Before You Leave The House: Eleven Items Moms Need In Their Cars

essentials for moms to have in their car Parenthood is a crazy ride and it becomes even more hectic when you go mobile. It helps to calm the frazzled nerves by at least being prepared and having the things that you need at hand. I have put together an essential list for mom’s taxi as she negotiates traffic and tantrums!


  1. Basic hardware: Make sure your spare tire is pumped and ready. For some reason I have been having such bad luck with flat tyres lately. I am spending my life at Tiger Wheel and Tyre. This should be accompanied by a jack, screwdriver and a spanner. Jumper cables would also be a good investment for that day when your battery dies. One of those reflective triangles would be great for breakdowns to make sure you are visible. Items like this can be bought at your nearest Automobile Association.
  2. Entertainment: You need a car radio to keep sane and be updated on the latest news. You can also have an IPad to keep them busy on long trips, and these days you can even get portable DVD players / headrest screens to set up in your car.
  3. Bag: toys / nappy bag. If your child is in nappies, you need to be prepared. Also have a change of clothes, hat, sunscreen and their favourite toy. We always travel with a little toy car which seems to calm Nicky down.
  4. Wet wipes: This may already be packed in the nappy bag but I’m putting it as a separate item because it’s that important, even with older kids. You never know when someone is going to make a mess that you need to clean up or get sticky fingers. Nicky always seems to have a dirty face that I forget to clean before we go out. Today he emptied the contents of his pouch all over someone else’s couch and thank goodness I had wet wipes.
  5. Water and food: I always have water in the nappy bag and also have a few biscuits in there. Pouches for toddlers also work well. Carry some energy bars for yourself as well. You never know when you are going to forget to pack your lunch, or if you would be stranded without food.
  6. First Aid Kit: This must contain a good supply of plasters. When I was teaching I eventually got my own stash because of the amount of times kids would cut themselves when working with scissors. (Scissors is another useful item by the way – for things getting caught).
  7. Umbrella: It may be the sunniest day, but you never know when rain is going to catch you unawares. Be prepared.
  8. Map: Ah yes, before we all had smartphones and GPS’s we had maps. You need to be ready for that day when your electronic equipment fails you. And of course it’s always good to see the bigger picture, rather than living moment by moment listening to some disembodied voice.
  9. Blankets: I often have to fetch my husband late at night, so I permanently keep a soft warm blanket for Nicky (along with a little pillow) so that if he falls asleep in the car seat he will be comfortable and warm. If you travel often in cold situations, you might want to get a Mylar space blanket to prevent hypothermia.
  10. A Torch: If you get stranded, your cellphone may not be strong enough. Make the torch last longer by removing the batteries and placing them in Ziploc bags.
  11. Finally – look your best with a beauty touch up bag. Lipstick never lasts and it is good to have a backup. You can even get fold up brushes these days that are attached to mirrors. I used to have one in my bag. Concealer is also great for those days when you have a pimple that won’t budge. If you wear heels a lot you may want to think about packing a spare pair of flats in the car.

Oh… and don’t forget the kid, either!

As you can see, a lot of these items are there in the event of bad things happening. You never know when your car is going to let you down and it’s best to be prepared. I make sure my car insurance is paid every month. If you don’t have insurance, you’d better make a plan, and you can even receive an online quote these days. Having insurance is probably the most important item on your list – so make sure that you are covered.

We want to survive a breakdown, but we also want to survive whatever our kids throw at us. I’d be interested to know: what would be on your list of car essentials? Let me know in the comments.

 Written in collaboration with First For Women.

Who Needs Exercise When You Have a Toddler?

toddlers-give-mom-exercise Running after a toddler all day long is actually good exercise. I’ve come up with a list of how Nicky keeps me in shape, and I’m not even including the Tuesday afternoon walk where I push him around in a stroller. In fact the ways that he keeps me active are never ending.

1) Weight Lifting

Anyone who has a young child will know there are frequent clingy moments when you have to hold them or else the crying / tantruming will not stop. I have made entire meals with Nicky on my hip, although now I’ve cottoned on to actually putting him on the surface where I am working so he can watch me chop vegetables. Every time you have to cross a busy road: up he goes.

