I was recently gifted a bar of Obolo Chocolate (blog coming soon!). I took the kids to bed, had a steamy shower (with my favorite product ever – see below), put on some fresh pajamas then sat down and took my time eating it. Each bite was delicious and for a split chocolate-y second, I felt myself completely relax – in other words I mellowed and the mellowing was glorious. I aim to reach this ¨mellow point¨ every week because I believe it is so important to never forget that, although we are mothers, we are still women with our own needs, dreams, fears and wants. What follows is my list of recommendations to get you smiling, enjoying Chile or helping another to feel happy.
25 Things Mamas in Chile Should Do
- Tell one person about the amazing work of Adopta Perro Santiago. Originally started by Suzie Beaven but now continued by Helen and a team of volunteers, they rescue and care for Santiago street dogs before finding them their forever-home. Santiago (and much of Chile) has a real issue with dogs living on the streets, often abandoned and in need of urgent care. To battle this, there has been a movement away from buying dogs in favor of adoption but there is still some way to go. In fact, our own dog Luna was previously homeless (read her story here). The team at Adopta Perro are currently rebuilding their dog shelter after recently losing their land, and currently house their dogs in either temporary foster homes or in dog shelters that they pay for out of pocket. Add them on Facebook to see their current work or send a PM to see how you can help.
2. Go on a date night! And it really needs to be at night, underneath the stars, so that you feel like a grown up, and you absolutely must wear that [clothes item you´d forgotten]. There are so many options! Try Zully in Barrio Concha y Toro if you like your table strewn with rose petals; visit Como Agua para Chocolate in Bellavista if you want food to be your aphrodisiac; or stop at Casa Luz in Barro Italia for stunningly presented dishes in a beautiful spot.
3. Invest in something that makes you feel amazing. For me that is Ro´s Argan Body Conditioner by Lush. While I am not a fan of Rose, this product is my must-have because it smells divine and lingers on your skin long after the shower has finished, making you feel soft, moisturized and (dare I say it) oh so sexy! For a bit of face pampering, I can´t fault their Full of Grace facial serum that smooths my skin like nothing else.
4. Eat chocolate!! And by chocolate I mean the organic cacao delights made by Obolo, a small award-winning business started by an American expat called Mark. Cacao is really a wonder ingredient, full of magnesium, calcium, iron and antioxidants that can help stabilize your mood and lift you up when you stumble into those dark spots of your mind. But I´m sure you didn´t really need a reason, right?
5. Take your kids somewhere to get their creative juices flowing. I believe that the only reason I can write well is because I love to read and creating a love for reading is something that I think is so important for children as it nurtures so many skills while also being something calming and fun. A fellow expat who shares this belief is Danielle, and she is doing something amazing to promote kids reading in English, something called Little Readers Book Club. Take your kids along to one of the sessions but for those of you who can´t, perhaps try bringing books into your life a bit more, whether by including a story as part of the bedtime routine or by gifting books on birthdays. For Spanish-language books, check out Pajarito de Mimbre – they really are a gift that keep giving! Another brilliant spot for kids is the MIM (Museo Interactivo Mirador) museum, in La Granja, which is an interactive madhouse that will entertain the whole family.
6. Find something small you love in each day. This technique really helped me after my first year in Recoleta, when it felt like all I saw was peeling paint and dog poop, and all I heard was car horns. I tried to find something small that I liked in the area around me and, after a while, all that peeling paint et al started to disappear. I started walking around noticing all the character all the houses had, how bright and colorful they were, and all the other little things I´d previously been blind to. In fact, I wrote a blog about it – this one – and it was all the positive feedback that prompted me to go on this blogging journey!
7. Take on the hard water battle that is destroying your hair … and win. Step 1: buy a water filter. These last about 6 months, are inexpensive to buy and make a huge difference to your water quality. Step 2: buy Godiva shampoo + conditioner. This shampoo comes as a solid bar, which means you save on packaging, and lasts forever. It also smells divinely like jasmine and softens your hair like NO OTHER shampoo I have tried here in Chile (I have tried so many).
