The night time routine that changed it all

Whilst we were away on holiday, without the children, we had time to do a lot of things, including of course… talk about our children!  We spoke about how much we love them and how much we miss them.  What we also spoke about was how disappointed we were in our current night-time routine and the changes we could implement for the better.  From the day Ari and Chloe were born I had always prided in a stellar routine.  Yes, I was a routine mum, and I honoured that routine like my life depended on it.  As a result, I had babies and toddlers who slept well, fed well, and I generally knew what we were going to do at each moment of each day.  You guess it, spontaneity is not my strong point!  Though in recent months I had let our routine slip… And now I was paying the price. Poor is at the dinner table, late nights and battling with getting children to bed.  All because I had been too busy to stay on top of the routine that we had previously put in place.  Having time away from the children made me realise how much I appreciated my routine of the past, and the way that it had fit seamlessly into our lives.  So, it was time to make a change… Since getting back from holiday and implementing our routine we have had such success with getting the children to sleep on time, and reclaiming moments as a couple and as a singular people in those night time hours. So, I wanted to share our bedtime routine with you in the hopes that it might help someone in the same situation that we were in.

Daytime – First of all a good night time routine begins with the day time.  Our children wake at about 6.30 to 7 am which means that Chloe’s naptime must happen from 12 until two, or at worst from one until three.  She still needs two hours sleep a day or she gets cranky in the afternoon.  So, for her nap she must be awake by 3 pm in order to go to bed nicely in the evening.  I organise to have lunch ready and her eating by 11 o’clock so she’s got time to enjoy the meal and digest her food before going to bed.

TV Time – We had found that our children had started to watch too much TV, they were asking for it all of the time especially in the evening and this was dragging out at bedtime.  We decided that we would no longer have the TV on during our mornings or days, and it could only be watched at night time for 20 minutes.  For us this is more than enough TV and has created a happy balance where the children look forward to watching a TV show of an evening.  This is except for Ari watching a Disney movie once a week when Chloe is asleep and he’s home.

Night time – 5.30pm – At this time we all sit down to have dinner together. Prior to implementing the routine, we were having the children eat their meals in front of their TV on their own table, whilst I walked around the house doing chores.  As much as I valued this time for getting things done it just wasn’t working.  They were spilling food, things were going all over the floor, they were very distracted and not eating properly, and I often look over and they would be jumping on the couch!  It wasn’t until I started implementing eating dinner at the table as a family that I realise how important it is. Now we have conversations, we talk about our day, the good and the bad parts of it.  They eat their food, they use their manners. They must ask to leave the table when they’re finished and then go straight to wash their hands.  We also get them to be involved in setting the table for dinner.

6pm – At this time they chose a TV show to watch together while I tidy up the table. 

6.30pm – We start bath or shower time, which is quick as we don’t want to waste water and they would drag it out if they could.

6.35pm – We dress them, and they get to choose a book each to read for the evening.  We have a huge library of books to pick from, and I try to mix it up, but there are favourites.

6.45pm – At this time we get them to go to the toilet and we brush their teeth and comb their hair.  Then we start to wind down with either a massage or a back tickle.  We make sure that we aren’t in the room when either of them falls asleep as we want to have them independently falling asleep completely by themselves.  Otherwise we find this creates a bad habit, and they continue to want us into their room as they drift off.  My favourite part of the night time routine is when I jump into Chloe’s cot to give her kisses and cuddles and we talk about our day.

7pm – By this time both children should be asleep.  Of course, sometimes this does drag out, but I find it as long as we stay on top of it then we don’t have any issues.  Now we get to enjoy our evening together, perhaps do a little bit of work or do something for ourselves.

I find the most important thing with a night timer routine is to stay consistent.  Do the same thing every night and don’t stray from it.  Especially with Chloe, if you give her an inch, she will take a mile, so to speak.  So, we have them sleep with the same teddies every night, sing the same songs etc.  Of course, we do all sorts of new things in the day, but at night we keep it simple. 

I hope that this blog post has helped you in some way if you are struggling with your own routine. If you have any questions, please reach out to me on Instagram.

Enjoy!

