Three things you should embrace as a new mother

3 things you should embrace as a new mother.jpg

New beginnings!

So exciting………. I remember being a new mother. If I could go back and talk to me. What would I say? There are so many things spinning around in your mind. Let’s quieten that and get a little focus. What three habits will help the big picture?

Get this bit right and everything else seems easier to manage.

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Simple Parenting and Play Planner

Simple Parenting and Play Planner  with two weeks of giveaways.


I’m really excited to share with you the Simple Parenting and Play Planner as a brand new way to have your space and a place for taking action on your family haven.

What is the Simple Parenting and Play Planner?

  • Place for parents to catch their dreams, values and ideas and gently lay them out, evaluate and make them happen.
  • Space to focus on the things that matter in YOUR family. Set your agendas. Discard the rest.
  • Guardian of what you hold clear and dear in your family. Your play intentions, your family intention and you.
  • Opportunity to get ourselves, our spouse, our fun back on track after the shifts and changes of motherhood.

There’s this mismatch between what we do and what we want to do.

For whatever reason

  • we didn’t get to do that play activity we wanted to do.
  • we want to have better conversations about the school day or do that seasonal activity but we were too late ordering the parts or getting the time off to go.

We wish parenting was easier like menu planning that we can pick our best loved recipes and choices and use them over again. The thing about menu planning is when it works well it’s usually because we planned.

Meal times are more relaxed and calmer. But we don’t do this type of planning for play and creating the family haven we want.

Spend a moment in your Simple Parenting and Simple Play Planner- picking one area so we don’t go into overwhelm and use this focus to work on feeling happier about your parenting and play.

You don’t have to plan the life out of things. You’re always able to free flow, simplify, fly by the seat of your pants. Those things don’t change about you. The Simple Parenting and Play planner works with your family- is used in your family regularly.

This is a simple, intentional way to connect with your ideas, values, rhythms and routines on a regular basis without feeling guilty.

sample pages Simple Parenting and Play Planner

On Monday 31st March, we start the Simple Parenting and Play Planner- on tour!

This is cool for you as this 51 page planner will be visiting 10 blogs where you’ll learn a little bit more about the planner AND have a chance to win a copy.

So not just one copy but 10 chances.

Here’s how it works……

Check out the list below for each of the stops. Visit each blog and enter into the giveaway.

Monday 31 March    My Healthy Beginning

Tuesday 1 April        The Mom Writes

Wednesday 2 April    RainyDay Mum 

Thursday 3 April         Megan Flatt

Friday 4 April             Pickle Bums

Saturday 5th April       Bliss Beyond Naptime

Monday 7 April           A Free Spirit Life 

Tuesday 8 April           Simple Kids**Today**

Wednesday 9 April      Mama Scouts

Thursday 10 April       Plannerisms

Friday 11 April           Raising Playful Tots

I’ll be updating the posts here on Facebook and Instagram so be sure to follow me there.

If you’re curious to find out more about the planner you can check out Simple Parenting and Play Planner

Good luck!


Honoring play and exploration by scheduling less

Honoring play and exploration by scheduling less

Last time we dipped into how to schedule a less scheduled weekend. With some good beginning steps behind you let’s move onto getting the balance right of activities

Here are 3 types of activities to try. These are in a different format to usual as it helps to see what you’re doing in the activity.

Found activity-  Children are naturally curious. They can’t resist peaking into boxes. Found activities are activities you deliberately set up in a visible place. Your child will not miss it and naturally want to discover more about it. These are open ended activities that allow creativity and often springboard into other activities. These are fun to wake up to, arrive home to or just appear from thin air.


Deeper longer – These are the activities you’re constantly saying….’ okay. It’s time to pack that up now.’ If they could, our children would do this all day. Each family will have different things in this section and top of the list will be electronic media for most people. If we exclude that red herring for a moment and focus on the non media activities for this weekend.

It’s a chance to really develop the muscle of extending play. Just like any workout it’s hard to build up the endurance. I saw a bit more whining and frustration when things didn’t stick or stay when we did went deeper and longer. There was also a lot more emotion towards everyone.

