Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Special guest interview - Xaviera Plas Plooj from The Wonder Weeks

I've been given the fantastic opportunity to speak to some of the biggest and best experts in the baby field, thanks to Dorel UK - the makers of Maxi-Cosi and Quinny strollers - who will soon be unveiling something rather exciting at The Baby Show, Birmingham NEC, in just a couple of weeks' time.

In the first of three exclusive expert interviews, I've had the pleasure of speaking with Xaviera Plas Plooj from the best-selling book and app The Wonder Weeks. I've enjoyed using this app ever since Ethan was born and was keen to ask Xaviera about the popularity of The Wonder Weeks and whether they feel there's enough support out there for new mums and dads...

How difficult was it to summarize everything that can happen to a child in the first 20 months of their life into one book?

That would be impossible do so we focused on providing a list of examples and we tried to show how much variety there is. Some babies are trying to master the more visible skills like crawling or walking. We parents love to see these new skills. But…. what about the baby that doesn't crawl yet, but is ‘only’ busy touching or feeling the rim of something? These babies are actually doing mind-blowing brain-related work! They are experiencing gravity and playing with it. 

By showing parents what a baby perceives and what type of things a baby can discover, we hope to empower parents to observe and discover all the incredible things their baby does. We don’t make a definitive list of what their baby will definitely do; we can only point them in the right direction. The thing is, if you know where to look and what you are looking for as a parent, you see things you would normally not see.

This is so true! Ethan is still toying with the idea of crawling but just can't seem to figure out how to move forward on his knees. But there's lots of other things he can do so we need to appreciate that he may develop differently and there's nothing to worry about.

Why do you think the book and app have proved so popular with parents?

We’re all used to hearing the old sayings like ‘oh, it’s cramps’, or ‘he must be teething’ but as parents, we often know it's not the case and we've had enough of hearing such comments.  Our app and book are so popular because we show people the real reason why their baby is fussy, not sleeping or crying a lot. Our research has proven that it’s not the parents fault (so don’t feel like you're doing something wrong), it’s not your baby (thank goodness), it's just normal, and can even be a sign of good development. The Wonder Weeks aims to give parents confidence as it's based on pure research.

Do you think parents have enough resources / support available to help them understand the stages of their child's development?

No, I don’t! Our book and app are there and they give enough information on the first two years of life. But hey, parenting doesn't stop there! I've always wondered why nobody got up and researched the years from two onwards so thankfully parents now have The Wonder Weeks to help.

What's the most common concern / question parents ask?

Parents still always wonder if it’s just a ‘wonder week’ or if something more is going on. So I get a lot of emails everyday with these concerns. It's impossible to answer them all unfortunately and for medical diagnoses, a doctor is best placed to advise. I can however say that it is almost always ‘just’ a wonder week. I'm just very glad that more and more doctors now ‘diagnose’ wonder weeks and reassure parents it will pass.

Do you think mums can worry too much about the development of their child? Is there a lot of competitiveness / comparisons made do you think?

Worrying too much… yes and no. A baby is the most precious ‘thing’ ever, so it’s logical and normal that you would always want the best for your baby. That (impossible I may add) strive for perfection is what keeps us sharp as a parent. This impossible quest to perform at your best level of parenting can impact on your life in a negative way. 

Now, as for the competing, that is a totally different thing. We at The Wonder Weeks make quite a huge deal of not judging, not saying how to do something, but when it comes to competitiveness and comparisons, we make an exception. STOP DOING THAT. It’s no good for you, no good for your baby and from experience I can say that over 90% of these 'my-child-is-better-developed-and-much-faster-than-yours' discussions are rubbish. It’s always someone who only looks at motoric skills or the pure schoolish cognitive skills. 

Well, I shall let you in on a little secret: we all learn to walk at one point! But remember that baby I was telling about in the beginning, playing with the rim of something? He became a brilliant doctor in physics. Bet you his mum had to hear a zillion times her baby was dumb, as he didn't walk until later on! The thing is, his brain was just too busy for walking, and he was using it for something else.

Thank you Xaviera! Very inspiring words - who knows what the quiet child playing in the corner may become? We all learn things at different times and have different strengths. Here's to giving our babies time to grow at their own pace.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

An itchy subject

With the kids back at school following the Easter holidays, some parents might find their little darlings bring home more than homework at the end of the day. I've been speaking to Lyclearthe European market leader for head lice treatment products, to find out all about head lice, what to look for and how to treat them if you find your child scratching their head, as it's a subject I know nothing about but unfortunately will probably encounter in the future....


Head lice is an issue that many parents have to deal with and tackling them is a dreaded topic, often spoken about in embarrassed whispers. There are many interesting head lice facts out there, not all true, but knowing the big ones helps with prevention and treatment. This post looks at the key information about lice, from what they are, to tips on how to make sure they don’t infest your household. It also provides advice on how to blast them away if they do.

The first step is to know what head lice are. They’re small insects that live in human hair – not to be mistaken with nits which are egg shells for lice. Lice are parasites, living on a diet of blood which they obtain by biting a juicy scalp. 

While lice themselves aren’t particularly harmful, they can be a huge nuisance and really difficult to get rid of, and bite marks can get infected with excess scratching. They tend to have a short life cycle, with a female louse laying eggs after being alive for just seven days. This means that an infestation can get out of control quite quickly. If left untreated for a while, you might see lots of lice in your child's hair, making them harder and harder to remove.

