Tag: unsolicited advice

5 ways to recharge (and stay sane) before Christmas.

Oh my goodness. The end of the school year has had me beat! The kids aren’t the only people who are exhausted! I have been so tired. I mean, I’m always a bit tired (because duh I’m a parent and also *ahem* a wife to a lovely but annoying man hahaha) but lately I’ve found it harder to keep bouncing back and to just push through!

I’ve decided to put together a little list of things that, based on past experience, might help me to survive this busy time of year. Things that will hopefully revitalise me a little so I’m not a worn out bitch by Christmas day! I want to enjoy this time of year because it’s my favourite time of year! I’m like Will Ferrell dressed in a fugly elf outfit, yelling out random things about loving Christmas at strangers. But not until December 1st, because I’m not crazy or anything. Geez.

I’m a bit special.

Anyway, where was I?

Right-o. List of things that help me to recharge when I’m bloody exhausted…

Make your bedroom feel like a glorious place to sleep. 

Better sleep makes you less tired! I know. What a revelation. Who knew? Last night, after a sleepless week and a whole bunch of quite frankly overly realistic and terrifying nightmares, I decided to do something about it. We declared it clean sheets day. I aired the room out and let a lot of light in. I lit a couple of gorgeous candles I’d forgotten about (and blew them out before bed time because of safety and shit).

Last night felt like heaven and I slept a lot better. The air/energy in the room felt so much lighter and not murky and stuffy. No nightmares! Yes!

I won’t go on about it because it’s all been said, but go to bed early when you’ve got nothing on. Rest up so you can enjoy other things later!

Let yourself get dumb in your rare down time. 

I used to get made fun of for always watching mindless trash TV or movies that didn’t exactly evoke deep thoughts or complex mind gymnastics. People like to say things like, “Why do you like that mindless junk? It will rot your brain!”

But to be honest, that’s the exact result I’m going for! I spend a lot of time overthinking things, reading about everything that’s going on in the world, dealing with the every day complexities of life. I consider myself to be pretty clever and a not so bad critical thinker. Sometimes I just need to switch off – something I’ve been crap at doing lately!

Ever since I explained that to my trash TV hating people, they have understood and left me to it. I’m always a heaps better person after spending a while being all like, OMG WHUT HAS KHLOE KARDASHIAN DONE TO GET THAT ARSE? HOW IS KYLIE JENNER HER OWN STEPKID’S AUNTY?

Basically, I don’t meditate (probably should) or do yoga (shut up Mum), but watching the shallower stuff really helps me to unwind!

You know, I need a break from being so damn clever all the time! 😜

Drink more water and eat healthy things. 

I have been rattling on about this stuff in my Kez Gets Physical updates. I am really appreciating being fuelled by things that don’t make me feel sluggish and gross. You don’t have to do it for weight loss, just do it to feel energised and in a better mood! I love to have a green juice when I feel like total crap (I know I sound like a wanker but it really really works). I also think water is the bomb diggity. It wakes me up in the morning (I know you coffee lovers are looking at me like I’m a freak) and brings me back to life when I am feeling exhausted.

I can always feel the difference between me having a decent salad for lunch, versus the times I’ve indulged in less healthy options (they’re so tempting when we feel like crap and want something quick and we just want comfort food). Not falling into a food coma by 2pm really helps me get through the afternoon!

Acknowledge your exhaustion and communicate well.

I am the crabbiest cow when I’m exhausted. I’ll admit it! I get cranky and I find it sooooo exhausting to be bothered telling anyone how I feel. But it’s worth doing. Things always go better when I confide in my husband about how burnt out I’m feeling, what he could do to assist (martyr shit is pretty much banned in my house) and just give him the heads up so he’s not shocked by my lack of excitement about life or my slightly stabby moods. He can do the same with me. It’s better than both of us just throwing our weight around like angry bears. It’s not a perfect system (we’re only human and life gets crazy) but we try.

Also, I have never fallen into this trap myself, but I have a feeling some people get on the internet and let their crabby moods affect the comments they leave on social media. Dudes, realise it’s your tiredness and stress talking and nobody wants to be on the receiving end! The other person might be exhausted AF too! Don’t fight with people just because you’re tired. That in itself is a waste of energy! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Switch off that screen or walk away if you think you won’t be able to resist!

Be in touch with your feelings, y’all!

Get outside.

I love this time of year. So much sunshine (and Vitamin D). Fresh air is so revitalising. Even if you just stand outside for a few minutes or go for a short walk, you will feel a little better. Exercise is great for building stamina and getting those endorphins, but if you just don’t have it in you (understandably – trust me I’ve been feeling it), just get out for no other reason than to be in the outdoors. There doesn’t have to be a point to it or a task to complete. Just go outside and stand there or sit and have a drink or better still, lie in a hammock if you have one. I need to try this a whole lot more.


Nothing I’ve said is particularly revolutionary, but I hope it helps. This time of the year can be stressful and I think that if we can all practice a little bit of (realistic) self care and be kind to each other, we’ll see the year out in a really positive way (regardless of whether it was kind to us or not)!

What do you do to stay sane during the ‘silly’ season/end of the school year? 

#MumLife: Labels or Love?

Being a mum/primary caregiver of children can be fucking hard. And I am not even talking about the day in, day out shenanigans that come with just the child care and juggling of everything. I’m talking about the fact that there are big personalities and the publicising of our lives and social media blah blah. I am pretty pissed off that we keep finding new ways to keep up with the ‘mummy wars’. I am pissed off that it’s still even a thing! I mean, COME ON.

