Science and Skincare for your baby – Start Fresh with the Facts

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This post is sponsored by Johnson’s Baby, all copy and opinions expressed within are my own.

For an expectant parent, the 9 months prior to the arrival of a new baby is one filled with choices. To find out the gender of your most awaited delivery…….or not, to paint the nursery this colour………or that, this name, that name, hospital or home birth, breast or bottle, cloth or disposable……an endless keep-you-up-at-night intro to the never-ending decisions that mean you’ve made it – your choices will affect the welfare of your small-person for the next 18 years or so. Congratulations!

Our second son Nixon arrived in 2013, we were in NZ this time, and I realised once again that I knew absolutely nothing about being a parent – the only familiar thing was the feeling of knowing absolutely nothing lol. What was vastly different from 2004 when Ethan was born, was, the digital landscape had become a very real, almost tangible part of our daily lives, especially mine as a blogger and a mother. As parents, we now head online to research, discuss and vet our social audiences of their opinions on every aspect of our lives. We have intimate access to the lives of people that we barely know, we ‘friend’ people that are perhaps just a passing acquaintance and are then subject to their own views, lifestyle choices and social media ‘highlight reel’.

The influence of our own parents, close family and trusted friends has waned, taking a back seat to the ever accessible opinions and choices of those on the other end of a Twitter or Instagram handle. As a result, the choices we make as parents, both for ourselves and our kids can become based upon strong, reactive emotions, such as guilt, fear, inadequacy and envy.

I’ve had the ‘Mummy-guilt’ discussion with every single one of my female friends at some point over the past 11.5 years and though it manifests differently for each of us, it’s a massive driver when it comes to making purchasing decisions for our families. As new parents, we have literally 100’s of things more pressing requiring our attention than allowing ourselves to feel guilty for not purchasing the latest celeb endorsed green/vegan/organic/quinoa based/activated/squeezed-through-hemp-filters-held-by-yogis bubble bath for our precious bundles of joy.

Am I right?

In an effort to help shift this feeling of guilt from at least one aspect of daily life, I went straight to the company with the most research published, & the most peer reviewed baby skincare brand, Johnson’s Baby, and got the answers I need to make buying baby care products a choice that doesn’t require a referendum on Facebook – or a science degree!

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4 things you need to know about Baby Products

  1. Are they safe? Pretty much a key concern I’d say and rightly so! Johnson’s baby products meet or exceed government standard in the countries they are sold. In New Zealand, baby personal care products are classified as cosmetics and Johnson’s Baby adhere to the New Zealand Cosmetic Product Group Standard.
    Prior to that, a robust internal safety mandate should be in place. Johnson’s Baby use a 5 step safety process that begins by sourcing raw materials from their trusted suppliers who comply with J&J’s strict safety standards, these materials are then tested, and are rejected if a full safety profile is not met. Next, different experts such as dermatologists, ophthalmologists & paediatricians clinically test the products for safety, suitability for use on s The products are also tested for environmental impact.  The next step is in-use testing of products by volunteers around the world, in their homes, the ‘uncontrolled’ environments of the real world. They also tested their products in the lab under several conditions such as extreme heat, cold, and humidity to make sure the products are safe and consistent. Only after this scrutiny are Johnson’s Baby products ready to hit the shelves. The 5th step is ongoing evaluation and consumer feedback as well as continued research into new and better ingredients to further improve products.
  2. If a product is marked as ‘natural’ what does that mean? I have a big issue with this one as it seems like certain terms such as ‘natural’ are bandied about in both product labelling and marketing without too much explanation of what actually constitutes a completely ‘natural’ product. I would argue that a natural product is one that contains no synthetic ingredients at all. This can seem like an attractive option for those concerned about synthetic products in skincare. It’s worth noting that some natural products and ingredients can be harsh on baby’s skin. For example, plant extracts will vary in quality and performance depending on how they are sourced and this can lead to irritation. In fact, some synthetic ingredients offer high performance, consistent quality, low impurities and excellent safety, that is why sometimes synthetic ingredients are added into Johnson’s baby products.
  3. How to understand ingredient labels? Much like reading food labels, reading product ingredient labels has become de rigueur for the modern parent. There is no simple how-to here, only reassurance in that there IS a global system for labelling personal care products called the INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) labelling system. What this means is that ingredients are required to be identified using standard scientific names so it’s easy to compare products across different languages. This system is in place on all Johnson’s Baby products so you can compare apples with apples right there in the supermarket aisle!
  4. Are there ingredients I should be concerned about? This is the million dollar question isn’t it and probably one of the main reasons why there is now so much choice in the baby care category. Remove an ingredient from a product or switch it out with an alternative and you’ve immediately got a point of difference. Most of us have probably heard of parabens, phthalates, SLS and maybe formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (I had never heard of this last one!), but, what you may not know, these ingredients are not added into Johnson’s baby products . Ah-maze!

