Mummy stuff - 10 tips for juggling work and motherhood!

Since returning to work in full-time blocks this year (I work Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then have 7 days off), I have had to juggle family time, housework, and me-time more, and it certainly has been challenging some days! After doing this for a month though, we are finally starting to get into a routine.

My husband is doing his final teaching prac this term, and so where he used to work nights and weekends, he is now home during those times and away during the day. This is great for our family time, but means the mornings are even more hectic!

There are now 3 lunches to be made during the 5 days I work, and 3 people to get ready (though Brendan does a pretty good job of getting himself ready haha!) I drop Miss M at day care 2 of the 5 days and she is dropped at my mum's house on another 2 days, and on the final day, Brendan's mum comes to our house to look after Miss M, as she lives out of town.

Here are some tips that have been working for us (so far!):

1. Prepare lunches the night before.
If I happen to sleep in one morning, and if Miss M is proving challenging to get ready one morning, I need to know that the lunches are made and ready to go, which is one less thing to worry about. We pack fruit, yoghurt and sandwiches usually, or leftovers for lunches. We have a little cooler bag each and this has been working well. We held a mamabake a few weeks ago and it has been handy to have sweet and savoury items for lunches ready to go in the freezer - read about it here.

2. Work out in advance who will do the drop-offs and pick-ups.
I usually drop Miss M off and pick her up, as my school is closer to day care and my mum's house. But if something changes, like I have a meeting after school, Brendan and I need to be organised as to who will take the car with the car seat, and we need to do this ahead of time to save confusion!

3. Meal plan!
When I get home from work, I am usually exhausted, especially in the heat. The last thing I want to be thinking about is what we will eat for dinner. Meal planning works so well, and it means that you know exactly what you will have for dinner, and you have all the ingredients ready to go. This means that you have to be organised to do a full grocery shop each week, instead of running to the shop each afternoon. You can read my most recent meal planning post here.

4. Use your slow cooker.
If you can be prepared the night before to get your slow cooker ingredients ready, you can easily just turn it on in the morning, and have your dinner ready when you get home from work. There are heaps of delicious slow cooker meals on the internet, and it can be fun to experiment too!

5. Make sure you are strict with family time.
If this is one of your priorities, and it certainly is one of mine (as at 14 months, Miss M is changing constantly and I don't want to miss anything!) you need to create a home/life/work balance that works for your family. I am happy to work through my lunches at school if it means I can come home and spend the afternoons with Miss M and Brendan. I may need to do some planning after she goes to sleep at night, but this is kept to a minimum (I work really hard, and I try to work as smartly as possible, and use my time-wisely!) If you aren't strict with family time, it may be the first thing to go. We also make sure weekends are family time too, and are keen to do more 'family activities' now that Miss M can do more.

6. Put aside time for yourself.
'Me' time is so important! Lately I have been getting into reading (I was a huge reader as a kid, but as an adult I haven't read as much) and I've really been enjoying it. I also try and relax during Miss M's sleep during the day, after I've done a few chores and housework jobs. I think as mothers we often forget about ourselves!

7. Ask for help if you need it.
This is so important and I need to remind myself of this - Brendan and I are a team, and I don't have to do everything by myself. Lately we have been sharing jobs of an evening - e.g. while I cook tea, Brendan feeds Miss M, or takes her outside while he is watering the garden and spends time with her, and after dinner, Brendan might bath Miss M, while I clean the kitchen (or vice versa). It really helps to get everything done, and it means we both get to spend time one-on-one with Miss M.

8. Make sure you get enough sleep!
This can be very tough, especially with kids who still wake during the night. It may mean going to bed earlier, or having a nap of an afternoon. Without sleep, the juggle between work and home life can be totally unachievable!

9. Drink lots of water, and eat healthy most of the time.
These are necessary for anyone, but a working mum needs all the good fuel she can get! Healthy foods will give us more energy and for longer periods of time than snacking on junk continually (don't get me wrong though, I have a sweet tooth, and love the odd treat!) and if need be, have a stash of healthy go-to snacks, such as bliss balls, or cut-up fruit so that you avoid the 3:30 crash!

10. Find time for exercise.
I cannot stress this enough. I know almost how impossible it can be to feel like there's no time for exercise once you have a baby, but getting out in the fresh air for a walk with the pram, or taking some time out to find an exercise you enjoy (I've recently started doing Pilates each week on the reformer machine - I love it!) will feel amazing both physically and mentally.

As I have 7 days off each fortnight, I make sure I get lots done in those 7 days (as well as spending time relaxing!) such as washing, cooking freezer meals, housework, decluttering etc. I also make sure Miss M and I do lots of activities together such as playing, going to the library, going to playgroup, and having playdates.

