5 things we can do to help reduce period shame

The older I get the less concerned I am about the little things, but still the idea of bleeding through my pants in public is enough to ensure that I am always prepared for my monthly. Because I remember very clearly that first day I got my period. I was in church with my dad wearing a white skirt, and my period leaked all the way through. I was devastated and embarrassed beyond reason! At age 11, getting my period wasn’t on my radar. Even my mum didn’t believe me when I told her, and she made me show her my underpants.

These days, I think of New Zealand as being very progressive, yet attitudes surrounding periods haven’t changed that much since I was an adolescent. Each month I stand at a market stall selling period undies and without fail there will be multiple young girls, dragged over by their mum, who are way too embarrassed to even consider the word period, let alone talk about it!

This happens for several reasons. It’s normal to feel shy and apprehensive about getting your period. It’s a big change and for many girls it can be unexpected and emotional. For some families, talking about periods is no big deal, while for other families it may cause complete anxiety. What creates even greater period shame is a lack of understanding (for both girls and boys), negative attitudes towards periods, and a when teens and preteens are shown that it’s normal to talk about periods in hushed tones, or while blushing or looking embarrassed.

The problem with period shaming

The problem is our young girls are getting bullied at school and made to feel shame and embarrassment by getting their period. Shaming can come in many forms. From being teased and picked-on to having others openly whisper about them. Period shaming can lead towards to body-image issues, anxiety, and self-hate.

Ways to help reduce period shaming

I believe we all have a role to play in trying to reduce period shame. Here are some ways that can help.

  1. Try not to shy away from conversations about periods. Instead, create a space for girls and boys to talk about periods openly.
  2. Girls and boys need reliable information about periods. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your kids about periods, make sure they have other ways to access this information. Maybe watching a video or reading a book together would be easier.
  3. Try talking about your own experience with periods. It’s easy to forget your experience as an adolescent. Before you swiftly dismiss any feelings you may have had of pain, cramps, embarrassment or cultural expectation, pause to reflect, and then share.

You may be a parent, aunt, or family friend. We can all do our part to help open the conversation surrounding periods.

  • Girls starting their journey into womanhood is something to be celebrated! In order to create open conversations, we need to increasingly discuss what we need to get through our periods. For me, I like some extra alone time at the start and sweet food. It’s important to listen to your teen or preteen, so that you can help her sort through her feelings until she is more comfortable with menstruating.
  • Boys gain so much pride from getting pubic hair or growing taller. Yet girls are made to feel embarrassment, shame, and fear. It’s not fair. We can help change this by instead sharing body positive messages. Such as –

‘You are becoming a kick-arse woman! Let’s celebrate by getting take-out’.
Or ‘Owww, how exciting, it’s the start of your next journey!’

  • It’s important to help our daughters understand that they too can help smash the stigma, by talking to friends about their period. The more they talk about it, the more confident they will become. The more confident they become the less concerned they are when people try and shame them for something that is completely natural.

Take the pressure off your teen or preteen by ensuring they are prepared for when the time comes. Both with products and information! Try Vivo Bodywear today.

This month, I’m running a special on my Happy Camper Period Pamper Pack. Check it out today!

Am I too old to make a career change?

There I was, earning a great wage, with several senior executive positions under my belt. I had two happy children, a relaxed home life and we took wonderful family holidays each year. Life was easy. But it was also becoming quite predictable. My work wasn’t challenging me anymore. The kids were settled. My husband and I had a good routine. All was fine…

I could have left it like that.  

But when I reached my 40’s, I started to gain more perspective on life. I had less concerns about the little things and greater awareness about what I needed to make my life more complete. I think many of us reach an age where you know you have a solid foundation of skills and confidence within yourself, to be capable of doing many things.

I reached a tipping point just prior to Covid lockdown. It’s like the stars aligned. I was ready for a change, I knew what I was passionate about (due to a wee issue), and lockdown provided a timely pause in my life, which set the wheels in motion.

However, I was not prepared for the ups and downs I would face. While I had confidence in my ability to overcome obstacles, I was oblivious to the level of learning that I would be required to undertake. The set-up stage alone required all my problem solving, planning and strategic skills to be on overdrive. I loved the creativity of it all and stimulating my brain and challenging myself again was fantastic, but some days I found that my mental capacity wasn’t as agile as it once was. I needed to be so much more diligent and organised about how I saved my documents. I needed to consistently make, and follow, a to-do list. Most of all, I needed to be prepared to work hard again. I had given my previous career 20 years and for some reason I thought that I would be competent enough to take on a new profession and master it straight away. I instantly gained a new appreciation for all those people owning a small business. 

