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Ginny Lyndsay’s Top 4 Tips for Staying Calm at Christmas

I was out at my local shopping centre this week when I saw real Christmas trees for sale and I realised just how close we are to Christmas. It won’t be a break from seeing clients for relationship counselling however. In fact Christmas can be a very busy time for me with clients. A lot of people find themselves fighting more with their partner and extended family over Christmas. People seem to hit a crisis point at this time of year and they put a lot of pressure on themselves financially and emotionally.

Christmas has been the breaking point for many relationships and I have had colleagues whose clients have left their marriages or walked out of the family home at this time of year. I established From 2 to 3 to prevent that from happening, so that couples who become parents are supported before they hit breaking point.

So at this time of year, I would like to share my 4 Tips for Staying Calm during the festive season.

 1. Manage Your Stress

In the lead-up to Christmas, it’s important to do all the things that help you stay calm and centred, such as exercise, eating nutritious food, drinking plenty of water, limiting alcohol and getting good sleep each night. It can be tempting to overindulge at all the Christmas parties or skip your lunchtime walk to get Christmas shopping done, but your body and mind will thank you for keeping those healthy routines going. Inevitably people’s stress levels will have steadily increase by the end of the year. Without any self-care routines and when we are running on adrenalin, we become more anxious, irritable, tired and emotional. This kind of emotional state tends to increase the likelihood that we will be more negative, critical or argumentative with our partner.

2. Have Realistic Expectations

You may want everything to be perfect, especially if this is your baby’s first Christmas, but resist the temptation to go over the top with party planning and spending. There is nothing that creates more tension and stress in a relationship than credit card debt and differing values around spending. Manage your expectations around other people’s behaviour too. This might be your partner, their family, your family and friends. It would be great to think that at Christmas family grudges and tensions didn’t exist, but they do of course and when you add alcohol and stress to the mix, people don’t always behave the way you want them to. Focus on what you can control – your own attitude and behaviour.

3. Don’t Go to Every Argument You Are Invited To

At this time of year, you may be feeling a bit more sensitive, irritable or upset. Your partner may say or do something that really annoys you and you might be tempted to yell at them, criticise them or be sarcastic. It can then easily spin into a heated argument or the silent treatment. Not very festive is it? Notice whether the issue is worth the argument, there will be certain deal breakers that cut to the very core of our value set and it’s important to acknowledge these and speak up. However in my experience most terrible arguments start over something very minor in the scheme of things. Pick your battles wisely, if it’s not a big deal and it’s more about you being in a grumpy mood, then choose peace. It’s not worth your relationship to always have to be right!

4. Create Traditions Together

When you become parents, a lot of joy can come from creating family rituals and traditions that are meaningful to you both. You are creating a sense of family for your child or children and this doesn’t need to be completely dictated by your families of origin. In addition to the existing family traditions created by both your families, consider creating something new together that is for your family unit. A picnic on the floor Christmas morning while you open presents, decorating the house or tree together, sharing what you are grateful for over the previous year, a walk at the beach or a cricket match. Creating something that is meaningful together can bring you closer together and stimulate conversations about what matters to you both.

If you need further support at this time of year than please contact me to book a session before Christmas, where I can support either you as an individual or through couples counselling. Getting in early and learning to work as a team can really make a positive difference to your relationship.

Ginny Lindsay is a Sydney based relationship counsellor and psychotherapist who supports individuals and couples moving from pregnancy into parenthood. With 40% of divorces happening during pregnancy or in the first 3 years of a child’s life, Ginny established From 2 to 3 ( to offer support early before a relationship breaks down.

Feeling Alone Post Baby?

More and more new parents are suffering in silence with an overwhelming feeling of being alone and isolated at a time when they expected to feel joy and excitement with the arrival of their new baby.

There are many different scenarios effecting new parents: For some there is a feeling of lack of control, grief and sadness. For others there is a sense of loss from leaving a career that you enjoyed and where you felt part of a team and now you haven’t got that same sense of belonging; As a new Dad you may be missing the attention you used to get from your wife as she’s focused entirely on your baby; You may be missing the ‘old days’ when it was just the two of you and going out for a coffee was just so simple and spur of the moment; You may be living in a remote area or have recently moved suburbs or countries and your network of friends is limited; You may have a baby that is unwell thus limiting your contact with other people leaving you feeling isolated.

