Category: Useful Stuff

Surprise! It’s Autumn!

DSCF1571

image

I know, right? How did that happen?? It was summer a second ago! Has it really been that long already? Where does time go? I’m not done frolicking at the beach. COME BACK, SUMMER.

This happens to me every year. It’s not that I don’t love autumn. I just wish it wouldn’t sneak up on me all the time. I guess that’s how famous people probably feel about Ellen Degeneres. If you do not understand this reference, shame on you…for probably having a life…that doesn’t involve a love affair with a DVR…and Ellen.

NO. I AM NOT HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH ELLEN. SPEAK TO MY PUBLICIST.

I don’t have a publicist.

Um…where was I?

Yes. Autumn. I love Autumn. My birthday is in Autumn. Easter is in Autumn. Some of my fondest memories come with the sounds, smells and weather of Autumn embedded in them.

My problem is that I am just never ready for it. Ever. You’d think I’d learn, right? Nope. Slow learner right here.

My biggest downfall is my inability to plan my autumn/winter wardrobe. See, the clothes appear in the shops at the hottest time of the year (which is coincidentally usually right before Autumn begins). So I look at that stuff and say, “Pffft. As if I can think of leggings and jackets and scarves right now. You’ve got to be joking!”

The weather in my corner of the world isn’t quite cold yet, but Autumn is in the air. We’ve had some rain, the days feel more mellow and they are getting shorter. So I’m feeling awkward as f*ck, because soon I am going to be that girl who is so obviously wearing her summer clothes for too long, because she doesn’t know what else to do. We’ve all seen that girl before. She’s the same girl who gets too excited for summer and wears shorts too early and everyone is all like, yo, settle down. Y’know? Yep. That’s me.

The only time I feel I nailed Autumn was when I was pregnant with the Little Mister in 2011. Because, hello, when you have a baby bump you can wear anything and no-one thinks you’re fat or falsely accuses you of being pregnant. It’s like the perfect accessory. So fashion tip: be pregnant.

Um…as that is not an option right now, I am SCREWED. I have not done a THING towards preparing a cooler weather wardrobe. NOT A THING. All i have is some worn out tights, some worn out boots and a couple of hoodies – the kind that say you’ve given up on yourself and have nothing else to wear. Oops.

Besides vowing to watch Rosie Rockets’ blog very closely for ideas (no pressure haha), I really haven’t made a plan. All I know is that I’d like to somehow incorporate these things that I thought of in my brain and then found on Pinterest for illustration…

Oversized flannel shirt/dress.

81d231330902481593fa1a6102c056fc

This is my kinda thing. It’s easy. It can be worn with comfy leggings. It doesn’t involve 50 layers of clothing (layers make this 5 foot tall shortie feel like I’m drowning in fabric). It flatters a few extra curves if you’re carrying them (guilty!). It can be dressed up a little or kept really simple. It’s almost an outfit in itself so there’s no crazy decision making every single morning. Get me one in every kind of plaid! Stat!

Burgundy lips.

9b07dccf94a2725a3d88f8b9d0501999

Something about cooler, greyer weather just makes me want to bring out the darker hues. Strong, warm, matte colours. I love lipstick because it’s a quick way to make yourself look (and more importantly feel) polished, like you’ve made an effort. I kind of let my lipstick wearing slip through the summer and I think that I really need to bring it back. When I’ve got my lippie on I feel so much more sexy and confident. I wouldn’t be surprised if I even carry myself a bit differently (disclaimer: still a klutz forever though). Watch out, world!

Dark nails. 

b3b281e75a4d42e0aa357865d6d7802d

Gotta match my lips, of course! These hands look a bit over photo shopped, though. Kind of like they’re dead. Let’s ignore that. Gotta love Pinterest haha.

Boots.

I need boots. To be honest, I do not know where to start. I want black ones. But I’m short and I have short legs so I have to wear a lot of the shorter ankle styled ones over dark tights to keep things flattering. And while I like the ones with heels, I also need to be practical and have some flatter ones or wedges maybe. I don’t want old ‘mum’ boots. I want cool boots. Very ‘now’ ones. Maybe something with a bit of an edge. BUT WHAT IS ‘NOW’?! I feel a bit out of touch. How sad! Suggestions? Links? Pics? Maybe I can get some inspiration in Sydney next month…

Told you I’m crap at Autumn/Winter!!

Let’s just fantasise about these impractical beauties for a second, though…that’s just shoe porn right there.

*drools*

a9628fa0a1c79f036f8998f371ede3b2

Biker jacket.

c5a5c96a78f365f4d677db91a83974bd

I have had incarnations of this before, but I’ve just never quite nailed it. I am looking for something that I can wear, but that doesn’t wear me! See? This model is wearing the jacket. When I put a jacket of any description on, I feel all bulky and lost in it. Like it never quite sits right. It wears me. I know The One is out there somewhere waiting for me. I must search harder this year!!

Are you ever ready for Autumn? What staples will you be wearing this season?

More Useful Stuff for an Awesomely Unprepared Parent.

91d9d614cd568ba4017214d35c8bf6f2

pic

So I did a post on some useful stuff for a brand new (or expectant) mum here, but here is some stuff I found useful as the parent of a bub entering toddlerhood (so you get my frame of reference), but some of it can be useful from day 1. To me, it’s just stuff that can make life a little easier – I try to make my lists a little out of the box because I hope it’s not just a carbon copy of every other baby/toddler product/parenting tool post that you see (but probably is because hello – it’s the internet). 😉

Be wary, though. Even though it’s December, this isn’t a Christmas gift idea list (except the PVR – that would be a gift to anyone)! Don’t get mad at me when your loved one is upset with their laundry filing system haha. 

I think I’ll just dive right on in!

DVR/PVR
Yep. It’s like technology took the old concept of the VCR and made it like 50 times awesomer. If awesomer is actually a word. Who cares. Moving on…

I love my PVR so much that it’s ridiculous. My love for it is unnatural. When you’re a parent (from day 1), this kind of device is SO GOOD. You can record every show you love to watch at your convenience. I found it so useful when I was breastfeeding the Little Mister. Having a PVR also meant that no matter what time of day or night it was, I could choose what I wanted to watch – no relying on Home Shopping Networks to see me through or flicking through eff knows how many channels trying to find SOMETHING on a Saturday night/day.

I might catch up on my favourite television shows sometimes weeks months later, but I love that I can get there eventually!

Now that the Little Mister is older, the television is on much less because he either gets a few minutes of some appropriate kids’ shows or we watch the news in the evening (although jury is out on whether that’s a good idea either – so much bad stuff). I record a lot of the grown up stuff that has violence, adult themes etc and I can watch when he’s asleep at my own convenience. You know, without corrupting his innocent soul or scarring him for life haha.

Also? I go to bed a bit embarrassingly early some nights because I’m so exhausted. Instead of forcing myself to stay awake to view my favourite shows, I can slumber away knowing that everything’s being recorded. How’s that for peace of mind? 😛

We recently updated to a version that allows you to pause and rewind live TV. SO GOOD. I can pause the TV if the Little Mister needs something at night and not miss a beat when I get back! There’s a cool setting where if I have to stop watching something, it will save at that spot and I can come back halfway through an episode of something even days later. AWESOME.

It’s a bit of a luxury, but I highly recommend it.

Playpens
I find it hard to contain the Little Mister somewhere safe (even his big playroom with a safety gate on the entrance) so I can do things, but this is such a useful and simple invention that I imagine has been around since the dawn of time. Probably even in cavepeople days. Actually, maybe not. I imagine there were a few dinosaur related deaths no-one wants to talk about…

This worked really well when he first started to crawl, but I will admit that after that he just wanted to be free! Still. Worth it for as long as your little tot is willing to sit and play so you can go to the loo or do something non-child safe quickly.

