Wednesday, 18 December 2013

7 ways to NOT be late in the mornings

So there are only 7 sleeps until Christmas, and I don't know about you but time is really of the essence right now.  With nativities to attend, presents to wrap, parties to attend (alright, "party", let's not get over excited) and endless chores to get done saving a minute here or there can make a real difference.

Sometimes, it doesn't matter how early you set your alarm, or how prepared you think you are, the universe conspires against you to make you late.  It only takes a split second to miss your train, or bus, or tube and often that will make the difference as to whether you make your meeting, or gets the children to school on time, or make your first pilot-training session... Who knows right?

So how do you save time?

1. Reduce the travelling.  By this I mean, the numerous times you end up charging backwards and forwards through your apartment, or up and down the stairs of your house to fetch lippy, your purse, your phone.  It sounds obvious but have a place for everything that makes sense and always put things back where they live.

2. Pack your handbag the night before. It's like being back at school isn't it? But it works. If you mess about swoping handbags around in a morning you will be a) late and b) annoyed you left something in the other bag.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Ion Sound Splash Bluetooth Waterproof speaker: a review

ion sound splash Bluetooth wireless speaker
I love music. I shower everyday. How great to be able to maximise the joy that is iTunes Match on my iPhone by listening to it perfectly safely in the shower.

I love this gadget. It's my new favourite piece of tech. Simple, smart, pleasing to the eye. You can even, if you were super sad, answer the phone using it. Thankfully video calls wouldn't work.

Anyway.
It takes less than 30 seconds to read the 3 steps involved in pairing it to your phone.

Basically press a couple of buttons and you are on.

I left my iPhone in the bedroom, got in the shower, turned on the Ion Sound Splash and pressed play. It started playing where I last left off. Brilliant. I need to keep testing the range, but the Bluetooth connection is pretty darn good.
You can play and pause the song and also control the volume. You can't skip tunes though, so make sure you have a shower playlist, or album, ready.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Dance Workout DVDs: A Fame Dance Workout

I absolutely love dancing. The only time you will see me being remotely energetic will be on the dance floor, when I will stomp to the beat so expressively it's a wonder the floor withstands it.

But as I age I find it more and more difficult to get all my exercising needs from dancing. Dancing the night away half cut on Alcopops is a nightly experience reserved only for University years, and will not be repeated as I approach 40 years old.

The 2 hours a day of dance class I was taking in my youth is a memory swiftly fading, and is only possible for youngsters will no bills to pay and no children, or other family members, to support.

You fabulous readers know I work full time, have two amazing daughters (7 and 5 now... Doesn't time fly), and fill most of my remaining hours faffing about online and writing this blog.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Personalised picture books for Christmas

Desperately searching for a different Christmas present for your children, family or friends?

Don't want to bend to peer pressure and just purchase the most popular toy of the year?

Or maybe just fancy something that little more long-lasting than plastic toys or clothes they will grow out of?

Why not try something a bit different and choose a personalised book for your little one?

Over at Egmont your child can be the star of the story with their very own personalised book.

Choose from Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Mr. Men or Fireman Sam.

Not only have I got a great voucher code for you; you can also win these great books here this week!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Do adverts drive you crazy too?

If you are tempted into using them on the basis of their ridiculous statistics then you are SO moneysupermarket.com.

They claim 40% of customers saved up to £316.20? So by definition 60% of customers didn't save anything. That's customers, moving to them and then getting a worse deal.

And of the 40% that did make a saving the MOST they saved was £316.20. So that is supposed to convince me to bother with the company is it? Way to go!

And what about supposedly 'healthy' snacks? Barney cereals try and make their product sound better than your standard cake or biscuit by specifically stating on the advert that they have, and I quote; "healthy ingredients like flour, chocolate and eggs..." Really? The main ingredients of all chocolate cakes, biscuits and many chocolate bars? So desperate that you are quoting the staple ingredients of flour and eggs and selling them as the healthy option. Healthy? Relative to what exactly? Compared to the sugar also in there?

Monday, 21 October 2013

Original Sprout Miracle De-tangler

This week we are testing Original Sprout's Miracle Detangler. I read another blog post on the product and highlighted it in my monthly Britmums Beauty Round-Up. I was then lucky enough to be offered a bottle to test out on my daughter's completely unruly hair.

 

The quote, from my daughter, on first use on dry hair, when asked by my hubby what she thought half way through the usual hair brushing process, was;

 

"Normally I say ow, ow, ow, but this time I haven't said a single ow yet".

 

Praise indeed. Having received that rave review from a 7 year old, need I go on?

 

Well yes, I ought to really.....

Thursday, 3 October 2013

How to make time for your partner

 

Remember those days when you had all the time in the world to go to the cinema, have a leisurely romantic meal with your partner, stay out all night if you felt like it....?

Having trouble finding time for eating, never mind making time for your partner, now that you've become a parent?

I am over on Wriggly rascals today talking about making time for your partner. It's a tricky issue, and one that new parents have to address to ensure relationships survive the huge cultural and emotional change that children bring to the table.

If you have any tips please join me in answering a few short questions on the wriggly rascals survey to help another mum improve her relationship post-baby.

My post, Making time for your partner, is here, and if you need further tips on rekindling the lurrve try this popular post How to rekindle your relationship after having a child, here.

 

 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

10 reassuring and helpful tips for getting organised: for mums whose children are starting school

Little Miss George started in Reception just over a week ago. Already she has brought home two reading books without any words in them; a sponsor form to raise money for the school; 3 separate newsletters with dates for parent evenings, school photo sessions, coffee mornings and encouraging suggestions that I attend the annual general meeting of the "mums and dads" committee; and lots of tales of playing with lots of Lego. If she was my elder daughter I would be wondering what on earth the school was playing at and would be feeling completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information.

If she was our first, I would have diligently attending the welcome meeting for new parents last week in order to be told exactly how important it was to read the reading books "the same night" and return the next day to ensure that the book was available for the next child.

I would be feeling under pressure to attend every meeting, and already panicking about the potential risk of forgetting to dress my daughter in appropriate "dress-up" gear on various fancy dress days to come.

I would be scanning every letter and marking in my diary every single event, without having a clue which pieces of information were more important than others.

As it is, I know better.

This year I am much more relaxed. Here's my list of top tips that will help you work out what information is important, what to prioritise and what to just ignore. I hope it helps.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Forgotten how to have fun? How to get your comedy mojo back

I distinctly remember at age 17 telling my parents that I wasn't going to get all boring when I got older. I didn't see why you should stop being silly and having fun just because you were grown up. For me this meant I absolutely planned to own a house with a fireman's pole and a helter-skelter style spiral slide from bedroom to kitchen.

Funnily enough I don't have either in my house now, and I am fast approaching 40.

I watch my 7 and 5 year old daughters running around pretending to be Batman and the Joker, giggling their heads off, and I try and remember the last time I giggled like that. The high pitched hysterical giggle that makes others smile to just hear.

I can't remember.

