Wordless Wednesday: Simple pleasures

It never ceases to amaze me how little kids need to be happy. They find entertainment climbing trees, picking up millipedes and going on nature trails. Most of us are guilty of having far more toys and gadgets than our children need. More often, it’s the simplest things that amuse them the most. Of course, a childhood is not all chasing butterflies and making daisy chains, but isn’t it lovely when it is this pure and uncomplicated.

Presenting: Simply Bubbles…

Bubbles are guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s dial. What other simple pleasures do your kids love? Don’t forget to follow me on instagram for more pics of fun and frivolity!

4 Easy ways to reduce stress

Hands up if you feel stressed? Yep, me too? Modern life is fast and furious. We are over-committed, over-scheduled and over-connected. While not all stress is bad, if left unchecked it can have a major impact on our lives, affecting our physical health, personal relationships and our mental wellbeing. Fortunately, in many cases, examining the triggers and approaching the condition from the right mindset can help to manage stress. Next time you feel your stress levels rising, try these effective ways to help restore calmness, allowing you to gain a sense of control over your situation.

1. Eat well and exercise

We’ve all heard the well-worn advice that a balanced diet and regular exercise is the secret to a sense of wellbeing. And it’s critical when combating stress. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals will give you the energy you need to get through the challenges of the day, and regular exercise will give you more energy, releasing endorphins and improving your mood. For those feeling stressed regularly, one of the first things to look at is your current diet and exercise regime. I run several times a week and it helps me release frustration and stress. It is an instant mood booster! I also do yoga once a week, which helps balance and centre me. And it improves sleep, too.

2. De-clutter your home

Cluttered homes mean cluttered minds, and all those extra items could be contributing to a sense of chaos in your life. Every room in my house could do with a major de-clutter. Rethinking the organisation of your home can help to gain a sense of control, helping you to feel less overwhelmed by all the things you have accumulated. It can be a good idea to donate items you no longer use or need, but for those with items that are difficult to part with, renting extra space through a company like Fort Knox Storage. Fort Knox Storage will provide a dedicated space for those additional items. Storage companies can also often provide you with the packing supplies you need. Click here to learn more.

3. Listen to music

Music is known to soothe the soul, helping to relax and decompress. There have been many studies done showing how listening to music can help relieve situational stress, so the next time you’re feeling frustrated, whether on the roads, or at work, plug in some of your favourite (slower) tunes and feel some of the stress melt away. After all, why do you think music is so often recommended in the dentist’s chair? As much as I love fast-paced music when I am exercising, I enjoy classical/instrumental music when I am working.

4. Sleep, Self-care and Systems

Sleep is as essential to good health as oxygen. Get enough sleep so you can feel well rested. Also make an effort to wake up earlier. Not having to rush in the morning will set the tone for a less stressful day. Make a checklist. When upcoming tasks and other things you need to do, are planned and checked off once completed, you’ll feel satisfaction and control, helping to reduce stress from feeling overwhelmed. Try to stay one step ahead with day-to-day life too. Little things like ironing your clothes and packing your lunch the night before can make a huge difference. Understanding what makes you feel stressed in the first instance will also go a long way to help you identify situations that cause stress, and what sort of strategies can help combat it. As mothers, we often look to ourselves last but it’s essential we find time for self-care and we remember to fit our own oxygen masks.

What do you do to alleviate stress? What hasn’t worked so well for you in the past? Share your tips by leaving a comment below.

*Disclosure: Sponsored Post.

3 things that keep me centred when life gets challenging

The past few weeks have been tough for me. Actually, scrap that. The past few MONTHS have been tough. No, scrap that too. The past YEAR has been tough! A combination of unfortunate life events has made it a very stressful and difficult time and my emotions have been all over the place. My husband’s ongoing unemployment, financial stress, missed opportunities, family worries, the recent death of a very close family member, uncertainty around life direction, and that’s merely the short list. It has been a turbulent and uncertain time. And I don’t like uncertainty. I rather like to know what’s coming next. Stability. Structure. Purpose. Direction. This is where I am most comfortable. But sometimes life throws you some curve balls and you have no choice but to sink or swim. Here are three things that help me to stay afloat when I feel like I am drowning:

1. Connection

I am a fairly open person and tend to wear my heart on my sleeve for the most part. When the shit hits the fan I am quite comfortable telling my closest friends about it. Talking through things with a great listener is such a therapeutic experience. I am lucky to have people around me with whom I can bare my soul and I find this very reassuring. While there are many things that friends can’t “fix” a warm, attentive listener reminds you that you are not alone and there is great comfort in that. Here, on the blog, I am fairly open too. I share a lot of my challenges and troubles but naturally there are things that are too personal and private to disclose.

