Right now I’m in the hard stage of babyhood. It’s only taken me four babies to realise that for me, the 6-9month mark is the most challenging.
Marigold is expanding and exploring; gone are the slow, sleepy days when she would snooze in the bouncer or sling. Now, eyes wide and arms outstretched, she’s woken and she’s ready to go.
I’m doing my best to guide her along, all the while keeping up with everyone and everything else. My daily workload has increased significantly over the past few weeks; I’m preparing more food, subsequently washing more pumpkin-stained clothes, soothing sore gums with breastmilk and carrying her on my hip because frustrated squawks as she tries (and fails) to crawl is one of life’s more agitating soundtracks.
Sometimes I wonder what it must look like from the outside; it’s definitely loud and tiring, slightly chaotic and somewhat joyous, too. I think I most resemble one of the mums in a Shirley Hughes picture book. Or the slightly dishevelled family in the ramshackle house of Peepo.
A fortnight ago, at Marigold’s most recent check-up, I was chatting to my GP about how full my days are. So full! I recalled a high-school friend telling me that her mum was often up at 1am mopping the floor. At the time I couldn’t fathom why she would do that. But now? I wholeheartedly comprehend why she would mop the floor at 1am. Sometimes I’m up at midnight so I can get a few things done without interruption; a beeswax candle flickering on the table and a cup of tea nearby means it’s not so bad. The quiet is good, too.
And so to the GP I mentioned that I “should” be doing so much more than I am, to which she replied: “Should only makes you feel like you’ve failed.” And she’s so right. Because telling myself that “I should be doing that” and “I should have worked harder to get this done by school pick-up” is a pointless and emotionally detrimental conversation to have.
And yet I still have them!
And so in this full-to-the-brim period where I regularly sport squashed banana on my neck and spend far too much time scrubbing stains at the laundry sink, I’m amazed at the fact that I’m four kids into this business and there’s still stuff that puzzles me. Every day there’s something new! And yet here I am, more willing than ever to listen and learn.
They say four kids is easier than three and to that I say: CORRECT! Three is an almighty juggle yet when you get to four you’re a more relaxed, take-it-as-it-comes kind of mum. The little things don’t bother you because you don’t have the time, energy or inclination to be bothered by them.
So here I am, dishevelled yet less bothered, tired and happy and learning to remove “should” from my vocabulary.
I don’t think we can ignore the fact that fast fashion is an exploitive and environmentally detrimental business. Statistics show that we’re buying and subsequently discarding more clothes than ever before.
Australians throw away six tonnes of clothing every ten minutes. Once in landfill, fabrics like polyester and lycra (hello, activewear!) can take up to 200 years to decompose, releasing harmful methane gas in the process. Entire waterways in Asia are blue because of the excess dye leaching from denim manufacturers. These fast fashion clothes are made by underpaid labourers who work in awful conditions. There is a multitude of ethical and environmental problems with this scenario. It is, most definitely, an eco-crisis.
Social media has worked wonders for prompting transparency in the fashion industry. Hence I’ve been reading up on everything #ethicalfashion of late, a natural progression from my research on single-use plastic and food waste.
And so here I am, more intent than ever to purchase #clothingwithaconscience, take care of every item in my wardrobe and ultimately lessen my fashion footprint.
But it’s not necessarily easy, is it? And the social media that brings the reality of fast fashion to the forefront is also tempting us with page upon page of beautiful, ethical clothes. Alas, it’s all about priorities and, most importantly, choices.
We can choose how and where we spend our money.
Fashion has become so accessible that it’s often more convenient to discard the old and buy the new. Indeed, it’s hard to justify the time and energy required to mend a piece of clothing when something new requires so little money and effort.
I suppose the question is; what is the environmental cost of this accessibility and convenience?
Personally, I know how good it feels to discover something beautiful in the racks of an op-shop or the pile of pre-loved at a car boot sale. Found, treasured items are exciting and rewarding because they’re unique; because of this we’re more likely to take care of them.
The same awareness applies to clothes that are pondered over and saved up for. They are coveted and cared for because of the thought and effort that went into acquiring them.
