ALL THE WAYS WE LOVE WOODEN TOYS

Thursday, May 31, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa


Wooden toys have always been this symbol of timeless, resilient authenticity. Since becoming a mom I have coveted many a rocking horse and block set and while we have been forced to accommodate the brash, bright and (often) offensive world of plastic toys, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for classic, well-made wooden toys. We recently received a box of wonderfully imaginative wooden blocks from Tooky Toys and while I sat on the couch, steaming mug of coffee in hand, watching my girls squabble over who got to be the horse and who got to be the princess, I realised that despite all the reasons I love wooden toys, the main one will always be the way they magically unlock this whole new imaginative world for children.

ALL THE WAYS WE LOVE WOODEN TOYS 



WOODEN TOYS ARE HARD-WEARING AND TIMELESS

Am I the only person obsessed with turning everything into an heirloom? Maybe it’s me coming to terms with my own mortality, but I find myself leaning towards things that last. When I look at a set of toys that will last, I think of how both my children will enjoy these, I think of how I may pass them on to future cousins or hold on to them so that my girls can give them to their children. Wooden toys make this dream possible.

WOODEN TOYS GROW WITH YOUR CHILD

Children play so differently. Watching Grace interact with a toy is radically different to watching Sophie interact with the same toy. Grace will sit and simply stack up a tower of blocks, while Sophie tends to build elaborate worlds and scenarios. I love the adaptability of wooden toys.

WOODEN TOYS ENCOURAGE IMAGINATION AND REAL LIFE SKILLS

Wooden toys encourage children to use their imaginations and creativity. We know this. Give a child a shiny electronic train and they will watch it look around the same circle for an hour and then move on. Give a child a set of blocks and challenge them to make a train? That’s hours of play, hours of thinking, hours of using their well-honed sense of imagination.

WOODEN TOYS ARE LESS DISRUPTING AND BETTER FOR LEARNING

When children play with wooden toys, they supply all the voices and sound effects. This allows children to be in control of what they do with the toys and to keep their minds clear as they think through different scenarios or solve problems.

WOODEN TOYS INSPIRE BETTER SOCIAL SKILLS

I am always struck by how many modern toys reply on solitary play. When children use their imaginations and practice real-life scenarios, they often like to bring others in on their play. Toys that have voices or electronics promote more solitary whereas many wooden toys invite interaction with others.

WOODEN TOYS DEVELOP COGNITIVE SKILLS AND PROBLEM-SOLVING

Since wooden toys don’t have voices or electronic parts to tell them what piece to pick up or what step to take next and they aren’t designed to fit a specific activity, children develop their reasoning skills and problem-solving skills as they learn with wooden toys, explore and figure things out.

WOODEN TOYS IMPROVE HAND-EYE COORDINATION AND MOTOR SKILLS

Wooden toys help children build hand-eye coordination and physical skills in so many ways. As they manipulate, lace, twist, turn, push, pull, sort, match, stack, build and move toys, they learn how to develop dexterity and control.

WOODEN TOYS ARE TACTILE AND LOVELY

Wooden toys have weight, texture, colours and a feel that is much more sensory and tactile than most plastic toys. What’s more, wooden toys look gorgeous on display and add a lovely aesthetic and energy to the home.

I have been so conditioned to thinking that wooden toys need to cost the earth, but Tooky Toys is radically changing that perception. Their range of toys starts at R55 and go up to R1650. So there really is something for every budget.

To shop the Tooky Toys range visit BabyWombWorld 
To find out more about Tooky Toys, click here
Visit the BabyWombWorld Facebook page to stay up to date with their different ranges 


Nikki
Xxx

30 FREE (OR CHEAP) DATES

Monday, May 21, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa


I didn’t watch the royal wedding. But I did trawl the internet for pictures of the prince and princess on Sunday. Guys, those looks of pure adoration and love make me weak in the knees. Remember when you looked at your guy like that? When you looked at each other and all you could see was the rest of your life, standing right there, in front of your eyes? Remember feeling like you were in a frenzy? You couldn’t control yourself, stolen kisses over the dinner table while your friends threw up in their mouths? Holding hands while driving because the idea of simply not touching each other was absolutely absurd?

Sigh…

I love the phase of my life I am in right now, but sometimes I miss the bright and burning passion of the early days. When Regan and I went on our first date, he looked at me like I was a delicious meal and he hadn’t eaten for a month. Halfway through our date, after about 3 glasses of wine, he leaned over the table and kissed me and then whispered that he couldn’t keep pretending that he wanted to do anything else except kiss me. Even though I have basically been in love with Regan since I was 19, I fell in love with him 1000000 more that night and as our love grows and matures and the passion ebbs a little more than it flows, we constantly pull ourselves back towards that frenzy, because let’s be honest, passion in small bits is toe-curling and wonderful  but hardly sustainable. Especially when you have two little kiddos on your heels.