I’m what I’d describe as a very ‘moderate’ parent. Until just 2 weeks ago we’ve never had to implement exclusion diets in our house but, moderation, exercise and family fitness is non-negotiable. Likewise, I don’t purchase products based upon their ingredients list, I simply purchase products that I like from brands that I trust. I’m sure this sounds more than a bit familiar to some of you right?! In between the housework, chauffeuring, grocery shopping, household admin, working, cooking, management of sports teams and breathing, if my mind happened to drift to the phthalate content of Nixon’s Johnson’s baby shampoo, I can now rest assured, safe in the knowledge that there isn’t any in there!

One less choice to make and one less thing to feel guilty about ; )

For more information on Johnson’s Baby products please click here.

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Easy Oral Health Tips for Kids + Win a Philips Sonicare Toothbrush!

 

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My two boys are complete opposites when it comes to brushing their teeth and sticking to a good oral health routine.  One will want to brush his teeth every single time he hears someone in the bathroom, whilst the other will ‘forget’ and actually leave the house – my worst nightmare! – without brushing his teeth.

We are not sharks (good discussion starter with your kids perhaps? lol), with only two sets of teeth over our lifetime we need to take super good care of them and teach our kids to do the same.  Like anything, establishing great oral health habits isn’t complicated, it’s just about consistency and routine.  Combining these two things with the right tools and your kids should be well on their way to a lifetime of great oral hygiene… fingers crossed!

Easy Oral health Tips for Kids

    1. Fluoride Toothpaste
      A tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste is recommended to clean children’s teeth as soon they pop up.  Fluoride helps to strengthen teeth and prevent decay.
    2. Don’t fear the Dentist!  
      In New Zealand kids receive free basic dental care until they’re 18!  Yay!  This means, regular checkups, cleaning, X-rays, preventative treatments like fluoride or fissure, sealants, fillings and extractions.  Your child should be automatically enrolled at birth and be seen for their first check-up before they turn two.  Nix has just been for his 2nd visit and it’s totally no big deal, it honestly takes 10 minutes max and he enjoyed the whole process.  Call 0800 Talk Teeth (0800 825 583) for more info.
    3. Start early
      Good oral hygiene begins even before bubs has his/her first teeth.  Using a soft cloth to clean gums and their tongue helps remove bacteria in the mouth.  Keep up the good work with gentle brushing with fluoride toothpaste once teeth develop and continue to monitor toothbrushing habits until kids are at least 8 years old.
    4. Do it right
      Technique is everything!  Kids can struggle with the amount of pressure to use, the right angles to hit those hard to reach spots and remembering which segment they’ve brushed etc.  Having the right tools helps. Ethan’s been using the Philips Sonicare for Kids Toothbrush which uses a dynamic side-to-side cleaning action, rather than a rotating action and has over 31,000 brush strokes per minute which helps remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush, and (I’m sure!) is hugely more effective than the snail’s pace with which he was brushing his teeth before!
    5. Floss
      I didn’t know this!!!  Kids should be flossing as soon as teeth are touching the adjacent tooth.  Flossing removes bits of food and plaque that get stuck between teeth, as brushing alone simply can’t reach these tricky spots.  It’s about time that our boys step things up in this department.

The toothbrush E’s using below is the new Philips Sonicare for Kids.  It’s totally removed my urge to monitor how long he spends brushing his teeth as it has a built-in KidTimer that lets him know when it’s time to switch to a new spot and (crucially!) when he has finished brushing his teeth.  He’s also been able to customise it with fun, interchangeable stickers that have got little Nixon seething about his big brother’s new fancy toothbrush!  Suitable for ages 4+, Nix will have his own soon enough.  A bathroom used by two young boys can get super messy, so I’m loving the anti-roll feature of the Philips Sonicare which helps keep the bathroom at least a little bit cleaner!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Easy Oral Health Tips for Kids

You can win a Philips Sonicare for Kids toothbrush RRP $99.95 right here!

To enter, comment below with any tips you have for getting the kids to brush and I’ll choose a winner at random 17/11/16!  NZ residents only.  You can gain a second entry here > Happy, Healthy Halloween Ideas for Kids.New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Healthy Halloween Ideas

 

My toddler believes he’s a bakery worker.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Toddler Sleep

I mean he must.

There is no other reason why he would be waking every day at 3.50am but to get some buns in the oven, maybe rustle up some mince and cheese pies or get his eclairs ready for the glass cabinet.  Lord knows the Jack boys love pies.

I spent $79 dollars today on a fancy clock that people swear by for sleep training.  Pick your jaw off the floor, a blogger who PAID for something?!  The earth has indeed tilted on its axis and I’m sure it’s Nixon’s fault.

A couple of months ago when we were facing the same problem I implemented all of the advice you guys gave me;

  • Maybe he’s getting cold?  Heater in his room with thermostat on all night.
  • Try a little bit earlier.  Tried this.
  • Try a little bit later.  Tried this under duress – when your Nixon-day begins prior to 4am a later bedtime is not ‘quality’ family time.  Rather, it consists of violent pajama protests and torturous OCD screaming about which order he takes his vitamins.
  • Lavender.  Tried it.
  • No nap?  Sleep aversion is a lifestyle choice for Nixon, he spits in the face of a daytime nap.
  • Cry it out.  Love it.  But the child is about 100db too loud to let him have at it.  He also has an 11 year old brother who is  only *slightly* better at sleeping in then Nixon and I sure as hell don’t need both of them up in the dark cold hours searching for their damn iPads in the dark!

