It is me and Lucy hosting this week, if you are new here then welcome and if you are one of our regulars then welcome back! I love reading everyone’s posts and finding out who everyone’s favourite bloggers are. So, shall we get started?
Well, we did it! One whole year of breastfeeding. It was always my aim since I became pregnant with Alex to try my best to breastfeed him for his first year and I’ve only gone and done it. It’s not always been easy, we had latch issues and I experienced a lot of pain during those first couple of weeks but I feel so proud that we pushed through and our feeding journey is still going strong 12 months on. With the rise of the mummy blogger there seems to be a lot more honest advice and stories online about what breastfeeding a newborn is like, which makes a nice change from the very impersonal approach most nhs leaflets and antenatal classes seem to take. I’ve written all about it myself in previous breastfeeding diary posts and have even written a guest blog for The Bshirt all about how to breastfeed with confidence. When it comes to the realities of feeding an older baby though the stories from other mums on their feeding experiences start to thin out. Just as breastfeeding a newborn comes with it’s own challenges, breastfeeding an older baby is not as easy as you may think either. So, as Alex and I have smashed our feeding goals and are still going, I thought I would share with you what it’s really like breastfeeding a one year old, in case you too decide to keep feeding your little one into toddlerhood. View Post
I’m so fed up at the minute. There, I said it. Lately, this whole mum thing has been really challenging for me and it just feels like I have been diffusing one child related drama after another, leaving no time for me to relax and actually enjoy time with my kids. Parenting kids of all ages is hard I am sure but looking after a very feisty four year old and an extremely clingy baby is exhausting. I have got serious mama fatigue and when you’re tired everything just feels a million times worse, doesn’t it? View Post
Having kids, it’s hard work. Unfortunately, you do not truly understand just how hard raising little people will be until you are thrown straight in at the deep end on the day you bring your first born into the world. It is so easy to let the tough times get you down: the sleep deprivation, feeding troubles, sickness, tantrums, poo explosions – I could go on. Parents can go days (sometimes weeks or months) at a time dealing with one baby related issue after another. Does this sound familiar to you – you worry about feeding your newborn/you eventually establish feeding your newborn, you worry that you’ll never sleep again/your baby eventually starts sleeping through, you worry their not reaching their milestones quick enough/they start smashing their milestones and you couldn’t be prouder, you worry they will only ever eat mashed banana or beige food/they slowly start eating more fruit and vegetables. It is never ending! View Post
Introducing lumps and more textured food to your baby’s diet can be pretty scary. I know with both of my boys I got really stressed about them choking as they progressed from their first tastes of puree onto more lumpy meals. I have always used a mixture of homemade and shop bought baby food when weaning my babies. As they transition from smooth to more textured food, I like to buy jars before making their food myself, it helps to give me an idea of what sort of consistency their food should be for this stage of weaning. Recently Alex was sent a selection of stage 2 and stage 3 jars from HiPP Organic to try out, these meals are perfect for introducing lumps into your babies diet and helping them figure out how to chew food properly. Here is a review of what Alex thought of the HiPP Organic range and some useful tips on how to successfully introduce more variety and texture in to your baby’s diet. View Post
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas and I don’t mean white with snow. I’m dreaming of white sand between my toes, sitting on a beach looking out at a beautiful clear blue ocean with the hot sun beating down on me. Christmas in the UK is a bit meh when it comes to the weather isn’t it? It’s very rarely cold enough for us to wake up on Christmas morning with snow outside as well as presents under the tree, more often than not it’s just raining and cold. Of course, taking my boys to Lapland is on the ultimate Christmas bucket list, I would love for them to experience snow for the first time and have a truly authentic Christmas experience: sleigh rides, snow ball fights and visiting Santa in his grotto – the works. BUT celebrating Christmas abroad, somewhere hot, is also something I would like to do at least once as a family. Last April we were meant to go on a big family holiday to Mauritius, for lots of different reasons it didn’t happen and we spent 10 days in Italy instead. While our Italia holiday was amazing, I was disappointed we didn’t get to go relax on the beautiful beaches of Mauritius. So, if I could have my once in a lifetime Christmas Day in the sun, Mauritius would be my dream destination. Need convincing that celebrating Christmas abroad would be a great idea? Here are 5 reasons I would love to spend a Christmas Day in the sun. View Post
Firstly, can I just say a massive sorry for going AWOL from this linky, with no explanation as to why I was leaving and what was going on. You lovely lot are an amazing and generous bunch of bloggers and it was so not cool of me to just ditch you all without so much as a goodbye.
