How To Wake Up With More Energy

Do you sometimes feel so tired in the morning that you don’t even want to get out of bed? If you find yourself hitting the snooze button again and again while wishing you could just wake up with more energy, try some of these small tweaks to your routine.

RELATED: 15 Ways To Boost Your Energy Instantly

Get enough sleep

You knew that already, right? Now be honest, are you doing it? Most of us are too busy and too distracted to make sleep a priority. As a result our productivity suffers, our creative ideas stop flowing and we wake up low on energy. Choose a reasonable bedtime that will ensure you get plenty of rest and stick with it – you’ll feel more energetic and more excited about life in no time.

Have consistent sleep and wake times

When you’re waking up at the same time every morning (after you’ve gotten enough sleep), your body gets used to it and knows when it’s time for rest and when it’s time to be active. That’s why it’s best to keep your schedule consistent, even on the weekends.

Drink water

Do you need your cup of coffee to wake up? Try something different for a while and see if it works for you – have a glass of water instead to help you regain the fluids you’ve lost during the night.

Exercise in the morning

A full workout would be nice if you have time for it, but it’s not necessary. Even just a brisk walk or a few yoga poses at home can help you get a boost of energy.

Let the sunlight in

Leave the blinds open and let natural light be the cue for your body that it’s time to get up and get active. You’ll get even more energised if you’re able to spend some time outdoors.

Have something to look forward to

It’s much easier to wake up with more energy if you have something to be excited about. Every day schedule something just for you that makes you happy.

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How To Overcome Decluttering Paralysis

Decluttering was on my list of New Year’s resolutions two years ago. Then again last year. Each year I only managed to go through a few shelves and drawers before giving up. It took forever, I felt like I was hardly making any progress and when I thought of how much work I still had to do, I wanted to run.

This year I haven’t picked any resolutions, but the desire to have a more spacious, clutter-free home is still there. So I’ve been trying out new strategies to overcome decluttering paralysis and they’re working!

RELATED: Clutter Crazy: How To Declutter (And Save Your Sanity)

Get inspired

I can recommend a couple of books on decluttering and organising your home that will inspire you: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and Soulspace by Xorin Balbes.

I know what you’re thinking now. “But decluttering frustrates me, why would I want to read books about it?” At least, that’s exactly what I thought when I came across these books. Then a friend mentioned that her mum had read just 80 pages of Marie Kondo’s book and that was all she needed to find motivation and get her home oranised in no time. I thought I could probably cope with 80 pages, so I gave it a go.

At first, I was amused. The author was obsessed with tidying and I wanted to have nothing to do with it. Her methods were never going to work for me, we were too different. Then, when I was one third through the book, something shifted and I couldn’t wait to get stated!

Get company

Decluttering is more fun when you’re not doing it alone. If you have children, ask them to help and then you won’t have to spend your child-free time tidying up. Having kids around can make it difficult to discard any clothes (my kids seem to love the way I look in pretty much anything), but it gives you a boost of confidence!

If you don’t have kids, team up with a friend and make time for some decluttering parties. When you’re having a great time and interesting conversations, you’ll get everything done quickly and effortlessly.

Keep up the momentum

If your place is anything like mine, you won’t be able to complete your decluttering mission in one go. Don’t leave too much time between your decluttering sessions or the area you tidied up last time will get messy again and you’ll get discouraged. Instead, do as much as you can every day or at least a few times a week. You’ll be able to see that you’re making progress and you’ll find motivation to keep on going.

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Throwback Thursday: Can You Drink Coffee When Pregnant?

Can’t imagine the day without your morning cup of coffee? You won’t have to give it up altogether, but you may have to change some of your coffee habits now that you’re pregnant.

What are the risks?

Small doses of caffeine are considered safe in pregnancy. However, excessive consumption has been linked to increased risk of miscarriage. Too much caffeine also impacts your fetus growth and may result in lower birth weight, which can cause health problems when the baby is born.

RELATED: Is Coffee Sucking The Life Out Of You?

How much is too much?

Current recommended limit in Australia is a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine a day. According to NSW Health, this limit can be obtained from 1 cup of strong espresso style coffee, 3 cups of instant coffee, 4 cups of medium strength tea, 4 cups of cocoa or hot chocolate or 4 cans of cola. Keep in mind that this is an estimation only. Caffeine content in drinks vary widely and it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Something else to consider is when you have your drink. Caffeine makes it more difficult for your body to absorb iron and calcium. You need your iron and calcium more than ever when you’re pregnant, so it’s best to have your meals and your coffee separately.

Why do you crave caffeine?

This is a good question to ask when you’re making changes to your coffee routine. Do you need your coffee to wake you up? In that case, you’re probably not getting enough rest or you lack important nutrients. Instead of reaching for your cup, carve out time for more sleep, drink plenty of water and choose healthy energy boosting foods like nuts, cooked eggs or spinach.

Do you love the taste of coffee? Make it decaf. It’ll only give you a fraction of the caffeine that regular coffee has and you’ll still give your taste buds a treat.

Sometimes, you’d crave a caffeine drink (not necessarily coffee) because it makes you feel better. For me, black tea was an effective relief for morning sickness. If you find yourself drinking cup after cup just so that you can get through the day, look for a decaffeinated option. In my experience, decaffeinated black tea was just as effective as the real thing. Clearly, it wasn’t the caffeine that was making me feel good.

As you can see, there’s no need to panic that you’ll have to do without coffee for the next 9 months. You can still enjoy your favourite drink and meet your needs, while keeping your baby safe.

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Travel Light: 5 Tips For Efficient Packing

This is what efficient packing used to look for me: I’d take everything out of my wardrobe, I’d consider whether I liked each individual item and if I liked it, in the suitcase it went. With three kids, this packing method is no longer possible. Now I need to pack at lightning speed and zip up the suitcase before the little tsunamis have managed to take everything out again. Unsurprisingly, my luggage has reduced in size compared to when I was single. Surprisingly, I usually manage to find in it everything I need. So what are the secrets of efficient packing?