It was when I started selling products that I first queried if maybe I was too old to start a new business. It was trying to get my head around so many aspects of social media and digital marketing that made me question myself. I had to Google what the difference was between an Instagram Story and a Reel. I still thought that I was young at age 46. But clearly this is not the case. E-commerce is a cut-throat world and now with the pandemic continuing, it feels like a mission every day to just get one sale. I am constantly hustling, and I can see why 96% of small NZ businesses fail within the first two years.

The thing is though, now I am home every day when my kids finish school and I get to hear about their day while it’s fresh in their mind. I don’t spend 2hrs each day commuting, and I am being creative again and using a range of old skills and new talents in harmony. I’m stimulating my brain again and it’s glorious! Sure, it’s hard work and I’m unlikely to make a profit for many years, but I also don’t need as much as I use to. I don’t need a designer wardrobe or expensive make-up. I don’t need to eat out in fancy restaurants, and I don’t need a monthly massage (although – I do miss that the most!)

What I have found is that I’m doing something for me… and that feels worthwhile. I’m no longer living predictably through the days as I head towards retirement. I am showing my children and myself that personal happiness and fulfilment matters.

My new business inspiration all started as a result of having two ginormous children that came out the size of toddlers and demolished my pelvic floor muscles. Over time I started a nasty habit of wearing disposable pads/panty liners every day to catch any bladder leaks when I exercised, laughed or sneezed. Sometimes I would need them and sometimes I wouldn’t. But the waste continued. I started to realise that I could do better, both for the environment and for myself. It was then that I started to wear reusable absorbent leakproof underwear, but every style I tried wasn’t absorbent enough, or the top layer felt damp, or I heard a plastic rustle sounds when I walked. I thought, surely us women shouldn’t have to put up with that!

I think my tipping point was discovering that it took 500 years for sanitary pads to decompose. I knew then, it was time for a change! And so began my journey to create Vivo Bodywear the most absorbent reusable leakproof underwear you can buy. Since then, not once have I walked down the sanitary products aisle at the supermarket. Instead, I now run again, and jump on the tramp, and laugh with friends without a care in the world! It is liberating!  

Should you feel like joining the revolution, try Vivo Bodywear today – they are simply perfect for replacing pads, liners and tampons. You will be amazed at how great these are! Not only are they stylish, comfy and environmentally friendly but they are also infused with anti-odour and anti-bacterial properties, so you will feel fresh and dry all day long! 

If you’d like to read more about the things I did and didn’t do well when I made my career change, then check out this article Key tips on how to survive a mid-life career change.

How to prevent bladder leaks

The hardest thing about pelvic floor exercises – is remembering to do them! Try these tips for creating a lasting habit

I have an embarrassing problem. My bladder leaks when I run, sneeze, or even just walk too fast. And because I love food – I need to run to burn some of it off (ok so running is overselling it. I lightly jog.)

But also, I sneeze a LOT – if its not hayfever, then its cats, if it’s not cats then its dust – you get the picture right. And because I grew up in Melbourne, I have a tendency to walk fast. Got to keep up! But all this fast walking results in bladder leakage. And I haven’t even started on the days when I’m trying to be good with my water intake!!! 

It all started many years ago when I had my first son. He was 10lb and boy did he have man-boobs. My second son, two years later, was as 12lb. He came out looking like a toddler – which was not ok. My boys are the joy of my life, but my pelvic floor muscles have never been the same. I guess this is my biggest problem. I’m told that I should be able to fix my pelvic floor muscles. Mum sent me a brochure about a wave machine I can sit on. And my friend told me about electrodes that pulse when I put them up my girly parts. I tried very hard to get the mesh surgery. But after three operation postponements (due to hundreds of women having issues with faulty pelvic mesh implants in Australia resulting in multiple lawsuits), I decided that the universe was trying to tell me something, so I temporarily gave up on that.

Instead, I have decided to work on my pelvic floor muscles. See previous blog post for the: 4 steps for how to do your pelvic floor exercises correctly.

