The Expat ‘Mumcation’!

Are you dreaming of a childfree vacay with your gal pals?

Are you desperate to say goodbye to the laundry and school run, and lay by a pool, sipping Manhattan’s like an extra out of Sex in the City with your long lost mates from back home? Isn’t it about time you took a break and spent some quality time with your friends, minus the hubster and the kids? A relaxing break, being all classy and beautiful? This could be the chance to really be you again, to rekindle old friendships long left behind?

Mums Grapevine
MumsGrapevine.com.au

Well, it turns out when the media were telling us ‘Mums’ that we all deserved.. no… needed a ‘Mumcation’ they were thinking of classy trips to the local winery, or Yummy Mummies sipping Chardonnay in hot tubs chatting about Florence’s ballet lessons. They weren’t thinking about the millions of Expat mums who would be rushing to the airport, gagging for a bag of pickled onion monster munch, clutching their passports, heading home for a week in the pub with the girls.. I’m here to fill you in on the reality of  The ‘Expat Mumcation’…

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The reality of an Expat ‘Mumcation’

I’m currently ‘drying out’ in Hong Kong airport after my very own Expat ‘Mumcation’, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. I’m sweating, my stomach is churning, I’ve got the shakes and the bags under my eyes are way more impressive than even the best Louis Vuitton cases.. My fake tan has almost completely disappeared, my perfectly shaped eyebrows have started sprouting, and I have just broken a nail. My hair is greasy, my jeans are way too tight and I have a broken tooth. I feel (and look) like the guys out of ‘The Hangover’

Hangover

Just over two weeks ago I gleefully waved farewell to my two little darlings in Melbourne and headed off on a ‘Mumcation’ to the UK to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend. I had just under three weeks of freedom ahead of me and was pumped, preened, waxed, and feeling tip top. Having planned this trip for months, I’d had time to give myself a good talking to about my behaviour on my upcoming trip.

“You’re an adult Olivia, there’s no need to go crazy”

“It’s important that you’re sensible Olivia, you have two small children who need you”…. 

Well. It turns out that when you go on a ‘Mumcation’, whether it’s in Barbados, Benidorm or Bognor, you just can’t help yourself. I joked about behaving like a 14 year old, but totally lived up to it. I was child free, I had a wad of cash in my pocket and the barman was gonna get it… “double G&T’s all round”…. oh dear god…. Even typing that is making me queasy.

I had landed at Heathrow after a 26hr trek from Melbourne, squeezed my ‘besite’ and headed to Windsor for a “quiet night” before Saturdays Hen Do… After a very civilised dinner, lots of giggles and catching up, we decided to have a walk before bed. Turns out the local pub did 2-4-1 cocktails, so we had 18.  At 3:45am we found ourselves down some back alley with a bunch of 17 year olds, smoking and begging the bouncers to let us in an already closed nightclub. It wasn’t pretty. I was free as a bird, for the first time in ages and my behaviour was, quite frankly, unacceptable.

The outcome

19 days later and it turns out my liver isn’t thanking me for the 2 whole bottles of gin, 27 tonics, 4 bottles of prosecco, 6 bottles of Sav, 102 Sambucca shots, 34 tequila shots, an entire tube of Mango flavoured Berocca and one whole box of Alka Seltzer. My heart is barely pumping due to the 29 pork pies, 18,000 Cadbury chocolate buttons, 22 Menthol cigarettes (I don’t even smoke) and about 72 packets of Salt & Vinegar Squares.

I lost count of the cans of coke I guzzled (wtf) just to get over the hangovers.. My dentist is going to poke me in the eye. I ate scampi and chips about 8 times.. because my daughter misses it?? Do you see what I’m getting at? Most mums will get together with their local friends, pop to a hotel in the city, have a few too many, totter back to their room, and get up for a leisurely brekkie, before making their way home to their little darlings. When your best friends are 10,000 miles away, there is no “weekend break” it has to be at least two weeks, involve binge drinking and excessive calorie consumption. You basically have to make up for the 3 and a half years you’ve missed out on, when it comes to food, drink and shopping. *whoops.