Everyone is so quick to label themselves and each other. Talking shit about how they’re not judging, but…BUT WHAT? Come on. We all judge. Let’s not pretend it isn’t human nature. But what we do with that judgement is what matters. Is it not just enough to agree to disagree? Unfollow? Stop watching? Or do we have to hate read everything and set our followers onto someone else’s followers, with torches and pitchforks every time we’re offended?

Do we have to call ourselves a *insert any trendy name here for a collective of people* and feel like we’re in the clique and exclude others because it makes us feel more important and exclusive?

I am calling bullshit. I am calling bullshit on all the labels. I am sick of the fucking labels. Are you a slack mum? A helicopter mum? A free range mum? A fit mum? A sweary mum? A classy mum? A snobby mum? An Alpha mum? A tiger mum? A don’t give a fuck mum? An anxious mum? A make everything from scratch mum? A pre-packaged everything mum? A Kmart mum? An Etsy mum? A working mum? A stay at home mum? An attachment mum? A…queen? Sigh.

Do you get to be proud of your label or should you be ashamed? It’s just exhausting. Bloody exhausting.

I can be every mum at any given moment on any given day. And I am deciding  right now that I will reject all these ridiculous labels. Because at some point in time, I have been just about all of them. It’s called being a REAL mum. And that’s not a label because I’m not going to tell you how to be one or what it means to be one. I am just telling you to live your life, keep it real – your version of what’s real, not what some Facebook Idol has told you is real – honour yourself and keep on trucking. Or take a break. I don’t care. You know what you need, right? You’ll find your tribe and hopefully your kids won’t be scarred for life. Isn’t that all we can hope for?

I have wobbly bits, but I exercise and try to better my diet. Other times I know life is too short to not eat the cake or to cry over my flab. I have given my kid toast for dinner. I have spent hours slaving over a delicious, healthy something or other I found on Pinterest. I have had anxiety. I have melted down. But I have also had my shit together so rock solid that no-one better cross me. I’ve been that forgetful mum at school – whoops, did we leave the library book at home? Forget that permission slip for that thing? I’ve also been that organised mum who breezes in with it all sorted. I’ve slept well. I’ve slept badly. I’ve worked and I’ve stayed at home. I’ve even worked from home. I’ve breastfed, bottle fed, fed everything from a package because I was overwhelmed, I’ve made everything from scratch because I had the time and energy. I’ve pushed my kid to do better and I’ve let him roam free and get his creativity on. I’ve let him watch screens and I’ve told him he’s had enough. I’ve worn lovely put together outfits to the school gate, and I’ve slumped in wearing active wear when everyone knows I’m not going to do anything active because who am I kidding, I just wanted to wear the comfy clothes. I’ve been sweary, but I’ve also been restrained when appropriate. I’ve been a fierce mama bear and I’ve also let him fight his own battles. I’ve sent my kid to school with a fancy bento lunch box…filled with whatever was left in the fridge because as if I’m going to the bloody supermarket AGAIN this week. I’ve been hungover, parenting from the couch on the occasional Sunday when I could actually be bothered going out. I’ve been ridiculously responsible. I’ve been obsessed with inspirational quotes, I’ve laughed at the terrible ones. I’ve dressed like a tragic grungy teen and I’ve dressed like a dork. I can laugh at myself, but you better not be bullying anyone else. I’ve felt mum guilt and I’ve felt mum guilt about not feeling any damn mum guilt. I’ve said yes to things I wish I hadn’t said yes to, and no when I wished I’d said yes. I’ve been that annoying bitch with the highlight reel on Instagram. I’ve confided in my followers, warts and all when it got too much.

At the end of the day, I don’t fit into anyone’s stupid boxes. I take what I like from my favourite social media entities and I quietly leave them alone when I don’t agree. I am mine.

I am real. I am me. I am made up of so many different influences I’ve stumbled across along the way. I am made up of what I brought to the table too. Because that’s just as good.

I wrote this post because I want every other mum out there who doesn’t fit into a label or a gang or a box or a social media movement to know that I don’t either and that’s OK.

I believe in critical thinking – being able to recognise what’s good and what might not be serving me. I have always maintained that my social media and my blog will always be a safe place. I’m not going to tell you who to be, although I will be assertive when I think something is just objectively, morally fucked up.

If you’re trying your damnedest (is that even a word – who cares) to teach your kids to be considerate, kind and inclusive, resilient and emotionally intelligent (something the internet could do with more of), then I am so down with that and I don’t care how you get there. Because we wouldn’t be ‘mummies’ without our kids (who we love to death). But we are also so much more than that and that’s pretty rad.

Mummy wars can fuck off.

How to feel safer on social media.

If you’ve been anywhere on the internet lately, you probably haven’t been able to avoid the news of Kim Kardashian’s run in with some armed burglars. While my life is absolutely nothing like hers in many(!) aspects, it sends a shiver down my spine to imagine what that would feel like – the violation, the trauma and the fear that your children could lose their mother.

While she’s received a lot of hate and victim blaming comments online, I do feel for her – sure her case has been widely publicised and talked about, because she’s super duper famous – but it’s still something that can happen to anyone. Even if you don’t have millions of dollars’ worth of jewellery on your person.

I have read that the Kardashian/West/Jenner family have really locked down on their social media since the scary event and while I wish this was the ideal world in which it did not play a role in the exploitation of people, I think this is a smart idea for them in the circumstances.

