Introducing New Christmas Traditions – The Elf On The Shelf.

This year is the first year that we have agreed that Olly is the perfect age to introduce the Elf on the shelf as a Christmas tradition in our home. I’ve done some research on them, and found that they have many benefits. Parents can use them for many different things – discipline, rewards, incentives, etc.

I must admit that when I stumbled upon some in the stores, I found them a bit creepy. I also didn’t really understand them. But, when I found this very special Elf on the Shelf over at Jefferey Stein (Pty) Ltd, which came with a book and DVD, I understood it so much better. I also sort of fell in love with the entire story and concept.

This sweet Elf, now named Nunu – isn’t just a cute soft toy that comes in a box. It comes with a story book that tells the story which explains not only to you but to your kids how special he/she is. It creates a very unique story in their minds and imaginations of why they have chosen your home, and your family and also encourages good behavior, and a sense of looking after and loving it as it becomes a part of your family for their entire childhood.

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The book is beautifully written and illustrated and has a whimsical and magical feel to it. The DVD that comes with it is a lovely length. Again, beautifully put together and Olly was so captivated watching it. He keeps asking to watch it again and again, and in just a short week, it has become an incredibly special part of our festive season. His elf, Nunu moves around each night to a new spot in the house, and monitors his behavior. The objective is that he reports to Father Christmas.

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Olly often chats to him once he’s found him that morning, and tells him stories and also secretly whispers in his ear what he would like for Christmas for him to pass on the message to Santa for him. Every time he glances up when he’s being slightly mischievous, he quickly adjusts his bad attitude because he doesn’t want the Elf to tell Father Christmas that he has been naughty.

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I love buying something that stands out from the rest. A product that you can see is created with so much love. Something that goes above and beyond. And that is this gorgeous Elf on the Shelf set that we received. I have no doubt that Olly will be sad to pack it away once Christmas is over. But it will be something that we will so look forward to unpacking each year as the festive season begins. It retails on their website for R499.90; but remember you only need ONE for their entire childhood. So you will never have to purchase another one. Also, what I like is that there is nothing breakable about him. It can be popped in the wash before getting packed away.

And just as you thought it couldn’t get any sweeter, any better. Along came a change of clothing for his Elf. Of course, every toddler is semi-obsessed with Super Hero’s, and seeing that this Elf has magical superpowers of his own, naturally he needed a super hero outfit. They also have, as shown below, a hoodie outfit you could choose instead.

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It comes separately to the Elf. And actually makes a nice little reward for good behavior. Something that they can be given in the holidays when they’ve done something that really stands out to you. I thought it was such a fun idea!

I know I have already mentioned this, but this is the most traditional and classic Elf on the shelf set I have seen. It truly has become apart of our family, and I feel that the perfect age to start the tradition is at 3 years old! They really do seem to connect with their Elf, and they just love it!

You can get yours here: http://www.jeffreystein.co.za/brands/the-elf-on-the-shelf

Please let me know if you purchase one, and how your kids and family reacted and responded to it being introduced in your home. You can do so in the comment section below. Do look out for my Christmas giveaways coming up weekly!

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Why Did Nobody Warn Me?

It felt like just yesterday that I waited in anticipation to return to the bathroom to look at the pregnancy test to see if there would be one or two lines. It felt like yesterday that I saw two faint lines, and was flooded with emotions – scared and excited. It felt like yesterday that I experienced a million changes in my body – from growing a belly with a baby inside, to the many other changes my body encountered.

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It feels as if it was just the other day that I gave birth to a healthy little boy, held him in my arms for the very first time, and nursed him through long, dark nights. Then he turned one, then two, and uncountable milestones greeted us in between. We felt as if he was such a big boy when he started playschool at the start of the year, and then when he told us he was ready to get rid of nappies, and then turned three. And now, last night, he decided that it was time to go to bed at night in his undies, and no more nappies.

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How have we reached this point of independence already? Where did my baby go?
Nobody explains to you that this, too is one of the challenges of parenthood. It isn’t only exhausting moments, the tears, the tantrums and the constant debates we have with them when they are little. It isn’t only the sleepless nights, the struggle to get them to latch when they are newborns. It isn’t only all of that that leaves us in an emotional state. It’s also watching them grow up right before our very own eyes, and not quite understanding how they got to that point so quickly.

