In Julia Cameron’s wonderfully inspirational book The Artist’s Way, she recommends having a a regular “Artist’s Date”. You can listen to her describe it here. Essentially, an artist’s date is an hour or two, dedicated to feeding your creativity and doing something that nourishes your soul.
I like to think of it as a Soul Date.
1. the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal
2. emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance.
2. social or romantic appointment or engagement.
I’m not particularly regular with my Soul Dates – they’re more impromptu than organised. I really need to make an effort to be more intentional about taking this time out. Playing with beauty, art and design gets my creativity going and makes me a happier person.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou
Over the long weekend, I had a soul date with with my friend Jeanette and my sister, Jessica and our kids. As we head into autumn, Cosmos flowers are making Jozi look particularly pretty and a public holiday seemed like the perfect opportunity for some beautiful photos of the flowers. And our girls do so love a photo shoot. Connor loved it too – he’s all about outrageously funny faces and photobombing!
Jeanette is a professional photographer and Jess and I love to fiddle around with our cameras as a hobby. We had the best afternoon, traipsing through the veld, searching for good photo spots, and experimenting with the light and poses as the kids came up with ideas for shots. Of course, their ideas included tree climbing and some action gymnastic shots. My nieces tried throwing little bouquets of Cosmos that they collected into the air, and trying to catch the moment as they fell to the ground. I didn’t get great shots, but it was fun trying to time the moment.
I love taking photos on my iPhone, and I am still learning to play with my new toy, a Canon EOS mirrorless camera. The pics I took with the Canon haven’t been downloaded yet (lazy me) but in the meantime, here are a couple of my iPhone pics.
I’d like my next Soul Date to be a First Thursday at the Keyes Art Mile. What will yours be?
If you’ve had any interaction with me at all, both in real life and online, you’ll know that I’ve just had the best vacation E.V.E.R! It’s all I spoke about for months beforehand and it’s all my sweet dreams are about now.
A couple of months ago, Belinda, based in Dubai, decided that the very best way to celebrate her milestone birthday was with her family on a tropical island. Cue a ton of excitement from all of us and a mad panic to renew passports and get kids’ unabridged birth certificates. That, in itself, is the subject of an entirely different blog post.
July seemed a very long way away back then, but time flew by and before we knew it, the big day had arrived and the Dubai Green and the Jozi Greens were jetting off from ORT to meet the Perth Greens in paradise.
We stayed in the most fabulous resort – Beachcomber Trou-Aux-Biches – worth every single star of its 5 star rating. The 13 Greens shared two villas, each beautifully furnished with ALL the creature comforts including a private pool, outdoor showers and more Nespresso than even my caffeine addicted body needed. The beds were incredible – Jon reckons he should have worn his fitness tracker to roll over and kiss Jess goodnight – they were big, like super king size! The whole hotel, from the villas to the restaurant restrooms, was scented with the most unbelievable fragrance. I found out later that it’s a Beachcomber fragrance called Royal Orchid.
Buffet breakfast where you have no choice but to try ALL the food then swear you’re not eating until supper.
Beach/pool, read, roll over, repeat.
Decide you’re peckish and might head up to the restaurant for a bite of the buffet lunch. You have no option but to try ALL the food. Wonder if you’ll possibly be able to eat dinner?
Back to the beach/villa to read nap.
Sundowner drinks and the butler arrives with a plate of pre-dinner snacks. Amazingly, you’re able squeeze one or three of the spring rolls.
Dress for dinner and a golf cart to take us to one of the numerous hotel restaurants – Italian/Thai/Indian/Gourmet Seafood/Themed buffet)
Drinks and chatter after dinner at one of the villas and blissfully to bed.
The Greens did mix it up a bit by snorkeling, canoeing, pedal boating, stand up paddling, a glass bottom boat trip and a trip into Grand Baie and a few walks to the Trou-aux-Biches village for some retail therapy. We could find pretty much anything we may have needed at Chez Popo supermarket.
