Leila has created The Single Mum Diaries community of over 20 thousand women that support the cause, women from all over the world come to get support, give advice, and show a little love and kindness in those times of need or those mama days that knock you around.
Easter is coming around quickly, so quickly in fact that it snuck up on me and left me a little behind in posting the Easter Edit. But today I made some time to sit down and go through the products for you all - I have found that its not about what your little ones receive at Easter that matters but its the magic you create behind the day that they will really remember.
You dont have to spend a fortune to create magic, take the above shot for example, those pieces were stuff that I had lying around the house. A vintage basket I thrifted, ivy garland from Evers first birthday via parties made pretty CLICK HERE to see their store. An egg maraca I picked up for 50 cents at our local op shop, pom pom garland also thrifted and a box with shredded paper that I kept aside from a delivery because I knew it would come in handy come Easter time. So for a few dollars I was able to create a dreamy set up that would grab Evers attention and really make her feel the magic on easter. (Hot Tip) Many op shops are backed by churches so they have great Easter decor available.
For me I always like to support the local companies so first up we have the amazing 'Easter Basket' and 'Egg hunt start here' from Andie and Ollie - If you order before Monday the 26th of March you get a free upgrade to express post!! SHOP HERE
I am not sure if you can spy the little Kasoobi Bunny Tag in the first image but that was one of my favourite pieces from last year that I now use on Evers little bag, so a great idea for Easter and to be put to use on Kindy bags afterwards. Check it out HERE
And something else I am loving is these little bunny bags with the ears on them, I am a sucker for anything personalised and these just melt my heart!! Fill them with eggs, use them for books!! I will be styling Evers with some special treats from the health food store, a book and some natural candies. Check back for where to buy this baby!!
I also grabbed this gorgeous little Golden Book from Big W for around $5 but you can thrift books or collect them in the lead up to Easter. Grab a cute little basket like this one from Ollie Ella which you can SHOP HERE
I also grabbed some shredded tissue from Big W which was a few dollars and looks so gorgeous styled with some egg maracas and wooden eggs in. It would be a beautiful idea to make a little nest on Easter and have shredded tissue in a beautiful basket with bunny footprints leading from your little ones bed to their Easter Gift - you can make these with a stencil and flour. I will be printing a stencil off Pinterest and lightly dusting flour over the top of the carpet... I can't wait to see her face light up.
I have loved putting together the Easter Edit for you all, if you are stuck for ideas on what to put on for your little ones easter do - head to pinterest for all your inspiration needs (my morning ritual is scrolling pinterest with my tea in hand)
I found my favourite little cookie recipe which I am going to try and recreate via pinterest on a cute little blog! CLICK HERE to see the recipe and give it a go! How sweet are they
You guys are always asking "which op shops do you go to" and until now I have kept it under lock and key, but with so many of you writing in about how you really want to start thrifting so you can have yourself some serious savings I have decided to share my locals I frequent with all of you.
Don't forget if you are driving through a new town its always fun and quite possibly my favourite thing to do (guilty pleasure) to check out the local op shops by googling to see what is around you, not a fan of google... ask a local!
So without further ado... Here is the list of my most treasured op shops. Ill be starting it at one end of the Gold Coast and wrapping it up at the other - so lets kick it off
Tweed Valley Adventist Op shop (big green and white building)
2/5 Machinery Drive, Tweed Heads South NSW
This op shop has always been my absolute favourite for kids clothing, you will see why when you head in to check it out.
9 Greenway Drive, Tweed Heads South NSW (just down the road from the above op shop, just keep driving)
This one is a great op shop for clothes, they have plenty of them and always at quite affordable prices with great brands in amongst the racks. My tip - you just have to look through to find them
2/45 Greenway Drive, Tweed Heads South NSW
I stop in at this one when visiting the above op shops but I have never really found anything in there, you may have a lucky find though so its always good to check.
St Vincent De Paul Society
9/25 Industry Drive, Tweed Heads South NSW
This one is only minutes from the ones above and good to stop in to check it out
Agape Outreach Op Shop
8/6 Enterprise Avenue, Tweed Heads
Rather new on the scene but still one that I have found some incredible pieces in, definitely one that you have to look through.
Vinnies in Tugun
473 Golden Four Drive, Tugun Qld
I love this one for the kids toys and bric a brac its also right near my favourite flower shop Tugun Fruit and Flowers and a good place to stop for morning tea if you are going to use this list as a guide and tick off each one as you go along
Lighthouse Op Shop Currumbin
48 Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Qld
This has always been one of my favourites, they have a great kids clothes section and I always find myself some nice pieces in there.
Animal Welfare League Op Shop
3/35 Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Qld
This one is walking distance from the one above, you will see a big purple and yellow building just up the road. Make sure you walk through dust temple and check it out on your way past - such a cool building.
Salvos Palm Beach
16/17 Eighth Avenue Palm Beach Qld
This is the one I stop in at the most, I can always find something I like and there are so many beautiful cafes nearby
Vinnies Palm Beach
6/15 Palm Beach Avenue, Palm Beach
Such a cute little store, I have always found great kids books and toys here, there is another one just up towards the highway from here which I couldn't find the name of on google but I also love that one so make sure you go for a wander a couple of streets up and find it
RSPCA Op Shop Burleigh
3/18 Township Drive Burleigh Heads
I haven't been to this one for a long time but its a rather large op shop that would still be good to check out if you haven't been before.
Lifeline Op Shop Burleigh
1722 Gold Coast Highway Burleigh
Definitely one that people frequent because of its location, but I have always loved their book section. Not one of my regular ones to visit but I always stop in if I am in the area. Plenty of great cafes and shopping nearby if you are keen on a stop off or something to do for the day
Animal Welfare League Op Shop
Cnr Lower GC Highway & Elder StreetBurleigh Heads
A small op shop thats right around the corner from one of my favourite cafes "Commune" its full to the brim of bric a brac and treasures are lurking in every nook.
