About a year ago now, I decided it was time to stop allowing my children to be an excuse to neglect myself, especially my health.

This was not only for me, but for them. I didn’t want them to sense the resentment I was holding towards motherhood and how I felt it had robbed so much of my identity. I didn’t want them to feel responsible for my unhappiness, not even subconsciously.

I began to understand how crucial it was to show them that I had needs, too…and that I honoured them. I realised how crucial it was to model to them a healthy view of a woman and mother who had hobbies, and passions, and a career that made her heart and soul sing. I wanted them to know that as a family, we ALL mattered. I had to care for my own physical and mental well-being, because I knew they were all watching and learning from me.

So, we began to walk/ride together most afternoons, around the block. It was about 2.5km, and took us about 30-45 minutes to complete.

Sometimes, my 4 year old got tired. Occasionally, my 6 year old did, too.

I came up with a strategy. I simply invited them to hold my hand, so I could share my energy with them. It seemed so simple, and a little silly, like a placebo, but it WORKED. They would have renewed energy, their pace would quicken and they would happily (well, mostly) continue along. It stuck, and since then we are often “sharing energy.”

Today, I was reminded of how important it is to give AND receive.

We were walking, again. We’ve done so much walking on this trip. Miss 5 was struggling a little up the hill, so she asked to hold my hand so she could share my energy. Her little hand bundled into mine, and I said to her, “I’m a bit tired, you’ll have to share your energy with me, too.”

I never want to forget what she said next. She said to me, “I already am sharing my energy with you, mummy. If we do it for each other, we will have even more.”

 

This was a profound moment for me. I have always felt like I have given, and given, and given. I have felt like everyone wants to TAKE from me. TAKE my time, TAKE my energy, TAKE my body, TAKE my affection, TAKE my love. And I had to give it, because they needed me to. Even when it felt like I had nothing left to give.

The problem was, I never allowed myself to receive. I didn’t feel worthy of receiving. I didn’t know how to.

This meant that my cup was often empty, and there’s the common (and true) saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

When you feel like you have no choice to keep giving, though, resentment can grow. Resentment towards the people you love more than anyone in the world.

In recent times, I’ve started to realise that when you are open to giving AND receiving, that resentment disappears, and in its place comes JOY.

The more you give, the more you receive…if you allow yourself to.

Your cup begins to overflow, and you feel JOY in giving, and GRATITUDE in receiving.

You realise, as I did today through the profound words of my daughter, that we can be more than the sum of our parts when we are in it together.

 

 

 


When we were planning the first leg of our trip, most people thought we were crazy. Whilst the vast majority of the caravanning world headed north for the sunshine and swimming holes to ESCAPE the cold, we left sunny Queensland and headed south, straight TOWARDS it.

Why? Let’s face it, even though it’s cold, snow is FUN! And Miss 4 desperately had her heart on going to the snow, building a snowman and throwing snowballs at her daddy! It’s one of those “bucket list” items for kids and adults alike, I reckon.

Jindabyne was the destination, at the foot of the Snowy Mountains, NSW. I highly recommend staying there, mostly because it’s a few degrees warmer than up IN the mountains – and it was cold enough as it was!

If I had to give tips for travelling to the snow with kids, these are what they would be:

  1. Powered site. Self explanatory, really – though there were people camping in tents…brrrrrr…..We loved our heater though! We have a little $20 fan heater that heats our van up quickly and is compact and lightweight.
  2. Plastic bags. If you don’t have snowshoes/gumboots, and don’t think you’ll get use out of them or don’t have enough room, you’re welcome to use our hack. We just reused some plastic grocery bags we had, popped them over the kids’ socks and then they wore their sneakers. Yes, their shoes got wet, but all that meant was that we had to leave them in the sun to dry (and our caravan park actually had a drying room if we needed). When it’s only for a matter of days, it’s just not worth the space and expense of buying, or even hiring.
  3. Layers. Even though the snow itself is obviously very cold, the air isn’t always as cold as you’d expect. The first day we went up, Miss 9 had a t-shirt, and her jacket. No in-between. She got HOT in her jacket, but it was too cool in just her t-shirt. So having multiple layers so each person can adjust to the conditions is highly recommended!
  4. Snowman decorations. Don’t forget them – like us (eyeroll). Ever since Tasmania 2015 we have sworn we would make a “proper” snowman, with carrot nose and all. But do you think we ever remembered the damn carrot??? If you need to improvise like we did, using your own sunglasses for eyes, and beanie/scarf, at least makes it look somewhat like a snowman…..
  5. Sunglasses. The reflection from the sun on snow is SO bright, like eye-burning bright. So sunnies for everyone is a must! (I should really take my own advice, see squinty photos below).

