Do you ever have those days where shit just goes wrong? That was me tonight. Im Beck mum of 2, wife to one.
Today Saturday, I had driven 5 hours to visit my mum for lunch for her birthday (as good daughters do) and back home to Melb. It was a big day, it was freezing back in Melbourne and all I felt like was a bath (that we hadn’t used in over a year) and to snuggle up in a nice warm dressing gown (except I don’t have a dressing gown).
To fix this problem Miss 11 and I left the boys for a quick trip to Kmart to purchase that nice warm dressing gown, while there I figured I get me one of those bath caddies that all the kmart insta mums are raving about – you know the ones with the tablet holder and the wine glass holder..
The shopping went well, but I was so tired, I just wanted to get home and set my caddy up – glass of Kahlua, face mask and a good book in my bath when the kids go to bed..
Could it be that simple – NO! Got home, husband had just turned his first game of fortnite on (you know, because all the cool kids are playing fortnite) grabbed the caddy out of the box, took it into the bathroom, only to realize my bath goes straight to the tiles. If I were to fill the caddy with the goods, it would have ended in the bath as it could not go over the side of the bath to secure it.. Sad but I moved on. I went to fill the bath, because naturally that would be the next step. Except I tuned the tap (that hasn’t been turned on in about year) on, for the tap to then come off in my hand… My HAND!! Water spraying everywhere, I screamed for my husband; who replied with – whats your problem I’m playing fortnite!! Thankfully the kids came running out to see me covering the tap with water gushing they ran out to tell husband.. Who went and turned the mains off so he could fix it..
It was my job to run outside an turn the water main back on, as soon as I stepped out side I let out a really big sneeze and was stopped in my tracks by the tinkle that followed down my leg inside my jeans ( Im not sure if I blame childbirth from 8 years ago or nearly turning forty soon!)
Stuff the bath,the book, the face mask and the Kahlua.
I had a hot shower and got into my nice snugly new dressing gown and thought I really needed to share my shitty night, it might make someone out there smile
#small world problems
If you have a had a bad day you need to vent, a funny story or a bloody awesome mum moment feel free to share by emailing your story to email@example.com for the next installment of #mumstories
By Gabriella Munoz
If it hadn’t been because I checked my calendar, I would have forgotten my wedding anniversary—again. I had less than 24 hours to buy a present for my 11-year anniversary and wanted to make it special after all this is the man with whom I share my day-to- day, who is patient with me, cooks my meals, and is a wonderful father to our two babies. After a couple of hours, I stumbled upon a shop I know he loves and found what I thought was the perfect gift—and he loved it, which is the most important thing. But in the two hours I spent walking around Melbourne Central and QV like a headless chicken, I caught myself about to buy things I would dislike if someone gave me, for example, a gift voucher to the movies, a shaving kit, cookies, clothes with funny sayings or coffee mugs, which is what I got for Mother’s Day last year.
This will be my third Mother’s Day. I had extremely high expectations for the first one. My materialistic self was expecting a lot but, to my surprise, I got pretty flowers 24 hours after Mother’s Day. I was grateful but resentful.
My second Mother’s Day started with my two children giving me cuddles and then going to a nice restaurant for lunch. But the huge effort my husband made to get me the perfect present was in vain. In fact, I would have preferred not to get any presents and just enjoy a delicious meal with my family.
This year, after exploring all the stuff that most shops have prepared for Mother’s Day, I was appalled—and I forgave my husband for last year’s fiasco. Who in his right mind thinks women who work non-stop raising kids and at an office want pyjamas that say ‘Best Mum Ever’? I get it, sometimes there is no time and one just goes to the nearest Coles and buys the crappy coffee mug with chocolates, but there has to be a better way. In fact, if I have to choose between the crappy coffee mug and nothing, I chose nothing.
My friends feel the same way. After talking about my traumatizing shopping experience, they agreed: no pyjamas, no t-shirts, no slippers, and no pink things that say ‘You are the best mum’. Here are a few other things mums don’t want this year: Chocolate. Fathers and offspring, please, as tempting as it may be—and even if you have heard us say chocolate is always the perfect gift—don’t do it. Chocolate is a mother’s best friend: it has much-needed sugar and caffeine but, despite its goodness, chocolate is so no bueno for us. Some of us are still struggling to get rid of the baby weight, others have a stash ready to use in case of emergency—and it’s big enough to last a year. Clothes with funny sayings. As desperate as we may be because we haven’t had time to fold those five baskets of clean clothes, or because we washed everyone’s clothes except ours, we will never use that piece of clothing for work. We won’t use it to go to the gym. We won’t sleep with it, so don’t waste your money.
