Should you find out your babies gender?

When I was pregnant, there was never any doubt in my mind if I was going to find out the gender…trust me, if I could have peed on a stick and it turned blue or pink along with the positive result, I would have.

I think it’s very sweet that people want ‘a surprise’ but you get ‘a surprise’ anyway at the birth. The surprise is you’re never going to sleep again, that you birthed a human that looks like a tiny monkey and that you may end up wearing knickers the size of cycling shorts for the rest of your life (or a few months….). Seriously, for me, nothing could have added to her birth, that was special enough, but knowing she was a she definitely added to the excitement of the pregnancy.

As you may know from my previous posts I suffered terribly with hyperemisis gravidarum (severe morning sickness). It was important for me to know so I could visualise a real little baby, rather than this ‘jerk fetus’ who was making me throw up all damn day!

We went at 16 weeks to Window to the Womb and they made the whole experience really lovely, soft music and words ping up of the screen to tell you ‘it’s a girl’ or boy. The staff were so lovely and I actually felt more emotional at the gender scan than I did at the birth. There was just WAY too much going on at the birth!

I also had 5 scans for various reasons after this first gender scan and I checked every time she was ‘still a girl’.

Plus, it gives you a chance to plan, and I KNOW colours shouldn’t define a babies gender blah blah blah BUT it definitely helped me decorate the nursery, it also was nice for family and friends to know so they could also give gifts in advance. When she was born her wardrobe was full!

We also could discuss baby names, knowing she would have one from our girls list, well from MY list. Torn between two names right up until she was almost here – two that we both liked. I had several names for a girl and one name for a boy! So we had to dwindle down the list. On this subject, you never know how many people you have disliked in your life until you start looking at names!

So, call me impatient- call me organised.

Did you find out? Would you find out?

Travelling abroad with a baby.

We decided to take Jasmine to Paris, more precisely Disneyland Paris. We booked it when she was a few weeks old, and we would be travelling on the Eurostar when she was just under 11 months old. When she was about 8 weeks old I decided to start the process of getting her a passport.

How do you get passport pictures of a baby?

I had no idea, I had visions of myself crouched down in the passport photo booth dangling a baby up to the camera, although she couldn’t lift her head at this point, so I couldn’t see that working out. I came across Paspic.com and it couldn’t have been easier. I took some pictures at home of Jasmine on a white blanket and uploaded them to the site they instantly told me if they were officially accepted or not, I then paid a few pound and they came very quickly in the post. The photo part was so easy – the form, less easy – but eventually her passport was here and she’s stuck with a picture of her asleep at 8 weeks old until she’s five – I laugh every time I look at it.

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I knew we had a long journey from the depths of East anglia to London by train and the London to Paris on the Eurostar- just a few hours in a confined space, under the sea. What was I thinking…..

What to pack for the journey?

For the journey I packed the essentials nappies, wipes, change of clothes (Jasmine threw up 10 minutes before we arrived), teething gels, muslins, milk/water…. all that stuff you’d keep in a nappy bag. The best things for me were snacks, they kept her busy and she picked at a biscuit for almost an hour, I had puffs, fruit, biscuits – it was amazing how much time we filled!

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Now, I know some people believe in the death penalty for mums who let their children watch the tablet but there’s only so much I-spy you can play under the sea. Tablets are a good way to play games, songs or watch 327 episodes of Peppa Pig all the way to France! I also packed some small toys, stacking cups and smaller toys she could put in them, she spent a lot of time putting things in and out of them. I also took a book in hand luggage – a sensory one she could play with.

What about the main luggage?

I always pack more than what I need for her. Not excessively, but I take plenty of clothes and allow for her to get them dirty and need a change. I always check with the hotel that there’s a travel cot in the room.

Here’s a list of my top things to pack.

Travel buggy – get one as lightweight as possible. Also if you’re going to sunny climes it’s worth getting a fan to clip on to buggy and a buggy umbrella to shade the sun.