The hardest thing was that I was so used to activities that lasted a small time. 5 minutes to 15 minutes. I’d be training a lot of sprinters. No wonder they were falling by the wayside during this longer afternoon activity. So expect some resistance and gentle growth for you both. Extend the play by small amounts as you build up.  I have a short guide if you want some ideas.

Board game- Like it or loathe it kids love board games. There are so many good ones out there and if you’re going to be the one playing them. Get them! Set time limits on how many rounds and have different rules for the siblings. How we speak to each other and respond is learnt at times like these in our home or witnessing it elsewhere.

Posts like this one you’ll find on my Pinterest board : Parenting with Purpose.

For more ideas like this one following simple parenting and simple play join the Raising Playful Tots Note

Raising Playful Tots Note

7 Family Habits worth building and How to

7 Family Habits worth building and How to

If I were a fly on the wall in your home on a good day what would the atmosphere be like?

It’s interesting how much our family atmosphere or family culture goes up and down. There’s definitely a rhythm to it.

Now when you think of those golden moments and good times- is it loud dinner time conversations or snuggly book reading? It’s interesting because when we think about family culture and family atmosphere at home we all think differently.

What I think is cool, you may not and that’s okay. Now the question is how can we get more of the atmosphere we want at home and does it really matter.

Turns out it does.

Happier families are ones that intentionally make choices. That’s not to say that every decision they make will be right but when we keep an eye on something, pay attention to something we notice and can respond better.

Why build family habits?

There are a lot of really practical things we share and teach our children like don’t touch it’s hot. Look before you cross the road.  These are our mantras the kids can finish for us. Then there are habits we would love to see but are a little tricker to do.

  • Habits make us productive.
  • Habits give us time to have fun.
  • Habits give rhythm and structure to a day that otherwise would be spent reacting to everything that’s happening.
  • Habits give us welcome pauses.
  • Habits are a must have for moms and families.

These tricker habits are more about how our family runs, the temperature of it. When you visit some homes, there’s just calm peaceful atmosphere. There’s likely structure, order and more than a side order of fun. The way they speak to each other, how they resolve problems, relate to each other is clear.

It’s not perfect, nor is it supposed to be but you noticed it.

Building family habits is as easy as noticing it and making the intention to follow through and do it.

Which 7 habits are worth building in my family?

There are many habits to try and where we fail is that we don’t make them age appropriate and we sometimes focus too much on the long term outcomes.

If my 5 year old does a 2 step direction I’m happy. It doesn’t always happen and I hoped by now he would be able to but he’s working on it. I have an age appropriate response compared to my 10 year old. Instilling the habit of a clean room is good for him now and later. But breaking it down into small steps and doing well with each step and building on each step. This is better right now than the final focus although in view, it is not the sole aim.

Here are our 7

Cheerfulness  My mum sang while she moved around the house, as she ran up the stairs, as we headed out in the car. Some people are just cheerful. Her mood was and still is catching. Cheerfulness is catching.  How we greet each other and our children we set the tone for cheerful interaction.  Our face doesn’t always show are sunny happy feelings ever to our children. We do spend a lot of time looking stern and exasperated.

Determination   “Just keep swimming”  the famous Dory from Nemo said. Perseverance and determination are just budding in our families. So many times we hear, ” I can’t do it!” followed by wailing and emotion. It’s so easy for us as parents to just do it ourselves. It’s quicker. There’s a time and place for everything. Encouraging our kids to have grit is good for them now and for the future. Life is not a sprint. Family time is the place to cultivate and nurture this ‘muscle’.

Diligence   Haphazard and slapdash if you’ve ever asked the kids to do something saying, ” Put all those toys in the box and then we’re going to  { insert your fun thing here}.” What happens? The activity doesn’t get done well. Kids are easily distracted. Jo from Organized Chaos talked about in a recent Montessori interview on Raising Playful Tots, that a task is taking it out, doing the activity AND putting it away. It’s paying attention to the details and showing our children they can do it that matters.

