Friday, 28 March 2014

My guide to shopping for kids clothes in Australia

Image source
I have a wee confession to make - I am a self diagnosed shopaholic for kids clothes!!  I LOVE shopping for kids clothes and I'm sure they have waaay more than they actually need.  I think it's partly because there are just so many cute things out there and my will power is often too pathetic to resist.  It's also because I find it much easier to shop for the kids than I do for myself.

Seeing as I have way more experience in this department than I should admit to, here are a few tips:

  1. If they're under 3/4 years old NEVER take them out shopping with you!  Online ordering is your new best friend.  I have had many a disaster in the mall when I've attempted to go shopping with them - tears, tantrums, vomit and disappearing acts to name a few!!
  2. If they are under 3 (maybe 4 if you're lucky) they generally don't care what they wear, so this is the time for you to go mad!  Eat your heart out on as much cute as you want because it's the only time they'll wear what you choose.
  3. As they get older, take them with you to the shops so that they can have an input into what clothes they wear, but make sure you give them boundaries - you really don't want to be spending $100 on one pair of sparkly pants or a baseball cap!
  4. If you have boys and girls then it's best to take them shopping individually.  Believe me, it is near impossible to focus on both sides of the store at the same time.  At least one of them will be bored and you will start to loose your marbles!
  5. Before buying any clothes (for older children) try to do a bit of research to see what's currently on-trend.  If it's not cool, they simply won't wear it, so don't waste your money!
  6. Get them involved in online shopping too.  They will tell you straight away just by looking at a picture whether they like it or not.
  7. This one goes without saying but 'shop in the sales'.  Online sales are especially good and if you are on the mailing list you will always get email notification of when they start.
I do a lot of my shopping online and have a few favourite sites that I visit over and over again. Most of them are UK websites, but both their delivery to Australia and customer service is so great that I find them better than ordering from Australian sites (no offence Aussies).  

NEXT Direct
  • A fantastic range of on-trend clothes for kids ranging from babies up to teens.
  • Great quality and they wash really well.
  • Free delivery on everything over $30 and returns are to a local Australian address, so its not a huge international postal cost if you need to send anything back.
  • Fast delivery - within 5 days from ordering.
  • They also have a fabulous range of children's bedding as very reasonable prices.
  • It's good to remember that the UK and Australian seasons are opposite but there is a good crossover over in the Autumn and Spring months.
  • Prices are very similar to those in Target and Big W.
Mini Boden
  • A bit more expensive than the Next Direct and prices are in GBP, so you will need to convert to get a $ price.
  • There is a postage cost of $20 for delivery to Australia, which, if doing a big order is worth it (I think).  You could also do a joint order with friends and split the postage.
  • Postage takes around 7-10 days (although often quicker)
  • Amazing quality.  I have had items that have gone through both my girls and my niece and are still perfect.
  • There is a whole lot of cute in this range and it cover boys and girls from babies up to teens.
  • Their sales are AWESOME and well worth signing up to the newsletter email to get notifications.  Again the seasons are opposite to Australia so I tend to buy everything from here in the sales as it works perfectly.
  • Customer service is fantastic.
  • They have the best kids rain jackets ever!
  • They also have a fantastic range of maternity wear.
See Kai Run
  • A New Zealand based company that sell the most adorable kids shoes.
  • The sizes range from babies to age 6.
  • Fantastic quality with a huge range and a whole lot of cute.
  • They also have great sales, so again, well worth signing up for their email notifications.
Marks & Spencer
  • Prices are also in GBP but delivery to Australia is often free, so worth checking in every now and again to make sure you order at the right times.
  • Great for kids basics like underwear, socks, tights, vests, pyjamas and school uniforms.
  • They have a great selection of character clothes (for those Dora, Thomas or Peppa Pig etc lovers out there) as well as kids dress ups.
  • They also have a fantastic kids bedding range at very reasonable prices.
  • They have the best range of maternity bra's on the market (in my opinion).
Monsoon/Accessorize Kids
  • Prices are also in GBP and slightly on the higher end.  
  • Delivery is free if you spend over 75GPB (which is perfect if you're adding in a bit of shopping for yourself too).
  • There is a much bigger girls range than boys range and there is definitely a lot of CUTE here!
  • Accessorize have the cutest range of girls swimmers at very reasonable prices.  Perfect for the Aussie summer, but just remember to order in our Autumn due to the difference in seasons.
Cotton On Kids
  • I have never actually ordered online from Cotton On Kids as we have a branch really near by and it's easier to just take the kids (one at a time) to chose the clothes themselves.  I have written about Cotton On Kids HERE.
The Kidstore
  • I am a huge fan of the Kidstore especially after doing some work for them as they just have the MOST awesome team.  They really are all about the kids and if you visit their website, they have a fun section just for the kids.  They also have a little room full of toys and colouring-in stuff in their stores, which is a real win win situation when shopping with kids.  Too clever!!
  • Although there is GAP in Australia, believe it or not, it is actually cheaper to buy from the US site and have it shipped to Australia.  The postage is free if you spend over $50.
  • I usually only buy from GAP in the sales as they are so good, especially for pyjamas.  It is worth checking in every now and again just to see what they have.
  • They have a great range of maternity wear too.
I may have been a little controversial in the post by offering a shopping guide in Australia to mostly non-Australian sites.  However I get asked so often where I buy my kids clothes that I thought I would share ......... and this is where I shop - from Sydney!!