Right now, as we take small steps to prepare for caravan life, I’m culling my clothes and creating a capsule wardrobe – for the very first time! At this stage of my life I’ve found it more challenging than ever to find clothes that I love. Or perhaps I just find it hard to find breastfeeding-friendly clothes that are flattering on a shapely, mum-tum body.* Regardless, I’m conscious of only buying what I adore and what I know I’ll wear. Quality wins over quantity – always.
If you’re thinking of doing the same and ultimately being a slow fashion lover, as Zino Ama so wonderfully puts it, you might find inspiration and encouragement over on instagram. I’m particularly loving:
If you would like to delve into some fashionable reading matter, I highly recommend Clare Press’ Wardrobe Crisis. She is currently working on a new book and shares her thoughts over on instagram at @mrspress.
And for those seeking guidance on creating a seasonal, capsule wardrobe, I’m loving everything shared by The Garment (also here: @thegarmentlife).
I wholeheartedly understand that buying ethical fashion requires more money. And I’m here to tell you that I, along with many of you, often don’t have the budget for such purchases. But I do have the awareness and the intention to, as Vivienne Westwood said: “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
And so if you want to wear #clothingwithaconscience and ultimately be more mindful of the clothes you buy, wear, mend and hand down, a few suggestions for you:
the pre-loved market is BIG! Ebay, etsy and instagram are abound with quality second-hand clothes.
look for natural fabrics that will stand the test of time.
find a local seamstress who can help you when adjusting and mending is required.
if you’re buying for your kids, look for unisex fabrics and styles than can be passed down.
think layering and trans-seasonal when you are buying something new.
don’t get too caught up in the fast fashion trends; instead opt for the classics.
Kesh from zino ama has kindly offered a 25% discount to my readers, enter code JODI25 at checkout.
A few weeks back I sensed that Marigold was on the cusp of change.
This past week she’s been hot and bothered, gnawing on anything she can get in her mouth (including my nipple), only happy if she’s in my arms and cat napping like the best of them. A big change from her usual settled, contended self. Little teeth are moving about and we’re waiting, waiting for them to pop through.
Developmental shifts usually have a domino effect and so unsurprisingly, although very pleasingly, Percy has toilet trained and started sleeping through the night in his own bed. A week of firsts.
Yes, you read that right. He slept through the night for the first time at 2 years and 11 months. Unsettled sleep, night terrors and shared pillows have been the norm for a while now and yet I knew, we all knew, that it would eventually pass. So we summoned patience, cuddled in the depths of the dark and woke with saw necks and aching backs. When Daniel and I found it particularly challenging, we reminded ourselves that it wasn’t going to be forever; adding stress to the situation was never going to help.
And then there’s the big two who started a new school year; Year 5 (I know!) and Year 1. New situations can be challenging, even for my very sociable Poet, so yesterday there were tears and this morning her teacher had to peel her off my leg. We spoke about how big change can be hard but we’ve decided to be brave.
I admit, I peered around the corner as she walked into the classroom, her pigtails bouncing, my heart racing.
And then morning coffee, my salve, turned awry when Percy put up the umbrella that subsequently knocked my coffee over my bag, feet and the floor. Marigold was in the sling, a kind gentleman helped me with my bag and I asked Percy to sit down and stay still so I could clean up. I went to the counter to get napkins and order another coffee which was when a stranger offered to buy it for me. And then I cried because genuine kindness from an empathetic mother was exactly what I needed in that moment. I comforted Percy who was crying on the floor, grabbed my coffee and hightailed it home.
This is the depths of motherhood; physically and emotionally cradling children through all the big things.
And no, I quite can’t believe it. It feels like it’s been six weeks, maybe a couple of months. Yet here we are, celebrating her half-birthday. Regardless of the fact that time has flown and she’s very much an almost-moving-about-baby now, I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything. I’ve spent hours upon hours holding, cuddling and kissing her; truly breathing in all her newness.
