Posts tagged life
"Can't say no" day

I find myself saying “no” a lot to the kids. Or “wait a minute”. Or “not right now”. They seem to pick the worst times ever to ask for things! But I read somewhere recently that children’s refusal to do as you ask of them could come down to our refusal to do things they ask of us. I’m trying to be mindful of this advice when they ask me things now. So instead of saying “I’ll just put the noodles on first” when they ask me to come outside and look at their painting, I’ll just go and look at it. Noodles can wait that half a minute and I’ll just have to suck up the fact I just turned the tap on as they asked. I’ve tried it a few times and they seem quite surprised I stopped what I was doing and just did what they asked. I have seen that favour returned a few times, but it’s early days still!
Taking it one fun step further, I decided the kids could have a “can’t say no day” last Friday. Steve was in New Zealand for his brother’s bucks weekend and it was just us for a few days. I just ignored everything else that day and let them decide where we went, what we ate and what we did. The rules were it had to be nearby (we were going to Sydney the next day so I refused to go anywhere far) and as long as they were reasonable requests, I would grant them.
Kids are so predictable – there would be requests for entering the Lego competition at the nearby shops, donuts, McDonald’s, a play in the park, a milkshake, a movie… I was also prepared for demands to look at the toys at the shops and buy cars or Pet Shops but that didn’t happen – I was happy to do so, but they never asked. Not even when we walked PAST the toy section while buying Zak some shoes. Go figure! I wonder if they’re just too young yet to take advantage!! They also asked for – and were granted – lollipops, lemonade with dinner and a ride on the carousel. I nearly tried to talk them out of going to the park – they asked at 5.30pm to go for a scooter ride and play in the park. I was just about to get dinner ready! Instead, we popped our shoes back on and off we went. By the time we got there it was almost dark, but they happily played in the empty playground until I couldn’t see them anymore! We got home around 7pm, had dinner and then they watched a movie until they fell asleep. It was so chilled and relaxed and fun, I might even do it again one day…
Pics via Instagram (@belindagraham) left to right, top to bottom: The kids trashed Zak’s room in the morning while playing anything and everything they wanted; Layla gets to push Immy in the pram; Walking hand-in-hand; Layla and I made a Rapunzel tower; Zak made a “super car” and Immy just kept running away and chewing on the pieces; Happy meals, milkshakes and a play at McDonald’s; donuts on a stick

6 Responses to “can’t say no day”

  1. Georgy says:
    I love this idea of a can’t say no day, I think I might try this Friday as the last day of school holidays. I know what you mean about often saying in a minute because..and on occasions when I have just focussed on the kids for a number of hours we have all had a great time and I have felt a lot more relaxed, rather then feeling continually interrupted. G
  2. Katrina says:
    I love this idea! Might need to try it.
  3. FAB Belinda!
    Love this story…love the *Can’t say no day*!
    Glad you were surprised to by how wonderful your kids were NOT asking for everything!
    Melissa x
  4. heather says:
    I totally love this idea. I’m definitely going to take a leaf out of your book there and try it with my boy too. x
  5. Belinda says:
    thanks guys, I just love that they felt SO special and so happy that pretty much everything was a “yes”! There were some conditions (you can only have a donut king donut if coles don’t have any – they didn’t so they got a donut kind one! and they could only ride the carousel if I got the right change from lunch, which happened.) but they totally got it. definitely one to do as a reward for good behaviour i think! xx
  6. This is something of a tradition in my family — we call it “King For A Day” (or queen if it’s a girl). We generally do it on birthdays instead of a huge party, but I’ll do one to celebrate big accomplishments or to break up the monotony of everyday life. I love getting the insight into what the kiddo truly loves and it does do so much for their behavior. Obviously we can’t live like that all the time, but they sure are great on occasion. I’ve found that giving the kids some power (or the illusion of power) makes them shine. My son has embraced his chances to take on responsibility in ways that continually surprise me. I’m so happy to read that you enjoyed the day too. The idea of doing whatever the kids want to do for a day sounds terrifying in theory, but is usually do much fun!