So snorkeling. Can’t say that was my favourite thing ever. I am a massive scaredy-cat when it comes to swimming, especially sea swimming. So the first time we went out on the snorkel boat, I decided I wasn’t even going to try. Then FOMO struck as I watched everyone bobbing about, so I borrowed a pair of flippers and tried to climb off the boat. Panic and nerves set in and I just couldn’t do it. The next time we all went snorkeling, I decided to try again, this time with the safety of a life jacket. I actually got off the boat that time. But I was too busy popping my head out the water to find Nemo. I had to make sure the boat hadn’t sailed away without me! I am quite comfortable to now admit that snorkeling is not for me. I am quite happy to marvel over the wonders of the ocean floor from a safety of a glass bottom boat.
We decided to celebrate Belinda’s big birthday on Friday night and we were treated to a barbecue in our villa, cooked by one of the chefs and served by our amazing butlers. The hotel staff made the most incredible effort and it was a special night. We spoiled Belinda with some bling in a teal box and a photo book of memories. I think the photo book that we created for her was a hit!
On Saturday we had to say a sad goodbye to the Aussie Greens, so we had to take a traditional family selfie before they left.
After that, we were all very subdued. Cocktails were necessary…
And on Sunday – it was all over. My only regrets – that the hotel shop had sold out of the Royal Orchid fragrance diffusers – the little memento I was planning to buy myself to evoke memories of my week in the tropics. Oh and that I didn’t get to meet our celebrity neighbours.
Yes – I almost forgot to tell you – we had celebrity neighbours, just a few villas away! Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are staying at the resort to film a movie. Sadly, I only got to spot the back of Anne – but other family members got really good sightings and Jess even made eye contact with Ms Hathaway. I did consider doing some real stalking, but that would be a bit uncool, you know?
A resort holiday is absolutely indulgent from the minute you set foot on the resort, but everyone agreed that by far the biggest treat of all was spending a full week together as a family. The cousins bonded, as did the mom, siblings and siblings-in-law, and we all treasured the quality time together.
I am also so grateful for the opportunity for my kids to experience an overseas trip. Travelling broadens your horizons in so many ways. I am pretty sure an overseas gap year is definitely on Ewan’s to do list now! He’s even talking about wanting to be an exchange student. And I have a travel bucket list as long as my arm, so it’s time to start doing some planning and budgeting!.
P.S. I wanted to call this post How the Greens got marooned – you know… marooned on an island and a play on the colours – geddit? Instead I chose #GreensGoTroppo – that was our chosen holiday hashtag for all pics we shared on social media. “Troppo” is a nod to the tropical island experience and Aussie slang for going nuts. And since we shared the week with the Aussie Greens, it seemed appropriate!
I’ve hinted a couple of times about a big and exciting change happening in my little corner of the blogging world.
Finally, after much deliberation and procrastination, I have taken my blog to the next level. From a .wordpress.com site to my very own domain. And here you are… www.inhilshead.co.za!
I am so, so happy be able to share this space with you! A lot of time and love has gone into creating a space that’s all mine, from the design to the written content.
So what’s going to be happening InHil’sHead in the coming months? I guess the best way to describe this space is as a lifestyle blog… about my life as a busy, working mom, trying to live my best life. From my food and life hacks, to parenting, my efforts at fitness, the books I read, the places I go and the thinks I think. And everything in-between. I even have my first giveaway lined up – super exciting and I can’t wait to share it! I’ll be sharing my monthly column with you too – a light-hearted look at parenting tweens and teens. I have so much news to share about what I’ve been up to recently – expect loads of tropical island pics!
Oh – and my old posts are all here too, so you’re welcome to take a look through those while you’re here!
Click subscribe below so that we can stay in touch! You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And please, please let me know what you think in the comments below!
If you’re a friend or a regular reader you’ll know that this year Ewan started high school. I posted a long while back about choosing a high school. In the end, we chose the all boys traditional public school.
It’s only been a few weeks since the new school year started. We’ve dealt with so many changes in such a short time! Looking back, I can’t really believe that it’s only been just over a month. It feels like we’ve been doing this forever.
The first few days were rough. The older grades asserted their seniority, which was a little intimidating for the total newbie. Fortunately there wasn’t any of the horror initiation I’ve heard about! For the most part, I think it was good natured and just the older boys showing the formies where they fit in this new society that they’re part of. Ewan took it well, with his usual good humour. All the same, he was relieved when it was over and they were left alone to blend in with the rest of the school.
