Reintroducing Darling Buds of Play

The past week has been pretty crazy for me. A week ago, Olivia let me know she’d made the decision to leave Darling Buds of Play. I’ve had to really assess what DBoP means to me and whether I was ready to go it alone.

Welcome to Darling Buds of Play: The Kat Project! I’ve decided that I need to continue on with this venture. I believe so deeply in what Darling Buds is about and what we’ve been trying to achieve that I just can’t let it go.

So, in light of this reshuffle I thought I’d take some time to share who I am, what DBoP is all about and why you should stick around.

What is Darling Buds of Play all about?

Darling Buds of Play is a resource for mums who experience depression, anxiety or who just struggle from time to time with looking after themselves and finding joy in being a parent.

By sharing my journey towards mindful parenting and the struggles I face as a mum when my depression takes over, I hope to provide inspiration, support and positivity to other mums.

Why should you listen to me?

Because I’m a mum.

When I had my second child (a mere 15 months after my first child) I ended up in the Mothers and Babies mental health unit here in Christchurch. For the past four years I’ve had the constant support of psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors and family support workers. I truly wish that these were resources every mother could access because they are a huge reason why I’m the mum I am today.

Darling Buds of Play pairs the lessons and advice I’ve received from professionals, with my own unique struggles, experiences and approach to parenting. Hopefully I’m able to provide a different perspective to parenting challenges… something that you can use or adapt to support your own journey.

Want to know a bit more about me?

I’m a mum of two boys aged (almost) 4 and 5. I believe in gentle and emotionally intelligent parenting. As a parent this means I want to get to the feelings and emotions that are the source of undesirable behaviour rather than punish or deal with the actions.

I believe nature is the greatest imagination kickstarter. I believe kids should be raised to appreciate and respect all the wonderful blessings Mother Earth bestows on us.

I’m also a giant nerd. I love sci-fi, quiz nights, board games and comics. I’m a feminist and vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights. If you follow Darling Buds of Play expect Star Wars references and impassioned equality rants!

Welcome! I’m so so very glad you’re here. Feel free to introduce yourself below.

Small actions towards a healthier family and a healthier earth

Growing up, “hippy” was a bad word. A lifestyle which embraced nature and sustainability was one that was scorned by my parents. We ate white bread, and sprayed fly spray around the house with abandon! The one concession to being “green” was our vegetable garden and that existed because of tradition and money savings rather than any leaning towards ethical or healthy choices.

And so I began my parenting journey with many of these prejudices still in place. I used soaps on my kids and cleaners around the house with no thought to how this might affect their health, or the health of the planet. 

Then Connor started getting eczema. Goodbye bubble baths and goodbye fruity smelly soap. Hello aqueous cream. Suddenly I was aware of all the chemicals that were a key part of my daily routine. 

So now when I cleaned the bath with Jif I’d spend ages (and litres upon litres of water) rinsing and rinsing and rinsing to get rid of the gritty, chemical residue. I’d spray my bench with cleaner and then wipe and rinse and wipe some more to hopefully get rid of the cleaner before I started to prepare food there.

About 6 months ago, I started using a homemade citrus and vinegar cleaner throughout the house. While it certainly reduced my anxiety about the chemicals my kids are interacting with, a lot of the actual “cleaning” was being achieved through elbow grease rather than the vinegar… and my house constantly smelled like vinegar. But, it was a positive step in the right direction and the amount of water I used while cleaning reduced as a result. Mother Earth is thanking me for that one!

Then Olivia discovered Second Nature Botanicals on Instagram, a fellow Kiwi mum with a desire to make better choices for the health of her family and the health of the earth by eliminating plastics and chemicals. She very kindly offered us some of her products and I leaped at the chance to get my hands on some Organic Cleaning Spray.

Before I get into how awesome this cleaner is, I need to talk about the smell! Oh! My! God!! I grew up with the Abel Tasman National Park on my doorstep. I’ve spent many summers visiting, tramping and camping in this park. The moment I smelled the Organic Cleaning Spray, I was immediately overwhelmed by warm nostalgia. I’m assuming it’s the Manuka oil in the cleaner because Manuka grows in abundance through the Abel Tasman, but whatever it is, every time I use this I’m transported to golden sands and clear blue oceans and carefree summers. I LOVE IT!!!

As a cleaner itself, it’s awesome! My most frequent cleaning challenge is yoghurt and cereal, dried hard and clinging strong to my placemats. This makes cleaning a breeze! (I’ve tried to write that sentence without sounding like an ad, but I can’t. This cleaner is just so damn good!)

The glass bottle and natural ingredients really put my mind at ease over how my product choices are affecting my kids and our planet.

I’ve avoided buying household products online because I’m inherently lazy. Why go through the effort of online shopping when I’m at the supermarket each week? I think that the answer is, because it’s the more ethical and responsible choice! Supporting local, supporting other mums, knowing who made the product and what’s in it… they all are worth the extra effort. 