Doing & having it all

Looking through my drafts of all the posts I’ve started and not finished (a little like my projects, right?!) I found this one. I wrote this post back in February – we were living in Sydney at the time and life wasn’t totally awesome. It was after I kept getting asked “how do you do it?” and I wondered why people asked me that because in my mind I wasn’t doing anything! I felt like a big disorganised mess and thought a post knocking the myth that you could do and have it all on the head was in order. But it sort of turned into a rant instead and I remember saving it as a draft rather than publishing it because sometimes it helps to write stuff out and file it away. It allows you to vent without making it public and that sometimes can make you feel better. And it did – it was one of the first steps to making me realise life in Sydney wasn’t all we expected it to be and it was literally weeks after that we decided to make steps to move back home up the coast. I read this now and nod my head at many of the things still. But most of the frustration I felt when I banged it out one night is gone. I haven’t edited it at all so it is almost in point form in parts where i was meant to fill in the gaps to make it flow and make sense to the post title more, but you’ll get the idea. Have a read.
“So I’ve been in this mopey mood. Everything is bugging me. And by everything, I mean everything: walking to and from the school twice a day. Immy not sleeping. Zak and Layla not listening. Living in Sydney. People who wear stupid things like butt-revealing shorts or top knots that are BIGGER THAN THEIR HEADS (there is a girl I see who lives near me. I want to cut it off). People who promote their blog 251563 times a day on Twitter and Facebook. People who are able to spend ALL day on Twitter and Facebook. Twitter and Facebook in general. The black hole that is credits on Pinterest. The feeling that if you’re not on all kinds of social media you’re going to miss out on readers or hits or something. How blogging seems to have turned into a competitive sport. Anything to do with body image, Photoshopping, Karadashians and eating “right”. Cooking shows. Reality shows. Viral videos that are not funny but everyone says are funny because the internet says they are. The ridiculousness of politics in this country. Society in general. Not having enough money. Not having time to MAKE more money. Not having any time to finish projects. Not having my own house. Not … I think that’s enough. I think you get the point. I’m over everything!
I’ve started to write this post about 5 times in the last few weeks. I keep deleting it. I don’t like being negative on here. But I like to keep things real. Despite my blog name, sometimes, life isn’t always 100% happy. Gasp! There is no real reason for all this negativity and petty annoyances – and they are petty. I have a great life and a great family and I’m not at all depressed (truly – I’m not!), but all of a sudden, life seems exhausting. And I AM tired – 0h yes! I’m buggered. But that aside, the online world seems to pressure and exhaust me more than the real world. Rereading that sounds so stupid. But it’s true. I’m not at all social on social media. I pop on a couple of times and tweet things, but I’m useless at interacting – partly because I usually get distracted by a child. And partly because I’m just not that into it. Maybe it’s the whole shy thing – I’m naturally quite shy and I’ve never been great at tooting my own horn. I’m quite a pushover (just ask my husband – he tells me all the time I let people walk over me too much!!!) And I do. I’m terrible at saying no and I just want everyone to be happy.
I try not to do too much online during the day – as soon as the laptop comes out, Layla is telling me “no work” and Immy is basically saying the same thing by immediately crawling over and banging on the keyboard.
Reading the Alt Summit highlights about blogging, I got so inspired to do this, that and everything with my blog. I wrote lists and brainstormed ideas and thought of where I could take it. Then I realised that most of what I was doing was just to get my blog hits and become more popular. What I really want to do with it, I’m still not 100% sure. I keep changing my mind.
truth is, life can be super-hard and crazy and hectic but anything to do with decorating or craft etc is my only real outlet. even then i share it with my kids – but i’m not able to just sit at the computer and write. they won’t let me! instead, if i’m physically doing something, making something or helping them make/create something, they’re fine. they love it. so that’s what we do. it just happens i also like to document it for the blog, but the other side of things is this: i am crap at the housework, i never pay bills on time, i haven’t done any GST for this year. i only just changed my address to this house two or three months after my mail redirection ran out. I’m disorganised, forgetful and messy. i get frustrated easily with my kids when they don’t listen and feel like i yell a lot. i don’t have time for proper work so i have done nothing since immy was born except the kidspot crafts – because of the point i made above! i can do it WITH my kids. i have my kids the entire time – bar zak being in school – and no real family help anymore. it;s tiring, exhausting and frustrating but that’s how it is and we’re all happy and healthy and fine, but i do feel like the day has whizzed by and i’ve done nothing but walk to the school and back. and then just like that my blog posts appear and only show the crafts i’ve done or something i’ve made for around the home and life looks easy and fun and creative, but the reality it i probably worked on it for days with constant interruptions and we might have eaten toasties that night because other things got pushed aside. blogging is a little like that – very much an edited life. 