RELATED: Travel Essentials: What To Pack In Your Suitcase

1. Plan ahead

Make a list of what you need a few days before your trip and add things to it as you remember. Pen and paper will do a great job, but if you want to make use of technology, you can download a packing app. You’ll be able to take notes of your personal requirements and also take advantage of sample lists to jog your memory.

2. Check the weather forecast

This may seem obvious, but I never used to check the weather, until after I found myself on a tropical island with a bag full of long pants; and in Brisbane, in winter and in the middle of the night, without a jacket. I had to learn the hard way not once, but twice!

3. Pick clothes that are practical

When you’re choosing what clothes to take, keep in mind what you’ll be doing while you’re away. Bring more bottoms than tops and pick clothes that you can mix and match. Use accessories to freshen up your look instead of bringing too many clothes and give preference to clothes that don’t need ironing.

4. Wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes during the trip

You will save heaps of suitcase space if you wear your heaviest items. It also helps if you layer them, for example, wear a short sleeve shirt and a jacket instead of a one-piece long sleeve item. Not only will you have less to pack, but you’ll also make sure you’re comfortable enroute.

5. Keep your essentials with you

If you’re checking in your luggage, make sure you have everything you need in your carry-on bag. Even if your luggage is with you at all times, it helps to make the essentials easily available so that you don’t have to pack and unpack your whole suitcase looking for them during the trip.

Efficient packing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With some planning you can make sure you have everything you need for a stress-free trip and nothing else!

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How To Choose A Baby Name Without A Fight

So you need to choose a baby name and the importance of this decision is weighing heavily on your mind – your child will be stuck with the name you choose for life! To make things more even more difficult, you and your partner may have different ideas about what makes a perfect name. Don’t know where to start? Some of these strategies will help.

RELATED: Celebrity Baby Names

Choose the surname first

Is it going to be your surname or your partner’s, or a combination of the two? Many of us will agree for the children to have the male partner’s name, even if we’ve kept our own surname after getting married. It’s how it’s been done traditionally and it’s an easy way to keep things simple. Besides, ladies, if you let your child have his surname, it gives you the upper hand when it comes to choosing the first name. Things have to be fair, right?

Discuss types of names

Do you prefer a popular name or an unusual one? How do you feel about a common name but with a different spelling? If the two of you come from different backgrounds, are there any names that are used or sound nice in both cultures? Will your child have a middle name? Agree on the general direction before getting down to the business of picking the actual name.

Make a list of names you like

Shortlist names you like. Use names of people you know or browse a book of baby names and don’t rush it. Every time you hear a name you like, add it to your list. Then once each of you has a few names in mind, examine each other’s lists and cross out any names that you absolutely hate. Hopefully, you will have a few options left. If not – it’s back to the drawing board, make another list.

Still finding it hard to choose a baby name? Leave the final decision until after you meet the baby. It can be much easier to decide once you have a face to put to the name.

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How To Sneak In Exercise While Travelling

We often associate workouts with strain, boredom and hard work. No wonder most of us would not even think about exercise while travelling! But being active doesn’t have to be a struggle. Here are some great ways to sneak in holiday exercise and enjoy yourself at the same time.

RELATED: Beauty Essentials For Travellers

Walk

You can easily incorporate walking in your day, no matter where you are spending your holiday. Walk to shops and restaurants, or just as a way to enjoy a moment by yourself. Walking is also the best way to see the sights, mingle with the locals and feel the atmosphere of a place. If there is a beach, forest or mountain nearby, reconnect with nature by taking a walk rather than driving.

Bike it

Depending on where you are, you may be able to get around by bike – a great alternative to driving that it keeps you fit at the same time. Bikes are available for hire at most places that get lots of tourists.

Swim

Whether you find yourself at the beach or you have a swimming pool at your accommodation, take this opportunity to go for a swim – before cocktails! You’ll feel much better about the cocktails after you’ve burned some calories.

Find a buddy

Exercise is much more fun when you’re enjoying good company. Maybe you love a game of tennis and so does someone else you’ve just met at your hotel. Or your travel companion has always wanted to go for a morning jog. Or there is a game of beach volleyball in progress and you haven’t played for years. Take the opportunity and join in.

Play with your kids

Travelling with your kids, or someone else’s kids? Put down your smartphone, turn off the TV and join them for a game of soccer, tag or anything that involves running around. The kids will love it and you’ll be surprised how much younger you’ll feel at the end of the day.

Exercise while travelling is for everyone. If you haven’t exercised regularly before, now is a great time to start. On the other hand, if you already have an exercise routine, but feel that you need a break, then you probably do. Your routine will not suffer if you put it on hold for a week or two, and in the meantime, you can still be active in different ways.

7 Quick Ways To Simplify Your Life

Most of us have too much going on in our lives. Demands on our time come from all directions and we keep on adding new things to do, while trying to hold on to everything else that’s already there. Sooner or later it becomes impossible. Are you wondering how you could simplify your life to make space for more of what you want? Here are some quick ways to get started.

RELATED: How To Create More Time In Your Day

1. Say no more often

Is “yes” your automatic answer to everything? Become more selective and consider each request that comes your way before you answer. Do you really want to do it? If yes, go for it. Otherwise, say “no”.

2. Ask for help

You won’t get a medal for doing everything on your own and who wants a medal anyway? It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help and you won’t bother people (if you do, it’s up to them to say “no”). Even if you outsource one little thing a day, it’ll add up and you’ll feel the difference.

3. Declutter your home and your work space

Start with the areas where you spend most of your time – your desk, the living room, the kitchen. Once your space looks more organised, you will feel more organised and won’t be spending time looking for things.

4. Limit your media use

There’s no need to miss out on your favourite TV show, but if you find yourself mindlessly staring at a screen only because it’s there, turn it off. All of a sudden you have ample free time to meditate, go for a walk or get creative.

5. Buy less

Shopping therapy is a popular way to combat stress, but is it the most effective one? Very unlikely. When you buy less you spend less money, less time and have less stuff to make space for.