At the end of the day, you just have to find something that works for you and your family. I didn't ever think I'd put Miss M into day care, but the 5 days a fortnight were offered to me, and I was flattered, and it's been excellent. And Miss M loves playing with the other kids at day care! Hopefully some of these tips will help your family find a good balance between work and home life - you'd don't need to have or do it all, just work out what suits your situation best! :)

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Mummy Stuff - Mamabake!

Recently, Leanne from Organising the Four of Us posted on her Facebook page about the 'Mamabake' she had been invited to participate in.

A 'Mamabake' is where you get some friends together (the title suggests 'mothers' but it could be anyone really!) and organise for each of you to cook one lot of savoury items and one lot of sweet items. Then you come together and divide up the items, so that you return home with a selection of lunchbox goodies for your kids to take to school!

A friend of mine just created a Facebook group and we decided on a date to meet-up. It was as simple as that!

There are many options you could do, including having a list of dietary guidelines to follow: for example, all items must be healthy, or perhaps someone in your group is on a gluten-free diet, and all items must be gluten-free. It's a chance for some experimentation!

None of our group had dietary restrictions, and we just decided to make anything! I made jam drops, and zucchini and ham muffins.

Other items that were made included:

 - choc chip cookies
 - sweet potato brownies
 - date loaf
 - chocolate slice

 - mini quiches
 - bacon and cheese scones
 - pizza scrolls
 - savoury tarts

The list really is endless, and there's no reason why you couldn't get together once a month! You can have as many people involved as you like, however you have to think about quantities (and whether kids will fight if they don't both get to try one of something!) Miss M is too young to worry about what's in her lunchbox for daycare, but I've been enjoying taking a sweet and savoury item to school for myself!

It would be an excellent idea for new mothers too, to stock up the freezer before bub arrives!


Organise & Declutter Part 16 - Teaching Resources

I have been very blessed to have had work ever since finishing University. I've worked at the school where I did my internship (in my home town) for 3 temporary engagements (the first year doing a mix of Maths, PE and other subjects, the second year doing Maths and now this year doing Maths part-time), and I've also worked at 3 other schools in the area (doing PE and casual work). 

Because I've been at different schools teaching different subjects, I have lots of resources which don't really have a home. I have tried to be organised, but I definitely am a hoarder in this area, and hang on to far too much for 'one day.' 

At the moment it is stored in our guest bedroom, which I recently decluttered and organised. I could store it in our garage, but I need easy access to some of it when teaching, so at the moment, it will stay in the guest bedroom. 

Here is how I have organised different subjects/topics:

For PE Teaching, I have organised practical and theory topics into A4 ring binder folders. Each folder has a few topics in each, e.g. Mental Health, First Aid, Striking & Fielding etc. At lot of worksheets and resources can be used for all grades, and often doesn't depend on the level and ability of the students (lots of basic worksheets can still be useful in the older grades, and harder worksheets can be used for extension in the lower grades). Any physical resources I have for PE, e.g. health pamphlets, the beep test on a CD etc. are stored in a basket in my guest room cupboard.

For Senior PDHPE (NSW), I have organised each folder into each Core or Option, e.g. Core 2: Factors Affecting Performance.

 For Maths, I have a folder for each year that I taught and the level, because each level of Maths is very different. Not shown here are the Year 7, 8 and Senior folders.

In each folder is a title page for each topic:

 And any worksheets or resources plus answer sheets. I do not just use worksheets however; I have lots of interactive resources on my external harddrive as well, and of course, we have class textbooks. I do try to keep note of interactive and hands-on activities I have done in these folders to (if they've worked!) to do with the next year group.

At one particular school where I taught PE, I was using an existing program and I created a different system to store any worksheets/resources and answer sheets for theory lessons: A4 display folders for each topic for each year group. Most year groups did a theory topic for a term, so each year has 4 folders. I also taught SLR (Sport, Lifestyle & Recreation) and they had 4 topics as well. The downside to display folders is that it is harder to add to your sheets to keep them in the correct order, but I really liked having everything kept together like this, and it was simple to take just one folder to class with answers to any sheets we were doing.

In each folder is a title page for the topic:

 And resources such as Powerpoint slides:

 And photocopiable sheets: (and answer sheets)

 I apologise about the blurry picture, but here is where I store extra stationery: in a $19 Kmart aqua trolley. This is so handy, and keeps it all together. This is also stored in the guest room at present.

These systems aren't perfect but they work for me, and they keep everything organised and together. I'd love to be able to store them in cupboards away from sight... one day! Hopefully if you need ideas about how to organise your resources, that I've given you some ideas!


Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Challenge Review

Have you heard of Kayla Itsines, or the BBG? Kayla is a 24-year old Australian from Adelaide, who is a personal trainer, and has created the 'Bikini Body Guides' (BBG) as well as a nutrition plan, and has build herself an empire on Instagram and Facebook. I first saw her on Instagram, and was absolutely amazed at not only the results people were getting from her guides, but also the way she inspired people and was so positive in her instagram posts, and her replies to others on her posts. 