Basically, things got pretty stressful back in September, Leo started school, we moved house and I was feeling overwhelmed with the heavy load of blog work I had to get through. Life has calmed down a bit now and I am in a much better head space and I am excited to announce that once a month I will be here, hosting #BlogCrush again with the, quite frankly, friggin amazing Lucy from Lucy at Home.
In my absence, Alice from Letters to my Daughter has joined the #BlogCrush team and she will continue to co host the linky three weeks of the month with Lucy as I just don’t feel able to commit to the linky every week anymore.
Anyway, now you know what’s been going on with me, shall we get this party started? View Post
Growing a human is hard work, our amazing bodies go through a lot during those 9 long months of pregnancy. There are lots of side effects to being pregnant, some good and some, well, not so good. The best thing about pregnancy is that you get a beautiful baby at the end of it all but a lot of things happen before we get to that magical moment. When you are pregnant you have to deal with raging hormone, weight gain, aches and pains and also the risk of incontinence. The fear of accidently wetting yourself when you are pregnant is very real, with all that pressure on your pelvic floor, things like sneezing or laughing too hard can all too easily end up with a little leakage. Who ever told you pregnancy was glamorous was lying! Don’t worry though, incontinence doesn’t have to become a part of your life just because you are pregnant, Hartman Direct have put together this really useful article on how to manage incontinence during pregnancy so you can spend more time enjoying those baby kicks and less worrying about where the nearest loo is. View Post
I am a mum of two. My eldest boy is four and my youngest son has only just turned one. Most of the other mums I know have two or more children too, we have that in common, but about 90% of those mums are almost a decade (sometimes more) older than me. In fact, at 26 years old, I have already finished building my family before so many women have even started theirs. Research has found that the average age of women having their first baby in the UK is 30, a whole 8 years older than I was when Leo came along. By the time I reach 30 I will have an almost 8 year old and a 4 year old; the baby days will be far behind me but for many other women my age the adjustment to life as a parent will only just be beginning. With so many women choosing for many different reasons to wait until their thirties to start a family, I have been left wondering about my own life choices. Have I missed out on something by having my kids at a younger age? Was choosing to start a family in my early twenties a bad decision? Both my children were planned but was my timing all wrong? Was having kids in my twenties a mistake? View Post
It’s happened. My baby boy is now one whole year old! I am sorry to word vomit out all the clichés but I can not believe how fast the past year has gone and how quickly the time flies by once you become a parent. We had a lovely day celebrating the big ONE on Saturday with just Alex’s Nanny and Grampy and the four of us. If you follow me on social media then you will know that Alex has got chicken pox. It has been awful timing and a really tough week but he seemed to turn a corner and was actually able to enjoy his big day. It honestly feels like moments ago that I was sat at this computer writing Alex’s birth story and it just feels completely crazy that I am now about to write his one year update! Here it is, Alex’s 12 month update (wow!) … View Post
Recently I have been feeling the fear. Not the fear of all the spiders creeping into our house for the winter (although that does terrify me) or the fear that Christmas is looming and I am so not ready for all the chaos that the festive season brings. No, this is a fear that only people with children can truly understand. Lately I have been worrying about people judging the choices I make on how I decide to bring up my kids. I think all of us feel judged at one point or another but when you are trying to bring up a child it seems everyone has an opinion on how you choose to parent. The old lady in the shop, that person online, your best friend’s dog – everyone has something to say when it comes to how we bring up our own kids, whether we ask for their opinion or not.
