Author: Bree James

The Thing Is…the Baby Days Are Over! with Bree James

It’s an interesting moment when you make the decision to not have any more children. I’m a mum of two boys nearing 9 and 11 years old. People still ask me if I am going to go back to try and have a girl. Now… my ovaries get excited when I see a gorgeous baby. But the rest of my body gets chills at the thought of going through parenthood from the beginning again. The Thing is, I do feel completely blessed and honored to be a mother. BUT I am pretty happy that the days of having a baby hanging off my boobs all hours of the day and the sleepless nights are over. Don’t get me started on the tantrums, constant nappy changing and not being able to know what they are crying about!

My eldest asked me the other day about periods. Being a mum that over educates and answers questions, I told him all about them. Told him that he will need to be a supportive boyfriend one day. Of course I mentioned how he has to be gentle with the girls at school who may be experiencing them. The cutest thing he said was, “Mummy it must be so sad though, getting a period knowing it could have been a baby”. The “Hell no” nearly came out of my mouth, as I have experienced 2,184 days of them. But, I stopped, and thought about it. I shared that yes, many ladies are sad if they are trying for a baby. However, many are pretty excited when they get their period as it means no babies.

It’s a big decision to have kids. I think it’s a pretty big decision for some of us to say that our uterus is closed for business.

I’ve still got most of our baby stuff “just in case we had an accident”. But now I am hitting 40 this year, my husband and I had to have the talk about no more babies. He decided that it’s time he gets the snip. I fully support this if he is happy to do it (even though the reality that this part of my life is over makes me a little sad). Now, my husband is as nervous about this procedure as I was about giving birth to our watermelon sized children. 

Sure, I understand that a man’s member is literally like having another human being in the house. Another human that has needs. And I know that men have a huge attachment to this area of their body way more than women do with their own bits. I acknowledge that this is a big surgery for a man to have psychologically. He is really worried about “King Richard” and “the twins” and I am trying to be sympathetic. But as anyone who has witnessed childbirth knows, a vjay jay goes through so much more during childbirth. Plus, these things can results in a lot more stitches!

My eldest said, ‘Daddy is getting de-sexed’. This made me laugh so hard that I nearly wet myself, but it’s certainly not helping calm his nerves. Now I am sure it will all be fine, and we will celebrate once it’s all over.I think it’s only fair that if we celebrated having a baby, we should celebrate not having any more too. We should also thank our bodies for their service.

As they say, the swim team may have been cut, but the coach will never retire.

I am sure like childbirth, he will forget all about this trauma to the family jewels in a few days. He will look at his two amazing children and thank his dad bod for its service to our family. When they are fighting over something stupid, or he sees a toddler being really naughty, or a parent struggling with their infant, he will realise getting the snip wasn’t so bad after all.

 

Learn more about Bree on her website. 

Read more of ‘The The Thing Is’ with Bree James here

 

 

21 Ways to Save Money

What if you could save thousands of dollars per year instead of trying to earn more? Isn’t it smarter to make our dollar go further than trying to get more dollars? If you can do both that’s even better of course! To give you a hand, here are twenty-one tips to save money or stop wasting your hard-earned dollars.

1. Start your own garden – This will cut down on the costs of some of your herbs, fruits and veggies. Many can be grown from food scraps, like potatoes.

2. Go second hand – Op-shopping is a great way to find deals on clothing, toys and other household items.

3. Use the 30-day rule – Introduce a 30-day spending rule. If you see something you love, give it a month. If you still need it one month later, then buy it. More likely than not, the impulse to buy the item will be gone by the end of the month.

4. Start a loose change jar – At the end of each week, everyone in the household empties their loose change from their wallets, pockets and purses into the jar. Make this your “fun jar.”

5. Make your own cleaning supplies – Use baking soda, warm water and white vinegar-it’s better for the environment too!

6. Go meat-free on Mondays – Plan a weekly meal that doesn’t involve meat. Doing it twice a week will save your family approximately $1,500.00 a year (based on meat costing an average of $15.00 per meal).

7. Get smarter with your grocery shopping – Have a fortnightly meal plan, buy in bulk and stick to your food shopping list.

8. Avoid food waste – Buy according to your meal plan and pre-prep your meals soon after bringing your shopping home, so that it’s like a DIY Hello Fresh in your fridge. This way you are using all of your ingredients. Freeze things like lime juice, herbs in water or oil, so that you aren’t wasting food.