Tea or coffee, or coffee mugs. Another great idea! But perhaps for when we have children over 18. Most mums are only allowed to drink tiny quantities of hot and delicious beverages when their offspring are young—they cry, fall, forget their homework, get sick and need us 24/7 so we don’t drink fancy coffee or tea every day and if we do, it’s cold and has a layer of dust because it has been sitting on the kitchen top for at least five hours. And chances are little hands will drop the gorgeous mug you got at the fancy vintage shop.
Wine. As much as we love wine o'clock, wine is a pantry staple when there are toddlers or teenagers at home so there is no need to buy an extra bottle to celebrate Mother’s Day.
Spa vouchers. Unless it comes with a nanny voucher attached, these are no good.
Who will take care of the children while we are away having a massage on a Monday morning? Who has time for a massage on a Monday morning?
Flowers. These shouldn’t be a Mother’s Day staple. Buy flowers for the women and men in your life as often as you can. They make everyone feel loved and valued every day of the year.
Household appliances. Nothing says 'thank you, mummy, like a blender, right? Well, you are wrong. Need a blender, washing machine or iron? Don’t assume this a good present for your mum. Think it’s great? Save it for Father’s Day and then ask your dad how much he liked it.
Why failure is good for your kids
By Gabriella Munoz
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Just when you think you have finally cracked the code to your children’s behaviour and personality, something new comes up – and you need to revise what you’ve done so far, because most of the time everything that you’ve learnt has to be scratched.
Children will go through various stages of emotional and physical development. The first year might be all about sleep and food, followed by years of tantrums, fears and big emotions. By the time they are ready to go to school, they (and us) need to learn to deal with one more thing: failure.
Most children will fail at something sooner rather than later – it can be their first maths test or a footy match. The way we approach their failure will have a huge impact throughout their lives.
You will have a good idea of how you will react to your kids’ failures if you think about the first time they were toddling around and fell. Did you try to help them? Did you mask the fact that their feet couldn’t coordinate just yet? Did you tell them to stand up and try again and again?
Failure, or lack of success, is something that we usually fear. In some cases friends and family promote the notion that failure is bad, but the truth is that the fear of not becoming popular, not getting a job, not making friends or not passing an exam is uncalled for. Failure is good for us, it makes us resilient.
In her book The Gift of Failure, Jessica Lahey explains that in teaching our kids to fear failure we are, in fact, sabotaging their chance of success. For Lahey the generation of young adults who have failed to launch has little to do with increased housing costs. “Doing what feels good as a parent has fostered a generation of narcissistic, self-indulgent children unwilling to take risks or cope with consequences”, she wrote in an article for The Guardian. And whereas it’s true that a whole generation is having trouble buying a house, it’s also true that for some it’s just easy to stay at home and have mum and dad worry about the day-to- day business of running a house.
To make sure our children learn determination, commitments, patience, humility and problems olving, let’s make sure we let them fail and learn from the experience. This requires patience and resilience from us as parents as well.
Group assignments tend to be common at school, so let’s start there. If the team fails don’t tell your child that it wasn’t their fault, don’t highlight the mistakes their peers made. Instead ask them what they did wrong and help them learn from the experience.
Your daughter didn’t make the swimming team? Don’t blame the coach. Don’t tell her that she’s better at dancing and that she shouldn’t worry about it. Let her train more. Allow her to assess the situation and try again. One of the most important things we can do as parents is teach our children that struggles and setbacks are a normal and formative part of life.
Once our children realise that we are afraid of failure and that a setback gets us all anxious and moody, they will copy our reaction and will stop trying. Lahey explains that her son was 9 years old when he finally learnt to tie his shoelaces. The boy feared not getting it right because he saw how his mum stressed about it. It was until she sat with him and helped him face his fear that he finally mastered the art. “In less than an hour, the embarrassment he’d felt about being the only child in his year who couldn’t tie his shoes was gone. He’d succeeded, and I’ve hardly seen him so proud of himself. All it took was a little time, a little faith in each other and the patience to work through the tangle of knots and loops.”
