Eat, play, sleep, repeat.

Its Monday morning, her partner is getting ready for work. The toddler is having breakfast and the infant suckles hungrily in her arms. She sips on her coffee, willing it it to work magic and take the tiredness away. She lost count of how many times she had to wake up in the middle of the night to resettle the infant. The toddler drops his spoon and starts having a melt down. Her partner continues to sip his coffee as he stares at the computer, oblivious to his surroundings. She waits for him to attend to the toddler, his phone rings, he answers and walks out to the balcony to avoid the screams from the toddler. She gets up from the feeding chair, infant still suckling. She picks up the spoon from the floor and gives it a quick rinse before giving it back to the toddler. The infant loses her latch on the breast and starts crying. She helps her reattach and gets back on the feeding chair. She picks up her coffee cup and tries to take another sip, but not before the toilet training toddler announces that he has to answer the call of nature. The cup is placed back on the table, she unlatches the infant and puts her down, takes the toddler to the bathroom but before they can make it, his trousers get wet. He is visibly upset and starts crying. In the next room, the infant is laying on the floor, arms flaring, screaming her head off. She consoles the toddler and reassures him that accidents are part of toilet training. She completes changing him and as they step out of the children’s room, her partner meets her in the hallway and hands her the screaming infant. His meeting has been changed and he needs to leave. She takes the infant and wishes him a good day.

She looks at the time. Seven thirty  in the morning. She has been up for an hour and a half. Time to get ready for the day. After a quick freshening up, she packs healthy snacks for the toddler and pureed food for the infant. By eight o’clock, the kids are too restless. The toddler is climbing on furniture and trying to wrestle the sister. She is exhausted just from telling him what he cannot do. Time to leave the house. She heads to the local park. The infant will have her morning nap in the pram while the brother runs around the park. She will then get back home in time for lunch and afternoon naps. Or so she hopes.

At the park, she rocks the pram with one hand, trying to get the infant to sleep. She pushes the toddler on the swing with the other.  She scans the park and  studies other care givers. She makes eye contact with a mother rocking her baby in a carrier. They exchange a knowing look. No words are needed. They can both recognise sleep deprivation when they see  it. Next to her, a grandmother is negotiating with a boy who is about five. Grandmother is ready to leave the park, but the boy is not. She knows how it will end. She moves on to a group of new mothers with their babies in their arms. She cannot hear what they are talking about but she guesses its about sore nipples and where to find the best lactation consultant. “Mommy, I want snacks”. Her toddler has had enough of the swing. She walks over to a picnic table and lays out the spread she prepared before leaving the house. Her son takes the bowl and flips it then starts crying. The watermelon and blueberries are so yesterdays snacks. Today, he wants grapes, cheese and crackers. She handles it just like any mother who has been in the business of serving toddlers would. It takes about fifteen minutes before he settles down. By this time, the infant is awake and rendering an ear piercing scream. She rocks the pram with one hand as she rinses the few blueberries and watermelon that she rescued of the ground. She looks at her watch. Eleven O’clock. One more hour at the park. The infant stops crying. The toddler takes off to chase some birds. She sits on the bench and lets out a big sigh.

Its been seven months since she started her maternity leave. Some days are great and she feels like a good mother, like she is on top of things. The kids are thriving, the toddler is saying please and thank you and having less tantrums, the baby is sleeping longer and seems happier. Other days, her trending hashtag is #mumfail.  The books “Raising boys’ and ‘Save our sleep’ take up all the space on her night stand. Waiting for her to peruse the pages and learn how to be a super mum. They come highly recommended by friends who have preceded her in this motherhood journey. Friends who swear by these books and proclaim how their lives were transformed by them. She hopes to find time to read past the first page.