9. Avoid late payment fees – Arrange to pay bills by direct debit so you don’t miss them.

10. Use your own banks ATM’s – Or withdraw cash when food shopping to save on bank fees.

11. Shop around – With your insurance, see if you can get a better deal and still be well covered.

12. Ask for discounts – You’d be surprised how many businesses will give you one if you ask.

13. Save on communication – Look for cheaper mobile phone and home internet plans.

14. Do an audit on your bank statement – See what subscriptions you have, cull as many as you can. Netflix, Stan, Spotify, do you really need them all?

15. Invest in a slow cooker – Ready-make some meals to save/freeze for those times you’d reach for takeaway.

16. Shop local – Local produce is often much cheaper than supermarket bought.

17. Repair – Mend what you can, like clothing instead of throwing it out. You’d be surprised what you can give a second life.

18. Don’t use the car – Where you can; ride, walk, or batch your car trips so you aren’t driving unnecessarily and wasting fuel.

19. Try the $5 Rule – Every time you get $5, put it in your rainy day container. By the end of the year you could have several hundred dollars!

20. Have no spend days – Choose one or two days a week where no one is to spend any money.

21. Quit bad habits – Have a look into your spending habits as an annual cost. Maybe it’s a coffee on the way to work every day (that’s a $1500 a year habit). Take away lunch twice weekly (that’s another $1500 at $15 lunch twice a week). Cutting those two habits alone can save you some serious money.

It may not seem like a lot, but every small saving can add up to some serious dough at the end of the year. Good luck.

Resources to Inspire and Educate

PakMag Family Budget Downloadable

Whether it’s for keeping track of your family expenses, trying to save on family expenses, or both – a budget is the way to go. We know how hard it is to remember all of the bills as a parent, and a budget is there to help you do exactly that. By keeping all of the expenses in one place, even the non-essentials ones, you’ll find it a lot easier to manage them.

Pocketbook Personal Finance Expense Tracker App

This Australian-grown app syncs easily with your all your financial needs including bank accounts, credit cards and loans. You can get bill reminders and an easy overview of your budgets, transactions and upcoming bills, plus the latest insights on your money. Visit www.getpocketbook.com to get the app and find more information. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android.

PakMag Meal Planner and Shopping List

Planning dinners for the week ahead can be such a great way to not only be organised but to also save money, by buying only the food items you will need for the week. Find our printable template here, where you can keep a digital copy for your life hacks or print several copies to put on the fridge.

Step-by-step Veg patch

How to Grow Your Own Food in Australia by Lucy Chamberlain: Get help starting your own veggie garden by reading this book of simple instructions on how to grow the most common vegetables, from start to finish. You can also read our blog ‘Vegetables you can regrow in your backyard’ – You don’t even need seeds, just vegetables scraps and leftovers!

Financial and Digital Tool For Kids

ZAAP is Australia’s first low-cost, prepaid Mastercard for young people, available as a card that kids can design themselves and a wearable band. ZAAP is a pocket money product and financial literacy tool rolled into one, enabling parents to teach their kids important money management skills, while also giving them peace of mind as it is safer than cash or handing over a credit card. Supported by a mobile app, parents can manage ZAAP accounts for multiple children, transfer funds and monitor where and how their kids are spending and saving. Kids can track spending and set enriching savings goals. For more information, check out www.zaap.com.au .

WIN a ZAAP Selfie card and wearable worth $40.00! Click here for your chance to win!

Breaking Habits and Building Your Ideal Life

Achievement isn’t about luck, it’s about lots of small considered actions. Your decisions shape your destiny. Every day we make thousands of decisions, many of which are subconscious. These will either take you to the life you desire or one that you detest.

It’s the little decisions that shape our lives. These are decisions such as what you eat, how you spend your time, what you spend your money on and many more. These determine the life you end up with. Here are a few ways small, daily decisions can add up to be something amazing. 

Healthy Eating

According to researchers at Cornell University, everyone makes roughly 226 decisions each day on food alone. If you went to the gym every day, you wouldn’t notice a difference on day one. You wouldn’t notice a difference after a week. You would probably start to notice a difference after two weeks. But it’s likely no one else would, and maybe others would notice after a month.

Same goes if you ate a chocolate cookie every day. Maybe you started out at 60 kilos, but you’d likely put on a couple of kilos if you ate one every day. Do that for a few years and it will be quite a few more. Small committed changes with our health can make a massive impact, but like the Pantene ad tells us, “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”. Think about small improvements you can make to your health that can have a massive impact over time.

Smart Spending

Every dollar you spend today is costing you nearly $5 in 20 years, and just over $10 in 30 years. How? Well, if you had a dollar and invested it at 8%, in 20 years it would be valued at $4.66.

