Handy Tools & Advice, Parenting

How do I know my child is safely strapped in?

Anyone who knows me can vouch that I’m pretty intense when it comes to car safety for littlies, especially Caitlin and her car seat who seem to have a love/hate relationship… This mama does not allow any form of back seat (or worse, front seat) driving when mom’s around! Blame the anxious, paranoid parent in me – or the fact that I love my child to absolute death and trust no one when it comes to her safety (yes, I’m that bad!).

It’s funny how we purchase a safety product, have a quick run-through the manual and ‘Bob’s your uncle’ you now know how to manoeuvre this exceptionally intimidating contraption (at least that’s how I felt when first having to deal with an upright carseat…?) So, you strap your little one in, they absolutely hate it (Caitlin doesn’t enjoy it…as you can see from the picture… haha!) and yet you explain to them that it is for their safety and look, mommy and daddy are wearing their safety belts too! They get used to the car seat and you continue with the knowledge you know on how to use the car seat, but do you really know, I mean REALLY KNOW that the pinnacle of your existence (I’m referring to your child, btw ;D) is 100% safely strapped in?

I sure thought I did! Yet, sometimes we are in a hurry (man are we in a hurry!) and you think you securely locked the buckle with no knots in the harness and somehow a piece of clothing or part of a toy gets stuck and manages to jiggle out the buckle. YES, this has happened to me once or twice where I ended up being completely freaked out at the thought of what could’ve gone wrong!!!

Since then, I try to take it slow when buckling up for a drive out; ensuring that Caitlin is fully buckled up before I get into the car and do the same for the driver (aka this MAMA).

Now, as a firm believer of turning to ‘the GOOGLE’ when in need of help (as we all tend to do when we feel uneducated about a certain subject or matter), I tend to research things in order to better equip myself with the required knowledge so that I do not make the same mistakes time and time again.

A few tips that I’ve found useful by incorporating them into our drive out routine to ensure that the little one is safely buckled up in her car seat:

  • Ensure the harness isn’t twisted and is correctly placed in front of the body

At a certain age, toddlers tend to try their luck by ‘unstrapping’ themselves as they remove their arms out of the straps, even though the buckle is still safely secure. This is a big NO-NO! To avoid this from happening, try the BeSafe Belt Collector – a nifty add-on that ensures your little one’s belts remain in the correct position (along with their body posture) whilst blocking them from removing/escaping out from under the straps.  

  • Once the buckle is locked, pull back on the harness without unlocking the buckle to ensure it is safely clicked in. 

Since my mistakes of not checking the buckle post locking it, it is part of our ritual and Caitlin knows that no toys are allowed on her lap whilst we buckle up. This is mostly due to the fact that it is usually her ‘teddy’ that gets caught in the buckle causing it not to click in 100%. By pulling on the straps/belts post locking the buckle, you can see that it is locked properly and also evaluate if any clothing or toys or blankets may or may not block the mechanic from working properly.

  • Check for any unwanted items that may block the car seat’s safety mechanics ie. buckle, straps, harness

As mentioned in the previous point, any unwanted items (by you as parent, they are usually very wanted by your child at that point) must not be in the way of buckling up for a drive out. That means all toys, clothing, blankets… anything.

  • In winter, avoid too puffy coats/jackets

Extremely think/puffy jackets or coats may keep your little one all snuggly and warm in winter, but it can also cause the car seat to not work properly. We tend to use a blanket over Caitlin once she’s buckled up safely in her car seat to ensure that she stays warm and put her jacket on after we’ve reached our destination and unbuckled her.

  • IMPORTANT! Do a test – the upside down test

This is probably THE best advice to ensure that the car seat you own is safe for your little one – no matter what may come your way whilst on the road. The main aim of a car seat is to protect your child in the case of an accident – guarding their little bodies as the car flips, rolls or hits an object. It cannot do this job 100% if you do not use it properly – I cannot emphasize it enough! No matter how much you paid for that car seat – whether its a fancy 6-digit car seat or an el’cheapo that was a hand-me down from a family member or friend – always check that it is in its best working condition by doing the upside down test.