I understand how to do my pelvic floor exercises, but my problem is REMEMBERING to do them!

The trick I have discovered is two-fold. Planning and exercise.

Here are my 4 key tips to help make the habit stick

  1. Start small. Try with one set of pelvic floor exercises every day for one week and then aim to increase. It takes on average more than 2 months before a new habit becomes automatic. It’s good to build up to it and set yourself a goal to do them for a minimum of two months.
  2. Link the exercises to key trigger points in your day when you are more likely to create a joint habit. For some people, it works to link the exercise to brushing teeth every morning and night. For others it works to do the exercises on the daily work commute. Linking them to regular and familiar triggers is key. For me, I wake in the middle of the night. Regardless of the fact that the night waking is a bad habit, I find that because my mind is more relaxed and I’m not rushing, it’s when I remember my exercises the most.
  3. Consider your habits, lifestyle and routine and then mentally schedule in the times for when you will do your pelvic floor exercises. You need to make it work for you.
  4. Share with a friend that you are doing them. You can then do them together! Make it a fun activity that you both can remember and do together. Because when 1 in 3 women experience bladder leaks, you quickly discover that bladder leaks are more common than you think. So we all could benefit from a little pelvic floor exercise.

Excitingly, you are never too old to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. So start today!

Pelvic floor exercises don’t work for everybody. Should you need a little back up protection – try Vivo Bodywear! Hands down – the best bladder control underwear you will find!

12 ways to help fix or alleviate bladder leakage!

1           Seek medical helpIf you haven’t sought help – put this as a priority. Go to the doctor, your local continence nurse, or pelvic health physio therapist.
2           Do your pelvic floor exercisesStart today! Squeeze and draw-in the muscles around your bottom hole and your girly-parts at the same time. Lift them UP inside – all the way. Hold them strong and tight for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times (3 times a day). But be aware, pelvic floor exercises are not for everyone.
3           Keep active and strengthen your coreKeeping active not only helps with overall health but it can also help you lose weight. As carrying extra weight will strain your pelvic floor muscles. And everything adds up! Some activities are better than others. Yoga and pilates are two activities that are great for strengthening your core and they have the added benefit of incorporating mindfulness and relaxation. This is partially helpful because incontinence is often connected with anxiety and depression.
4           Minimize bladder irritantsUnfortunately, caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and spicy/acidic foods can irritate the bladder and make leaks worse. If you find this to be a hard – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 
5           Don’t strain when doing poo’sTry to keep your bowel movements regular, because being constipated or straining while going number 2’s can overstretch your pelvic floor muscles and make urinary incontinence worse.
6           Avoid liftingLifting strains your pelvic floor muscles – so avoid it whenever you can. The key is to try any avoid anything that repetitively strains your pelvic muscles.
7           Re-train your bladderYour bladder is likely to be only 60% full when you get the urge to go pee.
Train your bladder to hold more urine without leaking by delaying your pee past the point of your urge to go. First try to delay by five minutes, by contracting your pelvic floor muscles and holding the contraction. Then aim to build up to twenty minutes or more. While you wait – take a few deep breaths and try wiggling your toes, as this sometimes helps to reduce the urge to go as this sends a signal to the bladder to relax.
8           Wear something that won’t limit your activitiesReusable leakproof underwear provide helpful backup support for you to rely on while you are working on the options above. Vivo Bodywear’s reusable absorbent leakproof underwear is great, because when you are prepared, you can get active without concern.
9Be preparedYour bladder is more likely to leak when full, so while it is important to train your bladder to be strong, it is also important that you don’t set yourself up for failure. Instead, schedule your activity to occur before you have a bladder full of beverages. And make sure you pee before you head out.
10Create an automatic reflexSqueeze before you sneeze, cough, jump or do anything else that is likely to trigger your bladder leak events.
11       Surgical treatmentSurgical treatment may be required for more acute cases of pelvic floor or prolapse. Do your research as some treatments come with many mixed reviews.
12    Nonsurgical treatmentA number of internal and external treatments are available, including kegal toners, neuromodulation, medications, muscle stimulators, kegel balls, botox, laser therapy, and vaginal pessaries (removable prosthetic device).

In summary

Less straining. More strengthening. Keep active.

The solutions are often simple, but not easy – unfortunately they take time and diligence.

If needed, protect yourself with the best bladder control underwear you will find – Vivo Bodywear.

