The Only Thing I’ve Judged Another Parent For.

Driving back home from one of the best weekends I’ve had with my little family at our old family farm up at the Breede River, we decided to take the longer, scenic drive back through Robertson instead of our usual route back through Caledon. We weren’t even the tiniest bit phased by the toddler tunes on repeat blaring in the car, or the extra bit of traffic. We were just in our element.

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Dark crept upon us, and we made our way through the Hugenot Tunnel just after Worcester. Still happily chatting about exciting family events to come as well as our special weekend away; a sudden chill hit us as we saw a car that had recently drove over the edge and was smashed up. Added to the scene were emergency lights, and a crowd of people – paramedics, etc. One of my least favourite things to see, especially on a long, happy journey home.

Not even having a chance to get that visual out of my mind, I glance to the left on a road that one can drive 120km/hr and literally find myself taking a second look. My heart sinks, I feel my blood pressure rise at a rapid speed. A little girl younger than my own son – couldn’t have been older than two running back and forth on the back seat of her parents car, jumping forward between the driver and passenger seat. This sounds terrible, but I wanted to get out and just shake her parents. Didn’t they just see the accident? What if that was them? It could have been, and one day it could be!!!

I am shaking, and I feel sick even typing this. If they can afford to have a car, and if they can afford to put petrol into their car – they can afford to prioritize a car seat for their precious little girl! They can afford to protect their baby girl from an accident that can so easily happen. It doesn’t matter how good a driver you are, these things happen in a heartbeat!

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You know, I often find myself feeling anxious when we go on long trips, and we have a great car seat! I find myself nervous because I know that accidents happen, and my child is securely fastened in his car seat! I find myself praying throughout our long trips because I know that there could be someone who is texting or drunk and an accident can happen, and we spent thousands on a car seat for our son to protect him.

Yet, another parent, their childs life just as precious and fragile as my own child, couldn’t care less to take the precautions to potentially save their daughters life. One doesn’t even need to be educated to know! If you can drive a car, you are educated enough to work out that a child needs to be in a car seat! If you can drive a car, especially one like this family was in, YOU CAN AFFORD TO BUY A DECENT CAR SEAT! Your child’s life is far more valuable!!!

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I am not a judgmental person. And I will never put another parent into a situation where they feel like they are not good enough. Whether you formula feed or breastfeed, whether you had a natural birth or a c-section, you are good enough. Whether you rock your baby to sleep or let them fall asleep on their own, you’re perfect. BUT, the one thing that I will voice my incredibly strong opinion on is putting your child in a car seat! If you are reading this, and don’t and feel offended, or guilty – I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry.

Being a parent means that you need to do what is best for your kids. Sometimes having to invest in something like a car seat is just something that you need to do. Sometimes you have to let your child cry even when they don’t want to be in their car seat, or sometimes your already long trip means stopping an extra 10 times because your kid needs a break from their car seat. But, there are no excuses.

STRAP YOUR CHILD INTO A CAR SEAT.
EDUCATE YOURSELF.
EDUCATE OTHER PARENTS.
SPREAD THE WORD TO PARENTS TO BE!

I can’t express myself enough.

Do the right thing!

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

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An Early Arrival: Angela Rea’s Birth Story

As Mother’s Day is coming up, both Lisa and I decided it was time to tell our birth stories. Both very different experiences but the same outcome, two healthy boys. I do not know about you but I love reading other mums tales of bringing their children into the world. I can sit and read these stories for hours on end (when I have time), mostly shedding more than one tear. Birth is magical and I love the magic.

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Elijah Micah was very planned. Darrell and I had been trying for quite some time, with quite a bit of loss and quite a lot of heartache, when our miracle, rainbow baby was conceived. I could not quite believe I was going to have a baby even though up until 13 weeks I had weekly scans, starting with week 5. I was madly anxious and paranoid and am so grateful to the medical team I had looking after me who would answer their phone anytime to me to try and calm me down. I would cry and beg to my FET specialist to prescribe something for my anxiety but he refused every time and persuaded me that not medicating myself was best for baby. I am so glad I listened to him as it is only 9 months of your life and I had such a sense of accomplishment that I had not taken anything.

