Musings

The Anxious Mother

I work really hard not to let my anxiety affect our son. It’s not so much that I actively hide it from him, I don’t really believe in doing that (mental illness is not something to be ashamed of or something to be hidden) but he is only five, there are things he just doesn’t need to know yet, things that are too complex for him to understand. I don’t want to expose him to adult problems and I definitely don’t want to put my anxieties on him. I don’t ever want to be the type of mum that stops him from doing things he wants to do because of my own fears. And so, I might tell him I’m scared of doing something, like going on a fast ride or an aeroplane or going to the dentist but then I do it anyway. I hope by doing that I’m showing him it’s ok to be afraid and that sometimes we just need to face our fears and find out that it’s not so scary after all. But sometimes, I’m ashamed to say that my fears get the better of me, my mind takes over my body and I can’t…I just can’t face them those fears.

When he was a baby our son suffered from severe reflux. I’m not talking about a few baby spews after a feed, I’m talking non stop, clothes change inducing, full on vomiting. We were referred to the Royal Children’s Hospital when he was a few months old for some testing. One particular test involved him fasting for what ended up being nearly eight hours…this for a baby who was at that time feeding every three to four hours…well, you can probably imagine what that was like. By the time we got into the x-ray room our poor little man was over tired, starving and screaming. The doctors explained that we would need to hold him down and keep him as still as possible whilst the gave him a small amount of milk with a special dye mixed into it. It was important that he not drink too much, they would take it away, “he won’t be happy” they warned, then they would watch the milk flow through his body and take regular pictures on the x-ray machine as it made its way down. Because of the radiation from the machine hubby and I were required to heavy full lead vests. So, put an already anxious mum together with a hot room, lack of food and a lead vest that weighed a ton and bam, you’ve got yourself a full-blown panic attack. I could feel myself fading, I reached for a nearby chair because I felt like I was going to pass out. The doctors suggested that maybe I wait outside. I looked towards my husband and he nodded; assured me he’d be ok. A nurse escorted me out to a hospital bed where I laid down and she fed me sweet biscuits and cordial. I sat there and cried. I was so embarrassed. I felt like an absolute failure. I had crumbled in the moment when my child needed me the most.

For me, any type of medical environment; being in a hospital, dentist or doctors waiting room causes huge anxiety. Even if I’m only there for something as simple as a prescription refill, just being there or even thinking about being there is enough to make me anxious. I know now that this is due to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) something which I am only now really coming to understand. So when our son needed to go into hospital for an operation at the age of two it was my husband who held him whilst him was put under. And just this week when our son had a bad fall which resulted in him losing half his front tooth it was my husband who took him to the dentist. And I hate that. Not that I hate my husband being there, my god I’m so grateful he was, that he is, but I hate myself for not being strong enough to be there for my son when he needs me the most. Because there is nowhere else that a mothers wants to be when her child is in trouble than by their side.

Last night I thanked my husband, as I often do, for being there when I couldn’t, for being the strong one when I can’t be. And I promised him and myself, as I often do, that I will continue to fight my anxiety and face my fears not only for myself but also for our son because the thing I am most afraid of all is letting him down.

Are you an anxious mother? Ever felt like you at letting your child down?

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Why Blog?

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People quite often ask me why I blog. Lots of people are under the assumption that people blog for money or to get free stuff. Let me assure you, for the vast majority this is just not the case. Sure, there are some bloggers out there that do make a full time income their blog but they are few and far between. For me personally, money or free stuff is not the reason I blog, it’s just not. I have probably said no to more things than I have said yes to when it comes to that type of thing. I have a pretty simple rule, unless it benefits my readers in some way then I just won’t do it. So why then do I blog? Well I have three significant reasons why:

Writing: I love to write. You might even say I need to write. Writing is my way of processing things, of working through thoughts and emotions. It’s a way to for me to record and remember. There have been periods of times when I have taken a break from writing and it always feels like something is missing. Ok, I hear many people thinking, you like to write so why not just keep a journal? Why share it with the world? Well that leads to the second reason I blog…

Connecting: Blogging has provided me with the opportunity to connect with so many amazing people; people I would never know if it weren’t for blogging. The blogging community is awesome. It’s the type of community where you never feel stupid for asking a question and where people always offer a helpful answer. The blogging community is supportive, creative, inspiring and just plain old nice! Sure, I know there are some nasties out there, I know ‘trolls’ exist but honestly? I think the vast majority of those people are not from within the blogging community and if they are, well I’ve never come across them. I’ve shared emails, phone calls and lunches with people I’ve met online. I’ve built friendships, learnt new things and been inspired.

