Parenting Moments - Five low cost ways to spoil yourself

March 24, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
4 Comments

Parenting Moments: Five low cost ways to spoil yourself

Sponsored by Schick

Parenting Moments - Five low cost ways to spoil yourself

It’s been nine weeks since I returned to work and I have been doing the working mama thing again. As most of you know I’m a teacher, and I work with a class of five years olds two days a week. Of course that two days a week is often more than just the two days at school, when you include planning and all that goes with being a teacher. I carry those twenty five kids in my head and my heart all the time, always thinking of new ideas for their learning.

Then I have my own two cherubs (aged four and one) and our days are swept up with playing and cuddles and the mundane things that make up our existence, dinner, laundry, dishes, housework. Somewhere in there I fit in time with my husband too (poor bugga!) and family and friends and kindy meetings and grocery shopping and buying birthday presents and….. phew!

I know I’m preaching to the converted. If you’re reading this then chances are that you’re a Mama  too and have your own fair share of stuff that’s got you rushed off your feet. The truth of it is that we’re all busy and we’re rarely taking time for ourselves. I’ve been trying to take care of myself a little bit more lately. It can be really, really hard to squeeze in the time, and if I do it can be really, really hard to do it without feeling guilty. But that has to stop. A happy mama makes a happy family so it’s time to take a break. Here are five easy and cheap ways that I like to give myself a treat. You might like them too.

Five low cost ways to spoil yourself

Fresh flowers

Whether they’re from your own garden or yesterday’s flowers going cheap at the market, you can get yourself a gorgeous bunch of flowers to brighten your home and your day for very little money. Look for flowers that are in season and in abundance, they’ll always be cheaper. We have some roses and some of these lovely blue pretties in our garden. I’m not good with flower names, does anyone know what they’re called? I’ll also gather some lavender from our little bushes too, they make a nice posie in a pretty glass next to my bed or on the window sill.

Clear your mind

Wave bye bye to the kiddos and your hubby and step outside for some fresh air and a clear mind. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood or find somewhere nearby that fills your heart with happiness. Maybe you live near the beach or a national park? It’s amazing the noise that clutters up our minds every day, we really need to step away from it and let it all fall away to give our minds some space and clarity. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and much more ready to tackle the busy day ahead.

Parenting Moments - Five low cost ways to spoil yourself

Soak in some bubbles

Want to know a secret? Until recently I hadn’t had a bubble bath for five years. Yep, FIVE YEARS! With one thing and another I just hadn’t made time for it, which is very sad because I always loved a long, hot bath. I’ve recently reclaimed bath time as my indulgence and not just a time that I play with the kids and get soaked by their splashes. I use bath time for a bit of pampering and relaxing, getting a few of those little beauty jobs done and then soaking up the serenity with some scented candles. Since having children I’ve found it almost impossible to make time for a salon appointment and it can be a loooooooong, long, long (did I say long?) time between waxes. Instead I have been including shaving in  my routine (ha! routine!) to keep myself hair free. Schick sent me their new Intuition pure nourishment razor to try. I love that it doesn’t need any soap or shaving gel, you just add water. The coconut milk and almond oil lathers and moisturisers while you’re getting silky smooth. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Parenting Moments - Five low cost ways to spoil yourself

Pretty toes

Now that your legs are silky smooth you need to get those toes looking pretty. I don’t know about you but I feel strange when my toe nails aren’t painted. The trouble is that I don’t have as much time to keep on top of that these days and often the paint is chipped or faded. I have been paying more attention to my tootsies lately and have found that I can give myself a super quick pedicure in about ten minutes. I do it while catching up on my recorded TV shows at night. All you need is:

  • A quick wipe of any old toe nail polish. Nail polish remover wipes are awesome for this.
  • A speedy buff all over your feet with a pumice stone or foot file to remove those scratchy bits.
  • A slick of new nail colour. I love any nail polish that sets in under one minute. Any longer than that and it’s quite likely that a kid will step on them and smudge it :P
  • A generous slather of moisturiser to keep more scratchies at bay.

There you have it, pretty toes that will have you feeling gorgeous, even if you’re the only one that gets to see them.

