All posts in Think

Mum Thinking: The Lovebot Project

Lovebot - the robot invasionWe stumbled across this project the other day – the website is extraordinary and includes a map of all the Lovebot projects.  Makes us want to get one going here at Mums on Top…

“Matthew Del Degan, Artist and Designer, created Lovebot four years ago as the ultimate symbol of love fabricated by concrete to represent the concrete jungle it emerged from. Lovebot is at the forefront of the movement called the Love Invasion, which aims to evoke a sense of wonder in the hearts and lives of people around the world, emanating from Lovebot’s home city of Toronto.

The Love Invasion involves placement of over one hundred hand-cast concrete Lovebots throughout the City of Toronto. Furthermore, stickers are placed in various locations around the world, made possible by Lovebot’s devoted followers wishing to spread love.

Love Invasion is the first of Matthew’s projects created under The Sandbox Society Inc., that was initiated to encourage Torontonians to reflect on their surroundings and become thankful for the small, good deeds that constantly go unnoticed. Lovebot’s mission is to raise awareness of and reinforce the idea that we are all part of a community, and in turn, spread love and compassion to our neighbours, friends, family, co-workers, and fellow citizens.

Lovebot reiterates the fact that we have the privilege of being human, where we are not restricted to programming; many of us work like robots in this technologically driven concrete jungle. However, humans are not robots and they have the capacity to share love and kindness with one another.

By placing something meaningful and unique in people’s paths, Lovebot creates a novel, uplifting experience for Torontonians. Lovebot wants to disrupt people’s daily routines and remind them that there is magic in this city and love around every corner, aiming to illuminate the love that exists within Toronto and inspire more.” 

Mum Thinking: I’m Glad You Were Born Postcard Project

I'm So Glad You Were BornLots of you will have seen that one of our team recently had a big birthday here at Mums on Top.  We had a great day celebrating but we wanted to share with you the coolest little birthday project ever.  We found it on the blog Oh Happy Day years ago and were excited to see that it was still there when we went for a little look earlier this month.

The project is so easy to do that it almost runs itself but the result is spectacular.  First you need to download the Oh Happy Day printables.  The printables download as a folder of 25 individual postcards.  When you print them off they join together to make one beautiful poster that says “I’m glad you were born”.

To get the project underway you either email each file individually to 25 friends of your birthday girl or you take the whole file to the printers and get them to print it onto the heaviest card they have and post them to your friends (we did the latter).

The folder of 25 individual files comes with a handy dandy letter of instructions and ‘how to’ photos that we also printed off and sent with the files.  The letter also contains guidelines on when to post your card so that things don’t arrive too early and spoil the show.

The result? A very happy birthday girl, a wonderful set of messages from 25 of her closest friends and a beautiful poster to remember the ‘significant’ day.

Mum Thinking: Widows Don’t Wear Black

Widow's Don't Wear Black A very special MoT, who is extremely close to our hearts, has had her life transformed forever by the death of her husband after a short illness.  We think of her everyday and watch her from a distance hoping that if she falls we can run and catch her.

We admire her hugely as she battles with the combination of the overwhelming, all consuming grief of losing a gorgeous husband who “made his family his cosmos” and at the same time discovers life as a suddenly single mum of her young daughter.

Because we know she will read this we also wish she would try and eat something.

We’re constantly thinking of ways we can make her life easier or finding people we hope can help her out but sometimes there is literally nothing you can do.  There aren’t too many online groups, guides or blogs that support or document the life of young widows.

As is often the way, sometimes the person whose life you are trying to make that tiny bit more bearable, turns around and offers you the very thing you have been looking for.  And so, for any other MoTs out there who might be faced with a similarly unexpected and overwhelming loss of their partner, we offer you her latest go to blog – Widow’s Don’t Wear Black.

The blog is written by Nicola Campbell who became a widow at 36 on February 25th, 2012.  She describes her blog as her “place to vent my frustrations at the jobsworths who don’t get it, wallow when I need to and discover a new future because the unthinkable did happen and my husband died suddenly at 38 leaving me and our two little babies under the age of two behind”.

Her writing is funny and sad and angry and clever and so very very honest that it makes your heart break.

I know that our MoT will want me to point out the article on Widow’s Tourettes which she tells us is just “so true” and we know makes her giggle just a little bit for its’ honesty.  We also want to include this piece on Invaluable advice for friends of a widow/widower – it is a bloody good guide for any other MoTs out there that might be stumbling along trying to support a friend in need and need to get their feet out of their mouths.

Much love to you all.


