5 tips for long distance travel with kids

I have done a few long distance trips on buses and trains with Mr 6 over the last 6 years.  The first time that he and I made the 12 hour trip from my parents place on the train, he was only a couple of months old.  We’ve done that trip a few times in the mean time and most recently we travelled 8 hours to visit a friend for the school holidays.  I’ve picked up a few little tips along the way to make the trip easier for everyone involved.long distance travel with kids

1.  If possible, book travel times to suit your kids.

Do you have kids that fall asleep as soon as the bus/train/plane takes off?  Book travel for night time so that most of the trip will be taken up by sleep time.  If your kids don’t like to sleep then daytime travel, when noise isn’t quite as frowned upon, might be better for you.

2.  Pack a range of things for the kids to do in their own carry on bag.

Giving kids their own bag of stuff (make sure they can carry it too!) means that you can keep it all in one place and still have your own bag.  I also let Mr 6 pick the things he wants to put in his bag so I know that they are things that he is going to enjoy.  It also means that he will have things to entertain him once we get to our destination.

3.  Charge all of the things.

What on earth did we do before technology!?  On our most recent trip we took an Ipad, Ipod and a portable DVD player.  I also put the DVDs in a CD carry case so I can take more movies without losing space.  Also make sure you put any devices on airplane mode so that kids don’t accidentally use all of your data, especially on overseas trips!  Bonus tip: Buy a portable charger to recharge devices on long haul trips.  Also keep devices switched off when not in use to conserve battery.

4.  Pack snacks and drinks (transport permitting)

Food on and around transport is by default either ridiculously expensive, tastes horrible or a mixture of both.  If possible, pack a lunch box to last the trip or meal times can get very expensive, very quickly.  There is also the added stress of getting yourself and the kids to the food service area and back again.  The last time we took the train there was 9 carriages between where we were sitting and the food carriage.  Due to the train being an old diesel service all of the doors were manual and you had to cross over the carriage joins to get to the next one. It took us 20 minutes just to walk to the Galley.

5. Relax.

There are so many horror stories that go viral of obnoxious people on transport and kids that go feral.  However my experience has been that those obnoxious people are just looking for someone to be obnoxious to and you know your kids, you know how they behave.  In my experience getting worked up often exacerbates the situation, just smile, remind yourself that it’s only for a short time in the scheme of things.  You will be OK.

Have you done any long distance travel with your kids?

What are your sanity savers?


Self harm, guilt and parenting

here*The following post talks about self harm and may be triggering.  Please ensure you are in a safe place before reading.  If you or someone you know is struggling with self harm please speak to a mental health professional or your GP*

This year it has been 13 years since I started self harming.  People believe that if you don’t actively self harm anymore then you shouldn’t really say that you are a self harmer or a person who self harms.  However I think of the action of self harming as an addiction, and so it is something that I have to work hard to not engage in.

It may seem like a pretty easy thing to do for someone who has never self harmed, had an addiction or engaged in other risky behaviour.  I mean really, we avoid dangerous things all of the time right?  Self harm however is more than that, the reasons are varied and while it can be about pain for a lot of people, the pain is very different to an accidental injury.

When I was pregnant I naively thought that it would be enough to stop the self harm for good.  I thought that it would give me enough of a reason to stop.  I thought that I wouldn’t ever think about it again, because I have this life growing inside me.  I also had someone tell me that they would call the authorities if I expressed self harm thoughts.  I pulled that statement in and let it fester.

The self harm thoughts didn’t go away.  Not then, not now.  I felt overwhelming guilt that having a child to care for wasn’t enough to stop those thoughts.  I felt that I was being a bad mother because I had these thoughts.  I was too scared to tell anyone because I didn’t want to lose my son, despite the logical part of me knowing that this wasn’t true.

The first time that I reached out, and I called the crisis team, I was met with my own insecure feelings being projected back at me.  I had a child and I was selfish to think about hurting myself was the advice that I was given.  Due to my phone phobia and irrational thoughts it had already taken me most of the day to make the phone call.  To have my own thoughts echoed back at me was too much.

This has been my experience whenever I reach out about immediate self harm thoughts.  I am always told to think of my child, to think about how lucky I am and to be grateful.  I do know that on the surface of course we need to think about the impact of our actions on our loved ones.  However, the reason I am reaching out is because I have thought about the impact, and I don’t want to follow through on those thoughts.

Self harm thoughts are still something that I struggle with on a regular basis.  I’m not afraid to admit that now because I know that they are just thoughts.  Self harm thoughts come at times like a punch in the stomach, and other times they slip in quietly.  They are still my first thought when things go wrong, but they are no longer my only thought.

Next month is Mental Health Awareness Month and part of that is the event Hat Day.  This event is the brain child of Australian Rotary Health, the biggest contributor to mental health research in Australia, and is held each year on Mental Health Day. hat day blog partyHat Day 2015 is on Friday the 9th of October. It is easy to participate in this event wear a hat and make a donation!

Visit www.hatday.com.au to register a Hat Day FUNdraiser event and invite your friends, family and collegues to join in and to donate generously on your fundraising page.

You can also find Hat Day on:

Facebook – www.facebook.com.au/hatdayevent

Twitter – @hatday

Hashtag for instagram, twitter and facebook – #hatday15.

The Aussie Blogging Community has joined forces to create one big online Hat Day Party.  Click here to donate and be sure to share a picture of yourself rocking your hat on the 9th of October.



4 Tips for getting your shit together

I don’t have my shit together…at all.  However I am learning little tricks along the way which help me feel like everything isn’t completely imploding.  They make the day to day things easier so that I can tackle the big stuff.  Which hopefully means that the little stuff won’t be so damn hard all of the time.  getting your shit togetherLet go of the bullshit idea that all food must be made from scratch all of the time.