There was one time that Nicky used to drive his bike around the garden until  he got to the gate separating the front and back gardens. He would stand there grunting until I lifted him over. You might ask why I didn’t just undo the plastic string keeping the thing closed, but it would be such a mission to keep on doing that, and the chances of me forgetting and the dogs getting out was so on top of my mind, that I chose the heavy lifting instead. Even more fun was walking all the way around to meet him on the other side.

2) Constant back and forth of miscellaneous help all day long.

There you are are. Busy cooking, doing dishes or tying to sneak a task on the computer. Next thing you know there is that demanding grunt again. This grunt normally means one of the following:

-I can’t reach my car.

-I dropped my car(s) behind the couch / bed / other big object and I need you to move it so that I can get it.

-I’m stuck on the IPad/ phone.

-I need a biscuit. I only want a biscuit. No healthy fruit. Only biscuits will do.

etc etc etc

3. Resistance training:

Pushing a two year old around in a stroller can work those muscles. But another one of those demanding grunts next to his push tricycle means “Push me around in this thing until you can’t anymore.” If you have been dumb enough to leave the stroller around without packing it away you run the risk of him asking to be pushed around in that too. Yesterday evening I pushed him in his tricycle for half an hour before his bed time around the house. I counted those minutes down.

kicking-toddler.jpg 4. Sports:

Other than cars, Nicky really loves balls. Yesterday afternoon we kicked a ball back and forth for about an hour. He still takes a great deal of effort to place the ball in the perfect spot, do the deep concentrating breathing and then kick. He insists that I stand in a certain spot to kick back to him. I do sit sometimes too, though.

This is why I’m so happy when bedtime comes around. I love my child to bits and pieces, but he sure gives me a workout. At last: time for myself and time to crash.



A Prisoner of My Emotions (Sleep & Breastfeeding a Toddler Poem)

sleep-and-breastfeeding-toddler-poem In the early hours of the morning

When my entire body is craving sleep

Anger festers inside me like a boiling cauldron.

There is no winning here for me

Only a tired mother’s act of love

The only way for him to sleep is boob

And that means I cannot sleep

I am numb

With every suck I feel my fertility shrinking

My second child fading away from me

The anger seeps though my body

So that my precious child feels it

And he cannot sleep either.

I waited for you so long

I treasure you so much

But sometimes I feel like a prisoner of breastfeeding.

Sometimes I wish

That I had used

A Dummy

A Taglet

A Bottle

Anything actually

Besides the boob that keeps me awake

I know he’s getting the warmth,

The nutrition

The comfort that he needs

But I am not.

In those early hours I see my options

1) Stop breastfeeding and use substitutes (which hasn’t worked)

2) Acceptance

And I already know my path.

But acceptance is hard.

For now, it is only distraction that is working for me

I think of blog posts

I think of our summer holiday ahead

I distract myself from myself

And finally I feel my breathing ease

The weight lift

And sleep comes to my babe.

It scares me how he reads me

In the daylight naptime

And when I put him to bed

I’m pretty good at acceptance.


But in those deep dark hours of the night

Where fears and anger live

I do cry a little

I love my child more than anything

But breastfeeding a two year old in the middle of the night






Free Range Lifestyle Centre: Eat, Shop and Relax while your kid Plays!

I was so thrilled to receive an invitation to the opening of the Free Range Lifestyle Centre. (Cnr of Kingfisher and Witkoppen in Fourways). For once, an event where I could take Nicky with! Similar to my experience with The Pear Tree, this is another place where parents can relax while their kids are taken care of.

free-range-lifestyle-centre The owner of the centre is Leigh Emmanuel, who also has a boy around the same age as Nicky. She started the venue to meet her need as a new mom to be able to connect with friends and enjoy good food, while her child could play safely and freely.

Nicky-on-horse-FRLifestyle Nicky enjoyed the 0-3 playground which is right next to the eating area (The Lot Restaurant) so I could sit and keep an eye on him. (There is a 3+ playground too). They had a suitable play structure as well as two minders. There was also a slide with wheels. I took a video of him sliding down. Of course, afterwards he just wanted to use it like a scooter.

maternity-clothes-calico-rose I then had a look around at the boutique shops (Pandaroo Jo and Calico Rose). There was a beautiful clothing store which had such flattering maternity and breastfeeding clothes.

nappy-bags There were lots of fabulous nappy bags that were very tempting. I certainly have a problem with bags….

see-me-baby-wrap I was so happy to see products from See Me Baby – I met Sasha at  lactation consultant (Brenda Pierce’s) get togethers and she was also at the #JoziMeetup. If you are a new mom, you simply must have a baby wrap to keep your bundle of joy close and snug.


