Creating White Space In Life

2016-04-07 12.56.01It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind. The washing, the meal prep, the entertainment, the shopping lists, the to-dos. Over the holidays I had a lot of time to consider my life and how each day is spent. When I had just one baby at home the days seemed long and sometimes, empty. I did whatever I wanted; the days were slow and fairly carefree, which has only been recognised in hindsight, of course.

Nowadays with school and kindergarten drop offs and pick ups, my days seem surprisingly chaotic and full, and not always in a good way. I’m finding it hard to adjust and I feel like a real wimp for saying so.

My goal this term is to try to create more down time, more white space. I have a tendency to book up every moment, to say yes to everything, to schedule things in. I’ve started writing “home” on some days on our calendar, to remind myself that in between the necessary driving and delivering of children, I (we) need time to breathe. It’s not just to make sure that dinner is on the table (my goal is to have it ready by 5pm in order to get baths and bedtimes happening at a reasonable hour for my Bird, who finds it very difficult to wind down in the evenings… some would say she’s a lot like her mama). It’s also because the poor baby isn’t in any sort of daily rhythm and she is now ten months old (today!). She has most of her sleeps in the car or the ergo or the pram and they are usually short lived, either due to necessity or just because she barely sleeps a wink (like her sister). Overnight she wakes three times at minimum and has done since she was born. It’s fair to say I’m tired, and I’m guessing she is too! Yes, there is yet another reason for us to take things down a notch.

The other day, with reckless abandon, we packed a picnic lunch, got in the car and went for a bushwalk (see picture). I am always shocked to get out there and realise this is where we live. The time spent in nature worked wonders for all of us and when we got back to the car I really felt regenerated. It was then that my decision was made to make a conscious effort to create more space simply to breathe.

Today after school drop off we came straight home. Baby P is having a sleep and miraculously it’s been 35 minutes so far (totally jinxed myself then and she literally started crying as I pressed full stop). The Pixie is home from kinder with a cough and is watching Octonauts. The breakfast dishes have been washed (thanks to a simple but super tip from my mum – to fill up the sink with hot soapy water first thing and dump all the dishes in there as you go) and today my one goal is to do a few loads of washing and hopefully write a few incredibly late thank you cards for gifts we received when Baby was born (OOPS!).

What are you all up to today? I hope you find some time for yourself, wherever you are.

on the eve of food: introducing solids, again

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And just like that, it’s time to once again introduce a human baby to the wonderful world that is food.

I’ve done it before, of course. But a first time mama asked me yesterday how to go about introducing solids and I was a bit perplexed because I actually don’t remember. So time to pull out the resources and refresh my memory.

First things first, like I reiterated when introducing food to the Pixie, as a parent you must, you must, you absolutely must go with what feels right for you. If you’re dead set on giving your baby rice cereal as their first food because that is what feels comfortable for you, then go for it. However if you think that perhaps there may be more to life than rice cereal, please do read on.

Also, to update, Pixie has been a great eater. In my original food post I wondered if Birdie was a fluke, but Pixie has followed suit. Yes, at age three, there are some days that she simply will not eat. She doesn’t like green vegetables. She eats about three breakfasts each morning (not joking) and then slows down as the day progresses and eats like a sparrow at dinner time. Normal stuff. But overall I’d have to say she is maybe even a better eater than Bird was. Go figure.

Anyway. Here are some ideas/books/resources/schools of thought that have worked for me when introducing food (and beyond). This is where I will begin again, the third time around with Peach.

:: Learn about food. Whenever I lose my cooking mojo, particularly when it comes to kid food, the first book I consult is always Wholefood for Children* by Jude Blereau. I love her. Sometimes her recipes contain some ingredients which you may not automatically have on hand so if you’re not into winging it (like me) then you might want to plan your cooking out a little when using this book. This is definitely where I will be starting this time around. For older kids and families I really like It’s All Good* by Gwenyth Paltrow and Julia Turshen. It has great meal planners and a whole section on fun kid food. For you it might be another book or resource. Have a look around* and find what sits right with you, don’t just take the advertiser’s claims of “super food!” and run with it. Do some research of your own.