How to do the upside down test:

  1. Take the car seat out of the car – yes, OUT of the car.
  2. Buckle your child up safely and properly as you would do if you were going for a drive out. No less than a 1 to 2 finger space between their bodies and the harness straps!
  3. Now, pick your child up as they sit in the car seat and hold them upside down.
  4. Your child should remain safely in their car seat. This is how you know that it’s a keeper (the car seat, of course!).NB! Always have someone for an extra pair of hands when doing this test. Accidents happen quite quickly.


And that’s my tips to a happy, fun and safe driving experience for both parent and children. For more information on car seat safety, follow #CarSeatFullstop on social media platforms and join in the conversation by liking, sharing and commenting on this post (and others)!

Visit the official #CarSeatFullstop social media platforms and sign up for their newsletter!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarseatFullstop/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarseatFullstop
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carseatfullstop/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+CarseatfullstopOrg

2017 #CarseatFullstop Logo & URL

Much love,
C xx

Encouragement, Handy Tools & Advice, Random Thoughts

Never lose sight of who you really are… trust in yourself

  1. the state or condition of being a woman.

What seems to be missing from the above is the mention of ‘superhuman with the ability to play multiple roles at the same time’ – don’t you think?

Somehow in the midst of being everything to everyone, we reach a point where we start to lose sight of who we really are. We allow the opinions of others affect us and we give in to the pressure of the feeling that we’re ‘not good enough’. As women, we put ourselves through numerous attempts of changing ourselves, ‘making ourselves better’ with the hope of feeling better about ourselves and accomplishing acceptance amongst others.

Throughout life, you’re surrounded by others guiding you through it all, ideally providing you with the necessary life skills to keep you strong against all the ‘bad’ outside there in the real world. Sometimes, you find yourself surrounded by people that aren’t in it for the enrichment of life, but rather for personal gain. A matter of ‘what can I get out of this relationship’? These people add even more pressure to our lives on top of what we already experience as women.

You must be sexy, you must be smart, you must be nice… things that don’t add value to life or your worth as a woman. You also have to be a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, an employee – each role with sub-roles that you have to fulfill. You, as a woman have to be so many things to so many people! Are you relating to what I’m saying right now; nodding your head thinking ‘yes, she gets me?!’

I think it’s due to the fact that most woman, especially when going through the dual journey of motherhood and womanhood, find themselves in this particular situation like the one that I’ve just described. You got to deal with all this pressure, sometimes hearing that ‘you’re not good enough’. Meanwhile, all you want to do is gain acceptance for you – just that, being your true self. That in itself is being something great, isn’t it?! It completely shatters you as a woman, as a human, when your self-worth, your self-esteem gets knocked down as you get consumed by the pressure and the obsession of trying to be SuperWoman.

Wouldn’t it be the most tragic tale ever written if the treasure of a human being that you really are and the talent that you possess was buried under the mountain of opinions and expectations of others?

“You’re a bad mother. You’re a terrible wife. You’re an awful friend.” You’re just plain, no darn good if you try and do anything whatsoever that makes you happy. Sound familiar? Those thoughts have run through my mind before… “Don’t you dare do something for yourself, forget to do the washing or take your eyes of your children for one second! You better be there… all… the… time.” That’s the messaging that mothers get. Did you know that this particular message has the power, the ability to drive someone totally insane whilst she tries to be everything and do everything?!

The most important skill that you as a woman can have in protecting yourself against losing sight of who you really are and keeping your happiness is to learn to trust in yourself. Stop hating yourself for everything that you aren’t and start loving yourself for everything you already are. You have the right to be happy!

