Life Lately Update and Why I Am Writing a Blog for Working Moms

I started writing on the blog about two months ago, and I wanted to share an update of how this has been going. In this post, I will cover:

  • why i write
  • why i want to write about working moms and their careers
  • currently reading, watching, anticipating and feeling

 

I write.

Writing has given me an opportunity to share thoughts on parenting and working motherhood.  At times I feel as if I am bearing my soul, it is sometimes scary to push that publish button.

I learnt from South African blogger Melissa in 9 Lessons I Learnt in my first year of Being a Blogger that feeling scared at this juncture happens.

Why do I want to write about moms and careers? Because moms deserve awesome careers too.

I often come across women (including me) who:

    • work hard but who are afraid of starting a family as they fear it will damage their career
    • pressurize themselves (and each other) to be perfect
    • talented women, not claiming their space at work because of myths that ambition is not for ‘mothers’
    • Guilt around not being “mom” enough and guilt around not spending enough time at work

Is it hard being a working parent? Yes, nothing worth it in life is easy but it is also very rewarding. I do not  have the answer to these dilemmas, what I do know is that we need to be okay to talk about it.

Whatever you decide as a woman, you need to do what works for you and your family.

[bctt tweet=”I believe in choice, whatever you decide, whether its being at home or working, its up you” username=”cherralle_”]

Posts that people responded well to:

Do I Still Need to Lean In When I Am Just So Tired

Will Gender in Kids Clothes Every Go Away and Should We Even Care

I Am Okay with Being a Good Enough Parent (in SA Mom Blogs)

This demonstrates that people are enjoying reading about real accounts where personal experiences are being shared.

The blog

Having a blog is work, boy oh boy! To maintain my blog, I am writing, reading, commenting on blogs, and always researching trying to figure out how to change something ‘technical’ on my blog.  I feel at times like my blog is a third child in my life, it needs love, attention and time. It’s an intense hobby.

[bctt tweet=”I feel at times like my blog is a third child in my life, it needs love, attention and time” username=”cherralle_”]

I read more now than I ever have in my entire life. Topics I read about: content marketing, social media, writing, motherhood, career topics, digital marketing, any topic to broaden my knowledge. The blogging community is very engaged and supportive, and I am learning a lot from them.

Currently

Reading: Shonda Rhimes – Year of Yes and am about half way. It is a very entertaining read and I now I cannot put it down (after a super slow start). I am in love with this book.

Watching: Game of Thrones (duh!)

Anticipating: we have a week of holiday coming up, so I am looking forward to this. Also, Caitlyn turns four in September, and Ava turns one in October! Insane how quickly time has flown by!

Feeling: Feeling excited about all the new things that I am learning, and all the new people that I am meeting (albeit virtually).  I am also feeling appreciative about people responding to my blog, and hearing that something resonated with them.

That is me.

If you are a working mom, what topics would you want to see in a blog that will add value to your life and career? Let me know in the comments or contact me.

Will gender bias in kids’ clothes ever go away and should we even care?

Has anyone else noticed how impractical some girls’ clothes are in shops? Girls shorts are the length of hot pants and the t-shirts are mostly fitted. I often need to buy my daughters clothes from the boys’ section. Why do I need to do this?

I know I know, there are very nice boutiques and brands which have the clothes that I am looking for, but we shouldn’t need to shop at the high-end stores to get decent clothes for girls. I am referring to our regular national retail outlets where people go for quality and affordable clothes.

My primary concern is for my daughter to be comfortable when she plays and not being put in a box of what to wear because she is a girl. Although this seems insignificant, it is important because it signals to our girls what they can and cannot do. Oh, you should be pretty in pink and sit still, but boys, please go outside and be adventurous. And that is okay if it’s their choice. However, that is not okay if the choice is made for them.

These are basic things that can be improved

1.      T-shirts for girls are always ‘fitted’ t-shirts. My daughter prefers the looser t-shirts and we often end up buying t-shirts from the ‘boys’ section’. The loose-fitting t-shirts are much more comfortable.

2.      Shorts are CRAZY short and this is a real problem. I often need to buy my daughter shorts from the boy section. The boy shorts length is a decent length and loose-fitting.

3.      Girls clothes all have very demure slogans. “Beautiful’ and “Princess’. Now these are all cute and have their place. But really, can we not get some more options for girls? Girls also like t-shirts with adventurous slogans.