RSPCA Op Shop Miami
2172 Gold Coast Highway, Miami
I have found some beautiful pieces in this op shop and they even have animals on site which you can adopt, so pop in for look and give some out some love to the animals waiting for their forever homes.
5/46 Pacific Avenue, Miami
Another small little treasure trove, I haven't stopped in for a while due to parking but it is within walking distance of the one above, so be sure to stop in and check it out
Lifeline Shop Mermaid Beach
2532 Gold Coast Highway Mermaid
This is quite a big Op Shop full of amazing treasures, I have found many designer pieces in here and many of them still had tags on them so be sure to put it on your list of ones to check out.
I have always found something in here, you know that beautiful blanket on the end of my bed that you all ask me about regularly. I scored that beauty in this op shop many years ago for $8 - its definitely not as clean and organised as the others but its one to put on the list for sure
Nulife Op Shop Robina
4 Greenwich Court, Robina
This is my absolute favourite, one because everyone is so kind to you, two because I regularly score designer pieces including Spell, Zimmerman and many more incredible brands and three because of the incredible work they do with the profits.
Robina Kids Op Shop
186 Robina Town Centre Drive Robina
I havent checked this one out yet but I have heard good things so I will go to check it out today and report back to you all.
RSPCA Op Shop Robina
Robina Shopping Village, Robina
I also check this one out regularly and I love it, there is a beautiful woman in there named Marie Clare and she is so kind and always offers you a basket for your pieces. They have two in the shopping village, one is clothes and other pieces and the other is all your kitchen pieces, bric a brac and books. I love the one with the books in it and when you check it out you will see why.
15 Nind St, Southport
This is a really big salvos and I really love browsing on the days that I don't have Ever. Be careful of parking in this area because of the parking inspectors. There is free parking on site
Lifeline Shop Southport
14 Railway Street Southport
This is another big Lifeline and I love this one, there is a few more op shops all within walking distance which you will see if you look up and down the street. So make sure you pay your parking and take yourself on a walk and check out what they have to offer.
Not a local??? Then be sure to CLICK HEREto be taken to the Op Shop website aka my secret weapon for checking out the local op shops in your area. Heading to somewhere new?? Type where you are headed in the search bar on the site to be taken to the op shops nearby - Amazing right!
I have saved hundreds and probably thousands of dollars by thrifting clothes for both myself and Ever, putting in the time to source second hand pieces not only keeps money in my pocket but also helps the planet.
Did you know that in Australia alone over 500,000 tones of textiles and leather end up in landfill every single year. This is 500,000,000 million kilograms - can you believe it?? Studies show that women wear garments an average of 7 times before we discard it!
I tend to buy new pieces when attending events or special occasions or if I see quality pieces that I really love I will go home, have a think about it... before committing to purchasing the piece. If I am still thinking about the piece the next day then I will go back and invest in it - thats what works for me. Our little ones go through and grow through clothes like no one I have ever seen so this is not something I am prepared to waste money on. If you aren't the op shop type like so many of my friends weren't before coming op shopping with me, give it a go... see if its for you and trust me... you will be surprised at what you will find.
All the love - Leila x
Some of our thrifted pieces are below - click on a image to see which items in the photo were thrifted. You will be surprised
Since making the switch to Alinta Energy I have certainly been more mindful of not wasting
money I don’t need to on my power bill, so now I have made these five changes around my
home to make sure I am keeping the money in my pocket and the power bill down. This might not be your jam and you may be sitting there thinking “that’s hubby’s job to worry about that nonsense…” however there are easy things everyone can do to save on their power bill!
1. Switch Off and Unplug Appliances
This is by far the biggest and easiest change to make around your home to keep your
power bill from blowing your budget. Before I go to bed I walk around and turn off and
unplug everything from the TV to the toaster, I keep it all unplugged until I use it again. I
believe this alone has saved me hundreds of dollars in wasted power.
2. Turn Off the Lights
I can’t stand having the lights on in the house actually! So this is a quite easy one for me
to stick to. At night after I have finished cooking I switch off all the lights except the
oven light and I turn on the battery-operated candles I have, and from about 5.30
onwards our house is in “quiet time” which prepares Ever (my daughter) for sleeping. I
only use lights in the house when I absolutely need to, and after checking out ways to
save on my energy bill I have found that it is also good for my power bill – it’s a huge
3. Close the Curtains, Windows and Doors
On a hot day or really cold day for that matter I will run the air con at whatever temp I
need to until the house is either cooled or heated to the temperature I like. I have found
that closing the blinds and windows on a really hot day is enough to keep the house cool
or on a cold day it is enough to keep the warm air inside. I like to do this rather than run
the air con continuously and I have found that even in Queensland weather that it is a
great way to regulate the temperate without having to spend a fortune on continuously
running my air conditioning.
4. Check the Energy Rating
This is one that I never knew about until buying my new fridge. Getting a more energy
efficient product will save you running costs in the long run, the energy star rating can
be found on most of your white goods but be sure to shop around before committing to
a product. Low energy rated products can really hit your wallet in the long run.
5. Hang Your Washing
I live in an apartment which doesn’t have a clothes line, so I have a clothes horse which
for a mama doesn’t really cut it for the size of the washing loads that I do buttttt I do try
to hang my washing at every opportunity I get. It is so easy to chuck it in the dryer
which as a mama is a total lifesaver buttttt also quite costly when it comes to stacking
up the old energy bill. Be a champ – hang it out and spend the money on more
important things – like that mani-pedi that you so deserve.
It is now easier than ever before to save money on your power bill – I can’t believe the savings I have made since being more mindful around the house and since making the switch to Alinta Energy. If you too are wanting to save money on your energy bill, I highly recommend making the switch to Alinta Energy… If not for their incredible 28% pay on time discount off electricity usage charges*because they have recently taken out the 2017 Canstar Blue award for most satisfied customers in Queensland. Now that’s impressive!