Perhaps the best place to start is dinner time (or whenever you sit down to spend quality time with your children) and ask them about their failures and what they can do to improve. You can also talk about yours: after all, parents aren’t perfect and they will learn from us. If they realise that their parents make mistakes too and that they own them and try again, they might start doing the same. Most importantly, we will be killing two birds with one stone as we would be teaching them compassion, a much needed currency in our world.
Top five children’s shows to watch on streaming
Forget about YouTube.
Make sure your kids watch some really cool TV shows.
By The Mum Source
A few months ago parents worldwide started to pay even closer attention to the videos that their children watched on YouTube after researchers suggested that some content was disguised as kid-friendly but in reality was engaging our children in disturbing scenes.
One vlogger spent hours opening presents; other fed sugar to her daughter for breakfast, and a few had hiperrealistic characters with features that became the stuff of nightmares. The researchers also demonstrated that some channels contained alternate versions of Peppa Pig or Ben and Holly. In one of these fake episodes Peppa Pig goes to the dentist and he torments her with different instruments.
In the case of Ben and Holly there were alternate versions in which the characters instead of best friends were… well… a little bit closer.
But what to do?
Even those families who are against the prolonged use of television turn it on every now and then to get a few minutes of peace and quiet. Here at The Mum Source several of us need to turn on the telly for at least 20 minutes to prepare dinner – or take a two minute shower in the mornings.
The answer is streaming services. Stan and Netflix, the two most popular in Australia, have some great choices for the little ones. Here are our top five – you’ll thank us on those Melbourne rainy days or when you have so many things to do that you just need a few minutes to catch your breath.
1. Word Party
This Jim Henson’s Netflix series follows the day-to- day of four baby animals at childcare.
Franny, Kip, Bailey and Lulu are trying to master their language skills and sometimes they get into trouble because they don’t know the right word. And so enters Word Wally, a robot that teaches them new words. Every episode has a theme, catchy tunes, and a really great no fighting message. The downside: their ‘Let’s not fight’ song will stick to your brain FOREVER and you’ll catch yourself singing it in the weirdest situations. They have three seasons, so worry not, you won’t run out of episodes any time soon.
2. Super Monsters
The Netflix series follows six children with uber special superpowers – they are the kids of the world’s most famous monsters and all of them go to the same pre-school! Meet the mini versions of Frankenstein, Dracula, the werewolf, a witch, the Mummy, and a zombie. The series is more about teaching children to control their emotions than anything else, and each episode tries to make a point about sharing, taking turns and helping each other reach their full potential. We absolutely love it and can’t wait to watch the second season.
3. Sarah and Duck
This super cool 7-year- old girl has a duck as a pet and a very British accent– do we need to say more! The episodes don’t last more than eight minutes (perfect length for a quick shower) and all of them focus on two things: friendship and imagination. This show is a must for everyone and the three seasons are available on Stan.
4. Paw Patrol
We know, we know, what is this show doing here if we can find it everywhere? Stan is the only service in Australia where you can access the first two seasons and forget about ads and weird YouTube versions – the show is so popular that it was targeted by vloggers with not- so-good intentions. You know the drill: a 10-year- old boy has six pups that are always ready to save the day. The pups have real-life characteristics, Marshall is a firefighter, Chase a policeman, Rubble a builder, and they always know what to do to get the adults of Adventure Bay out of trouble. Each episode lasts a bit more than 10 minutes and the only downfall is that there is a gender imbalance – there is only one girl pup and the major, a woman, is so clumsy she always needs a team of pups to go and rescue her!
This cute 4-year- old, whose best friends are a duck, an elephant and a bird, is the brainchild of Zinkia Entertainment. The Spanish company joined forces with the BBC to present the 7- minute episodes of this little rascal and his friends. Pocoyo will be appealing to kids of all ages because of the jokes and its rhythym. Just be weary: this one may give some ideas to your bundles of joy, and they may try to use your doors as a lift, attempt to build a flying saucer, or throw their building blocks everywhere. Oh, and the music is great, you’ll actually enjoy it.
Going out after parenthood might be better than you expect, you just have to embrace a tiny change: bringing your little chaperones along.
By Gabriella Munoz
When we booked the hospital where our son was born, one of the special features that the midwives highlighted during the introductory tour was that “on the last night of your stay, you get to go out for a couple of hours for a last date before taking the baby home”. They also mentioned that most couples went to the sushi restaurant that’s three blocks away from the maternity ward.
When we went to our parenting classes, the midwives insisted: “Don’t forget to pack a nice and comfortable dress to go on your last date before taking bub home. The baby will stay in the nursery with us”.