4 steps for how to do your pelvic floor exercises correctly

Do you pee a little when you cough, sneeze or are active? Then pelvic floor exercises might help.

Step 1: With steady even breathing, start with conviction. Just a few ‘good’ exercises are better than many lackluster ones.

Step 2: Without tightening your bum cheeks, squeeze AND draw-in the muscles around your bottom hole and your girly-parts at the same time. Lift them UP inside. Try to hold them strong and tight for as long as you can, whilst building up to 10 seconds. Now, let them go and relax.

Hold tight for 10 seconds!” I hear you exclaim! Trust me I know. It’s hard.

Step 3: Repeat. Squeeze, lift, then let go and relax. Repeat. Squeeze, lift, then let go, relax. Repeat. Squeeze, lift, then let go!

It’s tricky to keep the breathing steady, but it’s important – so keep trying. It’s fair to say that I still haven’t mastered it. Hopefully you are better than me.

Step 4: Aim for 3 sets of 10 lift and squeeze exercises – three times a day. This can be while walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. Each set of 10 will take roughly 2min each. So all the time you need to invest in your body is 6min per day to start off. 

Tell me – how do you remind yourself to do your pelvic floor exercises?

Pelvic floor exercises: Start today! Squeeze and lift. Hold tight for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times
(3 times a day – any time, any place).

Should you need a little back up protection while strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, then try Vivo Bodywear! Hands down – the best bladder control underwear you will find!

Please note, pelvic floor exercises do not work for everybody. Consult your doctor or pelvic health physio if in doubt. 

How creating a community group reduced my shame

My bladder leak problem started small at first. Just a little bladder leak here or there when coughing or sneezing. Then after a while, I noticed a little incontinence when running, or jumping. It snuck up on me when I wasn’t paying attention. My life was busy, so I started wearing disposable panty liners and went about my day, without giving it much thought.

It was at that moment when I should have started my pelvic floor exercises or at very least, gone to a pelvic health physio. But I didn’t. Instead, I went about my life and ignored the problem. Too embarrassed to talk about it. But it started to impact me negatively. I stopped being spontaneous and started to become less active.

It was one of the key things that made me so driven to get my business up-and-running. The fact that it was impacting my life negatively. I was on a mission to fix my problem, but also help others with the same problem.

I know that bladder leakage stopped me from doing things in life and so I wanted to empower others to feel more confident in living their life without being limited by it.

It made me want to create a product to help with bladder leakage, but also encourage a more open conversation about it, so others felt confident to ask for help. So I set out to create the best underwear I could for bladder leakage and established a forum to get others to share their bladder leak stories. Because I hoped that by creating a more open dialogue, it could reduce some of the stigma surrounding the topic.

Because NO ONE talks about bladder leakage!
And yet, it is so common!

My first step was to create a community group so together we could share stories and information and support each other. For me, the group has definitely helped reduce some of the sensitivity and shame I had around the subject. I am a lot more open about my issues now. In turn, I find that others are more open too. Because when 1 in 3 women experience bladder leaks (often due to having children), you quickly discover that incontinence is more common than you think.

Incontinence │ light bladder leakage – tips, support and shared stories

Should you need a little bladder leak protection, LIKE MANY OTHER WOMEN, don’t worry. At Vivo Bodywear – we have you covered!

My huge career change in my mid 40’s – why does it have to be a mid-life crisis?

My journey started with me telling my husband that I want to take a year off from full-time paid work to focus on my passion project. That meant – he would have to go back to work. 😊 My father called this huge change – my mid-life crisis. I call it – the best decision I ever made! I think when you hit your 40’s, you start to reflect on what’s important in life and how you want to live going forward.

My profession at the time was consulting/contracting for government agencies, primarily in policy and strategy. I was well paid, and I enjoyed it fine, but it was becoming repetitive. I wondered if I was becoming boring. Life was starting to pass me by, and I was letting it. When I thought about what I’d do if money wasn’t an issue, then I knew it wasn’t that.

When I had my lightbulb moment (see previous blog story) I thought to myself – there is never going to be a better time to make a change. It was on that day when I registered my new company – Vivo Bodywear! My intended product – leakproof underwear for pee, periods and perspiration. I was beyond excited!

I knew deep down it was the right decision. But self-doubt plagued me.