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My little boy can have full conversations with me – telling me exactly what he wants or needs. He wants to do everything on his own. Snuggles are less – but when they do get handed out, they’re shared with meaning and so much love. He doesn’t just mimic me by returning the ‘I love you’, but says it when he really feels it’s the time to use the words. Instead of just asking me for help, just because – he now only asks me when he really feels that he has tried hard and truly does need a little bit of assistance. He doesn’t always need me to read stories to him anymore, but I get to sit around the corner quietly, listening to him repeat and make up words to his favourite stories that we once read together. Once we would tell him what activities he would do, but now he chooses what he loves, and it’s such a joy watching him giggle and to see the happiness beam through his eyes as he takes on these activities, and watching him thrive in what he has chosen.

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It’s truly beautiful, and as emotional as it can be – I feel that we choose how to deal with our kids growing up. And, my goal for the rest of the year and for next year is to live more in the moment. I am 100% one for taking photographs and little videos of cute moments – and that is my way of storing memories for him to look back on when he is older. But, I am also going to be putting away my phone and camera to truly live in these precious moments. Because if we aren’t living in the moment, where are we really?

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I love having a three year old, and before I know it, I will probably be chatting about how I love having a four year old, and then a five year old. And that’s ok, too.
So — although you will encounter many people everywhere you go (especially when you have a newborn) who tell you ‘Enjoy this moment, because they grow up so fast’, smile – and believe them. Because it does. But you get to choose how you will enjoy it.

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Toddler Stimulation – Hello Shongololo

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I have a nature lover on my hands. Come rain or shine, my little guy wants more than anything to just be outside, exploring – toys or no toys.

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He will return to our big sliding door with mud dripping from his hands to his toes, with mud marks wiped across his face as if he’s just returned from being lost in a jungle. And the tales he has to tell from his adventures in our garden are worth writing a book about.
I’m not one to spend money quickly. I’m THAT mom who does research on a product before I purchase it. I feel that kids don’t need a lot of toys, because the imagination really happens when you place them in what’s already surrounding them. Also, being a stay at home mom that only earns an income from my blog, I don’t have extra money lying around to just spend every time I see a cute toy.

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And then, low and behond – I heard about Shongololo. Huh? You may be thinking, or may have even blurted out loud to yourself, with your kids most likely hollering: “What? What’s huh mommy? Whaaaaat?” (That’s if they’re anything like mine.)
Let me explain quickly – Hello Shongololo is home to a range of beautifully packaged activities for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

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Now, I have once before ordered a box for Olly which was created with a similar idea in mind. It arrived (late) and arrived with literally three rubbish products in the box. Let me just say that it stirred not even an inch of stimulation and was not at all educational. It was overpriced and the products seemed to have been thrown in after being purchased from China Town. There was no theme and just no care involved. It definitely put me off.

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BUT.. there is always hope, and sometimes one just needs to do a little bit of research – and that’s what makes my blog useful to other moms. I make the mistakes for you, and then help you SAVE money and prevent you from making the same mistakes that I did.
So, here is your go-to for an activity box, and I will tell you why now!

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Olly excitedly opened up his beautifully packaged box, and out popped a gorgeous little bag with a zip complete with a gorgeous wooden Shongololo. He carefully unzipped it with beaming eyes, and shouted ‘WOOOOOAH, COOL!!!’ Out tumbled a bunch of ‘Shongololo In The Garden’ themed goodies that had been chosen and placed in the box with so much thought and care. A desire to enhance your kids hand-eye co-ordination, to encourage creative play and to improve dexterity.
The Shongololo In The Garden box specifically teaches kids about the wonders of nature found in our very own gardens. It contains the following:

– Bug Kit
– Scavenger Hunt (This is my favourite part, and such a fun way to spend a beautiful day outdoors with your child).
– Seeds and Planting fun
– Butterfly Craft
– Felt Tip Pens
– Exciting Story Book
– DIY Gooey Snail Slime (Great for kids with sensory issues)
And the best part is that every one of these products is great quality! They aren’t cheap products that your kid is going to loose interest in our break while playing with them.
Olly has loved his box so far. We haven’t had too much of a chance to go through all of the activities yet, but looking through it has been so much fun, and I promise to post some more photos of him enjoying his Scavenger Hunt and doing some bug catching.
The boxes are wonderful for rainy days, but even for beautiful summer days to go outside and explore! Kids need to get their hands dirty and to potter around the beautiful garden in order to learn, and in order to truly experience what is around them.
As I say, my little guy is happiest when he is outside!

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Now onto the facts – the activity boxes are split between two age groups. 1.5 – 3 years and 3-5 years. We ordered the 3-5 year box.

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The boxes cost R350 which is such good value for what you get! This includes delivery and it takes between 2-7 working days to be delivered. They make wonderful birthday gifts too! You can even order one of their travel kits (GENIUS!!!) to keep your little ones busy on a long flight or on a road trip. Those are priced between R165 and R240, however that cost does not include delivery.