We all want that sense of belonging and to be part of a group where you feel held and supported. The danger is if you have extended periods of time alone you may start to feel depressed, anxious, helpless and have a sense of low self-worth. These and many other feelings all place enormous pressure on your emotional, mental and physical health as well as on your relationship. The cost of isolation is high and the damage it can do to your relationship could be significant. Just know that it doesn’t need to be that way!! The opposite of isolation is support.

It needs to be the right support, where you can feel that you can truly be yourself and that the people around you have your best interests at heart so you can gain more balance, confidence and support. The idea is that you can thrive and enjoy this new stage of life with your partner and baby. It’s important for the people supporting you to be non-judgemental, authentic, honest, trustworthy, caring, loving and real.

The fact is that you can’t do it all on your own and be a great parent, friend, lover and partner and stay great. If any of this sounds familiar to you, get support now to strengthen your relationships with your partner, baby, family and friends.

Ginny Lindsay is a Sydney based relationship counsellor and psychotherapist who supports individuals and couples moving from pregnancy into parenthood. With 40% of divorces happening during pregnancy or in the first 3 years of a child’s life, Ginny established From 2 to 3 to offer support early before a relationship breaks down. To find out more, visit

Top tips for a sleeping baby

Babies always stir or wake at the end of each sleep cycle and need to be able to resettle themselves back to sleep in order to sleep through the night. This is known as self-settling and one of the key issues to address with self-settling is sleep associations.

Teaching your baby to self-settle can be one of the bigger challenges for parents. For a majority of babies, it is an essential step in teaching them how to sleep independently throughout the night.

My baby won’t sleep! What can I do?

When teaching your baby how to sleep independently, it is important to understand positive and negative sleep associations and how they can affect the sleeping process:

A positive sleep association is something that helps your baby fall asleep on their own, without any external assistance. A negative sleep association is something that a baby can’t control on their own: for example, if a baby needs your presence to fall asleep and will wake if you’re not there.

The sleep associations you choose can have a big impact on your baby’s sleep, as well as yours! Remember that it is OK to put your baby down to sleep if he or she is awake. In fact, as they get older, this is preferable. You want your baby to put themselves to sleep with minimum assistance in order for them learn how to become a terrific sleeper.

How do I break a negative sleep association?

If you are going to break a sleep association, it is a good idea to start to introduce some positive sleep associations first. They are ‘positive’ as they help your baby feel good about falling asleep and also positive for you, as they help your baby to sleep independently. Babies and children will fall asleep more easily if they are led through a series of predictable, pleasant and quiet bedtime rituals.

The most useful positive sleep associations are: –

– Having a consistent bath and bedtime routine.

– Wrapping your 0-4 month old or using a sleeping bag for older babies.

– Using a special bedtime toy (following the SIDS guidelines).

– Playing calming music for naps and at bedtime.

When changing your baby’s sleep associations, it’s important to look at all aspects of the baby’s life to determine why they are experiencing challenges with their sleeping. Many factors can affect the sleep process (habits, schedule, household dynamics, health, nutrition, day naps, environment etc.) so there may be a few areas of your baby’s day-to-day routine that you may need to tweak in addition to creating positive sleep associations.

Need some more advice from a sleep expert?
Jennifer Duff is the founder of My Newborn and has been working with newborns, children and their families for over 13 years, operating as an in-home maternity practitioner and professional newborn sleep specialist, assisting and educating parents in newborn care, feeding, sleep guidance and routine establishment.

There are many gentle sleep training methods to help your little one learn how to sleep through the night and Jennifer works with each individual client to understand what their parenting philosophy is and then creates a personalised sleep program that honours that particular parenting style.

Contact Jennifer today and begin to sleep easy!



Angela Counsel – Naturopath and Lifestyle Consultant shares her inspirational story

angela counsel secret mums business naturopath life coach

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a naturopath, author and mum and I have been working with women for the past 10 years teaching them about living a healthier life and showing them how it is possible to reduce stress and be happy. I haven’t had a lot of spare time since I started my first business 10 years ago, but about 2 years ago I knew that this had to change. I had pushed myself to a state of adrenal burnout and I felt that I was not being the best Mum to my kids. I was feeling like a fraud because I was I was teaching other women about reducing stress and being happy and healthy but I wasn’t following my own advice. This realisation led me to close my clinical practice, change my business and write a book.

