5-essential-baby-products-blog
Lists, Parenting

5 essential baby products I couldn’t live without

There are loads of so-called baby essentials out there, and for first time mums, choosing the right products to help you care for your baby can be daunting. I was definitely in those shoes before Travis was born, and with baby shows, events and brands all offering different things from genuine essentials to new products that position themselves as genius new life-hacks, it was a bit overwhelming to know who to trust and what to buy.

With a bit of hindsight in mind, I’ve made a list of the top 5 baby essentials I don’t think I could have lived without. In my opinion these were the best things to fork out on for my situation, but yours might be different. I’ve not been approached or paid in any way to promote or review any of these products so you can make of that what you will!

Oh, and I’d be grateful if you could let me know of any of the amazing products you couldn’t have lived without as a new mama!

Nappy Bin
The single most useful thing that we were lucky enough to be gifted with before having Travis was an Angelcare nappy bin (other brands are available!). I was sceptical about using disposable nappy bags as my conscience already eats me up enough that we use disposable nappies and they are terrible for the environment, but on the same note I didn’t want a smelly bin all the time. As a new parent, putting the bins out (especially if you live in a flat) can get pushed to the back of your mind as you juggle a new found lack of sleep with trying to care for a tiny human’s every need as well as your own. So this nappy bin which sooks in stinky nappies and takes away the smell, means your home smells poo-free, your baby is clean, and nobody has to take a trip to the bin unless it’s full. Plus less plastics on disposable nappies – yay!

Perfect Prep Machine
The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine is money well spent for any formula feeding mother. It sounds stupid but if you’re not used to getting up multiple times a night, and don’t like keeping a sleeping baby awake longer than necessary (because new rules say you can’t keep formula for more than like an hour or something equally as silly) then this is ideal. Just make sure it’s topped up with water, press a button, add formula, press a button and hey presto, your baby’s feed is ready, with their exact amount and at the right temperature in just two minutes. Word to the wise – Tommee Tippee products (especially this one) can be expensive, but there will usually always be a deal on the Perfect Prep Machine if you shop around for baby events etc. At the time of writing this post, you can grab it for a reasonable price at John Lewis of all places.

A good travel system
I can’t stress the importance of a good travel system for your baby. As we live one floor up with outside stone steps, a pram and buggy with air tyres was essential for us to bounce up and down the steps. As I said, I’m not being paid to write about any products, but for me the Venicci 3 in 1 travel system was ideal for our circumstances. It also came with a cup holder which was an added bonus for all those caffeine induced walks in the park! Travis still fits in his buggy at 18 months (despite being the height and weight of an average 3 year old) and I can’t relate how good it is to be able to pop the car seat onto the frame if you’re nipping out to the shops in a journey which must be done in the car. We ran into a few issues with our back wheel (tyre tube and wheel had to be replaced multiple times) but I think that’s an anomoly as anyone else I’ve spoken to with a Venicci pram system also swears by it!

Sleepyhead
I was fortunate enough to be gifted a Sleepyhead Deluxe by my work colleagues as a mat leave gift, but they can be quite pricey. There are similar brands available, and they basically all do the same thing. There are various health warnings that babies shouldn’t be allowed to sleep in them, that you have to watch them etc, but I honestly found this a lifesaver for naps. Travis could quite easily sleep on the couch inside it while I either napped on the other end of the couch or pottered about tidying the living room or whatever. It was also the perfect size to take in the car when visiting family, because as we know naps are inevitable when they are so young, but you don’t want to be carting around a moses basket or travel cot everywhere in case your child naps! Plus, if you’re having one of those utterly unbearable nights where they wake heaps of times and just want a touch from mum or dad, then the Sleepyhead is ideal for placing on top of the covers on your bed, meaning your baby is snug and close to you, without the worry of a quilt covering their face etc.