Please be mindful that I am in no way victim blaming anyone. Just offering some advice that I try to live by.

When I say ‘try’ I mean I am not perfect in this oversharing culture we live in, but I do try to have a somewhat cautious approach and I’m hoping to improve.

While the Kardashians are not to blame for the awful decisions made by others to traumatise or stalk them (yes I know a lot of people are disagreeing with me right now but I stand by what I’m saying), I do think this raises a good discussion about how we can keep ourselves as safe as possible. We can’t control everything that might happen to us, but we can put some safety measures in place – even without access to giant burly bouncers and bodyguards!

Here are the ways we can try to keep ourselves/locations/valuables safe(r) when on social media/blogs…

Reveal your location after the fact (or not at all)

It’s probably unrealistic to expect people to never reveal where they’re going or where they’ve been. Social media empires have been built on being able to promote exactly this.

Social media is amazing for its sense of immediacy. We can live blog, live stream, we have apps like snapchat. But it can come with its risks.

People know exactly where we are, what valuables we’re wearing and can deduce many other things about us in that place and time. While I wish there weren’t people out there who would exploit this, there are.

Sometimes for privacy reasons, I will do things like ‘check in’ to a location as I’m leaving it. Or I will save snapchat posts straight to ‘memories’ and add them to my story later.

I will keep certain locations to myself, but promote others. I recently went on an awesome holiday, which I shared a lot of, but I did not reveal the exact place where I was staying with family. Until recently, nobody even knew the exact name of my hometown on this blog!

Sometimes it can help to be a little enigmatic. Don’t always be consistent. Makes it a little harder for people to determine if you’re alone, or who you’re with/not with etc. Check a lot of settings on your social media accounts, because some reveal your location automatically. Try to disable as many of those as you can! You should be in control, not the app!

Be selective about who you share certain details with

I keep both personal and public social media profiles. While nothing is completely foolproof, my personal/private profiles are much more locked down than my public profiles and information. I try to keep my private contacts as people I know personally and feel like I can trust (I could probably even stand to do a bit more culling). I don’t give access to those I do not know well and what I share more ‘privately’ is quite different to what I share publicly.

I think it’s really important to have your private/public online presence sorted. While the urge to overshare to a wider audience can be bloody tempting, I like having people I can message/snap privately without that audience. I just ask myself before posting: is this for a couple of select friends/family members only or is this for a wider audience? What am I willing to reveal about my life right now? I’m allowed to decide what’s best for myself and my family. Some things are just not for social media.

Do not openly say ‘I’m home alone’ or my home is empty.

I try not to ever openly say whether I’m home alone (especially at night time) or that my home is empty. I’m happy to publicly show off my rather annoyingly protective dogs too haha.

I once gasped when I saw an acquaintance publicly post that she was enjoying a bubble bath right that minute, with a check in location at her house. I knew she lived alone and it freaked me out. Please don’t do that! Please!

It’s all about timing and inclusion/exclusion of critical details.

Do not allow people to virtually case your joint 

I can be quite selective in which things I share images of around my house. I don’t show off valuables (not that there are many – if any – mind you haha). I do not think that I have ever given a virtual tour of sorts of my place – i.e. while my house is a pretty standard design, I don’t think I’ve ever revealed the layout in its entirety.

I might just show the pretty generic parts of my place that happen to be in the background of whatever I’m snapping that day. If it reveals too much, I send privately to people who I know and trust in real life, who have probably visited anyway!


I know I may sound a little over cautious to some (it’s not like I’m super rich or famous or a particularly desirable target – something I do not mind AT ALL), but in reality I am really not. I probably could stand to tighten up a lot more. In some ways I envy those who can share so much without fear/paranoia (sometimes it’s even inspiring), but in other ways I can feel concerned.

None of the tips I have written here can guarantee anything. Some awful people have a will and they find a way and there’s nothing much we can do about it (which is why victim blaming is absolute nonsense). This advice just makes me feel a little more empowered and maybe these things make a small difference in deterring some morally bankrupt individuals.

I definitely could learn a lot more about keeping myself and my family safe online, but I am trying to be more mindful of what I share – especially in light of this recent news story (yes I referred to it as a ‘news’ story,  Hatey McHaters!).

How do you manage your online identity/presence? Do you have personal safety online measures put in place? (please make sure your comments do not betray any personal details that could put you at risk) 

How to apologise properly.

Hey, you know when a ‘celebrity’ or somebody in the public eye (do I need to mention a certain Collingwood Football club president?) kind of fucks up? They might make their employer/s look bad or offend a large segment of the population. And then there comes the seemingly forced apology.

We roll our eyes in frustration, as they ‘apologise’. We feel like they’re only apologising to save their job or their PR image. Because someone told them to. We are reminded of when children are forced to apologise for doing something naughty and they don’t want to, so they spit the words out sarcastically or spend their apology making time still talking about why the thing they did was not that bad or was someone else’s fault.

Yuck, right?

Well, I have thought a lot about what makes a good apology. Because we all screw up or put our foot in it sometimes. But it’s only truly forgivable if we really nail the apology and make solid resolutions to do better in that area moving forward.

So here are my tips for making a good apology (whether you are a normal human being or a bumbling idiot with a high profile)…

Be sincere.

This might be the hardest part. But you have got to mean it. Dig deep, swallow your pride, tap into some empathy and mean it. People see through false platitudes from a mile away. Do not try that sickening lip service bullshit and expect it to be swallowed. It’s insulting.

Take accountability.