Train sets

Train sets



The shop I really enjoyed most, however, was the Pangolin Toy Store. As a Montessori teacher (before I had Nicky) I liked the educational nature of the toys. The wooden train set appealed to me as something Nicky would enjoy. They had different ones in a variety of sizes and extensions you could add on as well. There were threading cards for when he is older.

threading In the end I got him “Nature Lacing Beads” which is labeled for two years old, so I think we will start there! We practiced a bit this afternoon. At first he could put them on but not slide them across. But then he got it.  It is perfectly sized for him. As you can see in the pic he is trying to multitask by eating a yummy biscuit from the bakery (Not Bread Alone).

sand-art Right next to the toy shop there was a work station where kids were busy with sand art. This looked like a crafty way to keep them busy!

Clamber Club is also coming to the centre next year January. I have been to one of their classes before and we really enjoyed it. I still play their CD which has lots of action songs and nursery rhymes.

cooking-olive-branch-cookery-school There is also a cooking school called “Olive Branch”. They did a cooking demo with us.

Unfortunately by this time Nicky was really tired and needed to go to sleep, so I missed most of the cooking class and what certainly must have been a lovely lunch.

Sometimes you just have to be a mom, though, and read the signals and bail! He had been up since 6am and though these days he goes to sleep around 12/1, by 11:30 he was finished. He fell asleep on the way home.

I want to say a big thank you to Leigh for inviting us and all the best with your new venture!


Four Things that Drive You Crazy About Your Toddler Actually Have a Purpose

todder-crazy-stuff-has-a-purpose I hit a new parenting low today. I sat in my child’s pee.

This wasn’t something I planned. Nicky was standing in his standard position under the cupboard where the biscuits are. Grunting for biscuits, obviously. I have no idea how long he had been standing there but I went over to give him a hug and tell him all about the yummy fruit I had for him in the fridge. (Yes: I am working on replacing biscuits with fruit). In any case, I noticed the floor was wet. I then felt his pants, which I had just changed from when he was playing in the mud. Wet. I slowly pulled them down. He had pulled the nappy down. I’d like to think I didn’t have it on properly in the first place, but maybe he did pull it down. (He has been doing that lately. Or maybe it was heavy. We are doing a little bit of potty training, but that’s for another post.)

And the changing continued….

There are no explanations for some of the things that toddlers get up to. But there is some comfort. I have just been reading this brilliant book “Toddler Calm” and it is so reassuring. I thought I’d share some of her ideas on how the aspects of toddlers that we find so frustrating and immature are actually building blocks to a more mature adult.

1) Empathy is learnt by our actions, not theirs. This was a real eye opener for me. One of my biggest frustrations with Nicky at the moment is that he doesn’t seem to get that the dog (Coffee) doesn’t appreciate being hit, have sand thrown at, etc. Neither do I, for that matter. While I manage and re-direct on a case by case basis, it is comforting to know that toddlers simply don’t have the mental capacity to see things from another person (or animal’s) point of view. The key is to show empathy towards THEM, acknowledge THEIR feelings and they will learn empathy.

2) Curiosity and a desire to learn are developed if we accept this exploration. I’m sure I’m not the only one tearing my hair out at all the stuff my toddler gets up to. The other day he emptied a packet of sugar on the floor and drove his trucks through it. He uses all manner of things to pretend to be cellphones (see picture of drinking and chatting on a tube of bum cream). He likes to experiment with water, juice and pouring which makes a huge mess too. He loves being outside kicking up the dirt and getting totally dirty. If there’s water involved so much the better. The frustration I feel is all me – he is just busy exploring his world. Yes, I can redirect him out of harm’s way, but I also need to appreciate that my little scientist is busy creating things.