 

Sling/baby carrier
As a Scot, I was fortunate enough to receive a Baby Box when Travis was born, which came with a bunch of useful items in, including a baby sling. Now I have to say the different ways to tie this and secure your baby absolutely baffled me, but I did love the sentiment. I had already purchased a baby carrier with money gifted to us for Travis when he was born, and I can honestly say I’d probably still be using it today if 1) Travis wasn’t a giant and 2) it didn’t burn down in our house fire. Travis was quite a colicky baby, which meant he was a lot more comfortable if he was elevated. This was fine to a point, but considering he weighted 8lb 15 when he was born, you could imagine the strain on my arms as he got to 3, 4, and 5 months old. The baby carrier was the ideal solution as it meant he could be upright and close to me, without the strain on my arms or back. It also meant I could perfect skills like going for a wee while he was strapped to me, making life that little bit easier for everyone.

 

Those are my 5 top baby essentials that I definitely could not have lived without, but I’d be keen to hear of anyone else’s – after all, every baby and every situation is different!

5-essential-baby-products-for-new-mums

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Lists, mum life

Birchbox advent calendar: week 2

Another week in December has flown by already, and with it I’ve had another great batch of Birchbox treats from my advent house. This week has seen another mix of practical and fun treats appear behind the drawers. Here’s what I uncovered in the second week of advent:

Birchbox-makeup-advent-calendar

Amika soulfood nourishing mask
If there’s one thing your hair needs as the temperatures drop to freezing and below, it’s some TLC to protect against the harsh conditions. This soulfood mask provides the nourishment hair often lacks with lots of heat damage at this time of year.

Beauty Pro black peel charcoal mask
If your hair feels more dry and damaged in the winter, imagine how your face feels! There’s nothing quite like a charcoal mask to draw out imperfections and provide some much needed deep cleansing.

Tangle Teezer brush
Tangle teezer products are so handy for anyone with long hair. They are perfect for popping in your bag if you know you’re going to be out braving the wind and all sorts of other hair-tugging weather. I also like to use mine on the shower to remove tangles and ensure conditioner spreads right through my hair properly.

Pixi skin treats glow tonic
A glow can often be lacking in skin at this time of year due to late night partying/wrapping presents, harsh weather, central heating and over indulging in food and drink. So a lovely skin tonic is just what the doctor ordered!

Sank and Sky Australian Pink Clay exfoliating treatment
Sand and Sky products have featured in Birchboxes before, so I have a rough idea of what to expect with this one. Exfoliators are always needed at this time of year to get rid of dead cells, and what better way to do so than in a powerful mask form. The mask takes just 5 minutes to work its magic, using macadamia seeds to exfoliate while the pink clay clears your pores and Australian finger lime adds a freshness and glow to leave your face completely refreshed.

Nuxe Paris beautifying scented body lotion
This body lotion has a smell like you wouldn’t believe. The “Prodigieuse” scent is a beautiful blend of orange blossom, magnolia and vanilla, and leaves the skin bright and moisturised with a satin finish. I think I’ll definitely look into the full size version of this once my advent sample has ran out.

Lord and Berry Couture Kohl Kajal Eyeliner
This eyeliner is exactly how I like them – black as my soul! Although I prefer a liquid liner for eyelids, you can’t beat a bit of kohl for a quick fix and for that bottom lash line.

*Disclaimer, this is not sponsored or paid in any way, just doing it to share the love!

Lists, mum life

Top 6 Food & Drink Christmas Gifts

There are far too many great food and drink Christmas gifts out there to choose from, with many long-standing brands bringing out various specials just for the season. However, I’ve come across a few that are sure to hit the right spot with almost anyone this Christmas. Well, almost anyone in my family at least!

Ellis Gin

I discovered this gem at Helensburgh Winter Festival earlier in the month. Ellis gin is handmade in Glasgow and in small batches, with only a couple of flavours currently available. I opted to buy the bramble gin in a bauble for a Christmas gift, though they had plenty of choice in terms of bottle size and gift packs, with the option of a small bottle and glass, or gin and mixer combos. I love trying new things and supporting local makers so this is a no brainer if you like to give unique gifts that are made with love.