Small-Signature-Nat

GET READY FOR SCHOOL AUSTRALIA

When it comes to decision making as a parent, I have found one area harder then any other….  How do I educate my child?  This questions goes over and over in my head in various forms, it is constant.  I feel the weight of their lives on my shoulders, as I ponder the decisions that I will have to make for THEIR futures.  Imagine that, the gravity of it.  Questions like, should I put them in day care?  Shouldn’t I?  Which school?  Public or private?  What do I need to do to get them ready for school?  Will they cope emotionally?  Have I prepared them enough?  More recently I have been thinking about Ari starting school as 2020 is creeping up on us. Whilst giving my babies an early life full of love, laughter and play it has become very clear that it is also important to me that I prepare them for when they are received by another educator, their school teacher.  I know for certain that I will cry because that is the weight and concern that parents hold.  I also know for certain that I will have the confidence knowing that I have done everything I can to make sure that Ari feels prepared and ready for school.

Get Ready For School Australia is an incredible resource kit perfect for parents, like me, who want to give their children a foot in the door when heading into formal education   It was designed and worded for Australian families and is perfect for ages 3-5 years old.  (Though Chloe even joins in on some of the activities at age one!)  It isn’t a ‘heavy’ material at all, but rather promotes engagement, play, family time and learning activities in a very natural way.  The thing that I like best about the GRFSA pack is that it takes the guesswork out of school-readiness.  Before we received ours, I found that I didn’t know where to start or what to do with teaching Ari school based learning at home.  I’m not a teacher so it wasn’t natural for me to know how to teach things like spelling his own name, or recognising the way that sentences are formed.  I used to be totally freaked out about how I was going to teach him all of these things and prepare him for school so that he could walk in confidently.   The program in this pack is aligned with the Australian Curriculum, even down to the Australian School Fonts that are used.  As it has been written by Australia families I find it extremely easy to use and honestly enjoy it.  I feel proud of him for learning, and proud of myself for teaching him.  Best of all it gives us both direction.  Ari loves his Get Ready For School Australia Kit, and I found that literally the day we started using it he was more observant in his everyday life.  Noticing letters on street signs, the way that I would say things to him, and of course he’s now asking even more questions!

The pack contains everything needed to prepare –
Here it is!
– Parent activity guide book: How To Get Your Child Ready For English
– Parent activity guide book: How To Get Your Child Ready For Maths
– Parent activity guide book: How To Get Your Child Ready For Science
– Forming Numerals workbook (for children)  in your State’s writing font
– Exploring Letters and Sounds workbook (for children) in your State’s writing font
– Early Learning Sticker Chart
– Personalised name writing set (first name only) in your State’s writing font
– 90 stickers to use with your Early Learning Chart
– 1 Micador Early Start Markers

You can find more information regarding Get Ready For School Australia on their website and through Instagram.

Don’t forget to use my discount code SWEETIFE for $20 off the complete kit and free shipping!

Lastly I would like to  note that this is in no way a paid collaboration.  I was kindly gifted our kit to try and I have found it to be beneficial that I wanted to recommend it to you!

THE FEEL GOOD POST FEATURING ME AND MINI CLOTHING

Recently I was inspired by a collaboration with Me and Mini to write a blog post about feeling good! Feeling good sounds simple right?  How hard can it be to feel good!  With the stresses of the modern day world, the pressures we/other put on us, challenges of parenthood… turns out its pretty easy to get bogged down by life.

Even on our toughest days we can do things to help ourselves feel better. I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways I make myself feel good and have put them into a list. 10 simple actions that you can bring into your life to make a positive change to your mood and outlook. Choose a couple that resonate with you and I guarantee you’ll feel good!