Anyhow, another handy use for a playpen is to use it to keep the Little Mister OUT of things. Example? Christmas tree. Our Christmas tree is encased in a very colourful playpen. Gotta keep those mischievous hands and that teething mouth off of the fragile baubles, tinsel and beads! Once I actually get around to finishing starting the Christmas gift shopping, it’s handy if the recipients are given unopened (read: not pre-opened by a toddler) presents!!

My friend uses her playpen to cordon off their big flatscreen TV so that her daughter is safe from trying to pull it over. I once considered getting a playpen to put around my exercise bike so I can pedal away without a little hand sneaking into my pedal space, stopping me in my tracks! Just think of all the things we could enclose in a playpen! haha.

Some playpens can also be great for bringing outside so little ones can play on their own clean little patch of lawn where the dogs can’t jump up on them and gardening might even be achieved, if you are so inclined.

Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
OK, so I don’t actually own this (but I have friends who do and rave about it). However, it is HIGH up on my wishlist once I find a bit of money (so never haha). If you get the right type (apparently you want one that has a sensor and doesn’t just blindly stick to a grid – I need to do more research), you’re laughing. I find that sometimes the only available time to vacuum without a bub under foot is when he’s napping. And when he’s napping, a vacuum cleaner would wake him. You see my dilemma. Also, once your child has mastered the pincer grip, it means they can grab just about any tiny tiny tiny object and shove it in his or her mouth. For me, this meant bits of fluff, dried bits of baby food that didn’t quite make it into the rubbish bin/dog during the original clean up. I remember the crawling stage where I was constantly staring at the floor or on worse days, pulling dead flies or little pieces of plastic (from goodness knows what) out of the Little Mister’s mouth.

I just love the idea of turning on a robot vacuum cleaner as you leave the house for numerous errands and coming back to a floor that is cleaner (and safer) than it was when you left. Magic! I could do it daily without even lifting a finger!

Also? I just really hate vacuuming. I hate the whole process. Like the whole plugging it in thing.

Which also brings me to another wish list item: a cordless vacuum. Spot cleaning under the high chair anyone? Would be so easy!!

A filing system for your clean washing
I know that this is a boring sounding thing, but it really has been a lifesaver since parenthood arrived (and would have been even before then). For us it’s just cube shelves with a bunch of plastic tubs with labels shoved in each cube. My stuff, husband’s stuff, undies, socks, etc you name it. It has a place. So you know, when we haven’t had time to iron in bulk (which is always), we can duck into the spare room and grab what we need from our designated tubs. It keeps everything looking tidy (or at least tidier) and there’s less digging through head high piles of clothing to find that one thing you wanted to wear that day.

Domestic goddess, I am not. Ideas woman, I am. I’m sure it’s all over Pinterest or something. I didn’t invent this system, I am sure, but I did have a brainwave and it is a lifechanger, y’all. The little things, y’ know? We put this ‘system’ into place when I was pregnant and haven’t looked back. We needed to save space (we were losing a spare room) and I just knew it was going to be important to be a little more organised around the house!

tumblr_l716thKLjX1qbtd5wo1_500_largePic: This lady tragically passed away from exhaustion while trying to find her comfy trackpants after a night out

$20 Stroller
By now your precious bundle of joy is probably starting to stumble around and may even be walking well. At this stage with the Little Mister, I started to get sick of using a bulky pram everywhere we went. It took up a lot of car space and the Little Mister was big enough to sit up really well and didn’t need as much of the comfort factor (all those extra little cushions and bits and bobs that tend to come with prams for babies these days). I wanted to zip in and out of shops without spending ages assembling something heavy, but he wasn’t old enough to walk holding my hand (he was still a little shaky at times – or ridiculously fast depending on the day). Yet, he was getting too heavy to hold in one arm while trying to pay for something or pick something off a shelf! Sometimes I needed to have something really compact to store somewhere without annoying people in cafes or once there was this wedding on a boat…

A348929

They usually look something like this – find this one here (not sponsored in any way) for $25.

You can get these little strollers for around $20-$30 from places like Big W, K-Mart or Target and they are so great. We have travelled with one too! It’s awesome because you know that if baggage handlers trash it, you can just buy another one without breaking the bank.

We still have the big pram for longer walks etc but it’s great having something quick and easy. Good to get one for the grandparents to keep also 🙂

I could probably think of a million more things to add to the list, but that might be for some other blog posts!

 What things have you found useful with a just-turning-into-a-toddler in your midst? 

My spring ‘style staples’ wish list.

I recently did a MASSIVE wardrobe cull and damn, it felt good. I ditched the crap I wore while pregnant – the stuff that wasn’t maternity wear, but gave me god-awful flashbacks every time I looked at it. The stuff that we all know I’m never going to fit into again, so there’s no use being in denial. The crap that I wore around the house as a teenager (think daggy old souvenir tee shirts and those over sized ones that have art work with wolves and whales on them – only I wasn’t wearing them ironically). The stuff I’ve bought on a whim (probably while tired and hungry and rushed) and never worn, because in the light of day it turned out to be horrible. I had about three large, stuffed garbage bags worth of terrible things in my wardrobe/floordrobe. There was even the stuff that had sat in the bottom of my washing basket for goodness knows how long because I never knew what to do with it. I got rid of the shoes that hurt me. The shoes that I’d worn out and wrecked long ago. At the time I wondered if I was doing the right thing. I mean, money doesn’t exactly grow on trees. What if I threw everything out (read: good stuff went to charity) and then couldn’t afford to replace it all and ended up with nothing to wear but garbage bags? I thought about selling some of the items on eBay or somewhere similar, but I knew that if I told myself I was going to sell the stuff, I would never get around to it in usual Kez style.

Besides, I kind of loved the idea of some pretty pieces making someone less fortunate’s day when they visited the op shop, praying to find something that wasn’t poofy or old ladyish. None of the things I gave away were horrible – they were just horrible on me!

I am so glad I cleared everything out. Now I look into my wardrobe and I see nothing but wearable items. I have one aspirational LBD from a fashion week sale in Sydney and a couple of higher end party dresses which I don’t quite fit in, but hope to again. But otherwise, it is all stuff I can throw on almost every day. It makes me feel good because I know everything fits and flatters, and it saves me time!

I’m enjoying (very) slowly building my wardrobe again with fresh, new pieces. Lots of cheap and cheerful basics, mixed with the (very) occasional label splurge and I think I’m hitting the right balance.

I’ve got a bit of a style hit list I’m hoping to achieve this spring and even though I am so not a style blogger, I thought I’d share my ideas.

Warm, bright lip colour

0aa7ad7f8decf37b509730640568152b

pic

I got hooked on this look during the winter. It’s amazing what a bold lip can do for your confidence. On days where I felt a little flat or boring, I painted my lips a bright red and felt like a rock star all day. Gwen Stefani, eat your heart out. I used to think that lipstick made me look too dressed up for day time errands, but now I feel under dressed without it! It’s a small thing, but it really makes me feel good. Like I’ve got my sh*t together and I’ve gone that extra mile.

Stretchy mini skirts

d45be2997b069cc9926d80983450f153

pic

While I won’t be wearing mine with flannelette any time soon, I am looking forward to getting my legs out (they need a bit of sunshine). Sure, I have the staple mum shorts and denim cut offs (still a necessary practicality), but some stretchy, easy to wear minis will be another great basic to add to my outfit rotation. They’re not expensive to buy, if you know where to look and they go with almost anything! Dress them up or dress them down – winner! I love that I’m a short arse because the average mini skirt sits at a reasonably modest length on me, so I am not as at risk of “showing what I’ve had for breakfast” as my mum likes to say.

