I thought I would share a little bit about our experience returning to life after our toddler's first bout of gastro.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my daughter is an amazing eater, not picky and eats a variety of multi coloured fruits and veggies. I'm not ashamed to say I take a lot of pride in this, and I hope she is always adventurous with her cuisine. However, transitioning her back to normal food after being sick worried me immensely. Would she only want dry crackers and toast for ever? Would she go back to eating veggies after three plus days without food?
I figured that if I had these anxieties, I probably wasn't alone. So, I decided to share a few things we have tried and worked well for us. I wrote this post over the course of a week as we navigated these new waters, and man it has been challenging!
Feel free to take bits and pieces that suit you and your children. Some of our movements were deliberate, others were trial and error.
1. BRAT diet:
Bananas, rice, apples and toast.
These are great places to reintroduce food to your toddler, or anyone recovering from gastro quite frankly. I grew up with this method and I swear by it to this day. These foods are gentle on the tummy and bland, which is easy for digestion.
Dry toast is a good place to start, and you can always add topping as you go. I added a little bit of honey to my daughter's toast to entice her to eat it, but also to help get her sugars up since they were so low from severe dehydration. Honey is great for antioxidants and is also antibacterial.
* Honey IS NOT RECOMMENDED for children under the age of one.
Other ideas are to progressively add to the toast as time goes on. For instance, maybe a thin spread of calcium dense tahini and then mashed banana on top.
Not a fan of plain rice? Add grated apple into the rice for some sweetness.
Do they find bananas boring? Slice them up and sprinkle them with a few chia seeds.
2. Avoid Dairy
Avoid milk and dairy for the first few days. You may want to see your child eat again, no matter what it is, but things like whole milk, sugary foods, soda and candy can all worsen diarrhea.
3. Keep Fluids Up!
Do whatever you can to keep those fluids up!
Our daughter refused water off and on for about two days after we left the ER which was pretty stressful. After a follow up with our GP, he suggested using a syringe to give her water and gave us a 6ml syringe to take home. She loved it! I guess it was the novelty of something different, but it worked for us. You don't need to go to the doc to get your hands on one, you can simply use the ones you have to administered medicine like Tylenol. Just make sure it's washed well and cleaned after each use.
4. Stick To The Rules
This might divide the crowd, but so be it. Once my daughter started to eat again, I assumed she would keep eating normally. This wasn't the case sadly. For instance, one morning, just a few days after her sickness, she surprised me and had toast, a scrambled egg and a few tablespoons of yogurt. That afternoon she didn't eat any lunch or dinner! I was confused and frustrated because I didn't know why she was putting up a struggle. Did she not like what I offered? Was this the opportunity for her to finally be picky? Or was she still not feeling fantastic and couldn't communicate that to me?
The following night I made a veggie quinoa salad and salmon (her fav). She didn't eat the meal, so I packed it up and put it away in the fridge. An hour later she said she was hungry, so sticking to our rules, I re-offered what she had, not something else. She gagged on the salmon and my mouth nearly hit the floor. Gagging on her fav food of all time- I was so perplexed! Clearly she wasn't ready for that taste, texture smell or whatever. Instead of offering her a sugary sweet or something else, she was fine with water and going to bed. I don't offer her other food if she has refused what was given at dinner, because once you start making substitutions to appease your children, you'll never be able to stop.
5. Reintroduce Dairy Slowly
When you do decide to reintroduce dairy, start small... think baby steps. We started with gut healthy kefir and greek yogurt in tiny doses a few days after her episode.
6. Keep Offering The Norm
Even though she was hit and miss on some meals, I kept offering her what she would normally like on her usual Love Mae tray, as if nothing had ever happened. Consistency is key in my experience. This did mean a lot of food was put back in the fridge, and some stuff was sadly thrown out.
Don't just offer the norm, but stick to the normal schedule too. If your toddler can still sit at the table and watch you eat your meals, this is a good thing. When she wasn't eating, I'd still keep my daughter in her high chair at meal time and let her play with play dough while I ate.
7. So what shall I make?
1. The BRAT diet mentioned above is always a good start
2. If normal finger foods are a challenge, you can't go wrong with bone broth or a heathy soup. Creamy and smooth for the pickier kids during this sensitive time, or chunky if they can tolerate it. You can transition to pouring the homemade soup over some simple, kid-friendly pasta as time progresses.
3. Smoothies are great as well because you can make them with veggies and/or fruit. You also don't need to add any dairy to them. I made my daughter's recovery smoothies with water for added hydration.
In all honesty, she didn't really return to her normal, food loving veggie eating ways until about 8/9 days after she was admitted to hospital. So don't lose hope parents! This was a big surprise for me, but I'm happy that we are back to normal now.
Have you had a similar experience? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Preparing for the ER. I get it, I sound whack.