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Do yourself a favour and read the ‘About Us’ section on their website. I always love to learn a little more about the face behind a brand, and it truly shows the passion and love that Natasha has for what she does.IMG_6752-300x300 Another thing that is obvious is that she has a little one and is so educated on what little bodies need to stimulate them and on what they can learn from without even being aware.

You can order your box at Hello Shongololo
Also, follow their social media platforms to see all of their latest news:
Instagram
Facebook

Back To School.

It feels bizarre that three weeks has gone by in a flash! I can’t believe that my little guy is back at school today. It has been a successful holiday. We managed to complete the three tasks we really wanted to get out of the way – 1. Potty Training 2. Painting our room. 3. Clearing out the outside room from when we moved a year ago.

But there was one more task that I knew I wanted to work on the week before Olly went back to school, and that was getting his mind prepared for the return to school. It’s a huge thing for their brains and emotions to have so much change in such a short period of time. It’s almost as if the moment they get settled into school, and the routine that goes with it, school holidays arrive and throw them off. It’s all totally confusing, and I can completely understand why – honestly, it sort of catches me off guard too!

The whole of last week, I spent (without Olly even realizing) preparing Olly’s mind for returning to school. Last term was a tricky one – I found that he would moan the night before school and in the mornings before school saying he didn’t want to go. But, once we arrived, he was content – and I know that he loves being  there. So, I didn’t want a repeat of that. I would chat about the exciting things about school, his friends, the fun things he does there. When he seemed slightly bored at home, I would use that as an opportunity to chat about ‘when he goes back to school next week, he’ll probably be doing some exciting messy artwork with his friends..I wonder what it will be.’ And, when we would chat about a certain topic, I would mention that he would probably learn about that at school this term. All of these opportunities that arose were used to the best of my ability to get his emotions ready and excited to go back to school.

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We also worked hard on getting him back into routine. We printed out a very special chart for mornings and afternoons/evenings so that he knows himself by looking at the pictures exactly how each day will go from the moment his head leaves the pillow in the morning until it hits the pillow at night. From putting his jarmies under his pillow after he’s dressed to bath time. This has worked phenomenally well, and I am so content with how he has swung back into routine, and settled so nicely into the new routine I’ve created which involves little chores (things that he did anyway, like packing away his toys and putting his dirty clothes into the washing basket, etc.) which gives him the feeling of being independent and responsible.

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Breakfast, lunch and dinner all happen at the same time each day, and he will help me pack his lunch box the night before, which also stirs up some excitement for school. Mornings start with a healthy, brain fuelling breakfast. Oats, or egg or even a protein packed smoothie if he doesn’t feel like eating. There is NO TV time before school, but sometimes we have a little time left for a story, puzzle or even a snuggle.

This morning was smooth sailing. He rushed into his classroom, leaving me trying to catch up behind him. He was very excited for us to tell his teacher that he’s at school WITHOUT A NAPPY!!! (HOORAY) and he was even more excited to be STIMULATED with puzzles that he hadn’t seen every single day for three weeks, but most importantly, his mind had already been put at ease for the past week, so that it wasn’t all too overwhelming for him today.

I’ve learnt that parenting is ALWAYS a process. Nothing ever just happens. We need to prepare ourselves and our kids for big, scary emotional roller coasters that they will encounter. They are too little to understand and work on their big emotions on their own, and we need to be sensitive and understanding of that. And we can so easily give them a helping hand.

How have you helped your kid(s) be emotionally ready for going back to school today? Do you find that a solid routine helps in your household too?

— One Modern Mom x

Competition Day: Win With Clever Little Monkey

If you don’t know this little fact about me by now, then do you actually even know me at all? I am obsessed with special pieces of decor that get their special spot in our home. And, over the past year – I have loved being on the hunt to find unique and trendy bits and bobs as well as larger pieces of furniture and home decor pieces that fit in beautifully for Olly’s bedroom and play area too.

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I’ve been really blessed to work hand in hand with Clever Little Monkey over the past year, and we always find the most magical things on their website. You have also had many opportunities to win some of these products over the past year! And, today is no exception! It’s another chance for you to WIN!

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This time, we are giving away a Lorena Canals Bubbly Basket that are brand new to their website. They are valued at R550.00. Which colour would you choose? https://cleverlittlemonkey.co.za/?s=basket&post_type=product

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It’s super easy to enter, and you can gain three entries into the giveaway!

Right here!
Right there:  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/onemodernmom/photos/a.1413740795622584.1073741829.1409931466003517/1811840692479257/?type=3&theater
And over here too: Instagram: @onemodernmom

How to enter here:

1. Subscribe to my blog!
2. Head over to like Clever Little Monkey on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cleverlittlemonkey/
3. Leave me a comment below telling me which colour Lorena Canals Bubbly Basket you would choose from their website (link above).