The screams of her toddler bring her thoughts back to the park. She has been mechanically rocking the pram. The toddler seems to have engaged in an unpleasant encounter with another park visitor. She can hear a carer repeating the all too familiar phrase. “Share your toys please”. She walks over and convinces her toddler to walk away. A bribe is involved. She used to frown at the thought of having to bribe children to get them to do things. Oh how she judged those who did, and how she wishes she could say to them “I get it”.  Bribery is what gets the toddler back in the pram for the walk home.

Its lunch time. There is another tantrum from the toddler, screams from the infant and a lot of coffee for her. She manages to feed everyone lunch, clean the mess, read a story and put the toddler down for his afternoon nap. The infant seems to have other plans. No amount of rocking will make her go to sleep. Time goes too quickly. There is dinner to be made and laundry to be folded, all the while rocking the infant and trying to get her to take her second nap. Before long, the toddler is up again! He wants to go to the park and ride his bike. There is a please in the request, she obliges. In two hours, they will be back in the house having dinner. There will be another mess to clean, baths, story time and negotiating bedtime.

At the end of it, she will sit in the dark all alone, cup of tea in hand, tired but unwilling to go to bed. Aware of the fact that tomorrow will be a repeat of today. The parks may be different, the people may be different, tantrums less or more,naps longer or non existent, but the day will follow the same pattern. She picks up the remote control and turns on the TV. Its not time to hit repeat yet, she turns on Netflix.



‘Are we there yet?’ How we survived a ten hour road trip with two small children.

Have you ever travelled with small children? I am sure you have your share of travel horror stories. My family (husband, toddler and a 6 month old) recently took a two hour domestic flight that left us scarred. My very energetic toddler would not sit down even for take off or landing. My husband had to physically restrain him, which earned us disapproving stares from fellow passengers. At the end of that flight, my partner and I were not eager to get on another flight. So, when we decided to head to Byron bay, which is about an eight hour drive north of Sydney, we decided to turn it into an adventurous road trip and I am happy to say it was a success. How did we do it?

 Plan for rest and break periods:

Ten hours is a long drive for anyone. For that reason, we decided to break up the trip and do it over 2 days. We picked a halfway point, a city we had never been to, where we would spend the night and have breakfast the following morning. While this allowed us to have a break, it is also a great way to discover new towns you would not otherwise visit.

Half way point. A stop over at Yarralen retreat in the town of Yarrahapinni NSW.

Do most of the drive while the kids are sleeping.

This does not have to be for the whole trip, but for the majority of it. This is something we learned when we travelled with our son across Tasmania and New Zealand. Our trip to Byron bay started on a Friday evening. After picking our boy up from day care, we drove through the city to a park where he got to play and we had a picnic. This allowed him to burn off some energy and we managed to skip the evening rush hour traffic. After the picnic, we changed him into comfortable sleeping clothes, put him back in the car seat where we let him have a few toys to play on his own. Within an hour, he was fast asleep. The infant was easy, nurse, change and back in the car as well and she was out within minutes. That left me and my husband, our favourite playlist and the open road. Five hours later, we were pulling up to our accommodation for the night. Luckily, both kids transferred to bed easily and our heads hit the pillow before the latch on the door clicked. The next morning, we woke up , had breakfast, explored the town for about an hour or so, then went back to the  car for the rest of the Journey. Travelling at night when kids are asleep is convenient because you can cover long distances without having to stop.

Activities and Toys:

Stickers are great for entertainment. 

Since the second part of the Journey was during the day, it was entertainment and snacks to the rescue. Though I am still learning, this is what worked. I placed a bag of toys that my son had selected within reach and I let him be. I find that if I don’t initiate any interaction during this time, he can entertain himself for longer periods. I also placed a few snacks in the bag. Glad to say, this kept him quiet for over two hours! The infant was happy to gnaw and coo at a toy before falling asleep again. ‘Are we there yet mummy?’, it was time for a short break. We picked some lunch to go, and we went and sat at a park.  My son got to run up and down the park, his sister did some tummy time, got changed and nursed and the driver and co-driver got to stretch their legs. After about an hour, we were off again. ‘Almost there son’.