Johnnie Walker White Walker Limited Edition

If you’ve any Game of Thrones fan friends or family (over 18) then this will be sure to warm up their winter. The show has partnered with Scottish whisky Johnnie Walker for this limited edition collectors bottle named White Walker. A homage to the White Walkers on the show, this brand new whisky is best served straight from the freezer.

Dean’s Glitter Shortbread

Dean’s Shortbread is a fabulous, melt-in-the-mouth shortbread brand from Huntly in Scotland. Their traditional shortbread rounds can be found in many supermarkets, and they offer a great festive flavour range. However, their glitter shortbread adds some much needed sparkle to Christmas, without steering away from the traditional flavour. This one is sure to go down well with nans and for those ever expanding gifts for teachers, coaches, lollipop men/women, and anyone else society has told us we should be gifting at this time of year! With a £2.99 price tag it’s a perfect add-on for a bigger gift too.

Peaky Blinders Rum/Whisky/Gin

 Well Sadler’s Ales have gone all in with a range of Peaky Blinders spirits. Fans of Sadler’s and of the TV show will appreciate that there are several different gift options on offer, with variations of their spiced gin, spiced rum and whisky available to purchase. If you want to pay homage to the show and Thomas Shelby himself, then the Peaky Blinders gin is the ideal choice.

Saltire CandySaltire-candy-christmas-gift-food

Another great discovery from Helensburgh Winter Festival was Saltire Candy. They make all of your old fashioned boiled sweet favourites, all beautifully packaged forany occasion. They also had some flavoured fudge which we tried (the Hebridean sea salted caramel fudge was my favourite) and a few varieties of the traditional tablet and macaroon which looked like the perfect stocking filler. They were only a couple of pounds for each little bag. Plus you’re able to personalise many of their gifts too, for that extra special touch.

Fry’s selection box

A great gift for any chocolate lover in your house. It’s a collection of the three Fry’s favourites – chocolate cream, peppermint cream and turkish delight. Obviously the latter isn’t to everyone’s taste but I think Fry’s creams are fondly remembered by some of the older generation in our family for sure. I first found this gift in B&M but have since seen it pop up in a few stores and supermarkets, and it’s pretty inexpensive as far as Christmas gifts go – around the £2-3 mark you’d expect to pay for a selection box.

do-dont-dunkeld-scotland
Lists, mum life

Do’s and Don’ts in Dunkeld

At the end of October the other half and I managed to escape for a quick getaway to the beautiful village of Dunkeld in Perthshire. The overnight stay was a gift from Craig’s parents for our engagement earlier in the year.

This was the last possible weekend to book our stay, so in true last minute Unlikely Mum style, we squeezed our visit in between work shifts and babysitters and headed for a very short romantic date night essentially.

Although we didn’t have much time to spend there, we definitely made the most of what we could, and noted some pointers for anyone else looking to travel around this area – particularly on a short timescale. I’d definitely recommend visiting Dunkeld and the surrounding area as it’s such a beautiful and mainly unspoilt part of Scotland, with lots to still see and do for tourists.

DO head to Howie’s Bistro

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This lovely little bistro was recommended to us by a taxi driver, and it was defintely worth the hype. I had some mushroom starter that I couldnt pronounce if you paid me (pictured) and a vegetarian moussaka. The other half opted for soup (it was souper cold. See what I did there?) and a massive chicken burger. There was so much food that neither of us could manage a dessert, despite the choices being mouthwatering. They have a healthy collection of gins for a smallish restaurant, and a decent choice of beers, wines and other spirits too. Howie’s Bistro is definitely a winner in my book

DON’T go out without planning how to get home

We may have picked up some dining tips from our taxi driver, but she also told us that she was only working until 10pm. On a Friday night. I will never get used to taxi companies/taxi drivers in remote areas not being available 24/7. Dunkeld also has buses running to various locations, and there’s a train station not too far outside Dunkeld, but if you aren’t staying right in the centre of the village, then it pays to check with the local transport and taxi drivers, so you’re not left stranded when the pub shuts!