  1. PRACTISE GRATITUDE – Take a small note pad and leave it next to your bedside table.  Each morning when you wake up write down the three things that you are most grateful for today.  If your day starts off on a positive note (pun intended) you are off to a good start.
  2. GIVE MORE – Giving doesn’t need to mean money or a donation.  Of course they are always appreciated but giving can show itself in so many forms.  Give your time, your knowledge, your expertise, a shoulder to cry on, a kind word or even a smile.   Giving not only makes us feel happy but the recipient happy too.  We rise by lifting others!
  3. CONNECT WITH OTHER PEOPLE – In a world full of ways to connect it is so easy to feel disconnected.  Say yes when your friend invites you to coffee or a play date.  Pick up the phone and call your grandparents.  Get yourself an online pen pal or even an ‘Insta Bestie’ to vent to.  Whether connections are made in person, over the phone or online they are all valid.
  4. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF – Taking care of yourself means a lot of different things.  Eating well, getting enough rest, exercising, drinking enough water.  Practise self care when you can but never pressure yourself.  All of these things are meant to make you feel good.  Choose the kinds of things (like exercise) that YOU like to do.  There isn’t a one size that fits all in life so be adaptable and keeping changing until you find what works for your happiness.
  5. DO THINGS WITH PURPOSE – Life is full of distractions especially in the online world.  Doing things with purpose and intent leads to feelings of success and happiness rather then guilt from time wasted.   With that said, if you do find that you wander off and get distracted don’t dwell on it, except that it happened and move on.  Be kind to yourself always.
  6. DO YOUR MOST DIFFICULT TASK FIRST – This one is a challenge that is easier said then done.  When you are planning your day have a look at your tasks and choose the most difficult one to start it with.  Starting your day with your most difficult task means that it can only get easier from there and you’ll be proud of yourself for nailing that tricky goal.
  7. REWARD YOURSELF – Rewarding yourself is fun.  Whether the reward is time spent alone, with family, a yummy treat or a material item.  If you have a tough day or complete a task that’s challenging treat yourself!
  8. THINK POSITIVE THOUGHTS – You are beautiful like a rainbow.  Throw away negative thoughts about yourself.  About your looks, your weight, your achievements, something you did, whatever it is throw it away.  Recognise how you feel, how things could change or be done differently, and move on.  No dwelling on the past.
  9. CHOOSE YOUR TRIBE – Stay close to people who make you feel like sunshine!Aside from yourself, your tribe is your biggest influence in life.  Choose wisely and know when a relationship has passed its expiry date.
  10. SET ACHEIVEABLE GOALS – Stop setting yourself unachievable goals.  Whether your goals are daily, weekly monthly or yearly.  Personally I am a shocker for setting myself way too many task to complete in a day.  Aim for the stars not for a fail.

It has been my absolute pleasure to work with Me and Mini to design two tshirts which are now for sale.  “Stay close to people who make you feel like sunshine” and “You are beautiful like rainbow.” We designed these tshirts with the notion that we wanted people to feel good wearing them, and to promote happiness and positivity.  These prints are available for the whole family (Daddy included) and come in tshirts and singlets. Colours are black and white.

Purchase our collaborative Tshirts here.

Other Details –

Me and Mini Website here.
Me and Mini Instagram here.
Don’t forget I have a permanent discount code for Me and Mini, use SWEETLIFE at the check out for 10% off!

And now for 5 quick questions with Me and Mini!

Tell me a bit about Me and Mini. What you do and what you got started.
We are two mates who were blessed with 2 daughters around the same time 2 years ago. That shifted our interests from having a few drinks at the pub to coffee catch ups at the playground catchups. We’ve always had an interest in catchy, funky street fashion and wanted to share that interest with our daughters too. Soon enough, what started as a hobby of making catchy shirts for our princesses, generated enough interest from fellow parents that we decided to share our designs with everybody else through Me & Mini Clothing.
What does ‘feel good’ mean to you?
This changes all the time! At times, we catch ourselves thinking what a stressful day it has been with non-stop schedules of running a business, managing the household along with our respective wives. On top of that, trying to cram activities to keep our little ones entertained. But at the end of day, we reflect on what initially seemed like hectic-ness, actually fills our hearts with joy. This makes us feel good – loving what we do in all aspects of business and personal life.
Do you always ‘feel good?’
Not at all. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Especially in the age of Social Media, things happen so quickly that you rarely get to appreciate the “now”. It takes deliberate effort to appreciate the “now” and be grateful. Once we do that, it’s a guaranteed feel-good moment.
If you are feeling down is there something you do to make you ‘feel good?’
Taking a moment to take everything in and slowing it down just for a few minutes. There’s plenty to feel good about only if we take notice. Also, breathe!
When do you feel your best ?
Family time is always the best. It’s a double edged sword especially with handling spirited toddlers. It takes the most amount of patience and organisation yet also the most rewarding. When you hear “ I love you, daddy”, it’s the best feeling ever!
Lastly a HUGE thank you to Me and Mini for working with my family on this collaboration! It’s been a pleasure to get to know you more and we love supporting small, family businesses!

