Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sunday Series; LENT 2017. Time to start afresh.

…Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” Nikki Giovanni

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday - the start of Lent. (Which means Tuesday is pancake day - yum!!)
This year for Lent I am planning to accept change & try TRY not to stress over it. 
(As well as similar things as last year; giving up coke, less screen time in the evening & continuing to declutter & donate items that are still in good condition. Feel free to read last years post HERE)
We are currently facing a massive change in our lives, it may or may not happen - but if all goes ahead it will be a new chapter all together for us. 
Lent I believe is the season of life, death & new life, a time for repentance & transformation. 
In our lives that can be reflected as living, repenting & starting afresh or living, going through something hard & coming out the other side ready to start new.
For us we are looking at beginning a new journey - but as in all changes in life - we have to trust God & go with Him & not try to force our paths. So if it happens, it happens.
In our lives I have found that the right changes & opportunities just happen for us - they aren't forced & they happen fairly easily - if they aren't meant to happen it is obvious and things just won't work out. So that is how we are approaching this next possible chapter of our lives, if it happens, it happens. 
It is no secret that 2016 wasn't a great year for us, besides a rough pregnancy & my health issues we also dealt with a lot of personal hurt and ended up needing to make some hard choices on the people we allow in our lives. Basically life has been hard & pretty hurtful. We are now at a point we just want to make a fresh start for ourselves. Even if it is just mentally - we are leaving the hurt, stress & anguish behind. Ideally we would like to make a physical fresh start - but we will see how that will pan out.
Lent 2017 will be a busy time for us, a time that our life may change drastically - but it may stay the same - who knows. I know our life has already been mapped out for us by our Lord - so where we need to be, we will be and what we need to do, will be done. We just have to watch how it unfolds & go with it - but I feel it is time for a change, so I am excited. 
I know this post was very vague & didn't explain much at all, but I assure you as things happen & become more permanent I will explain more, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. 
What are you giving up or doing more of for Lent? 
I would love to know, please leave a comment below or on one of my social media accounts!
Snap Chat; Bindy_30
Have a lovely Sunday.

Our Great Lord is always up to something. There is a reason you went through what you went through. Trust the process - He's got you. 

Friday, 17 February 2017

How I survive life with a newborn & a toddler.

Outer order contributes to inner calm.