DO head to nearby Birnam

We took a short drive into Birnam the next day (from the main village it would have been a nice walk, but we were staying just too far away for that). It’s another small and beautiful village, and one which boasts the Beatrix Potter Exhibition & Garden. I didn’t realise that Beatrix Potter had a connection with Perthshire until we visited, so it was really interesting to find out more. The garden is also cute and quaint, with various characters of the author’s appearing in statue form throughout the garden.

DO visit in Autumn

Maybe it’s just my love of the orange, yellow and red hues, or maybe Autumn is just the best time to visit Dunkeld. It’s so beautiful and picturesque, and the views will take your breath away. Plus, Autumn means it’s hit-and-miss weather-wise, but perfect for exploring out of season once the rest of the tourists have gone home to find their thermals.

DON’T go for just one day

I can’t stress enough the fact we really crammed our visit. There was so much we left unseen, and so many activities on offer that we had to pass up. Within our hotel alone there was the opportunity to quad bike, clay pigeon shoot or walk through some of the lovely nature trails. Other nearby visitor attractions include the Scottish Liqueur Centre in Bankfoot, Active Kids Adventure Park in Stanley and much more.

DO bring a camera

I’m so glad I brought my camera, even though we only had time to capture a few snaps in the morning. As I said, Dunkeld and the surrounding area is so picturesque, a camera is a must-have for any keen photographer. Plus, if you arrive at the right time of year, you might snap some deer as well as the usual pheasants, grouse and other Scottish wildlife which are in abundance in this neck of the woods.

dunkeld-scotland-travel-tips

makeup-birchbox-subscription
Lists, mum life

My Top 5 Birchbox Makeup Finds

I’ve been signed up to Birchbox for over 2 years now, and every time I think about cancelling, they seem to send me a brand new product I love. Don’t get me wrong, I have loads of stuff I probably will never use again (if I’ve even tried it yet!) but I’ve managed to discover a few great makeup products that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise known about, least of all tried. As this was my sole reason for signing up to this beauty subscription service, I’ve got to say it’s been good value for money so far!

I should point out that I’m in no way affiliated with Birchbox, I’ve not been asked to write this post by them and I don’t receive any commission or payment in kind from them, I just really love their service!

Here are the top 5 makeup products I’ve found thanks to Birchbox:

Benefit Bad Gal bang mascara
I am an absolute mascara fiend so I’m always very open to trying new mascaras in any shape or form. Having tried Benefit’s Roller Lash before, I knew I was in for good things. The Bad Gal Bang mascara does exactly what I want it to do, so it’s ideal for me. It’s thick and dramatic, and defines every last with minim clumps so it’s now a staple in my makeup bag, and I’ve made several repurchases through the Birchbox shop.

Beautaniq Beauty fill + tame eyebrow gel
This eyebrow gel was a complete game changer for me. I’d never succumbed to any eyebrow trends before, and have never had them waxed, threaded or even plucked. Make of that what you will, but with fair brows it’s never been a problem for me! However sometimes my brows are just too pale and there are patches which could do with a bit more hair. This is where Beautaniq Beauty brow gel comes in. Considering I use the blonde shade, it’s darker than any eyebrow pencil I’ve used before, or would normally choose myself. However the shade works with the rest of my makeup and provides the finishing touches without creating obviously fake looking brows.

Model Co highlighter trio
This isn’t something I use every day, but instead only when I’m going out and want to contour my face (ain’t nobody got time for that on a work morning with a 1 year old!). So much so, I’ve only just run out of my original Birchbox sample which I received about 18 months ago! I love the creamy texture of the Model Co highlighter trio and the shine that it leaves on the skin. It’s so easy to blend that even a novice like me can do it!

