Category Archives: Tips

My Five Favourite Beauty Products

Anyone reading this sporadic blog will realise I don’t normally write about beauty. But I want to write what’s interesting me and at the moment it’s beauty. Being 31, a sleep deprived mother of one, the last two years feeling like I’m walking through treacle, beauty and using beauty products was not really in my mind. I was a mess, frankly. I’ve never been too into beauty but before having a baby I did slap on the mascara and brushed my hair on a daily basis.

So, this new year, I started to make some changes. First of all, I started to wear clothes that weren’t crusty and covered in squished mini rolls to work or when I was going out. Losing weight has helped as it’s meant I can get into things that were a bit tight before. Feeling comfortable in what I wear is really important to me.

Keep it straight

Secondly, I dusted off my straightener. I have no idea why but after having Nancy, my hair started to frizz and sprout these ugly little twisty tufts by my ears and around my face – why the hell did this happen? For ages I wondered what the hell I could do about these ugly tufts but then I remembered I had a straighter, and it has really made my hair look normal. I’ve also used John Frieda Smooth Start shampoo and conditioner which has really helped, and the Daily Miracle leave in conditioner is amazing.

Hand cream

I’m in a job where washing my hands or covering them in alcohol gel occurs frequently throughout the day. This means my hands are getting dry, and what with the cold weather, they were getting a little haggard. I got some lovely hand cream for Christmas, Body Shop Honeymania – it smells gorgeous and sinks in really nicely and quickly – ideal at work.

Lip balm

Similar issues in that my lips were getting dry and cracked due to the winter weather. Burts Bees ultra conditioning lip balm is amazing. It almost feels tingly on my lips so to me that means it must be working.

Body shop cool vitamin E BB cream Glowing

Now I have to wonder why the Hell it took so long for me to find and use BB cream. This stuff more or less reconstructs my face so that it doesn’t look like I’m the living dead. I’ve found it very easy to apply, and once it’s on, I forget I’ve even put it on – it feels very light. I love it.

Nail varnish

I’ve always loved nail varnish and have always tried to keep my nails looking nice. Saying that, the pink nail varnish I slapped on my feet a week before I had the baby probably stayed there for over 9 months. I’ve rediscovered my nails recently and I am loving the Nails Inc colours. I was lucky to get some for Christmas – a current favourite is a grey called Hyde park place.

So, there you have it. These gems are bringing the sexy back. Or I should just say the Emily back. I am feeling so much better about myself. Oh, and I know I’ve listed more than 5, but nobody’s perfect.

Things to do in your ‘Me Time’

As I wrote in a previous post, Me Time is so important for us. Time away metime2from babies, away from the house chores and tasks.

But isn’t it always the way, that when you get some ‘Me Time’, you never know what to do with it? I spend half this precious time working out what I am going to do with it, and then before I know it, it’s over.

I know it may take some of the delight out of this time by having to plan it, but if you have a few ideas up your sleeve, then when it happens, you can really enjoy it.

So here are a few ideas of mine about how I like to (or want to) spend ‘Me Time’

 

1. Body Maintenance

Yes, this is one I really need to do! Whether its shaving my legs, dyeing my hair, cutting, filing and painting my nails, I really need to sort myself out. These are not the kind of things you can do with a 6 month old rolling around your legs. I could probably do a top 10 of body maintenance tasks, but I think I will leave it here.

2. Read a Book

Ah yes. Escape into another world, for a little while. Reading a book keeps me sane. I love reading and I am so glad I am still doing it. Sometimes I can only manage 5 mins, other times an hour. But each moment is bliss. Especially if I can add a hot cup of tea and a slice of cake into the mix.

3.Go to a Cafe

Go out, order a drink, sit in a cafe and chill out. You could also do this by adding a book (as above) or you could even meet a real life human being and talk for a bit. Sometimes I just like to go on my own, and sit, and do nothing but watch the world go by.

4. Excercise

This may not seem so exciting, but once you try it, you find you want to do more. Whether this is a run around the block, a DVD at home (Shred or Davina are my favourites) or whether you go to the leisure Centre, it is a little time to yourself, and you are making yourself feel and look better at the same time. I am going to Body Balance at the moment, and I am really enjoying it. There’s something you wouldn’t have heard me say this time last year.

5. Shopping

Ah, shopping alone, I used to do this all the time. The best thing about shopping alone is that you can go to whatever shop you want, spend whatever you want, spend as long as you want in each shop, and actually buy everything you want to without someone nagging you to go home. I spend this time to go and buy all these confidence clothes that I keep yarping on about

6. Watch a DVD/TV

Sit down, with a cuppa, and watch a DVD. Simples. I am currently obsessed with Breaking Bad, and I love nothing more than having a 45 min break to watch it. I ever seem to be able to watch anything on TV anymore as I fall asleep approximately half an hour after Bubs does, so if it’s not a DVD, than Catch Up TV is a fave (although I can’t find anything to actually catch up on at the moment).

7. Get Crafty

OK, I haven’t done this yet but I am planning on doing, especially with Christmas around the corner. I am a Pinterest lover and you can find just about every crafty thing going on there. Some of my favourite blogs are crafty too so I am going to actually try some of their ideas.