I have been feeling the fear of judgment over the past week or so as Alex is almost one now and I am still breastfeeding him. In fact, I have zero intentions of stopping breastfeeding him any time soon. There is something about how mums decide to feed their babies that brings out all the judgey, perfect ‘my-way-or-the-high-way’ type parents, the ones that love nothing more than to criticise any mum who’s feeding choices differ to their own. Yes, I feel proud of myself for sticking at breastfeeding and planning to continue until my baby wants to stop but I can’t help but worry about what people are going to say when they see me still feeding him at a year old. I only know a handful of other mums who have breastfed and of those mums, only about 4 have continued to breastfeed past their child’s first birthday. With breastfeeding rates in the UK being one of the lowest in the world, it is not a surprise really that I feel like one of the only mums still feeding their baby into toddlerhood. View Post
Some of you may think I’m a bit crazy for admitting to this but here goes..I LOVE baking with my kids. I don’t stress over sticky fingers or flour on their clothes. I don’t get in a panic over buttercream icing in their hair or eggs smashed on the kitchen tiles instead of on the side of the mixing bowl. I embrace the chaos and love nothing more than to spend an afternoon in the kitchen, creating memories and yummy treats to share with my little ones. Due to my complete adoration of baking with my babies I am always surprised to hear other mums declare they can’t stand baking with kids. It baffles me that the mess of the kitchen and the inevitable imperfect bake at the end of it all are strong enough reasons for them to hang up their mixing spoon and apron until the kids and the risk of a flour explosion is eliminated. Baking with kids is so much fun and something I really believe every parent should try, even if it’s just the once. Need convincing? Well, here are 5 reasons you should bake with kids and my lovely friend Pam from Pams Bake and Baby Blog has even provided you with a really simple chocolate chip orange cookie recipe to try with your little ones today. View Post
What toddler doesn’t love Stick Man? Actually, what adult doesn’t love Stick Man? If you have no clue what I am on about, let me quickly fill you in. Stick Man is a children’s story written by the brilliant Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the people who brought us the modern day children’s classics of The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and so many more beautifully imagined story books. The story of Stick Man captured my Leo’s heart a couple of years a go and when I saw Stick Man Live was coming to our local theatre I just HAD to take him. If you have a Stick Man fan in your family then you are definitely not going to want to miss this. View Post
Dear Big Boss of Lidl (sorry, I don’t know your name),
Can I start this message off just by saying I love your stores? Your prices are cheap but the quality of the food you sell remains high. I love how I can pop into one of your shops for the basic kitchen essentials and come out having made the most random of purchases, ostrich steak being the most unusual. I love that thanks to you I am able to do a weekly shop for my family of four without having to worry if we are going to be able to afford it all when push comes to shove at the checkouts. Your fruit and vegetables are cheap and this is not because they are on the cusp of being
rotten over ripe. Your food quality is good. Unfortunately, the purpose of this letter isn’t to sing your praises. Something happened today that I feel the need to tell you about as you need to do something about it pretty damn quick.
Today, Tuesday 10th October, is World Mental Health day. There is a real stigma surrounding mental health. Those you have never suffered or studied it don’t really understand the complexity of mental illness and many of those who have suffered do not feel they can talk openly about their mental health with others. There is a real stigma attached to mental illness and the only way we can break through that is to start talking openly about it with each other.
I have written about mental health on this blog before. After I gave birth to Alex last October, within a few weeks of him being born I developed depression and anxiety. I didn’t want to tell anyone for a long time as I was terrified of being judged by others and I felt ashamed of the way I was feeling. No new mum should feel like that. Awareness days are a brilliant way to get people talking and that’s what my post is all about today. Recently I had a very open and honest chat with 3 other bloggers about our mental health and how we have struggled since becoming parents. The point of this post is to show how depression and anxiety after pregnancy is more common than we think. I really hope that if you think you might have post natal depression, or any other kind of mental illness after giving birth, that this post helps you see that you are not on your own and there are people out there who understand how you feel. View Post
There are several rites of passage mums to be must go through before they get to welcome their little bundle of joy into the world. There’s the morning sickness, the first scan, those first fluttery baby kicks. In recent years, mums have had another pregnancy milestone to look forward to – the baby shower. Despite being a mummy of two, I have never had my very own baby shower (cue the violin music). Living far away from friends and family meant organising a special get together to celebrate my bumps just wasn’t really possible. I have attended a few baby showers though and I always think they are such an exciting occasion. As I never got to have my own baby shower (sob) and I’m 99% sure I’m not going to be having a third baby, I thought I would put together a little post all about throwing a baby shower of dreams! Just because I didn’t get one of my own doesn’t mean I don’t know how to organise a party that will make a soon to be mama smile. If you have a pregnant friend and are planning to throw her a baby shower, or maybe you’re organising your own, hopefully this post will be helpful. View Post
Are you feeling the pinch? Do you hold your breath when you check your bank balance at the ATM? With Christmas only a few months away, are you panicking about how you are going to get through the holidays without going completely bankrupt?