As of just the other day I am a parent of a 3 & a something year old & a 2 month old. 
When did that happen? Wasn't he just born? Wasn't she just born?? Time please slow down!
Lately the number 1 question I am asked every time I chat to someone is "sooo, how's life with 2 kids?" And to be honest like I tell everyone, it has been pretty smooth sailing & easy and for that I am very thankful. 
Now for the first couple of weeks I was fortunate enough to have Trent home with me & that helped a lot, but he has been back at work for well over a month now so I have had to get a routine going. 
And before we go any further and I jinx myself I wish to point out we are still in the fourth trimester & Tommy is a very content little man who feeds well & enjoys his sleep and has made this transition from 1 to 2 kids very easy - this all may change at any given point - I am not naive enough to think otherwise.
But while it's all going well & I'm feeling confident in my mothering ability, I thought I would share my personal top 2 key points for surviving life with a toddler & a newborn on my own.
Over organise & plan everything and give yourself grace. 
Organisation & time management are top priorities for me in running my day, especially my evening routine - I believe it is why life has been pretty good for us. I am a planning & organising freak, I geek out over having everything organised & knowing exactly how things need to run. Of course planning things doesn't mean they will go to plan, but being prepared at least helps. 
One of the main things I over plan is our meals. I plan our dinners monthly, I have been doing this for over a year now. At the start of each month, I sit down and plan our dinner for everyday - when Trent is working I make sure our meals are ones that have leftovers for his & LuLu's lunches and for his days off I add meals in easier meals like leftovers, the occasional take out or easy dinners. And I have the flexibility to change any day - but the main point is being prepared and having dinner for each night already thought of. This takes away the stress of  the "what's for dinner" panic moment! I do groceries when Trent is on days off and make sure I have enough ingredients for each nights meal, so I never need to go to the store on my own with 2 kids or at the last minute. 
A brief look at our evening routine (which is very organised) during a typical day is; 
In the afternoon (when Trent is on shift) - by 2:30pm/3pm at the latest Tommy is bathed, fed and down for a sleep or playing on his mat. LuLu is bathed by 3:30pm and by 4:30pm at the latest her and I are eating dinner, then I tidy up and then we do reading from 5pm, this is often my quiet time with her - she loves to read, so we read A LOT of books - which can be time consuming, but I want to always encourage her love of books. After her regular books we read from the children's bible & little prayer books. 
Now that all may seem ridiculously early for the average family & it wouldn't work for school aged children - but for us in this current season of life it works. When Trent is on night shift we eat dinner together at 3:30pm before he leaves for work around 5pm - so early dinners are normal for us. 
I like to have everything done as early as possible because if by chance something goes wrong I have time to deal with it before LuLu's bed time - which is around 6-6:30pm, 7pm at the very latest. At 7pm Trent is home & he has dinner, shower and we can sit and catch up. If he is on night shift I use my time in the evening to clean, read, journal, do social media stuff or work on the blog. 
When Trent is working I aim for my schedule to run right on time - but when he is on days off I tend to get a bit relaxed and things slip, but that is ok - I have my "back up" here to help me when bedtimes & dinner run a little late - life happens and that is ok. But when I am on my own, I try to aim for everything to run as smoothly as possible & be done on time.
This allows for less stress and I have set myself up to have a small break in the evening - which I feel is important. Mothers need to schedule in "self care" time for ourselves, even if it  is just half an hour of doing something just for you or sitting in silence. It may not happen daily, but it really helps us recharge & taking care of ourselves helps us take better care of our family. 
So yes, my days maybe a little too planned & over organised, but for me it works and it has made life a lot less stressful. 
(And the way I run things may or may not work for you, this is just how I do things - I am not telling you to do the same! And of course there are days that this doesn't all happen so smoothly, but for the most of it, it does.)
And for my second but equally important thing to remember when having 1, 2 or 5 children - give yourself grace - basically cut yourself some slack! Remember you are human, you will not be able to juggle every ball perfectly always, you may stumble, make mistakes, get frustrated, yell or have a day or a week where it all goes wrong - and that is ok. The following day is a fresh start and life happens - life is not always terrific but it is what it is and it is what we make of it. So even when you are in the trenches of motherhood strive to look for one small thing to be thankful for, even if it is just bedtime when you can sit alone and just breath. Training our brains to look for things to be grateful for even in trying times is life changing.
So that is how my life with 2 kids is right now - it's good. I am thankful for that - I am continually praying for strength, patience and wisdom to be a better Mother as I am well aware I am not perfect - but I feel confident in how it is all going.
I have just said all this and we have just hit the second leap - so by tomorrow this may all have gone out the window! Ha! But I guess that is another main key to parenting, be flexible and roll with the changes in each season. 
What are your personal top 2 keys for parenting? I would love to know!
(If you would like me to do more detailed posts on dinner organisation, how I organise/plan our days or even a typical day in the life post, please let me know!)
Please leave a comment below or on anyone of my social media accounts;
Snap Chat; Bindy_30
I often share snippets of my day on snapchat, so if you would like to follow that please comment on my social media accounts or message me with your username as it's a private account & I don't accept names that don't seem familiar. (It is private as I occasionally show my kids on there!) 
Have a wonderful week.

I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

TV free for 1 month & counting!

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes... including you.