:: Avocado, bone broths and veggies is where it’s at for us. We’ll be skipping the rice cereal and heading straight for these delicious and wholesome alternatives as Peach’s first foods. Avocado mixed with breastmilk, it’s a baby’s dream, I’m sure of it. I’ll have to do some follow up reading but I’m sure sweet potato was also one of the front runners last time. Here is a little more information if you’re wondering why we would go down this route.

:: Be lead by your baby. Every time I’ve had a baby the recommended age to introduce food has changed. The ‘”rules” are constantly changing. So (within reason) go with what your baby is telling you. Watch them as they begin to stare at the food on your plate and follow it to your mouth. Watch them as they practice chomping and biting on things. Take note as they become interested in food. The signs are there, I promise.

:: No sugar. I slipped up a little on this with poor old Pix. She did have some sugar before she turned two, but it was very limited. Third time lucky: I’ll be sticking to my guns and doing my upmost to decline the sweet poison until Peach is two years old.

:: Natural, whole, actual, real, food. Basic, real food. Every day. Ignore the marketing telling you otherwise. Make real food attractive for kids and involve them in the process. The time you spend now will pay off later when your kid is munching broccoli next to their friend who will only eat refined cheese sticks out of a plastic wrapper. Since Birdie started kinder I have been using these bento boxes* (for kinder/outings) and these plates (for home) for both the older girls and they LOVE them. Kids go crazy for divided food… here is some inspiration.

:: Baby lead + mushed up = mix it up! There is so much advice out there it can be overwhelming. There is no need to stick to one method. I like to try lots of different things, your baby might too. Sometimes if you’re going out it might be easier for you to share some of your meal with your baby (amazing how long a crust of bread can keep them entertained). Other times you might mix some breastmilk through yoghurt or avocado or mashed veggies and feed it to you baby with a spoon. See what works. Each day will be different. Here is some more general advice.

:: They must try it. This one is a tip for toddlers and up, not babies. We don’t force our kids to eat everything on their plates, but they must at the very least try everything. We often hear “I don’t like [insert random food here]” when they have never had it before. The rule is they must taste everything on their plates before they are allowed to say they don’t like something… unfortunately for them they will probably still have to keep trying it in subsequent meals if it is an important food!

:: Following on from that, don’t believe them when they say they don’t like it! One taste often isn’t enough. Birdie never wanted to eat lentil dahl but now she devours it by the bowlful. Taste buds grow and develop too.

:: Take it slowly and relax. The child will eat, eventually.

I could go on and on about this topic, but you really just have to get out there and try it yourself to see what works. In a few weeks time that is exactly what I will be doing. Happy eating!

* if you purchase via my marked affiliate links I will earn a small commission.

bon voyage social media

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My thumb hurts.

I looked down at Peach today and saw she was smiling at me. I nearly missed it


because I was too busy scrolling. Mindlessly scrolling through the depths of Instagram.

I couldn’t tell you what I was looking at. It was just one image after another, scroll, scroll, scroll, pause… like… scroll, scroll… then suddenly a movement on my lap caught my eye and there she was looking up at me, gums and dimples and all.

Then and there I decided to follow in the footsteps of some other friends on Instagram and take a break.

I used to take every January off Facebook in the days when I was quite addicted to it. It was amazing how quickly I forgot all about it, how quickly it was replaced by real live things: books, the newspaper, phone calls, conversation, writing. Thoughts that didn’t automatically translate into status updates. But sure enough February would come around and the habit would begin again.

I like Instagram a lot more than Facebook which is both good and bad at the same time. Good because I am engaging in things and people that truly interest me. I’ve connected with some wonderful people that I would never have had the opportunity to otherwise. I’ve had windows opened towards me into other people’s lives. When you’re home with small children it can make you feel less alone to have a peek through those windows, to see what other people are up to. I’ve been inspired by creative people and learned things from other mothers.