Flowy tops

06addbdc2ce84168d2453c3066d1d952

pic

When the sun is out, nothing makes me feel more cool and breezy than a bright, flowy top. These can be layered over singlets or as a single layer (probably depending on how sheer they are or how brave you want to be). They go beautifully with the aforementioned mini skirts, or with almost anything, really. They are forgiving during the festive season or more importantly they help hide that bit of winter flab when spring arrives! I always feel good in these tops. They move with you, you feel like you can relax in them (breathe out!) and they flatter almost anyone.

Flat sandals

859b5ca85753ae4bd0f98db6042e87c0

pic

I love my heels and wedges but I only get to wear them sometimes. They’re just not practical when you’re running about after a toddler. I know that there will be a lot of day time events as the weather gets better – barbecues, childrens’ birthday parties, casual dinners etc. A cute, flat sandal can add a bit of style. I would choose something in gold, just because it’s great against my skin tone and I tend to favour gold accents and accessories these days, as opposed to silver.

Sparkly nails

ead55dd52c3357afec9bd51e321a3375

pic

I’m loving a sparkly nail polish right now. The glitter hides the imperfections of its application and it’s cheerful and bright! I’ve been lazily topping up the glitter on my nails every couple of days and you can’t even tell where the chips have been! While glitter can seem a little OTT for some, it suits me just fine because I am usually pretty dressed down in my day to day life so it just adds a little bit of pizazz without being over powering. If I do get a rare chance to dress up, my nails are all ready to go (great when time really gets away from you).

I’m feeling quite enthusiastic about the change in season and I think I’m going to enjoy fashion/style for fashion/style’s sake. The first summer the Little Mister was born, it was all about slap dash improvisation. Fashion was the last thing on my mind. Last summer was all about practicality (I had a little one who was always on the floor and grabbing at my neckline and pulling) and trying to get my bearings – I had a whole new body and was trying to regain confidence after having a baby. This spring onwards, I feel like I can just enjoy working on my ‘look’ and let loose just a little.

Also?

I now know my bra size again. Since I got pregnant, I lost confidence in knowing my body. I had no idea what my bra size was. I kept forgetting. It kept going up and down. It’s nothing like what I was before I had a baby. I had a fitting the other day and I feel so much more comfortable and happy (I was wearing a cup size too small). It’s the simple things. I highly recommend you do the same if you are in the same boat as me.

Wear some nice sunglasses. Last summer I kept forgetting. I now have little sun spot type sun damage around the corners of my eyes. It seriously only took a year for it to appear (and I have naturally tanned skin that hardly burns). I let time get away from me and I was always on the go with the Little Mister. I would do everything to make sure he was safe in the sun and his needs were looked after when we left home, but I forgot myself. Lesson learnt. I have resolved to wearing them when I go out. It’s not the kind of risk I want to take, when it comes to sun safety. For vanity’s sake, it’s also not the best look. I want to age gracefully thank you very much!

I am definitely not at my best weight, but I refuse to let it stop me feeling good about myself. I will continue to try to better my diet and exercise habits and I will celebrate my progress with taking pride in my appearance from day 1 (rather than telling myself I can’t be happy until I reach my goal weight).

 

What’s on your list for spring style this year (or what was on your list this past spring/summer if you’ve been in the northern hemisphere)?

x

Blogger’s note: All pics have been sourced from Pinterest (links are all included) and I have not been sponsored in any way to promote any of the items shown. 

(More) Useful Stuff for an Awesomely Unprepared Mother.

OK, so once I posted five must have items for a new mother after being inspired by the purchasing of gifts for a baby shower, I kind of spent the next million years thinking about other ideas to add to the list. Once my list started in my head it wouldn’t stop! My brain wants to explode with all the stuff I’ve found useful and I just have to be obnoxious (but hopefully more helpful or relateable) and share them, as it feels like every female with ovaries that I’ve ever met is pregnant right now 🙂

Clothing for the baby in larger sizes
All those newborn sized jumpsuits in the shops just make you want to squeal with embarrassingly exuberant delight and buy one of everything for an expectant mother! Sure, she’ll definitely need them, but perhaps throw in a few clothes that come in the 3-6 month and even 6-12 month sizes too. I was so thankful to those who purchased me slightly larger outfits for the Little Mister, because at the 6 month point he was running out of things to wear! Of course I never mind the excuse to go shopping (YAY!) but I had to build his entire wardrobe for each new size range almost from scratch (as you do)! Just keep in mind what season it will be – for example, don’t buy a fluffy, snuggly winter outfit in size 00 if the baby is going to be wearing it in the heat of summer!

At least 7 hooded baby bath towels
OK, so they don’t really have to be hooded. The hood is really a nice touch to keep the baby’s head warm after a bath (which a big enough normal towel can do quite nicely too), but it’s also damn cute.

I rest my case!

I say 7 because that way there’s a fresh one for each day of the week and you have enough spare that you don’t have to worry if you can’t get all of your washing done at once. I bought a few new towels to round off my collection and now I STILL don’t have to worry about running out if I’m struggling to catch up with all my washing right away! It’s a constant rotation of loads of little man clothes (whites or colours), adult clothes, baby towels/bedding etc and adult towels/bedding! Same goes for wash cloths. Have heaps of those too 🙂

Swaddle-Mes
These were/are amazing. They come in different sizes and they’re so easy to use. Forget all that fancy folding and tucking they teach you in the hospital with a blanket that never stays on. Just use a Swaddle-Me (or similar brand) that has velcro and is shaped perfectly for tucking crazy baby arms inside! Our older relatives call them straitjackets, but don’t listen to them. A lot of babies like the security and as they are uncoordinated early on, their arms can flap about too much keeping them awake. I used mine for what felt like a really long time and now have swapped them for sleeping bags (we made the swap somewhere around 4 months but some other babies can switch a bit earlier or even a bit later)!

Colourful, soft educational toys
When I had my baby shower, I was inundated with all these bright, crinkly, noisy, soft toys for the Little Mister. I looked at the massive pile of them and thought – what the hell? There’s too many! This child is going to be so spoilt! Trust me, they will all be used. When the baby is very young they can’t do much more than look at the bright colours or listen to any music or crinkly sounds that the toys might make, but they’re a welcome distraction from grumpiness and they make the day interesting when you’re staying in. I felt like the Little Mister would get bored of them before he could play with them properly. I was so wrong! At six plus months he began to see them as completely new toys, able to hold them and manipulate them (and shove them in his mouth)! He still has toys that he is yet to discover the true potential of (!) and that makes me really happy! You can switch toys out so they seem fresh when they’re reintroduced and I honestly feel that at this age there can’t be too many (within reason haha)! As a baby he was too young to realise he was being spoilt and was just really excited at exploring everything. They kept him busy. You get a lot of life out of them so they’re a worthwhile addition to a new mum’s swag! Right now at 18 months he still loves the bright colours and he’s into sorting them into categories. Balls go together, then teddy bear type things, stuff that makes sounds and so on! I try to hide some away, but he loves digging around for them anyway!

