The Christmas Mental load

There’s something magical about Christmas is the movies. The picture perfect decorations, tables laden with food, Pintrest wrapped presents and everyone smiling. However, we rarely speak of how who carries the pressure of Christmas upon their shoulders. The true Christmas heroes who work tirelessly year long to ensure that magical experience of Christmas is felt by the entire family. The Mum’s.

Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels.com

Us Mum’s know all too well where that load falls. I for one have had Christmas at the back of my mind most of the year. Starting in January I buy Christmas decorations on clearance and stuff them in my spare cupboards. During the year I hoard away stocking stuffers, and as of September I’m in full blown Christmas shopping mode. Somehow I’ve convinced myself that my constant preparation for Christmas will somehow reduce the stress I feel as the day draws closer. There is just so many jobs that need to be done ahead of Christmas Day itself; soaking the Christmas Fruit, ordering the food, buying the wrapping/ribbon/tape, wrapping the presents, decorating the house, baking….Not to mention all the other Christmas associated events that you need to be ready for. You need the advent calendars ready to go Dec 1. If you’re crazy enough to commit to Elf on the Shelf they’ve also go to be ready Dec 1 with new shenanigans everyday of the month. You need to have booked you Christmas photos and organised everyones outfits, and now there’s the new trend of matching Christmas PJ’s (make sure you’ve bought those too). The school and workplace functions. These often need food prepared, Secret Santa presents, thank-you gifts for teachers/bosses, concerts that need costumes, dinners that need outfits.There’s also all those gifts that have to ready ahead of time for family that you see before Christmas, Friends, colleges, neighbours.

Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels.com

If you make through all of this there’s Christmas Eve- Attend Christmas Eve event, feed everyone, dress everyone in their Christmas PJ”s and make sure you leave out the carrots, milk and cookies. Once the kids are in bed eat said cookie, nibble carrots and drink milk. Next quietly dig out all the presents you’ve been hoarding all year. Build the toys that need assembly and silently wrap them and place under the tree. Start prepping food for the next day. Remember to go to bed before midnight so that you can have at least 5 hours sleep before the kids are up.

Christmas morning itself is magical. It’s the real pay off for all the stresses to see everyone filled with joy sharing presents, playing Christmas music and having fun together. As per usual the dad’s are sitting there pretending they know what’s in the box. If mum’s lucky they’ve picked up on you’re not so subtle hints about what you’d like for Christmas, and if not you’ve got another candle. But mum’s just don’t stop. You hand out the presents, you’re racing behind cleaning up all the paper, you’re taking photos and organising breakfast as well as starting on the Christmas lunch/dinner. Then you’re posting the pics you took to socials whilst stirring a pot of sauce and putting the roast on. Before you know it you welcoming guests, or rounding up everyone into the car for the next event.

The whole day can feel like a race for mum’s who like me probably swear they’re never going to do it again. We’re exhausted from the mental load of pulling off yet another Christmas. Surviving barely on the oxytocin from seeing the pure joy on our children’s faces on Christmas morning.

To all the Mumma’s out there you are the Christmas champions, the ninja’s, the greatest elves of all. We are all so lucky to have you spreading magic and your hard work is not unnoticed. I appreciate how hard it is, we just couldn’t do it without all of you.

Mumma Z xxx

Part-Time Teaching

I’m a Part-time teacher

For many reading that statement it has little impact. But for those of us who work in the Secondary private school system I’m a unicorn. A rarity, a curiosity and everyone has a question about it.

What’s your FTE?

How did you negotiate that?

How many days do you work?

Do you have to attend meetings?

DO you get DOTT time?

I’m happy to share, but the truth of it is that my situation is not ideal.

Although my pay cheque pays me for two days work per week there is an expectation that I answer emails on the other five days of the week. I have very little DOTT time, still have to do duties, and do extra work at home during the week. I’m not alone in my woes. I have colleagues who are told that their required hours on campus on particular days are from 8:15-12:00pm, then they have three hours off which they are not paid for then they are expected to return for an afterschool meeting. I have other colleges who have an FTE of 0.5 (that’s the equivalent of 2.5 days) but those hours are stretched over five days. So, they must come into work every single day. Others have commented how being part-time they are made to feel like lesser employees as through part-time is a ‘dirty’ word. Many have gone to their principals and asked for part-time work to be flat out told that there’s nothing on offer. Even in the situation where they have come up with their own solution to job share with another teacher at the school who is also looking for part-time hours.

You would be stretched to find another private industry that makes it so difficult for its employees to find flexible employments that supports their families, health, and work-life balance.

So why is it such a pretentious issue in Private schools?

Here are just some of the arguments I have heard from Principals:

Shared classes (that is a class taught by one teacher a few lessons a week and another teacher on the remaining days) is detrimental to students learning.

The missing part of the argument though is that shared classes are very common in Secondary schools even with full time teachers. The reason for this is basic mathematics when you construct a timetable sometimes it’s impossible to schedule everyone in perfectly. But shared classes can be amazing, it allows the teachers to play to their strengths and gives students that advantage of having two experts to deliver the learning material. On the flip side they could be detrimental if the two teachers sharing don’t, communicate well, or one of them doesn’t pull their weight.

Teachers take advantage of part-time work and are less committed to their workplaces.

As for teachers taking advantage of being part-time, I don’t really know what that even means. I can only speak for myself when I say I’m more committed and onto of my role because I must be so efficient with my time. I enjoy the flexibility of being able to leave to pick up my children from school and my mental health is better for it.

Part-time teachers cause confusion to administration, parents and students.

Part-timers only cause confusion if there are problems with communication. The more normal we make these working arrangements that better we become at it. Plus, communications issues can happen no matter what role of FTE you have, it’s a separate skill.

Secondary Private school staffing that is predominantly full time is an advantage over the government school system.

