The New World: Covid & Beyond

It all began with a lockdown. And then another one, and another one… As a person who had never struggled mentally before, despite years of drug use and unstable relationships. My mental health remained surprisingly intact through days without sleep and years without taking care of myself. I never thought the thing that would bring me to my knees would be the time I spent squeezed into a house with too many bodies and I never would have dreamed that it would be my family I was struggling to be around.

With lockdowns beginning to fade into the shadows, there was a light in the distance that every Melbournian was anticipating but I failed to reach. I can’t speak for anyone but myself yet I know I’m not alone. Repeated periods of isolation with a mask of uncertainty surrounded by the closure of so many businesses and places that were a deeply rooted part of our lives had stripped the enjoyment out of life, leaving myself and many others anxious and depressed.

Covid and all it brings with it hasn’t even settled and we now find ourselves checking the news every 5 minutes. This time, it’s not for another daily press conference by the states father figure Dan Andrews, but to bombard ourselves with the devastation being caused in Ukraine by the Russian military. We find ourselves on the brink of World War 3, although I firmly believe it has already began.

It seems the chances of returning to our pre-covid lives has long flurried away and the new world is one full of uncertainty and danger. I have nothing positive to say as of this moment when it comes to our future as a species, for even the wise Nostradamus predicted a devastating nuclear bomb and the death of Vladimir Putin will take place in 2022 – an eerily accurate statement for something written nearly 500 years ago.

A Modern Day World War: front row seats

If you or anyone you know is struggling with the current global security crisis, speak to a close friend, family member or healthcare professional. You are not alone, there is help available.

The word war has a distinct visual description for most people. That visual is made up from clips of black and white footage from WW 2 and the rare photos that still exist from WW 1, the information we have been handed through learning about what happens on a battlefield and the more recent footage of conflict we have witnessed from places like Afghanistan and Iraq. So, that means we know what we are in for if Russia invades Ukraine – which is looking very likely as tensions continue to rise rapidly along the Ukrainian boarder – right?

The difference between what we are seeing in Europe and what we have watched unfold over the last 20 years in Afghanistan is that the Afghanistan war was about revenge and damage control. It wasn’t the same kind of situation we are seeing in Europe today because in the current situation, Russia wants to invade Ukraine and has very openly amassed 180,000 Russian Military personnel on the Ukrainian boarder in preparation. This is a very serious and very real situation, although it may seem too fanatical to be true.

Ukraine has the support of NATO, which includes allies like the UK and the US, along with the support most of the world. China, Armenia and Belarus are some of the countries which are seen to be in support of the Russian invasion.

So, what would a world war look like in 2022? We have plenty of knowledge of how it usually plays out but with technology at our fingertips, we may see more than we bargained for. The people of Russia and Ukraine are not any different from people in any other part of the world – which means they, too, all have a mobile phone close by. Instead of waiting for injured soldiers to begin returning home and the scarce photograph from a lone photographer risking his life in the name of the truth, we may be subject to first hand and unedited footage from ground zero and we might not get a choice whether we see it or not.

With platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, a 5 second video of an explosion or a snap of an innocent life being taken by a soldier with a rifle is a very real reality and something we should all prepare for. Not only will these images be out there for us to see, our children are at an even higher risk of being exposed to violent and graphic material coming out of Ukraine. I will be limiting my daughter (7) with her iPad use and she will no longer be allowed to roam freely on YouTube and YouTube kids… I haven’t explained to her why but when the time comes I think honesty is the best policy in situations where you have very little control of what your kids are exposed to. As adults, the prospect of war is tough enough to grasp without our children having to go to bed with the images of it in their mind.

War is serious and although it may sound like it, this conflict isn’t a movie plot. Vladimir Putin seems to have lost his mind but that will come at the cost of lives. Men, women, children… innocent lives. In a world where our children grow up faster than they should, do we really want them witnessing such pain and horror on such a huge scale, knowing full well it isn’t a movie and it’s happening right now?

