Feb 7, 2018

The fastest ways to mental health + happiness (imho)

I'll precede this blog post by saying I'm not talking about clinical depression or severe mental illness, but there are times when we start to feel really discontented with our lives and just annoyed/jealous/resentful/depressed in general. Particularly as mothers/parents. So I wanted to share this post of the things that have helped me immensely get to a more healthy mental state and just reboot some areas of my life (hello creativity).

1. Delete Instagram off your phone

Go on, I dare you, and I promise you'll be shocked at how little you miss. Your thumb will absently try to scroll through that addictive little app about 50 times per day but eventually it will remember that there's nothing there and your clear, independent brain will feel so good.

If you need IG for your business, I'd suggest scheduling a time each day (or 2 times, of 5 mins each) to jump on and upload your own photos without idly browsing through everyone else's. If you need to comment on other people's photos to build your brand/following, challenge yourself to do it within 5 mins and be very intentional about it. E.G you could say I need to upload 1 quality photo per day and comment/like 10 others. Then I turn the app off, or even UNINSTALL it (not as crazy as it sounds - it's like 2 taps of your thumb to get it back) until my next posting window. And uninstall on weekends so you don't automatically open instagram every time you sit on the toilet and I KNOW that's not just me.

2. Stop thinking about looking perfect.
This is an extension of #1. We live in a world that has a real side and a heavy virtual side, and the virtual side is 100% represented by either photos or videos. Which we know in our brains is not real life, but we have visual memories so when we see people looking perfect showing their "day in the life" professionally photographed perfection and it looks nnnnoooooothing like our own day in the life, it still grates, and we don't realise that we are feeling annoyed with our own ugly imperfect messy surroundings because we are subconsciously comparing everything we see and do with a fake 'perfect' version of it.

People have to create attractive content to earn their place on the internet. I do it, everyone who wants to use their blog or social media as a platform to build a brand on (whether now or in the future) does it. It's ok to do it. But when you feel stink about yourself, it's time to stop looking at everyone else's content and give your brain a few weeks to adjust to not thinking "will this make a good instagram picture?" every time you are recording a memory.

I am so stoked with this photo above, it's from a fun day this week and gives me all the happy vibes. But it wouldn't be deemed professional enough to make lifestyle-blogger or instagrammer content.

3. On that note, stop reading those blogs you've read for years.
Including this one if it comes to that!
I started reading blogs years ago before I started my own. I've been so inspired by other people on the internet: recipes, craft ideas, home decor, health tips... yada yada. But when I really sat back and assessed the situation, I read blogs daily because I feel like a slave to it. I develop a weird sense of caring for these people I've never met. I feel like we are friends because they write so well and share their life on the internet.... but the truth is they don't know me or care about me, and you know what, I'm not obligated to read their blog every day if it's taking up precious time or making me feel dissatisfied with my life.

I've 'met' a lot of bloggers online who I would definitely look up if I was in their part of the world, and hope to connect in person. That would be fun. But if you are missing out on your own real life because you are reading someone else's only-the-good-bits life, something's not right.

4. You don't have to be inspired all the time.
Truth: Pinterest saps my creativity dry. 
Looking at other people's fitness story photos makes me jealous after a momentary "I could do that!" excitement that fades quickly in the reality of exercise and strict diets.
Seeing a beautiful house I want so badly but can't have makes me feel discontented with my home.
I could go on.

Point is, "inspiration" is an over-used word in our generation and you actually don't need to be inspired most of the time. If you give your brain a one-week break from all "inspiration" I promise you will start to feel refreshed and begin feeling inspired all on your own. 

5. Journal sometimes.
But only when you feel like it, or the guilt defeats the purpose.
When you need to get your feelings out, you can do it into your journal instead of onto the internet or into another person's ears. These could be negative or positive feelings. I don't mean it's bad to talk to people - at all! - but it's ok to share things with yourself instead of with the world. In fact, it's better sometimes. I find writing prayers and thoughts out is awesome.

6. Well duh, but, nature.
When I'm in a funk my husband tells me to go outside (ok it happened once) and I feel so much better. Even when it's cold or windy there's something great that happens when you enter a different environment and your brain resets. 
Nature is hardly ever stressful, even in bad weather (I can only think of natural-disaster situations where nature would cause genuine stress) and we're humans. You know, animals. Sometimes I think we need to remember that we don't belong at desks in front of screens, and maybe 95% of our problems would be solved if society could get back being a little more primitive and working with our hands on things that would aid our physical survival (a little foraging, anyone?). 

7. There is beauty in work
Working with my husband this year on things like marketing for our business was never on my radar as something I would enjoy doing. But these days I spend good chunks of time hanging out in our office designing and typing away and you know what, it's oh-so-satisfying. I thought being a housewife and stay-at-home mum/blogger would satisfy all my desires but I'm learning that using my brain for other tasks is SO healthy for me. I feel at least 50 times better about life in general. It's not that I didn't have enough to do before (au contraire!) but that I didn't have something completely different to use my brain on. I remember thinking "I could housewife more. I could meal plan and make soap from scratch. I could do more mum's groups, more coffee catchups, more playdates... but it would be more of the same. A bit of both worlds is feeling really healthy for me at the moment.

8. It's OK to need order.
As long as you can let it go sometimes.
Everything I read says that the key to happiness in your home environment as a mother, is to lower your standards and embrace the mess. Which sounds great except when mess and chaos makes you legitimately depressed or anxious. It's ok to recognise that you need to keep things in order and then structure your routine so that you can make it happen.
And it's ok to flop waaaaaaay off that band wagon and laugh at the slob you have apparently become. (Though we all know it's your kids, not you.)

