Author: Bree James



Quitting, it’s something we have been told since we were little, that we should avoid at all costs. That it’s for losers, that we should never give up. That we should give things our absolute all before we even consider giving up.

The thing is, despite popular opinion, quitting is also for winners.

I am someone that rarely gives up and it’s a great quality of mine that has paid off countless times. However, many times not quitting has also been to my detriment (like my toasted sandwich and milo addiction in high school which saw me put on 10 kilos).

Knowing when to remove yourself from toxic people and situations, giving up on things that aren’t working, and being ok with giving up is in fact bold and brave. Many of us tolerate so much bad behaviour from others. Deep down we know we shouldn’t, but we see it as a sign of strength to put up with and rise above their ways and try to lead by example.

I’ve been like this for decades, but I know that you are only as good as the people you have supporting you in your life. So, last year I quit trying to appease everyone and it was one of the best things I have ever quit in my life. My mantra was “you get what you tolerate”. As a patient person who always tries to see the best and bring out the best in others, I made so many excuses for people that I shouldn’t have. So, I quit that too.

“You get what you tolerate” made me speak up when I’d usually just try and see a positive. Instead I’d call them out on their behavior and stand up for myself. It wasn’t easy and sure, many people didn’t like my new boundaries and have left my life, but how you treat yourself is how others will treat you.

I will always try and see the best and try to bring out the best in others, but I also realise that I need to see people as who they are, not who I believe they could be (for me as a prolific improver I find this very hard). So, I also quit looking through rose coloured glasses and took more notice of peoples’ actions, not just their words. For instance, people who say they love my kids but don’t make an effort to spend time with them
(more on that another time).

Some people don’t want to grow. Some people are happy being unhappy. And some people are judgmental, unkind, or neurotic and no matter how much you try and kill them with kindness, you can’t put flowers in an A-hole and call it a vase.

Sure, there is good in everyone, but sometimes no matter how good a person you are to some people, they will never like you because your spirit irritates their demons. Read that again.

So, my wonderful readers, if this has resonated with you, I encourage you to try the “you get what you tolerate” mantra, and be proud of yourself for quitting habits, people, and things that really don’t serve you.

I truly hope during this process that people step up not step off for you (unless you’re happy with that of course!).



It’s a dilemma many parents are facing. We hop into bed exhausted and feeling like we didn’t truly connect with our family that day. Why? Well, it’s probably because from the moment our eyes opened that day it’s been a never-ending mission of to do lists, organising schedules, planning meals, coordinating activities and ensuring your home doesn’t look like it’s been ransacked by wild monkeys.

In a world that is always “on”, it’s becoming more and more challenging to find quality time to connect in a meaningful way with our family.
If you are nodding your head like a bobble head right now in agreeance, then keep reading, we’ve got some advice for you.

It’s actually quite simple. Make a commitment to sit at the meal table with your family five times a week. No screens, no distractions, just you, your dinner and everyone fully present.

You may choose to do dinner five nights per week and Friday and Saturdays can be TV dinners. Or, maybe your partner does shift work so it’s only a few nights you can manage to dine together, and other days you do breakfast and a lunch. In reality, do what works for your family. Even if you can only manage to get everyone in the same room once a week, it’s something.

So, what’s the benefit?

Well, besides having an opportunity to be together with no distractions, there are a lot of benefits. Many studies have been done all over the world identifying the importance of family meal time. Here are six of our favourites.

Improved Academics

Children who ate with their family less than three times a week were twice as likely reported to receive C’s or worse in school. Children who ate with their family five to seven times per week did much better, reporting mostly A’s and B’s. Maybe spaghetti bolognaise is actually brain food!
Additionally, meal time discussions can reveal whether or not they’ve done their homework, problems with friends or teachers etc.

Improved Mental Health

Children who regularly enjoyed family meals were less likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. It was also shown that they would have a lower chance of engaging in high risk behaviours such as substance use, violence, and were identified as having fewer psychological problems.

Lowered Teen Substance Abuse

Family dinners were strongly linked to minimising the risk for teen substance use. Surveys consistently found a relationship between children having frequent dinners with their parents decreased the risk of smoking, drinking or using other drugs during their teen years. They found that healthy open parental engagement fostered over the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise children who felt they could question, discuss, put forward ideas and talk about feelings and aspirations, were more likely to say no to drugs.

Deeper Relationships

Children who participated in frequent family dinners were one and a half times more likely to have said they had an excellent relationship with their parents. Regular inclusive meal times provide more opportunities for meaningful discussion.

Healthier Lifestyle

The studies found that families who ate together were twice as likely to eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables as families who didn’t eat together. Children who eat family meals tend to eat a wider variety of foods and become less picky eaters, and eat less during family meals because they eat slower and talk more. This in turn, is linked to preventing obesity.