Raising a family is a seriously expensive business and we could all benefit from saving a few extra pennies where we can. If you are looking for ways to save money and make a little bit of extra dollar too then I hope you find this post helpful. I have put together a list of 5 ways to save money and 5 ways to make a bit of extra money too. So, get reading and start planning what you’re going to do with all that extra cash. View Post
My baby boy who is no longer a baby, I miss you so much.
I miss you the second we part in the morning and I get back in to the car without you.
I miss you when I listen to music at home and I don’t hear your excited voice asking for the Lego Batman movie soundtrack instead. View Post
I love personalised gifts. I have probably said that about a thousand times before on this blog but it’s the truth. Personalised gifts are my absolute favourite because they show that someone has put a lot of thought into your gift instead of just plucking it off the shelf and every gift is unique. Alex is turning one next month (ahh!) and I am definitely going to be buying him some personalised gifts to celebrate this massive milestone. As an early birthday present, Alex has been sent a beautiful personalised money box from GiftsOnline4u , a fab website specialising in beautiful personalised gifts for the whole family. If you are not sold on the whole personalised gifts thing, then here are 3 reasons why they are a great idea for a baby gift and read on to find out more about Gifts Online 4 U and the beautiful money box Alex received. View Post
Alex is 11 months old! Ok, in all honestly he nearly one now, I have been really behind in writing this update. Leo started school at the beginning of September and we moved house so things have been a little crazy. Anyway, enough of the excuses, here is what Alex has been up to since his last update. View Post
Imagine not having enough money to feed your baby every day. Unfortunately, this is the awful reality for thousands of families across the UK. When my kids are hungry they are given food immediately, I can only imagine how heart breaking it must feel to see your baby crying in hunger and not have any food to feed them. So many British families are relying on food banks to be able to give their children the essential nourishment they need to grow up and develop and there are many charities who are also doing what they can to make sure no one has to go hungry. Organic baby food brand Piccolo are launching a brand new campaign to help families struggling to feed their children. The One for One campaign will launch in October and hopes to donate 100,000 pouches of Piccolo baby food to the children who need them the most. View Post
I am writing to you today as I am bit concerned that I may have done something to upset you? I am not sure what exactly but you seem to be punishing me for some reason. It hardly seems fair to me, considering the hours I spend with you every single day and the fact I have been in love with you since around about the summer of 2013. You definitely are not treating me as nice as you once did though so I need to ask you this question- have I done something to offend you?
Each day I open you up on my phone and I love nothing more than to browse all the little squares of beauty filling up my screen. Inspirational posts, motivational posts, stunning posts and (my favourite) oh so relatable posts. If I had more hours in my day I would happily let myself get lost down the rabbit hole that is my Instagram feed, I have responsibilities though so I have learnt to drag my eyes away from you.
I would be lying if I said I only use you for browsing other people’s beautiful photographs though. My relationship with you has always been a little bit of give and take, I am a blogger you see so that’s the way it needs to be. As well as looking at everyone else’s little squares of pixels, I also regularly like to chuck some of my own photographs into the mix too: photos of my sons, a cake I have baked or a pretty beach scene. I love how you make me try and take better photos, how you have shown me the power of editing and how you have connected me to so many other people sharing similar interests to me. I will always love the communities that live within you Instagram but I am starting to fall out of love with you.
I just want to ask, why won’t you let me grow? Why are you stopping my little squares reaching the eyes of those who might be interested in what I have to say? For a long while my followers were growing nicely but the past 6 months or so they have pretty much been stagnant. Is it because I haven’t mastered creating that almost unachievable goal of the perfect Insta theme? Is it because my photographs aren’t all carefully composed flat lays or have a brilliant white background? Perhaps the photographs I am putting out there just aren’t good enough, maybe my captions are just not engaging and maybe my inability to grow has nothing to do with you at all. That might sometimes be the case, we all chuck out a photo that’s a little bit pants every now and then, but I think your evil algorithm is to blame.