I splurged and bought a nice dress for the occasion, perfect for Sydney’s balmy spring; but I didn’t get to wear it.
My little man was born three weeks before his due date, had a few complications, was only 2.300 kg and couldn’t latch; to make my first days of motherhood even more challenging, he wasn’t that interested on the bottle either.
His father and I were focused on two things alone: 1) making sure bub got breast milk (and I expressed so much that I still cringe when I hear the huffing and puffing of the pumps) and 2) walking – it took me a while to recoup from the C-section and my legs were so swollen I just couldn’t get out of bed. So I didn’t get to wear my dress and we didn’t take advantage of our last night out. In fact, the midwives didn’t even remind us when they saw how stressed we were.
Seven days later we left the hospital and went home. And suddenly we were three. And we started co-parenting and learning.
Our little man became our priority and we didn’t lowered our guard until he hit the 10 kilo mark, was crawling, his flat head was sorted out and the paediatrician confirmed we didn’t need to worry about a mild heart murmur.
When he turned one we realised that us, the couple who loved going to the movies, having dinner at fancy restaurants and inviting friends over, had become the couple who never went out, who rarely entertained. We then moved to Melbourne and I became pregnant with our daughter. Given my complicated first pregnancy, any free time was taken up by medical appointments.
But we didn’t care. In fact, we embraced the change.
See, us, like many other couples, have no family in the city where we live. It’s us and our children. That’s it.
The three times the grandparents have visited we thought about leaving our children with them and go out for a coffee or movie, but the timing wasn’t right. The children were too little and didn’t want to see us leave.
It was until our son was almost 3 years old and our daughter 9 months old that their auntie visited and we were able to go out on a date. But it wasn’t the romantic dinner we had planned. We went to the movies at 10 am to watch the last instalment of the Planet of the Apes trilogy. And we loved it. It was as romantic as it gets and then we held hands and walked to a café for a quick lunch. Here’s the catch: as much as we enjoyed it, we also missed our kids.
So, our new dates include our children, and they take place every Saturday or Sunday morning.
We take great pride in planning our family dates. We cater for the children first, but we also do things that we like, like trying new restaurants or going to museums or historical sites. We also love hunting for new and cool street art. We try to brunch with them at different places where they feel at ease and share with them things that made us who we were, including a trip to the movies to watch Coco.
Some days, when we are tired or can’t stretch the budget we have a picnic, or go to the park, and enjoy being out together.
I try to wear makeup and my pretty clothes. I try to make sure my children look their best, wearing their not-spoilt-by-finger-paint clothes. We leave at about 9am, go to the park or the markets or some other adventure, have lunch and then come back home at about 1.30. Both kids usually nap for a couple of hours, which gives us time to reconnect (even if that means having a deep conversation while folding clothes or cooking for the week!).
And this is the beauty of parenthood, it gives you the chance to reinvent yourself – and your marriage.
We are now a unit of four. One day it’ll be just us two again. We will dine in fancy restaurants and go to pretentious wine tastings with other couples commiserating over an empty nest. We’ll miss our children and the family dates we had. In fact, we’ll try to organise them as often as possible. In the meantime, we just enjoy the stage we are at. It doesn’t matter that we don’t hold hands as often, or that we have to guess if that ‘I love you’ was for meant for each other or one of our kids.
My sister-in-law will visit sometime this year, and chances are she’ll stay with my children for a few hours while her brother and I go out on a date – and we’ll be super grateful, and will use those hours to watch a movie and then talk about our next family date. And if you wonder why we don’t get a nanny, well… we’re not ready yet, we think they are too little and we would stress out instead of enjoy an evening together.
I had children in my late 30s and sometimes I regret not having done it sooner-
By Gabriella Munoz
When I was in my early twenties I desperately wanted to become a mother. But life has a strange way of sorting things out, and I met the man who would become the father of my two children when I was 26. We married a few months before I turned 30. I knew he wanted kids; he
knew I wanted children, but we didn’t sit down to discuss it. We just went with the flow and let life happen.
My biological clock muted for the next five years. I couldn’t picture myself as a mum. We were happy and busy. I had a job I liked and so did he. We travelled whenever and wherever we pleased. Dining out and going to the movies were weekly little pleasures. We were also saving money for a house. But, lo and behold, at 34 a tsunami of hormones flooded my body; my uterus craved for a child and so our fertility journey began.