10 STEPS TO A HAMPTONS RENOVATION FEATURING BLINDS IN PRINT

The fascination with Hamptons inspired houses and décor has long reined.  The indoor/outdoor life style that many Australian live by is the perfect match for the Hamptons beachy aesthetic.  This East Coast USA style has many fans including my parents!  Their Hamptons renovation which is currently a work in progress prompted me to investigate this style more.  My parents Sunshine Coast apartment is by no means Hamptons style, and when you live in a building governed by a body cooperate and other owners there isn’t much you can do about the outside… you can however make your interior match you coastal dream.

Here’s how:

  1. Colour Scheme – White, Blue and Grey.
  2. Kitchen Benchtop – Marble is amazing by a reconstituted stone looks just as good for a far lower price.
  3. Flooring – Solid timber in a dark stain is optimal whereas a vinyl plank in the same colour is a more budget conscious alternative.
  4. Textiles – Layer patterns using cushions, rugs and throws.  Artwork is another great way to add in a pattern.  Stick to your colour palate of white, greys and blues.  Florals, geometric designs, nautical and ikat prints are perfect.
  5. Walls – Crisp white painted walls.  Timber cladding and moulding also in white.
  6. Blinds – Should be white or patterned in theme with the Hamptons look.  Blinds in Print have a huge range of blinds on offer including Hamptons friendly options.  (See more on Blinds in Print below.)   
  7. Plantation Shutters – A known staple in any Hamptons home.
  8. Nautical Decor- Think boats, navy ceramics, artwork, ocean photography, twine, books, jars and bowls with faux shells, faux coral, striped umbrellas and old marine maps framed.
  9. Furniture –  Keep your main pieces like your couch and beds oversized.  A big fabric couch is the staple of the home.  The style should be relaxed yet put together.  Floors lamps are a must and big textured rugs.   Timber dining tables with fabric chairs, a gorgeous glass or marble coffee table.
  10.  Second Life – Mix the old with the new to create the perfect balance of shabby chic and modern elegance.  Give existing furniture a new lease on life by getting couches recovered, sand/varnish tables, paint bed frames and use chalk paint to get that desired Hamptons feel.

I have pinned some of my favourite Hamptons style inspiration here.

More on Blinds in Print –  
Blinds in Print started in 2017 with a mission to turn the humble, one colour roller blind, from a fitting to a feature!  Be it an amazing pattern for your home, or logo to promote your business, their aim is to bring blinds to life!  They can print any image onto a blind and can also colour match too.    And one of the best things is that all of their blinds are made in AUSTRALIA!

What they did for my parents Hamptons apartment –
My Mum had a specific vision in mind for the sort of window furnishings she wanted.  For above her kitchen sink she was after something unique and modern, but still in touch with the Hamptons aesthetic that she had been creating.  She went to the Blinds in Print website and chose a design called Maple that she thought was perfect.  She wanted her blind to match some feature walls which will be painted in the apartment so Blinds in Print colour matched Dulux Duck Egg Blue for her.   Her roller blind was produced and delivered to her door with everything needed to install a full functioning product.  (If you aren’t up to the job of installing a blind then they can oragnise someone to do this for you.)  She as over joyed with how easy the whole process was and is recommending Blinds in Print to all her friends!

DETAILS –
Blinds in Print – Website
Blinds in Print – Instagram

Some images of my parents custom made Blinds in Print – Maple in Duck Egg Blue.  Keep in mind that their renovation is definitely still a work in progress!