Making others feel less alone: I’ve always said that if just one person reads a blog post I write and feels less alone then it’s all worth it. This is particularly true for posts I have written in the past about my struggles with mental illness and parenting. Reading comments like “thank you for sharing, you will have helped so many others understand they are not alone” and “posts like yours give me insight into what it’s like and helps me to empathise” or “thank you, I really needed to read this today.” I’ve had many private messages and emails over the years from people who have thanked me because one of my posts inspired them to seek help, or helped them to understand what a loved one was going through or made them feel ‘normal’ or even hopeful. I cannot even being to tell you what receiving those messages mean to me. 

So there you have it. That is why I blog. For others bloggers out there I’d love to hear why you blog and to all my other readers I’d love to know why you enjoy reading blogs.

’til next time

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First and Last

Looking back to before I became a parent I’m not really sure how many children I wanted…maybe two? Maybe I pictured myself with two girls (because I have an older sister) but I’m not too sure, I can’t quite remember. But what I do remember is that when I did fall pregnant at the age of 28 I was convinced I was having a boy. We chose not to find out but during my entire pregnancy I pictured myself with a boy and it just felt so right. And then the very minute that beautiful boy of ours was born it immediately felt like out family was complete. And that feeling has not changed.

Because we have an only child we often feel pressured to get things right. The pressure of course comes from only ourselves… we’ve only got one shot at this! Our poor son is totally our guinea pig in this whole parenting caper. It also means that for us, every first is also the last. Next year, our son will be starting school. He is our first child to go to school and our last child to go to school. It’s like a big double whammy right? And I’m feeling all the feels about it….

I’m excited for this next stage, excited to watch our son grow and learn. I’m also scared…will he like school? Will he make friends? Will he get lost? I’m happy to see him become more independent but at the same time sad that he’s growing up and needs me that bit less. Yep, I’m feeling all the feels. I have no doubt I’m going to be a freaking mess on his first day of school, not that I’m going to let my son see that of course, I’m going to be all cool, calm and collected and then when he’s out of sight I plan to burst into tears…good plan right?

So to all your parents who have gone before me, who have seen their first child off to school and maybe their last, what advice do you have for me? How do I deal with all the feels?

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Book Reviews- September

Book reviews september, www.saradipity.com.auI’ve been reading a lot lately, making a concerted effort to pick a book instead of the phone. I’ve been reading at night and first thing in the morning instead of watching TV. If my son will allow it some days I even manage to squeeze in some reading in the late afternoon. I’ve been making my way through a list of books I’ve been wanting to read for some time, picking up a few at the library each week. Here’s some quick reviews of what I’ve read this month:

Craft for the Soul: Written by one of my all time fav bloggers, Pip Lincolne, this is one of the sweetest books getting around. It’s filled with little bits of inspiration, activities and prompts to get you thinking and creating. The book also includes ten step-by-step crafty projects. This is the perfect book to buy your bestie or keep on your bedside table when your feeling a little blue.

Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It: This book was published to celebrate ten years since the release of the original ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you were a fan of that book then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one too. The book is a collection of short stories from readers who were inspired to make a real life change after reading ‘Eat, Pray Love’. Some of the changes were big, some were small yet still significant realisations. It was a quick and easy read and whilst I don’t think there was anything particularly groundbreaking about it was a good little hit of inspiration which I still enjoyed.

The Paper House: There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this debut novel by Anna Spargo Ryan so I was a little worried I’d be disappointed. I wasn’t. This book had me with the very first line; “My heart fell out on a spring morning – the kind that rose coolly in the east and set brightly in the west.” Anna’s writing is just so beautiful, she describes the indescribable in the most poetic way. The Paper House is told from the point of view of Heather, a woman who is struggling with the  sudden loss of her unborn baby. The book delves into some pretty big issues; Heather’s story becomes intertwined with that of her mothers, a woman who battled her own demons in the form of a serious mental illness. I just couldn’t put this book down; particularly towards the end when it went to a place I didn’t think it would; it had me captivated. I can’t say too much without ruining the story but if you haven’t already done so you should really read this book, it’s one of those stories that just stays with you.