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Sheet for cot (they don’t always come with them)

Pyjamas – I always pack a couple of spares and put Jasmine in them for the journey home.

Sleeping bag – I took a thick tog and a lighter tog depending on the room temperature.

Foot oil – Jasmine always has shhleepies foot oil from Mummy loves organics it helps calm her and relax her before bed. Or you can pop a little behind their ears for the journey.

A night light.

Toys – for the hotel room too. As Jasmine was crawling but not walking she wanted to go back to the hotel to burn some energy. I packed some light toys for her to play with and she was happy doing this each day. (Although don’t forget to check under the bed at the end of the trip as she had posted a lot of them under there) These can be used for travel too.

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Her My Hummy white noise toy and batteries- Jasmine needs this to sleep so it’s a given.

Tablet – really helps to keep them entertained for parts of the journey. Also the charger.

Medicines & thermometer – in case they fall poorly away have some calpol, nurophen and anything they use for teething.

Bubble bath and lotions Child’s Farm do a great travel sized set.

 

Baby carrier – much easier on your arms that carrying them.

Sun cream – if it’s hot

Swimwear

Snacks!! I took so many for the duration of the trip a great distraction and time filler for the journey.

Nappies, wipes, nappy bags and creams

Bottles Sippy cups for water/milk. I took a couple of extra ones to what I needed just to know I always had one. Jasmine is breastfeeding but we took some ready made formula just in case. If flying you can order ready made formula for the flight to pick up from the chemist once you get through security.

Bibs and spoons

Blankets (a thinner one and a thick one so you can judge which one to use) we used the thick one for her to sleep on top of traveling back.

Muslin cloths.

Weather appropriate accessories, sun hat, glasses, Coat, rain coat, mittens, woolly hat.

The most important thing to take with you is patience, make your journey ‘baby led’ and you’ll be fine. Give them lots of interesting things to do and it will fly by.

Do you have any tips of travelling with babies or small children, I’d love to hear them?

Holding a 1st birthday party? Tips and tricks!

December was a busy month. Jasmines birthday was on the 18th December and I wanted to have a ‘get together’, but so close to Christmas, I knew a lot of people would be busy so I decided to keep it fairly low key and refer to it as a ‘soirée’ rather that a party – that seemed to keep the pressure off!

Don’t panic!

Let me be honest here, babies don’t care if it’s their birthday or not. Don’t spend a fortune on something they won’t remember or really care about at the time. 1st birthdays are really just a nice way to celebrate their first year and are mainly for the parents and guests rather than the child. Don’t get me wrong, she had a lovely time, albeit overwhelming at times but she played with toys and ate party food so she was happy.

Invitation Station

I was in such a whirlwind of searching Pinterest for ‘1st birthdays’ and ordering decorations off eBay in the middle of the night, that I almost forgot to invite people! You can get invitations very cheap or you can pay lots and have white doves with tiny, pink bowties fly directly to your guests homes to deliver the invites. I went on Etsy and got some made from a small business, really reasonable and great quality- plus I could get all the information pre printed on them.

Do you really need it?

As previously mentioned I went crazy on decorations and ended up not using lots of them. Be frugal, what do you really need to add to the occasion? In hindsight a couple of balloons would have been fine for pictures and for Jasmine to play with (what child doesn’t love a balloon?) I did love the timeline with pictures of Jasmine on that I made, I also wanted to separate Christmas so I covered the tree in Birthday banners.

Let there be cake

I knew I wanted a cake made for Jasmines birthday and I haven’t attempted baking since the ‘burnt mess’ I spent 24 hours soaking off the baking tray in 2014. I asked on social media for recommendations and researched them. I found the wonderful Brunette Bakes on social media after being recommended. Her cakes looked perfect and she created the best cake ever for Jasmines first birthday and I also got some cupcakes made too (a good idea if guest may be leaving before the main cake gets cut or if you’re just worried you don’t have enough!)