Just like the first Covid lockdown in Melbourne in 2020, the sound of a world war may at first bring on what seems like excitement in a child but that excitement will be made up of many emotions like fear, confusion and helplessness. Kids don’t see the bigger picture, they see what’s in front of them. When I asked my 7 year old daughter what was looked like, she responded by saying “it’s black and white and people are lying all over an over dead or fighting…” I liked that answer. She very clearly described every photo of a battlefield I have ever seen. The generic answer.

The real question we need to be asking ourselves, as parents, how do we make sure that answer doesn’t become a detailed and traumatic one?

Love can make & break you…

My daughter has O.D.D (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) and it is a difficult as it sounds. She is currently undiagnosed but we are in the process of getting her diagnosis. This article may only resonate with parents in similar situations…

I keep getting stuck in the same cycle.

I am full of patience, I am very easy going, I thrive in a peaceful, harmonic environment. I’m basically a tree, right?
I believe in words, I believe in kindness and understanding. I love creating harmony.

Patience can only last so long when it’s being chipped away at day by day… 7 years of this and I’m on the edge. I am ignored constantly, even when I am in tears. She will be horrible until she gets what she wants… standing my ground means everyone suffers and no matter how many different ways I explain a situation (my favourite is perspective- my daughter thinks it’s with a comparison or that I’m guilting her). My daughter pushes me to places I have never been before. I have never yelled at anyone the way I have at her, I have said things I don’t mean and I am struggling to understand how my own daughter can bring out such a horrible version of myself.

I’m a shell of who I once was. My bubbly personality is shot down before I can even wake up most days and I am struggling to find the joy in anything. I thought I could do this back and forth forever because that’s my baby girl but it seems like I am running out of steam, of which the thought just brings me to tears. I can’t run out of steam, I’m a mother… I don’t have a fuse anymore… as soon as I see her repeating the same behaviour and bullshit from the previous day, I lose my mind. I am not patient and peaceful and understanding anymore… and the saddest part is my own little girl is the cause of it.
I love my beautiful girl – she’s just so angry and defiant every single day and I don’t know when she’s being real or when she’s just playing to get her own way anymore.

So I guess I am left just playing myself off between two bottom lines: I am either not as good of a mother as I thought I’d be OR I have unresolved childhood trauma that’s causing me to lash out. Maybe both, maybe neither… but I have to find cause somewhere.

Because, if I was as gentle and loving as I always thought, I would be able handle this would I? I want to love. I want to teach my girls to love. Why can’t I do this?
I brought her up with love and compassion and positivity. I want her baby sister to feel that too but I’m afraid all she hears is screaming.

I love my beautiful, strong willed and confident little girl but she’s so angry and defiant… I don’t know how to help her grow, anymore. The tools are there and she knows how to use them but something inside her takes over before she has a chance. As a mother, how do you approach a situation where your child REFUSES to listen, respect and comply with basic requests? It’s near on impossible. But you don’t give up because that’s your child who you chose to have, no matter what. So you stick it out, everyday, and you do it with the best intentions. And then the cycle begins again………

Living in a pandemic, the health system in Australia (especially Melbourne) has been pushed to the limits and access to mental health support has been difficult. I took my daughter to a paediatrician after being on a waiting list for 4 months only to be told I had to come back in 6 weeks to “see if she has made any progress”. That appointment cost $400 and we left without any guidance or a formal diagnosis. The next appointment would have also cost $400 but I couldn’t afford that. So we are left waiting for an appointment with a paediatrician who will bulk bill – the wait will be months, again. Until then, we walk on egg shells in my house.

Love can both make and break youa lesson only having a child with Oppositional Defiance Disorder could have ever taught me.

An Open Letter: to someone that I used to know

I remember the first time I spoke to you, or even heard your name. I was sitting in Macy’s* bedroom and you two were friends. It was Macy’s idea to go to your house and get drunk, even though we were only 16. I remember walking through your back gate and seeing a commission house for the first time in my life. Your brothers were drunk in the backyard, arguing and joking around, just being loud. I remember your mum answering the door and greeting us warmly while trying to hide the bruises on her face… I grew very close with your mum over time.

