Things I have learnt from blogging

I have been blogging for so long I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t sharing our stories for the world to read.

I started at time when blogging was new in SA, the community was small but growing fast.

I was one of those bloggers that I think writes hate. I couldn’t write. If I read some of those old posts I want to cringe a little, I think what carried me through was the fact that I was sharing stories from my dating experiences and there were a few weird interesting stories. (I do think I have gotten better though).

I have been super lucky to have not have first hand experience of the dark side of blogging. I have never received negative comments or horrible emails. I do know that that dark side exists and I have seen it play out. Overall my blogging experience has been positive and I prefer to focus on that.

Blogging friends| HarassedMom

Blogging has taught me so much.

It has taught me 

That I can write. I have always wanted to be a writer but have never really believed that I can actually write until recently. I have now had articles published in a few reputable magazines, I get paid to write blog posts for this blog and for other online blogs. I am actually getting paid to write so I must be able to do it.

Determination. Blogging can be soul destroying at times. You pour your heart and soul into a post and no one comments. Not. One. Person! It does kill you a little bit inside. You have to keep going though. You have to keep trying, keep sharing, keeping being true to who you are.

No ones life is better than mine. You can paint a beautiful picture online, share lovely photos of your home, your beautifully dressed children and your perfectly prepared meals but then one day you share a post about your depression or your struggle with weight-loss or your husband who was unfaithful and suddenly equilibrium is restored. Everyone has their battles, everyone is struggling some demon. 

Opportunities exist everywhere. I have been given so many amazing opportunities through my blogging. I have done things, been places and met people I would never have thought. I have said yes when others have said no and no when others have said yes – both have allowed me incredible opportunities. 

Blogging friends| HarassedMom

How to build professional relationships. I have been working with brands and PR companies for about 3 years now, the lessons learnt from that is probably a post on its own but I have learnt how to build these relationships, nurture the ones that work for me and politely step away from the ones that don’t.

That I can make a difference. For three years I organised a Christmas party where all the gifts were donated from my readers. Each party was just as special as the one the year before and while it was a small gesture, I made the difference in the lives of a few children. I still get emails weekly from people going through a divorce who are looking for assistance or just want to say thank you for sharing my story. These are small things but they have made a difference in someones life.

Blogging friends| HarassedMom

I have also made some amazing friends through blogging. Blogging allows you to see directly into the lives of someone else. I have been so fortunate to have met a lot of the women behind the blogs on my blog roll and over the years we have shared some amazing experiences together – there have been births, marriages, successes and failures.  We have sat in pews and watched as friends walk down the isle, we have pushed refresh 100 times waiting for babies to arrive. We have offered advice when babies wouldn’t sleep and we have celebrated birthdays together. We are, in so many ways, family.

It is not always easy and there are days I wonder why I still keep doing it but those days are few and far between. Blogging is a part of my life, it is a part of who I am. It is the one thing I have done that hasn’t failed. It is the one thing, next to my children, that I am most proud of.

 

 

Three reasons I prefer parenting older kids

3 reasons parenting older kids is easier|HarassedMom

I am not a baby mom. I have never felt comfortable with a newborn, even after doing it four times. I felt totally out of my depth, I felt I knew what I was doing and I generally flailed around until they started communicating with me (and pooping in the toilet).

I am enjoying the older two a lot more now and finally feel like I can actually do this parenting thing, even though it is seldom that I feel like I know what I am doing but I do feel like I am getting more right at the moment.

I can now honestly say that I prefer parenting older kids, here’s why;

You can TALK to them. I can now have actual conversations with them about whats going on in the world.  We can discuss the news or what they are learning at school or whats happening in their lives.  If they are upset, I can talk to them, (reasoning is still an issue) and try to explain the situation or offer some advise. It is also nice when decisions have to be made to get their input, it takes a bit of the pressure off from having to make a decision on their behalf.

They don’t need you for every single thing. This is a bit of a bitter sweet reason because it does signal them walking away but it is still nice that they can make their own breakfast, brush their own teeth and are happy to sit in their room and chat to their friends, giving you a bit of a time out.

Baking cookies actually becomes fun. Pinterest may be under the illusion that baking with your toddler is fun but the reality is it is fun, if your idea of fun is mess everywhere, toddler tantrums and invariably too much salt or an extra egg thrown into the mixture. When they are older and can actually concentrate for longer than a nanosecond, reach the counter and read a recipe, things like baking or cooking do become more enjoyable. This applies to things like going for walks, swimming at the gym or even a trip to the shops.

I also feel like I am actually getting to know them now and not just trying to make sure their physical needs are met all the time.

Are you a baby mom? Or do you also prefer the older kids?

My Winter Favourites

My winter favourites|Harassedmom

Is winter over yet?

