Wednesday, 29 July 2015

10 Months On: 10 Things I've Learned about Parenthood

Jake is now 10 months old and, I know it is a cliché, but I can't believe how quickly the time has gone! 
I'm off now for the summer, but when I return to work Jake will be about to celebrate his 1st birthday on the 10th September. I can't understand where this precious first year has gone; my baby will never be a little baby again - it's sad! 

These last 10 months have seen me go from an overdue pregnant lady who was excited and anxious, to a first-time mum who was crazily anxious, worried and in awe of her baby, to a much more relaxed mother of a 10 month old little boy. It has been one heck of a ride! Here are 10 things I have learned about parenthood:

1. Enjoy the cuddles - no matter when they happen, day or night, enjoy those cuddles. The warmth of their little bodies and their sweet smell is magical and you should cherish those cuddles as much as possible, because once they get older they want to be off playing and crawling and breaking things! 

2. Establish a sense of routine - by this, I don't mean go full on into a regimented prison-style routine, but have a sense of balanced sleep times with wake times and feed times evenly spread out throughout the day. Make the routine work for you and your family - it is important to have structure so you can make plans and help set up those important feed and sleep cues for baby. 

3. Take photographs - Click! Snap! Flash! Take photos of all the precious moments and document the magic. They also make lovely gifts later down the line for family members. 

4. Trust your instincts - if it feels right then do it. Likewise, if it feels wrong then go with it and get it checked out!

5. Try not to compare - this is easier said than done (or it is for me!) but comparing your child to other children will make you anxious and stressed out about their progress. So what if a baby the same age as your little beau is crawling? Your little bub will do it in their own time. It took me until now to realise this. 

6. Share the load - if people offer to help you, let them! Get Daddy involved with little things like the bath or the bed time story, and ensure that those grandparents have a hand in your child's life - even if it's just a visit a few times a month. It is important they get to see them and spend time with them. You can see more about the importance of grandparents here.

7. Don't forget about you and your partner - it is essential to carve out a little time every week (or day if you can) that is for you and is for your partner. Having a baby is hard work and it will transform your life. Injecting some time together, even if it's just to sit down and eat a meal together, go to the cinema, go for coffee, or watch an episode of The Walking Dead - make it happen. 

8. Embrace charity Shops - don't be afraid to buy things from charity shops or to donate toys and clothes once your little one is done with them. It all goes to a good cause and helps other mum's and dad's who may not have much money get some nice things for their little ones. Babies are in their clothes for such a short amount of time, it is wise to be thrifty and generous. We were given loads of second hand clothes by people - and Jake has worn most of them! 

9. Remember it's just a phase - there will be days when things are tough. It will feel like it is always going to be hard, or you'll never sleep again, and you will be destined to only ever drink stone-cold cups of coffee. In reality? Be patient. Everything is a phase. Things do get better. Tomorrow is a new day.

10. Mistakes, baby poop and sick aren't that bad, really! - Yup. You will have days where you get poop on your fingers, the carpet and possibly the wall (yes really).You'll get sick on your shirt and you will decide 'meh, I don't need to get changed'. There will be mistakes you make and learn from most days. And that's OK ;-)
Baby Brain Memoirs

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Review: MAM Friends Bob the Turtle*

I don't know about anyone else, but at the moment Jake is teething big time! It seems as though hitting 10 months meant he began sprouting teeth again - we've had two come through in the space of days with a third one at the top just starting to push at the gum.

Whilst Jake has been much less upset this time around with teething, he is desperately trying to bite and gnaw everything in sight - it is almost a frenzy - with my shoulders being one of the top chew toys! He isn't crying or upset, and he isn't really off his food - but there's a definite irritation there.

As you can imagine, it was perfectly timed when MAM asked us if we'd like to try their new MAM friends range - Bob the Turtle - and we jumped at the chance to give Bob a go. Here are our thoughts:

Packaging:
What I love about the way Bob is packaged is that it did not require scissors or Hulk-like strength to get into. Bob was out of his box in seconds and once he was washed - he was straight into Jake's hands (and then mouth). 

The box is colourful and attractive, with clear information provided on what Bob can do to help your baby.

Bob:
It goes without saying that Bob the turtle is super cute - just like his friends Lucy and Max (who are also available). Bob is made from 100% natural rubber and is BPA free which means he is 100% baby safe - something we all know is really important. 

However, Bob has many other benefits:
  • he is a handmade developmental toy which means that each MAM friend is unique in exact colour and size
  • he feels soft and squidgy, making him easy to hold
  • he has a variety of ridges and bumps and this variety in texture helps support baby sensory development - something Jake is really getting into at the moment
  • Bob is a 3D ring design which means he's really easy for Jake to grab and hold him for prolonged times. Often - with Sophie Giraffe - Jake lets go after a while to re grip
  • and in terms of teething, the rubber is partially hollow which means it's a perfect texture and strength for chewing - especially as Jake already has 7 teeth through and another on the way



What does Jake think?
Obviously, Jake can't tell me what he thinks but he has been chomping on Bob quite a bit. He also likes to pick him up, throw him and then go and get him again; he thinks this is funny :-)

He also likes to touch his fingertips to the funny ridges and inspect them closely, which I find adorable. 