 

 


TERMS & CONDITIONS:
You need to be residing in South Africa.
The prize will be couriered directly to the courier at our expense.
The prize may not be redeemable for cash or exchanged for anything else.
The giveaway will end on Friday 28th July 2017 at 15h00, and the winner will be contacted via email.
If you have not claimed your prize within 5 working days, a new winner will be randomly selected.
If ALL steps are not completed, your entry will not be accepted.

 

The Reality Of Sugar.

Did you know that over feeding your kids sugar from a young age can create an incredibly unhealthy sugar addiction for them as adults? Also, did you know that rewarding your kids with food isn’t always a healthy idea either. I find that people often laugh at me or shrug off the intensity of sugar. I often find myself cringing when I see the food that kids eat on a daily basis. I’m not judging, but rather wish that I could educate them on how desperately kids need a healthy diet for their tiny bodies and to help their brains work at their full capacity.

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Here’s my own personal story:
SUGAR & TODDLERS = MINIATURE MONSTERS

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Without exaggerating, it was literally three minutes ago that I gave my son two teenie tiny SweeTarts. (My absolute favourite candy that my dear friend brought me back from the States.) I couldn’t resist sharing with Olly, because, of course, they remind me of my own childhood visiting the States to see my family.

My mistake! He had been happily playing outside in the mud, when he came inside to ask me to roll up his sleeves. I then handed him two of these little sweets. One for each hand. Within a matter of minutes – three to be exact, he turned from a sweet little boy who was happily entertaining himself, to literally screaming, spitting, and just being ugly. Define ugly: shouting, not listening to me, making horrible sounds, and just being all round RUDE.

It is mindblowing what sugar can do! And I think that we underestimate the power of it. I’ve done an article on healthy eating before, and I have always been quite strict on what Olly eats. From a young age, he had a gluten intolerance, which meant that we had to be careful about what he ate. But, as he’s gotten slightly older, it isn’t nearly as severe as what it used to be, thankfully! However, at the same time – it seems that we have sort of loosened the ropes on steering away from sugar.

Olly will generally choose water over juice. He will never get any juice apart from 100% fruit juice that we dilute mostly in water. For school lunches and at home, he will generally get fresh fruit and nuts with his rice cake or sandwich or sometimes dried fruit. He also, surprisingly LOVES having baby tomatoes in his lunch box. Strange kid.

BUT, he’s a kid, and somehow he manages to persuade us to give him the BAD treats. That’s the kind of treats that are okay at a birthday party on the odd occassion. But, NOT to have on a daily basis. I never reward with food – for instance, he will never get sweets or a biscuit or snacks if he goes potty on his own, or does something good. I’ve learnt that it’s a no no, thanks to Munchkins parenting coach, Celeste Rushby who I used to au pair for and learnt so much from over time.

The problem is that when he catches David or myself munching on a biscuit, or a peice of chocolate or somebody happens to open a packet of chips, he comes running from the other end of the house (where he couldn’t hear me calling him from) to see ‘what we have for him’. I know that the immediate and obvious solution would be to just not eat that kind of thing when he is up and about and to rather save it for when he is asleep, and look – it isn’t a daily thing. I’m making it sound as if we constantly have junk food in hand, which isn’t the case at all. We never prioritize pudding for him after dinner. Every now and then he will have a yoghurt with a banana, or stewed apple which is home made with a drizzle of custard.

But – WHEN HE DOES have sugar – it’s as if I have a totally different child in front of me. And it scares the living daylights out of me. I do not like the child he becomes. The high is short and the low is long and dreadful. Totally not worth it! It’s the worst thing you can give your child – honestly.

I want to suggest that you (and I) replace the junk treats for healthier alternatives. Dried fruits, rice cakes coated in carob, dark chocolate, biltong or droerwors – you catch my drift. I struggle to wrap my mind around why I feel the need to give Olly sugar when he’s totally content, happy and polite (you almost feel as if you want to give them something nice as a treat to secretly reward their behavior) just to turn them into the opposite of what they are.

Olly LOVES his healthy snacks. He honestly does, and always has! And so, my July resolution – OUT WITH THE JUNK, IN WITH THE HEALTHY.

Natural sugar in small doses is totally OK! And every now and then, a sugary treat isn’t a bad thing. But, if you want to see a change in your kids behaviour and attitudes, choose snacks that have no added sugar, no colourants, MSG or flavourants, etc. You catch my drift. Don’t make sugar an expected thing in your home. And for those of you with young babies that aren’t yet there – start your babes off not even knowing what it is – because they don’t need it! They get all of the sugar they need through fruit!

