As most mums can probably attest pulling together an outfit is low on the priority list when you’ve got a busy day ahead of you. The aim is just to get out the door fast! I know for myself that when I’m in mum mode with Sophia and Grace I need to be comfortable first and foremost and my outfit needs to be able to withstand whatever the girls may throw my way. This is why I’ve managed to refine my mum style staples down to a few key pieces so I can just go into auto pilot mode on any given day. Here’s what I can’t live without…
A roomy tote
For me a big bag is essential and I always like to carry a tote as it gives me plenty of room to carry my essentials and the girls’ too. I have lots of different types – from super casual to slightly more dressy – depending on where I’m going.
I love workout gear when I’m with the girls. If I’m going to a class with one of the girls or doing the school run then I can’t go past my Nike sneakers and Lululemon leggings. I live in both! It’s really easy to pull together and you can’t beat it for comfort level.
I always carry a pair of sunglasses with me but I make sure that I leave any delicate, flimsy pairs at home. My sunnies are guaranteed to be thrown around in my bag or the girls will want to play with them so I prefer to wear the style that’s made of a thicker acetate so they’re not easily breakable.
If I’m running around then I’ll always opt for sportswear otherwise you’ll usually find me in lots of t-shirts and singlets paired with a good pair of jeans. They’re both definite mum style staples. I highly recommend splurging on a pair of jeans that can withstand lots of wear and tear because if you’re like me you’ll wear them to death. I also have lots of great knits throughout winter and will wear a big anorak/parka style jacket which I can easily throw on and can be popped into the boot of my car without too much fuss.
Heels are strictly reserved for nights out or for work events. I wear flats whenever I’m with the girls. I’ll usually wear white sneakers, which have become a core part of my mum shoe wardrobe or if I need to be a little more dressed up then I’ll wear my slides or loafers which are comfy yet still look polished.
Last year was a big one in our family as Grace started kindergarten. This year, with both already in school and having established somewhat of a routine, I want to ensure that we’re able to stick to that and keep up a few of the processes we implemented. This of course means having to double down on the organisation to help minimise morning dramas.
While we still have a few more weeks of school holidays to go, my mind has started drifting towards what will need to be done to get the girls ready for the first day of school. Having already gone through the process with the girls, I have discovered what works for us and what doesn’t, so I’ll implement those systems this year, and tweak as we go along if we find that things aren’t working. I love hearing suggestions from other parents on how they’re preparing their kids for back to school, so I’ve noted a few of the key things we’re doing in our household to facilitate a more stress-free start to the year. I’d love to hear your tips, so please share them in the comments!
Label everything ahead of time
Labelling every single thing your child owns always takes a lot longer than you think it will, so start early. Don’t leave it to the night before as you don’t want the night before school to be spent stressing about how you’re going to label everything! I always do the uniform labelling ahead of time as those iron on labels take a lot longer than you think they will! There are also name stamps available which are also a great alternative. I’m also planning to gather all the girls’ things and label while also ticking off their school checklist to make sure I’ve got everything they need.
Don’t over complicate the lunch box
There are a lot of lunch box styles out there, but my girls have always loved a bento style lunch box. Great as they are, I would highly recommend choosing one with not too many compartments as you will end up cursing it every morning when you’re trying to fill every single slot! Also do a check on how heavy a lunchbox is as some lunchboxes are really heavy. Given younger kids will take 2-3 lunchboxes to school, you don’t want their bag to weigh a ton.
Have a visual schedule
I got sick of nagging the girls to get ready in the morning so I put out a list of everything they need to do so they can see what needs to be done before they leave the house, plus it gives them some responsibility on getting themselves ready. I have a list for Sophia that uses words, while Grace has pictures and it outlines everything they need to do like brush their teeth, brush their hair, make their bed, get dressed, have breakfast, put on sunscreen etc. You could make your own, or there are ready made sets available too.
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 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.
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.
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!
In Italy with our girls celebrating our wedding anniversary. Bliss!
