Newborn Essentials- things that you will actually need

Anybody who has had a baby will know that the sheer amount of products out there for baby are mind-blowing and plain confusing. A newborn human shouldn’t need that much right? Wrong. Walk into any baby store and you’ll see what I mean.

Having done this twice already and expecting my third (in just 7 weeks!!), I’ve whittled down what a baby would really need to the following. They are tried and tested by myself and I genuinely love these products. I try to choose organic and ethically made products where I can.

See below image for more details and links… If you hover over image the corresponding numbers will show.

  1. BABU Organic cotton hooded towels, face washers and wash cloths.
  2. Baby Bjorn Balance bouncer– this has been sitting in my living for 5 years in the same spot and will probably be there for another 2 years. It is very practical, and isn’t a scary, battery operated bouncer with toys hanging off it. It moves with the natural movements of baby, aiding in muscle development.
  3. Wilson & Frenchy growsuits. Get the zip kind, not the one with a thousand buttons because nappy change time is hard enough already.
  4. Gaia baby massage oil. Makes bath times much more fun.
  5. Tooshies by TOM nappies. They only launched these recently and I’m using them for Z (my two-year old) and I LOVE them because they are made using organic materials, are made well, fit around baby’s waist snugly and don’t leak. What more could you want in a nappy?
  6. Gaia hair & body wash. See number 4.
  7. Bubba blue organic four piece gift set. A cute print with all the essential accessories: beanie, mittens, bib and socks.
  8. Manduca baby carrier. I have used my fair share of baby carriers and this one is by far my favourite. It’s easy to use and supports your back well, whilst keeping baby snug and close.
  9. Bassinet. My bassinet is very similar to this style. I like that I can see baby through the see-through mesh, I can roll it around the house and I also like its simple aesthetic.
  10. Lifefactory glass bottles. In one word; brilliant. They also fit onto a Medela pump which is a huge thumbs up.
  11. Muslin Wrap. Both my babies liked to be wrapped and muslin wraps are perfect for both winter and summer babies. Get one in organic cotton.
  12. Valco Snap 4 stroller. So with my first baby, I bought the Valco Rebel Q pram, which was awesome, except that it was one of those prams that had to be separated into two to fold and fit in your boot. When I first tried it out at the baby store I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I was totally wrong. I eventually grew tired of separating the seat and folding the huge base…and it literally took up all my boot space. So, I passed that onto a family member who needed a pram, and this time round swore that I’d buy something that folds in one swift motion. Enter Valco Snap 4 stroller. It was very well priced (just over $300, unlike other strollers that retail for an incredulous $900 upwards), it is easy to handle, it’s light and folds in ONE SWIFT MOTION. I was totally sold.
  13. Tooshies by TOM wipes. Best. Wipes. Ever. And the cute packaging is a total bonus.
  14. Purebaby singlets. Lovely organic cotton singlets. Need I say more?
  15. Eco.baby nappy oil. Again, made of organic ingredients, this is the only nappy oil that has actually worked consistently. The moment I see a bit of redness or the beginnings of nappy rash, I apply this oil generously and by the next nappy change, it’s cleared up.

Featured image source.

Best on the Net

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and are ready for the new week! Here are some lovely, positive and uplifting stories to make the start of the week that much easier…

  1. 30 Captivating Historical photographs that need to be seen.
  2. What a teen girl’s magazine cover looks like when a graphic designer gets her hands on it.
  3. And here is one girl’s magazine that is trying to do it differently.
  4. A loving father photographs his autistic son’s unique habits.
  5. An enchantingly-rare all white reindeer is spotted on the side on the road in Sweden.
  6. One school is replacing detention with meditation and it is brilliant.
  7. Rahaf Khatib on the cover of “Women’s Running” magazine is how getting featured in mainstream media should be done.
  8. The essentials of Maternity Wear, and a few more of my favourite maternity wear/post-maternity wear-able brands herehere, and here.
  9. Like, I really want this blush shirt dress that looks perfect for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  10. Oh and if you’re in Sydney, the “Raising Positive Children” workshop run by the Al-Ghazzali Centre is on this weekend. It is definitely one not to be missed. Register for it here. I’ll see you there!

Featured image via Nouba.

Take a moment…

These days I am getting a keen sense of how fast time is passing. It’s like I blinked and I had two children. I feel it even more now that I am expecting number 3. I can’t quite comprehend how 5 years, 2 children and expecting a third happened.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I found out I was expecting my first child? I remember the day that I found out so clearly. I remember calling my husband and telling him over the phone, right in the middle of his work day, because I have absolutely no patience and can’t keep anything from him for any amount of time.

