Gently with Love…Pinky Mckay

Pinky McKay…a best selling author of 4 titles published by Penguin Random House, including Parenting By Heart, a mother of five and a grandmother of four, an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), breastfeeding advocate, creator of boobie bikkies, Mum of five Pinky McKay specializes in gentle parenting styles that honour mothers’ natural instincts. Pinky’s ‘get real’, no-nonsense, approach, along with a blend of humour, sharp wit and wisdom, make her a popular source for major network TV and various publications, internationally.


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I came across Pinky’s work as a tired, stressed, and overwhelmed first time mum. At the time, I was drawn into the exhausting social expectation that babies should follow a schedule, babies should all put themselves to sleep in their cots, and they should stay asleep…. all night. For me, a mama of a new baby who breastfed to sleep, loved a cuddle, loved to co sleep and was up through the night, sometimes a lot…this view, which seemed to hold with it some kind of parenting badge, and was often spoken about as THE milestone for babies to meet…. was ANXIETY PROVOKING and stirred feelings and thoughts of failure and self doubt.


Being the type of person I am…when something doesn’t sit right, especially when it comes to my babies, I struggle to just ‘sit with’ my own intuition. I search for evidence that I’m doing either the right or wrong thing. Something I am constantly work on. So…I began googling for research and authors sharing their insights on babies and sleep. This is how I came across Pinky. When I found Pinky’s work, it was (pardon the metaphor) MUSIC TO MY EARS!!!!


I find Pinky’s work gives me confidence as a mum. Her insights align closely with my values as a mama, and this feels good. I also Pinky’s advice is non prescriptive and supportive. And from a professional standpoint, two crucial aspects in the recipe of mama well being.

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So, as you can imagine, when the opportunity came up to interview Pinky for Wonderful Mama, I jumped at it. We laughed, we shared, and we connected.  As a professional with a large following, I of course felt humbled when Pinky chose us to share her insights and experience with.




RB – Using five words, describe yourself as a mama?

PM – just before you rang I was on the phone to my daughter and asked her to share her thoughts on this one. She said that I am a “creative” “Playful” “Loving” “Encouraging” and “Optimistic” Mother. Something she said, which was so lovely to hear, is “You enjoyed us when we were little” which is so true. I am someone who is not bothered by mess or chaos, so when my children were little, we used to all sorts of creative things, like paint on the walls of the bathroom, and change the light bulbs so that the room would be all sorts of colours.


RB – What is your parenting philosophy? Does this differ between personal and professional life?

PM – I don’t feel as though my personal parenting philosophy differs from my professional one. I begun my professional journey as a nurse, and then following the growth of my own family, was inspired to do, what I now do. Motherhood has been an experience that has humbled me. My philosophy for my work and my personal life is to Trust Yourself, Trust Your intuition, Trust your connection with your child and Trust your child – each child is so very individual and will take a different development path and will pave out their own journey. Children cannot be molded, and are not badges of competency. Mistakes made are opportunities to learn, behaviour expressed is communication about what is going on in their world. As a parent, it takes courage to step back and to be gentle and responsive to our children. When I was a parent to my children, as babies, natural intuition was just that…natural. Now these ways of parenting seem to carry a label ‘baby wearing’ ‘co sleeping’ and are constantly being critiqued and evaluated. The Internet has also changed the way we view parenting. We now have access to so much information that this sometimes competes with what we, as the mother, feel is right.


RB – What hopes to you have for you readers?

PM – My biggest hope for all mothers, is to see them carry a smile on their face, expressing the enjoyment they are experiencing when being with their babies. Not all the time but most of the time. My wish for women is for them too not feel the pressure to be perfect in their role as mother. And for them to feel free in expressing that being a mum is hard, and help is needed. And when women seek help, for this not to have the underlying message ‘there is something wrong with you’.


RB – Most commonly asked question, and answer?

PM – The most common question asked by parents is ‘why wont my baby self settle?’ Closely followed by, ‘am I creating bad sleep habits for my baby?’ My answer for this is, newborns physiologically cannot self-settle. And babies who do learn to self-settle still often wake through the night to have a need met. I would then reassure parents by advising them that cuddling and helping a baby to feel secure as they fall asleep is an investment in their future. My motto for changing any part of a baby’s routine is ‘gently with love’.