Now I make sure that I take time everyday for me. Some of my favourite activities include walking on the beach and sitting on the headland meditating. Sometimes I go into the playground and just go for a swing or maybe I will take my colouring book with me and colour in. These activities all help me to release all of the thoughts that are running around in my head – they give me clarity and this is when I feel most at peace.

We have also just got a puppy so I spend a lot of time playing with him and taking him for walks. This is also something that helps me to relax or have some fun. My kids are growing up fast and I think that at times I embarrass them with my taste in music and the way I dance, but I have fun doing it anyway!

“Realise that the power to change your life is in your hands and no one else’s. You can choose a life full of stress or you can choose a life that is happy and joyful. It is your story – write the story that you want.” – Angela CounselCan you tell us more about Secret Mums’ Business?

Secret Mums Business was the book that I wrote after I closed my practice. It was a combination of the steps that I had to take to reduce stress in my life and get clarity around what I wanted from my life and my business. It also incorporates a health aspect which comes from my training as a naturopath.

There are 7 steps in the Secret Mums’ Business process:

1/ Identifying and living your values

2/ Creating your vision for your life

3/ Creating the goals that will help you achieve your vision

4/ Healthy eating

5/ Healthy living

6/ Healthy mindset

7/ Celebration of YOU!

Where or how did your journey with Secret Mums’ Business begin and what is your vision?

Once I had written the book, I had women who wanted to know more, so I created workshops and on-line programs designed around the 7 steps in the book. I regularly speak on the topics that are included in my book and I have a weekly Secret Mums Business Podcast where I interview successful mums in business about how they run a business, be a great mum, look after themselves and still remain sane! I love these interviews because I get to speak to so many different women and I learn so much from all of them. I love that everyone is different and that there is no one ‘right’ way to make it all work. This is the message that I want to share – there is no perfect balance, nothing is perfect. You create the lifestyle that suits you; don’t try to copy anyone else.

The next step for me is writing my second book. This book will cover the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of stress and how you can reduce stress in your life. This book will be more naturopathic than the first book and will include a wellness program as well as some other practical advice to live a healthy and vital life.

My big vision is for women to realise that being stressed doesn’t have to be a normal part of life. The top 5 diseases that are killing women in our society are stress and lifestyle related. Heart disease is our biggest health concern affecting 1 in 3 women and killing many women every year. This is something that shouldn’t be ignored and it can be changed. It is part of my vision to change this, to help create a generation of women who live long, vital and healthy lives.

You have children of your own, has this impacted your direction and have they influenced the business?

I have been in business since my youngest was a baby (before that I was studying) so they don’t know anything else except my being in business. I had thought when I first started my business that I would have more freedom and I would be more available for my children. I soon realised that this wasn’t going to be exactly as I thought. For many years I worked hard building my business and I would feel guilty because I wasn’t around some of the time because I had clients. This guilt caused me a lot of stress and overwhelm, then I realised that this wasn’t what I wanted to teach my children. I didn’t want them to think that they had to feel guilty about doing something that they loved. I also didn’t want them to know that being stressed and overwhelmed was normal.

It was this realisation that triggered me to change my business, my lifestyle and my mindset. I want my kids to know that it is okay to be happy, that you don’t always have to work hard to get what you want, that sometimes it is okay for things to come easily to you. My children have had a big influence on the way my business is today. I am lucky that they are a little bit older now (10 and 12) so they are not as quite dependent on me for entertainment as they were when they were younger; this gives me some of the freedom that I was looking for a few years ago.

How does exercise fit into your busy life?

Exercise used to play a big part in my life, but unfortunately I have torn cartilage in my hip joint that causes me a lot of pain and has limited my ability to exercise. I work out with a functional trainer twice a week to strengthen my core and back, plus I walk my dog 4 times a week. It has been a long and frustrating journey full of pain and tears, but I am gradually getting better and hopefully I will be able to get back into full time exercise again soon (but no more running for me).

If you are having a great day, how does it look?