After experiencing the biggest travel high after not being able to travel for the last few years, I’ve come to realise just how wonderful it is for the girls to be able to get out of their usual routines and environment to experience something totally new. We spent some time in London, Paris and Italy and it was wonderful for the soul but also for our family in general. The girls had an absolute ball while we were away and it brought Luke and I so much joy to see them having a great time. That said I’ve also realised (much to my delight!) that the girls are now at a really good age to travel. We no longer have to worry about prams, cots, bottles, nappies and lugging half our house around with us so it makes a HUGE difference, particular when you’re dealing with long haul flights and constantly changing time zones. (If you are still in that stage check out this travel post I did when the girls were younger.) That said, the girls are still kids so there were a few things that we found really helpful on our trip to keep everything on track. Sharing some of my tried and tested tips for travelling with kids in case you’re embarking on a holiday with little ones in tow…
Choose your flight times wisely
I purposely chose flight times that were neither too early or too late. There’s nothing worse than trying to rush out at the crack of dawn while trying to corral two children, the same goes for flying way too late and ending up with extremely irritable kids. We made sure to fly at the friendliest hours we could so we got the girls at their most perkiest selves.
Pre-kids me probably would’ve just hopped into a cab or an Uber as it was easy. I’ve found it’s not so easy now with two kids in tow so I made sure to have transfers to our accomodation locked in ahead of time so there was no waiting around at airports. Also when everyone’s tired and over it, you’ll be so glad there’s a car ready and waiting to whisk you away to where you’re staying.
Do your research
We did tours that were specifically recommended for kids. I think there’s a big difference when a tour is accomodating of kids as generally it’s much more upbeat and energetic to keep little ones interested. I think the girls would have lost interest very quickly if we ended up going on something that was geared towards adults.
Choose accomodation with child-friendly amenities
When staying in big cities, I would try and book a hotel with a pool. That way we could do the sights in the morning and then we could retreat to the hotel pool to escape the heat in the afternoon and also allow for some relaxation time. It ended up getting quite hot in some of the cities we were in so this was a very welcome reprieve, and then we would go out for dinner afterwards.
As any parent will attest, eating out sans kids is a vastly different proposition to eating out with kids so my biggest tip is to sort out restaurant reservations in advance. It’s nice strolling around and choosing restaurants on a whim but when you’re dealing with hungry kids, it’s best to have a destination in mind and a guaranteed table once you get there. We researched in advance and chose family friendly restaurants so we could all have a relaxed time and not have to worry about keeping the kids quiet because we were at a white tablecloth/deathly silence kind of fine dining establishment.
Come prepared with entertainment
I made sure to stock my bag with lots of colouring and activity books to keep the girls entertained at restaurants. It helped to occupy them while we were waiting for food, and helped us avoid screen time at the dinner table.
Document the trip
It’s not a logistical or an organisation tip but one of the best things we did on our trip was have the girls keep a journal while they were away. They loved finding things to put in their journal and writing about their day. I know it’s something that will be looked back on fondly and will be treasured forever.
Tell me—what are some of your best tips for travelling with kids?
As the founder of premium baby and children’s furniture brand Incy Interiors, if there’s one thing Kristy Withers is well versed in, it’s how to create a stylish and functional nursery. In the early days, there’s so much time spent in the nursery changing, feeding and putting baby to sleep that it has to be a place you love being in. And with endless inspiration for nurseries available, it’s important to know the difference between a simply Insta-worthy space and one that’s actually practical and useable in real life. Enter Kristy, who is sharing her go-to tips for not only creating a gorgeous nursery, but one that’s designed to make day-to-day life with your newborn easier.
What are the most important things to consider before styling a nursery?
“The first thing I look at when designing a room is to understand what space you have to work with. What is the floor space, how high are the walls, where are the windows and doors located. This is really important to understand upfront to save a costly purchase down the track.”
What are some of the key essentials in a nursery?
“The absolute essentials for any nursery are a cot, change table and nursing chair. You spend most of those early months either feeding, changing or getting them to sleep (and staying asleep) so choosing these pieces wisely is so important.”