Nappy wallet
My friends with slightly older babies had alluded to these clever inventions when I was preggo, but I didn’t fully understand at the time. A nappy wallet is just that. It is a streamlined way to keep a couple of spare nappies, some wipes and whatever else your baby needs at change time. If you get an awesome one, it will also fold out into a small change mat! The reason I didn’t understand it at first was because I was in that new mummy phase where I wanted to pack my whole house just for a five minute trip to the shops. I figured I already had everything I needed with me (and then some). Why would I need a nappy wallet too when the stuff was all there in my bag? Here’s why. Sometimes you’re in a rush in a public place (or someone’s house). You can grab the nappy wallet right out of your bag, knowing it has everything in it. There’s no clumsy lugging of your entire nappy bag, trying to use fifty hands/arms you don’t have as you try to change your gorgeous bundle of joy (who may not be a fan of change time) in a small space. Just carry bub and a nappy wallet (which is already stocked up) with you! You can re-stock it after each use (from your surplus supply in your massive nappy bag), so it’s always ready to go! This would be particularly useful in cafes and other eateries when socialising (if you’re lucky enough). You can dash off, leaving your stuff with your trusty friends/partner/doting family 🙂

Do you have any other great gift ideas for new/expectant mothers? x

Little Mister’s First Camping Trip: Before.

ad869d84bd1e568da22cdf5625f63fd1_largePic: This looks nothing like my experience!

I have been camping in tents and camper vans since I was literally fresh off the plane at five months old (I was adopted in case you’re reading that and wondering what the hell that means)! My parents started these amazing family traditions that have carried all the way into my adulthood and I always knew that when I had a child/children of my own, I would like to continue it with a new generation! In fact, the idea has always made me feel quite sentimental! I’ve had my own tent/s and ‘camping kits’ (full of the basics everyone should have for a quick trip) since I was a tween and I’m usually pretty well prepared!

The idea of taking the Little Mister on his first ever camping trip at the age of 14/15 months, however, scared the crap out of me and I lived up to the title of this blog: Awesomely Unprepared! 🙂

This wasn’t going to be as easy as throwing a tent, crappy mattress, my camping ‘kit’ (which stays completely assembled in a sealed plastic crate in the shed all year round) and some clothes (thrown hastily into a bag at the last minute) in the back of our spacious car! This was going to be serious! We were moving HOUSE for a week (as you do – even for a day – when you have a toddler or baby)!! We’d need a port-a-cot, sippy cups, baby cutlery, baby bowls, bottles, steriliser (we went for a powered tent site), dummies (pacifiers), extra towels, wipes galore, nappies (a week’s worth), etc etc etc!!!

We had to plan ahead like never before! None of this procrastination sh*t!! We even had ‘family meetings’ with my parents to prepare. We had to decide on when to go – the best time being when school goes back after the summer holidays (quieter) and who would take what. We also had discussions about which caravan/camping parks would be best for having a toddler around and we concluded that the same park we’d stayed in annually for most of my own childhood was best suited to us. It had open spaces for a little one to run around, we had been there for MANY years since I was about one year old myself, so we were familiar with what challenges and facilities there would be. We knew the activities we would be able to undertake at only walking distance from the park, as well as the good places to take a drive, have a nice walk or hang out.

Now that I’ve mentioned that we went with my parents, it’s a good time to give some advice! If possible, take your first camping trip with someone who’s been there before or is a very helpful person/couple. It made our trip possible! I was too daunted to do this with only my husband and I! I needed someone around who had done this before (for moral support and good advice) and who would be able to offer the extra few hands when needed!

Because time would be limited when I would be free to pack properly, with my husband working Monday to Friday (like a “normal” person) these days, I decided to be as prepared as I could and the packing/organising process started very early. Gone are the days of ridiculous procrastination!!! A week out, I planned our afternoons (the period between my husband getting home from work and the start of the Little Mister’s night time routine) so that if we worked flat out, we could relax in the evenings once the Little Mister was in bed. I simply do not have the energy to bother with all that crap late into the night like I used to! I found that this would work best because trying to do everything on my own with the Little Mister (who was teething like CRAY CRAY) just wasn’t going to happen.

600610_414752431950358_1327062925_n

My husband looked at me funny, when he accidentally caught a glimpse of my day planner, but bless his Explorer socks from Woolies, he just let me do my thing!

PS? It worked! It resulted in less stress all round and when we fell into bed (at like 8:30pm because we were knackered) we felt relaxed, instead of annoyed, anxious or (I speak just for myself here) making mental lists of things to do/pack all through the wee hours of the night!

There was practical stuff to think of on our day of departure too. Like making sure that the supplies the Little Mister would need for the drive (approx 3 hours including stops), such as food, wipes, nappies, etc were packed right next to his car seat and easy to grab. We had some roof space (some new racks and a great cargo basket), so we put the things we’d need to set up straight away – tent, tables, etc on top. That way, we’d save time when we arrived – something that’s important when you’re trying to juggle tent poles and toddlers at the same time!

Something that was just as important as the practical stuff, was the mental preparation. We went into this experience with realistic hopes and expectations. Would this be relaxing? Probably not! Would it be hard work? Most certainly. Would it feel like the camping holidays we had before children? HELL NO! Once we let go of the old expectations of a summer camping holiday (memories of sitting for hours in a camp chair reading magazines and novels, long spontaneous walks on the beach with only your romantic partner, packing and unpacking with both hands, eating nibblies in peace etc), we were ready to take on the trip. You think I’m not selling this experience very well? Well, it was amazing. It was just that. An experience! Seeing the Little Mister running about in the dirt, acclimatising to all these new sights and sounds, spending quality time with us (no TVs, limited phone use, no housework, boring daily errands – nothing to take us away from him) was priceless.

With the right headspace and the right mental preparation, we were able to enjoy the holiday so much more.

So, in summary, here is my unsolicited advice on first-time camping with a toddler:

Plan where and when ahead of time. It takes away the risk of finding a place is too busy, booked out or not the safest/nicest environment for your little dude or lady.

Go with someone who has had kids (grandparents are ideal) and camping experience or who can provide an extra bunch of hands. They’re great for moral support and for making the experience more pleasurable. Many hands can make light(er) work.

Start packing early. Don’t procrastinate. The experience leading up will contain less arguments, more mental space and everyone will be on the same page. Work out a packing/checking of gear/shopping for supplies schedule that works around your work hours/life schedule/toddler routines and you’ll be breathing easy by the time the big day of departure arrives (rather than being exhausted and grumpy as hell – not the best way to start a holiday)! I worked from the heavy, big stuff (tent, camp stove etc) and the stuff that didn’t need to be used until the last minute, working towards the things like phone chargers, baby stuff and toiletries which are harder to pack early.

Plan the packing of your vehicle for convenience. Stuff you’ll need first when you arrive should be easy to find/pull out of your car. Things like a day bag for your toddler’s journey there need to be really handy for quick nappy changes or snack times.

Get mentally prepared. Be realistic. It won’t be ALL sunshine, laughter and easygoing fun. There will be challenges along the way. You’ll have to be extra vigilant. You will have a dirtier, more tired, extra curious toddler to run around after! If you have a positive mindset, you will realise this is more for them than for you and the joy you will find (despite being exhausted) will be priceless. An amazing memory of a great ‘first’ for your family.

Read the next post about the during and after of our holiday here x

The Little Mister’s first proper sleep over.

Pic: Yes, it was!

Last weekend something big happened. Well, it was big for me. That’s what she said. Oh. Ew. Let me start again…

Last weekend was a significant event in the Little Mister’s life. Actually, it probably wasn’t really a massive deal to him, but it was to me! Last weekend was the Little Mister’s very first proper sleep over at the grandparents’ place. We didn’t pick him up at midnight, we didn’t come back to stay the rest of the night in the next room just in case. We went to our house and slept in our own bed and picked him up in the morning.

AND EVERYONE SURVIVED!!! 🙂

Well, by the next day (or two) all four adults were no doubt still feeling a bit worn out, and the Little Mister seemed really cuddly and wanting more sleep, but we all did it. My husband and I had the balls (figuratively speaking on my behalf anyhow) to leave him behind without stressing over him, my parents were willing to take on the challenge that is an 11 month old who requires childproofing to a ridiculous standard (think: ASIO), and the Little Mister SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!