Presents without presence

Save presents until guests have gone home. I wanted Jasmine to open her presents when she was relaxed after a post party nap and everyone had gone home, so she could really enjoy them. It also allowed me to make a note of who got what so I could send thank you cards in the new year. Jasmine was very lucky with her gifts and I wanted to make sure everyone was thanked.

Open house

Rather than give people set times to arrive I just had an open house between 11am – 3pm so people could come and go during that time.

Party bags

I forgot to give half my guests party bags so I had lots left over!! Pop them by the door so you can’t forget like I did!

Get a birthday candle for the cake!

I forgot this crucial prop. No – Jasmine can’t blow it out, but there needs to be a climax to the cake being paraded towards her. My failure to remember a candle resulted in my mother in law following behind the cake with a glade candle….oops.

Take pictures!!

I took a few but I was so busy I forgot to capture the moment for Jasmine with her little friends and all of the guests there. By the time I remembered Jasmine was a bit crabby.

So her ‘soirée’ was lovely! She’s very lucky to be so loved and I think we got away with it being so close to Christmas.

Back to the office – returning to work after maternity leave.

So, last night I didn’t win the lottery which means after 13 months off work on maternity leave it’s time for me to return to my office job.

As well as the teaching, writing and the other creative bits of work I do, I have a corporate job to pay the bills.

I’m very lucky to get the time off I’ve had but the time has come to return, and its scary as hell.

Firstly, I can’t remember how to do my job….

Seriously, I haven’t thought about it for over a year and pre Jasmine I would fly through the work, train others and answer any technical queries people had. Now the only technical queries I can relate to are the life and times of Peppa Pig.

I’ve been so busy keeping a baby alive that any skills or knowledge I previously had have yet to be remembered, I’m sure they’re festering somewhere in my brain behind the sleep, weaning, nappies, breastfeeding, leaps, teething, colic and other baby stuff.

In fact team members who I previously trained would now be training me.

Anxiety overload.

Whilst I’m lucky to work with the nicest bunch of people, I’m a year behind on the banter, a lot of jokes go over my head and I have the feeling of looking in from the outside, like everyone is talking about a party I didn’t attend.

Oh and to add to the general feeling of panic I’m also worrying about Jasmine, will she be ok? Will she think I’ve abandoned her? Probably not, no.

On the plus side I get to drink tea without panicking where I put it down, get to pee when I need to! I get to have conversations with adults (well, mostly) and get to not worry about Jasmine for a few hours (except all I do is worry!)

I also get to engage my brain and be someone other than Jasmines mummy.

We are lucky as Dave will take over looking after Jasmine when he finishes work and I go to work! Part of me wants to pass her over to him shouting ‘TAG YOU’RE IT!!’ whilst running and skipping with excitement at my new sense of freedom, the other half of me wants to check every two minutes she’s ok….I’m pretty sure that feeling will pass.

I’m completely gutted that my new hours will mean I miss out on her baby groups and swimming lessons, although Daddy will still be taking her, it feels horrible that I won’t see her there, unless I book in some holiday on my first week back….too soon?

Realistically, it is going to be tough, the minor issue that Jasmine still wakes every hour and I’m up 80% of the night with her, then looking after her all morning, working all afternoon, doing the dinner, bath, bedtime routine and writing in the evenings. I’m tired just writing it down, I’ll then be teaching at weekends too.

So if you see someone at your work back after their maternity leave – be kind. It isn’t a year of sitting around in pyjamas watching ‘This Morning’ (although I’d be lying if I said that hasn’t happened at all this year) but for most of the time, it’s a lot more stressful that you could imagine. A huge challenge physically and mentally but I know it’s the right thing for my mind, my bank balance and my family now.

Wish me luck!

Ways to Save Money as a New Mother

If you’re a new mother, you’re probably already realising that motherhood isn’t cheap or easy. You’ve had to spend money on lots of things in order to give your baby everything they need in those early weeks and months, the list seems to be never ending, there’s always an expense to pay out for until you can charge them rent or they eventually fly the nest. There are, however, lots of ways to save money and deal with the costs associated with Motherhood.