Sorry about my long rambles, I was just actually so shocked this morning watching how such a small amount of sugar made my sweet child turn into a monster in such a short amount of time.

So, I just wanted to raise the awareness about how SUGAR is really a drug when consumed too frequently. And there are so many alternatives that you can rather choose from. Maybe I should do a post on some alternatives that you can choose from that don’t cost an arm and a leg?

Thanks for reading, and I would love to hear your perspectives and ideas on this.

— One Modern Mom

Please subscribe to get notified when I post new content. And you can also let me know your thoughts by commenting below.

 

Swinging Into Winter.

Some of my most relaxing memories of my childhood were swinging in our family hammock out on the balcony of our house on a sunny day. I’d often find myself dozing off after finishing my homework, while reading a book or even while studying! That feeling of gently swinging while listening to the birds singing, or the cars drive past on the distant streets, I always just found it all strangely therapeutic. I’m sure you can relate.

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I decided that Olly was old enough to enjoy a hammock now too. And although these photographs only show him enjoying it outdoors, I’m working on getting hooks put indoors so that he can enjoy looking at books while swinging in his hammock when it’s too cold or wet outside. I always wished to have one inside, as there were so many times I couldn’t use our hammock in the cold winter months.


I love this one in particular. It reminds me of a fishing net. Its a nice clean colour, with an organic, wooden looking detail. It’s so easy to have in any home because it compliments anything you already have. I did find that toddlers are tricky in hammocks simply because they are unable to shift their weight like we do. But, it’s almost a blessing in disguise because he keeps still deliberately. 😉

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I wouldn’t leave him unattended it the hammock yet just because of the above. I still like to check to make sure that his weight is even so that he doesn’t fall out, but he loves it, and asks to go in his ‘mock’ all the time. I must just suggest that with this particular hammock, you need to pull it as tight as you can to attach to your hooks, as it does sink quite low once you apply weight. It is strong enough to hold adults too, so it’s a great investment as your entire family can enjoy it!

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You can find them on the Clever Little Monkey website: https://cleverlittlemonkey.co.za/product/woven-hammock/

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I actually wish hubby would get our hooks up for us with this crazy, stormy Cape Town weather. There’s nothing like a gentle swing in a hammock, wrapped up with blankets while reading a good book listening to the rain pour down. But, we will have it up soon, and have an entire, long winter ahead of us.

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Also featured in the photographs are the following:

Fox Scatter: https://cleverlittlemonkey.co.za/product/fox-scatter/
Little Bear Scatter: https://cleverlittlemonkey.co.za/product/little-bear-scatter/

Adventure Tribal Scatter: https://cleverlittlemonkey.co.za/product/adventure-tribal-scatter/

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Keep checking regularly for updates on Clever Little Monkey, as there may be another giveaway coming up before too long, and they really do have the most amazing collection of goodies!

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Instagram: @cleverlittlemonkey
Website: http://www.cleverlittlemonkey.co.za/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cleverlittlemonkey

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PLEASE NOTE: The hammock DOES NOT come with the wooden stand shown in some of the photographs!!!

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A huge thank you to Lerone’ Lazenby from LaBelle Vita Foto for the photos of Olly in the hammock next to the pool. The other photos were taken by me: @onemodernmom

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaBelleVitaFoto/
Instagram: @labellevitafoto

The Reality of A Happy Home.

I wish that the world explained to parents that there is more to life than a clean house. Look, I’m totally on board with keeping things hygienic, but when it comes to choosing between folding a mountain of laundry or saying ‘yes’ to playing with your kid, you’d think that as a parent, the answer would be an immediate ‘play with the kid’.

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However, social media and society tends to have the ability to leave us feeling as if a slightly disorganized home means that we are failing as mothers or even fathers. Apparently it means that we don’t at all have things under control. I’ve walked into the home of many a mother. When baby was very little, I would feel slightly guilty when arriving at another moms house. With everything in place, the glass coffee table freshly shined, and babies little play area totally organized, I DID feel as if I was doing something totally wrong. Was I lazy? Was there something wrong with me? Did I belong on the show ‘Hoarders’? Did someone forget to give me the memo?

But then, it was my turn to have a few moms over for tea. I spent hours the night before sorting, shining, polishing, vacuuming and setting up. I, too had the response from moms about how my life seemed so in order. I was flabbergasted. It was all a show!