When the girls were babies I considered myself pretty good at playing the fool enough to get them to laugh. Now it feels like hard work. We are having a tough year as a family, but nothing I should moan about.

So to get my comedy mojo back I am planning on working on my laughter muscles. I have a plan of action. Read on to find out how....

Friday, 6 September 2013

Online versus real life?

On 8 out of 10 cats the question "Would you rather communicate with your friends online?" was asked. Good grief, is that really where we are at?

In the space of 30 years we have gone from being completely amazed at the magic that is Bungle on Rainbow walking backwards through a door because we could record it on VHS for the first time and there was a magic button on the VHS machine called Rewind.

We've gone from sitting on our bottom stair for hours talking to our mates on the phone, because the landline was in the hall, and the only place to sit was on the stairs.

We've moved on from vinyl LPs, a dodgy stylus and the magic that was the record button on your tape deck to enable you to record the top 40 every Sunday.

And to where have we got?

Friday, 30 August 2013

Blogging: labels and where do I fit?

I am a MOC blogger. It is a new label that I have created to describe my blogging. Fed up with your current label? Fancy joining my new blogging category? Read on and find out why I created it.

I have blogged for over 4 years. I love it, and I hope you lovely readers enjoy it, else frankly, what's the point? I started blogging to share some of the parenting lessons I was learning the hard way. If I could save a first time mum some time and effort by sharing my stories, then that's great.

I was also struggling with the concept of looking good. How anyone with a small child to look after had any time whatsoever to put on makeup was, and still is, completely beyond me, hence the blog name.

Over time obviously the posts have evolved from Breastfeeding tips, and Beauty Jargon busters, to Toddler Tantrum tips, reviews of hotels and holiday destinations, and my experiences with Electrolysis.

I have discovered that, as a blogger, I am expected to define myself and put myself in a specific blogging box. Humans delight in doing this. We categorise things to help us make sense of the world.

Friday, 23 August 2013

The post-TV grump

Every time we turn off the TV my daughter, Princess Peppa, will, within one hour, have a major strop, be at best really grumpy and snappy with the family, at worst be an absolute devil-child.

I have noticed this phenomenon develop in her over the last couple of years and get swiftly worse in the last few months as the type of TV she watches has evolved. She is now 7 years old and has recently graduated from CBeebies to CBBC.

At the same time we have started watching more action cartoons in preference to the former Peppa Pig, Dora the Explorer, Disney Princess films or Barbie.

Since Little Miss George is such a Tomboy in her attempt to be individual from her girlie big sister, we now watch Ben10, Scooby Doo, Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Marvel Avengers. I must admit to being proud they are breaking away from the stereotypical 'girl' TV, however it's not without its disadvantages.

Apparently, when a child gets to an age where their concentration span is strong enough to really focus on a half-hour programme and really get into it, they find it difficult, after the programme, to go back to normal social niceties. Jo Frost, in her original book Supernanny, says of television; "what they are getting is mindless stimulation that will wind them up and shorten their attention spans."

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Teaching children the value of money

Our children are spoilt. There is no getting away from it. It doesn't matter how many times we try and remind them how lucky they are, they are still spoilt.

I worry about the value, or lack of value, they place on things.

I also worry about how it's possible to teach them the value of money and the relative size of different numbers, when actual physical real money hardly exists any more.

Virtual money vs actual money

My daughters have a shop set up in the playroom. (It's huge, and I blame my mother.) They also have a till. On numerous occasions we have started playing shops only to get to the payment point when, after happily asking me to enter my plastic play credit card into the machine, and happily asking me to put my code in, they confusingly try and give me, the customer, some cash. I think they get confused having witnessed the phenomena that is "cash back".

So how do you explain that usually it's up to the customer to pay the shop? And even more confusingly, how do you explain that the card machine actually mysteriously transfers mummy's money to the shop?

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Woolacombe Bay Hotel: A review

If you are looking for a traditional English seaside holiday, with all the good stuff; ice cream, miles of golden sand, rock pools, fish and chips, wind breaks, sandcastles, bat and ball on the beach, crazy golf, and of course a great surfing scene: and if you want it in a stylish location overlooking the beach, in an immaculate hotel, with Spa and indoor pool, Approach Golf course, children's activities and film club* and waitress service to your sun lounger besides the heated Lido, then it's Woolacombe Bay Hotel for you.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Wriggly Rascals: A new collaboration


I am delighted to be involved with website wrigglyrascals.com. An excellent on-line community website designed to enable mothers to ask for help on any topic and receive personal advice via a survey of the sites other users. It's simple and easy to use; so if you've got a question and can't find the answer on my lovely site here, then pop over to wrigglyrascals and ask other mums.

Sign up here.

And read my guest post on how to be a yummy mummy at wrigglyrascals.com here.

 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

What's the oldest bra you own? Honestly?

I am sat in our lounge watching Top Gear and simultaneously surfing. Its not uncommon these days. Instead of a book on the lap, it's an iPad. A fellow blogger, Natasha at The 1970s Diet, has just pointed me towards her dieting tips on her very fabulous site, one of which is "buy new underwear".

It's definitely something I am considering. My summer weight loss (see the weight loss journey post here) has resulted in my 34E bras becoming somewhat roomy.

Whilst I can happily sit here and start browsing for new bras, the sad fact is that I probably have the size of bra I need hidden somewhere in the bottom of my wardrobe already.

During one particularly memorable sort-out last year I discovered that I had every bra size from a 32DD, via a 34B to a 38D. And did I throw them all out? Yes.

Well, most of them.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

I've lost 7 lbs in 1 month. Want to know how?

Summary

This blog post is a summary of my journey over the last 7 weeks during which I have lost 10.5 pounds in weight.  It's an ongoing journey.  I hope it is at least helpful if you are trying to eat more healthily.  So settle in with a glass of water instead of a cup of tea (healthy choices start here), and a biscuit (instead of three).  It's a slightly longer post than usual - but I hope it's worth it.

For more tips to lose weight you can also check out my earlier post Get Fit and Lose Weight for Summer.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Best place to put a hook and eye? Under the armpit. Really?

Is it just me or do we need to fund some researchers somewhere to come up with a sensible, non-arm-breaking solution to the underarm zip and hook and eye?

Every dress I buy at the moment appears to have this set up. OK so the dresses are fitted, and fitted nicely. But little ol' me wonders if its possible to move that darn zip and do away with the hook and eye altogether.

A zip straight up the back is, in many cases easier. You can reach around from underneath and pull up a certain distance. Then use one arm to lift the dress up at the shoulders, and grab the zip, from above, with the other arm to continue pulling it up. Even then, if the dress is to fitted, its nigh on impossible to do the zip yourself without damage to arm and shoulder muscles and ligaments.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Original Sprout: Shampoo and Conditioner review

Original Sprout's Tahitian Family Collection

The problem with trying out new shampoos is that, if you get it wrong, you look like a scarecrow. Not so with Original Sprout. My hair has never been as glossy nor as healthy looking.

I had been using the John Frieda range for coloured hair. Perfectly suitable, but my hair always felt a little fly-away, and it was difficult to style. Certainly it was difficult to run a brush through it, even after using the John Frieda conditioner.