It was especially hard after Covid kicked in and both my husband and I had zero income coming in. I was tempted to change my mind and see if I could find steady employment again. But I knew if I did this then I would regret it. Because if I couldn’t do it now, then I would never do it.

I started with a business plan, and a brand strategy, a marketing approach and a project task register. My goal was to develop the best bladder control underwear I could find. However, textile manufacturers are not that common in New Zealand anymore. Not to mention, no one sold the fabric that I wanted. While I waited (rather impatiently) for fabric samples to come from abroad I focused on everything else, such as pattern making, label requirements, packaging, and learning about online sales and marketing.

I was so excited to start each day. But it is fair to say – that since I had never developed a product before, let alone sold anything online, I had a lot to learn. Every morning I would head out early for a walk/run and listen to podcasts about how to start a new business. Then at night-time, when I would normally enjoy watching a light-hearted tv drama series, I found that I could no longer pay attention to them. I wanted to be thinking about my business or watching Startup School videos instead.

My mind, which had previously been completely exhausted from working a solid 40hrs each week was now alive and in overdrive. This was a bit of a revelation to me. It was like a creative driven optimistic energiser bunny was just desperate to be free. Who knew!

It’s taken me a while to develop a product that I’m truly happy with. Because making the best washable underwear for bladder leakage requires a lot of research and trial and error. But I’m truly excited about what I have developed with Vivo Bodywear and while I’m sure there will always be improvements, I’m quietly confident that others will love my undies as much as I do.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 3

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series. Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1 and Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2


Characteristic three:  Confident communication skills

One way of building credibility is being able to clearly articulate your views within a group situation. Below are six key components that will help you succeed in doing this:

  1. Preparation and progress

Prepare before going into a meeting. Know what the key points are that you want to make and actively listen for the correct time to contribute

Know what you want to achieve before you begin

Always ensure action points are taken and verbalised to the group – to ensure everyone is on the same page. If no actions are taken – then why are you meeting?

  1. Acknowledgement

Acknowledge other people’s contributions. This will build comradery, team spirit and motivation.

  1. Separate yourself from the product

This is a great skill to possess! In order to improve a product or service, it is important that it adequately meets the needs of the intended audience. In order for that to occur the feedback of others is crucial.

It’s essential that you don’t take that feedback personally. No person or product is perfect. Because everyone is different, others can add additional and alternative elements that could improve the product or service. It’s not imperative to take all feedback on-board– just make sure that the feedback is taken on appreciatively. 

  1. Effective communication is enhanced by active listening

Active listening helps us learn more before coming to conclusions. Its importance cannot be underestimated.

  1. Be heard and understood

Your stance and tone can make a huge difference when communicating effectively. Never slouch or mumble. If you are scared in anyway – it’s important that you take a moment to JUST SLOW DOWN. Slow down your speech, slow down your breathing, and let this ‘slowness’ steady your mind. So that you can clearly articulate your points. Depending on the situation, you may need to repeat your point in different ways in different meetings, but the important part is that you ARE contributing.

there is no point in complaining after the meeting if you are not happy with the outcome if you have not spoken up when you had a chance to. Don’t quietly tell a colleague sitting next to you your viewpoint. Have confidence to share your thoughts with the wider group.  

  1. Communication effectiveness is enhanced by how to develop your documents

Ensure documents are simple and to the point.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series.  Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1 and Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 3

Characteristic two: reputation

Your thoughts, words and actions combine to form your reputation. Hence, it’s important to focus on your reputation as a key component to being successful in leadership. Specifically, five key elements are important to master.

  1. Influence the performance of others successfully

Often frustrations are caused by lack of clarity. To achieve what is required it helps if you know how to effectively influence the performance of others. It’s not fair for you to get annoyed at someone’s output when you have been vague with your requirements and expectations. Key tips for doing this well are:

  • be purpose-driven
  • control your expectations
  • forgo perfectionism (follow the 80-20 rule)
  • set clear boundaries
  • keep instructions simple
  • focus on the key learnings/skills that the employee can gain so they feel empowered and inspired to improve.
  1. Assert yourself in the right way

You really get to see the character and weaknesses of people when they are under pressure. Watch your stance and manage yourself. It is important to keep your responses in check, particularly your email responses. Emotionally charged heat-of-the-moment responses are an easy way to ruin your reputation in seconds. When required, step away or ‘sleep on it’ to ensure you have control over your emotions and your responses. This means – leave your drama at home and/or keep your frustrations in check.

