9 Things NZ Mums Should Forget when raising Kiwi Kids

Sometimes when you’re a parent (actually quite often – like, daily), you have to make a decision, one that will determine which of two paths your day is likely to take.

You have to decide whether you are going to laugh or cry at whatever lunatic situation you find yourself in as the mother or father of a Kiwi child.  Laugh and you’ll more than likely pick yourself up, clean the poo off the walls and soldier on with the extremely positive outlook of ‘well, it couldn’t get any worse right?’.  Cry and you’ll limp through the rest of the day, somewhat comforted by the knowledge that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that light goes by the name of COFFEE & CHOCOLATE – two of my very best friends btw, great peeps.

So in conjunction with Karicare Toddler (a heritage NZ brand who’ve been helping mums care for Kiwi kids for over 90 years now!),  I’ve been writing about what it means to me to be a Kiwi mum.  In this post, I’ve done some brainstorming and come up with a list of 9 things that I think we can all file away in that box that lives in the garage that you never, ever open.

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Things New Zealand Mums should forget about when raising Kiwi Kids

  1. Sleep. Look, set your sleep expectation level low and then subtract another hour off that and you won’t become disillusioned. It’s all about managing expectations with reality.  Find a caffeinated beverage that you like and work on establishing a long and meaningful relationship. Your days of pillow time will come back……..eventually. In the meantime, buy a great under-eye concealer.
  2. Shoes and long pants.  Forget about them, particularly if your kids are of the boy variety.  I could be generalising here as I do suspect that my boy’s aversion to footwear is in direct correlation with the distance we live from the CBD, the further away we get, the longer a pair of shoes will last. Which is not necessarily a bad thing!
  3. Being Perfect. Despite what Instagram will have you believe, none of us knows what the hell we’re doing, pretty pictures are just modern day smokescreens.  Let it go, do your thing and leave the vacuuming for another day.
  4. Bikinis < this needs no explanation right?
  5. Trying to fix everything. So your kid doesn’t like broccoli or quinoa, he’s not toilet trained yet, he’s scared of flowers…………. kids are weird. Trying to ‘fix’ or train them out of every little quirk or rushing them to meet every milestone before Little Johnny next door will only demoralize both of you and remove joy from your parenting.  Let your kids be weird in their own kind of ‘different’, they’ll grow up to be big weirdos soon enough so just embrace their cute while you can.
  6. Leaving the house in Spring/Summer without a selection of hats and 12 types of sunscreen. Hello living in New Zealand!
  7. Anything you had decided you would or absolutely ‘Would Not Do!’ before you had kids.  Seriously, you need to let go of those ideals right now. Life with kids is about survival, not berating yourself for failing to live up to your pregnancy Stepford Wife mandates!
  8. Sand-free towels at the beach.  Next time you’re at the beach do this;  sit on the sand, lay down and just roll over – YOU WILL NOT DIE!  Make friends with the sand and this will become one less thing to be anal about each summer.
  9. Not getting to know the other kindy/school/sports club mums and dads.  These fellow soldiers are your Brothers-in-Arms, ignore them at your peril!  I wish I’d realised this 5 years ago but thankfully I’m building my tribe, one Mum at a time. Being a parent can be lonely and isolating, forget looking for friends that seem to fit the same cookie-cutter mould you fancy you came from.  Just talk to anyone who makes eye contact with the pleading, desperate look you’ve seen in your own eyes at 4.41 am in the morning – “Help me!!!  I’m a parent, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing but I need a coffee and a tropical holiday, which one can you help me with?!”.

Take heart, it’s all worth it.  Wipe your little darling’s snotty noses, send them off to school and kindy today and count your blessings as you are one of us. A parent of an amazing Kiwi kid.

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This post is brought to you by Karicare Toddler.

Win with The Best Nest!

The joy of both being a Kiwi kid and having the immense privilege to raise one – or 2 or 10 or however many you want – is an awesome journey to be on. Of course, it’s made infinitely easier when there are fab products such as Karicare Toddler that are made in New Zealand.

I’ve got three $50 Gift Cards to the Warehouse to give away.  To enter, just comment below with one thing you love about raising kiwi kids or one thing you love about living in New Zealand!  

Competition closes 10/12/17, NZ residents only.

The Magic Schoolbus – When Netflix Reads My Mind

When you love Netflix, you really love Netflix.  It might happen gradually, it might happen overnight but it will happen and when it does it’s easy to appreciate the amazing learning potential that exists in the combination of a medium that’s often relegated to the ‘mindless entertainment’ category, with the tangible, precious experience of books and the modern luxury of the world at our fingertips à la Google.

It’s enough to blow little (and big!) minds in a quiet way that sneaks up on you and creates educational experiences in your living room when all you’re looking for is 5 minutes of peace and some downtime for your overtired little ones after school.

