Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Tips for a capsule wardrobe for kids

What is a capsule wardrobe?

Capsule wardrobes are all the rage right now. The goal behind them is to declutter your wardrobe, which makes it easier to pick outfits- as all your pieces should go together. It also means you think about your 'style' a lot more, meaning any pieces you do buy are more intentional. Then you end up with less 'random' pieces in your wardrobe that never get worn (I am so guilty of this.)

I've been doing a capsule wardrobe for myself for only about a month now, but it has made getting dressed much easier! In that time, I've had to buy one item (my only pair of jeans ripped!!) and instead of going for my usual bargain hunt, or two for one deal, I bought one good pair of quality jeans. Time will tell, of course, whether spending more upfront is worth it down the track, but I think it will be. I would rather have one pair of quality jeans than 3 of cheaper ones which go baggy at the knees in a few weeks (the worst!).

Why a kids capsule?

I wanted to make getting dressed easier for Ada. She is getting to the age of wanting to pick her own clothes, so I wanted to have outfits that go together easily.

The situation

Ada has a full wardrobe, drawers, and a 60l box of clothes that could currently fit her, for all four seasons. Then there is a box for size 4 and 5! (but I am not focusing on those boxes at the moment.)

We have been so blessed to receive many hand me downs. I also tend to buy items on sale for the next season. Add to that those 'can't resist, it's so cute!' items, and she has a LOT of clothes in differing styles.

Now, if you are doing a capsule wardrobe like many other bloggers, you will start from scratch and buy a whole new wardrobe of clothes for your kid. The benefit of this is that you can buy pieces that go together seamlessly. But of course, this doesn't really gel well with the minimilist lifestyle values which the capsule wardrobe has emerged from.

For me, my goal is to spend no (or very little) money. We've got to work with what we've got, which means it's not going to be a 'perfect' capsule wardrobe- and that's ok.

The steps to a kids capsule wardrobe

Step 1- Choose 2 or 3 of your favourite items of clothing for your child. For Ada, I chose 3 of my favourite pieces for her. I decided to choose the rest of the items based on these colours

Step 2- Think about patterns. This blogger talks about how she builds prints into her capsule- she adds prints into one of three sections- tops and dresses, layering pieces (coats, cardigans) or bottoms

I love this blogger and her philosophy. She is building a wardrobe from scratch though, so she can buy items with patterns in just one category easily.

Working with what we already have is a bit trickier, but I aimed to just have patterns in tops and dresses.

Step 3- Think about the weather. Here in Wellington it's summer (you wouldn't really know it though!). So I added a few short and long sleeve tees, and a few dresses. All of these items can be layered for colder or hotter days. If it had been a truly hot summer here, I would have chosen more short sleeve items.

Step 4- Think about where your kid is at. Ada has just toilet trained and can take herself to the toilet (wohoo!!) this ruled out all the jumpsuits and dungarees, as toilet access needs to be easy.

Ada doesn't get into too much mess at daycare, so can just have one wardrobe for all occasions. A lot of kids tend to ruin their clothes at daycare though. In this case I would suggest two mini capsules- a 'playing' one and a 'good clothes' one. Many items like coats or tights may cross the two collections. Keeping both capsules in different areas, or separate drawers will help with dressing your child.

Step 5- Go for it- pick your items! This is the most fun part. As you can see in the capsule below, I started with a base of orange colours. However, Ada has a lot of pink, in necessary items (like cardigans) so I have added some pink too. Greys and blues were added for neutral colours. In the process I discovered Ada had about 5 long sleeve grey tops, and the same for blue. She doesn't need that many! I was able to put away a lot of redundant clothing.

We also had a lot of 'random' pieces in her drawers. These would be the ones I pulled out, then searched for that one pair of leggings they go with. Those leggings were in the wash, so I stuffed that item back in the drawer, and in reality it was never worn. These random pieces were easy to remove from her wardrobe.

I didn't focus on a certain number of clothes. I preferred to focus on a few of each category of clothing. You may look at Ada's capsule and think it's still a very big amount of clothes. Each childs wardrobe will be different, and I am looking forward to refining Ada's wardrobe, and seeing if we truly need this many clothes as we move into the winter capsule.

Step 6- Involving your child. Ada is a little young at this point to care about her clothing. I imagine in the coming months or years she will want to be involved in this process. Ask your child about their favourite items of clothing, or colours, and go from there.

What's next?

Now that I have begun this process I think it will make buying clothes, and sorting through hand me downs a lot easier! Once you have a clear vision of colour, style and pattern, you can immediately know whether a piece of clothing will fit in the wardrobe. This will save you money in the long run!