The Anxiety Book: Written by Aussie journalist Elisa Black, this book is a ‘true story of phobias, flashbacks and freak-outs and how Elisa got her ‘inner calm back’. I wouldn’t describe this as a self help book although I certainly did find it helpful. Rather than telling us what anxiety is, why we have it and how to control it, Elisa simple tells her own story. And she tells its with great honesty. I could relate to a lot of what Elisa had to say, and had many ‘a-ha’ moments throughout the book. So many times it was like she reached into my body, pulled out my thoughts and feelings and put them into words. The biggest thing I took away from this book was that I am not alone and I am not crazy! If you suffer from anxiety I highly recommend you read this book. If you don’t suffer from anxiety but know someone who does then I still highly recommend you read it; it might just help you to understand

The Anti Cool Girl: Rosie Waterland is an Australian writer best known for her hilarious recaps of The Bachelor on the Mamamia Website (you can check them out here). If you’re a fan of Rosie’s writing then you will absolutely love this memoir. She does not shy away from anything, letting you in on all of the sordid details of her upbringing, with chapter titles like ‘Your mum will be a sex worker, and you’ll have no idea’, ‘You will get caught masturbating while watching rugrats’ and ‘Your friends will find a dead body in the bush and it will be your dad’. Rosie’s writing is totally in you face, if I’m honest at some points I squirmed; felt a bit uncomfortable. Rosie’s story is actually really sad and tragic but she has a way of poking fun at everything; I guess it’s the reason she survived and has become the success she is today.

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these? Any books you can recommend that I should read next?

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The Great Divide

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Recently, there’s been a lot of talk in the media about the income divide between women and men and for many years there’s been discussion around the worth (or rather lack there of) that we place on stay at home mums. Honestly, whilst I’m totally aware that these issues exist I’ve never given them a great deal of thought. I’ve been quite happy coasting along in our family situation which works for us. But last week my husband and I received our superannuation statements in the mail on the same day. I opened them and was shocked at what I saw. It really made me stop and think.

My husband and I have been in the workforce for the exact same amount of years. For the majority of that time we were earning roughly the same money. Yet, he has DOUBLE the amount of super that I do. Why? Because when my son was born I had a year of maternity leave. Because after that I chose to return to work on a part time basis. Because I’ve decided to take a year of long service leave to be able to take him to and from kinder. These are choices that I will never ever regret, I make them happily, but it’s a real slap in the face when you see those figures on paper, in black and white like that. For me it’s ok, because I have a husband. He works full time and picks up the slack in my earnings. When we retire it will be together and we will have our combined super to support us. But what about single parents? What about those that don’t have a partner to ‘pick up the slack’?

It really comes back to the worth that we place on the role of stay at home parents; hands down the hardest job in the world yet paid the least (or nothing at all). I know this is a big issue and I also know there is no easy answer. If only it were as simple as paying stay home parents for their work, but it’s really not that simple and I get that. I don’t have the answer but what I do know is that the best place we can start is by thinking about it, but questioning it and challenging it. We need to openly talk about this great divide that exists.

At the end of the day, I would happily give up all the money in the world to be a mum. I don’t look at those superannuation figures and regret anything but it sure has got me thinking about those women who aren’t as lucky as me….

What do you think? I might be opening up a can of worms here but I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this!

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The conversation I wasn’t ready for…

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Driving in the car with my five year old son last week and he asks “Mum, who made the world?”. Shit, how do I answer that?! He continues, “Because whoever it was must’ve gotten really thirsty ’cause that would’ve been a lot of hard work”. True that kid. “So Mum, who did make the world?” I was so not ready for this conversation; I did not have a prepared answer. Much like death and sex and all the other major things in life I know there will come a time when he will ask questions and I know that as a parent it is my job to answer them. But what happens when you don’t know the answer?