As a fellow woman, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend and so on – I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve never tried to make myself better by giving in; giving into the pressure of it all, because I have. Sometimes I still do, even if it’s just to keep the peace momentarily. We’re only human and it will happen occasionally. What I’m saying is don’t let it consume you.

Never underestimate the investment you make in yourself. You have the right to be happy in life and in yourself. It is what fuels you from the inside. Your happiness in yourself is what sets the tone for every relationship you have in this world. The more you work on it, the better life will become. Don’t lose your way, lose sight of your true self and what makes you happy.

Be wise, learn from your past mistakes, take better care of yourself and ensure that you do what makes you happy. That gives you the ability to take care of others at the capacity that is required in life as a woman and all the numerous roles that we play on a daily basis.

Surround yourself with people you can grow with and avoid the people who are only in it for personal gain. Motherhood… womanhood… it’s considered a tribe. The most important thing we must remember is that we can learn from one another and support one another.

Stay true to yourself. Trust yourself. Never lose sight of who you really are. And know, that others, your fellow tribe members and your true people will always have your back.

Much love,

Handy Tools & Advice, Uncategorized

The Silent Treatment Smoothie… for Constipated Kids (& Adults!)

Something that not everyone is too keen to talk about… constipation. It’s all good and manageable when it is yourself (or another adult… hubby?) to worry about. But when it comes to your little one (no matter what age), it’s always a bit more of a daunting task.

Since we started Caitlin’s potty training (she was about 2 years old when we started… the same time when toddlerhood came in at full force) we noticed that she became more and more constipated. Not only was she more outspoken towards the food that she wants to eat (gone are the easy days of feeding veggies and fruit in a jiffy) but she also started showing her independence, of which one was to ‘hold it in’. This duo display of ‘I have a say in what I want to do’ caused havoc on Caitlin’s gut… ultimately, causing constipation issues.

We’ve tried everyting recommended by the GP and Pediatrician… all of them saying ‘it’s just a temporarily solution’ and ‘a lot of toddlers go through this period in their growing stages, this too shall pass’ (no pun intended). After different medication attempts that had us sitting up in the early mornings with a tummy going from completely bloated, constipated and sore to runny tummy crying on the loo sessions with multiple diaper changes in between.

As we went through it all, I decided that the medication’s not going to resolve our problem with the aftermath it had and I still needed to potty train Caitlin. So I decided to go the more natural route, researching ways to get her to eat more high fibre through dishes that she enjoys.

A year and a half later, we’ve now reached the stage where she is fully potty trained for #1 and have a toilet routine in place to get her used to doing a #2, alongside good list of food items that helps us get her tummy to go as close to normally as possible. This list of food items includes:

  • Squishies (these funky little packs are ideal all season long and the fruity flavours that includes tummy encouragement like prunes, guava, mango and pear are always on the shopping list) Visit their website for more info by clicking here.
  • Wholewheat pasta (Caitlin LOVES pasta, thus when I make her favourite Spaghetti Bolognaise, I always use wholewheat pasta. Fatti’s & Moni’s being the favourite in our house 🍝)
  • Digestive Biscuits (a favourite of mine that Caitlin adapted to eating, we sometimes treat her with the Baker’s Betta Snack Digestives that have a bit of extra love with some Chocolate or Caramel on… sugar rush galore, but as part of our morning coffee routine it fits right)
  • Wholewheat or Multigrain Bread (I usually opt for Albany’s Ultima range and a firm new favourite is their new Ultima Calorie Controlled Brown Bread. Simply divine and even better with less guilt. Top it off with Oh Mega Peanut Butter and a smidgen of golden syrup…your little one will be licking their fingers off!)
  • Hidden Veggies (hiding veggies is probably my biggest challenge with Caitlin. She immediately knows when there are veggies in a dish and refuses to eat it, even though she eats all her veg at school. Umatie’s Macaroni & Cheese is the only one that I’ve found Caitlin to enjoy and not picking up the veggies hidden in them. Hooray!!! PS. even onions count as a vegetable in Caitlin’s frame of reference 🙈)
  • Plain Double Cream Yogurt (We usually opt between Woolworth’s Double Cream Plain yogurt or Lancewood’s High Fat Double Cream yogurt that’s absolutely delicious with honey and fresh berries and/or nuts for breakfast)
  • Fresh Fruit (A staple in our home are Strawberries, Apples, Banana and Blueberries. I tend to buy berries from the gym’s health shop or direct from the source, the closest to us being Hillcrest Berry Orchards)