In what way? There is very little research to suggest that having more full-time teaching staff than part-time staff gives you an advantage. If the argument is about shared classes, refer to what I said above about that issue. More people, more skills, talents, and wisdom.  More staff getting the work-life balance they seek= better staff wellbeing.

This last year has forced so many industries to rethink the flexibility they offer their staff. It’s time that secondary private school systems did the same. If you want to attract the best teachers and keep them, you need to offer them the best working conditions.

Mumma Z xx

Things I find hard with a baby & a toddler

Being a mum with a baby and a toddler is a wonderful gift but it’s not without its challenges. Lately I’ve been finding some routine things difficult and have often chosen to not do some things because the effort out weighs the benefit.

Buying petrol

This is something I have ranted about before but seriously in Australia we need more pay at bowser petrol stations. What should be a quick convenient service turns into a nightmare when you need to take two kids out of their car seats into the shop to pay and then load them back in the car. Now I know some people leave them in there but I just can’t do it. On a super hot day the idea of them sitting out there even for a few minutes send my anxiety into overdrive!

Buying Milk

Running out of milk is a nightmare. Again getting two kids in the car to the shops, setting up the pram, buying the milk, loading them back in the car, driving home, unloading them from the car all for the sake of 2L of Milk is such a mammoth effort. For the sake of mums could someone please invest in me opening a drive thru deli store???

Car Service

Keeping your family safe not the road should not be hard! I booked my car in recently and asked for a courtesy car. Apparently courtesy cars were books out for the next 3 months. There was not shuttle service available either. So what do you do with two kids. Sitting at the service centre for 6 hours isn’t an option. Long story short I had to ask my mum to help me. She met me at the mechanics at 8:30am , where I uninstalled two car seats and installed them in her car. We all then got in her car and went back to my house. There we sat and waited for hours upon hours. The mechanic rang me to say I needed new tyres to which I approved and he said the car would be ready at 12. At 2 I rang to see what was happening and he apologised that he’d put it on the later pile and it wouldn’t be ready until 4. At 4 I rang and was told I could get the car at 4:30pm. We headed off to pick the car up, after paying I took the car seats out of mums car and reinstalled them in mine. By the time I got home it was dinner time, everyone was grumpy because we’d been stuck inside all day. Dinner wasn’t cooked, and I just can’t help but think that there has to be a more family friendly way to get this done.

Medical Appointments

Having your two kids tag along to your medical appointments is a nightmare. My 2.5 year old cries if anyone touches me, apparently the chiropractic table is going to kill me, and don’t even try checking my ears. These appointments need to happen, they’re a fact of life, and part of taking care of ourselves. But going on your own with kids is tricky there’s no easy way about it.

House Hunting

Why are these always scheduled in the middle of the day during nap time! The kids fall asleep in the car, your loading and unloading them between houses, or you have to enlist a babysitter to watch them just so you can spend 10-15 minutes wandering around houses..so frustrating

Mumma Z xxx

How to Start a Mummy Blog- Part 1- the first month

WordPress

I spent a lot of time planning my blog before I launched it. It wrote articles, threw around names, and researched the designs of other blogs. I considered the type of content I would be interested in, and checked out other blogs that offered similar topics. I wrote enough enough content to post everyday for a week so that once I launched I could always stay a week ahead of myself. Once I was ready I signed up for WordPress premium with my chosen name. I spent a good week designing it and uploaded 4-5 articles to start with. I previewed my blog on my laptop, phone, iPad and my husbands phone. I spent hours troubleshooting how to fix different design elements and reading about how to launch a blog. I made a conscious decision to not tell family and friends about the blog. I really wanted to have complete artistic freedom to write and try this without them knowing. However this meant that I had to get followers from scratch! My articles needed to have headings that made people want to click and read. I needed images, excerpts and subheadings. My early articles are not my greatest but with each article I wrote I got better. It also helped to read other peoples articles and focus on how they formatted them. I’ve chosen not to go back and edit my past articles instead I offer them there for you to see how I’ve grown and learnt along the way.

In the first week of launching I was glued to seeing my views and visitors. To be honest I was pretty stoked with 6 views on the first day considering no-one but me and my husband knew about it. Day 4 was awesome and Day 11 was a low. I quickly understood what people were talking about when they said not to read these stats on a daily basis. Let the blog be, let it live and grow on its own. Come back monthly instead and see which articles got the most hits. Analyse why people liked them, was it the heading? the imagery? was the writing style different? content? that way you can make informed changes to the direction of your blog in the future.

ViewsVisitors
Day 162
Day 2316
Day 32016
Day 47827
Day 5333
Day 64111
Day 73813
Day 83011
Day 93514
Day 103517
Day 11129
Day 122315
Day 132417
Day 145725
Day 154022
Day 162714
Day 174021
Day 183213
Day 193913
Day 202115
Day 21138
Day 221310
Day 233210
Day 24298
Day 252910
Day 263012
Day 27288
Day 284911

This is a breakdown of the first 3 weeks of my blog, as you can see it fluctuated greatly. I found a huge correlation between my Pinterest ads and views specifically 2-3 days after the ad was launched. I also found that people would like my articles without viewing them because of the tags I used so make sure you utilise this feature.

My goal for the next month is to get over 50 views a day.

