Slow Down, Mama

I find myself rushing ALL THE TIME. It has become so ingrained in me to do everything as fast and efficiently as I possibly can that, even at times when there is no reason to rush – I am hurried. I drive with haste (though not recklessly), and am easily annoyed if the car in front of me doesn’t move the instant the light turns green.

I remember a time that doesn’t seem so long ago, when I would trot through a mall, casually stopping to admire something in a display window, popping inside on whim. Nowadays, trips to a mall are rather efficient affairs, generally armed with a detailed list and a plan of action already mapped out.

Grocery shopping is much the same except I write my grocery list in accordance to where the items are located in the store. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking efficiency and planning. That’s my jam! But something happened last week made me stop and think that maybe I need to slow down a bit.

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday. The girls had just finished a ballet lesson in Umhlanga and we decided to pop down to the beach across the road for a morning stroll. I found myself holding Harper’s hand, and ushering her along quickly, before she said: “I know we have to hurry mama”.

I was slightly taken aback, and enquired why we had to hurry. And her reply left me feeling like a real sh*t mom: “because we always have to hurry”. So, my stress, which I manifest as a constant state of ‘rush’ has now been conveyed to my toddler.

I walked the rest of the way to the beach in silence, mindfully slowly, and as the girls got stuck into building castles on the sand, I asked my husband if he felt that I was in a constant state of haste. His response was a loud laugh, confirming that I am indeed moving at breakneck pace and pushing them all to keep up. (Except he said it a little nicer than that – thankfully).

It stayed with me all day until the girls were finally asleep that night and I could really think about how I had been behaving in recent years. They were right of course. Something had happened along the way, and the girl who stopped to smell the roses had become the mother who stopped for well… nothing.

Man, I felt so guilty of inflicting that on my family! I don’t want to be the mom that is pushing them along all the time. I want to be the mom that is present, relaxed, fun. Surely I can be well-organized and still enjoy the little moments with my children? Where do I draw the line?

Firstly, I need to be mindful of how and when I convey haste. If we do need to hurry for any reason (maybe we’re late for something), I am going to communicate that to my children in a manner they will understand. I don’t want them thinking that we need to rush all the time, but allow them to understand when urgency is required, and why.

But more than anything I’m going to start making a conscious decision the be more present. And on the days when we have nowhere to go and nothing to do, I am going to allow then to set the pace. It will not be easy… I have been conditioned to run from one task to the next… but I am going to try my best to slow down and soak up this crazy, messy word of motherhood. I owe to my kids.

Advertisements

10 Reasons why Checkers Little Garden gets Big Thumbs Up

We love collectibles. There – I said it. We collected all the Stickeez and the mini shop items. We collected super animal cards. Angry birds and McDonald’s happy meal toys. It’s a sickness, really.

The only problem with our OCD collection skills, is that several tiny toys and more than a few cards, are now sitting at the bottomest bottom of the toybox, never to be seen or played with again. And the plastic – so much plastic. It’s not really good for our planet, now it is?

So when Checkers recently announced their new collectable campaign … I was pleasantly blown away! Here’s 10 reasons why the Twincesses and I love, love, LOVE the Checkers Little Garden:

1. It’s eco friendly: The materials used in the Little Garden seedling kits are compostable or recyclable: the pots are all biodegradable, made of wood pulp and peat. The seeds are all natural and the soil pods are made of coconut husk. Isn’t that amazing?!

2. It promotes family time: We just love that this initiative will encourage kids and parents to spend time together when tending their seedlings and the eventual garden that will result.

3. It encourages outside play: Anything that gets the kids excited about being outside, away from the TV or their tablets is a good thing, our humble opinion.

4. The accessories are seriously cute!: From little watering cans to petite wheelbarrows, the accessories that accompany the Little Garden campaign are a shrewd marketing move from Checkers. Parents will not be able to resist the miniature rakes, spades and garden shears in bright, bold colors.

5. It’s sustainable: Unlike the tiny plastic toys that have been long forgotten, the Little Garden promotes growing flowers, herbs and vegetables that should continue to flourish seasonally if tended well.

6. It’s educational: The concept promotes knowledge about growing your own food and food sustainability.

7. Gracie Greenfingers is the coolest kid on the block: The Little Garden mascot and master gardener is witty, sassy and seriously hip. She’s there to offer advice to budding gardeners and she could not be any cuter if she tried!

8. It promotes a new hobby: Gardening need not be reserved for the older folks anymore. With this initiative, kids can maybe find a new, unexpected hobby.

9. It’s water wise: The entire program encourages consumers to save as much water as possible. Some of the seedlings are drought tolerant and others will need just a little bit of water to flourish.

10. It’s effectively free: While the campaign will have you choosing Checkers above competitor stores just so you complete your collection, the seedling kits are free and you’ll receive one for every R150 you spend in store.

We can’t wait to complete our collection and for our seedlings to sprout!!

Featured On <a href=’http://capetowninsider.co.za/things-to-do/cape-town/&#8217; title=’Things To Do Cape Town’>CapeTownInsider</a>

Are you loving the Little Garden as much as we are? Let us know in the comments.

A visit to the Chocolate Garden

The Chocolate Garden in De Chamoy Estate (north of Durban) is my new favorite hangout.IMG_0507

Set in a lush garden setting, the wooden pergolas and cobbled paths give the place a hint of a storybook atmosphere. Essentially a cafe/coffee shop, the Chocolate Garden serves delectable breakfasts and light lunches with a good selection of drinks and snacks.