8. Make your favourite Meal

Yes, whether it is a lunch, a sandwich, or a slap up meal, cooking a meal that you love is not only scrummy but I think therapeutic. I love my red pepper and bulgar wheat chilli and I hadn’t made it at all since Bubs was born. I made it last week. That was one gorgeous mouth full, I can tell you.

9. Find your Ipod

I hadn’t dug out my iPod since January (since before Bubs was born). I had forgotten to listen to music, that before I would listen to on a near daily basis. Find your iPod, your CDs, whatever you use to listen to music. Update your playlist, buy some new (non-child related) music. Sit, lie, drive – listen to it. It was like finding myself again.

10. Date Night

You may want to fall into a heap on the sofa if you happen to have an evening to yourself with your partner. But go out! Have a date night. Go to the cinema, go to the pub, have a meal, go to a concert. Prise your eyes open with matches, but do something together. I haven’t actually managed to do anything other than go to the pub 5 mins from my house, but I’m working up to the other things.

Travelling with a Baby 0-6 Months – In The Car

Now, as most of my family live over an hour away from me, travelling is something that Bubs has had to get used to, and from quite a young age. Travelling with a baby can seem daunting, and to start with I was too scared to get out of the house! Driving with a baby can also seem rather daunting too. However, I have overcome my fears, and me and Bubs have travelled to Somerset, Hampshire around Bristol together with little difficulty. As a family we also flew up to Glasgow to see some of Dan’s family too.

I thought with this post I would share some of the experiences we have had, and what we have found works, when travelling with a baby 0-6 months old in the car. I will do others posts for Flying and also on a Ferry!

In The Car

Travelling in the car is something we all have to get used to. Personally, I put Bubs in her car seat in the back, on the opposite side to me. It is important not to get distracted from driving, so I find this is the best way. I have used a mirror which you can then glance up into your rear mirror and see Bubs, but I am afraid the mirror kept falling off, so I just don’t bother now.

Babies will usually sleep in the car (thank god!). If they are awake though, it is useful to have a few things in the car to occupy them, for them to look at (I always think the back of a car seat must be very dull indeed).

Car Seat

We have the Maxi Cosi Pebble Car Seat and I think it is really good. It is snug enough for Bubs, but she also has enough room too. There is an attached sun canopy to the seat, and the harness is easy to adjust. There is a storage compartment as well. For newborns there is a pillow and a cushion as well, when they are older you can take these out. I use the seatbelt to attach to the car seat, and it is very easy to do. I have had no issues with this car seat so far.

Travel Toys

We found this Taf Toys Infant Car Toy and think it’s great. To start with, it was just something for Bubs to look at, as it was so colourful. As she has grown, she has been able to reach for it, and play with it, and within seconds of being put into the car she will start to play – she used to cry a lot as we strapped her in, but this has changed all that! It has music as well which is activated by the baby kicking the feet (but it does also go off over bumps in the road) and there is a little flashing light in the feet too which also adds to the attraction. All in all, I think this was a great buy, and I really think it has helped with occupying Bubs on long car journeys.

carseat

Hanging things from the car seat handle are also a great idea. We had detachable hanging bits from Bubs’ play mat which we attached. She loves to hit them, grab them, shake them.

One great buy was Jacques the Peacock from Lamaze. We bought it when I was pregnant, not really having an idea what it was. I clipped it onto her car seat, and she loved it! The colours, the mirror all meant she was fascinate and would look at it for quite a while when a few months old. The wings are all textured, or make a crispy noise, the buttons squeak and rattle. It really is an all-in-one solution to occupying your child in a car seat. It clips on nicely, and I would recommend this item, or one like it, as we have had so much use out of it.

lamaze

Other Items

I always make sure that Bubs has her favourite blanket with her in the back, and also one of her favourite soft toys, as that provides some comfort and security for her, and also may help her to get to sleep. I always try to leave the house just after a feed so that I know I have a few hours. As I am bottle feeding, I always make sure we have a bottle and powder ready to make one once we reach our destination, or when we stop at services.

Some people may like to put on children’s music, but I don’t have any at the moment! So I tend to put on poppy songs that I like to sing along to, as I think hearing my voice is also soothing for Bubs. Sometimes she even tries to sing along!

Dress for Travel

I always dress Bubs lightly for being in the car; she can get very sweaty in the car seat, and so I tend to put her in a short-legged romper, or leggings and a short-sleeved vest. As I said I always make sure her blanket is with her too, but if it’s a really hot day I won’t put this on her. I always change her bum just before we leave too, I don’t like the thought of her being uncomfy sitting in the seat!

Take a Break!

If we are travelling for 2 hours, I always stop after an hour for a break, and to change and see to Bubs, if she is not asleep. I looked on the Maxi Cosi website as I have a Pebble car seat, and it says to take a break every 2 hours when travelling, but check your car seat manufacturer for specific information.

