Mum's finds, Parenting

How to Make the Most of a Baby Event

With regular baby events throughout the year, it can be difficult to navigate your way through them, whether you’re a first time parent or have experienced the events before. With online and in-store events, exhibitions and shows, there’s no doubt all the information and products available can be a little overwhelming. Speaking from experience – and with a lot of hindsight in mind – I’ve come up with a few tips to follow to ensure you make the most of a baby event.

Make a list before you go
The best way to make the most out of the day is to make a list of the things you need or want from the day. Are you still looking for big items like cribs and car seats? Or are you looking for travel items, everyday essentials, or feeding equipment? Perhaps you’re looking for something specific like a Sophie La Giraffe or Ewan the Dream Sheep that your friends have told you that you simply can’t live without? Either way, it makes the shopping and navigating much more efficient if you know before you go. Plus you’re less likely to miss anything than if you go in aimlessly without having specific ideas in mind.

Know what you need
Similar to tip one, know exactly what you need and what you don’t. This helps to avoid getting suckered by any so-called deals on offer. If there’s a steriliser that’s half-price, but not suitable for your needs, for instance if it’s a microwave steriliser or perhaps just too big for your kitchen, or indeed microwave, then actually the deal isn’t worth it at all. Similarly, there are always great deals on clothes at in-store baby events, with promotions at bigger shows too, so you can get distracted by pretty patterns when actually you have everything you need in that size, and really should be buying clothes in 6 months or above, if at all at this point! Maybe this point should be called “know what you don’t need” as this is probably a better way of looking at things. If you know you don’t need a 3 in 1 changing system, or state of the art changing rucksack before you go, chances are you won’t then be talked into buying one.

Be open minded, but not gullible
On the flip side of this, I would say that you have to be open minded when going into baby shows. There may be products or services which solve problems you hadn’t thought of, or which may be more useful further down the line as your baby starts to grow. It can be useful to go and collect business cards or leaflets to keep just in case (again, only for things you may be interested in, rather than collecting cards from every stand at an exhibition).

I would be open-minded but cautious to any “new to market” products. There are only so many times you can reinvent the wheel to make it better, so it’s worth being harsh and really questioning whether the new products serve any purpose.  Or do the products you already have, serve those purposes just as well? For instance, are wet wipe warmers necessary (yes they are a thing)? Do you need a Gro Egg if you have a room thermometer, nightlight and/or cot mobile already?

Stock up on essentials
This is probably the best tip I can give for in-store baby events at the likes of Boots, Mothercare or any supermarkets. By essentials, I mean the things you know you will get use of regardless of the size/weight/stage your baby is at. For example, Craig and I thought we were doing well by stocking up on loads of on-offer nappies before the wee man arrived. However what we didn’t bank on is that he would grow so rapidly that we would end up giving half those nappies away. So while yes it is good to get a pile of nappies organise pre-baby arrival, don’t go mad at baby events for these. Instead look at things like baby wipes, cotton wool, barrier creams, feeding equipment, long-life foods and things like bibs and muslin squares which have either very long shelf life or no expiry (lest your child’s neck outgrows the bibs!).

Question offers available

Quite often at in-store baby events, there will be promotions such as 3 for 2, BOGOF etc. Like with supermarket deals, these might not always be the great offers they initially seem. For instance, do you really need 3 of something when you were just after the one? Often, with things like wipes and baby toiletries, these offers can be useful. But you may only be saving pennies; say for example that wipes cost 60p, but you get 3 packs for £1.50, you are really only saving 30p, so its worth checking if that’s the best deal on offer. It’s also good practice as it means you won’t fill your boot or pram with unnecessary things on offer, leaving room for the things you came to the event for. Similarly, whether you’re at an exhibition or in-store event, it’s worth checking whether these kinds of offers are available online, meaning you don’t have to humph too much around – a godsend when you’ve got the littlies with you. Also question any 10% discounts or similar offers – like with black Friday, some sellers inflate their prices before baby events and then sell them at “discount” during the event, when realistically you aren’t saving that much (if anything) at all. Having said that, most discounts are genuine and it’s worth asking if they are available exclusively at the event, or can be applied either online or until a specified later date.

 

If there are any other baby event tips you can think of, please let me know below, I’d love to hear them!

mum life, Reviews

Simple Water Boost Hydrating Sheet Mask

*I was given this product in exchange for a review as part of a product testing experience, and was not required to write this post. This review is entirely my own opinion.