I am aiming to review Ada's capsule every season, or every time she has a growth spurt, so a few times a year.

I hope this post has been helpful! I'm at the beginning of doing this too so I would love to hear any tips you might have

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


Today Ada is three!

I have felt a sense of wonder and nostelgia at every one of her birthdays so far, and I'm beginning to think that feeling is going to stick around at every birthday.

It must be so common for mothers to reminisce, to look back at how far their child has come in the past year, and then to look forward and wonder about the next at birthdays.

In her third year Ada has grown so much. Most noticeably in her language- when she turned two we were still on basic toddler conversations, these days we can converse in much more depth. Most nights Matt puts Ada to bed now, as I am seeing to Hunter, but I like to pop down when I can and chat to her. We talk about the day that has come, then talk about what tomorrow will hold, then say a prayer. I love these conversations- I can see her brain whirring, and it is lovely to talk to her about real life things.

Ada has grown in size too. She never had much baby fat, but she has slimmed out even more (if that was even possible) and now looks like a pre schooler, not a toddler. She has gained some good weight and height this year, and she feels heavy when I hold her. She is long and gangly and full of spirited energy.

My snuggly cuddles with her are few and far between now, so when I do get one I hold on tight- even if it is straight after a nap so she is a little sweaty. My little girl is fast becoming a big girl- and while it's my joy to see her grow, I still want time to slow down, to hold her a little more.

Ada is such an outgoing and friendly girl. She was always like this, but starting daycare this year, plus having people in and out of our home for airbnb has brought out this trait in her so much more. She is a friend to everyone.

She is also capable of great independent play, which has been a lifesaver with a newborn baby around. She is content and happy in her own company.

Like all kids we have our battles and struggles, but overall she is the sweetest girl. We are so blessed to be her parents. And proud as ever of her on today, her third birthday.

Happy birthday Ada, my sweet girl! We love you more than you will ever know. Enjoy being 3 xxx

Sunday, 9 October 2016

In a dark room

I feel like I spend the majority of my life in a dark room. The blackout curtains are closed, white noise is blasted, the baby is swaddled tightly and fed and I'm trying to get him to sleep.

Or, it's the middle of the night, I sleepily wake up and I hear the familiar squawks and sighs which escalate into 'I'm hungry!' cries. I switch on the very dimmed light, look at my phone and sigh and want to cry- he's only been asleep 1 or 2 hours and he's hungry AGAIN.

It's daytime again and it's time for his nap but because I was distracted with the toddler (the other small child has needs too), he is overtired. I am rocking and shh-ing in the dark room, all the while the toddler is running in and out wanting attention too.

Friends tell me their babies woke 2 hourly until they were one or two. I inwardly shudder and feel sick at the thought of that long without sleep. Other friends with babies the same age share that their baby 'slept through!' or 'slept 7-3am!' I am happy for them and wistfully remember that one time he slept 6 hours. What a dream.

Everything we could try, we have tried. We have got him onto a good daytime routine with the help of a sleep consultant, but that has hardly improved the night wakes. The routine says 'feed at 10pm, then baby will sleep till 4 or 5am.' Yea right!

We've tried to 'resettle between sleep cycles' to the high heavens, I've whispered 'shhhhh' more than I care to remember lately. Dummy, bottle, burping- tried it.

We've seen a lactation consultant who has helped teach me how to get him to feed better, and to get the fattier milk, to help him sleep longer. It hasn't helped much. 

Even though I know it's ridiculous, I nostalgically remember when the toddler was a baby. She was tube fed, and my memory takes away all the bad bits, and reminds me how we could feed her in her sleep, make sure she was completely full, and she would sleep through! Oh those days....
I know it's bad when I'm remembering that time fondly.

I'm so tired and focused on the routine that even when I have an opportunity to socialise, I just don't have the mental strength. This just furthers the 'hermit' feeling I have. I can't talk to 'real people' right now- my brain is too fuzzy with sleep routines and tiredness. I wish I had an interest in the wider world but right now I can't comprehend it.

And so, I'm just another sleep deprived mother, writing about sleep deprived woes. I know this will pass, but I also know sleep dep (see, I know it so well I even have a short name for it) is used as a form of torture. And I can see why. Signing off now, time for another coffee.

Friday, 2 September 2016

It's different, this time

I've read a few articles and seen discussions online about whether it is easier to go from no kids to one kid, or from one to two.

Well, a month in, I've gotta say that going from one to two has been much easier for me than the first time around!