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As moms, especially with younger kids, very few of us have our houses totally in order, (at least not done by ourselves). When I had a nanny that would come once a week, that was the only time that my home was remotely in order. With an incredibly busy toddler and four dogs as well as my partner, I’ve stopped apologizing to people saying, ‘I’m so sorry – excuse the mess’, because this mess means that although I may not have my home in order, I have a very happy child who has parents that take time to play with him. It means that he explores the house, and he PLAYS! It means that we invest our time in the moment, and it’s about the memories that we create with our child each day, rather than having a house that looks like it has fallen out of the pages of a magazine.

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Don’t get me wrong – our home is CLEAN – I make sure to use the hours that Olly is at playschool to get household chores done, and our home doesn’t look the way you’re most likely beginning to imagine it to look, but what I am trying to say is that IT IS OK to skip a day of laundry to take your kid on a special outing, to make yourself that cup of tea (and to drink it…while it’s hot) or to have a break by meeting your girlfriends for a glass of wine.

People are so quick to show off the positives in life. It’s time to create the awareness that life doesn’t have to seem perfect to the rest of the world. It’s time to stop pretending. Creating a happy environment for yourself and your family is all that matters at the end of the day.

— One Modern Mom

Top 10 Coffee Shops: Open Door

I feel like I’m totally late to the Open Door party, but here I go anyway… I’ve been working on my Top 10 Coffee Shops in Cape Town, and here is my second stop!

I often find myself wondering why I even bother trying to go to nice coffee shops and restaurants with a two year old. And, many times ask myself why I didn’t pile him in the car and go to McDonalds for an ice cream and coffee. Wouldn’t it be less stressful? Probably.

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But, then I remembered hearing about Open Door. I heard about it for the first time when media raved about their incredible play area for kids. I avoided it by all costs just because I knew it would be overflowing with parents and kids. Over time, I forgot about it. We live close by, and we often take our dogs for a walk in the forest. Each time, we drive past the entrance and I think – ‘I still need to go there’. Finally, my mommy brain managed to remember, and we went for the first time on Monday during their ‘Communal’ hours.

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Communal time is between main meals. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner usually need to be reserved to be safe, however, bookings are not allowed to be made for the communal hours. Open Door has special menus for these times which occur twice a day. Between breakfast and lunch – you can order a Sticky Bun (ORDER THE STICKY BUN!!!!) or a croissant with your usual hot drinks, cool drinks, etc. And in the afternoons, between lunch and dinner, you can choose from platters, a couple of other delicious sounding light snacks, cake of the day, a few sweet treats for the kids and of course hot drinks, cold drinks, cocktails and a large selection of drinks off of their wine menu.

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I must admit that both times I have gone, yes, two days in a row, I went at Communal Hour. On Monday I went in the morning and enjoyed a divine Sticky Bun with a delicious Cappuccino and yesterday I went in the afternoon and Olly enjoyed his cold chocolate milk with freshly baked cookies! I had a Strawberry Daquiri, which, might I add – is made CORRECTLY, just the correct amount of everything, and finished off my afternoon with a delicious G&T. What better way to end off a scorching HOT public holiday?

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Ok, to the part that is most valuable for you mamas… the play area. Honestly, I’m not quite sure where to even begin. Can I quickly tell you a story?

Growing up, we would go to the States every couple years to visit my Moms family. They’re spread out across America, and we would make a point to visit as many family members as we could in the time that we were there. We would always go in school holidays, and usually spent the entire holiday there. Being kids, we just wanted to be exploring and playing outdoors. We were lucky enough to get to experience every Season. My fondest memories were playing in their beautifully thought out play parks. Kept so incredibly clean and in tip-top condition, it was truly an experience.

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The point of my story is, I have rarely seen parks like these in South Africa. Every now and then, you come across a nicer one, but walking into Open Door, and seeing their play area, not only did I feel proud for them, but I also had this feeling of immense excitement, almost like butterflies in my stomach. Knowing that my little guy could experience such a wonderful play area equipped with everything a little person could possibly need, just made me so happy.

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Believe it or not, it gets better! The play area is visible from the patio, where on a nice day, you can’t resist sitting out there. The play area is also fenced off, which means that you can sit down and enjoy your coffee or drink in peace! You can relax and have a conversation without a worry. The jungle gym and play equipment is low and was obviously created with kids of all age in mind. There is a wooden tractor, beautiful swings, and motorbikes as well as little balance surfboards. The jungle gym has been complete with the sweetest little binoculars for the kids to really just escape into their own little imaginary world.

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On our second outing yesterday, Olly learnt how to open the gate himself. The beauty is that they can’t get anywhere else from the play area. The pathway literally brings them directly to the deck which means that they can’t get past you without you seeing them. They can’t, however let other kids escape as there is a spring on the gate which means that it automatically closes behind them.