Listening   So many misunderstandings happen because we didn’t listen.We misunderstood. Life is busy, work all consuming, children constant… waves of tiredness threaten to take over yet we can listen fully. Listen in two ways. Listen to others. Get good opinions. Cultivate a home where we let each other speak. Interrupt less and not cut each  other off when we think we know what they are going to say.

Patience   Things don’t always work out when we think they will. That note to school took longer to write. The laces to longer to tie and that zipper too. In a calm home there is space for patience. “We’ve got time….try again.” “It’s alright to get it wrong here….why don’t you try again…this time….”

Reflection  When life moves at such a pace we don’t get a chance to look back and reflect on what went so well and what you’d never want to happen again. Not just an activity for New Year’s a family that looks back is able to build on their strengths. Take different directions and work to the needs of the family than feeling tossed around by the sea of life.

Self control   Being able to put off things now so that later you can have it is hard. Not doing something even though every fibre in your body is willing you to do it. Knowing to think first act next. Self control not a popular or easy idea when you can get almost everything instantly.  Children need the time and space to develop self control at home.  It’s hard. But there’s space for waiting and getting a reward.

How can we build these family habits?

Well this is the place that most of us get stuck. We want to do these things but somehow days turn into months and then years. New challenges come our way.

First we need to become more intentional. Focus on what’s important and decide to make it happen in our family. What is important? We need to have regular discussions and make sure we’re staying on track. Working in our family is not the same as work where we have trophies, promotions and bonuses to track our success. Working in our family has its rewards but it’s not the same. Yet we see later on the choices we made and in how things work out.


Let me help you get unstuck and excited about family time again.

Creating a family haven

Creating a family haven is a 7 week online class for busy, playful moms who are passionate about family but feel miserable about what happens in there sometimes.  You want to have better family habits and grow a family haven so your family can thrive, not just now in this stage but as the children grow.

Together in a private community of likeminded moms  we together build an intentional plan so that your family can thrive.

Registration is open

Find out more. I’d love to support you.

I want to create a family haven so my family can thrive


Choose to model slow

How you can chose to model slow in a busy family life.
I model busy without any effort.
From the boy’s perspective, I’m busy doing all the time.

The morning exit is a whirlwind of breakfast, tidying, dishes, conversation, lunches, lost things and moved things. It’s not until we’re standing in the playground do we get a sense of peace and calm. We finally catch breath.

Our Sunday easily the same thing happens with laundry, homework, lost things, moved things ( sensing a pattern in our house for lost and moved things!) tidying, food prep, eating, clear up, dishes and conversation.

I model busy without any effort.

When the kids are bored or having nothing to do how will they know what to do? Have they ever seen us with nothing to do and what do we find to do?

For Christmas we bought The Settlers of Catan. We loved it so much we went and bought two more expansion packs. These games have taught us a lot about busy. We’ve sat between 2-6 hours each time playing these games and loving it.

There was no whirlwind.
There was no catching breath.

Just all of us, laughing, teasing, noticing, listening and having conversations. I would say we were busy but in a connected slower way.

Magically, all the things of our usual Sunday still got done….well mostly. We didn’t go faster or quicker. We did all help.

Yesterday my youngest found me lying on the bed staring at the ceiling. Not doing anything. He crawled right beside me and looked at the ceiling. Probably trying to see where I was looking. “What are you doing?”


“Can I do nothing with you?”

Yup…..We just sat for a moment then he started talking. Soon offered a range of games, activites and books we could do together. For a moment he saw how you don’t have to be doing something all the time. I shared how I was thinking of reading the last few pages of Under Pressure
but I just wanted to lie here and think.

It’s easy for us to say and keep busy and never model to our children slow and rest.


It’s become quite the badge of honor to how busy we are. It’s also seen as showing off to say you’re not busy. It’s somehow lazy, entitled and condemning all at once.

If we live in a fast paced, busy, hurried lifestyle and we would like to share a slower family style. We want to enjoy the small moments. We have to embrace slow, show slow and not saying we’re busy all the time.