I remember the day she was born, that incomparable feeling of having her placed on my chest where she immediately ceased crying, whereupon my own tears gushed even more. I remember how it felt to have her tiny frame pressed against me, and me completely overwhelmed by how much she needed me.

I remember the days that followed. The utter physical exhaustion, the stress and anxiety of trying to keep her alive, of the insane lack of sleep…

But what I fail to remember is how we filled the days from around 2 months to, well, now. Did I at any point just soak in the moments and enjoy having just one little girl to love, nurture and cherish? Or was I constantly worried about the next issue, about her future, about how she was growing, about her poor eating habits, her manners and so on?

Then before I knew it, Z was born and again, I remember the day she was born so clearly, I remember the unique struggles that she brought immediately after (she was colicky, she never slept during the day, she never wanted to be put down etc etc.), and again, I remember the stress, the worry and the anxiety.

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How did FIVE years pass with these two little girls? How did I spend the days with them? Did I pause to simply watch them in wonderment or was I constantly “feeling tired”?

Two months out from having baby number 3, I get the growing sense of nostalgia, of regret… The regret of not simply sitting back and enjoying the two girls in their baby phase. Before my very eyes they are growing so quickly and I just want to stop and pause everything.

We spend so much of our children’s early years wishing that they would just grow up so we can get some solid sleep, or so we can work, or read a book, or have time for ourselves, that before we know it, they are grown up, then we futilely wish they could just be babies again so we can cuddle them without them pushing us away. So we can stare in wonderment at their incomprehensibly tiny feet and hands, so we can breathe in their pure, uncorrupted newborn smell. So we can dress them in anything we want to dress them in, pick them up and take them anywhere without them protesting…

Z (my youngest) began to assert her wardrobe preferences a few weeks ago, and it’s only getting worse. She insists on wearing dresses, if they get stained they must be taken off and changed immediately (something I apparently did as a two year old, so I only have myself to blame), and she does not wear jackets or tops. She must also pick her own shoes.

And YES, it is driving me absolutely MAD. Today after another torturous tantrum session over her clothing, it hit me that it also made me sad  (you know, not just frustrated and crazy). It made me sad because it was a sign of her growing and maturing. That she was no longer a baby who had no consciousness of these things. That she was developing a personality and asserting her choices. Before she even turns 2.

God help me.

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And I know that when baby no. 3 arrives, she will seem huge to me, and she will suddenly grow up and mature overnight.

She won’t be the baby of the family anymore. And no, I can’t hold onto this, or cherish it properly, and before I know it, it will be a distant memory, to the extent where I will say, “I don’t even remember the time when Z was the baby of the family.”

Ultimately, expecting baby no 3 is making me realise in real terms how important it is to appreciate our children, as they are, in this very moment. Because childhood is so fleeting and trying to hold onto it is like trying to grasp sand in our fists. Yes. I am referring to the old cliche of time as being like sand. Shoot me.

So, if you have children, no matter what age they are, just take this moment to watch them, to talk with them, to wonder at their current phase, their likes and dislikes, their unique temperaments and quirky habits, at their torturous tantrums, at their bad habits… I’m trying to hold onto the time when J would stop us whilst out on a walk, and lie down on the grass by a path and point at the sky and say, “moon”. Or the time when Z saw a dandelion and picked it, and in her attempt to blow it she ended up shoving it in her mouth. Or when J nonchalantly asked me about how my day was going, and I rattled on about how tired I was, and how much I still needed to do, and in a matter-of-fact manner she advised, “Allah (swt) will help you…” Or the million and one other times that these children are awed by the world around them and force you to notice as well, or when they keenly pick up on your mood and are so gentle and caring with you…

Pull them closer and breathe them in, and know that this moment is going to pass so quickly, one day it will feel like a distant dream. Take a moment to push your tiredness aside, forget the stress and anxiety you are experiencing with your children, don’t think about what needs to be cleaned or cooked or bought… Just watch your children, watch them and acknowledge the depth of love you have for them simply for the way that they are now…

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Ethically made Earrings

Written by Subhi Bora. 

When in Dubai, I wanted to buy gifts for people as well as something blingy for myself as a souvenir. I wanted something meaningful, beautiful, preferably made in the UAE, and with good ethical standards.

