From kale to chaos – But I feel fine


Last week started so well. Lots of kale juice and the fridge was overflowing with luscious greens and colourful, vitamin rich fruit and vegetables. Then the work week began… and the picture above summarises well how it ended.

It’s really hard for working mothers to find the time or the energy to put a healthy meal on the table every night. This week was particularly difficult because of the school holidays and the demands of work–I saw myself doing much longer days than usual. Even though I was working from home most days, by the time I shut down my laptop, I was feeling drained and guilty. It was the holidays and I had barely seen my children. Cooking a healthy meal wasn’t any longer at the top of my priority list.

I’m very proud of my boys, they behaved so well–played with their toys, watched tv, spent time on their electronics and ran outside with the neighbours. I only had to leave the room to feed them. But instead of celebrating that they are growing up and becoming independent, as the week progressed I was feeling more and more deflated. It felt like I was managing a cattle feedlot.

I know that research after research tells us that there is no negative consequence for children of working mothers. But I think mothers secretly worry that they are not giving their kids enough quality time and that this could have an adverse effect on the children. I don’t fear in silence anymore, I write about it instead.

My concern with this ‘quality time’ is what made me decide not to work full-time while my kids are still young. Although mind you, I work four days and more often than not I end up doing more hours than a full week of work. But at least this gives me the flexibility to wait for my kids at the school gate a few times a week. And at 2:55pm when the school bell rings, I know when I see them scanning the sea of parents and our eyes meet that they are happy that mum is there for them.

So back to my week, by Friday the house was a mess, it was raining and the kids spent the entire morning playing with video games, and the hot water system had stopped working – it was total chaos and I was growing increasingly irritated. About 3pm I had enough, put the kids in the car, drove to the shops, spoiled them with a sweet treat and let them spend their pocket money. It was my way of making up for the week in the ‘farm’ (and I needed a good dose of caffeine!). We browsed books and told jokes and stopped at every department store to look at Lego sets and Star Wars merchandising  (the new family fever). The sugar overdose made me feel guilty again but honestly, I thought bugger all health eating messages right now, I just want a break from the chaos of the week and connect with my kids doing something I know they enjoy.

Then we got home and I had to remorsefully throw away lettuce and bok choy that had passed the ‘use by’ date. You can’t have it all-or at least I haven’t pulled off having it all. But one thing I have is my breath to go back to. Sometimes it helps me make better decisions, other times it just prevents me from going totally nuts and at the end of the day it always reminds me at that with sugar or without, life can be… well, sweet.


An overdose of wellbeing


Today I had too much of a good thing

Exhausted. That’s how I’m feeling after a day of wellness. And I didn’t even manage to squeeze in a work out. Today I woke up with a wellness obsession. This happens to me from time to time, normally after I read a convincing article or book or speak to someone whose life has been transformed by a new diet. Like when I went crazy about fortifying my gut wall with good bacteria and ended up horribly constipated and three kilos lighter (for those who don’t know me I’m already skinny enough), thanks to my brother and his fermentation fever and the living creatures he was keeping in the fridge.

I think of myself as a health conscious woman. I exercise, I meditate and I eat my fruit and veggies. But for some inexplicable reason today I went to great lengths to have a naturally healthy day. This morning I did my normal meditation as soon as I got up – so far so good – but then, instead of my regular Saturday run, I got down on the floor for 20 minutes of yoga. Inversions! They filled my body with the anticipatory delight of how great this day was going to turn out.

Maybe it was the extra oxygen in my brain but suddenly it was borne in upon me that I had not used the juicer in a long time. That warranted a trip to the supermarket with a list of ingredients I had quickly Googled. And as I was at the shops, why not visit the health food store too, a good wellness warrior must have a pack of organic coconut flour in the pantry.

Two hours later I got back home and spread my plentiful harvest in the kitchen bench. Oh God, what have I done! There’s more foliage here than in the Amazon forest. It took me over two hours to wash, sort and pack my fruit and vegetables. By then, half the day was gone and the kids were hovering over the pantry. I offered them organic corn chips while I whipped up a quinoa and smoked salmon salad for a late lunch. They weren’t impressed. For desert I sliced fruit – victory, no processed sugar today!


Colours of health

Of course, let’s not forget the wellbeing of the dog. Another hour quickly passed as I cooked his meat and veggies casserole and divided it in individual portions to freeze. Snoopy is the only family member that seems to appreciate my fits of wellness.

Then it was time for afternoon tea, or shall I say, afternoon juice. For the kids I squeezed ‘nothing but 10 apples’ as this is the Nudie juice I buy for them every now and then. When the juice is homemade though, the audience never shows the same enthusiasm. “It doesn’t taste the same mum, can’t you just get a normal juice?”. The jug is still in the fridge.