While there’s a lot of things you COULD buy or hire to have the “proper” gear, most of it really isn’t necessary for short term, once-in-a-lifetime snow visits. Particularly buying, as it can be bulky, and by the time you next get to the snow it’ll likely have been outgrown. We did buy some waterproof gloves on sale, only because their normal cotton gloves got soaked VERY quickly, and much of what we wanted to do involved snowmen and snowballs! Also, Aldi has snow sales most years, so keep an eye out in the late Autumn/early Winter months!

Here are some photos from our snow trip – it really was great fun!

Highlights:

  • finally building a proper snowman (sans carrot nose)
  • going for a stomp around in the snow, and the giggles from the kids who ended up buried thigh-high!
  • having snow FALL one magical morning, and catching it on our tongues and in our eyelashes – SO MAGICAL!
  • tobogganing was a hit for sure, we had to go back and do it again since everyone had so much fun! The big kids went straight for the high slope, Milly was quite the daredevil too but Daddy didn’t want her going right from the top. I tobogganed for the first time in my life – initially I was terrified, but it really was loads of fun (just really really fast)
  • meeting Kate across the road from our site – she was like a big kid (she has worked as a nanny) and the kids adored her. She dyed the girls’ hair, and taught all the kids to ride a skateboard

While it was cold (which I don’t mind, myself), it was WORTH IT!

 


Self Care.

I thought I had it pretty down pat. When I lived in a house, anyway. When my life was somewhat more predictable, and certain things happened on certain days. Self care was practically scheduled into my calendar.

I knew I would need it when we left, too. I made the expectation clear from the outset, to myself and to my family.

Then on Day Three, the first of the children got sick. And then the second. And then the third. And then all of a sudden we were almost three weeks into the trip when I practically fell apart.

I missed my morning shower like many people would miss their morning coffee. The bathroom door was broken so even when I did get a two minute shower (instead of a “bucket bath” which tends to happen when free camping), I had it with the door wide open. I missed washing my hair every day, too (even if I know it’s not ideal to wash it every day).

I missed my dancing lessons.

I missed playing netball and socialising with other adult women.

I missed my bagpipe lessons, and making music.

I missed reading in bed in the evenings.

I missed “coffee” dates with my friends (I call them that even if I think coffee tastes like poison).

I missed that 15 minutes of silent bliss after dropping the kids off at school/daycare. And the occasional sneaky breakfast/morning tea I would have at a cafe on the way home.

I missed taking the kids over to visit their grandparents.

I missed hiking (and that was something I thought I could do MORE of when we were travelling!).

I even missed exercise class, even though I used to hate every minute of it (but felt awesome afterwards).

I had brought my bagpipes, my guitar, my hiking gear, some nice body wash, books to read…..and yet, it just wasn’t happening. Self care? What’s that?

My grand intentions were lost in a blur of parenting (sick children = 10x more intense), packing/unpacking, entertaining, organising, travelling, shopping, washing and just….LIFE.

Yes, we did stuff together as a family and that was awesome in its own right.

But I am an introvert. Introverts need time alone to recharge and refill their cup. My cup was well and truly below empty.

The only time I’d had alone was when the husband sent me off to do the grocery shopping (with the best of intentions, bless him). Needless to say, it wasn’t enough.

So, what did I do?

Well first, I cried. Sobbed, actually. I was a giant snotty mess. I was traumatised by the hell that was the first two weeks (and still didn’t know my turn was yet to come) and I wanted to go “home” – but this IS our home.

Then, I sat down and thought about what it was I missed, and how I could incorporate self care into each day.

I was also able to spend a week in Sydney surrounded by amazing, inspiring people who were all there to improve themselves and their lives. That definitely helped.

The biggest hurdle was guilt. Guilt about leaving Luke and the kids to do things on my own. Guilt about “indulging” myself. Feeling like I didn’t deserve to spend time, nor money, on myself. I was worried that Luke would get resentful of me if I wasn’t there 24/7 helping to parent, feed, entertain, clean….I even felt guilty about those things when I was WORKING! It all boiled down to my OWN feelings about being “unworthy” – because I wasn’t working and bringing home a paycheck, because I was “just” a mum??

