Exist. Get in the dang photo!

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Hey friends,

Let’s talk photos… Family photos. Professional photos and just photos in general.
I love photos, always have. Ask anyone I went to high school with, I was “that” person with the camera at every party, school camp or function and to this day I take photos, daily. Yes, daily. Photos are my love language, maybe that’s why instagram is my favourite social media…
Recently on instagram I asked how many people regularly get professional family photos done, (regular being at least once every 2 years) 
The main response was NO.
And then I asked for responses on why you do or don’t get professional photos done… And I will get to them in moment, but right now I want to tell you why I invest in getting professional photos done.
Mainly so I am actually in them – as Mums we are so often the one behind the camera. I have countless lovely photos of the children and Trent with them, but not so many of me, heck even the pets have some lovely photos I’ve captured. But I want evidence I existed too in more than just selfies! But secondly because to me, they are like gold. They are so precious and I treasure them. And I know I will for the rest of my life, so they are an investment I’m happy to make.
A big reason people listed as not getting photos done was the cost and I agree some photographers charge way too much money and some deliver really poor quality photos – but there are awesome photographers out there who are affordable, offer great deals and do exceptional quality photos.
My tips for scoring good deals with photos is wait for times like spring or christmas when many photographers offer mini sessions, they are usually 20-30 minutes long, cost around $100 and you get 10-20 digital images… I like these sessions as they are cheap and easy.

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Our 2017 Christmas card.

Photo taken by Tina Ebenal Photgraphy.

Another way to justify spending the money on photos is write it off as a birthday gift for yourself. I did that last year. Or get an annual family photo done for the christmas card, print off and frame a few and presto easy & affordable christmas gifts for the grandparents! Or organise an extended family photo session, get everyone to chip in, then you can have full family photos, individual families and generational photos. That would be special and would make a lovely, thoughtful gift for parents or grandparents (birthday, Mother’s Day, anniversary etc) – because honestly those people never really need anything and that sort of gift I feel is so meaningful.
Another reason many people listed for not getting professional pictures done is because they do not like photos of themselves or their husbands aren’t fans of posing. Well, all I have to say to that is – do you think your kids or possible future grandkids will one day care if you think you looked good or not in a photo? One day you’ll be gone, sorry to be blunt – but we all die and all that will be left to prove we once existed will be photos. I treasure old photos of photos (yes photos of photos) I have of my grandparents, one day someone may feel the same way about your picture. Give them something more to treasure other than a selfie. And as for posing, well many photographers are happy to do lifestyle or more natural photos. You go to your session and positively interact with your family and the photographer just clicks away… Yes, they may give some direction but it isn’t so structured and posed as just sitting there and grinning. A good photographer should make you feel comfortable. I like both styles of sessions.

Our recent professional photos, taken by Tina Ebenal Photgraphy.
(highly recommend her, she is a Toowoomba & surrounds photographer)

Photos are something so special to me, I treasure them. I capture a photo of my kids daily and I document it for our family’s project 365. Basically I take one photo a day, everyday for a year, log it daily on an instagram account I have set up especially for this project and then at the start of the new year I make the previous years photos into a book. I print 2 off, one for each child. These photos range from professional images, to selfies and to photos I’ve taken on my good camera… It’s a mix of individual photos of the kids, family snaps, the kids together and with our pets… Just our day to day life, captured & documented…

To my Mum friends, I want to encourage you to be in the photo. Get in them, don’t shy away, you may not love the photo of you – but I promise you one day your kids will treasure that photo and so will you. Very soon our little loves will be grown, they’ll be busy with their own lives and we will have our photos to look back on & remember when we were their whole world… And then we will be gone and all they’ll have is those same photos. And no one knows when that’ll happen, so get in the photo. Exist.
And to Dads, take more photos of your wives! Pick up the phone and snap a photo of her sleeping in a bed with kids sprawled everywhere, take the photo of her comforting a teething baby, pick up the good camera at the birthday party and take a photo of just her and the birthday kid or you take the camera on christmas morning and snap a shot of her with the kids or you surprise her with a voucher for family photos, even if you hate them… She’ll fuss and complain and say her hair looks silly, but just take the photo. It matters.

And that’s the point, you matter. Photos matter, memories matter. One day our future generations will want to know us, give them something. I wish more than anything I had more photos of my grandparents… Something to show my kids and for me to see them – to see a glimpse into their lives back then… I use to love when my Nin would show me old albums of the family, I loved sitting at the kitchen table and seeing the black & white and sepia toned images and having her point out who was who and telling me the stories behind each photo… I promise you one day someone will want to see a photo of you.
Investing $100 into a photo session for some lovely photos you didn’t have to set a self timer for I feel is money well spent, but if you can’t justify spending that money and I understand not everyone can, ask a friend with a camera to snap a photo and then do the same for her family. Or if you and your family are out somewhere all dressed up, ask someone to snap a photo of you all, try and use a good quality camera if you can! Heck, you don’t even have to be dressed up, just grab your tribe, stand in some good lighting, throw someone who isn’t a family member a camera, all huddle together and smile.
Get a picture somehow. But I do highly recommend investing in professional photos at least once every 2-3 years.
Bottom line is, just get in the dang photo! Be present, exist.