That's not to say it isn't hard. Sleep deprivation, no time to rest like with the first, juggling toddler energy with newborn needs, it can be a real struggle. Yesterday I barely managed to eat lunch. Sometimes I feel like I've got octopus arms as I focus simultaneously on a baby who refuses to latch and a toddler who might wee on the floor at any moment. My attention span is short as I'm constantly trying to keep up with what is needed in the moment. I try and do bits of housework in the spare minutes I have between tending to my kids, so nothing is ever finished. I won't tell you how many times I stopped and started writing this post.

Juggling two. This is my life now.

But my stress levels are way down, my expectations are more realistic and my emotions are much more in check this time, leading to an easier experience all around.

One of the most challenging aspects of parenting, first time around, was my feeling of purposelessness as my days changed from work, adult interactions and goals achieved, to a baby on a 3 hour feeding cycle, with medical issues that didn't seem to be getting better. It seemed like I'd be stuck in the roundabout of newborn days forever.

This time I'm much more used to spending time at home, and bringing my own purpose to my days. I'm also much more aware that things will change, and these newborn days don't last too long.

Also, Hunter seems to be a *whispers* easy baby.

Gosh, I know you're never supposed to admit that. Perhaps he is easy in comparison to the early days with Ada. Perhaps it's in contrast to the full on and emotional world of a two year old.

All I know is that, so far, his needs seem pretty simple and he is not hard to please. He feeds well and generally self settles. He is gaining weight like a champ and is very healthy. He does wake every 1-3 hours in the night, but I can cope with that as I know it's just a stage.

I am finding my capacity to parent two kids is bigger than I thought. Two months ago I wrote these words:

I am completely terrified of being a mum to two small children. I love my kids, but I am not one of those natural mum material types....

When thinking about the months ahead, about adding a baby to the mix, I am equal parts excited and terrified. How can I share my time and love fairly between two kids? How can I be the mum they both need? I don't know at this point.

We're only one month in, and I'm aware the road ahead is up and down, but I've surprised myself with my capacity to manage, to love, to parent two kids at once. It's not quite the big drama I thought it might be.

Rocking it at the park with two kids like a bad ass. Please note, copious amounts of coffee was consumed to make this happen
It helps that Ada is a lovely big sister. We weren't quite sure how she would react, but she is incredibly kind and loving with Hunter- always kissing and cuddling him. She can be a bit rough as she doesn't know his limits, but it's all done with love. She has had moment of adjusting to having less attention from us, but overall she is handling it better than I ever could have expected.

A kind and caring sister
I make an effort everyday to get up in time to get a quick shower, to pop on a little makeup and a bit of colour on my lips. Getting dressed and feeling 'presentable' makes me feel like I can take on any challenge the day throws at me. Being in my pj's at midday doesn't give quite the same sense of empowerment.

I'm well aware that in the months ahead, things could become more challening than they are now. I'm anticipating some sibling struggles once Hunter is mobile and into Ada's toys. However, I am much more confident in my ability as a Mum than I was 2.5 years ago with Ada's arrival. I also know, despite my worries about how I parent them, that they will be ok.

I've been constantly marvelling at how this experience with Hunter has been different to that with Ada's. 

Ada made me a Mum. She made me strong and taught me fierce love and protectiveness. She taught me to fight and be brave.

Hunter has introduced me to a side of motherhood I was never sure I'd see. Enjoying things more 'naturally,' appreciating every moment of this placid wee guy. He is teaching me to relax and be confident as a mother.

Here's to mothers of two (or more!) everywhere. It's a struggle, but also a joy and I'm so grateful to be on this crazy ride.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Hunter: Birth Story

As with Ada's birth, I'd like to get the details down of what happened while it's still fresh in my mind!
I love reading her birth story and I'm sure I will love looking back on this.

This contains pictures of his birth, but nothing graphic :)

The weeks before

In the weeks leading up to Hunter's birth, I wasn't quite sure when or how he was going to be born. His weight was starting to drop centiles, my blood pressure was slowly starting to rise and the placenta was showing signs of calcification (ageing). 

At my 36 week appointment I met with a Dr who I affectionately called 'Dr Doom' later on to my friends. She told me things were not looking so good, so I was to be monitored every 2 days, with a scan at 37 weeks for a new plan. She said it was likely I'd be induced then. She also has some very cheery words about how birth and pregnancy are the most dangerous times in a woman's life, and did I know 100 years ago I'd be dead by now? (Yes, I did actually, but thanks.) Not the best bedside manner for a fully pregnant woman.

36 weeks pregnant
Therefore I went into the 37 week appointment expecting to be told that baby was to come out soon. In fact I started to want this too- safer out than in once they are full term. However, some sort of miscommunication happened, and I only saw a midwife instead of an obstetrician. The midwife told me things look fine, and they'd see me in a week, maybe? I left the appointment crying because I was so confused and worried about my baby. I had gone from monitoring every 2 days to nothing.

