What No-one Tells You About Becoming a Parent by BrandsExclusive

No matter how many times you babysit, how many puppies you hugged as a child or how many times you’ve watched The Wiggles with your nephew, you can never truly be prepared for parenting. We polled some in-house experts (which, ahem, may or may not have included ourselves) to learn what they found to be the most surprising things about being a parent.

Not even the bathroom is a private place

We hope you enjoyed all those times you got to pee with the door closed because, friend, those days are well and truly over. Same goes for showers, shaving, plucking and any kind of hair removal at all, actually.

… and your private parts are certainly not private anymore

Men have been trying to figure out how to answer “What’s that, daddy?” since the dawn of time. If you can come up with a non-awkward response, we’re all ears.

Kids are far too honest

Nothing crushes the soul quite like a three-year old lovingly touching your face as they ask “are you 100 years old mummy?” … except maybe when that same child starts poking you in the tummy and telling you that you feel squishy.

Parenting

Sleep was a nice thing to have

Remember when you were a child, and you simply could not wait to jump out of bed in the morning? Payback is brutal. From crying sporadically through the night as a newborn, to being scared of monsters under the bed as a three-year-old, to pre-teen sleepovers, house parties and (just when you think the stress is over) having a child who can legally stay out drinking until all hours of the morning… you can kiss goodbye to a full eight hours for at least the next 18 years.

You will doubt yourself

No matter how confident you are in making decisions in your everyday life, parenting is a whole new ballgame. You will constantly be asking yourself “is this what my child needs?”, “is this what my child wants?”, “am I doing the right thing by my child?”. There is no right answer here unfortunately – you’ve just got to do your best!

You will think your child is the best looking child to ever exist

Remember when you were child-less and you saw a strange-looking baby and you wondered whether the parent realised how weird looking their child was? They didn’t.

You will worry, constantly

Parenting feels like a dangerous business. How many different ways could that coaster cause injury? How can we be truly sure that trampolines are safe? That the school bus is a trustworthy mode of transport and that little Jimmy isn’t leading your totally innocent child astray?

Parenting

You will come to rely on your partner more than ever before

In both a practical and emotional sense, you will need to have each other’s back, to provide support, love, an ear and understanding. When it comes to parenting, team work truly does make the dream work.

Everyone has an opinion

Every child, every pregnancy, every birth, every relationship and every life is unique – and yet everyone has an opinion on how to do it right. All you can do is make decisions that you believe to be best for you and your family.

There’s always room in your heart for one more

On your wedding day your heart is so full of love and joy that you don’t know how life could get any better. But then you get a puppy, and somehow your heart gets even fuller, and by the time your first child comes along your heart is so full of love that you can hardly breathe. You don’t know how you could find more love to give a second child, but you do. Same goes for your third. Fourth. Fifth. Sixth (you crazy person!).

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Back to Nature by BrandsExclusive

Kids are curious – they want to know about the world beyond the back door.  And there’s no shortage of studies that prove connecting kids with nature is extremely beneficial for learning and development, as well as health and well-being in people of all ages.

On the flip side, connecting kids with nature is great for the planet. This is because a little treehugger will grow into a big treehugger; a person with appreciation and respect for the environment and who is more likely to make mindful choices that help preserve the natural world for future generations.

So this summer, let Mother Earth step in for an afternoon or two with some of these super easy ideas for connecting kids with nature. Who knows, you might end up with a little marine biologist or environmentalist on your hands!

Connecting Kids With Nature

Press flowers.

You don’t need a fancy flower press to preserve beautiful paper-thin petals – a couple of sheets of baking paper and that big ol’ Atlas will do! Relatively small, flat species like pansies and violets work well, and for larger flowers like roses, you can pick the petals and press them individually. In a week or two when they’re dry, spend a quiet crafternoon with your kids arranging and gluing them on card.

Make tiny things look bigger.

A magnifying glass is all you need to discover the busy little world that thrums and thrives where human sight doesn’t normally reach. Get down on all fours and take a closer look at the grass, the bark on a tree, a handful of soil. Peer at the stripes on a daisy, the holes nibbled in a leaf. Ask questions like ‘who snacked here?’ Let curiosity be your guide.

Search for four-leaf clovers.

This may be a peaceful way to while away an hour, but there’s an element of competition involved (and a chance no-one will win). But that just makes it even more special when your child finally finds that elusive four-leaf clover. Don’t forget to roll over and find faces in the clouds while you’re at it.