I can’t remember what else we’ve tried because I’m TOO DAMN TIRED.

Nix is also full of a cold and hacking up phlegm (again) so the odds are not (never?) in our favour of a good night’s sleep tonight.


Nix had a fever of 38.2 so we Pamol’d before bed and that probably helped him to set a new August sleep record – 5.45am!!!  I feel like a new woman!  I had set the magical sleep clock to 6am and explained how it worked so when he woke, I took Nix back to his room and we waited until the sun came up.  Small victories I guess.

Some people have ‘No sleepers’ and this is torturous.  Trying and trying to get your kid to fall asleep for the night is an agonizing exercise requiring you to forget absolutely everything else you need to do and simply switch off, lay down like the corpse-mother you probably feel like and give in to chubby arms around your neck.  Nixon will go to sleep at night so bedtimes are sometimes drawn out, but not too cringeworthy.  His/our problem is that when he wakes, whenever that may be, HE WAKES.  That’s it.  No more sleep for anyone.

Basically, it all sucks.  Whichever style of problem sleeper you have, the Sleep-Denyer, the Wake-All-Night, the Early Riser……..it’s hard for everyone involved, kids included.

I’ve just finished my first double coffee of the day and I raise my mug to you mama’s – May you coffee be strong and your nap times long xx

 

Positive Screen Time – Nixon and Dinosaur Train

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Screen Time

Screen time, device time, iPad use, tablet time, TV time – whatever you call it,  letting your kids use a screen, be it large or small immediately places a target on your back and immediately opens you up to judgement by Sancti-Mummy’s everywhere.  Screen time gets such a bad rap these days, it’s almost as high up the parental hit-list as sugar and processed cheese ::::  heavens-to-betsy! ::::

But you guys know me right?  You know I love sugar (in moderation of course!), I adore processed cheese (actually ALL cheese) and I absolutely LOVE me some screen time – what blogger doesn’t?  It seems to me that the use of devices or amount of time spent in front of a screen by kids is like anything else, when used with moderation and discretion there are no problems.  

But let’s be honest, sometimes I use screen time with reckless abandon!  There are days when I have more than one deadline, the kids are exhausted by 4.30pm and will actually disembowel each other if forced to play together and I just don’t have time to deal with that mess.  So I let them have at it.  Play Xbox!  Watch weirdos unwrap shit on YouTube, catch Pokemon, I DON’T CARE, just enjoy it mmmmkay boys?

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Screen TimeI’m joking of course, that pretty much happens everyday (!), but there is a shining light in the dark, dark tunnel of screen time, and that light, dear readers, belongs to Dinosaur Train.

Not just his favourite show, Dinosaur Train is Nixon’s obsession, fuelling an insatiable need for more and more knowledge, more facts, more polysyllabic names down-pat, more very expensive Schleich dinos and more and more dinosaur books.

It’s freaking awesome!  Ethan went through the same ‘phase’ that lasted 9 years (!!), but his energy was focussed on sharks and whales and we struggled to find age appropriate shows that kept up with his vast knowledge.  Dinosaur Train is ticking all the boxes for us and Nix;

  • Catchy theme song – check
  • Science based – check
  • Historically accurate – check
  • Factual – check
  • There’s a REAL paleontologist that recaps the archaeological evidence at the end of each show
  • Produced by The Jim Henson Company = awesome – check
  • Engaging and non-mum-guilt inducing – check check CHECK!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Screen Time

In a nutshell, a Pteranodon family and their adopted T Rex son Buddy explore the Mesozoic aboard the Dinosaur Train, meeting and learning (in great detail!) about other dinosaurs.  The show is an educational coup for parents and kids alike and it’s single-handedly fostered a passion in Nixon that we are all loving.  Dave and I are now Parental Grade Experts in dinosaurs (as well as sharks and whales) and Ethan and Nixon have something in common that they both love despite their 8.5 year age gap.

We watch Dinosaur Train (every day!) on Netflix and have no trouble with internet lag now that we’ve upgraded to Slingshot’s unlimited VDSL – I have zero time/tolerance for monitoring how much bandwidth we have left!   Nixie’s other dino faves available on Netflix are; Gon, Dinosaur King, Walking with Dinosaurs, Walking with Monsters and DinoTrux.

Happy Netflix-ing!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Screen Time

Digital Parenting – The Easiest New Tool to keep Kids Safe Online

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family web filter internet

As a mummy of two boys, a mummy blogger that works from home, the wife of an IT Project Manager who also works from home and a self-confessed tech geek, the internet is my jam.  It’s both our family’s source of income and one of the ways in which we spend our downtime –  connecting on social media, streaming shows and movies on Netflix and gaming (by that I mean chasing Pokemon!).