I’m technically a Catholic. I was baptised and did my holy communion and all of that but I guess I’m not really what you would call a ‘practicing Catholic’. I haven’t been to a church service (other than weddings etc) since I was a child. I don’t pray and I’m not even really sure what I believe when it comes to God. Is there a God? I honestly don’t know. I would like to believe that there is something, something bigger than us, a reason for it all but I’m not sure what that is. I believe there is some kind of afterlife, but do I believe in heaven and hell? I just don’t know! How do you explain a concept to a child that is so big? How do you explain something you don’t even understand yourself?

When our dog passed away earlier this year I told our son he had died. He asked a few questions, mainly why did she die and when was she coming back. But he never asked where she went so I never told him. We never had the discussion about heaven because he just didn’t ask so we didn’t push, preferring to keep things as simple and non-scary as possible. I think that was totally the right thing. But what would I have said had he asked? I don’t know. I guess I would’ve told him that she went to heaven because heaven sounds like such a nice place and it’s nice to have things to believe in isn’t it?

So, back to the conversation in the car about God…how did I handle it? Well, I kinda dodge and weaved and mumbled my way through a bit…. I told my son that some people believe that God made the world.

“Gawd. Who’s gawd?” (He said it just like that).

“Well he’s a man, a really powerful man…” But is God a man? I don’t know!

“Mum, do you reckon if me and Gawd had a running race that I would win? Because I’m pretty fast”

“Well I dunno, God is pretty fast. He’s kind of magical. Yeah, God is like a magic man. And he lives in the sky…” Fuck, why did I say that? Now I’m going to have to explain Heaven. Don’t say anymore, just wait until he asks…

“In a house like ours in the sky?”

“Umm yeah I guess so.”

“What does he look like?”

“Umm I don’t really know buddy, I haven’t seen him before, no one really has, because remember he lives in the sky..”

Silence. No more questions. Until next time.

So tell me parents out there; how do you handle (or plan to handle) the big question, namely God, with your children? Do you have strong beliefs that you will pass on to your kids or are you a bit like me and you just don’t know?

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Living and Loving Lately

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It’s been a bit of a crappy week in our household; one by one we’ve been struck down by the dreaded gastro. So not fun. And it’s been raining here, a lot (hello Melbourne it’s meant to be Spring!) After days of being cooped up inside watching TV, reading books and sleeping (amongst all the vomiting and cleaning up of said vomit) I decided to cheer myself up by making a bit of a list of all the awesome stuff I’ve been doing and things I’ve been loving lately. Here we go:

Reading: The only upside to all of the recent rainy days we’ve had in Melbourne? Lots of time for reading. I’ve read Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It; a quick, easy and inspiring read and Craft for the Soul; a super sweet book. Also The Wrong Girl which was total chick lit at it’s finest. I can’t wait until the TV series starts this month. Next up on my bedside table is The Anxiety Book…anyone read that?

Workshopping: I’ve been wanting to do a Digital Picnic workshop for a long time (ever since they started really). So last month I finally booked in and took myself off to the Get Social Savvy workshops. After following both Cherie and Cat online for many years it was so nice to finally meet them in real life. We talked all things social media, ate cupcakes and drank from pineapple cups…fun!

Staycation: Hubby, the lil man and I had ourselves a little staycation in Melbourne to celebrate fathers day and hubby’s birthday. I picked up a Groupon and we stayed at The Parkiew which was the perfect little base for both exploring the city and staying indoors. We spoilt ourselves with the movie channel and room service. It was so much fun. We’re going to do it more often!

Podcasts: Always the podcasts. I listen to them when I’m walking, driving and cooking dinner. Current faves include #MerryBiz, Aussie Bloggers Podcast, The Well and So you want to be a writer

DIY: In case you missed it, earlier this week I shared a little DIY project I recently did (you can check it out here). I’m somewhat in love and have many more DIY projects planned for the near future so stay tuned!

Friends: Seriously I have the best friends in the world, it’s true. To every friend who has called or messaged and checked in on me lately (you know who you are) thank you, it means a lot.

But above all, after making this hard decision recently I’ve just been enjoying taking it slow; reading, writing, spending time with my family and my friends. We’ve had a couple of days where the sunshine came out and it was wonderful (more of that please Melbourne!) And of course school/kinder holidays have officially started for us so I’m looking forward to spending even more time with my boy.