Tell the other person/people what it is you did wrong. Own it. Do not say, “I’m sorry IF I upset you.” If??? You did, or you wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. Do not put the accountability back onto the person/people you offended. Do not say, “I’m really sorry that you got upset at me.”

Because that’s like saying, “I’m not really sorry for what you think I said/did (which quite honestly I am not completely happy to cop to). I am sorry you called me on it and quite frankly maybe everyone was overreacting”.

Do not say, “I’m sorry, but…”

Don’t try to justify the thing you said/did while apologising. The ‘but’ cancels it out.

“I’m sorry but it was just a joke…”

“I’m sorry, but to be fair…”

You know the kind of thing I’m talking about.

Also, do not underestimate the use of the word, “I”. Don’t be all, “So I’m really sorry that happened to you.”

No. You should be really sorry YOU did that to the other person. It can be tempting to distance yourself from that thing you’re probably embarrassed you did, but I promise it won’t go down as well as using the word, “I” in your sentences.

Show that you understand the impact of what you did to hurt/offend someone.

Tell someone that you know why what you did was wrong and the damage/impact it caused or potentially could cause.

“I’m sorry that I joked about being violent towards a woman. It is not something to joke about. It was a damaging comment to make and a lot of people are looking to me as a public figure. I could have used my voice to speak out against the problem but I ended up being a part of the problem.”

Show genuine remorse. Not for being caught or called out. Remorse for what you did to hurt/offend someone else.

State what you will do differently moving forward. 

An apology tends to lose its credibility if the person does the same kind of thing over and over. You should mention a genuine plan or intention to do differently so you won’t have to apologise for similar screw ups ever again. How will you prevent this happening again?

Make sure you mean it, though or you could find yourself red faced again in the future!

Do not apologise with the sole intent of getting something in return.

While you may believe that both parties have contributed to a crap situation, do not apologise simply so you can skip to them making theirs. Make your apology because it needs to be made. Because it’s the right thing to do. Be true to the good person you know you are/want to be.

Other people do not owe us their forgiveness but we may owe them an apology regardless.

Disclosure: I am not perfect but I wholeheartedly try to take my own advice. It can be hard to accept that we’ve screwed up sometimes, but it’s character building to take it on the chin and do better next time. Sometimes I’m a slow learner, but I keep these tips in the back of my mind and keep working at them! They really do work in making the other person feel validated and heard.

So I hope I didn’t come across too preachy, but I got the idea for the blog post (after reading about yet another public figure making a half hearted apology for saying something dumb) and went with it hoping I’m not the only one who finds these tips useful (or wishes other people would)!

Did I cover everything? Anything else you would like to add? 

Trying new things: Periscope.

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You might have noticed, but I have suddenly become a little obsessed with the Periscope app. I had no idea what it was until a week or so ago, but I was intrigued when I found out that it’s an interactive live streaming app. I was curious about how a blogger might use it and basically, I’m a sucker for the next big social media ‘thing’. At least I’m pretty sure this is the next big thing. The app has only been around since March 2015 (that’s THIS year – only a few months ago), so it’s really kind of exciting. I thought about waiting to use it, to see if it might get more popular first, but then I remembered how long I took to get on board with Facebook (“Oh whatever – it’s never going to be as good as MySpace!”) and realised there’s no harm in jumping right on in!

Basically, you can use Periscope to broadcast your life live in video form on your smart phone. People can join your experience and they can comment as you go along. You can answer their questions or respond to their comments as you go. If you’re watching somebody else’s broadcast, you can also tap the screen at any point to send ‘hearts’, to show that you like what they’re showing you or what they’re saying about an issue.

If you miss someone’s broadcast, it will stay up for 24 hours before expiring and disappearing. Kind of like the snapchat experience.

I’ve seen some cool things from around the world and I really feel like I’m seeing things through other people’s eyes. Knowing it’s in real time is kind of exciting. It makes you feel like you’ve teleported into somebody’s holiday or their work day or their lounge room! It’s like having your own very very low budget reality show haha.

I’ve been using Periscope for a few days now and I think I’m getting a bit better at it each time. I talk about bloggy things or I let people ask me questions to get to know me better. I started off not knowing how to use it, blathering about like a total nitwit (it’s a bit embarrassing just being on the spot like that) and now I feel like I’m slowly gaining confidence.

I send a tweet out each time I am live on Periscope (the app is owned by Twitter), so that people know I’m ‘on’. You don’t have to have an account to click the link and watch, but if you’d like to add me on either app, my handle is @KezUnprepared 🙂

I like that I can just be me, warts and all. It’s a test of my confidence! I’ve been stealing little ‘alone’ moments to broadcast and I haven’t worn make up or nice clothes in a single broadcast yet (not necessarily an intentional thing)!! Brave, I know! I’m trying to learn to be more comfortable in my own skin and with the sound of my voice played back… and my chins (plural).

I have really tried to do my research, though. Because with any social media sharing, there are certain things to be aware of. I’ll share the things I’ve learnt or that I am careful about…

Sharing your location/private details

There is an option that allows you to share your location on the app. I turn this off before each broadcast. Turns out, if you don’t, people can see pretty much where you are, down to the street name by zooming in on the map (I experimented). If you don’t want people to turn up and crash your broadcast or stalk you at your home, perhaps you might not want to share this detail. It is slightly less fun when people don’t know where you are in the world (unless you tell them), but DEFINITELY more safe.

