Exhibitions and shows, mum life, Reviews

Baby and Toddler Show

I was really excited to learn that the Made for Mums Baby and Toddler Show was going to be in Glasgow in April. I hadn’t been to anything like that whilst I was pregnant (truth be told, I don’t think there were any shows like that when I was expecting) so I was keen to go along and see what was on offer and what new products or services Travis and I could try.

So when tickets became available for the event, which took place from 27th-29th April, I just had to snap some up. Craig and I decided to go together with the wee man and by ordering tickets early enough, we also got the option to purchase a Made for Mums goody bag for just £5.

Goody goody
I was certainly impressed with the goody bag, which contained items for mums, babies and toddlers. There were a couple of travel size tubs of Palmer’s cocoa stretch mark cream, which I used religiously posts-partum and would definitely recommend for expectant mums, or those who still have newborns. Toddlers will certainly get endless enjoyment from the magazines included, which contain stories, puzzles, stickers, colouring fun and of course some toys too.

Baby centric
What I will say is that the show is definitely far more focused on babies than toddlers, and even more so at newborns. The back half of the show was taken up by the bigger items such as prams, pushchairs, car seats, cribs, cotbeds and other nursery furniture which most parents will already have sorted for their little one if they are already here! Obviously there’s some usefulness from car seats and pushchairs or strollers in larger sizes for kids moving from their first pram or car seat to ones more inline with their height and weight.

With many of the other stands, particularly the clothing stands, a lot of time and effort was put into presenting beautiful clothes for newborn, 0-3 months and in quite a lot of cases, up to 6 months. After that there was limited stock or simply none available at the show – bear in mind I attended on the first day so it was likely there was even less older age stock as the weekend went on. I found that disappointing as although Travis is only 6 months, he wears 9-12 or 12-18 month clothes, so we didn’t manage to get him any cute new outfits.

However, I wouldn’t let that put anyone off the show, as most clothing retailers were pretty apologetic and offered lots of information about their product ranges, sizes available etc.

Highlights for us
I would say that for us the highlights were certainly more focused on activities rather than products. We missed some of the demonstrations, but there were taster sessions of baby sensory and toddler sense which I’m sure Travis would have loved. Unfortunately he had a swimming lesson so we couldn’t make the show till after lunch – it’s a hard life for a busy baby!

We did manage to speak to the organisers of baby sensory at their stand and found a range of information including classes in our area. Along the same vein, there were numerous stands for other baby and toddler activities like swimming lessons and other play and development.

Another great point for us was all the photography stands, which are great for expectant mums too. Quite a few offered services such as a cake smash and other birthday or milestone photography or celebrations. We even spoke to a celebrationist who conducts naming ceremonies and other special celebrations for kids which are non-religious.

There were plenty of stands offering products and advice on weaning and offering sample foodstuffs, but again, Travis has been eating for a couple of months now so we had most of that stuff sorted. Similarly there were stalls focused on different teethers, educational toys and so on, but we felt that we already had enough in the way of those sorts of items, so didn’t really give those stalls our full attention.

Mum time!
I have to say though, I definitely came out of the show with the best experience. At one stand I had my makeup done (and duly bought one of their wonder products – original beauty glow), and also managed to get myself a massage with a lovely company called massage sense who provide services for parents and babies.

There was definitely a great balance for both mums and babies, including large changing and feeding stations to accommodate so many babies and buggies. I’d say this event was definitely a “must attend” for expectant mums, but if you’re pretty organised with your baby or toddler, you might not get as much from it unless you’re attending for something specific like a new pram/stroller.

Mother and Baby classes, mum life

Top 5 free things to do on maternity leave

This list is post baby, not for any mat leave when impatiently waiting for baby to get here. I’ve been there, done that! If that’s what you’re after then maybe this post might help?

Everyone has different ideas about mat leave and how they would like to spend it with their children. However not everyone has a limitless budget to spend on things for baby to see, do and learn from every day so sometimes us mums have to get creative. Thankfully there are also some free resources out there that mums can enjoy with babies. Here are the top free things I’ve utilised whilst on mat leave.