The truth

The truth is, we all need to see our friends, spend time with them, and make the bloody most of it while we’re there, because it doesn’t happen very often. If that means almost dying in the process, well, hey, it is what it is… You know what though.. No matter how useless my body is, lying here in my tiny bed at the airport, no matter how many wrinkles I have added to my forehead, no matter how wrecked my organs are, I would do it all over again… No matter how much my heart ached for my babies, no matter how much I missed my husband, no matter what I may have missed out on, I wouldn’t change a thing.

We laughed, really, really laughed. We laughed so hard it hurt. We sat round the table and shared meals together after years apart. We talked for hours about our children, our lives, about everything. And, we laughed a bit more. We had time to be us. We spent time doing things we wanted to do, without time restrictions, play dates or bedtime routines. I watched my friend marry her love, and we all ugly cried to Oasis’ Wonderwall at the disco…

I guess what I am trying to tell you is that when you take your ‘Expat Mumcation’, do it in style, because it’s over in the blink of an eye, and you’ll be back on the other side of the world, reading “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” thanking your lucky stars you did it…. and survived… 

“Tesco is ‘Smashing’ back to school!”

Smash Enterprises have only gone and created EVEN MORE bloomin’ awesome stuff for on the go eating in the UK!!!  We have been so thrilled with the products we’ve had from Smash so we were absolutely going to jump at the chance to tell all our UK friends about their newest range! Smash Enterprises are about to launch some super new products in Tesco, which you may like to check out.. ASAP…… Like NOW! Grab your bag, keys, water bottle (make it a Smash one), and hit Tesco’s please…

Wait till you see this…… **The caaaaat!!!! OMG!

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The end of the school year is a massive deal in the life of a kid and in the life of a parent too. That summer term is a killer! The most exhausting (and hot) term of the year, then they throw sports day in to the mix! Hellooooo! The children are tired, ready for a huge break, and in my case, I’m absolutely ready to throw all evidence of the school year in the bin, including the grumpy kids. The smelly lunch boxes and the disgusting pencil case *usually graffitied and full of pencil sharpening’s mixed with blu tac or slime. The little bits of rubbish, the scrunched up homework from week 7 and the reminder that for three weeks of the summer term your child lived on marmite sandwiches alone as the fruit is rotting in the bottom of the backpack. I have been known to open the bin and kiss goodbye to a whole heap of school paraphernalia only to regret not simply washing it come the new school year!

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This one comes with the lot!!

In all honestly, when it comes to my ‘back to school prep” I tend to leave it to the VERY last minute. Mostly because the summer holidays run away with me and I forget when term begins, but also because we all relax way too much and that relaxation turns our brains to jelly!

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Summer adventures…

However,  when I saw this new collection making it’s way into Tesco, I knew that it would definitely give me, and other UK Mums, the kick up the behind to get in early and sort out the lunch boxes for the new school year. If you’re the person in charge of school supplies in your home, this is where you can gain brownie points from your little darlings and take away the stress of “back to school”. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with Back2School.

 

Not only have the clever Smash designers come up with some great new “only available in Tesco” designs, but they have kept those awesome features that us mums love about Smash products. The germ resistant liners, the nude food tubs to save us from the single use plastic and for those of us with older kids, the more funky styles that are so hard to come by. Anyone else have a fussy 10 yr old…? What a bizarre age that is! “I love glitter… I hate it, it’s so cool… it’s so uncool… oooh flowers…..!!”

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Holiday snacks

Tesco will be stocking a brand new range of awesome Smash products from Wednesday 25th July.. Yes, that was yesterday!!!! That means you need to grab your diary, NOW, cross out this afternoon’s play date, save swimming for another day, push the movies to tonight, and get to Tesco before they sell out. There truly is limited stock, it’s not a joke!

