My mental health has not been good as of late. I am just going to come right out and say it right now. To be honest, I feel like I say this a lot but the last few weeks has been a real eye opener for me.

I have realised the importance of self-care and I am now on a journey to make changes in my life that will directly impact my mental health and I would love for you to come on the journey with me.

One of the biggest things I have noticed is how a lot of people relate their anxiety back to clutter, whether it be in their daily lifestyle or in their mind. If you’re a parent then I don’t need to remind you that more toys = more crap to pick up. I am not sure I could live a ‘minimalist’ lifestyle but I definitely need to stop buying shit and am so guilty of keeping things unintentionally like old make up, clothes, shoes etc. So, I am on a mission. To de-clutter my life and my mind. I’ve been doing a tonne of research and can’t wait to start sharing it all.

I have poor routine and poor sleep, all of which directly affects my mental health. I use things like social media which link back to depression – social media, media in general and online bullies. I plan to tie in regular periods of ‘offline’ time to be more present with my family and friends while also striking a balance because my full-time job revolves around social media and of course, its where this amazing community of people are.

I am not putting a time frame on this but I am getting cracking start away. I am already putting small things in place and am noticing a change so it gives me hope that I can do this.

How can minimalism help a mama out? From reading many different articles, it seems many mothers are turning to minimalism to reduce their stress and anxiety.

Minimalism is the processing of simplifying yourself so that you can stop spending your time, energy and emotions on non-essential parts of your life.

Sounds easy right? It’s not. It’s a process, but one I believe will work.

Comment below if you’re keen to come along for the ride to reinventing yourself.

The one question I am asked multiple times per day is what do you do for a job?

For those of you who have followed my journey since the beginning would know that Baxter came to work with me from 3-8 months. I am extremely lucky to work in a company that allows this and an industry where this is possible.

So, what do I do?

For the past 10+ years I’ve worked in the Social Media/advertising space. It’s a space that I am obviously very familiar with and know that is only going to grow in size and power. My role is General Manager but I do a bunch of things aside from managing the day to day operations. I help with content strategies, pitch work, photography, content production, Facebook apps/competitions and advertising. We’ve somewhat recently delved into the VR/AR space which is so exciting and I am looking forward to seeing where that goes.

As you can see, I live and breathe Social Media why is why I sometimes need my ‘digi vacays’.

Alongside my full-time job, I’ve been a Photographer for the past 10 or so years. Photographing all things lifestyle. Weddings, Maternity, Births (yes, childbirth) and most commonly, Families. I LOVE creating memories for others to cherish for a lifetime. I have a real laid-back attitude and documentary style to my photos, capturing all those small details and emotions that are often missed.

I took a break from the Photography when I was pregnant with Baxter as it was simply too time demanding and from years of hard work, I was starting to burn out and lose my love for being behind the camera.

And with this much-needed break. The blog was born. I am one of those people who always need to be busy. I always have this burning desire to do better, do more and do amazing things. I was feeling pretty shitty pregnancy wise and had no idea if this was normal as everything I seen were these beautifully curated Instagram feeds of these amazingly gorgeous, glowing women. Here I was at only 13 weeks finding any excuse to wear fat pants and stay in bed ALL day. Admittedly, I had bloody cruisy pregnancies with both kids having no morning sickness or anything. For me, there was a lot of fear and anxiety at the thought of being responsible for a small human and these were the things I couldn’t find people talking about, opening up about or admitting. I decided to start documentary my pregnancy and thoughts via a secret blog that was not published or public. I shared it with a work colleague who thought it was really good (who was clearly already well aware of my humour and views on life). After a bit of convincing and self-doubt, the blog was published, the Facebook page was created and it’s all gone down-hill since there – haha.

The blog has and always will be a side thing. I am already so immersed in this social world through work and know how easy it is so get sucked into the vortex. And I won’t lie, sometimes I do. You focus on numbers and you lose sight of why you do it. I fell into that trap and quickly snapped myself out of it when I realised numbers don’t matter. Of course, it’s cool to know that so many people follow my journey through motherhood (or want to see me fail) but ultimately, I am doing it because it helps me to write/share and I’ve learned over the past 2 years that its helping others and for me, that’s a huge driver for me. After learning there is a huge need for mums and real honest support, a year ago I started ‘The Mum Hub’ which is a support group for mums which now has 19.5k members and is growing rapidly by the day. I have since had to create a team of 15 admin/moderators to keep the wheels turning who also share my vision and they do an amazing job. Maintaining such a high quality would simply not be possible without them.

