Don’t judge a parent until you become a parent

It’s funny how we have all these ideas in our head about how we’re going to parent before we actually become a parent. We look at other parents and how they raise their children and how they act once they become a parent and totally judge them, vowing to not do many of the things we see them doing…only to actually end up doing the exact things when we become a parent ourselves.

judgepicIt’s so easy to look at someone else’s life and judge their actions and words, without really understanding what they’re going through at the time, without truly knowing what they are feeling in that moment, what challenges they are facing or what they may have experienced to get to that particular point. I know I’m guilty of being judgemental quite often, and IP is quick to call me up on it. But we have also been subjected to these judgements along the way.

We recently went to a braai with some old friends and it was so wonderful to catch up with them. It was our old church small group and it was so funny to see how the group dynamics had changed over the past three years from young childless couples and singles to so many children all running around. One of the guys, who had recently become a father, commented to IP and I that him and his wife always used to wonder why we stopped coming to small group and church when the kids were born. He said they just couldn’t understand it, but then they had their own little baby, and finally they understood…and on top of that, after having one baby, they couldn’t imagine how we survived it all with TWO babies at the same time.

It really got me thinking about my own judgements of other people. I too used to think such things of my parent friends and judge them for doing, or not doing, things. But that all changed when I became a parent myself. I don’t think one can ever really be prepared for the life altering adventure of becoming a parent. From your social life to your sex life, your sleep and your sanity – it will never be the same again.

I never really comprehended what becoming a parent was all about. I was so focused on just getting pregnant and having a baby that I didn’t even think about what it meant once the baby was born. I had no idea that being a parent was such hard work. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom now, and the rewards of seeing these two little humans grow and develop, have them call me mommy and have them throw their arms around me, far outweigh all the challenges. But, it has been a hectic two years, for which nothing could have prepared us.

But we would not have it any other way. I’m glad we went through all these struggles, I’m grateful we survived all the challenges. We are stronger people for it, our marriage is stronger for it, and our lives are more enriched for it.

If there is one thing I am slowly realising, and trying desperately not to do, it’s to judge another until I have at least a small understanding of what they are going through.

It’s so important to open the channels of communication with our parent friends (and all friends in general), speak to them, ask them how they are doing.  How they are really doing. When we greet someone we always ask how they are, but it’s normally so superficial – let’s try getting to the deeper stuff, especially with our fellow parent friends; let’s not be afraid to be real with each other. Let’s share our thoughts and feelings together on this parenting journey. We will soon realise that there is so much more beyond the surface and everyone is facing their own battles, if we take the time to care, take the time to step out of our own trenches and walk a mile in someone else’s.


We’re moving to the mountains and vineyards

I know I’ve been griping a lot lately about how tough things have been with the girls and this toddler phase. But it’s also been a lot of fun, and we have so much to look forward to in the next few weeks as we embark on a new adventure to a new town.

The anticipation is really building in our house as IP and I have started planning the move and we often fantasise about how life will be in our new house.

stellenboschWe have been so happy in Cape Town and in our current house, but since we’ve had the twins we have started to realise how cramped we are getting here, especially as we don’t really have a garden – and this is something the girls desperately need. So we started thinking about all our options and decided that it was time for a radical change – “Let’s move to Somerset West” I said to IP one Sunday morning. It didn’t take much more prompting than that – the next thing I know we’re house-hunting, and a week later we’ve put in an offer on a beautiful house in an estate just outside Somerset West, and a few days later we’ve sold our house in Cape Town.

Phew….everything happened so fast, it was quite overwhelming. Those who know me, know that I’m not a very impulsive person when it comes to making important decisions – quite the opposite to IP – once he makes up his mind there is no turning back. So I had a few moments of panic once I fully realised what was happening. We were moving away from everything we knew, out of our comfort zone, to the unknown! Eeeek!

But now that most of the legalities are out the way (I don’t want to see or speak to another estate agent or attorney for a long time!!!!) we are starting to get super excited for the big move day. We will be closer to my folks who live in Stellenbosch, which is great as I’ll have some more support when IP travels, and it will also be much easier for IP to get to work from there, as he won’t have all the city traffic to contend with. So it’s a win-win.

But with the move come some big changes for the girls. Our nanny won’t be moving with us so they will be starting play school in January. This is a HUGE deal for me and something I’m struggling to let go of. Even though I know they will be really happy there as I can see that they need something more – more stimulation and more interaction with other kids – it will be a big adjustment for them as they have been at home with either me or nanny for the last two years. So they will totally be moving out of their comfort zone as well, which I’m sure will take a while to adjust to.