The internet is so much bigger than that though isn’t it?  It’s pretty easy for us to keep a tight reign over what content Nixon consumes as we install all of his age appropriate apps and the only way he can access YouTube is through YouTube Kids, but, our 11 year old is a different story.

Ethan is very much a first-world digital native.  He has a hand-me-down smartphone, an ipad, his school chromebook and access to our computers at home.  I think you guys know us well enough by now to realise that all of this is very carefully and consciously balanced with plenty of sport and device free feral-boy-time – Ethan should have been raised on a farm, outside is his happy place!  Thankfully, at this point, I’m still up to speed with the apps and social networks he’s using online.  He doesn’t have a Facebook account but we have allowed him to use Instagram, providing his account stays private and he only accepts friend requests from people he actually knows.  

He’s also very much aware that his online presence is a privilege.  One of the terms of being allowed on IG was that his account was subject to random spot checks at any time by myself or his Dad.  We actively enforce this to keep him on his toes, but guys, you should see the friend requests and DM requests he receives.  LOTS of T&A profile pictures, most bordering on soft porn at best ::::::shudder::::::

Cue awkward conversation with my tween.

Not really, I’m exaggerating.  If you’ve always had a super-open and trusting verbal relationship with your kids, then discussing boobs on the internet won’t disturb the force too much. If topics like this easily invoke red cheeks on either or both sides of the conversation, well, you have to pony-up anyway and get talking!

I recently switched internet service providers as our previous ISP was driving us crazy with slow speeds and disconnections, and am stoked to have signed on as a Slingshot Brand Partner!  Like any Slingshot customer, Family Filter has been added to our account, not that I actually knew what it did.

Before I explain with words, let me show you what it does;

Here’s a Google search I did to test the efficacy of Family Filter;

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family web filter internet

Ahhhh yes.  Google says my internet is porn free!  Just what every mother of an 11 year old boy wants to hear right?

What is Family Filter?

Over the years I’ve looked at heaps of browser-addon or stand-alone software filters that were all cumbersome, required extensive set-up and customisation and were SO freaking annoying to use that I ended up uninstalling them or cancelling my subscription.  Family Filter is different in that it acts at the network level (at the source of the interwebs coming into your house!), preventing access to inappropriate and dangerous material and R16+ sites containing nudity and porn, hacked or infected sites, sites encouraging suicide and self-harm, drugs, gambling, hacking dark web…………ick.  I feel creepy after just typing that list!

So, as you can see in the example above, I typed in what could be a potential search term of interest for a young teen and bam – no results!  I love it!  Image searches are also filtered for the same terms.  The best part is we’ve had no problems with Family Filter blocking sites that we actually do want to visit, which was one of the super annoying features of other net-nanny programmes I’ve tried and passed on.

Family Filter has got to be the easiest online tool ever to access and utilize.  There’s a simple on/off toggle on your Slingshot Dashboard.  That’s it. It’s also FREE for 12 months and only $5 per month after that.

Our Internet Safety Strategy

So obviously I’ve been thinking about the interwebs a LOT lately.  I had a chat to Ethan about what kids his age can access, what they feel uncomfortable with and what we can do to improve communication.

Here are his thoughts and also my thoughts on how to counter these experiences;

      • E quickly confirmed that he knows kids are able to access questionable content anywhere, anytime via a web browser or an app like IG.  
      • I say, reduce amounts of data available to kids on their mobile devices and stay firm with the rule that if you’re online you must be in a public part of the house such as the lounge.
      • E mentioned that ‘dares’ to search for certain terms sometimes happen at parties or hangouts where there may be a group of kids.  
      • I say, the answer to this is twofold; print out the rules and expectations that come with using your home internet, place it by your computer or make younger guests (and your kids!) read these before handing over the wifi code.  Secondly, your Slingshot Family Filter is made for catching Google search dares!  Sleep easy during that sleepover guys!
      • Ethan is definitely beginning to want his privacy, so whilst keeping vigilant I also need to begin to show him we trust him and give him a little space. But he also has many questions and kids of his generation know that Google can answer every-damn-thing!
      • This will be specific to whichever social media, or online forums your kids belong to, but Ethan and I have figured out a ‘go, no-go’ limitation on Instagram when I conduct spot-checks.  This works for me as I know what I’m looking for and he has always stuck to our family rules of only allowing people we know in real life to follow him and thus interact with him via direct message.  We’ve also talked about how if he’s curious or absolutely must know what something is, or means, then to just PLEASE ask his Dad or I.  There is no stupid question in our house!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family web filter internet

What do you guys think?  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences below and perhaps we can create a compendium of REAL LIFE experience and recommendations around our kids use of the amazing, wonderful, awesome internet.  

I’m so freaking glad I switched providers, I LOVE the Slingshot Family Filter product so much.  I give my kids a lot of scope on their devices and I have good reason for it (that’s an entire post in itself!), but I do fret about what they might discover online before they are emotionally able to understand what it is they are seeing.  

Please let me know how you guys tackle this in your homes and if you’d like to find out more about Family Filter, visit Slingshot right here.