So it was with great delight that, after two days of trialling the Original Sprout range, my hairbrush glided smoothly through my hair and it felt light, soft and controllable. I kid you not when I say this was an entirely new experience for me!

 

About Original Sprout

Inge Tritt founded the company after struggling to find suitable hair and skin products for her baby's bath time.

"Our founder delighted in her newborn daughter's thick hair. Wanting to use the safest bath products led to her trying natural baby shampoos. To her surprise, all the shampoos wreaked havoc to her daughter's hair and sensitive skin. To remedy the problem Inga created the first of it's kind, ultra moisturizing natural baby bath & styling products. The benefits of being a master stylist with professional experience & a mother with real life experience culminated into Original Sprout, a globally trusted natural family brand."

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Forest Pines: Golf and Spa resort, North Lincolnshire: a review

It was with great excitement that I skipped out of work on Friday 31st June at 3.30pm, the earliest our flexi policy would allow.  I jumped into the waiting car, with my husband at the wheel, knowing that my case was pre-packed and in the boot.  We were going straight out on a weekend jaunt away.

The kids (7 and 4) had already gone off on a two night trip to Scarborough with their Grandparents.  Anyone who has children will understand the sheer feeling of pleasurable relaxation that seeps through you when you realise you have a temporary rest from parental responsibility.  It's pretty difficult to not shout "whoop, whoop" and run around naked waving your arms in the air.  Or is that just me?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

5 useful things to take on holiday

Here's my top 5 unusual, but incredibly useful things to take on holiday this summer.  Packing your case?  Try adding these before you sit on it. (Oh, sorry... is that just me?)

A Pillow.  A travel one. Not just brilliant for snoozing on long car, train, bus or plane journeys, but also brilliant for lounging by the pool. Much more comfortable to rest your chin on whilst reading than a rolled up towel.

Hangers... Fold up travel ones. There is never enough in the hotel wardrobes.  This is a stress-reducing move for hotels with little storage.

Torch. For walking home along ill lit streets, or the beach. and very useful for children in the night to save blinding the whole family when your 6 year old needs the toilet. And of course for power cuts!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Ted Baker flip flop favourites

I only have a quick post today, and it's pictorial.  After all, these speak for themselves.  What lovelies..... Yummy.
























Friday, 21 June 2013

Boxdelux

It's only in the last couple of years, since Internet shopping really took off, that I heard about subscription boxes.

To start with it was 'fruit and veg' boxes, for those healthy eaters too busy to get to the local supermarket. Then came more refined meals in a box, for those of us watching calories and not trusting our own cooking. 

More recently it has been Beauty boxes. A great way to sample a selection of new beauty products, with the lovely advantage of a) the contents each month genuinely being a surprise and b) actually getting mail through the door, which, regardless of email, Twitter and Facebook, we all still get a kick out of. 

But what if you fancy trying more than just beauty products? What if you want a bit of beauty and a bit of luxury foods and, well, just a bit of a luxury surprise. 

Boxdelux has it covered. The June box arrived in a gorgeous black box, tissue paper-lined, with the following surprises:

Revitalash sample – worth £30
Ultrasun lip balm – worth £6
Ultrasun Factor 30 15ml – worth £2.85 (£19 per 100ml)
Aden Cosmetics Nail varnish – 3 pots in varying colours – all 3 are worth £7.50
Aden Cosmetics Lip Gloss - £6
Nakd Bar x 2 – 85p each so worth £1.70
We Are Tea tea bags x 2 – worth £2 together
Propercorn (varying flavours) – worth £1

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Superman: and what a man of steel he is..

The new Superman film is out this weekend.

It is seemingly a franchise that will never end.  The first film, back in 1978, was the start of film after film celebrating the flying comic book hero. 

Being a girl, I preferred the spin off SuperGirl film, starring Helen Slator, and the fact that I didn't need to look up her name will tell you she was recognisable to me in my favourite 1980s film, The Secret of my Success. (I am showing my age there, aren't I.)

What I find fascinating about the Superman film, and the Batman films and all other accompanying superhero films;  be it Captain America, IronMan, etc; is the perpetual prominence of male super heroes in these tales.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Monsoon Polly Print dress review

Polly Print Dress from Monsoon: £69
This is a great dress. It's a size 14* which fits me brilliantly, despite the Monsoon size guide suggesting I need to measure 38/31/40 (Bust/Waist/Hips).  I actually measure 37/34/40.  But there is enough room in this dress for my larger waist.  

It's not very obvious on this picture, but the material wraps over at the waist and gathers at the left hip.  There is a fold of material that hangs, beautifully disguising my mummy belly!

The material is soft and silky to the touch, but is surprisingly 100% polyester, so it's washable, which is always a bonus!  It's also fully lined.

I absolutely recommend this dress from Monsoon, but there is a caveat.  

Don't wear it whilst out anywhere with children.  If you have to lean forward, which you do often with young children as they are naturally at a lower height than you, you will find that the sleeves dig into your arm at the front.

I have had dresses before that do this.  They are fine when stood or sat straight.  The sleeves even look roomy.  But somehow, the second you try and put your arms out in front of you, the sleeves dig in.  


Monday, 27 May 2013

Party funnies!

I just had to share this anecdote from today, before the weight of Princess Peppa's 7th party day finally squishes me into sleepy land.  That sentence makes little sense as I am so extra tired its a miracle I can even type.

It was Princess Peppa's 7th birthday today.  So the day went something like; brace yourself, the anecdote needs context first; this....

Wake up with over-excited newly-turned-7-year-old one inch from face trying to wake me up at 7am.  To be fair we got off lightly there.  It's been 5.30am in previous years. 

Spend next hour enjoying present opening. 

Spend subsequent hour in panic after checking party bags and realising that, despite being an accountant, I can't add up and am 5 bags short if all those that didn't RSVP appear at the party later.  

Send hubby on an emergency shopping trip for extra stickers, sweets and treats.  

Get both children dressed, with beautifully brushed hair.  Realise mother in law has arrived and I am still in dressing gown (why am I always last to get chance to get ready?!)


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Smurf Village addiction

Hello.  My name is Louise and I am addicted to Smurf Village.  Excuse me whilst I go and harvest some Strawberries and Honeydew Melon.

We don't do gaming in our family, despite initial appearances.  Honestly we don't.  We don't have a Wii, and the most sophisticated games system that we own is a decade old GameCube that we play the odd game of Animal Crossing on with the kids.  Which was all well and good until we discovered the Smurf Village app on our iPhone.  It is now also on the family iPad.

The plus points are extensive, which is why it is a game I was relaxed about the children (6 and 4 years old) playing.  It is educational, in that in order to progress you have to plant crops, which cost fake money, and then harvest them a certain length of time later depending on the crop.  When harvested you gain more coins, and Experience Points (XP) progressing you through the level.  If you don't harvest at the right time, the crops wither, so you lose your investment in them.  The children have become very interested in learning how to tell the time, and are experts at working out which crops they can plant in order for them to be ready at the right time, i.e. not during school, or the middle of the night.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Clothes sizing: Why can the fashion industry not get this right?

