Confessions of a Disorganized Mom

It is difficult to be a parent In this era of social media, where everybody is striving to broadcast the best version of themselves. I know that what I’m about to write will expose me to a lot of judging, but I am going to confess anyway. So, here it is:

I don’t put enough effort into teaching my kids how to be tidy, so they often spend time looking for a pencil and eraser to be able to do their homework. In general their room is a mess 80% of the time.

Eating spagetti with hands, messy child
My son eating spaghetti with his hands

I sometimes forget when my kids have extra activities at school, such as swimming pool visit, or need to bring extra materials.

I don’t always remind my kids to brush their teeth.

Around 40% of the time I don’t check what clothes my son has put on for school.

My kids’ clothes are often stained, and I have long-lost the war against the dirt on the shoes.

Between the four of us we have exactly 6 pairs of matching socks (I don’t count the black socks that my husband uses, they all seem to match, because they’re all the same).

Around 40% of the time my kids eat bread and butter and milk when they want a snack.

Half of the time my daughter’s beautiful hair is unbrushed.

We don’t play board games much, because most of the sets have either cards or playing tokens missing. The average duration of a complete set is 10 days maximum.

The list goes on, and I must say that I already feel so bad that I can’t continue. It’s not that I don’t want to do all these things. Well, sometimes I don’t, but most of the time it just happens.

What I never fail to do is to try to listen to what my children want to tell me. To hear their fears, joys, desires and dreams. And that is one of the things that is visible on them.

During the New Year’s party my son decided to perform a few “magic tricks”. Everybody enjoyed his spontaneity and openness. He was confident and had a great time, even though most people were strangers to him. My daughter and her friend also had an impromptu performance of rhythmic skills with mugs. After they were finished my husband and I got the best compliment we’ve ever received as parents: that our kids were friendly, open and confident. Nobody noticed the unbrushed hair and not matching socks. We must be doing something right, after all.

How To Use a Sauna

How to use a saunaSauna is the most famous Finnish word, adopted to many languages. There is probably not a single spa/health center that cares about its name without one. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures, but it takes a bit of time to get used to it, particularly if you start using sauna outside its original context. Often, once things leave the place of their origin and are adopted elsewhere, they might transform into a version of themselves, adapted to the local need. In this text I will be sharing what I have learned in Finland on how to use a Finnish sauna.

For Finnish people, sauna is an integral part of their life. Even in modern times, with central heating and hot water available everywhere, the sauna baths are as common as they used to be hundreds of years ago. The combination of wood, fire and steam represents the deep connection that Finnish people have with nature. Relaxing, both for the body and mind, sauna is also central to festivities and celebrations.

If you are interested in the history of sweat baths and the Finnish sauna, you can find a very good introduction here.

Types of sauna

There are several types of sauna that are still in use, the two main ones are:

-Smoke sauna is the oldest type. It is a room without a chimney that has a stone hearth in the middle for lighting a fire. After the room is heated enough and the smoke is taken out, the sauna is cleaned from the remaining amber and ash and the sauna is used with the remaining heat form the stones. This type of sauna is not very hot, due to the airing it gets up to 60 °C, but it is generally more humid that the other types because of the water used for the cleaning of ash.

-Modern fire/electric saunas use a sauna stove, either heated by burning wood/oil or electric ones. The stove consists of the heater and stones on top of it that accumulate heat. This type of sauna has a much drier heat, so to provide humidity, löyly is required: this is a Finnish word for sauna steam. Water is ladled on top of the sauna stones and, due to the high temperature it is almost instantly converted to steam.

How to do a sauna bath

I will now explain how to have a sauna bath in a public Finnish sauna.

No matter what type of sauna you are using, you should always shower before going.

Most public saunas in Finland will offer either wooden planks or paper towels for you to sit on, for hygiene reasons, so do use them, or take your own – a small towel will do.

After you have showered, or dipped in a cold lake (if you are brave), you are ready for your first sauna bath. As you enter the room, you will notice that there are benches along the walls and they usually have 2-3 levels. The topmost level is where it is hottest, so I suggest you start with the middle one until you learn how much heat you can handle and what is the pleasantest for you.

One of the things that you will notice is that breathing is awkward in the beginning – this is normal, because you are not used to breathing in such hot air. All saunas have good ventilation, this is one of their major requirements so do not worry about not having enough air.

The people who sit next to the stove will pour water over the sauna stones – be ready for this, because the steam will travel fast and will burn a bit. You can’t get burned (unless you stay for an unusually long time) but it will feel a bit painful in the beginning. The steam will condense on your skin fast. This is not sweat yet – it will take you some time to start actually sweating.

Stay in the sauna as long as it feels comfortable – this is very individual, so don’t try to follow other people’s rhythm. After you have gotten enough heat and sweated profusely, you are ready to cool off. By far the best way to cool off is to take a dip in a cold lake. In winter, the saunas on the lakeshore will have a hole in the ice where you can do this. There are a few things to have in mind if you are going to do the “avanto” – winter swimming:

-never do it on your own

-always wear a hat

-breathe deeply and don’t stop breathing

-if you are not used to it, just dip quickly and get out, no need to actually swim.

After the dip in the lake, allow your body to recover a bit. Most saunas will have outdoor benches for you to sit on. Enjoy the view and the conversation with other bathers until you notice that you are getting cold – it’s time to go back to the sauna heat.

Remember to hydrate your body by drinking plenty of liquid during the sauna session. Alcohol is not advisable.

Repeat this as many times as you want. After you have finished, you should take a shower. Since your body has lost a lot of minerals, you can always grill a “makkara”  – Finnish sausage to replenish them. There’s always a grill.

Sauna is a relaxing experience and it is good both for your body and for your mind. Nowadays, when there is so much talk on mindfulness and being in the moment, sauna can be the perfect place for practicing it: the intense heat and cold combination will shift your focus from the mind to the body and to being present in the moment.

I hope you enjoy your sauna bath!

4 Ways To Ruin Coffee


coffee, espresso,Do you remember the first time when you tasted coffee? And not the milky, sweet drink that children are sometimes offered to try, I am talking about real, strong black coffee. Did you like its bitter bite and strong aroma?

I remember my first coffee sip, the thick froth of the freshly made coffee and it’s deep, bitter taste. I was probably 14, or around that age. My parents always drank their coffee solo, without any milk/sugar and brewed the traditional Serbian way which left the coffee grinds sit at the bottom of the cup. I don’t remember if I liked it because I wanted to like it and be a grown up already, or because I really enjoyed it, but I soon started drinking it regularly. And I still do. But now I do know that I really like it.

Since then, my coffee-drinking repertoire has expanded and now I also like coffees brewed in other ways. But, essentially I like the taste and aroma of coffee, which is why anything that is added to it isn’t really coffee, but a coffee-based drink, for me.

I know that, in the world of Instagram and all the social media. my opinion will be unpopular, but popularity is not my goal. Honesty is. And I honestly think that such simple pleasure as coffee, are very easy to ruin, despite their simplicity.

So, if you want to ruin coffee, here’s what you should do:

  1. Start putting more than just milk/sugar in it. The moment you start adding flavors and aromas it stops being coffee and becomes a coffee-based dessert.
  2. Have an argument while drinking coffee. That will ruin even the best brewed espresso with the best cream on top. And even if the topic is important, even if you are actually winning the argument: The coffee is ruined.
  3. Use cold milk. Dilute the steamy goodness with cold, and you will feel the rich smell of the coffee is gone.
  4. Use fat free milk. It’s like diluting your favorite drink with white water. Who in their right mind does that!?

Are you a coffee fan? If you are, what ruins it for you?