implement the rule that if it will only take me a few seconds to put something away then I do it right then and there instead of procrastinating.

I now make a point of trying to organise as I go along

 

Embrace lists

Lists are a mum’s best friend. Instead of wasting time trying to remember things I now map out the day ahead by writing a quick list. If I can see what I have to do, it helps me to plan how I’m going to structure my day so I use my time efficiently. For example if I have to run errands in multiple places during the day I try and do the things closest to home first then work my way out so I don’t spend the time driving around just trying to get from A to B and back again.

Utilise open storage

Before having kids I didn’t really appreciate the usefulness of baskets around the house. I do now. I have a few strategically placed around our apartment so that I can quickly put the girls’ things away at the end of the day. It takes a few minutes and I feel I have a tidy house at the end (this works wonders for calming a frazzled mind). It’s also perfect for those times when people drop by unexpectedly and I need to have a clean house in seconds.

What are some of your favourite shortcuts as a mum?

This post was produced in collaboration with Electrolux

Photography: Sophia Athas

Lifestyle

How a little me time makes me a better mum

16th November, 2017

The first lesson you quickly learn when you become a mum is that me time is quickly replaced by everything else on your very lengthy to-do list. Those precious moments where you can have a little time to yourself are a rarity, but when they do come around I find that it always leads to feeling ready to tackle the craziness of motherhood with a little more energy in your reserves.

I think me time doesn’t always have to involve lengthy periods of time away from the kids; I’d classify it as anything from five minutes to enjoy a shower in peace to finishing a cup of coffee before it gets cold or being able to watch something on television that does not involve Peppa Pig! I’m in the extremely fortunate position that every so often my work involves having to do things like get my hair done or have a manicure in preparation for a shoot or big event and this allows me to marry work and down time. I’m unbelievably grateful for this every single day!

The one thing that does allow me to clear my head each week is the few hours I am able to get away to my office and just power through emails and life admin. I know it’s not technically me time but for me it gives me the same feeling of rejuvenation as I am able to be 100 per cent productive, and at the end of it I can shut my laptop and return to my girls, ready to give them my complete attention. That said, nothing beats being able to enjoy a night out with my girlfriends or simply relaxing at home. I find all these things are able to help me recharge my batteries and allow me to keep up with Sophia and Grace and be the best mum I can be.

Hopefully as the girls get older there will be a few more opportunities for a little me time but for now I am trying to make the most of the time I do get and enjoy it a little more.

Tell me—when you do get the opportunity for a little me time what do you enjoy doing?

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle

Travelling with kids: how to survive with your sanity in tact

13th November, 2017

Enjoying our family vacation in Bali

As most parents can probably attest, when it comes to travelling with kids you can’t ever really be too prepared. Expect the unexpected is my motto. You’ll inevitably end up with a curve ball being thrown your way whether it’s a bout of vomiting or losing a beloved toy along the way, and you’ve just got to try and find humour in the situation and take it all in your stride. Whilst you can’t plan for absolutely everything, I do believe in preparing as much as possible to mitigate potential issues. We’ve travelled with the girls in Australia and internationally and it’s taught me a few things about how to handle travel with children in tow. Yes, travel will never be as straightforward as it was pre-kids days but it’s oh-so worth it for the amazing memories you build as a family along the way. If you’re about to embark on a trip with your kids then read on for some of my best tried and tested tips…

Choose flights around sleep times

If you’re flying it pays to try and book flights around sleep times. When I’ve done this, most of the time I’ve been lucky and have been able to get the girls down for a bit of a sleep. Whether it’s 30 minutes or two hours, a napping child is invaluable when you’ve got to kill time on a plane.

Book essentials in advance

I never leave anything to chance when I’m travelling with the girls. For example if we require transfers from the airport to the hotel I always request car seats and confirm prior to departure that everything is locked in. I can’t think of anything worse than getting off a long flight, with two tired kids and having to deal with the fact we can’t get to our accommodation.

Give yourself plenty of time to pack

I like to have all the girls’ things packed well in advance as I know I’ll forget something crucial if I do it at the last minute. I normally make a list of everything the kids will need and then I pack a few days before we leave. This gives me plenty of time to get any last minute things washed or take out things I don’t think they’ll need anymore. I normally like to have outfits and nappies for each day sorted and take a few extras just in case.

Bring lots of entertainment

It is a lot easier to travel with Sophia now because she’s three and most of the time she’s excited to watch movies on the plane. But Grace is at that tricky age of being in between a baby and a toddler and wants to be on the move all the time. This is why I always like to bring plenty of entertainment with me to keep the girls occupied. I bring an assortment of games, toys and books with me and make sure to have a few new books or toys with me as I find it keeps them entertained just that little bit longer. If you don’t want to buy anything new just round up a few of your child’s favourite toys and keep them out of sight for a few days so when you pull them out again they’re excited and interested to play with them. (You can find a few more of my in-flight essentials here).

Come armed with plenty of food

On our recent trip to Bali we had to take into account that we were flying during the girls’ morning tea time to lunch then afternoon tea to dinner. I had to bring all the right amount of food with me as I wasn’t sure what we’d get on the plane. I also packed plenty of snacks just in case we had delays on either side and I needed to give the girls something to eat. Also this came in handy when we were in the hotel room and the girls woke up early and we weren’t able to go anywhere for breakfast yet. I was able to pull out a few snacks from my suitcase to tide them over.

I think with the right preparation you can make a family holiday as close to stress-free as possible. And if a few little things do go awry, just take a few deep breaths and think that one day you’ll be able to laugh about it with your kids!

What are some of your tips for travelling with kids?