I put together this little list of date nights because Regan and I always treat date nights like this freaking production. Like it has to be this whole long event with dinner and dressing up and the whole thing. But really all we need is to carve out a few precious hours to remind ourselves how desperately we love each other. Cindy from 3 kids, 2 dogs and 1 old house wrote a really awesome blog post last week about how she’s making more of a big deal about the passion department and it got me thinking, why was I hogging this list of date night ideas, when I could share it with you all?


So here you go, 30 free (or cheap) date ideas that won’t take a bunch of time of cost a bunch of money but will ensure a bunch of love:

1.    Go on a hike.
2.    Explore a neighbourhood.
3.    Plan a game night.
4.    Make it a beach day.
5.    Go roller skating.
6.    Volunteer together.
7.    Have a movie marathon.
8.    Go to expensive open houses even if you’re not looking for a house, it’s nice to dream and even nicer to dream together.
9.    Play a messy game of Twister.
10.    Play truth or dare.
11.    Go for a swim.
12.    Wander art galleries.
13.    Go to an author reading at The Book Lounge (if you’re in Cape Town)
14.    Get lost, on purpose.
15.    Answer this New York Times questionnaire that might make you fall in love.
16.    Feed ducks at your local park.
17.    Play strip chess.
18.    Have a sandcastle-building contest.
19.    Build a blanket fort, take in some snacks and your laptop and watch a movie.
20.    Have an at-home karaoke night. Pick songs for each other instead of yourselves.
21.    Make your own custom cards against humanity deck.
22.    Play snapchat hide-and-seek. This is so fun and easy. Simply hide away, snap pics of clues about your hiding place and send them to your partner.
23.    Have a chopped competition to see who can make the best dish out of whatever you already have in the fridge.
24.    Have a picnic in the park. Leave your phones in the car.
25.    Build an enormous puzzle.
26.    Take a scenic drive.
27.    Go ice skating
28.    Create a cosy night-time picnic in the garden, in a tent or under the stars
29.    Have an epic make-out session on your couch.
30.    Visit the planetarium – So romantic: sitting in the dark, holding hands, looking at the stars.

Once you have kids, your relationship tends to take the back seat. Parenting, life, bills, work and all the other things that tend to come with adulating, usually feel more important than a cuddle or a kiss with your partner. One thing I know is that when your love cup is full, all the worries feel less daunting, the fights lack their nastiness, the tantrums are usually observed with a shared smirk,  and when the lights are out and the kids are down, you get to fall asleep knowing that you are loved and cherished beyond measure. And that, my lovelies, is pretty amazing because love is rare and special.

WHAT IS A REAL MOM?

Friday, May 11, 2018


I often feel like I can't speak openly about a brand because I'm a blogger. And part of being a blogger means always being nice and (PR)friendly because yes, we want brands to like us. We want brands to want to work with us. Unless a brand really steps out and does something utterly insane, it’s usually better to just judge silently and say nothing, right?  Well guys, I am terrible at taking my own advice. Yesterday I did something I've never done before. I spoke publicly and negatively about a brand's campaign. In the interest of clarity and because I'm too tired to craft clever innuendo's, I'm just going to speak plainly. Baby Dove launched a campaign for Mothers Day that was centred around the concept of what makes a real mom, but also that we all need to do motherhood in our own way. I was a little confused…

Before I continue I really, really, REALLY want to make 2 things very clear:

1) I have nothing but the utmost respect and indeed, absolute love for all the bloggers that have worked on this campaign and my thoughts here and the thoughts I shared yesterday were not meant to bash anyone or make anyone feel attacked. I love you all dearly and your blogs literally give me life on a daily basis.

2) Dove is a brand that is completely entrenched in my life. Like, my whole life. From my kids, to me, to Regan. We all use and love Dove products. This commentary was not about Baby Dove or Dove at all, but rather about their campaign.

WHAT DOES BEING A REAL MOM MEAN? 


For most of this week, I have been seeing these posts from my fellow bloggers about what it means to be a real mom. And for most of this week, my eyes have been twitching at the idea. After all, being real or being authentic is only a concept because being inauthentic or fake exists. But how on God’s green earth could any women be a fake mother? As the week went on, I kept scrolling and I continued to see these posts. And each post left me feeling like I had to examine my own version of motherhood, naturally, I began to feel like maybe my own version of motherhood was somehow wrong or just different enough to not be considered “real”.