But it can also take away from real life, if you let it. Just like it did today, when I almost missed the sweet and fleeting smile of my baby. I’ve misheard questions and comments from Birdie and the Pixie because I’ve been on my phone, ignoring them and not being present. I don’t like the example I am setting them, losing myself in cyber space while I should be reading them a book or listening to their ideas, or just observing, thinking, watching, sitting. I find my attention span is becoming more and more limited as my thumb flicks from here to there, not fully engaging… and it’s not just Instagram, it’s my phone in its entirety. I remember the days I used to scoff when I heard people talking about phones that had cameras on them. I have a camera thank you very much. Ha!

So bye bye Instagram, and while I’m at it: Twitter and Facebook too… I’m off on hiatus for a week or so. Destination: Real Life.

If you’re thinking about it too, check out this video, it might give you the motivation you need!

ten things I can do with one hand, thanks to motherhood

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When you’re carrying a baby around for what feels like 99% of your day, and you’re very lazy/stubborn when it comes to putting on your sling, you get pretty nifty doing things with one hand. Here are some of the things I’ve learned to do with one hand thanks to my babies. High five to motherhood skills!

  1. Chop vegetables. Albeit a bit chunky, but chopped nonetheless.
  2. Put jackets on bigger kids. With a bit of yanking.
  3. Make cups of tea. Including a slightly risky manoeuvre in order to get the stove lit.
  4. Go to the toilet, pants down, pants up, etc. Yeah! (Skinny jeans = an extra ten points.)
  5. Type, write blog posts, reply to emails, and so on (eg. this post right now).
  6. Bark commands at anyone within a 500 metre radius. Just kidding, I can bark commands with or without one or two handed gesticulation. I’m very talented like that.
  7. Wash dishes. Ok they aren’t great, but useable. If it is the difference between eating and not eating…
  8. Put loads of washing on. This one is not much fun as it also requires a deep squat to get down to my machine. That combined with seemingly dissolved pelvic floor muscles and an extra 5kg is a no brainer: avoid if possible. (Avoiding washing is always possible.)
  9. Open packets of m and ms and eat them.
  10. Eat double cream by the spoonful out of the container… I’m not going to lie, this is something I excel at.

So I have to say my skills have increased dramatically over the last five years. I’m not sure how helpful the above list will be on my CV though.

What do you do while wandering around with babe in arms?

it was you

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I look at this photo of myself from last summer and cannot comprehend it. It was you growing inside me. I watch a video that I took of my stomach bouncing and jostling as you kicked me, and now, knowing you as I do, I just can’t understand that it was you in there, doing that.

That you were so close all that time and I didn’t even know it. That you’re here now and that you were here all that time too.

It’s been seven weeks since Peach was born. She’s a lovely, round, squishy, smiley baby. KB has gone back to work and friends and family have (almost) all had their first cuddles. It seems that real life has continued, as usual.

But here I am, still getting to know this tiny human. Still marvelling at her sounds, her smell. Still tired and up all night and finding my way. Still feeling like it’s new, but old, all at the same time. Still wondering how all this happens, and why.

Still amazed by the fact that we made three humans.

I can’t think of where else to go with this post beyond that. I made humans. The end.

9 x 7 x 498 – 16 + 52* or thereabouts

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9 = the number of baby jigging steps** it takes me to get from one side of my bedroom to the other.

7 = the number of seconds it takes me to walk the nine steps.

498 = the number of times I paced up and down staring longingly at my bed and the wide mouthed sprawled snoring man in it at 4.30am this morning.

16 = the number of times Peach fell asleep only for her eyes to swing open again as if nothing had happened. What? Oh no, I wasn’t sleeping [laughs], I was just momentarily checking out the inside of my eyelids.

52 = the extra laps I did after she was finally asleep, just for good measure.

I don’t have a mathematical brain but I’d say that the above algorithm took a fair percentage off my recommended/preferred nightly hours of sleep.

So. Six weeks. The six week mark. A wonder week if I remember correctly? I’ve spent the last couple of nights like this, it’s been the first time since she was born that I’ve had to work really hard to get her back to sleep. They’re tricky, aren’t they? The way they look so deeply asleep one moment, then wham, the eyes are wide open again. But then you feel that comfortable warmth as her body finally relaxes and moulds to you. Got her!