How can you prepare for an emergency? Hence the name, emergency, urgent... but here is the thing, just hear me out. You might read this blog post and add something to your First Aid Kit. Or, maybe you read this and take a subconscious mental note that will help you in the future.
Here are a few things we did, or wish we had done, prior to our awful night and first experience in the the ER with our 1 year old:
Bring a book, or books from their normal routine
I wish we had a book to distract her when she was in a good headspace between vomiting. She LOVES books and I think she would have really enjoyed having a few of her favourites there. If your kid is proficient with the Ipad, bring it. It's always better to be over prepared than underprepared, especially when you don't know how long your stay will be. We don't normally give her our phones, but we happily made an exception and tried to distract her with baby shark and the wiggles which worked for about 20 precious mins.
Make sure you bring a lovie (stuffed animal) they cherish
Anything that will make them feel like they are at home. We brought her huge (almost as big as her) bunny which she calls Be Be. It was nice to have and offered her a lot of comfort just having it around, not that she even cuddled it all that much - but having a piece of home was important I believe.
Bring a change of clothes for bub and wear SHOES
At least one change of clothes, preferably 2-3 sets. Make sure they are wearing socks at a minimum, but preferably closed toed shoes.
Hospitals are rampant with staph and other bacterial nasties, so keep covered up..... all of you. I once met a women who got an infection in her foot after wearing flip flops in the hospital, and it robbed her of quality life immensely, maiming all her muscles into a Swiss cheese like consistency full of holes and unable to work properly. True story.
Bring warm clothes for all of you
ER/hospitals tend to be quite cold, and a spare jumper goes a long way (plus you won't have to ask for one of their hospital blankets. Yuck).
Bring all the necessary cards
You might be in a rush and panicking, but make sure that you have your Medicare card and private health fund card with you. If you don't normally carry these around, I would recommend saving the membership numbers in your notes app on your phone.
I didn't know how bad our little girl would be, or how long we would be in the ER, but I instinctively grabbed some organic raisins on the way out the door at 1:30am. She obviously couldn't have any, but they were handy to have for us.
Bring a hand santiser of your chosing
I forgot mine, and regretted it! I personally don't like hand santisers because they are bad for your gut biome, and typically have some nasty stuff in them. However, Dr. Bronner's has an organic lavender hand spray that is to die for and I love having this is my bag when I really need it. And when you're locked in a disease infested hospital, especially with a kid suffering from gastro, that is a good time to be germ free!
Notepad or Notes App
Most of the time protocol at the ER/hospitals is to collect information and access how to move ahead. For instance, you might be asked to know or track when the last time your baby had a drink - did they vomit - did they get diarrhea? Tick, yes/no. Having a pen and paper handy is a great way to make a chart and stay organised so that you can present the doctor with all the crucial information.
Well, that's it. Hope you don't find yourself near the ER any time soon!
Jan 20th, 2019
He leaned across the table and said, “you’ve got great produce and a bad oven.”
Pedigree eggs (his words not mine) without a place to be cooked only meant one thing - that I'd need to pretty much eliminate my immune system in order to bring my baby to term. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 3 and half months - fortnightly immune suppressing infusions of intralipids (pure fat) and taking enough drugs, pills, antibiotics, needles and hormones to tranquilize a baby elephant.
As someone who really prides themselves on leading a low-tox life, this has been really tough for me. I don’t know the long term side effects of all these drugs. (Will we ever know?)
Maybe one day. Maybe not.
What I do know are the common, short-term side effects like insomnia, weight gain, mood swings, anxiety, depression and the obvious lack of an immune system. So, ya, it's been a tumultuous few months, and that's not even getting to the hormones. I'm on nearly 1000 mg of Utrogestan a day. These help to keep my uterine lining thick and strong, and if you've ever suffered multiple miscarriages, your doctor might have prescribed these for you as well.
So, if we had plans and you were sick..... I probably cancelled.
If we hung out, and I seemed a bit off. I probably was.
When I was unusually quiet on social media, I was suffering horrible morning sickness or in a bit of a funk, needing (desperately) to focus on myself.
So here we are, 13 weeks in and I'm feeling more human.
For those of you that don't know, this is my second pregnancy, so I'm feeling all the feels and a tinge of bittersweetness because this will probably be my last baby.
I have so much to share with you all about pregnancy, diet, cravings and how to survive the first trimester, all of which will be coming your way soon!
EEK. I'm currently 19.5 weeks along now.
I've stopped all my meds and weened off the steroids over two long weeks, and I'm so happy to report that I'm feeling more like myself! I've been drug free for almost three weeks #hallelujah.
My headaches have subsided, but I did get SUPER sick twice over the last month, which was probably due to a combination of factors. Thankfully I avoided a round of antibiotics by following these simple steps and I'm on the mend.
Thanks again for sharing in our excitement! We've been so overwhelmed by all the love and support the last few days.
Girl Power is on the rise more than ever.
