Lists, travel

What to pack for a holiday with an infant

We are off on our first family holiday in September (Its so soon I can’t wait!), and truth be told it’s the first holiday in about 4 years where I’ve taken more than hand luggage with me. I’m always one for packing light, so I’ve been a bit overwhelmed at the possibility of going abroad with a baby and all the luggage that comes with him. After all, it took me about a month to stop taking everything but the kitchen sink with me on a walk to the park when the little man was tiny!

Over-packing can be just as much of a problem as under-packing, and I think the only real way to combat this us to have a super organised checklist of things to take before you go.

Here’s what’s on ours, hopefully you find it useful!

packing-essentials-infant

Aside from the obvious things like nappies and wipes, it’s important to pack some food and milk, at least to get you started. Sure, they can weigh down the case, but it saves you scouring the whole holiday destination trying to find your little one’s brand of formula or favourite dinner!

Clothing
As a general rule, I’d suggest packing 50% more of each main clothing item per days you’re away. (E.g. if you’re away for 10 days, take 15 vests, t-shirts etc)

packing-infant-clothing

Sun and pool safety
Obviously this is only really relevant if you’re travelling to a warm sunny country or planning a pool/beach type holiday.

Hand luggage
You’ll need to take the usual essentials plus some extras and probably more entertainment to keep your little one occupied on the flight! Not too different from packing for a long car journey or day out, there are a couple of extra must-haves in the baby bag for a flight. For instance you might be changing time zones when you fly so perhaps a change into PJ’s is needed in mid-air? Flights – particularly long ones – can be boring for infants so be sure to take as much as you can reasonably fit to keep them entertained.

Plus, not really hand luggage, but you will probably need to take it throughout the airport – don’t forget the travel buggy!

Just listing this out has made me giddy with the prospect of all the packing and organising to come! Let me know if you can think of anything I’ve missed. I’m sure I’ll come back to this post with much hindsight once I’ve been abroad and back!

Lists, Parenting

Things to do in the summer with an infant

There’s no shortage of information online about things to do with kids in the summer holidays, but unfortunately most of those articles revolve around kids of school age. It can be a little more tricky to find or think of things to do with an infant in the summer, as some of the activities suggested in other articles simply aren’t age-suitable.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with, handily split into rainy-day and sunny activities:

Sunny day activities

Feed the ducks
This is a great one that gets them out and about, seeing animals and doesn’t involve spending a lot of money! Most of us tend to find ourselves with with stale ends of bread at the end of the week, so rather than throw them away, pack them up and head to the nearest pond/lake/loch/seafront and feed the ducks. Remember to watch out for the seagulls, and don’t anger the swans!

Go to the farm
Another fun animal-based idea is to head to the nearest farm, pointing out the different animals you see. Of course this can be a bit smelly, but it’s usually a great experience teaching your little ones about the animals and the noises they make. Singing Old MacDonald is optional.

Safari Park/Zoo visit
Can you see a theme appearing here? Obviously zoos and safari parks tend to be more expensive than farms and feeding ducks which is usually free, and they tend to be further away too. However, you may find that kids under 1 get in for free. The major selling point is that it’s an activity you can make a whole day of. Take a picnic and enjoy spotting the animals, playing in the play park and maybe even petting or feeding some animals if you’re allowed.

Get out in the garden
Who said outdoor activities had to cost a fortune or take you far away? Little infants get just as much enjoyment from the outdoors whether it’s in their own back garden or at an attraction 70 miles away. You can plan different activities in the garden for different days – playing in the paddling pool, having a big picnic outside, practising kicking and playing with balls or if you have a lovely, well-kept garden why not walk around pointing out the different flowers and their colours, trees etc? There’s scope for playing peekaboo, bringing toys outside and even buying your own slide or swing, depending on what stage your infant is at and how confident they are.

Rainy day activities

Learn a new thing
Days indoors needn’t be boring, filled with the same toys and cartoons routine. Why not make a plan to try and teach your infant a different new thing on rainy days? This can be anything from helping with speech and recognition to improving motor skills. Simple things like naming items in the room and pointing to them, using “my first…” books, playing with building blocks or stacking cups, naming colours, singing nursery rhymes and more will do the trick.

Become rockstars
Why not turn your kitchen into your very own concert arena with your rock and roll baby? Pots, pans and wooden spoons make a great drumkit and drumsticks, whilst filling plastic tupperware with rice or pasta makes for excellent shakers. Bonus points if you use teddies as your captivated audience!