I was recently sent the new Simple Water Boost Hydrating Sheet Mask to review, and was excited to be included in this campaign as I love Simple products, particularly their makeup removing face wipes, which I religiously use every day.

My skin has changed somewhat since I was a teen, and my beauty regimes have taken a bit of a knock on the head since becoming a mum, so I’m not as aware of new products or those which would specifically benefit my skin. With winter taking it’s toll, not to mention buckets full of snow in March, Simple’s Water Boost hydrating sheet mask could not have come at a better time for me.

I have to say I’m a bit of a sheet mask novice, tending to go for clay or peel-off masks, so I was a bit apprehensive at first. I found the process of unfolding the mask and placing it on my face correctly to be a bit fiddly, but that could be more to do with lack of practice than any shortcoming on the product’s part.

simple-hydration-boosting-sheet-mask
My face looking freakishly plastic with the mask on

After a small battle with the slippery sheet, I chilled out for 15 minutes with the mask on. The main thing I noticed was how instantly cooling the mask felt. I loved the smell of the mask too – nice, fresh, cucumber vibes.

There was quite a bit of excess when it was time to peel the mask off, which you’re instructed to either remove with a towel or rub into the skin. I opted for the latter and am glad I did as my skin felt lovely and soft for the rest of the day (I didn’t add any other products or makeup to my face all day).

I would definitely recommend this mask to others as it’s so gentle and fresh that I’m sure it would be fine with most skin types. I also think it definitely delivers its promise as my skin feels more refreshed not only visibly, but to the touch too.

Baby M's firsts, Mother and Baby classes

Bookbug week 2018

Bookbug is one of the new things we tried this year (in our January firsts) and something which Travis completely loves going to each week. It’s also free (bonus) and something I mentioned in the top free things to do on maternity leave. It’s something I can’t advocate enough as something new parents should try, so I was delighted to learn that this week is Bookbug Week.

What is bookbug?
Bookbug is essentially a story and rhyme time class for babies and toddlers, usually held in the local library. It’s an initiative organised by the Scottish Book Trust, so I’m not sure if there are similar programs or events available elsewhere in the UK. The sessions are 45 minutes long and usually run in tandem with school term times. Each week parents and kids sing nursery rhymes, play some games with lycra on the floor and of course have one dedicated story read aloud. Travis particularly loves the “what’s in my bag” section and the nursery rhymes which follow.

Bookbug Week 2018
Bookbug Week runs from 14th to 20th May, and the theme this year is “Bookbug friends”. This involves bookbug bringing a friend to class, stories involving friends and spreading the word about bookbug to your friends.
Highlights for this year include a live online broadcast, where illustrator and writer Ross Collins talks through his latest book and illustrations, printable bookbug colouring sheets, special bookbug week books and more.

Bookbug-week-2018-scottish-book-trustIn our class on Tuesday, Bookbug brought along his teddy friend Alfie, and they read a story about a colourful elephant with lots of different lively animal friends. There were finger puppets and bookbug colouring sheets to play with in the library or take home, and there were special bookbug postcards which kids were encouraged to write about what they love about bookbug before sending the postcard to a relative or friend. Our bookbug teacher (not sure if that’s the right term?) also brought us in some yummy snacks for the kids (I didn’t eat any I swear…) so they could feel like they were having a little party, while the adults could get to chat a bit more to each other.

I think Bookbug is such a great concept and something which I think we are really lucky to have in Scotland for free. Bookbug Week is just one of the many reasons it’s great for both children and adults alike. Personally, I’ve learned nursery rhymes I never knew existed, and have rejoined a library – something I never thought I’d do after the maze of uni libraries! I’ve also met some great people and have enjoyed watching Travis grow while at bookbug; being able to sit up for story time, knowing what bit comes next, and getting excited for specific nursery rhymes he has learned at bookbug. I really can’t recommend it enough, and if you’re too early to book onto the next block in your area, I’d definitely give the Scottish Book Trust website a browse for great ideas and resources in the meantime.

mum life, Mum time

April challenge: the results

In April, I set myself the personal challenge to cut down on my caffeine intake. Note, not completely cut out caffeine, just cut down. This was a big step for me as I basically live on caffeine to help plug the gaps in sleep lost thanks to the joys of a newborn (I wouldn’t change it for the world).

I realised something probably had to change as I was getting headaches or would find myself being overly tired if I hadn’t had a particularly strong coffee or two. Plus, most of the time, I was accompanying my coffee with a biscuit, pastry, cake or something else I probably didn’t need to eat. So for the sake of my waistline, not to mention my wallet, I decided to start weaning off the coffee.