and that’s why my posts are so sporadic. i wish i could blog everyday about cool and interesting things, but i do try and keep my posts as original as possible with original images/text or a new spin on things. i don’t want to be a blog that just rehashes other people’s images or work or just posts happy quotes and nothing else. that’s not interesting to me. so i do what i can when i can and hope that that’s ok. 
So I’ve discovered that doing and having it all is very personal. For me, doing it all is exhausting and leaves less time for having it all.”
No I’m not really sure what that last line means either. I mean I do – I think I was trying to be clever, but don’t think it’s quite right. So I was quite the sad sack, wasn’t I? Funny thing is, I still feel this way about most of those things. They just don’t bother me (as much!) any more. I feel happier again. I am tired still, but I have a bit of help now. I love being back here and love enjoying our life by the water. We ride, we scoot, we walk, we paddle, we kayak, we hunt for treasure on the beach and build sandcastles in the sand, we build shelters and make fishing rods from sticks and reeds, we play cricket and hula hoop and make and fly paper aeroplanes. We hunt for crabs and feed the ducks. We eat better, we feel healthier. We go for drives and snoop at homes we want to live in and dream of our future home on the waters edge (hopefully). We play outside till it’s too dark to see and we run around barefoot on the grass and be loud and crazy. Because we can. And it’s so great.

Life feels back to normal and it’s almost as though we never left. We don’t regret for one second our move to Sydney – because it helped us realise what it was we wanted from our lives and helped us work towards it. I look back on this post and remember how I felt and how different I feel now. So while this might explain a little of why I disappear from here quite frequently for long bouts of time, please know it’s not because I’m sitting in the crazy corner rocking to and fro, it’s because I’m enjoying things away from the online world. As my friend said to me only last night – “so many people are so busy trying to SHOW how fabulous their life is that they aren’t actually LIVING life. They are just caught up in documenting it.”
I often wonder if I get lumped in that category. I hope not! I try to keep it real, which is why I’m posting this post. I have a list as long as .. something really long of all the things I’ve got to post about here. I’ll get to them, but sometimes I wonder if they’re what you want to read/see! So please help me out a little – let me know in the comments the things you enjoy the most about this blog or what you’d like to see more or less of. It’ll help me make up my mind where I want to take it. And I’m warning you – despite living it up away from technology for most of the day, I have a big dose of inspiration headed my way next month. I’m taking Holly’s Blogging Your Way course again because I could do with a refresher. Between that and your suggestions, hopefully I’ll find my way again!
{Images from my Instagram account of things we’ve been up to lately. You can follow me @belindagraham} 

28 Responses to “doing + having it all”

  1. Carla says:
    Very ironic you just posted this and I happened to see it just now! right as I was going back through some of my old posts wondering if its ‘worthy to look at’ doubting myself and the lack of ‘posts’ . I am feeling the same way about trying to keep up! Everything around the house including the kids get neglected when I am doing a post, trying to finish it and make it look nice! I really do enjoy it though so am going to keep at it even if it’s not as often as I planned in the beginning!
    I love your blog and have been reading it for years, I like it because its ‘real’ and you can see that with the kids involved a lot of the time and the way you write hits home sometimes, keep it up, I love the craft and your decorating because it attainable! x
  2. Marie says:
    Fantastic to hear about how life really is! I love reading EVERYTHING you blog about, so keep it up. We’re all in the same boat, just in carious stages of mess, disorganization, chaos. When the sun shines and the blossum or wattle is out, the (our) world is suddenly a better place. Let’s give ourselves a break! And a big pat on the back that we actually managed to get out of the house today, or even out of bed for those feeling totally overwhelmed with life. <3
  3. Lucy says:
    Thank you so much for sharing this post.
