I’ve always been that Mum who wanted the Pinterest looking bedroom, monochrome decor and everything in its place ready for to be snapped for the gram. Baxter came along and life changed. He drew all over the designer sheets I brought him and now loves to watch Nickelodeon rather than play with his latest toys I got him.

Well, this dude is now OBSESSED with PAW Patrol and how could I say no when he spotted this PAW Patrol duvet cover? PAW Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines and Shimmer & Shine are his current favs. He goes “oooh Blaze, oooh Blaze!” when it comes on. I have seen a bunch of different cartoons since Baxter has shown to start a bit of interest in the TV, obviously it is not something we use all the time but it’s nice to know what when we do switch it on as a distraction, the content is educational and not mindless like most of the others out there or some of the crap you find on YouTube. I have always loved Nick Jr, it’s a fun brand and they have all the best shows on! It’s reassuring as a parent to know that the kids are safe watching Nick Jr.

We have also recently discovered the Nick Jr. website which has a bunch of cool and FREE activities which are going to come in handy over the Christmas period! Sometimes it can be really difficult to keep the kids occupied, especially if you’re away traveling or stuck inside (praying to the weather gods it doesn’t come to that). The best part is that the resources are available on all devices, anytime and anywhere!

Seeing as December is the month for giving… I have a MASSIVE box of Nick toys to give away from the lovely Nickelodeon team (perfect for the school holidays).

To enter to WIN, head to the Nick or Nick Jr website at www.nicknz.co.nz  or www.nickjr.co.nz , and take a photo of your little one enjoying their favourite show – then post the photo in the comments of the Facebook post.

I’ll draw a winner on Tuesday 19th December at 9am. You gotta be in to win (the toys and some peace and quiet!).

Terms & Conditions here – http://bit.ly/2AQ6SYV

Why is it that there is so much fear about being real? Why are we afraid to post photos we deem ‘bad’? Are we afraid others are going to be like “damn girl, you look like shit” and I’m all “thanks, I just pushed a baby out of my vagina”.

The number one compliment I get around my blog and what I share is that fact that its real. I am far from well-presented, I barely have my shit together and make up to me is mascara and BB cream (sometimes I splash out and wear foundation). I’ve been a tomboy most of my life and have never been one to ‘dress up’ so when I do, I feel awkward as fuck and it shows in everything I do. I always feel like I don’t fit in and this, along with me currently not being happy with my body is half the reason I don’t go out.

I am just like you, well, I don’t know you and its highly likely that you’re better looking than me but you get the idea. Somebody messaged me the other day and said “you’re so lucky, your life looks amazing – you have it all”. I don’t, I am over-worked and I am tired. I have problems just like everybody else (if you don’t, I’m hella jealous). I am kind of sad that they had that impression of me because I am very honest online and with what I share.

Sure, I may take some nice pictures of the kids, that’s the bonus of being a parent and a Photographer but have you seen many photos of me? Nope, they’re few and far between. If Reuben or somebody else happens to snap a good pic of me then I am gonna use the shit out of it (haha) and I don’t know the last time I felt I looked good enough to justify a selfie. Reuben’s idea of a spontaneous photo without me having to ask if me in bed eating KFC and sharing it on Snapchat.. yeah, thanks babe.

Let’s be real people, let’s stop being scared and shy about showing off what’s really happening. Let’s share squares of reality, not carefully composed works of art. It’s unrealistic and fucking hard to maintain. I know your real life isn’t like that, especially with a child. It’s simply not possible. You might be fooling some, but you ain’t fooling me.

I am a Mum. I am struggling with my identity these last few years. I know I am more than a Mum but I am also not the old Jess (and I don’t want to be). I am quite depressed and I am working on it but old habits are hard to break (lack of patience, high expectations for everything). I am really down on my body but in all honestly, I am currently doing nothing about it. I want to lose weight, I want to be healthy but I also want to eat shit food. Time is not something I have a lot of right now so that also plays a big part in my lack of motivation to be better and feel better. I am winding down and will be finishing up my photography & work for the year so hope I can get out and do some exercise of the Christmas holidays. What a stupid time to start right? The time of year when everybody binges – ha. So there, I got my own issues, don’t you worry about that. More issues that vogue but I’m treading about water. I am honest with you guys, I see no reason not to be.