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Our story with Kawasaki Disease.

Our story with Kawasaki Disease.

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Kawasaki’s disease.
Ever heard of it before? Nope, me either – it’s uncommon, but it’s serious and I feel more parents should know about it…
Please read THIS FACT SHEET to learn more (seriously, click that and read it, learn the symptoms)
This is a disease that should be on every parent’s radar. It is noncontagious but it’s very serious and needs treatment in under 10 days to help reduce the risk of long term damage to the heart.
Let me tell you our story with Kawasaki’s….

Saturday the 20th of October – LuLu’s party day, we woke up and our little man was just a bit “off” – nothing major, just grumbly and a bit clingy. He enjoyed the party and spending time with his Nan, but he didn’t eat as much as normal and we all agreed it was probably due to a big molar he was cutting. That afternoon he started getting lethargic and that night was dreadful. He was awake screaming & he had a fever in the high 38c’s.
Sunday morning when we woke up he had a rash on his tummy, by the time we had finished breakfast and we changed his nappy again it had spread to his back. So off to the hospital emergency department we went.
The doctor thought it could be just a viral thing – possibly hand, foot and mouth, I didn’t feel it was that – but being a viral thing made sense – kids get those.
By 4pm that same day the rash had intensified, so back to the hospital we all went. This time a new doctor said it was a random allergic reaction, Tommy was given an antihistamine and then steroids.

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This was his rash just before 4pm on Sunday evening.

We went home after a few hours and when we woke up Monday morning around 6am the rash had faded and he seemed to be on the mend.
A few hours later before 9am, the doctor from the hospital called and wanted us to return, she believed it maybe scarlet fever. By the time we arrived at the hospital, Tommy had gone back down hill and the rash had returned. (The steroids and antihistamine had masked the rash temporarily) We were given a script for penicillin and went home. At midday he started vomiting, I contacted the hospital they said it could just be the combination of scarlet fever, high temperatures and medicine making him a little unwell. He threw up a few more times and then again after we woke on Tuesday morning and now he had diarrhoea. We took him back to the hospital.
This time he had a blood test straight away and a cannula was inserted to start fluids.

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His “bear paw” – his first cannula.

They ran many tests; blood cultures, x-ray and from memory I think they started a broad spectrum antibiotic. And they started organising transfer to Toowoomba either by ambulance or care flight – which ever could come first. Ambulance it was.
Dalby Hospital did everything they could for our little man and their level of care was great. I can’t fault them for the multiple diagnosis, from what I have read this is very common in the early stages of Kawasaki’s because the rash and symptoms continually change and the symptoms could be many different illness, it’s all a process of elimination. The doctors and nurses really cared for him and we are so thankful.
Before 2pm on Tuesday we were loaded into an ambulance with a lovely nurse, I’ve never been in an ambulance before so that was an experience and I sat beside him holding his hand for our very quick trip. Trent and Lucy followed behind.

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I sat in the seat beside him on the right and he slept most of the trip. Thankfully we got there very quickly.

We arrived at the base hospital in Toowoomba, we were told paediatricians were on stand by waiting for us – we weren’t seen at all by one, so there may have been so miscommunication. Tommy threw up all over me again while we waited. We ended up asking for a transfer over to the private hospital and drove ourselves there. We couldn’t watch him become more unwell and no one could tell us when he would be seen properly. The base hospital was very busy.
We arrived at the private hospital at 7pm and were given a bed and a private room immediately. That night our little man suffered through more blood tests and they had to put in another cannula. He was started on more fluids and antibiotics. At this point they were worried about sepsis, a few viruses and possibly meningitis. Those possibilities were terrifying. We were exhausted at this point it was a hugely long day, I believe Trent left us at around 10pm that night to go back to Dalby.
The next few days were a blur with lots of tears, I sat in a hospital bed scared out of my mind holding our little man who just slept. He didn’t want to do anything and he was so upset. I felt like a zombie and my heart was shattered. Days earlier he was his normal cheeky self. I was wracking my brain trying to think how he got sick and I didn’t stop praying for him to get better. Trent drove in each day to be with us.
Wednesday was a rough day of more tests and this was the day he started to swell up. His little body went puffy, his hands and feet were like little balloons and his eyelids were so swollen. He is normally such a petite little guy, in hospital he gained 1kg due to the swelling. And his eyes were so red and blood shot, they looked painful.
Thursday I remember he sat up and finally ate something, he ate a jatz biscuit and a lemonade ice block for breakfast and then some weetbix. That was a huge moment, he hadn’t eaten for most of the week except a small amount of yogurt on Tuesday – which I ended up wearing anyway. He also had to have another new cannula put in that day, his 3rd one.