Once upon a time I would get over 100 people pressing that little heart of yours and sharing the love on every single one of my photos. Those were the good days, when my followers actually got to see my photos and were able to engage with me. Not like now, when unless I behave like some kind of digital ninja to beat your algorithm my photos are only being seen by a handful of my followers. I know it’s not just me, that other people who use you also feel the same. There are so many bloggers like me, trying to grow but just can’t seem to do it. Some businesses and bloggers have you all figured out, I have tried following their secret tips though and so far none of their Insta magic is working for me. So I have to ask you again Instagram, have I done something to offend you?
You won’t let me grow even though I post a new photo almost every single day. You won’t let me grow even though I like and comment on so many of the beautiful photos that flood my iPhone screen every hour of every day. Why won’t you let me grow even though I hashtag all my little squares to within an inch of their life and then search those hashtags, liking, commenting and following the feeds that spark my interest and make my eyes smile with their beauty? I ask questions, I write long captions, I write short captions and, hell, I chuck the odd emoji in there too. I use key words, I write about things my followers are interested in, I spend time trying to take photos that people will actually enjoy looking at. I post in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening and even in the middle of the night. Yet still you don’t let me grow.
I don’t know what more I can do Instagram. Do you want me to pay you, is that it? Do I need to sponsor all my own content if I want any hope of getting noticed in this cut throat platform of yours? Well, I am not willing to do that. I have had it with your torturous algorithm . If I lose out on blog work because I don’t have enough engagement or followers then so be it. I am fed up with seeing my likes drop with every photo I post and watching my followers go up by 2 every week only for 10 people to unfollow me the next. I’ve had enough.
No matter how much I wish I could, I am not leaving you for good Instagram. You are like that boyfriend I had as a teenager, you are so not good for me but for some reason I just can’t stop coming back to you for more. I am giving up checking my stats though, any theme I was trying to establish is being thrown in the bin and instead I will be posting whatever I fancy, whenever I fancy. I liked it when things were fun between us and I want to find that again, it got lost somewhere along my journey for more followers and your refusal to let me reach them.
I love you Instagram, I just don’t like you very much right now.
Best wishes (but not really),
Are you a blogger struggling to grow your Instagram following? Have you noticed a drop in engagement recently too? For those of you who have mastered the fine art of Instagramming, please share your secrets in the comments.
Once upon a time there was a young(ish) woman. She was married to her best friend and together they had two beautiful sons. Her husband had a very important job that took him away from her and their boys for over 40 hours a week. His job was demanding and sometimes stressful and he often came home tired and agitated after a busy day at work. View Post
Pregnancy can be such a confusing time in a woman’s life. There is a list of all the things you should be doing to help your body through this magical yet challenging time and then an even bigger list of things you are definitely not supposed to do. In both my pregnancies I often found myself googling things like ‘foods to avoid when pregnant’ and ‘how much exercise can I do while pregnant?’. I had so many questions and seeking out all the answers to my pregnancy queries took a lot of time and Google often left me feeling more confused than I was to start with.
If you are trying to conceive or have a baby on the way, the people at Hartmann Direct have put together this really useful infographic to help you know what to expect when you’re expecting. This handy pregnancy guide helps answer so many pregnancy related questions, starting with ‘am I really pregnant?’ right up to ‘how much caffeine can I drink whilst pregnant?’ and ‘how do I avoid incontinence during pregnancy?’. So, pregnant mamas go pop the kettle on, have a read of this ultimate pregnancy guide and save it on your phone for the next time you are in a restaurant and are not sure what you are allowed to order from the menu! View Post
My baby boy Alex is nearly one whole year old now. That means I have almost made it through 12 months as a mum of two. Making the leap from no babies to one baby was difficult, life changing, don’t get me wrong but taking the plunge and having a second baby? Well, that’s just a whole different ball game. When you announce the news you have another bun in the oven people will tell you things like: ‘the second baby just slots right in’ , ‘it’s so much easier the second time around’ and ‘you will know what you are doing this time’. While all these bits of advice are said with nothing but good intentions most of the time, I kind of wish people would stop telling pregnant mums what they want to hear and instead start dishing out the cold hard facts. I love being a mum of two but I was a bit naïve to how much life would change all over again when we had our second baby. If you are currently expecting your second baby or are considering trying for another baby, here is an insight into what life with two small children is really like. View Post