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I honestly cannot even begin to rave enough about Open Door. I have never been there for a main meal, however, I do hope to get there soon for date night. But, wow… what a beautiful place. Sophisticated, however, I don’t feel out of place being there. I know that my child is playing contently just a few steps away, and I get to enjoy a morning out with a friend where I can actually talk over a GOOD cup of coffee without any distractions!

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We don’t always have to leave our kids at home when we go out – sometimes we just have to find the right place. And, I’ve found mine. My little treasure, just down the road from me. SCORE!

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For the mama’s that live far out, it’s totally worth the drive on a Saturday morning. Just be sure to make an appointment the day before for a main meal.

Check out their social media in the meanwhile!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/opendoorrestaurant/
Instagram: @opendoorct
Website: http://opendoorrestaurant.co.za/

A Bugz Life.

We were invited to a day out at Bugz Playpark. It has been on our to-do list for over a year, but we were eagerly awaiting for Olly to be the right age to go. Little did we know, we could have taken him ages ago and he would’ve already have had such a great time! Below, you can read about our experience at Bugz Playpark with my little Bugsie and Elijah.

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WHEN?

Bugz Playpark is open 364 days of the year; however, token rides are only open on weekends & public holidays. You can read more here to find out which rides are the Token Rides: http://www.bugzplaypark.co.za/park-info
WHERE?

The playpark is in Tarentaal Street, Joostenbergvlakte in Kraaifontein. It is tricky to see their signs from the road, but there is a sign for the Cape Gardens Centre Nursery, so make sure that you turn RIGHT down that road to assist you with getting there.
WHAT IS IT?

Bugz Playpark is the Western Cape’s largest playpark for kids! Not only is it a playpark, but it is also a fantastic party venue. With 8 indoor party venues, there are also 4 outdoor ones – and with 28 themes to choose from, you actually can’t go wrong!

INDOOR:

There is a huge indoor play area which is perfect for a rainy day.

OUTDOOR:

The outdoor play areas are complete with Free Play Fun as well as the Token Areas. The ‘Free Play Fun’ activities include the sandpit, slides, monkey bars, dolls houses, treehouse, mud kitchens, jungle gym, and splash pool. If your child is below the age of 3, this is what I would recommend.

TICKETS:

Check out this link for more information on the ticket costs, and how it all works: http://www.bugzplaypark.co.za/park-info

SAFETY:

I love their rule that an adult can’t come in unsupervised! 😉 If an adult isn’t coming in accompanied by a child, they aren’t allowed in. This means that the playpark is safe from any ‘lurkers’. They also haven’t made it easy for the kids to roam out of the playpark on their own. There is only one way out, which is also the way in, and there are always people from the park around watching. This certainly does put my mind at ease!
EXPERIENCE:

Close your eyes tightly, and imagine Disneyland – but instead of a huge, overwhelming theme park that all ages are invited to, it is a little fantasy world for kids ONLY. A stimulation station where they can get lost in play, safely! And, instead of rides and activities being created for no reason other than fun, each and everything that they have built has a purpose of its own. It means that even though your kids are having fun, without even knowing it, they are learning and growing through play!

We arrived at Bugz Playpark just after 10:00. Our boys had already seen the video on the website of all that happens at the playpark, and were so hyped up before they even knew what was about to hit them. We were greeted with upbeat music, which left their little toes tapping while waiting to enter. We got to the front of the quick moving queue, and it was time to get our wristbands. Oh, what happy smiles we were met with! The boys were very proud of their special bands, and sped off without a second thought. So many options, so little time – or so they thought! But, the time was on their side, and there was enough time for our little people to see and do everything, multiple times!

We were then introduced to Melissa, the park’s Marketing and Event Major, such a wonderful woman who clearly loves what she does. I loved how she crouched down on her haunches, and made eye contact with our boys while chatting to them about all of the fun that was instore for them. They were practically squealing. We got a quick tour of the playpark, and then were left to go wild!

First stop, the jungle gyms! Funny, right? It just shows how well thought out these magical  jungle gyms were for two and a half year old boys to choose them over other rides they had never seen before! And BOY, did these kids climb and climb AND CLIMB! Next stop, the little ‘Worm Train’ ride – the smile that lit up my sons face was priceless. He was truly in his own little world, imagining all sorts of things. As he ‘steered’ the train frantically from his very own little carriage, I knew instantly that the long, hot drive out there was totally worth every second.

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We then, excitedly made our way over to the little self-ride tractors. These are great for kids that have little tricycles at home! The sweet sound of giggles that came floating from that enclosure was divine!