Events are popping up all over the world connecting women, face to face, offering an excellent opportunity to develop relationships, build brands or simply connect with other power players. Some are geared towards business and networking, while others are more focused on education, mothering and parenting.
Michelle Battersby, of Bumble Australia, forecasted that a shift is upon us in the near future that will see people spending more time away from their phones. Wouldn't that be lovely to bring back the interpersonal human connection? These events are the perfect way to do just that.
Here are few #bossbabe meet ups that are worth checking out in 2019!
1. Minding Her Business has been around for 18 months and have hosted multiple, sell-out events around Australia. Minding Her Business is the brain child of Katie Stevens, a savvy business woman, model, entrepreneur AND proud dog mom who calls Brisbane home. I've blogged about MHB before, and can't recommend these events highly enough if you're looking to make friends in a new city, grow your business, or seek out some pearls of wisdom from their empowerment panel. Their motto is: Connect, Collaborate, Create. This tagline is clear and concise; just how I like it!
Minding Her Business has another branch of networking called Minding Their Business, and these events are actually inclusive of men. Their final event of 2018 was November 18th in Brisbane and a huge success. Be sure to follow them so you can keep up to date with all the wonderful things coming your way in 2019. They have already gone interstate before.... where might MHB be off to next I wonder?!
2. Business Chicks have just wrapped up their 9 to Thrive tour across Australia, and I was lucky enough to win tickets to their two day Sydney event! I'm so glad that I went when I'd just moved to Sydney because I met some pretty incredible women and walked away feeling more knowledgable and empowered. I was blown away, and I blogged allllll about my epic experience at 9 to Thrive here.
Business Chicks have all kinds of events on offer, such as brunches, dinners, and networking meet ups. Do yourself a favour and attend an event in 2019!
HOT TIP: Have you read Winging It by Emma Isaacs yet? Emma is the founder and global CEO of Business Chicks. You'll want to do yourself a favour and pick this book up ASAP.
3. Mum Society: now for a little change of pace. This Sydney based community is known for hosting absolutely wonderful events. They also bring women together with inspiring speakers and themes for each event, but with more of a focus on all aspects #mumlife. You can still connect, network and grow your brand/business, but in a more kid friendly environment. You are given an option of purchasing a childcare option when checking out online and booking your ticket... how good is that?!
I haven't had the pleasure of attending one of their events yet, and missed their final event of 2018, Bump...Baby...Blue, due to the apocalyptic weather conditions in Sydney that day that left Sydney half flooded. I'm looking forward to attending and supporting Kylie and her fellow boss babes in 2019.
1. Business Chicks are also hustling in the USA, so check them out, stat.
2. MTHR Collective : (pronounced Mother) A friend of mine recently spoke at a MTHR Collective retreat. I had a mini stalk session and it's quite possibly the most incredible retreat schedule I've ever seen.
So, yaaaaa..... bomb schedule, am I right? If I were still living in the US, I would have been at this event in a heartbeat! My friend said that she would 100% recommend going and plans on attending every year she feasibly can.
Their instagram is all kinds of wonderful too, so check them out Mamas.
Well that's it! I hope that some of these events are near you, and I'd love to know about your experience if you have attended one of the above mentioned meet ups in the comments below.
So many acronyms, so little time.
Whether you're a mumprenuer, stay at home mum or a working SAHM, here are a few tips I felt are worth sharing to help boost your productivity while working at home.
1. No Wifi
If you work on your laptop, and are completing a project that doesn't need the wifi, turn it off. I spend a lot of time on my blogger platform or writing/planning/brainstorming in my Notes. It helps to have the wifi off because I'm freed from distracting email PINGS which pop up in the right hand corner demanding my attention and messing with my groove. Removing the temptation to check the news, Facebook or other distraction will help you to keep focused on the task at hand.
If nap time is when you get caught up on finances, or pay the bills, open only the browsers you need, and upon completion, close each tab until you've finished.
2. Ditch the phone
When it's time to get to business, place your phone on the charge and leave it in another room. If that really isn't an option, you can have it close by and on do not disturb mode (if a person calls twice, back to back, it will ring the second time).
3. Nap time is sacred
If you're like me, my only time to get work done, admin, blogging, replying to emails is while my daughter naps. I know it's a personal decision, but I don't like being on my phone in front of her, and try to avoid using it in her presence as much as possible. What this means is that I only have between 1 - 2.5 hours a day to be a complete whirlwind mom boss. There are some days when I'm so efficient, smashing goals left, right and center. Conversely, there are other days when I need her nap time to catch up on housework, take a little mental health afternoon in the peace and quiet, or read a book. If that's the case, then I'll work in the evening to meet a deadline, but I try to avoid working at night because that is when my husband and I have our quality time together.
3a. Eat before your work time
I try to eat or have a snack before I put my daughter down. Why? Because I'm saving precious time. If I put her down and then start prepping and cooking my lunch, I've lost 15-25 minutes by the time it's prepared, mindfully eaten and cleaned up.