4.      Pink. For heaven’s sake, why should everything be pink. Most of the moms of girls I speak with (now, I didn’t do a survey with a cross section of the population), they wished there were more non-pink clothes. Yes, pink is pretty and we love pink in our house – but come on. Let’s live on the wild side and have green dresses. I must admit I have seen some changes in the retail stores, pink is still overwhelming but I can see stores trying to bring in different colour palettes.

We buy ‘boy’ clothes in our house for both our girls (infant and preschooler). In fact, just now during winter, most of the warmer clothes were for boys? Very bizarre. The other reasons we buy boy clothes is that it gives us more variety and colours to work with and it’s just more practical. We also buy dresses and skirts for our preschooler, which she loves and adores too.

When faced with comments from our children about what girls or boys should or should not do, how should we deal with it?

This happens to us where my daughter expresses ideas about what girls and boys should wear or do.

1.      There will be messages that our children are being exposed to outside of the home, and that is okay, that is life. No matter what values you espouse inside your family, they will get exposed to messages outside the house. This needs to be accepted. The best thing is to do your best to be a good role model most of the time.

2.      When a statement is made that is gender biased, e.g. I want to be a boy, because boys run fast. Say something like  ‘you don’t need to be a boy to run fast, girls can also run fast too, did you know that?’.

3.      Let them be. This is the most important one. If your child wants to wear whatever let them. Don’t ‘strongly encourage’ your daughter to wear dresses and skirts, or the other way around (I am guilty of this, when there are functions). Let them express themselves so that they can develop their own voice. Don’t discourage girls from running around and climbing trees.

Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

My view is that this is a big deal, as I do think girls are often placed in a box. The messages that they get through subtle cues as they grow up impacts their choices later in life. Whatever my daughter likes whether it’s soccer, glitter head bands, or tulle skirts, or all of it, it’s okay if it’s her choice. Not mine or that of society.

What do you think, does it matter that much that boys have clothes that encourage adventure and outdoor play and girls’ clothes typically do not?

 Featured Image: istock

 

Dear stressed out mom – take care of yourself

Women are 70% more likely to suffer from work related stress than men. Women are also known to be masters at juggling home, work and friends leaving them over stretched.  In that regard taking care of yourself, need to be intentional. Incorporate these 4 practical lifestyle changes right now to take better care of yourself.

I am a work in progress and trust me when I say I do not follow these to the letter, however I aspire and I wanted to share this knowledge with you. I was mostly inspired by Arianna Huffington’s Thrive journey. Arianna Huffington launched Thrive Global with the stated purpose to help companies  and individuals achieve their best through focusing on overall well-being. ‘You do not need to be ‘burnt out’ to have success in life’ is a key tenet of this movement.

Vintage filter, Green lotus leaf at garden.
Image source: i stock

Do the Thrive Pulse Check

On the Thrive website, you may access the Thrive pulse check   which I recommend you complete. It has  10 quick and easy questions about your lifestyle. According to the thrive pulse check I am “Part Time Thriving”.  Nice way of saying “I need to get my it together before I fall deeper into bad lifestyle habits”. There are a range of categories, the lowest being a “Burned out Zombie”. Ouch!

Sleep with your smart phone outside of your bedroom

women in bed with cell phone
Image Source: istock

I have not managed to get to this point! I know its hard, but by leaving your smart phone outside of your bedroom (or in  the cupboard) you are freeing up time for yourself. Consequently, you will have time to either read a book, relax, reflect, or connect with your partner. We are constantly digitally connected and so it is important to build in time to disconnect from our smart phones.

Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep a day

A tall order when you have young kids. Regardless, one of the key elements of thriving and getting it together is sleep…important for moms too, not only for babies.  Seven to nine  hours of ‘sleep’ is being prescribed  to ensure you are well rested.

Work in extra rest wherever possible that suits your life style. The main reason moms do not get enough sleep is not only related to baby waking (although that is a key one). In actual fact the reason is that moms stay up a few hours after their children have gone to sleep, because this is the only kid-free time they have. However, going to sleep soon after the kids have gone to bed and reducing non critical activities in the evening is recommended (easier said than done I know).

Be mindful

Mindfulness is about being present, engaged  and intentional in each moment and interaction.  Its about being human in our interactions with people, and  showing our true self. The  ABCs of mindfulness are:

A is for awareness – Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing – whats going on in your mind and body.

B is for “just Being” with your experience.  Avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.