Contrary to popular belief, head lice don’t fly or hop, but instead crawl, which is why head-to-head contact is the biggest contributor to an infestation. Young girls are more likely to get them as they often play closely together and are always hugging or sharing brushes and hair ties. 

Another misconception is that lice prefer dirty hair. Lice actually have no preference and it’s purely a game of chance, with most parents having to deal with lice, and the lucky (very) few avoiding it.

Prevention is the ideal method for reducing lice, but isn’t always the easiest task in the world, and no matter how careful you are, lice may still find their way to your house. Telling children not to hug and share is a hard thing to do and it’s not very likely that they’ll listen. Keep an ear open for any news you hear about other kids in the school with lice and be cautious: spotting the initial signs can speed up the treatment process no end!

Detection combing is one of the most common and effective ways to monitor whether lice are present. It is advised to look at your child’s hair once a week to check if lice have appeared and, if they do, you can take immediate action. Other symptoms to look out for include itching and red spots around the back of the neck and ears and visible white eggs in hair. Acting proactively means that you’ll be more prepared to take sudden action if you do spot anything.   

The first thing to do when you do identify any lice is call the school and other parents to let them know. This can be an embarrassing thing to do, but needn’t be – as mentioned earlier, hygiene simply isn’t a factor in causing an outbreak. The more people know about the creepy critters, the quicker they can be effectively exterminated!

The second port of call is to check everyone else in the house too. This helps to determine who has lice and who needs to be treated. Wet combing helps to identify how big the infestation is, but the most effective method to combat lice is using head lice treatment sprays or shampoos. This is the only method that helps get rid of both lice and nits, while a lot of home remedies (such as covering hair in mayonnaise or the use of oils) just concentrate on slowing down the lice, making them easier to kill – they don’t have any effect on nits at all. Keep this routine up for several washes so that you can be sure that the lice won’t show up again and that they’re definitely gone for good.

Once you’re sure the lice are gone, you have to make sure that you don’t get re-infested: wash all bedding, clothes, toys, and carpets – anything that would hold lice – on a high heat. Don’t forget to keep an eye on everyone’s hair, while also letting children know to keep their head away from friends for a bit to be on the safe side.

For those that want to find out more, national Bug Busting Days are a great place to start: they are held throughout the year, are packed with top tips and work closely with schools to keep parents and children alike as clued up as possible.

Thank you to Lyclear for this guest post - aside from making me feel rather itchy, it's been really useful to learn about lice and I hope other mums find this helpful too. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

New feature - Meet A Mum Mondays!

I started blogging to meet other mums and to share tips, tears and battle scars. Over the past year, I've spoken to lots of different women with different ideas and different experiences of motherhood and I've always appreciated the comments my posts have received, the Twitter chats we have and the candidness that my fellow mummy bloggers write with.

This online community of ladies navigating their way through motherhood is a source of great support and although it all happens in a virtual space for the most part, I still gain a lot from being a part of the gang.

But do you ever want to know more about the mums you come across on the blogosphere? Are you looking for likeminded people or something new to read? Well, to that end, I'd like to start a new blog series called Meet A Mum to help introduce different mums and highlight some fab blogs out there well worth a read.

So, if you'd like to say a big hello to the rather nice readers of my little blog and would like to share your experience, interests and your own blog, then please email me, I'd love to have you on board; I plan on featuring a new mum each week. Drop me a note to and I'll send you the details.

Looking forward to introducing you to some fabulous ladies soon! 


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Making the most of your time

I wanted to share this post that I wrote for Alex at Bump to Baby last month when she was busy moving into her new home, in case you hadn't had the chance to read it...

I wanted to share with you some advice from one working mum to another. I’ve been back at work now for more than two months and as Alex will soon be returning to work, I thought some words of reassurance would be appreciated. It’s a big change and sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day, but with a bit of planning, you can juggle being mum and being yourself.

Take it easy 
Well, wouldn’t that be a fine thing? What I mean by this is when you first go back to work, try to take your time settling in and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You’re still the person you were before and you CAN do the job, but it will take some time to get used to things again and to adjust to your new pattern. Go easy on yourself and try to enjoy being back in the world of work again.

Get organised 
A family calendar is a great idea to keep track of who needs to be where and when and other household notes and tasks. Write down things as you go and try to spread things across the week so you can still plan in quality time with your baby.

Do your food shop online 
Places like Asda have really useful shopping tools such as shopping lists, where you can create different lists in advance to come back to later. I have a standard shopping list which covers all the basics, from the bread and milk we like to Ethan’s milk and nappies and pet food too. I know that I can just add all of these everyday items into my virtual basket with one click and my weekly shop only takes ten minutes to complete. I also find shopping online for our food helps me to stick to our budget, as I don’t get distracted by special promotions or ‘a quick look in George’, where I undoubtedly buy something new for Ethan’s wardrobe (I’m powerless to resist tiny clothes!). 

Delegate and share tasks 
Time is precious and when you have the choice of spending your day off either doing chores or playing with your little one, I know which one I’d pick! Becoming a mum, particularly a working mum, means you readdress your priorities, not just in terms of your social life but in how important things like having a spic and span home are to you now. Sure, we all would like to have a tidy home and I’m not suggesting you leave things piling up until you look like you should be on some TV programme about people who hoard and never clean. No, you just need to decide what needs to be done and try to keep on top of things.