6. Be selective who you spend time with

Choose to hang out with people you love and avoid those who complain and drain your energy. Don’t agree to catch up just because you always do or because you feel obligated. You can choose who you give your time to and still have friends.

7. Slow down

It might be counterintuitive, but when you get enough sleep, make time for yourself and meditate, you will notice that everything else in your life happens with less effort.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you could do to simplify your life, don’t be. Pick just one thing and do it today.

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Learning To Accept Compliments Gracefully

I used to be one of those women that don’t take compliments well. I’d try making my achievements look smaller or non-existent, find excuses or even quickly change the topic and compliment the other person in return. Until I realised I wasn’t doing myself a service and I certainly wasn’t making the other person feel good about complimenting me. Learning to accept compliments was a conscious choice for me and it can be your choice, too.

RELATED: What Makes A Good Listener

Why is it so hard to accept a compliment?

  • For me it had a lot to do with upbringing. I was raised to believe that it was not modest or even acceptable to boast about your accomplishments and accepting a compliment seemed very much like boasting.
  • Often we’d get compliments about things that come so naturally to us that we don’t even see them as compliment-worthy. In fact, these are our strengths. These same accomplishments that we think nothing of don’t necessarily come easily to other people.
  • Not being able to accept a compliment can also be a sign of low self-esteem. We don’t feel that we can possibly deserve the compliment and the person giving it to us is either just trying to be nice or delusional.

Accepting a compliments is a good thing

  • It’s polite. I always feel uneasy when someone is deflecting or arguing with a compliment I’ve given and I now realise that all the people I’ve done it to must have felt the same way. The person complimenting you is doing it because they’ve seen something in you that they value. The most polite thing you can do is to appreciate them for it.
  • We learn about ourselves. By listening to compliments instead of dismissing them we are learning what it is that people find valuable in us and what we have to contribute.
  • It’s good for our self-esteem. Every time you acknowledge that yes, you are what people say you are and yes, you have achieved something worthy, you’re affirming your positive qualities.

How to get started

Here’s a very simple practice. When someone compliments you, just say, “Thank you”. This is probably what you’d normally start your response with anyway, so this should be easy. Then stifle your urge to continue the sentence with “but…”. You can leave it at “thank you” or you can pause and think of something positive to say like “I put a lot of thought into it” or “I’m so thrilled that it went well”. You can also put the honours back to the person giving the compliment, but without changing the subject immediately, for example, “It means a lot coming from you” or “I really appreciate it”.

Think of all the times that you’ve given compliments. How do people’s responses make you feel? Model the ones that make you feel good and exclude the rest from your repertoire.

As anything else, accepting compliments gets easier with practice. Before long you’ll start feeling great about it and never feel awkward again.

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How To Spot Toxic Friends

We’ve all had toxic friends. After you spend time with them, you feel down and deflated. You start doubting yourself and your choices. You’re wondering what happened to the wonderful evening you were looking forward to and why you feel like you’ve just unloaded a truckload of bricks.

RELATED: The 8 Most Annoying People In Your Life

Here’s the good news: we get to choose our friends. We can decide how much time we want to spend with them or if we should let go of the friendship completely. But before we make that choice, how do we spot the toxic friends in our lives?

You feel tired after you’ve spent time with them

All of us have bad days now and then, but if you’re consistently feeling exhausted after spending time with someone, it’s a sign of a one-sided exchange. You’re spending a whole lot more energy than what you’re getting back and it feels like your time together is sucking the life out of you.

They see the negative in everything

If your friends are always complaining about their own situation and seeing the negative in everything you do, it’s a really good idea to limit your interactions. There’s only so long you can pretend to be entertained and not let their negative comments affect you.

It’s always about them

There’re many ways selfishness can show up. Maybe you know someone who always talks about themselves and when you finally manage to get a word in, they don’t seem interested. Perhaps they’re always late, or they change the arrangements you’ve made at the last moment because “they don’t feel like it,” but then get upset if you do the same. Whatever it is, if you don’t feel like there’s balance in your relationship, you don’t have to keep on falling for it.

They gossip

Are they telling you revealing stories and unkind things about their other friends? There’s a good chance that they’re doing the same behind your back.

You don’t feel safe around them

Do you watch every word you say for fear of being put down? Do you withhold your positive news because your friend might be jealous or negate your achievements? If you can’t relax in your friends’ company and you have to work hard to keep everyone happy, that would drain a lot of energy out of you.

You don’t have to break up with all of your toxic friends. In fact, no one is 100 per cent bearable all of the time. But being aware of what is really happening in your friendship will help you to decide just how much toxicity you’re willing to put up with, and when it’s time to let go.

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5 Tips For Starting A Daily Meditation Practice

Are you struggling to establish a daily meditation practice? You might feel that you don’t have time for it; it’s boring, it’s not for you, or you simply forget. Yet, the benefits of meditation are profound: It relaxes your nervous system, brings clarity, increases your vitality and connects you with your intuition. Who wouldn’t want that in their lives?

RELATED: How Yoga And Meditation Can Fix Us From The Inside Out

1. Start small

If the thought of spending 20 minutes meditating seems daunting, try 5 minutes. Everyone has 5 minutes a day that they can invest in themselves, whether it’s immediately after you wake up, in your lunch break or just before going to bed. As you get used to meditating regularly, you can gradually increase the time.

2. Choose what works for you

There’s no one right way to mediate. You can focus on your breath or a mantra that you’re saying to yourself, listen to a guided meditation, or try a walking meditation. Experiment with different ways to meditate and choose what you enjoy the most.

3. Everyone can meditate

Are you concerned that you have all kinds of thoughts in your head and that meditation is not working for you? It happens to all of us and it doesn’t mean you can’t meditate. Simply acknowledge your thoughts as soon as you notice you’re thinking and go back to your focus – whether it’s your breath, your mantra or the movement of your body.