C is for seeing things and responding more wisely.  By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices.

To leave you with more food for thought, I found this awesome Infographic  which outlines 12 steps to Thrive. Do you have any activities that help you to recharge?

Inspired by Arianna Huffington’s new book, Thrive, we created this artwork to remind ourselves to question what it means to be successful in today’s world.

Arianna huffington 12 steps

Featured image: Source Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 things I miss about my life before kids

I do love my kids with all heart and cannot imagine my life without them. They do drive me crazy  at times. And I will admit to the fact that I do miss my life before kids, if only sometimes. Only a tiny little bit 🙂

Here are the 10 things I miss about life before having kids

#1 Money

Yep, having kids costs a bundle, its child care, school, clothes, medical costs and don’t forget we do need to feed them as well.

#2 Sleeping in

This is the number one thing I miss the most, and I did not realise how precious this was when I had the chance. When sleeping till 6am is considered ‘sleeping in’….the struggle is real.

5 am wake up

#3 When I was done working, I was actually done working

Before I had kids, it was wonderful coming home and having time to just relax and chill out. Now the reality is that when I leave work and I come home I am on duty for at least another few hours depending on what time my kids go to bed (I highly recommend an early bedtime).

#4 Going to the bathroom without having to explain myself

My daughter seems to be fascinated by me visiting the bathroom. Going to the bathroom requires a lengthy explanation to my 3-year-old, why I am going, and I get escorted to the bathroom as well.

#5 Going out to dinner

Man, it was so awesome to just decide to go out to dinner (or movies) without needing to make any arrangements. The freedom of it all was bliss!

#6  Watching normal TV programming that is not animated

How I miss being able to kick back on the weekend and do series’ marathons!! I remember my husband and I watching endless episode of CSI: MIAMI. We did not even need to leave the bed on a Saturday. *sigh*

#7 Free time, so much free time

I miss being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Reading, watching a movie, cooking (jokes! it was never cooking).

#8 Weekend getaways…without taking the equivalent of a small flat with you

Going away has changed from just taking a small overnight bag to…a whole boot full of stuff. Its the cot for the little one, enough blankets for the little one, a special blanket for the older one, clothes, back up clothes, food, back up food, towels and back up towels…the list is endless.

#9 Drinking a cup of coffee without it getting cold

I find myself constantly reheating  cup of coffee in the microwave. A very weird fact, but true!

#10 Not having to deal with kids’ bodily fluids

I am not going to explain this.

Life before kids
Source: Giphy.com

 

Do any of these resonate with you? Anything in particular you miss about life before kids? Its okay,  admit it…

 

 

 

 

{Featured in SA MOM BLOGS} Why I am okay with being a good enough parent

Being a good enough parent is about putting an end to pursuing perfection and comparative parenting. With constant inputs around what we ‘should’ be doing, and  even FOMO parenting (yes people, it is a thing), we need to draw the line. Good Enough Parenting to me is about letting go and being human. Read the full post here on SA Mom Blogs where I share perspectives about why we need to let go of the pursuit of perfection and enjoy our families.

5 Ways To Effectively Reinforce Good Manners in Kids

One of THEE most important jobs we have as parents is to teach our kids manners.

Pre-schoolers (those between the ages of 3 – 4) are at an age where they should be responding to some of the social graces that they have been taught and shown. I mean, you don’t want your kid to be the ‘rude kid’ right? Understandably, kids at this age are still quite self-centered. However, it is the right time for them to understand what constitutes good manners as this is part of how they learn that a world exists beyond their own needs.

Suggested Post: You Should Try This: Interview With a Toddler

My 3-year-old, is good at some manners and not so great at others. That is okay, she is little and we are working through it together.  You can review this informative list on which manners kids should have by a certain age, however this post is focused on how to reinforce the establishment of these manners.

Child Blocks
Source: Pixabay

Model the right behaviours for your child

Modelling the right behaviours are key, as our kids look at what we do and emulate us.  This at times is quite challenging for me as I am not perfect. I will be honest, I will lose my cool  some times and shout an instruction instead of saying it politely. Or say a ‘bad’ word in front of the kids without realizing when my toe hits the leg of the couch (my toe is a magnet for any hard furniture).

I think if we do the right thing at least 90% of the time, it will be okay. However, does not matter what we do, the best form of learning for kids is through observational learning from their parents.