Try and tidy up as you go – I have different toys for Ethan to play with at different times of day and will only get one set of things out for him at a time, which I then tidy away when he’s bored. If you don’t have a great deal of floor space, this is even more important.

Write a weekly schedule of tasks, from your laundry and baby’s to the hovering and washing up, and assign a task for each day and share the load with your partner if you can. Breaking down the tasks into ten minutes a night will help you keep on top of things in the house whilst still leaving you plenty of time with your child, which of course is way more fun. If one of you makes the dinner, the other can get your little one bathed and dressed for bed and then you can swop, so your partner can put the laundry on whilst you read a bedtime story together. 

Make the most of your lunch break 
A lot of people ask me how I manage to maintain my blog whilst juggling work, taking Ethan to nursery and looking after him by myself three nights a week while hubs works away. My answer? I use my lunch break! I have an hour at 1pm and if I’m not too busy, I will catch up on my blog writing, pop to the pharmacy to get a prescription, drop clothes off a the dry cleaners, nip into the post office… whatever needs doing, I use these child-free moments to get it done so when the working day is over and I have picked up Ethan, it’s just about us.

Prepare for the next day the night before 
I always get my bag and Ethan’s bag together the night before, so I’m not in a rush the next morning. When I get home and I take Ethan to his room to change him, I quickly repack his bag for nursery and lay out his clothes for the next morning. Then, when he’s gone to bed, I make sure I have everything I need in my bag and prepare my lunch for the next day. It’s simple but it’s easy to let things like this wait until the morning, when you’re bleary-eyed and running late.

Use weekends to catch up on your quality time 
As the three of us have our weekends together, I make a point of doing something so we can get out of the house and enjoy our time together. This will be much easier now it’s Spring and it can be something as simple as going for a walk to the park or having a cuppa with a friend.

You need to find time for yourself too when you’re not working so getting out and about can help you enjoy the things you used to whilst sharing them with your child. And again, share your time. It’s ok to head upstairs for a soak in the tub whilst your other half plays with baby. In half an hour’s time, you can do the same and your partner can take a break. A tired, frazzled mama is no good to anyone!

Savour every moment 
It’s perhaps one of the most over-used sayings ever, but it’s so true – enjoy every moment with your child as they grow up so fast. Who cares if you take countless photos of every little thing they do, every new outfit they wear and all the silly faces they pull? I’d much rather take too many photos than regret one day not having so many to look back at. Your memory does fade and you forget how small they were and if you’re going back to work soon like Alex, you’ll soon forget what being on maternity leave feels like.

The freedom of waking up in the morning, with the whole day ahead of you both and everything a possibility. Having PJ days and knowing your little one won’t judge you. All day, every day with your little guy or gal. Pure bliss. Going back to work is always going to be tough, even if you’re very career driven. You’ve spent every minute with this little person since the day they were born but now you have to share them. But share them you must and it’s not a bad thing at all; nothing gives me greater joy than picking Ethan up from nursery at the end of the day, seeing him playing with others then his reaction when he realises I am there. Sure, we’ve been apart for a few hours, but he has played and interacted with children near his age, developing by the second, whilst I’ve been playing grown-ups to help give him everything he needs. Being a working mum is hard work, but the cuddles at the end of the day make you appreciate what you have and are worth the juggling act.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A new car seat for my growing boy

In less than two weeks time, I will have a one year old. A ONE YEAR OLD. How did that happen? Who knew that babies grew up?

Ethan is certainly growing up fast; it's almost happening before our eyes. We will put him to bed at night and the following morning, he's lying there at least an inch taller* with more hair and another tooth peeking through his gums. * might be a slight exaggeration.

I've had to come to terms with the fact that my baby boy isn't really a baby any more, as he totters on the edge of toddlerdom. He's ready for 12-18 month clothes. He's starting to move around a lot more, toying with the idea of crawling / walking. And he's definitely outgrown his first car seat. It's his long legs - I swear, he'll be a giant like his dad before too long.

We've been researching all the new kit he needs for his next stage, from clothes and toys to choosing a new car seat, and we've been sure to take our time. In the early days of parenthood, it's easy to be swayed by special promotions, bright and colourful designs and too much technical blurb to even try and understand. This time, however, we wanted to take our time before rushing in and buying the first car seat that caught our eye.

It's an important decision. It's our son's safety at stake, after all.

I didn't know a great deal about car seats and what features to look out for before so I spent a lot of time looking at the different options, styles and finishes available to understand why some seats cost a little and others cost a lot.

Early on, we decided that we wanted a car seat that would last a long time - it's an investment and you might as well get your money's worth - so we looked at the Group 2 and 3 options, which can last up until the age of 12, or when they reach 150cm in height. Now that's good value!

Here's a helpful chart to make things a bit clearer on what the ECE group ratings mean:

Source: Cybex

When we started looking at different models, one seat really stood out to me; the Pallas-fix by Cybex. Fitting into the Group I/II/III categories and suitable for 9-36kg (approx. 9 months to 12 years), The Pallas-fix features a rather unusual looking adjustable safety cushion at the front to protect your child; completely different to the standard harness / strap design I'd seen on every other model available on the market.