This Aussie style ‘lunch luggage’ is going to bounce out of the supermarket like a kangaroo chasing a wallaby, and you don’t want to be the only parent who forgot about the most ‘Smashing’ lunch boxes in town do you?

Show your kids your “Smash Attitude” and be one of the first parents in line for this new range.

National Lamington Day – How many can you eat?

Raspberry Lamingtons copy

You don’t think your tastes would change that much when you move abroad. I honestly never thought my kids would be taking Vegemite sarnies to school, or eating meat pies like they’re going out of fashion. I also never thought we’d ever get used to Lamingtons after trying my first one three years ago! Hey, the Brits are renowned cake bakers, we know our shizzle when it comes to baking, and the Lamington was like no cake I’d ever tasted before….. However…..

Tomorrow, July 21st, Australians and a few of us expats too,  will be taking time to savour and celebrate the coming of age of an Australian classic, the humble Lamington.

It’s National Lamington Day and I know what I’ll be tucking into frequently tomorrow! 

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Adriano Zumbo’s Tiramisu Lamington

The sweet treat has been tantalising Aussie tastebuds for more than 100 years, and the list of flavours is endless. The Wilson’s are ready and willing to try as many as we can before the visa runs out!! 

Lamington Lowdown

The first ever Lamington cake was made in 1900, most likely for the wife of Queensland’s eighth governor, Lady May Lamington. Made by either the Lamingtons’ French patisserie chef, Armand Galland, or well-known Brisbane cookery teacher Amy Schauer, regarded as ‘the Nigella Lawson of her time’.  We all love a Nigella!! The sponge cake was dipped in chocolate and liberally sprinkled with shredded coconut. Lord and Lady Lamington were said to be so impressed by the cake, that it was regularly requested at Lamington House. If only we all had our own baker… 

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THE LOWDOWN ON LAMINGTONS

  • National Lamington Day is celebrated on July 21.
  • The Lamington cake was first made in 1900.
  • The exact story of the invention of the Lamington is disputed. Some people think it may have been an accidental recipe after being dropped in a chocolate mixture.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade lists the lamington as an Australian icon (along with the meat pie and Vegemite HURRAH), and former Queensland premier Anna Bligh has declared this special cake a Queensland icon.
  • Toowoomba in Queensland is the home of the 2011 Guinness World Record for the Largest Lamington, weighing over 2,361 kilos.
  • A Lamington recipe first appeared in the Queensland Country Life publication in 1900. A recipe then appeared in a Sydney newspaper in 1901, and a New Zealand newspaper in 1902.
  • The world record for the longest line of Lamingtons was set in Adelaide in 2015, with 20,000 (yes that says 20 thousand) pieces of Lamington snaking over 1,073 metres long. The former record was held in England with a Lamington line that measured 885 metres. Who knew the Brits loved Lamington so much?
  • Susan Day makes so many Lamingtons each year that if you laid them end to end, you’d make it from Melbourne to Sydney – hands up who’s coming on that road trip? 

If you’re a Lamington lover, then tomorrow is your lucky day!

If you’re in Australia you can cheat and head to Coles to get yours, however if you’re enjoying the sunshine in the UK, get your BAKE on and enjoy Lamington Day with this recipe for homemade Lamingtons!!

Let me know what you’re doing to celebrate!

Olivia xx

Donna Hay
Donna Hay’s Lamington’s (Recipe link above)

Asda are”Smashing” packed lunches for the UK!!

ASDA_BTS-UK18Since Smash Enterprises smashed their way into the UK, they are making shopping for lucnch gear a whole lot easier for frazzled parents to cope with.  The Wilson’s are huge fans of the collections, and every year we crush on them a little more than the last! *How do they do that??

UK friends, hold your breath!

You are about to get their newest range, hitting ASDA stores from today!!!