2. Books

At night I love nothing more than to disappear into a gripping novel, preferably to a place and plot that removes me temporarily from my own. It is escapism and it is wonderful! Particularly over the last month as I have had trouble sleeping, I have sought solace in reading before sleep and it has helped settle my mind. A life without books would be terribly empty and I am so grateful to be a book lover. And because I feel like sharing some book love, let me recommend two books that I have found utterly absorbing recently: big little lies by Liane Moriarty (a character-rich page turner, full of twists and turns with a very satisfying ending) and Still Alice by Lisa Genova, a mesmerising and heart-wrenching story about a Harvard professor’s experience with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Nature

It is simple. Nature nourishes my soul and puts me back together again when I feel broken. I walk or run every single day and mostly I prefer to do this alone. Solitude allows my mind time to breathe. And heavens knows it needs it! It is noisy in there! Being alone offers me the quiet space for reflection and self-exploration, something that is impossible to do in a crowd. I understand myself better in, and for, these quiet moments. And quite frankly, it’s simply lovely. There’s a lot to love about connection, but great company can also be found in solitude. How do you stay centred? What things do you do to help you manage life’s challenges, worries and noise? 

The ultimate Berry blast smoothie recipe

We have a few rituals in our family. Sundays are typically SLOW SUNDAYS, where we take a break from the hectic pace of the week. I try not to schedule in anything on this one day of the week. It’s all about family time and I love it! We begin the day with a fresh fruit smoothie. My girls are reasonably good at eating fruit but I like to top them up on the weekend and a smoothie is the perfect way to do this. We’ve had this ritual for as long as we’ve been parents and it gets us off on the right foot for the day. The blender we received as a wedding gift, eight years ago, has come to the end of its natural life. It had a good innings so I was not sorry to see it go. Instead I was DELIGHTED to welcome the George Foreman Mix & Go PRO into the kitchen and into my family. (more…)

How you can ‘Make a mum smile in May’ & fab giveaway

May is a great month. Smack bang in the middle of autumn (the Fall for my northern followers) we celebrate Mothers’ Day (Sunday, 10 May). This significant day allows us to celebrate and appreciate the mums and mum figures in our lives. But this year, I want to think beyond it being just one day.

I am dedicating the month of May to kindness. I am dedicating the month of May to celebrating mothers. I am dedicating the month of May to acts of compassion. I am dedicating the month of May to….

‘Make a mum smile in May’.

And I want you to join me!

The concept of this initiative is very simple. I am urging you all to be mindful in may; mindful of cheering up a mum who needs it, mindful of helping a stranger out, mindful of supporting one another and mindful of sharing the love.

Often the simplest acts of kindness have a lasting impact. You can literally make a mum’s day with one small gesture or a few comforting words.

Here are seven ways you can play along:

