Category: LIFESTYLE

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

What do happy families share? These seven things to begin with…

A recent study spanning across seven countries and conducted by Fisher-Price confirmed that the one thing that most mums wish for their children is happiness. Seeing our children sad, frustrated, depressed or anxious is difficult to say the least. And while there is no magic ingredient we can feed our children to ensure they are constantly happy, according to The Secrets of Happy FamiliesNew York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler, there seems to be a few trends in what happy families have in common.

Happy families have…a family mission statement

We create goals for ourselves on a regular basis – fitness goals, work goals, personal goals. So why not do the same with your family? Create a family mission statement that helps define the values that matter the most to everyone.

Happy families try… to find daily quality time

For most families, dinner time is quality family time. If you or your partner works nights or shift work, then dinner may not be suited to you but try and make sure you have at least a half an hour every day to spend time together without any distractions. No television. No mobile phones. No iPads.

Happy families have… an understanding of the past

Knowing your family history can bring pride and understanding to your children. It can help get them interested in history and give them a better understanding of where they have come from and what that means.

Happy families have . an equal say

Everyone in the household should be created equal. Sure, you’re the boss and you make the rules about what’s for dinner and when it’s bedtime but your children should always feel like they have a right to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions.

Happy families aim for… a weekly meeting

Set up twenty minutes a week to have a family meeting. Talk about the highlights and lowlights of the week before and what’s on the agenda for the week ahead. Talk about goals you want to meet and if you happen to meet these goals, then perhaps offer a family reward.

Happy families know…the right way to fight

Arguing is perfectly normal and natural, especially if everyone feels comfortable enough to voice their opinion and express their feelings. No one is going to agree with each other all the time but, turns out, there is a right way and a wrong day to fight.

Bruce Feiler suggests that when things start to get heated, separate everybody for a bit of a breather. Ask everyone to come up with three options to the solution to the problem and then bring everyone back together to discuss the decision moving forward.

Happy families… play together

There is nothing more important than having fun together, as a family. Try to schedule a family fun afternoon once a week (or once a month) where you get out of the house together. Go the beach. Go to a park. Go for a hike or simply jump in the car and explore a new area where you have never been before.

Relationships are hard work and even the strongest families have good and bad days. There will be times when you feel so overwhelmed with love for your partner and your children and other times when you will be on the verge of throwing a shoe at their heads (probably a dirty shoe that the kids were supposed to pick up off the floor and put away).

Lead by example and try to ensure you are as happy as you can be. Eliminate the things in your life, from friendships to unhealthy habits that could be making things toxic for you.

GAMES, THEMES, SWEETS AND TREATS – BABY SHOWER IDEAS

There are so many ways to make your baby shower special and the good news is you can get printable placeholders, decorations, invitations and much more online through several Etsy stores. Here are some of our favourite finds and ideas to perfecting your baby shower.

Your baby shower doesn’t need a theme. But it’s always a fun addition. So here are our favourite picks.

• Nautical – Ahoy it’s a Boy!
• Under the Sea
• Star Wars – Make Way for the Mini Jedi
• Jungle Party
• Birds and Bees
• Bow-ties and Babies
• Garden Delights
• Shabby Chic
• Outer Space
• Sunshine and Rainbows
• Little lambs or ducks
• Breakfast at Tiffany’s
• Planes, Trains and Automobiles
• Stars and Celestial
• ABC’s
• Wizard of Oz
• Cat in the Hat
• Mad Hatter Tea Party
• Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice
• Fit for a Princess or Prince
• Moustache Bash
• Retro
• Wild Wild West
• Little Monsters

GAMES

Adding a few games to the agenda is a great way to bring everyone together and share in a few laughs. Here are our favourites.

• Mummy Wrap – split your guests into two teams and choose two guests to wrap up in toilet paper. The team with the best decorated mummy wins.
• Onesie decoration contest – get out the glitter, the felt, the sharpies and get creative.
• Don’t Say Baby – ban the word ‘baby’ from your shower and give every guest two clothespins to peg on their shirt. Anytime someone catches another person saying ‘baby’ she can steal the clothespin. The person with the most clothes pins at the end of the day wins.
• Guess the baby food – blindfold your guests and let them taste test the various baby foods.

SWEETS AND TREATS

Having a table of sweets and treats is always a good idea.