For me, I would never turn the blog into a full-time thing. It’s not something that interests me and it was never my intention. In my own personal opinion (cue all the judgement from the people that do this) I feel that once it’s your full-time gig, you do NEED the money and therefore the blog gets more of a commercial edge to it and it shows in the content. To me, that loses a bit of authenticity and sometimes makes me wonder if the endorsement is genuine. This is not always the case, it’s just my personal opinion and observation.

I’ve turned down many paid opportunities due to the fact they have not aligned well with my brand + audience, or I truly do not believe it’s a good product therefore would not feel comfortable promoting it to you all.

So, you could say, I’m a pretty busy person (and you’d be right). After Lily was born I relaunched my Photographing, solely focusing on Birth + Lifestyle. But am super cautious on how much I book because obviously, I am a Mum of two and my kids also need my time and attention. All of the side things I do and enabling me to provide and create a better future for the kids and makes me a better Mum.

Lots of you also ask what Reuben does and how we manage the lifestyle we do with him being at home with both kids. He does work to, just around the kids. I just said to him, “what do you do babe?” cos’ I have no fucking idea haha (definitely not housework). He responded, “I’m an Automotive Performance Parts Broker, and I dabble in buying and selling performance vehicles”. So basically, he’s a wheeler dealer – and it works. He’s a real hoot as you would have worked out from our live chats and his ridiculous snapchats/instastories. Having the two kids home with him is currently working for us, it allows us both to work and maintaining some sanity while still paying the mortgage and ensuring the kids and entertained and cared for.

There we have it. This is me (and Reuben) in a nut shell (god I hate that saying).

I originally wrote this article for the New Zealand magazine KiwiParent.

In this digital age it’s easy to take advantage of the social sharing abilities that surround us.

Whilst there are many positives, there’s an equally long list of negatives. It’s a topic my partner and I have had many discussions about and we share as much as we’re comfortable with – which is quite a lot. Both of us are actively involved in social media, which may have influenced our decision, but, as Baxter’s parents, we know it was our decision to make.

Social media is a powerful social and business tool, which, in recent years, has grown at a rapid rate. I predict that it is only going to keep growing. For a large majority of people, social media is a huge part of their daily lives from the moment they wake up in the morning to when they go to bed. I recently saw some results from a British study, which were rather alarming. The study found that the average person spends more time on their electronic devices than sleeping, and I would suspect that social media plays a big part in these results.

In New Zealand around 2.5 million Kiwis use Facebook every month. 1.9 million of those use it every day, with an average of about 15 times a day, I might add. A whopping 79% of Kiwis use it to stay connected to friends and family. According to Facebook for Business, 82% of mums access Facebook. An extremely large percent of our media consumption is Facebook, so you can see why it is so powerful.

From my experience and perception, the older demographic (Generation X) is not always so welcoming of this new online world we live in but are slowly warming to the idea once they learn more and see its benefits. I think more people are starting to come to terms with the fact that this is not a phase, and it’s here to stay.

For me, social media is a huge part of my world. I manage a social media agency full-time and have recently (August 2015) become a mum. When I was pregnant I decided to keep a blog to talk about my pregnancy so I could better remember it. I kept this blog private for a long time but made the decision to publicise it once Baxter entered the world. I had no idea just how many people my blog would reach and touch. For the past nine months I have been documenting my journey of the ups and the downs of becoming a new mum because, let’s be realistic, the bad parts are often not spoken about – and social media carries a lot of blame for this.

It is so easy to be consumed by everything we see online. That ‘Instagram Mum’ who has her shit together and has all the nice things. While she may appear to have the best of everything, that doesn’t mean she’s necessarily happy or doesn’t have her own problems. Remember, they’re only showing you what they want you to see. Very few people will share the true realities of their life.

