22 May 2020
Back to school is here!
Any relieved mums out there? (I suspect there are a few raised hands right now!)
Home school and work from home life has been TOUGH! Life has been a JUGGLE! Parents have shown they are ROCKSTARS!
As we go back to school, I wonder if kids are all feeling quite so excited. Sure they miss their friends, but kids are also a little scared by this strange thing called Covid that they don't quite understand. They have enjoyed the time at home with Mum and Dad, riding bikes and playing board games.
How do we help them to settle back into school?
As kids return to school, it is important to help them remember some of the things they love and miss about school. Maybe it is their friends, their teacher, or their favourite art class. Your child might like to connect with one of their friends again via Facetime before they return to school, to help them feel a little bit more comfortable on their first day back. They could arrange to meet their friend at the school gate so they have a buddy to go into the playground with! Our kids are worried about Covid too, so it is important to allow them "talk time" so they have the opportunity to discuss their fears with you.
You might remember that last week on the blog we talked about our "rush back to normal" and the parts of our current world that we might actually want to maintain. This applies to kids too! As they return to school, they might be sad about leaving behind some of the things they have enjoyed the past couple of months. Talk to your child about what they have enjoyed, and figure out together how they can maintain some of this. Maybe they would love a Saturday morning bike ride? Or Friday night Uno night? Maybe they want to help you cook dinner once a week? Or bake cookies for snacks on a Sunday afternoon?
Let's create our new normal.
15 May 2020
Covid stage one is here..
Restrictions are lifting, and parts of our lives are slowly returning to "normal". But what does that really mean? In a social media post this week, we shared the quote "in the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to." It really get's you thinking doesn't it?!
Covid has certainly been a confusing and scary time. The news has been scary, we haven't been able to see our friends or do the things we would normally enjoy doing, and lives have been lost. Undoubtably awful. But there have also been a few nice things about this time (there we go finding the silver lining again!) Family have enjoyed time at home together. We have been baking, gardening, enjoying walks in the sunshine, and having family games nights. Sports and after school activities have been cancelled, so we haven't had to rush around as much. Some of that has been nice hasn't it?
As we head into the next chapter of Covid, whatever that might look like, it is important that we continue to consider what we would like our lives to look like on the other side of this. What have you enjoyed during this time? How can you maintain that, even as school returns, you go back to work, and sports and after school activities resume? Maybe it is treasuring a morning coffee in the sunshine? Baking with the kids? Or keeping that Friday night family games night going?
I am definitely excited to see my friends, and visit some of our favourite local coffee shops, but there are definitely a few things I am determined to stick to.
11 May 2020
Is anyone else finding the Covid restrictions and isolation hard? Us too! We have put together a few ideas below that have helped us. We hope you will find them helpful too!
1) Do breathing or mindfulness activities to help manage some of the stress or anxiety you might be feeling. For example:
- Notice where you are right now and what is happening in the moment rather than getting caught up in the "what might happen"
- Do yoga to YouTube videos
- Use apps such as Calm.com, Smiling Minds or Headspace.
2) Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. For example, you can:
- Go for a walk or sit outside
- Notice the colour of the sky, the breeze, the sounds of birds etc
- Make a coffee and have virtual catch ups with friends
- Watch your favourite TV shows or discover some new ones.
3) Eat healthily, get some exercise and sleep. Your immune system functions much better when it is well nourished, energised and refreshed.
4) Listen to facts rather than opinions. Watch and listen to reputable news and information sources. Look for positive stories and avoid sensationalistic social media feeds. Take a break from social media or the news if you need to!
5) At the end of each day, reflect on what you can appreciate or feel grateful for. Notice any positives about the situation in general or that may have happened that day. Try for at least 3 things. They don’t have to be big!
When self-isolating at home
1) Maintain a routine. Eating and sleeping at usual times. Schedule a variety of activities each day in your diary and do them! Made sure you include activities that help you to feel productive, that you enjoy, and that help you feel good.
2) Go outside each day if the weather permits. Sit in the sun, feel the breeze, notice any trees or flowers, hear the sounds of nature and, if possible, feel the grass under your feet or get your fingers dirty in the garden soil.
3) Maintain your activity levels. For example:
- Do an online exercise class
- Put your phone on the other side of the room so you have to get up to use it. Or better still, walk around when talking with someone.
- Dance to some music - one of our favourites!
4) Embark on some projects, particularly if there are things you have been wanting to do. You could:
- Sort through your photos and create some albums
- Start a craft project like knitting or crocheting a rug
- Tidy the linen cupboard, pantry or shed
- Establish a veggie garden.
When working/researching at home
1) Create your work/research environment. Try to create an environment that you can feel calm and productive in. Place some items from your usual workplace e.g., plants or photos that you would usually have on your desk around you.
2) Set your hours, schedule lunch and morning tea breaks and try to retain your usual routine. If you ate lunch with a colleague each Tuesday or had coffee catch ups, do that virtually.
