I really have been MIA lately, but I always say that don’t I? We had a really wonderful Christmastime. My sister and her family came to visit and the boys had so much fun playing together. They flew up to see us, and after we met them at the airport, Jared and I decided to go for a drive to see the Christmas lights. We found a few houses but then hit the jackpot when we drove through a new development not far from where we live. There were heaps of houses with just over-the-top Christmas lights and it was gorgeous. Abel was SO excited. It is so fun experiencing Christmas with a 2.5 year old! He screamed with excitement every time he saw the ‘pricmas ights’ and ‘pricmas tree’s.
We visited several beaches as well, and went for a few walks. Jared gets a few weeks off work during the Christmas holidays and this year has just been great. He goes back on Monday, but we have really enjoyed the extra time as a family, relaxing and enjoying the beaches as well as getting a few things done around the house.
We moved into this house last March when Juniper was just a few weeks old. Do all you can to avoid moving with a newborn, people. It was very hard. Not just her being a newborn so much, but more so my own recovery. Lifting heavy boxes when you just pushed a baby out of you probably ain’t a good idea. Do not recommend. I asked for help as much as possible and tried not to overdo it but it was still a bit much! I planned to organise our sheds once we got a few nice days without rain in the spring (September/October).
I did not. We finally got to it during the holidays and it feels so good to have it done. We did a dump run (kind of hurts seeing stuff just be chucked in a landfill doesn’t it!). Jared got some shelving from Bunnnings and we put it together (actually took all day, did not expect that haha). It’s so good to have all our stuff easily accessible and we know what we have and where.
I’m working in the garden lately, it’s doing okay. I harvested all of our kale to make room for the squash to spread out. I washed it, chopped it, and put it in the freezer for adding to smoothies, or whatever. I weeded all around the tomatoes, squash, and random potatoes that volunteered from the compost, and then I used some seaweed fertiliser. I’ve also been watering the garden with a sprinkler that we bought for the kids to play in (they love it!). Hopefully we’ll see some actual fruit soon! I’m not sure what kinds of squash I have because Abel helped and so I think we have a few pumpkins, one or two cucumbers, and some courgettes. We’ll find out, anyways!
The garden in front of our house is also doing alright. We have a few strawberry plants that have been consistently growing and giving us several strawberries a week which is great! I also have mint, flowers, some lettuce I should probably pick soon, and a whole bunch of cauliflower and broccoflower. There were no heads on the plants a week ago but when I looked again earlier this week there were! I was pleasantly surprised because it seemed they popped out of nowhere. I found a TON of stinkbugs on all the plants, and read that they are hard to get rid of. Not to be deterred, I filled a bucket with soapy water, grabbed a garden glove, and picked off all the stinkbugs I could find and chucked them in the bucket.
We’ve really been enjoying time outside this summer, it just gets a bit hard in the mornings/early afternoon when there’s not much shade in the yard. I bought Juniper a new sun hat last month thinking 6-12 months would fit her great, until I realised she was already 10 months, and yeah, it’s too small already. Whoops!
I have some serious tips though, spoken as a seasoned mom of a 2-year-old and almost-1-year-old (can you believe it?! February!)
Tips for a more relaxing summer with kids
1. Buy sun hats early
When Abel was a baby, he outgrew his sunhat in the middle of summer and needed a larger one. There were heaps at the beginning of summer so I wasn’t concerned, but when I went to find one, the stores were mostly out, or just had the more expensive ones. I thought I learned my lesson this year by grabbing Juniper one in December that would last her ages, until, like I said above, I realised she was already on the bigger end of that size. So, don’t just recall what size your last baby was in the middle of summer, try and remember how old your current baby IS. When sun hats are abundant and cheap, buy the next size up in case they outgrow their current size while you still need sun hats daily! Bonus points if they’re gender neutral so can be hand-me-downs for the next child.
2. Accept that your baby will eat sand by the handful
I like to think I’m a pretty chill mom, most of the time. I do not like to watch my baby eat dirt, grass, sand, but it happens. One of our first times at the beach with Juniper she was eating literal handfuls of sand, just shoveling it in there. Here we are, sitting at the beach, trying to have a good time, surrounded by sand on every side, it’s sand everywhere, there is no way I’m keeping Juniper out of the sand. So I decided instead of stressing and trying to keep her from eating it the whole time, I might as well just enjoy myself. Abel had eaten sand before and he was okay. So Juniper sat there, happily munching away on sand, and the next day had a nappy that was basically entirely full of sand, and otherwise, she was perfectly happy and didn’t seem to have any issues.
3. Garden sprinkler vs pool
We have a small wading pool I got last year for Abel. He loves it, especially when it’s full of bubble bath, but Juniper also loves the water and is in the stage where she loves it so much she’s very high maintenance because you’re trying to keep her safe the whole time. Good solution? A garden sprinkler! For one thing, I can water my garden with it as well. Secondly, it’s amazing for kids water play without having to be within a foot of Juniper because I don’t have to worry about her drowning. Makes outside time a bitttt more relaxing (read: 100x more relaxing) than when we use the pool. (bonus: no moving parts for the kids to break on this one)
4. Drink bottles and snacks
When Abel was a baby I spent a long time trying to find just the right drink bottle. I finally settled on a favourite (linked here) and I want to share it because it really is the best. It’s about $13 depending where you buy it (Countdown, Warehouse, etc.). It has a soft straw so shouldn’t mess with their teeth, the straw can be closed to be a bit hygienic (if that’s possible with babies/toddlers lol), it’s pretty easy to take apart and put back together, every part is washable (just don’t let the small straw part go down the drain) and doesn’t leak. Snacks are just really handy when you have kids in case you stay out longer than intended or need a distraction. I don’t have specific recommendations, just bring food when you go places. 😉
5. Change of clothes and nappies
Now this should be obvious right? Well. For one thing, if you go to the beach I definitely recommend bringing dry clothes so the babies don’t have to be cold on the drive home! Me, I find it easier to just wear my togs on the drive home so I can have a shower and change when I get home. For general out-and-about, it’s good to have a change of clothes and nappies for the kids as well though. I know this should be a nappy bag staple. But hear me out. Abel is potty trained now. He is doing so great, but he has accidents if he’s in his carseat without a nappy on. Like the other day when I forgot to put one on him and he peed like three minutes into the drive (really??). We were walking around some stores so just made him deal with it, hoping his shorts would dry out. They did not, I think they got more wet, and while I had an extra nappy and undies in my bag, I didn’t have shorts or pants for him, and he’s too old to not wear them now. We were going to visit the playground but didn’t want him climbing on play equipment while soaked, so went home and ended up going later in the day. This also happened once at church when I forgot to tell the creche workers he was wearing undies. Just bring a change of clothes for all your kids, all the time.
I know we’re already halfway through the season but hopefully these tips will help you to have a more enjoyable summer with kids!
PS I mentioned a while ago that I had decided to make my Instagram private for close family/friends only, and while I did and enjoyed that, I am feeling confident again to make it public, so feel free to follow me there @tillyvirtue.