CLICK HERE if you are thinking about making the switch or wanting more information on Alinta Energy
28% off your electricity usage charges based on Alinta Energy’s standing tariffs when you pay on time and in full. The tariffs are subject to change. Only available to residential customers in the Energex distribution area. Terms, conditions and eligibility criteria apply
Alinta Energy is an established national energy company, with a proud history dating back to 1941. They have over 800,000 customers and over 500 employees across Australia. They both generate and retail electricity in Australia, which means they are able to offer extremely competitive pricing.
“At Alinta Energy our mission is to make energy more affordable. We’re doing things differently. We’re going right back to basics. Making energy really simple. The way it should be - more helpful, more transparent and more informative.”
I was so excited when Alinta Energy asked me to help spread the word about their incredible prices because I made the switch myself a few months ago and I couldn’t believe the savings. I found that with my old provider that I was paying far too much money toward energy that could be going to more important things, as a single mama I am always scoping out the best prices to get more for my money and I really thought Alinta Energy was too good to be true until I received my first bill.
It was considerably less than the bill with my last provider AND I got a rebate AND a pay on
time discount. I originally signed up with Alinta Energy a few months ago and was really happy with their pay on time discount at the time which was 25% off electricity usage charges, I was over the moon to recently get a text message notifying me that they had increased their pay on time discount to 28% which means I am now saving even more and so are all their existing customers. Getting that text message made me really feel like I had made the right choice in switching providers and I couldn’t be happier that as a new customer I felt like I was being rewarded. I have never had a previous company give me money off without me having to ask or really do my research to find out what they had on offer, but with Alinta Energy I was rewarded without asking and received a lovely text message advising me of the change which made my day.
For me, making the switch was a complete no brainer after hearing about their prices and
discount offers and I am so pumped that now I will have more money for the little things in life. I can now afford to take my daughter to her weekly swimming lessons and enjoy more special social outings together. This makes my life so much easier as I don’t have to worry about how much money my energy bill is draining from me.
I have told everyone I know about the difference since making the switch and I am so excited to have partnered with Alinta Energy to let all of you know too.
If you are thinking about making the switch or wanting more information on Alinta Energy and their incredible offers please CLICK HERE
28% off your electricity usage charges based on Alinta Energy’s standing tariffs when you pay on time and in full. The tariffs are subject to change. Only available to residential customers in the Energex distribution area. Terms, conditions and eligibility criteria apply
Over the last few weeks I have been trialling the new Vorwerk Kobold VK200 Upright Vacuum. I was really excited to trial out this vacuum because it is made by the company who designed the mum hack product of the decade the Thermomix, the first thing I noticed about the vacuum is that it is incredibly light weight. There is nothing worse as a mama than lugging around a heavy vacuum so this ticked a huge box for me, then I switched it on and noticed how quiet it is. I am the mama to a little girl who is terrified of vacuum’s, like I mean screaming till she turns blue the moment I try and do any vacuuming around the house, but the moment I turned this vacuum on instead of running for her life she was curious as to what it was, even wanting to have a try.
It has so many incredible features which you can head in store to see in your own free demonstration but my favourite as a mama are
The fact that it is ideal for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers, its approved by the National Asthma Council
Automatic Floor detection which means it changes its settings on its own from tiles to the rug so that you can get the best and deepest clean for the surface
Easily adjustable handle that’s quite long meaning you don’t have to bend over awkwardly and you can save your back for more important things like bending a million times a day to pick up your toddler
The swivel joint means that I can get into all the areas of my home that need cleaning with ease, I have found that most upright vacuums don’t have this function and let me tell you… it’s a game changer
The power switch is located right there on the handle so you don’t need to bend down constantly to change it
The bags come with the Davina Scent packs which you inset into the side of the vacuum and it fills the house with a nice fragrance while you are cleaning – NO MORE dust smell while vacuuming. I have NEVER seen another vacuum with this feature and it blew me away!
I love that you can purchase additional heads for your vacuum depending on how you will be using it, you can buy the hard floor attachment which vacuums and mops the floor for you with the one head. Interested… Check it out HERE
Having a toddler means that my vacuum cleaners really get put to the test, I have found since using the Vorwerk Kobold VK200 that I now don’t put off vacuuming. It is simple and easy to just quickly grab the vacuum, plug it in and get the job done. I am able to vacuum even when my daughter is sleeping which is a huge bonus for me – If you would like a personal in home demonstration of this home cleaning system then CLICK HERE otherwise simply head into your local Godfrey’s to see a live demonstration.
Check out the link below to see my YouTube video highlighting the key features and to see it in action.
So last weekend I headed to Brisbane for a Staycation in the hustle and bustle of the big city with a toddler in tow, I think whenever you head to a new place or somewhere that you are hoping to see through new eyes your number one agenda is always that you want to know where the locals dine, the locals always know where it is at. They know the best kept secrets, the hottest venues and where the tasty treats are hiding. And with only one weekend to do it I knew the places I wanted to hit.
I was lucky enough to stay right in the heart of the city at the Capri by Fraser on Albert Street, so everything was either on my door step or a 10 minute walk or trip in the car. What I love about Capri by Fraser is that their facilities in house are five star but the prices are still affordable for the everyday family. They were kind enough to offer my audience a great deal of $150 per night for a Studio Deluxe room with complimentary buffet breakfast and parking. If you are wanting to book CLICK HERE and remember that if the code doesn't work try changing your date selection, the code to grab this deal is "LEILA" The buffet breakfast has everything that you could ever dream of - from paleo smoothies and banana bread to bacon eggs and everything in between. I was incredibly impressed with the buffet and all it offered, breakfast is served at their in house cafe called Asana which I ate at the first night after my google maps lost incident - I had the Salt Crusted Lamb which I thoroughly enjoyed. If food is totally your gig like it is mine, check out the full menu HERE to see what you are in for.
Ever and I loved the pool, what is magic about their pool is that it is inside... safe from the hustle and bustle that is roaring outside, safe from the rain... and totally and utterly unique.