3) Commitment also manifests in the strangest ways. I do want to raise a boy who isn’t afraid of hard work, sticking it out and focused. It’s just unfortunate that as a toddler the way those things turn out are very trying for a mum. The other night I made the mistake of doing something on my phone before bath time. Oh boy. Did he ever want that phone. Did he ever want to take the phone into the bath. It was the quickest bath ever. He cried the whole time. He cried while I changed him. Finally he was re-united with the phone and I could leave him happily looking at my pictures.  He doesn’t forget about his favourite toys either and insists on going to bed with a car.

4) Before independence comes clingy. Nicky becomes especially clingy when he is tired, cranky, or just upset about some random thing (like I won’t let him have another biscuit). But I know that letting him have that time to cry and just acknowledge his pain is important. Tantrums are a way to release all that emotion and we need to provide that safe place for it. I also remember when I was teaching the 4/5 year old preschool age group I had one kid who for a time would not come inside but clung to his bag outside. He missed his old school. We comforted him and got him inside, even though he cried for about a week. Years later I taught the same kid in Grade One and the difference was like chalk and cheese. What a mature kid! One day we heard a preschooler crying and I reminded him: he was just like that kid a few years ago. We all need that space to cling so that one day we can let go.

I’ve only just started reading this book but I sure am enjoying it and I hope you enjoyed the notes too.


Montessori Around the House

montessori-around-the-home You don’t have to have all the Montessori materials to use her philosophy in your home. I have been noticing what my toddler is doing around the house and can see how it slots in with at least two of her different categories.

1) Practical Life:

Practical life is just as it suggests, the normal day to day stuff we have to learn. Anything from sweeping, mopping, pouring to the more intricate activities (which will have to wait a bit) of threading and tweezing.

toddler stands on table and tries to wash dishes toddler standing on table and stirring stew As you can see from the main picture, Nicky can scoop up dirt and put it in the dustbin. He stands on the table and “washes the dishes” and even tries to stir my stew. It is irrelevant that he isn’t completing the task as yet, the point is that he is trying to do what I am doing and take part in my daily jobs.

toddler pours beans using china jug We started pouring with water, but now we also use seeds or beans. They make a nice noise too. One of those lovely blue china jugs (inherited from my grandmother) broke the other day. I’m using plastic now, but at least he’s learnt that real objects break, which is another Montessori take home lesson.

toddler mopping Of course many of Nicky’s activities result in a lot of mess but this is an opportunity to clean up. He can use the dustpan and brush (with some assistance) and he also likes sweeping and mopping. Here he is with our domestic worker.

2) Sensorial:

A lot of the sensorial tasks are about sorting and sequencing. I hope to get some real ones going at some stage but I have to say Nicky is using his passion to do this already. Of course, he likes to use his cars.

montessori=sequencing-toy-cars Nicky will sequence his cars from biggest to smallest and even put colours together.

big-toy-cars-in-a-row He has started doing it to his bigger cars too.

toy-cars-diverging Sometimes they go in streams of different directions.

He seems to really enjoy playing with his cars. Everywhere we go we have to take a car with us.

sleeping-with-cars And when it’s time for sleep – guess what has to come with? Sometimes even more than one car.

My little Nicky Noodle just loves his cars.


(Charity Post) Choose or Nominate Your Favourite Baby Community for Free Milton Sterilisers!

A while ago I attended a Milton product launch. I learnt quite a bit about sterilisation that day, and you can read all about it here. I followed up that post with another giveaway. All in all I gave away six sterilisers.

So why am I bringing up Milton again? Well, at the launch, one of the press mentioned that Milton could get involved in the community in education them about sterilisation, much like Dettol has done in the way of healthy sanitization education in schools. I’m glad this was taken seriously because Milton has now decided to donate 1000 of those dummy sterilisers to those in need.

There definitely is a need because in 2012, the same year that my son was born, intestinal diseases were the leading cause of death in babies. That is pretty scary, in this day and age.

To get involved, it is dead easy, and you don’t even have to fork out any money. All you have to do is help choose who gets those dummy sterilser packs.

1) Go to their website,

2) Click on the “Milton Cares initiative” link

3) Choose your charity or nominate your own.

I had a look at the list of charities and have reproduced them here. If there are any that you feel need the support, you can make a difference to them.