Dirty Little Secret eye shadow crayon in Gold Plated
This is a fairly recent Birchbox makeup treat, and one I fell in love with since I received it! The DLS eyeshadow crayon originally came with 2 shade options, and subscribers were invited to choose their preference in the month before it was due to arrive in the box. I’m glad I chose gold plated as I feel like it makes my blue eyes pop. It’s a great shade for a sweep of colour during the daytime and mixed with other shades to bring life to a smoky look in the evening.

LOC (Love of Colour) lip pencil in Bohemian Rose
This was in one of my first event Birchboxes, and this particular shade was in partnership with Millie Mackintosh. It’s so light and summery and is the shade of pink I think goes with pretty much anything. I’m not sure if this exact shade of this LOC lip pencil is still available to buy, but I’d recommend trying one of their other shades just because it’s so creamy and nourishing.

preparing-first-birthday-party
Baby M's firsts, Lists

Preparing for a first birthday

I actually can’t believe my little munchkin will be a whole year old in a few short days. The last year has been the most exhausting and amazing of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Well maybe except to make it longer as the time with my precious wee lamb has flown by!

Now it’s time to start preparing his first birthday which will be an interesting (and probably more exhausting!) affair. I love planning a good party and I’m all about the details, so I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the party planning. However I’m well aware I’m not super mum and have more creative ambition than talent, plus there’s a million amazing ideas on Pinterest to give you party envy, so I hopped between excited and apprehensive as to what to do.

In the end, we’ve opted for a Winnie the Pooh party, which has made me want to run off and live in hundred acre wood already. Whatever you choose to do to mark your little one’s special 1st birthday, there are a few tips to help plan the perfect day:

Prepare in advance
It sounds silly but prepare as much as you can in advance. You know when your little one’s birthday is, and the date will be the same every year, so that gives you plenty of notice to start any planning and preparing in advance. Preparation can include everything from the kind of gift(s) you want to buy the birthday babe to any party ideas, birthday outfits and more. However you choose to mark your little baby’s first birthday, just make sure you organise it in advance so that time, budget and feasibility don’t change your plans.

Tell people any expectations or boundaries
If your family is anything like mine, you may have to make a few boundaries clear in advance of any celebrations. For instance, it’s second nature for grandparents and aunts and uncles to spoil Travis; he literally gets something new every time he goes to his Nana’s. Don’t be afraid to put boundaries on things like this, as after all, it’s your child and your home and your rules after everyone has gone home. Some people might think that’s rude or ungrateful, but if you don’t want visitors staying all hours or giving your child a toy or treat you’re not ready for him to have, then sometimes it’s best to make things clear from the outset.

Make a Pinterest board
To be honest, I love any old excuse to make a Pinterest board (mine is not the most blog or business savvy, but it’s how I like it!) So this tip comes as no surprise. Pinterest boards are ideal as they allow you to gather all your ideas in one place and then research, test, purchase or use later. If you’re making the birthday cake yourself, why not have a board for different cake recipes and design ideas? If you’re throwing a party, you can pin just about anything in any theme to your board. If you’re super organised, you could have a different board for each element of your birthday celebration.

Take plenty of photographs
This one is a no-brainer – it’s your little one’s first birthday after all! There will be no other milestone quite as precious for you, so it’s important to mark the occasion whatever you do. There’s no need to go all out either – if big elaborate cake smashes aren’t your thing, there’s no reason you can’t use your smartphone to create some great memories, then edit and print them online.

Have fun
Most importantly of all – have fun! A lot of stress, time and effort can go into planning parties and celebrations, and there’s nothing worse than worrying about how everything should be going at each minute of the day. It might be hard, but try to relax and enjoy the day and the time with your little munchkin; after all, (s)he won’t be one for long!