Choose to model slow this week.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, find more like this on the Parenting with Purpose board.

Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party! This week’s hosts are denoted by the word {host} behind their link’s name in the list below. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, developing and caring for children, as well as honest posts on the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Reviews and Giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic.

All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception, please do not link posts promoting physical discipline as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs.

PS: By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on our The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.

Two things to do before you greet the kids

Two things to do before you greet the kids

Are you a lark or an owl?

Maybe it’s easier to ask, when you get out of bed do you take a little while to warm up and mellow out? Are you sparkly and chipper? or something inbetween?

Like it or not, I’ve always been an early night up early person. Having my three boys really messed around with my lark tendencies. Feeling tired and beat from the ups and downs of babyhood and toddlerhood only to restart two more times. I think many of us go through this fuzzy, irritiable stage.

During the night feeds remembering not to be bright and chipper smiling and playful when I went to greet the kids.  Otherwise we’d all be up far too long.

All that smiling gave the wrong impression to my upside down sleeping boys. Light smiles and less light. Seeing the link really clearly between how we greet the kids had a big impact on me.

1. Our children look to us to determine their initial emotions

When I was cranky, tired and exhausted and came in with that face to my child there was a cascade of negative emotion that reflected right back at me. It took a long time to make that link that I was bringing the down to the party.

2. We have the power to set the tone for the morning

Those first few words and sentences and how we say them prick or comfort our children. There doesn’t seem to be an inbetween.

Going into the boys room since no one had stirred, my intention was to wake them up. But seeing the LEGO carnage, clothes and books everywhere  without thinking I was starting with………. Oh my goodness, what happened in this room?

Not the best way to start the morning with the kids. Immediately they were on the defensive and probably irritated by my lack of understanding the ins and outs of the elaborate setup they had.

I saw mess. They say play.

I kinda blue that one. Because of that incident that happened when I had two little guys. It was big Duplo too…. not even the little LEGO that forms a thin film across their room now. I noticed I had to do two things.

- Check my attitude and my face. They need to be coordinated and matching outfits please.

I love them. They love me. It’s not intentional or personal. They are playing. I wouldn’t liked to woken up with demands, frustration and the shouty voice so I won’t for the little guys. Before I go in or when I’m greeted.  My attitude and face must be sending out the matching message.

- Smile and be happy to see them.

Who doesn’t like being made a fuss of? Well the older boys in public when their mates are about, but you get my idea. When we smile it’s hard to be cross, carry past problems over. We feel calmer and our voice is a little warmer

I really believe we often get back what we give and ouch many times it’s been prickly over here. Manners are caught. Not just the please, thank yous and after yous. What about the way we talk to each other? How we speak to adults? the simple words we use with children?  Are tone matters.

We explore this more in Creating a family haven – module 3- Ps and Qs.

Your challenge ( and mine): The next time you’re greeting your children after a long time away. Maybe it’s in the morning, after school or naptime.

Will you have your coordinating matching outfits + your smile and happy tone.


If you’ve enjoyed this post you might like other posts like this on my Parenting with Purpose board or share with friends who’ll enjoy the challenge.

Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)

How to schedule a less scheduled weekend – part 1

How to schedule a less scheduled weekend

Imagine a less scheduled weekend.

Sure there will be must attend and action events.

Instead of going out activities to here and there ,we schedule a less scheduled weekend.

Now this isn’t as easy as it sounds. We can’t just delete parts of our weekend and hope that the children will magically love all this time ( or us!)

Many times I found I was putting things off for the weekend and before long I had the great big to do list of activities. None of them were bad or took too much time. Most involved playing and doing things with the kids. The trouble was it was at my pace. It’s not like we suffered from a lack of things to do. We had too much on our plate and it leaked.

If this is your experience, I have a plan.

Scheduling a less scheduled weekend tips

  1. choose a  weekend and bagsy it as your less scheduled weekend. Mark it on your calendar. Guard its borders.
  2. identify the essential must go heres and must do these for your family.
  3. go back to step 2. Reduce a bit more just this week.
  4. in the lead up to this weekend as early as possible ( i.e. now) start listing games, activities you’ve been meaning to play, said that you would play, saw in the loft, know has been buried in the playroom. Keep it as a huge brainstorm not worrying too much about how much activity.