And that is the Netflix Effect.

The Magic Schoolbus series of books were handed down to Ethan by one of my cousins many years ago.  He never even looked at them, to be honest, but we kept them and they were eventually relocated to Nixie’s bookshelf.  He discovered them earlier this year and they’ve since become a bedtime staple.  Mrs Frizzle and the class have introduced Nix to phytoplankton and zooplankton, the water cycle and decomposition, the concepts of water pressure and air pressure – these are my least faves to be honest!  I used to groan when these (l o n g) books would be chosen night after night, and I do have to skim read a little here and there, but, like Nixon, I’m now a fan of the Magic Schoolbus.

I’ve written before about his peculiar viewing habits; the thought of watching a movie sends him running for the hills, and trying to introduce new shows is like pulling teeth.  He simply likes what he likes.  Luckily, he LOVES watching The Magic School Bus on Netflix.  I say ‘luckily’ because there are four seasons of the early series as well as the first season of the Netflix Original, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, streaming now.  Dave, Ethan and I have been desperate for some new ‘Nixon approved’ content to beef up his current obsession, the single series of the fishing show, Chasing Monsters.  If you need to know what ‘noodling for catfish’ means, I’d recommend you watch this lol.

The combination of mixing our quiet, bedtime reading routine with the Magic School Bus content on Netflix has seen Nixon’s interest in the world around him multiply so quickly, it’s hard to keep up.  A conversation about volcanoes over the weekend quickly moved to windows.  We finally caught up with his busy little brain and realised the connection he was making between rock and sand being heated by lava and the manufacture of glass from silica.

Mental. 

TV, (or should I say, the ability to watch digital content on a television or device) is so much more than the Saturday morning cartoons and Coronation St we grew up with.  Moving away from the negative screen-time paradigm and making choices around the content your kids are watching can provide some awesome and very entertaining educational opportunities for the entire family.

If you’ve made any kid-friendly discoveries on Netflix lately, let me know in the comments below, especially if you’ve been integrating them into a wider learning experience!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Netflix

Mum-Life: A conversation between friends

Our touch rugby season kicked off on Thursday night, which is great, we love our module.  It’s social, fun and a great chance to spend time with our friends each week and have a run around together.  Preparation for touch has been somewhat lacking this season, I’m not particularly fit and winter has not been overly kind.  As I was squeezing into some tights on Thursday, getting ready to walk up to the fields I sent one of my girlfriends this text;

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Ok so let’s ignore the fabulous body-positivity message here, and monitor the irony of my profile pic.  I don’t even know how that got on my phone, I’m pretty sure I didn’t choose a pink doughnut as my avatar so obviously, the stars are perfectly aligned and the universe is sending me subliminal messages regarding carb-consumption – all.  day.  long.

Yesterday I was determined to attack my waistline so after running some errands with the boys I headed out for some fresh air, planning on an hour of fat-burning-walking.  About 30 minutes in, I came upon a friend who was chatting with her ‘pool guy’ in her driveway – sooooo Wisteria Lane, god I love where I live lol.

Anyway, we were making small talk, running through the mum-life state-of-play as the school holidays near their end.  As our convo progressed I had to literally, laugh out loud, only two mums (in their active wear no less) could discuss the variety of subjects we broached, entirely seriously and appreciate that they all happened within the prior 12 hours.

The hot topics de jour were as follows;

  • “What have I done this morning?  Been to the doctors to get warts frozen off one of the kids.  Why are they so gross?  Not warts, kids.  Why are kids so gross?”
  • “Why aren’t you at work?”
    “One of the kids has a rash, all over his junk.  We think it’s from rolling all over the rugby field last night”
    “Yeah, that’ll do it”
    “At least he’s put some shorts on today, might keep him from constantly itching himself.  God kids are gross”
    “Kids are really gross.”
  • “You know what else is gross?  Dogs.  I’ve just picked up all the bombs in the yard.”
    “I have to do that too.  It’s supposed to be Ethan’s job but I just can’t stand it when he leaves 90% of the poo on the grass and you think you’re safe, but next minute, there’s dog shit squishing between your toes.”
    “Dogs suck.  My dogs got stuck together this morning”
    “With glue?  Did the kids leave glue out?  Mine would do that, Mister Maker has a LOT to answer for.”
    “No, our girl’s on heat and the old boy had a go and they couldn’t separate”
    “Oh.  My.  God.”
    “I threw food at them thinking they’d both be so pumped to eat they’d pull apart.  Didn’t work”
     “Oh.  My.  God.”
    “Yeah.  So I went inside to Google how to separate them, turns out you throw water on them, but he’d shrunk down by then so problem solved.”
    “Phew, really dodged a bullet there”
  • “Do you know what I think the very worst part of school holidays is?”
    “No school?”
    “Huts.  Fucking huts everywhere.  My house was spotless this morning, now the linen cupboard is empty and it looks like a third world army is battling for territory in my living room.”
    “Not a fan of huts either”
  • “Ok then, better get back to this fitness thing I’ve got going on”
    “I’ll text you later about beer”
    “Righto”.
    “Shit I can’t.  I dropped and smashed my phone.  Something else I’m in trouble over, I also just curbed two of my mags right in front of hubby”
    “Oooooohhh.  Sucks to be you.  Do you still have a landline?”
    :::::::::crickets::::::::::::