We then headed to Arc + Family which was only a short drive away, known for its pink wall and incredible decor. It has all things home related but their specialty is plants and decor. I loved it because it is unlike anything I had seen before and who doesn't love a good plant, or pink wall for that matter. Cue cute photos of the kids and coming home with a gorgeous new plant! Why not!
Ever and I headed home for a sleep (which turned into me getting my eyes poked out and her not sleeping a wink) So I decided to do something which had previously left me in a ball of nerves - I grabbed the pram, grabbed cranky non sleeping toddler and headed for the ferry terminal, the local ferry terminal to Capri by Fraser is the North Quay Ferry Terminal inbetween Elizabeth and Queen Street, its about a 10-15 minute walk and there is some beautiful architecture on the way. We caught the City Hopper which is a free ferry service that takes you around the city - its quite hot on board so make sure you take plenty of cold water and try to sit outside on the deck if possible. Its wayyyyy cooler out there and plenty more to see too. Ever loved the ferry (once she got used to the idea) and you can't beat a free adventure now right. You can catch the ferry over to Southbank and head to the public pool (which if you haven't seen it is set up like a beach with sand and a water park and everything) and guess what.... ITS FREE!!
Free entertainment for the kids and a chance for you to relax too - and whats even more amazing is that you can catch the ferry and enjoy the water park without even spending a dollar. Ever and I bypassed Southbank because it was far too hot for that and we were both starving and instead we caught the Ferry to Riverbar by getting off at the Eagle Pier stop, Riverbar has always been one of my favourite places in the city for its venue, location and food and drink selection. We grabbed a few juices, sat out under the umbrellas and relaxed before catching the Ferry back to the hotel.
On Saturday night after having a big day (without a nap) I decided to stay local and check out one of the restaurants in walking distance so I could share it with all of you. I chose Kotobuki on Albert Street which was a traditional Japanese restaurant and the best damn sushi I have ever had, so affordable, so quick - I strong recommend their Goyoza. Its nearly directly across from the hotel and a must visit if you are in the area.
Sunday Ever and I had a sleep in and enjoyed some reading in bed (my favourite) because the Capri by Fraser has a late check out of 11am or if you are wanting to check out later you can opt for a 4pm check out for a additional $20 We were told to head to the Northey Street Markets on Sunday which is located at 16 Victoria Street Windsor, they had incredible organic food on offer, live music, chickens and a community garden to check out and a tyre swing and picnic area for you to sit back, relax and enjoy the serenity of the beautiful venue. I even got my eyebrows threaded in a little market stall and she did such a great job, she is located at the front entrance of the market and I highly recommend her.
After the markets I had one more stop on my MUST VISIT list to check out - Mrs Browns Bar which is located in Newstead and owned by a beautiful local couple. Now... This place blew my socks off - not just because of the incredible service but also because of the unique menu which you can see HERE
I wanted one of everything because I had heard amazing things but instead of pigging out like my inner mum gone loose I decided let the waitress choose for me and I ended up with the best of the best
- Chicken and Cheese spring roll - Yep... it is as naughty and as amazing as it sounds
- Prawn roll - which for someone who isn't a big cooked prawn fan I just loved it
- KFC Cauliflower which is Vegan and Gluten Free and is so delicious that I can't describe it, you really do need to try it for yourself
- Vegetarian Dumplings - I gobbled these up within seconds of them hitting the table
My recommendation for this beautiful bar is to ask the staff to recommend you a selection - its more fun that way. And for the mama's on a date night or riding solo - Friday nights is apparently buzzing full of young professionals and a incredible vibe. For the mama's riding with a toddler in tow... Go when we did... wait for Sunday after 11am
Further places to visit that we didnt get the chance to try are
- The Brisbane Ferris Wheel which I have been told is incredible at night - you can grab tickets far cheaper on Groupon by clicking HERE if you are keen to try it out. I know I will be going back and taking Ever to this one
- GOMA which always has plenty of interactive spaces for kids CLICK HERE to check out current exhibitions and pricing
Checking out Brisbane with my little one has been one of my favourite adventures to date, I will never forget the look on her face as we went on our first ferry ride together or the way that she walked around the city with me taking it all in. If you are after a dreamy staycation or a little vacation exploring a new city then head on over and check it out now.
Our next adventure will be the locals guide to the Gold Coast, all my favourite places will be featured in a VLOG so if thats something you have been hanging to hear then sit tight...
So... I have had to be in hospital with Ever a few times since she was born, I always call 13 HEALTH first to determine if that is the best place for us... There was the time she over heated, the time she fell off the couch in a split second and is now sporting a huge scar right between the eyes, there is that time that she had a allergic reaction to the vaccine and this current time that she had a small scratch on her toe that has spread to her blood and lymph nodes, we are still figuring out if that is exactly what happened... but I am praying for the toe option.
During every trip to the ER I have thought "gosh I wish I had that" and I have written it down and added it to my EMERGENCY HOSPITAL BAG that I keep in the car. There is nothing worse than hospital with your little one and you dont want to be court out like I was the first time with absolutely nothing you need. I was freezing, Ever was cold and all I wanted was a wash cloth and some hand sanitiser.
So I thought I would share my Emergency Hospital Bag with you all in the hope that it helps just one person, I keep this bag in my boot and double check my list before leaving for the hospital because it is the little things that can make a stay in hospital that much better.
- Bubbles, Ipads, Toys (as nice as it is for the hospital staff to give your little one toys from their stash I would politely decline)
- Books to read
- Pencils and Colouring in Book
- Hand sanitiser (I like the one from Stayzon skin as it comes in a little travel size)
- Linen Spray (I spray our beds daily with linen spray so I feel it gives the comfort of home smell and makes Ever feel more comfortable)
- Electric Candles (I grabbed mine from Kmart and they have been coming everywhere with us, I got the staff to turn off all the lights in our room and just had the candles going) don't store these in the car though.