Parenting Moments - Five low cost ways to spoil yourself

Lose yourself in story

I adore reading and have really missed it since having kids and not making as much time for it. I’m just starting to read a little bit more. To get hold of some books head to your local library or invite your friends for a book swap. Don’t look for anything too heavy, you just want to escape. Now snuggle up under a nice warm blanket or find yourself a spot in the sunshine and lose yourself in the story. I love reading just before bed, it helps to switch the chaos off in my mind. If you like something just a little bit racy one of my closest friends is an author and has published several romance ebooks that you might enjoy.

Are you making time for yourself? What’s your favourite indulgence?

Baby Obstacle Course - tips for setting up an obstacle course for your baby or toddler

March 21, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
3 Comments

Baby Obstacle Course

Baby Obstacle Course - tips for setting up an obstacle course for your baby or toddlerRemember that pic of Rocky falling from the tower of cushions? What WAS he up to anyway? Well, this is what he was up to – a baby obstacle course! We were kicking around at home on a day when Pebble was at kindy and I thought it would be fun to set one up just for him. It was kinda hilarious to see him giving it a go, he had a lot of giggles and a few tumbles. It made our afternoon fly by much faster. Here’s how I made the obstacle course. You might like to make one at home for your kids too.

Zero to Two - the book of play

Baby Obstacle Course

You will need 

Objects that suit your babies ability, eg. rolling, climbing, reaching, grabbing, crawling.

We used:

  • a small pop up tent
  • sofa cushions
  • a tunnel
  • dining chairs
  • muslin wraps
  • sticky paper
  • shiny paper

Other ideas:

  • small or large balls
  • soft and fluffy rugs
  • large boxes to crawl through
  • baskets or tubs for climbing into and out of
  • a box of rattles or shakers
  • baby safe mirrors
  • bubble wrap

How to create an obstacle course

Set up the objects around your home or in your garden and encourage your baby to explore them. There’s really no right or wrong way!

Baby Obstacle Course - tips for setting up an obstacle course for your baby or toddlerBaby Obstacle Course - tips for setting up an obstacle course for your baby or toddlerBaby Obstacle Course - tips for setting up an obstacle course for your baby or toddlerBaby Obstacle Course - tips for setting up an obstacle course for your baby or toddler
The sticky paper was an interesting experience for Rocky. I stuck it with the sticky side up, so that as Rocky crawled across it his hands touched the sticky surface. He has played with it before but not for a month or two and not like this. He reached out to crawl as usual, then pulled back quickly and scrunched up his face as he felt the sticky paper on his hands. He sat and stared at the sticky floor for a few seconds, then reached out and quickly pulled back again. He repeated this exploration again and again, until he was comfortable enough to cross the sticky paper.

Baby Obstacle Course - tips for setting up an obstacle course for your baby or toddlerDo your children seek new sensory experiences? Or do the struggle with new sensations?

 

Teaching children to be risk takers {via Octavia and Vicky}

March 16, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
3 Comments

Do you encourage your children to take risks?

Encouraging children to be risktakers and learn about determination, success, failure and resilience through play {via Octavia and Vicky}

Oh my GOODNESS our boy is a dare devil! Unlike our quiet, focussed, careful and tidy first born (who happens to be a girl) Rocky is like a little tornado. He bulldozes through obstacles in his path as he walks across a room – sometimes he trips, sometimes he falls flat on his face – but he gets right back up again and keeps on going. He likes his swings to be pushed high and fast, he likes to be tipped upside down and whizzed around. He smashes toys together and yells in delight. Rocky is an adventurer. He’s curious, determined and a risk taker.

I’m a big believer in encouraging children to be risk takers, both physically and emotionally. This has been tricky with Pebble. She’s four now, and much more likely to have a go, try something new and get out of her comfort zone. But she often needs just a little bit of hand holding, a little nudge to help her along. Don’t we all, sometimes?

Teaching children to be risk takers {via Octavia and Vicky} 2

Risk taking is an important part of childhood – it’s the ability to let go of dad’s hand and take those first independent steps, it’s walking up to a new kid in a playground and saying ‘hi’, it’ s trying that weird dinner that mum and dad have served up tonight and it’s creating artwork without fear of doing it ‘wrong’.

I must be honest. Hubby and I are not natural risk takers. We both like to stay in the safe zone throughout life, stable jobs, stable home, stable family. It’s taken us a while to settle into our role as parents and be more comfortable with encouraging our kids to have a go when they’re out of their comfort zone, with choosing the right time to let them fall and pick themselves up.