And lastly, a new discovery I’ve made is that Caitlin absolutely LOVES smoothies! Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner – it doesn’t matter, she’ll have a smoothie anytime. I’ve taken a bit of advantage of this by adding some ‘good for your tummy’ food items that she wouldn’t necessary eat (her exact words being “Ugh, Sleg Mamma!” with some additional mouth gestures and sounds 😄). The brilliant SMOOTHIE has come to this Mama’s rescue!

The Silent Treatment Smoothie: Gut Happiness in a Glass

  • half a cup of frozen banana
  • half a cup of frozen blueberries
  • half a cup of papaya
  • 3/4 cup of double cream plain yogurt
  • 1tsp honey
  • 3/4 cup of apple juice (or for something less sweet opt for milk or water)
  • 1tbsp of oats

Blend it all together for about 2 minutes and serve for immediate consumption.

If you struggle with a little one that’s at the age of eating solids and struggling to go poop, why not give our smoothie recipe a try? Packed with all the goodness of mother nature provides for us.

Much love, C


Handy Tools & Advice

Baby must-haves for busy moms

For those of you that don’t know me yet, I’m Chantelle – a first-time mother to a beautiful little girl named Caitlin that’s captured in this picture above. Apart from the porridge brain that comes with being a Mombie, I can be quite the nervous wreck when I’m not fully prepared for something. Hence the fact why I cried myself silly when I heard that I’m pregnant… it wasn’t planned… and I wasn’t prepared!

So, what does any first time, unprepared mommy-to-be do after she comes out of her denial and accepts that she’s expecting a baby? She goes out and buys all the relevant pregnancy and baby books out there to prepare herself for the next upcoming months… and what’s to follow thereafter. She reads them whole-heartedly whilst the panic rises in her throat with thoughts of ‘how on earth am I going to remember all of this?!’

Almost nine months down the line and the doctor places your beautiful baby girl in her arms and tears of pure joy are running down her face. ‘She’s here!’ – she and her loved one are over the moon! She’s had enough time to prepare herself for being a parent to this little bundle of joy.

In the hospital she’s got the nurses to take care of her little one (and herself!) if she is not able to do so. All is bliss with nothing and no one else to care or worry about than her perfect little angel. A few days later and she’s home. With her partner standing by her side, in front of a cot with a crying newborn baby at 3 o’clock in the morning, having tried all the tips and tricks she’s read and recalled from those educational baby books in her bedside drawers. Seconds away from pulling her hair out of her head, she gives in to what her child needs – her mother! Bugger, what the books say! If she wants to sleep in her mom’s arms while being rocked in the lazy-boy chair, then so be it!

Sounds familiar?

— Yes. I was one of those moms – wanting to do everything by the book. —

To some extend it seemed to work, especially setting in a routine and keeping to a feeding schedule! But for the rest of it, not so much. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

What I did find though was there were certain products on the market that I simply could not have lived without! (To the people that gave them to me as gifts, I THANK you! To those that told me about some of these products, I THANK you!)

This is my top baby must-have products for a busy mom:

  • Babysense App (great for setting in a routine and keeping little one well-nourished with a feeding schedule)

  • Angelcare Baby Monitor (simply the best invention yet! It was my saving grace for not hovering over Caitlin trying to figure out if she’s breathing or not. I still use the light from the monitor as a night light for Caitlin – who is now over 2 years of age)

  • Babysense Swaddling Blanket (yes, if felt weird wrapping her up like a worm in a cocoon, but she slept like an angel in a swaddling blanket)

  • Baby Sling (I had two different ones and both served their purpose during Caitlin’s first year. They were great for keeping my hands available to get stuff done, supporting my back whilst carrying her during the post-birth phase and kept her happy as she was close to mommy. They also worked great as a breastfeeding cover-up when in public places.)