I remember your bedroom, the tidiest room in the house. You kept it immaculate because it was the only thing you had control of in your house. Your room and everything in it were yours and you took pride in every single possession you owned, from your clothes to your burnt CDs. You had a cage with three rats, a few cats and a dog who was like your daughter. You kept a brave face on, I’m not sure how long you’d been doing that before you met me but you were pretty good at it by that stage.

I remember forming a friendship with you that night. I never saw it coming but you became the most loyal and kind friend I have ever had… and it all began that night. Countless hours of walking the streets, at all hours, just enjoying the freedom of our teens. Cigarettes, wine and weed… we weren’t criminals, we were kids. I had spent years longing for a sister, someone to be there through my ups and downs, someone to play with and I found it in you.

I spent everyday at your house, if not with you then with your mum or your brothers or just sleeping in your bed until you came home. Your mum yelled at me like I was her own, your stepdad shook his head when he caught me smoking and I’d argue with your brothers like I’d known them my whole life. And I loved every second of it. You and your family welcomed me with open arms and I returned the love by being there for each and every one of you in both your good and dark times. I came from a quiet home with no siblings and you and your family gave me what I needed.

You were always so innocent and naïve but you taught me everything I knew nothing about, like what it’s like to have siblings and how to stand up for myself. You also showed me what it was like to wake up and have empty cupboards, to have to care for not only your younger siblings but your parents who struggled with addiction. You showed me what real strength looked like and I showed you what a real friend looked like. We would catch the train to my house and I’d fill up a bag with pasta and meat and sauce and we’d head back to your place to feed everyone. I wiped away your tears when things got too tough and you told me when I was being an idiot. We could go any period of time without seeing each other and it wouldn’t change a thing – we always greeted each other with open arms.

I was there when you met Sam*. He used to get mad because you’d let me sleep in the bed with you guys, I think I made him cry once. But he’s looked after you and I love him for that. You even made me godmother to your son. I was there for the birth. You trusted me with that role and I will be forever grateful.

Sam saved you, you know. He took you away, with your son, and now you are kicking so many goals. You aren’t trapped by poverty or addiction anymore… you have a family, you have a job, you have a home and you have a life far from the one you were bound to once upon a time. It’s been 8 years now, since you moved away… I was so mad at you. You left when I was in an abusive relationship, controlled by addiction. I gave birth without you by my side and then I became a single mother without your shoulder to lean on and slowly but surely, our phone calls became far and few in between. We lived seperate lives, now. Deep down, I hated you for leaving me behind. I know now It wasn’t hate… it was hurt.

I don’t hate you, I never could. I understand, though. I dream of the day I don’t have to watch your life through a screen… I hope our kids can grow up together. Above anything, I hope you know that I’m proud of you, from over here. You broke the cycle, babe.

It’s okay to feel ripped off by COVID

When this all began in 2020, I was 28 years old. I had a 4 year old daughter who was a handful but a happy handful. I had a partner who had been living with us for nearly 12 months and we were pretty happy. We’d booked a holiday for my daughters 5th birthday which was in March and we were really excited about it! Not only was it going to be my daughters first holiday but it was also my own first real holiday and I’d managed to scrape up the money all on my own without having to ask my family for a hand. Things were going well.

We never made it to Queensland, though. Our nationwide lockdown began on the 30th of a March, the same day as my daughters birthday and a day after we were supposed to fly out. We would have been stuck in another state for months… looking back now, that may not have been such a bad thing. That was the first of 6 hard lockdowns that Victorians faced throughout the following 18 months, with the days adding up to more than 260 as of December 2021. Restrictions in place meant that people were only allowed up to 2 hours outdoors a day and only essential services and supermarkets were open. Schools only ran remotely, meaning children have lost the best part of two years learning in a classroom and playgrounds were closed for a large portion of the lockdown period.