It’s ridiculous, really. No person should ever feel guilt for meeting their own needs and creating their own happiness. We all know, logically, that to be the best we can be for OTHERS, we must give OURSELVES what we need first. “You can’t pour from an empty cup” and all that. It’s not just a saying, it’s TRUE!

And for years, I had done so much of the parenting and household management solo while Luke worked. Now that we are together, and our days are more free and relaxed, why SHOULDN’T I spend time focusing on myself and my own needs? Needs that had been put on the backburner over and over and over again in years passed.

In the past week, I’ve integrated self care into my days and it’s made a HUGE difference.

For me, self care looks like:

~ A shower in the morning: no matter how brief (just need to get my hair wet now, don’t have to wash it every day) and a washdown in the evening (either quick shower or a bucket bath if freecamping). I need to feel clean and fresh in the morning and the evening, which is indulgent but important.

~ Daily exercise: I’m still working on this one, hoping to establish a morning exercise routine that is fun AND exercise (possibly boxing? And if I’m really super keen, perhaps some burpees). But I’ve been taking walks or hikes, and if we need to go somewhere within reasonable walking distance, I’ll walk.

~ Daily music practice: There have been a couple of times I’ve had to go to extremes to make this happen (driving to an empty carpark at night and practicing in the car so as not to disturb anyone), but most days I have. Now I’m back in the routine of regular bagpipe practice, I’m aiming to incorporate some guitar and ukelele too (we are all learning the ukelele together). I even managed to score a lesson with a local bagpipe teacher this week!

~ Dedicated work time: I have hours now during the week that are allocated to working. For me that involves establishing my photography/videography business and working on some behind the scenes still-secret business. I’m also planning on picking up some regular editing and perhaps admin work for other photographers, and some other online work to supplement our cashflow until my own business reaches its targets.

~ Good f

ood: SO SO important, and still a work in progress. But I did some baking this week and that was wonderful. I just love it! Now need to drop out some carbs and add in some more veges and we’ll be pretty well on track. Also taking my supplements each day – such a small thing to do, but it’s crazy how we can get “too busy” for that two minute task.

~ Reading before bed: This one is self explanatory, there’s nothing better than a good book before going to sleep. Definitely better for my soul than wasting time scrolling on Facebook!

~ Journalling: I’m the kind of person who ends up with a “cluttered” mind very easily, if I don’t get it out on paper. I like to be organised and know what’s going on in my life without having to store all the data in my brain constantly! Since the course I did in Sydney, I’ve found journalling has been therapeutic in clearing my mind, and propelling me forwards. The goal is to do it every day, which hasn’t quite happened, but it’s getting there.

There are SO many things we can do to care for ourselves. Things that make us happy. Things that make us BETTER partners and BETTER mothers. It is not “selfish” to do these things. I would in fact argue that it’s necessary, for our own mental (and physical) health, and also as role models to our children.

And I’m not just saying that, I’m living it. Not always perfectly, but with intention and love.

I hope you will too, other mamas out there on the road xx


Emus. Sheep. Campfires. Eggs. Opals. Lots and lots of cider to help with the trauma of Week One.

That about sums up Week Two.

We left from Foxbar Falls (Amiens, QLD) a few days late, after the horror story of Week One, with our next destination being Lightning Ridge. Turns out the anticipated 6 hour trip ended up being more like 8, after we discovered we nearly lost the bikes off the back of the caravan and had to stop for some emergency repairs. From that day, we’ve been travelling with the bikes on our bed during transit which isn’t ideal, but at this stage I’m just thankful we still HAVE the bikes!

When we pulled into Lightning Ridge, we finally got to take our first “touristy” photo! Woohoo!

We stayed at Carinya Station, which I knew was a good choice from the moment we arrived and were greeted so kindly by the hosts, despite arriving after dark.

The following morning, one of the friendly neighbours asked how I was and if we had settled in, and I responded by bursting into tears, and telling her the saga that had been our life for the last week and a half. I did manage to laugh a bit through the tears, and a hug – they told me I should write a book!

Fresh air and sunshine was the agenda – after being stuck inside so much, we were ready to do some exploring! Rather than paying money for our stay, we were asked to contribute to jobs around the station, which was a wonderful opportunity for all of us, including the kids.