Better Table Manners

During family meal times, parents can be role models and set an example of healthy eating and polite table manners. This helps children develop social skills that include manners and taking turns. Sure, it’s constant nagging to get them to sit still, use their cutlery, and make good food choices, which means adults need to be setting a good example.

At times, eating with your children can feel chaotic and not very beneficial. But as you can see, family meals provide an opportunity for family members to come together, strengthen ties and build better relationships. Family meal times build a sense of belonging which leads to better self-esteem (even if they ruin yours by not liking the meals you cook).

In the end, it’s more important you are together connecting as a family rather than making an elaborate meal. We hope this has inspired your family to make family meals a priority in your household, without the TV and devices so that you can truly connect for that thirty-minute meal time. This commitment to family meals will benefit your whole family, and you’ll reap the rewards for generations to come.



As a mother of boys, my life is filled with adventures in the great outdoors. Lots of camping, fishing, and getting dirty. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and a complete contrast to my office which is mostly filled with women (who thankfully like to shower), but these experiences in the great outdoors certainly make me appreciate the simple things in life, like hot showers.

The thing is, nothing challenges a woman who takes pride in her personal hygiene than to have it taken away for a few days to ‘be in nature’.

One of the things I have observed is that when you put the male species into the wild, they turn into cave men. They let it all hang out; they lose their manners and all regard for personal hygiene, the way they speak changes, and the world becomes their toilet.

If a male needs to pee, it takes them one minute to find a spot and do their business. If a female needs to pee, it takes five minutes just to find a spot that is out of view, snake and spider free, and flat enough so you don’t have a rogue piece of grass tickle your bits and make you jump higher than Michael Jordan, thinking a spider has crawled on your lady parts.

They wear the same clothes for four days. Meanwhile, you change your clothes four times in one day because you’ve peed on them trying to pop a squat and gotten the flow, angle, or position wrong.

They think a swim is a good enough shower. You gather water from the creek in the camp shower, hook it over a tree to get the heat of the day to warm it up and attempt to wash yourself with a stream of water that flows and empties faster than your grandma’s bladder. You’ve looked forward to that hot shower all day, and it wasn’t very good – but it was better than nothing.

They sleep like someone has knocked them out. You sleep like you have an intruder in your home – you hear every wild animal and wonder if something is getting into your food.

They wake refreshed and excited. You wake like you’ve slept on concrete and you’re counting down the days until you’re back in your glorious bed.
The thing that is my absolute least favourite is when we have a trailer involved in our trip. Nothing puts more pressure on a relationship than the stress of having an extension to your vehicle that needs precision involved. This is the time when the short-fused man and woman come out.

From my experience with trailers, every instruction is often wrong. You’re standing in the wrong spot. You didn’t give the right signal. They can’t hear you, you’re not listening, you’re doing it wrong blah, blah, blah. Also, don’t fall for the “why don’t you give it a go” offer. It’s a trap, only a rare breed of super human can reverse a trailer and I am not one of them.

At the end of the day, the great outdoors is an experience you will remember for both the good and the not so good moments. And whilst you spend the next week unpacking and doing a billion loads of washing (even though they didn’t wear the clothes – they all smell) you’ll think about the great time everyone had, and know you’ll be doing it all again in no time.



A new decade – can you believe it?

To me, it feels like only a few years ago when we were bringing in the year 2000, listening to the Prince song ‘1999’ and waiting for the decade to begin. We were all worrying about the Y2K bug destroying technology, and the world possibly ending. To think twenty years have flown by blows my mind.

The thing is, time does fly. It’s going so fast these days that I am sure there are not 24 hours in a day – there must be around 15, of which several are wasted daily looking for lost socks, car keys and for something magical to jump out of the fridge and inspire me (and maybe cook itself).

As I write this, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the last decade and pondering the next.

I don’t know about you, but for me, the last decade has been a time of massive growth. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve had so many tough moments that I wasn’t sure I would get through, and so many sleepless nights. I am a little bruised and I’ve got a few broken bits that are healing (don’t we all?), but I am also stronger, wiser and I’ve learnt an incredible amount.
Have you taken a moment to think about your last decade? Do it now, it’s quite humbling. I hope you are as proud as I am of the life you’ve created.

A new year is often a time for fresh beginnings for the whole family. It’s a time for thinking about what you want for the year ahead and putting routines into play to help you get there. Sure, getting the routine underway means kids going to school with one sock, forgotten lunch boxes, and fights over who sits where in the car, but we always get there in the end.

I have really high expectations for 2020 and the next decade ahead, and I am sure you do too. If you haven’t already, it’s time to get really clear on what you want, because the only way to get what you want is to know what you want.

I have 10 summer holidays left of my kids being with me at home, and it just doesn’t sound like enough.
This next decade is going to be really different to the last. My children are growing into incredible young men, who in the next couple of years will be in high school, and eventually leaving home. As I write this crying in a coffee shop thinking about what life will be like ten years from now, I am acutely aware of how precious time is. I am determined to make every day with my family count.