A great day for me, starts with having no pain and then I will spend time either meditating or colouring in. I will have a healthy breakfast, which in winter is a porridge made from rolled quinoa, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs and chia seeds cooked in coconut water and topped with stewed rhubarb. Then I do some work, which is either delivering a presentation, working with clients or interviewing someone for my podcast. I will take time for lunch which I will generally eat sitting out in the sun on our back deck. Then back to work for an hour or so until it is time to pick my daughter up from the school bus. Then it is time for me to start driving Mum’s Taxi as I run the kids around to different activities. After the taxi service is finished for the day, I then cook dinner for the family and we all sit down to eat together. I leave the clearing and washing of the dishes to the kids and my husband while I might go and catch up on some reading or watching some videos. Bed by about 9:30-10pm.

 If you are not having such a great day, what steps do you take to take care of you?

A not so great day for me these days will normally mean that I am in a fair bit of hip pain, which can make me a bit cranky and short tempered. Luckily this doesn’t happen as much these days and normally will only happen if I have eaten something that I shouldn’t have (wheat, sugar or a glass of wine). I know that if I am in pain or if I am really tired that the best thing for me to do is to rest and not do much. On days that I am really tired I will often go back to bed after I take the kids to school and have a couple of hours sleep. I have learnt that there is no point in ‘pushing through’ when I am really run down.

My go to for feeling great is to make sure that my food is good and I will drink lots of herb teas. I don’t take a lot of supplements because I believe in using food as medicine but sometimes some additional magnesium and zinc will help. I do use herbs as well to keep me healthy.

What websites do you enjoy browsing?

Unfortunately I spend too much time on Facebook! The other websites that I tend to visit are ones where I am doing different courses e.g. Marie Forleo’s B School, Monique Parker’s Marketing Ignition Course, Money Mindset Course by Denise Duffield Thomas. The Food Matters site and FMTV are also favourites.

I also spend a bit of time on You Tube watching videos from Hay House, Deepak Chopra and Oprah

 What was the last book you read?

I am currently reading A Course In Miracles.

Who is your inspiration?

Apart from my children, one of my greatest inspirations is Carren Smith, who is a Bali Bomb Survivor and close friend and has been a mentor in both business and life.

 Do you have anything you’d like to share with fellow mums?

Live life according to your values not someone else’s values. Get rid of the ‘shoulds’, ‘have tos’ and ‘need tos’. Follow your heart and you will never go wrong. Realise that the power to change your life is in your hands and no one else’s. You can choose a life full of stress or you can choose a life that is happy and joyful. It is your story – write the story that you want. My biggest message comes from my book – You are a Miracle, Believe in Yourself!!! 

Sara Keli – Editor of Kid Magazine

sara keli editor of kid magazine

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Sydney with my husband and our 18-month-old daughter, Olivia. We also have two dogs and a cat so life can be pretty crazy. I’m also the Editor of Kid Magazine so in between family, pets and work, I don’t get a lot of free time! Whatever free time I have is spent with my family at the park or a local café. I also love to cook and read.


Can you tell us more about Kid Magazine?

Kid Magazine is a blog and digital magazine for mums who like style, pretty things and looking after themselves and their families. The magazine is bi-monthly and I blog on most days of the week. I work from my home office and am often out and about at meetings and events.


Where or how did it begin and what is your vision?

I bought Kid Magazine back in 2011. At the time it was a fashion and beauty blog for mums. I loved writing and was excited by the idea of trying something different. Over time it has evolved to what it is today. I so love what I have created and achieving my vision of an authentic source of inspiration and ideas for mums.


You have a young daughter, how do you fit Kid Magazine in?

I’m really lucky with my work that Olivia and I get to go along to a lot of different events and try out different experiences. We spend lots of time out and about and then occasionally have a day at home to recover. Olivia goes to daycare one day per week and the rest of the week I work during nap times or her grandparents look after her if I need extra help. My husband is also a great support for when I need to work at night or on the weekend.


How does exercise fit into your busy life?

This is the one thing I probably struggle most with. I tend to do a lot of what I call Wigglercise and I try and go to the gym or do an exercise video at home. My husband travels regularly for work, which makes it hard to create a regular routine.


If you are having a great day, how does it look?