From checking water troughs (and watching HUNDREDS of sheep and emus “race” across the road!!), to feeding pigs and collecting and stamping eggs, the kids were so involved. And many of the grey nomads were happy to take the kids under their wing, which was so lovely, as we all miss the grandparents back home. The sense of community was just what we needed as we recovered.

Evenings were spent by the communal campfire, and I learned that many grey nomads are quite hilarious! So many stories to tell! And with a bit of cider in me, I ended the days feeling quite relaxed and happy – so THIS was how it was meant to be!

Then it was time for what we came here for – OPALS! We decided on going to Opal Mine Adventure, where we were able to go underground, followed by some fossicking. We didn’t make our millions, but we did have fun trying! And I did actually find a small (non-valuable) opal, which was a bit exciting! The guy who worked there also gave us a handful to take home with us, I was very impressed with how he explained things to the kids and made sure they left feeling happy and with an opal in hand!

The Red Car Door Tour (and Amigo’s Castle) was the agenda for the following day, and the castle that was built by hand by an old guy who is referred to as Amigo (who still lives in a little home behind the castle). I won’t ruin the story, but it was really interesting, and a bit sad that it was never finished. I really would have loved to meet Amigo, but it wasn’t to be – he sounds like such an eccentric old man, much the same as I imagine myself being an eccentric old woman one day, ha!

After all the drama of Week One, we went a bit crazy with touristy things in Lightning Ridge, to cheer ourselves up. But I absolutely don’t regret fitting in the Chambers of the Black Hand tour on our very last day – WOW! It was like another world down there, and we all loved it! From Tony Abbott to Wonder Woman, the dedication it took to create this (from a butter knife and fork!!!) is incredible. We got to see him at work, too – and Miss 4 even got to have a turn “helping” which made her feel very special. I suppose you’ve got to do something when your opal mine doesn’t really have much opal 😉

Luke then gifted me with a beautiful opal pendant, which I will forever adore! They really are such beautiful gems, and what a wonderful reminder of this time of our lives.

From there, it was SNOW TIME, and we began the journey to Jindabyne! Stay tuned for more on that!

In the meantime, there’s a few more photos – just in case that wasn’t already enough!


It seems more than a little ironic that I’m writing this post on Day 13 of our trip. And yes, I’m a bit behind. Hopefully that can be amended, if things from here are a little less crazy.

So, Week One.

Week One was NOT what I expected. Not even a little bit.

In fact, Week One is one I would possibly rather forget. And yet, it’s etched into my mind. And so I try to focus on the glimpses of good amidst the nightmare.

Day One was exciting, but exhausting. It was very surreal. And I decided to celebrate by having four alcoholic beverages in one session – something that hasn’t happened for many, many years. It was fun, but I’m not going to make a habit of it, it’s too expensive and calorie-consuming! Maybe once a month is OK…

Day Two was fairly straightforward and quite relaxing – in hindsight I wish I’d done more, before things went downhill fast. But it was sort of amazing to read a whole book in one day – another thing I’d not done in years.

Day Three was where things went downhill.

I’m guessing that everyone who does this crazy travelling with kids thing, doesn’t do so without fear.

There could be the fear of breaking down in the middle of nowhere. There could be the fear of being in an accident. There could be the fear of losing children (that almost happened to us today eek!! Will save that story for later). There could be an endless list of fears.

My fear was gastro. I HATE vomiting. HATE it. And the thought of dealing with it in a caravan was literally my biggest fear.

Well, it took three days. THREE DAYS!!!!

And it was even worse than I imagined it would be.

Miss 4 felt sick in the morning – ended up vomiting and I’m like oh noooooo, but was hoping it was a once off sort of thing, perhaps from being a bit put out by the change in environment, or from food or water. Anyway, we needed some things from the shops so Luke set off with the big two and I stayed behind with Miss 4.

Then came the poo. And the vomit. And the poo and the vomit. And I was free camping, with no phone signal, no car, no nappies or other supplies. And it turns out that rather than going to the town 20 minutes away, hubby couldn’t get what he needed, so went an hour (each way) away, cruising long getting lunch etc as well, and took FIVE HOURS to get back. And it was the peak of the illness. Poor Miss 4 was struggling to make it to the toilet, too – so I ended up with 6 or so sets of soiled pants. After the first 3, I decided to get creative and stuff her undies with toilet paper because that’s all I had at hand. It was terrible. She kept saying it was the worst day ever, and when I tried reassuring her (and myself) that it was just one day and then she would be better, she kept asking when this day would be over. Poor little chicken, it was horrible for both of us.