Something to watch:

Sitting in a car for a long time is hard for an adult, let alone a super energetic toddler. For the good behaviour and patience, we allowed my son to watch something during the last leg of our Journey. Who did we call upon? Moana of Motunui.  For a bit over an hour, Moana and her island family entertained our son, and since this is a rare treat, he gave it full attention. When the credits rolled, we had about an hour left to our journey.

Interactive Games:

This I saved for last. Experience has taught me that engaging in conversation too soon  can backfire. It can be a green light for a lot of complains and whining. I allow as much time as possible for daydreaming. When there was only about an hour left, I engaged him in a game where we had to spot different coloured vehicles. By the time we spotted about the hundredth red car, we were pulling into our final destination ready for check in!

Though my artistic skills need work, this drawing brought much joy to this little boy.

By sheer luck, the infant was very content and low maintenance during this trip. I am aware that this will change and the next road trip may not go so smoothly. For now, I consider this a win! Next road trip is in December. Stay tuned.










A prayer for my children:

wp-image-429698603My dear children, its my hope that you never loose your fearless and brave spirit. That you keep exploring the world with the same wonder you explore a new park. That you see every detail in your path, that you continue to assess your surroundings, taking note of obstacles and figuring ways of overcoming them. I pray that you continue to ask questions and take the paths less travelled, just like you do on our hikes. I pray that you recognise fear, not as a hindrance but as a warning, a call to attention to what could happen, and that you act accordingly, with the knowledge that choosing to change course or turn around is sometimes the smart thing to do.

I pray that you continue to care for others like you care for your friends and each other as siblings. Like you do for your mama, when even at your young age, you can tell when she is sad. I pray that you continue to learn empathy, as we continue to talk about how our actions and words affect other people, and why we should be mindful of what we do and say. I pray that by the time you read this, I will have figured out how to teach you patience and tolerance, and how to find inner peace. I pray you practice them everyday.

I pray that you learn that there lies danger in a single story. That each person’s story is complex and has many sides, and that knowing only a single side of their story puts you at risk of judging them, and them at risk of being stereotyped. May you ask for more information before forming decisions and opinions. I pray you give everyone a chance; yet, know when to walk away from something that brings darkness to your life.wp-image-647639466

I pray that you keep moving your body, keep it healthy and strong, and use it to do good. I pray that you go places, both physically and spiritually, that you have a deeper understanding of life and what role you play in it. That you find peace, and know you are loved way more than I can express in words.

I pray that you know that you are perfect in every sense of the word. That you never feel the need to compare yourselves with others, that you know your strengths, and be aware of areas that may not be your strongest points. This knowledge is power. Use it wisely.

I pray that you know the joy you have brought to my life. The awakening that has happened within me. Getting to know you has brought me great pride, great joy and a deeper understanding of my purpose.

I pray that you know that each night before I go to sleep, I say a prayer for you. I pray that you are healthy, I pray that you have peace of mind and spirit. I pray that you know kindness and show kindness. Each morning, my heart smiles when I see your faces.


I pray that your generation is more understanding, more tolerant, kind and loving than those that have come before you. I pray you never loose those beautiful wide smiles, those hearty laughs and the silly giggles. I pray that I continue having the privilege of getting to know you. Thank you for coming into my life. Love always, mama.

Hike number ten! What we have gained so far.

Hike #10!

This past weekend marked out tenth hike since we started getting out to explore the great outdoors. When this tradition started, it  was out of necessity. Our two year old son was having a hard time adjusting to a new sibling, a move to a new apartment as well as change in structure at his daycare. The days were long, with many tantrums, lots of frustration and second guessing my abilities as a mother. I knew my son needed reassurance, I knew the tantrums were a way of him communicating his anxiety and angst; yet, I still found myself getting angry and cross with him, punishing him and then feeling guilty.

