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Great Easter gifts that aren’t chocolate

3rd April, 2020

Given Easter is going to be distinctly different this year on many fronts, I’m sure I’m not alone in looking for alternatives to sugary treats given confined spaces, copious amounts of chocolate and restless kids with cabin fever do not a harmonious match make. While kids enjoying a good ol’ Easter egg hunt is a mainstay of this time of year, if you’re looking to incorporate a few things that aren’t of the chocolate variety then there are plenty of great gift options that are still in keeping with the Easter spirit, just minus the sugar!

To help you get started I’ve rounded up a few gift options — all online — that are great for Easter. And if you’re going to be away from family and friends for Easter, as many of us will be, then a gift delivered to a loved one’s door is a fun way to still celebrate, albeit from a distance. Happy Easter present hunting!

Fashion

How to nail practical and stylish dressing as a mum

15th March, 2020

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.

A great pair of jeans is a must

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.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with prints and colours

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.

Play with prints and colours

I’ve found one of the easiest ways to liven up a an outfit is with a touch of colour or a great print. I tend to incorporate a few bold pieces amongst my neutral pieces and find that it can give my look a little extra personality.

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

Fashion

How to update a kids’ wardrobe on a budget

12th March, 2020

Kids grow so much and at the start of a new season you’re guaranteed to always need to stock up on new pieces to replace everything they’ve outgrown. And when you have to do this twice a year it can become quite the expense, particularly if you’ve got to do it for more than one child. So how can you buy the basics without spending a fortune? Try these tips for cutting down on your clothes shopping bill.

Buy out of season

Winter clothes get drastically reduced in summer and the same goes for summer things in winter. So if you aim to snap up pieces the next size up out of season then you’ll find yourself being able to buy everything at a fraction of the price.

Take advantage of special discount offers

If you time your purchases for when major discounts or spend and save offers are happening you’ll be able to buy more for less. If you look in store and online ahead of time and know what you need, you can get in early once these offers are announced and save yourself a lot of money in the process.

Sign up for newsletters from your fave kids’ clothing brands

There are so many sale offers that come through via newsletters so make sure you’re on the mailing list of your go-to kids’ clothing brands. You’ll often be alerted to sales first and also any discount offers and bundle deals and ensure you can grab the pieces you’ve had your eye on.

Check out Facebook marketplace and other online groups

As kids go through clothes so quickly you can often find that there are good quality (sometimes even designer) pieces that are sold through Facebook marketplace or other swap and sell groups. Just do a quick search for those in your area, or those with brands that you’re interested in and see what bargains you can snap up.

Invest in quality items upfront

I did this when I first started buying Sophia clothes and have found that because I invested a little more on quality items at the beginning, I was able to easily recycle pieces and have Grace wear them without everything looking too worn. This works great for things that don’t get a constant workout such as coats and special dressy pieces.

Check out overseas brands

Since our seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere it’s sometimes a great opportunity to check out overseas brands and check out what kids clothes they’ve marked down. This happens to work perfectly with our current season as all their winter clothes will be on sale just when we’re heading into that season.

Swap with mum friends

If you have a friendship group that includes mums who have kids with similar ages, why not arrange a swap meet afternoon? You can all bring gently worn pieces (probably best to leave the puree stained onesies out of this one!) and swap your clothes with others in the group. You can then all go home with new wardrobe pieces minus the cost.

Fashion

Empowering books to read to a little girl on International Women’s Day

8th March, 2020

Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

Reading books is an integral part of my girls’ routines. We absolutely love sitting down to read a book together and as they get older, and are able to comprehend what we’re reading a lot more, I’m trying to incorporate more books with strong female protagonists into the mix. It’s always a great way to encourage the girls to dream big, aim high and also to open up discussions about what women can achieve.

So what better excuse to read an empowering book featuring a great female lead, than today, a day that celebrates women worldwide.

To help get you started, below are some excellent books that are guaranteed to inspire any little girl.

There are two books in this series and they’re fantastic to read at bedtime as they’re not overly long so you can get through a few and each story features the real life take of an inspiring, accomplished woman.

In a world where there is so much pressure on women to look and be a certain way, I love the message of this story. Essentially it’s a lesson in embracing and being comfortable in being yourself.

This classic is such a wonderful book to read with kids, but girls in particular will love Matilda. She is intelligent and courageous, and a voracious reader, and proves that there’s magic in learning and being curious about the world.

Traditional fairy tales are great but sometimes you just want to challenge the damsel in distress narrative that often feature in those stories. This story is about Penelope who demonstrates that you can be a girly girl and be someone who achieves and gets things done too.