RB – Biggest thing parents struggle with?

PM – In my experience, parents struggle most with the pressure to ‘do things right’ all of the time. There are so many critics and warnings about how to parent, and these are so widely accessible via the Internet and social media. All of this information targeted towards parents is often rigid in nature rather than presented as options. As well as this, the advice given is often closely linked with a warning ‘do this or suffer in silence’. My advice about this is for parents to not rush. There is no urgent need to change a baby’s routine. Allowing your baby to be rocked or cuddled to sleep will do no harm. And when in doubt about advice that has been given, ask yourself these three questions; is it safe? Is it respectful to you and your baby? And does it feel right?


RB – Something you wish all parents knew when they bring their first born into the world?

PM – As parents bringing a new baby into the world, I wish they would be told, to just surrender and slow down. You cannot control a baby, and you can’t control life with a baby. Bringing a baby into the world is a journey for everyone, a unique journey. Breathe it all in. You don’t need permission to cuddle your baby. And you cannot spoil a baby with too much love. And with each difficulty, because there will be many, tell yourself, ‘this too shall pass’.


RB – What does a typical day look like now?

PM – I try to keep my days flexible and usually bunch certain things together, like errands, writing, meetings etc. On a typical day, I begin by writing in my pajamas. I tend to focus better because nothing can draw me away whilst I’m in my pj’s. I then move between house errands. The afternoon may be spent doing house calls and consultations with mums as well as meetings and marketing for boobie bikkies at the office. The evening is usually spent engaging in social media and connecting with my husband.


RB – Words to live by?

PM – Honesty, Family and Fun


Fast five:

Coffee or tea? Tea

Night owl or early riser? Night Owl

Dine in or Dine out? Dine in

TV or podcast? Podcast

Heels or flats? Flats

The Power of Play…

Today, as the mama in me sat by and listened, watched and felt, the therapist in me was reminded of the simple yet magical power of play.  And reminded of the importance of play for the little people in our lives.

As the after lunch lul set into our little home, the restful remains of the day unfolded.  Dad under the house building and tinkering.  Corey our eleven year old moving swiftly from scootering, helping dad and playing on his choice of device.  Addie, our almost three year old, and Kaylee our seventeen month old…playing.  And me, mum, pottering, pondering and watching.

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The weekend almost reaching an end had been a slow moving one where we were bunkered down trying to recuperate from a family bout of winter illness.

Our bubs are moving into a beautiful stage where their close age gap is opening up more and more opportunities for them to engage in play, together.  Sometimes it is led by our biggest little love, sometimes its side by side play, and occasionally its led by our littlest love.  Maybe it was the warm winter sun shining in my eyes, but today it seemed to be a perfect mixture of both.

What was most powerful about what I was noticing was the depth of their play.  Particularly for our biggest little love.  As she engaged in this imaginary world of play not only was she engaging in role playing, turn taking, sharing and building creativity, she was connecting with the special people in her life that she missed; visiting her favourite aunty and playing with her much loved cousin.  And she was expressing and resolving the difficult parts of her world through projection of play.

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I know, for our little loves, particularly our Addie…  allowing her the time to enter into these worlds of play, to express, to unwind, to rest and to crucial for her well being.  And today I was reminded why. Play helps children make sense of their world.  Play gives children an opportunity to express and to resolve.  Supported play helps children feel safe, connected, loved and worthy of love.

In a world, where we as parents are striving to do our best, provide the best, be the best we can be …somehow we are finding ourselves living lives where the simple, yet important things are being lost underneath our efforts to give our children what they need to live a happy and fulfilling life.

The lives of children are becoming scheduled, highly stimulating and full of excess.  It seems, what children are missing is…time to just be.  Time to use their wonderful imaginations, to allow themselves to enter into a world where their minds and spirits can grow, rest, resolve and repair.

play 2

This is a simple reflection…a reminder…maybe to myself…that making time for play is crucial in raising happy, thriving, little beings.