• Little feet shaped bikkies
• Cupcakes with adorable toppers (thanks to Icing Bits for the images)
• “Ready to Pop” popcorn
• White chocolate dipped strawberries
• “Babies in a blanket” – mini sausages wrapped in puff pastry. Add two eyes poking to the top of the sausage with edible pen.

DECORATIONS AND DECOR

You don’t have to go all out when it comes to decorating. These are all cheap options.

• Make a baby bunting out of baby onesies
• DIY pull string piñata (filled with pink or blue confetti if you would also like to reveal the gender)
• Confetti filled balloons
• Place lollies, chocolates and other small items in baby bottles
• And, of course, a nappy cake!

RELATIONSHIPS NEED WORK

WHY RELATIONSHIPS FAIL (AND WHAT YOU CAN DO)

Are you stuck in a relationship rut? It happens. It happens a lot. Every couple will go through good times and bad times in their relationship.

But how can you keep the good times rolling when you have so much on your plate? How can you ensure that your relationship doesn’t fall when your other responsibilities in life are on the rise?

Why Do Relationships Fail?

Last year close to 50,000 couples filed for divorce in Australia alone. Every couple will have a different story and a different reason as to why the relationship ended. Some of the things that can cause a relationship to collapse include:

  • The love you have for your children is the ultimate affair – You love your partner, but your children always, always, always come first. It can be hard as a partner to compete with this love.
  • Competition can get the better of both of you – one of the arguments my partner and I always had was, “who had the hardest today?” Rather than supporting one another, we were constantly battling out to see who had it tougher.
  • You are both tired– and this makes for a very stressful and non-nurturing environment.
  • Familiarity can lead to disinterest – being with the same person day in and day out can be a beautiful and comforting thing. But it can also get tiring and the desire to see what is out there can become tempting.
  • Someone is always ‘wrong’ – both you and your partner will have a certain way to doing things and often the desire to do it “your way” becomes too much for the other party.

What Can You Do About It?

When you have children, having fun with them and ensuring you are providing everything they need becomes the norm. Having fun as a couple and taking care of your own needs often get pushed aside.

Keeping the spice in a relationship takes effort. No, we’re not talking about spicing things up in the bedroom (this could help) but rather in the way you enjoy one another’s company in all aspects of life.

Ditch the negative energy.

This normally comes in the form of screens. Get rid of the television from your bedroom and ban the phones and iPads after a certain time at night. Negative energy can also come in the form of friends and family members who may be causing strife in your relationship without you even realising it.

Create a bucket list.

You probably have a family bucket list – places you’d like to visit and things you would like to do as a family. Now, it’s time to make one for just you and your partner. Restaurants to go to, courses to take, hikes to go on, wines to taste…

Consider the relationship from your partner’s point of view.

It’s easy to blame your partner for not putting in the effort, but it’s time to turn the tables and have a look at what it’s like from his or her point of view. Are you putting in the effort that you expect from your partner?

Create a date jar.

Going out for dinner and a movie every once and a while sounds great in theory but even this can turn into a ‘routine’ rather than an escape in a matter of weeks. Instead, create a date jar of out-of-the-box date night ideas. Have your partner write a few ideas on Popsicle sticks and you do the same. Put the sticks in a jar and take turns pulling one out every date night.

Talk, talk and then talk some more.

Communication is required to keep a relationship alive. But there is a right and a wrong way to communicate and often a simple conversation can lead to a heated debate and then to a full blown fight in seconds. Talk to your partner in a way that you would like to be talked to. Take turns speaking. Really listen to your partner’s side of things and try to work a positive into every argument.

Exercise together.

There is no better way to get the heat back in a relationship than to sweat it out together. Choose an activity that interests you both, whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, hiking or hitting the gym, and do it together.

Forgive and forget.

Fights happen. Mistakes are made. Yes, it can be impossible to forgive and forget when it comes to certain mistakes but when you do have an argument, try to move forward rather than continue to bring it up and focus on it. This only prolongs the resentment and negativity.

Get help.

It’s okay to seek external support from councillors and trained professionals. This is why they are there and it can really help when you have someone from the outside looking in.

Work on yourself as well as your relationship.

You can never be truly happy in your relationship until you are truly happy and confident in yourself. So be selfish every once and a while and take time to do the things you love and what make your happy, proud and confident. Just make sure you give your partner the same opportunities.

Know when to let go.