Abraham Kriel Childcare

A Place Called Home Foundation

Baby Therapy Centre

Barnswallows Baby Shelter

Canaan Care Centres

Ditshego House of Laughter

Door of Hope

Give a Child a Family

Happy Family Care Centre

Help the Children Fund

Hi Hopes

Hope Harbour Babies Home

Izizwe Project

Kusile Community Centre

Little Fighters Cancer Trust

SOS Children’s Village

The Seedlings Project

Ubahle Helping Association


I have heard of two of these. I actually have visited a SOS Children’s Village in PE long ago when I was a child. Our youth group played with the kids. They have orphans grouped around a live in “mom” to those kids.

I have also heard about Door of Hope. This is a place for abandoned babies and they have three homes in Johannesburg. I remember when I was going through infertility a friend of mine who has visited them gave me a brochure on this place. The best of intentions, I know, but it was hard to take at the time! However I think they are a great place to support.

I’m sure you have your own favourites, or perhaps know of a place in need. Milton will update you on the results of your choice. You can also click on the right to get more information on each place.

Have a look and see here.

Enjoying the Farm to Table Meal

farm-to-table-meal Back in February I won a meal from the Forum Farm to Table lunch through Rattle and Mum. They gave me the option to choose a meal right up until September. Figuring the older Nicky was the more he would eat, I left it for as long as possible. That is how we landed up at the “Fete de la gastronomie”, a French inspired meal brought together by the forum, the French Institute and Kaya FM.

Life always seems to have other plans. My biggest concern leading up to this lunch was co-ordinating it with Nicky’s nap time – he normally sleeps over lunch. At the moment he goes to sleep around 12, which was the starting time for the event. As it turned out, the poor little dude spent most of the previous night puking. He was better the next morning but desperate for sleep so he landed up napping really early at 8:30am. This worked out well for us in that he had had at least some sleep before we left.

brett When we got there I was impressed by the lovely environment. It is set up in a place that makes picturesque fountains. The tables were set out on different levels, surrounded by greenery and protected from the sun by shade cloth.

Nicky sipping our starter drink.

Nicky sipping our starter drink.

drink We started our meal with a platter of bread and pizza. I should note here that we could not help but take a break from the low carb diet. It was just too tempting! Ah delicious bread. How I have missed you. We also had this amazing drink. I have no idea what it was but it reminded me a bit of ginger beer. Nicky had a few sips too. By the way, due to recovering from his stomach bug he did not eat anything but he did drink the fruit juice.


starters We then went to the buffet for starters. We particularly liked the quiche. They had cold meats and pate.

After that I decided that Nicky needed to walk around. After one walk he didn’t want to stop! No ways was he going to sit at the table. That was way too boring. So we were off to explore.

fountains monolithic-heads-fountain We had fun looking at all the fountains. How interesting are these monolithic heads?

horse We even saw some horses and they were giving rides to kids. Nicky was a bit scared to ride though.

I must mention that as we entered the venue there were child minders available to look after kids. I wanted to take Nicky with us, however. There was also a waiter who was very friendly and helpful and offered to follow Nicky around.

toddler-walking-ahead However, I am one of those neurotic parents who want to follow their kid, and plus I don’t think any of them were quite up to Nicky’s energy. Off he went. We found a dusty road and he was in his element, kicking up the dirt. As you can see from the picture he was far ahead of me.

farm-to-table We also passed a netted area where it looked like there was food growing. Farm to table, hey! B phoned me to let me know the next course was there so we headed back.

main-course The main meal was delicious. Tasty lamb, chicken, baby potatoes and veg included broccoli and carrots. By this time Nicky was really tired and cranky (mostly because of being confined to the table) so we went straight to having desert afterwards. I thought he would have a bit but he didn’t!

pudding A healthy option was the apple which had almond cream. The brownies were my fave of course. The meringues were sumptuous as well. By the time I remembered to take a picture I had eaten most of the apple!

Home we went and all three of us passed out!

I want to say a big thank you to Hazel and Jade at the forum company and Tanya at Rattle and Mum for giving us this fantastic gift of a meal. We really enjoyed not only the food but also the surroundings.

Nicky goes to the zoo

nicky-goes-to-the-zoo The last time Nicky went to the zoo he was six months old. He was a little baby in a pouch and he was more interested in the hedges in front of the cages than the animals. So we were curious, at 27 months, as to what kind of reaction he would have.

