Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Review of Nil Food Wraps

I cycle to work every day. 

So far, my sustainable commute has destroyed a high end smart phone, a pair of leather ankle boots (thank you torrential autumn downpour), I have been thrown into rocks by the wind (that one was maybe due to a cheeky Friday vino after work), I have been bawled out by runners unable to understand the concept of a "shared pathway", I have thrown myself into a hedge to avoid a commuter stepping off a bus without looking, and repeated "excuse me" about 5,000 times to people wearing headphones.

I do this along a route where a perfectly functional bus with heating and seats will take me door to door for the princely sum of $9 a day.

If you were to ask me if there was a good reason why I do this, I would tell you that there were four:

1. I have three young children who would kick my ass if I didn't maintain some level of fitness
2. I'm fast approaching middle age
3. I like to eat
4. I'm Mediterranean

Taken individually, these are all valid reasons to exercise, taken together and I'm all "Dude! Sign me the hell up!"

What does this have to do with Nil Food Wraps?

Just think of them as the bicycle.

I promise you this: You will never look out of my front door during a howling southerly and think that cycling to work is the easy option, and you will never look at a Nil Food Wrap and start itching to throw out your cling wrap.

But without wanting to venture too far down Preachy Street, there is something about having children that makes you wonder what sort of world you want to leave behind, and in my case, it is a world that isn't liberally scattered with plastic tumble-weed.

In my house, cling wrap was mostly used to cover leftovers before they go into the fridge which means that Nil Food Wraps have been an easy transition. They smell lush, they are locally made, organic, antibacterial and they have a lifespan of about four months.

If that doesn't convince you, just think how good it'll make your backside look ... no wait, that's the bicycle.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Attachment Parent in Training

Do you ever look at a part of your life and wonder whether you are dreaming? Like you know that this is your reality but you feel like at any moment, someone is going to come along and whip this part of your life away because you clearly don't deserve it?

I feel like that about writing for The Natural Parent Magazine

Every quarter I mail the Hannah with some wafty, ill conceived idea for an article and every quarter she replies with grace and enthusiasm and makes me feel like I have something really valuable to add to the attachment parenting conversation down here in the Southern Hemisphere.

And I'll be honest, I cringe every time I send her an article because I full expect her to reply with a mocking laugh and it is a genuine shock to me when she replies each time with enthusiasm. 

It's an even bigger shock when I open my mail to see my name ... MY NAME ... in print beside the words I sweated and stressed over for hour after long hour.

I wanted to share some of my latest article with you, and for those of you who live down under, you can see the rest at your local newsagent. Even if you don't want to know how this story ends, the other articles and delicious photos are well worth buying and leaving angled trendily on your coffee table. Anyone north of the equator can buy a digital subscription.

Just sayin.  

I identify as an attachment parent, but I’ll let you in on a little secret; every time I do, I feel like a fraud.
When I look over my social media feeds, I see message after message reminding me that attachment parents are gentle, they don’t shout, they are calm, they are composed.
I read them, and so many thoughts crowd into my head and tell me I'm not worthy to count myself as a part of the gang: My temper is too short, my voice is too loud, I get hung up on the judgement of other people ... I could go on, but to put it simply, I feel like the reality of my personality disqualifies me from being a successful Attachment Parent.
I see these failing as part tendency towards my Mediterranean heritage, and part natural consequence of learning a different way of parenting from the one I knew growing up. My parents, like many of their generation, were told that breast milk was inferior to formula, that the only way to get a child to sleep was to put them in a cot and walk away, and that a child would develop unruly behaviour leading to the complete breakdown of society if they weren't firmly disciplined.

Learning how to be an Attachment Parent is a radical departure from all of those things, and like any other skill, it does not come pre-packaged and perfected; it involves lots of small successes and lots of big failures.

Despite being embarrassed by them, I try to embrace my failings knowing that they don't make me a bad Attachment Parent; quite the opposite, because they inspire me to go in search of the answers I need to fill the gaps in my knowledge and compensate for my less gentle personality traits.
I'm not going to give away the rest, I'll just say it involves admitting a lot of failures and celebrating my way through them. And as crazy as it sounds, it looks like Hannah is going to be kind enough to publish another one of my articles in the next issue as well.