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During all these days we were waiting on blood test results, monitoring him constantly, weighing nappies, measuring water and our paediatrician was conferencing with the Lady Cilento paediatric team and infectious disease management team. His rash continued to spread down his arms and legs and he remained so puffy.
Thursday evening the paediatrician asked me if I had ever heard of Kawasaki’s disease… I hadn’t. She and the doctors she had been speaking to believed this is what he had, unfortunately there is no test for this disease – just ruling out other possible problems and that’s what we had been doing. Eliminating other viruses and illnesses. Every test was coming back fine, well not fine. His inflammation levels were through the roof, the highest she said she had seen in such a young child, his kidneys and liver weren’t doing great and multiple other worrying results – but for specific viruses nothing was coming back. Throat swabs, nasal swabs, stool, urine, bloods – it showed no illness – but there was clearly something going on.
We were waiting on one more test result to come back before we treated for Kawasaki’s… The only symptom that wasn’t exactly right for Kawasaki’s was his temperature wasn’t getting over 39c, but it was in the mid-high 38c – but the doctors believe the steroids he had been given on Sunday evening were effecting his fever. Because even with regular panadol & nurofen his temperature would continue to be higher than normal and he felt so hot.
The test result still wasn’t back by Friday afternoon – so we agreed it was best for Tommy to start the treatment anyway. The treatment is intravenous immunoglobulin – so it was not dangerous at all for him to have. Trent and I sat with him while the treatment happened and we prayed so much that it would work.

 

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Receiving the IVIG treatment.

Trent stayed in hospital with him that night and I went home to snuggle LuLu.
Saturday he did seem to pick up, he was more alert and playing. He was actually playing with toys! He ate more and just seemed brighter. We were so thankful that this treatment had seemed to work, if it hadn’t he would’ve had another round of it and if that failed, then he would receive a lumbar puncture – but thankfully we avoided that.
I stayed Saturday night and it was awful. We barely slept at all and I feel it was because he was more alert, suddenly he was much more aware of where he was and he was scared. So that was rough, but understandable with the constant nurse checks and flushing of his cannula. He was so sick of being poked and prodded!
On Sunday 28th/October he was weighed and was back down closer to his normal weight, we were getting our tiny little man back and after more blood tests we were discharged. It was so wonderful to get back to our big blue house and our own bed.

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The paediatric ward we stayed in, we were taken care of so well and all the staff were beautiful – but I hope we never have to return.

We saw our paediatrician the following Thursday, she said one of his blood results showed possible glandular fever as well.
The poor little guy, Kawasaki disease, possibly glandular fever, teething with molars and the paediatrician also believes he could’ve had a mild case of viral meningitis (due to his very sore head & neck).
We had another round of blood tests today (Thursday 8th/Nov) to check again for glandular fever & a bunch of other things, just to make sure everything has remained ok in his little body and we hope the glandular fever result was a wrong one and he hasn’t had that.
At the appointment we also discussed how upset and unsettled he has been since coming home. He has really good & normal moments and then he will just melt down and he is so sad, he doesn’t like being away from us and some nights he sleeps well and others he won’t settle at all… She believes his stay in hospital has traumatised him and he is suffering from a lot of stress. He still is suffering body/joint pain, peeling hands, feet & lips and appears to get very bad headaches. So all we can do is love him through this, we cuddle a lot, we carry him and stay close to him, we are gentle, we do massage and just take things easy. From the reading I have done these symptoms and the behaviour is expected and normal after Kawasaki’s.
Each day is getting better but we still have 6-8 weeks to go until we know if he has come out of this ordeal ok. In that time frame he will get an ECG done in Brisbane and that is to make sure his heart is ok. Until that test he has to have aspirin every day.
This experience was horrific. I am so thankful his issue was treatable and he responded well to the treatment, we continue to pray that his little heart will be totally fine and we have faith it will be, especially because he received treatment before day 10.

I want to encourage you, that if your child is sick and you are given one diagnosis and then they worsen/change – go back. Keep going back until the treatment works or you see improvement. You don’t have to accept one opinion. We are our children’s advocates. We have to fight for them. I knew each time in myself when he needed to go back to the hospital and I didn’t care if it turned out to be nothing, I would prefer to be known as the over cautious Mother than regret not taking him or leaving it too late. If we had just agreed it was some viral thing and tried to ride it out over a week, I hate to think of what the outcome could’ve been.
Because even in hospital with constant fluids and daily antibiotics given through his IV, regular pain relief and routine observation they were describing him as flat and not improving. I hated hearing that at each shift handover, I just wanted to hear he was improving – but I knew he wasn’t but I also knew he was in the best place and was being taken care of.
This was easily the most scary and awful week of our life. One I wish on no one and my heart breaks for families going through worse ordeals than this, gosh I can’t even imagine it. I know we are fortunate that it was this and nothing more serious.
So what caused this? It is unknown, it could’ve been anything – most likely just a basic germ and his little body sent it’s immune system into over drive causing all of his arteries throughout the body to become inflamed. Prior to the Saturday he hadn’t seemed unwell or anything, so we are puzzled. But we are praying this ordeal is now over and his ECG will come back with good results.

This blog post was created to draw awareness to Kawasaki’s disease. If you are concerned your child has Kawasaki’s please go to your nearest hospital or GP. If your child has this and you need support please feel free to email me at modernwifelife31@gmail.com and I can connect you with a great support group.
I pray you never experience this disease first hand, but if you do, know you aren’t alone.
Thank you to so many of you for your genuine kindness, concern and compassion over the past few weeks.
We would appreciate any prayers or positive thoughts towards healing and good results.

Thank you.

