Completing 100 Happy Days

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So I completed the 100 Happy Days challenge a couple of months ago and completely forgot to write a little something about how I found it, and challenging is definitely the right word.

I remember reading about how so many people who start this never manage to finish and I thought that was ridiculous! It began as being so easy and fun. “No problem”, I thought. “This will be a piece of cake.”

Well, 100 days is actually a very long time and by the end I felt like it was starting to drag. There were days I just plain old didn’t feel like taking a photo. “What do I have to take a photo of today anyway?! I’m a stay at home mother for heaven’s sake. My life is full of laundry, The Wiggles and bed time battles. Yawn!” Certainly not the mentality in which I started.

Then about a month out from the finish line I discovered I was pregnant, and with that came the dreaded morning sickness. Not as unbearable as my last pregnancy but certainly not pleasant. I admit that I skipped a few days during this time.

When I posted my final picture, oh my gosh it was such a relief! The burden of trying to take a decent photo every single day and the thought of it constantly being on my mind; to have that lifted was a great feeling. The challenge is so much harder than it sounds.

But I have to say, I’m glad I did it. I hate starting something and not being able to finish, so I was happy to have done so. But more than that, as I look back over the photos I took I realise that there are so many memories. My daughter grew so much during that time. At the start of the challenge she was just beginning to pull herself up and by the end she was practically running. There were birthday / wedding / Valentines Day celebrations, first time experiences, lots of sunny beach days and fun play dates, more cafe / dinner dates and nights out than I thought. Market trips, yummy food, amazing people, newborn babies and of course finding out about our beautiful new bun in the oven. It was much more interesting than I expected! It makes me wonder what the next 100 days will bring for me.

I am so grateful for the life I lead. I am safe, happy, healthy and surrounded by love. I don’t think I’ll be doing another photo-a-day challenge to remind me of this but it was a worthwhile experience nonetheless!

You can check out the 100 Happy Day Challenge website here:
http://100happydays.com/

You can also check out my other blog posts about the challenge here:
100 Happy Days
Halfway to 100 Happy Days

And finally, below are just a few photos from the last days of the challenge :)

Courts xox

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Bubba #2

Is it weird to feel guilty about having another baby? I thought it was until it happened to me.

I’m currently 19 weeks pregnant with our second child and we are absolutely over the moon about it. However in addition to this came a real bag of mixed emotions that I didn’t expect to feel.

Shortly after finding out I was pregnant I was lying in bed scrolling through pictures of my daughter and literally fighting back tears. I felt so guilty! She is my number one priority and now she will have to share my love and attention with another baby. I felt like I was betraying her! How could having just one beautiful and amazing child in my life not be enough to satisfy me?!

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how fabulous it is that we are having another baby, not just for us but for HER. More for her than anything else. It means she will always have somebody there for her, that she can grow up with and bond with. Someone who will be there for her when we are no longer around. I don’t ever want my daughter to feel lonely, and by bringing another special person into our family, we are helping to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I often take her to play with my best friend’s children and their cousins, and although I’m sure they will grow up to be very close, at the end of the day my girl will always be the one who isn’t really a part of their family. Now, she has a sibling to call her own. And that makes me so happy!

I feel sad that I will no longer be able to spend all my time giving her endless cuddles and kisses with no need to look after anybody else. I also feel sad that our new baby won’t get the same amount of attention that I was able to give our first-born since there was no need to look after anybody else. It will be a challenge for sure, especially with only an 18 month age gap. But I know they will both be just as loved and cherished as each other, and I will be the best mama possible for them that I can be!

Mummy Loves Cuddles Too

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Every night when I put my 12 month old daughter to bed, we have quiet time and I cuddle her until she falls asleep. This can take a while, and I usually play around on my phone to pass the time. I check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I play a bit of Farm Heroes Saga (I know!) and browse my favourite blogs. I’ll google important questions like: “Tips for changing a wriggly toddler’s nappy.” I find time passes quite quickly when I have my phone to keep me busy.

And then the other night, it hit me. An unnerving realisation. I looked down at my daughter and realised how happy she was. So peaceful, so content, eyes closed, breathing quietly. She was so blissfully happy to be snuggled into me having some cuddle time with her mummy, and yet here I was paying no attention to her whatsoever. I was simply waiting for the right moment to put her to bed so I could get on with enjoying the rest of my evening. 

