#MeToo: What it means, Why it’s needed

The #MeToo campaign is seeking to expose the magnitude of women who have been, in some form, at some time in their life, exposed to sexual harrassment.

Be it catcalling to rape, any unwanted sexual advances from an entitled male is being counted.

The hashtag is sweeping social media along with heartbreaking stories from women worldwide who have been victims of sexual abuse.

The campaign comes hot on the heels of, and perhaps in response to, the explosive allegations against Harvey Weinstein; studio exec and film producer extraordinaire.

Numerous actresses, many who are household names, have come forward with their stories of sexual assault against Weinstein.

The most troubling thing about this though is the pattern that emerges time and time again: rich, powerful men who feel entitled and completely invincible… in a position of such influence and domination, that their victims have no other choice but to remain silent. Or so it seems…

That for me, is the main reason this hashtag and its movement is so important. Apart from shedding light on the magnitude of abuse, I am hoping it is also giving a voice to the once voiceless.

And in doing so, those who are (or will be) victims of sexual abuse will know that they need not remain silent. They need not fear or hide because of the perpetrator’s influence on their careers, their images, their lives.

In this crazy world, where the president of the United States can get away with boastful anecdotes about sexual abuse he himself had perpetrated, I fear for the girls I am raising amidst the hate and hostility that seems to infiltrate men of all creed.

I fear it’s not a matter of “if” but merely “when” my own girls will be able to count themselves amongst the band of “#MeToos”. The thought makes me sick to my stomach.

I pray my daughters will know how to use their voice, how to say “no” and mean it. I pray they will have the strength to stand up for themselves when it may seem impossible.

As parents we are tasked with the great responsibility of raising strong, self-assured women; and strong, secure men who respect them.

It is my hope that the #MeToo campaign becomes a rallying call to and for all those who have remained silent for far too long.

You are heard. You are strong. You are not to blame. You are not alone.

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Jeronimo Kinetic Space Sand Kit

Rainy days are here again… and whilst our drought-stricken country welcomes the showers, moms all over are looking for ways to keep their little ones entertained indoors. (Especially as the school’s are closed).

One of the Twincesses favorite pastimes is playing in their sandpit outside. However the rain prevents them from enjoying this activity.

That’s where the Jeronimo Kinetic Space Sand kit comes in!

The kit consists of:

– 2kg Kinetic sand (color of choice)

– 12 sand mounds

– 1 Spade

– Inflatable tray

– Handy storage container

Kinetic sand is cleverly marketed as “98% sand and 2% magic”

The magic is provided by the addition of 2 percent polydimethylsiloxan that causes kinetic sand to mimic the properties of wet sand without the accompanying mess.

In fact, while it sticks so well to itself it doesn’t stick to most surfaces, which means a super easy clean up process and no messy hands!

Its safe, stain-free and never dries out. It’s perfect for sensory development play.

The Jeronimo Kinetic Space Sand Kit provides the Twincesses with hours of safe, stimulating indoor play.

The kit can be purchased from Takealot or other major online retailers.

Decorating our Playhouse

We recently installed an outdoor wooden playhouse, designed and manufactured by the amazing Charlie’s Playhouses.

We have been having a ball decorating the playhouse, adding little touches and generally making the interior a pretty space for the Twincesses.

I must say I probably enjoy the decorating part a bit more than the girls, and as I add a new decor piece, I always think back to how awesome my own childhood would have been with a dreamlike playhouse like theirs. Living vicariously, I guess 🙂

So I wanted to share some of the cute and functional details we added, but bear in mind, this is still a work in progress. I doubt it will ever be complete, really, as I’m sure the furniture and decor will ‘grow’ with the kids, and we will add and remove as we go along.

For now, this is what the interior looks like:

  1. DECOR PIECES:

We went with cute little sleepy eyes in pink and gold and a beautiful dream catcher in pink satin sourced from Shongweni market. A grey bunny door hook and a ‘love’ plaque from MRP Home.

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Adorable self-adehsive Ballerina sticker collection, ‘LOVE’ wooden letters and Princess canvas from MRP Home.

Pink and grey bunting custom made locally by Heather’s Buntings.img_6098-2

Pretty heart stickers in silver (made these myself) and happy cloud cushions, also from MRP Home.

The kiddies ottomans were bought second hand.

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2. STORAGE:

We always knew storage was going to be a major concern, as the Twincesses have TOO MANY TOYS. I didn’t want the playhouse to look cluttered and chaotic, so we have not one but TWO toy storage organizers.

The first one from MRP Home is a pretty pink design with convenient plastic storage boxes that can be used to not only store, but also sort toys. The girls are then able to just take their favorite box to their desk to easily access their chosen toys.

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Their other toy organizer was gifted by their aunt, and they love it because its FROZEN!

The boxes are fabric, but durable and the side panels are in rich, glossy color and is scratch-resistant.

3. FURNITURE

One of the first items we purchased for the playhouse was a large wooden kitchen from Kings Toys. We had looked at the options in stores and Takealot, but they were just so small! I wanted the girls to have something they could enjoy for years to come, and Kings Toys provided just that! Their kitchen is made in pink and white with an oven, stove top, microwave, fridge/freezer, clock, chalkboard, hang rail and plenty of storage.