Walking
If its nice (even if its not) then getting your baby out in the fresh air can be a great for both you and him/her. As my mat leave has fallen predominantly in a horrendous winter, there have been times where we literally couldn’t get a pram out in the street for snow/ice, and it really made a difference to our days. Walking gives mum’s gentle exercise whilst breaking up the day for you and baby. Plus babies love seeing and taking in everything going on around them, so a walk provides more stimulus for their senses. And to top it off, Travis loves sleeping in his pram so walks have also been a good, free, helper with sleep and naps.

Going to the park
As I said, my mat leave has been predominantly in winter so there haven’t been a great deal of times to enjoy the park so far, but we go there if we can. Great combined with point 1, the park is a great place to walk through, or to have a wee rest on a nice bench if you’ve overdone it on the walking or need to stop for a feed (for either you or baby, I’m not judging!). Plus, as your little one grows stronger, baby swings and slides become more appealing. A 10 minute play on the swings on an otherwise boring day can burn up energy for your little one, and give you a lot of joy as they giggle their little heads off going back and forth!

Soft play
Soft play is a great invention for kids of all ages, and in our area (and most places I’m assuming?) infants under 1 go free. Admittedly we’ve only started going since the wee fella turned 6 months old, but as long as your kiddo can sit up they will be able to get some enjoyment from it. He loves the ball pit, any mirrors and, after a few confused attempts, the baby slides.

Bookbug
We started going to a bookbug group at our local library in January (see our January firsts) and I couldn’t recommend it enough. As far as I know this seems to be a government initiative (in Scotland anyway) which encourages a love of reading from a young age. The group is for young babies and toddlers and combines nursery rhymes with stories and play to instil an interest in reading, but to break up activities enough so that children aren’t expected to sit still and pay attention for long periods of time. The only criticism is that bookbug runs during term times, which has meant no classes during Easter/Christmas/summer breaks in line with schools. Although it’s free, place a are limited, and you need to sign up through your local authority’s website or page for library services.

Baby massage/baby yoga
Again, I’m not sure if this is just a Scottish service, or even just specific to central Scotland. Our local authorities run a number of free mother and baby classes, again often taking place at the library or community centres. The main ones in our area are baby massage, baby yoga and breastfeeding support classes. I’ve never been to the latter but can definitely recommend both the former classes. Baby massage was great for the wee man’s colic, and we still use some massage techniques today to calm him before bed, help with colic or teething, or just to help promote development. Similarly, the baby yoga is great for their muscle and bone development, and helps you remember some of those old nursery rhymes if you’re a bit rusty!

So those are the great free things we’ve been getting up to on mat leave. I’m really interested to know if there are any other great cost-free activities we are missing, or if there are different local services in different areas. I’d love to get your thoughts!

first-time-mums-post-photos-body-image
mum life

The real reason mums post hundreds of baby photos

Before I had a baby myself, it used to annoy the life out of me that people, especially first time mums, would share pictures of their child on social media every blooming day. Not only that, there would be the mums that would share a whole album of photos of essentially the same 10 mins of the day from about 90 different angles (just take a video?) or the mums who were all about a selfie before, never to be seen again, instead replaced by this mini-me. But now I get it. And it’s not what you think.

I used to think these mums were filled with self-assurance that their child, was, in fact, the cutest baby there ever was. And don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely an element of “aww cute” about baby pics, especially if, like me, you like to dress your baby up in old man outfits. But actually, the heart-melting factor wears off after a couple of weeks when you remember other people have kids and you see their photos and, oh gosh, isn’t little Amelia/Max (insert on-trend baby name here) cute in that little outfit/doing whatever they are doing.