On a great day I wake up at about 6am and get an hour or so of work done before Olivia wakes up. We then have breakfast together and spend the morning at home or at the park. I then get some more work done while she has her midday nap and then we head out in the afternoon. So that I can get up early I need to go to bed a bit earlier so a great day actually starts the night before with a restful sleep. In the evenings it is nice to take a bit of a break and relax on the couch with my husband.


If you are not having such a great day, what steps do you take to take care of you?

The most important thing for me is self-forgiveness and accepting when I’m having a bad day rather than dwelling on it and getting myself all worked up and stressed. A cup of tea (or five) also helps calm me and slow me down.


What websites do you enjoy browsing/visiting?

I think like most people I tend to spend a lot of time on Facebook these days! I can follow all my favourite blogs and save links for later so it is quite handy. There is a new Facebook page called Parent Talk Australia which I am part of. It is a place to find the best Aussie parenting bloggers all in one spot.


What was the last book you read?

It’s very rare for me to read a book that doesn’t have more pictures than words! I read a lot for my job but the last book that I read that wasn’t for work and couldn’t put down was Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. It was such a fascinating read about the position of women in the world and I highly recommend it to anyone.


Who is your inspiration?

My daughter. I work so hard at my own business so that I can spend as much time with her as possible. She is what drives me to succeed.


Do you have anything you’d like to share with fellow mums?

Run your own race. We have so much pressure on us these days to parent the ‘right’ way or to have the perfect Pinterest-worthy life. I’m all about pretty things, but at the end of the day looking after yourself is the most important thing. A happy mummy can achieve so much more than one who is feeling stressed and run down. Be kind to yourself and remember that whatever you don’t get done today will still be there tomorrow.

Our Guest Bloggers – Your Authentic Self’s Nic & Ness are bringing the winter warmers to your kitchen!

It’s that time again. That dreaded hour before dinner when the kids are tired (and driving you more than a little crazy), the baby is grizzly, you are frazzled from a long day and somehow you have to make a meal out of those sad looking veggies at the bottom of the drawer and the meat you forgot to defrost… what’s the number for pizza delivery again?

What if we told you that it doesn’t have to be this way? That you can cook delicious and nutritious family meals without spending every night slaving away in the kitchen. What if you could cook one meal for the whole family and not have to worry about separate meals for babies, toddlers and adults? Well we do and so can you!

We are Nic and Ness – the owners of Your Authentic Self – a cooking school in Sydney with a passion for creating ridiculously delicious food for families. We are both mums to two gorgeous and very busy kids each and while they are well past the baby stage (5 years and 3 years), we have recently had lots of friends join the ranks of mummy-hood and have been reminded of the trials and tribulations involved in introducing first foods, toddler fussiness (‘no that microscopic speck of green in your soup is definitely not spinach’) and the often unanticipated food aversions. So we thought we would share two of our best cooking tips to help minimise the stress of meal preparation for families.

But one more thing, it has to be good for you, right? Absolutely! We believe that real, natural wholefoods are the best way to support our health and so all our recipes focus on seasonal, fresh, local food that will not only taste delicious, but be healthy for everyone. And with some simple ways of preparing them they can be suitable for the whole family.

Winter is the perfect time to take advantage of our first cooking tip: slow cooking. Slow cooked meals (think roasts, stews, soups, curries) are hearty meals that take very little time to prepare and can mean dinner is already prepared when you step in the door balancing umbrellas, bags and cranky kids. They are also budget friendly as you can use cheap cuts of meat (grass-fed where possible) with lots of fresh seasonal veggies to make a large meal that feeds the family more than once. Slow cooking requires only 5-10 minutes preparation in the morning and all you need to do in the evening is make a side dish, be it salad, rice, noodles or mash and dinner is ready to serve!

That leads on to our second favourite cooking tip: batch cooking (or cooking more than you need to every time you cook). And yes, we did say you would be spending less time in the kitchen so let us explain what this looks like.

Basically when you do have time, be it weekends or one or two nights of the week, do the majority of your cooking then. If the oven is on make sure it is full – don’t just put the roast chicken in with the veggies for one night, put an extra tray of veggies in, or an extra chicken. Make some bread rolls for lunches or cook banana bread for the week. If you are making a soup, use your biggest pot and put in double the amount. The leftovers from these meals can be lunches for work, or frozen for weekday dinners and divided up for the kids.