Tell me, what have you been loving lately? Share all the good things!

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Screw You Anxiety

 

anxiety, www.sarahdipity.com.auDuring my recent month long bloggy break I would often jot down my thoughts and other post ideas. Some days, the urge to just ‘write it out’ would become so strong that I would reach for my phone and type out a whole post in my notes. This is one of those posts. I deliberated about sharing it, because I’m in a different mind frame today than what I was that day. But then I decided it was important to share it, because it was how I was feeling on that particular day and I really need to acknowledge that. So here goes…

If you know me or have read this blog before you will probably know that I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for many, many years. It’s a part of my life that unfortunately I have come to accept. Most of the time I deal with it fine, I have lots of strategies and supportive people around me to help out. But sometimes, I just get a little sick of it all and right now is one of those times. You see, living with anxiety can be really exhausting. Constantly over thinking things, questioning myself, trying to predict and control everything; its exhausting. And so today, if it’s ok with you, I’m just going to have a little ranty rant about anxiety.

I’m very self aware. I know why I suffer from anxiety, I understand the triggers behind my panic attacks. I’ve researched and read books and joined forums and taken medication and sought counselling and delved into my childhood and all the major life events that have helped shape who I am today. Sure, I understand why it happens but it still doesn’t stop it from happening. I understand that I am not going to die from a panic attack but that doesn’t stop me feeling like I am. I understand that when I have a panic attack it is just my body going instinctively going into flight or fight mode; a thing us humans have been using since the dawn of time to protect ourselves. It helps to prepare our bodies physically to either stay and fight or run for our lives. But seriously, I’m not a bloody cave woman out hunting and being confronted by a lion; I’m just trying to do the shopping at my local supermarket!

I know many people think that having a mental illness is a sign of weakness, I feel that way sometimes too, but in reality the reverse is true; you have to be a super strong person to face anxiety everyday. Sometimes I get sick of having to be brave. Have I not already proven how brave I am? Have I not already proven that I’m stronger than you? That I will go out, go shopping, meet new people, jump on a plane, travel and go to new places in spite of you. Have I not faced you and stood up to you and beaten you a million times? So why oh why do you keep coming back…yes I know, it’s totally a rhetorical question. But how nice it would be to go to a new place or event without spending the whole day feeling sick and planning my exit strategy and then  maybe cancelling last minute because it all gets too much.

And here’s the thing; I’m one of the lucky ones, I know I am. Because I still manage to function. I manage to hold down a job, look after our son, have a happy marriage, socialise with friends; I do all that in spite of my anxieties. I know others who can’t, I know others who are too scared to even leave their own house (I know because I’ve been there myself) and for that I say screw you anxiety. Just screw you.

If you suffer from anxiety can you relate? Do you sometimes just feel like saying a big ‘screw you’ to anxiety? Get it all out in the comments below…trust me, it’ll make you feel much better!

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The hardest decisions are sometimes the right ones

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Well hi there (waves sheepishly) it’s been a while I know (scuffs feet on the floor). It’s been a whole month since I’ve written here. It wasn’t a planned or intentional break, I’ve just been, well, really busy. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to use the word “busy” but it’s true, I’ve been really freakin busy! 

My year off work turned into me working two jobs from home as well as some other freelancing and project work. I got really busy and it all started to get a bit too much…Because I was working in social media I was on my phone a lot; first thing every morning, last thing every night and all throughout during the day. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, because I’m a perfectionist and a people pleaser, I do that. I was finding it really hard to switch off, especially at night. My panic attacks became more frequent and I know myself well enough by now to know that is my body’s way of saying “stop, slow down”.

Then last week, following a panic attack in an underground carpark in the city (wasn’t that fun!), my best friend gave me a few home truths (aren’t best friends good like that?) She said out loud what I knew deep down…I needed to stop. This year was supposed to be about me spending some quality time with our son before he starts school and it just wasn’t anymore. It was supposed to be the year that I was going to look after myself and my family and I’d busied myself with work and other things (again!) I’ve worked really hard for the past twelve years to earn my long service leave, yet it’s almost September and I have not spent one single day on the couch watching trashy tv or reading a book or napping like I had grand dreams that I would be doing on a regular basis during my year off. It’s like I’m completely incapable of just…being. I need to learn to just be.