So no, it’s not an egotistical thing where we magically think we’ve co-created the perfect being. It’s for a few reasons. Firstly we want you to know we are still alive. You may not have heard much from us in the first few weeks after we announced the birth of said perfect being. That’s because no matter how many books we read or sites we researched or advice we took, absolutely nothing prepared us for actually having to take care of these tiny beings all day every day. It’s like when you go off the radar for the first day at a new job, except you can’t just clock out at 5pm and join the real world again. There’s been a lot of learning, going with the flow and general panic and disruption at every hour of the day, so we haven’t had the chance to brush our hair let alone get ready and pose for a selfie, never mind actually go anywhere or do anything like we used to in the good old days. But we did get our baby up and dressed, and they did a windy smile. That was the highlight of the day rather than a fancy meal at a nice restaurant or catching a new film/band, so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Secondly, many of us feel like absolute shit. Our bodies have been through more trauma than any non-childbearing person will know; we are fragile, trying to recover and simultaneously being flung into the most difficult role we’ve yet faced, with about 5 minutes sleep into the bargain. We currently consider it a good day if all parties in the house can manage to get washed, dressed and fed, so forgive us if we don’t feel like taking a selfie or doing anything other than take a quick snap of this beautiful little creature with wide eyes and perfect skin and long eyelashes and heart-melting smile. We’re not jealous, honest.

Not only do we feel like shit in the exhausted, outward-looking sense,
we’re mentally exhausted too. We are tired of looking in a mirror, not sure of what we see. We’re tired of being told about mums who walked out of the hospital in their size 8 jeans, or the mums who manage to get their kids into a routine and sleeping through the night by 6 weeks old. We’re tired of society telling us how we should behave as a parent, what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives and bodies now our child is here. And despite knowing that all this stuff doesn’t really matter, it still gets to us.

Whether it’s scrolling through our Facebook feeds to see some supermum taking perfect pictures from the perfect adventure with her 3 perfect kids in tow, or the Pinterest infograhics telling you how to lose the baby pouch, it all creates an overwhelming amount of pressure and guilt. It’s so hard not to compare ourselves with others in this situation, even though we know all pregnancies, births and babies are different. Us ladies get a rough time as it is from the media always telling us how to look, what to wear, how to behave, never mind when you throw a child into the mix. And despite our best efforts to rise above it, sometimes we just can’t.

Sometimes we feel really low and hate our bodies and the way they have changed, even if we have already been told a thousand times that pregnancy and childbirth will change your body, and that creating the miracle of life doesn’t always come without battle scars. Nevertheless, we still can’t quite come to grips with the fact that our body wont 100% go back to the way it was before, and, for impatient people like myself, it can turn into an internal battle between your head and body, when you still don’t fit into those pre-pregnancy clothes months down the line.

Sometimes we hate that we can’t even do our simple daily makeup like before, and hate it enough that we have to go to the shops for nappies with bags under our eyes and spots on our face, and don’t really feel like showing anyone that face, other than the cashier at ASDA – and that’s only because we absolutely have to. Everybody tells you about the changes to your boobs, belly, bum and thighs as a new mum, but nobody warns you about the massive changes to your skin and hair post-pregnancy. For me, my skin returned to that of a teenager, with eyebags you could carry a Primark spree in. Then, my hair started to fall out at an alarming rate (more on that here), so now there’s even more desire for me to actually do my hair and make up, despite having no time. This created more feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth (still comparing myself to supermum with her perfect eyebrows and coiffed updo), meaning I was reluctant to go anywhere and do anything unless necessary, in turn meaning less life updates, pics, witty things to Tweet etc.

Sure, this may not be the case for all new mums. Some might really believe that their kid is the cutest on the planet and that everyone else deserves to see at least 45 pictures of them a day. But for many of us it’s a mask, preventing people from seeing what we don’t want them to see. Our child (or children) represents the light in our life – smiling, bright-eyed, learning and doing something new every day, where sometimes we don’t feel good enough ourselves, we know that they are perfect to us and worth sharing. So please remember that the next time you see another new mum posting yet another album of her little treasure.

