Natural beauty in under 10 minutes per day

Recently, my sister and I mulled over morning stresses of getting everyone out the door before 8.30, while the men established a ‘pecking order’ of tasks.  Filling and emptying the dishwasher, making beds and blowing husks out of the birdseed bowl were viewed as “non-essential”, while we declared that coming home to wrinkled bedclothes and full sink amid wrangling school bags and hungry kids was not on our agenda!

Whilst I’m not sure that they thought we should spend more time in the bathroom, inspired by the males’ advice to “re-prioritise”, I’ve challenged myself to prioritise self-care each morning.

Without the DINK (double income no kids) status, I’m not about to swap holidays or gifts for Botox and dermal fillers!  Once the kids are fed and clothes are laid out, instead of running through my own routine on autopilot, I try to make those minutes count.

Whether your mornings are hectic, or you have a little leeway, a small window spent on yourself can reinvigorate the brain, remove toxins and lay the foundation for smooth skin.  Here is my way of combining all three in ten minutes or less!

The root cause of heathy hair

A head massage increases blood flow (nutrition) to the scalp for strong and healthy hair and energises the brain.

Hang your head upside down and feel the weightlessness as your head, neck and arms dangle. Using the pads of the fingers, massage your scalp all over for around two minutes.  If you’re about to wash your hair, you could use a few drops of an essential oil (e.g. Lavender or Neem) or Jojoba oil.  Flick your head up and voila, you also have full bodied 80’s-inspired hair!

This simple routine, also referred to as the ‘inversion method’ is also hailed as a method to grow hair more quickly.

Brush away toxins

Grab a natural bristle brush with a long handle (Kmart or The Body Shop).  In simple terms, you’re brushing towards the heart, remembering that your lymph drainage areas are under the arms, in the groin area (around where the pelvis and upper thigh meet) and the neck.

Starting from the feet, brush up each leg in long strokes with a light pressure, clockwise around the belly, under the chest to each armpit.  Brush up each hand and arm, down the neck and shoulders and each side of the face: along the jawline, across the cheeks and forehead.

At first, it may feel strange dragging a brush up dry skin but I find it really wakes me up.  It comes close to a coffee!  Up to three minutes is all you need.

Put your best face forward

Face massage may be the best thing you can do to prevent wrinkles.  It brings fresh blood and nutrients to the skin, helps to improve muscle tone and relaxes stress points.  To prepare the skin, I like to use a carrier oil, mixed with a few drops of organic essential oil.  Currently, I’m using Grape Seed Oil as a carrier, mixed with a few drops of rose oil.  Rose is filled with anti-oxidants and I also like to mix it up with Frankincense to help remove any blemishes and for anti-aging).

Take the index finger from each hand and move them across the skin in opposite directions to each other.  As with body brushing, I like to massage one side of the face and then the other. Starting from the chin, move across the jawline up to each cheekbone, treading gently under the eyes toward to the outer eye and across the forehead.  I like to spend a minute working on the pressure points and releasing tension along the upper eyebrow line.

Buzzing with energy, you can then take that brisk shower and finish off with some natural skin pampering.  My current favourites are Hyaluronic acid combined with Vitamin C, followed by organic shea butter.  Shea butter is very thick to apply (I only use a dab) but I find it extremely hydrating and I also like the small amount of natural inbuilt UV protection.

Natural methods take longer to work than artificial ones, but as with parenting, I’m holding on to the belief that consistency is key and that lasting, natural beauty outweighs any quick fix.

I hope you’ll join me in spending some of your precious time on ‘me time.’  It’s the little things that count.

Some of my favorite natural beauty blends: Continue reading “Natural beauty in under 10 minutes per day”

Making Mum time

As a stay-at-home (OK, a ‘working from home’) Mum three days’ a week, forgive me if I can feel a little badgered into playing.

Sometimes I love it and am happy to bear the brunt of a four-year-old’s pent up energy.  Other times?  I just want to be left alone for 20 minutes.  Maybe an hour.  Take my time hanging out the washing, give the house a hoovering, snatch a look at Facebook or hover around the laptop catching up on news and checking out clothes I’d love to buy because there’s a 30% off sale.

“Mum, can you bounce on the trampoline with me?”

“OK, I’ll just finish emptying the dishwasher, then I’ll do it”, I reply.  I’m feeling watched!

Having gone through periods where I could quite happily stack up little jobs and engross myself in hours of distracted ‘busyness’, recently I made up a little rhyme that I think epitomises fitting in  each other’s needs.  After all, we want to play with our children, we know it’s good for them but it’s a mental grind doing stuff that a pre-schooler wants to do.  All day.

And so the rhyme goes:

A piece of pie for me and you.  I take one bite, you take two.  When it’s your turn, I shine the light bright.  When it’s mine, I do too.

Still with me?  I swear I’ve caught myself reciting this in my head.  I snap out of distraction mode to catch the end of a very important sentence! If I’m being shown something, that’s one strike and you’re out material!

While I could be accused of letting my child dictate the play time a bit too much, I now take my own needs fully into account and fit them in.  When it’s his time, I’m 100% in.

Remembering this little phrase helps to prevent those half-hearted moments when I reluctantly join in, only to be distracted a few minutes later, flitting to the next thing on my to-do list (it can grow exponentially)!  When the light’s on him, I try to just be and play.  Willingly, and is often the case, physically as-well as mentally!