Fiverr

I wanted my blog to look really unique. I’d seen a few mum blogs and all of their pictures on Instagram and Pinterest looked really similar. Plus I’m just not great at photography so illustrations was a great solution. I decided I would use illustrations all in the same style on my blog. The day before I launched my blog I hired an illustrator on Fiverr.com. I initially sent the concepts of the illustrations I wanted to three illustrators on fiver for quotes. One illustrator seemed to grasp what I wanted more so I paid for one illustration $5 as a trial. Luckily I loved it and had him design two more for me. About a week after launching after I was really happy with my decision to start a blog so I hired the same illustrator to design a logo for me. I sent him images of logos I liked and we discussed colours. He was fantastic and happy to make alterations. Once I had the logo I uploaded it to my Blog, Instagram and Pinterest profiles and posts. Its really important for getting your name out there. A week later I ordered 4 more illustrations. I wanted to make sure I had them ready for my Christmas articles and to maintain the style of my blog. All up I spent just under $100. I really saw this as an investment in my blog. It’s a long game and I intend to try it for an entire year, posting everyday on my Blog, Instagram and Pinterest.

Canva

I love Canva templates. I recommend scanning their homepage to see the latest trending designs and picking from their in the beginning. I use Canva to create Pinterest Pins linked to my articles and Instagram Posts of quotes and article links. I like to design a few in the same style just changing up the colour and save them so they’re ready to go in advance. If I can I include my logo on them too to raise awareness of my brand. Canva uses the same free imagery as WordPress Premium so it’s really simple to use the same pictures on you Blog Posts and Social posts. You can also do a 30 day free trial of Canva-Premium which gives you access to extra templates and images. This is awesome if you’re working in advance because you can design them and download them before your free trial ends.

Pinterest

My first Pinterest add ran for 3 days costing me $1.45. I started the add on Day 2 of my blog and you can really see how it increased my daily views by Day 4. In the early days I would put a maximum daily spend of 0.50c and just slowly built up my followers on Pinterest which in turn increased my views on the blog. Although Pinterest seems to be giving my blog hits I haven’t quite cracked how to get more Pinterest followers.

Instagram

After a week of having a blog I set up a Instagram account. I used Canva to create custom quotes, and previews of my blog articles. Here’s how to set one up without your private account followers knowing:

1 | Open the Instagram app

2 | Select your profile.

3 | Tap the 3 horizontal lines in the top right corner

4 | Select Settings

5 | Scroll to the bottom of the menu. Tap Add Account.

6 | DO NOT LOGIN! Select SIGN-UP

7 | It will give you the option sign-up with Facebook. Don’t use this option if you use Facebook privately! Instead choose Sign Up With Phone or Email.

8 | Enter an Email NOT used by your private account.

9 | Instagram will email you to confirm the email address, open you email and confirm it

11 | Next get to customise your blogs Instagram. Add your Profile Pic, Name, Bio and Password.

12 | Then create a unique username (this should be your blogs name)

13 | Start Posting your content- make sure the link to you blog is in the bio so people know where to read your posts!

14 | Gain followers by joining local ‘loops’ these are essentially groups of Instagramer’s who want to gain followers and do so by hosting events in which you share a loop image, like a bunch of people they’re following and tag people in the loop. I found the tagging part hard because I didn’t actually have any follower I knew, but I just randomly started tagging some of my followers and never got any complaints. By using loops I managed to get 800 followers in just one month. The next goal is to hit 100k!

I’d love to hear how you’re going setting up your blog, and any real life experience you have of making it work!

Mumma Z xxx

Stay at home Mumma seeking to work from home… how hard can it be?

Job Wanted: Must suit mum with small children, can work from home, flexible, doesn’t cost a fortune to set up, earns decent income.

I wouldn’t be the only mum who’s looking for more flexibility in their work. Coming from a full-time position with 8-hour days work life balance is a joke. When I went back to work after my first, I was lucky enough to have my mum care for my son every day, but I still found the mental load of mum-life, work-life and homelife extremely heavy and draining. I was missing out on so many firsts with my son and when I was home, I was so tired I barely had energy to play. Now with two sons I have spent countless nights restless trying to come up with ideas that will allow me to work from home and be there for school drop offs and pickups. I’m seeking a job that allows me to work the hours I want whilst earning the same amount I was whilst working full-time..how hard can it be?

Turns out there’s a reason so many mums have to go back to work after babies. Establishing a business or income from home that provides enough income is bloody hard. Not to mention the fact that even entertaining an idea is extremely expensive. Setting up blogs, buying inventory/materials, marketing all comes with quite a substantial initial investment which sometimes isn’t viable whilst you’re living on parental leave payments. 

 For example, I brainstormed the idea of having my own baby clothing website. I research suppliers who quickly pointed out how much in advance you have to buy stock, and that they wouldn’t even consider selling to you until you’ve set up a website. Enter in another cost factor, setting up proper websites with payment options, logos and hosting even on a budget is close to $1000 minimum. Then add the marketing needed and small business insurance, it’s quite the risk for a stay at home mum to take especially if money is tight. Even if you do take the plunge and invest in yourself the hours required initially take you away from your babies the very people you are fighting to spend more time with.

In the great quest to gain financial freedom and work for yourself you may find you’ve ended up spending money and time instead.

I’m not particularly crafty so making something to sell would be quite difficult for me, but again selling your own work may also require selling at markets on weekends again being away from your babies.

Alternatively you could study something that allow you to work from home such as Marketing or Design but again there’s a large financial and time commitment to make before any income is made, and you may need to return to work whilst studying again taking you away from your babies. 

As a teacher I could hope that my Principal offers me part-time work but it’s rare and still wouldn’t allow me to do school drops offs or pickups. I could tutor but this involves working hours when the kids are home, normally around dinner and again defeats the purpose of me wanting to spend more time with them.

I don’t mean to dishearten you or your ambitions to work from home. You have every chance of succeeding in whatever goal you set. Even I’m not giving up yet I’m still going to try for my family. I guess that shows the world just how great us Mum’s are. Even when we’re working as full time Mumma’s and managing the household we’re doing extra work on top, always trying to make life better for our families. We are the heroes of multitasking and through all the hard work we’re teaching our children vital skills for life. Not to settle, to work hard, chase your dreams, and that family is the most important thing.