Baby M's firsts, Parenting

March Firsts

It’s been another surprising month of firsts for us, especially with things like Mother’s Day and Easter both falling pretty much in the same month this year! Here are the new things we did/discovered/experienced first in March:

First christening
Although he made an appearance at his best friends christening in December last year, Travis didn’t actually enter the chapel (it was nap/feed time and the echoes of screaming and tantrums were not what I had planned for the church). So his first time through a whole christening service was on 4th March through in Ayr. We braved the snow in Balloch (nearly bloody 2 feet I’ll have you know) to head about 45 miles away where there were no remnants of winter left at all. The only clue we were still in Scotland was the fact it rained constantly. I was pleasantly surprised at the wee man’s behaviour – barely a peep from him in the church, with the exception of the odd goo, and just being a general bright and nosy baby at the gathering afterwards. Even on the car journey there and back he was on best behaviour, sleeping or taking in the scenery (well as much of it as you can see in a rear facing car seat). My only concern was whether or not we’d have to take half the table decor with us as he seemed to be highly amused with the helium balloons floating from the table top.

First toothbrush!
We had a visit from an oral health worker on 5th March, whose purpose was to give advice about oral health in babies, and in particular, the child smile program in Scotland. Along with the advice, leaflets and coupons (more for weaning than anything else), we were given some toothbrushes and child friendly toothpaste to use. There were a couple of small toothbrushes, which are supposed to let your child get used to the idea of holding the brush, the sensation and so on, as well as a bigger brush to be used the minute a tooth pops through. We were advised to practice brushing, even just the sensation and motions without any toothpaste, pretty much right away, and even to register Travis with a dentist, despite not even having any teeth!

First trip to the aquarium
On 9th March, our usual Hartbeeps class was cancelled (you can read more about the wonder that is Hartbeeps here) so we decided to make the most of the day and do something different. After a nice wee stroll down to Loch Lomond shores in the crisp spring sunshine, we decided to go and see all the colourful fish and playful otters in the aquarium. I didn’t expect Travis to stay awake throughout the whole visit but he did! Mum and dad signed up for annual passes (under 2s get in free anyway) so we can make more trips in the future as he becomes more aware and interested in what’s going on. Plus we might actually time it right for him to catch an otter or shark feed one day!

First mothers day 11th March
Mother’s day is always around about my birthday, so I was delighted to learn that my birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, making it impossible to clash with Mother’s Day. I know there’s a whole bunch of logic about Easter and lunar calendars and whatever to determine the date, but I was chuffed to find out they would be separate celebrations for the wee man’s first year.
It wasn’t how I would have planned it (dad was working so mum didn’t get breakfast in bed, but I did get woken up with a big poo to clean up), but I got to spend it with my growing, happy, healthy baby and that’s all that matters. Plus, I got a card with the Rock on it, so how can that be bad?

Mummy first – first birthday as a mum
So this is supposed to be about the wee man’s firsts, but really there are some firsts that I’ve been experiencing too – like my first birthday as a mum. Slightly better all round than Mother’s Day as dad was off and let mum get some extra Zz’s, open presents in peace and even get a bath! All this after my usual clubbercise class and being spoiled by my parents with a steak dinner. I think Travis enjoyed the tissue paper the most out of the whole thing.

First tooth!
He had been threatening to cut one for a couple of weeks but we all know the teething process can be a long and laborious one, so I didn’t hold out much hope of finding one any time soon. Finally, though, at teatime on 23rd March, one little jaggy line was poking through. Had I not given him a dose of Anbesol I would have been none the wiser. But there was no mistaking that jag when my index finger entered his mouth. Usually he clamps down and his squishy gums put pressure on your fingers, but nothing more. This time there was a definite jag, so I tried to inspect the situation. Note ‘tried.’ Any mother will tell you that it’s an effort to investigate a baby’s mouth at the best of times, never mind when they are licking you like a Labrador because they think you’ve got the good stuff (Anbesol, really, it’s magic) on your fingers.

First soft play!
A new soft play centre opened up in March, within a few minutes walking distance from us. At first I was a bit unsure about it as Travis is still so young, but since kids under a year get in free, and all his friends were going, we thought there was nothing to lose. In typical Travis style, he fell asleep about 10 minutes before we went, and slept for a good hour in the soft play centre. When he woke up though, he had a wee play in the baby/toddler section, figuring out toys, looking at himself in the mirror and even having a shot of the slide (on mum’s lap of course).