It took many visits to the doctor, a year of acupuncture sessions, yoga for fertility, Chinese herbs, and a heartbreaking decision to finally conceive a child.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the median age of all mothers for registered births in 2016 was 31.2 years. I was 37.5, 6 years over the median age, when my son was born. I turned 39 three months after my daughter joined our family.
If I were younger, I would have one more child, but time isn’t reversible. I sometimes regret this, as I would love to have a family of four.
A few days ago an article celebrated the beauty of 40. The children are older. You supposedly know who you are. You have learnt a few things along the way. You still have a couple of decades to reinvent yourself before retiring.
I, on the other hand, am 40 and just beginning my motherhood journey, which is equally joyful and challenging.
I’ll be almost 50 by the time my children reach their first decade of life; almost 60 when they are in their 20s and become adults. If I take good care of my body and make sure that my psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition, stays in remision, I might live to be 80 and see my children in their 40s too.
I fear that I’ll miss sharing more grown up adventures with them, like travelling the world, because of my age. I fear I’ll miss their wedding and them becoming parents. I dread the idea of not knowing my grandchildren, of not being there for my daughter if she chooses to become a mother and not being able to take care of her and make sure she has at least a shower and a hot meal every day for the first year of her child’s life.
There were advantages to having child
ren in my late 30s, though, we were able to buy a house and I can afford the luxury of working from home—something I couldn’t have done before because I didn’t have the experience or the contacts to do so. But when I see mums in their 20s or early 30s I feel a pang of envy because I know they will probably be around their kids for longer.
Sometimes my body just aches too much. It takes me about 10 minutes to stand up and get out of bed in the mornings because a bout of psoriatic arthritis is slowly deforming my toes and it takes time to stretch them and put them comfortably on the floor. Sometimes, when I’m playing with my little bundles of energy, I need to sit down and breathe because I can’t keep up. In winter, when my arthritis flares up, it hurts to pick them up.
They usually don’t know that I’m in pain, or that I cry when I see that my body has started to fail. They just see mummy running around or crawling on all fours to play with them—they are 2 and 1 and I can get away with this for a bit longer. But sooner rather than later they will notice that I’m not as young as other mummies, and I I often wonder what they will think about this.
I wish I had had my children in my early 30s, when I had more energy. I wish I could have more years to play with them and see them grow and become grownups.
There is a good reason behind my bluntly realistic worldview. My father passed away when I was 18 and not a day goes by without me thinking about him. I don’t want my children to go through the same. I want to be with them for as long as I can, but if for any reason this is not possible, I will make sure they have a handful of memorable days with me that they can cherish it for eternity.
Chocolate. Banana. Watermelon. Avocado. Finger paint. Dirt. Christmas lunch And yes, vomit. You name it and we have seen it on our children’s precious clothes. Our favourite shirts and jumpers seem to be a magnet for the most hideous blemishes. We swear we have tried everything to try to remove the stains because sometimes we just don’t want to buy more clothes that are going to end up as landfill.
And during the holiday season those pretty dresses and shirts that we save for very especial occasions are bound to be stained with custard, turkey filling and cranberry sauce, so we asked Mum Source consultants and friends for their top tips for getting rid of those nasty stains. These are their answers.
1.Let the sun do the dirty work for you
Wash your stained clothes, or cloth nappies, and lay them in the sun, stained side up, and let them dry. It sounds like science fiction, we know, but it works. Coloured clothes have colour because they absorb light. When you put them in the sun the light makes the electrons move. This activity, according to the Naked Scientist, makes them react with the oxygen in the air and helps remove the stains. Just remember that white clothes may get a yellowish colouration if they get an extra-long sunbath, so be cautious. You can also try laying them in the sun first and then washing. This is by far the cheapest option, but it doesn’t work on all stains.
2.Let this pantry staple work its magic
The humble white vinegar is a cleaning powerhouse. It whitens, brightens, eliminates nasty odours and, best of all, is good for the planet—and your pocket. Why does it get rid of those ugly stains? Because it contains acetic acid. The acid is very mild and it won’t damage your clothes but it’s strong enough to remove residues left by food, soap and dirt. Add ½ cup vinegar to the final rinse or put it in the fabric softener dispenser; if you wash by hand then spray vinegar on the stain and wait at least 10 minutes before washing.
