Nesting – The Ultimate Excuse for a Good Declutter

Let’s face it; pregnancy can at times feel like a period of temporary insanity. Rioting hormones, a rapidly changing body and bizarre cravings can all contribute to making you feel slightly insane.

Weirdly, even if you are generally not a neat freak, those marvellous hormones and the sense of impending motherhood may result in the urge to clean, paint, tidy and otherwise prepare your nest.

If this sounds like you, fantastic! Take advantage of your natural instincts to give you a great head start on decluttering the nest in anticipation of your new arrival.

• Work in short bursts. This is particularly important during the first and third trimesters when you are more likely to tire easily. Tackle only one small area at a time to prevent yourself getting exhausted.

• Enlist support. Moving furniture and lifting heavy items are not something that a pregnant woman should be doing. Enlist the help of your partner to deal with anything heavy.

• Don’t fall for the ‘just in case’ trap. Babies need less than most new parents think. Check out this list of Essential Items for a Happy Mum and Baby

• Dispose of excess wisely. Nesting is an excuse for decluttering, NOT for overfilling your rubbish bins. Be thoughtful about where your excess goes; can it be donated, given to friends / family or even sold?

• When in doubt – box away. If you are indecisive about an item, box it up and mark it for 6 weeks after your due date. Put the box out of sight and if unopened by the marked date, give it away. (Obviously this doesn’t apply for clothes that your baby will grow into – they can stay!)

• Simple question, simple answer. If you find yourself struggling to declutter ‘stuff’, ask yourself one very simple question. Would you rather clean / tidy / organise this item or cuddle your newborn? Time is finite, use it wisely!

Welcoming a new baby into your home can be a joyous and momentous occasion. It can also be blo*dy exhausting (hello sleep deprivation). Housework will often take a back seat for at least a few weeks. Make your own life as simple as possible by getting stuck into some decluttering now. You’ll thank yourself later!

P.S – Congratulations!

Hosting a green baby shower!

So, there’s a new baby coming into your life soon? Congratulations, this is such an exciting time for everyone involved! Regardless of whether you are throwing a baby shower for yourself or a friend, here are some great ideas to a simpler, greener and more sustainable baby shower.

Planning

• Reduce paper waste by using recycled paper for the invitations, or better yet – get creative on the computer and send via email. (You could even create a Facebook event, but I’d prefer to be a little more personal!)

• If the weather is suitable, opt for an outside venue such as a park or garden. No electricity required!

• Ditch the balloons, streamers and cheap plastic banners. Either make decorations yourself out of recycled materials or take the simpler option with some gorgeous plants and native flowers.

• Consider the environment when making catering choices. If on a budget, ask everyone to bring a plate of homemade treats, or if there is a little more cash to spend – opt for delicious local produce.

What to Buy
• If you’re throwing a shower for a friend, chat to the expectant Mummy about what they actually need.

• If you’re the one expecting, don’t be shy about letting people know what you need. Baby gifts are given with the intent of being helpful so your friends won’t be offended!

• Challenge people to come up with homemade or recycled gifts (check out this list of green baby shower gift ideas)

Green Baby Shower Gifts

• Service Vouchers – treat the expectant Mummy to a facial, massage or other beauty treatment.

• Homemade coupons – These are some of the most useful and underrated gifts around! Offer to prepare dinner once a week for a month after baby arrives, design a coupon for a freezer full of baked goodies, or line yourself up as the new dog walker! If there are already other children in the family, offer your services as a baby sitter.

• Weekend away for the expectant couple

• A treasured book from your own childhood

• A gift membership – La Leche League, the Australian Breastfeeding Association or even the local toy library

• Charity Pledges – Something as simple as the gift of ‘Maternal Health Care’ (offered by World Vision) may be perfect for the expectant Mum that already has everything. Alternatively, make a pledge to the expectant parent’s preferred charity in the name of their new baby.

• If you simply must buy something new, check out the Australian made Nurture sling. It’s made from organic cotton, without the aid of sweatshops and is absolutely beautiful. (This is not an affiliate link, I just really love the product)

Baby showers can be lots of fun for all involved. Hopefully the above examples show that with just a little bit of planning, they can also be environmentally friendly!

The Green Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a truly miraculous time. It can be sickening, joyous, frightening, exhilarating, exhausting and confronting – sometimes all at once.

There is a lot to organise, particularly if this is your first pregnancy. Maternity leave, paid parental leave / baby bonus, setting up the nursery, planning a single income budget and preparing for birth (and beyond) can all take up your time and limited energy. There are few things that compare to the soul destroying, bone crunching levels of exhaustion that a busy pregnant woman may encounter, particularly in the first and third trimesters.