Basically batch cooking means you will always have things pre-made in your freezer so that on those nights when things just don’t go to plan, you can go to your freezer for a nutritious meal rather than calling for Papa Giuseppe’s!

OK – so what about the baby, the fussy toddler, the older kids who don’t like soup? Both slow cooking and batch cooking mean that you can quite easily cater for all members of your family but still only cook the one meal. Basically it’s about deconstructing the main meal to suit. Slow cooked meals are great for babies as the meats are soft and easy to chew. If you do baby led weaning, veggies can be chopped into finger sized pieces (and removed when still firm, not mushy) or soft slow cooked veggies can be easily pureed too.

Food preferences can be catered to as you can put as many varied veggies into a slow cooked meal as need be, picking out what each child likes. Or a simple side of salad veggies can accompany the meat, if cooked veggies are not their thing. Batch cooking also means you can have the emergency stash of favourite veggies ready to go if it all fails to impress at the table! (‘what do you mean you don’t like carrots this week?!’)

So please, pull out the slow cooker, dust off your oven trays and start chopping some veggies!

If you’d like to cover these topics in more depth as well as many other kitchen tips and tricks you can book in for one of our classes here. And be sure to sign up to our newsletter here for monthly feature recipes and information.

Guest Mum Valeria Ramirez of The Well Nest joins us

“Mama you’re amazing. Always remember that. Raising a human is no easy job. Whatever you’re doing I’m sure you are doing an incredible job” – Valeria Ramirez – The Well Nest

I’m so excited to have Valeria Ramirez be a guest contributor to our blog today. Valeria is the founder of The Well Nest, a mum of one and all-round inspiring woman!


Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

My name is Valeria Ramirez. I have an almost 2-year-old son, Orlando. Any free time makes me very happy! I currently run 2 businesses, as well as looking after my little one, which keeps me very busy. When I do have free time, I love to be outdoors with my little boy. Nothing makes me happier than seeing his face light up as he discovers the world around him.


Can you tell us more about The Well Nest?

The Well Nest is a place to learn, nourish and grow. I am a strong believer in educating people to take control of their health and wellness. Through my Personal Training, Health Coaching and now catering services from The Well Nest Kitchen, my team and I are committed to helping people make small changes that can have a profound effect on their health and wellness. We offer group training and one-on-one health coaching consultations to help our clients achieve their health goals as well as delicious healthy plant based meals and snacks delivered to your door.


Where or how did it begin & what is your vision?

The Well Nest started alongside my journey to health and wellness. After a failed attempt at a journalism career I decided to finally follow my heart and do something I was truly passionate about. I was always interested in being healthy, but at the time I had no idea that ‘health’ extended outside of losing weight and looking great in a bikini. Through my journey to educate myself and improve my life, I made a decision to help others do the same.


What is your tip for fellow mums?

Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy. Too often I catch up with a mum and she will ask me how I do it all, or expresses dissatisfaction with her life or her body compared to someone else she sees on social media. The truth is of course that no one posts the bad stuff (which is sad)! Everyone, including myself, post only the highlights of their life without thinking about how that may impact someone having a down day. Being a mother is amazing and you are doing an amazing job. When you are feeling down, sit down take a few breaths and write down all the things that you are grateful for and you will see that what you have is more than enough.


The Well Nest helps you discover a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means looking at all aspects of your life and how they are connected. Can you tell us more about this approach?

Many people assume that being heathy is just about exercising and eating well and often overlook other elements of their life including their emotional wellbeing, their relationships, how they feel about their finances, their jobs and having a good spiritual practice. I help connect the dots and create an overall understanding of wellness and happiness, and why all of those things are important for living your best life.


How do you tie the Well Nest approach in with your own life?

Our motto is creating happiness through healthiness. Being so busy I often find myself sacrificing all of me to help others. I have taught myself to always check in to see if I’m looking after myself. I prioritise nourishing foods, rest and doing exercise that supports my body. I make time for family and my husband and practice yoga and meditation when things get a little out of hand.


How does exercise fit into your life?

I need to move daily. It gives me energy to do what I love. I run, do Pilates, some strength training and chase after my little one. My schedule is never set in stone, but I make sure to make time to move everyday.


If you are having a great day, how does it look?