Update – the team at Blinds in Print have also launched a new online business – Acoustic Blinds and Curtains. More to come…

7 LUNCHES FOR 7 DAYS FEATURING YAYTRAY BY YURICA LABS

Most days it feels like feeding children is an up hill battle.  The balance of healthy nutritious foods, variety and taste (what they will actually eat) is something that plays on parents minds constantly.  I know that within my Mother’s group we are constantly asking the question “What do you feed your children?” and “What’s your kids favourite meal?”

I was inspired by my love of the Yaytray by Yurica Labs to write a blog post featuring my children’s favourite meals, giving you 7 lunches for 7 days.  This blog post is full of lunch box ideas,  varying options, cheats, time savers and links to recipes.  I truly hope that you enjoy it and that it gives you some inspiration.

Before I start I want to share with you some things that I LOVE about the Yaytray, since receiving mine three months ago:
1. It saves me time – I only prepare and clean up one container.
2. It is great for the environment – no more cling wrap.
3. It is neat and compact – the worlds first all in one eating tray.
4. Things don’t get lost – it holds it’s own cutlery.
5. Is clean and convenient – leak proof and packs up in a matter of seconds.
6. It holds a large meal – 400mls actually!
7. It’s stable and non slip – making it easy for children to eat from.
8. All the important things – like food-safe, BPA-free, phthalate-free, microwave-safe and dishwasher-safe.
9. It’s cost-effective, you don’t have to buy a million containers just this one.
10. They are a small business, so you are buying from real Mum’s and Dads who designed it because they know what we need.

To purchase a Yaytray click here and don’t forget to use my permanent code SWEETLIFE for 10% off!  To follow Yurica Labs on Instagram click here


MONDAY – The Snack Plate

This is my children’s favourite meal, they love the variety of foods that I put together.

Chicken Breast
Carrot Stick with humus
Soy Crisp
Cheese Cubes
Strawberries
Blueberries

Recipe – 5 Minute humus by realsimple.com
Time Savers – Roast your own chicken the night before and serve it for dinner with vegetables, or buy a store-bought version to save even more time.  Purchase a store bought humus to save time, there are so many delicious options around.
Variations – Swap the chicken breast for any cold meat selection, a can of tuna, smoked salmon or cold marinated tofu.  Cheese can be swapped with a vegan alternative.


TUESDAY – Left Overs in Disguise
Last nights dinner but you wouldn’t know it!

Homemade Meatballs
Cherry Tomato, Green Bean and Cheese Pasta Salad
Apple Slices

Recipe – Italian Beef Meatballs from taste.com – This link gives you the recipe for last nights dinner too.
Time Savers – Use leftover meatballs and cooked pasta from the night before to create this meal.  Kids love pasta meatballs with a yummy spaghetti sauce for dinner!  Instead of making your meatballs buy from pre rolled one in the shops.
Variations – There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan friendly meatball, mince and cheese options available.  Also if your children don’t like cherry tomatoes or green beans try sweet corn.


WEDNESDAY – Sweet Treat

For when your kiddies just aren’t quite sweet enough.

Crumb Chicken
Snow Peas
Beetroot Dip
Crackers
Dried Cranberries
Healthy Chocolate Crackle

Recipes – Healthier Chocolate Crackle by goodness.com.au and Beetroot Dip by stayathomemum.com.au
Time Savers – Instead of making your own dip purchase one of the delicious ones made in store.  Make a double batch of the chocolate crackles and freeze them.
Variations – The dip can be swapped with your children’s favour kind, or maybe even some cream cheese.  As with the snow peas which can be exchanged for ticks of cucumber carrot or capsicum.  The crumb chicken can be swapped for a vegan meat alternative.


THURSDAY – Family Favourite

This one is a huge hit with my spaghetti loving family and you’re about to find out why!

Spaghetti Bolognese Cups
Corn on the Cob
Mixed Beans
Berry Selection
Apricot Coconut Bites

Recipes – Spaghetti Bolognese Cups by taste.com.au and Apricot Coconut Bites from thebigmansworld.com
Time Savers – Use last nights left over Spaghetti Bolognese to easily create this meal.  Or double the batch, you can even freeze a bunch of Spaghetti cups for future lunches.  Store bought ‘Apricot Delights’ can be used instead of the homemade options, like I have done on my tray.
Variations – Use vegan friendly alternatives like vegan mince in your Spaghetti Bolognese recipe.  If you google you can even find binding options to replace eggs!  Switch the fruit selection up each week, my littles favourite fruits are strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.