I am really over being cold! There is a lot I do enjoy about winter – scarves, soups, comfy pjs – but there is a lot more I don’t enjoy – cold, dark mornings, trying to keep kids warm, dry skin, brown grass.

It is enough now. I need the hot summer days!

Even though we are a month away from Spring, I thought I would share a few of my winter favourites.

My boots – I love these. LOVE THEM. They are warm, comfortable and quick and easy to put on. They are the best thing I bought this winter.

My winter favourites|HarassedMom

I probably wouldn’t have made it out of bed this winter without my daily Vitamin B. It really does make a difference when you start taking it daily!

My scarves. I found this blue one at Pick n Pay – isn’t it such a great colour? I wear a lot of denim and this goes perfectly with it and it obviously keeps me warm. I have a few others that I alternate between.

My winter favourites|Harassedmom

I was given this Woolworths hand cream for my birthday and it is the best cream. I am a bit fussy about the cream I use, I hate runny creams or ones that are too oily. This one is just right, it doesn’t leave my skin feeling too oily and the fragrance isn’t too overpowering.

And my last favourite is the Pick n Pay Vegetable Soup mix. I have tried the one from Woolworths, Checkers and Spar and the PnP one is the best one. I am still struggling to make the perfect vegetable soup – the other night I did successfully manage to make a pot of what tasted like dirty pot water but with the PnP mix I get it more right than I do wrong.

Tell me some of your winter favourites.

Jack’s How to Train Your Party

ostella bistro

This post is a bit late but I finally got around to sorting the photos out. I loved doing this party. How to Train Your Dragon is one of my favourite movies, it is one of Jacks too which is why we chose it as his theme this year.

He has a lot of dragons which we used as props and I found this great site that had all the free How to Train Your Dragon printables for everything. I made the cake but bought the two cake toppers, this is always Jacks favourite part.

How to Train Your Dragon Party

These labels were blank and I just added in the actual wording. I was so chuffed with how they came out.

How to Train Your Dragon Party

I found these wafer biscuits that made perfect shields while I was away at the Meditation Retreat (whats the chances) and we used marshmallow fishes as food for Toothless.

How to Train Your Dragon Party

The lady who made the cake toppers made me these cute little cupcake toppers and I made the cupcakes.

How to Train Your Dragon Party

How to Train Your Dragon Party

I struggled a bit to find bottles that fitted in with my budget and eventually found these ones near the milk bottles at Plastic Land, they worked perfectly with the labels.

How to Train Your Dragon Party

The party packs were simple. I made little packs of dragons (speckled) eggs. Super quick and easy to do.

How to Train Your Dragon Party

I think it was probably one of the best parties I have done!

How to Train Your Dragon Party

Jack had a great time and so did all the guests.

How to Train Your Dragon Party

What themes did you chose for your parties this year?

How to raise an imaginative child.

How to raise an imaginative child
Kiara has always been able to occupy herself. She will happily spend hours outside talking to herself, playing with her toys, making up games and generally using her imagination as her friend. Jack is pretty similar, he will also happily play for ages with his action men, or more recently his growing Lego collection.

It is rather entertaining listening to the two of them when they are playing. I love that the two of them are able to play like this,using their imagination to create scenarios and games. There are times they join forces and make up games to play that only the two of them understand.

Here are a few ways you can encourage your child to use their imagination more.

Make up stories with them. David makes up stories every night for Jack, he loves them. He laughs hysterically at them and David allows him to suggest ideas for the story. We often make up stories in the car, often they are complete nonsense but the kids love them and they all add in their little bit. This is not only a fun activity but they have to plan and think about what comes next or what they want to add.

Leave them be. We often think we need to constantly be with our children, providing them with toys and ideas of things to do but often when we just leave them, they are able to entertain themselves. There are times when I have been cooking or working and pop my head out to check on everyone and Jack’s dinosaurs are raging war with the action hero’s and Kiara has built a mansion from empty boxes.

How to raise an imaginative child

With this comes a tolerance for the mess. Kiara loves playing with sand and water and bugs, there is rarely a time when I don’t have containers of snails, worms or some other bug all over my home. Jack’s Lego men are all over, in his bed, in the bathroom, in my bed, next to the microwave – it almost as if the toys are watching me.

Anything can be used for imaginary play. Your child does not need a toy room full of toys to develop his imagination. Often it is the tupperware cupboard or the empty TV box that provide the most fun. When you do buy toys though, make sure to chose items that encourage their imagination. The My Smart Kid boxes provide a great selection of toys aimed not only at developing imagination but also at educational play.

How to raise an imaginative child

Read! Read! Read!. This is where Cameron is leaps and bounds ahead of all of us. He gets lost in the worlds of his books. We don’t read as much as we could to the children but there are hundreds of books all over the house that they pull out and “read”. Emma is loving books at the moment and often sits down and pages through them. Reading is one of the best ways to develop imagination so read to your child.