Yes, Harry is the lead in this story but would he have survived till the eighth book if it weren’t for Hermione? She’s a supporting character, but Hermione is whip smart, brave and often shows the boys how it’s done and is such a great role model.

There are several books available now that are in the same vein as this, but I love that this focuses on accomplished Australian women who have made history.

An oldie but a goodie, Pippi Longstocking is adventurous, brave and has a can-do attitude that’s aspirational. This book is one that any little girl will enjoy reading.

She’s quiet by day but at night Rosie is a big inventor, creating all sorts of wonderful gizmos and gadgets. At its core it’s a great story about pursuing your passion with persistence but also acknowledging that while there will be failures along the way, it’s all part of the journey to success.

For the princess obsessed girls out there, this is one book that flips fairytales such as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty on its head. The anthology retells princess stories with a girl power twist.

Little girls love a fairy tale but this one features a princess who challenges the notion that she needs to settle down with a prince to live happily ever after. A lot of fun and a great message too.

Fashion

Mother-daughter date ideas for your next special day out

17th February, 2020

One of my favourite things about having daughters is the special dates we have together. Now that Sophia and Grace are a little older, it’s great to be able to take them on outings and spend some quality time together. We do so many different things whether it’s going to the park or watching a show. It’s so wonderful to be able to enjoy some one-on-one time, and I look forward to having many more of them to come. If you’re looking for ideas for your next date with your little girl, here are a few of my suggestions…

Watch a performance

We started out with The Wiggles (the girls are diehard Emma fans) and we have now progressed onto watching slightly older shows such as the ballet (we saw The Nutcracker before Christmas). The girls really enjoy it as we make an occasion out of it, where we get all dressed up and grab a meal together. It’s so much fun for all of us, and I hope it’s a tradition we can continue in the future.

Go on a picnic

Picnics are great as they’re generally really easy to organise and aren’t super expensive so you can schedule them a little more regularly. Pack a basket of treats with the help of your little one and head outdoors (you can stay as close as your backyard or as far as your favourite park) and enjoy the sunshine.

Enjoy high tea

The girls and I have been lucky enough to go to high tea together a few times and the three of us always have a fantastic time. The girls love all the dainty treats and I enjoy spending time with them. There are a few kid themed high teas around (everything from Alice in Wonderland to Claris the Mouse) so check your local area for one that suits.

Have a pamper session

Who doesn’t love a pamper session? You can either go out and get a mani together for a truly special treat or if you want to keep it low key just set up your own salon in the living room. Do each other’s nails, experiment with fun hairstyles, even throw in a face mask or two!

Go to the movies

There are generally always great kids’ movies at the cinemas so why not book yourself in for a film and popcorn session? It’s an exciting outing at any age and is easy to organise. This is also another one that you can do at home quite easily. Cosy up in your pjs, snuggle up on the couch with some snacks and let her pick the movie she wants to watch.

Make their favourite dish

The girls really enjoy baking so we have whipped up cupcakes a time or two which they both love. This is a great one to do together as you can chat as you cook. Have them choose what they’d like to make and take trip to the supermarket to get all the ingredients then come home and cook up a storm.

Sign up for an art class

Whether it’s painting or pottery, there are so many different ways to get your art on with kids. It’s also nice to have a memento from the day to take home and display.

Visit a local museum

You’re never too young to enjoy a trip to the museum. Whether it’s art, history, animals and more, it’s always a great experience to visit a museum, plus it helps make learning just that little bit more interactive and fun.

Go on a day trip

If you want to spend the entire day out and about it’s always fun to jump in the car and explore a new town. The girls and I often drive to my parents’ home a few hours of out Sydney so they’re big fans of a road trip. You can have some great conversations in the car, and have a great time exploring.

Book in a beach day

The girls are water babies and love spending time at the beach so this is one of the ways we love hanging out together. It’s the perfect thing to do during the week when it’s quiet as the beaches aren’t so crowded so if you do find yourself at home on a weekday, definitely schedule this in. Make a day of it and enjoy a meal of fish and chips to cap off a great day.

Fashion

Easy ways to help your child get ready to start school

20th January, 2020

Sophia starts school this year and it’s brought on a few mixed emotions for both of us. Like most parents, I’m shocked at how quickly the time has gone and that I now have a child who is starting kindergarten. I’m excited for her and can’t wait to see what the year brings, but I will also miss our mummy/daughter days and being able to spend loads of time with her throughout the week.