So this is what I do when we are travelling in the car with Bubs. Do you have any other tips and hints? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

A Few Bits of Baby Advice for Kate

Now seeing as Royal Baby Fever is imminently upon us, I thought it only right that I pass on some pearls of baby advice to Kate, seeing as I had a baby 4 and a bit months ago, and it’s all very fresh in my mind. I am of course sure she will see this, and if you are reading Kate, a little comment at the bottom of this would be nice, eh? 😉

ROYAL BABY-ADVICE-TIPS

A Few Bits of Advice

1. Going Topless

You were worried about those topless photos? Dear me, you may be in for a shock. I don’t think I wore a top for about a week, as I tried to master the skill that is breastfeeding. They were out for all to see. There wasn’t a midwife or a Maternity assistant in the building who hadn’t seen my baps. So sorry about that.

2. Buy loungewear

I would tell you to invest in some track suit bottoms, and t-shirts. You will live in these for about the first 5 weeks. You might not even change out of them. All those pretty dresses and coats, and high heels, yeah they’re great, but not when you’re up for 48 hours, and baby sick and bright yellow poo probably is quite difficult to get out of a Hobbs dress.

3. Pack Your Bag Carefully

My Hospital Bag was so full, I could barely put in the essentials. In fact, I had one bag for baby, and one for me. By the time I got to delivery suite, I had so much crap with me, I had to put all my bags on the wheelchair and walk down to the room! Only pack the essentials, people, maybe one of your security team can bring in anything else.  Forget make-up,you will be barely able to brush your teeth.

4. Get used to using one hand

I guess you may have had practice from all that waving, and holding handbags at the same time. But substitute the handbag for a baby, and the waving for trying to grasp a cup of tea, and you’ll see what I mean.

5. Don’t worry about your weight

It’s all very fashionable to lose all the baby weight in about 3 days, but really, you’ve got more important things to do, surely? I know the press are obsessed with your weight, and they seem to be incredulous that you put on weight in pregnancy, but don’t be pressured to lose weight. Eat cake. Eat chocolate. You will need the energy. Let Pippa worry about the size of her bum, about forget about yours, for a bit anyway.

6. If you’re Induced

If you are unfortunate to be overdue, then I am sorry. Everyone, EVERYONE, will offer their words of advice about how to kick-start this labour. I was induced and it is pretty long-winded, so my advice is to stock up on magazines, chocolate, and box sets, and wait. And tell the next person to offer you a Vindaloo where to shove it.

7. Paternity Peeve

Your partner will drive you mad when they are with you on Paternity Leave. Yes, it’s great that they are there, and there to ‘help’, but I tell you when that call comes for Wills to fly off in his helicopter, you will be relieved. Men get in the way, and you can’t actually get anything done, that doesn’t involve an Xbox, whilst they are there. DOn’t bother trying to get into any sort of routine until they’re gone.

8. Family and Friends visiting

Argh. You’re trying to get over the birth, and sleep deprivation, and you think you can relax for a moment as the baby is starting to doze off, when DING DONG, the doorbell goes and 50 people come in and wake up the baby and keep you talking, and tell you that you look tired, and use all your cups and plates, then leave you with a pile of washing-up, and a screaming baby. Now you’re going to have to psyche yourself up for this, as you’re married into quite a large family. People you have never met will barge in on you breastfeeding, believe me.  My advice is just pretend you’re not in, although that may be pretty difficult for you without setting off a massive security alert.

9. Names

Everyone has their opinion on names. For goodness sake Kate, don’t tell ANYONE the name you want, as it will only result in people saying that they either hate it, it reminds them of an old Count someone who disgraced their family, or that you can’t call your baby that as they were a traitor to the crown, or something. Personally I think whatever name you like, just tell them all when it’s born. They can’t say anything then! I don’t know whether you’ll go down the line of naming the baby after ancient family members, but it does seem to run in the Royal Family. For what its worth my bet is of Margaret for a girl, and James for a boy. (I literally just picked those names out of thin air, and a vague understanding of who’s been in the royal family.)

10. Socialise!

You need to enjoy yourself. Having a wing of a hospital to yourself will be lovely but you also do need to socialise with other people who have had babies. Go to some baby groups, talk about baby poo, and moan about your family in law. It has to be done. I personally can recommend Baby Massage and PEEPS, if you ever fancy coming down to Bristol. But beware, not all Mums are friendly. I was scared to talk to anyone at first, and I have been embarrassed a few times, but try to find people on your wavelength.

What advice would you give to Kate in the run-up to her due date? Let me know in the comments below!

By The Way, I have also written some other posts about advice in the first few weeks of being a parent, here and here – go take a look!

 

Out and About with a Baby Series – 1. Finding The Perfect Buggy

Now that Bubs is almost 4 months old, I am starting to venture out a bit more. This has meant I have had to start thinking about what I am doing, where I am going, and what I will need whilst I am out of the house. So far, I think I have done OK, and there hasn’t been a major hiccup. I thought I would share with you what I take with me Out and About, just in case you are wondering what on earth you need to get out of the door.

Finding The Perfect Buggy

First in this series, I thought I would tell you about prams/buggy’s. I will highlight some tips and advice about finding a buggy, and I will review the buggy I bought in case you are interested! Please note that this is my own review of the buggy, I bought it myself, and this review is no way affiliated with Baby Jogger (although I may let them know I have reviewed their buggy!). All views are my own and my honest opinion.