8. Visit one museum for a culture hit! The Pre-Colombino Museum is amazing for anthropology buffs like me, but you might also enjoy the Fashion Museum (Museo de la Moda) in Vitacura or the Open Sky Museum (Museo a Cielo Abierto) that displays street art on the sides of apartment blocks in San Miguel.
9. Support local – support Chilean wine! Do I really need to give you a reason?! Visit Matetic to make a day of it or check out Attilio & Mochi to see what passionate winemaking looks like. Or just buy a bottle (or two) and enjoy a night in.
10. Put aside time for just you. You might like to go for a coffee or cake with a friend (try Pasteleria Lalaleeulu), but for me I like to have some time alone, to either talk with myself and make sense of the jumble that is my brain, or simply to just be in silence. My happy place is the shower; this is the place where I get all my best ideas like the plot line for my book, songs or things like Organizacion Ojos Abiertos. I love things that make me feel and smell good (hence my slight Lush obsession) and I recommend Hecho con Amor Natural, a small venture just starting out that creates handmade soaps and relaxing bathsalts.
12. Feed your family something that has known the touch of grass and sunlight, even if it is just every now and then (which is what we do). We buy a couple of whole chickens from Stefanie at Agricola Tinajacura and then stock up the freezer with homemade stock.
13. Smile! And smile even if there is no-one else around. Smiling is so much more than just the movement of your face – it has the ability to influence your mood and make you feel good. Have a read here.
14. Take your makeup off before you go to bed. This step is even more important when you live in a polluted city like Santiago. I recommend Weleda 2-in-1 Cleanser + Toner which is made from all natural ingredients. I also recommend Weleda Cold Cream which is much more luxurious and creamy than it sounds, and one of the best moisturizers I have ever tried.
15. Go somewhere – anywhere – and hold your partner´s hand. Doing this always makes me feel happy.
16. Take a moment to be just with your kids, without any distractions. In our house this means either coloring pictures of Thomas the Tank, playing with Thomas the Tank, dancing to music of Thomas the Tank or making up our own Thomas the Tank songs (E is a tad into Thomas) but it really can be anything. For my work I am constantly on the computer or on my phone and its really important to me for my children to see me give them attention, just for them. Even better if you go outside into nature.
17. Remember that there is always someone out there who has it a little bit harder. Read: Santiago´s Children.
18. Know about, share and perhaps get involved in the amazing efforts of Abrazame. This is a social effort run by volunteers that aims to bring love, care and opportunities to babies, children and women who have been abandoned or left orphaned. One of their many amazing objectives is to visit babies in hospitals to cuddle, play with them and give them love. According to Abrazame, some 200 babies are orphaned and more than children 40,000 abused each year, and more than 11,000 live in orphanages. Anyone can apply to help: fill out the form here.
19. Kit your kids out in style with handmade designs from IvL – Hecho con Amor.
20. Have patience. They say it is a virtue.
21. Go on a day trip. My favorite place is La Campana National Park but you are in Chile – this country has everything you could want and more! If you do head to La Campana, combine it with a visit to the Alpaca Farm at Quintessence, one of the largest and most acclaimed in the world.
22. Go on a BubDate (yes, I am still trying to make this word happen). Some recommended places where you can let your nuggets run wild while you sit serenely back with a coffee include: Coco Cafe (Providencia), Cafe Tropa (Providencia), and Gluck (Vitacura).
23. Support small and local! Click here to see my directory of providers.
24. Enter this Giveaway before you go to win a trip to Viña Aquitania. All you have to do is ¨like¨ my Facebook page to be in the draw to win. This is my way of saying thank you to readers for continually showing support for my blog! It will be drawn Friday 9th June and you get a double entry if you follow me on Instagram too @querida_recoleta.
25. Tell someone – anyone – that you love them. Send a text, email your mum, cover your child´s face in kisses, but whatever you do do it now. and tell them to pass it on.
What would you add to this list? Please share and don´t forget to follow me to stay tuned for more blogs like this one.