I am very proud of all of us!

The last real spate of night time babysitting before that had been when the Little Mister was only about six months old. Old enough to be a bit too aware of his surroundings and definitely at the age where separation anxiety had kicked in big time. It was nerve-wracking to say the least (although I must give credit where it’s due – the Little Mister did make us pretty proud in the end when it mattered)! I was a bridesmaid in a wedding, so my bridal party commitments vs Little Mister…well, you can imagine the struggle! It was hard wanting to be everything to everyone but not quite succeeding. A definite life lesson in that!

When we received the invitation to another wedding a few months ago, we realised that by the time the big day arrived the Little Mister would be almost a year old and definitely easier to leave overnight! Hallelujah, we cried. WE CAN TOTALLY DO THIS and more importantly, we could ENJOY it! We checked that my parents wouldn’t be busy travelling around or enjoying their active social lives (damn baby boomers are very unreliable babysitters haha). We psyched ourselves up. We negotiated the terms of this babysitting arrangement and we MADE IT HAPPEN. As the date drew closer, great things began to fall into place. The Little Mister began to sleep through without any anxiety (not saying it won’t bite us again but things have been good lately – don’t wanna jinx it) and he began to remember faces and places a lot better, meaning that he recognises my parents whenever he sees them (they get the biggest smiles and wiggly cuddles) and knows his way around their house (like how to climb stairs – eek! – and where the good toys are). We were golden! These things helped a lot and while it could have all been a fluke, I’ve decided (against your will – unsolicited advice – woot!) to share the factors that may have helped all to have a successful night!

Routine

While we’re always open to things not quite going to plan (I think that’s a pre-requisite for having a child), we do have a pretty reliable daily/nightly routine that works for the Little Mister. It evolves over the months as he grows and changes, but we manage to keep things on an even keel most of the time. Because he usually knows how we will react when he cries at night, when he is supposed to have his bath, his sleep and his food, he seems to feel secure and happy. By asking my parents to adhere to his usual routines as best they could, it seemed to help him feel safe and secure despite being in a different place, looked after by different people. They helped him keep his routine, so he probably concluded that it was all good and his needs would be taken care of. I used to feel guilty leaving a big list for my parents (or inlaws) detailing his routine. I thought it might seem insulting – I mean, these people raised my husband and I and we’re still alive! It’s not like they’re new to the parenting game! However, I’ve come to see that the list was comforting to my parents (they kept asking me to write it all down before we left) also. They don’t want to do anything to disrupt him either and they wanted him to be happy and at peace with the arrangement 🙂

The sticking-to-routine thing also helps the Little Mister settle back in with us after a night away. While we don’t mind things being a bit out of whack for a night or so after a routine change, it is nice when he comes home and there’s no real adjusting to do! We can all just recover from our big night together and get on with normal life again!

Something from home

OK, so I will admit it. We packed up what felt like half of our entire home to take to my parents’ house. My parents do have a lot of things they have purchased and set up in their house for the Little Mister to use, but we have a port-a-cot and other such things and it just seems easier to bring it over than for my parents to buy everything he could possibly need when he only stays with his grandparents on either side for extended periods of time occasionally. However, we were able to do things like use the fitted sheet he’d been sleeping on in his cot at home in the port-a-cot so it smelt and felt familiar. We brought along his same sleeping bags that he’s used to and his cherished giraffe comfort blankie to sleep with (we may have created a monster – he won’t sleep without “Giraffey”). I also packed a couple of his favourite little soft toys from home in case he should get a bit anxious – it’s all to do with the smell and the feel at this stage!

While we did pack a LOT of “just in case” things, which made our carload much heavier, it brought me comfort knowing that the Little Mister was prepared for any situation. I know it brought my mum comfort in particular, because like me (where do you think I get it from?), she likes to be prepared for anything and everything. I didn’t want them to get caught out in a crazy teething situation (for example) and have no baby panadol or teething toys on hand. It would make the day/night much less pleasant for everyone! Selfishly, I also wanted there to be no excuse to get a phone call in the middle of the night to come and get him!

Stress-less strategy

While I am able to switch off my mummy guilt for leaving the Little Mister so I can go have a good time (I’m sure he didn’t miss us that much haha), I do worry about whether he’s being good for my parents. I like to have peace of mind that they are having an enjoyable time too. Otherwise I get daughter guilt! I know that if all is well, the Little Mister should definitely be peacefully asleep by 7:30pm (his usual bedtime is 7pm), so I asked my mum to text me to let me know that all was well. This allowed me to feel reassured that I would find out how he was sleeping, meaning that from 7:30pm I could either slip away for a minute to talk out the situation with my mum on the phone, or I could get the good news and relax for the rest of the night! Having this strategy meant that I didn’t spend the whole night WONDERING. We all know where WONDERING all night gets you!

It was great when I got the good news text at 7:30pm to let me know that he had whimpered a bit (testing my mum out a little haha) before settling well. Yay!

The rest of the night I felt so much more relaxed!

I also like to stress to whoever’s baby sitting that I actually do want any bad news. If I think that someone is going to try to hide the fact that there have been some troubles from me because they’re too scared of ruining my night, I actually feel worse. Just give me the good, the bad and the ugly! Gives me a chance to suggest any little things that might help a situation – a strange quirk the Little Mister might have that only his mummy or daddy might know about. Could make the whole night a lot more enjoyable for the grandparents too! Also, lets me know if I want to cut my night short, which I would rather do if the Little Mister was very sick or distressed than go the whole night oblivious and feel like the worst mother ever later on.

Out of sight, out of mind!

It’s not entirely possible. We’re not frickin’ robots, you know. But I tried really hard to focus on enjoying my night out. I had to put the Little Mister at the back of my mind (in the most loving way possible of course)! I was at the wedding to celebrate with some very good friends, and it was somewhat of a date night for my husband and I. A much needed one! I had to make sure that I didn’t watch the clock constantly and be all like, “Oh that’s his afternoon tea time, oh that’s his bottle time, oh I wonder what he’s doing right now, oh it’s cold outside, what’s he wearing? I wonder if he’s eating all of his dinner?”

At some point you just have to trust the babysitter/s and let it go! I tried to limit my “thinking about the bubba” to just the 7:30pm text I was expecting from my mum and I succeeded! It felt good to just release it all for a night. That’s where the stress-less strategy kicks in, because that strategy can make all the difference in your ability to relax and remember all of the good things about being kid free (temporarily)! Live that dream (temporarily)! Haha.

Also, it’s good to get out once in a while. Absence really did make the heart grow fonder. The next morning I was so excited to go and see the Little Mister at my parents’ house! I wanted a cuddle! In fact, my husband and I got the greatest cuddles all of the next day 🙂 It felt nice to be missed as well! We have to make the most of that feeling – I’m sure the Little Mister will reach an age all too soon, where he’s thinking, “Damn – Mum and Dad made me come home! I want to stay out!”

I know that none of my unsolicited advice is particularly revolutionary, but it’s just solid stuff that seemed to make a difference in the experience for my family 🙂

I’ll get back to you in another who-knows-when/x amount of months when none of this works anymore 😉

Got any other tips or stories to share? x

Who’s your daddy…blogger?