Source: Cybex

My first thoughts were the seat looked a little different but that it had a great design and quality look to it, so I read on to see what the front cushion was all about.

This safety cushion is adjustable and resembles an inflated airbag, which apparently greatly reduces the risk of serious neck injuries from head on collisions without restricting the movement of your child. According to Cybex, it helps provide the highest level of comfort to your child, offers greater upper body movement and has maximum safety in frontal impacts especially when compared to conventional five-point harness systems.

Source: Cybex

With the safety box well and firmly ticked, I wanted to see how easy it would be to fit in the car, use on a daily basis and how it would evolve over time as Ethan grows up.

The Pallas-fix is described as a two in one seat, with the safety cushion for the Group 1 stage, which can be converted at around age three to make it the Group 2/3 seat Solution X2-fix. The seat features linear side impact protectors that absorb the force of side-impact collisions and it's also ISOFIX compatible.

Other features on this fab seat:

Source: Cybex
Clockwise from top left: 11 position height-adjustable headrest, 
comfortable recline function Group 1, reclining backrest and removable seat insert

That's the technical bit done and dusted - but what is it like to use?

Well, I loved this seat from the moment I opened the wrapping to the first time we put it in my car and every time I have sat Ethan in it since. It's a stylish design, the cover material and overall finish is high quality and it is really easy to secure Ethan in next to no-time - a BIG change from his first car seat, I can tell you!

All you need to do is pop your little one on the seat, pick up the separate safety cushion, slot this in front of their body into the two slots either side of the seat, then pass over the seat belt so it hugs against the safety cushion. That's it.

At first, it does look a little unusual, as your child can move their arms either side of the cushion and, in Ethan's instance, they can look rather small sitting in this great big new car seat. I think when we first fitted the seat, Ethan was just on the cusp of being the right size, but he's growing into it more now and he's always seemed very comfortable. In fact, he seems to relax instantly once he's sat in it and stays content or falls asleep in a matter of minutes.

His comfort is also aided by how quick and easy it is to secure him in place, so there's no time for fidgeting and there's no fiddly clips to deal with.

This seat is also available in a choice of colours, which was another plus point for me. Granted, safety and function were my top priorities when choosing a car seat, but I still wanted something that looked good in the back of my car too. Only the best seat in the house for my little boy! I chose the Blue Moon colour option, which is nice and bright (although different than pictured on the website) and will suit him no matter what his age, plus there's another five colours to choose from.

We have used this car seat for the past month now, running Ethan to and from nursery during the week and out on a few road trips where he has slept for three hours straight, completely comfortable and without any problems at all. I'm so pleased with how good it looks and how easy it is to use; it really has made such a difference.

The Pallas-fix from Cybex is a higher-end car seat than some options available on the high street. However, I took into consideration the longevity the seat offers, the timeless, stylish design, the quality finish and the unique safety feature of the front cushion when making my decision. For me, I feel these factors make for a brilliant car seat that will stand the test of time - for the next 11 years in fact!

And Ethan seems rather happy with his new seat too.

Top tips on choosing the right car seat:

It can be quite confusing when choosing a new child seat but here's some great advice from Cybex to help make the process easier to understand:

  • Seats with "semi-universal certification" are not permitted in all vehicles. Check the seat manufacturer's compatibility list to find out if the seat will fit in your car. In case of doubt, simply ask your car dealership.
  • Take both your child and your car to the specialised shop and test the seats to find out which one fits best.
  • Remember, child seats should be easy to install!
  • Check the length of the seat belts in the back to ensure they are not too short.
  • Children's harnesses must be easy to adjust, so that they can be tightened or loosened depending on what the child is wearing.
  • The safety seat should offer children who tend to sleep in the car, maximum side support and a comfortable sleeping position (Gr. I) or an adjustable head rest (Gr. II/III).
  • Never buy a seat for the child to grow into. Even though three-year-olds are theoretically old enough to sit in a Group II/III seat, they are often too small for it at the time.
  • Rear-facing child safety seats must not be positioned on the front passenger seat of cars with an activated front airbag. In this instance, the infant car seat must be installed on the rear seat.
  • When buying a new, older and/or used child restraint system, you should always ensure that it complies with the new ECE test standard. The current standard is known as ECE-R-44/04. 

* PR collaboration. I was offered this seat to product test but loved it so much, I didn't want to give it back so the nice people at Cybex let me buy it from them. Thank you!


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

My summer style

A dose of sunshine is all I need to whip out the sunglasses and slip on the flip flops. Although Spring has only really just properly sprung, I've refreshed my wardrobe ready for lazy sunny days and there's a lot I'm loving right now.

As the days get longer and hopefully the sun comes out to play, I'm loving bright colours, floaty fabrics and relaxed styling.

Here's a guide to my new season look - it's all about a few key pieces and keeping things fun and not fussy:

* The bag: it all starts with a bag, as it often does with me! Ethan was a very naughty boy (in a good way!) as he bought me a Cambridge Satchel, 13inch, in fluoro pink for Mother's Day, personalised with my initials KVO in silver embossing. It's very special and super bright - I swear it glows in the dark! - and it's a great statement piece that I'm sure will go with lots of outfits over the months ahead. Even the plainest of ensembles is going to pack a punch with this hanging on my shoulder.