3b. Meal prep
Therefore, meal prep when and where you can. I'm all about meal prep, but NOT the kind where you eat the same food in a plastic Tupperware for the entire week. Make a big batch of quinoa, have washed salad read to go, make a huge bowl of cous cous, bake a huge tray of roasted veggies, make some delicious energy balls. Have it all ready to go, so it literally takes minutes to assemble, top it off with a bit of gut healthy kraut and, voila! You can read all about my meal prep tips here.
4. Set a timer
If you need to go on social media for work, set a timer and stick to it. Social media is like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. One minute you're DM'ing a social media influencer, and the next thing you know you're looking at a new line of bathing suits for some brand you've never even heard of!
5. Silence is GOLDEN
There is a joke about silence being golden, unless you have toddlers, and then it's suspicious! Silence is healing, silence is grounding, silence is priceless. Having the television off, and music off, are great ways to hone your attention to one task. Sometimes I'll have a handcrafted Spotify playlist on in the background, but even then, it's playing on low and not too distracting. Yoga Girl's Playlist Of The Month is an excellent public music playlist, made by Rachel Brathen. I love her lists for practicing yoga or simply relaxing at home.
So, tell me, what tips and tricks do you implement for healthy time management Mama?
Tell me in the comments below!
Snacks. Snacks. Snacks.
How many times have they utterly saved the day when you're with your kids at the grocery store... running errands.... during an agonizing road trip?
I get loads of DM's on Instagram about snack ideas for kids, so I thought I'd share a quick and easy blog post sharing what we have been loving lately.
Here are our latest on-the-go favs:
Successful business aside, she lives with such intent, focus and love - she just radiates honesty and positivity. Hanging out with Rhi always leaves me feeling inspired, knowledgable and hungry for more discussions around yoga, wellness and family.
As a mindful working mama of two boys, I wanted to learn her secrets... let's hear it from our woman of the hour, Rhiannon.
Give us one sentence to sum up what motherhood means to you.
The greatest gift.
Childbirth was the ___________ because it ____________ .
Childbirth was incredible because it was the most empowering experience of my life, albeit, equally the most painful. My mum always spoke fondly of her 3 birth stories which I believe ignited my strong interest and passion for birth since a really young age. The magic of conception, pregnancy and birth blows my mind. I came to my births full of excitement, and in acceptance of whatever my birth journey would be. Knowledge is power. So, I educated myself on the science of the psychological and physical birth process, and felt armed with understanding, options, and a team of midwives I trusted immensely. I did a lot of birth preparation; from acupuncture, engaging a doula, cranial osteopathy, many herbal teas, eating a (mostly!) good diet, perennial massage, body massage, essential oils, positive affirmations etc. So, when it came to the birth, I surrendered to the experience and trusted that my body would know what to do. And it did. And it was incredible.
Have you always wanted to be an interior designer?
I grew up always wanting to be an Interior Designer or a midwife. While my passion for creating beautiful and functional spaces is still strong, so is my yearning for supporting women through their birthing experience. I have intentions to sit my Doula training in the coming years, so then I can do both!
What has been the hardest lesson to learn as a new mum running her own family design business?
Managing my time and lowering my expectations of my time.
Actively being mindful when I'm in working mode, and equally mindful with my mothering. It's easy to fall into the trap of being on a work call while making dinner with kids hanging off your legs, and getting on top of mothering/household duties when the kids are in care.
I'm constantly working on lowering my expectations of my time, knowing that there is rarely a day or week that all the ‘to do’ boxes are ticked. And that is ok. (I think???!!!)
Speaking of your family business, what’s it like living with AND working with your husband daily?
How do you keep that so called “work life balance” steady?
We never feel as though we are ‘working together’ as our jobs and days are so different. Sometimes we might be working on different projects for weeks or months where our only cross over is ‘on the business’ with bookkeeping etc. Our preferred projects, are the ones where we are engaged from design through to construction, and even then we work in a totally different capacity and different stages throughout the project. We joke that having a company together is probably our saving grace, as we have a greater understanding and tolerance for each other with the long days and late nights. Lastly, and probably most importantly, our success in renovating our own houses and working on projects together comes from a huge respect that we have for each other’s skill set. Matt doesn’t question my design decisions, and I never tell him how to build!
What determines success in your eyes?
Being in a place of absolute happiness and inner peace, regardless of the external situations surrounding you.
Brené Brown says "Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”
What are your thoughts on this?
When I first heard this I instantly had a pit in my belly. That told me I was guilty of not fulfilling my creativity. I don’t find myself having blocks of time in my daily/weekly agenda to indulge in creative activity, as I wish I could. (I dream of one day having a sun-drenched studio space where I can paint uninterrupted for days on end!!)