What are your tips for creating a great space on a budget?
“Great design doesn’t need to be expensive. Rather than painting walls you can create an amazing space with inexpensive removable wall decals, which is also a great option for renters. Buying prints rather than originals is a great way to create interest on the walls without spending a fortune. Another one of my favourite tips is to buy beautiful wooden toys that can double as decoration as well as a plaything, saving money and the environment.”
What are some things that perhaps aren’t entirely necessary in a nursery to start with?
“A bassinet is not a must-have but it was so helpful for me. It meant the baby was right next to me for middle of the night feeds and I could move it around with me throughout the day. I also deliberately left both of my children’s nurseries bare and then I purchased accessories such as toys, books and decorations as their little personalities started to show. This meant that their rooms were more of a reflection of them rather than me.”
What are some nursery design trends you’re seeing right now?
“I have been doing this for 10 years now and it has been so interesting seeing how nursery design has changed over that time. When we first started, nurseries were navy and red or yellow and grey. As general tastes have changed so have the nursery design trends. Mid-century is becoming much more popular.”
What are some of your best tips for maximising storage?
“Storage is something you can never have too much of. Always look for a change table with inbuilt storage as well as one that converts once you are done with it as a change table. All of our Incy change tables either convert to a dresser or a bookcase so that they can be used for years to come. Other great storage options are ottomans, toy boxes and storage baskets.”
What are some of your fave design flourishes for nurseries?
“I feel so lucky to do what I do as children’s nurseries/bedrooms are the one space in the home where you can really experiment with things and have a bit of fun. I’m a huge fan of textures so I love mixing various fabrics and finishes. Leather, velvets and metallics are my absolute favourites right now. Mixing the three can create a feeling of warmth and luxury at the same time.”
What are the splurge and save items in a nursery? What should people invest in and what are some things they can afford to scrimp on?
“I always feel biased saying this but I am a big believer in spending as much as you can afford on good quality furniture, it can them be passed down through multiple children and my ultimate goal is for the furniture we are producing right now to be handed down to our children’s children. The items I tend to save on are the accessories. There are so many amazing Australian brands right now producing beautiful linen, artwork, toys and accessories. If you save on the accessories you can then swap them out for the next baby or when transitioning to a toddler/big bed.”
Having to pack a school lunch daily can often mean parents are stuck for food ideas or not entirely what to pack in their child’s lunchbox day in and day out. And it can be one of those things that can make the morning rush even more stressful.
To help make it easier I’ve enlisted the help of Sydney-based paediatric dietitian and nutritionist and mum-of-two Karina Savage to share her expertise about all things school lunchboxes. The director of Smart Bite Nutrition is here to help make organising healthy lunches this year a stress-free affair.
What types of foods should a healthy school lunch comprise of?
Slow release (low GI) carbohydrates “[This will] provide a sustained release of energy into the blood stream over the day – this helps to keep blood sugar levels stable which supports good concentration and learning, together with happier mood at pick up! Grainy bread and crackers, fruit, homemade baked goods such as a muesli slice and brownie, which are all good options.”
Plant foods “Include plenty of colour and always try to put at least two different coloured vegies into the lunch box.”
Quality protein “Shredded chicken, boiled or mashed egg, tuna and legumes such as baked beans or hommus are all good options here. Stay away from processed meats where possible.”
Good fats “Usually nuts aren’t allowed [at school], so our go-to here is seeds such as sunflower, pepita or incorporating sunflower (tahini), linseed and chia into baked goods. Avocado is another great option providing a good source of healthy fats.”
What are some great foods to include in lunchboxes to ensure satiety and boost energy?
Grainy bread sandwich (can be as simple as Vegemite or raw honey)
Do parents need to tweak what they include in lunch boxes according to age?
“Children typically need similar types of food going into the lunch box throughout primary school. As they get older, children may require more food in the lunch box (eg more carbs) if they are really active, however many will struggle to finish their lunch box as they are “too busy” running around with their friends. They will often make up for this at afternoon tea time.