We kitted it out with an array of toys: toasters, coffee machine, pots and pans, fruit basket and lots and lots of dishes, all found within the aisles of Toys R Us.

We invested in some beautiful wooden items like the Melissa and Doug 3 layer birthday cake. The cake comes with decorative items, , candle, cake board and server. The girls love singing Happy Birthday to everyone and offering them a slice of cake. This particular cake can be ‘cut’ and velcro-ed back together.

Theo from Mr Tickles also went out of her way to source the Viga wooden eggs for me, and I am so grateful. I highly recommend the store for beautiful and quality toys. img_6124-2

The playhouse wouldn’t be complete without a spot for the Twincesses to draw, colour, do puzzles and ‘eat’ whatever they ‘cook’.

I found this table and chair set on Takealot and was so pleased when I saw that it matches their FROZEN toy organizer exactly, right down to the same high-gloss, scratch-resistant finish. We do have some squabbles over who gets to sit on the ‘Elsa’ chair, but they generally don’t last long as there is so much to keep the girls busy.

There are still two items I am yet to source, which I think will make perfect additions to our playhouse: One is a few floating book ledge shelves. Because the Twincesses love their books!

The second are these gorgeous house shelves for storing pretty keepsakes and adding another decorative element. I’d welcome recommendations for a local company that makes these items.

If you are looking for a way to keep your kids entertained for hours on end, I’d definitely recommend giving Charlie’s Playhouses a call on 076 106 0612.

And if you do, please do share your decor ideas with me! 😉

A silent ‘Thank you’ to Woolies

My kids are super sleuths. They can locate with the accuracy most GPS programs only wish to possess, the tiny piece of  (grated) carrot in their homemade, organic, preservative-free cottage pie.

And that’s when the whinging begins: “but I don’t like carrots” “carrots smell funny” “carrots are for bunnies” “I’m not eating that”.

And so I coax, and bribe, and threaten and eventually cry. Yet the lovingly prepared (and did I mention organic) meal goes uneaten while I eventually cave and pop a frozen pizza into the oven.

So last week I spotted an innocuous square container in the refrigerator isle of Woolworths, and decided to give it a try.

Butternut mash, with 2 big blobs of salted butter sitting pretty on top, that melts and oozes into the creamy mash once heated.

I spooned 3-4 heaped teaspoons of the butternut mash into the Twincesses macaroni and cheese, gave it a quick stir, crossed my fingers, and said a little prayer.

To my utter amazement, they ate it. They ATE IT ALL!

Dumbfounded, I tried a bit myself and was pleasantly blown away by the taste. It was delicious!

So the next day I went back, and got the other 2 variants: Sweet Potato mash with salted butter and Baby Marrow & Sweet Potato Mash with herb butter.

I’ve had phenomenal success with both. I just stir in a few spoons into whatever they’ve having for dinner and voila, the girls don’t know any better, and they enjoy delicious veggies daily now when I previously used to struggle to ensure they were eating enough of the ‘good stuff’.

Yes, yes, I know its easy enough to puree these veggies myself; this is not some major discovery. But I have tried and have failed to attain the creamy consistency, and the amazing taste that Woolies packs into these. Not to mention the absolute convenience of it all!

Whats more, they make great side dishes for grown-up dinners too! I paired the Sweet potato mash with grilled fish the other day and loved it!

This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just hoping that other moms who struggle to get their kids to eat veggies will maybe benefit from it.

Thank you Woolies for providing wholesome food that is just so convenient!

The Princess and the Role Model

Have you noticed a shift in Disney’s ‘classic’ female characters lately???

Disney is perhaps best known for its Princesses.

From Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty, from Snow White to Rapunzel … children (little girls in particular) are fed the notion that we need our ‘Prince’ to save us and make us whole.

But lately, Disney has taken a shift in the right direction. With strong, female-driven characters that are certainly not waiting on any Prince for their redemption.

Moana – with nary a male suitor  in sight, the young girl travels across the seas, following her dreams and saving the world in the process.

Elsa – Yet again, not a sniff of a beau in sight … she comes into her own, embraces her full potential and spawns an award-winning anthem for ‘letting sh*t go’.

Merida – The rambunctious heroine of Disney’s Brave, who’s ability to learn and grow from her mistakes is the only thing greater than her strong will.

Mulan – From peasant girl to warrior, Mulan shows us that gender roles and cultural odds are no match for determination and hard work.

When I ask my girls what they want to be when they grow up I get all sorts of weird answers: Farmer, Barney, A tree, Doctor etc… But the one that tops the list is always: a Princess.

There certainly isn’t anything wrong with little girls watching classic Disney fairy tales and dreaming of being a Princess. However, as parents it is important to expose our children to strong role models as well, so they build a core of self confidence, and develop roots of tenacity and determination. They need to see independence in action, to know that they are special, unique, whole … completely by themselves.

It is a very powerful thing to be able to shape a young child’s mind. And with great power, comes great responsibility.