Kayla Itsines
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At the end of 2015, a friend and I decided to buy the guides and give it a go. Weeks 1-12 is $69.97, as is her 12 week nutrition plan, or it is a reduced price if you buy both. Weeks 13-24 is almost just under $70 as well. It seems like a lot of money, but my friend and I split the cost, but I will say just how impressed I was, and how much I believe it is value for money. 

Once you pay by direct debit, the guide is an instant download, and has 189 pages, which are beautifully put together, easy to understand and well-written. There are 12 weeks of guides - there is a 4-week pre-workout guide to get absolute beginners started, or you can skip that and go straight to Week 1. Each week has 3 workouts - usually Monday is legs, Wednesday is arms, and Friday is abs (though sometimes arms and abs are done together, and Friday is a full body workout). Each workout is 28 mins, where you do a 7 minute circuit of 4 exercises, then rest for 90 seconds, then repeat the workout, rest, and then complete a different 7 minute circuit, rest, and repeat. 

My friend and I decided to just do half the workout, so we completed each circuit once for 7 minutes, totally 14 minutes altogether. When done properly (basically, when you go hard!) it is a fantastic workout, so tough! It certainly is a good feeling when it's done. The exercises are all easy to follow, and easy to do, and they work the body part they say they will work when done correctly. The guides use minimal equipment, just hand weights, a medicine ball, a skipping rope, a yoga mat or towel, and later it incorporates a bosu ball or balance ball (though none of these are essential, and either you can modify the exercise or you can modify the piece of equipment to something you have at home).  

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Each fortnight, the circuits are repeated, so Week 1 and 3 are the same, as are Weeks 2 and 4, and then they progressively overload so that you will improve and see gains. 
In her guides, Kayla also provides lots of education on all things health, and has detailed pictures and diagrams of how to do each exercise properly. It's definitely worth reading through everything before you start. 

We chose to do the workout at 6am, Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. This suited my friend who is a teacher so that she could still have plenty of time to get ready for school. She would come to my house and we would use my sunroom and backyard to do our workout, using our phones to time it (and I had printed out the guides and placed in a folder, though you could just use an iPad). It was fantastic that she was willing to drive to my house (only a few minutes away) as I was able to do the workouts while Miss M was still asleep, and often Brendan was at work. The benefit of my friend turning up was that I had no choice but to roll out of bed, get changed and be ready to go! I'm not a morning person, but I was surprised how quickly and easily I got used to 6am starts. 

The first few weeks were the hardest, because we weren't used to that style of exercising, and we weren't used to exercising so early! One week early on we missed our usual day, and it was really tough to get the motivation up to catch up. Once we hit week 4 though, we knew we could (and wanted to!) keep going with it, and complete the 12 weeks! Even in week 10 when my friend went on an excursion for the week with school, we managed to fit our workouts in before and after so that we wouldn't miss them! 

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I had printed out a table with our names on them and each workout so we could tick it off as we did them, which felt very satisfying! Kayla also advocates that in between the strength workouts, of things like lunges, burpees and squats etc., that you do 'low intensity steady state' (LISS) activity for at least 30 minutes, which could be a steady walk, swim or bike ride. We chose to set ourselves a goal of 3-4 walks per week, and usually we did these on the off-days (Tues, Thur, Sat/Sun). 

As far as results went, I was very impressed that by the end of 12 weeks:
 - I felt stronger
 - I felt more toned (which felt especially good after having a baby)
 - I had lost about 3kgs in the 12 weeks, and gotten back to my pre-pregnancy weight (remembering that weight loss is about 80% diet though!) 
 - I was calmer each day, especially those that I began with exercising
 - I had more energy
 - Mentally, my mind felt clearer and more positive
 - My friend and I were even closer than before! 

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Kayla's nutrition plan goes hand-in-hand with her workout guides and obviously if your goal is weight loss, you need a healthy diet to complement training. As I was still breastfeeding at the time, it wouldn't have been healthy for me to complete her nutrition guide (and I've never been great at following nutrition plans anyway!) so I just kept eating healthy, and still saw weight loss over the 12 weeks, which was great! 

The only downside to this program that I can see is that you HAVE to be self-motivated or have a friend do it with you, as there is no way I could or would have completed this program on my own. It's not that I didn't want to do the workouts, it's just that I wouldn't have chosen to do them at 6am, and therefore I probably would have gotten too busy or too tired throughout the day. It was helpful that we made appointments with ourselves and stuck to them, and I am so thankful to my friend for completing this program with me! 

If you are looking for a new workout or something to shake up your current exercise program, I highly recommend Kayla Itsines. It is a fair bit of money, but Kayla does now have an app, which is free to download and then you can purchase the guides to have on your phone and I believe they are actually cheaper than the $69.97. There are also free samples of both her workout guides and nutrition plans if you want to have a look before buying. Visit Kayla's website here to get started today! 

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[P.S. This was not a sponsored post, just an honest review!]

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