As for Sophia, she’s looking forward to starting but she loves her pre-school and is sad to be leaving her teachers and friends. We’ve visited her school already and she still seems a little overwhelmed as the grounds are so much bigger than what she’s used to. However I’m reassured by the fact that she will have friends from pre-school attending with her so I’m confident that she is going to love it. I think I’ll be the one who will be more upset at the school gate!

I’ve been busily trying to prepare Sophia for school both from an organisation perspective (stationery, uniforms and the like) but also in the drastic change to routine and environment. So if you’re in the same boat, with a little one about to head off to kindergarten, here’s what I’ve been doing…

School readiness skills

These are just some of the things that I know Sophia will encounter at school so we’ve been trying to do these things at home to help prep her for being at school/in the classroom.

– Practising writing her name, doing tracing activities and cutting and pasting to help strengthen her fine motor skills and also expose her to things she’s likely to do in class.

– We’ve been chatting a lot about letters and numbers so she’s familiar with them before starting school.

– Having to sit through lessons will be one of the biggest transitions Sophia will have to make so we’re practicing sitting down at the table for a more extended period of time. I’m getting her to complete a drawing/activity that lasts longer than five minutes to help expand her concentration skills.

– School is also about socialising with other children so we always go to parks, birthday parties and other events in our neighbourhood so she can get used to playing with others. This includes working on important skills that will be needed in school such as being comfortable taking turns, dealing with conflict and being around other kids. We’ve also been playing common schoolyard games like hide and seek, tip, kicking a ball etc so she’s familiar with them.

– Recess and lunch will of course be part of school routine, and Sophia has had lots of practice opening and closing and eating out of her lunch box at preschool. If your child has trouble getting their lunch out for any reason, it’s better to know now rather than when their actually at school already so you can work through it with them.

– As the holidays come to an end we have already started to get back into school bedtime routine and have sophia wake up and go to bed at the times she’ll need to when she starts school to help make the transition to her new school a lot easier.

– Sophia will of course have to use the bathroom at school by herself so whenever we take her to a public toilet, we’ve been practicing her going independently which includes locking and unlocking the door.

– As Sophia has attended preschool, she has got into the habit of being able to pack her school bag independently. To practice this skill initially we would get Sophia putting things in her bag and packing them away such as folding an A4 piece of paper in half and placing it in her bag.

Getting involved with the school

To help make the first day a little less daunting we’ve made sure to attend any school events or orientations so there will be some familiar faces when Sophia starts school. Also as there are a number of children from Sophia’s pre-school who will also be attending her school, we’ve tried to organise play dates with them during the holidays to help strengthen that bond prior to their first day at school.

Talking about school

I was given some great advice about how to talk about school which I’ve been doing. We’ve been avoiding referring to kindy as “big school” as it can seem a little daunting for children. Instead we’ve just been saying “primary school” or “starting a new school.” Also we chat about school in a positive light but also realistically. For example we don’t really keep emphasising how many friends Sophia will make as it can sometimes set unrealistic expectations as sometimes kids may struggle in this department.

General organisation

We’ve tried to stay abreast of any communications sent by the school to ensure that Sophia doesn’t miss out on any important information prior to starting kindy.

– I used these bento style lunch boxes when Sophia was in pre-school and think they’re great so we’ve got her another one for kindergarten. We also got her input with the design so felt involved and it’s something familiar when she’s at school.

– Much like pre-school everything has to be labelled at school so I’ve ordered some personalised name labels. Also it’s great in case anything goes astray.

– I’ve already ensured that our laundry is well stocked with the necessary stain removers and bleach as no doubt her uniform will end up with dirt/stains on it at some point. Also I’ve got some double sided hemming tape in case her hem comes undone one day—it’s a quick and easy way to fix it without having to get a needle and thread involved.

– We’ve tried to read books about starting school (to help open up conversation about school) and also upped our reading together. Whenever we read to Sophia we try and use our finger to track the words so she starts to make the association between language and sound.

Tell me—what things have you done/being doing to get your child ready for school?

Fashion, Shop, What I Wore

How to find the ideal gift for the little ones in your life

5th December, 2019

One of the things I really enjoy about Christmas is shopping for Sophia and Grace. It’s always the highlight of Christmas to see them so excited and happy when they’re opening their presents and I think party of that joy is trying to track down just the right gifts for them. As any parent will know, kids interests’ and loves will change often, so it can make gift giving a little tricky as they could be into Barbies or The Wiggles one minute and not so much the next. So here are some of the strategies I often use to buy gifts for the girls, but also the other little people in my life.