Remember, not all relationships are worth saving. Here are some questions to ask yourself before ending a relationship:

  • Does being in the relationship bring out the best in me?
  • Am I having to sacrifice more than I should in order to salvage the relationship?
  • Am I in the relationship for the right reasons?
  • Do we make time for one another?
  • Do we share the same passions and goals for the future?
  • Do we spend more time fighting or laughing?
  • Would my life be better without them in the picture?
  • Do I love my partner or do I love the person I want him or her to be?

Of course, the answers to these questions are not going to be black and white. There are 50 shades of grey to every relationship. It’s up to you and your partner to work together to bring back the colour that sometimes fades when you become a parent.

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5 STORAGE IDEAS FOR KIDS ROOMS

It’s time to get organised. Here are some great storage ideas for kids rooms.

1. Start with shelves

Bookshelves or the popular cubed box-type shelves are ideal to keep bedrooms tidy. Items can be placed directly on the shelves or, for a cleaner and tidier look, you can use matching baskets or coloured buckets on the shelves to keep toys in.

2. Storing Toys

Baskets come in all colours these days so it is easy to colour co-ordinate baskets for your child’s room. You can also spray-paint metal buckets (bought from a hardware store) in a colour you like and add labels to the front so your child knows what is inside. For littlies who can’t read yet, take a photo of what is inside and stick it on the front.

For those who like the more vintage look, other great storage ideas include using old suitcases, old fashioned wagons or prams, wire pot plant cages screwed to the wall, wooden or wire birdcages to store soft toys or a set of old school lockers in original condition or painted in bright colours.

3. Storing Books

There are so many different ways to display your child’s book collection books besides bookshelves. Even an old doll’s house can be used as bookshelves, or an open suitcase, old pram or wagon with books standing up and spines facing out. And why not create a little reading nook with a bookstand and a little reading chair, beanbag or a pile of big comfy cushions.

4. Storing Art Supplies and Nick Nacks

Smaller toys and art supplies can be stored in hanging plastic pockets, cane baskets, labelled jars and tins. Tins can be mounted and glued onto an mdf backing board and stuck on the wall or covered in pretty scrapbooking paper and labelled for pens, pencils, textas or paintbrushes. Glass jars can be jazzed up by painting lids with bright colours and printing matching labels.

5. Kid’s Artwork

Kids generate so much colourful artwork that you may as well use them for decoration. They look great mounted in cheap frames. Another option is to create an art board on their bedroom wall with a large piece of mdf painted in a block colour so you can regularly change the artwork on display. Alternatively you can hang string along one wall in the bedroom and hang artwork from pegs. It’s also a great idea in kids bedrooms to paint an area with blackboard paint so the kids can draw to their hearts content.

THE MOST ATTRACTIVE NAMES REVEALED

It’s not exact science, but it is still worth a look (especially if your name made the list). A Reddit user recently asked the question, “what are the most attractive names?” and we couldn’t help but take a look at the replies.

So what are the top “most attractive” girls and boys names according to a random survey on the internet? Have you blessed your children with a “pretty” name or is your name on the list?

Here we go:

Boys:

1. Nick

2. Atticus

3. Sasha

4. Nathan

5. Sebastian

6. Matthew

7. Xavier

8. Gabriel

9. Ashley

10. Daniel

11. Alex

12. Jesse

13. Jake

14. Sam

15. Adam

Girls

1. Lana

2. Alexandra

3. Alexandria

4. Victoria

5. Natalia

6. Veronica

7. Julia

8. Rachael

9. Jenna

10. April

11. Hannah

12. Sarah

13. Emily

14. Cassandra

15. Giselle

16. Melissa

17. Lily

18. Rose

19. Kim

20. Carmen

21. Claire

22. Olivia

23. Chloe

24. Elisabeth

25. Jennifer

26. Amanda

27. Ashley

28. Lindsay

29. Amber

30. Danica

31. Stephanie

32. Madison

33. Nicole

34. Erin

35. Haley

36. Lexi

37. Fiona

38. Alyssa

39. Casey

40. Jessica

41. Aurora

42. Lucinda

43. Ariel

44. Andrea

45. Amy

46. Emma

47. Eve

48. Ava

49. Grace

50. Serena

So, did your name make the list? What about your partner’s name?

24 THINGS TO TRY THIS NEW YEAR

Grab a Moontime Diary

Moontime Diaries can track the best time to plant, to fish, to eat certain foods and to conceive a child but it also provides a practical way to get more in tune with astrology and how it can impact your health, wellbeing and relationships.