A few more things I've learnt along the way
  1. It's not always a good idea to buy upfront for the season ahead.  Miss H hated trousers - absolutely refused to wear anything unless it was a dress or a skirt.  So I stocked up in the sales for the following season and when I pulled them out the cupboard a few months later I was was met with "Mummy I hate dresses, I just want jeans!!" Aaargh!
  2. What you think is cool is NOT the same as what they think is cool. 
  3. Let them wear whatever makes them happy (even if you have to dig deep to not convince them that going out with fur boots and a beanie hat on a 40 degree day is not a good idea.) 
What are your favourite kids shops??  Any Aussie ones out there that I'm missing??

Any tips on shopping with/for kids that you want to share??

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Monday, 24 March 2014

How to be a great mum

This is quite an ambiguous title because I actually have no idea what the answer is!!
I've been thinking a lot about motherhood recently and in particular what kind of mother I am?? Am I just a mother or is there more to it (and me) than that??

After diving head first into a blogging course recently (Bright-eyed and Blog hearted by Rachel MacDonald), I keep coming up against the same questions - who am I and what kind of a blog do I write?  The most obvious answer is that Mrs D plus 3 is a Mummy Blog and I am a Mummy Blogger!  This answer just seemed too easy though, and the more I delved into it, the more lost and confused I seemed to get.  Should I be offering my readers more?? But what?? Is there more to me than being a mum (and a mummy blogger)?? But what is it??  Seeing as no one really knows me better than me (well apart from Mr D, who thinks he does) you'd think I would know the answers to these questions wouldn't you?

I started making lists of all the things I could (or should) offer my readers, which seemed to be so intricately linked with what I could or should be doing as a mother, that I started to feel a bit useless at everything and it wasn't a good feeling!!
Steering dangerously close to just 'giving it all up' and sticking my head in the sand, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment (if you can call it that - it certainly wasn't that dramatic) and realised that this whole process is not supposed to make me judge myself or try to do something or be someone that I'm not happy with.  Maybe, just maybe, the answer I'm looking for really is the easy one?


There, I said it!  No shame in that!  I wrote it down too (at the top of a new list) and suddenly things started to became a lot clearer.  I love blogging and I love being a mum (most days).  What I write about and how I choose to parent and live my life IS who I am at this moment, and I am more than happy with that.  There are so many hundreds of topics and ways of parenting that fit under the 'mummy umbrella' that I don't think I need to restrict anything.  I don't believe there is ever a right or wrong way to wean your baby on to solids or stop them wetting the bed, or keeping them out of your bed or getting their homework done etc etc.  Each mums' journey and choices are different and thats what makes them interesting.

The real pressure that I put on myself about being a better mum actually comes from me over-analysing every situation, and that age old devil that is 'comparison'.  If we were to all parent exactly the same way, life and our little people would end up very boring.

I adore my kids.  Sometimes they drive me crazy, sometimes I loose my shit! Sometimes (quite often at the moment, especially with the almost two year old) they loose their shit too!  Somedays we laugh, somedays we cry (yes me too). Some days I'm disappointed, in me, in them, in life. Other days I am so proud I could burst and everyday I am grateful.

Being a mum is who I am right now and I'm ok with that.  Actually more than ok.

My job is to give them roots, so they're not afraid of the wind!
Original source: Pinterest
Whatever it is you're looking for in life, start with what is making you happy right now and sometimes the answer really is the most obvious one.

How do your view my blog?  Is there anything you'd like to see more of or less of??

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A month of moments LOVE Instagram!

