Tuesday, 27 November 2012

What not to do: 10 ways to de-stress your life

One of the unexpected blessings about becoming a mother is the social network you get inducted into. It seems the community blossoms once you're a parent, and all of these unknown places and wonderful people reveal themselves - from parenting websites bursting with advice and ideas, to local coffee groups, to community-based playcentres, to a host of child-friendly venues teeming with happy families.

One such place I visit frequently is Mouths of Mums, an online community of mums asking and sharing advice for women just like me. It really has been like another friend to me, and I've found solace there time after time.

So, you can imagine my excitement when the opportunity popped up to be one of their blogger contributors. Here's the first article from little ol' Latte Mum (copied below too), and I hope there will be many more. Looking forward to seeing you there and introducing you to my dear friend.

The grass isn't always greener - time to love the life you live, and de-stress!
What not to do: 10 ways to de-stress your life

The world is different to me now. Forever changed for the better, because of this new little person in my life. He has no idea that he has done this to me, but that’s what makes it all the more beautiful.

I feel like I’ve led a stressful life. I’ve been through a lot and haven’t been as kind to my body and mind as I should have over the years. Consequently, I’ve experienced my fair share of heart palpitations, anxiety headaches and borderline OCD urges (anyone else unable to sleep unless all the wardrobe doors and drawers are completely closed?!).

My pregnancy was no exception. I endured the typical 12 hour days in the office (in heels, I might add), a couple of pregnancy exercise classes each week, dinners out with friends, a passionate Rugby World Cup campaign (which ended in an overnight stint in hospital due to contractions at 29 weeks – no joke), and still found time to iron the cot sheets in preparation for baby (what was I thinking?!). I think I managed some sleep here and there, but not 100% sure.

‘If I’m stressed now, think how it will be when the baby’s here’ – I thought.

It didn’t matter how many times my [very stable, rational, calm and loving] husband, parents, sisters, friends or colleagues called for calm, I had to find that peace from within. And that’s what happened, quite literally and unexpectedly, in the form of an innocent and contented child who grew inside me for 9 months and then changed my life forever.

If having a baby seems too drastic a step for minimising stress in your life, you can just learn from my mistakes instead!

What not to do: As I discovered, you’ll be stressed if you live by these rules…
1. Prioritise external influences: work is definitely more important than family

2. Prioritise the housework above all else: the vacuuming is more important than that hot drink you’ve just made

3. Spend, spend, spend on everything and anything: nothing beats a how-are-we-going-to-pay-the-electricity-bill argument

4. Calorie count: cakes and chips are definitely out, water and celery sticks are in

5. Over analyse: if that woman in your office said you look good in black, surely she means you’ve put on weight and need a colour that’s slimming, right?!

6. Obsess about the Joneses: specifically, what they drive, the size of their house, the politeness of their children…

7. Yearn for more: specifically, upgrading your car, adding an extension to your home, getting more “thank-you’s” from your children…

8. Immerse yourself in chaos: if there’s a crowd or traffic jam, you need to be in it

9. Crank up the background noise: turn up the TV, music, YouTube, children to ensure you can’t hear yourself think…

10. Do a status update every minute: your virtual friends in the virtual world need to know when you’re on the toilet or going to sleep

Instead, why not feel heart flutters instead of heart attacks and de-stress your life by doing the following…

1. Family first: always; they’re what makes your world go round

2. Take some time for yourself each day: your soul deserves a hot latte and a Kardashian update when you have 5 minutes to spare – the vacuuming can wait

3. Live within your means: write a budget and stick to it if you have to; you don’t need that extra pair of shoes or three-tiered toy storage solution you saw on Mumgo to be happy

4. Enjoy everything in moderation: a caramel slice and glass of red wine never hurt anyone, particularly when you balance it out with a walk in the sunshine the next day

5. Graciously accept compliments: assume that everything’s said in kindness and sincerity, and if it isn’t, it’s not your problem to worry about anyway

6. Don’t worry about the neighbours: there will always be someone richer, smarter, prettier and more charming than you – so just deal with it and move on

7. Be happy and satisfied with the positives in your life: don’t focus on the trivial things you don’t have, but rather celebrate all the joys in your life

8. Reconnect with nature: escape the crowds every now and then by retreating to a quiet park to read a book

9. Turn it off: I love Gossip Girl as much as the next person, but sometimes you just need to turn the TV off and bask in the silence

10. Make real connections: minimise your time in the virtual world; surprise surprise, it’s your friends and family in the real world that give you a hug when your status update is “exhausted”, not your 413 Twitter followers

What else do you do to minimise stress in your life?

