Meet Mom Belinda from Bendigo, Victoria, Australia…
Hi there, my name is Belinda Moon. I have two children, a beloved husband, a clumsy dog, a snobby cat and perhaps the longest living goldfish in history. Lachlan is my eldest at seven, and his little sister, Lara is four. We live in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia and have been here for six years now.
I have a small creative business called Moonmum which I run from home, making paper goods with my unique style of sewing on paper. I have always loved the combination of paper and thread, so a couple of years ago I started making things to sell. I started with just a few cards on etsy and now there are many shops in Australia that stock my handmade items. It is wonderful to work from home around my children’s schedules and add a little extra to the family budget doing something I enjoy. As the children get older I find I can dedicate more hours to creating and am looking forward to growing my business. I am also an organiser of a handmade market here in Bendigo called The Square. I write about my creative pursuits on my little blog.
What kind of house do you live in – are you and the kids happy here or is there anything you find lacking or would like to change?
We live in a very ordinary brick house in a very ordinary street and we love our piece of suburbia. While I would like more room inside for a dedicated work space and a big playroom, our back yard is perfect for the kids to play, we’ve squeezed in a few garden beds to grow veggies and the dog has plenty of space to chase a tennis ball too.
What is it you like best about living here?
I have to confess that Bendigo is not a place I would have thought we’d end up living. We were living in Melbourne (which we loved and do miss terribly) but moved six years ago for my husband’s work and we haven’t looked back. The lifestyle it allows us with a young family is perfect. It is spacious, affordable, child-friendly, it’s not too hot or too cold and it’s beautiful in autumn.
Do you like to spend time on decorating your home and the children’s rooms?
I spend a lot of time thinking about decorating our home, browsing online for inspiration and flicking through magazines, but things only happen very slowly around here. I have a long list of crafty and DIY-type projects floating around my brain that I’d like to do one day. Our living areas are fairly small so things have to be functional first and aesthetics usually come second.
What are your children’s favorite items in your house?
Lachlan’s absolute favourite thing in this house is his lego. If I were to ask Lara today what her favourite thing is I’m fairly sure she’d say the pink nail polish on her toes. The dress up box is a constant favourite for them both too. Our cat Peppah is much adored and they love when she snuggles up with them on the lounge while they read or watch tv.
We have recently bought a new computer and the kids love taking silly photos in the ‘Photo Booth’
Some tidying tips? Do your children tidy up after themselves?
I don’t like separating children’s areas in the house so we all share the living spaces we have. This means there are many days that the lounge is complete chaos and toys are perched on every available surface. But that’s ok with me. They are both learning (slowly) to tidy up as they finish one thing then move onto another and they know that when five o’clock rolls around its time to start packing everything away for another day. Cleaning up is a never-ending battle but I remain optimistic that one day they’ll surprise me.
What places in your new neighborhood do you like to go to for shopping?
I really don’t spend much time shopping. I like to frequent the local op-shops in the perpetual hunt for a good find. Otherwise craft markets and online shops are my favourite places to search out handmade and unique wares.
What is your idea of a perfect day with your children?
If I could formulate a perfect day we’d spend time at our favourite park downtown, have a lovely meal with family or friends, lots of laughter, lots of cuddles and a good storybook before bed.
What is a normal day with your children? What do you do on weekends?
Most days I like to get out of the house in the morning while they are all fresh, full of energy and my morning coffee is still giving me strength. We run errands or go to the park, perhaps a swim or catch up with friends. The afternoons are usually quieter, we might spend time in the yard, doing craft, reading or something else at home.
Weekdays are a bit of a balancing act between the kids’ schedules, my creative business work and the mundane tasks of running a household. I grab a few minutes here and there throughout the day to do a bit of sewing, paperwork or packaging and it’s nice to get them involved in some way, perhaps sorting buttons or wrapping parcels. Some days it all works a treat, I get lots of orders done, the children are happily busy and I marvel at the whole arrangement. Other days… well, you know.
Weekends are family time that we really look forward to. We might do a day trip somewhere or plan something special, but we are homebodies and mostly enjoy just hanging out. In the warmer months we do lots of barbeque dinners out the back. After eating we’ll sit and talk, listen to music, watch the kids play, throw a ball for the dog and soak up the long summer evenings.
Any books you can recommend for parents and how to raise your children?
When the children were babies and toddlers I dipped in and out of a few different parenting books. I picked up some great snippets of advice here and there that worked for me, but in hindsight I wish I had spent less time reading and more time trusting myself.
Can you mention some of your ‘how-to-raise-your-kid’ values?
One of the most important things for us is to involve the kids in every part of our daily life, from mundane chores around the house to special events and everything in-between. They learn and thrive when they know what’s going on and understand the workings of the world around them, especially now as they get older. Easier said than done, but always worth while.
I think its essential to make time to be silly and play, to read often, have lots of cuddles and give them different experiences.