First good Friday
So March didn’t quite see a first full Easter, with Good Friday falling on 30th March, but it was the first half of the Easter bank holiday weekend. We spent the day going to Hartbeeps and dressing up like a bunny (the ears lasted about 0.5 seconds at a time), coming home and being dressed like a bunny, and chilling out watching rubbish TV as there seemed to be no good bank holiday films on!

Of course April will see the end of first Easter shenanigans, but it will hopefully bring some other great firsts like swimming, as well as more teeth and trouble no doubt!

mum life, Parenting

Springing into a new routine

As the saying goes, this is the time of year where the clocks spring forward an hour. Normally this fills me with joy and motivation for the sunnier (not guaranteed in Scotland) seasons to come. This year, however, with a 5 month old in tow, I was filled more with anxiety of the prospect of an hour’s lost sleep.

I say an hour like it’s just one flippant thing, but what I really mean to say is another hour. Sleep is the most valuable commodity as a new parent, and as the clocks changed this year, daddy was trading highest. He was on the night shift at work and actually managed to wing a shorter shift than usual. That was great for him, but it meant that mum had a gamble on what time the wee man would wake up, and would have to bumble by on an hour’s less sleep whilst dad thrashed out zzz’s after his jammy shift.

Everyone knows that daylight savings or British Summer Time is complete robbery (I’d say daylight robbery, but actually, well, you know..) and does most hard working folk out of an extra hour of rest at the weekend. To the average Joe that hour is sorely missed never mind for parents of tiny humans. There are all sorts of things to factor in, aside from that other hour of much-needed sleep missing.

Routine rejig

We have just about got a routine of sorts down, especially when it comes to morning classes and feeding times. Recently (about 3 days before the clocks changed) Travis started eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all at reasonable times (around 7am, 12 noon and 5pm) give or take a half an hour here and there. Those 3 days were golden till the clocks changed and then suddenly everything was an hour later.

Don’t get me wrong, at least 5 people have told me I’m mad for being annoyed that he’s lying in longer in the morning, which is probably fair dos. But really that isn’t the annoying part. The tricky bit is trying to rejig our morning routine so I can get 2 people washed, dressed, fed, watered and out the door before 9am a few days a week. It’s like going to work for 9am since you started your job, then someone deciding you need to be in for 8am instead. Let me tell you this Tuesday (and that was a 10am class!), Wednesday and Friday were challenging. I may have turned up in my PJs on at least one of those days if Craig wasn’t around.

Sleeping with the light on

The most important thing we’ve fought for Travis is to learn night from day. Whilst other attempts at routine may go out the window at times due to unforseen circumstances, baby tantrums, jobbiegeddon or worse, we’ve always made sure the little man knows night from day in a bid to get him to sleep better (and more importantly, to let mum and dad sleep better!). So you can imagine my horror at having to contend with daylight creeping into our lives earlier in the morning and later in the evening. Sure, a few blackout curtains might do the trick for the light situation, but you try telling 19,000 birds to shut up at 5am because your kid is sleeping and doesn’t yet know this is an unacceptable waking hour. They don’t listen. Or at least they pretend they don’t hear you over their chirpy little morning song.

Plus I’m sure there’s only so much that blackout curtains can do when it’s still 100% light at 10pm and all the weans are still out playing because it’s the summer holidays and their parents have had a boozy BBQ (and why not?) and the wee man wonders why they are allowed to be outside shouting and having fun and he’s not!

Teething troubles

The little guy’s first tooth came through recently (more about that in March firsts, coming soon!) and so understandably he’s been in a bit of pain. To remedy this, there are all sorts of teething pain relievers on the market, each coming with their own usage instructions regarding time, number of doses in 24 hours etc. Let me tell you that lost hour (and my lack of mental maths skills) caused havoc last week, trying to remember when he could get something and if that had been too soon, and if he got it at 5 o’clock, wouldn’t that really be 4 o’clock? It was a confusing time and I’m glad we’ve got there now, but I can only imagine it being 10 times worse for parents of prem or ill babies who need permanent regular medication and/or care.

But now, over a week later, I think we are just about recovering from the missing hour (probably jinxed it now) and are looking forward to springing into the new season and all the fun and sun it brings. You know, once it’s stopped snowing…