Make leaf rubbings.

Wander through the garden and look for tough, waxy leaves with prominent veins; most types of Eucalyptus are perfect. Simply place a sheet of paper over the leaf, with the veins facing up, and gently shade over the area, gradually building colour to reveal the patterns in the leaf. Colour code your rubbings and try to identify each species back at home.

Connecting Kids With Nature

Go beach combing.

Open their minds to the vastness of the ocean and the diversity of life within it. Sift through shells and talk about where they came from, what lived in them, what coastal birds feed on them. Point out kelp, jellies, drift wood and crab claws. Encourage them to collect rubbish that shouldn’t be there; show them what happens to glass that has been pounded against the sand. Poke around rock pools and see the eco-system at play if it is easy and safe to do so.

Find out bees’ favourite colour.

Cut out five daisy shapes from different coloured paper or card. Place them somewhere sunny in the yard with a bottle cap of sugar water placed in the centre of each. Throughout the day, check which colour the bees are visiting. Do they prefer one colour over the others? Use the opportunity to remind your kids of the plight of bees.

Make mud pies.

Don’t throw out old cookware and chipped china! Making mud pies is something every child should experience, and it’s a good jumping-off point for learning the essential life skill of cooking. Dig a hole, add water and get mixing! Decorate with pebbles, leaves, twigs and flowers. Get your hands dirty and make a huge mess! Better it happen outside than in the kitchen, no?

Grow, harvest and cook herbs.

Encourage kids to learn about where food comes from – it doesn’t magically appear in the supermarket after all. Quick-growing herbs like basil and parsley are great for little gardeners who might become impatient while playing the waiting game. Involve them in the picking and preparation of the herbs as small example of the “paddock-to-plate” movement.

Connecting Kids With Nature

There’s hundreds of ways to incorporate nature appreciation into activities with kids – whether it’s feeding ducks at the park or finding Jupiter among the stars – this list merely scratches the surface. Tell us your favourite ways for connecting kids with nature over on our Facebook page.

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Party Perfection by BrandsExclusive

When the sun goes down and the night rolls in, it’s time to hit the town! Whether you’ve got a party to hit, a ladies’ night out or a hot date on the cards, we’ve got your party pout covered with the season’s hottest “after dark” makeup trends.

Glitter is Everything

Glitter made a welcome comeback this year. The reoccurring theme at New York Fashion Week’s A/w16 season was as gilded at it gets, and we couldn’t be happier. Word of advice? Don’t be shy. Apply glitter to the outer corners of your eyes for a dash of sparkle, or dramatise your lids with a gorgeous glitter eye shadow. If you’re one for colouring outside of the eyes, use glitter as a brow liner to arch up your bows for a fresh new look.

Go Goth

Goth is in when it comes to the season’s hottest makeup trends. For the ultimate party pout, think Nancy Down’s vampy lips in the Craft; big, bold and far from boring. Let your lips do all the talking in rich reds, pretty plums and opaque, matte black shades. Perfect for a blank canvas or flirty finished eyes. For that extra oomph, brush over your luscious lips with gloss.

Colour Your Lashes

Put down that boring, old, “safe” black mascara you always apply and bat your lashes in style this season with something a bit more vibrant. Mix and match a bright lash hue, like red, yellow or cobalt blue with either a complementary streak of eyeliner or wear it solo. Whatever route you go down, your lashes will be 100% wink-worthy all night long.

It’s Time to Brush Up

Celebrities like Hayley Baldwin, Jessica Alba and Cara Delevingne have all been totally fixated on brushed-up brows, and we can see why. They’re a lot edgier than a filled-in brow, and somehow look more groomed as well. No matter the kind of brows you’re working with – full-bodied or sleek and skinny, this look is something you can easily master. Check out this YouTube tutorial for visual inspiration.

PERFECT YOUR CHRISTMAS PARTY MAKEUP HERE

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Wedding Attire for Men by BrandsExclusive

From black tie to smart-casual, we break down what to wear to different types of weddings, no matter your role on the big day.

Black Tie Weddings

Definitely on the more formal side of the spectrum, you’ll want to go all out if you’re attending a black tie wedding this summer. The goal here is sophistication and class, so whether you’re the groom or a guest, you’ll want to be rocking a standard tuxedo.