Unintentional clones


If you were to wake up randomly in a park or playground, having lost your power of hearing, in my opinion you could still pretty quickly work out if you had landed in the UK despite not being able to hear the language being spoken.

How?  Just a quick glance at the fashions being sported by the mums.

As with any culture built by humans with an innate need to fit in, we have developed different uniforms for different roles in society.  In England the uniform is fairly clear for a trip to the park with the kids.  If you are less than a UK size 12 and therefore can get away with skinny skins, or Jeggings,  these will be your uniform of choice.  Combined with a fairly snug Tee, or a fitted smock top (the sort that look like a mini dress but are worn with leggings.)

However, you might, like me, be unable to find a pair of skinny jeans or Jeggings that actually fit your hips.  You may, after all, have hips, and an hourglass figure, that the manufacturers of fashion often forget exist.  For you, the trip will, despite your better intentions, probably result in the Sweats uniform.  You'll have plenty of pairs of sporty tracksuit bottoms from all the good intentions of joining and subsequently not attending the gym.  Add a bland v-necked T-shirt and you can kid yourself that everyone will assume you have come straight from Yoga class to the park.  

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Birthday cakes by post - A great novel idea for someone hard to buy for.


I live a 40 minutes drive away from my parents. It isn't too far to visit easily for an afternoon, but it is too far to pop in for a cuppa after school pickup, or pop round on the off chance that they are in, for a chat.

It is far enough to require actually planning, logistics, pre-car toilet trips. You get the idea.

So I can't always pop and see them on special occasions. When I was given the opportunity to try out a new "letterbox cake" from BakerDays.com to send to my dad for his mid-week birthday I jumped at the chance.

It is a real cake. It is delivered by the post man. It is posted THROUGH the letterbox.

This ensures you can surprise your family and friends with a gift delivered by the postman and not worry about someone needing to be in to accept delivery, which is often the case when you send flowers and chocolates.

Monday, 6 May 2013

I'm sorry kids, but no; I don't want to play

Yes, that's me.... playing on the beach

Mummy; will you come and play?


I really really hope it isn't just me that gets a little tired of the mantra coming from my two girls far too many (in my opinion) times a day: "Mummy; will you come and play?".

I have always been conscious that I am a parent. Even when the girls were really little and I was playing "Incy Wincy Spider" up their arms, I knew that I wasn't there to just be their playmate.

I am very aware of the burden of responsibility I have as a parent to teach them how to grow up to be kind, considerate, polite, intelligent, knowledgeable, courteous, civil members of society. I know that I can't do that AND be their best mate at the same time.

Or; let me elaborate further; I know I can't always be their best friend. A lot of the time I will have to pull rank to be successful as a parent and I know that my words won't hold as much weight if I spend a lot of my time trying to also be their best bud.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Apple products: I have well and truly crumbled


Two years ago I said that I 'absolutely' wasn't going to buy any Apple products.

 I loved my Samsung Galaxy Wonder (The Ace's paired down cousin). And, quite frankly, if there's something that absolutely everyone else has or wants, (an iPhone is a case in point) then I am less likely to want to get it.  It's an 'individual' reaction. I was taught to go my own way, to not worry what everyone else was wearing, doing or listening to. In short, I was taught to want to be different.

So whenever there is a product that hits the mass market, be it the Ford Focus, One Direction or Corrie, I, by default, will hate it.

So how did Apple products manage to infiltrate this barrier?

My husband got an iPad. He let me have a play on it. He popped a couple of films on it. And then he added a couple of children's apps. He let me surf the web on it. Before I could frenzily shout "get that mass-market crowd-pleasing over-hyped product out of my house" I found myself addicted to iPad online surfing.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Juggling all those parenting balls? Join the rest of us jugglers at the Britmums Juggling Carnival!

I have a BRILLIANT collection of blog posts to delight your senses.  These are stories from real women about the real challenges we have juggling our roles as (in no particular order) mother, daughter, wife, employee, boss, sister, friend, entertainer, pot-washer, hairdresser, clothes washer, seamstress, baker, spider catcher, dancer, writer, accountant, author, reader, cook, card fairy (magically sending cards to members of the family you've only ever met once, but who you absolutely must send cards at appropriate points in the year), tweeter, sympathetic-ear, first aider, toy mender, story teller, dietitian, referee, taxi driver......... and that's just me!

Grab a Sangria.  Throw on your dancing shoes.  Join us for the Britmums "Juggling" Carnival.  A party for us to share how we keep those balls; clubs; knifes; flaming torches even; in the air, and maybe get a slice of 'me' time in the midst of all that juggling!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Streetdance: can you do it when you are approaching 40?

Last week I announced on Facebook and Twitter that I had signed up to attend a Streetdance class. There wasn't so much as a ripple in the Internet surf.

For some reason I expected more of a shocked response. My followers will be aware that I am fast approaching 40 years old. Admittedly I started dancing at 5 years old.  Disco, ballroom, ballet, tap, modern and Acro - this was the 70s in the Midlands, UK, and the dance was very Pop based.

But despite the fact that I love dancing and Streetdance is great fun. Despite the fact that I am feeling 20 years younger whilst doing this new class. Will I actually look stupid doing Streetdance? At what age does a Street dancer have to stop dancing else they look daft? Is there an age?  

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Roll up, roll up. The Britmums Carnival is coming....

It's nearly carnival time here at Yummy Mummy? Really? I have been preparing my headdress and painting the float. In my head obviously. This is an on-line Carnival, and as such it's all rather virtual. The spirit of the event is exactly the same though. It's time to get together, socialise, have a couple of drinks if you are so inclined, dress up in crazy flamboyant outfits (come on! don't be dull) and showcase your talents and skills.

The Britmums Carnival, for those not already in the know, is a collection of blog posts (written in the last month) all shared in one post by the host (moi). Bloggers take turns to host and its a great way to showcase your latest blog post or discover great blogs.

There is usually a theme selected by the host. In the spirit of the event I am choosing the theme:-


Monday, 8 April 2013

Blog Awards: why I haven't nominated myself (yet)

It's parenting blog award season again. The nominations are open for the annual Britmums Brilliance in Blogging (bibs) awards and I am going through the same emotional journey I went on last year when the award season kicked off.

The journey goes something like this:

1) Oh brilliant; look, they have announced this year's mummy blog awards. I should check my blog over and nominate myself – it could be my year to win! I am really optimistic this time as I have been thinking carefully about the posts I write and trying to ensure they are useful and relevant. I can just picture the glitzy award ceremonies full of fashionable yummy mummys providing me will loads of the external validation for my work.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Classic 80s movies: which is your favourite?

I am debating which of three classic 80s movies to watch tonight. I have already taken a fair amount of time to narrow it down to these three. It is a very tricky task as I have a fairly large collection of 80s movies. I am a member of the John Hughes generation, and as such, my movie collection contains almost every single one of his feel good coming-of-age classics; both in their original VHS format (yes I am that old - want to make something of it?) and in DVD format, since the VHS copies have certainly seen better days.