On Monday I posted on my facebook about not being able to watch The Super Bowl because we were going TV free, well that created a little bit of a conversation. So I thought I should write a blog post on it...
We have been TV free for just over 1 month.
One morning Trent sprung out of bed and then returned, I had no idea what he had done until we walked out to the living area & LuLu went to switch the TV on like she does every morning & Trent said "Oh looks like the TV is broken, see the red light is gone". She said "Oh" & seemed a little bit disappointed but just shrugged it off & went off to her playroom to play.
And that was that.
It was off & it hasn't come back on.
Well, to be honest Trent & I do occasionally watch a movie & we were watching Hart Of Dixie at night, but our Stan (similar to Netflix) subscription has ended so we are no longer watching that. But there is zero TV for LuLu and it is never on while she's awake. 
When Trent has been on night shift, instead of sitting down in front of the TV at night I have been reading, which I love but I use to feel like I didn't have time for, but clearly I do - TV was just consuming my free time.
For myself I have noticed I am much more productive & Trent and I spend more time talking to each other - well, I do the talking (lol). Watching TV as a couple makes you feel like you are spending time together, but really you aren't. You are just sitting side by side, not connecting. We are also getting more sleep because we are going to bed earlier (every bit of sleep counts when you are a parent!) 
LuLu hasn't seemed to mind at all, which makes me very happy & proud. 
Her creativity & imagination has kicked back into gear. She is playing with her toys more, like all of her toys! And drawing more, she is happy to go off in the morning and sit at her drawing table and colour.
After talking about ditching the TV for awhile I am glad Trent took the initiative to do it, it has been a positive decision for our family. 
So why did we do this?
In short, I think too much for TV for kids is not beneficial. I have thought this forever and up until about midway through last year LuLu hardly watched TV - she did watch it but not a great deal. But then I got sick. 
Trent still had to work, I was weak, pregnant & sick - so I let her watch TV to occupy herself. I was stuck on the lounge a lot of the time, so it was an easy fix when I was too unwell to really do anything else. But then we got too comfortable with TV and it was on regularly throughout our day & the more I sat around & was able to focus on the kids shows and realise how rubbish most of them were, the more I wanted her to stop watching it all together. Many of the characters on kids shows are rude & naughty & I could see my sweet girl picking up silly phrases from these animated brats! I have no idea what these shows are meant to teach kids - but I couldn't see them doing any good for my child. (Peppa, Lola etc I am looking at you!!)
(The shows I don't mind are the Wiggles & Playschool.)
Since the TV shut off I noticed pretty much instantly LuLu's attention span increased greatly, she was focusing on more activities and doing lots more imaginative play & for longer periods of time & independently. She can go into her playroom and stay there for around 1 hour just playing and making up little scenarios with her toys. She happily entertains herself when I am busy cleaning or feeding Tommy (I do regularly sit down to read or play for a short while in the playroom with her - but I feel it is important for kids to be left alone to be "bored" - this is where their imaginations take off, so I do make myself busy during the day so she has some alone time - but I do love occasionally hiding behind the door frame listening to her play pretend, it is so funny & sweet hearing what she comes up with!) 
When TV was apart of our lives - her big toy room that is full of almost every type of toy you can imagine went unplayed with regularly and that frustrated me! Now she loves to colour & draw more & we also have started doing little learning work books in our spare time. LuLu has always loved to read but now we read even more books and she has memorised even more of them & can almost memorise a book after me reading it just one time. She also happily eats at the table with us now instead of wanting to eat in front of the TV, like she wants to sit with us & chat!
Shutting the TV off has been a positive step in our lives and I don't see us switching it on anytime soon. During the day we do have an American country music station playing, we regularly have spontaneous dance parties & LuLu loves trying to sing along to the songs! 
We may start letting her watch the occasional movie as a treat in the future but for now we are enjoying it being off. I highly doubt ABC2 will be allowed back on, I would prefer to buy a PlaySchool or Wiggles DVD then allow the nonsense that is often on that channel back in our house. 
So why do I feel TV is so bad?
In short, I believe it kills the imagination & attention span of children. TV can cause children to become irritable & angry, it can negatively effect their behaviour and sleep, shut off cognitive learning & can cause kids to lack creativity. I've seen some of this in my own child. When we were at the height of TV watching she rarely wanted to entertain herself or play with her toys, especially on her own. But thankfully since turning it off I have seen a remarkable change in her. And I do feel she is going to bed a lot easier at night. She plays hard during the days & by 5:45pm/6pm she's ready to lay down in bed and is asleep not long after. 
Limiting screen time in kids can decrease the likelihood of a range of childhood problems ranging from obesity to attention span issues.  
(I haven't mentioned LuLu's fitness or outdoor time increasing at all because she has always been an active kid who would gladly pick outside over TV. But not all kids are the same - so in some children limiting TV time could improve their fitness/health levels by them becoming more interested in outside time.) 
I also should mention we don't do any form of "screen time" for LuLu. We don't own an iPad or tablet, if she is touching our phones it is only to hand it to us. Very rarely she may play with the calculator on Trent's phone, she likes to count the numbers & she does enjoy the snapchat filters on my phone. So TV was the only screen we had to deal with.
Now I realise this decision isn't for everyone and no judgement to those who have the TV on - every family is different and what is right for us maybe wrong for you & vice versa. This however is a positive choice for our family and I thought by writing this post it may encourage another family to give this a go if they were on the fence about switching off. 
  • A tip if you do want to switch the TV off, is turn it off at the standby button or even at the wall, do this especially if you have a clever toddler who clues onto things very well. We didn't want to make turning the TV off to be a punishment for no real reason, so saying it was "broken" worked for us. That way we can bring it back if we wish & she doesn't have bad feelings towards the situation. 
If you plan to or already have gone TV free I would love to hear how it went or how you are going, or any thoughts you have on this!
Please comment below or on one of my social media accounts!
Snap Chat; Bindy_30
If we make it to 6 months TV free I will do another update!

Turn off, tune in.