If this is a dream, please nobody wake me.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Unschooling At Age 5: South America

The house is currently in the grip of Latin fever: Keith spends his evening poring over books about Cuba and Mexico ahead of our trip, and thanks to a well timed football tournament, Alfie and I are in the middle of lap booking.

Never heard of a lap book? 

That's OK, neither had I until I became acquainted with the good folk at Homeschool Share at which point I realised that I'd actually been a fan of them since primary school.

Somewhere buried in the boxes of my school work is a project I once did about the human body. It was the closest I ever came to lap booking as a child and to this day it still ranks as the only single project I can remember doing. 

Isn't that nuts? 13 years of formal education and I can only remember one assignment?

This project was made up of pictures on top of pictures, flaps that lifted, mini books within books and fold out inserts. It was created from a stack of printouts painstakingly coloured, cut out and stick into place.

That, in a nutshell, is a lap book

Alfie and I have so far filled ours with different information about Chile and Argentina. We have looked at money, climate, found them on the globe, looked at food, language; in other words, we have picked a starting point and then let our questions take us where they will.

Sometimes I have asked questions of Alfie to see if they spark, sometimes he has taken us in a new direction with his own thoughts and questions. We sit at the table with the tablet, the globe and our lap book and we just shoot the educational breeze.  

This weekend we will be looking at Brasil.

I say this weekend, I'm not sure we will last that long because I kid you not, he spent last night pleading with me to let him stay up so that we could do more work together.

Passion for learning? I should coco.

I don't just mean for him either, I mean me. 

This morning my ride to work involved me doing a lot of pondering about whether Earth has a right way up which frankly is not the sort of thing I thought myself capable of right now. Frankly, my new job is taking up so much brain power it's a wonder I haven't been found bimbling around the waterfront with pants on my head, a pencil up each nostril shouting "wibble" at passing tourists.

Come to think of it, that sounds like an idea for a Friday night on the town.  

Friday, 12 June 2015

Life as a Working Mama: Can Women Have It All?

I have just come to the end of my first week back at work after some time off with the children. It never gets any easier to wrench myself away from them and back into the 9-5. Never.

I remember the first time I came "back to work" when Alfie was 9 weeks old. I remember the hollow feeling that I had left a very important part of me behind and the constant battle of trying to focus on something that took a very distant second place to what I wanted to be doing.

When I started work after having Esme I remember sitting in the shower room expressing for her and in my more melodramatic moments looking down and thinking that it was almost as if my breasts were crying milk for her.

With Olive, sprinting back from the bus each evening to scoop her up and nuzzle that sweet smelling baby neck I had missed all day.

No, it never gets any easier.

But with working comes a commute and that, to me, means thinking time. This week I have been mulling over the age old question of whether women have been sold a lie.

Can we really "have it all"?

We become mamas and despite our promises, to ourselves and our children, we are faced with a choice: An impossible choice.

We can become part of the cliché, the part timer, desperately fitting a full working week into a few days and feeling five minutes behind every deadline. Or, even worse, we go back to work full time and pick up our careers only to add full time failing mum to our résumé.

Once a week we get those digests, those beautifully crafted social media updates full of pictures of amazing ways to feed children at a party, or turn your recycling into a beautiful work of craft and it mocks you, yet another way that you are failing. How do these mums have time? Or energy? Or the creativity? I bet the women who thought of these have rocking bodies and a great sex life too. I bet their children never hit another child over a grubby play group toy.

But what if these are the thoughts of every mama walking the streets today?

That perfectly suited woman who is only wearing a jacket to cover the jam kissed shoulder she missed as she walked out a of the house? Or the woman who looks like she had just spent the day at the spa, not because she has, but because she has perfected her look of serenity to cover her dread at knowing she is going to walk through the door and straight into a pitched battle.

What if this is the all that we can have?

Not some perfect life where time and our energy are limitless resources, but a life of compromise.

What if it was always there, tucked away in tiny letters in the small print at the bottom of The Motherhood Contract.

Would you still have taken the deal?
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