My perfect day starts at 5am. If my little one is still sleeping I would take some time to meditate and have a cup of warm water with lemon. I then head out the door to workout. When I return we make breakfast as a family and sit down to enjoy our creation. I like to get Orlando involved in any way I can by letting him play with fruit, veggies, grains etc. After taking my son to daycare I would be in the kitchen with my girls working on prepping and delivering our orders. After picking up my little boy from daycare we usually go and play in the park then come home and prepare dinner together. Then it’s onto bed, bath and beyond! If I have the energy I love to read before bed at 9pm.


If you are not having such a great day, what steps do you take to take care of you?

I always make sure I eat well and breathe. When I’m running on adrenalin, I find myself tense and not breathing deeply enough which creates more anxiety in my body. When we are all in the kitchen we have a designated timer to stop, drop and breathe and another one to stop, drop and take a water break.


Do you have anything youd like to share with fellow mums?

Mama you’re amazing. Always remember that. Raising a human is no easy job. Whatever you’re doing I’m sure you are doing an incredible job. Always remind yourself of the amazing work you do. Make time to look after yourself. If you become ill, everything else usually follows so prioritise your health. Learn to love your body with all its imperfections. Having a baby has taught me to appreciate my body more than I ever did before. If you love your body, your body will love you back.

To find out more about Valeria, check out The Well Nest and be truly inspired!

Guest Mum Jacinta McDonnell of Anytime Fitness joins us

“I believe we are all capable of so much more than we think. We limit ourselves by giving ourselves titles. ‘I am a mum’, ‘I am a single mum’ etc… we can achieve much more we just need to do it!” – Jacinta McDonnell, Anytime Fitness

I’m so excited to have Jacinta McDonnell be a guest contributor to our blog today. Jacinta is the co-founder of Anytime Fitness, a mum of three and all-round inspiring woman!


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a mum of three; Co-Founder of Anytime Fitness and Founder of The Human Kind Project (a not-for-profit foundation). I love to travel and I also love yoga and meditation. This is my staple practice to stay happy and at my best.


Can you tell us more about Anytime Fitness (for those who have been living under a rock)?

We have over 400 franchised clubs now open in Australia. We started in 2008 and now have over 50 staff in our support office. We are the No 1 fitness brand in Australia which we are very proud of.


Where or how did it begin and what is your vision?

My brother and I have always been in the fitness industry and saw this concept in an international fitness business magazine in 2007. We knew straight away that this was what we needed to do. Many people in the industry didn’t see the potential, but luckily that didn’t deter us. After many visits to the USA in a 12-month period we became the first international franchisor for Anytime Fitness. We had a very clear vision of what we wanted to bring to Australia at the time and we felt very strongly that the consumer was not being offered what they desired. Most clubs were big, had limited opening hours and were charging a lot. We offered a convenient and affordable option and now have over 400 000 members nationally.


You have 3 children, how does Anytime Fitness filter through to them, if at all?

I have a 15-year-old, 5-year-old and 2-year-old. My 15-year-old daughter attends our conferences and recently came to Malawi with me on our Human Kind Project trip with The Hunger Project. She is very much aware of what we do in both Anytime Fitness and our Foundation. My 5-yea-old also knows what I do and says she is very proud I help kids in Africa. I am committed to showing them the biggest version of myself and showing them all the things that you can achieve if you do the things you love.


How does exercise fit into your busy life?

I have a great personal trainer that I see once a week and also do three yoga classes per week.


If you are having a great day, how does it look?

It starts with breakfast with my kids and then my nanny arrives to take over. I then leave for a morning yoga class and catch up with another inspiring soul to talk all things amazing, either work or personal.


If you are not having such a great day, what steps do you take to take care of you?

I give myself some space to breathe and take some time to do whatever I feel I need to shift some energy and get back into the flow.


Do you have anything you’d like to share with fellow mums?

I believe we are all capable of so much more than we think. We limit ourselves by giving ourselves titles: ‘I am a mum’, ‘I am a single mum’ etc. We can achieve much more then we think we can, we just need to do it.

Jacinta along with Anytime fitness has pledged to raise $100,000 for The Hunger Project. To find out more, click HERE

For more information on Jacinta’s founding charity The Human Kind Project, click HERE

Baby massage – a Daddy’s ‘tool’ to help bond with their new baby

Most research carried out on bonding and attachment focuses on mums and misses the opportunity to explore the father-baby bond. There was a time not so long ago when dads weren’t even allowed in the room during childbirth, but thankfully times have changed and more and more dads want to be involved right from the start and develop their own special bond with their baby.