Have a sensory day
I’m sure there are plenty of items in your home that you probably haven’t thought of for sensory play. Sponges and different textured cleaning cloths are great for their little hands to explore, as are hair rollers, hairbrushes, and much more. If your little one has a nightlight or projector, this can be great for sensory play, along with other light-up objects like glowsticks. (I realise the last one may not be an everyday object for some but I always have spare glowsticks lying around thanks to my love of Clubbercise!)

Go to soft play
If all else fails, or the weather is permanently bad and you feel like you’re getting cabin fever, you can always go to soft play. Also known as UFC for kids, soft play can be a pretty scary experience for first-time mums on arrival, particularly in the school holidays! The plus point is that those under 1 usually get in free, and all that play will surely tire your little one out. An added bonus is that you could make new mum friends, which is always welcome after days stuck inside with no adult company!

Those are just a few suggestions of things to do with your little one in the summer. I’ve tried to avoid things that cost the earth, and hopefully include a mix of busy attractions and one-to-one play/experiences. If you can think of any other great activities I might have missed, let me know!

babys-first-year-july
Baby M's firsts

July Firsts

So it’s finally happening, the rate of new experiences is starting to slow down. Don’t get me wrong, that’s partly our fault for not seeking out many new things to do in July, as a result of work, timing or just plain lack of creativity!

However we did manage to get up to a few new things last month, so here are our July Firsts:

First Highland Games
The Highland Games are a great Scottish tradition encompassing what I can only describe – for those of you unfamiliar with the concept – as a ridiculously Scottish sports day. There are events like tug ‘o war, tossing the caber and more alongside the normal stuff like running races. Adults get fiercely competitive, probably more so than the kids, and in case it didn’t sound that Scottish, girls and boys from all over the world come to compete in Highland dancing. The games take place in loads of towns and villages up and down the country throughout the summer, and our local one was on 14th July. Typically, you know when the games are on because it’s usually pouring with rain, but as with our uncharacteristic summer, it was actually a beautiful day so we couldn’t pass up the chance to take the wee man for his first Highland games experience.

First roallercoaster/fairground rides
Alongside the sports and the dancing and the bagpipes and the Scottishness, there are plenty of kids activities at the games, from typical fairground stalls like cans and shooters to bigger rides like teacups, mini-roller coasters and bouncy castles for example. The bouncy castle looked like UFC for kids so I didn’t fancy taking Travis in there, but we did sit nice on the teacups and wave at dad from his first fairground ride. Then dad ramped it up and took him on the mini-rollercoaster. It was one of those little circle tracks with one main up-and-down part, but I don’t think Travis particularly enjoyed it – that was probably a first that could have waited another year or so!

First trip in the double buggy
We are heading on holiday in September, with my bestie, Trav’s bestie and the manchildren, and thought a double buggy would be a practical solution to getting around while we are abroad. Also, my bestie sometimes takes Trav for a day a week while I’m stuck at work, so it’s easier for her to get out and about with a double buggy than either make her little one walk (he’s 6 months older than Trav and 100% confident on his feet) or make sure her other half is there so they can go out with a pram/buggy each.

We had ordered the buggy a couple of weeks before, but hadn’t really had the chance to use it, so one Sunday we decided to venture out together and see how the kids got on. The buggy itself is a Hauck tandem or inline buggy (this isn’t a buggy review or sponsored thing so I’m not going to check specifics soz) and is the perfect size for the boot/trunk of my medium-small car – so that’s already a bonus! Both boys seemed fine, and we tried each in both the top and bottom seats and neither seemed to mind too much – their only moans were for snacks so that can’t be a bad thing!

First pipe band championships
Just in case we weren’t having a patriotic enough month, we decided to pop along to the Scottish Pipe Band Championships in Dumbarton on 28th July. For the uninitiated, it’s basically a really long day of pipe bands from all over Scotland competing for a place in the final at the World Pipe Band Championships in August. There are loads of different categories of pipe band, people of all ages and backgrounds taking part. Like the Highland Games, there are plenty of stalls, activities and rides for kids to enjoy. The weather for the pipe band championships was unfortunately not as good as the Highland Games so we didn’t stay too long. Travis enjoyed waving at some pipe bands as they marched past, ready to go into the arena and compete. Mummy won him a little dinosaur teddy and he got his first ever shot of a see saw while we were there.