Being real is so refreshing and only then can we slowly start becoming accepting of ourselves and our own lives because we start to see others are just like us too! These unrealistic portrayals of motherhood and life in general are stupid and I am so over seeing them. They affect so many people and this makes me sad. People are so confused by social media and are literally comparing themselves, their children and their lifestyles to something that isn’t even an honest representation. We’ve all been there, I used to do. The best thing I ever did was learn to stop caring so much about what others think (thanks to reading “The Life Changing Magic of not giving a fuck) and I feel better for it. Sure, I am human. I am the queen of overthinking but I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. I have my own hustle and I don’t time to be worrying what you’re up to. In saying that, I care a lot about those close to me and I treat them right.

So here’s me, stuffing toast in my face about 10 minutes after giving birth to Lily while Reuben dresses her. How fucking good is that milo & toast post birth though!? While the images isn’t what I would deem ‘pretty’, it tells a pretty bloody cool story and that’s what photos and memories are all about.

  • What do you do for a job?
    This is by far my most asked question, ever. Aside from the obvious (a Mum of two), I’m a lifestyle + birth Photographer, a blogger and I have just returned to work full-time where I manage an agency that specialises in digital storytelling + social media. How do I manage? Some days I don’t and some days are a struggle but I choose to be busy, I always have been and don’t really know any different. If you love what you do it’s not an issue.
  • How was the transition from having one kid to two, especially 2 under 2? And with Lily being planned (?) how did you come to that decision when Bax was so young?
    Double love
    Double trouble
    Double mess
    Double nappies
    Double worry and guilt as a mum
    For me, I don’t love one less or more. I love them equal and so fucking much. It’s amazing. My heart is so full from these two I could have never imagined.
    We wanted a small age gap, it worked well for us and our family. There is 18 months between the two and we couldn’t have timed it any better.
  • Where did you get your tattoo from?
    Char (Nursey) from Dr Morse Inc Tattoo Studio done my forearm tattoo. I absolutely love it, she done an amazing cover up on an old arm tattoo,
  • Do you have a night-time routine for your kids?
    Yes and no but nobody falls apart if we don’t do the same thing every night. We’re pretty relaxed, as are the kids.
  • How did you and your partner meet?
    Funnily enough we met on Facebook. Friends in common, he used to message me binge a creeper. I messaged him one day and said we should do coffee. We met for a drink (the first time meeting in person). He came back to my apartment later that day and literally never left. His dad turned up at the balcony of my apartment one day with a box of his shit. I kid you not. That same box is still in the wardrobe, he keeps it – hahaha.
  • How the heck do you get your beautiful bubbas to sleep in your office? (My guy has to “chat” if anyone else is in the room haha)
    Sadly I don’t have a straightforward answer, sorry! We’ve been totally blessed in the sleep department when it comes to the kids. I however have the WORST insomnia evvvvurrr. We have a pretty relaxed environment at the office which enabled the kids to also be chill plus when I have them with me, I’m in my own office so it’s pretty quiet and they’ll happily just zonk out in the portacot.
  • How did you get into blogging?
    I guess you could say I just fell into it. It was never something I set out to do or ‘wanted to do’. I just started to write when I was pregnant via a private, unpublished WordPress blog. A few people read it and said I should publish it. Once day, I took the plunge with zero expectations and it just took off. A few posts went viral and it grown from there.
  • Where do you buy the kids clothes from?
    I shop at a mixture of places for the kids. Both online and in-store. I love Jaxon Rose, Little Flock of Horrors, Jamie KayBuck & Baa, LTL PPL, Beau Hudson, Cotton On, Bonds, Postie Plus & The Warehouse. There will be so many more that I’ve forgotten off the top of my head but I love mix of supporting a few local businesses who make amazing quality threads and also a few bigger and more expensive brands because the quality is great and they last. I also love some of the more cheaper stuff because well, kids.
  • Where did you get the names Baxter and Lily from, and what made you choose them?
    I wish I could say we had a cool story, but we really don’t – haha. Baxter was a name Reuben threw in the mix and we both loved it, it wasn’t super common and it stuck so we rolled with it. I loved the name Roscoe but he is definitely a Baxter so we chose well. Lily was going to to be Millie but we changed our minds about half way through, we settled on Lily because my lovely Grandma’s (who passed away from Cancer) middle name was Lillian. And I wanted to keep a piece of her alive in the kids. I know she would just adore both of them. Middle names, Baxter is Baxter Louie (we couldn’t figure one out) and I looked at a Louis Vuitton in my wardrobe (materialistic much, hahaha) and it flowed well with Baxter so we had a winner. And Lily is Lily Luca which just had a really nice ring to it.