Mum-life is the BEST THING EVER when you know some cool chicks to share it with.

 

 

How I learned to Love my Hair in 45min

I’m addicted to my hair dryer.

And my hair straightener.

And not looking just like “I woke up like this’.

I don’t know exactly what my hair would look like if I didn’t see my hairdresser every 8 weeks to colour it.

My hair, quite simply isn’t ‘me’.

Age has taught me how to appreciate some wrinkles – I think of them as my happy lines, it has taught me how to say ‘No, I really can’t do that right now, I need to stay home with my kids’, and be entirely comfortable with that statement.  I rarely experience fomo or jealousy, I understand the importance of always being sincerely nice, even when I don’t want to be and as a (mostly!) fully-functioning adult, I can cook, work, spend and save in some semblance of responsible order.

I really should be able to leave the house with my hair in its natural state.

I scrolled through my Instagram profile and as I suspected there are no shots of me without straightened hair.  Not.  One.  On a sub-par hair day I simply wear a cap, even in winter.  I’m 37 years old and don’t know how to wear my hair so I look like myself.

That’s kinda sad right?

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My hair today is all cowlicks and volume, there’s lots of it and not one strand is straight.  My waves go in all directions, without rhyme or reason, which is why I have always struggled to style it in a way I’m comfortable with.  I’ve thought about this a lot; how it is that, despite seeing more hairdressers than I can count and spending more money than I care to remember on my frizzy tresses,  I’ve never left a salon loving my hair.  I mean, sure, I walk out the door loving how the stylists have made my hair look……………….but that’s an entirely different thing.

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Last week as part of the Dove Love Your Hair campaign, I met with a new hair stylist for the first time.  She had no preconceptions about my hair or about how I usually wear it.  She looked at it, she washed it and she naturally styled it, following its own (unruly) direction.

And I LOVED how it looked.

How it felt.

How it made me feel.

It was the fastest, but most meaningful hair appointment I’d ever had in my life.  Without projecting all of my standard, hair-hate onto yet another stylist (“it’s too frizzy, boofy, messy, unpolished”), I had allowed her the opportunity to respect my natural waves and run with it.  Something I’d never attempted to do before.

Ironically, wearing my hair naturally would cut styling time, reduce damage and require less product than my regular dry and iron routine – which I can’t be bothered doing most days anyway, hence the hat.

How do I feel now?

Liberated.  Seriously.

It may seem a little melodramatic, after all, we are only talking about HAIR, but, over the years I’d constructed a little ‘curated’ template of how my hair should look and feel ie straight, shiny, and contained!  What I learnt was how to style my hair in a way that’s quick, totally doable at home and which celebrates my quirky waves in a way which makes me feel amazing.  I’m finally ready, after 37 years, to wear my hair naturally, with confidence and love my hair.

Tips for Styling Wavy Hair

  • Brush hair before washing
  • Wash gently, not vigorously.  I’m using Dove Nourishing Oil Care shampoo and conditioner.
  • Use a mitt diffuser rather than a rigid model.  This dries hair while maintaining curl without frizz
  • Twist curls to give shape and prevent fly-aways

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Dove Love your Hair Shampoo Review

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Dove Love your Hair Shampoo Review

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Dove Love your Hair Shampoo Review

This awesome opportunity was made possible for me thanks to Dove and their fab #LoveYourHair campaign.

Back to School! How were the holidays……really?

The first Monday back to school after the holidays has come and gone and I’m reflecting a little on what we did, and didn’t do over the past two weeks.

Nix was sick for 10 days prior to the holidays so we were all out of whack after that and to be honest, the constant rain of the first week combined with both boys at home left me feeling less-than optimistic that we could steer the holiday ship in the right direction.

I had surprised myself (and Ethan!) with a teeny bit of forward-planning that saw E enrolled in a 2-day basketball camp each week.  He was stoked.  He was active, playing sport, socialising with other kids out of the house, learning and progressing and not sitting in front of a device, which is every parent’s nightmare right?

Right?