That was coming up to two years ago. Two years that feels like a very painful blink of an eye for most Melbournians, who are not only residents of the most locked down city in the country but the most locked down city in the world.

COVID has felt like a universally bad dream that we couldn’t wake up from. Our lives, relationships, jobs, homes… nothing was left untouched. The deaths, although extensive, were a small detail on the list of damages left behind by COVID restrictions, lockdowns and isolation periods. Hard workers lost their jobs, which meant some lost their homes, kids fell behind in school and people with once good mental health began experiencing anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. Adult children couldn’t say goodbye to loved ones in retirement homes, funerals were cut down to 10 mourners and weddings were put on hold for an uncertain amount of time. Nobody was safe from the impacts of COVID-19.

My experience centred around my home, my family and our mental health. I fell pregnant in May 2020 and gave birth the following February. And as if it wasn’t bad enough that I had lost my 6 year old daughters final year of kindergarten to COVID and lockdown but I watched my daughter slowly becoming a different person… her spark was starting to dim and she was struggling with her own mental health. I was helpless in watching it happen… It was Melbourne’s 6th lockdown that was the icing on the cake. My daughter most likely had undiagnosed ADHD before COVID but the uncertainty of the last two years really intensified her behaviour to the point where we are currently seeking medical intervention after the informal diagnosis of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). I am left sitting here wondering whether this was our path all along or whether COVID put us here…

It’s okay to feel ripped off by COVID. I do! I was supposed to be enjoying my children and showing them the world before they grow up. I wasn’t supposed to be a grumpy, tired, stressed, anxious mess of a mother. That’s what I have become, though… I feel like as each day goes on I am losing another day of freedom with my daughter, another day of enjoying her childhood, another day of my life. I am doubled vaxxed as is my family and when they can, my children will be too. But that doesn’t replace the time we’ve lost being stuck between these walls. It won’t give my daughter those two years of crucial early childhood development. It won’t make the world feel normal again… because like with everything, once you move forward… you very rarely go back.

Why I tell my daughter ‘God is a tree’

Sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? But when it comes to children, isn’t it the most simple explanation?

Eleven years at a Catholic school taught me a lot. I learned about compassion, understanding, generosity, love and kindness. I also learned a bit about the bible… which I made a very educated decision not to follow once I left school. The term ‘non-practicing’ wouldn’t quite fit how I view Catholicism now, I would be more inclined to say I am an ‘ex-catholic’. There were many parts of the church, the bible, the context and the reality of the story of Jesus I didn’t resonate with and I couldn’t pretend to believe in something that I just couldn’t get my head around.

After finishing school, I found myself much more interested in the history of the Earth and human consciousness. I became one of those people who would watch endless videos about the universe, reincarnation, consciousness and anything that was remotely related. It became a bit of an obsession for a while actually, I think I began to enter an existential crisis…

Now, at age thirty and after countless hours of researching religion and consciousness, I do have a very open and new outlook on the world. I also have two little girls, one of whom has asked me about God and Jesus. As a girl who grew up in a Catholic household, I only knew one answer to the question ‘mummy, who’s god?” and I didn’t want to give her the standard man on a cloud crap that I was raised on. I didn’t want to lie to her and tell her something I didn’t believe. I told her everyone has a different version, their own version, of God as did I, and they were all different. “God is a tree…”. You should have seen the look she gave me, like I’d just lied straight to her face. My daughter is a very smart 6 year old, she wasn’t going to go for the tree thing… she never has. Apparently, God is a man… a man on a cloud, actually. And, I am very wrong. So, basically, she thought I lied to her regardless.

This opened the gates to a conversation that I was never going to win. 6 year olds don’t understand what perception is, so that was also a dead end. Was my daughter destined to grow up thinking a man who lives on a cloud is more believable than a tree being a semi-conscious? Yes, she was.

My personal view is that God is everything. God is the name of the process in which life happens: the flowers growing, being born, the birds singing… the process of everything. I believe God is an invisible force of energy running the world from behind the scenes. This isn’t a view I struggle to explain to my mum, so I’d probably confuse the shit out of a 6 year old.