Pic

Look, I still have trouble admitting this to myself, but if you were to label me as a blogger, I would definitely be a “mummy” blogger these days. I am a mummy who blogs. About being a mummy. I try to think of other things to blog about, but being the biggest job I’ve ever undertaken, all the “mummy” stuff seems to dominate! I guess I’m reluctant to label myself (or be labelled) because I worry that I’ll just be one of the million bajillion parents out there who is trying to make something of themselves in the blogosphere (is “blogosphere” a naff thing to say?) and it’s not exactly an original or unique idea. I want to show that I have more than one dimension, I suppose. I feel like I’m a happy new parent, but I am also more than that. In saying that, there will always be mummies (not the toilet paper wearing zombie ones – no wait…) in the world. Billions of them. Reaching out for support, advice, sharing of funny stories and enjoying new perspectives on parenting. Each parent is a different person who offers something slightly new, with their own back story to tell and build on. And gawd, it’s therapeutic to blog about the experience. Who am I to stand in the way of myself and millions of others who stay sane this way?

I guess I can live with that. I shouldn’t try to be a total wanker about it.

Moving right along…

I love reading mummy blogs (or posts about being new parents). Let’s face it, I belong to the right demographic. However, I also really, thoroughly enjoy a good daddy blog. It’s fun to find out about the “other” sex’s perspective on parenting. Also? I kind of secretly think it’s cute that these days dads can write all about their parental exploits and it shows how far we’ve all come in sharing parenting roles and experiences. It sure ain’t the 1950s anymore and aren’t we glad?! Also, I like to email all the good daddy posts to my husband. Not sure if he enjoys my forceful sharing of dad experiences with him (he doesn’t have the same non-sports related blog reading addiction I do), but I haven’t yet received any criticism for it…unlike the backlash I get for sending celebrity baby gossip to him…he’s not really that fussed about Blue Ivy, I must say. I also get a lacklustre reaction when I send him NBA news. Not NBA sports news. Just gossip about Kardashians and stuff, which he really says doesn’t count as NBA news. Then I reply that I was being thoughtful keeping him up…with the Kardashians mostly. I really am so amazingly thoughtful. Oh and any cute pictures of labradors being cute (as labradors tend to be) are also important email correspondence between us. For me. Well, I have fun.

Also, I must add that he’d rather chew off his leg after a freakish bobsledding accident than write his own blog (a real tragedy I say). He doesn’t actually bobsled, but I thought that was a fun visual. Also, he’ll read this and I think we can agree that it will get a good reaction. Also, I watched a bit of Cool Runnings on TV the other night…

Unfortunately, daddy blogs are in the minority these days. For every gazillion mummy bloggers, you will find one daddy blogger. That figure may or may not have resulted in me doing guesswork and not any actual research.

I just finished reading a guest post that Aliya from Double the Fun commissioned from her husband (the ‘Hubs’) and thoroughly enjoyed his dabbling in a bit of daddy blogging. It made me think of the other dad blogs I enjoy. I shall share them, shall I?

How To Be A Dad
Follow Charlie and Andy in their day to day experiences as dads “in the field”. They claim vehemently to not be parenting experts but rather to provide a humourous “how not to” guide to being fathers. They aim to entertain, and I’m certainly entertained 🙂

They share lots of funny parenting anecdotes (but only the ones their wives will allow). It’s all in good fun!
As another parent who also claims adamantly to not be an expert, hence my blog title, this is a blog I relate to (as much as a non-dad can)!

Also, every time I’ve ever commented, I’ve received a comment reply which makes me feel warm and fuzzy like my visit means something to them. I think I should probably start doing that more on this ol’ blog.

BIG FAMILY, little income
Ah, Bruce. That’s this dad’s name. Which is also the name of my late goldfish. Don’t ask. Moving right along…

This guy cracks me up. Also, just quietly, he’s nuts. He has SEVEN CHILDREN. Which as you can imagine makes for a LOT of great blogging material. I usually find funny stories about his kids (or his parenting skills) and he shares tips on saving the moolah so he can feed his MASSIVE brood!

Busy Busy Busy
I’ve been reading Jacob’s blog since before he was a dad and now that he is, he is just as funny and lovely to read about! He draws really hilarious little pictures to go with his posts and his experiences as a first time parent to a little boy make me do that whole, “I totally get this.” thing while I’m reading. He’s a few months ahead of me in this whole parenthood thing, so I like to see what I’m in for.

He’s one of those bloggers who make me get excited when I see a post pop up in my googlereader and I always make time to read everything he writes.

Well, those are my favourites. Know of any more I can read or share? x

But I have NOTHING to wear!!!

Pic: I think the key is to avoid this.

Lately I’ve been feeling a little fashionably challenged. I swear that no matter how many items of clothing sit in the bottom of my wardrobe on the floor, I still only manage to rotate between the same three damn outfits day in, day out! I’m starting to feel a little bit depressed about it! Literally months ago, I decided to start clearing out my wardrobe, with the purpose of only keeping the things I will actually wear (and that will fit me). I am yet to actually finish the mammoth task! Or at least it feels like a mammoth task when you have an 8 month old baby hanging from you constantly! I feel like I’ve been through so many changes in the last year, physically and lifestyle wise, that it’s impossible to maintain my old way of dressing!

Necklines get pulled down until you could be arrested for indecent exposure, shoulders get dribbled on, jeans fall down when you’re constantly bending down to lift a baby or something they’ve dropped on the floor (plumber’s crack anyone?), maxi dresses can be tripped over while carrying a 10kg baby, fancy short skirts are dangerous (and cannot easily be pulled down to a proper length while holding a child, meaning constantly looking uncomfortable).

Maybe I’m just incapable of wearing clothes properly anymore and all the other mummies are doing fine…but I really do have issues. While it is tempting to become one of those bedraggled mothers who wear old men’s tracksuits every day (in private or in public), like the ladies on Oprah who got free makeovers all the time, I am determined to not do that whole “letting myself go” thing.

My wardrobe is filled with I Could Never Leave the House in That items that are strictly for housework or painting in (neither of which I’m very proficient at as of late), party dresses, and clothes that remind me of my pregnancy and threaten to give me nightmare flashbacks when I put them on. I get paranoid that certain items of clothing will make people speculate that I must be pregnant again, when really I’ve just been comfort eating a bit too much…

I really would like to win the lottery and start over again. Nothing feels like it fits in with my life as it is today! I need a fresh start! Or Oprah (she’d bring her show back just for me, right?)! I want to be fashionable, practical and my clothing needs to be classy but casual enough that I can meet a friend for lunch, grovel on the floor at several baby friendly venues (the library, friends’ houses, parks etc) without getting arrested for public indecency or scaring anyone and I want to look like me! I want to not look like a cookie cutter mummy who had to wear everything everyone else has because there was simply no choice available! I don’t want to look like a slob either!

Inspiration?

Pic: Easy, casual, practical and fashionable!

Pic: I would add a scarf to disguise any pulling down of my neckline, but that’s the basic idea!

The key here seems to be simple dresses, scarves, opaque tights or leggings, stretchy blazers, oversized tee shirts and well fitted jeans (unlike the ones I am currently wearing which fall off my hips no matter what I do and I am only wearing them because I have nothing else). I am thinking accessories can mix it up too 🙂

Besides spending a while googling “celebrities with babies” to see what they’re wearing (I’m totes good at research), I also consulted the most fashionable, hip population of 20 something bloggers on what the “don’ts” of fashion are today (just to make sure I’m on the right track) and here are my top findings:

Leggings are NOT pants (unless you have Barbie doll parts in your knickers which will NEVER ever reveal camel toe from ANY angle on any day in any location guaranteed). Leggings should be worn with tops or dresses that cover both camel toe (comprehensively) and possible cellulite. I agree wholeheartedly.

Crocs worn by adults – don’t. I can’t even.

Pic: No. Just no.