4. Create a routine, but don’t get attached to it

If you’re able to pick a time to meditate every day, great! It’s much easier to remember your practice when it’s on your schedule and it’s easier to turn it into a habit. But sometimes things will happen that disrupt your schedule, or you might be struggling to create a routine in the first place. Don’t let that take you out, just watch out for the next available time and use it for your meditation.

5. Don’t give up

Feeling bad that you’ve missed a day or two? Not many people will stick with it every single day. Don’t be harsh on yourself about it; simply return to your daily mediation practice on the next day or as soon as you can.

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Mums Are Appreciated: Fact Or Fiction?

Making sure that your family thrives is not an easy job and it’s one that doesn’t come with bells and whistles. Mums don’t get paid for their hard work and they don’t get nominated for awards, but are they at least being appreciated by their families?

RELATED: The Ultimate Mother’s Day Beauty Gift Guide

Australia Post has just released its Mother’s Day Survey results and nearly 80 per cent of Australians say that mums are the most appreciated member of the family. However, almost 40 per cent have forgotten to buy a Mother’s Day gift at least once, with 9.1 per cent admitting that they forget to buy a gift every year. So much for showing appreciation!

Australians are just as likely to forget to buy a Mother’s Day card, also – 42.6 per cent of all respondents have forgotten to buy a card at least once and 10.5 per cent forget every year. Those who remember to buy gifts often don’t put a lot of effort into it, either, with 43.9 per cent admitting that they’ve bought a gift voucher instead of a thoughtful gift, while 23.4 per cent say they’ve sent the mum in their life to buy her own gift. Some people (5.4 per cent!) admitted to buying a washing basket – that would have to go on the worst ever Mother’s Day gifts list.

Are these numbers making you depressed? Here are some better ways to show your appreciations to the mum in your life:

  • Put some effort into figuring out what she’d like and shop early.
  • Tell her how much you love her and what you appreciate about her. If you have young kids, ask them to list the things they love about Mum and turn their answers into a card, artwork or a video.
  • Spend time with her on Mother’s Day, but also give her some time to herself.

Showing mums how much we appreciate them doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. It just takes some thought and a loving heart.

5 Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity At Work

Do you feel that your work is taking a lot longer than it should? There’s no need to resign yourself to late nights at the office, have a look at your habits instead. Here are some things you might be doing that are killing your productivity at work.

RELATED: The Secret To Exceptional Productivity

1. Checking email as they come in

You receive a new notification and your curiosity gets the better of you. You jump into your inbox just to see a new email from a client. Since you opened the email anyway, you might as well reply, so you forget what you were working on before that and start typing. Then another email arrives. Before you know it, the day is gone and you haven’t completed anything.

Unless you’re in customer service and it’s your job to answer emails all day, checking your email constantly is disruptive and distracts you from your real work. Turn off your notifications and schedule time for email instead, whether it’s once a day or once every couple of hours.

2.    Spending time on social media

Checking Facebook for 5 minutes while you’re taking a break is harmless, but if you get sucked in and find yourself still on Facebook half an hour later, then it’s a habit that’s not working for you. Just like emails, unless it’s your job to be on social media all day, turn off notifications, schedule time for it and stick to your designated time (use a timer to remind you)!

3. Taking too many breaks

Do you always give in to the desire to get a snack, get a drink, go for a walk and/or have a chat with a colleague? You’re procrastinating. Recognise that all these breaks are not necessary and ask yourself what you’re trying to avoid. Once you’re clear on the real reason why you’re doing everything but working, it’s much easier to address it.

4. Not taking enough breaks

You may be thinking you’re gaining precious minutes when you’re having your lunch at your desk, but the reality is you need to take breaks to recharge. Your productivity goes down when you’re not looking after yourself. Don’t believe me? Experiment with it. Try taking regular breaks for a day or a week and notice how much more you’ll get done.

5. Saying “yes” to everything

It’s fantastic that you want to help people, but you can’t do everything. Focus on your most important tasks and view all requests that are coming in through the filter of your priorities. Is this task helping you achieve your goals, or is it setting you back? Of course, you can’t always avoid meaningless tasks when you’re working for someone else, but you can do your best to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Start by saying “no” to one request per day and you will see your productivity at work improve immediately.

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Choosing The Right Daycare For Your Child

They grow up too fast, don’t they? It feels like yesterday you were holding a newborn, and now it’s already time to look for daycare so that you can return to work or have some time to yourself. Every mum needs to know that her child in good hands while she’s not around, but there’s so much to consider.

RELATED: Attack Of The Mummy Guilt: Is Daycare Really Bad For Kids?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task of choosing the right day care, here are some steps to get you started:

Consider your child’s personality

The best type of care for your child will depend on how they relate with people and what activities they prefer. Before you start looking, try to imagine the ideal environment where your child will thrive. Does she always run around and climb?

She will probably be happiest in a daycare that has a big playground with lots of equipment. Is your child reserved and suffering from separation anxiety? Consider a family daycare. A bigger centre might be fine, too, but definitely ask about staff turnover before you enroll. You don’t want a centre where carers are changing frequently.

First impressions

Once you’ve gotten clear on the environment you’d like for your child, it’s time to start visiting some centres in the area and comparing the reality to your vision. Some things to look out for are:

  • Does the place look welcoming?
  • Are the staff friendly?
  • Is the centre clean?
  • Do the kids look happy?
  • What toys and activities are available?
  • What is the daily routine?
  • What’s the playground like?

Ask for recommendations

You can’t see everything in a brief visit. Talk to other parents whose children go to the daycare you’re considering and ask them how they feel about it. Don’t be discouraged if there’s one parent who has issues with the centre (there’s always the one!), but if you consistently receive negative feedback, look elsewhere.

Some of us live in areas where there’s shortage of daycare spots. If that’s you, make sure you put your child’s name on the waiting list as early as possible. It’s good to have options when the time comes and you can always say ‘no’ if an opportunity no longer suits you.