We never know what life will bring, so live every moment, be grateful for what you have, and please – don’t hold back. Just give your life everything you’ve got.




It’s that time of year where most of us have a to-do checklist as long as Santa’s naughty and nice list. No matter how organised we think we are, when we’ve bitten off more than we can chew, things are going to fall through the cracks and we end up like a 2-year-old with a packet of Hubba Bubba.

The thing is, PakMag Parents, we are all becoming busier than a mosquito in a nudist colony. Except our kids – they are most likely half nude, and wearing odd socks, of course.

When you are busy, things get forgotten.

Recently, I did the dreaded, “I forgot to pick up my kids from school” fail. My parents did it all the time and I swore I would never do it. But there I was, one hour late grabbing the kids from school. Yes. One full hour. I know, I know… but thankfully, the kids and the staff both found the humour in silly mummy’s forgetfulness. Forgetfulness does cause many hiccups in life, but it can also be a blessing.

So, this festive season, here are five things I’d love you to forget.

Trying to please everyone

It’s not going to happen. If there is one thing I have learnt this year, it’s that pleasing everyone is impossible (but annoying them is a piece of cake). Some people are just negative Nancy’s, and even winning a million dollars wouldn’t make them happy.

Why? Because, at their core, they are not happy with themselves. Until that changes, you’re going to be emptying your cup into someone else’s which has a massive hole in it. And no, you can’t fix that hole, they have to.

Past hurts

Think of all your past hurts. Put them all in a backpack and think of how it feels to be carrying all that extra weight with you. Is it time to take a few things out of that bag and live a bit lighter? Is it time to try forgive and forget?

Keeping up with the Jones’

We live in a super competitive world and it’s so easy to get caught up in wanting more. As Viktor Frankl said, “Man is most tempted to distract himself with pleasure when his life was void of meaning”. So, forget the ‘stuff’ and place more importance on meaning.

Feeling guilty

Focus on how you can grow instead of getting the guilts. I’m sure you are doing so many amazing things, so shift your focus to what you do, not what you don’t do. Guilt is just one of those emotions that shows you care and that you want to do better.


No one is perfect, and every single person on the planet has something they want to improve. Embrace your imperfections and stop waiting for things to be perfect before you do them. Just go for it.

Just don’t forget to pick up the kids.



One of the things that hurts my heart is seeing people with so much lost-potential – people who know they want more out of their life, but they don’t know where to start. So, they remain stuck on the hamster wheel. Overwhelmed. Off track. Shining a little less bright than they used to, or want to. It happens to pretty much all of us at one stage or another. After all, we can’t shine brightly ALL the time.

But the thing is, life is a journey. If you are unhappy with your life, it may be because you are not living the vision you have in your head of how you believe your life should be.

Maybe it’s because you’re going through a change. Maybe it’s because you desire some change. Maybe it’s because life has just gone too fast and you’re not feeling like you’re on the right path.

If you’re not “feeling it”, what can you do about it? Complain? Mope? Eat ALL the chocolate? Sure, but, at the end of the day, your happiness and the joy in your life falls on one thing. Not complaints. Or chocolate. It falls on you.

Sure, there are always going to be people, situations and things that challenge our lives. We can’t be happy all the time, we know that. But I think to be happy within ourselves there are three things we need to nail.

1. You are happy with who you are.
2. You are using your talents.
3. You are living the vision you see for your life.

Achieve all three then, well, that ooey gooey happiness may just ooze out of you.

We may not be able to nail these three things at once all the time. If we could, we’d all be happier than a kid eating whatever they want from a dessert buffet. But, hey, we can try.

If you aren’t happy with who you are, it’s time to do something about it. No ifs, ands or buts. If you can’t love yourself, it’s really hard for others to love you too.

Your talents? We all have them. Most of you know that I am a singer and if I am not doing gigs, I get mopey. I may not get time to do gigs often, which means lots of singing in the shower! You may be really artistic, an amazing organiser, or incredible cook. Try and ensure you are using your talents as often as you can. They make you feel great.

And your vision for your life? This is a tricky one. What I find is, with most people, this vision is very blurred. It’s unclear, it’s missing or it’s in our heads and we can’t seem to make sense of it.

I know what you are thinking. “Bree, I’m too busy surviving parenthood right now. It’s Groundhog Day and I can’t see that changing til 2030”. I hear you. I get it.

But do yourself a favour, put pen to paper and start thinking about these three questions. It will really take a load off your brain in the long run. Sure, there is more to happiness than the above, such as being grateful for what we have and who we are. However the three things above is what I believe gets most people unstuck, myself included.

I encourage you to take some time and start thinking about your vision for your life and putting it on paper. Statistics show that out of 100 people, 80 of them won’t have any goals, 16 have goals but don’t write them down, three have goals but don’t review them and only one out of 100 will write down their goals and review them regularly. Be that one.

If you want help with setting your vision, check out my new Vision Book or Vision Voyage at I’d love to help you.