These are the films that shaped my view of what true love looked like, what friendship was all about and what truants were all doing on their days off. One of these films resulted in my lifelong dream to sing on a float in the middle of Chicago. You never know, miracles happen.

Do you remember these? Which of these three would you pick? Which other classics do you remember?

Here are a couple of quiz questions to challenge your 80s knowledge.

1) Who played the Mannequin in Mannequin?
2) What was the original name of the film "Adventures in Babysitting"?
3) Who was the actor that Ferris's sister falls for? And for a bonus point, who played Ferris's sister?
4) What type of car did Ferris borrow?
6) Name three 80s actors that were all super famous that the Babysitter managed to co star with in other 80s classics. (Which films?)

Did you manage the above questions without the help of google? If so, congratulations! You get the 80s gold star.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Gullivers World Hotel and Gullivers Splash Zone, Warrington: A review

Tree house beds: kid heaven!

Should I share?


I was torn as to whether to share this brilliant find with you.  But I just had to.

Oh my! What a fabulous hotel!

Despite Gulliver's World theme park being technically closed at this time of year, the hotel, and neighbouring Splash Zone is still open.

So we decided to book an overnight stay at the hotel, in a family room, for one night.  Some friends of ours and their children booked too.

We set off around lunchtime on Saturday, and arrived at 3pm, in plenty of time to quickly ooooo and aaahhh at our room, more on that later, grab the children's swimsuits and wander across the car park to the Splash Zone.

Gulliver's Splash Zone


The Splash Zone is great for 6 year olds and over. It is essentially the sort of mini splash park you get at family hotels in Spain, but instead of being outside, it is inside, in the same set up as the popular soft play zones that have sprung up in every town in the UK in the last 10 years.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Out of the mouths of babes: April 2013


outofthemouthsofbabes Teeth brushing time


I am brushing Little Miss George's (4) teeth after a bath. In our family we try and speak bits of other languages when we can, and also try and get the children to brush their teeth for at least 2 minutes, so teeth brushing time is an ideal time for me to count in different languages to kill two birds with one stone.

So I start with German to build up my confidence as that's the language I did at A Level, so getting to sixty is no problem.

That's the first minute gone.



Saturday, 30 March 2013

Parenting 101: How to not let the clocks ruin your child's sleep pattern

It is that annoying weekend again. I have ranted about this before and I will do it again now. Why oh why do we have to go through this annual ritual of messing up everyone's body clocks just so that it can be slightly brighter at night (but dark again in the mornings).

I still don't fully understand the benefit these days. But I will avoid ranting any more here. If you want to find out who to direct your rant to it was a certain Mr Willett.

Meanwhile, how do you cope this weekend when, not only have the children been off school for the Easter holidays - and presumably allowed to stay up a little later in the vain hope they might give you a lie in - but you also need to adjust their body clock back the other way in time for school's return?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

I had the strangest dream: is it worth using dream analysis?

Have you ever wondered about dream analysis? Are you a dream interpreter? Do you know what my dream means?


Dream analysis: is it useful?



I have to admit, My view of dream analysis is that it's a bit pointless. But there's a whole industry build around the analysis and interpretation of dreams. Books, DVDs, apps... Type "Dream analysis" into Google and you can be kept busy for years.

But is it actually any good? Can dreams give us clues or hints about how to better live our lives? Will analysing my dream make me a better wife, mother, blogger or accountant?


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Pampering facials: treat yourself at Pure

I have experienced an hour and a half of pure lush.

From the relaxing back massage, to the repeated application of cream after cream gently onto my face, to the head massage and the slightly weird and smelly, but incredibly relaxing, mud pack that bubbled away under my back as I lay there. It was all gorgeous.

Why should I bother with a facial?


Some of you lucky readers will have pure, silky, smooth, alabaster skin. Flawless and wrinkle-free; yours will be the faces that I glower jealously at, if I pass you on the street, for my skin, after nearly 40 years, is suffering.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Google reader is no more: What alternatives are there?

Why is this article useful? Should I read on?


If you don't use Google Reader then you can probably disregard this post. My apologies for bringing you here for this. If you are a parent and want to stick around the site for parenting and beauty tips, how-to guides and family holiday reviews, please do grab a cuppa, put your feet up and delve straight into the menus above and over on the right.

However, if you do use Google Reader either to follow websites and News feeds, or as a developer or blogger, then read on.   This post is definitely for you.

Google Reader is giving notice


On Wednesday, 13th March, Google announced that it's RSS feed reader, used by millions to follow news sites and blogs, would cease on 1st July 2013.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Nightmares: How to deal with them when they start in young children

So, yesterday we talked about the potential causes of nightmares in children.   In my case this was a combination of poor judgement around approved film watching, and Little Miss George (4)  getting too used to having her big sister, Princess Peppa (6), sleeping over in her room whilst the roof was being fixed.

But once they start, is there anything you can do?

Little Miss George quickly developed a fear of the dark and wouldn't even go into our hall to go to the toilet on her own.  She'd wake up three or four times a night and cry out for us, only settling to sleep if we sat next to her bed holding her hand, got into bed with her, or, when it was close to morning, allowed her to get in our bed with us, something we have rarely done.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Nightmares: Why do they suddenly start in young children?

Recently my youngest daughter, Little Miss George (4), had great fun hosting her elder sister, Princess Peppa (6), for a run of sleep-overs in her bedroom. We had a mattress set up on the floor of Little Miss George's bedroom, cuddly toys and all, for Princess Peppa to sleep in. She slept in there for roughly a month.

Why? Because we had a leak in the ceiling off Princess Peppa's bedroom stemming from last years winter of double thick level snow covering our roof. Without getting into too much detail (you can always tweet me if you're interested), previous owners of our house had taken out the chimney breast in Princess Peppa's room and left the chimney above. It wasn't well supported, and VERY tall, so we had that taken off too and capped. Then the snow came down last year and sat on the capped roof for weeks, slowly getting in behind the render as it hadn't been capped by the workmen correctly (with overlapping edges) so the water ran down into the loft space and ultimately into her ceiling.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Panic! No school places for 2013 baby boomers!

Are we, in England, so incredibly inept, that we feel the need to panic when a statistician tells us that there won't be enough school places for children starting school in 2 years time?

2 years? That's a long time, right? That's long enough to go out and recruit a few extra reception teachers, or to canvas the supply teachers already on the books, isn't it?

The BBC news website indicates that "a quarter of a million extra school places will be needed in England by autumn next year, with one in five schools already full or near capacity". They talk about the rising birth rate which was higher than expected over the last few years. Really? In a recession there's a high birth rate? Oh you do surprise me. Sarcastic? Moi? Never!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Panoramic, beautiful views on your commute

How's this for a view on the way to work?