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5 Ways To Fall In Love With Mondays

It’s Monday morning. You hear your alarm and you hit the snooze button. Then you hit it again. Eventually you manage to get out of bed, get dressed and out of the house. You grab a coffee on the run and start counting the days left before the weekend… Too many. While most of us are familiar with this scenario, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can fall in love with Mondays and here’s how.

RELATED: Supercharge Your Day With This Simple Morning Ritual

1. Get enough sleep

We have a good time until late on the weekends, sleep in, then stay up late again. No wonder getting out of bed on Mondays is a struggle. Treat yourself to an early Sunday night instead and you will wake up with renewed energy.

2. Have a morning ritual

Do something in the morning that helps you feel the way you want to feel – whether it’s calm and grounded or excited and wanting to take on the world. Your morning ritual could include exercise or meditation, but it can also be as simple as singing loudly along to your favourite song on the radio.

3. Schedule something fun for Monday

Why do we leave all the fun things for Friday nights? Why not have fun every day? Schedule a lunch date with a friend or a dance class after work and you will have something look forward to.

4. Appreciate your work

No work situation is perfect and it’s easy to let our attention go to all the things we dislike. If you notice yourself going down the negative spiral, stop and remind yourself of all the things you appreciate about your work, instead. Maybe you’re working on a new and exciting project. Or you have a client you always enjoy talking to. Or you get free coffee. At the very least, you have an income that pays your bills. There’s always something you can appreciate.

5. Plan for change

If none of the above ideas help you fall in love with Mondays, you probably need a change. Spend some time figuring out what’s working and what’s not working for you in your current situation. Brainstorm things you can do to make your work more enjoyable or start looking at other opportunities.

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5 Gifts Mums Don’t Want For Mother’s Day

I was window-shopping when this sign caught my attention: “LEGO books inside. Shop early for Mother’s Day”. Really? What mum would want a LEGO book for Mother’s Day? And to think about it, someone who’s struggling to come up with great gift idea will see the sign and would walk in to buy what’s on offer. Don’t fall for it!

RELATED: Mother’s Day Recipes: Breakfast Pancakes

Here are some things that no mum would want for Mother’s day, no matter how much merchants might want you to believe otherwise.

1. Things that the kids will love more than the mum

LEGO books, craft packs, or other items that are likely to catch the kids attention will probably buy the mum some peace and quiet, but ultimately, they are not for her. And even though the peace and quiet may not happen – the kids will insist that mum plays, too. It’s her gift after all, isn’t it?

2. Parenting books

As mums, we already spend too much time in the motherguilt zone. We don’t need another expert telling us that we should be doing things differently from what we’re currently doing. Not on Mother’s Day!

3. Household items

A new clothes line or a slow cooker have their use, but they’re just that – useful. On Mother’s Day we want to feel special. Something to help me with the household chores doesn’t make me feel special.

4. A jam-packed day

While a well-chosen family activity can be joyful and energising, a day full of activities sounds like a nightmare, even if I’d love to do each of the activities on its own. So if you’re an over-planner, make an effort to keep it down and give the mum in your life lots of time and space to enjoy her day.

5. Nothing

Even if the mum in your life says that Mother’s Day is not important to her, she wants to feel loved and appreciated (every day, not just on Mother’s Day). Ignoring the day completely definitely doesn’t count as love and appreciation.

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Is Self-Employment Right For You?

Self-employment is becoming a popular option these days with more people seeking flexibility and traditional jobs losing their security appeal. Are you wondering if self-employment could be the perfect next step for you? Read on.

RELATED: Make Working From Home Work For You

Why are you considering self-employment?

Before you make up your mind, take some time to explore your motivation. Are you imagining yourself working whenever you feel like, doing only things you love and getting paid generously for it? Let’s get real, it’s not likely to happen that way, at least not in the beginning. You will be doing the work (hopefully, something you love), but you’ll also have to find your own clients, organise your workload, take care of paperwork and manage your finances. In short, you’ll be taking responsibility of every single facet of your business.

On the other hand, if you’re considering self-employment because responsibility empowers you and you can’t wait to bring your own ideas to life, then you’re much more likely to stick with it in the long-run.

The pros

  • Flexibility. While you can’t just work whenever you want and expect a steady income, you should be able to establish a schedule that fits nicely into your lifestyle.
  • Fulfillment. It’s up to you to choose work that you’re passionate about and eliminate or outsource draining tasks as much as possible.
  • Choice. You get to choose what you do and who you work with. You can say “no” to that client you absolutely hate and no one will fire you.
  • No boring meetings.
  • No office politics.

The cons

  • Uncertainty. While traditional jobs are not as secure as they used to be, psychologically you still feel safer – you expect your paycheck to come on a certain day no matter what. When you’re self-employed, securing your paycheck (and making sure you have enough to cover your expenses) is entirely up to you.
  • No benefits. You won’t get your paid annual leave or your super delivered to your account automatically. If you want to top up your super, it will have to be out of your own hard-earned profit.
  • No structure. With a job also comes a structure that tells you how many hours you’re supposed to work and what you need to accomplish in that time. When you’re self-employed, you need to create your own structure. If you’re not focused, it’s easy to fall into one of these two extremes – either working all the time or working only when you feel inspired and not getting anything done.

Self-employment is not right for everyone and is not a magic wand that will make all your dreams come true, but it can be a means to an end. What’s important is to do meaningful work in a profitable, sustainable way and you can do it (or fail to do it) both in a job or as a self-employed.

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Developing Your Intuition (And Why It Matters)

Using our intuition is not something we learn at school. Most of us have been taught to make decisions relying on logic and information that we receive from the outside world, but this is no longer a great strategy for a successful life. Information is everywhere and it can take us decades to get through it and arrange it in a logical way, and who has decades to spend on every decision? We need a shortcut and we need it now!

RELATED: Powerful Morning Rituals That Lead To Success

Luckily, intuition can provide this shortcut by helping us access our inner knowing of what is right for us in every moment. Successful thinkers and doers from all walks of life admit that developing their intuition has been vital to their success. Bill Gates, the richest man on earth has a popular quote: “Often you have to rely on intuition,” while Einstein said: “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”

“But I’m not Bill Gates and I’m not Einstein”, you might be thinking. “What if I don’t have intuitive abilities?”