I have made no secret that I suck at cooking.  I have a few wins but the chances of me stuffing it up are higher than me pulling it off.  My motivation for cooking is also touch and go.  Some days I am all move over Martha Stewart and other days we have toast for dinner.  In saying all of that though, to make things easier and it much more likely that I will actually cook, I buy prepackaged vegetables.  I know, I know, won’t someone think of the environment but if me buying mushrooms that have been already been chopped by Rhonda from my local Coles (not actually sure if there is a Rhonda, but it’s the first name that came to mind) means that I use the whole packet rather than throwing out a bag of shriveled mushrooms three weeks later….I call it a win for the environment.

Embrace your energy time.

It’s 3am, you can’t sleep, and suddenly you get the urge to make a banana cake.  I say go forth and make that banana cake.  If all you are going to do is lay in bed and think about how you aren’t sleeping, well you may as well get up and make yourself useful.  Plus, there’s cake.

Go with your mojo flow.

I have only really been embracing this one over the last week or so.  However it is having a bit of success.  I am finding that rather than doing things in logical order, that I just do them exactly when the motivation hits.  This works especially well if you are an epic procrastinator.  I find that I get caught up in the thinking about how much I have to do, how far I have to walk or how long it is until vodka o’clock and I don’t actually get it done.  Which of course just creates more stuff to do.  So, even if it takes me 3 goes to get the washing up done, while watching trashy tv, it means that it is getting done.

Screw the guilt.

Stop using the word should about yourself and the people around you.  No one *should* do anything.  Make choices that you are comfortable with, that will allow you lay in bed at night and feel like you did OK today.  Sometimes you have to say no, there is nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t or don’t want to do something.  There are no awards for being the biggest martyr.

Life is already hard enough some days.  There is no reason to purposely make it harder for yourself.  You can still do things for other people, live your life and take care of yourself.  If making things easier for yourself means that you can do more of the things you love (whatever that may be) then I don’t see why you can’t embrace it.

What are your tips for making life easier?

Children are people too

This may be a little bit obvious, but children are people too.  I know, I know of course they are.  However the way that we seem to focus on their behaviour in a negative light seems to point to us forgetting this a lot of the time.  I know that it’s something that I forget too.children are people tooHow many times have you been out and seen a child throwing a tantrum?  How many times have you blamed the child for that behaviour in a negative way?  Have you thought that they need to be controlled?  Now, how many times have you felt overwhelmed, scared or that you aren’t being heard?  How did you react?  Can you honestly say that you behaved perfectly every single time?

My guess is that your answer to that last question is no.  After all none of us is perfect.  However we seem to put this impossible standards on small children who don’t have the same skills that a grown adult would have.  They don’t have the language skills to tell us why they are unhappy, yet we expect them to.

Of course I don’t think that children can throw tantrums all over the place without intervention.  That’s not even acceptable from an adult.  Children need direction, they need to be shown and taught better ways to communicate their feelings.  They need to have their frustrations listened to, validated and help with resolving.  Even as an adult, one of the most important things to do for someone who is struggling, is to validate how they are feeling, tell them that it’s OK to feel what they do.

Think to a time when you reached out to someone and shared your feelings about something important to you and they didn’t understand or dismissed your feelings.  How did you feel?  Were you able to brush it off, because you understood that not everyone can deal with emotions?  A child doesn’t have this ability.  So they act out, their only way of coping.

This is something that I do struggle with in parenting Mr 6.  He has big emotions and so does his mother.  We’re learning together.  I do notice that he does become more calm when I respond to his emotions rather than telling him not to feel them.  Of course it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have outbursts.  He still screams when he is angry but the duration when I respond positively has been reduced dramatically.

Children are just little people.  They still have wants and needs, they just need help communicating them.  We need to stop placing our adult expectations on children who are still growing into themselves.

What ways do you think helps to validate emotions?

Do you think that we place unfair expectations on children?


Being a real woman

On social media lately I have been noticing an influx of posts about ‘keeping it real’ aimed at women.  These posts have always been there of course, but I seem to be taking notice of them a lot more.  I think it’s possibly because they are getting under my skin, we all know that the more we think about something, the more we notice it happening around us.

Image credit

Image credit

Last week I saw one post in particular (which of course I can’t find now) about women wearing make up.  The post lamented the fact that women were feeling the need to cover up and that they couldn’t be more ‘real’.  That is the part that I have a problem with.

I do wonder if it is a bit of Tall Poppy Syndrome at play, or at least the marketing of the tall poppy syndrome.  It’s the creation of ‘us and them’, a black and white look at how women physically present themselves to the world.  You are either real or you aren’t.  You can’t enjoy putting make up on, without being fake.  You can’t not wear make up without being labelled as not caring.

The comment sections of these posts are where it really gets interesting.  I do try to stick to the belief that you shouldn’t ever read the comment sections, but let’s be honest, who actually listens to that advice.  The comments are filled with women arguing about who is more real.  Those who don’t wear make up crow about not having enough time to worry about silly things like that.  While those who do wear make up accuse the other side of not caring about themselves.

I feel that the body love movement has almost gone too far in the opposite direction.  It is almost taboo to admit that you enjoy wearing make up and wearing clothes other than sweatpants.  There is an underlying current that people who use make up have too much time on their hands, that their priorities are wrong, or that they must hate their appearance.

If you like wearing make up, that’s great you wear it.  If you don’t like it, then don’t wear it.  If you want to do a bit of both, then that is awesome too.  What a woman wears or puts on her face doesn’t make her any more real.  If you identify as a woman, then that is real enough for me.