When Second Nature Botanicals creator, Kirsty, first decided to ditch the chemicals, she committed to one product at a time. This feels manageable. Small steps towards a healthier family and a healthier Earth. Growing up, it may have been “alternative” to give thought to green and ethical purchasing, but as an adult, it feels right in my heart and in my mind. I’ve done one product and am so very happy with the results. My next will be laundry detergent, so if you can recommend a great, Kiwi-made, soap and chemical free laundry powder or liquid, let me know!

Olivia says…

Unlike Kat, I embraced my “hippy” side years ago. Sage, essential oils and crystals are all in common use in my house. They help me find balance and calm when my anxiety or the everyday challenges of parenting threaten to overwhelm.

A few weeks ago, we were up to our eyeballs in a 40 degree fever and snot galore. We had not left the house in 24 hours and cabin fever was at an all time high. 

A knock at the door jolted us from our slumps. A package from Second Nature Botanicals! It really couldn’t have come at a nicer time. With no plastic packaging it was a joy to open and find the Chill Me Out spray… and boy did I need chilling out!  

I instantly went for the smell test… things I’ve had in the past that have included a hint of lavender can often just smell like, well, lavender. It’s such an overpowering smell that it can almost be too much. To my delight the lavender wasn’t overpowering and I could smell the chamomile and cedarwood! So off I went, spraying all the pillows and linen in each room. It instantly felt like we had opened a window and allowed the fresh air to come in even though we hadn’t.

Every day I have sprayed the beds with the Chill Out Spray before the kids have gone to bed. It really adds a nice ambience for bedtime and Maya loves that her pillow smells like “outside flowers”. I love that I know she’s laying her head down on a pillow that’s smelling amazing without worrying about the chemicals she could be breathing in!

How great is it that it’s easy to find and support local businesses who also love the environment AND their products are great quality?!

Five reasons we love secondhand and upcycled products

When we started Darling Buds of Play, we had the idea that we’d upcycle and resell secondhand toys, decor and furniture alongside our handmade items. We’re finally launching this product line!! To celebrate, we want to take this moment to share why this was an idea that was so close to our hearts!

So here are the top five reasons why we love secondhand and upcycled children’s products!

1. Sustainable

Giving second life to products falls high on the waste pyramid: reuse. Buying secondhand from Trade Me and marketplaces stops these products going to landfill. It also stops new waste being generated. When you buy new you’ve begun a cycle that ultimately ends with the product eventually joining the waste stream. As a whole, society is becoming far more conscious of the waste we make through actions like refusing plastic straws and one-use bags. Buying second-hand is another way we can show Mother Earth our love.

 Here’s a gorgeous lamp Olivia found in a second hand store.

Here’s a gorgeous lamp Olivia found in a second hand store.

2. Unique item

I love scrolling through gorgeous kids rooms on Pinterest, but they are all variations on a theme in terms of decor. Olivia and I both have those ridiculously common square shelving units for storing toys. Do you have them as well? Buying secondhand or upcycled products allows you to have pops of bespoke decor that really make a space unique.

3. Cheap

It’s hard to compete with KMart in terms of price, but secondhand can be an extremely cost effective way of getting awesome products for not much. Trade Me $1 reserve auctions are great for this! In addition, if you’re willing to put a little bit of work in you can revive a worn out product and stay within budget. Don’t be afraid to learn new skills. I’ve never reupholstered before and I redid this chair in about 2 hours.

“Habitat for Humanity ReStores are second hand stores that accept and resell new and gently used items. All sales generate funds to support Habitat’s building programmes, while reducing the amount of used materials in overflowing landfills. It’s a good deal! For you, the community and the environment.”

4. Support local

A couple of our products came from Habitat for Humanity Re:Store. It feels good to know that I’m supporting this awesome cause. There are also lots of small and local businesses (like ours :P) that are selling upcycled products. We strongly encourage you to support your local small business owner where you can!

5. Lots of life

One of the awesome things about a carefully selected second hand item is the life that’s left in them. My boys play HARD with their toys (and my decor). A secondhand product that’s still standing and looking strong gives confidence that it’s built to last! This white easel that we bought off a local family is clearly handmade by a parent or family member. It’s built sturdy and built to withstand rough treatment. We replaced the reverse side board because the old one had some water damage, but other than that this easel is an incredibly robust piece of construction!

So, there you have it! I know it’s easy to walk into a shopping mall when you want new furniture or household items, but consider giving second-hand a try. To help you, here’s a great map of secondhand clothing and bric-a-brac stores around Christchurch.

One simple rule to reduce your household waste

I am far from being zero waste… it is definitely something that weighs heavily on my mind. Especially when I see or hear of what is happening to our beautiful world. It embarrasses me to admit that when I see our rubbish bin overflowing I get a pang of guilt punch me in the stomach.