  1. Understand which tasks are worth your time

Having the awareness and ability to understand which tasks are worth your time is vital to successful leadership. Time is precious and it should be used wisely. 

  1. Build trust and relationships

Leaders build and maintain effective relationships with a wide variety of people. To be successful you can’t work a silo. Good leaders develop relationships and connection both within and outside their organisation. Importantly, you need to build trust and make positive connections with your peers and your subordinates by doing what you say you will.

  1. Confront and resolve conflict

Conflict in the workplace reduces productivity, as it distracts employees from their core focus. It’s not a fun part of the job but it is an absolute necessity that should not be avoided.

Key tips when dealing with conflict are to:

  • don’t try and ‘win’ the discussion
  • prepare yourself, be genuine, ask for their help, and establish a mutual purpose and respect
  • be aware of your biases
  • take ownership of mistakes and bad outcomes and learn from them
  • practice active listening. Wait and learn before coming to conclusions. Listen to understand and paraphrase.
  • focus on contribution and solutions. NOT BLAME.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1

How being more positive and valuing yourself can make you more successful

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series.  Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

Characteristic 1:  Positive attitude

The most important characteristic that has always done me extremely well in my career, and arguably  a key promotable asset – is my positive and proactive approach. The reason this is vital to leadership is that is inspires others.  

The trick to retaining a positive attitude and approach come by way of five vital elements.

  1. I retain two distinctly different, but very intertwined, outlooks. Quite simply – I choose to remain grateful and optimistic in life and in my daily activities.

    Happiness is contagious! When I smile and be positive – others are too.
  1. A key enemy to positivity and creativity is self-doubt. I squash self-doubt when it starts to rear its ugly head. Because it adds no value.
  1. I don’t believe that I have been successful due to luck. Instead I have actively pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I make opportunities present themselves by being proactive, agile in the face of change, and by putting my hand up for new tasks in order to learn more.
  1. Being able to value your own worth and believe in yourself is also vital! As this provides the confidence in your ability to learn how to do something.
  1. Lastly, I believe that I control my own life. If I am unhappy then it is my responsibility to change something. Do not wait for circumstance, or others, to change your life for you. Make yourself responsible for your own happiness today!

Raising kids as a working mum

10 ways to stay sane while rocking it!

I am a happy loving engaged mum when I look after myself. But when I put myself last, that is when the shit starts to hit the fan. Below are my ten key tips for raising happy well-adjusted kids who believe in themselves and feel loved.