This is why I use the ‘God is a tree’ line…… I’m not lying to her but I’m not confusing her, either. Saying this leaves the doors open for her to make her own mind up one day, as every religion would agree in some metaphorical way that, God is in fact, a tree. I’m definitely not brainwashing her, she thinks I’m crazy. If I’m totally honest with you, though, I’d rather tell her going to church is being in nature than see her eating a rice cracker that symbolises a persons body and drinking wine symbolising their blood.

An Open Letter To My First Bully

This is part of a collection of short stories depicting and detailing true events and personal experiences in my life, with a few tweaks for the privacy of all involved.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with bullying or depression or mental health in general, please seek the help of your GP or healthcare professional or a friend/family member.

I should begin by saying, for the most part, I didn’t have bullies who went out of their way to target me. That happened on a few occasions, usually very short lived though. My bullying took place in the corridors, on the school bus, out in the yard… the places where it was basically unavoidable in a school environment.

It began in primary school, and I remember feeling hurt. I remember the feeling of sadness and loneliness, I remember questioning myself with “why me” probably the first time in my life and worst of all, I remember trying to be friends with you. We couldn’t have been more than 8 and I was new to your school. The nerves were there, I didn’t know anybody and I was the chubby little girl of a young single mum. I already felt different but you cemented that for me right from the start. Our teacher assigned you and your friends to show me around, hang out with me and basically just be a friend to me. Instead, as I tried to play along with you and your friends, you said “don’t touch me” and looked at me with disgust. I remember that moment so clearly and it was 22 years ago. I remember the burning sensation as my face turned bright red, the tears welling up in my eyes as I tried not to blink and create a waterfall down my cheeks… That was the first time I felt sadness, real sadness.

In the years that followed, I have many memories of feeling left out and eating lunch alone, having nobody to partner up with for activities, cruel words being said to me on the playground… I was never mean to you, to any of you. I was quiet, I was harmless. You made me quiet, actually. Before I changed schools, I wasn’t this quiet and isolated. I wanted to be a Vet, I wanted to get married and have lots of kids. I could have been school captain one day or the lead in the school production. I had friends at my first school that I didn’t want to leave, it wasn’t my choice though. And after that nerve racking summer when I finally stepped foot into your school, you lived up to my expectations of what changing to a new school would be like. All of my 8 year old anxieties were verified when you would all stare at me and whisper, calling me fat just loud enough so I’d hear you but not so loud the teacher would notice. 8 year olds don’t treat people this way without reason, without learning the behaviour and actions from someone else…

It was after school in the courtyard when you and your friend ran up to me and stood in my way as I walked down to meet my mum at her car. “Is that your sister that picks you up?” You knew damn well who it was but politely, I reminded you that it was, in fact, my mum. You giggled and ran back your mum, to report your findings. I remember her looking at me… judging a child for the age of her mother. Catholic school parents… And that’s the first time I heard the word bastard.

You had to end up at the same high school as me, as if I hadn’t endured enough of your negativity. I never had much to do with the popular girls in high school but I’m sure you told them all about me. What you didn’t tell them is that I used to be bright, I was happy and I had potential. I wonder if you let them know about the time you bellowed at me in front of the whole grade 5 class for something I wore on free dress day… probably not.

I hate that I still think about you. I hate that you still occupy space in my head. I am sure you haven’t thought of me since the last time you saw me. I was nothing to you. I was just something you used to kick when you’d walk past, an object to flick stones at when you were bored… I didn’t take up an inch of space in your mind. And I still don’t. So why am I left with your shadow burned into my memory? It doesn’t seem fair that you earned a place in my head forever by destroying my self esteem. I was a nice girl who you teased and isolated until I basically gave up on myself.