Good luck in your endeavours Mumma’s, and if you do come up with a solution for me let me know!

Mumma Z xxx

MY PCOS PREGNANCY JOURNEY: PART ONE

I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I was diagnosed at 15 after experiencing irregular periods. All I recall form the diagnosis was that the doctor did a blood test and quickly prescribed me the contraceptive pill which I remained on for the next decade. My story is not unique. Many women I speak too experienced that same thing. Just like them I didn’t understand my condition or how it was affecting my weight or mental health.

As I entered my mid 20s I had a growing underlying fear that I wouldn’t be able to have children and very little information to console me.

I stupidly went off the pill shortly after getting married thinking I could fix my PCOS on my own and my hormones went nuts. I’m talking cystic acne on my jawline the size of blueberries that needed steroid injections. Mood swings, weight gain it was terrible and made me feel like never leaving the house again. I went back on the pill and regained control of my skin and weight. As much as I’d dreamt of conceiving naturally I needed help. I saw my GP who referred me to a fertility doctor.

What a game changer that fertility doctor was. For the first time ever he explained PCOS in a way I understood. I remember him explaining it like this: He said your body makes eggs but my body doesn’t release the right hormones to make those eggs mature and release. So they get stuck like a string of pearls or cysts. The reason we put you on the pill is to ensure your uterus shed and renews. This prevents you from developing endometriosis. He said PCOS is a condition that doesn’t discriminate, it affects women of all shapes and sizes with varying severity.

Next he sent me for every test to assess me. I had literally so many bloods done I had to go over 3 days because the nurse refused to take so much in one sitting, I had a internal ultrasound (yep they’re a thing- think wand up you know where) to count the ‘pearls’ stuck in my ovaries. I had ink squirted up again you know where, this allows them to X-rays to check your Fallopian tubes are all good- this by far was the WORST test…. vomit!.

The fertility doctor started me on ovulation induction, This is like the first level treatment that they try before IVF. In brief it means they force your body to mature and release the eggs.

Round 1

It started with me doing a month of contraceptive- this is to work out when Day 1 of your cycle is. Following instructions on the first day of my period I rang the clinic. They told me to come in the next day for bloods- which would be day 2. Bloods opened at 7am at the hospital. When you arrived you signed in and nurses saw you in order of arrival. Needing to be at work by 8 the process alone of getting early enough was slightly stressful to say the least. Anyways enough complaining here’s what happened:

  • Blood Test 1: The bloods measured my Estrogen, Lutenizing Hormone and Progesterone. My results meant I needed to start a course of Letrozole for 5 days and have no unprotected sex. Well Letrzole is a interesting drug and the fertility doctor told me not to google it because the side affects can be scary. For me it was mood affecting and caused weight gain- not fun!
  • Blood Test 2 : Five days later I returned to be pricked again- result- waiting for oestrogen to rise, no unprotected sex, return in 3 days
  • Blood Test 3: Still waiting for estrogen to rise, no unprotected sex, return in 4 days
  • Blood Test 4: Still waiting for estrogen to rise, restart Letrozole at double dose, no unprotected sex, return in 7 days
  • Blood Test 5 : Waiting for estrogen to rise, no unprotected sex, return in 3 days
  • Blood Test 6 : Estrogen starting to rise, no unprotected sex, return in 2 days
  • Blood Test 7 : Getting close to ovulation, no unprotected sex, return in 2 days
  • Blood Test 8 : Administer Ovidrel Pen tonight. This is a injection you give yourself. You basically get this pen out of the fridge, attach the needle, turn the cap to the right dosage, pinch your stomach fat, insert needle and press down until the whole dosage has gone in. It sounds awful, but its really not that bad, and doesn’t really hurt at all. Following the injection instruction said to start trying to conceive that night, the next day and the day after. I also had to do booster injections of a reduced dose 3 more times that week.Then the waiting game began. I couldn’t do one of those over the counter pregnancy tests because the booster injections contain HCG, the same hormone a pregnancy produces. So a home pregnancy test would give a false positive.
  • Blood Test 9 : Not pregnant- ring us on the first day of your period.

I wasn’t overly disappointed to find the first month hadn’t worked. I’d already accepted that this could take a while and felt with the medication dose changes, that this month was more of them working out my body than anything else.

However the physical effects were noticeable. My arms were so bruised. I naturally have low blood pressure which meant sometimes only one arm would play the game and they’d have to use that same arm over multiple dates. It also didn’t help that the weather was warming up and I was having to wear long sleeve shirts to hide my arms. I found having hydrolyte each morning helped them find the veins quicker and really tried to up my water intake for round 2. I’d put on weight and was soo tired all the time but we persevered.

Round 2

  • Blood Test 1: Commence Letrozole at double dose for 7 days and have no unprotected sex, return in 8 days
  • Blood Test 2 : waiting for estrogen to rise, no unprotected sex, return in 4 days
  • Blood Test 3: Small estrogen rise, no unprotected sex, return in 2 days
  • Blood Test 4: Estrogen rising, attend an internal ultrasound, no unprotected sex, return in 2 days. The ultrasound is to count how many eggs your releasing to prevent you possible falling pregnant with 3+ babies! I only had 1 that on the scan- not gonna lie at this point I though twins would be awesome. I have since changed my mind.
  • Blood Test 5 : Administer Ovidrel Pen tonight. Do booster injections of a reduced dose 3 more times this week.Then the waiting game began. I couldn’t do one of those over the counter pregnancy tests because the booster injections Start trying to conceive that night, the next day and the day after. Commence progesterone, return in 8 days. *progesterone are pessaries that you have to put up your bum..wonderful
  • Blood Test 6 : Mid luteal (which means you are a week post ovulation) return in 9 days.
  • Blood Test 7 : Good levels, continue progesterone, return in 4 days.
  • Blood Test 8 : Pregnant!!!!!! continue progesterone, return in 3 days.
  • Blood Test 9 : Good pregnancy levels, continue progesterone, return in 3 days.
  • Blood Test 10 : Good pregnancy levels, continue progesterone, return in 3 days.
  • Blood Test 11: Nice rise in pregnancy levels, progesterone levels have dropped but remain at good level, attend ultrasound, continue progesterone, return in 4 days.
  • Blood Test 12 : Good pregnancy levels, continue progesterone, NO MORE BLOODS!