My work situation will also improve, though, and I’ll actually get to spend more time with the girls, because instead of working three full days a week I’ll be working five half days – so I’ll be there to pick them up from school and have every afternoon with them, which I’m really looking forward to. It will be so great because now we will also be closer to granny and grampa and we can pop in for tea more often, and my mom and I can go shopping and out for coffee like the old days.

Somerset West is also a very young-ish town with lots of young families and there is so much to do with kids there. From our  interactions with the people there through some of the Facebook groups so far we can see that people also seem really friendly and welcoming – quite a change from the notoriously unfriendly Cape Town southern suburbs where we currently live. We’ll also be slap-bang in the middle of the winelands – surrounded by beautiful vineyards and mountains – and have all the wine farms just a short drive away. The beach is also not far. So there will be lots of exploring in our future – lots of fun family adventures to have as we embrace our new surroundings.

It’s going to be a whole new world for us as a family and the start of a new life. I’m always terrified of change, it’s just part of my nature – I hate the unknown! But I know that this move is for the best, and I’m starting to embrace the change.

I can’t wait! Just a few weeks to go and then the adventure can begin!

But first, the packing…oh boy…wish me luck!

Fairy cupcakes

These delicious cupcakes are my no-fail, go-to recipe for any occasion. Cupcakes are great as they’re so diverse and you can change the flavours and colours to suit any theme. I mean, who doesn’t love a good cupcake?!

I made them a while back for my twins’ spring picnic birthday party and they were a big hit.

The recipe comes from some ancient recipe book of my mother’s from the 60s – but cupcakes never get old, they just continue to be yummy!


Ingredients for cupcakes

½ cup (120g) butter

¾ cup (180g) sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1¾ cup (210g) flour

2 eggs

2 teaspoon baking powder

¼ to 1/3 cup milk

½ teaspoon vanilla essence


Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla essence.

Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter and sugar mixture alternatively with the milk.

Half fill cup cake cases with the mixture.

Bake on 180 degrees C for 15 to 20 minutes. (Make sure the rack is not too low as it’s easy to burn the bottom if left too long). All ovens vary so it’s worth testing it out first with a small batch.

Ingredients for icing

100g butter

200g icing sugar

10-15ml milk

1ml vanilla essence

Optional for a different flavour – add 1ml of almond essence

Optional – food colouring


Mix the butter and icing sugar together, adding the milk and vanilla essence slowly to ensure the right consistency.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes as you wish, sit back to admire your work, and then gobble them up!


Having twins – a father’s perspective

A guest post by IP on the first year of becoming a twin daddy.

img-20140919-wa004Life before twins was relatively simple. I looked after my immediate needs and when I look back I realise I was largely a selfish person. Why my wife and I even planned date nights before having twin girls is a mystery to me. Why do couples without kids need to diarise time to spend with their spouse anyway?! Weekends spent with my wife were blissful and fun times. We had a blank canvas of opportunity…opportunity to do whatever we wanted when we wanted. There were no long-term consequences to our decisions. Saturday mornings were spent lying in bed until whatever time we pleased, and this was largely dependent on what we did the night before. Saturday afternoons were spent walking around markets, going for a hike, and running in the forest.

Then, our twins arrived. We were blissfully unaware of what lay ahead. They were born at 32 weeks, and spent three and a half weeks in the NICU.

I remember the last night of NICU vividly. We were given a room in the hospital with two beds and two cots and for the first time there were NO nurses to assist us. I was petrified! The side wheels had been removed, and I was leaning very much to one side. That first night consisted of feeds every three hours with a helpless little baby on each parent’s lap. Broken sleep totaling three hours at the most forced me to reassess who I was. I cried. I felt weak and helpless. How was I going to be a parent to twin girls with this amount of sleep, I lamented?! I don’t remember going to work the next morning. All I knew was that I was scared, very scared of what lay ahead.

The days and weeks that followed blurred into a haze of routine. Those three-hour feeding cycles were brutal. I assigned myself to bed and bath time routine, and the early 4am shift before showering and going to work. When I look back now I don’t know how we did it, and how we coped, but we did, by God’s grace.

img-20140927-wa002The human body, however, is adaptable if you beat it hard enough. In the same year I was finishing off a business degree, and I had started a new job which involved a lot of travel. The only way I thought to get through it all was to put each task into a box. Fulfilling each task eventually became a habit and coping mechanism, and I subtly sought pleasure in completing all my tasks.

I had many interests before the twins arrived. Hiking, fishing, camping, making beer, and flying model helicopters took up most of my time. Now my life consisted of milk, vomit, changing nappies and sleepless nights. I yearned to have the option of at least deciding for myself what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it! It was tough. I loved these helpless little beings so much, but nothing had prepared me for this. Nothing had stripped me so bare. I realised I existed only for them; none of my needs mattered anymore.