 

food, Lists

Best freebies for mums and mums-to-be

There are loads of freebies and samples available for mums and mums to be – you just have to know where to look to find them!

Here are a few of my favourites and where to find them:

Bounty
I 100% recommend the Bounty app and picking up their packs from ASDA if possible. The app contains screeds of information and resources from the moment you find out you’re expecting, right up until, well at least 11 months as we are still getting updates and information! Plus, as  your bump grows week by week, the app shows you how big baby’s foot would be at that moment – majorly cute! They offer multiple freebie packs, from when you’re expecting, to when your baby is born (that pack is usually handed to you in hospital) and for when your little one is growing. I mentioned getting their packs from ASDA – their packs are also available at Boots, and possibly still Argos, but especially when you get to the growing family pack, some of the freebies change. ASDA’s includes samples of their nappy and babycare range, as well as items from George.

Emma’s Diary
Similar to Bounty, Emma’s Diary offers a wealth of information and advice for mums. They have an app that I’d definitely recommend any expectant mums download. They offer goody bags for mums to be, new parents and as your family grows. You’ll often find Emma’s Diary at baby and toddler shows too. They are a must-bookmark resource of everything you could ever want to know about pregnancy through to taking care of a growing baby. They even have a baby names section if you’re struggling in that department!

Cow and Gate
Cow and Gate were one of the first freebies I came across – mentioned in mum’s forums and possibly also even by Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert). I signed up online with them, and within a few days I got a welcome pack through the post with information about the brand, what resources they have available online and over the phone. It also came with a pregnancy diary which was part-journal, part full of tips and reminders of things such as what to pack in your hospital bag, areas for name suggestions and more. Nearer to when Travis was born, I also received a wee Cow and Gate teddy for him, along with some milk vouchers. In fact, Cow and Gate are really good at sending out vouchers and samples, which are handy to even share with other mums if you don’t end up using their milk. They also offer money off their food products too, which have been a lifesaver for us.

Ella’s Kitchen
I love how handy the Ella’s Kitchen fruit and veg pouches are. There’s no denying they have been a great help in weaning Travis and are still useful to have around, to make sure Travis is getting the right amount of fruit or veg a day. However I could easily have overlooked them as a more expensive supermarket brand, had I not signed up to receive a freebie. Not only do they send a coupon for a free pouch, you also get a handy weaning guide, wall chart, stickers and more.

Arla
You may have heard of Arla on the TV adverts – you know the ones for the Skyr yoghurt? Well apparently they do a range of different milks too – and some are perfect for kids growing up (post 12-months it seems). in addition to offering various vouchers for their milk and yoghurts, Arla also give you a cute height chart for signing up to them, so you can mark your baby’s height progress as their bones grow healthy and strong from the milk presumably!

Pampers Baby Club
With the rate babies go through them, who wouldn’t love some free nappies? Pampers baby club regularly send out samples, starting with first size for newborns when you sign up. We’ve just recently received a couple of pairs nappy pants, along with a coupon for money off a full pack. Coupons are also a regular occurrence, along with some great rewards you can redeem on the Pampers Baby Club app. Scan receipts of your nappies to collect points and claim freebies such as magazine subscriptions, vouchers for nappies, baby books, toys and more.

Baby Box
Ok, so this is a slight cheat but by far the best freebie out there is the Scottish Government’s Baby Box. Unfortunately you’ll have to be living in Scotland, which your child being born here in order to get one, but there’s honestly nothing else you could need for a newborn that doesn’t come in this box. Clothes, thermometers, bath stuff, carrier – there’s so many good things inside I wrote a post dedicated to it last year.

Those are my top baby freebies I’ve found – well at least the ones that seem to be regular and stable, rather than flash freebies or sales. Can you think of any I’ve missed? If there are more good ones out there I am always keen to try them, so please share your wisdom!

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!