Choosing your activities

Let’s go a little deeper now.  Putting off the feelings of having to create something perfect and resisting the urge to create a weekend of delights to create the ultimate weekend extravaganza we can’t deny the biggest obstacle here. With a child centered weekend of play and fun is that we have these mantras going on inside our heads.

  • We all need to have fun all the time!
  • We’re the fun leaders and it’s up to us to keep this party going.

Uh! Uh!  It’s a common place we all find ourselves from time to time. But just not true. Don’t wear this hat this weekend.

We should be present, encourage and notice.

Just looking at those three areas will help us have a pleasant weekend AND our children have a playful time.


Next up I’ll share how to get the balance right of activities we can try during our scheduled less scheduled weekend. We’re keeping it simple and doable for the kids and us.


In the meantime, tell us about a dream weekend of yours in the comments below.




Advent Calendar Blues



The Advent calendars are out and I’m looking forward to opening door number two, three times tonight.

We get a little bit of a story, maybe an activity and another part of Christmas story to form the picture. The Nativity Scene.

It’ll be a time of stillness and quiet as they deftly open the tiny doors and pull out the fragile box. There’s anticipation as we wonder if, if there’s anything inside and what activity we will do.

Originally we had something in everyone of the boxes but that was too overwhelming for me and us. Stillness, anticipation and waiting are all part of Advent. This time we’re embracing it.

With moving and dropping an advent calendar or two, the little post it notes have disappeared in some of the boxes. The plan was to update and add but who wants to do that in January? The calendar was put away in January. Next time I remember this is just as I pull out the calendar in time for Advent.So that was last week during Thanksgiving….

It used to bother me but now I’m at peace.


What we need in December

We need pauses during Advent.

We need pauses during December. It’s not like we don’t have many things we are doing already.

The Advent calendar is something that we primarily do together, just the boys and I. There are certain Christmas traditions we do together because I’m usually here.

As I walked past the Advent Calendars all lined up on the stairs today I wondered how many of these traditions they would remember. You see when I look back on memories from childhood it’s not the regular everyday traditions that I remember the quickest. I remember the time I spent with far away relatives, gifts a person shared once, an event with my dad.  These are mainly one off events and actions.

Where are the many reflections I should have of the people who were there day in day out. The Nativity plays and the Advent activities.

It made me pause on the stairs for a moment.

we do what we do

While we’re opening the doors and easing out the boxes- soak in the joy, excitement of these advent traditions. Feel the warmth of our children as they delight in the activity or action of the day. Let go of feeling bad when the door is just a door. It wasn’t it was a pause and a moment of connection.

Not all of the children will recall these precious times with you.  That’s okay! Really that’s okay.

In years to come they’ll recall the trip to the Christmas Market or seeing Rudolph for the first time with someone who arrived one time…… that’s okay…

Advent activities aren’t just for the children preparation,It’s preparing us too a treasure of memories for us to dine on.

Welcome stillness, pause and wonder into your homes.

What will your advent memories be of this period?


TED Talks for Parents- Self Control

Understanding the neuroscience when that tantrum happens and how we can teach ourselves and our children self control. Dr Becky Bailey shares simple examples

When you’re at home with young children your world can sometimes feel like it is shrinking. With the change of circumstances everything that used to happen is likely to be different. Different for a while and maybe even changed for good.

It’s not always easy having a discussion, when you have a newly crawling baby or pushing toddler while you are out with friends or at the local playgroup. We lose track. It’s not always the best time and we don’t see their body language as much as we’re busy resucing our child, bringing them back, seeing where they’ve got to or off to change a messy bottom.

It can feel isolating if you’re at home and everything has changed. A new area to navigate many would say but it’s not easy for everyone to learn how to navigate being a new parent with our need to talk about the rudimentaries of childcare along with our need to talk about topical issues, news and inspiration. Sometimes it’s just not possible.