* T-shirts: a wardrobe essential that comes into its own in the summer, I've stocked up on a few versatile tees, including polka dots for a chic look, stripes for a nautical / Parisian twist and a really zesty yellow one that adds a real zing to my get up.

* The denim jacket: this is what summer is all about in Britain if you ask me. Sling it over a tee, a shirt or a dress and you're ready to go, day or night. This is a light wash version from Next's new summer collection and already a favourite for me.

* The trousers: this summer, as my psoriasis has left my legs even more unsightly than they were before, I'll be covering up and aside from a few much loved maxi dresses I love to unpack each year, I'm all about chinos. Relaxed yet smart, this season's chino trousers are extremely wearable and in some fantastic shades. I've snapped up a rather vibrant pink/orange pair and a lemon/lime shade too from Next, whilst a neutral pair will see me smart throughout summer. I'm also loving the tapered trousers that seem to be everywhere, with a black and white polka dot pair and a smudge print jersey trouser giving me some comfortable but stylish options for the weekends.

* The jumpsuit: I never thought I'd be able to pull one of these off, but I found a really nice, well-fitting but comfy jumpsuit in Next (yep, I'm in love at the moment!), see top right. I'm planning on wearing it with a skinny belt and heels for a chilled look next weekend as I head out on a hen do. I'm feeling brave and hope I can carry this look off!

* The dress: I needed to find a new dress for a wedding in a couple of months, which I also intend on wearing on my, ahem, 30th birthday. This one just screams summer so I'm hoping it fits as good as it looks when it arrives this week. I'm thinking a big statement neon necklace and tan wedges...


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Win a pair of tickets to The Baby Show Birmingham

When you're expecting, you're like a sponge, soaking up all the information you can about birth plans, advice on prams, the benefits of breastfeeding and so on, all in an attempt to feel as prepared as possible.

If you're like me, the more information and advice you have, the better you feel so when your bundle of joy arrives, and then grows through the various stages of their first year, you know what to expect. It's still a huge learning curve and nothing can fully prepare you for what having a baby will be like, but if you've done your research, you'll at least have an idea of what to do.

I read books, I read blogs, I spoke to my midwife, my colleagues, my doctor, I joined email updates from all the major baby brands and the NHS... and I would have gone to The Baby Show too if it hadn't happened so close to my due date last year.

The Baby Show is an exciting and informative event for families and it will be coming to Birmingham's NEC next month, from 16th to 18th May. The show is home to hundreds of exhibitors who will be showcasing the newest, most innovative baby products and clothing . There will be a variety of talks and sessions with well-known child care experts who are on hand to give their tips and advice on a wide variety of child development topics, including weaning guru Annabel Karmel (whom I love!), celebrity breast feeding expert Clare Byam-Cook and baby sleep expert Jo Tantum.

What a great line up!

Even though I've come to realise that no-one knows your baby better than you and you will always find the best way to do things, I can see how helpful The Baby Show can be to new and expectant parents. Much in the same was as wedding fairs and exhibitions give you a good cross-section of ideas and contacts, The Baby Show is a great way to find out what's new and to speak to experts about the various things that may be keeping you, and your baby, up all night.

This year, I will definitely be going along to find out about the latest baby products and to report back to you all - I just wish the show had been a little earlier last year, as it would have been great to visit prior to Ethan's arrival.

I will be going to the show on Saturday 17th as a guest of Dorel - the makers of the Maxi-Cosi and Quinny baby strollers - as they have something quite special to reveal. How exciting!

Even more exciting for you perhaps is the fact that I have a pair of tickets to The Baby Show Birmingham to offer one lucky winner, for a day of their choosing - entry details via Rafflecopter below!

One person will win a pair of tickets to the show to attend on a day of their choice, the competition is open to UK residents only, it ends on 2nd May and the winner will be notified the next day.


Friday, 18 April 2014

Easter to do list

It's become a bit of an Easter tradition for us to use the four day weekend to tackle those household tasks that pile up. 
Ever since we moved into our house almost eight years ago, we have taken part in an annual DIY project of some kind, making the most of the long weekend to really get things ship shape.

Last year, we were close to Ethan's arrival, so the Easter weekend was all about the finishing touches to his nursery and sorting out our long lost garden.

The year before, we redecorated the lounge and built an entertainment centre, and the year before we transformed our dining room into the fun, bright space it still is today.

This Easter will be about getting to grips with the oodles and oodles of 'stuff' that seems to have accumulated over the past year since Ethan was born. You know, the nooks you find to shove bits and bobs you haven't yet found a home for? We have a few. 

Although we don't have any big scale plans for our Easter Spring clean project 2014, I want to use the time we have to a) get things in order and reduce clutter, b) tidy the garden so we can venture outdoors soon, and c) enjoy some relaxing time as a family.

Here are the tasks on my Easter to do list:

  • Sort out the seemingly endless piles of paperwork that can be found in almost every drawer and on every shelf in our lounge
  • Pack away / give away Ethan's old clothes (which are currently hidden behind the chair and under the cot in his nursery), keeping the ones with specific sentimental value and letting go of the rest 
  • Clear out the kitchen cupboards of all useless clutter (we have a million mismatched tupperware boxes, I'm sure) and deep clean the kitchen
  • Tidy the patio, pull up weeds and mow the lawn
  • Create a photobook of Ethan's first year for his birthday
  • Update Ethan's record journals
  • Final plans for Ethan's birthday party
  • Wrap his presents (as I doubt I'll get the chance to again!)