What Do You Want From Your Buggy?

When thinking about a buggy, I think you may want to consider these points:

  • Are you going to need to put it in a car? If so, will it fit in the boot?
  • Does the buggy collapse down easily?
  • Is there a big enough carry basket on there? Can you put all your things easily in/on the pram/buggy?
  • Where are you taking the buggy? Will you need something that can go off-road, for example? (3-wheelers for example are supposedly better off-road)
  • Do you want your baby to use a carrycot with the pram initially?
  • Do you want to be able to put your car seat onto the pram? If so, make sure your make of car seat matches the adaptors for the pram/buggy
  • Do you want a forward facing, or a Mum-facing pram? Some interchange between the two
  • Will the pram last through the baby’s first few years? Will it grow with the baby?
  • Weather protection: Rain cover and Parasol – are these included?
  • Can the pram be steered easily with one hand? (believe me you will have to do this one day!)
  • Check the suspension – will the baby have a bumpy ride?
  • Is it easy to assemble, reassemble?
  • Who will be using the buggy/pram? Will they be able to use it easily?
  • Does it have an adjustable handle for height differences?
  • Are the covers of the pram washable?
  • Is the brake easy to use?
  • Does the pram turn easily? Can you get in and out of doorways without much hassle?
  • What is the buggy like up and down steps and curbs?
  • Does the buggy have a safety harness which meets all legal criteria?

The Buggy I Bought (My Own Review)

Baby Jogger Mini GT

Baby Jogger Mini GT

Now, the buggy we bought is a Baby Jogger Mini City GT. When we bought it, it was Number 1 on the Which best buy list (We bought it in November 2012). The Baby Jogger is suitable from birth, as the back can be lowered to a flat position. The buggy is forward facing, which is a little disappointment for me, but there are 2 windows on the massive canopy which means I can peep at Bubs whilst she is in the buggy. We bought the car seat adapters (which are an additional cost – I think they are about £20) and so for the first few weeks it was great as I could put Bubs in the car seat, or straight out of the car, and onto the buggy, and she is forward facing in the car seat, so it is not a bad compromise especially in the first few weeks when you are wanting to check your baby is alright all the time!

I really like this buggy, although to start with I thought it was far too big and I was terrible at steering it. However, I think it is FAB now I have got the hang of it and I have stopped running over small children and cats. It is very easy to steer, and even easy to steer one-handed, the brake is on the right hand side, which flips up to put brake on and flip down to take off, which is very handy and means I am not fiddling about with your feet. As I have said above, the canopy/hood on this buggy is big: is can be extended two times, and when fully extended it practically covers the whole baby meaning shade in sun and protection from wind and rain. At the back, there is a mesh backing which allows air into the buggy to cool, and this has its own cover for when it is raining, and a neat little pocket is on there as well.

Shaded by the sun and having a nap

Shaded by the sun and having a nap

The basket underneath is big, and can carry 2 full shopping bags as well as coats. It can be a little tricky getting them in there, however, put with a little knack and experience, you can squeeze quite a lot under there.

The steering handle is adjustable, which is good for me and Dan as we are different heights. My only minor gripe is that there is nowhere to hang your changing bag/handbag from which would be good (there is a notice not to hang anything on the handle, and I have done this before OK, but I do think there is a risk of toppling over if you have a really heavy bag on there so best not).

To fold the baby jogger, you just pull the handle in the middle of the seat – this can be done one-handed which is very handy. it is not too heavy, and I can pick it up and put in the boot with little effort. I have a Nissan Micra and the buggy fits in the boot without having to take the wheels off, but yes, the wheels click on/off very simply if you needed to do this.

There is plenty of space for Bubs in the buggy, and she seems to like being in it. She can fall asleep very easily in there, and she likes playing with her toys in there as we go out and about. I have also purchased the baby jogger foot muff and this will be great in the future when it is colder and when bubs is a bit bigger.

The buggy is very versatile, like I say it feels a bit big to start with, and then the back is put down flat it does stick out at the back and so looks a lot bigger. As Bubs grows with the buggy, and we can raise the back, this will make it a bit easier.

I really like this buggy, and I think it is very good value for money (about £300). It should last a few years at least. Although I had really wanted a proper pram, this was the much more economic and rational choice, and now I have got used to using a buggy, I love it!

Searching for the Perfect Buggy/Pram

  • There are lots of buggy reviews online so I recommend searching for the buggy of your choice and having a look at what others say. YouTube is great to watch videos of buggys in action. I also found Which? a very good source of information.
  • If you find a cheaper price online, make sure you go into a store (any one that sells your pram/buggy) and make sure you have a good look at it; and then order online when you get home!
  • Watch out for any added extras. Although I love my buggy, I had to buy the car seat adapters and rain cover as extra.
  • Look in local NCT Sales, or Baby Sales, the buggy of your dreams may be there and at half the price!

I hope that you have found this useful. I certainly did not have a clue about buggy’s and prams when I was pregnant. If you have any other tips or advice about finding the perfect buggy/pram then let me know!