    I am a sporadic fledgling blogger. And I feel the way your describing so often it hurts. I struggle with the fact that I don’t ever seem to find enough hours to do the things that are required of me, let alone all the things that I want to do.
    Which ends is the feeling of never getting anything at all done ‘right’.
    With a husband, 2 beautiful girls, 2 part time jobs, a small fledgling business and other projects my head is constantly spinning and I am struggling to get it to stop.
    So it’s wonderful to read the reality of someone who from all intents and purposes ‘has it all happening’.
    I love your blog, I have since I first came across it 2 years ago in the middle of a serious funk about my own life.
    Your aesthetic is amazing, your projects always inspire me, I love hearing about your roadside up cycling (a favourite past time of my own!) and really anything to do with what’s going on in your life.
    So don’t stop. Please. Keep doing what you’re doing. Because you do it REALLY WELL!
    Thank you for everything you’ve brought into my life.
    Lucy x
  4. Belinda says:
    aww @lucy, that is so sweet. thank you xx
  5. Belinda says:
    @marie – agreed! it is an achievement some days to get dressed! hah thank you x
  6. Belinda says:
    thanks so much @carla – it is so time consuming isn’t it? when are they going to work out a quicker way! don’t ask for much, do i?! x
  7. Ali says:
    I also have 3 kids and can’t keep up. I yell too much and my house is far from picture worthy. We might get to craft everyday, but time to document it too. Way too hard.keep posting your projects and little views of your life, they inspire me and connect me to is worth the wait! Oh and the curbside finds too.
    Ps I think many people are tired of Facebook and twitter now too.
  8. Emma says:
    I love your blog, I’ve been reading it regularly for years!! It’s exciting when you do posts, my favourite ones are always about your family and how you decorate your home. I loved seeing your party ideas, kids’ rooms and creative ideas… You’ve inspired me a lot :) and I love that you keep it real, not enough people do!
  9. Nik says:
    Hi Belinda,
    First time reader, first time commenter.
    I stumbled across your blog whilst looking at yet another interior design website tonight… trying to distract myself from feeling frustrated with the enormity of the domestic duties around here, kids on school holidays (best buddies one minute, wanting to rip each others throats out another!)
    there are not enough people in this world instagramming/twittering/blogging about dirty clothes/dishes/kids all over the house ie REALITY. you did not sound depressed in that, you sounded real.
    i just got onto facebook (cos i finally thought i was missing out after all these years) – it is so annoying and yet i am compelled to check it all the time.
    so i hear ya sista, your post made me larff, thanks for sharing
  10. Darcel says:
    I really enjoyed this post! Thank you for keeping it real for your fellow mothers x
  11. Olga says:
    Thanks for this, you should have uploaded it sooner. All parents feel the same way, that’s life. We need each other for encouragement. Also, please let me say that I truly hate the social media, Facebook is my worst enemy. I was one of the first to make a profile and one of the first to take it down. It is ridiculous. So many idiots wasting my time and only a handful of interesting people, like yourself. Thank you for being true.
  12. Louise says:
    I love your blog because it is never filler, always lovely. It stands out for this. I look forward to your posts and hope you keep doing more of the same (Not at the price of your happiness though!)
  13. Claire says:
    Hi Belinda, I enjoy reading about the crafty things you do with and around your children. I have two girls, the youngest is 4 wks older than your Immy, she’s never been a good sleeper either and so I completely get the exhaustion factor. My outlet is making things, but don’t have the motivation to document my creations, so I’m immediately impressed with whatever you manage to post in your blog. Also, I like the fact that most of the blogs I read are sporadic, I like to think its because they are out living their lives too. Cheers, Claire
  14. Emma says:
    Keep it real luv. We are glad you do and that’s why we come and read your blog. We get that you do stuff with your family, good for you, more people should do this. And your honesty is absolutely refreshing in a world so conscious of ‘image’…. Keep being you, and thanks for being you! R, Emma.
  15. Hey Belinda. This post could have easily come from my brain. It’s so honest. I agree that blogging is becoming somewhat of a competitive sport. I’m constantly comparing myself and my blog to others and that’s not doing me any good. 