My aim was to trim down to just a couple of cups of instant coffee a day, and easing my bank balance by purchasing just 1 or 2 strong barista coffees a week. Here’s how I got on:

Week 1 (Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th)
I started off lightly in week one, trying to limit my coffee intake at home first. On a normal day I would have 3-4 cups of Azera, in addition to any barista coffees and cups of tea, so my first aim was to knock those down to just 1. I’m happy to report that I pretty much succeeded from this week onwards. By starting in good stead, it became easier later on. There was one day (the Saturday) which I was particularly struggling with lack of sleep from a bad night with the wee fella, so I did have more than one coffee that day. But in all, I made a good start to the challenge.

Week 2 (Monday 9th to Sunday 15th)
Week 2 was all about tackling the stronger coffee. At one point in the winter (the long, never-ending winter) I was getting coffee at cafes or takeout from the likes of Costa at least once a day. Partly to warm up, partly to wake up thanks to an unpredictable newborn, I ended up drinking a lot more caffeine and spending a lot more cash than I probably should on something that last for about 7 minutes. I knew this new habit was going to be hard to break, but that it would be worth it in the end. I definitely found myself wandering aimlessly around shops to avoid going and getting coffee, but I also noticed I had more cash in my bank, and we all know that every little helps when you’re on maternity leave!

Week 3 (Monday 16th to Sunday 22nd)
This week, all Travis classes started back after the Easter break, and we started swimming lessons for the first time (see April firsts for more on that) so I was worried I’d need more energy to get by. Did someone say caffeine dependency? In actual fact I found that because we were always busy in the day, I didn’t have time to go out of my way to get a takeout coffee or even really to think about coffee too much. I’d say this was probably my best week challenge wise, despite having more on and a more unsettled baby this week (he had a bad cough and cold which was tailing off and leaving some nappy issues!).

Week 4 (Monday 23rd to Sunday 29th)
I’d say this was where things started to get difficult again. I’d been on my best behaviour when Craig and I were away for the weekend, even opting for tea after a wee trek up the Nevis Range, but I somehow started to falter a bit. I was trying my best not to get takeout coffee but I most definitely didn’t manage to get down to just 1 or 2 a week. One thing I was proud of however, was returning to work on the Tuesday for a keep in touch day, and managing not to have a single coffee all day. I think it probably played havoc with me though – that and a sleepless night with Travis before work meant I slid rapidly downhill as the week progressed. By the Friday I’d had about 3 coffees (2 barista ones) by lunchtime.

I may not have gotten completely to the target is set myself for my April challenge, but it’s clear I was consuming too much caffeine beforehand and I’m glad I’ve managed to cut that down quite substantially. I found that not only did my bank balance take kindly to the less frequent coffee stops, I also found myself losing more weight than I had done in any month since having Travis. In fact, since my exercise stayed the same (if not less) in April as in previous months, and since I made no conscious effort to make any other changes to my diet, I can only assume it was the lack of caffeine that contributed to the weight loss. With the lighter nights coming in and warmer days, I doubt I’ll crave coffee as much, as it’s not my go-to for a cool-down drink. That said, I did just purchase my first iced latte of the year today so hopefully I manage to keep a reign on that!

Baby M's firsts, Exhibitions and shows, Mother and Baby classes, Parenting

April Firsts

I was beginning to think the “firsts” would start to dry up by now, or at least thought there would be much less of them as the year went on. However we managed loads of new firsts again this month.

first-easter-bunny-baby
My Easter bunny with his haul

First Easter
Easter may have started in March, but Easter Sunday and April fools day collided. I thought the wee man might be a bit young to prank so we opted to give eggs and Easter themed toys instead. By eggs I mean a tiny white chocolate buttons egg which is still unopened as yet, for all you judgy folks out there. It was far too cold and miserable here to go to the park or anywhere to roll eggs downhill (snow was still forecast at this point) so we opted to play indoors instead – maybe next year little man!

First hospital trip
It wasn’t for anything serious and actually he’s already been discharged but we had a wee trip to the Royal Children’s Hospital on 9th March. We found a strange mark and bruising under his arm that didn’t go away over the course of a couple of months. After a referral to a dermatologist, our mind was put to rest when we were told it’s perfectly normal and present in 1 out of 10 babies. Apparently it should fade and disappear before he goes to school so we’re not worrying about it!