But what draws me to the place time and again, is the fact that it is SO kid-friendly. There’s a colorful jungle gym and playhouse, all set on child-approved astroturf. There’s also a sandpit and a tepee which the Twincesses just love.

IMG_0525But perhaps the girls’ most favorite thing about the Chocolate Garden… the bunnies. They have named each of the fat, white bunnies that inhabit the place:  Thumper, Rascal, Betty, Daisy, Oreo, Lily, Milo and Bella…are but a few.

We linger over breakfast and pots of steaming tea while the friendly waitresses ensure we are well taken care of. Meals are value for money and there is a lovely kids menu that offers a twist on the regular choices. Deep fried mac and cheese balls, anyone?

It is one of the few places where parents look relaxed and peaceful instead of frazzled and hurried, which speaks to the calm that seems to emanate around the place. Of course we had a ton of tears when we had to leave (from girls, although I did not want to leave either), and they reluctantly climbed into the car as I had to make FOUR pinky-promises to bring them back the next week.

IMG_0522
5 more minutes, please mom!

I would highly recommend the Chocolate Garden for a lazy weekend breakfast spot. They can be found here: 1 Robert Armstrong Rd, Barrs Flats, Verulam, South Africa.

IMG_0506

The Twincesses Turn Three

My girls are 3 years old!

As the girls (almost) share a birthday with Grandma, we whisked the whole family away to the Lake Eland Game Reserve in Oribi Gorge for a weekend celebration. They were thoroughly spoiled with presents from family and friends, as well as their besties at school.

img_8650

We enjoyed game drives and cool afternoons at the pool.

The girls got up close and personal with a few friendly giraffes and created memories that I hope will last a lifetime.

Lake Eland is very family friendly, with lots to offer in terms of activities and sights.

There are high-octane sports like ziplining and bungee jumping, as well as a suspension bridge for daredevils. Game drives can be booked via the hotel, but we opted for self-drives as the roads are fairly tame.

There are shallow kiddies pools available, as well as a lovely, large play area. There is a restaurant on site serving delicious light meals for breakfast and lunch. All this only 1.5 hours from Durban.

Of course, no birthday would be complete cake!

Fun Day at Flag Animal Farm

Flag animal farm is located in the Dolphin Coast less than an hour from central Durban.  I cannot fully convey just how much the Twincesses love the farm!

But let me start by saying this: This is NOT A ZOO. I find zoos reprehensible, so I absolutely LOVE the fact that more than 80% of the animals at Flag Animal Farm have been rescued from cruel fates and are provided with a safe, loving home. In fact the farm has saved close to 11000 lives since they opened 13 years ago.

Flag Animal Farm offers a fun day out for the whole family. There are playgrounds and jumping castles, indoor soft play for the littles, tractor and pony rides, educational shows and exhibits and braai and picnic facilities. Families can pack a lunch and can easily spend an entire day at the farm without the kids getting bored.

The Twincesses insist I buy the animal feed so they get to hand-feed the naughty goats, whilst I never get over the exhilaration of having the horses grab a carrot from my outstretched palm!

The girls flutter between the jungle gym and the pony rides, whilst I stay cool close to the ice cream stand.

They insist on having their faces painted, and aren’t afraid to touch the snakes or the wolves (much to my horror)!

Parents are welcome to host their kids’ birthday parties at the farm, which takes the guesswork out of entertainment planning.Whilst Flag Animal Farm provides the perfect day out for the whole family, the kids especially love it, and you have been warned: there WILL BE tears when its time to leave.

A memorable train trip on The Holiday Express

These past holidays we took the Twincesses on their very first train ride.

The Holiday Express is in the business of creating memorable train trips for families to some awesome sites in KZN.

They operate all year round, and offer trips to Shongweni (with a visit to the famed Shongweni Farmers Market included), and Scottburgh.

Special festive train rides also included trips to Sugar Rush Park on the north coast and a trip to Pietermaritzburg.

Trips for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also in the pipeline and I’m sure spaces will fill up quickly.

Our trip began with a 7am registration at the comfort of the Premier Lounge in Durban Station. There was safe, secure parking located right at the entrance to the Lounge for a mere R10 per day.

The Twincess were thoroughly excited about their first train ride, so everything felt like a big adventure.

Angela and her team greet you warmly at the registration desk and we were soon led by the enthusiastic team to the train platform. The train was comfortable with leather seats and we secured a family table which allowed us to fully relax. We packed some snacks and breakfast items for the girls although light refreshments and drinks are available to purchase on the train.

The train took off promptly at 8am much to the delight of the girls… and we had so much fun on board!

I packed some colour-in books and puzzles for the journey to keep the girls from getting bored… although they didn’t seem to tire of looking out the huge windows at the scenery whizzing past

The highlight for me was definitely the Shongweni market! It was full of amazing crafts and delicious food stalls! I could have happily spent all day walking amongst the diverse displays, and letting the Twincesses play with the giant soap bubbles.

We left the market for the short bus ride back to the train and the girls promptly fell asleep in their seats, exhausted from excitement and play.

We reached Durban around 1pm, giving us plenty of time to enjoy a relaxing afternoon at home.

All in all: I would highly recommend the Holiday Express train trips for families, young and old! It’s something different, it’s safe, clean and thoroughly enjoyable.

Tickets are R200 for children and R250 for adults. But we purchased a family combo ticket at R800 for 2 adults and 2 children.

Find info and upcoming dates here: http://www.theholidayexpress.co.za