I was so lucky! I know this is not everyone’s experience but the treatment was really effective on my body. I continued to take the progesterone pessaries everyday for 14 weeks. It’s my understanding that sometimes people with PCOS don’t produce enough progesterone naturally which can cause miscarriage. I had a really healthy pregnancy resulting in a beautiful baby boy.

What I learnt the most though was that I didn’t need to fear my PCOS. I just needed to learn about my body. The fertility doctor took such good care of me and helped us to create a family of our own.

To all my PCOS girls and mumma’s out there I’m thinking of you, make sure you get all the help and support you need. It’s certainly not a easy journey but you will get through it I promise.

Mumma Z xxx

Ditching Dairy whilst Breastfeeding

Photo by Jan Koetsier on Pexels.com

My eldest son was the gassiest baby. Always fussy, hard to settle and he hated lying flat. He would squirm and cry in pain after feeds and did not sleep well at all.

After some investigation and trying lots of burping techniques my doctor suggested cutting dairy from my diet.

It turns out there are a small proportion of babies who are sensitive to dairy and its one of the only food groups proven by scientists to cause gassiness/fussiness in little ones. This is because the proteins from the cow’s milk transfer into the breast milk. However, I am no expert and there are many symptoms of sensitivity of food if you suspect diary is the problem its best to speak to your doctor before you do something drastic such as cutting dairy out of your life.

But dairy was our problem and the solution was waving it goodbye for the next year.

For me the worst thing about cutting dairy out of my diet was that it wasn’t a quick fix. You see it takes between 2-3 weeks for dairy to leave your system. Then once you’ve committed, you have to keep it up, there’s no days off until you stop breastfeeding all together, and the slightest slip up sees an instant return of a fussy baby and a 2-3 week wait for it to subside.

Then there’s the reality of actually giving it up. You see giving up a food group is bloody hard. You have to be hyper aware of what you’re eating all the time. Eating takes planning now and going out can be tricky. I also didn’t realise the extent of my love for dairy until I had to quit it for a year.

Now don’t get me wrong the sacrifice is worth it to stop your little one from being in pain. But I’m only human and when your sleep deprived having one more thing to think about is so stressful. Even though there are dairy alternatives some of them just don’t hit the mark. For example I always remember going to make a cup of tea and getting the milk out only to realise this daily ritual was no longer. I tried black tea, I tried tea with soy milk (YUCK!) I tried herbal teas but nothing cured my craving for just your standard cuppa. Other foods I just couldn’t satisfy my cravings for were cheese, chocolate, and milo.

However its not all bad, after I finished breastfeeding my eldest I didn’t go back to dairy in my coffee I am a permanent almond milk convert. Not being able to eat a lot of naughty foods such as cakes and biscuits also helped me loose my baby weight quicker. I discovered lots of new recipes and became more educated on the nutrition of my foods and drinks.

There are a few replacements I would recommend over others though to make the transition easier:

Almond Milk: I much preferred almond milk over soy milk. However I am a fussy almond milk consumer and only like MilkLab Almond Milk.

Coconut Yoghurt: This was a godsend for my smoothie ritual and when I needed convenient snacks in the fridge. Nakula Coconut Yoghurt Natural is by far my favourite and still a weekly staple for our family.

Vegan Chocolate Coated Blueberries: a workmate actually gave me a jar of these as a thank you and they changed my life. You can get them from your local bulk-food store or Dr Superfoods website.

Nuttelex: As a mad butter lover it I thought I’d have a hard time replacing it. Nuttelex is great, it tastes great and works fantastically in baking.

Weis Dark Chocolate Ice cream: Ice cream is my favourite dessert and sorbet never hits the spot for me. Weis Dark chocolate ice cream is to die for and you’d never know its dairy free!

Good luck dairy free mumma

Mumma Z xxx

TikTok & Reels- Crypto-Contouring-Ab Thrusting

So I’m notoriously late to the party when it comes to Social Media. I actually remember swearing I wouldn’t download TikTok…May 2021 saw that promise broken.

What I’ve found most interesting is the content that I see on both Insta Reels and TikTok because they may as well be identical. I also get that the more I watch of something the more similar reels they feed me, but I am seriously stuck in a reel hole I cannot get out of. My content currently consists of Cryptocurrency, Contouring, and weird dancing/ab exercises done by an Asian Dance teacher…

Firstly: Cryptocurrency- Yes I want to find a magical way to earn millions of dollars and be financially free to not have to go back to work. However, these reels can’t be legit! I honestly can’t get though 10 reels without someone telling me to buy some unknown names Crypto with promise of fortunes. Just stop! It’s depressing enough that I have to go back to work. I don’t know how to invest, and I certainly don’t have any spare money to waste risking on Crypto currencies.

Secondly: Conturing- There’s only so many videos of ladies dotting their faces with multiple different colours then magically blending them all together you can watch. I will say though, form the ones I did watch I discovered I’ve been putting my blush AND concealer in the wrong places and should be posted back to the early 2000’s.

Lastly: Weird dancing/ab thrusting exercises- I can’t help but think that Insta reels and TikTok have been listening to me saying I want to lose weight, and I know I watched a few to many of these reels when I first saw them because WTF. But seriously, I’m not coordinated to do any of that, and where on earth did they find so many videos of this lady instructing others to move their pelvises like a revolving door.