[bctt tweet=”The best way to teach a child manners is to model the right behaviour yourself as the parent” username=”cherralle_”]

Do not force issue in public

Our children are also human beings with feelings. If a transgression occurs, politely let her know on the spot what is the polite thing to do. This needs to be done very sensitively, as the intent is not to embarrass your child. A follow on discussion in private with your child is helpful to explain further why a certain behaviour is not okay.

Suggested Post: The Side of Motherhood That We Do Not Post On Instagram

Playing games which teach good manners

A cool idea is to make practicing manners a game, as outlined in Games to teach kids good manners. At least half of the games listed can be done from age 3, and the rest from age 4 – 5.  Role playing is one the games listed, that I think could work for at least a 3-year-old. The aim of the game is to teach and discuss a certain behaviour and then role play it together with your child. Your child can display the right behaviour as well as the impolite behaviour and they can learn in this way. Learning through play is always fun for young kids.

Continuously restating good manners

When your child is not displaying good manners, it is good to restate what you want them say. Example, politely correct, and state what the correct term is. Example, if they forget to say “please” and “thank you” you need to restate how they should have said it.

Suggested Post:  Bye Bye Mommy Guilt: Why You Should Feel Proud Of Being A Working Mother

Use positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful way to effect a change in behaviour. This is because kids at this stage, do want their parents’ positive attentions. Recognise and make a big deal about it when they display good manners.

[bctt tweet=”Recognise and make a big deal about it when they display good manners. They want our attention” username=”cherralle_”]

In closing, it is important to be conscious of good and bad manners that your child may display. More  importantly, take an action to correct impolite behaviour however painful at that moment. In a similar vein, positively reinforce and reward good behaviours. And of course, be a good role model as best you can…most of the time.

What do you do to encourage good manners in young children?

Click on a sharing button below and share with a friend.

 

 

 

 

Destiny’s Good Schools Report 2017 is out

Destiny has launched its annual Good Schools Report, a curated list of South Africa’s top private and public schools. Moreover, this report includes school fees, annual and matric pass rates, and other relevant statistics per school.

Updated: 5 Reasons to Check out Destiny’s Good Schools Report Website

“The listings on the following pages shines a light on schools which have implemented innovative teaching methods to ensure the very best outcomes for pupils, regardless of their start in life“, as stated by its Project Editor, Sheena Adams in the July edition.

Related Post7 Things a Working Mother Wants to Tell her Boss

The list largely focuses on schools who take innovative approaches to science and math. Some of the top private schools are St Anne’s, Glenwood house, Crawford College and Reddam House. A few of the top public schools listed are Grey College, Collegiate Girls’ High School, Parkview Senior Primary and Westerford High School.

The Good Schools Report is going online

Destiny is launching a website (www.goodschoolsreport.com) which will provide a more comprehensive review of education in South Africa. Interestingly, this will include submissions by parents to its listings.

[bctt tweet=”It can be challenging to find a good school due to supply and demand (lack of quality schools).” username=”cherralle_”]

The expanded focus of the website, will provide a broader assessment of schools and not just a handpicked few. Over and above that, I hope that it will show which qualities other parents value in schools. As a (fairly) new parent the latter point is important to me. My daughter enters primary school in three years and I will be consulting the new website for insights.

Destiny  also encourages us to sign up for the Good Schools Report newsletter  which I have done.

I will be accessing the website soon after its launch and will share my insights here.

Further Reading: Part 1: Our Journey Of Equally Shared Parenting

 

You Should Try This – Interview With A Toddler

I had such a fun time interviewing our 3 year old daughter, Caitlyn. If you are looking for a way to kill some time on Saturday afternoon, interview a toddler!

Although it was a challenge to get her to focus and sit still. There were way more questions, and this is what we managed to get out! She is growing so fast, and cannot believe the end of her toddler years are approaching.

cute toddler natural hair

 

Interview with a toddler

1. What is something mommy always says to you? Caitlyn, come eat. (I thought it would be something more profound..hahaha)