- Diffuser and oils that compliment your little ones illness (grab this before ducking out the door, don't store in the car)
- Toothbrushes and travel toothpaste (just keep cheap ones in the car, you do not want to be speaking with the doctor after not brushing your teeth for days on end)
- Extra nappies and wipes (the hospital does stock nappies should you need them)
- Painting smock and bib (if your little one has a vomiting virus or does begin to throw up its good to have both of these handy)
- Warm Socks with grippys for you and your little one
- Warm clothes for the both of you
- Easy access loose clothes for your little one
- Warm Blanket (Lets be honest the blankets in the hospital are never warm enough, I always keep a big picnic style blanket in the car so I was so lucky to have that with me)
THINGS FOR YOU
- Your laptop or iPad (long waits for the doctor and a lot of sitting around watching your babe sleep)
- Headphones (in case you want to watch a movie or listen to a meditation or podcast)
- Dry Shampoo
- PHONE CHARGER (you do not want to get stuck without this one, this was my only way to get support as we tend to be in hospital alone)
- Clean underwear
- any of your roller blends
If you are not a car kit kinda girl (I even have a first aid kit in my car haha) then just keep the list handy either in your phone or on the fridge.
I have found that these few little things made our time much more comfortable, Ever would not stop touching everything in sight so I was grabbing the hand sanitiser a lot - the stayzon hand santiser lasts for 24 hours so that gave me piece of mind that she was protected. It is always freezing cold in hospitals and you may be put in the same room as someone who is quite ill so I turned my hoodie around and had it over my mouth a lot. I was so grateful for the blanket because it was cold at night and Ever was unable to wear clothes properly due to all the cords she had on her arm. I asked the nurses to turn off all the lights and I just had the candles on which offer a nice glow and definitely made Ever feel more comfortable in the surroundings. She managed to sleep well in the noisy hospital which was a huge relief because I knew she really needed her rest.
Hopefully you don't need the kit but I promise that when you do, you will be so happy that you have the essentials with you.
So you want to get back into the dating game?? Heres what I recommend...
Dating as a single mother is completely different to dating as a single woman... no matter how hard you try to be that carefree single woman while you are on a date and leave all that mama stuff behind the minute you close the door - you can't. Your heart will forever be in two places at once and subconsciously you will find yourself looking at this potential date screening him to see if he is the type of person you would feel safe having your children around, you will without even realising it be adding up a little tally in your head about his traits, and the type of role model you could potentially see him being, you will be looking to see if you have a connection with this person all the while wondering if they would have the same connection with your children and you will try in vain to snap out of these thoughts telling yourself "just be in the moment and enjoy it" or "dont take it too seriously and read into it too much" but the truth of the matter is - if you are a mother, you come with a plus one and although you are putting your heart on the line by entering into dating... there is a lot more at stake than just getting your heart broken.
Now in saying all of that I want you to know that you can't get into the dating game until you are ready and my sign of ready came from asking myself these questions "Who am I now??" and "What do I want??" so write that down on a piece of paper and answer those questions in whatever form it means to you... Who are you NOW and What do you want?? Are you drawing blanks or madly scribbling on the piece of paper already?
Now... Why those questions... I believe that being ready to date, like REALLY ready comes from fully knowing who we are again after our last relationship, it comes from fully healing whatever baggage we acquired in our last adventure in love, its fully knowing what went wrong and our part in it, It is unpacking all of the bullshit that you need to sort through after something you loved doing ended and someone you loved became someone you knew.
After any break up it is a journey back to YOU... it is a long winded journey of self discovery back to the person you were before you became an "us" or a "we" and I believe that it is only after that journey that you can answer the questions of "Who am I" NOW... Who am I... after the lesson, after the love, after the breakdown, break up and break apart.
I believe the person we are after a big life change such as a break up says a lot about the person we are seeking out... I believe ONLY in fully knowing who we are will we meet someone that sees us for who we are, and only in knowing the true answer to "Who am I NOW" will we be able to see what we need to change if anything about being the type of person we want to bring into our lives. I love the quote "be who you want to attract" and I feel in dating that is such a strong phase to keep at the forefront of your mind.
I hear of so many women that have such large lists they want to fill when it comes to dating, I mean lists that are all physical appearance based - like... I want him to be tall, dark and handsome... don't we all... but on the top of my list is - I want him to have kind eyes, I want him to have empathy and I want him to be open minded. Having standards is paramount but just make sure that those standards are set for the right reasons - looks fade, six packs can disappear and hair will eventually grey or start to fall out... but having someone who is kind, who is empathetic and who sees you even on your darkest of days... that will never grow old.
Now don't be afraid to sit alone with yourself and ask yourself, like REALLY ask yourself "What do I want" from life, from dating, from love or whatever it may be that came up for you when you said that question in your head... So many people struggle with this question, so many people can't answer it because in answering it, it can make them vulnerable to being hurt, it can make them vulnerable to being open, to being judged, to scarily not being able to live up to what they actually want from life. Step one is being honest with yourself about what you want and step two is being fierce enough to go after it, step two is being brave enough to share it with any potential people that could be in your future, step two is standing in your power and laying it out and putting it on the table and saying "this is what I want" and sometimes the most terrifying thing of all, the one person that you need to lay it out to - sometimes that person is yourself.
For me I was terrified to answer that question - I wrote it down and sat with it for a few days, stopping to think about it in my spare moments alone, daydreaming over it at the traffic lights, thinking in the shower about what the question meant for me and finally when I got the answer that I knew I would always somehow come to, I was terrified - I had admitted it to myself what I wanted and I realised that I now had to live up to that. I now had to really start to take that seriously and I really had to make it a priority in my life instead of dancing around it as if it wasn't there. Saying what you want out of life means that you could potentially live with regret if you don't meet your own life's goals and no body and no one likes regret. Regret is something that will keep you up at night, regret will haunt you, it will follow you around and poison your mind and regret can be a real buzz kill to sort through... So in order to meet someone in our lives and in order to be shiny diamond clear on what we want and expect from someone else we first need to answer that question of ourselves and we need to be prepared to act with whatever that question brings up for us, and more than that... we need to be prepared to voice it.