The bigger shock to his system was having to deal with making new friends in a completely strange environment. He was a well liked kid in his nurturing primary school and he’d made some very close friends in the time he was there. Finding new friends in a new school, where everyone was a stranger took some time. I underestimated how hard it could be for a 13 year old. You know how little kids who’ve just met will just wander off to the jungle gyms and an hour later be best friends for life? Well I had to remember that it gets more complicated when you’re older. He had to find his crowd. Boys that he could relate to.
For the first week or two, he was pretty sure that no such kids existed in his new school. I’m so grateful that his old primary school friends have been around on weekends for hangouts and a sleepover or two during this time. Thankfully, he’s now found a gang! He’s found his people and he’s starting to feel comfortable in his space.
All in all, it’s been a positive experience.
I am still finding the communication lines a bit confusing but I guess I’m getting used to where to find out what and I’m also learning to rely on Ewan for info.
It’s strange not to really know who teaches him what. We’re yet to formally meet any teachers. We’ve only listened to them talk at a the parent’s info evening.
I appreciate the strong sense of respect and discipline the school is instilling in the boys.
And brotherhood… it’s only been weeks and I sense that Ewan already feels a strong bond to the school.
They each have a matric mentor and it’s awesome to see the older boys taking the younger ones under their wings. Yesterday, the formies had a braai with their matric mentors and I was really happy to see them actually interacting with the older boys when I arrived to fetch him. And goodbyes were said with fist pumps, elbow bumps and everything, lol!
I love the regular visits and news they get from old boys who have done well. From Rhodes scholars to Olympian medal winners & provincial sportsmen. I really do think it inspires the boys to be all they can be.
I enjoy our car trips to school. We’ve solved the world’s problems, had silly laughs and driven in companionable silence (and I’ve given a few lectures – I am the mom of course!)
I’ve learned that buttons don’t get sewn on. They pierce holes in their blazers and anchor the buttons in place! Ingenious, I tell you.
So far, so good, but bring on the holidays!
And for our next trick, we need to figure out where to send Claire!!!
P.S. This post was read and vetted by the subject before I hit “publish”.
It’s been a big, hard week for my big kid! So much change, so much to get used to! While I have no doubt that in time, we will all find our way in this new teenage world we’re navigating, it doesn’t make the right now the easiest place to be.
Which got me thinking about all the times in life I’ve been through the same thing. There were those five schools I went to. Oh and the move from Jozi to Witbank and then a move back to the big city a few years later – which just happened to tie in with the year I went to highschool!
Then there was me joining the working world. Lordy, that was big! I distinctly remember not being sure whether I was allowed to leave my desk to go to the loo without permission from my boss – and her laughing at me when I did finally get desperate enough to ask! And then my second job – okay, admittedly it made somewhat easier by having a bit of prior work experience and the fact that I made an awesome friend on that first day. Who just happened to be the guy I married a few years later.
There was moving out of my parent’s home into a flat share and then later into my own place. And after that, sharing a home with Nick. Learning to budget for monthly groceries, deal with house maintenancy stuff. Hey – when Nick first did a grocery shop, he bought the most enormous tin of instant coffee and bag of cake flour. The flour grew weevils way before it got turned into something edible and we had bad coffee for months and months!
There have been a bunch of work changes since those first two jobs. Most recently it was when the comfy little company I worked for got bought out by a big corporate. I knew it was a good move with great opportunity but my word – those first few days in the new place! I remember feeling so strange and uncomfortable as I walked the passages. The hundreds of unfamiliar faces. The uncertainty of how any of the processes worked, even something as simple as ordering a meal in the canteen. Now, just over a year later, I walk down the same corridors and cheerily say “Hi” to colleagues and friends (assuming I’ve had my two cups of coffee by then)!
The thing is, I’m a reasonably confident girl when I’m comfortable in my space. I can be chatty and friendly and even a bit funny. But put me in a space which is new and intimidating and I’m suddenly quite shy and reserved. I’ve only recently tried to learn the art of “fake it till you make it”.