As children move through primary school, they may start to refuse more of the healthier lunch box snacks. As parents, have the confidence to be consistent and stick to your guns – always including plenty of plant foods in the lunch box daily.
With home baked goods, I’ve found with my own children, that I’ve had to add a little more sugar into some recipes to make sure they eat them. In my opinion, this is OK, as I know my children will still be getting much more nutrition compared to giving them a supermarket baked item or packaged product—which are usually much lower in nutrition.”
What are some common mistakes parents make when it comes to packing their kids’ lunches?
“Giving in easily to pester power and including too much of the processed packaged foods such as Shapes, biscuits etc. Kids often love these snacks as they usually taste great, however these products are usually high in salt and very low in fibre.
Most of us are in the same situation here and it can be exhausting as parents, when the healthy food comes home every day. We need to have the resilience to keep offering the good food, teaching our children about the balance of foods — the sometimes foods and the everyday healthier foods. Popcorn or dried legumes are much better packaged option compared to many of the packaged crisps/Shapes products.”
If a child will only eat a limited amount of foods for lunch, what are some ways a parent can help broaden their food repertoire?
“Don’t stress too much if their intake is healthy—if your child isn’t too fussed about the lack of variety from week to week, don’t worry. As long as they have a balance of protein, carbs and plant foods in their lunch box, you are doing well. You can always balance out the day at other meals and snacks such as breakfast and dinner.
Remember it’s a nutritionally balanced week rather than day.
For some more ideas about healthy lunch box additions, check out my lunch box ideas sheet here.”
What are your tips for making school lunches more exciting?
“I think it can be really hard sometimes to please kids with school lunch boxes and as busy parents we need to take the pressure of ourselves. School lunches don’t always have to be “instagrammable”, they just have to be as balanced as possible with some good quality contents.
To improve acceptance of food, a good tip is to bake some options with the kids on the weekends – such as muffins, brownies, bliss balls etc and work out what they like/don’t like. You can then be more confident of putting those preferred baked goods into the lunch box.
Experimenting with various dips can be fun – such as hommus, beetroot, guacamole and cheese dips. These can be included with raw vegies and crackers in the lunch box. Home made pizzas can be another good option that children can be involved in creating the night before.”
Most parents have to deal with the mad school rush in the morning. What are some of your time-saving tricks for creating a healthy school lunch every day?
Make sure lunch boxes are clean and ready to go the night before – you may even wish to include a little secret message/note which will make them smile when they open it the following day.
Pack what you can the night before – fresh fruit, popcorn, dried legumes, muffin, homemade brownie or cookies placed in plastic containers. Muffins and cake can also be frozen in individual portions and popped in the lunch box in the morning.
Some parents also pre-chop vegies and cheese, which can also be placed in the lunch box and popped in the fridge overnight
Use leftovers – you may consider doubling the batch at dinner time and using some for leftovers the next day. These can be sent cold with an ice pack or warm in a thermos.
Freeze yoghurt pouches and small containers of dip so that you can pull out of freezer in the morning and they will stay cold until eaten.
Being at home with both Sophia and Grace over the last few weeks has made us have to be re-think screen time. With Luke and I still trying to work, it means that at times we have to rely on screens to keep the girls occupied. And while sometimes all they want to do is watch Frozen or another Disney princess movie, we have been trying to balance that with being able to watch and engage with shows or games that are educational too.
One of the most helpful things for us has been the list of recommendations I’ve gathered from friends and family and Grace’s pre-school for great educational programs, games and shows for kids. With the focus of most of these online resources being on literacy and maths, it has been great for building on the things the girls have been learning at school and at pre-school. There have also been some really fun activities such as visiting some of the world’s best museums virtually or story time online that has entertained the girls and allowed them to learn at the same time.
I know there are countless parents out there in the same boat right now so I thought I’d collate the most popular sites that parents can check out, based on the recommendations I’ve been using during isolation. There’s a great mixture of learning tools, shows and games so hopefully it makes navigating screen time a little easier.