I also don’t show things people might recognise. Landmarks or signs that show exactly where I live or go about my daily life regularly (especially as I don’t live in a massive place). I don’t want to show too much of the stuff that’s in my home (usually just the white wall or a closed blind or something really generic). I don’t want people to know what they can steal or how to get into my home, should they somehow find it. I will never broadcast the Little Mister, because he cannot consent at this point in his life and to be honest, you don’t know who is watching if you choose to broadcast publicly (there is an option to broadcast only with your specific followers too if you prefer).

I have noticed people sharing away with great abandon and the mum in me has been shocked! Young people showing exactly where they are hanging out alone at night (like I could literally get in my car and go pick them up). Kids showing where they are at school or how they walk home. While I wish we could all feel safe to do so in this world, it’s not the ideal world and the thought of some perv using my broadcast to get an eyeful of my child (or worse) just seems too awful. Not. Going. To. Happen.

I know I’m a massive security nerd, but I think the main point is to make educated decisions that you can be comfortable with.

Physical safety

So many people broadcast while they’re driving!!! What the hell? They’re reading the comments their viewers are typing and moving their phones about the whole time! Not only is it illegal in certain places, but it’s scary and dangerous! Please don’t do it! I saw one guy do it with his KIDS in the car the other day. He only stopped the broadcast when his partner got on his case! OMFG. Just. Do. Not.

Since then, if I see someone is driving, I switch off. The less viewers they have, the less incentive they might have to do such dangerous stuff!

I do not want to witness some wally falling off a cliff while trying to show me the sunset or crashing their car!

Try to have a focus/title for your broadcast

I try to have a broad topic or title for my broadcasts. A direction that it can go. I think about it a little bit before I go live. What I might say and how I want to say it. Any broadcast can change direction depending on audience interaction, but I like when I see a broadcast that kind of has a point to it. You can give your broadcast a title so people will know what to expect if they choose to watch. Some broadcasters are awesome at having a really engaging chat about not much, when they’re hanging out after work or something, but some…not so much haha. I kind of like using a personal vlog kind of style. Others might want to show you the awesome sunset near their place or what they’re cooking or how they’re working out or where they’re travelling. They might talk to you about their passion or even play you some music. They might even open up a Q & A.

Be engaging

I am working on this. I am trying not to blather on pointlessly (key word trying) when I feel a little lost for words. I also try not to let too much dead air happen while I wait for someone to answer a question I’ve posed. I also try not to interrupt myself every two seconds to say hi to every single viewer that logs on (if you watch someone who does this you will find you get uninterested quickly and you lose track of the message the broadcaster was trying to get across to their audience). I like answering questions and seeing little hearts bubble up on my phone screen but I try to finish each sentence first before addressing them haha.

I also am learning when to end a broadcast. Sometimes you just know it’s got nowhere else to go. Nothing wrong with gracefully ending the session. End on a good note, not an awkward ‘is anyone out there’ one! 😉

I also don’t mind if not many people want to watch (if I’m talking about something a little niche). I’d rather quality interaction than just a quantity of people who aren’t ‘my’ audience.

I’m finding there seems to be an art to doing it well and I like the challenge! I’ve got a loooooooong way to go, but I’m having fun!

 

I am not a tech minded person, but I am a people person and I think that’s why social media always fascinates me.

Do you use Periscope? Would you consider trying it? Want to share your user name so I can follow you? Any recommendations on who I should be watching? Ideas for future broadcasts? x

Happy Hallowistmas.

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October can be a really confusing time. My supermarket actually has an aisle filled with both Halloween and Christmas items. This wasn’t always the case but as more and more Aussies seem to be embracing the Halloween spirit(s?), I’m feeling that the ‘holiday’ season is getting more jam packed towards the end of the year (not to mention the gazillion family birthdays we have)! This makes me thankful we don’t do Thanksgiving too! Ha. See what I did there? Although, I do like baking and pumpkins. Perhaps I am missing out haha.

Last time I blogged about Halloween I was pretty well up the duff. I think I only had a week or so before the Little Mister showed his face via emergency C-section (that’s pretty gory – now you have your last minute fancy dress idea – you’re welcome). Having gestational diabetes was a great excuse for being a trick or treat grinch! If I couldn’t have sweets, no-one else was either, dammit!

Look, I might not welcome the knocks at the door at this point in my life, but I do not have a problem with people celebrating. I would even happily attend a fancy dress party or take the opportunity to embarrass the Little Mister (photos for his 21st birthday anyone?). I’m just not a fan of door knocking at this point. Never say never (times are a’changing), but I like to lounge about on my couch watching Home and Away (my embarrassing guilty pleasure) after the Little Mister goes to bed, no bra, pants are optional. I am not staying dressed so I can share my precious treats – are you cray cray?! 😉

I feel like we’re rookies at this whole trick or treating game in Australia. As a Halloween grinch (sorry not sorry!) who has had one too many persistent and annoying knocks on the door for treats which I do not have, I think we could take a page out of the books of other countries who are better at this than us. There’s an etiquette, you see. We need to have a big, national meeting. Like a family meeting, but with around 23 million of our closest friends.

Some suggestions to those of us who are new to the Halloween game (thanks to google):

1. Be mindful that some young children may be sleeping and their parents might be freaking out (they likely haven’t slept properly in some months/years), so try not to knock like it’s a horror movie and your life depends on it. Perhaps try not to scream really loudly as you get closer to someone’s front door.

2. Don’t go to someone’s house more than once if they have not answered the door or have told you politely that they do not have any treats to give. Combining this with my #1 tip is a nightmare!