Lists, Parenting

2018: A Year of Firsts

Happy New Year! How did it get to 2018 already? In fairness, the last month has flown by in an unexpected rush, with Christmas and lack of laptop (and other things which I’ll get to later) taking most of the blame for lack of posting in December.

But, it’s a new year so to new beginnings and all that. Whilst I’m not exactly proclaiming any specific resolutions as such, I am preaching positivity and fairly excited for the year ahead. There’s a lot to look forward to, including many firsts to come.

2017 had its fair share of ups and downs, but also many firsts along the way, like having my first baby and all the wonderful firsts that come with the first few months of parenthood. Sure, first dirty nappy and first hospital trip weren’t exactly highlights, but they were necessary and all part of that new parent experience. However there’s still plenty to look forward to in 2018, both with baby M and without.

Here are the firsts that top the list:

First swim, massage and yoga
There are a wealth of great baby classes out there which both help baby’s development and allow mum’s to meet other parents. The most popular in my area are baby yoga, baby massage and baby swimming lessons. Due to baby M’s birthday falling at the beginning of October, he was unable to start any of these classes in 2017, as by the time he was old enough, everything was beginning to wind down for the festive season. I’m excited for him to experience these classes, in particular massage, as this is meant to be extremely useful for colicky babies. I’m also open to any other fun and useful classes that would help with baby’s development, stimulation and just generally to make him some baby friends!

First sleep in his cot
Due to some pretty unforseen circumstances, we haven’t been able to try baby M in his big boy cot bed yet, not even just for a trial. However, he’s growing at such a rapid rate, I can’t see him fitting in his moses basket much longer. By the end of January he should hopefully be sleeping in his cot bed, and finally getting to enjoy the mobile attached to it too!

First tooth
Already baby M is teething, with dribble and soaking mittens a constant factor of daily life. If those were the only symptoms of teething, I wouldn’t care if he didn’t cut his first tooth till 2019! Unfortunately his teething also comes with pain, meaning a routine of discomfort, bonjela and unexpected cries of pain in the middle of the night, which are, quite frankly, heart breaking. He’s too small for teething rings as they don’t quite fit in his mouth yet, so seeing his first tooth appear and knowing that’s the beginning of the end of his mouth pain will be a great moment.

First day back at work
Ok, so this first won’t officially happen till June, but I’m both excited and terrified of the prospect of it (much the same way I felt about labour and the anticipation of motherhood if I’m honest!) On the one hand I can’t wait to get stuck back in, catching up with colleagues, clients and cracking on with the workload. Yet on the other I’m worried I’ll have more separation anxiety that the wee one will! Hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in some KITT days, meaning I can ease back into the workplace in a less dramatic or stressful faahion.

First family trip
I’m not visualising Disneyland or anything yet. In fact, we haven’t even got anything planned. But I’d like to take a trip with the other half and baby M this year, even if it’s just for one or two days away at the other end of Scotland. Every time we leave the house it feels like we’re packing for a holiday anyway, so we might as well take a wee break before I make that proper return to work.

First family home
This one is more of an ideal world scenario rather than anything. At the moment we have a 2 bedroom flat, which is absolutely fine, but not what either myself or other half visualise when we picture “family home”. The flat itself was great for the first 2 years but you never know how un-family friendly your home is until you have kids! Clunky old external stairs make for less than fun pram time, complicated bathroom layouts make for difficult bath time for baby M and just generally we’ve found that there isn’t anywhere near enough storage space for all the stuff that comes with babies. So, if all goes to plan and we can both save and see somewhere we fall in love with (front and back doors with a kid-friendly yard are goals), then hopefully we will have our first proper family home.

Other exciting firsts I’m looking forward to are baby’s first steps, first words and first experience with food! Although I’m not looking forward to the first new nappies after the latter! Plus each child grows at their own pace so if my boy wants to be lazy, or doesn’t find anything worth talking about in 2018, I won’t sweat it.

Hope you all have a great year of firsts or new experiences too, however big or small!