Everyone has intuitive abilities

Intuitive coach and energy healer Freya Dwyer explains that intuition is the part of us that guides us to bring love and grace to every situation, and it’s a part that we all have. Even if you don’t think you’re intuitive, you have probably experienced intuitive hits without realising it.

For example, you might be having a fight with a family member and you really want to say that one thing that will ‘get’ them, but there’s something in you that warns you not to go there. Or you might get a strong sense to eat a certain food or walk a certain path, and you don’t know why, but to do anything else feels wrong.

Why is it important to follow your intuition?

Your intuition offers the shortest way to personal fulfilment. “If we don’t follow our intuition when the voice is quiet and small, eventually your life will become so uncomfortable that you will have no other choice but to follow it”, Freya says. A bad relationship is the perfect example that comes to mind. We see and feel that something is off from the very start, but we choose to ignore our gut feeling, just to end up breaking up months or years down the track after a lot of heartache.

Freya tells a story from her own life when her intuition helped her make a decision that wasn’t comfortable, but it turned out being the right one. “When I was in my twenties I worked for a company that was very unethical. I didn’t have a lot of experience and I thought that must be the way things were in that industry, but it felt very wrong to me.

“One day I just walked out.  I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to pay my bills, but I knew I couldn’t stay one more day in that place. After I did that, I gained employment at a wonderful company and was able to build back my self-esteem.”

Developing your intuition

While everyone has intuitive abilities, using your intuition is like using your muscles. Train your muscles every day and you will soon notice that your body becomes fitter and stronger. Practice your intuition and you will start receiving clearer signals.

Freya recommends daily meditation as a way to develop your intuition. You can start with just 5 minutes a day and then gradually build up your meditation practice. Other activities that can help are journaling and yoga, or another physical practice to connect you to your body.

Self-care is extremely important when you want to hear your intuition clearly. When you’re stressed out and running around all day, you’re unable to discern between worry and intuition. Instead, take some time for yourself and do what relaxes you. With a calm mind it’s much easier to remember to pay attention to the signals in your body.

Stop and notice how you’re feeling throughout the day. Acknowledge the things that feel good, whether it’s patting the neighbour’s cat, smelling a flower, or drinking more water. Then notice how you feel when you do things that don’t feel right, like constantly checking Facebook or complaining. Get to know changes in your body as you go about your day. What gives you a feeling of bliss? What makes your stomach tighten?

The difference between intuition and fear

But wait, isn’t that tightening in the stomach just fear? Shouldn’t we ignore it and go for what we want anyway? Freya offers an easy way to distinguish between fear and intuition. Fear is about rehashing the past or trying to predict the future, while intuition is always, always in the present moment. Fear tells you that you have limited options. Intuition is infinitely creative. Fear tends to compare you to others and their situation, but your intuition knows that you’re entirely unique.

Connecting to your intuition is a discipline. Practice every day and little by little you’ll be able to experience greater flow and ease in your life.

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Healthy Snacks For Babies And Toddlers

Most of us begin our parenting journey with the great intention to teach our children good eating habits. This intention often gets lost somewhere between the sleepless nights and the dirty nappies, however. We start looking for shortcuts, and one of them comes in the form of fast food. The temptation to choose one of the many readily available options is even stronger when we are on the go.

RELATED: Carrot, Zucchini And Parsnip Slice – An Easy Toddler Recipe

So, how do we find healthy snacks for our kids that are also quick and easy to prepare? Here are some suggestions:

Fresh fruit

For snacks on the go it’s best to choose fruits that keep well, are not messy, and which the children will like. Some of the options are blueberries, pieces of apple, mandarins, bananas, apricots and grapes. For babies, you may need to puree the fruit and carry it in a small container. If you have a toddler, keep in mind that apples and other hard fruit may present a choking hazard, so it’s best to get the fruit sliced and peeled beforehand.

Dried fruit

Some of the choices here are sultanas, dried apples, apricots or cranberries. They don’t take up a lot of space in your bag, don’t create mess and children love them. For young babies you may need to soak and puree the fruit before you offer it.

Veggies

Toddlers are notoriously bad at eating veggies. But sometimes they’ll eat them without a sound when they are outside and exploring new surroundings, so this is the perfect time to offer healthy snacks.  Some veggies you could offer include carrot, cucumber, celery or capsicum sticks, or cooked pumkin, peas and corn.

Sandwiches

Babies and toddlers usually love bread and many will be happy with just a bread roll on its own. If you’d like to add more nutrients, here are some basic sandwich fillings you can easily incorporate: Vegemite, cream cheese, grated cheddar, avocado, lean chicken, canned tuna, veggies.

Crispbread, crackers and rusks

There’s a variety of baby and toddler snacks available from the supermarket, but they aren’t always healthy (even if it reads “healthy” on the label). Check the list of ingredients carefully for any hidden additives and preservatives. Ideally, the products you select will also contain no added sugar and very little salt.

To take the stress out of snacking, be sure to carry a couple of different healthy options, especially for picky toddlers. This way your children will get a variety of nutrients and having a choice will help them feel in control.

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Why Everyone Loves Chocolate

Had too many Easter eggs? Still feeling the after-Easter guilt? You’re in good company. Almost two-thirds of Australians reach for chocolate in any given four weeks and those of us who make a conscious effort to look after our health are just as likely to snack on it as anyone else.

RELATED: Dark Chocolate: Bad Or Benefitial?

Recent data from Ray Morgan Research reveals that there’s no clear relationship between body weight, health habits and love of chocolate. Whether you’re underweight, overweight or within the healthy weight range, you’re equally likely to include it in your diet. Even people who restrict how much fattening food they eat and those who prefer healthy snacks will have chocolate at least once in an average four-week period. So why do we love it so much?

