I suck at making Mum friends. There, I’ve said it. I have friends, I have friends that are also mums but the whole going to a baby group or chatting at the school gates and making a new mummy bestie, yea, I suck at that. When Leo was small I met a quite a lot of mums at various groups, being a first time Mum I really valued those conversations with other women who just got how tough having a baby was (plus, it was always useful knowing I could ask someone for a baby wipe or two if a poonami happened and my nappy bag was empty). I was braver then, naïve and not scared of judgement, twenty two and thought making Mum friends was going to be easy. Through some kind of magic I did make a few close friends but I have a very annoying habit of befriending people who will later go on to move miles away. My best mum friend relocated when our boys were one and then when Leo was two I moved away and making new Mum friends at baby groups when I had an extremely chaotic toddler was more than difficult, it was impossible. I spent a long time feeling lonely and that I was a bad Mum because I didn’t have a big group of other Mum friends and their babies around to go to soft play with, ask over for play dates or to invite to the boys birthday parties. I’m out the other side of those feelings now though and I’m here to tell you this, if you don’t have mum friends that does NOT make you a bad Mum. View Post
At the end of October Alex turned two. My baby isn’t a baby anymore. I can remember when Leo turned two and in my head I had fully accepted that the following twelve months were going to be hard work. I completely fell for the whole terrible twos thing and, I’m not going to lie, Leo was a very difficult two year old. In fact, he continued to have tantrums when he was three and when he was four. He’s five now and, guess what, he’s still having tantrums. I don’t think he’s terrible though, he’s just a growing boy who is sensitive, highly emotional, a perfectionist and wants to be more independent than his years will allow. I’ve never looked at him and thought ‘you’re terrible’, I did subscribe to the idea of the terrible twos though and I wish I hadn’t. There were times I could have been a better parent, times when he was having a meltdown over something and I just swept his behaviour under the carpet as the terrible twos, not stopping to consider it could be something more. I know my boy so much better now and I know a lot of his ‘terrible behaviour’ when he was a toddler wasn’t him being terrible at all, he needed me to help him make sense of the world for him but instead I just added his meltdown to the long list of tantrums and accepted he was just acting that way because he was two. Looking back, those early years with Leo did have their challenges and I feel like if the phrase ‘terrible twos’ hadn’t existed I could have been a better mum to him, I would have taken more time to think through why he was really having another tantrum instead of always just believing he was behaving in a certain way because of his age. View Post
As I draft this post I am sitting in a bath with white fluffy bubbles up to my ears and a revitalising peel off mask painted over my face. I have a scented candle burning, my latest read waiting for me to get stuck into on the shelf next to me and all that’s missing is a nice glass of wine. What’s the big deal, you might be thinking? Well, it’s 5pm and as every parent out there knows, mamas don’t get to take a relaxing bath at 5pm. This time of day is usually reserved for complete and utter chaos, it’s the beginning of the witching hour(s) and you normally feel stress simmering throughout the house as the kids begin to feel tired and grumpy and hanger is in full swing as you stand by the oven desperately willing the kids food to be ready. Ain’t no time for bubbles and candles at 5pm on a regular Wednesday. This, however, my lovely readers, isn’t a regular Wednesday. View Post
Yup, I said it. The ‘c’ word has been uttered and it’s only October. You can’t blame me though for chatting about Christmas already, The X Factor is on TV, big tubs of chocolates are for sale in the supermarkets and my local has already got their big Book Your Christmas Party Here! sign up. I love Christmas; the food, the family time, the cosiness, the traditions, the booze, the films – I love it all! I’m not going to lie to you though, I do get quite stressed out in the lead up as when it comes to Christmas, there is A LOT of organising that needs to be done. I have been partial to the odd Christmas related mummy meltdown in recent years and this year I am going to make it my mission to fully enjoy the festive period and not get overwhelmed by all the arrangements for the big day. Like the sound of a meltdown free Christmas? Read on to find out how I am planning to make preparing for Christmas stress free this year. View Post
So, something pretty embarrassing happened the other day. I was in Aldi doing the big weekly food shop, the trolley was bursting at the seems with fruit, veg, meat, snacks: all the essentials. I loaded everything up onto the checkout, I had everything crossed that Alex could make it through these last few minutes in the trolley without having a major meltdown. The checkout assistant scanned everything through at breakneck speeds and then it was time to pay. I was mortified when the lady said my card had been declined. ‘Can we try again?’ I asked, my cheeks flushed with embarrassment and growing stress. A second attempt and still no payment went through. I fumbled for my phone and checked my online banking. I had £65 in my account, the shopping came to £75. We spent a very painful five minutes finding £10 worth of shopping to void off my bill and to head back to the shelves. I would like to say the woman on the till was kind and helpful but really she was quite harsh and made me feel more embarrassed than I was already. £75 is a lot of money for our Aldi shop and I know exactly why this grocery haul cost so much, it was mostly healthy food. View Post