Learn a Musical Instrument

It’s a great year to bring out your inner muso. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn guitar, piano or drums, check out who offers local lessons in your area. You will be surprised how addictive and gratifying it can be to learn how to play a musical instrument, even if the song is basic.

Just don’t buy a recorder. Those things should be banished from earth.

Make a Vision Board

If you have never made a vision board, then this is the year to give it a go. A vision board is a visual tool to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on your yearly goals. Your vision board can include images, quotes and basically anything else that highlights what is important to you, what inspires you, and what you want to achieve this year.

Take up a Sport, Activity or Craft You Used to do as a Child

Did you love painting in school? Did you used to spend your weekends playing soccer? There are plenty of adult courses and indoor and outdoor sports clubs. You can join as a team or as an individual.

Consider a Book Club

And when we say book club, we mean, “a once a month gathering with friends where we can drink wine away from the kids.” And possibly discuss a book or two.

Get up 10 Minutes Earlier

What time do you usually wake up? Set the alarm for 10 minutes earlier in 2016 and enjoy a cuppa during this extra time.

Schedule a Once a Month Family Outing

It’s hard to get the family together, especially out of the house! Plan a family date night where you go out for ice cream, see an outdoor movie and take a walk

Do a Family Photo Shoot

When was the last time you had a professional photograph your beautiful family (and no, school photos don’t count). Get the whole family together and contact one of the many fantastic local photographers to capture your family having fun together.

Give Back to the Community

There are plenty of charities and opportunities to donate time and money to those who need it most. Find an organisation that is dear to your heart and see how you can make a difference.

Give Your Closets a Makeover

This doesn’t just extend to your wardrobe. Start there and get rid of those clothes and shoes you never wear before moving onto the linen closet and ditching all of those scratchy towels and old bedsheets. Then head to your bathroom and get rid of all that old makeup and hair products that you never use before moving to the pantry and giving it a good clean out too.

Change Your Pillows

When was the last time you switched your pillows? Ditch the old ones and go out and splurge on two new pillows for each bed.

Start a Meal Plan with Mates

Once a week, cook up a massive serving of your signature dish and dish it into portions. Then swap the dishes with a set of mates who have also cooked their signature dish. If you have five friends who are interested, this means you have five days of delicious and different meals ready to go.

Relax!

Find a way to de-stress from the daily dramas, whether through yoga, meditation or mindfulness.

Try Something Extreme

Skydiving may be a little too intense but why not give bungy jumping, jet boating, go carting, ATVing, kite surfing or wake boarding a try. Plenty of these activities are perfect for older children as well!

Find and Use Your Productive Time

Everyone has ups and downs during the day. It’s up to you to determine when your creative juices are flowing the most and use this time to get things done.

Go Somewhere You Have Never Been Before

Make it a yearly ritual to visit somewhere new. This doesn’t have to be an expensive overseas holiday – it could simply be to a new venue down the road or to a tourist hot spot that you have yet to check out.

Try Fasting

There are a number of fasts out there but it is advised to speak to a health professional to determine which one will work for you. If fasting isn’t for you, consider going paleo, organic, vegan, vegetarian or trying a new diet for a certain period of time.

Spend an Evening all Alone

Book a hotel room for just you and for one night this year, enjoy the luxury of sleeping in, sprawling out, watching whatever you want on the telly and ordering room service. You will return home in the morning feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready to tackle the daily tasks.

Listen to Live Music

Sure you may not be able to party like its 1999 anymore, but indulge in a night out with your partner or friends and take in a live local act. Music is good for the soul and your dancing shoes may even come out of retirement.

Take a Lifeline Walk

Clear your head and improve your direction in life. Take a long walk by yourself and make milestones for each year (for example, if you are 30, walk 30 blocks). Use each block to reflect back on that year of your life. When you turn around, use the walk home to reflect on the next 30 years to come.

Take a Road Trip

Let a coin decide whether you go North or South (or East or West). Plan nothing. Just drive and see where you end up.

Create a Bucket List to do with the Kids

Ask the kids to write down a few things they would like to do this year and aim to do one activity each month.

Try Cooking Something You’ve Never Cooked Before

Aim to do this once a month at the least. By the end of the year you will have a brand new set of go-to recipes to add to the rotation.

Go Technology Free

For an entire weekend! No TV. No mobile phones. No iPad. No computer. Read books. Play board games. Create something fantastic out of Lego with the kids.

You can Instagram it on Monday.