Choose quality over quantity

It can be easy to just buy up a storm during Christmas time but I find that a few great presents that they really, really love is better than buying lots of little things they’re only so-so about. So when it comes to your present budget, I’m always of the frame of mind that you’re better off narrowing it down to their absolute wants, that way they get to appreciate what they’ve been given and really enjoy it.

Go for gifts that have longevity

Continuing on from the above, I think it’s good to opt for gifts that can grow with them. This is from a quality perspective in that it’s better to choose gifts that are designed to last as opposed to anything that might be flimsily made and might not last beyond that Christmas. And also gifts that are able to be used at any age. Think an art easel with paints that they can use over a few years or a collection of books that you can read together as they get older.

Give them an experience

Toys are great but one of the best gifts I think you can give to kids is an experience. It’s so much more memorable as they get to do something fun. Depending on what your kids are into, you could do something like a day at the zoo, tickets to a show or concert or promise them a day out doing their favourite things whether it’s going to the beach or an excursion to the movies (complete with yummy snacks!).

Photography by Sophia Athas, Hatrik

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Produced in collaboration with Seed

Fashion

My week on Instagram

1st December, 2019

This week had its ups and downs. We farewelled my beloved grandfather who played such an important role in my life growing up, but also in my kids’ lives. We miss him greatly but we’re comforted by all the wonderful memories we have of him.

I had the opportunity to work with some really great brands this week. I hosted a breakfast for Vida Glow, and got behind the Shop Small campaign that aims to promote local small businesses. I popped into gorgeous Sydney florist Poho Flowers, a favourite haunt of mine as they always have the most insanely beautiful range of blooms.

The one thing I was looking forward to this entire week was heading off on holiday. We’re off to LA, with our first stop most definitely Disneyland. The girls have been counting down the days! I’m looking forward to the breatk and having a lot of fun as a family.

I hope the rest of your week is great — the countdown to Christmas is on!

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Fashion

My week on Instagram

17th November, 2019

I love having full weeks where I’m able to enjoy doing work related events and also spending time with my family. This week was just like that and whilst it was hectic, I had a great time.

I was invited to host the launch of Witchery’s Summer ’19 collection aboard Seadeck which was a fabulous way to enjoy the Sydney sunshine. It’s always great to be able to catch up with people at events and it was lovely to see model Laura Dundovic and stylish Donny Galella at this particular event.

I support various charities, and this week I attended The Ladies Luncheon 2019 to raise fund for the Royal Hospital for Women Foundation. The event helped raise an incredible $340,000 which will go towards helping the hospital care for premature babies.

But without a doubt the highlight of my week was spending quality time with the girls. It was excitement all round as we visited Santa at Sydney’s QVB. The girls were particularly excited to tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Then we headed off to the spend the night at the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga Zoo where needless to say, Sophia and Grace had an incredible time — so did Luke and I for that matter!

Here’s to another great week ahead.

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Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

Sophia and Grace interview Luke for Father’s Day

1st September, 2019
Best. Dad. Ever.

One of the most wonderful things about my husband, Luke is that he is an incredible father. From the moment he became a dad he’s been nothing but the most loving, encouraging, fun and caring presence in Grace and Sophia’s lives. They simply adore him. One of the many great qualities that Luke has as a father is that he’ll do anything to put a smile on the girls’ faces. From playing silly games to throwing himself wholeheartedly into playing ballerina with them or spending time splashing about at the beach, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for the kids. We always love spending quality time with Luke on Father’s Day but this year, I thought I’d give our kids the chance to have a fun D&M of sorts. Given how close they are to their dad, I thought I’d give Sophia and Grace the opportunity to talk all things fatherhood with him. And here’s the heartwarming result…

What do you like about being a dad? 

So many things – but watching you both grow to be strong and confident makes me happy.

How did you feel when we were born?

The love and bond is overwhelming.

What’s your favourite activity for us to do together?

Any type of playing that generally turns into you both generally jumping on my back and tackling me to the ground.

What’s one thing you’d really like to teach us?

Not sure I can teach happiness – but to give you the tools not to sweat the small stuff.

There’s always room for having fun when it comes to Luke and the girls

What do you hope for us in the future?

Have a full life of adventure and happiness.

What’s one thing we do that makes you smile?

When you both cuddle each other. 

What’s your idea of the perfect Father’s Day?

Definitely to be spoiled by my three girls.

What’s something that you’re proud of when it comes to the two of us?

Your both sincere and care for one another.

Daddy’s Little Girl

What’s your happiest memory of us?

I’m sure it’s yet to come – but spending time down the beach, on holidays or at the farm watching you both enjoying the freedom of the outdoors.

What’s one thing you can’t wait to do with us?

Travel adventures as a family.