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I was mildly nauseous for my whole pregnancy. The type of nausea where you just want to constantly eat white, refined carbs(ta ta Banting, nice to know you) as that is the only thing that settles your tummy. Hence I put on 7kgs in the first 3 months! But only 9 in total in my whole pregnancy. Being the very paranoid person that I am, plus living in a tiny village nearly an hour away from the hospital I was going to give birth at, I would take myself down weekly to the local clinic at the pharmacy in town for a little check up.

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At 34 weeks pregnant, a Friday, I took myself down to Sister Kotze so she could do my weekly tests. I have always had slightly low blood pressure. She took my blood pressure and her eyes got a little bit wide and she said she thinks I should just slowly lie back on the bed. She asked me to phone my gynecologist who told me to go straight to hospital and he would book me in over the phone.

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Off to Paarl Medi Clinic we go. Darrell was still away finishing his winter season of aerial firefighting up north in Stutterheim, over 1000 km away with the closest airport a few hours away. Eunice, my mother in law, had offered to come down to South Africa from their missionary work in Tanzania to help with the new arrival which we had eagerly accepted and asked if she would possibly come a few weeks earlier as I would be all alone in Tulbagh and nearly an hour from the hospital. I am so grateful that she said yes and was therefore on hand to drive me to the hospital and keep our home running in my absence. We arrived at the hospital and I was whisked away to a bed and all sorts of tests started. The baby’s heart rate was fine but after a 24 hr urine test I was found to have pre-eclampsia. I am really not sure why it was such a shock to me as my fingers, toes, face and even my nose was so swollen. My amazing  gynecologist Dr Andre Van Rooyen would sometimes come check on me three times a day and had told me that they would keep me in hospital until they performed a Caesar me at 37 weeks pregnant. My eyes were really opened to how dedicated the medical profession is. It really must be a true calling to be a doctor as they sacrifice so much time away from their own families for the sake of others. Dr Van Rooyen told me that if he had to Caesar me earlier it would not be an emergency and Darrell would have enough time to get to me in hospital as his work would not let him off.

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So started two weeks of bed rest, four hourly monitoring of the baby and countless blood tests etc. I was on blood pressure medication but my blood pressure was all over the place, very high one minute and low the next. At 36 weeks after being in hospital for two weeks Darrell got the good news that the clients wife in Stutterheim had intervened and demanded that Darrell be allowed home to his wife. I was so excited as he called me to say he was leaving at 5 am the next morning to come home. At my 10 pm monitoring of baby’s heart rate the sisters face looked a bit concerned and she rushed off muttering she was going to call another sister, who came in and brightly told me she was going to phone my doctor. Obviously I was hysterical. I did not want to phone Darrell as he needed to be well rested for his long journey home the next day. I was monitored every two hours that night ending when Dr Van Rooyen arrived very early the next morning. He apologized to me and said he knows he promised he would not do this to me but they were going to caesar me in two hours time as the baby had gone into distress. By this stage Darrell was on the road, some 10 hours away still. I phoned him to relay the news and asked him to please not panic and speed as there was absolutely no chance that he would make it and that we would see him in due course. WE! It had just hit me that I was about to give birth. I was so nervous as Elijah was in distress and I was not really sure what that would entail. Darrell phoned his mum who rushed through to be with me and I phoned my sister Linda. I asked her not to tell anyone as I was so very scared and not thinking straight. She jumped into her car and raced through to Paarl from Cape Town.

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The nurses came in to prep me for surgery and when they were gone I remember going into the bathroom and dropping to me knees, praying harder than ever before to God to keep this precious miracle baby safe. I was then wheeled into the recovery room to wait while they readied the theater for us. Most of what happened next is a blur. I was put on the operating table, the anesthetist asked me to curl my spine away from him while I was sitting on the edge of the bed so he could perform the spinal block. My years of doing yoga really paid off as I did not feel a thing from the needle that I had heard so many horror stories about. As I was lying down Linda came flying into the theater dressed in her hospital scrubs, ready to be with me. A few cuts later, one big big cry, tears of relief and our beautiful Elijah Micah Rea was born. Perfect. So healthy and strong. He latched immediately and hence started a new love affair. From that moment he was by my side and still is. Doing life together. His Daddy got to meet him later that afternoon. I have never seen a bigger smile on Darrell’s face, as tired as he was after driving all that way, than when he got to hold his son for the first time.



We would love to hear your birth stories too! If you would like to share yours, please email it to onemodernmom@hotmail.com along with a photograph.

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