Life during the school term is really just a series of moments.  Routines are in full swing and I always seem to be rushing around with a never ending to-do list.  Here are just a few (ok, quite a few) of my favourite moments from the last month.  They're all taken from my Instagram account which you can follow HERE (if you want to).  Only three weeks left until the school holidays where we can all stop and breathe for while!
Little Miss and her 'hop hop'.  God help us if we loose it!!
Start of the Winter sports.  I have to say I am a little relieved cricket is over - I found it sooo boring.  Rugby is much more fun to watch!
Enjoying the Autumn sunshine :)
Hours of fun with a bucket and a hosepipe
Our little house guests.  They visit us every day for some red apple.  The girls have named them 'bird' and 'rainbow'.
This is just proof that I really am 'running'
sisters :))
Beautiful Palm Beach
A rare moment on the sofa 
cheeky chops!
Peppa is back!!  (We had a break in the middle as Miss H didn't really take to her) but she is back in FULL swing (it's better than Dora so I'm grateful for that)
This ended as badly as it looked!!!!
We've had lots of pretty spectacular thunderstorms of late......must be the end of summer :)
Glued to her little desk - colouring, cutting and looming!! (I take no responsibility for the cat suit though)
My other little style icon - wearing a nappy on her head is a regular occurrence these days!
I'm going to miss swimming lessons when the weather starts to get too cold :(
Wearing orange for Harmony Day at school
Silly selfies 
First time licking the bowl and baking with mummy
Out for a milkshake with me.  It's the only time I get to catch up on essential year 2 gossip.
Joining in with Emily from Have a laugh on me for project #calmdownmum.  You should try it!

Do you have an Instagram account??  Leave me your handle so that I can follow you too.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Gardening during gardening leave

Over the last couple of weeks Mr D and I  have been literally attacking the back yard (ok, well mostly Mr D - I've been supervising)!!  Even though we still live in a rented property I just can't help getting attached to them.  Mr D has been very cautious about putting too much 'investment' (especially emotional - for my sake) into a house that isn't actually ours.  I know he's right, but I just can't help myself.  It's like I've got some urging maternal instinct to make the house we live in into our home.  Sometimes I am just totally ruled by my heart but I actually think that's ok. Heads can't always win!!

Realistically we won't be in a position to buy our own property here for the next 3 years and in my books, thats a VERY long time to live in a house that you can't at least put a tiny stamp on. All houses need a little bit a TLC if you ask me.  Mr D has finally agree that I might have a teeny tiny point and that it really isn't going to hurt anyone to do up our back yard.  "At least we can enjoy it for the next few years" I told him (point number 53 as to why I am right on this one)!!

Our back yard currently has a nice big patch of grass and the rest is just weeds, weeds, weeds!! Every time I look out over it from the kitchen window I'm itching to just get in there and rip everything out.  Our landlord very kindly agreed to give us some help and I successfully managed to convince Mr D (who is currently on Gardening Leave) that Gardening Leave really is for gardening!! Don't you think???

Here are a few pics on what we've done so far!  Still a long way to go yet, but I will keep you posted on progress I promise!!

So who's a keen gardener??  My mum and gran are AMAZING gardeners (my Gran even won a few competitions for her garden back in the day).  I wish they were closer to give me some tips.

Does anyone have any great tips on what works well in an Aussie garden (especially one that is pretty close to the Ocean - I've heard that sea air is not good for all plants).

I'd especially love your ideas on creating a veggie and herb garden.  Maybe we could even get some chooks??? They've got to be cuter than our resident bush turkey - and we'd get eggs!

Happy Friday xxxxxx

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Monday, 17 March 2014

Immigrating to Australia...........a day I'll never forget!

On the 18th March (today) exactly three years ago, we landed in Australia for the very first time to start our new lives, and I remember that day like it was yesterday.

It all started with the most gut wrenching goodbye at London's Heathrow Airport.  Mr D was already in Sydney and so I was left to say the final goodbye's to my parents with a very little Master J and Miss H by my side.  I had a knot in my stomach the size of a watermelon as I hugged my parents tight not knowing when I would see them again or what of I heading towards. Swallowing my tears was the only thing I could do to try and maintain some kind of composure as the kids didn't really understand why Mummy (and Granny and Grandpa) were so upset.  Once we had said our goodbyes, I walked towards airport security without looking back ........ I just couldn't!!

The flight itself was another challenge as I had SO much luggage and two small kids to juggle on my own.  The guy at check in had ironically joked "You look like you're moving countries, it's amazing how much luggage people pack when travelling with kids!" Ha - if only he knew!!  I'm not quite sure how, but we did it and hats off to those people who travel long distances alone with kids.

By the time we landed in Sydney I was actually quite excited.  Mr D had met us in Hong Kong and it was amazing to have us all back together again ready to start our new adventure. Once we had collected our luggage and feeling a little bit braver I was ready to walk out into the glorious Australian sunshine.  However as we pushed our enormous trolley outside all I could see was water!  The rain was pouring from the dark, angry looking sky and rushing along in small rivers past the pavement where we stood.  This was not what I signed up for!!  Apparently (I overheard someone say) it had been raining for days and was showing no sign of stopping!