And try this before throwing away those cute white socks or 100% cotton onesies: put water in a large pot, add 1 cup of vinegar and boil. Turn the stove off, place all the items in the water and let them soak overnight. Put them in the washer first thing in the morning and watch those stubborn stains disappear.
3.Find a use for the box of baking soda you rarely use
Almost everyone we know has a box of baking soda in their pantry—and they rarely use it. Make a paste by mixing it with water (about 4 tbsp and ¼ of water). Cover the stained area with it, rub it and let it dry for at least one hour; then put it in the washer. Why does it work? This is a physical reaction in which the baking soda acts like a sponge, absorbing the stain culprit. Some people mix baking soda with vinegar and rave about the results. Chemistry explains this easily, the acid from the vinegar reacts with the baking soda, which is a base, producing froth that helps remove the stain easily. Please be weary and try this on a small surface before applying it to all your clothes as some might discolour.
4.Buy good old-fashioned laundry soap.
Go old-school and buy a bar of laundry soap. Use it to wash the stained area, make sure you rub it well, and let it sit for about ten minutes. Rinse, let it dry in the sun, and then wash as usual.
5.Try the last resort: a stain removal product
There are many options on the market, including Sard, Vanish, White King, and eco-friendly products such as Earth Choice. Finding the one that works for you and your family is a matter of preference (and budget). Choice has reviewed most of these products and has given White King a score of 74%, the highest overall score, although it rates low for baby food with 43%. Eco Store Ultra-Sensitive Laundry Powder got an overall score of 71% and a 93% for baby food. Do your research before committing.
By The Mum Source – www.themumsource.com.au
Food for thought before you go shopping this Christmas
It’s no secret that here at The Mum Source we love Christmas, and well… over the years we’ve let ourselves be carried away by the celebrations, the shopping and the eating. But truth be told, we have made a few mistakes along the way and spent money in toys and other trinkets that our children have never even touched.
But who can say no to those googly eyes that look adoringly at a teddy, train set, doll house or bicycle. Who can say no to their first ‘Will Santa bring me a new train?’ Well, not us, of course.
First, we still remember that toy we really longed for and our parents never left under the tree. Second, we feel a bit guilty for going to work, giving them fish fingers for dinner once or twice a week… you know the drill, so we get them a few extra pressies that arrive courtesy of Santa to make up for the moments we have missed. Third, we just want to make sure they have everything, absolutely everything they want—after all that is why we work all day.
But that’s what we want, not what they need—or, ironically, even what they want.
My son was 9 months old when Santa made his first appearance at our house. My little man got a red miniature car, clothes, a toy remote control, mega blocks and plush teddies. I have to admit he was more excited about the boxes and wrapping paper than the toys. He’s never touched the little car, the remote control broke down two months later, and the clothes don’t fit anymore. Almost two years later he’s finally decided that building with those mega blocks isn’t such a bad idea.
For his second Christmas he got a kitchen and a book. He has a love-hate relationship with the kitchen, but he absolutely loves the book, Cityblock, which teaches kids about the things and people they will encounter in cities. We now know it by heart and we read it together almost every night. My daughter, who was 3 months old last Christmas, got a doll, books and a musical garden. The doll is on her top five of toys she loves to chew; the musical garden went back to its box.
I have to confess that my children have no recollection of their two previous Christmases. Whenever I ask them if they remember Santa they stare at me with their big round eyes and say nothing.
It’s only this year that my son has begun to understand that Santa brings presents, that we have to write him a letter, and that December is a very special month full of chocolate treats and shiny decorations. My daughter, who is 1, is totally oblivious. If this year her father and I just leave a notebook and textas for her under the Christmas tree she’ll squeal with delight. She likes to draw and loves to play with paper, so why get her that gorgeous $100 doll house I saw a few days ago? Simple: because it’s similar to the one my parents never bought for me.
Children love playing but not necessarily with new toys; paper, boxes, crayons, hats, old clothes, dirt, water, and YOU. In fact, the only thing they want, the one thing they will remember about Christmas is the time you spent bonding with them. They will remember how much they wanted Santa to arrive. They will remember the cakes, the songs, and all the special traditions you create for them, such as building a gingerbread house together.
So this year this is the plan: we’ll buy four presents. One item of clothing, one book, one small toy and one big splurge—one thing that we know they really want. In our case we’ll get a red bicycle for our son and a tricycle for our daughter.