Leggings with shorts are apparently a hot topic of contention. I have always wondered if I could, during my desperate moments, but never went through with it. According to some of my blogging peers I seem to have made the right move?

Ill fitting clothes of any description. Which is why I am so at odds with my wardrobe right now! Basically, what I think everyone is saying is be real. Accept your real clothing size, wear something that flatters and save everyone’s eyeballs.

With all of this in mind, I think I’m gonna be OK. Now all I have to do is find some moolah, some time and some energy! Piece of cake….right?

Baby shopping. Baby product shopping. Not shopping for actual babies…

Pic: These signs lead to stores full of baby things

Following some recent conversations with friends (both pregnant and yet-to-be), I had memories flood back to me about those first months of (first time) pregnancy where everything was so overwhelming! I remember thinking, wow there’s going to be a real life human baby in my house at some point – what crazy nonsense is this?! I’m going to have to buy it stuff and I don’t even know what all that “stuff” is!!! Oh, God help me!

OMG! ZOMG! OMFG! (yeah that’s right – I can abbreviate with the best of the cool kids)

I remember going “shopping” for the baby (now known as the Little Mister of course) where all I’d do is stare at everything and realise that having so many “options” meant every decision was 15 times harder. I would go home empty handed with loads of information swimming around in my head after I’d drilled the shop staff for all sorts of facts about prams, cots and car seats! I’d then put it all off for another few weeks while I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening (luckily I started my “shopping” expeditions fairly early in the piece – start of second trimester I believe).

If I could say one thing to those who are in that same boat right now, it would be: Don’t panic. It will actually all come together. You’re a smart woman/man and you want what’s best for your baby. It does all start to click eventually 🙂

It’s so funny how we can conquer so many new skills in life – just see a challenge and go for it. We complete university degrees, buy houses, plan massive holidays in strange places, drive out to old Aunty Whatsit’s place in the middle of nowhere without a decent road map, plan wedding extravaganzas and start small businesses…yet we freak out at the idea of buying a few things for a new baby!

I spent a lot of time asking friends with babies (and my mum) what they found useful in the early days. I asked them what they found irritating and whether I could avoid those irritations/inconveniences myself. I got over my fear of looking stupid in front of baby product shop staff and just asked them whatever I wanted to know. I visited places several times until I could go there without having a mental breakdown and everything started to seem more familiar and not so scary!

While I had a bit of a budget to stick to, I didn’t obsess over getting the very very very best price on everything. If I could save $10 by going to some shop a bajillion miles from home, it wasn’t worth it while I was heavily pregnant and very confused (not to mention you’d spend the $10 “savings” on fuel to get there anyhow). If I found what I liked and it was good value for money, I just went home with it or made a plan to come back for it as soon my funds would let me. Gotta weigh up the stress factor vs everything else. I’d feel great every time I could tick something off the list.

My strategy was also to make sure I had all the “will need it in the hospital or the day we leave hospital” stuff. The stuff you can’t make it without in that first week or so. After that, things can come together at a moment’s notice if need be and the people in your life can be really helpful running about for you (some will even bug you until you let them do something so you may as well let them feel useful) if you have a lovely support network to call on. It helped me focus and not think of forgetting a few little things as the end of the world.

How did I pick the big stuff (you know – the really intimidating stuff)? Mind if I share? (that was rhetorical haha)

Cot
All I wanted was for the cot to be attractive enough to match the Little Mister’s nursery colour scheme (which was simply clean with white and blue). It had to be something that would be good enough quality to last for the use of more than one child. I wanted it to have a bassinet level option (for when the baby is little and not as mobile), for the mattress to be able to drop down later when you need to trap a crawling, toddling maniac child who may be learning to climb, and for it to later convert to a toddler bed. It goes without saying that it had to meet national safety standards. As long as a cot was a reasonable price and had all these features, I was stoked. I’m still very happy with my decision. Seriously, just keep it simple.

Pram/stroller
This one baffled me from day one. I won’t lie. There are so many choices, so many features and so many opinions on the matter you feel like your head will spin off! Not to mention there are so many very very expensive products to stare at in utter disbelief. There are some babies out there just pimpin’ in their tricked out rides. Or whatever the kids are saying these days. Pretty sure I just said something really inappropriate there…moving right along…

My requirements? It had to have a comfy bassinet option for when my Little Mister was very small and spent most of his time sleeping. It had to be good at manouvering in tight spaces. It had to be light enough to lift in and out of the car several times a day. It had to be easy to assemble or fold down because no-one wants to be that person in the carpark taking half an hour just to get their baby out of the car and into the stroller, or out of the stroller and into the car! It had to be good quality so it would last for the use of more than one child, hopefully with the option of being able to even transport two children (a toddler and baby) at once if need be in the future.

Look, I’ll be honest. I also didn’t want it to be butt ugly. You have to wheel that thing about in public all the time, y’all.

Car seat
I wasn’t really too fussed. I didn’t need the top of the range, “only celebrities use it” kind of thing. I didn’t want the cheapest thing either. I wanted a nice, middle of the range product that looked comfortable and of course, safe. As we weren’t going to start with a capsule in our car (they are great for transporting sleeping babies to and from the car but they aren’t great for longevity’s sake – we figured we could hire one if the baby turned up and we wished we had one), we wanted a car seat that could range from birth to a few years old. We got one that went from newborn to 18kg (or roughly an average sized four year old). I figured that if there was a second child entering the equation at some point then we could purchase a car seat that takes a child to 7 years old (the legal age a child has to be in a seat until) and the younger bub could have the smaller one. I have been really happy with the seat we’ve chosen. It’s grown with the Little Mister (or he’s grown with it I should say) very nicely.

Basically, everyone I talked to in the baby product shops was really helpful. There was one lady with a really pretentious name that I cannot remember right now, who bugged the hell out of me at one of my favourite stores, but on the whole these staff members are really used to talking to parents-to-be who have NO IDEA WHAT THEY’RE DOING or WHAT THEY’RE IN FOR! That’s what their business is about, so if they treat you like an idiot…quite plainly, they deserve to lose your business and anyone else’s. You’ve never done this before and should be treated as such (without someone being a condescending a-hole of course). Also, you’re pregnant (or your partner is) and they should know better than to mess with you (or them) haha.

Also, don’t freak out if something doesn’t go too smoothly. I had to wait until I was 8 months pregnant (and very very hugely so) to get my pram delivered to a shop far far away because they’d run out of stock or some crap (my savings did actually make it worth it luckily), and my cot arrived with some damage that I felt could compromise its safety meaning I had to return it and get it replaced. If you let these things wash over you and deal with them calmly (while being sure to assert yourself and get what you deserve), I promise it can actually be fun! 🙂

Have any other advice to share? If you’re a parent, how did your first shopping ventures go?

I thought about including what my product choices were, but I decided it’s not so important to get a certain brand or model. It’s about making sure the product meets your specific budget and has the features you think are important. Also, I didn’t want to seem like I was paid to do this post (I wish haha). If you really do wish to know, please don’t be afraid to email me. Also, while I’m explaining myself, I’d also like to say that I am only describing my personal experience whenever I do one of these “advice” type posts. I am not saying that what was helpful for me will be helpful for everyone – I’m big on the whole “each to their own” adage and will never claim to be an expert on any topic! Just another first time mum figuring stuff out 🙂

Useful Stuff for an Awesomely Unprepared Mother.

Pic

I recently went shopping for a friend’s baby shower gift. While I myself am a fairly green mother (four months in – he’s still alive – yay!), I thought back to when the Little Mister was so brand new and I was so bewildered by all that baby stuff everyone (parents/friends/magazines/books) told me I’d need. I thought to myself, what would my friend need to know/have?