    I am planning my next Q & A post (as this has actually been sitting here unpublished for MONTHS). So pop a comment on the Facebook post and add your question in x

To every mum who yelled at her kids today.

To every mum who has a sink full of dishes.

To every mum dreading night time because they know he pain of broken sleep.

To every mum dreaming of eating a hot meal in peace.

To every mum who didn’t shower today.

To every mum wondering if 10am is to early for wine.

To every mum who is constantly second guessing their every decision.

To every mum wiping away the tears and wondering how they can muster the strength to get through another day.

To every mum who is feeling the strain on their relationship.

To every mum who fed their kids cereal for dinner.

To every mum missing their friends because they can’t seem to find time for anything other than staying sane and keeping the kids alive.

You’re a good mum, tomorrow is a new day.

You got this x

Being a parent is fucking hard; I am not going to lie.

If you disagree, you must have a dream baby and I extremely envious. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to bits but nobody could have prepared me for what parenthood is really like.

When people told me being a parent is the most rewarding yet hardest job ever, boy were they right! I now have so much more respect and love for my own parents knowing what they went through with (although I would have been one of those dream babies we spoke about earlier – cough cough bullshit).

You know, some days are just shit. Some days I just think I can’t do it. Do I want to do it? Why does it have to be so hard? Being a parent IS fucking hard. There are no two things that make it this way, it just is.

Some days I want to lock myself in a padded room and scream or drink copious amount of red wine (oh wait, I do that now).

There are days when I wonder is it always going to be like this? Why is he screaming? He’s not hungry, she’s not tired, she was smiling 2 minutes ago – is it something I done wrong?

I worry too much, I think too much. I physically can’t switch my brain off most nights and have been struggling to sleep a full night the past 2 weeks. I jump into bed and think about how much washing there is to do or going over in my head what I need to do the following day.

You know, it’s normally the ones who are the most ‘out there’ who suffer silently? They put up this front to make themselves feel better, so people don’t ask ‘are you okay?’. This probably isn’t the case for all but I know it rings true for me. I know if somebody asked me that right now its highly likely I would burst into tears because no, I am not OK. And it is OK to say that.

Don’t get me wrong, I live a wonderful life, I have an amazing partner, an awesome job, successful businesses, a beautiful home and insanely cute children but some days are just hard. THINGS don’t make you happy. You could have everything in the world and still be unhappy.

If you’ve never suffered from depression you may not understand where I’m coming from, you may not understand that you can have one really shitty day within a month of amazing days and all these old shitty memories/feelings flood back.

I am not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself, nor do I want you to feel sorry for me. I just wanted to share that it’s not all gummy smiles and rainbows. If you’re having a shitty day, it’s okay, you’re not alone.

These little humans chose us because we CAN do it, it WILL get better and tomorrow is a new day.

Some days I can be surrounded by people yet still experience feelings of loneliness.

I’ve struggled with mental health issues for a large majority of my life so one of my biggest concerns when I became pregnant was the high risk of PND. My GP and midwife were well aware of my medical history so knew what to look out for as well as educating me.