  • Winter Sleeping Bags (By winter Caitlin was big enough to no longer being swaddled so our peaceful nights continued with the use of a baby sleeping bag – simply a genius product!)

  • Angelcare Bath Seat (we had a regular one from Baby Boom before purchasing this one and I have to say that the few extra Rands it cost was definitely worth every bit! It is so sturdy and you really don’t have to stress at all that it will slip or anything.)

  • Fischer Price Rocker & Swing (the best ‘toy’ I’ve ever purchased for Caitlin! She still uses the chair piece today as it can hold up to 18kg. When she was a baby the soothing melodies combined with the swinging motion had her sleeping peacefully in seconds)

  • Bottle Steriliser (no time for sterilising bottles the old fashion way! A microwave bottle steriliser is simply a must-have!)

  • Dr. Brown’s Wide Neck Feeding Bottles (I would recommend these bottles to ALL mothers! Not once did I struggle with winds. They’re specially designed to avoid winds and not as difficult to clean as one would think. Caitlin also loved them!)

Last but not least, there is one baby product that I think would’ve totally rocked my world as it combines three of the products mentioned in the list above. It’s called the Lalaba Blankie – a proudly South African and revolutionary blanket that assists you as a mom with lifting, holding and transporting your little one. It also assists with

  • swaddling

  • recovery from giving birth

  • lifting your sleeping angel from her car seat

  • fully covers while breastfeeding

I came across the Lalaba Blankie just too late – Caitlin was just over 12 months – but seeing it in action at quite a few of the baby expo’s and all the positive testimonials online from both local and even international customers, I’m sure it would’ve been TOP of my list!

SHARE WITH ME: As a fellow busy mom, what are your must-have baby products?


Handy Tools & Advice

Daily planning for working moms

I have to admit: I’m quite a scattered brain person. Working in the public relations industry has taught me many time management and organisation skills, but for some reason I have never managed to be as OCD at home as I am at work.

One of the many ways I plan my days – to ensure that I don’t forget essential to-dos for the next day – is to complete a daily planning list in my diary. As I’m totally addicted to Typo diaries (and all their other goodies!), I find it quite easy to print quite a few of these planning printables, stick them in for the week ahead and complete first thing in the morning.

A few other secrets I have to getting things done for the day ahead (without getting myself in a panic state and being pretty much late for everything) is:


    Wake up before your kids and hubby as it provides essential quite time to get your headspace ready for the day ahead, getting everyone’s lunch packs in and maybe even some time for a brisk walk or gym session before work.


    You’re bound to find yourself waking up in the middle of the night remembering something to do, but the next morning you simply cannot recall what it was. Ensure you have a pen and paper on your bedside table. Simply scribble a short (sleepy) note when you wake and the next morning it will be the first thing you see.

    Use planners to ensure that high priority tasks, meetings or deadlines are top of mind. They really do help the scattered brain folk such as myself.

Make use of my FREE daily planner printable for inspirational, organised and fun planning where forgetfulness, stress and panic is sure to be a thing of the past!

Mama & Me – Mommy Planner

  • To-do’s

  • Call/Email

  • Errands/To-buy

  • Appointments

  • Kids activities

  • Chores

  • Dinner section

  • Ideas/Thoughts

Mama & Me – Work Planner

  • Hydrate

  • To-do’s

  • Call/Errands

  • Task breakdown

  • Appointments

  • Read/Watch/Listen

  • Brainstorm

  • Promote

Share with me on Facebook: How do you keep your personal (mama-life) organised?