Mum Thinking: This is Water

You have to watch this.  You have to watch it because really it is about compassion and empathy.  We’ve talked so often on Mums on Top about the difference a smile or a compliment can make to your day.  This is Water was originally a speech given by the writer David Foster Wallace.  He only once gave a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. It was a remarkable speech that revealed in equal measure his singular, potent, wildly eclectic mind and his wounded spirit, peeling the curtain on the triumphs and tragedies of being David Foster Wallace. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion?

The speech captures Wallace’s electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others.  It is this grace (and humour) that we want to be a special part of Mums on Top.

When Wallace took his own life in 2008 in a way referenced from the podium, the address took on a whole new layer of meaning for those who revered, mourned, and tried to understand the beloved writer. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend.

I hope you will pass it on to others.




Allergy Awareness Week: ecostore Giveaway

ecostore Fragrance FreeNew Zealand has some of the highest allergy rates in the world, in fact according to statistics from the Allergy New Zealand website, at least one in ten babies born in New Zealand will develop an allergy. It didn’t used to be that way, so what’s changed? For one thing, we’re using more chemicals.

To support Allergy Awareness Week our generous friends at ecostore have provided us with two prize packs to give away from their fragrance free range.

To go into the draw to win please leave us a comment below about your best sneeze or embarrassing itch story.

Competition closes at 5pm Saturday the 18th of May.

This competition is now closed.  Thank you to everybody who entered.

Eat Your Veggies: A Week of Groceries

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 11.28.53 AMLet’s be honest, who enjoys the weekly grocery shop?  Planning a week’s worth of meals and all that time spent loading the trolley, unloading the trolley, re-loading the trolley, loading the car, unloading the car…..and on it goes.

Next time you are in the thick of it managing toddler tantrums and demands/requests for sweet treats in the checkout queue, remember you are not alone.

We found this fascinating photo study of what a week of groceries looks like around the world.

Trawling through these photos is a reminder that no matter where in the world we are, we are all united by groceries and food preparation.  It makes for interesting viewing comparing the volume and diversity of food around the globe.  It would be a whole new photo study as to where the food is purchased and how it is transported..the tiresome checkout queue is suddenly appealing.



Mum Thinking: Why not ‘Secret Santa’ a Single Mum this Mother’s Day?

The Diversity of FamilyThe cool thing about Mums on Top is that we want to always be open to every definition of family.  The nuclear family is now just one in a huge and diverse range of family definitions, mixes and make-ups.  It is very important to us as a team that we do not exclude any type of family or Mum – and we apologise here and now if we’ve ever made anyone feel excluded in our daily social media dribble!

Like our MoT Team, this community includes a huge range of family and mum definitions.  We have working mums, step-mums, new mums,  mums of twins, aunties, mum-mums, mums of pre-schoolers, mums of teenagers, mums who are actually dads and lots and lots of single mums.

Being a single parent is hard work – every single day. Just balancing the juggle between childcare/school, working to pay the bills, watching your sick leave vanish before your eyes and getting to the supermarket so that there is actually food in the cupboards is hard enough when there are two parents and extended whanau to help out – imagine doing it all on your own?

And that can make Mother’s Day bloody difficult.  No “other” adult to oversee a breakfast in bed or give you the afternoon off.  With this in mind we’d like to make a small MoT suggestion.   Continue reading →

Mum Thinking: Celebrating Research Partnerships that Celebrate Kids.

At Mums on Top we are passionate about giving advice to Mums that has a basis in research and not in rumour.  Nothing could make us more angry than seeing Mums made nervous or uncomfortable about the way they care for their child because they have read or seen an article that is wholly aimed at making them panic.MCRI

Our own work also means we get to see the value that good evidenced based research can add to the lives of parents and their children right across the board.  What we need is more research partnerships that are truly child and family centred in the way they approach the issue.

Which means we couldn’t be more happy to see partnerships like the one that Johnson’s baby has announced with  the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), Australia’s leading child health research institute and one which is recognized globally for its discoveries in child health. Through funding, JOHNSON’S® baby will support MCRI’s team of over 1.500 research as they develop preventative methods and treatments for infant conditions of growing prevalence.

Children in both New Zealand and Australia are increasingly affected by emerging conditions such as skin conditions, allergies, diabetes and obesity. It is estimated that 15-20% of children in New Zealand suffer from Eczema. The growing incidence of conditions like this is indicative what researchers now refer to as the rise of the “new morbidities”, and as more questions emerge around the increasing range of chronic, behavioural, developmental, mental health and social disorders afflicting our children, both parents and medical science are being challenged to find the answers.