And so, I made the really hard decision to let the work go. It was really hard because I knew I was letting people down and that made me feel (literally) sick (see point above about being a people pleaser!) And of course I immediately doubted my decision…people would kill to have these opportunities I know! But then the next morning I was snuggling in bed with my son and he asked “what are we doing today?” and I said “Absolutely nothing. Let’s stay in our pj’s all day.” He said “Do you have to do work today Mum?” and I said “No, no more work from home buddy.” He jumped up and said “Yay! No more work at home, just work at work?” and right then I knew I had made the right decision.

The hardest decisions are sometimes the right ones.

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Loving

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A happy, positive post today; Winter can be a bit of a drainer so I just wanted to share with you all some things that I’m loving lately….

1. Lunch Lady Magazine: People have been raving about this magazine since it first came out last year and I finally got my hands on a copy. I absolutely loved issue 3 so much that I have since ordered issues 1 and 2. If you’ve haven’t check this magazine out yet, get onto it people! You can buy it online here.

2. The Merrymaker Sisters: Love these girls! They’re like little balls of energy and sunshine. I’m addicted to their podcast and recently signed up for their free ‘find your perfect diet’ e-course which I found really useful. Their recipes are great too; hello gluten free, sugar free chocolate self saucing pudding!

3. Reading: I’ve been trying to do this every night before bed instead of scrolling through my phone (much better for winding down). I’ve just finished The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is the first fiction novel of hers that I’ve read. I have to admit it took me a little bit to get into; I’m not really a fan of historic novels but it ended up drawing me in and towards the end I couldn’t put it down. It is an epic novel, and whilst I didn’t exactly ‘love’ it I can certainly appreciate the beauty in it and what an amazingly intricate piece of writing it is.

4. Being part of The Melbourne Mum Squad. This fun idea put together by Bron from Flat Bum Mum, Erin from The Mum’s Group and Tegan from Bump into Mums is all about giving Melbourne mums the chance to meet up, catch up and chat. For their first event we’re heading out to drinks and a private screening of  the new movie Bad Moms  (which looks hilarious by the way!) There are still tickets available so if you want in just head here and be sure to sign up to the Melbourne Mum Squad to be in the loop on future events.

5. Make up. Yes, make up. You see I’ve never been much of a make up wearer, but my bestie has recently started selling Younique make up and I’ve fallen in love with it! My sister and I recently took ourselves off to a make up course (something we’ve both wanted to do for years) and after learning how to apply it properly I now feel more confident about wearing make up. So I’m slowing saving and buying up the things I want. If you want to check out the Younique range head to my friend Kat’s website here.

6. Speaking of make up, Zoe Foster-Blake is officially launching her new beauty book ‘Amazinger Face’ this month and guess who’s going to be brunching with Zoe at The Langham Melbourne to celebrate? Yep me! I’m super excited to both meet Zoe and check out her new book which you can pre-order here now. Of course I headed straight to instagram for a public vote on what I should wear…I ended up choosing this pretty number from Feather and Noise.

7. Being part of the new Kiddipedia website; I’d love you to head over and check out my first article ‘Talking to kids about the hard stuff’

8. Dance exercise videos. No seriously, don’t laugh! I’ve always struggled with exercising on a regular basis and find it even more of a challenge during winter so I recently plugged my ipad into the TV and looked up ‘dance exercise videos’ on youtube. The best thing is I can do it from the comfort of my own home, regardless of the weather and my son loves it too. We pump up the volume and dance around the lounge room, it’s fun and is also a really good, quick workout. I think I may have finally found my thing!

9. My new role and that my awesome new boss has been nominated for the AusMumpreneur Awards. You can vote for her here by selecting ‘Brooke Findley’ in category four.

10. This yummy coconut and lemon yoghurt loaf, I made it on Sunday night for lunches this week and my god it is good!

Other things I’m loving: camp outs in the lounge room, hot baths,  spending lots of quality time with my boys and sunny winter days.

What are you loving right now?

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This kid and this guy

 

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