30 March 2015

Amanda joins the Sustainababy team

Hi there, I’m Amanda and I’m really excited to join the Sustainababy team.

I’ll let you in on a secret … firstly, I seem to take a lot of selfies with my kids (as illustrated above). And secondly, I’m nowhere near as eco as I want to be!

In fact, when Laura first asked me if I’d be interested in working with her, that was my only concern – I think the conversation went like this: “yes I would love to, but you do know my eco-efforts are pretty half-ar*ed at best?!”

Thankfully Laura assured me that wouldn’t be a problem – after all, we’re all at different places on the journey – and so I’ve joined Sustainababy looking after all things communications related.

My background is in journalism, communications and public relations, so you’ll see my name pop up a lot as I help out with the Sustainababy blog, social media, newsletters and even the retail side of things.

I live in remote South Australia about 600km north of Adelaide with my husband and three boys aged 7, 5 and 18 months. We’ve always used cloth nappies and I guess that’s probably my biggest eco achievement so far – we’ve saved a lot of disposable nappies from landfill over the last seven and a half years!

But I’m a bit embarrased to admit we’ve been a bit up and down in other areas and that’s where I’m really focussing on improving in 2015. We’re currently ‘eating down’ our pantry to get rid of the last of the pre-packaged meal bases I stocked up on when going through a rocky, sleepless patch with my youngest child last year; I’m trying really hard to stick to a meal plan, buy Australian made and organic food where possible; I’m gradually removing the nasty cleaning chemicals from our home; and I’m trying to convince my husband to turn our (very barren and sad) vegie garden into a chook run.

With winter just around the corner I’ve also begun to look for more eco-friendly ways to stock up my ever-growing boys’ wardrobes and I’ve also just finished Laura’s first-ever greenHOUSE program. What a huge eye-opener that has been! I thought we were reasonably energy smart already but it has been a fascinating insight into how much energy we use in our home and how we can help the environment and save money by cutting back on our consumption (but that’s a whole separate blog in itself!)

I’m pretty thrilled to be working with Laura at Sustainababy … sometimes I have to pinch myself that I really do have a job that fits in with my gym schedule and family commitments! I can’t wait to talk to you more here on the Sustainababy website as well as on our Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter pages – and hopefully share some of my eco-achievements (and maybe even flops!) with you along the way.

Amanda x

CATEGORY: Cloth nappies, Eco Inspirational | POSTED BY: |

12 March 2015

Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Create More Calm


Wish you knew a few easy tips to tone down the crazy at your place?

Eva Van Strijp knows a thing or two about how mad life can get - she's a mother of five, business owner and creator of Simple Life, Peaceful Home. Here she shares her top tips to create more calm in your home......

Oh that elusive calm! It’s there… and then it’s not! So quickly. So silently. It disappears. Where did it GO?!

Oh that’s right.

It landed on the floor with the spilt milk. 
It tripped over the toys that were left in the doorway.
It got left in the fridge, along with all of the dinner ideas that we couldn’t decide on.
It went in the washing machine with all of the wet bed sheets.

As mothers, when we look back on a good-day-turned-bad, we can usually pinpoint the exact moment at which things turned.

Sometimes change hits the moment we’re woken. Such blissful peace and then WHAM! Time to get up. Change a nappy, break up a fight, make toast, clean up mess. Calm dissipates instantly.

Other times, we wake happily, shower, change, eat breakfast, get through some – perhaps even MOST – of the day before change hits.

But we can usually name the moment - that precise instant in which the change occurs. It’s as if someone flips a switch.

As a mother of five, I’ve pinpointed four key areas that precipitate the change in my life. I hope this list helps you work out what the main “flip switchers” are in your life.

1. Clutter

I often used to find myself flipping out at having to pick a certain item up off the floor for the fifth time in a day. Now, I ask once for the item to be picked up. If it isn’t removed by the owner, the next time I walk past it, I pick it up and put it in a box.

The owner then has to do a chore to get it back. Often though, they don’t even notice the item has gone missing. If it sits in the box for a couple of weeks unnoticed, we move it along to a person in need.

As mothers, we spend a LOT of our time picking up or cleaning up stuff. Some of that can’t be helped, but some of it can. If you find yourself constantly picking up, cleaning up or fixing up items that your family doesn’t need, consider donating those items to a local op shop.

Remember: Everything you own - every single item in your home – requires something from you. Be it cleaning, maintenance, organising, repair or replacement. So it’s best to get rid of what you don’t actually need or use.

2. Overwhelm

Feeling overwhelmed? Crazy busy? Constantly running late or running out of time? Open your diary, find something that’s in there for next week that you really don’t want to be in there and cross it out. Don’t do it. Don’t go.

I used to get that “ugh” feeling about a certain extra-curricula activity that we had signed up for. The kids didn’t enjoy it and I sat there wondering why on earth I wasted my time with it. Now, I just don’t do it. It frees up time for things that we actually love to do and frees up headspace that previously was used worrying about the impending activity.

Note: This has to be something you can eliminate. As much as you don’t want to get a Pap smear, it’s probably not something you can get rid of so make sure that the thing you choose to remove from your diary is actually something that you can justify eliminating!

3. Advertising

You hop in the car for the school run and switch on the radio. Advertising.
So you switch it off and then pull up at the lights behind a bus. Advertising.
You go into the store and purchase what you need and they try and shove a catalogue into your hand. More advertising.
You go home and flick the tv on. Advertising.
You turn it off and scroll your Facebook feed. Advertising.
You decide to water the plants and check your mail and find… advertising.

It’s pervasive.