Every change you make, no matter how small, matters! I mean, you could not care at all and stay the same, right? Instead of tackling this major task, that can sometimes seem so big and overwhelming, I have decided to change little things where I can.

One thing that I have found that has reduced our waste considerably as well as saved us money AND made our cupboards look super cute, is shopping at bulk bins.

Here in Christchurch I go to Bin Inn. You can take a container of your choosing and write the weight of the container on the bottom or the lovely people at the store can do it for you. Then you fill up the container with your goodies and they give you a discount for using your own container! How awesome is that?

Kat’s note:

Bin Inn is a great place to find some of those more obscure ingredients that you come across in fancy recipes. I love my Annabel Langbein books, but I need help finding all the ingredients at times.

With family and friends who are coeliac or prefer to avoid gluten, I also find it has an awesome selection of gluten free ingredients, from pastas and breads to alternative flours, raising agents and baking mixes.
This is not a sponsored post, we just both love Bin Inn!

And, what a bonus, my pantry looks super cute with all these glass jars filled with goodies! Win, win! Of course, you could be super organised and have all the same jars and write the names of the contents on the jar. I have just gone with old glass jars from things I have used in the past and I don’t like my handwriting so I have gone for more of a disheveled organic look 😉

There are lots of little ways to make your home just a little bit more waste free and we will be sharing more tips with you. I’d love to know some of your tips too, so please share them with us! We are always wanting to do more for our beautiful environment so that future generations can enjoy it as much as we are.

Introducing Olivia and Kat

We all have those uncomfortable memories of sitting around with a new group of people when someone announces that we are going to do some ice breaker exercises *queue shrinking in the chair trying to let the earth swallow me up!! No I do not what to become a human knot and try to untangle ourselves…. I DID NOT DRESS FOR THIS!*

…However, we do see the benefits of icebreakers, even if they can be uncomfortable. You get to know us, we get to know you, which in turn takes us one step closer to being full fledged friends, supporters and community. We all want that right??

Below we’re going to answer some typical ice breaker questions. We’d love to hear your answers and if you want to know something else ask it in the comment section. We’re also happy to answer anything… well… almost anything.

But first, here’s how Darling Buds Of Play came to be:

We both worked at the same company but because of maternity leave we actually met for the first time at Paint ‘N’ Sip one evening.

  My Paint N Sip effort. The only thing I knew about Olivia at the time was her crush on our co-worker, who is now her husband. - Kat.

My Paint N Sip effort. The only thing I knew about Olivia at the time was her crush on our co-worker, who is now her husband. – Kat.

Over the next couple of years we bonded over pregnancies, babies, anxieties, juggling life, DIY and creativity. We had many conversations about our values, morals, parenting goals and what we wanted for our kids. This lead to us thinking that there has to be more out there for us. When we both became full time stay-at-home mums, we decided to start the blog that we wished had been available when we were struggling… a community of local New Zealanders sharing their experiences raising kids, managing mental health and being responsible citizens of the earth.

Still with us? Awesome! Here are the icebreaker questions:


What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?

Kat: Exploring our beautiful city. There are so many wonderful parks, forests and walks right on our doorstep here in Christchurch. There’s no better way to spend a Saturday than packing a picnic and watching the children let their inner explorer out in nature.

Olivia: Out in nature. I love to make the most of exploring new places and getting out of the house. I love spending time with friends and family and try to make the most of it during the weekends.

What are three things on your bucket list?

Kat: Start a blog to share and connect with mums who have experienced post natal depression! BIG TICK!!! Have a lifestyle block on the outskirts of town. Raise chickens.

Olivia: Visit Yosemite National Park, write a novel and own a dog.



Have you ever met anyone famous?

Kat: I’m a lover of music and concerts so I’ve met a few musicians. I guess the most famous are Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco and Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance.

Olivia: Nope… I’ve been at the same restaurant as Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew from Harry Potter) but we didn’t actually meet.

What are you reading right now?

Kat: I’m re-reading A City Possessed by Lynley Hood, the story of the Peter Ellis and the Christchurch Civic Creche.

Olivia: Ken Follets – Fall of Giants – this has to be the biggest book I have ever tackled.



Who’s someone you really admire?

Kat: Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco. He’s humble and kind and his words and actions preach love, generosity and acceptance.

Olivia: Maya Angelou! She was so full of wisdom

What was the first CD you bought?

Kat: Ummmm… showing my age here, but my first album I bought was on cassette and it was Dookie by Green Day.

Olivia: I actually bought two at the same time; P!nk – missundaztood and Baha Men – Who Let The Dogs Out?


Okay lovelies, don’t be shy! We really would love to learn more about you! So jump right in and answer a question or two… or all of them!!