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This skate look is pretty cool for all ages!!

Asda are stocking brand new Smash products right now…..

…which your kids are not only going to love, they are going to be begging you for! Every base is covered, from unicorn lovers to dinosaur fans, to your more grown up “style conscious” kids. I know first hand how hard it can be “it has to be a BLUE DINOSAUR WITH GREEN LEGS MUMMMM” Yes, more awesome stuff for on the go eating, for even the fussiest kids around!

Stop the press…… **The sequins!!!!!

Smash boxes

Smash are experts in Back to School! We know what kids need at different stages of their school life, and we know what parents expect from the products they buy. Parents love the reliability of Smash.’  – Smash Enterprises

Summer is well and truly here for the UK (how hot has it been??) and it’s the perfect time to get some of that Back2School stuff done before the kids are on holidays and whinging in your ears. Buying all the ‘lunch gear’ as soon as it hits Asda means that not only have you ticked one chore off the list of many, the kids can spend the summer holidays outside exploring nature, and eating on the go with one of the funkiest lunch collections on the market! Come on, we all love the kids going outside to play…..all day!

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Have a lovely day son!!! *locks door behind him

When the kids and I saw this new Asda collection from Smash, we knew that it would be a hit. There’s a design for every child, the drinks bottles have great new matt colours which are really funky, and Smash have come up with even better ways to keep your kids food fresher than ever before. We love the gel packs for keeping food at the right temperature, and the magic lining that makes sure the germs are kept at bay! Happy mum right here!

If your job title this summer is ‘person in charge of lunches’ this is where you can get ahead of the game, and nail a Back2School job too. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with the constant holiday food consumption, so why not grab an awesome new lunch box and serve up ‘packed lunches’ every day this summer. *Lunch that they make THEMSELVES!!! What’s in the box is what they get, FULL STOP!

 

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Asda will be stocking this brand new range of awesome Smash products from 10th July.. That’s today!! Like… NOW!! There’s no excuse to miss out!

Throw the kids at Granny and head to Asda before they sell out. Stock is limited so don’t wait until tomorrow! This Aussie born lunch style is not going to be around long enough for you to leave purchasing until the last minute.

Show your kids your “Smash Attitude” and be one of the first parents in line for this new range.

Olivia xx

Expat parenting when anxiety joins the party!

So the big questions on this expat mum’s mind today are: Do our children suffer from being moved around? Can mental health issues become exaggerated with life abroad? How do we, as expats deal with our emotions when we’re far from home?

Initially I thought we were giving the children a great opportunity to be immersed in a different culture; a different way of life, to experience another country; however, it is slowly becoming clear to me the longer we are away, we may have done the wrong thing. Not just because of the upheaval, or because of the country we’re in, but because parenting in difficult, emotional situations when you are far from help and home, is almost too much to bear! (Yes, it’s been a big week in the Wilson household). Sometimes you just need the familiarity of home to help you in times of need.

Frustration

You all know we love Australia, we are head over heels in love with Melbourne and we have beautiful friends here. No matter what though, expat life is not easy, and adding an anxious child into the mix means I worry that we’ve made a mistake taking her away from a stable, familiar life.

I love the Aussie competitive nature, the ballsy personalities, the ‘no holds barred’ attitude, the “if you don’t like it…TOUGH” way of dealing with things, but not when it comes to people’s emotions and especially those of my children. I can’t help but think that those personality traits that I love, become ones that I find loathsome when dealing with children struggling with anxiety.

Would I have moved abroad knowing that my child would be made to feel like a baby for being nervous or anxious?  Would I have left home only to feel alone and overly sensitive when dealing with such a fragile child? The answer is, I’m not sure I would have taken the risk.

