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Big is Beautiful – Raising a Family of 6

When we reached out to all of our beautiful mums and dads, we were delighted to cross paths with Maria van Zyl. We are so inspired by her relaxed and calm ways. We have been following her journey for a little while and being a mother of four delicious little kids, we just couldn't wait to share her story with you.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family: My name is Maria, I've been married to Gideon for coming up 7 years, and we have 4 children, Anrikke is 5, Elsie-may is 4, Sadie is 1.5yo, and Koan is 8 weeks old. I am a stay at home mama, we have chosen to homeschool for the present, and we are currently living in Auckland for the next 18 months while my husband is here for his job.

Where are you from? How did you end up where you are? I grew up in Palmerston North where my adoptive parents settled when I was a toddler, my husband immigrated from South Africa, so while we have our dream home in Palmerston North that we spent a couple years renovating, we are currently on a 2 year posting in Auckland for Gideon's work with the Air Force.

We would love to, if you want to share, your journey on when you became a parent...   I actually was diagnosed in my late teens as having polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis. We didn't know if it would be ever possible for us to have children, let alone without fertility treatment, so we began trying for a baby as soon as we were married. I miscarried our honeymoon pregnancy, but conceived our oldest daughter Anrikke just one cycle later, She was born a week after our first wedding anniversary! We welcomed her via emergency cesarean a few weeks early, and went on to have a bit of a roller coaster journey with my husband posting to Australia for pilot courses when she was 5 weeks old, we had tongue and lip tie issues which caused breastfeeding issues, and eventually also caused me to develop postnatal depression and anxiety. I have been medicated for this since Anrikke was 4 months old. Since then I've grown a lot, had 3 more children, all three of those have been born at various stages of prematurity.

"Four under five is not for the faint hearted I tell you!!!!"

What is your favourite thing about being a parent? Getting to wake up every day and love on these little people I get to raise!

Share with us all the wonderful things about being a big beautiful family of 6:  I would be lying if I didn't say it was VERY noisy haha, but it is mostly happy noise. I grew up with 8 other adopted siblings, our house was always full of people. I love watching my children develop relationships with each other, doing little things together like reading stories and going to the park are some of the best ways to spend family time. Our girls also love a tradition we recently started which is very creatively named "Friday family movie night", pretty self explanatory, we eat dinner on the couch together and watch a family movie, Annie, The Sound of Music, Shrek, and Ratatouille are among the favourites. These are the good old days, one day we will look back on all these memories and all the noise with so much fondness and smile.

Why is it important to you to use eco-friendly products for you, your kids and family? To be honest it started more about saving the money more than anything else. Then as I looked further into the benefits of eco friendly products for both our bodies and the environment I have become more and more passionate about it. We are Christians, and one of the principles in the Bible is about "good stewardship" IE looking after what you have, so if it saves money, saves the planet, and is better for our bodies, it's a no brainer for me!

Why do you choose Little Genies products? Before I made any attempt at cloth nappies I used to buy the little genie bamboo nappies and the little genie wet wipes. They were biodegradable disposables which I was all about because I had the misconception in my head that cloth nappies were a lot of work and unhygienic. However by the time my daughter was 6mo I had done a lot more research into cloth nappies and didn't like how expensive disposables were, so I invested in a few pocket nappies to try out, tried a few different systems and inserts, and the rest is history. When Little genie brought out the cloth nappies I went to my local countdown and bought one to see what the hype was about and if they really stack up to the claims influencers were making about them. I was very impressed, so I've continued to buy and use little genie cloth nappies on my children in my cloth nappy rotation. I love that you don't have to stuff the insert into the pocket if you don't want to, you can just lay it in the nappy and snap it up, I also love that they are adjustable for little tiny bums (my newborn) right through to toddlers (my almost 2yo). The double gusset stops leaks, and the bamboo charcoal interior is great for rolling the number 2's straight into the toilet!

How many reusable nappies do you have? I have 26 in total.

On a scale from 1-10, how satisfying do you find reusable nappies and why? I like that they last, that you can get so many different prints, styles and fits, I like that it saves nappies from landfill, I like that they save money and they look cute. so I'm going to give it a 9/10 I'm only taking 1 away because I hate scrubbing poo lol.

How much money do you think you have saved from choosing reusable nappies? Well I've done 2 children in full time cloth for 2 years, and now I have 2 in part time cloth, so I would say I have saved at least $5,000 on nappies in the 5.5 years of parenting under my belt.

What is you #1 tip, to a new parent? Throw out all the advice you are given and do what works for you and your baby.

Tell us your best hack: No one looks for chocolate/treats in the frozen peas bag in the freezer haha.

Questions Asked by fellow mamas!

Questions from @stay_at_homestead_mum How do you work in some “You” time? Not time without kids to do the family shop or laundry but actual you time? yes! I get "me" time. My husband often kicks me out of the house to go and get my nails done or something for myself. Mum dates, or just going to the mall. I pump milk off or just take Koan with me. My hubby has been amazing doing this through our whole parenting journey. We also have friends and in laws who are actively involved and have babysat when we have wanted a date night. But often we choose to have a romantic dinner at home after the children go to bed and play a board game or watch a movie.

Question from @republic_lou Do you ever sleep? =) Yes I do sleep! Sometimes not a lot. But koan is actually pretty good at sleeping and once he feeds he goes to sleep pretty easily actually. And if he doesn't I catch up and have a nap on Sunday afternoons and Gideon often gives me a sleep in on a Saturday morning!

Do you have a questions for Maria? Or maybe you'd like to be featured as well?

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