Thankyou Insta reels & TikTok, I have had enough of that content for a lifetime, please send me something else ASAP or I will certainly be uninstalling you,

Sincerely

The Breakdown with Mumma Z

Reimagining Lockdown

Today with very little notice Perth W.A was sent into a 5 day lockdown. I watched as my Facebook feed filled with negative reactions, cursing and memes. School was due to start back tomorrow and parents who were looking forward to seeing their little darlings back into the care of the teachers found themselves with them full time for another 5 days. There were questions about child care’s being open, masks and essential workers. The headlines quickly reported mass mania at the supermarkets and in a flash it was dejavu to 2020.

One of my more spiritual friends put the whole thing down to a “Mercury Retrograde”. Apparently a few times a year the planet Mercury appears to move backwards in the sky. Astrologers claim this causes humans to experience confusion, delay, coincidences and frustration…..5 day lockdown???

But I’ve chosen a slightly different fate. I’ve been gifted five beautiful days to rethink my plans and slowdown. No I won’t be carting the kids around to swimming, gym, optometrist appointments, coffee catchups and play dates. There will be no beach going, playgrounds, or food shopping. I will be stuck at my parents house (if you’ve bene following my blog we sold our house without having found a new one yet) with my two kids under 3.

The funny thing is I was only thinking a few hours ago about how busy the week was. How many incidental things I have had to buy and how I wanted to save more money. How sometimes I just wish I could have a day where I don’t need to go anywhere.

Then bang…a 5 day lockdown.

Did you know 5 days is 120 hours. How many times in our lives are we gifted time?

We recently lost someone in my family, as we all know its in these moments that we don’t wish for money, holidays, or career progress we just with for time with our loved ones.

So the next 5 days I am going to embrace the gifts of 120 hours by doing things I love to do at home with my greatest loves.

Music: Each day I’m going to pick an artist and just listen to them for the day. I just love the thought of my boys listening to the musical voices I love whilst creating beautiful memories at home. I’m thinking really classic voices- Billy Joel, Elton Joh, Freddie Mercury, Frank Valli

Spiritual Recharge: I’m going to recharge my spirit by taking some time to myself playing the piano, reading a book or taking a bubble bath.

Cooking/Baking: I’m going to bake and cook dinners with my mum and sons. Recreating some of the things she used to make me when I was little and take lots of pictures of the mess and laughter as we do it.

Technology Disconnect: I’m going to have a day free from internet, phone, laptop and TV. I’m going to fill it with playing in the garden, painting, piano and books. I don’t want the distraction of other peoples I just want to spend a day with my little family enjoying the days I’ll never get back.

Slow Down: I’m going to practise slowing down. If that means breakfast is 15 minutes late and nap time is delayed so be it. I spend all my days racing around like a headless chook. I’m on maternity leave, I don’t need to be racing. Without the appointments and lessons there is no where we need to be, so I’m going to breath and give myself permission to slow the pace down.

I’m hoping on the other side I’ll see a healthier bank account, healthy stress level and hundred of happy snaps from a well spent week. Take care all of you out there, see you on the other side

Mumma Z xxx

Risk Taking

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

This year we took a risk. We sold our house without having bought a new one. We packed up all our belongings and stored them at families and friends and moved in with my parents with our 2.5 year old and 6 months old. All the while living with the unknown, how long would we be without a home of our own?

It got me thinking about risks though…

How and when do we take them?

Do all people that take risks really fail?

Do I pick the safe option over the risky option in my life?

Do we take less risks once we become parents?

Property

When we considered moving we looked at the risks vs the benefits. I wanted somewhere that would reduce my commute and make us closer to my family. The risk is that we would lose money on our property and be without a house for a while. The benefit would be living in our dream area in which our property would increase in value far beyond where we were. We took the leap and actually made a small amount of money on our house after realestate fees. But we are without our own house and that’s scary. We don’t know if we’ll be living with my parents for a month or a year. But when the right property comes up we’ll be ready to buy and our offer will be strong.

Superannuation

We recently reviewed our superannuation and insurances. The biggest questions is whether to keep the money in the superannuation company we always have or move to a lesser known one that invests more in big Australian shares and reviews our investments yearly to personalise them. How will we ever know which one would do better. We don’t have a mirror ball that allows us to see into the future. Instead we weigh up there risks and benefits. I guess if the new superannuation company has good reviews and is run by legitimate investment managers then the effort of trying to secure a larger retirement amount is a positive and worth the risk? Who knows..

Career

I work as a teacher. It’s what some may call a safe profession. But its a stressful one, in which you can only be promoted so high. The money isn’t great but the holidays are- if you aren’t working them making and prepping. I could train as something else but its very hard to match what I’m earning now straight away, it could be year before I make that kind of money again and no other career is going to offer me 12 weeks holiday and weekend off. However I might make a lot more money and one day be my own boss in which I could pick my hours. It’s a very difficult decision to make. A benefit could be reduced stress and the possibility of work independence. But in the short term the risk is high. One would suppose if the new career venture did go belly up I could fall back on teaching. Could I live with the regret of never giving something new a go? As I’m writing this I’ve almost convinced myself to try the new venture….

What are the risks you’re thinking of taking?

Are they relationship risks? financial risks?

How did you decide whether to take the risk or not?

Have you taken a risk and failed? tell me about it!

Mumma Z xxx

A New Year does not change who you are

As we approach 2021 there seems to be an alarming resolve that next year is going to be magically better than its predecessor 2020. Now 2020 was an exception for many of us, a year of unexpected, unimaginable events that brought fear, isolation and sadness to our community. But unfortunately we must be realistic in what we believe is going to change in the next 3 days when we welcome in the new year. Moving away from just Covid now we need to acknowledge that any change takes time.