Before we moved I hadn’t given our emotional well being much thought. I had assumed (naively) that the way emotions were treated would be fairly similar everywhere. I assumed that whatever happened we could deal with it together as a family. I guess I hadn’t recognised just how much my family and friends did for us; emotionally…

What I really have trouble with is the lack of compassion in everyday life. Is compassion disappearing across the world? Will our children slowly lose the ability to be compassionate if they are not receiving compassion at the time when they most need it.

My main bugbear with the lack of compassion today, is how anxiety is dealt with, and how as an expat family we are struggling to deal with it; mostly alone. Anxiety is very, very real. A lot of people assume the kid hiding in the back of the classroom is just being a baby, not pulling their weight and should be trying harder. They’re making the mornings awkward by crying at the door; not getting involved in classroom discussions because they’re lazy; they’re being difficult by not grasping what they’re being taught straight away. I’m not sure that the severity of how anxiety affects a child’s whole being, and how it can damage their health as well as their education is fully understood. It seems impossible for some to comprehend that the confident, popular child in the playground finds the thought of separating from their mother, so distressing it makes them physically sick! Like I say, it’s very, very real.

I vividly remember the headmaster at Poppy’s first primary school, coming out of the door as soon as he saw her in the morning, grabbing her tightly by the hand, a kind, warm smile on his face, leading her in to school. The tears and upset leaving me, turned into happy waves as Mr Miller took her straight to her friends. He took a small step to take a huge weight off her shoulders and eased her happily into her day, which from then on started with a smile. A small gesture with a huge impact.

All it takes is a pat on the back to say “I understand and I’m here”, a smile, a wink, or a little note in their book asking if they need more help with something, rather than a scribbled message saying they’re just not good enough. Small changes, gentle persuasion and a warm hand would make the most incredible difference to an anxious child, far from home, and it’s so easy to do.

No matter the age of an anxious person, they should never be told they are “too old” to be behaving the way they are, or to “get on with it” like everyone else. The daily struggle, battling with their demons and their insecurities would be enough to stop a grown man go to work let alone a small child face school. The fact that some children even get to school is a huge achievement. If only we could create more compassion and a deeper understanding of what so many children and adults are going through, we could go a long way to helping sufferers of anxiety realise their potential, and believe in what they can achieve.

So for us, as an expat family, maybe the experience of mixing raised emotions with expatriate life will turn out to be a great big learning curve for us all, but one thing is for sure, we will be approaching every day with compassion, together, one step at a time, wherever we are in the world.

“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point where it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear”- Unknown

Anxiety


 

The truth about anxiety (taken from Kids Helpline)

High levels of chronic anxiety can reduce your child’s capacity to respond appropriately or effectively to stressful situations, or even normal routine activities. A highly anxious person for example may experience constant physical feelings of panic and may seek to avoid anything that might trigger their anxiety such as:

  • being alone
  • going to school
  • talking in front of a group

Anxiety symptoms may be overlooked especially if a child is quiet and compliant. As a result, they may not receive the help and support they need, which may lead to problems with anxiety in adolescence and adulthood. Anxiety commonly co-occurs with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


The Statistics (Taken from Youth Beyond Blue)

  • Around one in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience a depressive disorder.
    Breakdown: 2.8% of Australians aged 4-17 have experienced an affective disorder.  This is equivalent to 112,000 young people.
  • One in 20 (5%) of young people aged 12-17 years had experienced a major depressive disorder between 2013-14.  
  • One in fourteen young Australians (6.9%) aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people.
    Breakdown: 6.9% of Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to 278,000 young people.
  • One in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition.
    Breakdown: 26.4% of Australians aged 16 to 24 currently have experienced a mental health disorder in the last 12 months.5This figure includes young people with a substance use disorder. This is equivalent to 750,000 young people today.
  • Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents.
    Breakdown: 324 Australians (10.5 per 100,000) aged 15-24 dying by suicide in 2012. This compares to 198 (6.4 per 100,000) who died in car accidents (the second highest killer).
  • Evidence suggests three in four adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24 and half by age 14
    Breakdown: Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders start by age 14 years and three fourths by age 24 years.