Ethan is a 12.5-year-old, hormone fuelled, sports-mad, go-go-go kid that desperately needed a break these holidays.  2 days each week of organized activity was all he needed as he recovered from another term that involved school days stretching from 7am-4.15, a basketball game, basketball training, two rugby practices and a rugby game each week.  As far as I was concerned, some screen time over the holidays was not going to cause him any irreparable damage.  I may have even encouraged a little bit of couch time if I’m honest.  I needed to give my kid a break and give myself a break from the ‘Mum guilt’ we are supposed to feel if we actively permit our children to relax by using their devices.

I’ve kissed that shit goodbye.

Our two boys are happy, healthy and active members of their respective sports-teams.  Motivation to participate, get moving and get outside is rife in our household – maybe somewhat lacking in my department right now but we’re not talking about ME lol!  As such, removing the negative shade I was throwing at Ethan every time he picked up his phone or iPad did not propel him into a square-eyed bender, all it did was simply improve communication between us and eliminate MUCH frustrated sighing and eye-rolling.

So, I gave my big boy a break.  He played some xBox, watched some Netflix, did whatever it is he does on his phone and when he wasn’t at basketball camp we had a pretty harmonious school holiday.  

Family activities aren’t always easy with an 8.5 year age gap between the boys, an impulsive, almost-made-it-to-the-ticket-counter movie visit didn’t work out as E was desperate to go, yet the thought of sitting in a loud, dark cinema immediately melted Nix into a puddle of tears.  In the middle of the mall.  Cue family breakdown and that terrible situation where you are torn between wanting to make both of your children happy and the inability to do so simultaneously ALL of the time.

The boys needed some time apart so Dave took Ethan and they headed off into the bush for a big walk and Nix and I collected rocks, dirt, leaves and sticks and headed down to the river to throw all the rocks, dirt, leaves and sticks into it.

Later that day the boys got their movie fix, but together-apart.  By that I mean, Nixon watched Charlotte’s Web on the Netflix app on our TV while Ethan snuggled with him on the couch, watching Okja (watch this Netflix Original guys!  It’s freaking amazing, topical and incredibly relevant) on his iPad with headphones.

Peace was restored and with zero guilt factor from me.

How did your school holidays play out guys?  Did you give your kids a break and let them self-regulate their device usage or did you keep them on a schedule?  

And, this question is pretty important, did you give yourself a break over the holidays?  Check out the image below for some innovative ways mums are managing to sneak in some ‘ME Time’ with their faves on Netflix – my new fave is Ozark, I’m calling it right here, this is the new Breaking Bad!

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If you’d like to get Netflix ready before the next school holidays, head over to FB and I’ll gift one of you a 3 month Netflix subscription!  Too easy xx

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Family Travel: 5 Ways to Make Travelling with Kids Amazing

AdvertisementIf the idea of traveling with your kids is enough to induce a cold sweat, or the thought of spending 4 hours (or more!) on a plane with both your toddler AND the general public warrants a stiff drink, then read on friends.

Traveling with your kids, whatever their ages, is a great privilege and luxury afforded to few.  If you have the opportunity to get out there and adventure with your family then what are you waiting for?!  The rewards and benefits of forgetting your daily routine or even just ‘transplanting’ it somewhere warm and sunny for a few days can be a liberating experience for parents and kids alike.

Right now I’m mentally prepping and researching for a family trip to the Gold Coast next month, so, I’d thought I’d share a few tips we’ve learned over the past 12 years as we’ve traveled with the boys.

Getting ready to travel, even for a short while can be super exciting but also incredibly draining.  Get a head start on your planning, figure out what the ‘Travel Deal-Breakers’ are for your family (quiet accommodation, short transit times, kitchen facilities, proximity to Zara………..) and make it happen. 

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Queenstown Gondola 2017

5 Ways to Make Travelling with Kids Amazing

    1. Food – Pack as much as you can!  It’s a brave parent that leaves their home without snacks and drinks packed for their little ones.  It’s a crazy parent that leaves the country (or city!) without doing the same.  When we traveled to Rarotonga two years ago I did meal planning for the entire 10 days and packed a suitcase full of snacks and meal starters.  Why?  Kiwi staples can be expensive on the islands and food is NOT one of our family’s Travel Deal-Breakers – we would rather save money on eating out and spend it on local experiences.
      My boys are ready to eat 24-7.  Having to constantly stop and search out food in unfamiliar locales is both costly and time-consuming.  Rolling with pre-packed snacks and drinks leaves more time for fun and also provides some home comfort for little ones in an unfamiliar place.
      Hungry kids are not happy kids.  End of story.
    2. Itinerary – Think before you book.  My boys travel well first thing in the morning, and by first thing I mean, we’re on a plane or on the road at 8 am.  If we’re heading to a NZ destination this gives us a whole day to get our bearings and start with the fun!  I’m also really cautious about how much I try and cram into a trip.  Dave and I can seriously smash out some touristing but it’s unreasonable to expect kids to go go go, all in the name of ticking boxes in your Lonely Planet guide.  We plan on one activity per day (unless we have a driver), anything else is a bonus.

      Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family
      Rarotonga, 2015
    3. Accommodation – Here’s where your Travel Deal-Breakers are super important.  If you’re looking for a ‘lay around the pool-max out the Kids Club-never leave the resort holiday’, you’re going to be looking for a premium hotel that you’ll love spending time at.  If getting your kids to sleep easily/early is a priority, look for options away from the main drag and off the pub-crawl route.  If you’re only there to lay your head, save some cash and book an economy option.
      How can you tell what a place is really like when you’re making a reservation online?  Easy.
      Read.  The.  Reviews.  All of them lol.  I’m looking at accommodation right now in the Goldie and there are hundreds of reviews on each of the properties I’m considering on Booking.com.  Take your fellow travellers advice under consideration, after all, they’ve been there, done it!  Warning – there are over 1.2 million properties to choose from on Booking.com so don’t leave choosing your accommodation until the last minute lol.New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelling with Kids
    4. Transport – Little legs move slowly, don’t rush your kids through their travel experience.  Consider your accommodation location carefully and plan your transport options accordingly.  If kids have to walk for ages, they’ll be tired and cranky before you even arrive at the day’s activity.  Take your stroller!  We have a trusty umbrella stroller that cost all of $30, has been all over New Zealand and to Australia and Bali and it’s worth its weight in gold.  It doesn’t incur any extra luggage charge and makes Nixie’s life much more comfortable when we’re rushing from here to there.  On last months trip to Queenstown, we took his balance bike instead and this was amazing.  He even rode it 5kms along a trail to see the Franz Josef glacier!  (We stayed here while in Franz Josef and it was perfect for families). 
    5. First Aid – Be prepared.  If you’re traveling to warm climates use the space you’ll have in your luggage (after packing minimal bulky clothes) to go nuts at the pharmacy.  Little cuts, scrapes, and grazes or excessive sun can quickly ruin a family holiday.  Pack more insect repellant and sunscreen than you think.  Pack 3B Action Cream, chafe can be a killer when you’re doing heaps of walking and you’re hot and sweaty.  On a trip to Tonga, Ethan pretty much lived in his board shorts, however, his little thighs were rubbed raw by the end of the trip from so much time at the beach and in the sand.  Take antiseptic cream with you, take Pamol and Phenergan for bug bites and allergic reactions.  The medicine we had to purchase for Nix in Bali was flavored differently and proved a mission to get into him.  Prepare like you’re Florence Nightengale for all child-related contingencies lol.

So, you can take all of this into consideration, but the most important thing to remember when traveling with kids is to just be open to changes of plan and expect everything to move a wee bit slower than you might prefer.

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Tonga, 2008

I find that our willingness to pull the kids out of school to travel gives us more options in pricing then trying to book trips exclusively in the school holidays.  Many people disagree with us, but I firmly believe that there is not one thing that Ethan will learn in Year 8 that compares to walking the cliff tops at an ancient temple in Uluwatu.  Travel is life!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelling with Kids

Tauranga, 2017

Winter

Image credit Gábor Sidó

It’s here.  

It’s foggy, it’s damp, it’s not particularly cold this week – but that’s on the cards for next week YAY lol.  Muddy sports are in full swing, the washing is piling up and our daylight hours are dwindling (making any kind of photography super difficult for this social-media mama!).  We just can’t deny Winter any longer.

It’s HERE.

Our daily routine changes heaps as the seasons do, probably because we, like many New Zealand families, live in an old house.  Our home is quite the silver-fox, most people don’t immediately realise how old she is.  Fully concrete block, sitting on what we assume to be a damaged concrete slab (damp).  Our early 1950’s 1/4 acre dream still has original plate glass windows in breezy wooden joinery, a really inefficient gas fire, a slightly leaky roof and one heat pump when we really need two.  We love the old girl though and are just so grateful we were able to purchase a house in Auckland just before this crazy market went into it’s upward swing.

As we’re not moving, our household habits need to adjust for the cooler, damper weather.  Here’s what we do to survive winter in an old house without having to sell our first-born to pay our power company!