This seemed near impossible amongst the endless imported designer stores and H&M-like options.

BUT THEN I found the Gallery One store in Dubai Mall and bought beautiful pieces of art, made in the UAE! And I came across this beautiful brand of jewellery Vanina World, whose pieces are ethically made and use recycled materials. These particular earrings were made in collaboration with 2 NGOs based in Lebanon. I am super happy I found what I was looking for, all by chance.

We CAN do better with our purchasing power, so let’s do it.

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*Photos by Saltanat Bora (editor). Please don’t use without permission of The Modest Life.

Maternity Wear Essentials

Finding comfortable yet stylish clothing whilst pregnant can be difficult, and inevitably, regardless of what you wear, you are bound to look like you swallowed a large watermelon by the time you get to the end of your pregnancy.

Nonetheless, it is definitely a lot easier to find stylish and comfortable maternity wear what with the explosion in maternity brands lately, and also some non-maternity label clothing that can be adapted.

This being my third pregnancy, a lesson that I have learnt is to ensure that whatever I buy for my changing body will also last me beyond pregnancy. I remember after I had my first daughter and I started to leave my house that I realised that I didn’t have any breastfeeding friendly clothing. It seemed like such a frustrating thing to think about- and out went the maxi dresses. Try lifting that up and shoving a baby under to breastfeed. Not. Happening.

The following outfit options are actually clothes that I have worn many times throughout this pregnancy and most can be worn post-pregnancy, they’ll still fit me, and I can breastfeed in them.

So here goes…

Everyday, running out to grab groceries, visiting family etc. etc. 

Drawstring loose black pants, cotton man-style shirt and oversized blazer (that won’t look oversized because of your swelling belly). Throw in some pretty accessories and comfortable loafer-style flats and you’re good to go…

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Blazer Kowtow Clothing Shirt Witchery Pants The Great Beyond Shoes Witchery Watch Mimco Necklace Target

When you REALLY can’t be bothered but need to look presentable and you just don’t do the whole track pants/active wear outfit thing…

Throw on these pants that you can basically sleep in but are not pyjamas (WIN WIN), a bamboo fabric black t-shirt and a light as air striped cardigan. Necklace is totally optional.

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Cardigan (similar) Kowtow Clothing T-shirt (not featured) The Great Beyond Pants (in Khaki) Sussan

Catching up with friends, which you might as well do before it becomes a figment of your imagination… 

Light-weight trench coat with chic black maternity dress and same black pants as above. Keep them straight-legged. A statement necklace will uplift the look… Actually this trench coat is very versatile and sits really nicely. It’s something I know that I can wear post-baby as well.

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Trench coat Witchery Dress Target Pants The Great Beyond

Dinner

Throw on a one size fits all bohemian kaftan dress with a neutral coloured blazer and block heels for a dinner date out with the husband that doesn’t involve children climbing all over you, or temper tantrums over the choice of food… That’s if this is your first pregnancy. IF this is your second (or third), then expect to get white rice stuck on this navy blue dress and LOTS of frustration served with a side of, “why the hell do we take the kids out to dinner with us?” realisations…

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Blazer Kowtow Clothing Dress Tree of Life Shoes Witchery

A Wedding, or some fancy event that you’d rather miss so you can sleep early because you’re over 30 weeks pregnant and damn tired… 

A loose floral print gown that you can feel totally comfortable in because as stated above, you’d rather be at home sleeping… or attempting to sleep because let’s face it, by the time you get to 30 weeks plus, you ain’t getting much of that either… at least you’ll look pretty as a picture in this dress.

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Dress Needle and Thread Shoes Witchery 

I’d also recommend… 

The Great Beyond is an Australian company who make the most comfortable basics from bamboo. I practically live in their Luna Top in Black and their Europa Dress also in Black, although I am considering buying them in the other colours too. Of course, they’re not strictly maternity wear, but the beautifully soft bamboo fabric stretches easily without losing its shape, ensuring you can still wear them after pregnancy. And they are incredibly soft and breathable, which is awesome news for a pregnant woman in summer trying to do a grocery run. Layer them with the man-style shirt (from Witchery) worn open and comfy maternity jeans such as these. Which I have and currently wear practically every day…

Also, here’s another shot of this clothing rack that we prettied up with some trailing branches of bougainvillaea that was nonchalantly hanging over somebody’s fence, that I foraged (ahem, stole).