There were three in the bed and the little one said…muuuuuuuuuumy

“Yes bubba I’m coming to pick you up, no darlin you can’t go outside in just your singlet and skirt, why because its really cold outside today, yes mate I will try my best to find time for the skate park, bubba what is it that you have in your mouth gosh I hope thats not what I think it is, yes darlin I will most certainly read you that book once I hop off the toilet, mate can you shut the front door so your sisters don’t escape, bubba that is sissy’s dolly say ta and give it back, oh darlin bubba is a bit big for you to try and carry her around, yes mate I would love to see you outside on our scooter but be back in half an hour to check in, girls we only use our hands in a kind and gentle way…. please don’t push your sister, argh mate I know she is giggling but please don’t throw her tooooooooo high into the air”……..and so it goes.

Siblings…a relationship like no other, in many ways more than one.  Similarly, Parenting siblings opens up a whole new world, in more ways than one.

holding hands

I am one of three…the middle child to an older sister and younger brother. And I can as far as siblings go, our relationships have all had their… tests 😉 but as we move through adulthood together, I could honestly say that I would choose these two as my nearest and dearest, regardless of any genetic ties, funny family memories, complimentary senses of humour and heart driven loyalty.

Don’t get me wrong, we have had our ups and downs, twists and turns…. that time that my little brother drew through my favorite Barbie book whilst I was at the doctors, and the typical tensions of two sisters….who took who’s belongings (usually me) and who wanted to do what first…just to list a few. But all in all, over the years we have built relationships of love understanding and acceptance. Understanding and acceptance of our differences, love and appreciation of one another’s strengths.

When you think about it..siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring.  And when you see siblings together, there is something, that ties them.  Not always as blatantly obvious like the raw, open, live in your pocket sibling relationship that we see on my all time fave sit com..’Off Spring’.

So naturally, when becoming a mama to more than one, the desire to have a large family with strongly bonded siblings was a big one…and one swimming with unrevealed expectations about how these relationships may look, grow and feel. I had a golden and glorious ideal of what my babies would be like with one another, how they would love one another unconditionally, accept one another whole heartedly, and always choose to be kind and considerate of one another (insert wicked ‘hindsight’ laugh here). So, like most expectations, I had let go of some, change the shape of others, make new ones, and hold tight to others.

In our family we have a deep thinking competitive determined yet patient eleven year old son who is his younger sisters biggest protector. He shows us that he wants to be close to them most of the time, and at other times strives to create enough distance so that he can be hands deep in what it is he wants to be building, making, riding or creating.

Which brings me to our next love, our almost three year old, passionate, determined, affectionate, perceptive, fun loving daughter. Who wants to walk in her big bros shoes, (in the figurative sense) and walk in her little sissy’s shoes (in the literal sense). She wants to do what her big bro is doing, and behave just as he is behaving…they share facial expressions and mannerisms, and have the same strong willed approach to life. She also wants what her little sissy wants. She wants to be her best friend but can’t quite understand why sissy doesn’t want to play just as she loves to play and doesn’t show and receive love just as she does.

And our littlest love, a sweet almost sixteem-month-old ray of sunshine… Full of a fiery cautious kind of curiosity about the people and world around her, affectionate and cheeky with a heart full of love to give. She wants to keep up with her big sis, and watches her every move. She looks upto her with adoration and sometimes moves cautiously away from her with a curious stare. She has been given the gift of being loved and cared for by many, and will never be without a guiding hand. But seems to sometimes wish that those little hands trying to guide her were are….maybe a touch more gentle.

In our little triad, filled with three little people with three big spirits, we have two age gaps that are very different, a large one and a teeny tiny one. both of which have their benefits, and both of which have there challenges. We are also a blended family, which adds a layer of tenderness between our three loves, as well as a layer of worry and obstacles balanced with a sensitive holding of hard goodbyes and love filled hellos.