An overwhelming feeling of guilt came over me. How ridiculous was it that I was browsing photos of her on my camera roll and smiling at her gorgeous little face, when she was right there in my arms! I immediately put my phone down and spent my time just looking at her. I smiled at her little hand on my chest, the sound of her breath, the curls in her hair and the tiny smile on her face. I looked at her button nose and felt her warm skin. I didn’t think about anything else except her and the time we were spending together in that moment. I took the time to enjoy her like she was enjoying me. 

It is so easy to think of everyday tasks like bedtime as a chore that must be done as quickly as possible; especially when these tasks are not always easy and indeed very frustrating at times. My daughter had recently gotten over an ear infection and was still having trouble getting back into a decent bedtime routine. It was driving me crazy, and I forgot to find the joy in quiet moments like these. 

Mindfulness is a concept I have thought about a lot, and it has never been so applicable to my life as it is now that I am a mother. I am very grateful of the reminder.

Under Pressure

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A friend of a friend was chatting to me on the weekend about his experiences helping to raise his sister’s daughter. After taking his baby niece to a coffee group one day, he couldn’t get over how full of crap the mothers were who went. “The pressure women put on each other is unbelievable!!” he said. “All they talked about was how easy their lives and their babies were, and they kept questioning me as to why my niece doesn’t do this or that. Why do you guys do this to yourselves?!” He was so right!!

Why are women so competitive with each other? We go through school wanting to be the most popular, and the best looking with the best figure and the best clothes. We grow up, we become mothers, and it doesn’t stop! We still want all these things because wow, what a mum people will think we are if we can still have our lives looking so put together! We want to be the mum who has time to make their own organic baby food, attend strollercise classes every week, host a coffee group and spend up large on our partner’s 6 figure salary. The perfect stay-at-home parent!

That same pressure we put on ourselves is what we end up directing towards our children. My 9 month old daughter is walking now, and in the past couple of weeks already I have had mums that I’ve met at the park or at a playgroup ask me how old she is, exclaim at how early she is walking, and then tell me with a sad face that their child didn’t start walking until much later because they are a bit “slow”. Um… seriously!? We want so badly for our kids to be the best dressed, the best sleeper, the most well-behaved, the fastest developer… It’s not a competition! Do all these things really reflect on our ability to teach, nurture and provide as a parent?? It’s ridiculous.

Check out some of the online parenting forums or Facebook pages that offer what is supposed to be a kind and supportive environment for women to seek parenting advice. One page I follow had a woman post a question the other day, asking how she can tell her friend to stop feeding her baby rice cereal. “It breaks my heart” she says. “I really care for this little girl”. Um, lady, do you not think your friend cares about HER OWN BABY wayyyy more than you do!!! Maybe rice cereal isn’t the most nutritious of food, I don’t know. But nothing irritates me more than a judgemental nosey-body getting on their high horse and telling people what to do. I’m sure she is not a perfect mother herself! The comments that follow range from telling this mother that she has every right to be concerned and that she should tell her friend what she thinks immediately, to telling her to back off and that it is none of her business. I am so glad that there are at least some people with common sense still out there.

PRESSURE PRESSURE PRESSURE.

If your own friends and family aren’t going to support and lift you up as a mother, then who will? It’s time that we aim to show each other more kindness and honesty, and stop putting on a front for the sake of our own image. Bringing others down and telling them how much better YOU are doing in comparison to them will not make us happy in the end.

The Best Gift of Life Blog

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I have just been featured on the blog “The Best Gift of Life” as an inspiring mum which is so awesome! It is such a fantastic blog. They interview mothers about their lives, opinions and experiences, their birth stories and even their nurseries. I really enjoy reading about other mums and their own personal journeys.

I think that all of us as mothers can serve as an inspiration for each other. It helps us to realise that the things we do and feel are all normal, and reminds us what a fantastic job we are doing.

So check it out! And not just for my interview, but for all the hot mamas sharing their precious families.

Instagram: @thebestgiftoflife

www.thebestgiftoflife.com

Maternity photo by PoppyMoss Photography http://www.poppymoss.com

Halfway to 100 Happy Days

Today is Day 50 of my 100 Happy Days Challenge and I am loving it. I have been posting a picture everyday on Instagram of something that has made me happy that day, and I would have to say that it has become a habit.