I then had to restrain myself (it didn’t get physical but it was quite the warzone in my brain) from buying the poor mother to-be the entire local baby store (and every baby department in the bigger chain stores). Oh, also I haven’t won the lottery quite yet (I buy a ticket maybe twice a year) so I guess my finances might not have liked the gesture anyhow. I settled on some very cute gender neutral bibs (at 10 weeks a new mother suddenly realises why those bibs she received at her baby shower are necessary – baby becomes a drool factory before attempting messy solids later) and an insulated bottle bag that comes with a special instant heating pad – you just click a thing on the side of it and it gets hot right away without needing to be plugged into anything or requiring batteries! I also checked the side of the box and there are no nasty chemicals involved! Something I wish I had back in the old days…8 weeks or so ago!

I used to dread baby showers like crazy. Of course I felt honoured to be a part of the celebration and I was always so excited that one of my close friends was going to pop out a mini-human of their very own that I could love and dote on. I just felt so damn awkward! I had no idea what to buy them and not a clue how I would feel if they already had one! I felt lost when I’d sit there at what is usually a fairly alcohol free event and people around me would be talking at a million miles an hour about swaddling, clothing sizes (so many zeros!!) and the latest brands and gadgets to help make a parent’s life easier!

This has got me thinking. What are those super useful must-haves that have saved my life time and again in the last four months?

The “Boring Stuff”
Somehow my husband and I accumulated a crapload of samples and gifts that had our baby supplies looking quite healthy! It’s the stuff that everyone thinks of as boring every day baby stuff, only when you’re heavily pregnant and a little overwhelmed it’s less stuff to tick off the list. We’re talking nappy rash creams, wipes, newborn nappies, powder, baby oil, baby lotion, cotton wool balls, tissues and even teething gel (not to be used until required of course). It might not seem that thrilling, but if you put that stuff in a hamper for a first time mother-to-be, she will be thanking you later when she has baby brain and needs something in a hurry that she forgot to grab from the supermarket (it’s not so easy to get out in the early days)! These were the things I just never really got around to buying before the baby came. I had all the big stuff, the fun stuff and the read-it-in-a-trendy-magazine stuff, but the “boring stuff” just fell off the radar (and then the Little Mister made a surprise appearance three weeks early)!

Digital thermometer, room temperature thermometer and bath water thermometer – thermometers everywhere!
Besides being a really strange word to type over and over, thermometers have been my best friends since the early days. As new parents, my husband and I weren’t sure if we could trust our instincts just yet when it came to the temperature of the bath water, the temperature of our bedroom (where the Little Mister is STILL sleeping even though all three of us are totally ready for him to move) and his body temperature.

Knowing the bath wasn’t too hot or cold meant there was one less thing to worry about on our long list of brand new parent worries! It gave us a base to start from and let us feel for ourselves what the correct temperature is. It’s actually warmer than I would have thought it should be at 36 degrees celcius. I probably would have spent the early days chilling him too much and wondering why he was always upset! Little babies hate being naked as it is – it’s not as cosy out in the world as it was in the womb!

A few times in the first six weeks or so, our bedroom would be a bit too hot for the Little Mister’s liking. We wouldn’t know and while he wouldn’t always FEEL warm or sweaty to the touch, having the thermometer for the room confirmed our suspicions and more often than not, an adjusting of the air conditioner settings and his amount of bedding/swaddling would fix everything.

I used to freak out about the Little Mister’s body temperature because knowing that babies can’t really regulate their own temperature just seemed to mess with my mind! A couple of times I was able to reassure myself by using his digital thermometer. It might seem like something you can just buy later, but if I hadn’t had it ready and on hand when I was worried, my stress levels would have gone off the charts! Sometimes when you want to check, it can be the middle of the night or a time when you can’t make it to the pharmacy to purchase one. I use it after his vaccinations (a horrible terrible necessary evil) if he’s not himself, so I can see if he’s got a fever (a common side effect). It also helped because they would take his temperature every day in the hospital (I don’t know if this is normal or because he was recovering from the infection that brought on my labour), which probably got it into my head that temperature is something to worry about!

Books!
I am not a super parenting nerd (believe it or not, despite the fact that my having a blog might lead you towards this conclusion), but sometimes reading a book that is written with new parents in mind, with up to date information (relevant to your country or culture’s practices) can be incredibly reassuring. Sometimes a lot more reassuring than googling your crazy mind to pieces in the middle of the night because you woke up and you just have to or else).

The three absolute bibles I go by are:

Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall


Kidwrangling by Kaz Cooke
What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel

I won’t review each of them for you, because that would bore the pants off you, but I have learnt everything from what’s “normal” for every month of my little man’s life so far, what developmental milestones to expect, how to deal with common worries or problems and (perhaps most importantly) how a baby’s sleep rhythms work. Knowing how the Little Mister’s body works at each stage of his very young life has helped me to deal with everything from his tummy being very immature the first few weeks, to knowing that a good sleep routine can make all the difference to how well he sleeps through the night. I love that these books aren’t promoting extremist parenting in any way, they use plain English that anyone can understand (and sometimes even humour which lightens the mood somewhat – why is parenting so damn serious?) and are organised in a way that makes it easy to figure out what you’re looking for!

People shy away from books because they think they’ll become overwhelmed and worry more. I felt the same at first, but these books are the ones that didn’t give me that freaked out feeling and for that I am grateful!

Muslin Wraps
These light weight cloths are SO useful. I use so many of them on a daily basis and have done so since the moment we got home from hospital. They’re a fantastic vomit/regurgitation shield for your shoulder (and more importantly your clothing) as you burp your little one, they are great to have on hand when the Little Mister has drool coming from seemingly everywhere and sometimes it’s good to wrap him in one when he needs to feel safe and secure while napping (but the weather is warm). I also drape one over the front of the pram if he’s sleeping in it (helps to give him a safe, quiet spot and a way for him to block out all the stimulus the world has to offer). I find that because the wraps are breathable, they’re great in summer.

And look. A confession. On the odd occasion, when all else fails and you don’t have any other options (ie you were caught the f*ck unaware and that sh*t is EVERYWHERE), the wraps can sometimes help to wipe up some crazy spills of the poos and wees variety. Of course you have to make sure the wraps are cleaned thoroughly and sanitary for next use!!

Stuff for the Mum
Year after year I would get a little bemused by all the pampering stuff people would give me for birthdays and Christmases. It seemed like everyone in the whole wide world had the same idea! I don’t think they realised just how low maintenance (read: lazy) I was with that stuff! My skin mostly did what I wanted it to and I wasted most of my time in the shower just thinking or washing my hair obsessively (don’t ask – it’s just this thing I do).

As that stuff stacked up, I wondered how many tubs of body butter one little person could possibly need?! How many body scrubs?! Loofahs? Geez!

Now I know. My skin has not been the same since pregnancy. Hormones, stretch marks and that rash I kept banging on about are now an issue. Not to mention the drool that dries out my upper arms (the baby’s drool – not mine haha). I love nothing more than quickly rubbing body butter on myself or giving my face a quick, gentle scrub in the shower to freshen up. It’s funny because I have less time to pamper myself than I ever did, but I appreciate it even more now. When I buy baby shower gifts, I sometimes make sure that the baby isn’t the only person getting a present. I know the mum-to-be might look at me funny, like “great – more pampery stuff – everyone gives me this stuff”, but afterwards I know it’s appreciated!

It’s nice to know someone’s thinking of you just a little bit, because your world becomes all about the baby very quickly!

Well, I could go on forever (perhaps this could be a regular instalment) but I’ll stop at those five lifesavers, shall I?

What stuff can you not live without?