What are your plans for this weekend? Do you save up your DIY tasks? Will you be brushing off the BBQ in the hope of sunny weather?

Whatever you're doing, have a great one!

Kelly x


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Changing needs

For me, choosing the right changing bag was a big decision. In my pre-baby planning days, I spent hours and hours searching online, reading reviews and comparing products. I wanted to find the 'right' bag for me, that provided lots of storage for all of baby's things and would look cute on my shoulder or hanging across the bars of the pram.

It was one of those things I could buy early on that would make me feel 'prepared' for our new arrival. At least, that's how I felt at the time!

I wrote this post just before Ethan came along, and it proved very popular as other mums were keen to see which bag I had finally chosen and why. Everything I said still holds true for me now, but what I have learnt is that you have changing needs from your changing bag and it's unlikely you'll find one that will take you through from bump to baby to toddler, without finding a few limitations or simply wanting something new to use.

Changing needs - choosing the right bag

I'm currently in a changing bag limbo, as we outgrew my first bag within a few months, as soon as Ethan's clothes got a bit bigger and I had to take more out and about with us.

Here's our first changing bag, which you can read about here:

Then, my very talented friend made us a bespoke changing bag, complete with matching changing mat. Isn't it lovely? You can read all about it here, and we still use this bag, particularly for small trips out or as Ethan's nursery bag. Trouble is, as he gets bigger, so do his clothes and I'm finding we need to take even more bits and bobs out with us.

From snacks to toys, I take pretty much everything but the kitchen sink it seems when we leave the house, even more so when we go out for the day. At the moment, we're using a backpack as a shared bag solution; it's not great for organising things in an easy to find way - very annoying when it comes to changing Ethan on the go - but I can cram in most things, including my purse and car keys if needs be.

Changing needs - what's in my changing bag?

So, what's in my changing bag now that Ethan is almost a year old? Well, what isn't?! Of course, there's the obvious items - travel changing mat, nappies, nappy sacks, baby wipes and Sudocrem - but a changing bag is much more than that these days. It's a lunch bag and entertainment pack too!

My mummy changing bag checklist:

  • Folding changing mat
  • Nappies (at least four, just to be on the safe side!)
  • Nappy bags (I use these to put dirty clothes in too if Ethan needs a change while we are out, keeps the bag from getting damp)
  • Wipes
  • Cream
  • Bongela (for help with teething spells)
  • Calpol (just in case they get a little poorly out and about)
  • Complete change of clothes (bodysuit, tshirt, trousers, plus Ethan's shoes as he refuses to keep them on!)
  • Spare bibs
  • Muslin cloths
  • Snacks (I pop Ethan's organic savoury snacks and baby biscotti into small plastic tubs to keep them fresh and avoid crumbs in the bottom of my bag)
  • Meals on the go (if we're going out for a while or I'm not sure if they'll be something suitable for Ethan to eat, I pop a jar of food, some fruit and a spoon in my bag, plus his drinking cup and possibly a bottle and mini bottle of milk to have all bases covered)
  • Hand sanitiser 

Other items which may find their way into the changing bag as well...

  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Purse and keys (if I don't want to take my own bag!)

To help with the load, I have a stock of things in the car just so I don't get caught out - you don't want to forget your changing bag and have a case of an explosive nappy! I have some of the basic bits and pieces in a small bag in the car, plus Ethan has a basket of toys that 'live' in the car, which are smaller and easier to play with and can help to keep him entertained if we're going for a longer trip. I always know I have something to hand for him to play with and as they're different toys to those that he plays with at home, it helps to keep things fresh.

I'm sure as Ethan gets bigger, they'll be a must-have travelling companion and all sorts of other things he wants to bring out with us, so I might end up hauling a great big holdall around with us before long!

I'm currently browsing the wide range of bags that Kiddicare has on offer to find a new bag that can handle everything we need now. I've always wanted a Pink Lining bag but will have a good look at everything on offer before picking the one that's just right. 

I'm like the Goldilocks of changing bags!


The other day, I asked some of you lovely mamas on Twitter what your top three things you absolutely must have in your changing bags were, and here's what some of you had to say:

Thank you to everyone who shared their changing bag must haves with me - great to see what items help you out on the go, think I might add some bubbles to my bag soon!

I found it really useful to read about what other mum's take with them, particularly when I had a newborn on my hands, so why not share the contents of your bag on Twitter, using the following hashtag, to help other mums pack everything they may need? #whatsinmychangingbag

* PR collaboration 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

The reason for my little impromptu break from blogging was because I was beside the seaside. I had meant to write a few things up before I went but things got a bit hectic and I ran out of time.

We headed east to the seaside town of Skegness to spend a long weekend celebrating one of our best friend's 30th birthday. They booked us in at Butlins, and aside from the fact we had to fashion our own kind of mattress for Ethan's cot as they didn't provide us with one due to 'health and safety reasons', we had a camp ol' time for sure.