2. What is something daddy always say? Caitlyn I am going to ‘bliksem’ you

3. What is your favourite thing to do? Swimming

Related Post: The Side of Motherhood That We Do Not Post On Instagram

4. What makes you happy? Teacher at swimming (on this day she had her swimming lessons)

5. How old are you? 3 (showing three fingers), but I want to be 4 (shows four fingers)

6. How old is Mommy? 3 (okay)

Related Post: 10 Things I Miss About My Life Before Kids

[bctt tweet=”Super fun parent and toddler activity is to ‘Interview Your Toddler’. Here are some questions to try out!” username=”cherralle_”]

family photography toddler natural hair

7. How old is Daddy? 2 (okay)

8. Who is your best friend? Mamma (awhhh). Last week it was Eli and Evan from school, but okay.

9. What did you do today? I fell in the water at swimming (yes she did and her dad pulled her out, nothing serious)

10. What is your favourite food? Soup, bread and chicken (that was her lunch)

11. What is your favourite song? When it’s storming… (what they sing at school when its storming outside, I am not really sure?) and second favourite is Shosholoza

12. What do you want for your birthday this year? Rainbow dash (favourite character from My Little Pony, she also likes to be referred to as ‘Rainbow Dash Caitlyn’)

13. What is your favourite animal? Lion – so it can bite daddy

14. What is love? Mamma (awhhh…..too precious)

15. Where do you live? At home (well, what other answer did I expect)

This is definitely something I would want to do on an ongoing basis, these memories are too precious and the ‘interview’ was such fun. Even though I had to chase her  bit around the house. 🙂

 

Related Post:

Bye Bye Mommy Guilt – Why You Should Feel Proud of Being A Working Mom

 

 

 

 

5 signs that you are a millennial mom

A millennial mom is smart, technology savvy and  does not succumb to societal norms. Born during the 1980s to late 1990s, this is a generation of moms who have grown along with the rise of technology. They also have the unique challenge or raising kids completely immersed in the digital age.

Here are the 5 signs that you are a millennial mom

There is an app for that?!

If there is an app that can make your life easier, you have it. You use Ubereats for your takeout dinners, you use takealot  to purchase anything from formula, nappies, kids toys and  you book family vacays on Airbnb.

Brands and products who have managed to “integrate digitization and mobility”  and can make life easier for millennial moms will be highly valued, see article from DigiDay. 

Are you smarter than a millennial mom?

You are educated and comfortable researching a variety of topics online pertaining to your kids. Millennial moms are  more educated than any other generation of moms, and they use this to the advantage of their families.

They said what?!

You don’t move on a brand purchase, until you have found their online presence. You also ask your close friends and colleagues for advice on purchases and you freely share reviews too.

36% of millennials moms do not trust marketing campaigns, and rather want to read  unbiased reviews or chat to friends.

Do not label my parenting style

As millennial mom, you have different sides to your personality and  your parenting style is reflective of this. Thus, you may be a combination of a  home maker, fashionista, cook, bread winner and a working mom.

The one common thread about millennial moms is their focus on their children. Check out this article by Weber Shanwick  where the diverse parenting styles of  a millennial mom are discussed. This is a dilemma for brands and products who cannot ‘pin point’ marketing to millennial moms.

More than just a mom

You need to be able to express your whole self, whether that is through personal hobbies or just “me time”. Your role as a mom is only one aspect of who you are, albeit a very important one there are other sides to you.

Being a millennial mom to me is about individuality and being able to comfortably express myself . I have a traditional role in our family sometimes, but I am also independent and  driven by my own aspirations.

There you have it! Tell me in the comments, what makes you a unique millennial mom?

 

To my husband on father’s day

I am always talking about how wonderful and cute my kids are. So today for father’s day I want to  dedicate this post to my husband who is kinda awesome too.

here goes…

When we met I knew you would be an incredible father, although I did not know how much I would love you for it. Even then, you believed in family values and I was sort of overwhelmed.

 

It was a bit too intense for me then. I am glad you are the one I chose to build a family with, and here is why.

 

new baby, father, father's day

You are the foundation of our family and I appreciate all you do for me and our girls.

You constantly go above and beyond for our family, making sure we are well looked after in every way, especially by being present. Watching you with the kids, I can see that being a father to our girls is a role you take very seriously and  that you take pride in.

I can see that they bring you so much joy and you bring to them.

When one of the girls are up in the night, you are there without (much 🙂 ) complaining.

When the kids are sick and need to see the doctor or we need a quick prescription, you quickly sort it out. You always take Caitlyn for swimming or play games outside, you gladly take her. When I need to work late you are there, you are always there without complaints. And I thank you for being there, for me and our girls in all the ways.

I love you Zane, and thank you for sharing this journey called parenthood with me.

Fathers day - daughter and dad

Father's day - daughter and father
Source: i-Stock