Once again, please click on these links and educate yourself on this disease and share this post or those pages with any other parents you know.
Kawasaki Disease fact sheet from Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne
Kawasaki Disease foundation Australia 

Our sleep journey. (How we get our kids to bed by 5pm)

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Hi friends,

Let’s talk sleep… Kids and sleep – some just seem to “get it” and some don’t… Mine are a little in the middle.
Our kids seem to be very attached to us (which we do not mind at all, actually we love) and tend to sleep better beside us… Both started sleeping in our bed around 6-9 months and that’s how most nights are for us. I have rocked/fed them to sleep from the first moment and I have found they slowly grow out of it.
Now LuLu goes to sleep in her own bed at 5pm most nights and sleeps the whole night in there, that is a recent & positive change for her this year. I feel having both her & Tommy in our bed was starting to become a problem of one of them waking the other… But Tommy still is in our bed and we won’t bother trying to encourage him out until he is ready.  (We felt LuLu was ready.)

So let’s rewind… LuLu use to sleep with us, I rocked/cuddled her to sleep until she was nearly 3, when I neared the end of my pregnancy with Tommy I would sit on her bed until she fell asleep and when Tommy arrived she slowly learnt to fall asleep on her own and now recently we slowly started her sleeping a full night in her own bed. (She is 5 in October.)
My main tip with any sleep transition thing is slow and gentle and making sure they are ready.
Our theory with our babies has always been we are going to love and hug them as much as possible because one day maybe they won’t want to do that as much anymore and if we make them feel welcome with love & also allow them to sleep where they feel safe with us, that we are setting them up to feel secure to always come to us if they don’t feel safe or they need comfort.
I’ve never been able to do cry it out and each parent’s choice is their own, I have friends and family who do it and for them it has worked well. I tried once with LuLu & just couldn’t, I don’t think I even lasted 2 minutes. She was a super emotional baby & went from zero to hysterical very easily so I felt for her that was not the way to help her to sleep. So I fed her, I rocked her and then that transitioned into her laying on my lap for cuddles of an evening and when she nodded off I would carry her to her bed. As I got further along in my pregnancy with Tommy I became weaker and couldn’t carry her as much, especially when she was sleeping. So I started sitting on her bed, we would read some stories and then sing some songs and then I sat with her while she fell asleep. When Tommy arrived we continued the same routine for awhile and then slowly changed it to me saying I had to go sit on the couch and feed baby Tommy as he was tired & hungry but when he was asleep I would come back to her room and give her another kiss goodnight… This worked really well for us. Usually when I got back to her room she was fast asleep. So she had learnt to put herself to sleep.
In the last few months we started encouraging her to sleep in her own bed for a full night. Previously she would always go to sleep in her own cot/bed but around 10pm-1am at some point she would come into our bed… We never bothered fighting that, we liked the snuggles & we valued our sleep.
Anyway, we said if she spent a whole night in her bed the “fairies” may leave her a little gift near her fairy door… Sure enough when she slept a full night they did! Then the deal was if she sleeps a whole week, she gets another little gift and that time frame just keeps getting stretched out, now she hardly remembers it. But the fairies like to leave little gifts every now and then especially when she’s been extra good.
I feel really proud of how good she is sleeping.
Both of our kids go to bed around/just after 5pm and have done so since before Tommy was born (this time can be later if Trent is home or we are out & it may become later in the summer) and they wake around 6am-7:30am (usually later if I need to be somewhere early! ha!) It doesn’t matter if they go to bed at 9pm, they wake up at the same time.
* To save your question on why so early? It works for us for multiple reasons. Trent does shift work, some days I’m solo parenting from 5am-7pm, setting myself up to have at least an hour of alone time is important to me. I get to reset and do something for myself and this early bedtime is also what is best for our kids…
LuLu doesn’t nap, she hasn’t since before she was 3 – so an early bedtime for her is needed.
Tommy has 1 day nap occasionally during the morning at around 9:45am/10am-11/11:30am’ish – but that’s rare now, normally he doesn’t nap, so he also needs to be asleep early…
I still feed/cuddle Tommy to sleep for nap and bedtime – but if Trent is home I can feed him and hand him to Trent and he will fall asleep that way as well.
Lately he has been waking during the night as he is cutting a bunch of teeth. (He is 19 months today (14th/July) and just the other day he cut 3 teeth over night which included 2 molars. This made his tooth total 8 teeth, so he is due for a few more yet!)
With our kids we believe in being gentle with sleep. Of course when we have “those” nights like everyone, we get frustrated & sleep deprivation is torture & brings out the worst in everyone! But we try to be gentle. And of course we have rough nights, but we have found 99% of the time it is for a reason. Teething, night terrors or feeling unwell and occasionally I swear the moon affects my kids sleep patterns!
But we just try to ride the rough night waves as best we can…

Edit to add:
Tommy is now  nearly 21 months and as of recently I have had to wean him (read why HERE). Now he gets a cuddle to sleep, then I place him in his cot, he sleeps in his cot (with the side off) until we go to bed and then almost like magic he wakes up, we pop him in our bed and he sleeps through the night, only waking rarely now.
Of course when he is feeling poorly or teething, he maybe in our bed earlier or need more cuddles.
He will transition to a big boy bed in December when he turns 2, same as LuLu did at 2.