Overall?

We think MAM's Bob the Turtle is a brilliant little friend to keep in your baby's toy box and he's a great, easy companion to take out in the changing bag or out and about at the park. You can get any of the MAM friends here and they are all less than £10! Cheaper than Sophie Giraffe. 

Baby Brain Memoirs

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Review: Beets Blu Key Finder*

A few weeks ago I was approached about reviewing the Beets Blu Paper Tag Key Finder* - and with this baby brain, I jumped at the chance to give it a go!


What is brilliant about this product is that it saves you a lot of time hunting around. I have found my keys in some strange places before now; the bathroom, the fridge, under a pillow and on the bookcase! I honestly seem to just carry Jake in my arms and dump my keys/ purse/ bag down anywhere and worry about it later! It's terrible really. 

The Beets Blu really helps to save you time when you're madly rushing to get baby and yourself out of the door and to wherever you're going on time. It saves precious minutes!!

The finder itself is small and slim enough to fit on to keys, in a purse, in a tablet case or in a laptop bag. I have used it on my keys and purse in the last two weeks, to see how useful it was. It actually helped me locate my purse in Marks and Spencer's baby changing room, after I walked away leaving it next to the mirror in there yesterday! The alarm on my Paper Tag app sounded - it does this once you lose connection or your finder goes out of location. Lifesaver!

   
As you can see from the images, the key finder itself is small and slim. It fits easily into purses and on to keys. As Jake gets a little older and is walking - I can see me attaching this to his own little bag or popping it into a back pocket when we're out and about on day trips etc. It would give me a sense of security in knowing I could locate him easily or that the PaperTag app would sound the alarm once he went out of connection reach. 

My only qualm is that the app can, occasionally, be sensitive and there were only basic instructions available. But a great price and a great product!

**I was sent this product for review and I have given my honest response, thoughts, experience and opinion**.



Thursday, 9 July 2015

What if We Stop at One?

Just this week, the hubby and I were reminiscing about our honeymoon to Florida. Two years ago this summer, we spent two glorious weeks in Orlando, Florida, where we stayed at the 4 star Universal Loews Royal Pacific resort. It was a jam packed, super fun fortnight in which we did everything we'd always wanted to do since being kids, and we did it together. It really was magical.

We got so carried away, we even got the photo album out and started looking back at the places, the people, the food and the memories. In unison, at exactly the same moment, we said "I can't wait to take Jake". A giggle and a pause followed. When could that happen? The thought of being able to take Jake to Florida was suddenly stained by the fact that, realistically, we need to talk about when or if we might have another baby - because let's be frank, we can't afford to do both. Plus - we want to buy a house and we've planned to do this in 3-5 years' time. 

These thoughts begin to escalate. So if we wait to have another child and then wait for them to be old enough to go to Florida too - we're talking about 10 years from now. You start to consider is it ever going to be possible to afford two children who need childcare? And then if you can afford to have two children at all.

What if we stop at one? 

Both Luke and I have siblings. Luke has 3 older brothers, and I have a younger brother and sister who are twins. Jake has 5 cousins - all girls - varying from 18 to 2 years old. Would it be selfish to stop at one and choose not to have any more so that we can offer Jake a comfortable life, rather than run the risk of really struggling to make ends meet and never having the money to do the things we want to do? Both Luke and I come from families without expendable income. My mum was a single parent (although we've always seen Dad) and I remember the struggles she had - never affording to have a holiday abroad for herself until after I was 18. I got free school meals and EMA money to help me get through A levels at sixth form.

Mum was great - she taught us the importance of hard work and motivation - we were always busy and we never went without - but it was a struggle for her. I think a lot of why all three of us have become successful in our education and career is because of the drive mum instilled in us to succeed. I want to instill that drive in Jake - but I also want us to be able to do the things we want. 

Jake is a gorgeous little boy. I know I'm biased - but he is. He is bright and happy and sociable. I honestly love him more than anything. I almost can't imagine loving another child as much - of course I know that you do, when you have another. But I don't think I'd mind if it were just the three of us. 

Single child families are growing in numbers. It is thought that almost half of families across England, Scotland and Wales have only one child now. It is also thought that in the next twenty years this will become a majority, as couples are crippled by financial constraints; economic fluctuations affecting the cost of living, continued rising house prices, astronomical childcare costs and women facing the daunting task of juggling family life with careers (as I, myself, am trying to do) this is only going to have a continued impact on family life.

I have found myself becoming increasingly interested in what this means. So, what if we do stop at one and Jake were to become an only child? Well, research conducted by Dr Toni Falbo revealed that single children - or 'onlies' as they are becoming known - are not disadvantaged. They, in fact, seem to enjoy 'slight advantages in certain areas'. It was indicated that they enjoy higher achievement as adults, with particular focus on education and verbal ability.

Naturally, I worry about the lack of social interaction and relationships. However, it's easy to forget that Jake spends several hours a week at nursery with his peers and key workers. He has cousins and spends time with his grandparents, aunts and uncles. There isn't any part of Jake's week where he isn't interacting - even if it's just with me, his silly mummy, rolling around on the carpet with him.