I try to increase my ‘creativity’ in my everyday tasks. I take that little bit of extra time to wrap a gift to my liking, rather than quickly throwing some wrapping paper over it. I try to cook at least one meal a week that allows me to explore a new recipe and spend some time enjoying the process rather than rushing through it. Or something as simple as after cleaning the house, picking some flowers from the garden to sit in a vase on the table.
As my girlfriends would know, I hate ironing! I wait until the pile is huge and then listen to a good podcast while I work my way through it, which has now turned into a task I hilariously love! I try to make the otherwise mundane tasks seem somewhat more enjoyable and creative.
How talented is she?!?
If you could live anywhere in Australia where would you choose and why?
We’ve recently relocated to the Mornington Peninsula and we are absolutely loving the slower paced beach lifestyle. If I could bring the Queensland weather down permanently, this place would be flawless. I hate the cold! So Queensland would be my pick, if I could just convince Matt.
I love yoga because...
I feel my body and mind strengthen in every practice. Like meditating, it’s the only real time I tap into my body, and all the other noises and distractions fade away.
You are an avid vedic meditator? Can you tell us a bit more about what that journey was like, and why it resonates so deeply with you and your family?
Both Matt and I started mediating in a state of desperate need to change our situation with daily stress and anxiety. We both found some relief once we started practicing, but it was only when we fell off the band wagon some 6 months later that we realized the positive impact it had made on our lives. Without the daily practice, our heads spun back into chaos and mess, a place that had felt normal for so many years, yet suddenly looked like absolute insanity!
So, we committed to our practice again, and haven’t looked back. We don’t always manage to get in the 2 x 20 minute daily sessions, but our early morning sessions are non-negotiable. Our boys are very aware of our meditation practice, and Bobby will be able to learn it soon once he turns 5. They will have the greatest kick start being able to incorporate meditation into their lives from such a young and moldable age. As the Dalai Lama said; “If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
Your recommendations got me onto some of my all time favourite brands like Peace Love and Vegetables, Dr Bronner's and Love Tea
What are your 5 top, non-negotiable MUST HAVES at home?
That’s a hard question because I'm so passionate about mindfully choosing ALL things that we surround ourselves with!
Southern Cross Pottery water filter for our clean water.
Abode for ALL our cleaning and washing products.
InBed bed pure linen bedding.
Pana Chocolate OR Alter Eco chocolate.
For energy & space clearing consultation you can’t go past Leanne Dawson in Melbourne.
Give us your fast five:
I’m reading… Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Despenza.
I’m listening to… a Classic Acoustic playlist on Spotify.
I’m loving… My early morning routine.
I’m loathing… the Melbourne cold.
I’m lusting after… The Leeroy sofa by Grazia.
Business Chicks exists to make the world better for women
I've been following Business Chicks on Instagram for a few months now, but I had no idea how vast their network was until this week. I attended their 2 day 9 to Thrive event in Sydney on the weekend, and boy did it blow me away.
On day 1, I grabbed my copy of Winging It (in the hopes of meeting Emma Isaacs), planned my route, packed the pram + nappy bag because I had to bring my daughter with me. I knew the schedule, roughly, and that was about it.
When I saw the venue from afar, I was shocked, it was next level big. I was pretty self-conscious about arriving with a bub, and sheepishly asked the hostesses if it was OK to bring the pram in. All the business chicks support staff were in Grease Lightening-esk pink jackets were so kind and welcoming. They assured me that it was fine and pointed me in the direction of the creche as well as the Thank You baby room (which was amazing)! Off to a fab start: no line; efficient sign in, warm welcome... what's next?
The Royal Hall of Industries is MASSIVE. Business Chicks was hosting a legit business expo with the top brands and companies in Sydney. There were banners with inspiring quotes on them, pink everywhere, gift bags and merch galore. There were over 100 exhibitors at the expo That's right, 100.
A few stand outs were:
Bumble Australia was offering free headshots (including hair and make up touch ups).
The Green Elephant Creche was so cute!
On the spot monograming of some fab leather pieces
1 on 1 financial consultations
I made my way to the main stage, and got a seat to see Roxy Jacenko's interview. There were thousands of people there. Some were engrossed in the panel discussions, others perusing the stalls, buying merch or signing up to become Business Chicks members.
There was such a buzz about the place, there is no other way to explain it. Girl bosses were everywhere drinking coffees, pink frośe, taking quirky photos, handing out business cards.... the place was pumping. Women from all walks of life were there just living their best lives. There were gals in ripped jeans, gals in fancy frocks, mums juggling bubs, girls in their early 20's, women in the 50's.... all there for different reasons, but sharing the common thread of wanting to make the world a better place for women.
I did get to meet the inspirational Emma Isaacs which was the highlight of my day, and such a treat given my earlier than planned departure because things didn't go as expected with my daughter.
I wanted to hear from these working mums about how they execute their days and managed to keep their shit together (on the outside at least).