Probably the biggest change of all was becoming a parent. The belly and all the physical preparation for a change which was so much more complex than just adding a new person to our household. And then the rapid and constant change that parenthood brings! I remember remarking, in frustration, that no sooner have I gotten the hang of one stage of mommying my baby when they would suddenly have a growth spurt and some new challenge would present itself – growing teeth or spitting out apple purée or peeing behind the couch.
So yep, this change that’s happening now, this big new world – it’s hard! But it’s the way life works – he’ll find his feet. And just when he thinks he’s got it all waxed…
Geez – this back to school stuff is expensive! This year particularly , what with the teen entering high school and needing an entire new uniform!
By uniform, I’m not talking white shirt, grey pants and black shoes. I haven’t even done that shopping yet! I’m talking blazer, a straw basher (umm – what century are we in again?), PT kit, house shirt, rugby shirt, rugby boots, tracksuit… the list is literally endless!
And then there has to be new bags and pencil cases for both. We teased the tween and told her that she could just inherit her brother’s bag if hers wasn’t good enough. He could have a new one, because new school and all *evil laugh*!
Seriously though, after a year of hard use, they both need new bags! And then there was the task of convincing the tween that the pretty sparkly satchels that you can buy at “Typo” and “Claire’s” are not appropriate for lugging around a pile of exercise books, text books, stationery and three week old sandwiches and banana skins. I wish I were kidding about the bananas but the tween’s main complaint was that her backpack smelled of banana. I’m sure that it is at this juncture that my mom or aunt will remind me of the time they discovered a couple of moulding peanut butter sarmies in my school bag when I was about 9 – all neatly flattened in-between those cardboardy compartments that all uncool school bags had.
Anyways – back to the shopping. I’ve been doing this back to school thing for a fair number of years and these are some of my top tips for the back to school drill:
We have a super awesome little stationery shop in our local mall that make up stationery packs according to individual requirements. I simply emailed them the lists that I got from the school for each grade and within the day I had a quote and by the end of the week the packs were ready and waiting to be picked up and paid for. And price wise, they’re really competitive. I did a spot check on one or two of the more expensive items like the scientific calculator and they were really well priced. So, so, so much easier than fighting your way through Makro or Game or CNA and hunting on hands and knees for a specific 745 page right margined, half quad and half feint A25 work book.
We always buy new stationery as per the lists provided each year so that the kids start the year off with some excitement about all things shiny and new. I speak from experience as I can’t get motivated to get going with my own studying with yucky old stationery. I go through all the old stuff and save what is usable for the home work desks. I sharpen all the pencils and test the khokis and highlighters and throw out the broken and almost finished. Spare scissors, glues, sharpeners, compasses and protractors are kept aside for those last minute “mom, I’ve lost …” requests, five seconds before we are due to leave the house.
And sticking with glue (see what I did there?) I also buy a couple of extras because they ALWAYS run out! I also always buy a pad of coloured poster paper to keep aside – for those last ditch attempts at projects.
If you don’t fancy keeping last year’s used pens and pencils etc – spare a thought for the needy kids who don’t get awesome new goodies!
I strip the clean paper out of last year’s partially used exercise books and keep it in one of those clear plastic storage boxes from Westpack. Scrap paper is always useful for random things shopping lists and visits from littlies wanting to draw. That’s about as far as my recycling of school stuff goes. I tried once to melt down a gazillion wax crayons into one big one – but that was a waste of time and energy. Thank goodness my kidlets are past the wax crayon stage!
If you do have to buy paper text books and particularly if you plan to pass them down to younger siblings – take your time to cover them with sticky backed plastic. It makes such a difference to keeping them in a decent state so that the younger sibling doesn’t cringe with embarrassment when their turn comes to using the books.
And on the note of hand-me-down books, I’ve now dedicated a bookshelf for text books and set works and dictionaries etc. Saves us having to fork out extra ronts when sibling 2 needs a book that you’re 110% certain sibling 1 had and can’t find anywhere until months after it is needed.