I rang my community midwife and explained my confusion. She told me that if I wanted to be induced, I could, it was my decision. This is an extremely tough decision to put on a pregnant mother though, as there are risks with inductions too and I did not want to make that decision myself.

Thankfully, later that night, my actual obstetrician called me. She had reviewed my notes and scans and said they would like to induce me in a weeks time, with every 2 day monitoring before that. I felt such relief to have a plan and a real sense of peace that this was the right thing to do.

The induction

Matt and I arrived at the hospital on induction morning with nervous anticipation. Because of my previous cesarean section, there were certain induction methods they could not use. Induction after cesarean must be gentle because there is a risk of rupture on the scar.

Excited on induction morning
The first step was a foley catheter, which is left in for up to 24 hours to get things started more gently and hopefully start contractions. I got the catheter and then sent Matt to work, as it's not a quick thing, and it's better to use his annual leave after the birth. I walked and walked around the hospital to get things going and met with some friends. In the afternoon I was moved out of my delivery room to a depressing post natal room because they needed the room for deliveries and 'you're not going to be having baby anytime soon!'

Excitement lead to walking....

...and boredom

So, the foley didn't work and I spent the night in hospital trying to get some sleep and anticipating the plan the next day.

The following morning they took the foley out and broke my waters (oh my gosh, so much fluid, everywhere) and started a syntocin drip to get contractions going. My friends who had been induced this way told me it can get very painful very quickly, so I anticipated this. In reality, it took a good few hours of very light contractions before things started to take off. It was actually a bit boring, and Matt and I watched Netflix, played on our phones and so on. At this point my midwife checked me and I had dilated 3cm so this was good progress!!

The contractions really ramped up at this point, and for the following 4 hours they became worse and worse. I was able to handle it with breathing and moving around. It was really hard but I was mentally strong with my goal in mind.

I'm smiling but I'm in a lot of pain! Note the vomit bucket :o

After 4 hours they checked dilation again. You see, with an induced birth you need to keep making progress as there is only so much of the syntocin drip they can give you before it becomes risky. Unfortunately at this point I had not progressed any further. I was so upset- 4 hours of hard work for nothing.

My midwife and obstetrician talked and decided at that point I needed a cesarean. I had done my research around induction and I agreed this was the best plan of action too. But, I was so upset. I had thought I was doing well. Thoughts of 'my body failing again' were whirring round. Memories of Ada's not so nice cesarean were at front of mind. I was still having contractions at this point but I not longer had the mental strength and they were almost unbearable. I was frustrated and teary.

My midwife hugged me and said the best thing anyone could at that point 'it will be ok, this is not a repeat of Ada's birth.' 

The birth

We very quickly prepared for the cesarean. I had a plan which I had given to my midwife in case of cesarean. It requested a few things that we missed with Ada, such as having the drape down to see baby being born, and immediate skin to skin (instead of taking him off to be weighed and so on.) She passed these requests onto the obstetrician.

Ready to go

Before we knew it, I was in the theatre, bending over awkwardly, shaking with nerves while they put the epidural in. Lying down on the table, a deadweight, lines and monitors and people all around. It didn't take long before they were doing the operation and very quickly it was time to put down the drape. I was slightly nervous about seeing too much blood and gore (as was Matt!) because seeing yourself cut open is not the nicest thing. However, I didn't see much of that at all. We saw baby emerge and the obstetrition held him as they did delayed cord clamping. I was crying with awe, and in that moment, all of my frustrations about having a ceserean melted away. I saw my baby be born and he was crying a very strong and loud cry.

A few seconds later he was placed on my chest. He felt so big, and strong and newborny to me. He cried on and off and I just felt so grateful to be able to hold him straight away. 

The  best moment ever!

When I was closed up they wheeled us to recovery and he latched straight away. He was born to feed and knew exactly what he was doing. What a relief!

His birth was actually very healing for me after Ada's birth. All my fears of not seeing or holding or feeding my baby again were washed away. I am so grateful to have had that 'normal' newborn experience this time.

I was in the hospital with him for 3 nights, and then I decided 'I've got this' and asked to be discharged. Coming home together, as a family was also a pivotal moment! It was so lovely not to leave the hospital empty handed this time.

We have been home a few days now with Hunter and it is truly a different experience to the days after Ada was born. I am so grateful to be able to experience this newborn stage in all it's mundane and tiring 'normality.'

Welcome to our family Hunter, we love you so much.

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