However, in addition to the delights of folding tiny socks and painting the nursery, pregnancy also offers a unique opportunity for reflection and deep rooted change. Let’s face it, you’re about to bring a little person into this world! (Sorry, I know that it’s a scary realisation) From now on, every decision that you make will have some degree of impact on their lives, so why not try to give them the greenest and healthiest start possible?

Expectant parents (particularly first time round) are easy prey for the advertising machine. After all, we all want our children to ‘have the best’ and somehow this has come to mean loads of plastic toys, designer prams and mountains of dummies.

What if we could turn this around? What if we were to recognise that giving our children ‘the best’ may mean giving them less and instead reducing their exposure to toxins, supporting a world without sweatshops and reducing waste?

It’s a radical and challenging thought, particularly for those of us that have been led to believe that more is always better.

Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond – The simple, sustainable way!
• Ignore the commercial must buy lists – Ask a trusted friend or family member what their essential baby items were and make sure that you check out my ‘Essential Lists for a Happy Mum and Baby’.

• Stay fit and healthy with regular gentle exercise such as pregnancy yoga, walking and swimming. As a general rule of thumb, the more positive and healthy you feel, the less inclined you will be to overindulge in unhealthy foods and excessive shopping. As an added bonus, staying fit will reduce the amount of maternity clothes that you need to buy!

• Source baby and maternity wear second hand – Check out Freecycle, Craigslist, Gumtree or your local Buy, Swap and Sell Facebook page for barely used baby goods and maternity wear. Remember that babies grow incredibly quickly and maternity is fleeting so items purchased second hand are unlikely to have experienced a lot of wear.

• Refresh your beauty routine – Take 15 minutes to do a stocktake of your beauty and make-up cabinets. Read the ingredients on your shampoos, body scrubs and makeup. Remember that your skin is your largest organ and everything that you put on it will be absorbed into your body. Are you happy for to be exposing your baby to ingredients that you can’t pronounce?

• Declutter the house – Many pregnant women experience a ‘nesting’ type instinct before the arrival of a new baby. Take advantage of it to do some serious decluttering of your house and reduce your work load before the new baby arrives. (Nesting – the ultimate excuse for a good clean out)

• Reduce your toxins – A 2012 study by Edith Cowan University in Western Australia found that 84% of pregnant women have detectable amounts of BPA in their urine. Bisphenol A is commonly found in plastic and cans and research has shown that prenatal exposure can lead to adverse behavioural outcomes, has potential links to miscarriage (yet to be peer reviewed) and may interfere with hormonal development. Scary stuff and this is just ONE of the thousands of toxins that we regularly expose ourselves to. Take your own (BPA free) water bottle and opt for glass over plastic or tins wherever possible.

• Opt for services to make yourself feel good – When it comes to the ecological impact of our actions, few things make a bigger difference than opting for services over products. Rather than a shopping spree, indulge in a massage (ensure your practitioner is qualified for pregnancy massage), a new hair-cut, a facial or even a pedicure.

• Get in the habit of opting for fresh, organic and healthy food – Use pregnancy as an opportunity to take a good look at your diet, not as an excuse to eat anything and everything! Grilling an organic free range chicken breast and throwing together a quick garden salad is almost as quick as picking up take-away and SO much tastier!

• Baby shower – I tend to think that Baby Showers are a bit unnecessary, but if you and your friends are keen on having one, check out these tips on making your baby shower more sustainable and preventing a mountain of wrapping paper, soft toys and excess plastic!

 

Why this farm girl is voting Green…

Apologies to any of my lovely followers that are based overseas, but today’s post has a local flavour. There is a bee in my bonnet and I simply have to get it out…

It is time for a confession that may well get me shot by my family or at the very least disinherited.

*Deep breath. Last will and testament in order… Check*

At the last Australian Federal Election, I voted for the Australian Greens. To make matters worse, upon hearing that Western Australia will in all likelihood going back to the polls owing to some ‘lost’ ballot papers leading to confusion over who was victorious in the Senate (don’t ask), I contacted the Greens and volunteered my time to help get them over the line in this election.

Forget money, forget managed funds or property portfolios – I personally believe that TIME is the most precious asset that we have. So why on earth would I be volunteering to support a party that I’m not 100% convinced by with the most precious asset that I have?

The answer is simple. I agree with The Greens on the issues that matter most.

As an Australian I’m angry that the Abbott Government has cut foreign aid and removed poverty alleviation from the list of international aid objectives. Despite appearances, we are not a purely self-interested nation, willing to help others only if there is a measurable benefit to our trade balance.

As a Mum, I’m horrified that my children’s future is being jeopardised by politicians sticking their heads in the sand over climate change. (For an unbiased and purely factual view of Australia’s changing climate, check out this video from the Bureau of Meteorology).

And finally, as a human being, I am appalled and disgraced by the attempts of the current Australian Government to portray asylum seekers as criminals, despite their legal rights to seek asylum.

Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with The Greens on some issues in the agricultural sector, but it has come down to a simple choice of choosing policies that support people’s lives, or choosing policies that support livelihoods. At the end of the day, which is more important?

In Australia we are blessed. Despite my joking at the outset of this post, our political views are unlikely to get us shot (just don’t tell my family). We each have the power, and the right to make our voices heard, and most importantly we have the freedom to choose who we vote for at each and every election.

So, if you are Western Australian like me and are heading back to the polls soon, ask yourself one very simple question. Where does this party stand on the issues that matter to me?

As a former rusted on Nationals / Liberals voter (I’m a farm girl ok, forgive me), I can guarantee that this one simple question may change your mind AND your vote.

P.S – Congratulations and thank you if you made it to the end!

xoxo

Go ahead, cut someone else’s grass… I dare you!

G'day! I'm your new neighbour...

G’day! I’m your new neighbour…

Less than 48hrs after reading this post over at Down to Earth Mother, I was lucky enough to enjoy first-hand the benefits of being friendly with your neighbours.

Following the recent downturn and subsequent redundancies, our street is looking somewhat empty at the moment.

Unfortunately, living in a company town means that only current company employees (of which there are now less) are eligible to live here. As a result, our little street of 13 houses has said goodbye to five families, leaving only 8 houses occupied.

Regardless, those that are left are a good bunch, particularly the neighbours that are directly across from us; a lovely Islander gentleman, his gorgeous Thai wife and their ‘cute as a button’ 11month old son. Despite significant language barriers we often trade herbs (their Kaffir Lime and Lemongrass is exceptional), cooking (I take over scones, cupcakes and brownies while delicious Thai dishes are often sent our way) and we let the little ones play together whenever the weather allows. Our neighbour’s English is improving and I am learning about Thai geography and some basic words! It’s a win-win…

Yesterday we loaned our lawn mower. No big deal and certainly nothing that we would ever expect any form of repayment for, after all sharing resources is one of the beautiful benefits of being neighbourly. Upon glancing out the window as I was washing the lunch dishes, I suddenly noticed that our wonderful neighbour had not only mowed his own lawn, but had now started work on our verge (my least favourite area to mow)! Naturally we asked if he was lost…

Even more surprisingly and delightful, late in the afternoon after the lawnmower had returned to the garage, a plate of delicious, freshly made Thai spring rolls arrived on our dining table. What a treat!

Getting to know your neighbours can be an absolute delight. Collectively you can share resources (saving both money and the environment), and learn from each other, regardless of cultural or lifestyle differences.

Easy tips to get to know your neighbours!

• When you first move in to a new neighbourhood, take the time to introduce yourself, exchange phone numbers and share any significant details that may be relevant (shift work, large family, friendly dog…)

• Bake extra – baking a little extra to share with your neighbours takes almost no time at all, yet delivers amazing amounts of goodwill. Nothing extends the hand of friendship better than pumpkin scones or chocolate brownies.

• Is your herb garden overflowing? Let your neighbours know – you may save them a trip to the shops and prevent your lovingly tended herbs from being wasted.

• Host a neighbourhood BBQ and invite everyone to bring a plate that celebrates their heritage

• Initiate a conversation. Rather than just a brisk hello as you rush past, linger for a moment and ask about their day. It may just be the start of a wonderful new friendship.

• Do you have kids? Concerned about their safety? Start getting to know the other parents in your neighbourhood. Not only will your children suddenly be surrounded by friends (less requests to be driven to distant friend’s houses), you will also feel reassured about your children’s safety.

• Mowing your verge? Take an extra five minutes to look after your neighbours at the same time.

• Bring the rubbish bin in. Less than 30 seconds to perform a random act of kindness to make you both happier!

Not only will knowing your neighbours give you greater peace of mind, it may help save you money and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Now who is up for that?

Mindful Parenting – It’s Not Easy!

Play time!

Play time!

Ok, I’ll be honest from the outset. This blog post is really just a thinly veiled cry for help and advice from all those parents out there who manage to successfully juggle ‘mindful parenting ‘while maintaining their own sense of identify and purpose, along with the ability to actually get things done.

Although mindful parenting means different things to different people, to me it means spending time actively engaging with your child / children, not using TV as a babysitter continually, seeking to capitalise on their natural desire to learn and explore and just generally paying attention. The question that I have is; how much is enough? Is there such a thing as a happy balance?

The guilt from engaging in other activities (writing, study, yoga) while my little one is awake and active has bothered me for a while now. Perhaps it’s an only child thing and will lessen with the arrival of B2…

If you are like me and struggle to balance mindful parenting with retaining a sense of self, some of the following ideas may be helpful for you.