There’s a mixed bag on this list, with the majority focusing on reading and writing and maths. There are different levels with most of the programs so they’re suitable for different ages. Some require sign up whereas others you can just launch straight into the program or games. Hopefully there’s something here that you and your kids will approve of.
YouTube: more than just cat videos! There are some really good educational channels to check out on this platform. While you can find virtually anything on YouTube, I’ve found most of the kids’ channels are great for science and geography content as you can check out everything from sharks and dinosaurs to doing experiments and profiling different countries around the world. I’ve listed a few below but a quick search based on subject matter will unearth plenty of options.
As we keep hearing these are unprecedented times and I’m sure most parents can attest that parenting in self-isolation and being with your children 24/7 during a pandemic is not something any of us were prepared to do. While there are definitely some beautiful upsides to being able to spend quality time with our kids, much more than we ever though we’d be able to do, it is undoubtedly a tough, exhausting and draining road ahead. I reached out to a friend of mine, who is a registered psychologist and co-founder of The Bumpy Road, a practice that specifically works with mothers on issues such as motherhood, relationships, parenting and career for some tips on how to navigate this time. I’m sharing what she told me below.
How can parents maintain balance when at home with their kids for what seems to be for the next few weeks/months?
We need to pace ourselves and importantly lower our expectations. We have been thrown the world’s biggest curve ball and need to recognise that this is a big adjustment ‘so we may need some time to find our groove. At this stage most of us are still trying to figure out what ‘balance’ looks like with some days working out better than others. It is likely impossible to merge all responsibilities of our pre-COVID and post-COVID worlds so I would start with:
1. Prioritising what is important right now—that may be work, getting the kids established in routine educationally or trying to palm off as many responsibilities as possible to help soothe the angst within the household as we all know that it is difficult to do anything from a distressed state of mind.
2. Work out how those priorities can be met—acknowledge and build acceptance of what has to be let go of and timetable your day and allocate your resources to top line priorities
3. Work on the foundation of home, household and family that are going to get you there. For example non-negotiable exercise in the morning, food shop and prepared meal purchases/planning, (virtual) connection with those outside the house.
How can parents ease the pressure to be productive and fill their kids’ days with endless activities?
Ah, this is a work in progress in my house. We need to recognise that this is a HUGE shift for the kids too and they have not been in a situation with so much unstructured time with no book ends. We need to gradually condition them to having less parental availability and engagement (perhaps compared to the pre-COVID world).
For preschool and older kids, establishing a routine and involving them in what that routine looks like for the day, what (directed AND self directed) activities they would like to do. Choose things that they are familiar with and can accomplish on their own e.g. lego/play-doh/colouring in may be appropriate to the younger ages and then also agree to time where you will actively participate with them. Unfortunately you are likely going to have to relax your standards on screen time if the demands of kid and works keep colliding and you need to steal those longer stretches to give to your work or home tasks that are non-negotiable. It’s a constant of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ at the moment.
What are some ways to ease the guilt for parents who are trying to juggle working and caring for their kids at home and feeling like they’re not doing both very well?
It’s important to realise that the way we think about a situation i.e. the mindset, plays a significant role in defining our perception of a situation. So whilst COVID is providing us all with significant hurdles, guilt is a feeling which is often magnified by unhelpful thinking. For example if we fail to adjust our expectations of what can/should be achieved at work, we are likely going to experience anguish about work output or our parenting capacity.
It is very important to acknowledge this change in circumstance and be conscious about our expectations at both work and home. The fact that we are turning up to both in a 50 per cent capacity is not an inditement of you. These are significant responsibilities, or if we can call them ‘jobs’ and all of a sudden for circumstances beyond us, we are required to do them in tandem. The difficulty is not because you are failing – make sure you do not fall into the pitfall of interpreting this mammoth challenge as a personal failure. Simply pick up the phone and call a friend and you will see that we are all in this together, in this world and the best we can do is the best we can.
What are some coping strategies when parents may be feeling overwhelmed and just a little over it?
Wherever possible connect with you support group and prioritise self care. You are an important cornerstone and it is important to put your needs first so that you can meet the demands around you.