The line up included:
Kemi Nekvapil, Melbourne based coach, and MC of the panel.
Sally Obermeder, media personality and owner of SWIISH
Rachael Finch, model and fitness guru + owner of Body by Finch
Emma Isaacs, founder and global CEO of Business Chicks, and mother of five
Antonia Kidman, Australian journalist, author and mother of six children
The women were all so natural and it seemed like they'd been friends for years. I was absorbed in the discussion, as you do when in a room of successful, hard- working mums telling you their secrets.
Kemi didn't pull punches, asking the tough stuff and sparking excellent, engaging conversations. One of my favourite quotes was a mantra that Sally shared, which had been passed on to her from her sister Maha Koraiem.
"Do only what you can do."
Only do what you can do, and that's it. No more, no less. If you can't do something, outsource it. Take immediate control of the things that you can do, and focus on them.
How bloody simple is that? Makes so much sense - it's actually infuriating.
Why do we feel the need as women to hustle ourselves into the ground like some kind of martyr? Is this some kind of self-inflicted torture? Do we all have imposter syndrome? I sure as hell don't have anything to prove to anyone, or to social media, but I'll be damned if I'm not happiest when I'm flat out busy or flogging myself, getting shit done and kicking goals. Sometime I need to scale back on what those goals actually are. On any given day, it might be that I simply got to brush my teeth before 2 pm, I'll have to chalk that up as a win.
That's the beauty of this journey. Life ebbs and flows, motherhood is the constant, and work is the delicious cherry on top.
How do we marry them all?
That's a damn good question.
The gals gave various pieces of advice, but a common denominator seemed to be self-care. There was also a large agreement to not let mum-guilt get to you because it doesn't serve you, your partner or your children. It just weighs you down and makes you doubt your capabilities, and that's the last thing you need when you're already trying to wear all the hats your family needs.
I also was lucky enough to catch the tail end of the "How to start a business online" talk and I really enjoyed the "Tech Talks" with three leading women who are making waves in the tech world.
Below were a few of my favourite nuggets from the day that are worth remembering, and sharing.
"I believe that my relationship with my husband is as important as my relationship with my children. They wouldn't exist if our relationship didn't exist."
"It's not easy and it's not seamless, and shit goes wrong every day."
"Mother guilt is a waste emotion."
"Being underestimated is a powerful position to be in. It gives you the opportunity to prove people wrong"
I highly recommend getting your friends together if you're in Melbourne or Brisbane. Or, go alone like I did on day 1. There are plenty of people to meet, conversation starters and lots of fun to be had.
Make sure you are following them on their socials and subscribe to their newsletter to see what exciting things they are to up to, who is speaking, and how to win tickets to their next event.
Want to know more?
Connect on Facebook or Twitter
Melbourne, August 24th - 25th (Click here to see the schedule)
Brisbane, October 19th - 20th (Schedule is not yet released)
A brief backstory for you all. I tried to eat a wide variety of healthy foods when I was pregnant because I wanted to give my daughter the best start at a diverse pallet, as well as excellent nutrition obviously! However, when the time came to introduce solids, I was so was incredibly anxious. I had no idea where to begin, what to start with, how much was too much food...? I found myself asking all my friends about it, and eventually my sweet friend Kyla gave me Annabel's Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner. I'll never forget opening her book, reading the introduction and feeling such an incredible wave of relief. I was instantly inspired, and felt my confidence building with each homemade meal I prepared from her book. I started to create my own recipes and my passion for eliminating the expression "kid food" in our home has been a huge success and quite an enjoyable challenge. Some of the most engaging posts on my Instagram are surrounding the meals I make for my daughter.
Annabel's story is complicated and beautiful, stemming from the loss of her first born daughter. Annabel wanted to create a legacy in her daughter's memory, and she has done that in spades. She is has pioneered the way babies and toddlers eat in the UK, and now you can find her products in countries all over the world as well.
So, without further adieu, let me introduce to you the one and only, Annabel Karmel.
WELCOME Annabel! Let's dive in, shall we:
Describe your personality in three words.
"Obsessed with Food!"
Your passion for cooking began when you were living in Holland. What was that experience like for you as an expat and a cooking novice?
A lot of people don’t know that I actually started working life as a musician. I was a talented harpist and studied classical music at the Conservatoire in the Hague, Holland. It was while I was living in Holland that I very quickly realised I had to fend for myself. Part of this meant that I had to figure out how to cook, and it was during this time that my love of cooking really began. Each week my mother would send me recipes which I would try out and by the time I returned home, cooking had become a real hobby of mine.
What is a day in the life of Annabel Karmel like?
No two days are the same! I definitely don’t ever sit still and I am extremely hands on. I like to be in the office as much as I can, so that's where you'll find me when I’m not out at various meetings with brands, retailers, suppliers, attending an event, filming or working on my next book! Our digital team, PR, marketing and sales departments are the eyes and ears of the business, so we regularly come together to discuss how we can continue to build the brand, act on our successes and share new ideas.