Get the kids involved in getting all this back-to-school stuff ready. Seriously. If they can write their names legibly, they can help with the labelling! I’d also like to take this moment to thank the stationery gods for slip on plastic book covers!
takealot.com has an awesome selection of school bags at good prices. Let’s just hope ours arrive in time for school next week. I left the ordering till today, but online shopping really is the bomb.com
What are your tips and tricks for back to school? And tell me I’m not alone with the mouldy sandwiches, please!
P.S. My little local stationery shop has branches in Randpark Ridge and Morning Glen. Find them on http://www.capmor.co.za/ – they didn’t ask for a punt – I just think they’re super cool!
I kept planning to write a goodbye 2016 post – but holiday chill got the better of me and I didn’t get round to it before the clock struck 12 last night!
Social media has been all abuzz about how nasty 2016 was. Honestly though – I see people saying that every year. It was just a year. It had good moments and bad moments. I reckon for us, more good than bad.
I took a look at my resolution blog for 2016 and I’ll give myself a pass mark. I managed to achieve some goals, made progress on a few and flunked one or two.
My top achievement was finishing the first year of my degree, in one year! It was hard work and very stressful but I did it and now, being one third of the way in, I have no excuse not to carry on and complete my second year.
I also ran the Two Oceans half marathon and some other half marathons in the first half of 2016. But that all came to a grinding halt in the second half of the year.
I’ve made some progress in my career plans too. They’ve not gone as quickly as I had hoped but progress is progress, nonetheless.
We’ve had some amazing holiday and trips and I’ve loved all the photo opportunities! Follow me on Instagram (@inhilshead) to check out my iphoneography escapades.
My battle with my weight loss was been one of the fails for the year. I lost focus and let the stress of the last half of the year get the better of me. I’ve eaten my stress, my emotions and all the chocolate and it’s been a slippery slope back to where I started. The lack of regular exercise didn’t help either. So in total clichéd fashion, the new me starts today.
I bought a lovely new car this year! I’m absolutely loving driving it!
As for my family… they’ve all had some amazing highlights too.
For Ewan, the long anticipated end to Primary school finally arrived. The last few weeks of “lasts” for him and us left us all with mixed feelings.
It’s a strange place to be in as a mom. Claire will still be at the school so I’ve not said goodbye completely. But I did say goodbye to parents that I’ve known and chatted to for the last 9 years! Some have become good friends and we will continue to socialise, but others remained friendly, familiar faces that I might only bump into again. There’s some sort of sadness in that.
And on to highschool… I know Ewan’s a little nervous and so am I – there is just so much to get used to!
Claire has had an exciting year too. It was her first year doing competitive gymnastics and she did really well, achieving junior Gauteng colours and a whole bunch of gold medals!
Nick ran his first ultra marathon and a whole bunch of other races and just gets fitter and stronger. I’m excited to see where and how far his running shoes take him in the coming years.
Thank you 2016 for some awesome memories, lessons and experiences!
For the first few years of parenting, I imagined the day with a measure of dread. They’re so sweet and innocent and how is it possible that they will ever be big enough to have to know stuff about body hair, puberty, periods, contraception. I didn’t even consider factoring rape into the discussion. And being a young, naïve parent I somehow imagined that the talk was a one-time event that would occur at some point in the distant future. Like getting a driver’s licence… but with more discomfort. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the greatest comparison – the process of actually getting my driver’s licence came with a huge deal of discomfort.
As I became a slightly more experienced (aka opinionated) parent, my mental preparation evolved. As soon as they asked the first question, I would respond with an age appropriate answer, love, clarity and zero embarrassment. I would be matter-of-fact about all matters relating to body. I would emphasise the normalcy of it all so as to avoid them growing up with all sorts of hang ups. I would emphasise love and maturity and informed choice. My kids would feel comfortable to ask me anything, confident in the knowledge that I would answer them with love and openness.