I travel across the countryside to work and the views are so amazing that I have to force myself to ignore them most days lest I accidentally miss a corner and end up rolling into a pile of cow muck in a farmers field. Unfortunately, the best views are at points on my car journey where the road is freakishly narrow and where there is no opportunity to park unless I risk pulling onto a farmers drive and blocking the trackers.

Strange really, as I am sure that there are panoramic parking spots every two minutes when you drive up hills in Europe. I certainly had plenty of brilliant photo opportunities when we holidayed in Majorca. But here, in the Midlands, on the edge of the Peak District, car parking spaces aren't deemed a necessity, gorgeous view or not. So the best, and only, parking spot I found gave me this picture on my route in today. Snow still peppering the ground, bright blue sky above. It was around 2 degrees Celsius. It was beautiful.

So do you take the time to look around and view the landscape? Share your photos here in the linky, or send them me via Twitter @ymummyreally or via the Facebook page, or even, goodness how many social options have we got, share them on Google+ ( discovered that yet?) on the Yummy Mummy? Really? page.


I'd love to see them.

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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Tooth Fairy: where does she live?

Both of my girls absolutely still believe in fairies.  How can they possibly not when the Tooth Fairy leaves the most gorgeous letter when she collects a tooth?

How can they not, when Tinkerbell tells us that every time someone says they don't believe in fairies, a fairy dies.

How can they not, when my hubby and I also believe in the magic.

The Tooth Fairy is doing a marvellous job.  The wonder and astonishment in my daughters eyes when she came running into our bedroom shouting "MUMMY, DADDY, LOOK!!!" will live with me forever. 

It's one of those moments you never want to forget.  

It's one of those moments that makes parenting so worth while.

Now I'm planning to make fairy houses at the bottom of the garden as soon as the weather finally turns.  After all, the fairies will appreciate any help they can get, since they are so busy collecting all the teeth.

I might even think about making a special bag for them to carry the teeth and those incredible heavy £1 coins in.  I'm sure the girls will enjoy that activity one afternoon.

What are your special moments of parenthood that you never want to forget?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Self confidence: how to avoid losing yours

Ae you feeling a little low? Are you feeling like you are just not doing a good enough job, be it as a parent, in your career or in your relationship? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by it all, and wish that the train that is carrying you, chugging through life at pace, would just stop off for a lunch break and let you have some time to just take a breath, collect yourself, catch up?


I am struggling with those feelings at the moment. I don't feel like I am being the best mum, or the best yummiest wife, or doing the best job I could at work. But on reflection I realise that I am ignoring the positives: for example, my daughter gave me a beautiful piece of work she had completed in school today. She is now 6 years old, and in year 2 at infant school. Surely this is the positive feedback I need to pat myself on the back and give myself a gold star for "mummying"? Take a look below. What do you think?

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Out of the mouths of babes: March 2013

It's been a while since we indulged in a spot of giggling at the amazing things our young children say on this blog. It's not that mine haven't been saying all manner of amusing, inappropriate, embarrassing things. It's just that I haven't been organised enough to jot them down.


I feel an extra need to indulge in a spot of giggling at the moment as we are going through some personal family life challenges at the moment that are making life that little bit more emotional, raw and painful. But we are a family bursting with love, and it's for that reason that I know we can get through the challenges together. When it's less raw, and less likely to set me off crying again, I may well share; but until then I undertake the usual human trait of short-term avoidance tactics and instead indulge in the distraction of my daughters' naivety.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Tights. Love them or hate them? An Update!

Aristoc - 100 Denier Cashmere Blend TightsBack in November 2012 I posted an article called Tights! Love them or hate them?

The article basically described the embarrassing methods I've had to resort to in order to keep my tights in position on a daily basis.  If you have a solution to the dilemma, please feel free to share.


In December I treated myself to the most expensive pair of tights I have ever bought.  They are by Aristoc.  They are 100 denier cashmere blend.  They don't have that change in thickness at the thigh that many have, making them perfect to wear with the currently fashionable suit shorts that I also purchased.  They are very very soft and very very comfortable. 

And so far I haven't had to pull them up repeatedly throughout the day.

Admittedly they are new, and things may change.  I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime; check them out at Figleaves.com



Monday, 11 February 2013

So where am I on the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and why is it relevant to this blog?

MAD Blog Awards

Great content?

This weekend the Times Magazine ran an article called The Asperger's Effect.  A glance at the layout in the magazine and you immediately noticed that there's a test: "Where are you on the spectrum?".  In 5 minutes, and 50 quick multi-choice questions later, you know whether you are, and I quote "socially smooth, empathetic to others and ambivalent about numbers" or not.

Interestingly I was more interested in how quickly I jumped at the chance to do a test.  What that says about me is possibly far more revealing that the results of the test.

My results were almost disappointingly boring.  No revelations here I'm afraid.  I came in with a score of 17; apparently average for a man, whereas 15 is the woman's average.  You can do the test on-line at TheTimes.co.uk/magazine.

Why am I mentioning this?  Because it struck me that the article was refreshingly different, on a topic I had read little about.  I was immediately drawn to great content.  That's what I aim for here on this website: great content.  I try and make it relevant, interesting, helpful, fun and a little tongue in cheek.  This website was started because I wanted to help other mums learn from my mistakes.  I provide tips on parenting that work for us and my solutions for maintaining your yummy mojo whilst also being a mum.

What makes great website content?


Whether I succeed or not is something of a mystery.  Whilst I can see how many people are clicking through to the site and how long they are staying, I can't tell if they are finding useful content.  I can't tell if I am making them smile, or laugh, or frown with disappointment.

That's where blog awards come in.  It's blog awards time, and it's now possible for you to nominate my blog for any of 16 different categories in the MAD Blog Awards 2013.  So do you think I qualify to be nominated for Best School Days blog, Most Entertaining Blog, Best Fashion and Beauty Blog or Best Mad Blog for Family Fun?  How about Best Family Life Blog, Best Family Travel Blog or Best Blog Writer?  Or do I qualify for the ultimate MAD Blog of the Year?

If you do think I deserve a mention, please pop over to nominate me on the Mad Blog Awards 2013 nomination form.  It'll only take a minute and I'll be amazed, flattered and thrilled that I might possibly be doing something right in this small, but perfectly formed, corner of the web. 

Nominations close at midnight on the 18th February 2013.

Of course, if you don't think I should be nominated, and you don't feel that I'm providing the content you are searching for, then absolutely please let me know!  Would you like more beauty, more fashion, more fitness; or maybe prefer the parenting tips and hints, the craft ideas, or the travel reviews? Please feel free to comment on the posts and let me know what you like.

Thanks everyone.



Saturday, 9 February 2013

How to define your eye make-up easily

I am probably the last person in the world to discover this make-up trick. On the slight chance that there are women out there like me, that missed out on the teenage years of girlie make-up experimentation due to being busy with something else (my teenage years were all about the dance classes), here's a fabulous trick I have discovered this week.

Whatever type of eye shadow applicator you use; be it the cotton bud style, or a brush; simply wetting it slightly, under a running tap, will enable you to pick up powder on the brush and position the powder so precisely that even a make-up ignoramus like me can manage to use shadow to create a neat line along the lash, eye-liner style.