Since entering the dating game as a single mother I have learnt a lot about myself, since having Ever and starting to date I can be confident in my choices because I know two things Who I am NOW and What I want... and I am not afraid to edit my life ruthlessly if I feel that people don't deserve to share it. I wish I had of asked myself these questions when I was a young teenager entering dating, because although I feel my answers would have been different back then, I would have been more aware of the WHY behind it all, of my WHY behind it all.
Dating in 2018 is akin to surviving the war - you are completely unsure about who is behind enemy lines, who is real and who is fake, who is genuine and who is just getting in a relationship to work their shit out on your watch and there are land mines every fucking where...so I believe the trick to dating is to know who you are at the very core of yourself, who you are in the quiet moments, who you are in the social scenarios and who you are when you sit back and realise that you are some kind of magic.. a living soul in a breathing body who is 60% water and 40% fucking miracle. The trick to dating is to know the answer to what you want and to be brave enough to say it out loud to yourself and if you are really ballsy to share it with those that don't fit the criteria.
I get asked this question all the time "but how will I know when I am ready to date and where do I start"you start with the questions "Who Am I NOW and What do I want" and I feel this also applies to people who are married and in a bit of a slum "Who Am I NOW and What do I Want" sometimes this answer takes a while to come to you, sometimes you have to sit with the wholeness of the question and really feel the words swirling around your head, sometimes they sit on a blank page for days before you can be real enough with yourself to answer them - but the only thing I can tell you is to ask them, tell other people to ask them, tell your sister, your friend, that colleague at work that never has luck in the dating game, tell your brother who you can see is clearly dating yet another tacky woman that is wrong for him... just tell them... maybe if enough people in the world asked themselves these two simple questions then we wouldn't have people running around causing havoc on peoples hearts, we wouldn't have people who walk away from relationships as if people are as disposable as the coffee cups we drink from and we wouldn't have people who rebound with people just for the sake of not being alone.
Maybe if more people sat in the truth of their answers to these questions then dating in 2018 wouldn't be such a fucking minefield. Bumble and Tinder as great as they are for seeking out the single have done us quite the dis service when it comes to dating - people are now more disposable than ever before, the guy with the abs gets more airtime than the nice guy with kind eyes, the woman with legs for days gets more swipe rights than the woman who can hold a decent conversation and if you even make it past the swipe right stage then you had better play your cards right otherwise there are women by the dozen that can replace you with the flick of a thumb... there is no way to escape how hard dating can be... so know yourself, know the answer to these two questions, hold the answers close to your heart and call on them in moments of doubt. If you feel as though you aren't connecting then ask yourself these questions again.
Dating is exciting, meeting new people always gives us a buzz of possibility or at the very least a new viewpoint or different perspective than the one we had before. Since dating I have learnt what I am willing to tolerate as a single woman and what I am looking for in a man as a single mother. Its been trial and error, its been thrilling to see myself as the woman in dating I am now... knowing the answer to these two questions has given me unbelievable strength and confidence - knowing who you are and what you want is pure magic and it has released me to see not only myself but the potential men in my life more clearly.
Here is a link to a beautiful meditation that will help you AFTER you have answered these two questions CLICK HERE to LISTEN
Oh and one more thing BE WHO YOU WANT TO ATTRACT
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I have had so many requests from all of you to share my baby name list, I was really hesitant to do so because it is a list that I have had for years. Keeping it in my phone notes and adding to it when I stumbled upon a name I liked, never knowing if I would use it but treasuring it anyway.
Since starting it I have held it close to my heart, never showing anyone except Ever's father just after we found out we were having Ever. We added to it and dreamt up a few names that felt right for Ever but I knew in my heart I would never call her by any other name.
I have found some of the names in words I like in magazines, others by stumbling across a name yelled out in the supermarket and some are even peoples surnames I came across while working in the corporate world.
Ever - Forever, Eternally, Always
We ended up with Ever Lacey which I didn't feel suited her but I really liked the story and sentimentality behind it. I since then can't wrap my head around it and I have gone with Ever Lane which still has the sentiment of Lacey's Lane in Currumbin but its just more free flowing and suits her better. I always get asked about my name list so there it is for all of you - share it if you like, pinch from it if you need to. Or if you feel you have any other names you would like to add to it please do let me know and I will update the list. I think if I was to have another baby I will give it a name which I have kept off the list for that rainy day or just in case moment that I might have another little one to grace my life.
I recently sat down with Whitney who is not only a former single mother to twin girls who have just turned four but she is also a mother to Chevy David Stone, the son that her and her new partner Adam never got to bring home. I have always heard of pregnancy loss as a whisper that no one really wants to talk about, for many of us it is our worst nightmare and for some of us it is a cold and hard reality, just like my situation I felt that there would be many women who feel alone when it comes to pregnancy loss because it is one of those 'taboo" subjects that putting it bluntly, people don't really know how to talk about. It was for that reason alone that I decided to reach out to Whitney to ask her if she wouldn't mind sharing some insight into life after loosing a baby. I thank you whitney for sharing your story with us, your bravery and strength is inspiring to not only myself but each and every person that will read your journey.
So you have two gorgeous twin daughters, tell me about the moment you found out you were having twins? It must have given you all the feels...
Honestly I was in shock, totally unexpected. I went into my Gynaecologist appointment knowing I was pregnant due to a home pregnancy test, but also knowing I had an ovarian cyst, which was causing me a lot of pain. He did an internal ultrasound and said “theres two”... “two what?” I responded (thinking there were two cysts.) “Two Heartbeats” ... I burst into tears and said some profanities, to which my obstetrician responded... “Is there anyone with you? Is there someone we can call?” Luckily my mum was in the waiting room. All I could think of was the expense, two cots, two car seats, two high chairs, two of everything!!!
*What was pregnancy like carrying two babies, I know within myself I had moments of struggle with just carrying one?
I was extremely sick my whole pregnancy. I had 6 weeks in the second trimester where I felt “normal.” I had a lot of fluid retention to a point where I would have to lay with my legs elevated against a wall and ice strapped to them. To be honest I never felt that pregnancy glow, nor did I enjoy it. The only part I loved and found absolutely amazing was feeling my girls kick and move inside me... a feeling I will never forget.