The reality is slightly different though. This was never to be a once off conversation. And it was never the clichéd “where do babies come from?” that I had been mentally preparing for. This was never clearer than on the day that my almost 10 year old son overheard a news report about a 10 year old girl that was pregnant and asked how it was possible. Instead of being sweet and innocent, I found myself explaining the horrors of molestation, rape and the basic mechanics of sex in one go, which with the benefit of hindsight was probably too much, too soon and hardly age appropriate. But my thought process at the time was that if a girl, barely older than him was capable of conceiving, then maybe he needed to know it all. And when you’re caught off guard, it’s not easy to know where to start and stop. Another thing… as a trained doula with a bit of knowledge about the processes of pregnancy and birth, I tend to get a bit technical about these sort of things. I worry that I have bombarded my poor children with too much of the actual biology, not to mention my own biases.
Despite my best intentions about open lines of communication and my kids being free and comfortable to talk to me about anything… they are often just not that keen to talk. My boy child especially. We’ve had a couple of good chats, but they’re never easy. I think that no matter how open minded and liberal a parent may be, it’s just not that easy to talk comfortably about sex. It’s been slightly easier with my daughter. She loves a good chat and seems fairly comfortable discussing things with me. The most important thing that I have realised with having two older kids is that the talks have to happen and happen again. And again. Their filters are so different at each age and what they have taken in from our early talks is very different from what they take in now as a tween and a teen. And the conversations mostly need to be started by me. I need to check in regularly and find out where they’re at, and hopefully they will follow with what they want to know.
I don’t think that kids should be left to get Sex Ed from school but I’m extremely grateful that my children’s school has an annual workshop for the senior primary students where they’re given age appropriate talks about all sorts of tricky subjects. These talks happened last week and have opened the doors to conversations between the kids and I. We’ve talked about a whole host of things in the last few days. In light of the horrible Brock case that has been all over the news this week, I realised that the talks also need to emphasise my daughter’s right to say NO, no matter the person or situation. And for my son… that No is always No, and saying nothing doesn’t mean consent.
It’s a learning curve, as is everything with parenting. What has your approach to “the birds and bees” been? And how do you feel about talking about the really uncomfortable stuff like rape?
I started writing this post on the long drive between dorpies in the great Karoo. The scenery in the Karoo is beautiful in a desolate, African way. Windmills, sheep, greeny-brown vegetation, big sky, dusty towns and long, straight roads.
I’ve shared some of my favourite photos on Instagram and Facebook already but thought I’d share them and more in a blog too for some context.
On the drive down, we overnighted in a tiny town called Victoria West. We have had great luck with food in the small dorpies this holiday!
This was quite the best lamb pie I’ve ever tasted! We found these pies at a little padstal advertising Pizza Hut and Karoo Fried Chicken! Got to love a good sense of humour!
We had dinner at the Karoo Deli in Victoria West. They weren’t technically open for dinner but we popped in at lunch time and the restaurant owner said that she was cooking for another couple, so she would cater for us to! She laid out the best spread of boere food that only my late Ouma would have been able to compete with!
Our Capetown accommodation was fabulous – we stayed in a house Nick found via AirBnB in the Marina Da Gama in Muizenberg.
Below is a photo I took of the kids from the look out tower in the house. 87 steps to get to the top of the tower! The kids counted!
And the view from the deck!
A view of the marina from the tower…
As soon as we had unpacked we took our first trip And then of course the first trip to the beach!
After collecting our race packs from the CTICC on day 2, we went to Hout Bay and the best fish and chip lunch at Snoekies.
Oh, and a drive over the incredibly beautiful Chapman’s Peak! This was a recce mission before Nick’s big ultra run a few days later!
On one of the afternoons, I met my friend Elsabe for a coffee and cake at the Olympic Cafe in Muizenberg and took this photo on the railway line across the road. I just loved the bright colours oft the buildings against the blue sky!
Of course we spent a fair bit of time just chilling – books and wine… Bliss!
Credit to Claire for this pic.
Even though us adults considered it to be less than ideal beach weather, the kids still insisted on swimming and boogie boarding. I’m sure our next trip here will involve surf lessons!
And of course Claire posed upside down… #handstandsaroundtheworld
A highlight I didn’t take any photos of was a lovely lunch last Friday with my cousin Graham and his family.
I haven’t seen him or his wife Careen in years and have never met their son, so it was great to catch up. The kids loved meeting a cousin they didn’t know and spent the afternoon playing.