Surviving Winter in an Old House

  1. #Dehumidifiers4life – I’m sure that hashtag is sooooo on-rend right now lol but it’s true.  I can’t live without our 2 dehumidifiers.  I keep the big one running in the playroom 24 hours a day as this area of the house is subject to shower moisture and leads to the bedrooms.  I also rotate our little one around the other rooms in the house.  Dry air is cheaper to heat than moist air, plus, removing excess moisture that creeps in through our slab, roof and dodgy windows is essential in maintaining all-around family health and preventing mould ::::::shudder:::::
  2. Before I even begin to think about heating in the late afternoons, I shut up shop in rooms that have already lost the light by closing windows and blinds and I shut doors in rooms we are no longer using.
  3. We identified that we were losing a lot of heat through two old-school glass panelled doors so replaced them over summer with composite fibreglass doors which are much more efficient at retaining heat.
  4. I’m always checking to make sure that we are spending as little as possible on electricity.  Shopping around regularly can make a BIG difference.  We switched last month to Electric Kiwi.  
    Pro-tip:  We now get one hour of off-peak power FREE every day!  This is when I run the dishwasher, pop things in the dryer to air, put another load of washing on etc.  For many families, hot water can be a huge part of the monthly power bill, if you’ve got older kids or teens that go to bed after 9 pm (off-peak), switch from morning to before-bed showers and get that water heated during your free hour!
  5. We have a clothesline under a porch roof so even in winter I still use this to get our clothes 80% dry saving money on the amount of time clothes need to be in the dryer or on the drying rack – TAKING OVER MY LOUNGE!

This is by no means a comprehensive list or guide, rather, just some easy to implement ideas that we use in our home on a daily basis.  I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got some awesome ways to survive winter in an old house so get in touch by leaving a comment below!

Thanks so much to Electric Kiwi for partnering with us this winter, love your work guys!

Kids Health Insurance – Why I pay for it

(The irony of what I’m writing right now doesn’t escape me as we are on what I call, ‘hospital watch’ with Nixon after a day of vomiting and 2 days without a bowel movement.  Fingers crossed x).

I’m sitting here blogging and thinking back to 3 years ago when we had a very sick child.  Multiple GP visits had come to nothing and no-one seemed to be quite as concerned as we were about the fact that Nixon hadn’t passed a bowel motion in 45 days.  This had been his (and our!) lives for the past 9 months since he was born; obsessing over diaper changes, hoping for action in the downstairs department and fretting constantly over the lack thereof.

After two general anaesthetics and invasive biopsies of his large intestine, he was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s Disease, a congenital condition meaning (basically) he couldn’t poop.

Shit.  Literally lol.

Life with a newborn is frantic, multiplied by 100 when they’re sick.  Had I remembered to add Nixon to our health insurance policy?  Who knew?  Did I remember my failure to do so literally minutes after his diagnosis?

Of course, and that was cool as I totally needed something else to beat myself up about at that time.  Not!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Kid's Health Insurance

My brother and I were fortunate enough to inherit ‘legacy’ health insurance as we moved into adulthood, meaning that my parents had insured us as kids (with no pre-existing conditions) and these policies had been renewed continuously until we took ownership of them in our adult years.  Similarly, Ethan has also been insured since birth.  Nix obviously has a pre-existing condition (because of the delay in purchasing his insurance), so as Hirschsprung’s is a congenital disease, anything related is excluded for him.  Nix receives treatment via the public health system thank goodness, and the kids are both covered for the other great worry in our life – Melanoma.

I only realised the immeasurable value of our health insurance when my Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma, a horrible battle which he lost after 9 months.  Dad’s treatment and condition warranted numerous scans, which to have with any urgency (or without the associated inconvenience of huge wait times and the very real risk to my immune-compromised Dad of spending large amounts of time in a hospital waiting room) would have cost Mum and Dad $1300 for each scan!  The mental/emotional support the policy gave our family was a huge relief in a time of massive stress and eventual grief.

So, HECK YES I love health insurance and continue to prioritise its place in our household budget.

This month, I switched the kid’s health insurance to KIDSmart by Accuro.  Both of the boys are now insured under a policy customised for kids that does NOT require an adult to be insured.  Our old health insurance saw the kids piggy-backed on to my policy without the ability to adjust individual amounts of cover as needed.  I found this incredibly frustrating and for parents who want to want to prioritise health insurance for their children but can’t afford the combined expense of an adult policy, this archaic way of issuing cover can make the whole exercise unaffordable and simply too hard.

There are some super cool perks to this kids policy as well, my favourite two are;

  • Your child will be charged the Kids Premium Rate until they are 25!
  • After 3 years of continuous cover, your child will receive an exercise-based loyalty reimbursement of $150 per year to be used towards school or sports clubs, swimming or dance lessons.  How cool is that?!

For a free online quote (it literally takes 5 minutes!), visit KIDSmart by Accuro and find out exactly what they mean when they say they take care of their people when they are healthy and when they’re not doing so well : )

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Kid's Health Insurance

Thanks to Accuro for sponsoring this post!