3. Have some pre-arranged signals to let others know if you’re taking part this Halloween. It can be as simple as simple decorations mean you’re happy to give treats, or your front outdoor light being off can mean you’re not participating (or you’re done for the night). Seriously, guys. We need to get together and coordinate this shit.

4. If you’re not a fan of your kids trick or treating at strangers’ houses and are planning to just hit your own street where you know the neighbours, give those neighbours a heads up so they can be ready. That would probably make it more enjoyable for all.

5. Don’t disrespect anyone. If you’re not a fan of Halloween, there’s no need to bitch about it constantly or verbally attack those who choose to celebrate respectfully. If you are a trick or treater, be nice to those who choose not to participate. Yay – everyone’s happy!

Despite my own Halloween grinch status, I hope that everyone who celebrates has a wonderful time and stays safe this Halloween!  I do enjoy looking at the creative costume photos in my social media feeds very much 😉

Got any tips to add to the list to make Halloween more enjoyable for all?

How to stay (relatively) sane on the internet.

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The internet can be an amazing forum/resource for parents (especially those of us who are new to the game), because it can offer us support groups online, and gives us a connection to other people, even when we’re stuck at home feeling a little isolated.

On the flip side, it can be a nightmare! There is information out there that is very dubious. There are people everywhere who think that having an opinion and a keyboard qualifies them to insult, degrade and fight (dirty ugly fighting) with those who have a different opinion and a keyboard too. There is a flood of articles thrown at us daily on how to do this, how to do that. It can make your head spin. It can make you feel worse.

Yeah, yeah. You’ve probably read these ‘how to have a good time on the internet without being a douche bag’ guides and tips a million times over and I have debated with myself over whether to even bother. BUT I think it bears repeating sometimes. At least here is my own personal spin on it all. These are the things I try to do. The things that help me to stay sane.

Stop reading if it makes you feel icky.

It’s that simple. You know that sinking feeling you get when you read something that makes you feel bad about yourself? Or perhaps you read something that makes you feel anxious because it makes you feel judged and makes you question everything you do? Sometimes it’s our own sensitivities or insecurities on a given day, other times it’s because the writer is inciting these feelings. It really doesn’t matter. If you feel icky, you need to take a moment. Y’know? Perhaps reading that thing isn’t the best thing for your mental health right now. Take a break.

If something you read makes you see red, if it makes you so angry that all you can think is four letter words towards the writer/website/Facebook page, that is a lot of negativity to be bathing yourself in. Scroll past. Unfollow. Do what it takes to not willingly return to such material. You don’t need that in your life! It’s wasted energy we could be using to better our own lives or the lives of those we care about. I mean, you could have been using that time to laugh at videos of Jimmy Fallon’s lip synching battles on YouTube, instead of reading about that writer who hates SAHMs/working mums/breastfeeding mums/bottle feeding mums/school mums/funny mums/serious mums/mums who are pretty and fit/mums who are overweight/mums who…you get the idea. Don’t buy into the hate-fest.

If the writer doesn’t write in a way that shows you the respect (you can respect people even if they do not share your opinion), do not give them the time of day. They haven’t earned it.

Do not bite the click-bait. 

Ever read those provocative headlines? The spiel before a link to an article, which is designed to entice readers into clicking and giving a website a lot of traffic? Some of it is just blatantly designed to get us hate-reading by inciting an outrage within us, which makes us say, “WHO WOULD SAY THAT HORRIBLE THING? I MUST KNOW.”

It’s so tempting. SO tempting. I’m trying harder to resist. I want to read things because I want to learn something, not because the website has tried to suck me in for negative reasons.

“WHAT THIS MUM DID NEXT WILL HAVE YOU OUTRAGED.”
“THIS WRITER HATES CHILDREN AND HERE’S WHY…”

You know the kind. If a website is resorting to that kind of manipulation, that says a lot. It also says a lot that it’s probably, sadly, working. I want to try harder to not be a part of the problem. If I know I’ll be angry when I read it, that’s not a good space to be in. I don’t need the virtual drama cluttering my head.

Keep it classy. 

Often people use the old, “it’s my freedom of speech” excuse for being a**holes. Yes. We are all entitled to our opinions. We are allowed to disagree with other people on an unlimited range of topics. But in my mind we have a responsibility in how we express them. You don’t need to attack somebody else’s character, belittle them, wish awful things on them or enter into a week long commenting argument with them to make your point. Try to be eloquent. Make your point in a way that might actually get through to the other person. Calling them fifty names probably won’t help the situation. If you are truly passionate about telling someone else what you need to say, then make sure your communication is effective. It ceases to be effective if you are insulting somebody. All they will see is the insults and not the message. You’re better than that. And that goes for passive aggressive comments disguised as constructive feedback. Come on. We’re not stupid. That doesn’t count as taking the high road! It’s not genuine. Just LET IT GO.

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And? If you’ve shown all the class you can show and the recipient doesn’t want to understand or refuses to reciprocate? LET IT GO. They’re just strangers on the internet who disappear when you turn off your computer (or click unfollow). You don’t need to win them over to know that you’re an awesome person.

Yay! 🙂 You are, by the way.

We can pick our battles too. People power definitely has a place (advocating for the equal rights of all people is important), but sometimes silence can be a dignified response – it can be all something deserves.

Think critically. 

Where is this information coming from? What are the interests of those publishing it? What are their motives? Are they a reliable source? Are they using reliable sources? This helps me to sort the junk from the stuff I might want to be paying attention to. I know not to get my knickers in a knot over stuff that has little credibility. I won’t be taking their advice to heart, that’s for sure.