  1. Cook a mum a meal. Hands down this has to be one of the most stressful times of the day for any mum, especially a new mum, and it’s a stress you can take away from someone. Have a think about someone you know who might need a dinner taken off her hands. Perhaps it’s a new mum, or perhaps it’s someone who’s having a rough time of it lately.
  1. Show someone you care. Let the mum wrangling three toddlers go before you at the cash register. Offer to help someone carry their bags to the car. Tell the mum whose child is having the mother of all meltdowns in the department store that you understand and ask her if there’s anything you can do to help.
  1. Think of a mum who’s having a particularly rough time and needs a little pick me up. Offer to babysit her kids so she can go for a walk, send her a gift voucher, drop off a little hamper of goodies or flowers just to make her day that bit easier.
  1. Ask someone if they are OK. This one is my favourite, as so often we like to appear that we are capable and able to juggle multiple balls. In reality most of the time we are all paddling madly like ducks underneath the surface, trying to stay afloat. So, check in with one another. By asking the question, it will allow a mum the opportunity to say she’s not feeling okay. Expressing your vulnerability is confronting for many but it is always very liberating.
  1. Tell someone they’re doing a good job. How easy is this? And how good is it to hear? I remember a time a passer-by in the park stopped to tell me I was doing a great job. I nearly cried. Don’t just wait for mothers’ day to tell your own mum she’s important either.
  1. Simply smile to someone who looks like they’re having a tough day. You may not have to exchange any words, but sometimes a quick smile is enough to improve their day.
  1. There is also kindness in not doing things too. In other words refrain from engaging in idle gossip, reserve judgment, don’t criticise other mums’ choices or parenting styles and refrain from comparisons.

Small acts of kindness don’t have to cost anything, or even disrupt your day. Please join with me and make a conscious effort to make a mum’s day. I’ll be using these hashtags and encourage you to use them also #makeamumsmile #makeamumsmileinmay #makeamumsday #mothersday

To celebrate ‘Make a mum smile in May’, the lovely team at hardtofind are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a $100 gift voucher for their online store just in time for mothers’ day. Treat yourself, or someone you know, to something special. It’s so easy to enter.

Tell me about a time when you have been the recipient of an act of kindness, or if you have performed such an act. Or share an idea below about how to make a mum smile. Good luck!

Conditions of entry:

  1. Answer the competition question below in the comments section.
  2. Like the NASD Facebook page.
  3. One entry per person.
  4. Open to Australian residents only.

The giveaway will close at midnight on Sunday 3rd May 2015. 
This is a game of skill. The winner will be awarded a hardtofind gift voucher on the strength of their answer and will be announced on the NASD FB page on Monday 4th May.

I’ll never forget the morning I was the recipient of a random act of kindness. A stranger noticed I was having trouble and with a few kind words and a helping hand she responded with tenderness. You can read about her act of kindness here.

Good luck and please remember to “Make a mum smile in May”. Remember, little gestures = big impact. Thank you :-)

Postscript: Half-way through writing this post, I paused to answer the door to a dear friend of mine who popped in to bring me a bunch of flowers. She knows that I am going through a difficult patch, and she has brightened up my day immeasurably with this act of kindness. True story. I’ve just put the tulips in a vase and they are sitting next to me as I type!

If you liked this post, why not join me over on Facebook. I’d love your company!

How to throw a terrific Rainbow Party

As a mum to three girls I’ve put on my fair share of themed birthday parties. I’ve done a Fairy theme; Garden theme, Pink theme (no requests for superheroes in our house!) and I’ve managed to dodge a bullet, er, I mean request for a Frozen theme. I just can’t go there. Queen Elsa has invaded too many areas of my life already and I need some distance from her. Against better wisdom, perhaps, I always ask my children what theme they would like for their party. I had hoped my three year-old would request a Fairy Garden theme as I could simply combine the previous two parties, and, voila! But no, given her favourite colour right now is “all the colours of the rainbow” she asked for a Rainbow Party. And she got it. (more…)

5 Party Craft ideas with Washi tape

Here’s the thing. You don’t need to be especially crafty to create party craft. With so many ‘picture perfect’ Pinterest boards it can be easy to feel intimidated. But, party craft does not need to be perfect to make an impact. And it doesn’t need to cost the earth or be a chore. It all begins with Washi tape – my secret weapon when it comes to craft. If you haven’t yet discovered Washi tape, now is the time. Washi tape is pretty, patterned masking tape and comes in various designs, colours and widths. It can make simple things look funky and fun! There are endless patterns, colours and sizes available so you can use it in as many ways as your imagination can come up with. It is easy to be creative with washi and for the “craft-challenged” mums like myself, it makes me feel I am oh-so-clever! It peels off easily from walls, without leaving a mark. However, most washi tapes are strong, and functional as well as pretty, making them wonderful for practical as well as decorative use. The only downside is that it’s slightly addictive. You’ve been warned. (more…)