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*Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored by featured companies. They are the true opinion, as a result of real world experience, of writers here at The Modest Life.

*Please do not use images without the permission of The Modest Life.

Gardening at home

I love fresh flowers around the home, but let’s be real, it can be quite an expensive luxury. Plus, purchasing flowers from the grocery or florist can have hidden nasties, as they spray the flowers with chemicals to make them last longer, or they source them from unethical supply chains. Also, keeping flowers indoors in an air-conditioned space with no natural light is not good for the longevity of those flowers.

So I decided to start gardening, with the plot of raised garden beds that I have in my backyard. Today I traipsed out there with the girls and we collected quite a good haul of flowers to arrange around the house, and even dry in a flower press.

Growing your own flowers is a great experience for the kids. From planting, to watering and seeing the flowers bloom to cutting them and arranging them, it is a beautiful way to connect them with nature and also instil a sense of responsibility.

If you can manage to keep them alive, the plants are incredibly giving, providing blooms year after year…

So far, our green thumbs have been going strong, and I am proud of the flowers that we were able to grow and use… Today we collected hellebores, alstroemeria, Geraldton wax and snapdragons.

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*Please don’t use images without permission of The Modest Life.

Thinking of having kids? Think again…

Parenting in this day and age is without a doubt a tough gig.

We are faced with challenges that our parents didn’t face when they were raising us, we live in a society whose moral and spiritual values have been all but degraded, and it appears to be getting worse. Our food is not what it used to be, with all the genetic modification and the mass agricultural methods used to simply meet the dietary demands of an increasingly obese population, resulting in children with ADHD (apparently), behavioural issues, earlier onset of mental health issues and of course, obesity. The schooling system is becoming (or already is) heavily focused on “academic teaching” where children as young as 5 are subject to testing and assessments, with priority given to standardised testing as a measure of their abilities, yet ironically are not producing more intelligent people.

We are living in the ‘digital age’ with screens pervading everything that we do. Schools are introducing iPads in kindergarten, or giving homework that must be done on the internet. Children are being given their own iPads and iPhones at younger and younger ages, or are allowed to watch streams of videos on YouTube, unmonitored, for hours. Their access to potentially explicit content is thus made easier. We don’t even have the slightest idea how to cope with the effects of the digital age, and yet we are pushing it onto our children.

Our children are being raised in an almost dystopic society where the bonds of human connection are being ground down…and digitalised. Leonard Sax in his book “Why Gender Matters” devotes a chapter to discussing sexual activity amongst adolescents, and makes the observation that it is becoming an increasingly impersonal activity. Dating no longer exists. Teenagers ‘hook up’. Sax made this observation in 2005. A decade later I’d say that things have only taken a turn for the worse, what with the explosion in digital devices and social media.

The obsession with our phones is resulting in a generation of children, and even adults, who don’t know how to make conversation. Who don’t understand social etiquette. Who are slowly but surely being disconnected from their own humanity.

Throw into all this the age old struggles with raising children, the utter physical exhaustion that particularly mothers face in the early years, while having child after child. Post-natal depletion is totally a thing people. Not post-natal depression. DEPLETION.

Add to this the expectation from society to BE something OTHER than JUST a mother. The financial pressures to work so we can afford our mortgages, and cars on finance, and designer everything and new gadgets and holidays once a year… Oh and to pay for the childcare for our multiple children which costs practically what we are earning… Amongst all this we need to raise perfectly disciplined children, whilst not losing our patience, whilst allowing our kids to just be kids, but make sure they are dressed in perfect clothes, and eating nutritious foods and take them to swimming, karate, pre-kindy classes, and make sure they know their alphabet, their numbers and how to write their names BEFORE they start school so you can get them into a selective, academic, private school that costs over $1000 a term… From kindergarten.

And we are doing this increasingly alone. No longer do we live with others…The village support network no longer exists. And it is mothers who suffer the most. Even when the support system is there, we no longer know how to support each other with love, respect and wisdom. We’ve lived such busy lives for the past few decades that what we are left with are people and families living as isolated units who no longer know how to connect and nurture and uplift each other.

Gone are the days when family would simply drop in unannounced. When homes were bustling places with cousins and friends and neighbours popping by for tea.

We are alone.

And motherhood by nature is already a lonely exercise. That is now only compounded by how ‘busy’ and separated everyone is from each other. And when we are together, we judge, we criticise, we don’t take the time to build and nurture sincere bonds.

Ok so now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you all, and myself, here is the point that I’m trying to make…

Yes. We live in difficult times.