On Saturday, we braced the chilly breeze for a walk along the seafront, playing on the penny slots and enjoying fish and chips by the sea. In the evening, we dressed in our Disney finest for dinner and were largely mistaken for members of staff. We had a lovely time celebrating our friend's birthday and Mickey (Ethan) was on his best behaviour and even waved properly for the first time.

Sunday was another day of firsts as Ethan tried his first ice cream, sat on the beach and tried some jelly - it was quite a momentous day for him!

Monday was our last day, so we enjoyed breakfast as a group before we had to hit the road, taking a slight detour to visit the house my grandparents lived in and where I spent most of my childhood holidays. It was really nostalgic being there and during the car journey, I worked up an idea for a book that you never know, one day I might just write...


Friday, 11 April 2014

Mix up your routine

Yesterday, I had a topsy turvy start to my day; first, I washed my hair with conditioner, rinsed, then lathered my mane with shampoo, second, I put moisturiser on my wet skin, rinsed it off then jumped out the shower.

No, I wasn't half asleep, bleary eyed mixing up the bottles in the bathroom. The reason for my shower shake up was to put two new beauty routine theories to the test.

First up, reverse hair washing. Sounds like a completely ridiculous idea doesn't it? I mean, we've all spent our lives washing our hair with shampoo then following with conditioner, in that order, every time. No questions asked. It tells us so on the bottles themselves! Of course you have to wash your hair first before adding conditioner, it just makes sense.

Well, apparently not. The latest trend to cause a buzz in the beauty world is to wash your hair first with conditioner, rinse, then follow with shampoo once or twice, depending on your usual preference.

'But why?' I hear you cry!

The theory is that washing your hair this way round is that it won't dry your locks out, with the promise of soft, shiny, full of body hair.

The great thing about this trend is that anyone can give it a go - no purchase of new products required. I thought it sounded completely mad but was interested to see if it made any difference. It felt strange to start with conditioner but I went with it, then followed the advice of using a small amount of shampoo (around the size of a 10p coin - the amount we should all have been using all along), before rinsing then drying.

I added my split end protection cream before brushing and blow-drying as usual, and was pleased not to have been faced with a head full of tangles. Straight away, I noticed my hair had a nice shine to it, but didn't look greasy at the roots as I had feared.

The end result isn't too far removed from how my hair normally looks but I do feel like I have more natural body and shine than usual. My advice? Give it a go - you never know unless you try and this could be one beauty trend that could make all the difference for you.


Secondly, I recently bought the Nivea In Shower Body Moisturiser (currently on offer in Boots for £2.37 for 250ml). A gimmick of a product if ever I've heard one, you are meant to apply this in the shower after washing, leaving it for a couple of minutes before rinsing off then towel drying as usual. It's like conditioner but for your skin.

I wanted to give this a go as I am too busy / lazy to moisturise my body as much as I should and dislike the still-tacky feeling I'm left with when I put on my clothes for the day. I love the new Vaseline Spray and Go as you can read here and wanted to see if an in-shower moisturiser could really add anything to my routine.

I chose the honey version as I'm a little obsessed with the stuff at the moment (I have the Body Shop lip butter and face mask and I even drizzle honey in my morning juice).

The Nivea In Shower Body Moisturiser smells lovely and has a nice creamy texture. It's easy to use and I did notice a difference when I stroked my arms later on in the morning. My skin felt smooth and my dry patches near my elbows weren't as bad as they can be.

I do still think it's perhaps another product that you don't really need but if you're like me and you often skip on the moisturiser as you have somewhere to be / something better to do, then this is a nice addition to your shower routine.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The waiting game

I've decided that being a mum is just one big waiting game.

In the beginning, you wait for the 'right time' to have a baby (note: there's no real right time, just a time when you feel 'ok, I can do this, I've found the right person / I'm financially stable / I want to add meaning to my life / I want to buy cute little clothes' - delete as appropriate).

Then you wait for the right time in the month to give baby making a try, ahem, followed by many minutes waiting for a blue line to appear on that little stick that will change everything forever.

Then you wait nine months or so for your baby to be welcomed into the world. Pregnancy alone involves all kinds of waiting, from waiting for midwife appointments and tests results to waiting for your bump to show, to feel the first kick and for some, to find out if you're a blue or pink supporter.

There's the whole matter of giving birth too, which for some poor women can involve a lot of waiting and even if baby does come along in a timely manner, it will still probably feel like an age due to the pain you might be feeling (I've got to be honest - childbirth involves pain, at least it did for me!).

Then baby arrives and you spend the next couple of months in a whirlwind of nappy changing and feeds every two hours and functioning on zero sleep (yep, some of the clich├ęs are true). All the while, you're waiting. Waiting for a routine to form. Waiting for your baby to sleep a little longer. Waiting for your first interaction, where baby properly looks at you and knows who you are.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

It's enough to make even the most patient of people go over the edge.

Babies go through so many changes in their first 12 months on this earth, it can be really hard as a new mum to know what to expect and to follow the stages. Ethan has been through all of the above, he's been weaning, he's started teething and now, we're waiting for him to start crawling.

Tick, tock...

He had his monthly assessment at nursery last week and they had to mark him as 'red' for physical development as he's 11 months old and not yet crawling. He's been sitting and leaning for ages, he pushes himself right up when he's on his tummy, he can pivot and he's been scooting on his bottom for the past couple of weeks. He's even learnt to reverse. But no proper attempt has been made yet to move forwards, one knee in front of another. Let alone one foot in front of another.