  1. Routine – set specific times for key activities and stick to them (e.g. bedtime, mealtimes, screen times). This way everyone knows what to expect and you are not constantly being asked questions such as “can I go on screens?”
  2. Efficiencies. Write lists for your kids to tick off their jobs. This way you don’t have to repeat yourself and it eliminates the need to hear their reaction if it’s not joy. I don’t write to-do lists for them every day (as the kids know their daily jobs) this is more for weekend tasks or travel/activity packing lists. I find it helpful because it is out of my head and the kids like to cross tasks off their list. Another way to create efficiencies is by streamlining the dinner process. My husband and I take turns to decide on the weekly dinner menu (I put it up on the kitchen wall) and I shop online for the groceries. During non-Covid19 times, when the money was more plentiful, I would also pay for a weekly cleaning lady (which was heaven on earth) and we would purchase weekly meal boxes. But alas, that is not my life right now.
  3. It’s a team effort. Make sure that your husband or partner are doing their fair share. Similar to the kids, my husband also needs set regular tasks, otherwise he will happily sit on the couch. Instead I make it clear – everyone must contribute daily i.e. he makes dinner most nights.
  4. I make time for me. Sleep, exercise, and self-care are vital non-negotiables for me. I make sure the kids go to bed at the same time each night – 8pm. My 12yr old reads for a bit, but my 10yr old needs 10hrs sleep each night otherwise he becomes irritable and annoying. More importantly, they go to bed at 8pm each night so that I can get some ‘me time’. Because when I’m well rested I am a 100% happier and a much better mother.
  5. I stay organised. I have daily to-do lists that I steadily work my way through. I try to never procrastinate because that puts me behind and makes me stressed. I finish each workday by writing down my tasks for the following day – so they are not on my mind when I go to bed.
  6. I use positive reinforcing language always. My kids believe what I tell them. They think of themselves as helpful, funny, and lovely because I’m constantly telling them that they are. They then act accordingly. For example, “you are such a great helper”; “I love it when you stack the dishwasher in-order”; “you are the bestest kid in the whole-wide world!”; “thank you for all your help today – I really needed it”; and when I see my child all dressed and ready for school – “look at you all ready – gosh you are perfect!”.
  7. I know my work life balance. I know when I’m most productive and when I’m not. For me that’s 8am-4pm during the week. Out of those hours I switch off work completely and focus on family time. By not having competing work interests, I am free to focus on family adventures and activities. This is what makes our family thrive and its not something that I’m prepared to give up.  
  8. I push away the ‘mummy guilt’. Being a parent comes with so much guilt. I’m sure you know what I mean. I unapologetically push this ‘mummy-guilt’ out of my mind if it ever starts to raise its head. Because otherwise it uses up positive and productive mind space.
  9. I don’t make it hard on myself. This means that I am comfortable with saying ‘no’. For example, not once have I let the kids sleep in my bed (I value my sleep too much). Whatever the kids can do – I get them to. So, no driving my kids to school either. In fact, I make the kids leave early for school so that they can pick up their friends on the way. This burns off extra energy and lets me start work at 8am.
  10. I use the rationale that I want to raise great men. My boys constantly need training and direction. Arguably my husband often does too. Whenever they complain about the number of jobs they have to do. Or when they roll their eyes at my guidance on how to stack the dishwasher, iron a shirt, eat with their mouth closed etc, I just remind them that it’s my job to raise them to be helpful, contributing members of society and that their future girlfriends/wife will thank me. So really, I’m doing them a huge favour and they should be eternally grateful.

At the end of the day we are all just doing the best we can. As long as we are not raising monsters who chew with their mouth open – then I think we are winning!  

Bladder leaks – speak up! Don’t suffer in silence.

Next week is Continence Awareness Week (from 15-21 June).

So I thought it would be a good time to share my story in the hope that we can get more people talking about bladder leaks in a more open and accepting manner.

Now I have two amazing children, who I love and adore. But they both came out ginormous! I am not kidding – they came out looking like toddlers! It was not ok. And as a result, my pelvic floor muscles were demolished!

For years I didn’t tell anyone about my bladder leak problem. Well, I mentioned it to my doctor every once and awhile, but I was told it was just normal.

One day I experienced a super embarrassing underwear leakage moment during a team building work rugby match. My pride took a big hit that day and so did my desire to ever exercise again.

So, I went back to my doctor and said that something needed to be done! I felt humiliated and at my wits end. Finally, I was referred to a specialist to get the mesh sling surgery. I was so excited. I thought it would fix everything instantly. But alas, my surgery ended up being postponed three times. And since the recovery time is 6 weeks off work – it was a logistical nightmare to manage the continual delays. I thought that maybe the universe was trying to tell me something. Consequently, I took myself off the waiting list and I continue to thank my lucky stars because I have heard so many bad stories about the sling surgery.

I now manage my bladder leaks in six key ways:

  1. With pelvic floor exercises. Where I’m currently focused on establishing a system to remember to do them.
  2. Bladder re-training, which I must say, also requires mental re-training because the concept of ‘go wees – just in case’ has been hard-wired into my brain since I was a child.
  3. I exercise early in the day before I have had anything to drink.
  4. I wear re-usable/washable leakproof underwear/pads/liners.
  5. I replace known trigger bootcamp exercises, such as star jumps, skipping and jumping jacks, with other exercises like froggy squats, reverse lunges, or an ab workout.
  6. Lastly, but most importantly, I am a lot more open with friends, family and even new acquaintances about my bladder leak problems.

Because realising how common it was – made me want to reduce the shame and stigma surrounding it. When you think about it because incontinence affects 1:3 women and 1:10 men, it’s really quite common. Yet, still we are embarrassed to talk about it. It’s not fair.

I thought that I could help a little by setting up a confidential facebook community group. Where members are encouraged to share their story and feel normal amongst their peers.

If this sounds like a group that you could benefit from – please join us today!

Incontinence │ light bladder leakage – tips, support and shared stories

Why talking about your bladder leakage problems can be beneficial

Humans aren’t perfect. We all have faults. I have a million!