Where to go for help 

**Your GP should always be your first point of call…

UK

No Panic: 0844 9674848 Youth Helpline 0330 606 1174 (for 13 to 20 year olds open Mon to Thurs 4pm-6pm)
Helpline for anxiety disorders, panic attacks etc. Provides advice, counselling, listening, befriending and can make referrals. Local self help groups and produces leaflets, audio and video cassettes.

OCD Action: 0845 390 6232.  Information and support for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCDs) and related disorders including Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), Skin Picking (CSP), Trichotillomania (TTM) – compulsive hair pulling.

TOP UK (Triumph Over Phobia)The OCD and Phobia Charity: 01225 571740
UK registered charity which aims to help sufferers of phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and other related anxiety to overcome their fears and become ex sufferers, run a network of self help therapy groups.

Australia

Headspace : 1800 650 890

Free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.

Kids Helpline :1800 55 1800

A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.

Useful Websites

  • www.calmclinic.com – information relating to anxiety, panic disorder, stress and depression
  • www.dailystrength.org – Online community support for anxiety, mental health, and health related conditions.
  • www.haveigotaproblem.com – free resource for mental health and addiction issues created and run by the Tasha Foundation.
  • www.healthyplace.com – Information and support for those suffering from anxiety (American site).
  • www.menheal.org.uk
    A website for all men who suffer from depression or anxiety from all round the world.
  • www.nomorepanic.co.uk – Information for sufferers of panic, anxiety, phobias and ocds. Includes chat room and message boards. Also information relating to insomnia.
  • www.patient.info – Self help guides under Mental Health leaflets on panic attacks, phobias,anxiety,stress, obsessional compulsive disorders, relaxation exercises.
  • www.stressbubbles.com – struggling with depression, anxiety, mental health, some great healing tips from someone who has suffered with these issues herself.

My own home chef revolution!

Out of curiosity this afternoon after the children had yet another ‘fish finger sandwich’ lunch, I looked into childhood obesity. I was stunned to read that 1 in 4 Australian children (25%) are overweight or obese (aihw.gov.au), and in the UK today nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese (gov.uk). Yes, I double checked, and looked again! It’s remarkable that in a world so set on slamming parents for feeding their children something that wasn’t sugar free, or god forbid non organic, that we have come to this. Our children are getting fatter by the minute, and their teeth are rotting faster than a corpse in the Sahara desert.

Excuse me for thinking that this is possibly down to the plethora of “advice” coming at us from every which way. As soon as you pop out your first born, you are bombarded with horrifying stories of allergies, and incidents. Tales of someone’s uncle’s, cousins, wife who weaned her baby too early and now has an elephant for a kid who has thirty-seven allergies and an epi pen sticky taped to his forehead.

You can’t eat this if you’re breast feeding, you shouldn’t buy that when you’re weaning, you must NEVER EVER let your toddler drink apple juice! It goes on and on and on. Even when your children start school and you’re miserably making packed lunches, you pray that Justin’s mum isn’t on lunch duty; what if she sees that your carrots aren’t organic and you’ve not made your own hummus, (shop bought is a no no these days), oh and you’ve slipped in a KitKat because you’d run out of bread.
We’re bombarded with messages that ring in our heads like Big Ben at midnight; ‘a healthy outside starts on the inside’; ‘Be smart, Eat smart.’ We’re forced to watch grown men, dressed like broccoli shouting slogans at us from the TV, like “I’m always in the mood to eat healthy food”. Oh get lost Broccoli Ben and pass me granny’s homemade death by chocolate. 

Why oh why are we constantly ambushed with all these highly patronising bits of ‘advice’ from companies who are blatantly poisoning us from behind their “eat healthy” message?