Here are examples of some of those money-saving methods

Borrow What Items You Can

Borrowing things from friends and family is usually pretty easy when you have a young child because parents often end up with things that they have no use for. That’s all down to the fact that children grow out of clothes and toys very quickly. So ask around your friends and family and see if there’s anything that people want to get rid of that might be useful to you. I was adamant that Jasmine had to have everything brand new and do you know what? She couldn’t care less if it’s brand new or second hand!

As You Buy, Don’t Forget to Sell Too

Using the same logic, your own child will gradually grow out of things. Therefore, you should try to sell on as much as that stuff as you can. Doing so will help you to make some money, which can then be used to buy any of the new stuff that you need for your child. It’s a good way to ensure you always have the money you need in order to buy the essentials for your child. Those adorable newborn outfits you couldn’t resist spending a fortune on? Wash them, iron them, sell them on!

Buy Second-Hand

Buying second-hand clothes makes sense because those children’s clothes might not have been used very much before they were sold. Therefore, the used clothes might not actually be in worse shape than the new clothes you could buy from shops. But they’ll certainly be a lot cheaper, which is a big benefit for you because you’ll save a lot of cash. I wish I did this more when buying for Jasmine, it really doesn’t matter if it’s the best brand or costs a fortune. Babies are pretty relaxed about things like that!

Find Free Samples

Not all mothers realise this, but it is actually possible to find free samples of things like baby products. These samples can be very useful when you only need a small amount of something and want to save money. You can even get free baby samples by mail, so this is something that you should definitely explore. It could end up saving you a lot of money.

Don’t Buy a Stroller Before Trying it Out

Strollers are not cheap, but they’re one of those things that you need to have when you’re a mother. The biggest mistake you can make is buying a stroller without actually trying it out and seeing if it’s going to be suitable for your needs. Head to a store where you can see and try them out. That’s always a much safer option than buying one online without first seeing it in person.

Also before you shop for one, decide what’s important to you. For me, I wanted one that fit in the car boot easily and was sturdy enough to go over any terrain as we go walking with the dogs. Always ask for help if you need it as it may well be your most expensive purchase.

As a new mother, you don’t have money to throw away. Very few new mothers ever have that luxury available to them. So make the most of the ideas above and save your money for the things that matter most when you have a new child to look after.

*This is a sponsored post

Safety 1st – nightlight review

When people told me that at 12 months old, Jasmine would be in to EVERYTHING – they weren’t lying. It’s a skill known only to tiny humans that they have the ability to destruct anything in minimal time, I’ve even had to speed up my blinks these days with the fear of what she may be in to next. So we’ve begun trying to safety proof as much as possible.

I came across safety 1st and their website is literally full of ways to make your home that bit safer when your little ones are exploring the world.

Their company values are as follows:

At Safety 1st, our number 1 priority is to provide smart ways to help children discover life safely‘. – I love this ethos, as a parent I don’t want to stop them discovering new things, but I do want to provide an environment that’s as safe as possible.

Safety 1st kindly sent me a nightlight to use in Jasmines room. It was nice to have one that doesn’t require batteries (honestly, the amount of batteries I can get through with previous nightlights..) So it plugged in to the socket and although it’s a soft light it was light enough for me to see everything I needed to, it wasn’t too bright to wake her, and most importantly she was reassured she was in her room if she stirred. The best thing is that the nightlight doesn’t get hot and it consumes very little energy.

It automatically turns off when the room gets light in the morning and switches on again when it gets dark. I’d really recommend it, especially for parents who are looking at moving their little ones in to their own room.

*Disclaimer – I was gifted a nightlight in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sick, sick, sick…. poorly mum, poorly baby.

The time is midnight, I’ve got work in the morning, I’ve got the worst back pain of my life and a stinking cold, and I’ve also got a sick baby glued to me. She’s been sick for the last hour and I’ve changed her pyjamas three times. She’s desperate for more milk but I’m trying to hold off as more than likely she’ll throw it up.