8 Screen Time Tips every parent needs

Screen time. How much is too much and how do we limit it?

It’s a question more and more parents are asking in this technology driven world.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids ages 2 to 5 spend no more than an hour a day with screens of any kind – TV, tablet, phone, or computer. The AAP recommends no screens at all for children younger than 18 months.

That being said I know that there are days when we are well over the 1 hour limit… and I have friends who’s kids are plonked in front of the TV for several hours a day.

There are some days when screen time just can’t be limited to the recommended hour… rainy days anyone? So how can we, as parents ensure that the time spent in from of the TV or tablet is still somewhat beneficial for our kids?

1. Set clear rules

Toddlers must be made aware of the screen time limit and must understand that this viewing time is a privilege.

2. Don’t use screen time as a reward

It’s easy to offer their favorite show as a reward for good behavior, but this only reinforces the idea that TV time is the ultimate indulgence.

3. Choose the content wisely

You are in charge of the content your child watches… ensure you choose fun but educational shows that will help your child learn and develop in an exciting way.

4. Make sure content is age appropriate

Age restrictions are there for a reason. Always ensure the programs your child watches are age appropriate. This is especially important when they are watching videos on an internet-based application like YouTube, where content isn’t widely monitored or censored and it’s very easy to click on the “wrong” video. Which leads to the next point…

5. Try as much as possible to watch WITH your child

I know that most parents don’t enjoy Barney or Tweenies, but whenever possible try to watch shows with your children. Apart from offering supervision, it can become a fun and interactive family time instead of them zoning out in front of the screen.

6. Make TV shows relatable.

Help your child connect what they’re seeing on screen to real life. If Barney is singing about his beautiful garden… remind them about your trip to the park last weekend and all the pretty flowers they saw. Take the opportunity to remind them that flowers grow in Spring, then relate to the other 3 seasons and discuss each one for example.

It’s so fun to watch them thinking critically about what they’re seeing on the screen!

7. Don’t allow “background TV”

As soon as your child loses interest in the screen, (as toddlers usually do), switch it off. TV should never provide background noise whilst busy with other activities.

8. Model healthy screen time behavior

If you spend a lot of time playing video games, scrolling through your phone/laptop or binge-watching your favorite TV series, it will be an uphill battle to get your children to comply with screen time restrictions.

Be a role model in this aspect for your children and you can Netflix and chill (literally) when the kids are in bed.

5 Tips to keep kids Rear Facing as long as possible #CarSeatFullStop

You’re probably already aware that having your kids in a rear-facing car seat is much safer than forward facing, right?

A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention found that children under age two are 75% less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing, while other studies have confirmed that riding rear-facing is much safer than forward-facing.

American Academy of Pediatrics now advises parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until at least age two, but preferable longer (until age 4) if your car seat weight and height limits allow for it.

But one of the biggest reasons that parents (even those in the know) prematurely forward-face their care seats is that their toddlers just don’t like it. I’ve heard friends tell me about the epic tantrums their kids throw when their seats are rear faced.. One even had to stop her car en-route to the grocery store, just to turn the seat around because her daughter would not stop screaming hysterically and she just couldn’t concentrate on driving with her daughter in that state.

So I’d like to share 5 tips on how to keep your kids Rear Facing for as long as safely possible:

1. DON’T Forward Face. It may seem like a no-brainer, but if your child doesn’t know of an alternative, they can’t as well protest!
It’s import that family members, babysitters and anyone else who may drive your kids, are aware of this strict policy… as having your child ride forward face – even once – lets them know there is another option available.

2. Sing along songs/ audio books. Distraction is key. Whether it be their favorite nursery rhymes CD, or their most loved story in an audio book format, I find that distracting my kids on their trips usually means I face less protest about being in their car seats.

3. Rear view mirror. Available at most baby stores, the mirror allows you to keep an eye on your child whilst rear facing, but also importantly, allows your baby to glimpse your face when positioned well. We used ours to calm fussy babies, by making brief eye contact and as they’re older, letting them play peek-a-boo!

4. Big Girl/ Boy discussions. I find that my girls just love when I sit them down for a “Big Girl Talk”. They get all serious, like they’re being allowed into the inner circle of grown-ups, and they seem to take the lessons handed out in our “Big Girl Talks” very earnestly. Big Girl/Boy topics can include all the serious matters you want to discuss with your child, from Stranger Danger to the importance of sharing, and how to treat animals. But why not also include a session for Car Seat Safety? During our talk I stressed how much we loved them, how people can get hurt very badly in car accidents, that we didn’t want them to get hurt, and the best way to stay safe was to sit in their car seat facing the back as it was the safest way to travel..
I found they appreciated being trusted with that knowledge, and I rarely have any qualms about them getting into their car seats now.

5. Make it a habit. Consistency is vital! Again, kids should not be given another choice but to ride rear facing in their car seats for ALL car trips. I find that toddlers lean towards receptive behaviors and by enforcing the rule, they more often give up the fight when they realize this is not something that is up for negotiation.

#CarSeatFullStop Every Child. Every Time. No matter what.