JOHNSON’S® baby will help fund groundbreaking research focused on conditions that are on the rise in children and disorders that remain unsolved. This includes skin conditions, allergies and autoimmune conditions, diabetes, mental health, heart disease, obesity and cancer.

The partnership will connect leading medical researchers with Australian and New Zealand mums with the aim of cutting through the confusing mix of information that so may parents face.  JOHNSON’S® baby will provide access to evidence based expertise from within MCRIO, helping parents and carers to better manage their children conditions with the tools they need to make informed healthcare choices.

This post is brought to you by Johnson’s baby. Thanks for supporting these sponsors that allow us to provide such beautiful products and gift packs for our readers.

Eat your Veggies: Do you know how your parents met?

My parents met at school – and smooched their way through the rest of secondary school.  My grandmother went to school in Huntly, my other grandmother was suspended from Otago Girls’ High School for having dark eyebrows and blonde hair (the Headmistress believed she had dyed her hair).  My ancestors came from Ireland, Scotland and Spain (which probably explained the dark eyebrows).

New research has shown that knowing where you come from, where your parents met and a bunch of other stuff about your family history makes you a more resilient person.  historypin - man and cow with family

Your family can be on the way up – “we came to this country with $5 in our pockets and unable to speak English, today we are a family of school principals, nurses, doctors, accountants and business owners”.  Your family can be on the way down – ” we used to won this factory and my grandmother grew up in this big house but look at us now”.  You family can have a story of ups and downs “and when we were up we were up and when we were down we were down and when we were only half way up….”.  It isn’t all about happy families, it is about knowing the story of the one you come from. Continue reading →

Mum Thinking: Prized Possessions

What do children from all around the globe love to do?  Play.

Toy Stories

Toy Stories

Check out these insightful and beautiful photos of children and their favourite (or in some cases – only) toys.

Shot over a period of 18 months, Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti’s project Toy Stories compiles photos of children from around the world with their prized possessions— their toys. Galimberti explores the universality of being a kid amidst the diversity of the countless corners of the world; saying, “at their age, they are pretty all much the same; they just want to play.”


Eat Your Veggies: Bene Brown and the power of vulnerability.

You must watch this:

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls wholeheartedness.

She poses the questions:

  1. How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness?
  2. How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy? Continue reading →

Mum Thinking: Practical Advice for kids and the Internet (Minus the drama)

Sometimes we get a little sick of the way people use Internet Safety to scare already nervous parents into being unnecessarily restrictive of their children’s internet use.  The reality is that all of our kids are going to use the Internet in ways that will only become more expansive and far reaching year on year.

This video isn’t just practical and no nonsense but it also has a bunch of incredibly handy downloadable PDFs at the end of it on subjects such as:

  • Privacy on Social Networks
  • Online Gaming
  • Blocking
  • Meeting Strangers
  • Personal Information

If you are looking for sensible information with a good amount of evidence based research behind it then this is a great video for parents who are just reaching the space where they ned to handle use of the internet by increasingly independent kids.  Best of Luck.

Mum Thinking: ‘Aging Out’ of the NZ Foster Care System

Many of us in the Mums on Top Team have, at some point, worked in education or social services.  We’ve spent a lot of time dedicated to helping people achieve the goals and the outcomes they want for themselves and their families.  Part of the reason we decided to take over the running of Mums on Top from Marilynn is because we got very frustrated about the gaps in the systems we were working for.

One big gap in the way we look after our children in New Zealand is the fact that if a young person is in care in New Zealand their funding stops the day they turn 17 years old (i.e the day they become an “adult”).  This is an ancient model which kind of rests on the belief that kids in Foster Care won’t have any potential, brains, aspirations or dreams.  It stops many kids from going to University or on to further education because they are, quite simply, without funds or support.

Continue reading →

Mum Thinking: Oh Joy – Make Someone Happy #5


We’ve featured these before on Mums on Top.  Joy Cho is an American based graphic designer, entrepreneur, genius and all round style guru.

We follow her on pinterest and are addicted to her blog. Her series on making others happy is pure genius and her tips often come with unique twists or sweet little templates like the one for this very sweet Make Someone Happy Letter.  I love using ‘madlibs’ with kids and it strikes me that this idea is just like a madlib but done with a feeling for good design, aimed at adults and with the sweetest of sentiments.
Check out her gorgeous video for a bunch of ideas and inspiration on how to bring a little joy to someone’s day.

Eat your Veggies: The Sharing Project

In October last year Action Against Hunger conducted an experiment in Madrid, Spain, to study human behavior when faced with the injustice of hunger. The good news is that of the 20 children in the study, all 20 shared their food.

What have you taught your children? What do you think they would do in the same situation?