And it didn’t get better. The next morning she seemed a lot better, but after a little walk out in the sunshine, she faded quickly. She got feverish, and very lethargic, she still wasn’t eating and only having minimal fluids. The next day was the same, and that evening I decided to take her in to the local hospital as I feared dehydration and was a bit concerned that she wasn’t better after three full days. That’s when we learned that norovirus is pretty rampant at the moment and was likely what she had. Uh-oh, that was not the news I wanted to hear, because with us living in such close quarters, I know that meant that it likely wouldn’t stop with her.

And it didn’t.

Two hours after we got home from the hospital – so at 1am – I hear a little voice coming from THE TOP BUNK saying “I just vomited” – and by that, Mister 7 meant he had leaned over the side of the top bunk and emptied the contents of his stomach….from approximately 1.5m up you can imagine the splashback (waaaahhhh). Not. Pretty.

I had sat up in quite a hurry and taken a bowl over to catch the rest. When I turned back towards the bed, Luke had turned as white as a ghost….then proceeded to fall back on the bed and start convulsing!! TOTALLY FREAKED ME OUT!!! So I had that happening at one end of the van, and vomit all over the other end of the van – fun times! It was also FREEZING COLD and we were free camping with no power, so no heater either!

Somehow I found it in me to triage the situation – I told Mister 7 he had to stay put, gave him the bowl and said I needed to help daddy first. Not that I knew how to help besides making sure he was actually OK when he came to. I didn’t even know how to use the satellite phone and so begged him to tell me, in case I needed an ambulance. I think perhaps it was maybe his version of the virus – and not the fact he wanted to get out of more vomit/poo catching and cleaning duty since he’d missed the first lot, too!! Anyway, I made him lie down so I didn’t have to worry about him, and got to dealing with the other end of the caravan. I don’t even like to think about it, really. Copious amounts of paper towel were used in the process.

Then it was Master 7 and I bunkering down for the rest of the night on the couch. Lots of cleaning and comforting, but I must say that in between, he was the most ridiculously cheerful sick person I’ve ever known. In between the vomiting was questions and giggles – I sometimes laughed, and even cracked a “dad joke” – because let’s face it, if you don’t laugh, you cry. And I’d done enough crying already.

When everyone else got up that morning, I insisted on going to a powered site, so we drove into town (this was Day 6, by now) and proceeded to spend $60 on washing and drying clothes, and attempting to decontaminate in order to hopefully save Miss 9.

But it wasn’t to be. Miss 9 succumbed that night, when our little washing machine was rocking the caravan and she felt nauseous. I really felt for her – she’s a bit anxious about gastro, like I am, and was terrified about it. I had been feeding her with charcoal and she seemed to only get mild symptons and we still managed a pretty good night’s sleep, which was a relief!

As Miss 9 had said to me while I was catching her brother’s vomit at 3am and talking about how this had been my biggest fear……”someone once said that whatever your biggest fear is, if it comes true and happens to you, then it makes you not be afraid anymore”…..so, I guess I can now say I’ve conquered my biggest fear. Even when I didn’t think I could. And I just kept reminding myself that surely it could only get better from here!

So on Day 7, we proceeded to head to our next stop. We almost lost our bikes from the back of our caravan, and had to stop for emergency welding repairs (as well as travel with our bikes on our bed inside the van, which is how they’ve continued to be transported), but we pulled into camp at 6:30pm – exhausted!

The drive was actually really interesting at times – we saw wild emus for the first time, which the kids (and I) were super excited about!!! Lots of other animals too, both dead and alive (one road was renamed “Roadkill Road”). And we took our very first daggy “touristy” photo! Ha!

I was going to get everyone to share their highlights and lowlights, but they’re sleeping as I write, and I’m almost ready to join them, so I’ll do that as a sequel to this post!

We are still working on finding some kind of rhythm to our days, and I definitely feel like I haven’t found my feet yet, but I don’t regret it, even after the hell of Week One, and I’m excited for where our adventure takes us!

Foxbar Falls – my sister’s property (and campground still in progress of being built) – is amazing!!! I would have loved to do more explore – there’s lots of tracks and rock scrambling and things to see and do. It was great that we could have a fire every night, right on the waterfront. The playground area was AWESOME – I’m a big fan of nature/upcycled playgrounds. The balancing log and tyre swings were big hits with the kids. And it’s fantastic for bikes. The kids had a great time racing along the runway, and also mountain biking through some of the bushland. I’m looking forward to going back when it’s completed!