3) Develop a ritual for starting and ending each day. For instance, if you are working on your laptop at the kitchen table, place it on the table when you start and remove it when you finish. If possible, put it away where you can’t see it when you aren’t working.
4) At the end of each day, list what you achieved that day. You could also have an accountability partner whom you call each afternoon to let them know what tasks/activities you completed and vice versa. Also set your goals for the next day with them.
5) Be realistic about what can be achieved and adjust your goals and expectations taking into account that the environment may not be conducive to working as efficiently as you would like or that you may not have access to your usual resources.
Finally, be kind to yourself and others. Remember this will eventually pass!
Credit: a clever colleague of our Psychologist Aisa.
8 May 2020
With colder months arriving, lamb shanks are the perfect meal for those cold, winter evenings. They’re also perfect for days when you’re busy, because you can put this on in the morning, and a gorgeous, nourishing meal is ready for you at the end of the day. I particularly love lamb shanks because they are one of the cheaper cuts, but when cooked long and slow, are one of the sweeter parts of the lamb – and when paired with the perfect red wine, make for an enjoyable winter’s meal.
- 4 lamb shanks – approx. 400g each
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- 2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion , finely diced (or if Low FODMAP – 4-5 shallots – green part only)
- 3 garlic cloves , minced (if low FODMAP, use Garlic infused olive oil above)
- 1 cup carrot , finely diced (Note 2)
- 1 cup celery , finely diced (Note 2)
- 2 1/2 cups / 625 ml red wine , full bodied (good value wine, not expensive! Note 3)
- 800g can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups / 500 ml chicken stock, low sodium (or water)
- 5 sprigs of thyme (preferably tied together), or 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 dried bay leaves (or 4 fresh)
- Mashed potato, polenta or pureed cauliflower
- Mixed green vegetables
- Preheat the oven to 400F/220C.
- Pat the lamb shanks dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cook lamb shanks in oven for 15-20mins
- Remove lamb onto a plate and drain excess fat (if any)
- Turn the heat down to medium low. Heat remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in the same pot, if needed. Add the onion/shallots and garlic (if using), cook for 2 minutes.
- Add carrot and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until onion is translucent and sweet.
- Add the red wine, chicken stock, crushed tomato, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
- Place the lamb shanks into the pot, squeezing them in to fit so they are mostly submerged.
- Turn stove up, bring to a simmer. Cover, then transfer to the oven for 2 hours
- OR if using a slow cooker, transfer to slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hrs, or high for 4 hours OR until suitably cooked
- Remove from oven, remove lid, then return to the oven for another 30 minutes (so 2 1/2 hours in total). Check to ensure lamb is tender - if not, cover and keep cooking. Ideal is tender meat but still holding onto bone.
- Remove lamb onto plate and keep warm. Pick out and discard bay leaves and thyme.
- To thicken sauce, add cornflour and water mixture to sauce and bring to boil on stove until desired consistency is achieved
- Serve the lamb shanks on mashed potato or cauliflower puree with plenty of sauce! Garnish with thyme leaves if desired.
1. Lamb Shanks - sizes vary considerably so make sure you get ones that will fit in your cooking vessel!
If you don't have a pot large enough, you can switch to a baking dish for the slow cooking part, and cover with a double layer of foil if you don't have a lid for it.
You can also ask your butcher to cut the shaft so it bends if you are concerned, or to trim it slightly.
2. Onion, carrot and celery is the "holy trinity" of slow cooking, creating a beautiful flavour base for the sauce. It's not a deal breaker to exclude the carrot and celery, but it does give the sauce an extra edge.
3. Wine - Use a good value full bodied red wine, like cabaret sauvignon or merlot. Shiraz is ok too. No need to use expensive wine for slow cooked recipes like this.
4. Sauce options: The other option is to blitz the sauce using a sick blender. The sauce will be thicker, and you'll have more of it (leftovers great tossed through pasta).
5. OTHER COOK OPTIONS:
Slow cooker - Follow recipe to step 7. Bring sauce to simmer, scrape bottom of pot to get all brown bits into the liquid. Place shanks in slow cooker, add the sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove shanks, strain and reduce sauce to desired thickness on stove (if you blitz per Note 5, you won't need to reduce).
Pressure Cooker - Follow Slow Cooker steps, cook for 40 minutes on high. Release pressure according to manufacturer directions.
Stove - to cook this on the stove, cook for about 2 hours on low, ensuring that you check it at 1 hour then every 30 minutes thereafter to ensure there is enough braising liquid (because liquid evaporates faster on the stove). Turn the lamb shanks twice. You won't get the brown crust, but the flavour is the same!
6. Cauliflower puree - boil cauliflower florets until soft, drain and let steam dry for few minutes. Then puree with butter, milk or cream, salt and pepper. Use milk to adjust the consistency to your taste.
24 April 2020
Our Psychologist Ailsa answers your questions below about alcohol use and Covid-19.