 

 

10 Things I have learnt in 10 Weeks

Since having the Bubs 10 weeks ago, I thought I would share some of the things I feel I have learnt over this period of time:

1. What did I do without Muslin Cloths? and where do they go? the same place as odd socks?

2. That getting up at 6am is a good thing, as it’s better than 2, 3 or 4am

3. You may be tired, and half alive, but hey! 3am is the perfect time for smiles, giggles and playtime.

Me and Bubs after a particualrly good 3am party

Me and Bubs after a particualrly good 3am party

4. Don’t bother wearing a nursing bra for at least 6 weeks, as you’ll be feeding so much you may as well not wear it. In fact why bother wearing any top at all! (im talking around the house, not popping down the shops mind)

5. That you will sing any nursery rhymes you can remember, and even then the ones you do you make up half the words, and then sing over and over again, until that’s all you can think in your brain

6. That however quiet you are trying to be, you will always end up making the most noise

7. That as soon as you think the baby is asleep, and you put them down, they are actually in fact wide awake and just playing a joke on you

8. That after a while you start to think baby sick, poo, and dried milk all over your clothes doesn’t smell that bad, not really.

9. That trying to leave the house for any specific time means getting up at least 3 hours before allotted leaving time as baby will always want to feed and then will absolutley want to do the biggest, most horrendous poo the second you want to leave

10. I never knew you could put someone before everything else, that you wouldn’t mind feeling like death, and not brushing your teeth, eating rice crackers as that’s all you can grab, crying at kittens on TV, singing nursery rhymes until your ears bleed, because this little person is all that matters. Until it happens you don’t believe it.

Money matters: money saving during Maternity leave

I recently took part in a tots100 twitter chat about money-saving. I realised throughout the conversation that I had quite a few money saving tips. This is something I am particularly conscious about during my maternity leave; the longer I am off, the less money I get, and eventually the money will stop. It’s not nice when you have to factor in your finances when you just want to spend time with your baby, but the fact is, if I run out of money, I will have to return to work, and that is the last thing I want to do before my year is out.

Image Courtesy of -Marcus- www.freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of -Marcus- www.freedigitalphotos.net

For me, this year is more than just being a Mum; it’s about taking time to be yourself, focusing on what’s important, and not having to worry about the stresses and strains that work can bring. There is a lot of debate at the moment about working vs staying at home parents. I love my job as a nurse and working with patients is very rewarding.  I know I will have to return to work as I am the one who earns the most money. I am OK with this in one respect as I worked very hard to get where I am in my vocation, but on the other hand I do feel sad that for me, there is no real choice. We rent our house and if we want any chance of getting a mortgage and continuing to save for a deposit I need to return to work full-time. Anyone who says looking after your children at home is easy, probably hasn’t had one. The last 8 weeks have been a challenge and I can see that whilst it does get easier, the challenges still arise for you to overcome whatever age. There have been times in the last 8 weeks I have thought about going back to work just for a break! Even going back to work takes some thinking about, as costs of childcare are a big chunk of your wage. It is not an easy decision to make but I am holding off thinking about the realities of that for now. This year, for me, is more important than ever and I want to enjoy every moment. This means thinking ahead with regards to money is really important each month I get my wages. I don’t know whether I will get this chance again so I want to enjoy it and not stress!

In case it is useful for anyone else out there here is what I have done/am doing/am planning to do with regards to money, money saving, and all that jazz to make this maternity leave a success.

Baby Expenses

Having a baby is an expensive time and there is no getting away from that. But I think it is up to you how expensive you want to make it. All babies need the essentials – nappies, wipes or cotton wool, clothes, somewhere to sleep and if required feeding equipment. All the other bits and pieces are lovely, but you don’t *need* them. Of course you want to buy things but I would say hold off, as there are probably a lot of family members who want to buy something or may want to contribute to something you want. Save the things you’d like for people to buy you, rather than spending your own money on these.

Spread the cost

During my pregnancy I focused on buying things that I would need once the baby came. Every shop at the supermarket I started to buy a few baby wipes if they were on offer, or nappies, nappy sacks, creams, etc. This way it was just a few pounds added on the shopping, but now the baby is here I have quite a few packs of wipes and creams to work my way through!

Free Baby Things

By joining baby clubs you can get free samples and some give you a free gift for signing up. These are also great ways of getting money off coupons, and finding out about baby events when the shops do some money-saving deals.

Sainsbury’s Little Ones – Nectar card members can get a free gift when they join the baby club

Asda baby and Toddler club – sign up and get a free gift

Boots Parenting Club – get extra advantage points on baby products and a free changing bag

Tesco Baby and Toddler Club – Get vouchers and free parking permit for the parent parking

Aptamil baby club – I got a free cuddly toy and tea and bath products sent to me

Mothercare Baby and Me Club – Money off vouchers and invite to in store events where you can get freebies and advice

Emma’s Diary – You can pick up a pack of goodies from Argos or superdrug when you join and I was also sent a free sample pack from Johnson’s because I had signed up with them.