As an easily persuaded mum of two, I have become a dab hand at creating so called ‘healthy’ meals that the dustbin enjoys, whilst the children gorge on three-day old banana custard and toast with lashings of butter. After a twenty-minute battle with my 4-year-old to finish his rainbow chard with smashed chickpeas, I promised myself I would stop insisting on following the trends, do my best and that’s it.

I watched on as Monty urged and gagged over the loo, and thought, that’s it, I’m not going to give in to the demands of “super mum” or “green granny” or even the yummy mummy’s at the school gate. I’m making a stand. I’m not prepared to spend endless hours blending, chopping and mashing a daily rainbow of vegetables, making animal faces out of grains or turning meals into murals, so as they can be thrown in the bin or regurgitated down the loo. I’m going back to the old me, pre kids, where I cooked and ate what I really enjoyed, the meals I remember from my childhood. I was healthy and had a varied diet, full of the nutrients I needed. Unlike now, 8 years’ post-partum where I am seriously lacking vitamin D, my iron levels are beyond a joke, I’ve got acne and my stress levels are through the roof. I blame all of this on one thing. The ‘Critical Crew’, the “Quinoa Queens” and the “Soya Sisters”.  The mums who positively shudder when you say the kids had egg on toast for dinner. “What? Gluten? Excuse me? No greens?’

I’m not sorry that my children don’t like parsnip and harissa fritters with a sprout and avocado dressing. They don’t like spaghetti hoops from a tin for goodness sake. There is no way I could get either of my children to gobble up a salmon fillet with a smile on their face, even if it had been submerged in Nutella first.  I’m fed up of creating names for meals that omit the “yukky” ingredient; I’m not calling Calamari ‘Spanish chips’ anymore!

This year I will be making lasagne as I love it, with pasta (full of gluten), rich red wine infused beef, and a mountain of crispy cheese of the dairy variety on top! I’ll be making stir-fry’s, bangers and mash with veggies and lashings of gravy,  chicken pies, homemade curry with rice, cakes, stews, Sunday roasts, cooked breakfasts, bubble and squeak!! I won’t be cutting out this, substituting that, or limiting anything. I won’t need to.  I’ll be cooking like my mum and dad did, and their parents did before that. I’ll be cooking healthy family meals, with no one sitting on my shoulder ‘advising’ me on how to add lentils to my already brilliant shepherd’s pie or make my morning porridge using Quinoa because oats are from the devil. The statistics speak for themselves; parents just don’t need so much input when it comes to feeding their children. It’s overwhelming, confusing, and mostly downright unhelpful; resulting in our bins getting full and our kids get fat.


Family chefs, be true to yourself, you know what’s right, you know what’s good, you know your children. Don’t let our little ones become confused about food and health and therefore miss out on the enchantment of sitting at the table with loved ones. If we don’t teach them that wherever we are in our lives, the family dinner table is the most wonderful place to share time, no one else will.

Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. Here’s to the true home cook’s revolution.

Join me in using the #homecooksrevolution

 

What feels like the end is often the beginning! 

Monty came downstairs three times this evening after I’d put him to bed, he never does that. It wouldn’t have been so annoying had we still been living in our single storey house in Sydney! The stairs kill me… Twice is bad enough but 3 times up and down, after a long day, with a tummy full of curry and rice! I was not a happy mumma that’s for certain! As I tucked him in AGAIN, furiously patting the covers down, almost burying him alive in the duvet, he looked up at my cross face and sweetly asked if I would lay with him! “I just want to lie next to you mummy” he said very softly, making a space for me. An enormous pang of guilt hit me; the “I don’t hug you enough,” the “oh my god he’s going to school in 3 weeks,” then the “oh my god I’m a dreadful mother”, then I had the “I just don’t play with you as much as I should”…. So I snuggled down and lay with him. I lay there looking at his face, he’s still so little, yet I expect so much of him. As I lay there beside my boy, listening to his breaths getting deeper as he was nodding off, completely contented, I began to think about how our lives are about to change. Not just a small change, we don’t do small changes!! In three weeks time he starts school. I feel a huge wave of anxiety come across me. A selfish kind of anxiety, a real worry; not for him but for me.