Sleep for every family is unique. No one style will fit everyone, but that is how we handle sleep in our household. We have been through every high & low of this sleep ride with our kids… We’ve had moments where they won’t sleep anywhere but on us (still occasionally – Tommy!), we’ve had amazing night sleeps where we wake up in fright in the morning because they slept the whole night in their own bed – so that must mean something is wrong of course! We have walked countless laps of the house trying to help them fall asleep and we’ve had moments where we felt like we didn’t have a clue about what to do next & get frustrated… But we survived and right now I feel like we are in a pretty good sleep space – having already ridden this sleep wave with LuLu who was a very clingy baby and not the best sleeper, I can be optimistic about the future with Tommy. For now we co-sleep with him, I love it but I know one day, when he is ready he too will go to sleep on his own in his own room for a full night… But for now I am enjoying this season, my all night snuggles and being there to help him feel safe & comforted when he needs me.

If you are having some troubles with sleep, a few things I’ve found that may help are…

  • Establish a set bedtime routine with your kids that is predictable. My kids know at 5pm or shortly after it is bedtime… By that time they are normally yawning and tired. We do bath time around 4pm, then a quick tidy of the playroom, read a book and then off to bed. Trent works shift work so our daily routine is flexible, on the days he does night shift the kids know after we say goodnight and goodbye to Daddy it is bedtime. (He leaves at 5pm) I truly believe children thrive on routine, they like knowing what to expect.
  • Rewards. If your child is old enough to understand some sort of reason, try to make sleeping in their own bed part of a reward system. Similar to our fairy deal, maybe a sticker each night and 7 stickers in a row means something special… The options are endless.
  • No electronics in the room. That’s a given, but young kids don’t need something stimulating their little minds. Bedtime should be for winding down… Books, prayers, talking about their day – but not electronics.
  • Have a good snack. Some children wake due to hunger, could be a growth spurt or maybe they didn’t eat enough dinner. A banana before bed is a terrific sleepy snack. The potassium is said to be great for promoting good sleep.
  • Fairy lights. LuLu isn’t a huge fan of the dark, nor am I really. We leave our hallway light on every night – it’s always dimmed very low but is bright enough that if she needed to, she could comfortably walk to our room. She also has a string of battery operated fairy lights in her bedroom. She thinks they are very special and it’s a highlight for her to switch them on each night before bed.
  • A well stocked night stand. LuLu is now at the age where she can help herself at night. She has a water bottle & a box of tissues beside her bed. This minimises the need for her to call out to us at night. She knows if she is feeling unwell or does need us though, that she can always come to us or call out.
  • Sleepy oils. This may or may not help, but I’ve found oils are a great addition to our bedtime routine. They can be applied to the feet, wrists and behind the neck or/and diffused during the night. I find them very calming & use my diffuser almost every night. If you would like to learn more click HERE.
  • The 4th trimester. If you are reading this and have a newborn, please just ride the wave. I found my babies just needed cuddles & patience when they were new. Tommy slept a lot better than LuLu but I feel that was also due to me being more confident in my abilities. Remember you are all they know and you are their comfort & safe space… Have a read about the 4th trimester & also leaps.
  • Co-sleeping. This is not for everyone, but for us it worked beautifully. We valued our sleep and found when our babies would wake upset they would quickly settle tucked in beside us. Please do your own research and use your own caution when co-sleeping.
  • Team work. Having a husband/partner that can wake up and help out with waking babies/children is a Godsend. Trent has always helped out during the nights and I’m very thankful for that. Working as a team is important and if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Patience & understanding. It is easy to get frustrated with children who wake constantly, you are already tired and then you are dealing with a difficult situation with usually an unreasonable little person. But it is important to try and have patience, try and understand why they are upset and won’t sleep. This will help you fix the issue. Are they upset for a particular reason? Are they not tired? Are they cold, hot, in pain, sick, has a big life change happened, hungry, need to use the toilet, scared, stressed? There are so many reasons that can effect kids and their sleep. I encourage you to have patience before losing your temper. As I said above, more often than not when my kids are having a rough night it is for a reason.
  • Consistency. But on the other hand sometimes children test boundaries as they get older and they need to know you’ll remain firm and bedtime means bedtime. If your child is being cheeky and constantly getting out of bed to see what you are watching on TV (I remember doing this) or asking for sips of water, take them back to bed making sure there is no actual reason for them to be out (have they used the toilet/had a drink/are full, no temperature etc) say “no, it’s now bed time, you need rest for tomorrow!” give them a kiss, say good night and walk out or if they are terribly upset, I would sit by their bed for a little while until they are calmed down.  (I only recommend this with children that actually understand reason and for each child that age will vary, but I would say not for very young children, I would do this with LuLu but not Tommy.)

I hope you found this post helpful, I would love to know your top piece of sleep advice, what has worked best for you?
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6 tips to avoid rushed chaos in the morning. 

Hi friends!