Think about that five dollar a day coffee habit you have. This could add up to $1825 a year, which if invested and compounded at 8% would give you $92,021.83 in 20 years. So, now when you buy something for $5, remember it’s a value of $25 in 20 years. It may just make you reconsider that unnecessary purchase.

Learn, Learn, Learn

It’s your choice whether you invest in learning for 30 minutes a day. You COULD invest in watching TV for thirty minutes a day (or more) instead. That investment of 30 minutes a day adds up to 182 hours of learning something new. It’s the same with our kids. If they practice their time tables or musical instrument every day, there is no doubt they will improve. If we read to our child every night for 15 minutes, that will add up to nearly 100 hours of teaching them how to read in one year.

Do you want to master a skill? One researcher said it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. That translates to about nine years (five days a week, spending four hours a day). They say it can take six months to develop a new skill. 20 hours to learn a skill “to perform well enough for your own purposes” such as playing guitar. So, think about your time, and how much you invest in learning. You could be playing guitar for the family or on stage in no time, or still watching old episodes of Friends that you’ve seen before. The decision is yours.

That’s the power of small decisions. If you aren’t careful, one sneaky bad habit can take you miles off course. Don’t sleep walk through your choices. You’ve learned every habit you have, so you can unlearn them too. Good luck.

www.breejames.com 

My Vision Book

Teaching Children to Have a World View, Not a Self-View

Ask anyone over the age of 50 what they think about the younger generations,. It’s likely to be something along the lines of “all they care about is themselves”.

In a world obsessed with selfies, it’s understandable why many of us Generation X & Y parents are trying to navigate this new world of parenting. Our childhood was similar to that of our own parents. Yet it’s so different to that of the children we are raising. We are flying blind with so many parenting issues that our parents never had to deal with. This brings it’s own unique challenges. We all want to raise the best kids we can, and we want to encourage our children to be confident. However, we are increasingly aware that this egotistical and self centered way of life of the 21st century has the potential to raise a whole generation of little narcissists. We don’t want our children to only care about themselves or only care about those closest to them. So how can we combat this? Well, here are three things we’ve found to teach your children that will hopefully help.

Self-Discipline

Many children have very little self-discipline. They are used to getting what they want straight away, and rarely go without. This doesn’t teach children the skill of delaying gratification, how to have self-discipline and be responsible as a child. As a result, they will likely turn into adults that overeat, overspend, and overuse technology. They are likely to live an unhappy life, addicted to things they can’t control like eating, spending, and gaming – or worse, drugs, alcohol, and porn.

Gaming, social media and more has increased our addiction to getting little rewards for our efforts. Every “like” or “notification” gives us a little dopamine hit that is very addictive (and all tech companies spend a lot of time working out how to get you hooked). Real life isn’t like this. Teach your child to work hard even though the reward may not be for many days, weeks, months or years later. 

Respect for Self, Others, and the Environment

No one wants to raise a child that turns into an adolescent. Or an adult that has zero respect for others, the world or for themselves. To teach children about respect, we need to respect them. Speak to your children like you would to another adult. “I told you to fold the towels properly, now go to your room” wouldn’t work on a house cleaner, so why do we speak like that to our children? We need to model being respectful at all times, and this is not easy to do. So, take some time to think about respect. What does respect mean to you? How do you want to teach it, model manners and respect for yourself, others and the world? Work out how you will teach this to your children.

Contribution and a Focus on Giving

One of the best ways to move on from being self-focused is to foster ways of how you can serve others. Contribution can be defined as a sense of service. It focuses on helping, giving to and supporting others. People who have what they want in life but still feel like they are ‘missing something’ are searching for a way to make a difference and contribute to others. Teaching children to do acts of service for others is a great way for them to learn about doing what they can to make the world a better place.

Whether it be picking up rubbish, volunteering at a sports or charity event, donating money to a homeless person or selling raffle tickets to raise funds for their school, everything helps. This focus on helping others fosters a love of giving and making a difference in the lives of others. Every little act makes the world a better place. Plus it makes them feel good too. 

In the end, there are obviously so many things we can teach our children so that they care about others, the world and themselves. We’re sure many of us could also do with re-learning a few of these tips too!


To find out more about the author, Bree James, you can visit her website

 

 

The thing is

The Thing Is, Now Is the Time to Be Grateful

It’s nearly 10pm, and it’s the first time in weeks that I have had a moment to myself to put my thoughts onto paper. The only reason I’ve lasted ‘til this hour of the night, is because of a 15 minute powernap I had during the day. Those 15 minutes were when I had momentarily given up on trying to be mum, chef, personal assistant, nurse, teacher’s aide, cleaner, cheerleader, animal wrangler, detective, therapist, boss, wife, daughter and mediator.  The thing is, it’s exhausting! You get to the end of the day not knowing where it went or what you did. Sometimes it’s been such a blur that you look at your children still in their PJ’s at 6pm and think to yourself “at least they’re ready for bed at a reasonable hour tonight”.