For me, social media really helped me in the early days of becoming a mum. It was a virtual support network that I could access 24/7. There is a huge mummy community within Facebook and Instagram in particular, and these conversations and new friends were what often got me through the 3am feeds.

The number of new friends I have made through social media since becoming a mum has been astonishing, and I love seeing photos and updates on their wee babes as a few of them live overseas. I also have family who are not local and Facebook has been a great tool to allow them to keep in touch with my child’s progress and growth. It’s almost like they’ve seen him in real life.

The argument is often put forward that our children are unaware of the imprint all this sharing creates for them down the track and are unable to make the decision for themselves. This is why we as parents make the informed decision on their behalf and only share things we are comfortable with being seen online. I personally would never post anything negative or inappropriate. While I blog about the harder aspects of parenthood, I would never say or do anything that would have a negative impact on my child’s life later down the track.

In April 2015, Facebook introduced a feature aimed at new parents called Scrapbook, presumably directed at those new parents who annoy the heck out of their friends by posting an unending stream of baby photos. C’mon, we’re all guilty of it…

The feature allows parents to tag their children in photos and link into a scrapbook for your child, which you can then share. You can opt to co-own the Scrapbook with a partner who you’re in a relationship with on Facebook. You decide the tag – could be your child’s name or even just the initials. Only you and your partner have the ability to tag your child in photos and you can delete the Scrapbook if you change your mind.

What we need to always remember is that what goes out there stays there forever. Once uploaded, it’s in the public domain and that’s when you run the risk of Identity theft, copyright infringement and other similar issues. Be aware of how much you share and the potential risks. Never give out personal information such as your address, phone number, or other data you don’t want people knowing. It’s a risk we take when choosing to share private parts of our lives online. Knowing the risks is a huge part of safeguarding our future generations and ourselves.

Ensure your privacy settings are set correctly to guard against just anybody seeing your photos and personal information. Without users social media wouldn’t be what it is today so, while there are lots of negatives, companies like Facebook and Instagram do their best to protect your information. You can choose who can see your posts, whether it’s the general public, just your friends, or a more specific group of people. You have full control over who can see what’s on your profile and timeline.

The ‘Privacy Checkup’ is a tool within Facebook that enables you to see and review these settings as well as manage what apps have access and who can see your personal information, such as your phone number and address. Sadly, even with tight security settings, your personal information may leak and nothing is ever really safe from hackers. This is why we need to be smart about what we share, and not share anything we’re not comfortable with or anything that would pose a potential threat.

If I don’t want people seeing it or knowing it then don’t post it. It’s quite simple.

The ease of social media has made it inviting to so many, especially new parents. It so easily enables us to make contact and share real-time updates, now even having the ability to go live.

Society has changed and for many this is the new normal. Will it be the same when my 9-month-old son is a teenager? Maybe, maybe not.

Some Social Media Dos and Don’ts

Do remember that potential employers can see your social profiles and what you post online (privacy settings dependent).

Don’t post any personal information, phone number or addresses.

Do be weary about who you accept as friends and followers. Identity thieves often create fake accounts in order to obtain personal information that would otherwise have been private.

Don’t click on dodgy looking links and fall for ‘too good to be true’ competitions on Facebook. You will not win a Range Rover.

Do check your privacy settings every couple of months to ensure everything is how you want it and there haven’t been any changes.

Don’t post public updates about being on holiday etc – thieves look out for this type of information.

Do remember that what you post IS permanent. Whilst you’re able to delete it, people can print and/or take screen captures.

Don’t post anything you wouldn’t say in person – once it’s out there, there’s no taking it back.

Do enjoy it. Whilst there are many downsides, there are also many positives if you post with care and have your privacy settings secure.

Useful links:

Facebook Scrapbook
www.facebook.com/help/1530275617253660/

Facebook Privacy Settings
www.facebook.com/help/325807937506242/

Internet security/safety
www.dia.govt.nz/Identity—Are-you-a-victim-of-identity-theft
www.police.govt.nz/advice/email-and-internet-safety/online-identity-theft

Cyber Security/Netsafe
www.netsafe.org.nz/

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