*First posted on Mouths of Mums.


Monday, 26 November 2012

Ingredients for a perfect day

Days like today are the reason why Mondayitis exists. So full of sparkle and happiness, I didn't want it to end. I've had some tough days this year, but today's perfect moments have wiped the slate clean. Today is what life is all about.

I will hold today's warmth in my heart for as long as I can, but I thought it was worth jotting down the day's ingredients in the hope I can recreate it when today's magic runs out.

The description of said ingredients seems to have poured out of me in poetic fashion - so I hope you don't mind reading the rest in a cheesy rhyme!

Ingredients for a perfect day...

An hour's extra sleep before baby wakes up
Freshly brewed coffee in an oversized cup
Each window revealing a blue sparkling sky
Happiness brewing without knowing why
Sweet french toast brunch at a local cafe
Happy kids using the laneway to play
Husband hanging cleaned clothes on the line
While I sit and relax and feel blessed that he's mine
Family swim session at the pool by the harbour
No tears from baby or his self-conscious mother
Entertaining trains choo-chooing into view
Nearby cruise ships, ferries and helicopters too
Laughter, stilt-walkers and clowns at the fair
Melting icecreams the real reason we were there
BBQ smoke in the warm evening air
A welcome reminder that summer is near
A contented baby who'll sleep soundly tonight
Red wine that complements our dinner just right
Today was delicious in every respect
As perfect as a day can get

Poser? Moi?

All smiles for the swim this time Mummy

Enjoying the colours, sounds and atmosphere

*How did you spend your Sunday? What are your "perfect day" ingredients?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Santa Claus is real

When did you stop believing in Santa Claus? I think I was quite prepared to believe in him for the rest of my life, had the truth not been revealed to me in a matter-of-fact way when I was 10.

I've always been a dreamer at heart. As a young girl I would imagine fairies in forests, pretend that exotic lands with lollipop fence posts existed, and I'd often skip to the letterbox expecting to find a card for me from a princess far, far away. Time after time my over-active imagination would come to my rescue by whisking me away from the bitterness of reality. But as I matured, I was forced to live in an adult world where make believe doesn't exist.

It's true for you too, isn't it? We explain away magic in the world every day as just a coincidence, a lucky break or a complete con. We now live our lives with our gaze cast down, our hands firmly in our pockets and our minds closed.

But this year is different. Christmas is about to get its sparkle back.

I've noticed fairy dust in my world again. I see it in the dawn sky once lost to hangovers and the work commute; I see it in the twinkling blue eyes that gaze back at me as from a rosy little face that looks like mine; I see it dancing around the teddy bear that comes to life for a certain someone during afternoon playtime.

This year, there is a new member of the family who is enchanted by the magic of Christmas. A little boy who will happily be my Christmas Elf, and believe in the jolly man who flies in the sky just as much as I did.

Yes, magic is alive and well in our house again.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/4213716609/


*What are you doing to bring the magic of Christmas alive in your house this year?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

How to be adored

I have a little pink book in my nappy bag. I spotted it in a boutique the other week, winking at me in all it's fuchsia-with-silver-embossed-letters finery, and I just had to have it.

Titled How to be Adored and covering glamorous topics such as channelling chic and how to descend a staircase movie-star style, it's ideal for flicking through in that moment between latte being delivered and friend arriving.

I do love the word adore. I think the way it sounds when spoken, echoes its meaning: to love with one's entire heart and soul; regard with deep respect and affection.