Up until the age of five months, Jasmine had never been sick, I was happy about this and would share my delight with others… ‘Jasmine is just not a sickly baby’ But my, oh my she’s made up for it. Especially the last few weeks there’s been an epidemic of bugs and grim germs going around. So now I’m ill, exhausted, in pain and walking around rocking a baby who’s sleeping in my arms. Sleeping beautifully until I dare to sit down, then boom – she’s awake!

I can smell sick on myself, the bedding is soaked through and I’ve not gone to sleep yet. Pacing around wondering if I may die from back pain, exhaustion and bracing myself for another unexpected puke volcano. It’s grim, but if you know, you know!

In spite of all that, my concern is for Jasmine. Is it something she ate? Something I ate? An allergy? A bug? Will she be exhausted in the morning?

Motherhood tests us in ways we can’t imagine and our lives and priorities are never the same again. People often say to me ‘I don’t know how you do it’ regarding Jasmines lack of sleep and the answer is – you have to. There’s no option so you go in to ‘mum mode’ and carry on as every mum would.

As a mum you’re a nurse, a teacher, a cleaner, a chamber maid, a chef….the list goes on.

I know it won’t last forever, one day she’ll be all grown, I will sleep then. For now I’ll be whoever she needs me to be.

Top tips for self care for a poorly mum.

1. Drinks 5 times the amount of water you normally do, drink drink drink.

2. Let the baby sleep on you safely and enjoy the rest.

3. Grab a shower or share a bath with the baby if needed.

4. Make sure you take pain killers and vitamins (then hide them from the baby).

5. Cancel plans, don’t push yourself, if you’re unwell you need to rest or it will take longer to go. Plus no one wants your germs.

Creative Courage – Teaching little people skills for life

Something I don’t often mention these days is that in my other life, I used to be an actress. Trained hard at drama school and made a modest income from acting and singing, enough to survive off but not enough for a home in Beverly Hills. I would love to get back in to it at some point but I’d definitely need to work on my confidence, the thought of singing in front of a room full of strangers sets me in to mild panic where as a few years ago, that was a pretty average day. But hey, maybe that’s a blog for another time.

I have however kept teaching drama, singing and dancing for a company called Stagecoach Theatre Arts – in Norwich. I teach 4 – 6 year olds and I love it. An age where they don’t tend to think too much about ‘acting’ they just act! Children tend to naturally be fantastic actors as it’s just playing ‘pretend’ essentially. Every child I teach has a natural ability and it’s not always in the spotlight.

Don’t get me wrong, if I hear an incredible voice or see naturally wonderful dance skills – I’m going to nurture it and technical ability will always be something I encourage. However sometimes I take the most enjoyment out of the small milestones achieved. When a child who hasn’t spoken for a couple of weeks finds the courage to excitedly tell the class her news from the previous week, or the boy who struggles to focus thriving as a natural leader when working as part of a team during drama class.

I have seen confidence grow, friendships grow and creativity flourish each and every week. Of course I feel emotional when I hear one of my students hit every note in a solo song during a performance. Although I also feel the same emotion watching someone stand still in the spotlight, knowing that they have struggled so much just to keep still and focused.

In an age when the X factor and Britain’s got talent encourage people to be stars I encourage everyone in my class regardless of everything, to me they are all stars. They are still so very little, so I say let’s have fun, build talent, make silly faces, put on funny voices, play games and give everyone a voice, they are much cleverer than you may think. I’ve had so much feedback from parents who’s children have grown so much in confidence which has enhanced so many areas of their lives.

When the rewards come each week, in all kinds of ways because no two students are ever the same, how could I not love my job?

So you want to go to Disneyland Paris? Must know tips before you go!

Fresh back from our trip to Disneyland Paris I wanted to write a blog post. Rather than review each ride, restaurant and our lovely hotel I decided to keep it simple and offer some tips before you go!