WHEN IN DOUBT, RANT


The thing about platforms like Twitter and Instagram is that most of us are there for a good time, not a long time and my engagement with the content I see usually starts and ends with the caption. I don’t want to visit a bio and click a link, because that’s not what I opened the app for. I came for scrolling and double tapping. So here I was, confused, annoyed and feeling like I was somehow “less than” my peers. I swallowed it and pushed through what turned out to be one of the hardest weeks of my life since becoming a mom. Yesterday I came home from work to two sick babies. Sophie was in a rotten mood. Grace was howling and clingy, I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down on the couch to digest some social media before getting started on supper and then I saw it. Another real mom post. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I just could not leash my irritation for another second. And so I shared a story on Instagram about why this whole campaign is chaffing my chunkies. It’s still live if you want to jump on to my Instagram for context and a laugh at my naff hair you can do so here>

42 of the people that viewed my story, felt so strongly about it that they replied to me. This is some of what they told me:

  • YASSSSS queen! I feel exactly the same way. 
  • Nikki, I absolutely love this. So accurate. 
  • Thank you for speaking my mind. 
  • Nail on the head! This campaign has made me feel so guilty. 
  • Hell yes! What is a real mom, just being a mother is enough. 
  • Motherhood is damn hard, I hated feeling judged by women I looked up to. 
  • I am so angry about this campaign and I literally said this exact thing a few days ago. 
  • Preach! So with you Niks! 

So I wasn’t alone. Now for the saddest part of this entire thing:

EVERYTHING I WAS FEELING AND SAYING AND EVERYTHING THESE MOMS WERE FEELING AND TELLING ME WAS BASICALLY THE WHOLE POINT OF THE BABY DOVE CAMPAIGN. THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO BE A MOTHER AND WE NEED TO TRUST OURSELVES AND TRUST IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT WE’RE DOING THE BEST WE CAN. 


SO WHERE DID IT GO WRONG? 


After posting my little rant and gleefully replying to all the lovely moms, I got a phone call from the PR agency managing the Baby Dove account. The PR manager called to explain the point of the campaign. I listened and was very surprised to learn that the whole freaking point was exactly what I was saying. How on earth did they manage to achieve the opposite of what they set out to do? The PR manager mentioned that the bloggers involved in the campaign went on to write blog posts about what it means to be a real mom and after my phone call with her ended, I went on to read them. Yes, a lot of what I was reading made sense. A lot of it championed the notion that there is actually no such thing as a real mom. I think I am going to chalk this one up to a confusing use of language. The word “real” trips us up. When you pair it with the hashtag, #trustyourway it feels really confusing.

After I got the call from the PR agency I felt like I had to take my rant down and gush wildly about how wrong I was and how amazing the campaign was. No one told me to do that, I just felt like maybe that was what was expected. But I have decided to be a bad ass ballsy bitch in 2018 and speak my truth, in the most authentic way I know how. I am going to end off with this:

This campaign confuses me so much. I know that that was not Baby Dove’s intention. I know that in the past, Dove has successfully leveraged the concept of realness in their Real Beauty campaign. This campaign worked because we were all stuck in a black hole of comparison, measuring ourselves against a standard that was not only impossible, it was wholly unachievable because even the women on the covers of glossy magazine don’t really look like that 99% of the time. The concept of realness in motherhood is a little more complicated for me because as I mentioned above, you can’t imply realness without implying there is an opposite to it. So if you are saying that every mom is real and this impossibly perfect standard of Pinterest mom life is unachievable, that is incorrect because the Pinterest mom is no less real than the grungy, grumpy (me) mom. Perhaps the word “real” should have been excluded from this campaign and it should have been left as Trust You Way because when you tell me to simply trust myself, you are making me feel validated and valued as a mom, you are giving me the confidence I need to embrace motherhood for the unique journey it really is.

If you want to see the full campaign, you can follow either of the two hashtags: #realmoms or #trustyourway and show them some love. These moms are amazing and like the rest of, they're doing the maximum.

If you want to watch my story, you still have a few hours to do so. 

If you want to share your opinion of the campaign or being a real mom, please do leave a comment or pop me a mail.

Nikki
Xxx

MAKING TIME FOR WHAT MATTERS MOST

Monday, May 07, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa


Sometimes I feel like spending quality, one on one time with my kids is a pure luxury, that is to say, it does not always feel like the necessity it is. When life gets frantic, it often seems like there are more important things to do than sitting down and building a puzzle or playing a game of snakes and ladders. But there really isn't. Ever.