The book's a bit of fun, but feather boas and Chanel No. 5 aside, it has got me thinking about what one truly has to do in order to reach adoration status.

I keep coming back to a single - dare I say it, simple - trick... Be Yourself.

No need for self help books when you're this cute

The end - I'm off!


Monday, 12 November 2012

Independence

Today my baby was left parentless for the first time ever, and he barely cried. It's official. He doesn't need me as much as I thought he did.

Sure, there was a quick tear when he was first plonked down in the never-before-seen lounge room, but a stash of different toys and one of his favourite baby friends to play with proved to be an immediate balm.

I should be happy that my little boy was happy to play with his gorgeous friend for an hour while Mummy just about killed herself at the gym (regretting Operation Catching Rays already), but part of me was sure that my chillaxed baby would be inconsolable once he realised I was gone.

Walking back from the gym, knowing that I hadn't been called to come and rescue my little monkey early, I wasn't sure whether to feel pride or sadness. Of course I wasn't surprised as he was left in the most capable of hands, but part of me hoped he would miss his Mummy.

I did get an unusually snuggly cuddle from him afterwards, so maybe he did secretly miss me just a little bit.

Before: Looking apprehensive but quite happy to accept the toy offering from Miss T, didn't blink when I waved bye-bye
After: Tears when I got back... what the?!
After: Happy to see you Mum, but I had a great time here!
PS. Here's an idea for those of you out there trying to reclaim some "you time" and get fit - find a friend who wants to do the same, and mind each others bubs while you go to the gym. It's only for an hour or so, which makes it manageable for the mum and little ones. Plus, it gives the babies a chance to play in new surroundings and build relationships with others, and you the chance to invest in yourself. We're only on Day 1 of this little arrangement, but going well so far!

PPS. When I say "he was left parentless for the first time ever", this isn't technically true. His wonderful grandparents have babysat a few times, but the little one has been asleep and unaware - so it really was a test today!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

More sunlight

No sooner had I written about sunlight, one of my fav mummy bloggers A Mother Life sent me some sunshine of the virtual kind that warmed my heart just as much.

As you all know, Latte Mum has been quite a journey for me already. I'm writing because it helps me make sense of what's in my heart and head, and it's as much a little love affair as it is a necessity. Still, it's always encouraging to get a pat on the back and I was touched that NYC blogger A Mother Life sent me this Sunshine Blogger Award.

Sunshine Blogger Award

I'm sure there's a few of these sorts of awards going around, but it's a first for me and a good excuse to share some more snippets about myself and give a nod to some of the blogs I'm obsessed with.

What you might not know about me...
  1. I come from a household of women, with 4 sisters and no brothers
  2. I have a son, 4 nephews and just 1 niece - so the balance of power has shifted!
  3. I couldn't live without spaghetti bolognese
  4. My favourite city in the world is Queenstown, New Zealand
  5. Much to the amusement of my friends, I have an irrational fear of dolphins (long story - will tell it to you sometime)
  6. Despite being a colourful person, I have too much black in my wardrobe
  7. My house is usually very organised, but I feel those days are numbered
  8. I think I have a kind, nurturing, caring soul
  9. In the 10 years I've been with my husband he has never cleaned the bathroom (disgraceful I know, but he makes up for it by doing the ironing)
  10. I have about 10 coffee cards in my wallet (perhaps not that surprising)
I would like to pass on the Sunshine Blogger award to the mummy bloggers I've been most obsessed with this week - thank you for inspiring me everyday ladies:
noideamum - funny, cute, heartwarming, relatable
Seven Cherubs - always so inspirational and a wonderful mummy community
Be A Fun Mum - so many great ideas
Green Tea & Toast - beautiful words and photos to match
Metropolitan Mum - one of most stylish new mums ever
(Not) Just a Mummy - best beauty advice for yummy mummys
Matilda's Mum - an Aussie mum's journey
Mummy to Twins - relevant advice, ideas and a mum's opinion on current news

Ladies, I've been told the rules for accepting this award is:
  • Include award logo in blog post and thank the blogger who gave it to you & include link back
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself or list 10 facts about you
  • Nominate approximately 10 bloggers for the award and contact them to inform them

Thank you x

 


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Catching rays

After pouring my heart out to a beautiful friend yesterday, she sent me this story. It struck a chord and I want to tell you why.