It’s a strange kind of walking meditation, if you let it be so.

* estimates only.
** smaller than regular steps.

newborning // the third time around

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The big girls are at kinder, the baby is asleep. There are vegetables roasting in the oven for a frittata for tonight’s dinner. The washing has been put on and some episodes of Mad Men watched. Papers and pencils have been thrown into drawers and doors to messy bedrooms closed.

Newborning, the third time around… things are chaotic with three, but surprisingly there is an overarching sense of calm that comes with a little bit of knowledge and previous practice.

In the night when Peach is wide eyed and grizzly, I’m not in a flood of tears wondering what has happened to my life. I cuddle her close and breathe in her milky scent. I close my eyes when I can and go through that mental list – milked? changed? warm? tired? comforted? I remind myself how quickly this phase passes and life moves on.

Before I go to bed at night I quickly line up supplies for my nightly motherly duties – terry cloth towels, a few nappies, wipes, a full water bottle and a snack. I breastfeed in bed and close my eyes when I can. Nowadays nothing gets in the way of precious sleep time – if I can help it.

I’m slowly recovering from the birth and while life does not yet have a new flow, I have a new vision of how things are going to be. I know these sleepy newborn days don’t last, I know this round baby will soon open her eyes fully and begin to see the world around her in a new light. I know things will be busy and full when friends and family slowly move on with their lives and the food arriving on the doorstep and the kinder pickups gradually diminish.

Part of me is nervous, but the other part knows (read: hopes desperately) that I’ve got this.

letting go: the extensive lessons of motherhood

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I stand in the kitchen chopping up pumpkin to roast and feel my baby kicking: low in my pelvis.

Instead of feeling elated at my baby saying hello, I feel drained. My darling number three is currently breech. Those of you who have been with me for a while will know that one of the reasons our Pixie is nicknamed as such is due to her stubborn breech positioning – for the Entire Pregnancy until an external cephalic version just after 36 weeks.

While my logical mind tells me all of the things that could be happening which would be much worse than this, when you are faced with a situation that is entirely out of your control and is also on a schedule, it doesn’t feel good.

I don’t mean to complain or whinge; simply to write and to figure things out in the process.

When I was pregnant with Pixie I could barely even say out loud that she was breech. I internalised this “malpositioning” and couldn’t make sense of it. Why would my baby do this? Is there something wrong with me? With them? Don’t they see the big neon flashing sign saying EXIT DOWN HERE? What is wrong with this partnership?

I took myself off for endless appointments: acupuncture, moxibustion, chiro, massage, NET, yoga, and on and on. I remember one week where I was so overwhelmed with turn-the-baby appointments I just crumpled. This was not what pregnancy was meant to be like. I wanted to enjoy my baby. I wanted to relax into pregnancy, not fight it every step of the way. I wanted to connect with my baby.

In prenatal yoga, my teacher repeats often: “Trust in life. Trust in breath. Trust your body. Your body knows what to do.”

I completely lost trust in my body and my baby. And now that it is happening again, I feel that maybe I haven’t regained that trust. Now when I hear those words, I imagine all the other women in the yoga room who are able to trust their bodies and their babies, and I long to be one of them.

I promised myself this pregnancy would be different. But now looking back, who am I to promise anything about my pregnancy? It is not in my control, after all. This is one of the biggest lessons I have had to learn – and am still learning – about pregnancy, birth and parenting. For the first time in your life: things are not in your control. You cannot choose how your body “does” pregnancy. You can’t choose who your baby is or what they will decide to do. You cannot choose how you will birth, or what your baby will be like when he/she is born. You can prepare, certainly. You can read, you can practice, you can prepare. But you can’t control.

I look forward on my calendar for this week. I have appointments jammed in either side of my working hours and kinder pick ups: acupuncture, chiro, yoga, massage. I have times of the day where I will hang myself over the edge of the couch and pray for that beautiful rounded head that is nestled comfortably up in my ribs to make its way down south. I walked around the house the other day with my iPod down my pants to try to get the baby to turn to the sound of music. I hold an icepack over the top of my stomach and then hurl it away again, feeling terrible when my baby starts to wriggle around in the cold – how could I?