Sophie is what Dr Sears would describe as a “high needs” child. She is quite emotional, often cries the second things don’t go her way and needs way more attention than her 1 year old sister. For Sophie, one on one time with me is life. I am not even kidding. If I find myself in a whirlwind of adulating and life admin, Sophie is usually there, grabbing my shirt tails, wailing away, reminding me that my primary function is to ensure she has everything she needs to thrive, and 90% the time, this is as simple as just spending time with her.

Tough times call for firm cuddles 


I’m not going to lie, we’re going through a difficult patch. I told you about her terrible visit to the doctor, something that I feel so guilty about because I wasn’t there to protect her from that kind of irresponsible care giving. But it’s more than just that. Things have been off. You know when the universe tips a little, or the moon goes insane and then like, your whole family falls apart and you’re fighting with your partner and kids go demonic and then you’re also like seriously dead broke and you basically just hate life? Well we’re coming off one of those periods now and things are slowly going back to normal, but there are still little niggles. Wilfulness, stubbornness, misery, tantrums etc. You know, the usual.

The one way I know to reach Sophie is to bake with her. It’s kind of like our thing. We bake. Sometimes we bake amazing things and other time it’s barely edible. But the one constant is our happiness. Just the two of us, alone in the kitchen, it’s pure magic.


Barbie to the rescue 

We recently got a really wonderful batch of Barbie goodies from the awesome people at Blue Horizon South Africa and one of the items in our lovely box was a Barbie cooking set and recipe book. As soon as I saw it, my heart melted a little because I knew that this one thing would be a gift for both Sophie & I, and it came at a time when we both really needed it.

This weekend we baked the vanilla cupcakes for Regan’s birthday. This recipe is so straight forward, it’s literally  flop-proof. Unfortunately they were so good that they were gobbled up before I could even take a picture.

I am a huge fan of any toy that translates into quality family time. It’s one of the main reasons we love our blocks and board games. These Barbie cooking sets are so sweet and I know that they will translate into lots of shared hours in the kitchen for Sophie and I.

How do you prioritise one on one time with your little ones? 

What are some of the ways you prioritise spending one on one time with your children? It’s a challenge when you have more than one. I would love to hear some suggestions for other things we can do.

Nikki
Xxx

WHAT I WANT FOR MOTHER'S DAY

Friday, May 04, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa


Full disclosure, to me, Mother’s Day is the most “meh” holiday ever. I always feel like a bit of a fraud celebrating myself because most of the time I am barely scraping by. My sanity often feels frayed and my patience well always feels empty. Regan makes a significant deal out of Mother’s Day. We don’t go overboard at all, and this year I have decided to take part in the Mother’s Day Connect events – you can still sign up to join my team here – because I really wanted to shift my focus from myself to every mother.

Having said all of that, I know that there will be some gifts that will need to be bought and because they’ll be bought whether I say so or not, I decided to put together a little gift guide, but it’s very personal. These are the things I would LOVE to receive this Mother’s Day.


THINGS FOR MY FACE & BODY 

[TOP] Ok this isn’t really for my face or body, but rather, my home. I got the vanilla room and linen spray from Naturals Beauty when I was at Kamers Vol Geskenke. It smells so divine, Soph says it makes our house smell like an ice cream and that’s pretty rad, right? It’s all finished now though, so I need more. 

[SECOND ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT] I would LOVE, like really, a mani and a pedi. Gingerlily Day Spa in Cape Town is one of my favourite places. It’s such an oasis of calm. They’re running a really rad Mother’s Day special too, so if like me, you need some pampering, and you’re in Cape Town, it’s a great one to consider. I am DYING to try these lip oils from Gosh. Have you tried them? Are they amazing? I feel like they are. 

[BOTTOM ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT] I am dipped my toe into the waters of bullet journaling and I am so hooked. But I am also clueless about its true potential. So I’ve been eyeing this book since I saw it on Chereen Strydom’s Insta Stories. I’m also a sucker for a candle. These soy ones from Studio Melissa Louise are so heavenly. Melissa was a complete angel and sent one to me after she saw me chatting about them on Twitter and now I just all of them. Ok I saved the best for last. I have been LUSTING (yes lusting)  after a Secret Book Box subscription for the longest time. There always seems to be something else that comes up every month and I never seem to get around to ordering one. But daymnnnnnnnn do I want one. 