In today’s post I want to share some great tips to make your mornings less frantic. A big question I am often asked is how I get out the door on time in the mornings… LuLu has kindy 5 days a fortnight and this term + 1 morning of pre-prep, so lots on for us! So these are the things that work for us…

  • Preparation is the key to success. It truly is! Like the saying “those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail” goes – I truly believe being organised early as possible is how to be successful. The evening before we pack the lunch box, fill the water bottle and set out her bag – making sure it is packed with everything she needs for the following day – excursion/free dress day money, notes are signed and in bag etc… I also lay out her kindy clothes. Making a small effort in the evening means less stress in the morning.
  • Get sleep! Having a good nights sleep makes you more productive in the morning and well rested kids are easier to deal with!
  • Wake up at a reasonable hour. This should be a no brainer. I tend to be up around 6am’ish. This allows us time to calmly get through our morning routine.
  • Get things done as early as possible. As soon as we are done with breakfast I am busy, I put laundry on, LuLu knows to brush her teeth & get dressed, I go and get myself ready for the day and then I dress Tommy and do LuLu’s hair. Usually we then have some time to chill out in the playroom before going to kindy.
  • Set age appropriate jobs for your kids. LuLu knows to put her breakfast bowl in the sink, she often goes out to take the dogs coats off and she brushes her teeth and gets dressed on her own.  This helps me in the morning, while she is doing those tasks I can be doing others.
  • Know your time frames. Know how long it takes to get to the school and know when you have to be out the door, we like to get to kindy a few minutes early so we can chat to the teacher or other parents and calmly see LuLu off… I feel this sets her up for a good day as her morning has been calm and not flustered.

Our morning routine on a kindy day is fairly straight forward, I find having good routines with young children really is beneficial for them. They know what to expect and it isn’t chaos for them…
If you would like to see a kindy morning/day in action please check out my latest video HERE… 
But this is a basic look at how an average/ideal morning runs for us…

6am’ish I wake up with Tommy, LuLu occasionally will be awake at the same time or may wake a little later…
6:15am Unpack dishwasher and start organising breakfasts. The kids enjoy cereal and I have toast and a cup of tea.
6:45am LuLu is usually awake by now and having breakfast or our breakfast is done for the day. I tidy the kitchen, put away the toaster and wipe down the benches and if I need to get meat out of the freezer for dinner, I do it now.
7am I put the laundry on and make my bed.
7:05am I do my hair and makeup and get ready for the day. While I do this LuLu cleans her teeth and gets dressed for the day. I usually straighten her bed for her and then she sets up her snuggle toys neatly.
7:30am I dress Tommy.
7:35am I do LuLu’s hair, sometimes it is just a pony tail, other days she likes more detailed styles…
7:50am I may do a quick vacuum or some light cleaning while the kids play in the playroom.
8am I hang the laundry on the line.
8:10am We hang out in the playroom.
8:30am’ish We leave for kindy.

And that is a very rough guide to our morning. Some days flow smoothly and occasionally we have rushed mornings, but we all really dislike those so we strive to have calm and organised mornings.
How do your mornings go before kindy/school? What is your biggest tip for having a successful morning? I would love to know, comment below or on my social media!

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10 tips for surviving a heat wave with kids.

10 tips for surviving a heat wave with kids.

Hi friends,
We are at the start of a week long heat wave… We have had and are expecting temperatures in the low to mid 30s! (90ish degrees Fahrenheit temperatures) And for some places high 30s/low 40s!! And it’s only the first month of spring!! It’s HOT!

So today my brain is not working that great, I love spring, but summer heat – eh, not so much. I can handle temps up until about 30degrees, after that it just feels like death!
So I thought I would share some tips to stay cool in this heat…

10 tips for beating the heat with kids…

  • Stay hydrated! Keep your freezer stocked with hydralyte (or similar) ice blocks. These are not only great to have in case of sickness, but they are great on hot days especially for active kids… Keep water bottles filled up and water in the fridge.
  • Over heating/heat stroke. Be informed and aware of the signs of heat stroke in not only kids & babies but also elderly, pets and even yourself. HERE is a great article.
  • Netflix or movies. You all know I hate TV and it is a rarity in this house, I truly do not like my kids watching it, but sometimes you just have to give in. When it’s super hot and I need my super active little girl to rest in the heat of the day, I don’t mind popping a movie on for her to enjoy in the cool.
  • Crafts. Kmart has a fantastic range of simple & fairly mess free crafts. LuLu loves them and they entertain her really well. Doing a simple craft inside in the cool (under a fan, near open windows or even in the air con) is a great way to rest & cool down.