 

 

 

 

 

Everything you want is on the other side of fear

Assuming different roles and their associated responsibilities as we move through life is simply part of the human condition. In our early years in New Zealand we generally follow a fairly well-prescribed path – we move through the traditional education channels, followed by employment or our ‘Big OE’, more work and then maybe a partner and kids if starting a family is part of your plan.

Although these years of raising little Kiwis can be some of the most wonderful and rewarding of our entire lives, they can also be the times when the wheels begin to fall off of what we once recognised as our sense of ‘self’.  We, as parents, can easily lose sight of our hopes and dreams as we begin to travel the long road of prioritising our kids’ needs, and perhaps our partners, over our own.

As such, at this time of year, our well-intended New Year’s resolutions can lose their inspirational sparkle and old habits may be creeping in.  I’m so used to February rolling around and me chucking out my resolutions (with a shrug and a glass of wine lol) that I didn’t even bother to make any this year.

What I did do however, was do some serious planning and thinking about the year ahead.  2016 was a crazy, successful, busy year personally, but one that lacked any structure, planning or direction.  From my experience, this typifies how quickly we ‘lose’ months and years when we are deep in the trenches of parenting.  A good plan requires direction, and direction combined with positive momentum will get you to where you want to go.

So ask yourself this, where do you want to go?

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Massey Distance Learning

When I was at home with our firstborn Ethan, I squeezed every possible ounce of joy out of the experience of being a stay-at-home-mama.  I loved it and was grateful that Dave and I agreed it was worth the sacrifice – we were broke but happy.  Overwhelmed by the cost of living in New Zealand after moving home from San Diego, we both knew it was time to get cracking.  Dave began an apprenticeship at age 33, I started The Best Nest and headed back to uni (figuratively speaking as I studied via distance learning at Massey) to begin a second degree.

Changing tack and adopting structure and a clearly delineated pathway – the one that came with studying – gave my day-to-day life a massive amount of forward momentum.  It also gave me back a strong sense of who I was and how I was going to guide our family towards the future that Dave and I dreamed of having for our kids – and ourselves.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

I saw this quote this morning and it’s so perfect for those other mamas who are considering distance learning like I did.  When I began my BAcc, I was scared of the cost, the time commitment, of failing, of submitting assignments and sitting exams again……it turns out these ‘fears’ were actually just excuses I was throwing out there as potential reasons NOT to step outside of my comfort zone and really take control of my own future.

Here’s my ‘Hindsight’s a Wonderful Thing’ pep talk (in bullet points lol) for those of you who might be a bit scared to follow your dreams like I was;

  • Don’t be scared, be excited!
  • Don’t feel guilty for doing something for yourself, mama!  Education always benefits the person with more than just a brand spanking new Student ID.  A little time becoming the very best version of yourself will benefit everyone around you.
  • You won’t be alone just because you’re studying off campus, the support network and guidance from Massey is the best and the myriad number of ways to interact and meet your classmates will amaze you.
  • You think you don’t know how to study?  The requirements, expectations and weekly program for each paper are clearly set out.  You will know exactly what you need to do.
  • Baby steps work.  Don’t fret about having to commit to a degree programme; start small with a paper or a short course and get ready to channel your passions in a direction that suits you.

Seriously, don’t waste another minute.  2017 could be the year you stop second-guessing yourself and start creating the change you want to see in your life.

For more information on how to dive in get started, head to Massey University to find out more about distance learning.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Massey Distance Learning

The Age of Uninspiring

January and all of the new beginnings a fresh, unsullied year brings leads to much self-reflection – sometimes.  It  can also lead to complete and utter flagellation of self as we go nuts on the bubbles, the bbq’s, the ‘amazing sales’, the realisation that the season we wait for all year is finally here and what better way to ring it in than with a third degree sunburn and a belly full of beer and pre-cooks!

Either way or a little bit of both right?

2017 is the year The Best Nest blog turns 10.  I have spent a quarter of my life forming these words, creating these images, making mistakes (many!) and also making friends though the opportunities presented around this little community.  The digital landscape today is so vastly different from that which existed in 2007 it’s almost unrecognisable.

Back then, we blogged for the sheer joy/relief/catharsis of discovering an outlet or creative medium that was just ‘ours’.  As a stay-at-home mum, The Best Nest became a place where I could explore and grow whatever mediocre talent I thought I had in the realm of online journalling.   Blogs were virtual destinations, bloggers the friends we wished lived next door.  There was no shortage of visual eye candy, crafty DIY marvels, projects to try and fail at. 

We were ALL inspired.