Then there was my wife, the apple of my eye. I was devoted to her before the kids came. Chaos had erupted in our house and I had battened down the hatches and went into survival mode. All the focus was on the children. We were at their beck and call for every whim and need. They not so subtly reminded us of that during mammoth crying sessions in tandem. Nights were long, and it became easy to think evil thoughts and to act a little strangely at times. Sleep deprivation does that to you.

Weekends were now very different.

My wife was facing her own struggles. Being a mother of twins requires an inner strength and tenacity that no one will understand. My hectic work schedule was also not helping matters. A busy travel schedule coupled with finishing off a business degree and trying to be a parent had me thinking I was contributing towards society, providing for my family, and taking care of the kids needs. In all these “unselfish” acts I had become selfish, driven to complete all the tasks that had taken over my life, yet forgetting the most important person in my life, my wife.

I had realised that I was attempting to take care of everyone else’s needs yet failing her as her husband. This is still a very difficult thing to accept with my driven A type personality that likes to get things done and likes to solve the problems of the world and move on. Woman are not created like that. I felt helpless. I was achieving my goals in all aspects of my life and gaining recognition in my work, yet failing my wife. How could this be?

Weekend chores did not get the response from her that I was expecting. I thought all women are pleased when their husbands do housework! Here I was feeding the kids, spending time with them, cleaning the house and trying to add value to the household, yet my wife was lonely. I had not spent time with her. I had not engaged with her like I did before the children had arrived. She was not the centre anymore. I was distracted with all the chores that had to be completed with having twins that constantly demanded a routine of crying, feeding, pooping, and sleep.

I think most men can relate to the above. We work hard for our families, we do the best we can with what we know, but sometimes it is not good enough. We struggle to focus on many things. I know I certainly did. Our families want us, they want our full attention, they want us to notice them, and they want our time. We as men often fail at this. We are responsible for not just our family’s financial needs, but their physical, emotional and spiritual needs as well. It became too easy for me to fulfill the financial need through my hard work, and long hours away from home, but I had failed to see that they needed me more in the other aspects of their life.

As men, we are to put God first, love our spouses second, and then love our children. I had got it wrong, and it showed. We do our families a disservice when we get the above formula wrong. For one, loving our children over loving our wives is a disaster waiting to happen. Our wives came first, and loving them first will allow our children to grow up in a loving and secure home where everyone benefits.

I know I have a lot to learn, and I still fail, but I am aware that the only way my needs will ever be met is if I unselfishly lay my life down for them. There are moments when I realise I have gotten this simple aspect right, and it is in these moments that I realise that I am the most blessed man alive and wouldn’t want it any other way.


In becoming a mom have I forgotten who I am as a woman and a wife?

My mother taught me to always look my best when I left the house – something about never knowing who you might bump into and all that…but what about also looking your best when you’re at home? Looking your best for your spouse? And even looking your best for your children? Looking your best for yourself?

But since having kids, I know my appearance has taken a back seat to all the other stuff that comes with being a mommy. I always vowed that when I had children, as with many other things I made false promises about, that I’d never let myself go the way I saw other moms go – you know, the mom bun, the sweat pants, no make up. Well, a bit of humble pie is in order as I look at myself in the mirror this morning. Who is this scruffy woman with the terrible dark roots, scraggly pony tail, blotchy skin and glasses on? I didn’t recognise her.

I never used to leave the house without make up on – although that’s still a regularly enforced rule for me, I wear a lot less these days, and sometimes have even gone without. My hair was always perfectly blow waved and coloured, and although I’ve never been the most fashionable, I kept up with what was in the shops and tried to look my best in what suited my figure. I realised yesterday that my standards have dropped, when getting out my car I looked down to see a juice-stained top and half painted toenails. And in that moment I realised it didn’t actually bother me that much, I didn’t really care about what people thought – I’m a mom after all – I don’t need to look good, I’ve got other priorities.

Or do I? Am I fooling myself by hiding behind the mess? Have I let myself go to the point that I don’t even recognise the person I’ve become?

What am I teaching my girls? Looking your best is not about vanity at the end of the day, it’s just plainly about making an effort, and not necessarily for anyone else, but making an effort for yourself. Surely I should be teaching my daughters to care about themselves and their bodies? To at least brush their hair? To wear clean clothes?

And what about my husband? I certainly don’t look anything like the woman he married six years ago. The woman he married cared about what she looked like and she wanted to look attractive for her husband. The woman he married was attractive to him, made an effort for him (and herself).

I had another wake up call yesterday when my mother reminded me of this. It’s something I will always remember about growing up – my mom would always go brush her hair and freshen up her make up when she knew my dad was on his way home. I used to think it was so sweet that she wanted to look good for her husband, even after all these years. It was something I thought I’d also do one day. And I thought shame on me for not doing the same thing today.