I have been floating above the world for the past year, in a parallel universe of less sleep, exponential learning, daytime TV and utter devotion to one little human.

My life has been breastfeeding, trips to the grocer, primary coloured blocks, mashed veges, yellow rubber duckies, coffee dates and baby kisses full of perfect love. It has been the best year of my life.

But I knew I'd have to come back to earth sometime.

It's not that the baby buzz has gone, it's more that my baby is growing up. He doesn't need the constant feeds and reassuring cuddles anymore, he needs an enthusiastic teacher with energy and the confidence to let him independently explore. It comes with a sudden realisation that I need to take better care of myself so I that can be everything he needs me to be.

It's hard even contemplating being a little bit selfish again. Let's face it, my child's needs are paramount and the days of weekend sleep-ins, long impromptu lunches with friends and solo shopping trips belong to an era of my life I've well and truly moved on from. It's time to pursue other pick-me-ups.

Physically, I've started proper exercise again, I'm cutting out cakes (major step right there), I'm trying to go to bed earlier and I'm painting my nails more often. Mentally, I'm going to work on eradicating the self doubt and fear of judgement that sometimes weighs heavy and Dr Phil has been deleted from my Foxtel IQ list in an attempt to minimise the trash I feed my brain.

I'm going to have more lattes with the beautiful people in my life who uplift and reassure my spirit, and try not to take it upon myself to rescue the rest of the world. I can't be everything to everyone, I just need to be someone to my little one.

I'm ready to reposition myself in the sunlight, and this inspirational article from literary heaven was just the anchor I needed.

Is it sunny where you are?



Friday, 2 November 2012

Big news

I resigned this week. I am officially an unemployed stay-at-home mum of one.

I have said goodbye to a job that challenged me, offered lunch breaks (sometimes), annual leave, training opportunities and time for Facebook, for one that's unpredictable and around the clock, with a client that can't articulate what he wants (lucky I've had experience with that one). Am I crazy?!

Many of you may think so as it seems I'm going against the trend here. In a timely coincidence, The Australian reported this week that an increasing number of mothers in two-parent families are back at work before their youngest child turns 1, compared with 3 years of age in the mid-1980's and 5-years in the mid-1970's. Why? Apparently "this generation of women have jobs worth going back to and the typical mortgage requires two incomes to service." You can read the full article here*.

This makes me sad. Sure, some of us can't wait to go back to work. To have some independence again, some adult time and to do a job that's enjoyable and makes us all the more better for it. But some mums (even the most career-driven high flyer types) want to be at home with their children, at least in the early years. Regardless, many women must go back to work to help support the family.

The cost of living is a huge issue, I get it. But I wonder if, in our quest for workplace equality and womanly independence, we've made it harder to be a stay-at-home housewife should we choose. Are we now too scared of what we'll lose by putting our career on hold for however long?

My decision to resign wasn't taken lightly but I feel incredibly fortunate that I at least had the choice. I know that everyone's circumstances are different and the reality of one salary funding the family is daunting, but for us it's a sacrifice we are prepared to take. I think workplace equality and women's rights are worth fighting for, but we should also fight for options - to stay home to care for children if we so choose or to have access to free childcare in order to happily work full-time (and actually get some money in return) or to be offered part-time work so we can have the best of both worlds.

Channel 7's The Morning Show provided a nice summation, here's the clip, and I think Jody Allen from Stay At Home Mum explains the conundrum well.

So there you have it - big news on the home front and of the broadsheet variety. Would love to hear your thoughts on this controversial topic...

Upstaged by a baby (understandable) when I went into the office to say 'bye' today
Me (cream jacket) with the girls and Kenzie (fluffy puppy) - will miss you guys!
*If the link takes you to an abbreviated version of the article, type "social revolution at work" into Google News and the top link should take you to the full text.