I know its a chunk of time well spent and I can be in charge of when it starts and ends, setting expectations at the start and discussing what happens next.  Perhaps the Lego or felts and paper, a puzzle, a library book about dragons or, dare I say it and if all else fails, an hour’s TV or tablet time.

We each have our own ideas and strategies, this is one of mine.

If you’re clear of nappies, you’re probably an expert at this already.  But if like me, you find yourself leaving a room of grumpy kids with a trail of excuses to delay the inevitable, why not humor yourself with a similar strategy, set them up with a full tank then take that lunch break guilt-free!  You deserve it.




Play now, work later


Disclaimer: This article shares my personal experiences whilst a Playcentre parent at my local Playcentre. It may not necessarily reflect the views of all Playcentre parents or the procedures/guidelines of each centre.

Life just feels like it’s all work and no play! Sound familiar? Sometimes, it can take that special something or someone to help us snap out apathy and back into action!
As our children grow up, they can’t help but get caught up in our world…but do we get caught up in theirs? There is a place in New Zealand where pre-school children can be children, where play is valued. That place is Playcentre.

A brief history

Here’s a little about how Playcentre became part of our heritage. Playcentre was first established in NZ in the 1940’s, after the second world war. Funded by the Ministry of Education, Playcentre puts parents as first educators of their children. As with other early childhood centres, it’s underpinned by a framework known as ‘Te Whariki’, which reflects four key principles of Empowerment, Family and Community, Relationships and Holistic Development. The responsibilities of running each Playcentre are shared among the parents.

A foundation for learning, not a fashion show!

Why would a parent volunteer to put on their gumboots, freakish clothes plastered with dye and bits of dried goo, and labour over pummelling playdough, dig trenches, dodge hoses and glue feathers, when they could simply drop their children off at Kindy or day-care and go about their day in peace?

It’s because Playcentre parents view play as the foundation from which children learn about the world – and they want to be involved in their child’s learning. There are benefits for parents too. For a stay-at-home parent with a young child, the local Playcentre is often the pinnacle of their community…providing a support network, two weeks of cooked dinners for Mums with new-borns, the opportunity to share information, gain parenting skills and for some, to re-learn how to play with their children.

Barriers such as ‘creating too much mess’ are removed. Playcentre is a place where all of a family’s pre-school children can go at once, with play set-ups that cater for different age groups, from baby to school age.

Why is play important?

Play is learning through doing. Self-expression in its purest form. Play is said to develop lateral thinking, initiative, creativity, resourcefulness.

Rather than be dictated to, children develop their own understanding of the world they live in, or ‘working theories’ as they’re called at Playcentre.

Let me paint you a picture

Three-year-old Carter sits at the table, sprinkling flour on a mountain of playdough. As a Playcentre kid, Carter feels a sense of belonging and is confident to ask for help or resources. “I want the lid off”, he tells me, pointing to the shaker. “I wonder what would happen if you shake it harder”, I reply. “If I take the lid is off, it will all come out at once.” “That’s Ok, he asserts back, it’s a volcano.”

Two-year-old Selina just loves to run amuck, exploring the colours and textures. She squeezes the bottle with her might, shrieking with delight as the dye blasts over the concrete. Down, down it goes, travelling faster and faster down the path, seeping into cracks, collecting in small puddles, falling between the slats of the deck. Now for some yellow, now green, now blue. She stomps all over it, colours flying everywhere, streaming, blending together.

Selina sinks her hand into a bowl of mixture that she says feels dry and powdery on her fingertips. She picks it up and watches as the mixture turns into super soft goo, watching it fall in clumps from her fingers, stringy globules falling onto the table.

Today, we built a fire in the sandpit, giving each of the children a stick with a marshmallow to toast. From painting and dye, bathing in glitter, smashing blocks of ice with a hammer, dressing up, running barefoot and throwing paint at paper, Playcentre offers a rich sensory environment, the ability to ‘get stuck in’, with the added bonus of Mum or Dad being close by. It’s the mixed age play, creativity, high level of parent involvement and community spirit that sets Playcentre apart, providing the opportunity to build solid and lasting friendships throughout the family.

Children at the centre

Playcentre play is child-led play, so parents may need to gauge when to dive in and when to bow out, especially as children get older. One of the tips I learnt early on is not to interpret a child’s painting for them. So rather than say, “Wow, what a lovely big sun you’ve painted, it is more apt to say “I can see two colours, yellow and orange. Tell me about your painting!”

The role of parents as educators

Of course, it’s not all play for parents! Parents plan, set up and support the play, then evaluate it at the end of the session. Supporting the play can involve adding more resources, such as paints, dyes or other materials, encouraging turn-taking or simply asking questions that help the child to express and build on what they’re learning. Parents write learning stories about their own and other children, sharing the learning that is observed for the child and identifying ways to extend it.

Major decisions are made through group consensus: everyone must feel that they can live with a decision before it is passed. There can be biased parents, different values and conflicts. And let’s not forget the public perception! While some people applauded us for playing with our kids, a few have been known to view Playcentre Mums as slightly crazy, a bunch of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, forever breeding Mums!

There are non-negotiable Playcentre ‘rules’, such as respecting people and property, respecting each other’s play and no hurting people. Although literacy is incorporated, it’s not impressed upon, as the general view is that there’s plenty of time to learn by rote, to memorise, recite and study.

It’s said that children learn best when they’re engaged. By engaging in the play instinct, we can develop strong, independent, creative thinkers.

To quote the words of George Bernard Shaw: We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. Perhaps you could try it again yourself sometime?