9. Invite your friends round and then don't clean anything
It's liberating, and they will thank you.

10. Sometimes, have a bath and then go to bed early and read your book with a cup of tea.
You will feel so, so guilty. You will feel like your husband is thinking you are lazy, like your friends are all doing dishes until midnight, like you should at least be pressing buttons on your phone or watching TV or acting busy. This is the time to ask yourself: what do I normally do at this time? And I can almost guarantee the answer is NOTHING important. Nothing you can't miss. If you're not looking at Instagram (see #1) and you've hopefully given up facebook, your brain is free to do something that is actually more productive than all of that. Read something! My fave is historical fiction because I learn so much through people-interest stories but that's my choice. Go to bed as soon as the kids are in bed and the dishes are done and you will feel like you're living the dream.

What have I missed?


Dec 1, 2017

Summeriest Summer + Airbnb

I've been having the nicest break from blogging, social media, and basically being in the vicinity of a computer lately and it's been good for the soul / creativity / energy / mental state / my kid's behaviour (!).

But today we stepped away from our home to host our first Airbnb tenants this week. I didn't expect it to get booked out so quickly (it's just suburban Wellington!) and for the past 2 weeks I've done nothing but clean inside drawers, haul piles of clothing downstairs, move couches, vacuum underneath things that would never normally be vacuumed under, and more. Getting a family home into a guest-ready location with 2 small children at the end of a year that will go down in history as one of the most challenging in our lives, has been intense. And so good!

When we moved in here I was morbidly sick (pregnant with Ella) and nothing got purged or organised the way I normally would. This was actually our home's first true spring clean where everything got clean ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Previously something I only fantasised about.

Anyway, seeing as my life is usually cluttered with piles of mess and screaming children, I finally have some photos now that allow you to actually see the rooms. 😁

Not our normal bedding, but we set the trundler bed up for guests.

Our brown on brown on brown 70's kitchen is at least organised now...
 The archways that my husband salivates about destroying (tall man problems):

Our couches are custom made to be ginormous which makes the lounge look quite small in photos... it's actually really spacious. Some things just don't translate onto screens.

Archways and brown/cream everything.

After 4 years we bought some basic dining chairs from kmart. We just needed something until we can one day upholster our other ones.

That one time there weren't clothes strung all along the bannister:

Can't wait to one day renovate...

Those Hemnes IKEA drawers have changed my life - we had nothing there for 3 years.

That was our house - the good bad and 70s!

Meanwhile it's been so abnormally hot and summery in Wellington that we've been spending pretty much all our time here:

... and here..


And here because casually hanging with llamas is our idea of a good time.

It's the 1st of December today. We've almost survived 2017. PHEW.


Sep 15, 2017

You know you're a parent when...

I'm going to type this whole post in 45 seconds flat, I swear it, because my baby is crying his little cheeks off and refusing to nap because he's decided to deprive me of my ONE 45-minute slot of alone-time in the entire week. Well, this is my first time sitting down since 6am so I'm taking it. Zombie-like and irritated as I may be.

You know you have 2 young kids when you are fiiinnnnaaallllyy walking out the door to leave the house and your 6-month old spews onto your 3 year old's head (not loads, just like, a seagull-poop size splat of goopey milk?) and you half-heartedly dab at it with a tissue and say "Oh, it's ok honey, it's nothing!" and she's like "ok mama" and then when you get home that night your husband's all "Why does she smell like vomit?" . She was going to have a shower later that night anyway, guys! No big deal, no big deal...

And you know you have a boy baby when literally all the boy clothes you own are striped. So you dress him in stripey pants, with a stripey bodysuit, stripey hat, stripey bib, and top it all off with a zigzag blanket just to be fresh.

Or when you have a constant smear on your left shoulder that smells of bad breath because it's literally the remnants of your baby's first foods which he miraculously stores in his mouth long after you have wiped his face and cleared the dishes (kidding, who does that?) and then dribbles onto your shoulder just as soon as you have put a clean top on.

Or when you spend so much time cooking (I'd rather do pretty much ANYTHING else) that your freshly washed hair and clean clothes smell like fried eggs and potatoes before you have even walked out the door in the morning.

Or when you spend 10 minutes writing a blog post that you weren't planning to.

And another thing that I forgot because my brain is elsewhere, anywhere, everywhere? Maybe I'll be back later if I remember?


Unrelated, this blog just shared my pregnancy post along with a bunch of other success stories.

Now I need to run down the hallway and rescue my persistent baby from the confines of his cot. 


Sep 7, 2017

Ella-isms vol 2

"I LOVE my sister!" - looking at 6 month old Josh.

On the topic of mountain climbing: "Mummy can't come because she will slip. She slips all the time."

When her 6 year old cousin says "Hmm... how do we stick these bits together..." whilst playing lego. Ella: We just need to get a gluestick, my darling.

Ella: But we just need another baby. An older one. Because its impossible we don't have another baby!
Me: An older one? What would we call it?
Ella: Roast beef.

Whilst eating: "Oh! That went down the wrong way - into my leg I think." 

On the topic of Josh being in my tummy 6 months ago: "And Jesus made him... and he was in your tummy. Did you ate him?"

Looking through my hair randomly: "I'm just looking for blood in here.... oh! I hear some blood talking inside your head."

 Thoughtfully, whilst watching us debate moves during a game of Rummikub "I've got an idea.... we put them all on the floor and do somefing else."

 "Oh I love you SO MUCH!" to an 8 yr old boy she just played with for the first time, whilst bear hugging him.

"Would you look at this mess?!" observing a thin layer of dust on a water storage canister.