She is joyous and happy and bonny and bubbly. And I can see exactly why the baby of the family stays the baby regardless of their age. It’s the adoration that’s bestowed upon her day in, day out that will continue for years to come, of that I’m absolutely sure! She’s carried around in loving arms, smooshed and kissed and told that she’s loved and she laps it all up with her sweet, sweet smile.
For someone who loves being pregnant and having babies, I was surprised by the profound sense of completion I experienced within minutes of Marigold’s birth. Subsequently, I resolved to savour every moment and milestone, wholeheartedly knowing that the milky newborn days are the most fleeting – and precious – of them all.
Perhaps you’re heavily pregnant and anxiously awaiting your baby. Maybe you’re reading this in the early hours with a newborn at the breast. If so, a few suggestions for the first six months with baby:
Go gently : recovering from birth and getting to know your baby will take up every minute of your day in the first few weeks. You’re sore and tired, your baby is fresh and learning to attach, you’re hungry and emotional and elated and overwhelmed. And yet within the haze are moments of pure bliss that compare to nothing else. It is for all these reasons that I have always limited the amount of visitors we have. I don’t think it’s selfish to savour your new family of three (or four, five, six…) and bask in the newness and magic that is a fresh baby. Studies show that mothers who choose to go gently in the first month after birth by staying at home, limiting visitors, eating well and resting often benefit physically, mentally and emotionally throughout the entire first year.
Choose time over gadgets : I think it’s pretty common for parents to have less baby paraphernalia with each baby they have which only means one thing – we learn from experience. Babies don’t need much at all – it’s true! And so if you have to choose between time off work and having the money to buy all the things, please choose time. In my experience you only need the essentials – a bassinet/cot, bouncer, sling/carrier and pram.
Get in the photo : because you won’t see the dark circles, the baby weight or the vomit when you look back in years to come. You’ll just see you in all your motherhood glory and you’ll be proud – so proud. Photographs are the ultimate heirlooms. And they really do capture the minute details that you so easily (and quickly!) forget. The smallness, the tiny fingers and toes, the big yawns, the sleepiness, the awakening and the unfurling.
Be present and connect : Personally, I felt that when I stopped looking at the clock and the graph and put my expectations to the side, I connected and engaged with my baby and uncovered the most important mothering power of all – intuition. Sometimes we’re so caught up in what we should be doing and how our baby should be behaving that we completely lose sight of the present moment and, essentially, the relationship with our baby. I learnt so much about how to mother when I listened to my baby.
I’ve spent the last few weeks meandering through school holidays.
You know what I mean; making my way from the kitchen to the laundry to the washing line to the beach to the supermarket.
We haven’t been on any grand adventures or even ventured far from home. These holidays have been simple (some of us may even choose to describe them as “boring”). Of course, there’s been time spent with friends, swim school intensives, a movie session, a market visit, library books borrowed and muffins baked.
But most of all there’s been afternoons whiled away in the backyard with the mozzie bites and bruised shins and screaming fights to prove it.
When I start to think that we should be doing more – more memorable, sparkling, exciting things – I come back to what’s important and sustainable for all of us. And this summer, it’s been a slow and steady rhythm that’s taken us from morning to night.
Daniel has only just gone back to work after having a month off so this week we’ll readjust while preparing the big kids to go back to school next Tuesday. I have to be really disciplined with bedtimes over the next few days because I currently have the big kids going to bed late and waking up at 8:30am – not exactly ideal for school mornings.
And of course, behind the scenes, there is all the preparation for our adventure which is so big and consuming that we’re still trying to muddle our way through. One question inevitably leads to ten more and we still don’t have an appropriate car or a caravan.
But, last week we sold our old car to a family who had just returned from an extended holiday…travelling Australia in a caravan with four kids. What are the chances?! When Daniel told me I held my hands up and declared it a sign from the universe. He resisted such enthusiasm but agreed that yes, it was a rather lovely coincidence.
And so for now, we’re doing what we can. Clearing out the garage and the wardrobes and culling until we’re left with the necessities (which is still too much stuff).
Earlier today I shared a few resolutions on instagram; a list of ten things that I want to practise this year inspired by Organic Care’s #realresolutions campaign.