Parenting – Raising Awesome Eaters

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My two boys may eat ALL day long but one thing I don’t worry about is the variety of what they’re eating.  From a young age, both Ethan and Nixon took to food like ducks to water and pretty much haven’t stopped eating since lol.

My younger brother was a terribly picky eater, pretty much surviving childhood on chicken nuggets and banana sandwiches.  This drove me absolutely mental as his sibling and now as a mother myself I can only imagine how frustrating this must have been for my parents at the time.  
 
As a mum I’m constantly trying to give my kids exactly what they need at any given time, this is not always in line with exactly what they want of course, but try and explain that to a rampaging, hungry toddler!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler EatingNixon is going on 3 and mealtimes are a work in progress.  His nutritional needs are a little ‘special’ because of his Hirschsprung’s disease but we’ve got that under control and he’s well on his way to becoming a wonderful eater like his big brother – if not better I think!

I was watching Nix and Dave working together in the kitchen the other day and I realised that, yes it’s a stereotype, but our kitchen really is the heart of our home, both spatially and as a family hub.  We spend a lot of time with the kids in the kitchen, cooking, eating together, trying new things and just, living.  I think our family’s focus around the food we prepare, serve and eat has played a huge role in our boys adventurous, appreciative and non-fussy approach to meal times.

Tips for Raising Awesome Eaters

    • Avoid ‘Hangry’ eating.  Hungry kids become irrational kids really quickly.  If I catch the boys with a well balanced snack or meal before they reach the ‘hangry’ tipping point, they’ll eat everything happily and get back to playing quickly.  If he gets too hungry, Nixon in particular will obsess over one particular snack or meal that may not be entirely appropriate – cookies for breakfast, yoghurt for dinner etc and will reject healthy or new options.
    • New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler EatingWelcome kids to the kitchen.  As soon as he was sitting up, Nix was always in his Bumbo, or clipped onto the bench in his high chair watching me make his baby food or the family dinner.  Now he’s a wee bit older, he drags his step stool into the kitchen every morning to help his Dad prepare breakfast and most afternoons when we are getting dinner ready he’s also there.  Pretty much every new vegetable we’ve introduced Nixon to has come from the chopping board at meal-prep time!  Taking an active role in cooking gives our boys a sense of pride and ownership, they WANT to eat what they’ve helped make.  It’s totally awesome.
    • One meal for EVERYONE.  In our house everyone eats the same meal or at the very least variations of it.  When I was prepping Ethan and Nixon’s baby food their meals would usually be a blended combination of the protein and veggies that Dave and I would also eat that day.  This just makes sense financially and in terms of minimising the time and effort you spend in the kitchen each day!  If everyone’s plates look the same there is less wriggle room for pickiness, plus the boys can see Dave and I enjoying something they might have ‘decided’ they don’t like.
    • Eat meals together.  Family time is becoming an ever more precious commodity with our household’s bustling schedule.  We can’t make it work every night as the needs / bedtime of our toddler vary greatly from that of our 11 year old, but we try.  Nixon needs to regularly see his family enjoying meals together, trying new foods and modelling healthy, social eating habits for him to emulate.
    • Offer foods repeatedly.  Toddlers in particular are nuts, often displaying behaviors and choices that appear to have no rhyme or reason – refusing a celery stick one day only to eat 5 the next.  If Nix leaves something in his lunchbox or on his plate, I have figured out that there is generally no underlying meaning – he just simply didn’t get around to eating it.  Try again in a few days in a different scenario.  Feeding my boys the same thing at the same time of day is a sure-fire way to create a boring routine which inhibits adventurous eating.  If I feed Nixon Nutella on toast for breakfast EVERY morning, that’s what he’ll expect and he’ll fuss if we break the routine.  Not good lol!  
    • Watch for cues.  Nixon is a compartmental eater.  By this I mean he eats ALL of his beetroot before he moves onto his tomatoes.  He will then eat ALL of his tomatoes before his quiche.  Someone that’s not used to this might assume that he simply doesn’t like quiche – not the case, he’s just getting to it in his own time.  Sushi is perfect for Nix as it can combine carbs, veges and protein in one tidy package that ALL looks the same!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Eating

  • Don’t force the issue.  Food, eating and mealtimes can be fun and should be enjoyable experiences for everyone.  The 8.5 year age gap between my sons has resulted in many adjustments to our parenting, one of the most profound being that I don’t stress about how much our toddler eats at any one mealtime.  If he’s hungry, he’ll eat.  They’re intuitive little beings, and they probably listen to their tums a lot more than we do as adults and getting pedantic about ‘cleaning your plate’ is probably unnecessary most of the time.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Eating

Here in New Zealand, and in many places around the world, the conversation around where our food comes from and how it’s grown and produced is one that we are engaging in more and more frequently.  Many of us are making choices to eat locally, eat organic, to actively avoid over-processed foods or those with artificial and unnatural ingredients.  As a mother of two however, I’m so happy that this conversation has finally trickled down to those brands producing infant formula.  Or ONE brand in particular I should say.    