We stayed at the Disneyland hotel for three nights, the location was amazing, especially with my tiny human Jasmine in tow – she had moments of wanting to crawl about and burn off some energy, so we would nip back the hotel for this and to feed/change her too.

🌟 Pre book your meals. If you’re desperate to dine at a particular restaurant, they can get booked up quickly (especially character meets). I’d highly recommend character meals, the interaction is great and you can get some great pictures. Reservations are taken 60 days before your trip, you can spend a fortune calling France making reservations or you can call 0800 085 0671 for free!

🌟 Download the Lineberty app. At 9.45am each day (not a minute after) you can book up to meet your favourite characters at the Walt Disney Studios park. Avoiding the queues and getting great pictures.

🌟Avoid going in school holidays if you can. We went in between Halloween and Christmas. Saw the end of the Halloween decorations and the start of the Christmas ones, it was so quiet, we walked on to every ride.

🌟 Don’t panic about getting ‘the picture’. The picture is having an empty castle shot, just you (maybe your family) and the castle. If you get to the castle about 8.15am (using extra magic hours entry) you can take it in turns to take pictures of the empty castle with you in it.

🌟 Don’t forget to visit the dragon under the castle!

🌟 Child swap. If two adults in the party want to go on the same ride, you can get a child swap pass, so one queues whilst the other looks after the child, then they swap and the second adult doesn’t have to queue again.

🌟 I booked directly with Magic Breaks , they have always been great for me. If you wanted to book directly through the Disney site be sure to check the prices on the UK site but also the US site and German site etc….they rotate their promotions and offers, it won’t impact what your booking but may save you lots!

🌟 Pack medicine – as far as I’m aware there’s nowhere in the park that sells pain relief so make sure you pack enough! All toiletries in fact.

🌟 Pack for all weathers, it was chilly at night – scarf and hat chilly – but there were a couple of days I was in just a t-shirt in the middle of the day.

🌟 Get the Disneyland Paris app – it shows wait times so you know you can go and wait 10 minutes for a ride. Subsequently if you go on rides during the parades or fireworks.

🌟 Pack an European adapter for plugs.

🌟 If staying at a Disney hotel you will get extra magic hours. If you plan to start the day in Magic Kingdom park then go straight to Peter pans flight or if you go to the studios go to crushes coaster. These rides a part of the few that open for the extra magic hours and best to do them then. They can exceed wait times of over 2 hours.

🌟 Shopping service. If you are staying at a Disney hotel and don’t fancy carrying all your purchases around with you, the shops will deliver your shopping to the shop in your hotel by 8pm that night.

🌟 Water in the park is pricey and there’s drinking fountains everywhere in Disneyland Paris – refill!

Lastly join Facebook groups for Disneyland Paris – there’s loads of people there happy to answer any questions! Oh and ENJOY, it’s magical!

The series of events which ruined Jasmines day.

I love watching Jasmine grow and develop each day. At the ripe old age of 10 months she’s started having tantrums, arching her back, crying inconsolably and making me feel like the worst person in the world. Here’s a few terrible things I’ve done over the last few days….

1. I told her not to tip over the dogs water bowl, lick the dogs water bowl or put socks from the radiator in to the dogs bowl.

2. I changed her nappy. I told you – I’m awful like that.

3. I put her in clean clothes. Imagine trying to put a live, wriggly salmon fish in pyjamas….the salmon starts crying hysterically. Exactly.

4. I put her in her highchair to eat.

She. Goes. Crazy.

Much happier on my lap or on the floor…. this happens 3 times a day.

5. I sneezed. She didn’t like it.

6. I wasn’t Daddy and she wanted Daddy at that moment.

7. I said no to eating batteries

8. I confiscated the batteries

9. Put her on the floor to make the dogs breakfast. She wanted to watch.

10. I tied my hair back after telling her to stop pulling clumps of it out during our relaxing bedtime routine.

Now somebody pass the wine…