We want to make sure they understand that Christmas is not only about presents but about family and spending time together. As the years go by our 4-gift list might change, but at the core there is one thing that will never change: the love we try to put into everything we do for them the other 364 days of the year.
And yes, we’ll still eat all the chocolate and share it with them because it’s Christmas and calories don’t count.
Here are our favourite child-friendly places to eat out in Melbourne
Our offices are in located in Melbourne and I have spent many weekends trying to find some nice places to hang out without being stared at when one of my children has a meltdown. Some of these places have also doubled as office space when this mamma needs to have a meeting with other business savvy mums and mum helpers, so I know they have what it takes to keep little explorers happy for at least 1 precious hour.
Although our city is bursting with cafes and restaurants that offer some of the country’s best meals, unless you find a place with friendly staff that is willing to spare a few marshmallows to keep a tiny costumer happy, most families prefer to stay at home or do takeaway—but it shouldn’t have to be like that.
Here are our favourite places. They are perfect for just a quick coffee, a business meeting with another fellow mum, or for long brunches with friends.
Birdie Numb Numbs Café
745 Nicholson St
This spot is ideal for Saturday or Sunday brunch with friends and family. Get a large table, order your coffee and enjoy five minutes of peace and quiet while the little rascals play in the sandpit and explore the café’s toy collection.
This place was named after the Peter Sellers film The Party—and when you walk into the back courtyard on a busy day you will feel that you’ve arrived at a kids party, so be prepared. Birdie offers good food, great coffee from Toby’s State, and a well-designed space for our tiny dictators.
If you don’t have kids or prefer to keep yours out of the sandpit, then stay at the front of the café and have a less hectic experience.
100 Gipps St
With its great beer and its giant 30 tap bar, people sometimes forget that this beer hall is perfect for families with kids.
Enjoy a wood fired pizza or an over-sized burger with chunky chips with your children and then let them explore the place and make new friends in the cubby house.
Arrive early and snatch a highchair. If your tiny human doesn’t like the idea of spending his afternoon playing with other kids, ask the friendly staff for some colours and paper.
Oh, before we forget, did we also mention that they have beer ice-cream? A must if you are an ice-cream connoisseur.
Mr & Mrs Anderson
398 Tooronga Rd
Here at The Mum Source we love a good park and café combo. Mr & Mrs Anderson, the brainchild of chef Lasse ‘GD’ Povslen, who was trained in Denmark and has worked in some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, is one of our favourite stops to explore on weekdays. After a good play at Anderson Park we like to sit in this cosy blue and white spot and order a poke bowl (one of the best we’ve tried), Vietnamese coffee, and one of the items from the kids menu (the eggs your way with toast and bacon is great value for your money). If you like Asian-inspired flavours this is the place for you and your tribe.
101 Bowen St
Another park and café combo sits in leafy Bowen St. This place ticks many boxes. The food is great, they have plenty of highchairs, they provide plastic cups, and they have lots of toys to keep your children happy for at least the time it gets for your coffee to get cold.
If you are just looking for a hot drink and cake, you should look no further. The magical creations of chef Vivian include an indulgent apple-shaped caked with white chocolate, watermelon cake and other concoctions that could make a pretty neat challenge for the MasterChef finale.
The only downside is that there is a TV in the toy area and it usually has Peppa Pig on. You can ask the staff to turn it off, or you just can enjoy 10 minutes of ‘me time’.
We recommend you share the cake with your child first and then head to the park to make sure the sugar rush doesn’t hit on the way back home.
132 Camberwell Rd
When we went inside with our two kiddies we thought it was going to be a long… long brunch, but we were so wrong. There is enough space for the prams, lots of highchairs, a fantastic kids menu (although ours were happy with the quinoa and broccoli balls) and super friendly staff. The pixelated avocado is a must for the Instragram-loving mamma and the matcha waffle is a cheeky breakfast for those with a sweet tooth. Many people are unaware that right behind the café is the Fritsch Holzer Park, perfect to explore after a delicious meal.
Toot Toot Toys
637 Centre Rd
Don’t be fooled by the shopfront. This toy shop has a café at the back with lots of trains and tracks for kids to explore while their exhausted parents drink a well-deserved coffee or tea. Don’t expect a full breakfast, just sit, relax and let your little ones play for a while. The only downside is that sometimes you will end up leaving the shop with a new train or car for your child’s collection.