One of the most common New Years resolutions is weight-loss. People jump on the bandwagon of diet and exercise programs, gym memberships and protein shakes in the hope that they will see a physical change in their body. If they stick to it long enough they just may reach their physical goal but what hasn’t changed is themselves. They are still the same person they were before, and although they may now have healthier lifestyles, and more self control its more than likely that the weightless has not brought them the happiness that they desired it would.

We must unmask the myth that a new year will improve how we feel about ourselves and improve our feelings of self worth. These things are not determined by a calendar date and although it can be healthy to reflect on self and set goals for improvement, it can be just as healthy to acknowledge that we, as we are, are enough.

After the challenges of the year just gone, maybe this year we can resolve to just be. To give ourselves the gifts of not changing anything, and just loving ourselves as we are. To not add unnecessary pressure to our already hectic plates. To not post on social media goals that we may not be able to keep. Maybe even to reduce our life load a little and remove an activity or event that is not bringing us joy.

Maybe as mums we can look at ways to outsource the help we need every once in while be it a cleaner, pre-cooked meals or an ironing service. Maybe we book the kids into daycare one extra morning a week so that we can go for that coffee, or massage. Or maybe its a babysitter in the evening so we can enjoy a movie and dinner with our partners child free. Whatever it is let us recognise that these things can be done at any time and we need not weight until January 1st every year to bring them to fruition.

Wishing you all a very happy 2021

Mumma Z xxx

“I am raising a son that your daughter will be safe with. I PROMISE!

Last month we celebrated International Day for the Elimination of Violence and I noticed on Social Media there were dozens of women posting the following quote:

“I am raising a son that your daughter will be safe with. I PROMISE!

Now I’m the first to agree that we as parents hold a huge responsibility when it comes to changing the pattern of violence against women, children, family, friends, and human beings alike. But for some reason this quote really got me thinking. Upon reading it I felt pressure and honestly I’m still reflecting on why I feel this way.

One idea I have pondered is that I feel so passionately about raising my sons to be gentle, kind, supportive, loving partners. That won’t respond with violence in any situation let alone towards their families and friends. But what I realised is that I’m not sure exactly what I should be doing to prevent this. It’s all well and good to say that us as parents are responsible for raising our children to respond appropriately in every situation they face as teenagers and adults but how are we educating our parents to do this. I don’t have any experience of violence at home, I’m one of the lucky ones and I still am baffled as to how I’m going to raise my boys to be men that your daughters/sons are safe with. My boys are beautiful, intelligent people who are gentle natured and extremely empathetic and caring. It makes me feel so sad for them that they’re growing up in a world where men are to be feared and distrusted and I feel a immense pressure to raise them right and turn that notion around because I can’t imagine that they would be violent towards anyone. We don’t have violence at home so we’re not modelling violent behaviour, they’re not hit ever, and we teach them how to breath and calm down when they’re angry. When they do play too rough or hit each other they’re told off and we say ‘we don’t hit people’ and ‘that’s not the way we act’ but is it enough? are there other things I could be doing?

After a lot of reading one of the main suggestion was to teach young boys about their emotions. Teaching them to express themselves in healthy ways and not to bottle up their emotions. Encourage them to talk and avoid telling them that ‘boys don’t cry’. Ensuring that we don’t teach them in any way that they are smarter or more powerful than girls. This starts with the chores we set them around the house not being stereotypically male and giving them a range of non gender specific toys.

As they get older we need to ensure that we teach appropriate ways to communicate with all people, and model healthy relationships at home. Make sure the programs they are watching are appropriate and watch tv with them so that if a character is behaving inappropriately you can use it as a teaching moment. Focus on keeping your relationship with your son strong, talk regularly, a good relationship will ensure you know what’s happening in their life and you can give them advice when difficult situations in their lives arise.

Ensure they have good male remodels in their lives, this can include family members, coaches, teachers, family friends the more they see adult males responding with gentleness, kindness, calmness the more likely they are to behave that way as adults.

Teach them what inappropriate behaviours look like from a young age. This is very important for keeping them safe as well as others. Tell them who they should tell if they see any inappropriate behaviours. Teach them about consent, this include consenting to hugs and kisses even from family members. Teach them conflict resolution and give them phrases to use when they’re upset of angry “stop I don’t like it when you…” “when you did_______ it made me feel _________”

Call out people if they make sexist comments or jokes. In fact this might be one of the most important things you do especially if its someone your son sees a lot. If a grandparent or uncle is talking about females in a derogatory way even if it is a ‘joke’ use it as at teachable moment for your son and the adults involved.

Avoid comments like ‘you run like a girl’ or ‘that outfit looks too girly’

Not every man that’s been violent towards his family learnt to be that way from a violent upbringing. So we can’t be complacent that just because our households aren’t violent are children won’t be.

There can’t be a perfect equation for how to ensure you raise your kids to be non-violent empathetic adults but every skill you equip them with will make us closer to that goal. It will raise awareness, it will change attitudes and it just may save a life.

Mumma Z xxx

One day Christmas Day will be about Me!

For many Christmas Week in general is basically event hoping and for many of us, myself included it is actually one of the most stressful times of the year. Not only is it the financial stress of Christmas but the emotional toll it takes. I spend the week trying to make Christmas amazing for everyone else, decorating, baking, going to each and every events so as not to upset anyone, ensuring we’ve visited those that are lonelier over the holidays and last year with a toddler it was a strain. This year I’ve got to do it with a newborn as well, send some serious help!