Just because we become a mom, and become surrounded by the chaos and mess of having kids, we don’t stop being a woman, don’t stop being a wife. We don’t stop being that person our spouses fell in love with, the person they married. Yes, we change and we grow, we mature, but surely we shouldn’t have to compromise on making an effort, even in some small way.

Don’t forget about yourselves ladies. Don’t forget to brush your hair, put some lip gloss on, put a pretty top on. If not for anyone else, but yourself! When you feel good about yourself, your whole outlook on life can change. After all, how can you love others, how can you care for others if you don’t love and care for yourself?

As a mother, we always try putting everyone else’s needs before our own. Well today ladies, I encourage you to put yourself first – look after yourself, care for yourself, love yourself. I know there is much more to being a woman and a wife than looking good and maintaining your personal appearance, but it’s a small step to helping you to not forget about yourself. Don’t let yourself go for the sake of motherhood. Your kids might not notice now, but one day they may look back and respect you more for it. Be the example for them. Make yourself beautiful. Embrace your new body and make yourself feel good again.


Mommy is at breaking point

Today I feel completely defeated, deflated, exhausted, finished, and kaput!

I suppose it’s partly just that time of year, but it’s more than that…

Being a parent is hard work, and being a parent of twins is harder still.

Trying to parent while working, buying a new house, planning a move to a new town, and maintaining a marriage is even harder. But I guess this is all just part of life and being a grown up, and I know I should just stop complaining about these things, because actually, they’re all my biggest blessings – my children, my husband, and our new adventure in a new town to look forward to. But I’m tired, and sometimes it’s all just a bit much to deal with. Sometimes I just don’t want to be a grown up for a little while.

Right now I feel like I’m trapped in this crazy, sleepless, frustrating world of toddler-dom. Having two two-year olds who fight me every night at bed time, and who just want me all the time at the same time throughout the night is exhausting.

I’m not complaining about my children wanting me, I’m their mother, after all, and of course I want them to want me, and I will always be there for them. But sometimes I also just need a break. I just wish I could tuck them into bed and they’ll roll over and actually go to sleep and then wake up happily the next morning after sleeping through the whole night. But alas, that’s not what’s happening in this house at the moment and it’s really starting to take its toll on all of us. Both girls are fighting bed time with all their might and it’s become a joint effort for them to see who can scream for mommy the loudest. And then they’re both waking up at least once in the night, with HJ refusing to go back to sleep in her own bed once she’s awake, so she ends up in our bed or in the spare room bed, and AG wants me to stay with her in her bed if she wakes in the night, so I end up going from one room to another in a silly game of musical beds for most of the night

And I’ve started screaming back. I’ve become this horrible dragon mom who I really don’t like very much right now. And what’s worse, I’ve become this horrible dragon wife who I like even less.

It’s all just too much at the moment and I feel like I’m at a breaking point.

I do believe it might be time to call in the reinforcements. It might be time to get in a sleep trainer. We have to do something, because something needs to change. We can’t keep running on this never-ending treadmill of craziness.

I’m sure one day we will look back and laugh at it all, but not today, today I just want to cry.

Here’s hoping things get better soon…cos this mommy is sooooooo tired.


Retail therapy always does the trick

I’m sure all moms have been there. It’s that moment when you sit back and realise, whoa…I’m not superhuman after all. I can’t do it all, I can’t handle it all, and I need a break!

Well after a couple of super busy, stressful, sleepless weeks, I had one of those days yesterday. I took the morning off, left the girls with the nanny, and went shopping.

It certainly did the trick. There is nothing like retail therapy to help you escape the world for a bit.

I found yesterday’s shopping spree even more therapeutic as I went to shop for my Santa Shoebox pledge, which meant not shopping for myself or my own family, but buying goodies and Christmas presents for two underprivileged children.

I found this to be one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had in a long time, as I really realised in that moment just how fortunate my own family, and especially my children, are.

Buying an outfit of clothing, a toy, some toiletries and other essentials for a little boy and girl who would otherwise not be getting any presents for Christmas, who likely wouldn’t be seeing a Christmas tree lit up in their home or scoffing a turkey dinner over the festive season, really made me quite emotional. It was humbling. It was an eye opener. It was just what I needed to put a lot of things into perspective.

I don’t usually think twice when buying my kids clothes or toiletries, or sometimes even toys, but there are so many out there who have so little, and in that moment, I was so grateful for all my blessings.

I can’t wait to extend my little retail therapy session onto Saturday afternoon when I meet up with some girlfriends to wrap up our Santa shoeboxes together over a glass of vino and a proper catch up. It has been far too long!

If you haven’t pledged your Santa Shoebox yet, go do it here now! It’s a great cause!