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Our kids were a little too young for the horse rides, but that didn’t prevent them from enjoying watching the older kids gallop around the paddock. They were so excited to hear that they could have a turn when we go back again another time.

We rushed off to the Splash Pool, as both of our boys are obsessed with water since starting swimming lessons last year! Due to their age, they weren’t yet allowed to go on the wave slide, water slide, speed waterslide and rowing boats, but they were totally content with the open shallow pools with water that sprayed out of the ground! We loved that the water is reused, and not wasted! Kids HAVE to wear proper swimming costumes, and aren’t allowed in with underwear, I always think that this is important! It also keeps the water clean and hygienic! The boys must have spent at least an hour at this stop!

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At this point, we were so grateful for an entire playpark to be shaded. There are uncountable trees, which mean that we are always protected from the sun! Kids often don’t notice the heat, but as parents, we do! And, it often is the deciding factor on how long one stays. It was a hot day, and not once did we notice how hot it was, because we were kept cool and out of the direct sun, thanks to the trees!

The park, in fact isn’t huge! It is spacious, and as a parent, I think we can appreciate that if our kids run off, we will always find them, as the playpark goes in a loop. All of the water rides, and age restricted rides are fenced off with a ride controller, so your child cannot just hop onto a ride on their own. Also, if your child is too young, their band will be the incorrect colour for that particular ride ensuring they are kept safe at all times!

12:30 arrived, and we decided that it was time for some lunch. We headed inside and what a wonderful menu with a large variety! A well-stocked ‘Bugz Big Bite Restaurant’ with very friendly, and patient (when your kids change their mind of what they want to eat 10 times) waitresses. I love that there were healthier options and different portion sizes depending on what you chose to eat. There is also a Snack Shack in the outside play area for a quick snack or refreshment while your kids continue to play. I love that they give you a little buzzer which works right around the playpark. This means that your kids can continue playing until the food is ready. The boys had a burger which was huge! I had a wrap and Angela had the chicken salad. Everyone was very quiet while eating, which is always a good sign. We all agreed that the food was delicious!! The kids played in the indoor play area while we ate. I really appreciated that there was this play area as they could play and entertain themselves for a bit while we finished eating.

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We headed back outside, excitedly and bee-lined straight to the face painting station. They got to choose from a list of characters. Olly decided he wanted to be a Ninja Turtle, and Sam, the artist did a phenomenal job. Honestly, Olly is normally quite nervous and hesitant when sitting down in front of a stranger – but Sam was so gentle and friendly, that Olly sat there quietly, and still for him to paint his face for him. Sam held up the mirror, and Olly showed off a huge, toothy grin with his freshly painted face! Elijah decided to be Micky Mouse, and again, he had a wonderful experience. They both climbed onto Sam’s lap at the end, and gave him a big high-five to say ‘Thank you’.

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We then went next door to ‘Megan’s Petting Farm’. Here, the boys got to hold, pet and feed the animals. So neatly kept, we weren’t holding our noses the entire time, but instead had fun ourselves feeding the little lamb and goat as well as holding the bunnies and guinea pigs. Olly was even brave enough to hold a goose, and he fed the Turkey. Pets and animals are so vital for kids – and watching our boys fall so in love with each of these animals was just the sweetest thing! The soft looks in their eyes, and watching them stroke the animals so gently was truly special.

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The Swing Horses were next in line, and due to their age, we had to go with them. I must say, even I had fun, and Olly was singing away as the horses ‘galloped’ around and around. It is a 3 minute ride, which means it’s long enough to really enjoy it.

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It was already almost 14:30, and the boys were starting to get tired and stroppy after a full day of playing! We decided that we would end the trip ‘sweetly’ by letting them have an ice cream before getting them into the car. With such a lovely variety of flavours (sauces that go over plain vanilla ice-cream’, it was tough to choose one – but they settled on the ‘Candy Floss’ flavour and were very content with their decision. By this stage, they were practically licking their ice creams while falling asleep sitting up, and we knew that it was home time!

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They had the best day at Bugz Playpark. Our little characters were content and ready to sleep all the way home, and sleep they did! We all had a wonderful day, and I have no doubt they will be talking about their experience for weeks to come. We will definitely be back! And, once Olly is old enough for more of the rides, we will most certainly be back frequently, despite the long drive. It is such a wonderful meeting place, parents can watch their kids and chat while the kids play, play and play some more.

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I can honestly say that our day out there was worth every single cent! And your kids will thank you for it!

For the parents that don’t live in Cape Town, make sure this is on your itinerary for when you do come down to visit on holiday!

Follow Bugz Playpark on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bugzfamilyplaypark/
Website: www.bugzplaypark.co.za/
Instagram: @bugzplaypark