If you think that I’m going to say something dreary like, DON’T HAVE KIDS because all is doom and gloom, then no.

On the contrary, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to have children. There is no light in this world like the light that emanates from children. And being able to witness that… a privilege. Only children have the power to utterly transform you… if you allow them to.

What I do want to stress is that people really need to spend time preparing and acknowledging and understanding the weight of the responsibility that comes with raising children.

Having the child is one thing. Going through pregnancy and labour is another daunting task. But once that baby is out, you need to raise it into a decent human being.

And attempting to achieve this task requires conscious parenting. I’m not talking about ‘over parenting’ where parents get involved with every little detail of their kid’s lives thus stripping away any agency from them. I’m talking about parenting that is informed, thoughtful, questioning, reflective and… aware.

If you are thinking of having children, my advice is, think about it thoroughly. Know that it will be one of the toughest things that you will undertake in life, and it literally will span the length of your life. It will be the source of the worst heartbreak, difficulty, frustration and anxiety. Everything from keeping the baby alive in its early days to instilling good eating habits in your two year old, to disciplining your four year old, to showing them your pure love for them, to modelling good manners, humility and respect… Yeh, it’s a tough gig. But at least do your best to prepare yourself for it. Think about the type of parent you want to be, not the type of child you want to have (because that is not in your control), but the child and person that you would like to shape and nurture.

Just do not have kids because “it’s the thing to do”, or because you think they are cute (by the time they hit 4.5 they officially stop being cute. For reals.) Or because you want a pet that you can dress in cute, expensive clothing. Or because you want the designer pram and beautiful nursery. Or because you want a mini-me. Or because you want them to be a source of pride that you can boast about to anyone and everyone.

These motivations will wear very quickly after actually having the child, and you will find that you will do whatever it takes to get that child to be quiet. Or to ‘get rid of them’.

Know that a child is a new human being entering a world that they have no idea about and they need YOUR guidance, your informed, educated guidance, your unconditional love, your compassion and gentleness… they NEED a figure of authority who can place boundaries on what they can and can’t do, they NEED a role model to show them how to navigate through the complexities of this life…

If you are not ready to be this for someone, if you are not ready to take on this responsibility, or at the very least, if you don’t have children with the conscious mindset that this is what you need to be as a parent, then think again about having children. Because without properly acknowledging what it means to be a parent, you may be contributing to a lifetime of difficulty, confusion and destruction for another person, and not just any person, but your own child.

Isn’t it worth thinking about properly?

*Featured image via Jote Khalsa.

Wondrous Earth

A photo series that will spotlight the wondrous beauty of this Earth, a moment to reflect on the Beauty endowed on this Earth by Our Creator…

How can one travel through this earth and not be moved by the beauty that we are surrounded by? A magnificent sunset that we witness whilst engaging in something as ordinary as driving home from work is surely enough for the heart to be moved to ponder on, to be in awe of the One who willed for such divine ethereality to embellish our world.

Today’s image taken by our editor, Saltanat.

Baby Boy’s Nursery Inspiration

I am currently 29 weeks pregnant with Baby No. 3 and I am in shock as to how quickly it has passed. I essentially have two and a half months left and it occurred to me the other day that I have prepared nothing for this child, because #babyno3. I decided to head out and start buying some baby essentials, like muslin wraps, towels and the like and it hit me that I was actually having another baby. Excitement is setting in people! I am so so so excited to meet this little baby boy (yes it’s a boy inshaAllah!). Of course I’m terrified at the same time as to how I’m going to juggle three kids under 5 BUT!!! we’re going to have a new baby in the house! That means squishy toes and a fragile being who SMELLS heavenly of newborn, uncorrupted human.

Yep. I’m excited.

I was also in denial throughout this pregnancy about this baby needing a room, but then realised that I had nowhere to put his things. My bedroom has no extra storage. None. Even if I declutter. Does that sound horrible? It probably is.

ANYWAYSSS, I’m currently in the process of decluttering my ‘storage room’ which really means ‘the room we throw everything we don’t need into’. It has been totally therapeutic, or I’m just totally nesting lol.

And, I’ve been snooping Pinterest for some nursery inspiration. I don’t like to overdo a baby’s room, and I really want to keep this boy’s room calm, simple with natural wood tones, lighter colours and a patterned rug.

Below are some baby boy rooms that I am loving…

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*click images for source

Featured image via Paige Jones