Do you encourage your children to be risk takers? 

Zero to Two - The Book of PlayZero to Two - The Book of Play

Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection

March 12, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
4 Comments

Our Backyard Grampout

 Sponsored by Nuffnang, Mortein and Aerogard

Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection

Did you see my gramping tips last week? Don’t forget to enter the Grampout competition and stand a chance to win an awesome Grampout package worth over $400! Gramping, you ask? Gramping is three generations, hanging out in the great outdoors, sleeping under the stars and making memories. I can highly recommend it :)

We held our own Grampout a couple of weeks ago with my Dad, step-mum, nephew and our little family in our own back yard. It was so much fun, so relaxing and such a laugh. I’m really glad the guys over at the Gramping Association, thanks to Aerogard and Mortein, inspired us to have our own Grampout. We’ll definitely be doing it again over the years, whether in our own back yard or venturing out into camping grounds or beaches or national parks.

Grandad and Nannette (that’s Nana Annette) loved teaching the kids the basics about putting up a tent and setting up a campsite. It was a super team effort that saw the tents pop up in our back yard, with the two big kids helping to lay out the tent, put up the poles and bang in the pegs. This was a completely new experience for Pebble and this little introduction to camping was a lovely way to prepare her for a Grampout away from home.

Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection

Once the tents were up we kicked back and relaxed with a little bit of backyard soccer and sizzling some sausages and steaks for dinner. We munched on the most delicious chilli tuna dip ever while sipping a few ice cold beers and chasing the kiddos around. Rocky made himself happy with some water play, preferring to play with the hose over his water table. My big nephew, E, and Pebble loved climbing in and out of the tents and mucking around. It was just lovely. It was the kind of experience that you know the kids will remember forever, and in years to come with say, “remember when….. “.

Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection

The backyard Grampout was the perfect first gramping experience for us. With not-quite-one-year-old Rocky and little-miss-I-hate-bugs Pebble, we all felt a lot more secure in our own space. Pebble has a big thing about bugs. Her little body reacts quite badly if she’s bitten (think arm swollen to three times it’s normal size) and she also has a big fear of them. Those two things are probably linked, huh? If she sees a mozzie buzzing around she’ll screech and flap about and ask someone to take care of that buzzing insect for her. It’s not really very relaxing, for anyone. Thankfully Mortein and Aerogard protection helped to make sure that we had a mozzie free Grampout experience and Pebble didn’t flap about or screech once! Here’s how we kept mozzie free:

Mozzie Free Gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection

Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection

We used a combination of mozzie fighting tools including:

  • Mortein Auto Protect Outdoor Citronella – this little gem is battery operated, portable and covers a sheltered area of five metres squared with it’s plant based ingredient being auto-sprayed into the air. You can choose to auto-spray every 20 or 40 seconds, depending on how bad your mozzie situation is.
  • Mortein Outdoor Citronella Candle – this candle gave our camp table a lovely glow, but more than that it made doubly sure that no mozzies were nibbling on our ankles that night. It burns for up to 25 hours, and is perfect to light at dusk, just as the mozzies get hungry.
  • Aerogard Tropical Strength Six Hour Protection spray – this long lasting repellent made sure that no annoying insects had us for dinner while we were running around the garden. For children aged 12 months to five years old you can use Aerogard Odourless Protection, which has no smell and is non greasy, providing up to four hours of mozzie protection. Both are available in roll on, pump or aerosol. These are ideal for spraying on when you’re heading out for a bush walk or to explore the beach.

After that gorgeous day of gramping fun, the kids were getting sleepy-crazy (you know, when they’re so tired they’re acting crazy), so we bunkered down for the night, snuggling into sleeping bags*. When morning came everyone woke bright and early (thanks to the screeching of our friendly cockatoos!) and unzipped themselves into the morning sunlight. I offered coffee to the grown ups and milk to the big kids when we had a little visitor. Dad heard a crack in the bushes along our fence and turned around to spot a koala staring back at him! We all stood quietly and watched as walked along the fence line and climbed up into a tree. This tree branches out and crosses limbs with a gum tree, which I think is where he was headed. What perfect timing and a wonderful ending to our first Grampout!

Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection Our Backyard Gramping Experience - Mozzie-free gramping with Aerogard and Mortein protection

*Rocky and I snuggled under our blankets in our beds. Big thanks to Grandad, Nannette and hubby for being good sports and sleeping outside with the big kids while I continued the sleep training bizzo inside with Rocky xx (ps. he’s sleeping LOTS better now!).

Don’t forget to register with the Gramping Association for a  chance to win agreat gramping getaway and experience your own grampout >>> www.grampingassociation.com.au

Join the Gramping Association - thanks to Aeroguard and Mortein

Super Simple 1st Birthday Party Ideas

March 10, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
6 Comments

Simple 1st Birthday Party Inspiration

Super Simple 1st Birthday Party Ideas

Our baby is one! {Insert weepy and emotional blah-di-blah about how fast time goes here….. }. Ok, on with the party stuff. Let’s do it!

To celebrate we gathered with family and friends in the last of the Aussie summer sunshine (though it’s technically Autumn) and paid tribute to the not-so-little fella. It was a gorgeous day, blue skies, bubbles floating on the breeze, splashing in the sprinkler and kids playing and stuffing their faces with sugar. You’re usual birthday party stuff! Here’s a few snaps of Rocky enjoying his day. Read on for some simple 1st birthday party planning inspiration after the gratuitous kid pics. 

Rocky's 1st Birthday Rocky's 1st BirthdayRocky's 1st Birthday Rocky's 1st Birthday Rocky's 1st Birthday Rocky's 1st Birthday Rocky's 1st Birthday Rocky's 1st Birthday

Super simple first birthday party planning

I kept things pretty simple for this party and it came together quite easily in the end (thanks to a little help from my friends and family!). Here’s how I did it:

{Decorations} Keep the theme uncomplicated – pick a colour or two. We strung up bunting in yellow and blue polka dot and placed matching tablecloths, cups and plates on the tables. Orange and blue streamers and balloons helped add more colour around the place too. I loved this simple streamer wall, it made a cute back drop for the cake photos later. Simply hang up some string and hang with your streamers in your chosen colours, twisting to keep each streamer in place. Tie some balloons at each end of the string and use a little blue tack to keep the string in place, if you like.

Super Simple 1st Birthday Party Ideas

{Cake} Choose an achievable cake design for your skills. I made a number 1 butter cake decorated with yellow, orange and blue smarties, and some lactose free cupcakes for Rocky. I used the instructions in the infamous Australian Women’s Weekly Kids Birthday Cake book, the same book that I chose my birthday cake from when I was a kid. However I also found this video tutorial with alternative instructions. For lactose free cupcakes simple replace the butter and milk in any cake recipe with lactose free margarine and lactose free milk, which are now readily available in most supermarkets. If cake making isn’t your thing, outsource this job to an eager helper, or book a local cake decorator. There ain’t no shame in that!

Super Simple 1st Birthday Party Ideas Super Simple 1st Birthday Party Ideas

{Food} Avoid main meal times to cut down on food preparation. We held the party at 2pm, afternoon tea time, and served pastries, including puff pastry wrapped cheese kransky bites, as well as tuna dip, pizza dip, fruit kebabs and fairy bread. Caramel slice and malteser slice were gobbled up quickly after the cake had been cut. People weren’t expecting lunch or dinner, and were well fed with this simple spread. I definitely recommend getting a little help from family and friends to supply the food. Thanks to Rocky’s Aunty Julie and Grandma for their scrummy platters this year, and a surprise sweet treat from my lovely lady friend, Kelly.

Super Simple 1st Birthday Party Ideas

{Party bags and Thank You notes} Don’t go over the top, you’re not impressing anyone but yourself.  Kids like a sweet treat or three (or ten), bubbles are always a big hit, and party blowers are fun for a party, right? Sorry to all the mums and dads for that last addition ;P I never get around to writing thank you notes and posting them out, so instead I wrote ‘thank you’ to each little guest on their party box. We bought our party boxes from a party supply shop, however if you’re a bit more organised that me you can get great specials in discount (dollar) shops throughout the year.

Super Simple 1st Birthday Party Ideas

Now… on to Hubby’s 40th birthday next month….. ! Give me strength!

Looking for kids birthday party inspiration?

Octavia and Vicky: Teddy Bear's Picnic Party ~ The Food

100 kids birthday party ideas

Fairies and Elves Birthday Party {via Octavia and Vicky}

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