Traditionally, a tuxedo features a black dinner jacket crafted from medium-weight wool. Depending on how hot it will be on the day, this might not be the ideal option. Unless you simply wear the jacket during the ceremony and pray for air conditioning. A more lightweight option crafted from cotton will allow more breathability, and ensure you avoid those dreaded sweat patches.

Peak lapels, a bow tie and a pocket square will add an extra dandy touch of debonair to the look, while trousers featuring a grosgrain stripe down the leg will add even more classic detailing. Keep your shoes simple and traditional by opting for black leather lace-ups and avoiding perforated brogues. And the shirt? Keep it crisp and clean, or go fancier with a textured Marcella fabric.

Tropical Weddings

Living in Australia, it’s more than likely you’ll be attending a wedding with a warmer climate. Or if you’re extra lucky, you might be jetting off to an exotic island to walk down the aisle or be the Best Man. More often than not, the dress code will be much more relaxed here. It could even take on a more tropical twist.

Think cotton and linen suiting, in lighter hues such as powder blue, cream or beige. This will allow you room to be a bit bolder with your shirting, tie and pocket square; perhaps with warmer colours such as burnt orange. You could even pick a tie featuring a fun print, just make sure you don’t upstage the groom if you’re a guest!

Slip-on loafers are perfect to wear in hotter temps, whether you opt for a tasselled style or suede slippers. The trick is to go sockless, so pop in some low-cut invisible socks to avoid sweaty soles.

Smart-Casual Weddings

what to wear to a wedding

If your wedding sits somewhere between a formal and relaxed affair, you’ll want to take a smart-casual approach to your attire. This doesn’t mean you can get away with wearing jeans and sneakers – unless this is what the groom has specified, of course (it’s becoming more and more common to see men at weddings team tailoring with trainers).

Our suggestion would be to go for relaxed tailoring that still looks thoroughly thought out. Whether you’re more comfortable sticking with basics hues or wilder colours, a smart-casual wedding is often the place to do this. Perhaps try teaming different hues together instead of sticking to the classic formula of matching pants and jacket. You could team a striped navy blazer with mustard trousers for a fashion-forward approach.

Your shirt and accessories will allow for extra creativity if you’re feeling confident (and you know it’s appropriate for the event). But a tip would be to choose one or the other; if you’re going to choose a vibrant tie and pocket square, keep your shirt clean and minimal. A pair of colour-popping socks could also add some personality to your ensemble worn with a pair of more classic brogues.

Whatever look you go for this wedding season, ensure you wear it with confidence and panache. Weddings are the perfect excuse to get dressed up, so don’t let the ladies have all the fun.

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5 Reasons Being an Auntie is the Best Job Ever by BrandsExclusive

Siblings are cool. They make for automatic best friends, drinking partners, shoulders to cry on, career advisers and plenty more. In fact, if you’re anything like us, you’ve probably fleetingly thought at some stage that your sibling could be the coolest person on the planet. But we’ve recently discovered someone even cooler than a sibling… any sibling. Their offspring.

First of all, we’d like to offer a massive shout out to all the siblings out there creating miniature humans, every single day. We thank you, because you have given us the opportunity to take on the single best job in the world; Auntie. And why is this job so cool? Well, we’re glad you asked.

We get to buy teeny tiny clothes for the teeny tiny human
Holy hell, baby clothes are the cutest things we have ever seen in our lives. And we don’t have to go for the boring basics like socks and practical onesies… oh no! It’s tutus, fairy costumes and Superman outfits making their way into our baskets!

We get to see our siblings become parents
It’s a pretty epic transformation to see that trouble-making brother who used to sneak away to eat cat food take on the responsibility of parenthood… and to think that maybe we played a small part in helping him become the man he is now.

It’s an excuse to visit home more often
In times gone by, you might have made it home two or three times a year for a family visit. But now, well, now a month simply cannot go by without you seeing how much those chubby cheeks have grown and what weird and wonderful new sounds they’re making. Sure, it hasn’t helped your bank balance, but who can put a price on love?

We remember how to laugh at ourselves
Let’s face it, it’s difficult not to have a bit of a giggle when you’re dancing around the living room to The Wiggles or Frozen… but how much fun is it?! This is the kind of stuff we’d never do on our own (mainly because that Frozen song makes us want to gouge our ear drums out) but being an auntie allows you the freedom to totally surrender to the silliness.