For me this was the moment I had anticipated since morning: my kale juice, yeah! Tons of nutrition in a single glass. It didn’t taste as bad as I expected and it did feel like I was nourishing my body and soul. I felt invigorated and thought I could repeat the dose tomorrow. This was before I went back to the kitchen to clean up the mess. Another hour of fun.

I finally sit down to do my writing and it’s 5:30pm and I’m wondering what to do with the lentils I left soaking all afternoon and I don’t think I’ll have time to make the coconut muffins. Man, I was inspired, but as usual I packed too much for one day. Unfortunately, I was carried away by my enthusiasm and wasn’t very mindful of my behaviours. On the flip side, I have a supply of healthy food that should fuel the family for a week and tonight I should sleep like a rock – and good quality sleep, you know, is vital for wellbeing.

Tomorrow I’ll continue my quest of finding the right balance.

The reluctant runner and a pushy mother


Born to run? He dashed up the hills in Roseville today at the Rotary Fun Run, I just couldn’t keep up with him.

Ok, I’m not that pushy and I’m often wondering if I’m giving my children too much leeway in deciding how to spend their time. My boys are not big fans of holiday camps, after school activities, organised sport, homework or even family outings. Their picture of a perfect day is a day spent at home playing with their friends, toys and electronics. Even getting them to their weekly swimming lesson can be a drama. They don’t have a competitive nature either, to the point that they don’t even collect the merit cards they receive at school.

Maybe I shouldn’t worry as creative play, writing and reading is ever present in our home and the boys are still in primary school but they are growing up in a very competitive culture. I look around and see so many kids over scheduled with extra curricular activities, competing with their peers, trying super hard to win and upset when they don’t take the trophy home. I think we, parents, are under constant fear that we are not doing enough to help our children succeed both now and in a cutting throat world of work in the future.

I recently had an interesting experience. Every now and then I invite my boys to run with me and they always decline the invitation. Then about a month ago my 10-year-old agreed to join me and I was amazed at this performance–he ran two kilometres at my pace. Since then he’s been running with me twice a week. Most times there is nagging involved but at least he’s been joining me.

So, I thought to keep him motivated I’d sign him up to do a fun ran. He initially agreed but without much enthusiasm. Today was the big day but since yesterday he’s saying he isn’t really keen to go for a run on a Sunday morning. This morning he was cranky, didn’t really wanted to go but I didn’t take no for an answer. Long story short, he ran 5Km in  00:24:36 – impressive, he beat me by 12 seconds! And he actually enjoyed it and asked me if he could join Sydney Striders-there were lots of kids at the race wearing the striders uniform.

The moral of the story is that I continue to find it hard to draw a line. Had I not created this experience and put my son a bit out of his comfort zone he would have missed out on this exciting achievement. That’s why it’s really hard to find the right balance. I don’t want to be pushy but at the same time I think that parents have some responsibility in creating opportunities and inspiring their children to achieve their potential. The question is how many experiences is too many, how much pushing is too pushy?

I don’t think my parents had this dilemma–I was the one that pushed myself and I turned up all right. Would I have been more successful in certain areas had I had pushy parents? Who knows. But I have access to much more resources and information now than my parents ever had. I hope I’m combining the right amount of motherly instinct and knowledge to create well adjusted, happy human beings.



The dreaded gift has arrived: R2-D2



The 8-year-old had an enormous smile on his face when I picked him up at school on Thursday. He had a surprise in his backpack, the book club had delivered his order: build your own R2-D2. Ten hours to assemble, said the brochure. I don’t know what possessed me to agree to this purchase. At the time I thought it was a great idea–a creative project for the school holiday when I’ll be working from home. Judging by his mental skill and manual ability in putting his Lego toys together I thought, sure, piece of cake. But later it’s been borne upon me that this project involves building a 30cm cardboard robot with paper, scissors and glue. And Led lights! They must mean ten hours of skilled adult work.

For the last two weeks this child has been talking about his exciting school holiday project and as much as I enjoy seeing his enthusiasm I must confess I can’t share the same excitement. On the night we got home with the kit I had a taster of what this project will be like. Thomas sneakily opened the box in his bedroom but in a few minutes rushed downstairs in tears: “this R2-D2 will never work”. He only had a go at the first element… Oh God, I can anticipate how I’m going to spend my two days of annual leave: detaching and trimming paper shapes from 12 A4 sheets and trying to figure out where they go. I gave Thomas a hug and ensured I was going to help him build R2-D2 but he had to wait for the holiday to begin. I could feel his sticky fingers entangled in my hair… I never liked Star Wars and I get the feeling I’m going to like it even less…

But then later that night I went to bed and Thomas as drawing his own Star Wars comic book and he read it to me. He was one of the characters and he fought the droids and robots with lightsabers and passion. It was way past his bed time but his eyes still sparkled with energy and adventure. He said he’d continue the battle in his dreams.

I’m starting to change my mind about the holiday project. I now think it’ll be quite fun to build R2-D2 with Thomas – so long as The Force gives me patience.