Munchkin has just launched the world’s FIRST 100% Grass Fed Formula.  

Why is this important?  Grass fed milk is healthier than grain fed milk because it comes from cows who eat only grass and plants – as nature intended, ­creating the richest, most natural and best ­tasting milk in the world.  What better place to farm these lucky cows then right here, at home in New Zealand!  We enforce some of the toughest dairy and food regulations in the world – Kiwis all know we take our milk products seriously down here lol.  Munchkin’s new formula range can boast no unnatural growth hormones and steroids plus, the milk in this formula is completely free of GMOs YAY!  

This post was sponsored by Munchkin who know, like we all do, breast is best, but for families who choose to supplement (or HAVE to as we did with Nixon) or bottle feed their babies, new Munchkin grass fed formula is the best you can buy because it comes from such high­ quality milk.

Find Munchkin online at grassfed.com. For more information and for the latest in parenting news, visit the Munchkin Facebook page.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Eating

The Toddler Trimester

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Toddler Trimester

The 4th trimester is becoming a more common talking point and something that new mums are increasingly being made aware of.  Newborns and their mothers do not pop out of the birthing suite ready for lattes, playgroups and power walks with the Mountain Buggy – shock horror!

However, there is a more sinister/dangerous/sleep depriving menace out there, one that catches Mum’s and Dad’s by surprise as they are high-fiving themselves on making it out of the ‘Baby Phase’ intact.

There are no public service announcements circulating around the threat of the Toddler Trimester and it’s time to ramp up public awareness of this devastating phenomena.

The hard truth is; I’m more tired, scratch that, EXHAUSTED, than I was at any point during the aforementioned 4th trimester.  Nixon doesn’t nap during the day anymore, Nixon likes to wake during the night (when he previously slept through), Nixon likes to wake up early – sometimes as early as 4.30am, never later than 6 though.  6 is a luxurious sleep in Dave and I cross our fingers for each night.

 Compounding this, is my own hectic work schedule which relies on me burning the midnight oil pretty much 7 days a week.

I look like hell.

I’m writing this on a flight to Sydney for a quick work trip and instead of hitting the shops, the eateries and sights as I would normally do, all I can think of is check in time when I can smash out a massive nana nap.

What in the fuck has happened to me?

It’s a little nightmare I like to call The Toddler Trimester.  The frenetic pace of life with Nixon and it’s accompanying sleep deprivation has seen me knock back a V, large flat white and a shitty airplane coffee all before 10.37am.

The caffeine comedown is going to be rough today but I’d rather not fall in front of a train because I’ve nodded off upon arrival at my station in Sydney.

Thanking god for my Nespresso machine at home, Spotify to keep me awake with extra-loud Nirvana and Millencollin so I can work on the plane and my MacBook so I can knock out Dave’s GST whilst flying as lord knows there are no other hours in the day to get it done.  I’m struggling at the moment guys.  I’ve never been so tired in my life!


Fast forward 36 hours and I’m back in the airport soon to board my plane home.  I soldiered on yesterday (I love Sydney and there was shopping to do in the few hours I had to do it!).  I desperately wanted to take a nap but figured an early night would have to do.  So, despite staying in the most amazing Sydney location – The Rocks – I didn’t sip wine on the waterfront and dine at one of the fab restaurants I saw.  I got take-out noodles, used my 2-for-1 drink vouchers at the hotel and went to bed watching The Voice.

Turns out that’s pretty much what the other bloggers attending the Netflix event did too!  Mum-life right?

So, I’d love any tips you guys have for curtailing the increasing exhaustion that working and Mumming often result in.  Obviously MORE sleep and prioritising rest but that’s soooo hard, why??

 

The Tween Years | Fighting the Good Fight – but still losing

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So today whilst Nixon was throwing an almighty tantrum because I wouldn’t let him pick up the dog shit with me (I really am doing this parenting thing all wrong aren’t I?), and I was ruminating on how I was going to create a calm, non-combative environment for the after school session with Ethan (yeah right!), I was reminded of a fellow blogger’s description of the post-primary school years of parenting.  Simone who writes at Great Fun Etc wrote an awesome post titled, “Parenting at the Pointy End” which I’ve been thinking about a lot.  The title is just so damn catchy plus she hit a bit of a raw nerve as almost every day with our 11yo feels like someone is stabbing me in the ass with a large pointy stick.  Over and over and over.  Every day.

We’re struggling and fighting and banning shit and yelling.  I even mentioned boarding school on Sunday – yeah, that old chestnut.  

Obviously there’s massive hormone-stuff going on right now, there’s a nut-bar of a toddler in the house who totally runs the place (his rule is fast coming to an end btw) + there’s a lot of coming and going and general chaos in our house as we all lead very full lives.  This is also ‘under review’.

But, I’m still not willing to accept that the current state of non-compliance is the new status quo.  I’m trying to create a calm, face-to-face afternoon tea time when E arrives home off the bus; food ready, a cold drink, no devices within reach (I know he’ll go straight for the food if it’s waiting for him), a quiet chat about his day………….