In three weeks time, we’ll both be taking on new roles again. (As if emigrating, three house moves, and now an interstate move aren’t enough for one 4 year old!!) Monty will be a school boy, and I’ll be…. Gosh, who will I be??? For the past 9 years I’ve been the ‘stay at home mum’, looking after who ever’s at home; apart from myself of course. Playing games, washing up, reading stories, ironing, going to toddler groups, hoovering glitter out of every possible nook and cranny. In 9 short years I’ve become an expert in creating meals that no one wants to eat, I’ve mastered the art of avoiding tantrums and meltdowns with clever negotiating. I’ve become highly trained in wiping faces & bottoms, clearing up spills and even worse. I’m a dab hand with a train set, a warrior with a nerf gun and I can completely dismantle and rebuild most if not ALL transformers. I know the name of every ninja turtle, all of Peppa Pig’s mates and the paw patrol pups. My god I sing the theme tune to Barbie’s  ‘Life in the dream house’ while I’m ironing. So you see my dilemma.

 

 


What’s going to become of me when the bell rings and both my children are in school?

Who will I be? What will I do? It may sound dramatic but I think I may have lost my identity a little, maybe even morphed into some kind of freaky adult child.

I’ve always been happy being at home with the children, and we were lucky that I could be. I’d always dreamt about being at home full time with my babies, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. (Not literally of course!)

It’s just now, 9 years down the road, in another new city, I am being forced to think about me! Just me! What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? It may sound crazy, but it’s not something I’ve really thought about in a very long time. And to be honest it’s terrifying!

Don’t get me wrong, there are so many things I could easily fill my time with! Reading magazines, having coffee with friends, more coffee, then lunch before pick up. I could go to Pilates, yoga, painting classes, bike riding, horse riding, surfing lessons, scuba diving…. The list is endless, but maybe I need a “job”.  A job that I get paid for, and I get a lunch break with. A job that stops at 5pm sharp. A job that’s just mine, that I don’t have to share, something just for me. That’s where the problem lies. I haven’t set foot in an office for years, my brain is like a soggy egg; and that mixed with admin would be a disaster. I’m not sure I’d be very good at dealing with customers so maybe working in a shop wouldn’t be ideal. I can’t cut hair, or paint nails.. I’d love to be a nurse but I’m too old, I’d love to run a florist but I know nothing about flowers! I can’t take x-rays, I can’t fix cars, I’m not too good at knitting, sewing or fixing things in general.

So, where’s my local “stay at home mum self help group?” Who looks out for us as we head off into the big wide world with a very light handbag and not a snotty tissue in sight? Who’s going to point me in the direction of a coffee shop with no play area? Who’s going to advise me that my face is “too red” or my bum looks “too wobbly in that skirt!?”

As the start of term draws near, the realisation that I’m going to be all alone for most of the week is quite overwhelming. I know they annoy the heck out of me, but jeez they keep me busy, they make me laugh, and they always manage to show me what’s really important in life. They are literally my everything, and that’s all about to become very different for me.

So tomorrow night when the kids are playing up at bedtime, I won’t swear, instead, I’ll take a deep breath, tuck them in again and remind myself that this is all about to change. I will linger a little longer, as I know, in a few weeks time I will be tucking them in, ready to rest before a day of school. They’ll be off together, in their matching uniforms, brother and sister out in the wild alone, without me, and I will be watching them, knowing that it’s the end of an era in the lives of “The Wilson’s”.  One thing I know for sure, whatever becomes of me,  is that when that bell goes at the end of the day, I will be there waiting for them. I’ll be waiting for them to run out to Mumma; at least for a little while longer.
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Some changes look negative on the surface, but you’ll soon realise that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge – Eckhart Tolle