I am a tactile make-up applicator. In that I mean I have always preferred to solely use my fingers. In reality this means that I have been walking around for years with the loosely smudged casual style. Now I actually am able to create a dark edge and use a different shade loosely brushed over the lid with a drier brush and blend the lot with my fingers if I wish.

And how did I suddenly acquire this knowledge? I asked for a beauty book for my birthday and duly received Jemma Kidd's Make-Up Masterclass: Beauty bible of professional techniques and wearable looks. It's a beautiful hardback full of pictures to show you step by step how to create different looks and is packed with useful information on skin type and how to pick the right colours for your skin tone. It is, most importantly, not in the least bit patronising, which for me, an ageing novice, is refreshingly unassuming.

So thank you Jemma. Thank you. I now stand half a chance.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Black duffel coat with a furry hood? MY PERFECT COAT!


I've been searching for a good all-round winter raincoat for ages, and when I say ages I mean years and years and years.

My daughters, who are 6 and 4 years old respectively, appear to have the pick of some amazing designs; bright colours, waterproof, padded or not... and all with hoods.

And my choice?  Restricted to the thickest winter duvet-esque quilted duffel coats with hood, but so enourmous you look like you are one step away from an Icelandic expedition), or a thinner mac style coat that 'pretends' to be a raincoat from a distance, but get up close and you realise it's all a lie; the material isn't waterproof and there isn't a hood in sight.

So I've had thin macs and thicker macs all without hoods, and when it rains I resort to an umbrella which promptly flings itself inside out in defiance at the ridiculous UK weather and never works properly again.

In the winter, for the last three years, I've resorted to borrowing a waterproof jacket in the 'NorthFace' style, and bought a similar jacket from Decathlon.  Fashionable and stylish were not the first words to come to mind.. nor the hundredth.  They kept me warm, but I wasn't happy.  They were practical and oh so boring. 

It was with great glee and excitement - so much so that I actually squealed like a girl, when I finally spotted a coat that ticked all my boxes.  Warm, but not too warm.  Waterproof, but not expedition like.  Hooded, but not with a plastic elasticated affair that takes so long to get out of it's pouch you are wet through by the time it's ready.  I found MY PERFECT COAT.

It is even shaped... yes, you heard me correctly... shaped!  It has zip pockets so even when it snows your mobile doesn't get wet but is easily accessible.  It has a divine pattern on the lining.  And it is, (I'm sorry, but this is the predictable bit if you know me well, as I am a major fan of this store) from Ted Baker.


And what do you know... I even got it in the sale half price!

No longer available on the Ted Baker website, though there are plenty of other choices for you to peruse - so this particular coat will become a coveted eBay classic.  Keep a look out!

***

This is not an advertising feature.  This is a rave review of a gorgeous coat that I absolutely love and I would not rave about it otherwise.  I am, however, a massive fan of Ted Baker, as their quality remains fantastic in an era of cheaper and cheaper fabrics and designs, so I therefore act as an affiliate.  I will receive a small percentage of any orders made as a result of you clicking into the Ted Baker site via this link.  Feel free to browse!

Ted Baker

Friday, 18 January 2013

Which vitamins should I take daily?

When you consider starting a family it makes sense to ensure you are getting the right vitamins and minerals in your diet for healthy development of the feotus.  There is plenty of guidance available on which supplements to take before and during pregnancy, and fairly consistent messages they are too.  In the UK, the NHS choices "Vitamins and minerals in pregnancy" website summarises these succinctly.

There is not, however, the same level of consistency in guidance on which supplements to take either outside of pregnancy or for women or men, for young or old.

We have all been told to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and to avoid processed foods. But we don't all know which, if any, supplements would help us at any point in our lives.  It depends on our own existing diet.

This probably explains the vast range of different products out there.

On New Year's day I happened to be in Boots, the health and beauty store, and decided to finally buy a small pot of vitamin tablets.

I plucked up the courage to actually ask the store assistant what the difference between the various types was, and which would be the best option for me: courage needed since I assume it's something everyone is knowledgeable about but me.

She was very helpful and asked me what my aims were, why I thought I needed some and whether I ate a balanced diet.  I confirmed that my diet was balanced, but probably not in favour of the nutrients it should be.  I even told her that I don't eat nearly enought fruit and vegetables and that I never seem to have any energy.

She told me that the vitamins shouldn't be seen as an alternative to a good diet, only a supplement, (a very good point), and recommended the multi vitamins with ginseng.

Ginseng? I didn't have a clue what it was (and after googling it still aren't really sure).  "It's good for energy levels" she said.  Brilliant.  So I bought some.

I've taken them everyday in January and, despite my daughter getting tonsillitus and all sorts of viruses going round, I haven't yet been ill.  I have more energy, definitely, and, well, let's just say my trips to the toilet have been more gentle and soft.

So far I am impressed and will continue to take them. I just wonder whether to get some cod liver oil ones too? My joint's are getting a little, em, crunchy.

Do you take vitamins? If so, when and why did you start and which ones do you take?  Would you recommend it, or do you feel we should avoid supplements and improve our diets instead?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Egmont release new snowy stories

The Egmont Snowy collection

Egmont's new snowy stories

When I was a girl growing up in the seventies I collected the Mr Men books. Small enough for little fingers; short enough for bedtime stories and light enough to not squish your toes when you inevitably drop them.  

Today the format is just as perfect as it always was, only now its not just the Mr Men that come in this size.  Way back in October, when I was thinking about Halloween and originally started drafting this post, I was thinking ahead to Christmas and planning the house decorations.  Now the decorations have all come down and time seems to have swept past us as break neck speed. 

In true "frazzled mummy" style I intended to review Egmont's new snowy stories which come in this perfect format*, in time for Christmas.  Though too late for Christmas, these would make great additions to party bags, or extra presents for any birthday's you have coming up.  

I was kindly sent three of the lovely stories and we read them the day they arrived, and have done a few times since.  

But I made a school girl error.  I was supposed to include my daughter's excellently handwritten review of the stories which she did for me back then.  Unfortunately, in the chaos that reigned when nine separate boxes of decorations came down from the loft and the house was 'tidied' in preparation for Christmas day visitors, I managed to mis-place her work.  (sorry luv) So I finally have had to ask her, politely, to tell me again what she thought.  

Over to her in a moment. Firstly, my younger (aged 4) also gave a brief appraisal. She enjoyed all the books and the Thomas book the best as the "snowball bit was funny".  But I personally felt that the pictures were poor in this book: all close ups when there was scope for great pictures of the action.  That was as far as her review went, although she has selected the Thomas book, "Snowy Tracks" a few times since for bedtime story.

Here's the elders' (6 years old) review...


"It was really a surprise when we got home and got the books.  The one I really enjoyed best was the Mr Men one because it had Santa in it, it was Christmassy and it was seasonal because it was nearly Christmas.  The 'Everything's Rosie' book was quite a fun book because it had sledging in it and I liked the characters, because they are different and not all people.  The 'Snowy Tracks' Thomas book; it was very, very, very fun because it had snowballs and it was snowy, so that one was really quite nice, so I enjoyed that one as well, as well as my sister."