A few years ago though one vital decision was made by my in-laws which did reduce the stress of Christmas week significantly. For a while when I first started dating my husband I was the only partner therefore there were no considerations for the fact that we would have to try and be in two places at once on Christmas Day and man the stress. I felt like I was letting everyone down, I was clock watching the entire day and I was not enjoying myself at all. Just thinking about it gives me grey hairs. Luckily a few more partners came on the scene and they weren’t as people pleasing as me. They just said they couldn’t go to the in-laws event because their families was on at the same time. Now why didn’t I have the guts to do that…anyhow’s, the in-laws made the decision to have their Christmas lunch on Boxing Day so that the majority could be there and my and my husband rejoiced. For the first time in years we could relax on Christmas Day without the worry of rushing off somewhere else.

Fast forward a few years and the in-laws asked us to host the Boxing Day lunch..worst decision ever! Now although we didn’t have to rush off on Christmas Day I had no time to prepare for Boxing Day. After enjoying my Christmas lunch I had to come home and spend all evening prepping, cleaning and setting up. Needless to say there was no repeat of us hosting the year after. Now with two kids under three there is no hosting in sight!

This year brings new challenges- nap time. Navigating naps at different peoples houses around present opening and such is super tricky. Do I put them down early at home and wake them if they sleep too long? Do I risk it and take them awake and hope they go down for a nap there? Do I make everyone work around our schedule regardless of the fact that lunch would then be served at 2pm? There is an argument here for hosting it..but trying to cook for 15 people with a newborn and a toddler really isn’t realistic. I think I’m going to do a mixture of options. For Christmas at my parents the kids are used to sleeping there so I’m going to put them down for naps there between preset opening and lunch. For the in-laws I’m going to put them down for naps early at my house then take them there when they wake up. There would be nothing worse then over tired kids at the in-laws. Plus afterwards we have another event to drop in at so they need to have had a good rest.

In terms of baking and preparing plates to take to each event this is going to be done Christmas Eve Day. That way I am doing no cooking or cleaning on Christmas Day itself. If I can buy it I’m doing it. I know as a mum I’m acting as Santa and Christmas is about the kids so I will be running around like a headless chook trying to make it perfect for them but I have made one condition with my husband. One day Christmas will be all about me. Selfish as it may seem I would like one Christmas in my life before I have daughter in-laws and grandkids where I get to relax and have the Christmas I’ve dreamt of from the holiday movies. When the kids are old enough we’re going away for Christmas. I just want one Christmas in my lifetime that is a white Christmas maybe Germany I don’t know and if we win lotto a Hawaiian Christmas too. We will stay in a nice apartment, we’ll do Christmas presents on Christmas morning, we’ll eat at restaurants and there will be no people pleasing and that Christmas will be all about me. It’ll be just about my immediate family, building memories where no one is stuck in a kitchen. Where I can have as many drinks as I like because no one has to drive, and I can have a nap whenever I feel like it. That’s the dream, let’s hope Covid and my bank balance allow it one day!

Merry Xmas Mumma’s

Mumma Z xxx

Respect for Teachers- Media it starts with YOU!

This year has certainly challenged opinions when it comes to education and teachers. It is my hope that it has helped re-establish a much deserved respect for teachers. It would seem that for a while now education has been something that everybody wants a say in, politicians, parents, trades you name it, seem to think they know better than the teachers themselves.

For too long teachers have had to cope constant criticism, excessive hours, highly stressful workplaces and overcrowding in their rooms with little thanks for all their hard work.

I don’t know how many times I’ve even at social events where I’ve had to grit my teeth through cringe worth comments about how teachers get 12 weeks holidays a year, that it’s a easy job, that we’re over paid, and that basically anything to do with our students is our fault.

But all of this has had me thinking about when it was that teachers lost societies respect. When did they become lesser professionals than doctors, engineers, and politician’s. Teachings is one of the oldest professions in the world and should carry with it a high esteem. Most teachers have two degrees, one in their specialised subject and one in education. More so many have gone on to get Masters degrees and Doctorates. They work long hours charged with the education of 30+ children at a time teaching content that it scaffold, adapted, and methodically explained in various learning styles so suit all their students. We can thank them for a society that can read, write, collaborate, socialise, play nice, and say type on computers. They have taught us about sports, music, technology, history, science. They’ve inspired the careers we go into and helped learn how to make friends and work with those we don’t like. They’ve celebrated our achievements and guided us when we’re not doing so well.

So how is it that one of the biggest influences in society- the media- can get away with such poor representation of teachers as a whole?

There are programs dedicated to doctors e.g. Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor. There are shows dedicated to Police: NCIS, Fire Men: Chicago Fire, Lawyers: The Good Fight, Politicians: West Wing, Home renovators-The Block but when was the last time you saw one dedicated to teachers. More so if you did was the teacher portrayed as the hero, the unsung hero, with impeccable skills. Were they portrayed as Meredith Grey with exceptional knowledge and professionalism and maybe a few personality flaws or were they incompetent, unable to control the class or having an affair with a student.

I recently watch an episode of Bluey in which the characters were playing with their Year 6 Buddies. Although the teacher is seen to come over and talk to the students for a short time, for a good chunk of the episode the teacher (Calypso) is seen in the background knitting….Our kindergarten teacher deserve better than to be represented as people that sit around knitting. Early childhood teachers are incredible members of society and certainly don’t have time to veg out when they are charged with their students.

A repeat for teachers and the profession starts with how we talk about them at home. Parents need to support the teachers and not speak badly of them to their kids. But secondly and most importantly the media needs to take responsibility for the characters they write and ensure they do justice to the thousands of teachers that do impeccable work each and every day. Maybe then will they be recognised properly for the hours they work and the skills they have. Maybe then will politicians butt out of their programs and content and allow them the profession courtesy that other professions have. Maybe then parents and society will stop and listen to the professionals. And finally maybe then when discussion education matters on TV Sunrise & the Today show will have actual teachers on their discussion panels to discuss teaching instead of radio hosts and other minor celebs who DO NO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT!

Much love,

Mumma Z xxx