Here are some of the highlights from Week One – seeing these is such a good reminder of silver linings and glimmers of light in the darkness!


Day One.

Wow. We actually made it. We are actually doing this.

WE ARE ACTUALLY DOING THIS!!

I admit it still feels entirely surreal. It feels like we are on holidays, and soon we will be going back “home” – but….this IS our home. As the saying goes, “home is where you park it.”

Home for us on day one is Amiens, QLD – my sister’s beautiful farm, which is currently being transformed into a campground (https://www.foxbarfalls.com.au/), with a planned official opening in February 2018.

I would love to write about all the things leading up to this day that I’ve not yet touched on, but I think I’ll save that for another time. Needless to say, there was no time for blogging in the weeks leading up to the 16th August 2017 – our departure date.

So I’ll just skip forward to Day One.

Waking up was the usual routine – coffee (for Luke), breakfast, dishes, and for me there a gloriously divine long, hot shower (including washing AND conditioning my hair). My morning showers are what coffee is to other people – and I knew that was about to change in a lot of ways (no wonder Luke tried to convince me to like coffee). It’s definitely something I will very much miss.

So after the usual morning chaos, plus all the last minute checks (I’m still wondering if I’ve left anything crucial behind!), we set off at around 9:30……and then made what seemed like a million stops. The bank, the pharmacy, repco, a pickup for farm supplies for my brother in law, stopping in to collect a thermomix travel bag, toilet and food stop around lunch time, getting food supplies (and some drinks) when we were close to our destination….and finally arriving around 3:30pm.

Then it was time to get to the campsite itself. This was probably the most interesting part of the day. To get to the campsite, we had to cross a dam, with quite a narrow road. Let me just tell you, I’m so very thankful I was the passenger, not the driver. Luke was a champion, I’ve always felt incredible safe with him driving – he’s cool, calm and in control. It was quite unlucky that on our maiden journey, we had stupidly strong wind gusts – but he took that in his stride. He may not have enjoyed it much, but it was OK. But when we were crossing that dam wall, and I saw him NOT so cool, calm and collected (though still way more than me), I was like “ahhhhh, this has got to be bad if HE is worried!” After all, he’s used to driving machinery the size of houses, in precarious situations. When he actually stopped, I started to think maybe our van was going to end up in the dam on our very first day! But it was all OK – we made it to the campsite and didn’t end up in the dam (note: the campground is still a work in progress, we are test dummies, so these are all the things that will be taken into consideration as they continue works on the site to make it safe and comfortable for campers, so don’t be deterred!).

The campsite is beautiful, right on the water! And setting up just before sunset meant we then got to sit and admire the view, and with a campfire! The kids wanted their bikes, so we got them unhooked and they enjoyed riding along the runway (soooo good for bikes!!). We were tired, so had a very civilised dinner of sausages on bread, ha!

Then the kids were introduced to what we now call “bucket baths” – fill a bucket with warm water, provide a washer, and take turns getting clean. We are essentially free camping – no power or water provided (there will be in future….and since the owner is my sister, we can cheat a little and get some drinking water from her), and using our own facilities (the toilet got used for the first time….but still cheating and using my sister’s washing machine). Way to dive straight in the deep end, hey!

There’s no phone service (for Optus), which also means no internet – after years of being on call, it actually feels a bit refreshing to not be connected 100% of the time.

So after the kids went to bed, and not being on call, I went all out for happy hour, and got a bit tipsy….for the first time in FOUR YEARS. I don’t want to make a habit of it, I’m not a big drinker and don’t plan to become one, but it was fun as an occasional thing. And Luke and I just got to sit and TALK – no phones, no distractions. Even though I was exhausted, I almost didn’t want the night to end.

And that is Day One.


Matthew, our second child (and only boy) is 7 years old (and a bit).

He is so different to my girls, who are a lot more like me. This can sometimes make it hard for me to connect with him – admittedly, it sometimes is actually a real struggle that we are working on together. I feel like he has missed out on a lot of me. Firstly, because when he was born I a) had a pretty shitty birth which impacted my emotions a lot in the early days and b) I also had a toddler to care for and was learning how to be a mama of two. Secondly, because when he was a toddler, I was pregnant, and then I had a baby. So I really believe there actually is something to the “middle child” thing that people talk about. I feel like he’s not had the one on one time the girls have had. Haylee, before he was born (and now that she’s older and “easier” and we have shared hobbies), and Milly while the big two were at school. I haven’t prioritised time alone with him, which is something I wish was different – because I know when I have, he just lights up and feels SO special. I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with him on a deeper level. I feel like it’ll be like getting to know each of them all over again, without the distraction and “busy-ness” of life as we’ve known it.