Also? This includes reading all of the article/blog post carefully. Dissect the writer’s intentions. Where are they coming from? What are they really saying? Read it a couple of times if you have to and carefully consider your own response. If the writer explicitly says, I don’t agree with ‘a’ but I do understand why some people do, then don’t rant at the writer about how they are agreeing with ‘a’ and how wrong they are. It will undermine your credibility if other readers can see that you haven’t taken your time to understand what the writer is saying.

Have empathy. 

You might not agree with the writer or what they do might not feel right for you, but if you put yourself in their shoes for a minute, you might understand their intentions and be able to give constructive feedback. Also, it’s not always somebody’s fault if they do not ‘know better’. They might be struggling or simply not have certain tools to work with. You can’t always know the whole story in a few hundred words. You can either be a helping force or a negative, judgemental one. How would you like to be spoken to if you’d had the courage to put it all out there?

Come at it with a positive approach.

Proofread! 

Lastly, if you are a blogger or a commenter, re-read your comment/blog post before clicking ‘post’ or ‘publish’. I try to re-read everything I write – more so if I know I’m commenting on a contentious issue. I make sure I’m not letting my emotive response overtake my message. I make sure I haven’t insulted anyone. I make sure that I’ve said it in a way that it can be read easily (I am a waffler and I am sorry haha). I remind myself that I am saying something in a public manner. This has saved me many a time. I’ve even written comments and then deleted them when I realised I was not offering something relevant or helpful to a discussion. It reassures me that I won’t write a knee jerk response before I can calm down and think about it rationally. I only want to write things that will let me sleep at night!! There is nothing worse than saying that silly thing and then feeling haunted by it (or worse feeling the backlash over something you didn’t really mean to say because you didn’t think it out).

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I know I am not perfect so I don’t mean to preach. I am just passing on the stuff I’m working on. ‘Working on’ being the operative words. I mostly just hope that I’ve made a space where my readers feel free from all the crap out there.

I feel like parents in blog land and on social networks need to band together more. Have a supportive, nurturing approach, not a shaming, judgemental one. We have such great opportunities to build online communities and to learn so much from each other. Let’s not waste them with ‘mummy wars’ (just that term makes me want to spew a little in my mouth). Let’s not fall for the tricks of those bigger websites (who shall remain nameless) that rejoice when we go into a frenzy. We are seriously better than that. We are amazing people from all walks of life. Let’s not lose perspective.

And did I mention that you’re absolutely gorgeous and you’re doing great stuff? 😉

Do you have anything to add to my list of tips? What do you think? 

Fake it ’til you bake it.

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I didn’t really care for baking until I got pregnant with the Little Mister back in 2011. When the urge hit, I went a little bit nuts (I’m really not joking). Luckily my joy for it has since evened out and now I like doing it regularly. It can be a cost effective way to fill out Mr Unprepared’s work lunches and to provide the Little Mister with interesting enough snacks. It is also the way that I pad out the end of the pay period (when the cupboard and fridge are looking a bit bare). I find ways to throw as many random ingredients into a muffin or some other such thing as I can. Everyone thinks I’ve done something special for them (yay – baked goods), but all I’ve really done is scraped some weird stuff together so we don’t have to go back to the supermarket any sooner than we have to!

(and yes I do love love love online grocery shopping but sometimes I forget to order it ahead of time or can’t be bothered which is probably the most lazy – or tired if I’m kind to myself – a person can possibly be)

But make no mistake. I am not actually that awesome at it! I am never going to be on Masterchef and I honestly do not really know what I’m doing most of the time! I am not spending hours studying the art of whatever it is that people who can cook real good study (and I’m not even going to apologise for that poorly constructed sentence). I’m a total fake and I don’t care if everyone knows it.

It can be hard to find time to gather ingredients and it can be difficult to then create something with them, with a demanding toddler (who as much as I love his enthusiasm is not always as helpful as he – bless his heart – thinks he is).

*whispers* Sometimes? Sometimes I use *gasp* PACKET MIX. Yeah. Those cupcakes on Instagram? PACKET MIX. My secret? Raid the cake decorating section of the baking aisle in any major supermarket *OMG*.

Seriously. No-one cares. THEY TASTE LIKE CAKE.

Another tip? Have a baking kit. Once I started to keep one, shit got so much easier. I can bake almost any time I have a chance, instead of thinking, “WHAT? This recipe requires FLOUR? What kind of f*ckery is this?”

Here’s what I keep in it (always replenishing stocks):

  • Self raising flour
  • Plain flour
  • Caster sugar
  • Icing mix/icing sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Baking soda
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cocoa
  • Patty cases
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

Well, those are the basics, anyhow. It sounds like a lot, but if you go to the shops just the once, to begin with, the hard part is done! I’ve slowly added some extra bits and pieces (piping bag with nozzles or choc chips and sprinkles etc), but those simple things can get you a long way if you have some eggs, butter and milk in the fridge (don’t even get me started on how awesome and magical and versatile eggs are)! I know a lot of you are looking at this thinking, Kez. This is hardly revolutionary. I mean, who doesn’t have these things? Well, all you people who can probably bake better than me, until recently, I did not have these things. Ever. Every single attempt to bake was either thwarted from the get go or involved a time consuming, inconvenient special visit to the supermarket. It made it all a BIG DEAL. So tiring, really.