As well as the waiting, it's hard not to compare your child with all the other children you might know. All the babies I know from my yummy mummies group have started crawling or even walking, even those who are younger than Ethan, and Facebook is always full of posts along these lines.

I know Ethan will get there in his own time. Every baby is different. There's nothing to worry about.

All that's left to do is wait.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

To never know who she is

The news that Peaches Geldof had passed suddenly in unexplained circumstances yesterday afternoon shocked a lot of people and the statement from her father - 'we are beyond pain' - has been seen on all the front pages of all the nationals.

The news really shook me, as it has many other people. I didn't really know that much about her before but I do remember she took on Katie Hopkins on the subject of attachment parenting on This Morning a few months back and she really held her own. Serious brownie points there.

I also knew that she was a mother to two young boys, her youngest being just three weeks older than Ethan.

And for this reason, this news has affected me.


To think that her children will never know her. She will never take them to school. She will never have the chance to beam with pride when they take part in their first nativity play. She won't ever take part in the mums race on sports day. She won't have the chance to beam with pride when they get their A-Level results, when they pass their driving test, when they bring home the girl they hope to marry.

They will forever wonder what life would be like if their mum was still alive. They will hear countless stories of who she was and what she was like, all told second-hand in the hope they will provide some comfort and offer them some little piece of their mum that they can cherish.

Peaches often said in interviews that becoming a mother was like being born again. They gave her reason. They gave her life meaning.

And now, their lives must continue without her. With the support of their father and their wider family, they will grow up and find their own meaning in life.

But the meaning of a young woman passing before her time and leaving her beautiful boys behind is one I will never understand.

Snack without the guilt

I love a good snack. Honestly, I think I could live on tapas or pick on picnic food and be quite happy. Saturday night in particular is made for snacking; open the crisps, pour the wine and enjoy a film. Perfect!

Not that I believe you should feel guilty for anything you put past your lips - life's too short to not enjoy what you eat - I've discovered a new snack that is almost completely sin free.

You may have spotted Pop Chips in places such as Starbucks - I know I have, but I have never picked them up. However, I was sent a fab bundle of flavours to try, complete with a 'keep your crisps fresh' clip which is going to be really useful.

So, what's the story? Pop Chips are popped potato and corn chips that are never baked and never fried. 'A little heat and pressure' is all that's needed, then pop!, a potato turns into a chip just like that. Flavour is added and the end result is a tasty snack that's full of flavour but low in fat and calories; less than 100 calories and around 3g of fat per bag. Not bad at all.

Available in original, sour cream and chive, sea salt and vinegar, salt and pepper, barbeque and thai sweet chilli flavours, there's a Pop Chip for everyone.

I was kind enough to share some of these on a Saturday night as a nibble while we watched some TV together as a family but I also managed to sneak a couple of packs just to enjoy by myself.

I particularly enjoyed the barbeque flavour, which had a nice tang to it, and the salt and pepper was a really different taste and a welcome addition to my 'eat at my desk' lunch.

If you like a snack but you're bored of your usual crisps, give these a go. Honestly, they taste great and the brand is bags of fun to boot.

* Note: I was sent some of these chips by the lovely Pop Chips team but decided they were too good to keep to myself. You can thank me later.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

One month until you're one...


Hello my sunshine.


Ever since you were born, Daddy and I have sung certain songs to you. My special song for you is 'You are my Sunshine' and it's cheesy but you are. One look at your little face can cheer up my cloudiest days.


Even when you're not feeling that great or your teeth are causing you some jip. You've still got your cold and the past two days you've had a particularly nasty cough which has kept you up at night. You've been sick quite a few times, ruining a couple of rugs in your wake. Your top front teeth have been breaking their way through and I'm pretty sure that the teeth next door to them want to make an appearance soon, so at times you really haven't felt that great. Luckily, Mummy and Daddy cuddles work wonders.


You've been much more interactive with the world recently and pointing at anything and everything and saying 'de!' Is your favourite thing. When Sherlock, your eldest cat, comes to say hello, your face lights up in such a wonderful way and every morning when you catch sight of the dog you do a little jig and start saying 'do-gh! dor!'.


You're a chatty man and you've also learnt to share, passing us toys and letting us have them before indicating that you want them back. You also find it particularly funny when you have your Colin crab toy, as you like to nibble him and think it's hilarious when Mummy and Daddy eat him too.


This month you went to the park and had a go on the swings for the first time, which you LOVED. You very quickly worked out how to swing yourself, moving your legs in circles. One of your Godmother's, Bex, came to visit last week and she couldn't believe how much you had changed. Auntie Erin babysat you one day, you've had some play time with Nanny and Grandad and next week, you're going on a seaside holiday with our best friends for your other Godmother's big birthday.


It was also Mother's Day last week and you were very lovely to Mummy and spoilt her a lot.nthank you. Feel free to do so every year...! Honestly, spending the day with you doing something special is all I want and I can't wait for next year when you might finally say Mama!


In one month, we're having a big party for you and you are going to be spoilt rotten. We can't help ourselves. Instead of pass the parcel, it'll be pass the Ethan as so many people are coming to celebrate your very first birthday.


I can't want to tell you all about it when you're a little older.


As always Ethan, Mummy loves you.





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