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    Highly recommend all 3 of these packs! 
  • Water play. While Trent has been on shift we’ve enjoyed the little paddling pool, but when he is home we all get in the big pool. I use the little pool because it is a lot easier to manage on my own with 2 kids. If you don’t have a pool, a water table is a great play option (a big tub full of water & some Tupperware works too!) or even just a sprinkler or a water fight – kids love water. Try and find a shady spot, and let them have fun! If it is way too hot outside, fill up the bathtub and stay cool inside! (Pinterest is also full of water play ideas!) *Always supervise children around water.
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  • Sunscreen & hats! This goes without saying and I’m sure you all know this point, but sun protection is so important. We put sunscreen on every morning and reapply before going outside each time. We also always have wide brim hats (or legionnaire style for babies) I really like the brand Bed Head hats, that is the brand of LuLu’s swim hat & Tommy’s hat is by Plum (as was LuLu’s swim hat when she was a baby). The kids are always in swim shirts while outside for water play or light shirts that cover their shoulders for regular play.
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  • Cool meals. Plan your meals with the heat in mind, think cool & light foods salads, smoothies, burgers – meals that aren’t bulky and typical hot meals. Make some homemade ice blocks or fruit sorbet. Even treat yourself to a night off making dinner and have take away so you aren’t using your oven.  (My go to meal lately has been a BBQ chicken from Woolies or Coles and coleslaw burgers. Honestly the best easy meal!)
  • Get rest. This comes back to the movie point, but try and encourage your kids to rest & take it easy during the day. LuLu is super active and wants to play all day and she doesn’t nap – so the only way I can get her to rest is to let her to have some TV time. On normal days, her energetic enthusiasm doesn’t bother me, she can play & entertain herself but during this sudden heat wave, I don’t want her over exerting herself in the high temperatures, so I allow a movie so she rests.
  • Wash the dog. Our pets also will be feeling the heat, so get the kids & find a shady spot and give your beloved pooch a spring time bath. They cool down, you all will probably get drenched so you and the kids are cooling down and a job is being checked off your list. Reward your dog for being a good sport with a “pupsicle”!  (a big frozen ice cube full of dog treats/toys etc. I freeze ours in old ice cream buckets & add in a mix of dog treats, cat biscuits, chicken stock, toys etc)
  • Bed time. At bed time the temperatures are normally still high. We dress the kids in the very light clothing and don’t use any sheets,  as the temperature lowers during the evening we go in and cover them. We also keep the bedroom windows open to allow cool breeze to blow in but if it is super hot we run the air con.

How are you staying cool this week?
Let me know in the comments below or on social media…
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Stay cool friends, I am dreading to know what Summer will be like if this is only spring!
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10 tiny & easy ways to turn a bad mood around. {For Mummas & kids!}

Breathe, it’s just a bad day – not a bad life.

Hey Mumma’s,
The other week I wrote a post that many of you really liked, on how to reset & remain happy as a Mumma – you can read it HERE…
Well today I thought I would do a similar post on how to turn around a bad day/mood, for kids & Mummas…

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We all have bad days… Maybe you just had a really bad nights sleep, maybe your child isn’t in the best mood or perhaps something is happening in your life that is pulling your mind to a negative place and that in turn makes you feel & act not so great… Know what I’m saying? Been there? When we are in bad moods, this impacts our entire home… The tone we have, is the tone set for our entire home – if Mumma ain’t happy, no one is happy…
So the trick in these situations is to catch ourselves… Maybe you’ve just overreacted to your child or you just can’t shake the bad mood, realise what is happening and make a conscious effort to turn it around…

Here are 10 tiny & easy ways to turn your mood &/or your kid’s around…

  • Step out of the room and breath… Just remove yourself for just a few moments and collect your thoughts and calm down. Teach your children to do this too, often if we are in the midst of a melt down I try to remind our daughter to take a deep breath and stop and calm down… Easier said than done to a nearly 4 year old, but it works sometimes… A breathing technique I get her to do is “smell the flower (big breath in) and blow out the candle (big breath out)”
  • Start the day again… We do this if our little love wakes up and is a bit grumpy. We take her back to bed, lay her down and make it fun and tell her to lay there and wake up happy… She almost always opens her eyes giggling.
  • Tickles… If that doesn’t work, tickles help break out the smiles!
  • Hugs… If you aren’t feeling great emotionally, tell your child. Say you are feeling a little down and need one of their big magic hugs to help you & your heart feel better… This also shows them that it is perfectly ok to say you aren’t ok and to ask for some help.
  • Teach your kids a joke… This always makes me laugh, teaching a preschooler a joke is hilarious, the most basic jokes crack them up and it’s even funnier if you teach it to them and then get them to repeat it Chinese whisper style to someone else in the house… It rarely comes out the way you taught it & that just adds to the humour!
  • Give massages… My little girl loves a massage & she also loves to give a massage! (*This is also a great Mum hack – lay down squirt some lotion into your kids hands and voila – free massage!)
  • Have a random treat… It maybe a special food treat or going somewhere special. But ice cream before lunch or dinner normally makes anyones bad mood disappear!
  • Get outside or get wet… The thing I’ve noticed with kids, if they are outside or in water they are normally always happier… The same applies for most people I think. So if a grumpy cloud is above everyone in your house, drag yourselves outside and enjoy some fresh air. Or if it’s warm enough, swim, play under the sprinkler or have a bubble bath…
  • Turn up the music and just dance… We did this the other day, it was just one of those really long days where time felt like it was moving at a snails pace… So I dug out my old CDs from high school, put them on and turned the music up super loud and we jumped, danced and laughed for over 2 hours! It was great.
  • Put your day on hold… Let your day go, spend the day reading books, watch a movie, colour in – do what you need to, to lift your spirits and your kids. Everyone occasionally needs a day off, the laundry will be ok if it is left for a day and getting take away for dinner will probably make everyone happy – so just take it easy and go with the flow…

Remember it is just a brief moment that isn’t positive – don’t dwell on a bad day or week.