I still dedicate one day a week to developing new recipe ideas, so every Tuesday you’ll find me cooking up something new in my kitchen. I love having this day out of the office, away from my desk, to get creative and discover new foodie favourites – some of which can often spark the idea for a new book. I trial and tweak ingredients, texture and method until I’m happy.
I don’t ever want to stop this aspect of my job as it’s where it all began for me back in 1991 with the Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner. Evenings and weekends are all about family and friends and one of my greatest pleasures definitely has to be dinner with my three children – Nicholas, Lara and Scarlett. Now they are in their twenties! You really have to grab these opportunities when you can!
You have three beautiful children as you mentioned above. Were they picky eaters, and what did they teach you about motherhood?
Perseverance! Any parent out there with a fussy eater will appreciate the vulnerability and frustration you can feel.
When I started out, there were no recipe books out there that provided meals which tasted as good as the recipes I was preparing. My ingredient combinations were truly unique. Getting a child to eat well can be a real challenge (and utterly draining), but I kept at it, and it’s because of Nicholas’s fussiness that I am where I am today.
My children are now all grown up in their twenties, but if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have become such a celebrated author and a leading name in baby and children’s food. They are my daily motivation, and I couldn’t have taken on this journey without them. My passion for what I do seems to have caught on with my daughter Lara who joined the business in 2016.
What's the best piece of advice you could give to our postnatal readers?
If you’ve just welcomed a very special new member into the family, then – congratulations! It’s such an exciting time but your day-to-day is set to get a little bit more jam-packed! It’s important for you to continue to eat well both for you and for your baby.
Here are my top foodie tips for new mum "Kate" starting her incredible journey:
1. If breastfeeding, your fluid requirements increase dramatically so keep a close eye on your daily intake and remember to stay hydrated. Kate should be drinking lots of water, herbal teas or unsweetened fruit juices, and keep a bottle of water handy when she breastfeeds.
2. Try to up your all-important intake of calcium, iron and fibre-rich foods:
Fibre. Kate should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and include plenty of fibre. She can get this much-needed dose from fruit and vegetables as well as wholemeal bread, pasta and whole grains. After childbirth, women can often suffer from constipation - soluble and insoluble fibre can help with this.
Iron. Red meat, dark green leafy vegetables and pulses such as lentils are all good sources of iron. If you’re a vegetarian then lentils are good, but should be consumed alongside a source of vitamin C which has been proven to help enhance iron absorption.
Calcium. Kate should be aiming for 4-5 servings of dairy or other calcium-rich foods each day. A great way to start the morning is with a bowl of granola topped with fruit and yoghurt or some delicious bircher muesli soaked in milk. Plus, it’s two for the price of one in the nutrition stakes - oats and bran are low GI foods, so they will help fuel your body through a busy morning.
We know that the healthy omega-3 fats contained in oily fish are important for your brain, nervous system and vision and they continue to be hugely important post-pregnancy. Try making my super simple Salmon Fishcakes to provide an important and delicious dose of the good stuff! Just remember that if breastfeeding, you should eat no more than two portions of oily fish a week.
What stars had to align for you to go from cookbook author to having your food stocked at Tesco, Morrisons, Woolworths and beyond?
I first gained the confidence to launch my own range of children’s food after learning about the retail sector when acting as an expert to retail giants Marks & Spencer and Boots in the UK. Marks & Spencer had wanted to launch a range of children’s food and, completely out of the blue, asked me to be their food consultant.
I spent nearly two years talking to focus groups and it was a complete education in building a food range from scratch: thinking about who the consumer was, working out the nutritional information, recipe choice, understanding packaging and the importance of pricing.
Three years later Boots asked me to work with them on a baby range that would be jointly branded Annabel Karmel and Boots. They wanted me to decide which products I thought would work in their stores. I designed a range called ‘Make It Easy’, which included both equipment and baby foods, and would be sold on the shelf alongside my books.
This experience was invaluable. Under the aegis of two major retailing companies, I was given the opportunity to listen, learn and become my own expert.
And it was during this time that I learned to tune in and listen to my own instinct. I knew I had it in me to produce my own food range under the Annabel Karmel brand – and it all stemmed from there.
A big part of my mission is to offer healthy meal solutions for busy families. So many parents want to cook healthy meals from scratch, but often hectic schedules get in the way. Busy days still deserve the best mealtimes, and that’s why I’ve created a special range of snap-frozen meals for babies and toddlers in Australia.
Babies will love my nutritiously balanced Peel & Pop Purees made with 100% real fruit and veggies which are snap-frozen to lock in the taste and goodness. I have also developed 15 delicious meals for children aged 1-4. A tasty way towards their 5-a-day, they make for the perfect freezer filler.