Anyway, I feel like this trip is going to offer so much opportunity for this little guy. I think his sweet, sensitive, quirky and somewhat introverted soul will be well suited to this new lifestyle. He has never been a huge fan of school, so I’m excited to see him flourish when he’s learning things his own way. He has always seemed happier and more content when we’ve been camping, even though they’ve only been short trips so far.

If I was to describe Matthew in a few words, I would say he is: kind, sensitive, quiet, quirky and imaginative – he is the one out of my three who loves imaginary play and is happily able to entertain himself for hours with some game or scenario he’s created!

At the moment, he is absolutely mad about bikes, so I see lots of bike adventures in our future, and it makes me so happy to know that we can easily incorporate something he loves into our new life, on a more regular basis than what we do now. In fact, because he’s almost outgrowing his current bike, I’m thinking we might be surprising him with a new one before we leave! He’s pretty keen to get a real mountain bike with gears, etc.

I think he thought being interviewed was a bit funny, and a fun game, so our interview was quite funny – I should have filmed it though, because it was his facial expressions that really made it!

Anyway, here’s what he had to say:

Me: “So buddy, what do you think about this big trip”

Matthew: “It’s gonna be FUN”

Me: “What are you looking forward to the most?”

Matthew: “Bringing my bike, and riding my bike on the road”

Me: “What are some of the other things you’re going to bring with you?”

Matthew: “My ninja turtles!”

Me: “Where are you going to sleep?”

Matthew: “The middle bunk, because it’s medium high”

Me: “And what places do you want to see the most/”

Matthew: “The DESERT”

Me: “And what else?”

Matthew: “Ummmm……the BEACH”

Me: “What state do you want to see the most?”

Matthew: “I know the state, it’s in the middle, up the very top…..”

Me: “The Northern Territory?”

Matthew: “YEAH! That one!”

Me: “What do you think we’ll see there”

Matthew: “I don’t know”

Me: “But you just want to go there?”

Matthew: “Yeah”

Me: “Cool! What do you think it’ll be like to live in a caravan for a long time?”

Matthew: “BORING!”

Me: “Boring? Why?”

Matthew: “Because we can’t bring all our toys with us”

Me:”What do you think it’ll be like to have dad home with us all the time because he doesn’t have to work?”

Matthew: “………fun……..but we won’t get to have any more pancakes”

Me: “Well, we can still cook pancakes when we’re in the caravan! What about school, will you miss going to school?”

Matthew: “No”

Me: “What do you hate the most about school?”

Matthew: “Number facts!”

Me: “What do you think will be the best part about homeschooling?”

Matthew: (fart noise) “No. Bad”

Me: “You think homeschooling is bad?”

Matthew: “Yeah because you can’t play with toys”

Me: “Why not?”

Matthew: “Because you’re not allowed to, you just have to play without them.”

Me: “You’re allowed to play with toys!!! And playing can help you learn!”

Matthew: “Yeah like when you play with Ninja Turtles you learn that they’re from NYC”

Me: “What does NYC stand for?”

Matthew: “New York City”

Me: “Do you know where New York City is?”

Matthew: “I know it’s…..in the continent that’s up above us, that’s bigger than us”

Me: “What else do you think you could learn when you’re not at school?”

Matthew: “Deadly animals, off of Deadly 60”

Me: “Awesome! We might even get to see some Deadly 60 animals in real life! What other kinds of animals do you think we might see?”

Matthew: “An oooowl!”

Milly (butting in haha): “I know! A pig!”

Me: “Do you think we should go north or south first?”

Matthew: “North! Oh mum, there’s an understanding for north south east west. It’s called north east south west, never eat soggy weetbix”

Me: “What do you think we will eat for breakfast?”

Matthew: “Weetbix!”

Me: “Who will you miss the most when we leave?”

Matthew: “Jack” (our neigbour)

Me: “Just Jack? Who else?”

Matthew: “Granny…….and Ma, and Jack…..oh and Grandpa, and Pa”

Milly (butting in again): “Are you going to miss the entire galaxy?”