First foods in July:
At the beginning of July, Travis turned 9 months old, so he has been able to try more and more new foods as the month has went on (and will no doubt continue to try more and more new solids as we continue our year of firsts). This month he tried a lot of new foods at nursery, as part of their snack menu. He got to try potato scone which he loved, pancakes – which have now become a staple snack in our house, because, well, yum – and also buttered rolls. I wasn’t sure about the latter as I wasn’t sure how much butter and dairy in general he was allowed to have, but he has been fine. At home, he tried some totties and mince for dinner (again with the Scottish theme!) and also some wee willy winkies with potato waffles, which are another favourite. Thanks to Aunty Kristen for letting him steal peas off his bestie’s plate too – he really enjoys them much to mum and dad’s dismay as we hate them!

mum life

At What Point is it ok to Admit You’re Exhausted

Let’s be honest, whether you have one kid or 10, we all know it’s no easy feat raising a child or children. There’s a reason the saying “it takes a village ” exists. However the times are constantly changing and unless you are to the manor born, have retired parents or win the lottery, it becomes more and more likely you will have to go back to work to provide for your child if nothing else.

I enjoy my job, I really do, and I thrive when I can get stuck into a task and give my full focus and efforts to a project. And while that may have been second nature before, it takes a little more focus and added extras (hello, caffeine drip!) To get you there when you’ve got a whole other role to play after 5pm. And then it starts over again. You have this whole little being you created, who relies on you 100% for everything, who loves and cherishes and thrives off you, needing that same focus, enthusiasm and ambition.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you’re used to being so always-on and filling every day with 100% energy, enthusiasm and activity both with your child and at work, what point is it ok to say you’re exhausted?

I didn’t say I was exhausted when my house went on fire
For the months of displacement, recovery, anxiety, rebuilding and dealing with insurance companies (a job in itself fyi), I never said I was exhausted. When I had half an hour of sleep and couldn’t close my eyes because of adrenaline and fear, much less sleep, I didn’t say I was struggling. When I couldnt sleep properly for days after and had to cope with a baby who just got their first set of jags, I seemed to be coping. So there sets a precedent.

I didn’t say I was exhausted when I had tonsilitis
The first time you get ill as a parent is definitely an eye opener. You may think that you didn’t get muchsympathy for illness before but boy will that perception change when you have a newborn. They are still the most important thing and should come first, (I don’t disagree) but as if it isn’t hard enough adjusting to life with a tiny human, than you have to go and get ill and try to cope. But it was only tonsilitis. I get it a good 4/5 times a year. I know how to manage it, what to do, what to take. So everybody knew I’d be fine. How could I possibly be exhausted?

I didn’t say I was exhausted when I went back to work
No matter how we prepare, I think mammas can all agree that returning to work is a bit of a struggle. There’s a new level of tiredness unlocked when you return to work, not to mention a new routine to adjust to, and inevitably a change in your baby as they get used to a different kind of day. But still I kept calm and carried on then. Knowing that this was the logical next step, something that the majority of women have to do all the damn time, so what was my problem?

I didn’t say I was exhausted when I was left with routines, household chores, work and no long lies or catch up naps while daddy worked nights.
When daddy worked nights and mum was left in charge of wake up and bedtime routines, preparing food, clothes and necessities for the day, doing the nursery run, bath time and play time while somehow managing to organise herself and work in between, there was no utter of exhaustion. No cry for help. Just a conscience that said nobody else was going to do it, and nobody had time for my pity party anyway.

So what makes me think it’s ok to say it now?
Now I’m at the edge. I’ve never felt an illness like this before so I don’t know how to deal with it. With tonsilitis I know what to expect, how to manage it, how to cope. I’m grasping at straws here while Travis is ill as I’m so helpless with him too. They give you nothing for colds, except maybe cough syrup which the doctor admits has no curing powers. So I lie in pain waiting for sleep and when I get there, Travis wakes with his coughing. And before I know it it’s 5am and I’m basically just hoping for a nap in the next hour before I have to get up and rinse and repeat. I feel completely exhausted physically whilst being constantly mentally drained. Maybe I forget the severity of the tiredness in the first few weekend Travis life but this just seems tougher. I don’t feel like I can be a parent, a nurse, a house maid, a competent employee, a fiance, a friend, All at the same time as being an invalid. And I know there’s people out there who do all this on their own, who do all this with other kids in tow and I absolutely salute them because I don’t know how they do it. And I definitely don’t think I can say I’m exhausted when they have it so much harder.

And now I’ve lay awake for an extra hour writing this blog so I’m going to be even more exhausted. Go figure!