I also got free samples by looking on specific brand websites such as nappy creams, nappies, etc

Bepanthen – free sample on their website

Competitions

There are a load of competitions out there which are baby related. There are many on blogs (see my favourite blogs post for some to get you started) and many brands and companies do competitions through twitter or Facebook. I have won bibs, tickets to the baby show, shoes, clothes, toiletries and books doing competitions on twitter. If you search #win or #RTtowin on twitter a lot of competitions will crop up to look through. Or a site like twitninja shows you what competitions are out there. Beware though, it will fill your followers timelines! Websites such as Direct2Mum are great for competitions (I won a maternity dress on there!) and bounty also have loads of competitions on their website. I think you may as well be in it to win it!

Pay off any debts if you can during pregnancy

I prioritized paying off my credit cards during my pregnancy. This would free up money in my pay packet and would mean I didn’t ‘owe’ anyone anything once I was on maternity leave. I was lucky in that I had paid off my small student loan by the time I was pregnant and was nearing finishing the payments on my car too. This meant in theory I have more money in my pay packet than I did before. As I was used to paying this amount out of my pay packet I put the money I had extra into savings.

Get Utility Bills Sorted

Make sure that you are on the right tariffs for gas and electric and get in the habit of taking your gas and electric meter readings to ensure you get accurate bills. You also have to factor in higher heating and electric bills as you are at home all day and so they will go up.

Use Apps to make savings and get offers

I use apps all the time to get money off,  special offers and sometimes even free things. I am with O2 for my mobile phone, and o2 Moments app gives you special offers, deals and money off. This is especially good for things such as restaurants, cinema and shopping deals. Download the apps for your favourite brands and sign up for newsletters for special offers and discounts.

Nectar app is a good way to get bonus nectar points on your shopping and the search facility within it also earns you extra points. Your Gas and Electric meter readings can also accrue nectar points.

Other Savings

Some employers have deals with local businesses so check out with HR or on the weekly newsletter or notice boards if there are any deals – I have had discounted Gym membership through this, for example.

If you are an NHS Employee you can get discounts as high street shops and restaurants,and usually in businesses local to the hospital, if you show your work ID. I have had reduced cost hair cuts doing this for example. Show your card in high street shops that accept student cards as they may also accept your card.

Also, if family members work for some companies there can be incentives or money off deals for the family on days out etc.

Do You Have Any Money Tips?

So this is what I have done and am doing with regards to money during my maternity leave. I am sure I have probably missed some things out so I’ll add more posts if I think of any more. If you have any money-saving tips or advice for others then let me know and I’ll add it to the post. Most of all, enjoy maternity leave and try not to worry about money too much! That’s what I’m trying to do anyway!

10 Survival Tips for the first few weeks of parenting

10 Survival Tips for the first few weeks of parenting

For what it’s worth I have been compiling a list of Tips for surviving the first two weeks. This has made night-time feeds slightly more interesting for me, and I hope that someone may find some of these useful.

1. Remember to brush your teeth

Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But I’ll confess: day 3 in the hospital and I realised I hadn’t brushed my teeth since Sunday. You worry so much about the baby you forget about yourself.  Showering can be more of a challenge, But brush your teeth, your dentist will thank you and you will feel so much better.

2. Learn to take showers that last 30 seconds

As above; even simple tasks can seem impossible when you’re on your own with the baby. But you’ve got to shower, even if it is just your big toe. I put baby in their Moses basket in the bathroom with me, jump in, scrub myself like a bat out of hell and jump out again before the baby goes too high on the Richter scale. Each time you do it,it gets easier. So best to start sooner rather than later. And besides, you don’t want to smell too bad when your relatives come round.

3. You’ll only have one arm

To start with, babies need a lot of attention. I sort of knew this, but I didn’t really think about how this would affect me living day-to-day. Newborns can feed very regularly, and Nancy fed practically every 20 minutes to start with, when we began breastfeeding again. This can cause you some issues; namely, you will be holding the baby a lot, which will mean that you will have to adapt to doing things slightly differently – i.e. – one-handed. I have perfected eating roast dinners one-handed, so the opportunities are endless once you get the knack.  There are a few things that you should have to (one) hand at all times in this situation. These are:

  • TV Remote – you do not want to be stranded on the sofa one-handed without the TV remote. I got caught out once and had to endure Alan Titchmarsh. That was a low day.
  • Mobile Phone/Laptop – you need to be able to communicate with the outside world. Twitter is my friend, as is Candy Crush (or is that enemy – damn jelly sweets)
  • Kindle/Book – if you can still see straight, then reading is an option. Kindle is much easier as you don’t have to turn the pages. So I am very thankful for that one.
  • Snacks/Drinks – its important to keep yourself hydrated and fed especially if you’re breastfeeding. being awake 24 hours a day means you’re body needs fuel. I have devised a snack table for myself (pictured) to ensure that I have these things to hand. I try to keep it fairly healthy but chocolate is a must if you ask me.

4. Buy a box set

This is a perfect opportunity to watch some TV shows you’ve never got round to. So far I have watched Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and am currently halfway through Breaking Bad. If you’re not going out, may as well make the most of it!

5. Freeze meals

One armed, you wont be able to knock up many gourmet meals. So if you try to make them (or get someone else to) in advance, freeze them, then you can get them out of the freezer and microwaved quite easily one-handed, or if you just can’t be arsed, which I find, is quite a lot.