Chocolate makes us happy

Dark chocolate helps your body produce serotonin, one of the happy hormones. Add to that the effect of sugar and caffeine, and it’s no wonder you feel on a high after your favourite treat.

Chocolate is love

There’s a strong association between chocolate and love in our society. It is the traditional gift to express romantic feelings and celebrate special occasions. Just imagine Valentine’s Day without chocolate… Impossible!

Chocolate is indulgence

We all get tired of working hard, trying to be healthy and follow all kind of rules, and we need a break. Chocolate represents the perfect reward. It’s easy to reach for, it makes us feel good and it can quickly turn into a vice if we over-indulge (nothing like the allure of the forbidden fruit to make us crave more).

Of course, not all chocolate is created equal and if we can’t resist it, we can at least make the most of it. Have you tried making your own chocolate rum balls or dark chocolate bark? Pure bliss!

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Why It’s Important To Set Boundaries With Kids

Children have many innate abilities, but understanding the workings and the dangers of the world we live in is not one of them. They know when they are hungry, tired or scared, but they don’t have the knowledge and skills to keep themselves safe or interact with others in a respectful way. It’s important for parents to set boundaries for their children as part of the learning process.

RELATED: The Ultimate Parenting Tip: Consistency

Boundaries keep children safe

Learning from experience might be the best way to learn in many situations, but sometimes the stakes are just too high. For example, toddlers don’t understand why it’s not a good idea to run on the road or climb on the balcony railings.  They’ll test these boundaries again and again before they realise that they’re non-negotiable. Then they’ll stay within the boundaries without you having to enforce them every single time – what a relief!

Boundaries give children a sense of security

There’s a lot going on already in your child’s life: learning, building relationships, growing, changing. Boundaries make everthing look more organised and predictable. When children know what to expect and have some guidelines on how to behave in the situations they encounter, they gain a sense of control and confidence that they can manage.

Boundaries help create healthy habits

Even adults find it easy to get addicted to junk food or TV and children are much more vulnerable. It’s important to set limits in these areas in order to teach our children how to eat healthy and stay active.

Boundaries teach life skills

Overcoming difficulties, taking responsibility for your actions and delaying gratification are all skills that are best learned through boundaries. Having to deal with disappointment in a safe and supportive family surrounding will prepare children for later lessons in life, which will not necessarily be delivered in the same loving and forgiving fashion.

You’re a role model

Finally, by setting boundaries with your kids, you’re teaching them to set boundaries for themselves. It’s so important to know where a person ends and someone else begins, and it’s something many of us have to learn the hard way by negotiating our way out of abusive relationships or work commitments that affect our health. When you have healthy personal boundaries you won’t find yourself in these kind of situations in the first place, and this is exactly what we want for our children.

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Australia’s Most Wanted Family Holiday Spots

Time to book your family holiday, but you don’t know where to go? Beaches, fun parks, cities, bush, snow – Australia has so much to offer that it’s no wonder you’re finding it hard to choose! Take some inspiration from other Australians, who have shared the destinations they’re most likely to visit in the next 2 years.

RELATED: 5 Things To Consider Before Booking Your Family Holiday

The most wanted state

A recent Ray Morgan research found that 46% of Australian families would like to go to Queensland for their holidays, closely followed by Victoria (45%) and NSW (43%).  The Sunshine State provides everything the families are looking for – beautiful beaches, plenty of outdoor fun, warm weather and theme parks. It also has a great choice of family-friendly accommodation with parents’ favourite feature, kids’ clubs.

The most wanted destination

As far as individual destinations go, here are the top 5 winners as revealed by Ray Morgan Research:

5. The north coast of NSW

This is a perfect choice if you want a beach holiday and lots of outdoor action. Popular activities include nature walks, diving and whale watching.

4. The Great Ocean Road

Want to take a road trip? Look no further. The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most spectacular coastal drives, offering both natural beauty and cultural attractions, with charming coastal towns where you can take a break along the way.

3. Sydney

If you’re looking for a city-based experience, Sydney offers a range of attractions for families, including museums, beaches, performances and wildlife parks.  The city comes alive in school holidays. There are activities for kids everywhere and lots of them are free.

2. Surfers Paradise

It’s no surprise that Surfers Paradise is close to the top, with so many family-friendly resorts and close proximity to every kid’s dream – the theme parks. You don’t have to wonder how to entertain the kids, take them to a park and you know they’ll love it.

1. Melbourne

25% of Australian families said they would like to visit Melbourne for their family holiday. You definitely won’t run out of things to do there with so many museums and cultural events, and the adult part of the family can indulge in some shopping.

Still struggling to choose your family holiday destination? Here’s something that will help. Close your eyes and relax. Imagine your prefect holiday. Where are you? What are you doing? What are your kids doing (important!)? How are you feeling? Now that you’ve got a better idea of what you want, take your pick!

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5 Ways To Score Some Alone Time These School Holidays

I’ve always greeted school holidays with mixed feelings. Yay to not rushing to school in the mornings! No more school lunches! And if I can convince my kids to get their own breakfast, I might even be able to sleep in one day. But then… where did my alone time go?

RELATED: Fun Things To Do With The Kids These School Holidays

While parenting during the school holidays is more relaxed, it’s still hard work and we, mums, still need our alone time to recharge. Here are some ways you can recover your alone time, even if you’ve missed out on those precious school holiday care spots.

1. Swap child care

Kids love playing with their friends and it often makes your job easier, too, if they have a friend around – they don’t need you to entertain them. Arrange to swap a couple of hours or a whole day of day care. You child’s friend’s mum needs alone time as much as you do and will be only too happy with these arrangements.

2. Swap your skills

Another way to get some child care without paying for it is offering your skills in return. Maybe show your teenage neighbour some makeup tricks or offer to cook dinner for your friend in exchange for babysitting.

3. Hit the gym

The gym crèche is an inexpensive way to have someone look after you kids for an hour or so, and don’t assume it’s only for the littlies. Talk to the creche staff about the ages of the kids they’re getting. Most likely your kids will find lots of school-aged friends to hang out with while you’re working out.