This may look like a quick FaceTime from the car or an online exercise program for 15 minutes in the morning. The micro top ups is where you are going to find the resources which help re-energise and give you the boost to get your momentum for your next challenge.
What are some of your tips to help getting through each day of isolation with kids a little easier?
Make sure you are prioritising connection with your kids. The more connected you are the safer the kids will feel and the more cohesion you are likely to feel. This is an investment that pays dividends in so many ways and will help improve your navigation through each day.
Involve your kids in setting a plan for the day – the more involved they feel the more engaged they will be and the less arguments you are likely to face
Be realistic about what is achievable – whether that’s balancing work and kids, play and household or kid vs adult time. It’s a balancing act
Make sure you are active – this may be alone or combined with the kids. This is a non-negotiable
Make sure your kids are connecting with others too via the phone, video conference, letter writing or even emoji sending. This way they may feel less reliant on you to fill their cup.
What should parents do when faced with endless questions or complaints from their kids as to why they can’t do the things they usually do?
It’s important to keep finding age appropriate ways to communicate the circumstances of COVID. Make sure you continue to ask them if they have any questions. Point out differences that they may be able to observe e.g. less traffic, shops closed, playgrounds closed etc. It is important not to stoke anxiety but ensure that they build an understanding of this first in a lifetime and abstract event.
How can parents help their children through such a big upheaval in their routine?
With compassion and patience. Given the COVID virus is not visible, it takes quite a lot of cognitive gymnastics for children to really embed an understanding of what is happening in the world. Whilst our ‘normal’ routines have been changed abruptly, it is important to create new routines for example rituals at the dining table, a board game before bedtime, having a dance together at morning tea time – whatever is age appropriate. This will help give them some new anchors and is an opportunity to use this time as time to connect with your kids even though you may be more time poor than ever.
What should every parent aim to have in their emotional/mental survival kit to help getting through this time easier?
Given we are so physically restrained, many of these tools relate to the way in which we look at our circumstance. Here are some examples of important ways to optimise your wellbeing through the way you think.
A motto of ‘good enough is good enough’… more then ever we need to embrace this now
Find ways to catch and reframe negative thinking e.g. This is a disaster – changed to – This is my opportunity to show that I can work flexibly- share these with your friends as it will help both you and them!
Exercise every day even if it’s just for 10 minutes
Take one day at a time and recognise the small wins within each day.
For mums in particular who may find themselves left with the lion’s share of the domestic/child-rearing responsibilities during this time, how can they avoid feeling overwhelmed?
It is an important time to renegotiate these domestic responsibilities. Now more than ever, the significant load of parenting and household responsibilities will visible. I would recommend scheduling time to negotiate the priorities and division of these responsibilities. Be careful not to fall into the trap of doing more of what you were doing because of prior circumstance. The goal posts have moved and this is your opportunity to move with them.
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Sitting down for a movie together as a family is always a favourite activity in our household. The girls are at the age now where they are able to sit through an entire movie and actually enjoy it so we’ve been working our way through a mixture of new movies and classic films. I love being able to revisit a lot of my childhood favourites and introduce them to the kids for the first time and it’s always nice to see Sophia and Grace getting into a movie I too loved as a little girl. There are so many great family flicks out there but I’m always looking for suggestions so definitely comment below and let me know your faves!
If you’re looking for ideas of a movie to check out with the kids, here are a few of the winners at our place.
We have sat down to watch these movies as a family and have found them to be movies that both kids and grown-ups will enjoy. Some of them the girls love so much (The Greatest Showman for example is the girls’ favourite movie this year and the soundtrack gets played every day in our household) that we often find ourselves re-watching them a number of times. These movies are always a winner in our house.
The Greatest Showman
The Lion King (live action)
I am loving the excuse to re-watch all of my childhood favourites. It’s so nice to be able to introduce the girls to them and the trip down memory lane also brings back a lot of great memories of watching these movies as a kid. Here are a few classics the girls have watched and absolutely loved.
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.
Smart shopping can help save on your kids’ clothing budget
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.