Everywhere you go there is something to tell you that you’ll look better, feel better, smell better, work faster, think smarter, be happier… if you just purchase x or y or z.

Advertising makes us want what we don’t have. And that really isn’t helpful when we’re trying to reclaim some calm in our lives.

It can be almost impossible to reject all forms of advertising, but we can reduce it to a degree.

Some ideas to reduce the advertising that comes into our lives:

• Toss your junk mail in the recycling bin before you come back inside. Don’t even open it.
• Mute or turn off the television during ads.
• Listen to music or podcasts or storybooks in the car.

“Forget sale price. Everything is 100% off when you don’t buy it.”
- Joshua Fields Millburn

4. Disorganisation

I’ve noticed a distinct pattern in my motherhood. The times during which I had a plan, a routine, a system, were the times that I was most calm. Even if I skirted away from the plan from time to time, it was still there and something that could draw me back when I got off track.

If you’re not much of an organiser, definitely don’t try and organise every facet of your home this week! Just pick one thing – let’s say, meal planning – and implement that. Give it a good solid go for a couple of months before trying to implement another system.

Even with just this one seemingly small change, you’ll notice a huge impact on your evening. You’ll notice more calm, less chaos. You’ll eat better and eat greater variety. You’ll create a more peaceful experience for what is frequently a crazy time of day for most families.

Once you have the meal plan down pat, try a system for cleaning, morning and evening routines, kid’s chores, work, schedules, self-care and purchases.

{If you feel you need some motivation and support with this process, Eva guides you through all of these systems and more in Simple Life, Peaceful Home.}

Next time you go from calm to chaos, take note of the moment of change. It’s important to name and shame that moment so you can do something to prevent it happening.

Eva Van Strijp is a mother of five, business owner and creator of Simple Life, Peaceful Home – the 8 week strategy guiding busy mothers through the process of creating and maintaining a simple, peaceful family home.

When Eva isn’t hanging out with her family or running a business, she’s eating chocolate, listening to podcasts or tending her veggie patch.


CATEGORY: peaceful parenting, simple life, overwhelm, organisation | POSTED BY: |

2 March 2015

February Eco Challenge WINNER

This month we challenged our Sustainababy community to step away from the pre-packaged and processed foods and set a new standard in nutrition, taste and sustainability for their families as part of our Be Real, Eat Real eco challenge.

Congratulations to Cath Lousberg who found that getting a nutritious meal on the table – and one that everyone will eat – was actually easier than she thought! Cath is already sinking her teeth (so to speak) into her prize - Naturopath Jessica Donovan’s new ecourse, Delicious Wellbeing. Over to you Cath …

“It has been a long held belief of mine that almost everything is fine in moderation. By teaching my children that healthy eating is the best way to go, I hope to set them up for life with habits including good nutrition, without thinking of ‘sometimes food’ as the enemy to lifelong success. This month’s Sustainababy Eco Challenge gave me the opportunity to try even harder to vary the family diet while further reducing processed foods and preservatives without resorting to the ‘meat and three veg’ every night that we know is nutritious, however risks being boring.

Meal planning is a normal part of our weekly routine, which suits our family with different work schedules and a choosing to reheat rather than cook when we both work, but always home cooked meals. While we regularly reap the benefits of increasing family time and saving money on impulse buying, February has been one of the most emotionally challenging months that our family has endured in a long time. It was wonderful to realise upon reflection that we always had meals ready at short notice without worry or resorting to packaged products or takeaway. I have no doubt that healthy eating was a great benefit to our bodies and minds during this time.

So what did we do differently this month? Well, in addition to the slow cookers, casseroles and meat and veg, we also:

  • Prepared our own fabulously healthy ‘fast food’ - large plain salads, cut up melon, savoury slices and soups,
  • Spent time poring over our beloved cookbooks for inspiration – who knew ratatouille had so few ingredients and was so easy!
  • Made the extra effort to make our own Thai green curry paste and jam and Moroccan seasoning from scratch…all for different recipes of course…eliminating preservatives and adding flavour.
  • Matched our menus to what we had in our garden where possible (rosemary, basil, parsley, tomatoes, zucchini and beetroot) and seasonal produce where we could
  • I was so excited to make zucchini, carrot and parsnip pasta for various dishes for the first time. I didn’t realise that it was so easy to make tagliatelle with a peeler, but it was so enjoyable and healthy with no packaged pasta eaten this month.
  • Experimented with salads of all types, adding nuts and seeds for something different and skipping any packaged dressings – which typically my husband enjoys.

As the February Eco Challenge comes to a close, we have really enjoyed the shake-up of our eating and look forward to continuing trying new things and teaching our children how enjoyable healthy eating can be.

Preparation is a winner in our house to make sure we don’t snack on junk.  I kept a platter in the fridge for quick lunches, sides for dinners and snacks.

Zucchini slice for breakfast. When sleep seems more important, I know I will eat if it is as simple as taking something out of the fridge. It is more tasty, quicker and even healthier than cereal in the mornings.

The before shot of our ratatouille – tomato and zucchini from our garden and eggplant from my brother’s garden. I meant to take an after photo, but it was gone before I got a chance!"

Well done Cath! We hope you enjoy learning heaps more about real food in Jessica Donovan's Delicious Wellbeing course! 

* Due to some exciting new developments at Sustainababy, we’ll be taking a break from eco-challenges for a few months and will let you know when they’re back up and running again. In the meantime, don’t forget you can keep sharing your eco successes (or flops!) at our Facebook and Instagram pages.

CATEGORY: eco challenge, be real eat real | POSTED BY: |