I had a horrible week last week fighting this baby, this pregnancy. I was consumed by it, it ate away at me every waking moment. I dreamt about the baby, I dreamt about appointments, about hanging upside down and doing headstands in the pool. My friendly, logical mind reminds me that I should be kinder to myself and to my baby, so this week I aim to be.

I woke up yesterday morning and I felt better. I am practicing acceptance. I am doing what I can. When I feel my baby kicking and moving, I try to replace any feelings of dread (Where was that kick? Where is the baby if I am feeling the kick there?) with positivity and loving kindness. I think about baby names and holding this baby in my arms, soft and sweet smelling.

I try my best.

winding down, paring back…

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I ran a workshop today (I am a trainer with a not-for-profit in my other life outside this parenting game) and found myself completely tongue-tied trying to find words and phrases that I use on a daily basis. I had to apologise for my slow and steady loss of vocabulary as the day went on.

As frustrating as it is in a professional environment, I am all too familiar now with the brain’s sneaky way of exiting us slowly out of the daily grind, and forcing us to focus inwards as our babies grow and birth becomes near. It’s almost like a slow moving fog descending over my head. Sound familiar?

I fought it a bit during my first pregnancy, but this time around I am relishing in the easy way in which I can float around the place, knowing that this feeling doesn’t last forever. I love that it is happening in sync with the onset of Autumn, and that this baby will be with us at the beginning of Winter. Perfectly timed if I do say so myself. I only have three weeks of work left, we are talking of bringing the baby stuff up from under the house, we’ve packed up the Pixie’s cot and put her into a “big girl bed”… the time is coming near… things are happening… I will remain in this blissfully vague state for as long as possible, thank you.

Apologies if you come across me in the next little while. I hope I can remember your name 😉

that quiet magic

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I went to my prenatal yoga class last night. I have to drag myself there most weeks. I’m tired and there’s chaos abound at home at that time of night – kids needing baths and cuddles and dinners and a couch or bed begging to be laid upon – and a body begging the same. Once I walk in the door though, I’m happy. I have been attending the same clinic/studio for six years now – pregnant and not pregnant. It feels like home.

At the start of our class we do a whip around the room and everyone tells the group how many weeks they are and how they are feeling. During my first pregnancy it was my favourite part of the class. Hearing the stories of other women and relating to how they were feeling. Sharing remedies and ideas on how to get comfortable in bed at night, or what to do when you wake at 3am and your partner doesn’t want to make you a sandwich. How to last the long days at full time work. Now on my third pregnancy, I catch myself rolling my eyes and willing these girls to hurry along so I can get into stretching my aching body before this precious weekly me-time is up and I head home to washing, toys and usually cranky kids who are kicking the walls, jumping on beds and still not asleep because they have just one more very important question to ask that they absolutely must get the answer to before they can possibly contemplate even the mere idea of sleep. It comes to my turn: “I’m almost 30 weeks and feeling great!” Next!

I went home last night feeling a bit guilty at my inner monologue towards these innocent first time preggy ladies, wishing I could recapture those first pregnancy moments – the quiet magic of it all. Getting home after a long day and having no one to worry about but yourself. Finishing up at work and being able to have a nap whenever you want and watch videos to your heart’s content while you wait impatiently for your baby to make an appearance. Pacing around the quiet, empty house touching and smelling new baby clothes and wondering how on earth a baby could possibly be so tiny. I remember those long days at home, and having to build a new life during the working week. I remember what it was like and know that I too once felt the need to go into great detail with the group about my left hip that had been niggling me a little while I watched Home and Away each evening after work.

So I resolve this week to learn from those mamas, to remind myself to pay attention to the beauty in these moments, and to be intentional about recreating that quiet first time baby magic. This baby might be number three in line, but I think he/she deserves it too. And perhaps this is just a memorandum of what is to come for them… etching out their space in this big boisterous family.

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