 

Pinterest and I made friends again

I have always had a bit of a weird relationship with Pinterest. It started out as just a place I could dump all the pretty things and plan my kids parties. It was also great for wedding inspiration but apart from that I never really “got it”.

In am busy doing some serious research for my Blogging 101 series over at SA Mom Blogs and spent the weekend working on my own Pinterest board and understanding how to use it better, not only for my blog but also for me. It really is more than just a space to dump all the pretty things.

I felt totally inspired after I cleaned out my boards, reorganised them and made sure it all made sense.

In light of my midlife crisis, one of the boards I am really enjoying is my All the pretty clothes board. There is a very clean theme to the board (ie jeans) but all the outfits are really cool don’t you think? I mean how stunning is this outfit?

I have been so focused on survival this year that there hasn’t been much time for anything indulgent like baking and I miss it, so I pinned some quick and easy recipes that I am determined to try.

Thanks to loadshedding this weekend I was forced to do some scrapbooking. It was the best two hours I have spent in a long time – I got 5 pages done. It really is such food for my soul!

I also found a great idea to make a desk for Kiara and I found something to organise our landing strip better.

Pinterest and I have made friends, proper friends. We understand each other better now and I look forward to our growing relationship!

What do you use Pinterest for?

Was it God, or karma or fate or just a bit of good luck?

This is a little bit of a random post but I always wonder when stuff like this happens, is it just a stroke of good luck or are there other forces at play.

My car started making a grinding noise on Sunday, I was women down on Monday so only phoned Hyundai on Tuesday and booked it in for Thursday morning because Wednesday I had to be at Cameron’s school.

David was away for the week and the lady who normally fetches Cameron from swimming for me can’t really do it on a Wednesday, so I would have had to take all 3 kids out at 18h30 and wait for Cameron (there end times vary a lot depending on the session). Also Wednesday is the one day a week we generally do have load shedding so we would have left home in the dark. SO I suggested to Cameron he skip swimming.

Davids flight got in early on Thursday morning so he was able to help me drop kids off, meaning I didn’t have to take Cameron to school.

David gets a call from Hyundai to tell him whats wrong with the car. Now this is where things get interesting!

Turns out I was ELEVEN KILOMETERS away from being outside of the grace period for my 120 000km service. This also means I was ELEVEN KILOMETERS away from not being covered for ANYTHING on our motor plan!

If Cameron had gone to swimming on Wednesday I would have driven an additional 16km (pushing me over the 11 km).

If I had taken Cameron to school on Thursday morning I would have been just over the 11kms!

In not doing these two things we ‘saved’ R10000!

Obviously a more organised person wouldn’t have had to rely on the grace of God, or karma or luck, they would have booked the car in well before the grace period ended!

Whatever the reason was though I am extremely grateful things worked out like they did or we would have been walking to school this morning, in the rain!

Also best everyone go check their kilometers :-p

Active Kids and Diet – Should my child take supplements? Juniva gives us the answers

Diets for Active Kids

  1. Should active kids be given a supplement? If so, when?

Ideally, nutrients should be taken in as food. A healthy diet is the best way to meet your child’s nutritional needs, in terms of energy, protein and fats (macronutrients), as well as micronutrients, which are your vitamins and minerals.

It is possible to meet your child’s nutritional needs through diet alone, provided that he or she does not have any nutritional problems.

Athletic children do have increased nutritional requirements as they are using up more nutrients through exercise than they would if they were sedentary. In cases where a child is very active, multivitamin-mineral supplementation can be especially helpful in meeting these high requirements. Many parents also feel that through giving their child a good supplement, they are ensuring that they are covering all of their child’s nutritional bases, so that they can grow and develop healthily along with supporting their sports activities.

  1. What kind of supplements are the best?

As mentioned, a multivitamin mineral supplement can help to provide the basic essential nutrients that we need. In general, it is best to choose a multivitamin-mineral supplement specific for your child’s age like the Animal Parade range. Nutritional needs vary, and age is one of the factors taken into account. A supplement that provides 100% of the daily value (DV) for your child’s age for each nutrient in the supplement is best.

Some important things to remember if you do choose to give your child a supplement are:

  • Supplements can’t replace a healthy diet – so giving your child a multivitamin-mineral supplement doesn’t mean that their diet is no longer important. Supplementation can be very helpful if given as part of a healthy diet, not as a replacement for a healthy diet.
  • Always follow the recommended dosage or the dosage prescribed by your health care provider. Check with a knowledgeable person first before taking different supplements at the same time too, as they often contain the same nutrients – and taking too much of any nutrient is not recommended.
  • Remember that some fortified foods can contain the same vitamins and minerals as the supplement contains – so always inform your health care provider if you are giving your child fortified foods to ensure that you don’t give your child too much of any of the nutrients.
  • Treat supplements as medication and take the same precautions that you would take when keeping your children safe from medication – for example, make sure that supplements are stored out of your child’s reach and teach your child that supplements are not sweets.