We get to hand them back
Sure, we love babies… but that doesn’t mean we’re ready for one ourselves. Being able to hand back that little prince or princess after a few hours (or a few minutes if they really start screaming the house down) means that we get all of the wonderful auntie love and fun, without too much of the responsibility. Now that’s what we call #winning.

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Why You Should Use Organic Skincare by BrandsExclusive

Just like the old adage, “you are what you eat” – the same goes for your skincare regime, you are what you apply to your skin. The skin is the body’s largest organ; therefore taking good care of your skin is vital.

It seems easy enough though, right? Wrong. Every day, we are inundated with thousands of “effective” skincare products on the market, often being promoted by flawless models and false promises. More often than not, these mainstream products contain nasty toxins and chemicals that suffocate the skin – and quite frankly, your skin deserves better!

So what’s the secret to naturally gorgeous, radiant skin? Organic skincare products!

Go Organic

Going organic is not only more effective in helping you aid your skin issues; you’re also feeding your skin with fresh, pure and natural ingredients, which means that those with sensitive skin can rejoice! Think no more rashes, irritations or burning sensations (eek). Another great benefit is that you’ll be protecting the environment. Organic products are much more environmentally friendly than their non-organic opponents. Products with toxins and chemicals cause detrimental effects to the planet.

But before you scour your local health market, it’s important to be conscious of what you’re slathering on your face or body, as even organic skincare products can contain pesky preservatives and preparation aids. We advocate reading the product’s ingredients list first! This can be a challenge at first, as you may be faced with a multitude of foreign, four-syllable words that make zero sense to you. To help you separate the nasty from the nurturing, we have provided a list below featuring the harmful ingredients to steer clear of!

  • Propylene glycol
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate
  • Methyl paraben, propyl paraben, butyl paraben, ethyl paraben
  • Imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea
  • Stearalkonium chloride
  • Triethanolamine

So have you gone green yet?

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5 Easy DIY Face Masks to Try by BrandsExclusive

Whether a special event is on the horizon or you just want your skin looking its finest every day, face masks are an easy and enjoyable way to treat your skin to all kinds of nourishing benefits. But don’t worry, no need to scour your local beauty store and spend your life savings on a bunch of high-end products to achieve a flawless complexion – these DIY face masks are the beauty loophole you’ve been searching for!

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Mask

Your secret weapon for combatting breakouts and improving the appearance of acne scars and pigmentation.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons of cooled green tea
1 teaspoon of organic honey
5 teaspoons of organic sugar

Method:
1. Combine apple cider vinegar and cooled green tea into a bowl. Add sugar and honey, and with a little elbow grease, stir mixture well.
2. Generously spread the scrub over your face, massaging it in well. Leave for 10 minutes and then rinse! For best results, use this mask twice a week.

2. Egg White Mask

Great for tightening and toning skin. It also minimises the appearance of pores and helps reduce acne.

Ingredients:
1 free range egg white
1 teaspoon of organic orange juice
1/3 teaspoon of organic turmeric powder

Method:
1. Combine ingredients in a bowl and whisk well until the consistency is thick.
2. Spread over your face and leave on for 15 minutes. Once the mask has dried, rinse your face well.

3. Honey Mask

A skin saviour for calming irritated and inflamed skin. It also works wonders in reducing the appearance of dark spots.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of warm organic honey
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 wedge of lemon

Method:

1. Combine honey and cinnamon in a bowl, and then squeeze in lemon. Stir mixture well.
2. Massage mask onto your face and leave for 20 minutes, then thoroughly rinse off.

4. Oatmeal Mask

A great natural exfoliating mask for stressed, tired and dry skin. It also has super power soothing properties for burnt or irritated skin.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of organic raw oats
1 teaspoon of organic honey
½ ripe banana

Method:
1. Combine oats and honey in a bowl and mash in banana to create a paste.
2. Massage mixture over face and leave for 10-15 minutes. Once mixture has dried, rinse off thoroughly.

5. Chocolate Mask

I know what you’re thinking – yum! But this mask not only looks delicious, it works wonders topically too. Boasting a plethora of anti-aging properties, this mask will greatly help the production of collagen.

Ingredients:
½ cup of organic cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of organic oats
4 tablespoons of organic cream
¼ cup of organic honey

Method:
combine cocoa powder, honey, oats and cream into a bowl and stir mixture well to form a thick consistency. Apply a thin layer to your face and leave it for 10 minutes. Bask in the delicious smell and then gently rinse off!

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