FRIDAY – The Go To!
Simple but loved by all there are so many variations to a wrap or sandwich.

Ham, Cheese, Salad and Mayo Wrap
Cherry Tomatoes
Sweet Corn
Banana Slices
Chocolate Zucchini Muffin

Recipes – Chocolate Zucchini Muffins by Wholesome Child
Time Savers – Make a big batch of muffins in mini cases and freeze them for future lunches.
Variations – Obviously there is a huge range of wraps and sandwiches that you can make to keep this meal interesting and suit your littles ones tastes.  A vegan alternative to mayonnaise is this wonderful cauliflower and cashew variation that I have previously shared from Wholesome Child, click here for more.


SATURDAY – The healthy mix

This is another variation of a snack tray that my little ones love.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters
Pop Corn
Fresh and Dried Fruit Cup
Cucumber Slices

Recipe – Zucchini and Corn Fritters by taste.com.au
Time Savers – Use a muffin case to create the fruit cup.  Cook the fritters in batches and freeze.
Variations – There is a lot of different variations of fruit cups that you can do.  Here I have kiwi fruit, dried mango and sultanas.


SUNDAY – Pantry Favourite

There is always one day a week where we are really searching the back of the pantry to fill our babies tummies.  Here’s my go to when I’m having one of ‘those days.’

Chia Raspberry Jam Sandwich
Pretzels
Nuts
Fruit
Cashew Coconut and Lemon Balls

Recipe – Chia Raspberry Jam by Wholesome Child and Cashew Coconut and Lemon Balls by Inspired to Holistic Health
Variations – This tray is the queen of variation!  Swap the jam  sandwich for vegemite,  peanut buttero or cream cheese.  Pretzels can be changed for pop corn, crackers, soy crisp or dried chick peas.  Fruit can be as basic as apple slices or banana pieces.

Before I wrap it up I want to share with you my three biggest time-saving tips for when it comes to meal prep!
1. Make all of your meals in one go.  I make breakfast, lunch and dinner all in the morning.  This is a huge time saver especially in the clean up and it means that I don’t feel like I ‘live’ in the kitchen.
2. Food prep in bulk with cook ups every few months.  I tend to do a big one every three months to get my lunch staples sorted.
3. Always take a packed lunch out with you when you have little babes.  I make Ari and Chloe’s lunch in their Yaytray every morning, even if we think we might be home.  It saves me time and money if we end up unexpectedly out for lunch.

To purchase a Yaytray click here and don’t forget to use my permanent code SWEETLIFE for 10% off!  To follow Yurica Labs on Instagram click here

Details
Images are by –
Nicola Holland Photography
My outfit –
Mumma Bear Nursing Wear
Chloe’s outfit – Ma Mer (discount code in tab.)
Ari’s outfit – Two Darlings
Picnic Rug – Wild N Bloom

THANKYOU for reading, I hope that you  gained a useful tip or meal to work into your lives.  If you have something that you would like to share ease contact me.  Don’t forget to subscribe for more or keep up to date with our family life on Instagram.

 

Girls

Use the code SWEET LIFE for discounts on the following stores.  I have made it even easier for you by adding direct links to Instagram pages and websites.  Happy shopping!

Panda London – 10% – ShopInstagram

Lamb and Sparrow – ShopInstagram

Giggle Me Pink – 10% – ShopInstagram

Baby Donkie – 10% – ShopInstagram

Bug and Mouse – ShopInstagram

The Mum Life – 15% – ShopInstagram

Bubble Gum Royal – ShopInstagram

Piper and Me – 20% – ShopInstagram

Me and Mini Clothing – 10% – ShopInstagram

Shabby and Sweet – 10% – ShopInstagram

Willow Swim – 15% – ShopInstagram

Chickaz – 25% – ShopInstagram