What kind of DIY projects do you like to do with your children?
I enjoy doing just about everything crafty with my little peeps… we paint, we sew, we make music, we cut and paste, we cook, we dance, we garden, we make playdough. I love watching how creative projects take shape for each of them. They enjoy going through our recycling tub for boxes and anything they can turn into something else with sticky tape or glue.
Any tips for keeping the house clean when crafting?
Don’t bother! No one enjoys getting creative if they’re constantly worried about the mess, so we have a big plastic table cloth that I always use and everyone has their own thick craft placemats to work on. If it’s paint or plasticine I spread an old sheet under the table as well, just to stop stuff getting ground into the floor.
Are you a crafter or DIY person?
I’m definitely a crafter and the creative business I run from home is a wonderful outlet for me. I inherited craftiness from my mother who was always working on something, be it sewing, knitting, crochet, or whatever, her hands were never still. Mum died when I was a teenager but we have many things around the house that she made and they are among my most treasured possessions. It makes me very happy that things from her hands are in the daily lives of my children.
My current craft project is a crochet rug that mum never finished. It has sat in my cupboard for years in pieces, with the wool and crochet hook just waiting. I get a wonderful sense of contentment as I crochet along, knowing when it’s finished it will be something we’ve worked on together.
What do you do with all the projects your children make at home or in school?
I find it so hard to throw away any of their creations! I’ll often take photos of the kids with their projects, especially things that are too bulky or awkward to store easily. Paintings are often recycled as giftwrap for presents going to family or friends. We live a long distance from both of our families, so many drawings are posted off to relatives with a little note.
How do you like to celebrate birthdays and other special days in your house?
It has become a birthday tradition that I make a special cake in the flavour and shape they choose. I’m not a natural when it comes to cake decoration, so this usually means I’m in the kitchen for most of the day baking, mixing different coloured icing and cursing the perfect pictures in recipe books!
What are some favorite games in your home?
My daughter would play hide and seek from sun up to sun down if she could. Her big brother mostly likes board games. The games they make up together are the best and watching their imaginative play makes me smile.
What kind of sports do your children like to do and are you very involved?
We encourage them to try lots of things and see what they enjoy. Last year Lachlan did karate and football, although lately he’s been outside a lot shooting basketball hoops. Lara is happiest climbing or hanging upside down.
Are there musical instruments in your house?
Oh yes. We have my much-loved piano and I wish I had more time to play. I used to be quite good, but alas the fingers are years out of practice and simply won’t do what they used to. I do hope to teach both the children if they’ll let me. The kids have a basket filled with musical instruments of their own too, including maracas, keyboards, recorders, those ridiculously annoying drumsticks that you hit the air with, guitars, etc. Occasionally this basket has been known to mysteriously disappear if we need a break.
What are all time favorite books for the children?
Lara’s current favourites are ‘Where is the Green Sheep?’ and ‘The Monster at the End of this Book’. Both classics!
Lachlan is really enjoying science books these days, absolutely devouring anything about the human body, machines, the earth or animals. This has led to the making of many, many dioramas which he works so hard on.
My favourite story to read to them, although they are quickly outgrowing it, is one from my own childhood called ‘The Nickle Nackle Tree’ by Lynley Dodd.
Do your children read books online? Do they go to the library?
I’m a book person and I’ve definitely passed this onto the kids. Our trips to the library are never quick as we browse and choose some to take home. If a book is particularly loved then I’ll often buy it online for our own collection. My usual online shop for books is thebookdepository.com because it has free international shipping (my three favourite words!) Our local library runs wonderful storytime sessions for preschoolers which we have been going to ever since we moved to Bendigo.
Do you cook together with your children? Does Dad cook?
I’m definitely not a great cook and my enthusiasm in the kitchen wavers. I’ve started getting the kids into the kitchen with me more often when I’m preparing meals. This is such a nice and fun way to spend time together and be productive. If we’re preparing lots of vegetables or making a fruit salad, they love to turn the scraps into ‘compost soup’ to feed to the worms in our compost bins. This was an idea I got from SouleMama ages ago and they both love it!
We also grow a few vegetables in our yard. It’s so nice for the kids to pick a fresh salad for dinner or watch as the strawberries ripen and become desert. Our last crop of carrots grew in many weird and wonderful shapes, so the kids loved going out to pick one not knowing what shape they’d see.
What kind of place do you like to go to on vacation with and without the children?
Since we have moved quite often over the years, most of our holidays we load up the car and head off to visit family. In summer we love to visit my sister who is close to the beach and the coastal area around her town is simply beautiful.
Do you keep some sort of travel journal with the children?
For one big car trip I bought each of them a blank notebook to use as a journal. We glued a basic map of our route in the front pages so they could follow the roads and see the next town coming up or other landmarks. Each day they wrote or drew pictures of what we’d seen and done. Both the kids have cameras and they love taking pictures of whatever is around them, so some days we’d put photos in there too.