I think one of the most beautiful questions I ask people is “tell me about the day you became a mother, what was it like for you”
I remember sitting in the pre op room (as i had a scheduled cesarean) and discussing the twins names. We had 6 names to choose from but we wanted to wait to see them, before we named them. I was told that I wouldn't get to hold the twins as they would be rushed straight to special care. But I did infact get to hold them for a short period of time. I remember when they held up Narla and I cried as she was so tiny, the obstetrician then said.. “wait till you see the other baby, she is so much smaller.” And that she was! They were both so tiny and precious, weighing 1.8kgs and 1.4kgs and only 40cm long.
Run me through a day in the life with twins?
The twins have just turned 4. They are such good children, we are extremely lucky. They still sleep for 1.5 hours during the day, and sleep 11 hours overnight. Im quite strict so their their behaviour and manners are usually spot on. We normally go out in the mornings for play dates, and to run errands. Then most afternoons are spent at home or down at our local creek.
How do you manage two different little personalities with their own sets of needs? What are their personalities like?
The twins have two different personalities, but they swap! One will wake up and be naughty all morning, then after their day sleep, they swap! Its like they conspire at sleep time and switch personalities. In saying that, they are never naughty together, its either one or the other. Nevaeh is very girlie and quiet, she loves her skirts and dresses, has to have her hair all pretty and choose her own outfits. Narla on the other hand is loud, happy with a pony tail, and to run around in her undies.
You have been through your own journey to single mum, tell me about that?
I left the twins dad when they were just 5 months old, as he wasn't willing to give up his old lifestyle to become a parent. I left our marital home and moved in with my parents, taking the twins with me. The first year was tough, until I grew wiser and learnt to stop putting up with my ex husbands nonsense. I also had to let go of the hope, that one day he might actually step up and support his children. I know one day the twins will realise and appreciate all that I do and have done for them.
You now have a beautiful partner Adam tell me about how you two met? You seem like such a beautiful couple
Adam and I actually met through a family member. He use to pop over for a drink with my dad while I was living with my parents. He had recently split from his partner due to her being unfaithful. Adam actually asked my dad if he could take me out (cute hey!) and from our first date we got on like a house on fire and our love blossomed.
What was it like integrating a new man into life with your gorgeous twin daughters? He seems to have taken to the role like a total natural
Oh my goodness I cannot give Adam enough credit! He is an absolute natural! At first I didn't allow Adam around the twins, we would just go on dates together once the twins were in bed for the night. I was worried that if our relationship didn't work out, there would be another man leaving the twins life and I didn’t want that for them, children need stability.
After a while I started meeting Adam at the playground or the beach with the twins and introduced them that way, they bonded so quickly and I just knew it was right. It wasn't long until Adam was over most afternoons helping me with witching hour, and the night time routine. He absolutely adores the twins, and the feeling is reciprocal.
Tell me about life with a father figure in the twins life? What’s it like? How has he felt joining in with your little family?
Adam is the main male role model in the twins life, as we all live together as a family unit. Adam totally supports the twins and I, providing us with the best life possible. He is always here for us. Adam absolutely loves the twins, he has always wanted to have a family of his own. He is fantastic with the twins and treats them as if they are his own. We are incredibly lucky that he has come into our lives. Some days are tough for him, but thats understandable raising someone else's children.
You and Adam have recently gone through the trauma of losing your first baby together, tell me about that?
Losing Chevy was the most horrendous thing we have ever been through. Its absolutely heart breaking and I feel the pain will never leave. I had pain and bleeding on and off from 8 weeks pregnant, my obstetrician was away so I had a “fill in” obstetrician take care of me. We were scanned every few days and reassured everything was ok, it wasn't until our 20 week scan that we found out the devastating news. Losing our first child together (and adams first child) obviously had a huge impact on our lives, our relationship and the twins. But we have all pulled together and helped each other through the difficult times.
Tell me how did you find out there was something wrong?
It wasn't until our 20 week scan that the sonographer picked up that Chevy had a condition called Severe Ventriculomegaly with no chance of survival (a 1 in 5000 chance), which basically means he had a blockage on his brain and the fluid could not escape. This resulted in his brain tissue not developing. I will never forget the moment we were told. The doctors were talking to us in medical terms and all I kept saying was tell me straight, will he survive or not. I just wanted the answer in black and white, no beating around the bush. I remember not being able to breathe, I was hysterical and then I started vomiting. So many emotions and thoughts flooded my body, one of the lowest points in my life, I felt so much pain and heart ache. Momma guilt automatically kicked in, was it the sushi I ate? Was it the 2 pieces of soft cheese I ate? Was it the new exercise program I had started? I was reassured that it wasn't anything I had done, and the results from the test they did on the placenta and umbilical cord proved just that. It was just a totally unfortunate situation, that no one could have prevented. All Chevy’s results came back clear, which was a relief that there were no issues with chromosomes, infections or Adam and I not being compatible (this is actually a thing), but at the same time it made it harder as there were no reasons as to why this happened to our little man.
How did you break the news to your family and the twins?
I remember Adam trying to pay the ultrasound bill and he couldn't remember the pin number on our card. I was standing outside as i couldn't face a full waiting room of pregnant women. I called my mom... I cant remember my exact words, but I told her that Chevy had a blockage on his brain and he wasn't going to make it. We went straight home and mom ended up having the twins for the night while we tried to process the gut wrenching news we had just been told. We didn't tell the twins until a few days after giving birth to Chevy.
You had to deliver your little boy Chevy David Stone tell me what happened in those moments after you delivered him?