    Like you, I’m a stay at home mom of three. My baby doesn’t sleep through the night. I’m soooo sleep deprived. I have no other family help the majority of the time. My husband works late nearly every evening and travels away from home a lot too. I do what I can. When I’m feeling especially good about a blog post, more than likely my house and kids haven’t gotten my attention for a good chunk of the day. When my house is clean and running well and the kids are happy and I’ve been involved with them all day, there’s no way I’m getting to a blog post. There’s a trade off every day. At the end of every day, I’m constantly thinking about the things I didn’t get to. Like you said, it’s exhausting. 
    I think I really need to lighten up on myself. I never started blogging to be famous or make money, so I don’t know why I feel the need to strive for either now. House*Tweaking began as a creative outlet for me and somehow it’s become work. Sure, I’d love to cover at least the costs of running the blog and share my ideas but, in the end, if it’s affecting my family life in a negative way then something’s not right. I’m still trying to figure out where I go from here. I applaud you for regrouping and refreshing. Kudos, girl.
    I think we need to remind ourselves that ‘famous’ bloggers have spouses, babysitters and nannies or other family members to help out with their kids. Or their kids are older and sleep through the night and are at school during the day. OR they don’t have kids. Some even have professional photographers to document their days. I’ll bet a few even have housekeepers. {gasp!} And no matter where you live, there are only 24 hours in a day, so being online most of the day means taking away time from something else: sleep, exercise, family time, leisure time, etc. I’d rather be well-rounded than be seen on FB or Twitter all day. I was just thinking today that I kind of miss the days before social media.
    I say keep doing what makes you happy. You will draw the audience you want that way. I love your kid parties, corners of your home and DIY decorating. I think posting one really beefy post a week is way better than posting several fluffy posts every day. 
    You’ve inspired me to re-evaluate my own blog!
    xo from across the globe,
  16. Girl, just live your life and enjoy it because you only get this time with your kids once. There will be plenty of time for the to do list later! Being present is so much more important!
  17. Jen says:
    Hi Belinda, I love reading your blog – especially when you have shown the real life stuff (eg. That rooms are often cropped to make them look better than they are). I have a love hate relationship with blogs and Facebook and social media in general. I think in connecting us all it is in many ways disconnecting us and creating feelings of inadequacy. Your kids will remember that you chose to spend your time doing things with them. I am happy to keep reading when you do post and respect your very wise decision to not do it as frequently if it is at the expense of your life.
  18. Nina Lamb says:
    I loved reading your post – isn’t it interesting how the environment we live in can effect our outlook in so many ways? I am pleased you have found your way home and have a true sense of belonging. 
    In terms of your blog, I always enjoy your posts and also really value your real and honest approach. One of my favourite posts you did was the edited and unedited versions of corners of your home. Blogs that resemble perfectly edited glossy mags have their place but it’s nice and refreshing to visit real blogs that resemble real life and the craziness that goes in hand with having small children. 
    I have just returned to my blog from a 6 month absence. I too struggle with the concept of self promotion and feel uncomfortable blowing my own trumpet – I guess what it comes down to is that I have given up trying to please anyone but simply use my blog as a personal creative escape and it has become less important to me whether my readership grows as long as I feel proud of the content I create. If I end up inspiring people then that is a wonderful bonus. 
    Keep up the great work.
  19. Belinda says:
    I too love reading your blog. I love that you are real, honest and down to earth. I’ve also been reading it now for a couple of years and always enjoy seeing what you have been up to. I’ve been meaning to let you know that i bought the Howards over the door coat rack that you blogged about. I was really needing something for all my bags, scarves and the kids bags and it has been great. And looks good too! I haven’t had much sleep either over the past four years with my two boys so I totally understand the sleep deprivation. I’m amazed that you can do any craft stuff and I love what you do and love your blog. So thanks for your honesty and sharing with us.
  20. Brea A says:
    HI Belinda,
    Thank you for writing this post.
    I am right where you were in February, missing home…I have also moved away from the coast and wish so badly to go back.
    I would love to hear about your life, the good and the not so good, keep it real.