Careen ran Two Oceans the next day and it was wonderful to see Graham’s familiar face supporting the runners on the race route!
The next day was race day, which I’ve already blogged about in my previous post.
Stay tuned! I will be back soon with part 2 of my my vacation blog post.
We are almost at the end of the first term of school and I’m about to tell you a tale about something that happened very early in the first weeks of this school year. It’s taken me this long to write about it because I really needed to put some distance between me and the traumatic event. And I’m not exaggerating- it was that traumatic!
So there I was, early one school morning, brushing my daughter’s hair, when she remarked that her head was itchy. Truth be told, she had mentioned it before and I hadn’t really thought much about it – I just assumed that she hadn’t rinsed her her properly after washing. She’s a big girl now and I mostly leave her to do her own ablutions and just check in on what’s happening behind the ears now and then. She also generally ties her hair up herself and it’s only when she wants to do something special, that I get involved. Well this was one @ those days. She mentioned the itchiness and I parted her mass of long brown hair and took a closer look. And there it was… Although I had never seen one before, it was unmistakable. A creepy crawly creature, about the size of a sesame seed, hanging out in my daughter’s hair. She had lice.
My heart sank and I wanted to cry. I didn’t because I didn’t want to freak her out, but I just knew, from the mother grapevine, what a nightmare lice are to get rid off. I told her to not to bother with getting dressed, it was going to be a stay at home day for her. I also suggested, in the kindest possible way, that she stay off the furniture. I left a request for my domestic helper to wash all the linen, on super hot, and tumble dry what couldn’t be washed. I needed to be at work that day, but I don’t think I was terribly productive – I think I spent most of the day googling “how to nuke lice without harming the head on which they’re feeding”. There is an astonishing amount of information on this, let me tell you. From how-to instructions to home remedies like coca-cola, coconut oil and straightening irons.
Besides googling, I had to make the phone call to the school to confess my shameful failing as a parent. I know, I know, it’s a seriously common problem amongst kids, and absolutely no reflection on us, but it just felt so embarrassing! The school secretary was awesome. She’d clearly handled calls like this before and was sympathetic and light and made me feel a little less like a leper.
That afternoon, I drove home via Dischem and stood staring at the medicated hair care range for ages. What to pick? The hippy tea tree stuff or the one with the cartoon louse being bonked on the head with a hammer? And then which product from the range to choose? The dip or the spray? Is the shampoo necessary too? I chose a couple of products and went home to wage warfare on my daughters head. We sprayed, we combed, we shampooed and we combed. It took hours. And we did it all again a few days later. And in between, I nitpicked, daily, whenever I had access to her head. My daughter has a lot of hair, and picking the nits out felt like an impossible task. Just when I thought I had them all, I found more. And just when I thought we had the situation under control, I found a few live creatures again. Rinse, repeat.
It’s been a few weeks since the great lice infestation of 2016 and I believe we are well and truly clear of the buggers now. I still check her hair every few days, but all she seems to have now is a dry scalp from all the products! I think the checking becomes a bit of of an OCD thing actually.
My top tips for getting rid of lice:
Regardless of the product/old wives remedy you choose, the lice comb is your best friend. The best way to get rid of these things is by applying conditioner to wet hair and combing the hair a few strands at a time.
You really do need to catch every single nit – and they really stick to the hair. As I combed, I would search for the nits and slide them down the strand of hair. They need to be removed manually, they do not comb out.
Be religious about checking. This will not be a once off treatment.
Time your big bed linen wash with the treatment – no point in doing a few hours of a lice treatment and going to bed in a lice infested bed.
If your child has siblings, cousins, friends that they hang out with all the time, check the other kids out too. Chances are they are also infested and there’s no point waging warfare on your child’s head when they’re just going to pick them up again from their BFF. Check your own hair too.
If your budget allows, apparently the best way to go is with a lice clinic, but these treatments are pricey. Although once you’ve done a couple of treatments with the off-the-shelf products, you will have racked up quite a Dischem bill.
Finally a big shout out to my Claire! She was a total trooper throughout the whole ordeal. She rarely complained and sat through the hours of combing with grace and humour.