After the birth, some dads feel like they don’t have any ‘tools’ to help settle or bond with their baby, especially if a baby is breastfed. Some dads may struggle to feel bonded with their new baby because of the lack of verbal communication and sometimes it seems that baby just wants mum, leaving dad feeling like he’s not much use!

This is where baby massage can play a significant role in providing dads with a tool for bonding with their baby and helping them feel empowered and connected. It also provides dads with an opportunity to have an activity that they can do by themselves with their new baby (whilst scoring brownie points from mum!)

An Australian study of infant massage and father-baby bonding, found that at 12 weeks old babies, who were massaged by their dads greeted their dads with more eye contact, smiling, vocalising and touch than those in the control group. According to Scholz & Samuels, when dads massaged their babies, the babies initiated contact with their dads when they came home from work. This initiation of contact helped the dads in the study to feel more confident interacting with their babies. Also during this study the dads watched two videos of themselves massaging their infants and reported they were “proud of themselves and their babies.” They saw how they improved in their skills over the three weeks and were happy with their own results and the knowledge that they had a new care-giving skill.

Baby massage provides so many benefits, other than an opportunity to bond, and it’s wonderful to see the confidence increase in new dads when they connect with their new baby through something as nurturing as baby massage.

It also provides an opportunity for dads to give mums a break and it’s wonderful for mums to watch the bond and connection with their baby and partner grow and deepen.

Caroline Heckendorf is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor with the International Association of Infant Massage ( and runs baby massage classes in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. For more details visit

How baby massage helps your child’s development

 “Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant. Food as necessary as minerals, vitamins and proteins”

– Dr. Frederick Leboyer

Giving your little one a regular massage not only enhances the bonding process, but research has shown that it also can help with brain development. The influence of positive touch is not to be underestimated – in fact it’s a key nutrient for your baby’s healthy brain development.

Did you know that touch is the first sense to develop in utero? During the first few weeks after conception and throughout your baby’s lifetime, touch will help to stimulate growth hormones, as well as promote the creation of stress relieving hormones and hormones that encourage bonding and attachment.

As babies are not born with fully coated nerves (the protective covering called myelin sheath), massage enhances myelination of the brain and nervous system. This in turn speeds up transmission of nerve impulses that improves the brain-body communication and helps to increase a child’s learning capability.

Another way in which massage aids brain development is through the reduction of stress hormones. Long periods of over-stimulation, exhaustion and stress aren’t good for a baby’s developing brain. Massage helps to reduce the levels of stress hormones and release relaxing hormones. So by massaging your little one, you are helping them to learn how to relax during stressful times and teaching their brain how to respond appropriately.

Dr Tiffany Field is a pioneer in the study of physiological effects of massage and is the founder of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School where numerous studies have been conducted on infant massage. These studies highlight just how important touch is for the developing baby. In one such study, premature babies who were massaged gained 47 percent more weight and were discharged from hospital earlier than babies in a control group, with follow up studies showing lasting effects on growth and development.

In some studies, premature infants receiving skin-on-skin care (Kangaroo Care) have displayed lower rates of infection, better weight gain and a more mature neuro-behavioural status. It’s thought the mechanism behind this is that massage stimulates nerves in the brain that facilitates food absorption and lowers stress hormones, resulting in improved immune system functioning and therefore lower rates of infection.

The effects on a baby receiving positive touch extend way beyond infancy. It helps us develop loving and lasting relationships and even the smallest amount can leave us calmer and happier.

The infant massage programme taught by instructors certified by the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) has shown that baby massage may help protect babies from the developmental consequences of postnatal depression. Although it’s still unknown how exactly this works, it may be due to the way in which massage helps a baby to regulate the levels of stress hormones.

It goes without saying, touch which isn’t comforting, kind or nurturing can do lasting harm and the benefits and research mentioned in this article only relates to positive touch experiences.

Caroline Heckendorf is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) and holds a diploma in Remedial Massage and Bachelor of Health Science Degree (Complementary Medicine). Caroline runs Natural Bond Baby Massage which teaches parents how to massage their babies.