In the hey-day of ‘Less LOOK, more DO’ I learnt to crochet (and completed a huge blanket project with my Mum), I got out the sewing machine and made Ethan a wrestling dummy which the kids still use today, a beautiful advent calendar and Christmas bunting, participated in a sewing blog swap and made E some pillowcases when I couldn’t find ones I loved enough to purchase from a store.  I was creating in the kitchen all the time and my vegetable garden was amazing and as productive as I was with all of my ‘projects’ on the go!  I was constantly faffing about in the house, redecorating, refinishing, keeping both the inside and outside of wherever we lived spic and span.

I was happy.  I did things that made me happy.

Obviously, a sea-change in blogging can’t be held responsible for my own personal motivational rut.  There is definitely a LOT more at play there.  I worked my ass off in 2016 and prioritised that above all else.  I think a lot of us did.  For the first time in 10 years, there was an abundance of blogging work and I unapologetically ‘made hay whilst the sun shone’.

Meanwhile, the trend of ‘keeping it real’ in all aspects of blogging became the genre de jour – a complete juxtaposition to the social media darling-of-the-moment that is Instagram.  Where Mummy Blogging used to be a shambles of bunting headers and pastel cupcakes – annoyingly upbeat and positive, but in a real Holly Homemaker kind of way, you could always learn a thing or two, or at the very least, wake up in the morning inspired by something other than mastering the art of using Boomerang on Instagram.   What 2016  brought to the blogging table was a cold, dark wasteland of ‘truth’, where parenting became more difficult than joyous and our kids became little mess-makers that you had to share your Netflix account with.

Truth in every aspect of our lives is absolutely necessary, including in our writing, but there is always a choice about which truth we choose to share.  A wise mama whose blog I’ve been reading for years, Dee Rolston from Needle & Nail once wrote that she would no longer be writing about her children in a disparaging way.  That they too should be afforded the respect we extend to adults when choosing what to share online.  I remember thinking at the time that this was a pretty hardcore stance to take and what on earth would I write about if I chose not to bitch about my kids?

Dee’s sentiment has stuck with me for years and I’ve returned to it again and again, like a sweater that didn’t fit, just to try it on again for size.  And now I think it fits – at least as well as it’s ever going to.

Look, I get the whole ‘sisterhood’ thing that comes with the sharing and lamenting of our collective parenting hardships and that this is an immensely valuable connection in what’s becoming an increasingly fragmented society. Kids are nutters, this is a fact, and I will never dispute this,  but kids are also freaking awesome and surely there’s some epic shit to write about their good days right?  RIGHT?

One thing that really grates me right now is the ‘acceptance of average’ that has evolved in every forum that discusses modern mothering.  We are all ‘enough’, this is true, and this realisation is a wonderful place to arrive at as a mother and a thirty-something-year-old woman.  The problem is that the pendulum has swung a full 180° and mummy-shaming is now directed at those that like to pack a fully-styled bento lunchbox for their toddler each day, or those who are perceived as a bit more ‘yummy’ than mummy.  God forbid you cook, bake, keep a sparkling house, enjoy crafting and take pride in your home.  This is now considered way too positive and mundane for the general collective.

I want to be inspired again.  By whom, I’m not sure, but I hope they’re out there.

Just yesterday Stuff ran an article titled “In 2017, I’m aiming to be a worse mum“.  Yawn.  What in the actual fuck?  As one commenter wrote, “Oh dear…….another one of these”.

I have no idea really, but I feel like this article and the freaking bajillions of others out there that are written in a similar vein, are all based on the same basic premise; that we as women and mothers are infinitely influenced, pressured and judged by other women.  

What if this notion (that is reinforced every day by both bloggers and traditional media alike) was false?  Where is this perceived ‘pressure’ coming from?  What if the mum who chooses to spend some time each day styling Bento Lunchboxes actually gives zero fucks if you chuck some chips, a muesli bar, apple and peanut butter sandwich into a plain old Sistema storage box and call it lunch?  I don’t think she has time to worry about it aye?  I don’t have time to judge other mothers on their lunch-making skills, shit, I don’t even make the lunches in our house, my husband does!  I don’t feel bad for it nor do I feel like shaming the mamas who make beautiful lunches for their kids – that’s a hobby/interest/passion of theirs that actually produces something positive.  Power to them!

I wake up every morning and hope to be a better wife and mother than I was the day before.  I refuse to accept that average is the final destination and that taking pride in everything I hold dear (my kids, family, house) is something to be ashamed of or to explain away. I plan on celebrating the good in my life this year, dwelling on my bad days serves no purpose, sucks my motivation and impedes my ability to better myself in all aspects of my life.

I’m certainly not an inspirational person so I’m keen to discover blogs you love that celebrate life and family, are creative/inspirational/aspirational or those that motivate you in some way.  I’d love you to leave a comment with some links below xx

Happy New Year everyone!