4. Visit grandparents

You know your kids will watch TV and eat sweats the whole time they’re there, but you can pretend that you don’t know. Just sneak out for a few hours and let Grandma handle it.

5. Sign them up for classes

There’re all kind of kids’ classes you can find during school holidays for varying budgets, from art to sports, to science. Choose the ones that your kids are most interested in and more importantly, the ones that don’t require the parent to be present. Let the kids have their school holidays fun while you’re enjoying your alone time.

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Teaching Kids Money Skills

Most of us would admit that our finances could use some improvement. We weren’t brought up with good money skills and that’s what makes teaching our kids about money so challenging. But even if you don’t feel like a money expert, don’t be discouraged. Whether you realise it or not, you have acquired a lot of money wisdom you can pass on to your children to give them a good start in life.

RELATED: 7 Modern Money Lessons You Need To Teach Your Kids

Talk about money

Explain to your children what money is as soon as you can, as well as the different forms money can take – cash, credit cards, bank deposits. Let them watch you pay at the shop and later outsource the payment to them. They’ll love it and they’ll get to practice their maths, too.

It’s also important to teach them where money comes from (it’s not from the ATM, like my son used to believe). When children understand that people pay you money because you have contributed in some way to make their lives better, they see money as a fair exchange rather than endless supply.

Play money games

Kids love to play shops. Parents use this game to teach their kids new words, but it’s also a way to model money transactions. My kids have a price list for all kind of items they sell at their shop and we use play money to purchase them.

Monopoly is a great game for older kids. It will take their understanding of money to a new level and it’s fun to play for adults, too.

Encourage saving

Take the kids to the bank to open their own savings accounts – it will make them feel all grown up. Have a piggy bank at home, too, for easier access. When they receive money, remind them that saving it (or part of it) is an option and that not spending all their money immediately will help them buy bigger things later on.

Allow buying decisions

Let your kids take responsibility for their own spending every now and then. You can discuss with them the pros and cons of each decision, but leave it up to them, even if you think they’re making a mistake. Sometimes mistakes are the quickest way to learn.

Work on your own money skills

When you’re getting better at saving, budgeting, managing your debt and making the most out of your money, you’re modelling these money skills for your children.

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5 Easter Things To Do With Kids

Did you love Easter when you were a child? It was one of my favourite holidays when I was growing up and now as mum I want my children to fill their own Easter baskets with wonderful memories. Here are some of the fun things we do at home that you can try, too.

RELATED: How To Have A Guilt Free Easter

1. Easter stories

Easter is not just about eating lots of chocolate and having a good time. Help your children learn more about the meaning of Easter by reading Easter picture books together. Even if you’re not religious, the history of Easter and the symbolic meaning behind it can be interesting to kids and adults.

2. Dyeing Easter eggs

There are different ways to approach this – you can blow the egg out of the shell and dye the shell only or you can dye hard-boiled eggs, which is my family’s tradition. To colour the eggs, use special egg dyes, food colouring or natural dyes (beetroot juice will colour your eggs red and boiled onion peel will make them yellow). To make your eggs even prettier, draw on them with a candle before dyeing, attach a leaf or use stickers.

3. Egg fights

This is not what you’re thinking, there’s no egg throwing involved! The egg fights are a game we play with our hard-boiled dyed eggs and the mess is minimal. Each child picks an egg, then they hit the eggs against each other, first the sharp ends, then the bottom ends. The winner is the person who ends up with their egg intact.

4. Easter egg hunt

For many kids the egg hunt is the most exciting part of Easter, but it finishes too quickly! Most often we just hide chocolate eggs and let the kids find them, but if you want the fun to last longer, you can make the rules more complicated. Prepare clues to take children from one hiding spot to the next or hide a variety of objects and give each child a checklist of what they’re looking for.

5. Cooking together

Do you have a special treat that you only make for Easter? Involve your kids in preparing the traditional meal. Even if you don’t have anything that you’ve been making year after year, it’s never too late to start a new tradition. Try making hot cross buns, a special cake or bunny-shaped cookies.

Do you have your own favourite Easter family activity?

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Do You Have A Favourite Child?

Most parents will say that they love all their children equally and that is probably true, but do you like all your children equally? Few of us will admit to having a favourite child, yet, children, even within the same family, are so different that it’s hard not to have personal preferences. Some children are better match for our own personalities than others. Some are harder to parent and we can get so exhausted that we unintentionally seek more interaction with the ‘easier’ children. You may even notice that your preferences change and you have a different favourite child at different times.

RELATED: How To Deal With Sibling Rivalry

While it’s perfectly normal to have a favourite child, openly showing it can lead to problems in the family dynamics and affect the children’s self-esteem. Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re favouring all your children and no one feels left out.

Equal attention

Obviously, the attention you give is never going to be equal to the minute, but do your best to ensure that all your children spend some one-on-one time with you and have their own special activities on the family calendar. Sometimes one child will demand more attention than others purely because of the stage of their development, for example, a 2-year-old is not as independent as an 8-year-old and will need more help with everything. In that case, you can explain to your other children why that child is getting more attention and point out other times when the scales were tipped the other way.

Consistent rules

Have the same discipline rules for all children. Again, this can be hard when the children are at different levels of understanding. While you may not be able to get a 2-year-old to follow along, you can talk about your expectations and gently correct your toddler to let your other children see that the same rules apply to everyone.

Notice the good things

Take time to notice what is happening in each of your children’s lives. Comment when they’re putting a lot of effort into something and celebrate each child’s successes equally, even if some successes may look a lot bigger to you than others.

Don’t compare

Each child is an individual with unique traits and they don’t have to be like anyone else. Treat each child as if you’ve started the whole parenting gig from scratch – it doesn’t matter what their siblings were doing at their age and how their abilities compare.

Whether we have a favourite child or not. all children have the need to be loved for who they are and it’s our job as parents to give them exactly that.

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