230 Wellington Parade
Fitzroy Gardens Visitors Centre
Toasties, coffee, and cake, oh my! Although KereKere Green is more Alice in Wonderland than Wizard of Oz, it is the perfect spot for those exploring Fitzroy Gardens or the Melbourne Museum.
Lots of toys, generous babycinos served in plastic cups, and an open area with benches where the little ones can make a bit of noise and enjoy their lunch without upsetting other customers. The helpful staff will also come to your rescue with a free marshmallow if your little person is having a meltdown.
When you finish, explore Captain Cook’s Cottage, the sandpit or the playground. KereKere is one of our favourites for the weekend.
The Farm Café
18 St Heliers St
The next door neighbour to Abbotsford Convent and the Collingwood Children’s Farm is perfect to start your weekend adventure. Finish breakfast, pay your entry to the Children’s Farm and spend the rest of the day exploring and learning about life in the country; or, if it’s Saturday, go to the convent and explore the markets. With so many stalls, exhibitions, gardens and musicians, you’re sure to spend a great day while your Mini Me is kept entertained.
If you go to this café, try to steer away from the so-called kids lunch box. When we went it contained an old ham & cheese sandwich, grapes (not halved! Not peeled!), and a chocolate and popcorn dessert. A waste of money because my kids couldn’t try two of the three items—grapes and popcorn are a choking hazard for toddlers. We ended up ordering toast and scrambled eggs for them—and they loved it!
It ain’t easy being a stay-at-home mum
I didn’t plan to become a stay-at-home mum, it just sort of happened. I had decided to spend six months on maternity leave and then go back to work and complete another degree. My son would spend four days at childcare.
And then he was born.
And I fell in love with him. I couldn’t stop looking at him in complete awe, counting his fingers, cradling him in my arms. Having him asleep on my bosom felt like an enormous privilege. When I got the long-awaited but weirdly unexpected phone call saying that there was a spot for him at the nearest childcare centre I simply couldn’t do it. We were staying together, for as long as I possibly could—or for as long as we could stretch our budget.
We went to Mothers’ Group, to the library, to the beach, to the museum, to all the places where a mother with a crawler was well received. After exploring the city we would come back home. He would sleep in his pram for one or two hours, and I would clean the house. But my son started walking, became a terrible sleeper, and my dreamy days became nightmares.
He was always in my arms. I couldn’t cook, clean, make the bed or let alone do the washing. Sometimes I couldn’t even shower. I thought I was doing something wrong, but I couldn’t pin point what it was. Although the maternal nurses and other mums kept on saying that it was normal and that it would pass, it was just too much.
Pregnant again and with no friends or family nearby to give me a hand, I had a meltdown. I needed help and didn’t know where to start looking. I also felt ashamed because I was failing my son, my partner and my unborn baby. I thought a stay-at-home mum should be pretty much capable of cleaning her house, cooking and educating her child all by herself. My grandmother did it. My mother did it. Why couldn’t I do it?
And then it hit me.
My mother had my grandmother around. My grandmother’s sister lived just next door. They had a village. I had one toddler who emptied all the kitchen drawers in an attempt to help me cook, and a partner who wanted to stay and help but needed to go to work.
Every day felt like an ordeal. Was it okay spend all day singing and reading to my child, or was I wrong? Was it okay to turn on the TV and let him watch a show while I cooked dinner or mopped the floors?
I took me many months to understand that it was okay not to have a squeaky clean house. I learnt the hard way that having toys everywhere doesn’t equal a lazy mother, but a happy toddler. Sometimes, however, it was all overwhelming and I cried while I folded the clothes.
Little by little I accepted my new reality. I had become a stay-at-home mum and although I missed my job, my friends and showering every day, I became more compassionate and patient.
Hadn’t I spent 2 years on what I ended up calling ‘my prolonged maternity leave’, I would have missed my children’s milestones. I was there when they first crawled, walked, used the potty, fed themselves and climbed the stairs. I was also there to teach them how to help mummy vacuum the house, make dinner and fold clothes (although we are still working on this one, apparently it’s still more fun to unfold them).
My utmost respect now goes to those women who have decided to stay at home and raise their children. Motherhood is a lonely, challenging business that also includes lots of administration, medical and coaching duties—and we shouldn’t be scared to ask for help because all of us have been there, even if it was just for a few months.
Now that I’m back at work (part-time, of course), I miss those carefree days in which my children and I spent hours singing, dancing and learning to count. Sometimes I even miss the extra shots of caffeine and the crazy days in which I simply didn’t have time to shower.