Me: “What food do you think we should take with us?”

Milly (butting in again): “Apples, carrots…”

Matthew: “Carrots….bananas…..and mum can we buy some more Uglies cookies? And choc chip bikkies that you make – they’re the BEST. And I’m going to help you!”

Me: “Do you think you could make cookies yourself?”

Matthew: “No way. I have to wait til I’m a teenager!”

Me: “Why?”

Matthew: “Because I have no idea how to make them” (his look here was so funny!)

Me: “Hmmm well that’s a lot of questions. Is there anything else you want to say? How do you feel about the trip?”

Him: “Good! Oh, and I also want to go to Western Australia”

Me: “So last question, do you think the trip will be awesome or terrible?”

Matthew: “AWESOME”


One of the first questions we get asked when we tell people of our plans is, “What do the kids think?”

I’ve sort of been answering with a generic “oh they’re pretty excited,” but I thought a better way of answering that question, was to actually ASK the kids!

I started with Haylee.

Haylee has just turned nine. I would describe her as being chilled out (but with a small fiery streak), kind hearted, independent, curious, adventurous, strong-willed/determined, caring, empathetic, smart and willing to give anything a go!

She loves being outdoors (she’s done lots of hiking with me), highland dancing, reading, listening to music (especially Ed Sheeran, I’m hoping to score some tickets next Tuesday) and riding her bike. I think she’s going to LOVE this big adventure.

Here’s how our conversation went:

Me: “What are you looking forward to doing the most on our trip?”

H: “Going to Winton. And finding the opals and stuff. And Uluru.”

Me: “What do you think it’ll be like living in a caravan?”

H: “Umm…different”

Me: “Yeah? How?”

H: “Well it’s a lot smaller in space”

Me: “Where are you going to sleep?”

H: “Well I want to sleep on the bottom bunk but maybe I’ll have to sleep in the top bunk so Milly doesn’t fall off”

Me: “What do you think it’ll be like to have mummy and daddy both around all the time, because daddy doesn’t have to work away anymore?”

H: “Yeah, it’ll take a bit of getting used to, because dad’s usually away, and most of the time we’re at school as well”

Me: “Ahh, school! So, are you looking forward to homeschooling?”

H: “Yeah, sort of”

Me: “What do you think will be the good parts and the bad parts?”

H: “The good parts are you can (giggling) eat whenever you want and play whenever you want! And no homework! And the bad bits…….yeah I don’t think…..I don’t know?”

Me: “What do you think will be the worst part about travelling?”

H: “Ummmm…..nothing…..oh, maybe the part where we’re going to be in the car for ages”

Me: “What do you reckon about the crocodiles?”

H: “Yeah, I’m not going outside with the crocs. In the dark, at night! In the top part of Australia, around Darwin and all that”

Me: “What kind of things do you think you might get to learn about when we’re travelling and you won’t be at school?”

H: “All the different cultures, like the Aboriginals. And, like, the names of all the towns and stuff”

Me: “And will you be taking some of your books? Which books would you love to take with you?”

H: “Goosebumps and Roald Dahl. And there might even be books in some towns, about, like, Australia, that we could get”

Me: “What do you think you’ll do in the car, so you don’t get bored?”

H: “iPad (listening to music), and books, and colouring, and I Spy”

Me: “How far do you think you’ll be able to hike by the end of our trip?”

H: “15km maybe? Or 17. Right now I’m good at around 10km…but I have done 12!!”

Me: “Do you think that we should take our bikes?”

H: “Yessss!!! For sure!!!”

Me: “Do you think that mum and dad should get a bike?”

H: “DING! Yes. Then we can go for rides together”

Me: “Do you think you’ll be bored without TV?”

H: “Not really, no. Because I’ll have lots of other stuff to do, that I like better”

Me: “Can you name 10 places that you might like to go?”

H: “Winton. Kakadu. Katherine. Darwin. What’s the one right at the tip of Australia? Cape York! Ummm….there was another one! Umm, some places, I don’t know what they’re called, but around Hobart, like the places in Tasmania we didn’t get to see. Perth? And….ummmm….somewhere you can see the whales. And Mount Kosciusko!”

Me: “Who will you miss the most?”

H: “Friends, from school and dancing and stuff. And ma and pa. And granny and grandpa – although we might actually run in to them when we’re travelling!” (Note: Luke’s parents love our idea so much they are doing up their caravan and hope to do a similar thing!)



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