It hasn’t always been easy. There have been days where I have woken up and thought to myself that I would probably not find something to take a photo of, but I have been successful so far! It is a good reminder that there is always joy to be found, no matter how simple, and I love looking back at the pictures that have built up over the last month or so.

Had I taken up this challenge a couple of years ago, my photos would look very different. There would be pictures of nights out on the town, parties, delicious meals from various cafés and restaurants, purchases of new clothes / makeup and other things I wanted but didn’t necessarily need, some work-related photos and tons of opportunities for glamorous selfies.

But life is very different for me now. The majority of my pictures are of or involve my daughter in some way, and this makes me so happy!

A dear friend of mine posted recently about how different life is for her now that she is a mum. People ask her why she doesn’t drink or play sport as much as she used to, the implication being that she no longer has a life. But we DO have lives as mothers. It is just not what it used to be and we find great fulfilment in what we do; raising our children and putting their needs ahead of our own.

That is not to say we don’t crave time to ourselves or look back fondly on the times when we had all the freedom in the world to do what we pleased. Because I do! I do enjoy the chances I am given to take a break. But I’m always so excited to see my girl again at the end of it. Life couldn’t be better!

Below are just a few of the photos I have taken so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing what is ahead for me during the next 50 days! And the link to the website on the 100 Happy Days Challenge is also below.

http://100happydays.com/

nb. Please do not take my photos :)

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Valuing Your Loved Ones

4403695597_76c1400640_oIt has been about a month now since my last post and I must admit that I have been lacking in motivation as of late!

My daughter is now 8 months old and is developing at an incredibly fast pace. She is crawling, climbing and standing on her own. She is curious and loves to explore. She is very aware of her environment, the people around her, their words, their actions and what they mean. She amazes me every single day! Of course this has meant that her sleep has been very disrupted (there’s always a reason for our poor bubbas to sleep like crap isn’t there!).

It was at the point where I was too exhausted to even attempt to maintain her sleeping routine and was regularly bringing her into our bed at night. It was the easiest option as I was just too tired to try and get her back to sleep in her cot. She was becoming more and more aware that her cot was keeping her away from her mama and her booby, and every evening ended up being an anxious time for us. My poor partner was sleeping on the couch more often than not!

First time mothers are never short on information and advice but putting these things into practise requires patience and persistence that you just don’t have when you are as tired as I was. Our partners try their best to help out but often they are just as tired and unsure as we are. This is where the support of your family and friends is so important. It is with your loved ones that you can seek help and be open and honest about how you are struggling.

My partner and I are currently living with my family, and I am so grateful for this. They absolutely ADORE having their granddaughter / niece with them everyday, and the way they have bonded with her is so special. I love knowing that I am always coming home to a full house, and so does my girl. In times where I have been frustrated and tired, they have saved my sanity.

In Maori culture, and indeed many cultures around the world, raising a child was the responsibility of the entire extended family. In today’s western society we pride ourselves on independence, having our own home and raising our children. But what good is it when we are separated from the love and support of our extended families? I’m sure that it is not necessary to actually be living with your extended family as we are, but it is so important to find that support somewhere. Being at home every day with your child can become very boring and lonely for the both of you if you don’t.

Raising children was never meant to be a lonely experience!

I know many parents find their support network in coffee / play groups. I was never very keen on the idea for myself and became very irritated with my Plunket nurse for bringing up the subject at every visit. But having been a stay at home mum for 8 months now I can understand their value. I’m very lucky to have so many close friends with babies and young children, and had I not, I would be rushing to join one of these groups too. You need friends who can laugh and cry with you about how you are functioning on 2 hours of sleep, truly share in your joy, understand that you might not be keen on taking your restless toddler out for a cafe brunch, have a spare nappy on hand when you realise you forgot to pack enough, and feel a sense of relief that their lounge is just as overrun with toys and rusk bits as yours.

I have heard that there are many play groups that are not like this unfortunately. It is not supposed to be a place where you get to brag, make comparisons and pretend that you aren’t as exhausted as everyone else. It’s a shame that there are women who would rather give the impression that they have it all together instead of building meaningful relationships with other mothers.

If you are lonely or struggling, make sure you reach out for help! Don’t leave it until you are on the brink of exhaustion. You will not win extra brownie points in life for trying to soldier on on your own. Don’t let your pride rob you of the joy you could be experiencing raising your children!