Many of us have medical conditions and incontinence is just another medical condition. Unfortunately the word ‘incontinence’ has negative perceptions surrounding it, so I’ll ease us all in with a more user friendly term – bladder leakage.

I experience bladder leakage. Especially when I run, laugh uncontrollably, or sneeze. It’s embarrassing and I feel shame when I think about how I may be perceived.

For many years I did not tell my husband about my bladder leakage. But I can now tell you from experience that trying to keep it a secret is far more stressful than just getting it out in the open. If you have someone close to you and are scared to tell them about your bladder leaks, I strongly encourage you to tell them today!   

Why you ask? Here are three key reasons:

  1. I know it’s a cliché but talking about our feelings can really help. Yes, its true – and backed up by extensive research too. Talking through your experiences and putting your feelings into words has a positive impact on both your brain and your body.

    Because when you keep your feelings bottled up, this can then cause issues to escalate in other areas, for example, in your relationship.

    Furthermore, holding in the negative thoughts, anxiety and emotions can make you more susceptible to getting sick or feeling out of sorts.

    On top of that – holding in negative thoughts (especially ones targeted at yourself) can take your precious mind space away from more creative positive thoughts and energy.

    So be mindful of your internal negative thoughts. And to stop them before they take hold. 

Don’t forget – you get to choose how you feel about yourself.  

  1. It’s not just about helping you – it’s about helping the millions of other people who suffer from incontinence and are too ashamed to tell a soul. Sharing what you are dealing with in daily life can help you and others with the same struggles to realise that you are not alone, and what may feel overwhelming, is pretty standard for many people.

Remember one in three women and
one in ten men experience incontinence.
We are not alone. In fact – it’s really quite common!

  1. Lastly, sharing your bladder leakage problems with your partner, a trusted friend, a continence nurse, or a physio – can help you map out an improvement plan. This could present itself in many ways. It may be your physio suggesting medical options that will work, or it could be a friend giving you great tips on how to remember your pelvic floor exercises, or it may result in having your partner being more understanding about your needs e.g. why you want to do physical activities with the family first thing in the morning before you have too much liquid in your bladder.  

I admit – it can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable the first few times you share, but the more times you open up, the easier it will become. Try it today!

The do’s and don’ts – of dealing bladder leakage

Do seek medical helpIf you haven’t sought help – put this as a priority. Go to the doctor, your local continence nurse, or a physio.  
 2Do your pelvic floor exercisesStart today! Squeeze and draw-in the muscles around your bottom hole and your girly-parts at the same time. Lift them UP inside – all the way. Hold them strong and tight for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times (3 times a day).
 3Keep active and strengthen your coreSome activities are better than others. Yoga and pilates are two activities that are great for strengthening your core and they have the added benefit of incorporating mindfulness and relaxation. This is partially helpful – as incontinence is often connected with anxiety and depression.
 4Minimize bladder irritantsUnfortunately, caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and spicy/acidic foods can irritate the bladder and make leaks worse. If you find this to be a hard one to change – YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Don’t strain with number 2’sTry to keep your bowel movements regular, because being constipated or straining while going number 2’s can overstretch your pelvic floor muscles and make urinary incontinence worse.
 6Avoid liftingLifting strains your pelvic floor muscles – so avoid it whenever you can.
Not such a bad thing. Ask for help!
 7Re-train your bladderOften your bladder is only 60% full when you get the urge to go pee.
Train your bladder to hold more urine without leaking by delaying your pee past the point of your urge to go. First try to delay by five minutes. Then aim to build up to twenty minutes or more. While you wait – take a few deep breaths and do a few pelvic floor exercises.
 8Wear something that won’t limit your activitiesReusable pads or leakproof underwear provide helpful backup support for you to rely on while you are working on the options above.  
 9Surgical treatmentSurgical treatment may be required for more acute cases of pelvic floor or prolapse. The operation involves inserting a synthetic mesh implant (aka a ‘sling’). But this comes with many mixed reviews. Up to 50% of US women are affected by pelvic floor prolapse – and of those who decide to have surgery – up to 30% may require re-operation to fix it.
 10Nonsurgical treatmentA number of internal and external treatments are available, including kegal toners e.g. muscle stimulators and kegel balls, laser therapy, and vaginal pessaries (removable prosthetic devise).