Best part about living in the UK is…
I love the food scene in the UK, particularly in London. Going out for dinner and catching up with friends and family over good food is one of life’s great pleasures. Since I love to cook, when I eat out, I want it to be special and food that I often wouldn’t cook myself at home. I adore Japanese food, and there are some incredible Japanese foodie spots here in London.
I also love the great British countryside. My dogs are a big part of my life, and spending time with them is incredibly therapeutic and important to me. If I’m in need of a boost, I’ll take Bono (American Cocker Spaniel), Hamilton (Samoyed) and Sabre (Golden Retriever) away for a weekend of long walks or off to the nearest park for a good dose of fresh air.
You’ve penned 44 cookbooks (and counting)! How do you keep inspired to keep creating year after year?
My vision today is the same as it was over 25 years ago. I set out on a mission to show the world that you can make tasty recipes for babies and children. I want to continue to empower and inspire mums across the world to give their families the best start in life and to raise their children on healthy, wholesome diets.
What, or who, inspires you above all else?
My three children are my inspiration and motivation – and Natasha. I started out on my food journey wanting to give some meaning to Natasha’s short life and my first book was a legacy to her. My passion to succeed continued to be fuelled by Natasha and my three children who are so supportive.
My mother is also a huge inspiration to me. She is a wonderful woman with an amazing work ethic. She is still busy working now as an architect and interior designer.
I absolutely love running my own business, and I still love what I do 26 years on!
What do you love about your work?
Everything! I always say that if you choose a job that you love you will never have to work a day in your life. What you do for yourself dies with you, but what you do for others lives on. I hope that my recipes and the work that I have done in the field of children will continue.
The knowledge in my books and food products makes it as if I'm there every stage of a child’s life, helping to look after them (and mum and dad too). Success in my eyes starts by eating well while pregnant to feeding babies, toddlers and families.
The most famous person I’ve ever cooked for is …
I have cooked for many celebrities and indeed chefs. Although I'm best known for baby & toddler food, I also make delicious food for adults. I'm especially pleased when cooking for well-known chefs as it's a challenge and I think they probably expect carrot puree... but get a gourmet meal that could stand up to a Master Chef grilling!
Your new book Real Food Kids Will Love has just been released! I love scratching the term “kid food,” and your book seems to do just that. What age do you think babies are ready to join their parents at meal time?
Home-cooked family meals are often the best meals. It’s not about spending hours slaving over the stove, it’s about finding solutions that work for your family, and often that means quick, balanced meals which are simple to prepare and taste delicious.
My advice is to try and introduce tasty, healthy alternatives early on. My new book Real Food Kids Will Love brings together delicious recipes for kids aged one to five. It includes all the things mums want such as 15 minute favourites, making your own healthy fast food, and one–pot batch cooking. There is also dairy free and egg free recipes, vegetarian and vegan recipes.... as well as a collection of dishes that young children can make themselves.
2018 / 2019 will be epic because…
I want to continue to innovate in the children’s food sector with even more flavour-fuelled, ready-to-go recipes based on my much-loved trusted cookbooks. We’ll also be working on making our products available for many more parents in even more territories.
We are also heavily investing in our digital channels, so we will be developing even more content and helpful advice for parents. We are also currently working on a number of exciting education initiatives which will equip parents with even more useful tools to be able to give their baby the very best start. Watch this space!
We sure will Annabel! x
If you have any particular questions for me, or about Annabel's books, comment below!
Journal Entry :: 23/7/18
"This morning was my last breastfeed with Ry. Dan brought her into the bedroom and she was wearing my favourite blue leopard Bonds jumpsuit. We cuddled up while she drank, like every other morning for the past 17 months.
I was so quiet and still, savouring the moment and trying to remember every little thing, knowing it would be our last feed together:
The way she felt.
The cute little noise she makes when she opens her mouth to latch.
Her sweet suckling sounds.
What she smelled like.
The pressure from both her feet pressing through her bunny sleeping bag into my thighs.
Dan took a photo of us, but I haven't seen it yet. Tomorrow will be a really rough day, and I'm dreading it so much. I have no idea what to expect or how she, or I, will cope. Sometimes babies chose when to stop on their own. I had a feeling that wouldn't be the case, despite the fact that's what I did to my mum when I was 10 months old. In some circumstances mums are unable to feed, opt not to, or you might have to stop feeding when you aren't ready, like me.
I think I cherished breastfeeding enough though. You have to wonder in times like these if you did, and I really think I did. My sweetest, fondest memories were breastfeeding her after our move to Brisbane when she was still only a few months old. Each morning Dan would bring her into our bed and she would fall back asleep on my breast and we would cuddle, wrapped up around each other in a sleepy haze.
Being a mum to this little girl changed my life in so many magical ways. I hope we have another baby because I'd love to relive those moments, and I take none of them for granted."
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