Parenting “Do’s” vs Parenting “Don’ts”

“Be kind, Be respectful, Be grateful, Be curious” is scrawled across the whiteboard I crudely drilled onto our kitchen wall. And in our family, this is how we aim to approach life, and each other.

Let’s go back to why I’m telling you this… I get really, really annoyed by writers who write with a negative slant when their message could’ve been communicated positively. Take for example, all of the “don’t” and “should” blogs, which generally have good content, but end up being parent shaming in the sense that you read them and feel guilty for doing all the things that the so-called experts tell you NOT to do, rather than empowered to try something new or to make a positive change. 

Continue reading

How to travel with a baby

M and I

Looking back at our piece of paradise

Looking back at our piece of paradise

Hubby and M

Hubby and M

Private beach, and private outdoor shower

Private beach, and private outdoor shower

 

When a dear friend of mine announced she was getting married in Rarotonga we immediately agreed to go – baby in tow – and this is the story of how we survived the 3-4 hour flight there and back again.

Before I start, I just have to say that travelling anywhere by flight with a child is stressful. It’s stressful for your child, stressful for your fellow passengers, stressful for you as a parent, stressful for the flight crew, BUT, if you have the chance to travel I think you should take it.
Travel isn’t a given. It isn’t something that everyone is lucky to experience, and I reminded myself of this often when things got a little tough. Continue reading

Being organised is my happy place

A lot of my mum friends have been asking how I manage our daily feed/work/daycare/feed/play/sleep routine and the short answer is: by being super efficient and cut throat.

 The longer answer is that I plan, plan, plan and then have plan B and C in my back pocket if things change (because they always do, at least one day/night a week).

Also important is to STICK TO THE PLAN. No point having a plan if you end up changing it and reacting on the fly. Would you ever schedule a meeting with your staff for 30mins then let it run over? No. Because you’d be wasting people’s time and creating a domino effect whereby each and every other task to be completed for the rest of the day needs to be done a little faster, and the pressure starts to set in. Mistakes happen, and people lose confidence in your direction. YOU lose confidence in your direction. For me, the same theory applies at home. If bathtime is at 6pm then we try to only ever be 5/10mins early or late for that part of the routine.

I know you’re probably about to hit that little X in the top right corner and go check Facebook since you think we’re nothing alike and this is boring. I know it sounds like I’m the fun police, and I don’t let my kid have free, creative play, that I’m crushing her natural curiosity by not being flexible. I GET IT.

Believe me, on my bad days I think these things about myself too.

But on the good days, I know that it’s just not true.

I used to be a more flexible person who didn’t check the time, and then I became a mother and realised the beauty of routine.
Every is happier, calmer, better rested, better fed and more engaged when our routine in on point, which is approx 75% of the time.
That other 25% of the time we mostly stick to the routine, but we might drop a non-crucial step (like a bath) or switch up the order here or there. Our two non-negotiables is a family dinner at 530pm and “mama cuddle num nums” before bed.
Baby girl is all “HELL NO IT’S NOT BEDTIME UNTIL I GET MY NUM NUMS (read: bottle) AND CUDDLES FROM MAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”

Below is my typical week, meal plan wise, and a few things I do to keep organised and stick to the plan, maybe they’ll help you too!  

  • Husband and I work full time and we share the drop off/pick up. If I do the drop off I don’t do the pick up, and vice versa. If we’re not doing the drop off we start work early, meaning that M is in daycare from 8am-430pm and home at 4.45pm allowing for a 530pm dinner. We currently have it organised where I do the pick up on the nights that I cook, since I only cook on two week nights a week (see below). This allows me to be home 10mins early to start the dinner. It’s all about seeing how many mins you can squeeze out of your day by being strict with your routine. 
  • Sunday: We draw up a meal plan and we do our one grocery shop for the week. I bake a batch of cookies or muffins, do the meat prep (like cut up chicken breast if I’m doing a stirfry or curry) and pop it in the freezer ready to go.  
    I cook a big meal on Sunday night and settle in for another busy week
    Monday night: Leftovers, then food prep for the following night when M is in bed
    Tuesday night: I cook a big meal in 30 mins flat and wash/hang a load of washing
    Wednesday night: Leftovers, then food prep for the following night when M is in bed
    Thursday night: I cook a big meal, then put on a laundry load and fold the washing from Tues night
    Friday night: Leftovers for dinner and a beer on the couch
    Saturday: I cook a meal on the fly since I have more time to be creative, I also do a whole lot of washing to catch up from the week since the one load I do on Tuesday and Thursday really doesn’t cut it!  Saturday is also my cleaning day, but since I walk the house each night to pick up toys/books etc. it’s always pretty tidy. 
  • Food prep on my leftover night means I can usually bang out a dinner in 20 mins. I have a list of about 12-15 dinner meals I cycle through so we don’t get bored, since leftovers three times a week can get really frickin irritating.

My go-to meals are:

  • Lasagne 
  • Spag Bol 
  • Meat balls 
  • Lamb meatballs and rice, hummus, greek salad, pita pockets
  • Chicken fettuccine with alfredo sauce
  • Mac ‘n Cheese, which I make a large portion of and serve with steak or stuffed chicken breast and salad on the side
  • Nachos 
  • Enchiladas 
  • Quesadillas 
  • Tacos 
  • Curry 
  • Stirfry
  • Risotto
  • Thai beef salad (where I cook up double beef and rice noodles, but make a fresh salad on the leftover night)
  • I’ve been known to pre-prepare pizza, and stick it in the freezer. This is better where you use plain ingredients as I found feta cheese doesn’t freeze, thaw and cook well (and usually I usually end up making a garden salad and quick garlic bread to pad it out)

What are your mama efficiency tips?  
Do you struggle with your nighttime routine? What has helped you to overcome that?

Stay organised mama’s!
Areta xo

The selfish mama

It’s true what they say: when you become a parent you give up selfishness and trade it in for selflessness.  But it took me a LONG time to figure out that you can’t fill anyone else’s cup while yours is empty. You gotta put yourself on that priority list. Before the washing. Before the dishes. But after food though… Part of looking after yourself is keeping fed and watered.  Continue reading

You are what you think…

I will never forget her… The nurse who scrunched up her nose, rolled her eyes and told me it was “not ideal to cuddle your baby, or look them in the eye when they wake at night”.  It really hurt that to her, my instincts were wrong, and as a new mum I believed her. I believed her words over my own inner voice. I believed that she was right and I was wrong and OMG I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT TO DO AND THIS IS JUST GOING TO GET HARDER AND HARDER AND I JUST KNOW MY KID WILL NEVER EVER SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT, OR BE EASY TO RAISE.  Continue reading