I wrote this post last night, with the intention of making it live this morning… Well, wouldn’t you know it, today I was the person who needed this post. And you know what, I bloody suck at taking my own advice! For some reason today I just feel like I’m in a rut… Last night I was so full of motivation to have a wonderful & productive day today, I wrote a big to do list, I made plans & I was motivated… But people are mean, my camera broke & I just didn’t have a good sleep last night and I lost all motivation, to be honest today I’ve felt more down than I have felt in a very long time – sometimes it all adds up and weighs my heart & mind down. So friends, I’ll be honest, on most days something on this list usually can turn my day around – but today, nothing really did. And that is ok… Some days are meant to be bad & feeling down is ok… But I am determined for tomorrow to be a more pleasant & positive day… I am just reminding myself now as I finish up this post and sip my cider – it was only a bad day, that is all. Tonight I’ll go to bed and pray that tomorrow I will wake up with a refreshed mind, heart & outlook. But for now, the kids are asleep & I know it is ok to be a little down & just to feel it, it is so important to let the emotions come, pause & then leave. So if you are feeling down or for some reason today just sucked, I get it & I’m sending you a big hug. Tomorrow is a new day, wake up in the morning and don’t even think about today! x

I would love to know what your best tip for getting yourself or your kids out of a bad mood is?
Comment below or on my social media!
Thank you so much for reading!
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Don’t ruin a good day today, by thinking about a bad day yesterday. Let it go.

7 months & still TV free… 

Kids don’t remember their best day of television.

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Hey friends,

Back in February I did a blog post about giving up TV (you can read it HERE)… And I said if we made it to 6 months I would do another update… So here we are… 7 months later and we still are pretty much TV free, with a few exceptions.

  • Trent & I occasionally watch a movie together when he is on days off.
  • Trent likes to watch Netflix sometimes, it’s his way to unwind.
  • LuLu has been allowed to watch DVDs a little bit, mainly because in the past month we’ve all had colds twice and popping a movie on is the only way I can get her to lay down and rest… Her DVD choices lately have been; Skippy the bush kangaroo, Milo & Otis, a national geographic doco on dogs & cats – basically any “real animal” type of movie/program! She also gets to watch a movie sometimes if she visits her best friend.

For me personally, I don’t care to watch TV at all.. I find I am far too busy for it. By the time the night ends and I’ve finished everything I need to, I’ll do some social media updates & I’m done for the night… I don’t miss it and I feel my brain is healthier for not knowing the latest happenings in Summer Bay.

Positive benefits I’ve noticed since going TV free;

  • LuLu is more creative and her already big imagination has sky rocketed even further.
  • Any nonsense catch phrases or language traits that she had that were similar to any children’s tv characters are gone.
  • She isn’t exposed to advertisements marketed for children or possible inappropriate shows/ads.
  •  I feel her vocabulary has grown even more. (I do and always have spoken to my children in a sensible manner, just as though I was speaking to an adult. Yes, when they are tiny babies I speak a little cute/baby to them, but I mainly speak very sensibly to them. This has benefited LuLu greatly and she is well spoken & has a vast vocabulary. She asks what words mean if she doesn’t know and then strives to use them in context.)
  • We eat every single meal at the dining table.
  • She is even more interested in doing learning actives and crafts and can often do so unattended.
  • She is more mature – maybe that has just come with her getting older, but I truly believe silly kid shows like Peppa Pig/Charlie & Lola etc encourage children to behave bratty & silly.
  • All her toys are being played with. Each day she swaps between toys and each day is a new made up scenario.
  • She is learning so much from doing activities, learning books & reading. She loves to learn & that makes me so proud.
  • She has always loved being outside but she is outside & being active even more.
  • My mind is clearer and not consumed with nonsense.
  • I have more time and I am much more productive.

So does LuLu ask to watch tv? Nope… She does very rarely pick a movie and ask for it, and sometimes we say yes. Or if we suggest going outside or doing another activity 9/10 times she would pick going outside or the other activity. Movies are a last resort mainly used if she isn’t feeling well or she needs to rest.
She also knows now the tv is not broken, we just don’t watch it.
Will we turn the tv back on? I hope not… I am very happy with how our lives are without it. I do enjoy watching the occasional feel good, inspiring & uplifting movie – but that’s it.
I have been asked how we stay up to date on world issues. Well, if something major happens in our world it is on social media in minutes. I follow news channel accounts for this reason and to be honest, I would prefer to personally view the segment of news updates on my phone as the chance of LuLu seeing & hearing it is low. So why is that? Because she is almost 4, she does not need to know right at this very moment how very awful this world can be. Heck I am 28 and I don’t want to know half the time about the atrocities & devastation that go on in the world!  She will know soon enough, but for now I want her brain to be full of joy & her biggest concerns only being what words mean and if she is going to play farms or barbies that day.

So, do you think you could go TV free?
If you are considering it I truly encourage you to do it, it isn’t as hard as you think and you & your family will benefit greatly from it! Personally I believe it has been one of the greatest decisions we’ve ever made!
Try it for a week, or a month or 6 months! Let me know how you go or what your thoughts are! Let me know in the comments or connect with me on my social media…
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What am I gonna tell my kids when they see all of this bullshit that goes down on TV?
When the whole world is down on its luck, I gotta make sure they keep their chin up.
– Old Dominion.