So as life has it, parenting siblings is quite dissimilar to the happy smiles and golden glowing braids of the brady bunch, and much more like learning to live life managing a secret mission (que baby boss trailer here)…when the initial adjustment of bringing home a new sibling is kind of like a secret mission to suss each other out, learn what the roles of one another are and how their presence in the family impacts on how life used to be….and how life is now.

I remember in the early days of adjusting to having our youngest at home with us…someone mentioned to me the saying…to a child, bringing home a new baby, a new sibling is just like our partner bringing home a new girlfriend or boyfriend, and us being expected to welcome them with open arms, share all of our things with them and try to understand why our partner will sometimes tend to their needs ahead of ours…reality check 101!!!!!

My biggest realization in the journey of being a mama to more than one has been…that with each new baby you bring into your family uint, there will be adjustments, some smooth and some not so smooth.  The challenges that siblings present to one another are usually natural, normal and healthy. They are not in fact indications that as parents we are failing to raise humans that love one another, or humans that feel loved by us. And as the parent, the importance does not lie with who took who’s toy or who pushed who, but in how we, as the adults around them, respond with sensitivity and compassion and show them how to respond with empathy and love.

Teaching children, let alone babies, how to treat each other with kindness, love, empathy and understanding is hard work. It’s a constant mission of monitoring, dialogue, reflection and willingness to step back and allow freedom to problem solve..and lots…and lots of deep deep breaths on our part.

Splitting yourself and your time, between a few is also hard work. For me the constant awareness of the needs of the baby or child I’m not directly attending too weighs heavily. Of course the love for each of them continues to grow, and somehow your heart just keeps growing bigger with each new members to the family. But the energy required of you to spread this love around evenly, can be exhausting. And with that exhaustion is the ever present MAMA GUILT.  In return for this hard work, is the satisfying and heart exploding feeling of watching the bond grow between the tiny humans that you and your partner created and bought into this world.  Seeing them giggle together about something only they know, step into protect one from getting hurt, playing contently side by side, and placing a sweet gentle kiss on the others cheek, just because.

cheek kiss


Be kind to yourself…although the mother guilt is real…being a parent to one, two, three four or more children is hard work, emotionally, physically and mentally. We need to make sure we are ok, so that we can continue giving the best part of ourselves to our babies. Being mindful of when the mama guilt thoughts pop up can help you step back and reflect on things like, in not immediately meeting one child’s need, they begin to learn important life skills like patience and empathy for others.

Be patient and kind to your children…step into their shoes…see their behaviour and interactions with each other as an attempt to communicate how they are feeling and what it is they need from us.

Nurture each child as an individual…all children, even and sometimes especially siblings are different. They develop at different rates and often have different abilities and different interests. In doing this you are also teaching them how to accept differences in others.

 Give them opportunities to build their relationship, with and without your guidance. Of course safety comes first, but one of my biggest challenges has been learning to step back, and step in when they need me, which at times is very different to my need to intervene.

 Be real about the expectations you have for your ‘older’ children. This was a trap that I fell into, and sometimes still do. And I really have to catch myself and reflect on what is a realistic expectation for each of my children, individually.

Do what you can to keep communication open, and the sharing and expression of feelings and needs at the forefront of how your family interacts. His will help everyone feel heard, understood and loved.

Being a mama to three has been and continues to be a journey that has really taught me how important, challenging and wondrous it is to build a family system that nurtures each individual child as unique, promotes the love and acceptance of one another as different but leaves each child, feeling as equally as important and loved as the other.

“The best gift our parents could have ever given us was each other”..unknown.


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Draw Your Own Line…

The community of online mamas telling their stories is now bigger and stronger than ever. Mamas are sharing their experiences and their stories through blog articles, insta pics and face book posts. So not only do we have the sharing of stories and experiences of mamas within our own little villages, but we have a much wider perspective of the lives of other mamas.