I went to do grocery shopping the other night. Because physically I’ve really let myself go, late night food shopping when it’s pretty empty is more appealing to me. So bum bag on with my “sanny” hanging off the side, I put on my white Michael Jackson washable gloves. Now I am raring to go. Sexy as. I shop like a crazy lady possessed as there is only thirty minutes to get in and out before the place closes. Then I rush through the aisles like a racecar driver with a busted wheel (I am never one to score a trolley that steers straight).

After making it to the counter and unloading my loot with 5 minutes to spare, I think to myself – what a legend. I stack that conveyer belt like a bricklayer with hot bricks (and my butt crack is likely showing too). But, realising I’ve left my bloomin’ shopping bags in the car, I tell the lady “Forgot my bags, I’ll be right back”. Before she can answer I run for it. “Whoa exercise! How many hats can I bring into my food shopping trip…go girl, multitasking again” is what I think as I am running like Forest Gump to my car.

Like a message from the universe, 10 steps in my trusty thong blows out. Not defeated, I start dragging one leg like I’ve been shot. I look down, and notice I am wearing two different thongs. But I keep going, grabbing my trusty reusable bags like a war on waste warrior. Making my way back to the checkout, breathing heavily, I smile. There is still stuff on the conveyer belt. I made it. 

But ALAS. Now I have to stuff my bags too, they don’t fill bags if you BYO. Quickly I drag my foot down to the other end of the register so fast that I create static electricity and zap myself. I’m sweating, but my white gloves remind me not to touch my face. Instead I use my upper arm to wipe my forehead and whoa – someone forgot deodorant. It gives me the boost I need to hurry up and get the heck out of there. I start shoving my purchases into bags like I’ve won a free 1-minute shopand-grab promo. Of course now my trolley looks like I am one of those terrible hoarders! I pay and get out of there as fast as my one dragging leg walk will allow.

As I drive home, I think to myself – WOW! Never did I ever imagine that getting the food I needed would be my biggest achievement for the day.

The simplest of things that I have taken for granted for so long are truly the most important. This really is a time to be grateful for so, so much.

www.breejames.com
www.myvisionbook.com.au

The Thing Is… Focus on the Positives

I always try and look for the positives in life. Some call me the ‘Queen of Denial’ because my whole world can be falling apart and yet I still soldier on. It’s quite interesting to have the whole world in turmoil together, and for a change, it has been a bit of a challenge for me to look for the positives. That said, there is some comfort in knowing we are all in the same boat, so that’s the first positive I found when I started to look for one.

I’ve always been in charge of my destiny, so to have something out of my control that could massively impact people I love, our way of life, and my ability to do what I love, has really knocked the wind out of me.

The thing is, as much as we think we live in a free country, the past few weeks have shown us that this can change overnight. If you needed a wake-up call about life, we are all getting one at the same time, whether we like it or not.

The first wake-up call is that our health is the most important thing in our life. If you have been neglecting your health, I hope the threat of this virus means you make a commitment to look after yourself more. You only get one body, one heart, one mind and one spirit – you have to look after them.

The second wake-up call is that it doesn’t matter how hard you work, your way of earning a dollar can change in an instant. I have been through so many tough times in business over the decades, and one thing I know for sure is that tough times don’t last, tough people do. I don’t know anyone who isn’t a little worried about how we are going to get through this situation, but what I do know is, we will.

The third wake-up call is that connection is so important. The past few weeks I have been so busy trying to keep up with my work, but I have still stopped to call and check in on people I care about, or had a quick catch up over a coffee, to really see how people are going. I have seen and connected with more people in the past four weeks than I have done in a long time. Times like this bring us closer together.

I am sure there are a lot more wake up calls to come. I think for a long time we have lived such a privileged life. Tough times build resilience. Our ancestors went through way worse and have constantly told us how lucky we are. I hope many of us realise now how right they were.

In a world currently filled with so much uncertainty, the best thing we can do is focus on the positives and focus on what we can control. Look after our health, be smart with where we spend our dollars, use our stimulus money locally (that’s what the money was given to us for), and support one another.

For every negative, find three positives.

In the end if we have our health and are surrounded by people we love, there is a lot to be thankful for.

www.breejames.com
www.myvisionbook.com.au