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
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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