Imagine this…sitting breast feeding, sitting having a quick cuppa, waiting in the car for the kids to jump in, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for the oven to ding, for the washing machine to finish, for the add break to finish, for the buba to wake…common snippets of our everyday lives….if we were to line these images up and scan across them, and play the game ‘spot the similarity’………more than likely the answer would be this… phone in hand, casually scrolling the pages of social media.


lap top

So I find myself reflecting…. when scrolling through social media is a more instinctive and a more common practice during a brief coffee break…or a brief mental escape from the toddler in the corner emptying the cupboard for the thousandth time and the buba that just doesn’t seem to need a sleep this day…seems easier and more natural than connecting with the person next to you, with yourself, or your baby….surely we must begin to ask ourselves….what impact does this have on our well being??

These days, social media seems to hold the power of displaying and forecasting what society portrays as ‘normal’.  Our technological advances help businesses thrive, distant families remain connected and let’s face it…proud as punch parents post about their precious babes.

It also means that we can see and access the surface of so many worlds, and the private layers of these worlds…so how then do we judge what is realistic? How do we place ourselves in a position in which we use this information as inspiration to better our lives, to boost our sense of self and ourselves and self esteem. And yet prevent it from pulling us into a game of comparison potentially spiraling into thoughts of self doubt.

Parenthood and the journey of mamahood is without a doubt a journey that is emotional, vulnerable, tiring, challenging and wonderful.



Navigating and managing the impacts of social media, the stories and experiences shared so readily by other mamas that we hold close, and those public mama figures, has been a big part of my journey…both as both a mama and a professional and…and has been a challenge that presented as unexpected.

As a mama I find myself drawn to the exaggerated idea of what its like to be a mama. You know…the sitcoms that represent family chaos and the days were we find ourselves chasing our own footsteps….the mama running around with baby food smeared all over her top, toddler hanging of her leg, walking/sprinting out the door to get Mr 10 year old to school. And the bloggers who write about their realties in an overly honest sometimes-crude way.

A well known blogger recently interviewed on the project was asked the question ‘what about you attracts so many mums out there’ and her answer went along the lines of ‘I think when mums see how much I struggle it makes them feel better’, shortly followed by the thoughtful reflection from Project host that went something like… ‘reading your book was like holding onto a warm comforter’.

So in this journey of mamahood, what is it about hearing of other mamas day to day challenges and speed bumps that leaves us feeling comforted and ok? Yet exposing ourselves to the mamas posting beautiful pics of their trendy and fashionably dressed (not to mention spotless) children, beautifully designed and presented homes, and fit active perfectly balanced work/mama lives, can sometimes leave us feeling unworthy and self doubting.

So as a professional practicing and learning in the field of parent well being, and as a mama moving through this journey and finding her own way…knowing myself and my own levels of emotional wellbeing has been vital.


Being aware of what tells me that emotionally I may be in a vulnerable place…I know that when I have had a wakeful night with bubs, or a week filled with outings and stimulation…I will be riding the line of feeling depleted and needing rest and recharge.

When I’m riding this line… I know I may be in a place where I’m likely to begin drawing comparisons in a way that breaks into my own sense of who I am, what values I hold true to the life I live and how I go about being a mama, instead of building me up and recharging me for what lies ahead.  The difference is when I’m not riding this line, a scroll through my insta page leaves me feeling inspired and fuels the creative part of my self that wants to tackle a new project, write a blog piece, or redecorate my home 😉

So how I buffer this line is to give myself a break… focus on connecting with what is real in my life and taking some time to care for me and my babes.

Mama Being Frank…Social media, media in general, and the stories we share between each other, in our community of mamas and papas different and alike, provides a snap shot of our lives and the lives of others. Yes it gives us a look into people’s families and people’s homes, but this look is just a glimpse. Whether the person posting chooses to post the joyful, loved filled moments of their day, or the not so glamorous struggles of their day…it remains…just a snap shot just a glimpse. It’s the same as the stories we share between friends and families. They are selected and shared. No one can know what you know about the life of you and your family. Family and the connection between parent and child is a wondrous intricate and unique relationship. Knowing your self and knowing your vulnerabilities, strengths and limits can be the line between comparison and inspiration.

This is article is closely aligned with why I am so very passionate about writing and sharing. Social Media done the right way, used to its potential has the power to develop a community for all mamas and papas to feel connected, to feel inspired, to feel recharged, to feel understood, at any stage in your journey, and during any moment of your day.