We found out about Chevys condition on the Monday afternoon, 24 hours later we were in my obstetricians office discussing our long list of questions (of course wanting answers why) and what the next steps were. Two hours later we were back at the hospital getting ready to be induced. I had a horrendous 18 hour labour, where I reacted to the medication resulting in my temperature spiking, vomiting and uncontrollable shaking, I ended up having an epidural as it all became to much for me. After 18 hours, they realised that Chevy had become stuck in the birth canal. He had come out sideways, so this then resulted in surgery to have him removed. Obviously I was to drowsy to see our little man that night after the anaesthetic, but they brought him into us the next morning, where we held him, cried and said our good byes.
How did you cope in the coming days, what emotions did you go through?
To be honest I didn't cope at all, I fell into an absolute heap, I couldn't get out of bed. It got to a stage where Adam couldn't be around me because he was obviously dealing with the death of his first child as well as trying to be strong for me. I ended up with an infection in my uterus, and ended up back in hospital resulting in another operation to make sure everything had definitely been removed. So the first week and a half were terrible.
Once home from hospital the second time, I pulled myself together and went and saw a psychologist, who gave me strategies to cope with my heartbreak and overwhelming feelings. Adam became very angry, and over little things that normally wouldn't phase him.
Did you have a strong support network helping you through it?
I had a fantastic support network. Obviously Adam, my absolute rock. Not once did he leave my side during the whole ordeal. I kept telling him to go for a walk, get some fresh air, or go have a beer as the labour was so long and slow, and I would call him as soon as anything happened. But he refused to leave my side. And of course our families. We put a post up on Facebook about losing Chevy and asked all of our friends to respect our privacy and not contact us. At that point in time I didn't want contact from anyone, everyone kept saying how sorry they were and it only made me more angry... I remember thinking... why the hell are you all apologising, there was nothing anyone could have done.
I can only imagine the heart ache that it would have been for you, how did Adam and the twins cope with it all?
Adam was my absolute rock, he obviously showed emotion but he was so strong for me. He did become very angry at the little things in life, but has since seeked help to deal with the loss of his first child.
The twins had a lot of questions which were incredibly hard to answer, as we didn't have the answers ourselves. It took them a while to comprehend that their little brother would no longer be coming into the world. But they still talk about him to this day, each night we light a candle for Chevy (next to his ashes) and before the twins go to bed they blow it out and say good night to him.
I remember reading that you consulted a child’s Psychologist on the best way to break the news to the twins, tell me what did they recommend?
I booked in to see a child psychologist as i wanted to know the best way to tell the twins (as they had never dealt with a death before), her advice was to be completely honest with them and answer all questions openly and honestly. She advised NOT to tell them that Chevy had gone to sleep and not woken, as that will create a fear for them to go to bed at night. So we sat on our lounge and told the twins Chevy had died (the hardest words that were to come out of my mouth). Then the questions started, why? where is he? When will he be coming home? Is he still in your tummy? We just took our time and together, hand in hand, answered the twins questions.
How are you and your family going now? Tell me what life has been like after going through such a life altering experience?
We are doing well, we have our little man home now and his ashes are in our lounge room accompanied by a fresh bunch of flowers, his candle and his star certificate which was named after him (a lovely and thoughtful gift from my girlfriend and her family). We also had Chevy’s hands and feet done in moulds. The twins talk about Chevy daily and all the adventures they would have taken him on. We still find it very difficult to deal with but feel we are getting stronger each day. They say time heals pain, I don't believe this is true, but I do believe it gets easier to cope with.
You have recently started blogging via Instagram to share your story and raise awareness about Chevy’s condition. I know from my own experience that writing about it can really help you move through the emotions. Have you found that voicing what you went through has helped you cope?
Yes absolutely. At first it was very difficult to talk about, I still have emotional days, but I feel so much stronger 5 months on. Id like to reach out and let other women and families know that they are not alone. When you lose a child you feel very alone, like your the only one going through it, and your whole world is falling apart. It feels as though no one could possibly understand what you are going through. But what I learnt was, I wasn't the only one, there are actually a lot of people going through a similar situation, you just don't hear about it. Chevy’s case is rare, but pregnancy loss unfortunately isn’t. If anyone is needing support, or would like to discuss pregnancy loss, Chevy’s condition etc, please add me on Instagram and I will answer all questions and support you to the best of my ability. My Instagram name is: whitneykate01
Also a big question I have always wanted to ask is “Do you prefer people to ask about Chevy and how you are going since his passing or do you prefer to keep it between just yourself and your family”
Yes I absolutely want people to ask and talk about Chevy. Even though we lost him at 19 weeks, he is still our son and he will never be forgotten. We celebrated (and will continue to celebrate) Chevy’s anniversary 23rd of August, as well as the date he was meant to be born 9th of January. Like I previously stated, I am open for anyone to ask me questions about pregnancy loss, or reach out for support on my Instagram.
What advice do you have for other women that are going through the trauma of losing a child?
It is bloody hard, you feel like your whole world has fallen apart. There are so many emotions, some you will have never felt before. But you will get through this, you will day by day get stronger. Make sure you have a great support team around you (even though u want to be left alone). And don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. I honestly believe that seeing a psychologist after losing Chevy helped me immensely.
I feel sometimes others don’t really know how to help in those situations so what advice do you have for someone supporting a friend or family member through the grieving process? What kind of support has helped you the most?
There is nothing anyone can say or do. Just be present and there waiting when the mother/family is ready to talk. Even if you go and sit on their lounge next to them, and watch a movie... there doesn't need to be a conversation. Hold them when they cry, let them know u are there for them and ready to support them (again when they are ready, in their own time).
And the little things go a long way, my girlfriend made meals for us which we lived off, as Adam and I just couldn't function. Another friend came and folded our washing. The everyday things, that need doing, but have understandably been temporarily let go.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day being a mama, a partner and working to share your experience with us. I will never know the sheer heart ache that you and your family have been through but I can honestly say that in sharing your story you will help women all over the world move through their own grief. Its not easy sharing life experiences that changed us, but it is important to connect + support + inspire through sharing glimpses into our worlds as mama no matter how hard it may be for us to do so.
If you have your own story that you would like to share with the community please email firstname.lastname@example.org with "Guest Post Submission" in the subject line.