It is best to discuss supplement options with your health care provider, such as your doctor, dietitian or clinic sister, especially if your child has any medical conditions, is taking any medication or has allergies, as certain medical conditions or medications can interact with nutrients and supplements. While supplements can be helpful or even essential for some people, it is important to remember that taking too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and that exceeding the recommended supplement dose can be harmful, even when it comes to vitamins and minerals.

  1. Should meal supplements (and replacements) be given?

Ideally, food should provide all of a child’s nutritional needs. Meal supplements or meal replacement drinks are not necessary for most recreational athletes, however for a child training at approximately 20 hours per week, it may difficult to get all the nutrition in via food in today’s busy life.  Because we know that protein stores in muscle, and carbohydrate stores (as glycogen in liver and muscles) are broken down during exercise, we know that eating sufficient protein and carbohydrates is important for healthy recovery. Very active children may need nutrients during exercise so packing in appropriate snacks and drinks is recommended so that your child has what he needs during sport

This is where a meal replacement and energy supplement will be useful.

Unfortunately there are many drinks and supplements available which are not good choices of drinks containing carbohydrates. Instead of giving him a drink that is pure sugar (for example, fizzy drinks), it is better to consider using a scientifically formulated sports drink.  When choosing a drink it is important to make sure it is free from caffeine and other stimulants or hormones. Sports drinks can be a good source of quickly absorbed carbohydrates, which your son will need if he is doing prolonged exercise so that he doesn’t become fatigued, and can help to replace electrolytes and fluid lost during exercise.

Some examples of drinks you could consider include (choose one):

Alternatively, you could also consider energy chews rather than a sports drink (your son will need to include other fluids, such as water, in this case). There is a product called GU Chomps, which your son could eat during exercise as they provide carbohydrates and electrolytes too and can be a convenient snack if you don’t have time to pack a snack. (Some of the flavours do contain caffeine, which is not recommended for children, so please do check the ingredients list to ensure that the product you choose does not contain caffeine. On the Juniva.com website, the Blueberry & Pomegranate and Orange flavour do not contain caffeine).

It is recommended that these carbohydrates are combined with protein so that your son has a post-exercise recovery meal that will both replenish his glycogen stores and ensure healthy muscles.

The previous post gave some good ideas for appropriate post-exercise snacks. Another alternative to providing a post-exercise snack would be adding a scoop of protein powder to a smoothie.

While some supplements that many people call “protein supplements” are certainly not recommended for children because they contain hormones, stimulants and other harmful ingredients, adding a small amount of a high-quality, pure protein product which does not contain these harmful substances can help a young athlete to meet their high nutritional requirements.

An example of a complete post-exercise snack for your son, which includes protein and carbohydrates, is as follows: add 1 scoop of pure whey protein (examples of good products include Evox 100% Whey, SSN 100% Whey and Body Logix Natural Whey) to 1 cup of milk and add some fruit such as a banana, apple or pear. Whizz it up in a blender and you have an easy snack to pop into your son’s tog bag.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics

Today’s Dietitian Magazine

American Dietetics Association

 

{Product Review} AND Pampers Pants Giveaway

Nappies take up a huge chunk of our budget. They have taken up a huge part of our budget for four years now. I often feel really resentful of the purchase because you are literally throwing money down the toilet. I get even more resentful when nappies leak and I have to change them regularly, using more than is actually really necessary. Pampers Pants

Pampers recently sent me a pack of their new Unisex Pampers Pants to try out. Initially I assumed they were for potty training babies but they actually aren’t but do only start from Size 4. Emma still has a bottle (or three) at night so her nappies are always full come the morning so we really did put these pants to the test. She slept in them for about 4 nights and woke up dry every single morning, there was not even any leaking.

My only complaint is that changing poop nappies with these was not a whole lot of fun. There are no tabs so you have to pull them down like pants which can make it a little messy but other than that we were super impressed with them. They were definitely a lot easier to get on because they are quicker and Emma didn’t have to lie down.

I have kept the second packet they sent me to try again when she is closer to being potty training ready because I think then they will be much easier for her and I to use.

WIN PAMPERS

Pampers have given me TWO packs of SIZE 5 (12-18kg) Pamper Pants to giveaway to ONE lucky reader :)

All you have to do is leave a comment with the age of your child and when you plan on potty training.

For an additional entry please sign up to my newsletter (on the right hand side of the page). I promise I won’t spam you.

Competition will close on the 29 July at 12h00

Competition is open to SA residents only.