I'm not saying that I don't want any more children. I'm not saying we won't have any more children! But, I am saying that we need to stop seeing the decision to stop after one child as selfish, and start respecting it as doing what's right for your family, in your circumstances and in your time. Having a child is a blessing in itself; count that blessing and enjoy what you have. There are many couples who can't have a child at all.

I'd love to read your thoughts - especially if you're an only child yourself!
Baby Brain Memoirs

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Review: Sassy Bloom Box at 9 months old*

  
Last week Jake received a Sassy Bloom Box* for all the hard work mummy had done writing guest posts for the Sassy Bloom Blog in previous months.

It was a real treat for Jake - as at 9 months old now, he really understands how to 'open' things and to explore them himself. This made the Sassy Bloom Box so much more exciting and we sat down together, as a family, once we were all home to do the grand opening. It made for a lovely evening as Jake got excited about all of the bits and bobs inside. It really did feel special.


I have reviewed Sassy Bloom before - and you can see on my blog that I have a page dedicated to the articles I have written for their blog, previously. Sassy Bloom are a company who offer a monthly box to your door which is personalised to your baby's age and interests - it's definitely worth a visit to check them out!

Here are just a few of the things that were in Jake's box; for each one I have put the RRP and what Jake has thought of them: 

The Melissa and Doug Tumbler - RRP £7.99 This has been a huge success with Jake;  it has helped to encourage him to crawl. The clack and roll sound effect and the wooden 'retro' feel make this toy a great addition to Jake's toy box. He plays with it regularly.

The Fun Time Busy Phone - RRP £5.99 - Jake has really enjoyed trying to ring the numbers on this. The 'roll the ball' seems a little stuck  -but it is a nice toy.

The Plush Giant Caterpillar - RRP £9.00 - I was really pleased when we saw this. I thought it was bright, cute and colourful. However, Jake hasn't really engaged with it as of yet. Perhaps it's just 'not his style', lol.

The Stack Up Cups - RRP £4.99 - have been, by far, the biggest success. Jake cannot stop playing with these and we have had hours of fun together builiding them and then knocking them down. He also enjoys clapping them together and throwing them. Fantastic :)

The Nuby Coverall Bib and Bandana Bib - RRP £5.99 - Daddy and I were very pleased to see this in the box, as we were literally planning to buy one that weekend. The bandanna bib is gorgeously soft and absorbant - it looks great.

Here are a few photos of Jake making good use of his cups!
I thoroughly believe that the Sassy Bloom box is a fantastic gift or monthly product which is enjoyable for baby and parents. It is an experience that is so enjoyable as a family and the products are always relevant and useful. As a first time mum - I think it's great :)

If you're interested - you can save £10 with my referal code SASSBEXM over at Sassy Bloom. Go check them out.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Being Back at Work: 4 Months on


When I first went back to work in February, Jake had just turned 5 months old. Realistically, it was all we could afford for me to stay off. The pay more than halved a month before and we simply couldn't manage.

I was devastated. I was heart-broken. I felt like an awful human being and, quite frankly, a shit mother. I had always believed that a child should be with their parent/s and not be looked after by others. But that was in my ignorance of life as a wife and a mother. That was before I grew up.

Leaving Jake at nursery for those first few weeks, or leaving him each morning with my mum or Luke killed me. I cried. I cried everyday I went to work. I cried when I got home, because I had missed him and it felt like he hadn't even noticed I'd gone.

Spring forward 4 months and I feel very different.

Yes. In a perfect world where we had loads of money and didn't need for me to go to work, I would love to be at home with my son. Yes, I want to be the one giving him breakfast lunch and dinner every single day. But, my reality is different and actually - Jake loves it!

Jake adores nursery - he has made some lovely little friends there and he loves the staff he has; they always comment on how happy and easy going he is and they can see he's cheeky and funny, just like we can. Nursery is like getting to go to sensory class and music class every day. He loves going into the garden area and he plays in the sand pit everyday - it's his favourite. They feed him all new and different freshly cooked foods each day, which means it doesn't matter too much what he has in the evening for dinner. They follow an early years curriculum and set smart targets each month which they work on together; for July, Jake's was meant to be able to pull himself up on furniture, but he did it yesterday - so they are on to the next.

When I'm at work and Jake isn't at nursery he is with Daddy or Nanny. I love this because it means he's getting to spend time alone with Daddy, and that's important. He's also getting one on one time with Nanny and they have a lovely bond now; he adores her and she adores him.

Now, I don't feel bad going to work. That money means I can treat Jake to toys, clothes and save up for his future. It means that we have the bills paid and he gets to go to nursery 3 mornings a week - which he really enjoys. He is so sociable and engaging now, that people will often comment on it. I believe that's because he mixes with others regularly at nursery.

I didn't ever think that I would feel OK about being a full time working mum. But actually, with good routines and by making sure you make the most of the time off you have - it works.

Good luck to those of you who are due to go back to work; count yourselves lucky that you've had time with your babies (often a lot more than the 5 months I had). I hope the transition goes well and you all get through it.

Bex x