My dear husband had taken off a few days with the public holiday so we decided to go to the zoo on Tuesday, figuring that there would be less people around. We had not counted on all the pre-schooler trips though. A few of them were more noisy than others. Some of them actually sang as they went along.

IMG_7319 First stop was the big gorilla. We were lucky because he came out and strutted his stuff. I think it’s easier to have a bigger animal to look at; some of the smaller ones are more difficult to find.

After that we went past several monkeys and landed up by the orangutans. These were a huge hit with Nicky. He laughed and laughed.

heather-and-nicky-at-zoo brett-and-nicky-at-zoo Nicky-and-elephant

The next big animal was the elephant. They put on a bit of a show drinking water with their trunks and eating mountains of grass. We took a few pictures.

I was quite excited to show Nicky the giraffes as one of his favourite toys is Jerry the Giraffe and he also has a little plastic one that gets carted around on a circus trailer.

IMG_7482 I took him out the stroller and he went into climbing mode on the fence! The giraffes were quite majestic and ate out of their food troughs at the appropriate height.

baby lion cubs The lions were a bit difficult to see since they were sleeping in the shade. The cubs were really cute though.

After that we went to see the farm animals. Nicky laughed at the sheep munching away.

The Amazon exhibit has been receiving quite a bit of publicity. For us the most impressive show came from an underwater snake. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a snake slinking around underwater.

Last on the list of what we wanted to see was the bear. This was a special thing for us as I often affectionately call Nicky my “little bear” and wanted to show him what a real bear looked like. Unfortunately the bears were napping too. One was right next to the glass. I took a picture but it really looks like a black lump behind a reflective glass. We did manage to chat to a zookeeper who was observing them. I was glad to hear that the bear was no longer pacing around as he had been on our last visit.

By this time it was after 1pm. As we drove home Nicky followed the example of his namesake and fell asleep.

I hope you all had a fabulous heritage day and enjoyed time with your families!


My Summer List

Summer is here! Thank you Eleanor from Just Ella Bella for tagging me. You can read her list here.

carport-collapses-johannesburg-hailstorm Another way we know it is summer is the hectic storms here in Joburg. On Saturday night we had a hail storm and our carport collapsed.



1. What is your favourite thing about Summer?

beach with mom Getting to see family. The last time we went down to the coast Nicky was just six months old. I also like swimming.

2. Do you have a favourite Summer drink?

lamberti's-juice I like lemonade, or Sprite. Trying to be good about sugar though, so at the moment I am drinking Lamberti’s juice which is suitable for diabetics. One the moms in my mom’s group is part of that family and she introduced me to it. Tastes good and good for you! I started out with the guava one but now I’m drinking the orange. I’m sure the other one with mango, litchi and apple will be interesting. You can get it at Pick n Pay.


3. Is there a location you like to go to each Summer?

We love to go visit our family in Port Elizabeth (me) and East London (B).

4. Favourite make-up look for Summer?

Um, I don’t really wear make up. I do use a moisturizer with sunscreen though.

5. Dresses or skirts?

Denim pants from Pick n Pay.

Denim pants from Pick n Pay.

skirt I have some faithful denim shorts (from Pick n Pay) I like to wear (since chasing a toddler around the garden is heavy duty) but I also like to wear skirts. I particularly like this blue flowery one because it doesn’t crease and it looks good. Plus it’s comfy!

6. Sandals or ballet pumps?


woolworths-pumps My comfy pumps from Woolworths are well worn and well made. The only thing about them is that the back straps keep coming off so I kind of slop around in them.

beach-tyre-sandals I also have some old summer beach sandals from the PE beachfront markets. Sentimental value but they are super comfy too.

wedges I also like my wedges. Make me feel taller.

chinsese-pumps Then I have some pumps from a cheap Chinese store but what’s nice about them is the sole is non slip.

7. Do you prefer to wear your hair up or down for Summer?

heather-step My hair is short now. :)

8. Deep smoky eyes or bold lips?

Um, not really a make up person, remember…

9. Favourite perfume for Summer?

Huh? Don’t do that either.

10. Last but not least, favourite music for Summer

Well ever since Nicky broke my car radio I haven’t been listening…


I tag…

Karen from MomAgain@40

Laura from Harassed Mom

Shaney from You, Baby and I.