He totally hates these afternoon catch-ups I’m sure but hopefully it sets a better tone for the evening than me yelling at him to make something decent to eat over the roar of the vacuum and Nixie screaming for more food – the two of them never stop eating!  After a familiar argument this evening regarding attitude and anger, Dave and I sat down and listened to E.  We asked him questions in a way that we hoped would help him see that his ‘entire life’ did not suck, there were mainly 1 or 2 key things that seemed to be behind a lot of the conflict.

Look, pandering to the whims of an 11 year old is not exactly how I like to parent, BUT, everyone deserves to be listened to and their grievances taken on-board whether others consider them legitimate or not – this is not pandering, it’s showing respect to your kids.  We needed to show E that we care (of course we do!) about his feelings and emotions, and that whatever those emotions are, they are valid.  He may, however,  need to find a more conducive way to express them to us.

We also identified that there is one XBox One game in particular that seems to raise his aggression/anger levels through the roof.  God I hate that console.  We decided that rather than banning him from the XBox completely (even with time constraints it still causes a lot of tension and arguments between Ethan and his Dad and I), we remove the offending game and see if there’s any improvement in E’s behavior surrounding his allocated game time.  Surprisingly he agreed to this without a second thought, which makes me think he already knows the ‘obsession’ with this particular game could be causing some of our problems.

Aside from that I’m out of ideas.  All I know is that we need to put a rapid cool on emotions that have been running a little too hot in our house.  Ethan and I can push each other’s buttons in a heartbeat and then it’s all on – and the whole house suffers.

I would love to hear your thoughts or frustrations if you’re dealing with anything similar in your households.  

Adulting is  h a r d, who listens to my grievances?  YOU GUYS lol.

Sorry about that :  )

5 More Minutes – Me and Them

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It’s one of the defining catch-cries of modern kids, one that seems to defy age, gender and geographical constraints.  Whatever it is that kids are doing and enjoying, they always want 5 more minutes of it.

Enough is never enough, ‘done’ infrequently means ‘I’m actually finished’ and ‘NOW’ is 9/10 times debated – at least in my house if I’m being honest!

When thinking about this post, the difference between what my kids wish they had 5 more minutes of and what I would love to spend 5 more minutes on is hilarious in it’s juxtaposition.

My 5 More Minutes Wishlist

  1. Sleep.  I would love 5 more minutes of sleep every day.  Shit, I would love 5 more minutes of sleep every hour, a cumulative total over the day that I could cash in each night.  But that’s a ludicrous thought (and awfully sexy lol).
  2. Bathroom.  More time in the bathroom, even just 5 more minutes each day could possibly change my life.  I’m serious.  This blogging gig I’m trying to run here sometimes means I have to present a semi-professional facade on occasion.  Hell, professionalism aside, I actually SHOULD shower each day.  5 golden moments of door-shut, kid free bathroom time would be bliss and prob do wonders for my mood and confidence.
  3. Sitting.  Some days I fall into bed around midnight and realise that I didn’t sit down all day long.  Not once.  Mum life is rough man, the hours are terrible, the pay is shit and you don’t get regular breaks lol.  More sitting please.
  4. Socialising.  If I had 5 more minutes to talk – to ADULTS – my world would be a better place.  Stimulating, riveting conversation in which I LEARN something, or am inspired by someone would be a tremendous coup for the part of my brain that is currently overflowing with the names of Wiggles and assorted construction equipment.
  5. Sleep.  Oh I already mentioned that?  See above x 2.

My Kids 5 More Minutes Wishlist

  1. Pantry.  The boys are constantly IN the pantry.  It’s not a walk in pantry but they still like to hangout in there, just looking, thinking about food, deciding on what they’re going to request next.  If they could have 5 more minutes of unimpeded scavenging time they would be in heaven I tell you.  This is the stuff dreams are made of for Ethan and Nixon!
  2. Semi-nudity.  Clothing and footwear irritates the boys no end.  Like seriously pisses them off.  Ethan is 11 and this past winter was the first in his life in which he came home from school actually wearing shoes on some days!  In winter.  Nixon is the same.  Every day, every change from pyjamas to clothes and back again is a fight I’d pay money not to have.  Our two feral kids would love five more minutes of clothing optional time, every day for the rest of their lives.
  3. Screen-time.  What kid doesn’t want 5 more minutes to spend on their devices?  Look, we’ve been through this before I know, I’m a blogger, I love my tech and I love it with me 99% of the time.  But that’s not going to fly with kids, they can make those choices when they’re old enough to apply some perspective.  Ethan is getting harder to regulate but I’ve got a new tool in my arsenal when it comes to Nixon.  One of his favourite shows, DinoTrux has added 5 Minute Favourites to their offering on Netflix.  Bite sized viewing perfection to help me out when I’m in a jam or Nix needs some enforced downtime.  LOVE it.
  4. Dad.  Dad time is the best apparently.  Everyone wants more of it, notably when Dad is walking out the door or away on a work trip.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Proves difficult when you are not in fact ‘Dad’ and have to deal with the aftermath, but all in all not a terrible situation.
  5. Outside.  This one I have no qualms about, but herding my kids through the door and locking it behind them after dark/in a cyclone/at dinner time often necessitates the skill of a United Nations negotiator.  Exhausting, often requiring tricks or bribes and repetition on a daily basis.  I’m tired.
  6. Awake.  I have no idea why small people are so adverse to sleeping but life is cruel and ironic.  At the time in our lives when we are ‘adulting’, more tired than ever, working hard, often stressed – along come our little cherubs who are keen to avoid sleep at all times.  Nixon is currently waking at 4am, which is totally killing us!  Kids LOVE 5 more minutes before bed right?  Every.  Damn. Time.