Instead of writing down lofty plans for big changes, I created a series of small, mindful steps – a list of intentions that I plan to carry with me each and every day. Some of these things I already do, others are new to the list. If you’re keen to follow along, may these ideas and links be the inspiration you’re looking for:
Ditch the takeaway coffee cups and use a keepcup (I’ve got a plastic one because I broke three glass ones…that’s what happens when you juggle coffee and a baby).
Reduce single-use plastic and invest in stainless steel containers, stainless steel straws and beeswax wrap. I’ve been adding to my reusable collection over the past few weeks and I can vouch for these straws and this beeswax wrap. I’ve been using Lunchbots lunchboxes for five years and I highly recommend them for daily outings and school lunches.
Meal plan – it will take you 15minutes every week and will significantly reduce your grocery bill and your food waste. I’ve chatted about meal planning here and here. This year I’ll be consulting my cookbooks more regularly so we can…
Eat more plant-based meals. I serve vegetables and/or salad with every meal but I really want to embrace more vegetarian dinners and use more legumes.
Carry canvas bags – everywhere – so you don’t need to resort to plastic. I recently invested in these produce bags so when I’m at the supermarket I don’t have to buy plastic-wrapped fruit or veg. I also have a few of these and one insulated bag for cold foods.
Turn off your lights and turn up the ambiance with a few beeswax candles (I stick with dinner tapers + tealights). And when it’s time to replace your lightbulbs, buy energy efficient or LEDs.
Take off your shoes, walk barefoot on the grass, breathe deep and consider it a meditation (or earthing, as it’s often called).
Read more books, watch less screens.
Shop local, shop small, shop pre-loved, shop slow and buy with awareness.
Recognise your privilege and be grateful for your abundance. This is a big one for me and one I often forget.
This post contains affiliate links that, if purchased, earn me a small commission. Thank you for your support – year after year after year.
It was never my intention to take a month-long blogging hiatus but, well, life was busy.
Honestly, those last few weeks of the school year were hectic and emotionally charged – more so than any other year. I didn’t realise how stressful they were until the holidays arrived and I felt the relief wash over me. A profound exhale!
And then the necessary downtime, the anticipation for Christmas, the celebrations and the restful days that followed.
We heralded the new year with sleep and now here we are, meandering through the holidays, our days peppered with watermelon eating, late afternoon beach visits and a good dose of sibling squabbles.
Over the past week, with the season of obligation behind me, I’ve carved out time for the things that nourish and support. I’ve been on my mat each morning, following this class and waking up my body (specifically my spine that has curled from months of baby cradling and breastfeeding). I’ve purposefully let go of clock watching and screen scrolling and am attempting to embrace the spontaneity of holidays. I’ve been day napping with Marigold, reading books and come late afternoon when the sun is low and the crowds have gone, we’ve made our way to the beach.
Of course, we’ve got our big trip coming up which requires an indescribable amount of planning and preparation. At present we don’t have a caravan, haven’t packed a thing and have a long, long list of to-dos. We do have headlamps and cameras and dreams, though. Amidst the nerves are bundles of excitement and anticipation and the inclination to simply trust.
So, as summer continues, I’ll be cutting up fruit, hanging washing, clearing cupboards and sleeping under the fan. I also plan to be here more regularly, too; sharing plans and photos, talking yoga and frugal living and buying less plastic and reading more books.
I’m feeling a little like the peony petals that have fallen to the table.
Everyone is saying much the same; this time of year is full of commitments and yet we’re all running on empty. A supermoon hasn’t helped matters and the mercury retrograde situation (that’s supposedly hanging around till the 23rd) isn’t instilling much Christmas cheer.
Alas, with small children and a few carols, it’s a matter of mustering energy and pushing myself through. Much like I did at 4:30pm this afternoon when I knew it was time to start the dinner, bath, bed, dishes, lunch prep routine. It’s a long haul at the moment.