6. You’ll become Obsessed with wee and poo

Just to warn you; you’ll become obsessed with wee and poo, no joke. You’ll be ringing people up to tell them your baby has pooed and what colour it is. I never thought I would, but look at me now. I even tweeted about it earlier. To be fair it is rather important to keep track, just in retrospect i doubt everyone wants to know. However I really need to heed my own advice here.

7. Work around the baby

Don’t make the baby work around you. It’ll make you stressed and it won’t work. You can still do things, just not when the baby needs you’re attention. This may be at odd hours of the day, but it’ll work. I know the baby will be asleep around 7am, so I make sure I shower then, that is if I want to wash my hair, face and actually feel like I’ve had a shower as opposed to a quick dash (as described above). I can wash up, put the washing on, even leave the house – but I prefer to do this once I’ve sorted the baby. It’s just so much easier and less stressful.

8. Things take time.

Things slow down. But you still get them done. Why do you need to be in a rush anyway? You’re on maternity leave! I do little and often rather than all at once. It still gets done.

9. It gets easier.

Everyone tells you this. But it does. You just need to take it day by day, night by night. Think of all the fun you’ll have eventually! Think of that day when you may sleep 8 hours again! These are you motivators for getting through the first few weeks.

10. It’s up to you

No-one tells you how to do it, you have to work it out yourself. And suddenly you have to make the decisions. People look at you, and will ask you what you think. They won’t judge, and they won’t tell you what to do either. It’s a bit disconcerting for me, but I’m realising that no-one has the right answer, no-one knows everything, and you may as well go with your gut instinct as if you ask there will be loads of people with advice if you really need it. (and you’ll get it if you like it or not anyway)

Drinks in Pregnancy – Pregnancy Tips

 Drinks in Pregnancy

Alcohol

Not that I’m an alcoholic but it was a little difficult to adjust initially to the sober lifestyle. My midwife advised me that current guidelines state that 1-2 units of alcohol per week is OK but then I had read other information that told me that it is best to abstain from alcohol altogether – advice on NHS Choices website. To be honest I felt so sick initially I didn’t fancy any alcohol anyway! But for me it was not the lack of alcohol but the lack of variety of alcohol-free drinks when I went out and about.

Surely it would be better and healthier to promote different drinks especially in this day and age when people may not be able to drink as they are driving andso on.  I like going out and about and I still went to concerts, gigs and other events whilst pregnant. However there is only so much diet coke you can drink. It did make me a cheap date though!

water was one of the limited non-alcohol choices at Hard Rock Calling

water was one of the limited non-alcohol choices at Hard Rock Calling

Caffeine

As well as the well-known lack of alcohol in pregnancy, one thing I hadn’t realised was that in pregnancy you should also cut down the amount of caffeine you drink (200mg a day – the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee). This meant that I had to cut down on my beloved tea. However this has meant I have widened the variety of drinks I consume. You should be aware that caffeine can also be in items such as Cola and chocolate – I found good advice at NHS Choices website.

Alternatives to Alcohol and Caffeine Drinks

At home and at family’s houses I was able to experiment a bit with drinks and some pubs also had a good selection. Some restuarants and pubs also do mockails which can be a good alternative and something a bit more fancy.  Some of my favourite drinks have been:

 

Enjoying a Mocktail on My Birthday!

Enjoying a Mocktail on My Birthday!

 

  • Crabbie’s Ginger (Non-alcoholic) Beer – this is the original John Crabbie’s ginger beer which is not alcoholic. I found this in the non-drinks aisle near other glass bottled drinks such as appletizer. This is a lovely refreshing drink and in my opinion extremely close in taste to the alcoholic version. It is lovely, refreshing and the ‘kick’ of ginger make you feel a bit perky.
  • Soda water and lime cordial – this is something you can get in most pubs and restaurants. It’s cheap, tastes nice and I can almost pretend I have vodka in there too (good when you’re keeping schtum in the early weeks and you don’t want people to notice you’re not drinking.). I bought loads of soda water at home and experimented with different cordials – cherry and lime were my favourite choices (not together I may add). I used this soda water and found it kept fizzy for quite a few days and tasted nice.
  • Elderflower Cordial – refreshing and a nice alternative which I found as a nice replacement to drink at dinner instead of wine
  • Tea/Herbal teas –  I found Yorkshire decaf tea the best substitute for real tea. I have always enjoyed herbal teas, but if you haven’t drank them before they can taste a little bland initially. I keep the teabag in my cup to ensure the flavour is strong, and you do need to leave your cup to brew for a few good minutes. Herbal teas are much more delicate flavour than regular tea so beware of this, brew well and give it a go! My favourite herbal teas are peppermint, raspberry and elderflower, lemon and ginger (nice if you feel a bit sickly), camomile (good if you feel a little stressed) and Liptons Moroccan mint but there are loads out there so experiment.
  • Water – sounds silly but drinking loads of water in pregnancy is a must! Keeping hydrated will help keep nausea at bay, help keep you alert when you feel tired, and generally make you feel healthy and glowing!
  • Lemonade/Sprite/7up – great substitutes for cola and  Sprite and 7Up are both caffeine free which is good to know!
  • J20 – I don’t particularly like J20 as they have a lot of sugar in them but at Christmas they do a lovely glitter drink which does make you feel like you’re having a special drink at this festive time of year!
  • Alcohol free wines and beers– Now I didn’t really drink many varieties of alcohol-free wine or beer but I do think you have to check the labels carefully as it does state some alcohol content – many alcohol-free wines and beers have 0.05% alcohol or similar. I tried Becks Blue at my work’s Christmas Party and found it to be a decent replica of a bottle of beer. I have also tried Sainsbury’s Non alcoholic sparkling wine – this was OK if you like the taste of what I can only describe as flat lambrini! (took me back to my university days! except with no hangover)