Top Mummy Blog new ZealandIf you had 5 more minutes each day what would you use if for {aside from reading The Best Nest obviously!}

 

Travelling for work: Tips to help kids when they’re missing Mummy or Daddy

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Dave returns today from an 11 day work trip and lord that plane can’t get to Auckland soon enough.  I find it super hard to parent without Dave as he’s the steady, stable half and I’m the emotionally fractious one who struggles to hold her shit together!  The boys seem to get on with daily life without Dave but despite the volume being lowered somewhat in the house (always a welcome change imo!), there are many notable points throughout the day where we all miss Daddy.

Nixon is now 2.2 and this is the first trip when he’s actually shown interest in chatting to Dave on the phone.  This helps of course, but is doesn’t assuage the never-ending questions;

Where’s Daddy?

Where’s Wellington?

Daddy in Nu Ziland?

Daddy on a plane?

You get the picture.

Ethan who’s almost 11 tends to miss the things he does with his Dad, so he’s been dreaming up elaborate fishing trips and getting his tackle box ready because as soon as his Dad walks through the door there’s a HUGE agenda waiting lol. Roll back three years to when Dave was in Europe for 6 weeks and things were a wee bit different.  Ethan didn’t articulate it so much as show us in his behaviour and emotional outbursts, how much he was struggling with his Dad’s absence.  It took us weeks to get my young man back on an even keel once Dave returned home, travel weary and with lots of laundry!

So, when Maria from Happy Mum, Happy Child asked me if I had any ideas to help her 3 yo daughter deal with increasing separation anxiety when her Dad travels, I put my thinking cap on and came up with some easy to implement tips.

5 Tips to Help Kids When They’re Missing Mummy or Daddy

  • Make the absence visible 

Missing Mum, Dad or a significant other caregiver isn’t something to be brushed off and glossed over.  Acknowledge how little ones are going to feel and give them tools to cope.  Make the time away something tangible that they can see and measure by printing out a blank calendar page like this one and marking the number of days until Mum/Dad return.  Combine this with a big goofy picture of the damn parent that gets to escape from the house your other half and you’ve got yourself a DIY shrine to your significant other!  Just what you always wanted lol.

  • Give Little an Important task to do 

Creating  a ‘responsibility’ will initiate purpose and a little distraction.  If Dad has a ‘very special’ task that he normally does, like feeding the dog, enlist your Little Guy to take over this job, emphasizing that we must ‘soldier on’ and all pitch in without Daddy…….I know, I know lol.  If this is out of the question try entrusting a very ‘special’ item belonging to Travelling Mum/Dad into the care of your little person.

  •  Ooohh, look, there’s mail for you!

A short, pre-written daily note from Mum/Dad ‘arriving’ in the mailbox could be just the ticket to getting through each day.  Keeping the travelling parent front and foremost in Little’s mind really is key I think.  This way they are less likely to experience sudden pangs of ‘OMG I miss …….. so much!’.

  • Use Technology

Make use of the myriad ways we can use technology to keep in touch.  Send texts, pxt, FB messages, emails to the travelling partner, use IG, Skype, Facetime and let your Little take the lead here.  Help them to make a list of three things to tell Mum/Dad about their day at kindy or school and encourage your partner to tell them 3 interesting things about the place they’re working.  Familiarity with what each other is doing will help to minimise the ‘strangeness’ of someone being away.

  • Plan Something to Look Forward To

Make homecoming a double whammy.  When Dave arrived home from 6 weeks in Europe, 7 year old Ethan was sure that what Daddy would want most in the world was a disco.  In our lounge.  So  ::sigh:: we shopped for disco snacks, made a playlist of all of Ethan’s Dave’s fave Katy Perry songs, we pulled the blinds and my jet lagged husband had a cracking time limbo-ing and eating Twisties.  Kids LOVE this shit, plus it will give them something to focus on and plan, rather than fretting about missing their Mum/Dad constantly.

Somedays will be rough, I guarantee it.  Maybe most days if I’m being completely honest.  When your routine changes in a household due to one parent travelling, take liberties, run with it!  I order Ethan a Pita Pit for lunch now and then when his dad’s away, we eat breakfast for dinner and we have Fish ‘n Chips! – Dave hates all of these things so we pony up and make the most of our time sans Dad.

Good luck Mama’s, and if all else fails, there’s the TV, YouTube and wine xx