First Circus!
To coincide with the school holidays, the circus came to town at the beginning of April. On Friday 13th of all dates, we headed along to the circus with best friend Evan and his mum. Although he fell asleep for most of the second half (it was running late and the second half started at about 9pm in fairness), he was mesmerised by the lights and, in particular, the dressed up heroes. The Madagascar animals were a highlight (because there are literally 0 real animals at the circus these days, not even rogue pigeons) though we didn’t fancy paying a fortune for a photo with them. I think the circus will definitely be more of a must-do as Trav gets older.

farmer-dress-up-hartbeeps
my little farmer at Baby Beeps

First baby beeps
Travis loves his Hartbeeps, which he started going to in January (more on that here) but had become a bit too advanced for the Baby Bells class. I say advanced, but what I really mean is that he was starting to roll about and grab other happily laying babies, not to mention he was starting to try and sit up on his own. These are all indicators that he would be more suited to the Baby Beeps class, which is for babies in the sitting and crawling stages.
What a difference we found in that class! Its certainly a lot livelier, as babies don’t just lie there patiently, only smiling, moaning or grabbing at things. Instead, some babies are up and off like a shot, crawling across the floor whilst others are trying to stand and walk, some stealing or sharing toys with other kids and every mum on edge ready to grab her kid should they fall/run/cause some mischief. The class is also much more interactive (though there is still a dress-up portion which I’m thankful for!) with puppets, ball pits, bubbles and more.

First dentist appointment
It was a busy month for appointments and since we saw the appearance of the first tooth in March (closely followed by the second about 10 days later) we thought it would be best to get the little fella registered with a dentist and make his first appointment. On the 19th April we headed along to the dentist so she could see the two spectacular gnashers for herself. She examined his pretty bare mouth and explained all about oral hygiene in babies. It was really informative and helpful (we left with leaflets too) and hopefully allows us to give Travis the best start in life with his smile.

First swimming
I’d been wanting to get the wee guy along to swimming lessons for a while, as I didn’t want him to end up with the same fear of the water as I had as a child (and still do tbh, the deep sea is scary!). We tried to book him into Baby Splish sessions in February, but had missed the first few weeks of lessons, and were told the next block didn’t start until April – after the school Easter holidays. After some confusion from the first lady we spoke to at the local pool, we managed to get the wee guy booked onto a block on Fridays (our original day had been Monday’s but that class had booked out because we were told the wrong information about booking), starting on 20th April. Unfortunately, he had a terrible cold and cough that week so we decided not to take him on he first lesson. However there is a spectators area which we went along to see what the class was all about, as mum would be doing the whole thing solo the following week. He ended up loving his first lesson on 27th April, although I was far too scared to dunk him all the way under water on the first go. In fact, he loved it so much he slept for about 2 solid hours afterwards.

First baby and toddler show
When I was pregnant, there weren’t really many baby and toddler events around. Aside from the odd Mothercare expectant parent event, or big shop events at the likes of Asda, Argos etc, there wasn’t much in the way of shows or exhibitions where everything was contained in one place. So I was delighted to find that there was one being held at the SEC across the last weekend of April. The Baby and Toddler Show, which is supported by Emma’s Diary and Made For Mums, happened to be on the same day as our first Baby Splish class so Travis actually slept through a chunk of it, but it was interesting all the same. There’s more about the show on my recent post here, but if you don’t want to read the whole thing, then at least take away the main point that it’s heavily geared towards expectant parents. There are a good few stalls relevant to babies and toddlers, but at least half to three quarters of the event is made up of things like nursery furniture, prams, car seats, baby chairs/swings, newborn toys etc.

First safari park visit
After a miserable start to the month, April ended spectacularly with a warm, sunny Monday where the temperature soared from an average of about 8 degrees to 18. Any other Scottish folks reading this will know exactly what this means – taps aff. And ok so while it was possibly slightly chilly for that, it did mean there was a single sunny day, not to be wasted in case we never seen its likes again. In a bid to enjoy the sun but also give Travis a new experience we could all enjoy, we decided to head to Blair Drummond Safari Park in the afternoon (after his Baby Beeps class, can’t be messing with the boy’s social life you know!). It was fairly empty, aside from a school trip, some tourists and other parents of under 5s, so we were able to get about freely without stress or panic or running anyone over with the pram. Travis loved it, especially the boat ride out to the chimp island, and of course the chimps themselves. We were disappointed that the drive through enclosure was closed when we went to leave, but that just gives us an excuse to go back when the wee fella is a bit bigger.