That said, I’m slowly but surely getting prepped for Christmas – a miracle of sorts! There’s no advent calendar this year but the stockings are out, the lights are up and we’ve got plans to buy a tree this weekend. I won’t be creating homemade gifts or sweltering in the kitchen in an attempt to bake but I have stocked the pantry, organised the teacher’s gifts and I’ve even bought myself a new Christmas dress!
There’s so many expectations on us at this time of year, isn’t there? Much of the work of Christmas falls on our shoulders and we’re expected to attend social gatherings, ready our kids for concerts and prepare the Christmas meal in amongst the daily routine of home, school, work and relationships. If that’s not enough, social media can easily have us feeling guilty for the lack of handmade ornaments we’ve created.
We all might want a simple Christmas but I think it’s important to remember that simple doesn’t mean eucalyptus wreaths and handmade jars of pickles. Simple could be using up all the gift wrap and ribbon you’ve collected over the year or choosing to stay in an have movie night instead of attending another gathering.
This is the best time of year to go easy on ourselves, don’t you think?
Despite the fact that it’s the busiest time of the year, there’s still the daily rhythm of home to ground me.
This week marks the beginning of summer and it’s already hot and humid. I wake to sweaty little arms around my neck and curly locks in my face. Littler arms and legs are moving about wildly on my other side, a squawking Marigold ready to get up for the day.
The kids have all been a bit snotty for the past week or so and I’ve got yet another sore throat (my throat and ears are always the first to succumb to a virus) so I’ve gone back to wellness basics – regular Vit C, plenty of vegetables and early-ish nights. I do find it difficult to go to bed before 10pm these days as once the kids are asleep there’s dishes to do, lunches to pack, emails to send. All of the things that are easier done in the quiet hours after dark. And yet I know that the sleep I do get before midnight is the best kind and when I get it I always feel better the next day. My bedtime routine is simple but it definitely helps me wind down: a shower, lavender and chamomile oil rubbed into my shoulders, neck and jawline and a few pages of a book (I just found a copy of The Signature of All Things at the op-shop and started it last night).
I’ve also been (mostly) off dairy for about six weeks now after noticing that it wasn’t agreeing with Marigold. She wasn’t unhappy or unsettled but she was vomiting quite regularly and had red spots on her cheeks (different to the common hormonal ones). I distinctly remember Poet having the same rash and dairy definitely doesn’t agree with her so I went with my gut and within a week Marigold had clear skin and much less vomiting (less washing for me, too!).
I admit, it was difficult to cut out dairy to begin with as I really was eating a lot of it. Thankfully I’ve found a coconut yoghurt that is delicious (Nakula), I’m having coconut/almond milk, I’m not missing cheese (although that may change when brie makes an appearance on Christmas platters) and my chocolate consumption has decreased dramatically. And because I can’t have butter I’m eating a lot less bread. Subsequently, I’m roasting pumpkin with garlic to make lunchtime salads a bit yummier, adding extra veg to each meal and snacking on nuts and fruit. This post from Franjo’s Kitchen was just the guidance I needed to up my energy levels and eat a little more mindfully.
With December upon us and only a few weeks left of school, I’m going to make the most of my days without the big kids; there’s presents to wrap, a few last-minute things to buy, recipe books to peruse and a bit of a house sort to happen (wishful thinking perhaps but a thorough clean is much needed!).
This time of year is busy and full and exhausting.
Imprint House HQ is only a thirty minute drive from home but today, as we drove deep into the country, it felt like a mini-escape.
Natalie (find her on instagram as @theindigocrew and @imprint_house) has opened the doors to her ramshackle studios this weekend and is selling a beautiful collection of products from Australian designers including Fabrik, Printebebe, Daughter and G.Nancy. She’s also got her full collection of baskets and homewares for sale as well as local bread and produce.
When we arrived we joined a gaggle of mums + kids making Christmas wreaths and then we perused the studios while the kids played (and asked for snacks because they’re never not hungry).
If you fancy a drive this weekend, you can find Imprint House at 1282 Yarramalong Rd, Wyong Creek. And if you’re out that way, I highly recommend you make your way to Rainbow Farm, a little roadside fruit + veg stall that sells the best marmalade. They’re at 750 Jilliby Rd, Jilliby.