Getting through obstacles.

The idea of getting out and hiking was something I had been thinking of for a while, but I kept coming up with reasons why we could not do it just yet. I had a newborn, we were still settling in to the new place, it was too cold for my newborn, and so on. Then one day, when I was at my wits end, I decided to get everybody out of the house and I picked our first hike. A short 3 km loop that took us through bush land and small creeks and thus, started the journey of a thousand miles.

“follow me mummy”

Ten hikes in, and these hikes are what gets us through the week. Though the initial goal was to get my son out of the house, I have seen so many more benefits;

  1. Hiking has brought our family closer. We now enjoy sitting around the table and discussing where to go next. We look at maps, descriptions of the hikes and pick one that suits us. This has made for some lovely evenings.
  2. We have seen so much more of the state of New South Wales just from going on hikes. Sydney alone is surrounded by beautiful national parks. You only have to drive a short distance in any direction and you are bound to find yourself in a park waiting to be explored.
  3. My son is calmer, and even looks forward to getting out. Outdoors, the rules are less and the space is vast. We tailor our hikes to suite my son and any friends he may bring along. We go at his pace and cover short distances to avoid fatigue and irritability. Adult supervision is still key but out there, we let him explore, throw, collect, dig etc. Its his playground.
  4. My son is a more confident and an agile hiker. For an almost three year old, its interesting to see how much his coordination has improved. This has in turn made him a more confident explorer who is able to assess the hike and determine what he can do on his own and when he needs help.
  5. We now have conversations about preserving and respecting the nature we so much love. Being out in nature has given us an opportunity to teach lessons about empathy, responsibility and respect. We stress the importance of leaving a place better than we found it for those who may come after us. Even though he is still young, I believe that its never too early to start teaching basic morals and values.
  6. Stronger friendships. Through our Instagram account, we have had other families ask to join our hikes. We have also met new families along the way. The hikes have allowed us to form new friendships and solidify existing ones.

Hiking as a family has done wonders for us. I am there for encouraging anyone reading this to get out and wander. Whether its in your neighbourhood or you travel away from home, the benefits are immeasurable. The hardest part is making that first step out of the door, and once you do, it will be hard to look back. Happy hiking!

What I gained from joining a mothers group.

When I was pregnant with my first child, a lady I met at a party gave me one very valuable piece of advice. She told me to attend the mothers group meetings organised by my local early childhood centre. She also told me to go to more than one meeting.  She went on to explain that at the first meeting, I might feel that I have nothing in common with these women. That the meeting would feel like a waste of my time and there was nothing to be gained from listening to a group of mothers complaining about sleep deprivation and sore nipples. She advised me to stick it through, to go a second time and a third time, and in that group, I was likely to find a friend. As a new mother to be, in a foreign city, loneliness was definitely a concern of mine. None of the new friends I had made had children. Now, looking back, I am so glad I listened to the lovely lady who took time to talk to me at a party.

My son will be three in a few months and I have to say, nothing prepares you for motherhood. Not the endless advice, not the literature and not even those lovely think pieces (like this one) that show up on your facebook feed. It’s a whole new ball game, and for that reason, I am thankful for the ladies from my mothers group who have now become friends and confidants.

Together, we have laughed, cried and shared our stories of motherhood many a times. It’s because of them that I survived those first nine months of sleep deprivation. It’s because of them that as I experience the joys of having a newborn again, I have managed not to lose my mind. They have taken my son away for a few hours when I needed to concentrate on my baby girl, brought meals to my house and sent me messages to remind me that when it comes to parenting, none of us really know what we are doing and that is okay.

So here is my hope to anyone reading this. If you are a new parent to be, or know of a new parent to be, encourage them to go to that mothers group or meet up. Tell them to go a second and a third time, and hopefully, somewhere in that large group of other mothers, a new friendship will blossom, and just like me, they will be glad they showed up.