THINGS TO WEAR

[LEFT TO RIGHT] Have you guys checked out Annen Henze’s maternity wear? You will die. Her collection is so beautiful and what I love about it is that she designs for life beyond the bump. I am not pregs but I would love to own this Evah dress and the Madeline top. These rose gold platforms from Saint & Summer are so gorgeous… NEED THEM! This nude shopper from Aranda Weave is divine. I love handbags, but I love simple designs. I am obsessed with functionality so these bags are right up my alley. They come in a variety of colours and designs, so if you’re not keen on nudes and plain tones (like me), I’m sure you’ll find a style that suits you.
Annen Henze > 
Saint & Summer > 
Aranda Weave > 

STATEMENT TEES 

I am the only person that shrieked with joy when That Girls Tshirt launched? I never used to wear t-shirts at all, but as I get older, I am becoming more and more concerned with comfort and there is literally nothing as comfortable as a soft, well-made t-shirt. There are still a few runs of my design (GIRLS TO THE FRONT) available, but if mine doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are loads of others to chose from. The rainbow boobs are perennial. And “Coffee is the new sleep”? Umm yes, I’ll take 2!
Shop That Girls Tshirt > 

What’s on your Mother’s Day wishlist?

Nikki
Xxx

EMBRACE | THE SISTERHOOD OF MOTHERHOOD

Wednesday, May 02, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa


Regan braai’d for supper last night. I was sitting in the garden, idly watching the kids play on our overgrown lawn, thinking about everything and nothing. I had a moment of pure stress thinking about the upcoming Embrace Mother’s Day event. Thinking that my decision to sign up as a team leader for Groote Schuur Hospital was ambitious and a little insane. I mean, I have so much on my plate right now, what was I thinking. Then I continued staring at my kids, probably a little too intently. My mind drifted to my own journey into motherhood, something I think about often. I thought about how lucky I am. I thought about how easy everything felt. I had a support system. I had money. I had a home. My girls never went without. I never had to think about how Regan would adjust, I never had to worry about substance abuse, or feeding my family, I never had to worry about keeping my kids safe, I never had to worry about how I would manage. I had my village, and through them, I just did manage.

For the majority of women in South Africa, the journey into motherhood is not that easy. It’s often fraught with anxiety and worry. The majority of women in South Africa don’t fall into a blissful bubble of love and happiness when they become mothers. Most of the time, these women come from homes where they are the sole bread-winner, in some cases, there is violence and in almost all cases, there is abject poverty. Make no mistake, as you sit reading this on your phone or your laptop, you, my friend, are firmly within the 1%.

Let me quickly circle back to my stress about Mother’s Day Connect. As I was saying, I was sitting in the backyard, feeling anxious and concerned because I need to get 26 women to join me on Mother’s Day to spread some love and cheer to the new moms at Groote Schuur Hospital. It seems like a small task, but sign-ups have been slow and I haven’t had a chance to push it as much as I need to. So, I decided to write about it. Because that’s what I do when I am stressed. I write.


So let me explain what the Embrace Mother’s Day Connect events are and exactly what I am asking for:

What are they all about?

Mother’s Day Connect is essentially a movement for new mothers. Mother’s Day traditionally evokes images of a day filled with spoils from your loved ones; a day dedicated to celebrating hard work, dedication and love. But this is not the case for all mothers. For some, it is a grand celebration. For others, the day goes by completely unnoticed. Is there a middle ground? An opportunity for us to honour the vital role that mothers play in society without giving in to the temptations of commercialism? Can the mothers of South Africa play a meaningful role in uplifting and encouraging our fellow mothers?

For the third year running Embrace, a new societal movement and part of the DG Murray Trust will be championing Mother’s Day Connect – a movement which was sparked in a bid to make all new mother’s, particularly those without support, feel special on this day. By stretching the circle of sisterhood bigger, Embraceis calling on all women to come together on Sunday 13 May to visit and support new mothers in state hospitals and Midwife Obstetric Units (MOUs).


How do you sign up?

It could not be easier to sign up. You just visit the Embrace Mother’s Day Connect page > ; and you sign up. Once you have signed up, you visit this page >; to chose your closest hospital. There are MOU’s all over the country and if you’d like to join my team, you’ll need to sign up for the Groote Schuur event.


What will we do on the day?

We’ll be spending 1 hour with new moms. I am in the process of trying to arrange for goodie bags for the moms – if you’re a brand reading this, please get involved! – we’ll have cake and chat. It really is that simple. We’re here to spread love and make other moms feel special.

Why should you join?

Because I need you and because every mom should feel the joy that comes with the sisterhood of motherhood.

I am counting on you all. Please join us.

Nikki
Xxx

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