Ideas to parenting mindfully in the modern world

• Play when you can. Babyhood and toddlerhood will pass in the blink of an eye. Ensure that you set aside some time each day to truly play with and engage with the delightful little person that your child is becoming.

• Get outside and spend mindful time together whenever possible (first thing in the morning / straight after work etc…). This means no iPhone distractions, no keeping an eye on the TV (really, is the Today show that interesting) and preferably no ‘work’ during this period.

• Reduce, declutter, simplify! The less stuff that you have, the less time it will consume, effectively leaving you with more free time to engage with your family and work on things that are important to you.

• Do the housework while your little one is awake and get them involved in the tasks. Folding the washing, sweeping floors, preparing dinner / baking, decluttering, polishing furniture and hanging out clothes are all activities that children can get involved in from the moment that they are able to crawl. (Admittedly, chores may take a little longer but think of it as a long term investment in a helpful family member)

• Encourage your child to learn to entertain themselves. Praise them when they use their initiative, offer open ended toys and allow them to use their creativity.

But what about me??

So many friends have described a loss of personal identity as being almost synonymous with parenthood. But (deep breath), it doesn’t have to be this way!

• Set personal goals and share them with your family. If you are working on something that is important to you, you’ll feel less guilty about saying ‘No darling, Mummy / Daddy is working on something at the moment’.

• Get out of those pyjamas. Regardless of whether you had a rotten sleep and the highlight of your day is going to be dancing the hokey pokey; getting up and getting dressed will set a positive tone for the rest of the day.

• Connect with others. It’s amazing the good that a conversation with another adult can do. Preferably connect with others in person, but if you don’t know anyone local that shares your (non-baby) interests, try connecting with others online.

• Take care of yourself. I get it, you’re tired! You have a baby that wakes every 40mins and a toddler that still won’t sleep through. Regardless, being unfit, eating unhealthy foods and being a generally frumpy Mummy won’t help with retaining your own sense of identity and positivity. Sorry, but it’s true!

• Continue to learn and challenge yourself. Did you used to pride yourself on your knowledge of global affairs? Spend 20 minutes looking at Al Jazeera.com rather than Facebook. Try to have at least one non-baby related piece of conversation ready to share with your partner every night.

There’s no getting around it, balancing mindful parenting with retaining a sense of personal identity is a challenge. But, it’s one worth attempting. I’d love to hear your tips!

P.S – I’m a parent too and I get it, parenting can be really hard. These suggestions are designed to help encourage and support you, not as a criticism or to incite guilt!

Will Somebody Please Get the Lights?!

Welcome back to the second month of ‘Baby Steps to a Greener World ‘! I hope that you enjoyed undertaking the Eco-Stocktake last monthly and hopefully gained a better understanding of your ecological footprint.

This month we will be undertaking the first of our baby steps to reduce our impact on the environment, starting with… lightbulbs!!

‘Since the lighting sector is on the edge of a spectacular revolution based on new technologies, perhaps the quickest, most profitable way to reduce electricity use worldwide is simply to change light bulbs.’

Lester Brown, Plan B4.0: Mobilising to Save Civilisation

Did you know that lighting your home accounts for approximately 12% of your electricity bill? With electricity prices locked in an upward climb, now is the perfect opportunity to investigate options for savings for you and the environment!

The Australian Government undertook a phase out program to increase the energy efficiency of light bulbs in Australian homes as of 2010, so it is highly likely that you have already made the shift without even realising it!

However, if you still happen to have some incandescent bulbs lurking in your home, here are the top reasons why you should consider changing to CFL or LED technologies.

• CFLs use approximately 75% less electricity than old fashioned incandescent bulbs.
• CFLs will reduce your energy bills (by roughly $30 US over the lifetime of each bulb installed)
• CFLs will last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
• LEDs are even more efficient and will last up to 50 times longer than the old incandescent bulbs

If you’ve already made the shift to more efficient lighting technologies in your home and are now looking for other ways to reduce your lighting costs, you could try some of the following;

• Turn lights off if you are not in the room (sounds totally ‘duh’ worthy, but it is amazing how many of us forget to do it!)
• Install sensors or dimmers if you struggle to remember to turn your lights off.
• Opt for natural lighting where possible; open up the curtains or install a skylight and invite natural lighting into your home
• Light paint colours will help to reflect existing light, reducing the amount of artificial light that is needed. As a bonus, lighter paints tend to make rooms appear more spacious and open!
• Participate in Earth Hour as a family and use it as an opportunity to build awareness of just how often you turn on lights unnecessarily
• Encourage your workplace to participate in Earth Hour.
• Talk to your kids about their lighting use – are there areas that the whole family can improve on?

Have fun turning out the lights around your home this month. Next month we’ll be looking at easy and fun ways to drive less, so make sure you check back here for some great ideas!