I asked her what she thought of the size.  She said "it was good because the big books are quite heavy".

I asked her what she thought of the pictures.  "They were quite good because they had detail; so like, if it said Rosie had an album then the picture would show you that Rosie had an album,so it told you what was actually happening."  

I asked, why's that a good idea for children? 

"Sometimes for children, if you tell me a word, like 'survive' I might not know what that means.  And 'album', some children are smaller than me and don't know what that means, so they can look at the picture and see what the story is and see what that means, so it's quite good."

I personally love books of this size.  The length is perfect for bedtime stories, the size is perfect for little hands, and the stories are written in a langauage accessible to early readers (my 6 year old can read them herself) and in a suitably large font size.  My only disappointment, as already mentioned, was in the pictures accompanying the Thomas story.   

The books we received were:

Mr Men meet Father Christmas by Roger Hargreaves
Snowy Tracks (A 'Thomas the Tank Engine' Story)
The Last Snowball (An 'Everything's Rosie' story)  
All published by Egmont.  

You can purchase them via Amazon via the links above.

*The Thomas and Everything's Rosie titles are approximately 1cm larger than the Mr Men books, but made with the same paper and in paperback.</

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

How to rekindle your relationship after having a child.

Photo courtesy of Kozzi.com
Having children effects the relationship you have with your partner.  It doesn't matter how much you convince yourself that your life will be just the same only with a child in it, you quickly realise that nothing could be further from the truth.

Having children adds various challenges to your relationship, but fear not; the solutions just need a little bit of effort.  Below I outline some of the main reasons that couple feel they are drifting apart after the birth of a first child, and my suggestions as to how to face these challenges.

1.  We are both always exhausted.


There's no way to sugarcoat this; and thinking that it's the same kind of tiredness you get from pulling the odd all-nighter, either in the pub, or to complete some college assignment, is naive at best.  You will have never known tiredness quite like it.

The solution? Accept the tiredness as inevitable and snuggle up to fall asleep in front of the television together.  You may not feel like getting frisky, but make the effort to cuddle up and stay connected.

2.  We don't talk about anything but the children.


And why is that a problem?  Well, it's not in itself a problem at all.  Having a child is a major event in both your lives and you should be talking about it. 

So what's my advice?  Every so often ask your partner about them; their views on current news, what they thought of a new television show you've both seen lately, where they'd like to go on holiday next year... It sounds a little like the patter your hair stylist might use, and that's exactly what it should sound like because it's YOU remembering to take an interest in THEM as well as the new child.

It's amazing what a difference it makes to your day when someone takes a genuine interest in your thoughts and feelings for even just a short period of time.  Give this gift of attention to each other. 

3.  We are changingWe aren't the same people anymore.


Of course you aren't.  You grew up and became parents.  It's the natural order of things.  But it doesn't mean you are not the same people that fell in love.  What it does mean is that you are both learning new skills and that you will both find different ways to cope with the new responsibility.

What can you do?  Give each other chance to grow, and try and give each other a regular opportunity to get out alone to be the person you were before you became a parent.   Whether it's to go to the hair salon, the golf course, a painting class or judo; whatever it is that enables you to maintain your own sense of self. 

Often those who work full-time before and immediately after having a child need this less, as they have the consistency of their job, that doesn't change, and maintain their sense of their 'work self' separately to that of their 'new parent' self.  But if you used to work and stop to have children you can feel like you start to lose your own identity.  Recognise this in yourself or your partner and give the space to the individual that needs it.

4.  We don't get any couple time.


What with the new baby demanding attention 24 hours a day, and you both attempting to give each other alone time, how do you get 'couple' time?

This one is a must: Create it.  I mean it.  There's no excuse for this one.  If you don't have the luxury of babysitting grandparents, then ensure you get a bedtime routine for your little one established as soon as is practical and turn one evening a week into an "at home date night". 

And let's be really clear here; I'm not referring to item 1. above here, you can fall asleep watching television together the other 6 nights.  No, I mean turn the television off, cook a nice meal (or order in) and do something together, be it playing scrabble or cards, listening to music, or the obvious vertical boogie.  Make the time and effort. 

5.  I/We just don't feel like sex.


OK, so you are worn out and just don't feel like it.  What if your other half does initiate sex?  In my humble experience it's always worth going with it.  You may not feel particularly passionate to start with and we all know that women (generally speaking) take a little longer to warm up, but give your partner chance to see if maybe the warming up can be done.

What have you got to loose?  You might just get a lovely orgasm and feel 10 times better.

It, of course, may be that neither of you are initiating sex.  You may both be too tired, overwhelmed, or, let's face it, scared.

Get over yourselves and on every "date night" rediscover each-other.  If it means taking it slow and kissing for hours, so what? 

6.  But we've stopped talking to each other!


All the tiredness and fear and the notion of being overwhelmed can result in two people both feeling similar emotions but not realising, thinking their other half is coping 'so much better' and being scared to share their thoughts and fears. 

Talk to each other!!  For goodness sake!  You are not 11 years old now, you are parents for goodness sake.  Talk, debate, disagree, discuss, share and argue if you must.  Then either discover that you are both feeling the same and have a good laugh at yourselves, or agree to disagree and to support each other where you both need it. 

7.  She / He takes me for granted


This happens so easily that it is scary.  On the one hand it's lovely that we get so comfortable in our relationships that we start to trust the other person to always be there, to always support us, to always make the dinner, do the dishes, put the bins out, buy us presents, send us cute little texts.... the list goes on and on and on....

It's also ridiculously easy to avoid this one.  Remember those words your parents always drilled into you, but which we often seem to forget in adult life?  Go on... think hard...  Two phrases.... Please, and thank you.

Please and thank you will take you a long way.  It can take effort to start reusing these little gems if they've managed to slip out of your vocabulary, but it's well worth it.  People like being thanked, it's a very basic acknowledgement that they've done something to make our lives easier. 

Another really easy thing to do to ensure you don't take each other for granted.  Keep doing those things you used to.  Those little texts.... buying little gifts.... leave post-it's for each other.   I guess I'm just saying "think about your partner and treat them".  Easy, eh?


All this advice sounds like too much hard work


Really?  Too much hard work to make the effort to build and grow your developing relationship and be the best parents you can be?  It's your relationship.  If it was a relationship strong enough to result in you deciding to become parents together, then surely it's worth the effort of staying parents together?

***

I really hope this article provides some helpful tips on how to reconnect with your partner after having a child.  It's tough; I wouldn't ever suggest otherwise; but the best and most brilliant things in this world can only be built with hard work and dedication.  

If you need any other tips on pregnancy, parenting, coping with being a new parent, coping with a demanding toddler and keeping your sense of self and yumminess in the process, feel free to browse the site and follow using your preferred method be it facebook, twitter, bloglovin, RSS or google+.  Thank you for stopping by.


Good luck and happy parenting.

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