Now I just google recipes that have the ingredients I have to work with (e.g. a banana and a lemon or something equally weird) and get started! The other day it was canned corn kernels, store bought salsa dip and grated cheese!! WTF? I find that taste.com.au is an awesome resource (and no this is not a sponsored post – it is just my honest and independent opinion).

Another tip? Keep it frickin’ simple. Stay the f*ck away from recipes with ingredients you’ve never heard of or will never use again. Stop reading that recipe when it starts talking about doing weird things with the ingredients that you do not know how to do and cannot learn that day. I mean, I admire those who like a challenge, but for anyone like me who just needs to put something on the table to avoid mutiny, just stick to what you can handle! Use what you’ve already got. Trust me. People will think you are way more awesome than you feel you really are. Don’t make it more stressful than it has to be! There are HEAPS of really tasty recipes out there that I just know you’ll be able to handle. Also…Siri is a gun at converting things like farenheit to celcius, so don’t worry if that awesome recipe from an American blog/website/Pinterest sounds scary with all its weird numbers and measurements 😉

I do love learning new things here and there. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to master a new skill. I just don’t always have the time for it and I’m so OK with that.

Fake it ’til you bake it.

Or buy it from the shops. No judgement here haha.

How are you at cooking/baking? What’s your favourite thing to make? Or are you the buy it at the shops type? x

Healthy. Well, my version anyway.

This post has been inspired by Fat Mum Slim’s Photo a Day challenge x

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About the photo: OK, so I am actually not that much of a fan of strawberries, but I’ll eat them if they’re a part of a dessert…they were probably the healthiest part of my cake (besides the water I poured in there) that I made on the weekend, but still, they were there, looking pretty and red so I took the photo!

I’m almost a week into my improved diet (not ‘diet’ as in fad diet but as in what I eat – big distinction) and I’ve already noticed a big difference. My body does not like the unhealthy foods I have been addicted to anymore, even if my brain does (I learnt this the hard way after a pig out yesterday for my grandfather’s 90th). I felt more energetic almost immediately after having my first consciously healthy meal last week. I was nowhere near as bloated and I stopped obsessing so much over what I was going to eat and more about how I was going to best fuel myself (a big feat for a food crazy person like me). I hope I can keep all of this going, because I fall off the wagon so easily when temptation is put in my way.

Here are some of the things that are keeping me motivated:

Catching up on my favourite TV shows while exercising.

I am obsessed with the iPad I got for my birthday this year. I have all the TV network apps on there that let me catch up on my favourite shows the next day (I always miss them). I sit on my exercise bike (which I seriously want to trade for a treadmill – that’s the dream) and I pedal away while watching. I can do this in our bedroom while the Little Mister naps and it feels like me-time. I am not the kind of person who likes to think they’re exercising. I have to keep my brain busy as well as my body or I just get bored or forget to push harder. I love realising that one of my awful reality shows or embarrassing dramas are waiting for me when I get on the bike. I’ve stopped obsessing over what I’m going to pig out on once the Little Mister is asleep and have started thinking about what shows I’ll watch while I exercise – a big win as that’s my biggest weakness, usually.

Cutting out soft drink, juice and dessert. 

It’s the simplest thing, but it can help you to feel better and lose weight without being too much of a sacrifice (depending on who you are of course but it works for me)! I just drink water and after dinner, I know to resist temptation. I reckon I’d probably lose a couple of kilos just by doing this. Some people even clean their teeth right after dinner, to stop them from indulging in ice cream or other sweets!

Not depriving myself on special occasions. Or Friday nights. 

I don’t want to feel like I’m on a starvation diet. I love food. Good food and…not so good food. I’ve decided that Friday nights (when we finish the Little Mister’s swimming lessons late) are takeaway night and that I’m not going to say no to some yummy cake or other treats on a family birthday or at a special celebration of some sort. Of course, I realise that if this happens more than not, then I’ll have to reassess and do some damage control, but for now it’s viable. I’ve coped this past week or so because I’ve known that those days are coming. It makes eating healthy salad and unprocessed foods so much more manageable. I want a lifestyle I can maintain, not some kind of torture or punishment.

Great recipes that don’t feel like ‘diet’ food. 

I’ve been pinning up a storm on Pinterest and researching things that actually look tasty and satisfying and, the clincher, EASY to make. With ingredients I have heard of and already like. So cool. There are so many more than I thought there would be. You don’t have to be down with quinoa or weird members of the zucchini family if you don’t want to. You don’t even have to spend hours deciphering complex recipes. It’s great! So far we’ve had mini frittatas with salad, pita pizzas (without the really greasy toppings) and a few other bits and pieces. Also? Avocado on wholemeal toast is divine.

Making friends with salad.

Just make every side a salad! Even easier with beautiful summer weather on its way. Chips, mashed potatoes, pasta and other stuff can just be replaced with salad. Suddenly you have a nice piece of protein and a lot of yummy greens. For me, carbs are something I abuse (rather than consume in healthy moderation), so this helps a lot.

I’m just doing this my way, I guess. It’s nothing revolutionary, but I know that if I push myself too hard too early, I will give up. I have to make sure my better habits are sustainable, especially with a toddler around and less time on my hands to experiment in the kitchen! I feel like a bit of a dag, writing about my renewed attempts at being fit and healthy over and over (because it doesn’t always stick), but I’m on this journey with all its peaks and pitfalls and I guess that just makes me real, so I’ll keep doing it however long it takes to get it in my head for good! x

What little tips and tricks do you use to stay healthy?

More Useful Stuff for an Awesomely Unprepared Parent.

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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!

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$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…

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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?