  21. Karen says:
    Hi Belinda, you are definately not alone in feeling this way! Since my son started school this year it has made me realise how fast life is passing – it seems like I’m rounding the two youngest kids up to pick him up only five minutes after I’ve dropped him off in the morning. I realise I’ve gotten NOTHING done and start feeling guilty. I’m a real list writer, but it feels like I’m writing the same lists over and over. Lately I’ve decided I don’t care if the washing is piling up, the toys are everywhere or the bills are paid late. I’ll get to them when I get to them! My maternity leave ends soon so I’m going to enjoy this time with the kids while I can. I love reading your blog, and would have to say my favourite posts are about your kids and the crafts you do together. Do what makes you happy, we all keep coming back!! Thanks for keeping it real, take care and keep enjoying this wonderful central coast of ours x
  22. Vanessa says:
    Hi Belinda,
    I really like your blog and think it’s great just the way it is – sporadic, honest and full of creative ideas! I love that you dont innundate my inbox every day like so many other blogs and sites do – I don’t know who finds the time to read those ones anyway, whereas I always find myself reading yours when they pop up.
    I dont even have any kids and I still feel constantly pushed for time, behind on my emails and never seem to find the time to catch up , let alone venture into the world of twitter, pinterest and the like – like a hamster on a wheel! So I really admire you for what you do. Please keep the blog coming – I am still hoping to one day try out some of your cool craft ideas, when I have more time of course ;-)
  23. [...] I came across a brutally honest post written by my blogger friend, Belinda. She opened up about doing and having it all. It really hit home with [...]
  24. Trish says:
    Wow. I’m a first-time visitor to your blog, directed here by Dana from Housetweaking. She posted today about you and your post, and how she shares many of your feelings. Me too!
    I’ve been blogging for a little over a year, and for awhile there, it seemed like I was really building some momentum. But then summer hit, and I had two boys home full-time, a husband who works and travels a lot more than he used to, and not enough time to get it all done. My posts fell off, and so did my readership. I try not to be disappointed or feel as though I’m failing (I’m trying to make a career as a wellness coach and fitness writer so part of the reason I blog is to build business), but it’s hard to feel as though I am not being productive or contributing financially. 
    Now I am expecting a third baby (planned, but still scary!), and we are taking my younger son out of preschool to save money (we rent and want to buy a home), and I see my time shrinking even more. I want to work, I want to have a career, I am passionate about helping others find a healthier life, but I want to have time for my family, and for my house to run the way I want it to as well. In short, I want it all! 
    I still haven’t figured out the answers, or the balance, but am trying to find a better balance. And I agree with you, social media is the bane of my existence. I don’t want to be available all the time. I don’t want to be tied to my iPhone or my computer all the time. I find myself slowly being sucked in and I hate it. 
    I appreciate your honesty–I too am in a phase where everything is annoying me, and I feel like I don’t like anyone! It’s nice to know others are battling with the same feelings and issues.
  25. Sharon says:
    Focus on your kids. They’ll only be little once and you won’t look back when they’re grown and out of the house and wish that you had spent more time blogging. The blog will be there and as they get older and are in school you’ll have more time for it. Focus on your kids, blog when you can and don’t stress about it.
  26. Belinda says:
    oh you guys. you’re all so awesome, thank you. i love that i have such lovely, normal, positive readers who seem to be very much like me – wanting to get the most out of life and actually enjoy living it and who just might be a little inspired by a project or idea along the way. hopefully i can be that inspiration occasionally, but not at the risk of my sanity!! THANK YOU xxxxx
  27. Jennifer says:
    I had a little meltdown today over the same stuff. I have this picture in my head of how things are supposed to be. My picture looks like a perfectly-styled blog post! I know that life doesn’t work like that, but that doesn’t stop me from trying sometimes. I think we just have to enjoy and embrace what we have and let go of unrealistic expectations. I realize now that I am not the only one who feels overwhelmed and that is because you shared your thoughts and feelings. Thank you for your post. It made my day! Now go enjoy your family!
  28. I’m a first time reader too and also found you via House*Tweaking. I’m only new to blogging but I can already relate to much of what you have said. Every day is a struggle to keep the focus as a ‘happy hobby’ and not a ‘blog burden’. Thank you for such a beautifully honest post. Judging by the other comments, your honest voice is treasured by all.