Anyway there are a few ideas that have worked for me throughout my pregnancy. What alternatives have you found worked for you? I really have enjoyed having different drinks, and I can honestly say that most of the time I haven’t really missed alcohol. This is good of course as I am intending on breastfeeding so I will mostly be continuing in the same style I have got accustomed to! But I shall look forward to grasping a great big mug of steaming tea after the birth knowing I can have as many as I like!

What to Wear When You’re Expecting: My Tips

clothes

 

Pregnancy Tips

As I reach the end of my pregnancy I have been considering what wisdom I can pass onto others. When I think about it, it’s quite difficult to think of what advice I would give other pregnant women; everyone is different and we all experience pregnancy differently.  I will post a different ‘tip’ as and when I remember something important.

Tip No 1: Clothes

Don’t rush out and buy maternity clothes – high street cheap brands work just as well. I didn’t put much weight on and still am wearing the same tops and jumpers as I did before I was pregnant.

What I have found is that a lot of maternity clothes are online and not necessarily on the high street, or a much smaller selection on the high street. M&S, John Lewis, Next all were online and not in the shops. It’s best to try to go to the larger stores as they are more likely to have a maternity section.

I did however invest in some stuff which I have outlined below.

(If you buy maternity wear buy your normal size as that should fit and accommodate but look on individual website for their sizing guide.)

‘Ings’

Initially things like leggings are great as you are still you’re usual size but you may feel a bit more bloated and need more room to breathe. I also did buy some jeggings (I hate that word! and in fact I hated myself for buying them) as they were elasticated and fitted better than my jeans. These teamed with tea dresses or summer dresses make for a rather fashionable outfit and it’s comfy.

Trousers
When I started looking at trousers I had no idea what I was choosing. However in hindsight I would go for above/over bump rather than under bump but that’s my personal opinion. Over the bump I felt fitted better and was more comfy; under the bump I felt the trousers were falling down. I also like that with over the bump, the material over your bump acts a bit of extra material to your tops so you’re not showing your midriff off.

Tops

I didn’t bother with those bandeau tops or anything like that – vest tops or t-shirts under other tops worked just as well for me and were much cheaper! As I just said as well the over the bump trousers also act as a cover for your midriff.  Vest tops and t-shirts are great, comfy and go with anything, especially for work

What Did I Actually Buy:

Maternity jeans:- I bought these ones from Next and I must say theyhave fitted reallywell and have been really comfy.

Work trousers – I also got these from Next – I didn’t even need to tighten them up at all and probably could have got away with a smaller size.These were under the bump and as they were slouchy were very comfy but as I said with under the bump I did feel that they were more prone to fall a bit.

Stretchy PJ’s from Marks and Sparks (not maternity)- a size up from my usual. These were great for getting into as soon as I got home from work, really comfy and great for those initial months when you feel rather bloated and sicky.

H&M do lovely maternity clothes reasonably priced. I bought 2 jumpers and a dress (I was pregnant during the Christmas party time otherwise I wouldn’t have bought one really) from there which fitted really well and have lasted me throughout my pregnancy. They change the styles often so always lots to choose from.

 

 

Shoes

Seriously think about shoes! My feet seemed to ache a hell of a lot more as soon as I was pregnant. As having a job where I was on my feet for a large proportion of the day, as well as walking to and from work, I had to ditch the fashion shoes and go for something more quality instead. I bought some Clarks slip on shoes which were £29 but they are still in brilliant condition today and I must say a very good and comfy pair of shoes and I probably should have got a decent pair of shoes anyway. I also bought some ‘ugg’ style boots from Primark for £6 which were lovely to walk in when it was cold or my feet felt a bit swollen or sore. Sandals/flip-flops again are comfy to wear but I found my feet ached if I wore them all day. I also would get some slipper socks or slippers as there’s nothing better than getting into your PJ’s and a nice pair of slipper socks when you’re feeling like death of an evening.

Look and Feel Good

Clothes are a necessity and you want to feel good in pregnancy and look good too, not a frumpy fat thing. Look at what options you have and try things on, treat yourself to some nice clothes but mix and match with stuff you already have. I wouldn’t spend more money on ‘maternity’ clothes if I can find something that fits and is not maternity as they are loads cheaper.

I hope some of this may be useful to you – please let me know what you think of my tips and if you have any yourself let me know!