Solutions to the brain fog

I love TED talks because you can listen and watch the video.

You can pause.

Invaluable ( see above)

They are often short.

Short enough to get a simple point across that you immediately have an opinion on and want to talk to your friend or spouse about. There are a huge and wide range of topics and directions of TED talks. I want to share a few of my favourites that I believe give great value to us as parents. They make us think and give us something to do differently perhaps and many times challenge or prod us gently to look in another direction.

Top of my list is this one from Dr Becky Bailey.  I love what she does over at Conscious Discipline. If you’re curious about more then listen into a show  on common behavioural actions that derail our play with the kids and their play with us.  There’s refreshing answers, scripts and time for reflection.

I believe we ALL can relate to kids throwing tantrums on the floor.

Full on.

In public.

And us desperately trying to find a way through clenched teeth to get going and hoping no one is really seeing this.

Our child has lost the self regulation and self control and we are on the edge of losing ours.
When you see the neuroscience behind how we can help ourselves ( stay calm) and help our child…’s pretty amazing really.

After you’ve had a watch let me know what’s your favourite TED talk. I’ll be adding a few more. If you can’t wait then check out the TED talk board on Pinterest.

Meet at the Family Roundtable

Meet at the family roundtable- fun place to discuss family future, vision and ups and downs.

There’s something about gathering around a meal.

A simple pleasure. The final part when we’re altogether enjoying a meal, enjoying the warmth of each others company. With picky eaters and family schedules that meal maybe breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or one special evening a week.

It’s a time of coming together.

In many homes, gathering around meals is around a table with us all facing each other. Although these days we can all be in the same house eating meals but at different times according to our schedules. Finding the opportunity to sit side by side and visit is a big problem in many of our families. It’s finding the time and it’s what happens when we do. What do you say to each other? Can you be pleasant? You start to notice table manners.

With everyone enjoying their food and in good spirits it’s the ideal time to gather the family together for a family roundtable.

What is a Family Roundtable?

Family Roundtable:  Meeting of the family to share and discuss the ups and downs of family where everyone has a voice and our family truths are reinforced. A time and place for celebrations and acknowledgements. Sweet treats and fun activities. Not a season of whinning

Apart from a time to share what’s happened during the day or recently family time together at the table is a good way of sharing what’s going to happen in the future and gather family opinion on upcoming events.

Before each session that happens once a month or so everyone has the chance to bring to the table problems and things they have noticed.  Along with positive things to celebrate. We have a chart on the fridge.

Why a Family Roundtable?

Many of the squabbles we have in our homes are petty things that don’t get a chance to be aired and everyone listened to. How you fill the trash can and what you do when the bag slips down really wasn’t a big deal to me. But it was to those in the family who had to empty the bin. There were a few people who didn’t check when they pitched into the trash.

As a result when you took out the bag you had to take out the complete bin and wash it down. Effectively doubling the contribution and making him unhappy.

Very unhappy.

Seems petty and annoying but from his point of view he’d told the culprits and it made him get all crazy about a trash bag and how we fill a bin.

Fill a bin! One day recently he placed it on our Family Roundtable worksheet as a point to raise in the gathering.

Impact of the Family Roundtable

After we listened and silenced the rolling eyes, everyone was better at doing the trash. This niggle that had been building for weeks was finally out and squashed. We refer back to the agreement.  It’s here the boys got a taste of empathy for each other. Because for one son it was the trash bag and mess that he wanted to talk about. Another son wanted to talk about breaking up of his LEGO sets and another wanted to know when he would be getting pocket money. They got a voice. Here was the time.

If you want to know more about family roundtables, check out the Creating a family haven online course. The next one starts in 2014. I walk you step by step through creating a family roundtable for your young family. Sign up to keep in touch.

Conversation:  How can we gather together as a family to share our highs and lows? share our visions? opinions? upcoming events? Is the communication mostly adult to child and not back and forth?

Join in

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Find the other days in this series

31 days to Growing Family Conversations

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