I labelled this article “An Open Letter To My First Bully” because you were the one who started it all. You were the Regina George of primary school, if you were mean to me… so was everyone else. And then that followed me through high school, as well. I failed high school because I was too afraid to ask for help, too afraid to join in during class, too afraid to even remotely stand out. After I left school, with zero self esteem, I searched for somewhere to belong. I didn’t find a job but I found drugs. Due to drugs, I ended up in abusive relationships and now I am sitting up writing a blog about you because when I try to pin point how it all went wrong, I keep coming back to you.

I guess I just wanted you to know that…

I had potential before I met you.

The Birthday Party

This is part of a collection of short stories depicting and detailing true events and personal experiences in my life, with a few tweaks for the privacy of all involved.

It wasn’t a game, she thought it was a game but it definitely wasn’t a game. Games were fun, games were enjoyable for all the people taking part in the game… I wasn’t having fun. I was having the opposite of fun. I’d been sitting on my own at a table for close to an hour and a half and I was pretty done for the day. Kids parties always make me anxious, especially when it’s a kinder friend. It’s not the kids that make me anxious, it’s the parents. The tens of parents that for some reason always feel older than me. I’m not a young parent, I was 23 when I had Amethyst and 29 when I had Diamond. Everyone else seems to have their shit together, though. They have nice cars and I haven’t even got my licence yet. They have nice homes and I’m still stuck with mum. They have jobs and I don’t have a cent to my name. That shouldn’t matter to them where I am at in life as long as I am a good parent but in the long run, it does matter. The conversation is harder, the play dates are uncomfortable and eventually find myself stuck between a 40 year old who drives an SUV and a 45 year old lawyer. The commonalities seem to be very far and few in between at this point.

I managed to make eye contact with Amythest as she zipped across the play centre. She was having the time of her life, which was the only reason I ever even attempted to socialise with people I always felt were above me – or maybe they behaved that way?

“I’m Tina, you must be Amythest’s mum. I’m Jacks mum.” A tall woman approached my lonely table and took a seat across from me. “Yes, I’m B! Nice to meet you.” That’s it. And this is where the awkward, uncomfortable silences begin.

After a minute or two, Tina started up again. “Isn’t it lovely when you can just come to a birthday party and relax with a coffee without having to stress?”

“Yeah, definitely!” I scoffed in a relatable tone… how would I even continue this conversation?

“So B, what do you do for work?” Oh shit, my favourite question. I can’t really come out with the truth which is from the age of 15 until I had my first baby, I was in and out of bad relationships and on drugs and doing everything except working and since I became a mum, that’s all I’ve done… be a mum.

“I’m doing certificate lll in Childcare…” I can feel my ears burning, my palms beginning to sweat and the panic starting to set in.

“Oh, I’m a childcare worker! How do you like it?” Tina said loudly, loud enough for all the other parents to also now be under the impression I am a childcare worker.

“Yeah,” I said, in a high pitched husky voice, “I’m probably going to drop it soon, though. I mean, juggling that plus the kids is hard.” You are a liar, B. A big, fat liar……

The conversation died off there and it was finally time to grab a lolly bag and head for the nearest exit. The last thing I want is to get caught walking out the door with little Suzie and her mum, chatting away only for them to realise we aren’t walking to the car park with them because our Uber is meeting us at the taxi bay.

5 Simple Ways to Introduce Your Kids to Environmentalism

It’s no secret that our planet is in trouble. The pollution, environmental carnage and global warming are not only a big deal but they are our big deal. The human race has spent hundreds of years evolving into a mindless species that forgot where we came from. Instead of tending to the earth, living with her harmoniously and putting her health first, we are essentially destroying our life source. Where do we go when the earth is no longer an option?

We can never go back but we can move forward in a positive direction. Our time here is limited but we can leave behind a legacy that deserves to be kept alive and we can do that by creating awareness, excitement and education tailored around informing our kids – the leaders of the future – that our number one priority should and has to be our planet.

1. Start them young

Our kids minds are at their most absorbent in the first years of life. That’s why with something as important as caring for the Earth and environmental awareness should be introduced as soon as possible. By beginning early, kids have more of a chance to adopt the behaviours you teach them as core information for later in life. We’ll have a bunch of little humanitarians running the world before you know it!

2. Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle

What could be more fun than arts and crafts? And it’s even better when you are up-cycling using old plastics, jars, bottles, lids….. This is definitely something little kids would go for! It’s a great chance to start a conversation, too. Discussing why you are using the rubbish to make art or why we want to have less rubbish in the bins is great banter for this kind of activity!

3. “Earth” by Lil Dicky

Hear me out! Yes, it’s not quite for young ears… and how I wish Lil Dicky had made a clean version of this song because it has so much potential to change how kids view the earth. If you don’t mind your kids listening to a few swear words here and there, I recommend throwing this jam on in the car on the way to school in the mornings. If this doesn’t get your kid thinking, I don’t know what will. (Plus, it’s super catchy!) We want the future leaders of this planet to be excited and motivated when it comes to taking action against climate change and global warming. In a world where we are becoming more and more reliant on instant satisfaction, great effort needs to be put in to amp kids up to make long term changes that they may not see the benefits of for a long time.

4. Don’t beat around the bush

Kids aren’t stupid, they seem to know a lot more than kids did thirty years ago. They understand more, too. That’s why when it comes to things like climate change and the environment, don’t lie to them – it will not do them any good. Tell them the truth, be brutally honest, be informative and see what happens. Children generally have an empathetic nature and we need to give them credit for that by being honest with them. Climate change is so important… and in this situation, what they don’t know can hurt them.

5. Teach your kids how to bond with the Earth

Outdoor meditation has grown in popularity over the last decade. For relaxation, spiritual awareness, health, clarity… meditating has so many beneficial qualities for your mind, body and spirit – imagine how great it could be for a child to access the elements of mediation before they actually need it.

If meditation isn’t right for your family, try taking a nature walk or having a picnic in the park. Kids resonate strongly with the outdoors so any time spent with Mother Nature is a great opportunity for bonding time.

Here is a list with a few starting points to get your family excited about making difference in your community:

Clean Up Australia Day is held on the first Sunday of March every year and encourages people to clean up their local areas. You can join in quietly or head to their website to join a group clean-up.

World Environment Day is celebrated annually on 5 June and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment.

Earth Day, on April 22nd, is an international event celebrated around the world to pledge support for environmental protection. It has been noticed annually for 51 years. The theme for Earth Day this year was ‘Restore Our Earth’.

News Flash! I am not a perfect parent and neither are you!

Before I begin, I should explain what lead me to write this article. It was a post I saw on a Facebook Mothers’ Group but it wasn’t so much the post that bothered me… it was the comments. And it wasn’t the comments directed at the OP, it was the comments I received in regards to my response. The post was about a lady who had decided to introduce her 3.5 month old baby to solids. I responded by explaining that I started both my girls trying different flavours around 4-6 months old. (The recommended age, as stated on Australian Parenting Website, babies will start to show signs of being ready for solids around 6 months of age but every child is different. It is not recommended babies under 4 months are given solid food.)

I didn’t know how terrible I was until I was informed by a handful of parents who thought it was necessary to not only ridicule this woman but condemn me and my parenting because they didn’t agree with the age I started introducing solids. I was told to “know better, do better”, I was told my advice was “dangerous” and I was made to feel like I was, in fact, an imperfect mother.

So, this all got me thinking. Am I a bad mother? I have never claimed to be the perfect mum. I have always stood by that I am quite the opposite. I make mistakes, I learn from my mistakes and I try to be open-minded when it comes to all situations. But, in 2021 and after all we have been through during the past two years, have we not moved past the phase of tearing other women down based on speculation and judgement? Have we not learned that women are stronger when we stand together and support each other?

I am genuinely shocked at the amount of criticism thrown around between ladies, especially on a Mothers’ Support Page! Come on girls, we can do better than that, can’t we? Whether you agree or disagree on a point is irrelevant in the end because the key to creating a better future for our kids is practicing understanding, compassion and perspective. Your opinion is just that – yours.

I am not a bad mother, I am the perfect mum for my children. And so are you!