For a while there I thought I was fine, that I had somehow managed to sidetrack the issues that for a long time consumed me. I hadn’t. Two weeks passed after Baxter’s birth and my partner was due back at work, it hit me like a freight train. Feelings of anxiety and worry flooded me.

It took me a while to gain the courage to admit I knew what was going on and go and speak to my GP, deep down I knew the day would come, she was super supportive and we talked through our options.

I started to get control back, things became manageable. But I feel myself slipping again. I knew that it was highly likely I would experience PND again with Lily. Did it ever really go away? How long does it last and when does PND become depression?

These days my PND masks itself in anger, a symptom many are not aware of. Sadly it hinders my relationships with people from time to time and if I am being totally open, my partner takes the brunt of it. People who haven’t experienced it or been close to somebody who has simply don’t understand and often respond with “just stop” or “stop getting so mad”. I would love to be that in control of my feelings but right now, I am not. Half of the time my reactions are so unreasonable but I simply don’t see it at the time. God, I thought I had no patience when I was pregnant but this is next level.

I know that these current feelings are not me, and while I know they’re not permanent, it’s hard to deal with right now.

I’m lucky to have such a supportive partner who knows my hormones are up the shit and that when I sass him out, it’s not coming from a bad place.

To those who also suffer from those days where the darkness takes over, I hear you. Whilst you may feel alone, you’re not, it will get easier and good days are on the horizon. Recognizing the signs and talking about it are key steps in helping yourself and allowing others to understand.

Being a mum is tough, so let’s not make it tougher on ourselves. Speak out and support those around you, the smallest of gestures can make a person’s day.

Remember that sometimes the people who appear the happiest may not be and that you never truly know what others are going through.

Being kind of free so dish that shit out.

It is such a taboo topic. One which people are afraid to talk about out of fear of judgment. It truly breaks my heart. There are so many people out there suffering in silence because depression and anxiety has somehow been dubbed something that ‘we don’t talk about’. Why? It’s far more common than we realize and if we were to talk about it more then I feel those struggling would feel far more supported. So many people are scared to open up and talk to somebody about how they truly feel and have that ‘I don’t need/want to be on medication’ mentality.

I have struggled for many years. Some days I feel great, other days that dark black cloud hovers over my head. While there are positive coping mechanisms that have been known to work or at least assist. Somebody telling you to ‘snap out of it’ certainly isn’t one.

Social media has heightened the awareness of what’s around us, obviously – and I believe it plays a big part in some of the negative feelings people experience. We see those beautiful curated squares on Instagram and find ourselves comparing how their life is different to ours, how are they looking so beautiful and refreshed after I barely got 2 hours uninterrupted sleep last night? How on earth do they manage to find time to keep their house so perfectly clean and organized? How did their body snap back so quickly after giving birth. It’s everywhere. What we often don’t think about is that these people are not necessarily happy. We only see what they choose to share, many do not share the messy corner of their house or how little they slept last night.

The dark truth is that if we don’t start talking about mental health now and more openly, the alarming rate of suicide and the prevalence of untreated mental illness will reach crisis point – in fact, I believe it already has.

Please, if you’re ever struggling, with anything or having bad thoughts – talk to somebody. You can talk to me, PM me day or night or call one of the numbers below. It is often easier to confide in a stranger.

It’s so much more common than you realise and we can all play a small part in trying to normalise it in some small way by talking about it openly. There is nothing wrong with feeling this way, but there is a way out.

Please know that no matter how bad things feel, there is always help available. Taking your life is NOT the answer and please take a moment to think about all of those loved ones you would leave behind.

Talking about things is the first step. Realising it’s okay to not be okay if the next.

You are amazing and you hold a special place in this world.

It’s Mental Health Awareness week and I just wanted to remind you all that you’re amazing and you’ve got this.

Need help right now?

Lifeline Aotearoa’s telephone counselling service provides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week counselling and support – 0800 LIFELINE (0800 543 354).