Mr D was on the phone trying to find out where our new (temporary) home would be and I could hear in his voice that things were not going to plan.  With exhaustion kicking in and tempers soggy and frayed, all we wanted to do was collapse in a proper bed and sleep (forever), but frustratingly, the re-location company had booked our accommodation for the wrong day and the earliest they could have it ready was much later that afternoon.  Bearing in mind it was now only little after 7am, this was going to be a VERY long day.  In hindsight we should have just checked into a hotel for the day, but at that moment in time (for some crazy reason) that just didn't occur to us!

We bundled into our rental car (thank goodness that was organised) and just sat there for a while. Neither of us knew what to do.  Mr D suggested that we drive to Manly as he had visited it the other day and it seemed like a nice place.  I was starting to feel so disorientated that I didn't care where we went.  It's the strangest feeling not knowing where you are, not having a home or someone to just visit or even what day it is!  I felt like all the control I had over my life had just disappeared.  It was scary!!

The rain was still driving down as we made our way across the Spit Bridge and down into Manly. Grabbing a kid each we ran for the nearest cafe along the promenade (which happened to be a hotel restaurant), and there we sat, staring out at the rain and the blurry lines of the Ocean, drinking copious amounts of coffee (and milkshakes) and wondering what the hell we had done!
This area (full of water) usually has tables and chairs on it!! Just shows you to the extent of just HOW MUCH IT RAINED!
Exploring our new home......after a good sleep!!
Settling in ....... a far cry from what we left behind

Happy 3 years to us.  WE DID IT!!

Have you ever moved countries? Do you have a moment or day in your life that you will never forget??

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Thursday, 13 March 2014

My FIRST night camping!

Not a great photo I know, but I didn't have room for my camera!
Firstly lets just have a look at the tent!! Remember I told you have much I wanted a Teepee Tent....well here it is.  Isn't it pretty??  It may look like I've got my own way (maybe I did just a little) but ACTUALLY Mr D did lots of researchy type looking at other tents and came to realise that the lovely Teepee is really quite practical and not just 'pretty'. Unfortunately I couldn't do it up with pretty buntings and fairly lights and other 'essential' glamping attire because the camp site we stayed at was only accessible by boat!!! Yep, you heard that right! We had to carry EVERYTHING onto to a little ferry to get to The Basin.  A little gem in the Pittwater just half an hour on the ferry from Palm Beach (you know, the beach where Home & Away is filmed).
No happy at being woken up from her car nap to get on a boat!
Luckily Mr D has home on some Gardening Leave so he did a great job with all the packing!! All we took in one case was an outfit to sleep in and something to wear the next day (x 5 of us) - which actually ended up being nothing as a certain little Miss L unpacked the suitcase without me realising and I gave Mr D the thumbs up to close it.  The other suitcase was full of sleeping bags and pillows (and only 2 beds!!!!!!!).  Lastly there was food and of course THE TENT!!  Thank goodness we can take the car and trailer to our next campsite as I think we'd need ALOT more luggage than this.
View from the ferry boat as we're approaching The Basin - SO beautiful it could easily pass as the Caribbean
I'd never been to The Basin before and was just blown away by how beautiful it was.  The water was crystal clear and there were lots of little white boats bobbing around.  The sky was bluer than blue and there was not a breath of wind (which was a small miracle as the forecast was BAD!) The weather gods must have known it was first trip and felt sorry for me.
The campsite was really really pretty and it didn't take us long to set up at all.  However just as the tent was going up (Mr D erecting it, me supervising) a HUGE Goanna just wondered right through the middle.  It tongue was going in and out at the rate of knots and it looked like it could eat Miss L for breakfast.  I think my feet actually came off the ground when I first saw it, much to everyone's amusement.  The kids weren't bothered by it at all (true little Aussie's) and Miss L even learnt to say "izzard!!"
See I told you it was big!!
Never go camping without wine :))  It takes the edge off everything
We only stayed one night and the kids had an absolute ball.  I can totally see why camping is one of the best types of holidays for little kids.

I had a great time too, although it was just a teeny bit too basic for me.  One night was just perfect - or maybe I could have squeezed two.  I'm not sure I could last much longer without any hot water or a proper bed (of the camping kind) or a change of clothes!!  It was a great taster trip though and I'm even more excited about our big trip at Easter.
These two little monkeys were helping with the washing up.
The kids spent hours in the water.  I couldn't resist a swim either and it was a beautiful as it looks
Miss L talking to the local wildlife "Hello hop hop wobbaly (wallabie)"
Do you love camping??  I think I might be hooked now, although I will tell you for sure after Easter.

Where is your favourite place to camp with the kids??

Have a great weekend

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