I’m so tired. Exhausted. Run down. Totally and utterly cream crackered. The bags under my eyes are more like overpacked suitcases, no amount of concealer can hide them away. I feel like I have felt this way forever, well, for the last five years anyway. Sleeping has always been one of my strongest skills, I am a head-hits-the-pillow-and-I’m-out kind of sleeper. If I’m sleepy I can fall asleep pretty easily, be that curled up in bed or on the sofa in the middle of the afternoon. The thing is, lately I am more than just a bit tired. I am not sleep deprived, my boys go for twelve hours every single night. I get atleast, atleast, 8 hours of shut eye each night. So why am I so tired? Why do I feel like I have the get up and go of a sloth and the energy of a zombified snail? Is it just the day to day demands of motherhood finally catching up with me after five long years in the parent club? Am I still recovering from those first years of the boys lives, those hazy times where I was grabbing sleep in two hour doses whenever the babies gave me the opportunity to rest? Is it just mama fatigue, or is it something more? View Post
Hey, who remembers the heat wave? Oh how I miss that big hot summer sun shining down every day, it’s only the end of September and I’m already wrapping up in woolly jumpers and switching the heating on more than I probably should. With summer now gone for another year, the best way to get through the impending colder months is by planning your next holiday abroad, right? When you have kids, the thought of traveling to a different country can be terrifying, I mean, think of all the things you have to pack for the kids when you’re just going on a day trip! In the five years I’ve been a mum, we have travelled abroad with the kids three times and had lots of UK based holidays too, I feel like I’ve learnt a thing or two about traveling as a family in this time. If the end of summer has got you thinking about preparing for your first family holiday abroad, here is my checklist for all the things you need to remember before you jet off on your holibobs (I’ll be referring back to this before our holiday to Cyprus next Easter!).
Preparing for your first family holiday abroad – the ultimate checklist for parents.
1. Choose a family friendly destination – While backpacking around Asia or doing a road trip through America may have been perfect holiday destinations before kids came along, when you become a parent things like family friendly entertainment and a pool with slides rank higher than how many nightclubs there are for you to drink in along the strip. Holidays with kids are totally different to holidays without them and this is worth keeping in mind when choosing your destination. Think less Ibiza or Magaluf and more Disney Land Paris or all inclusive hotels with a kids club.
2. Decide your accommodation – I will always recommend self catering accommodation when traveling with kids. In a villa, apartment or holiday home you have the benefits of more space than a hotel room, something that you will be grateful for when the kids go to bed at 7pm and you want to stay up later, sitting on the balcony drinking and playing cards or just curling up and relaxing on the sofa. Hotel holidays have their advantages too so it is worth really thinking about what you want from your family holiday before you choose where to stay. Want a home away from home in a sunnier climate? Go for a self catered holiday. Looking for children’s entertainers, all you can eat food and the opportunity to make new friends at a kids club? An all inclusive hotel holiday is probably the best option for you.
3. Get the kids passports – When I was a kid in the 90s I didn’t have my own passport, my mum just had all my details on hers. Things are totally different now and every member of the family will need a passport of their own. Check the expiry date on your own passport and apply for one for your children well in advance of your holiday. There are lots of tips online on getting a suitable passport photo of your baby and GOV.UK offers details on how to apply for your child’s passport. Unfortunately passports don’t come cheap so keep this expense in mind when saving for your holiday.
4. Purchase travel insurance– Don’t risk travelling without proper travel insurance for you and your family. When someone gets ill or something bad happens at home it can be really stressful, this stress is multiplied by a million when you are abroad and something goes wrong. Search around, use comparison websites or choose reputable companies like Bupa Global for a travel insurance quote. Don’t risk travelling without proper travel insurance for the whole family, it’s just not worth it.
5. Pack – It can be easy to over pack when going on holiday with kids but it’s important to not over do it, you don’t want to end up having to pay charges for going over your luggage allowance. Think of all the things you really need and pack them first, does your toddler really need a fresh pair of shorts every day for a week? Do you really need to take ten dresses for a seven night holiday? Mums on the move has a fantastic packing checklist for you to follow when packing for your first family holiday.
There are a few important things that can be easily forgotten in the chaos of packing for a whole family , make sure you remember to pack
– travel adapter
– high factor suncream
– after sun
– any inhalers/medicines your child needs
– flight tickets
– travel insurance documents
– a separate changing bag for the flight
– a few home comforts for the kids
6. Get your EU health insurance card – To easily access healthcare and necessary medical treatment in the EU you will need a valid EU health insurance card. These can easily be applied for online and all members of the family will need one.
7. Book your flights – You can save money on flights by booking early, being flexible with dates and where you are willing to fly from.
8. Preparing for the flight – When flying with a baby, many airlines will allow you to bring them right up to the gate in their buggy and many also allow families to board first. Remember to check how many liquids you can bring in your hand luggage too. With babies and toddlers you are likely to need things like nappy rash cream, bottles of milk and pouches of baby food etc, be sure to check the airport/airlines policy on this before you travel (you can find useful information about what to pack when travelling with a baby from Baby Centre here). I would also recommend bringing a sling and babywearing in the airport, having your baby in a carrier makes navigating busy spaces much easier and can help to keep them calm in an unfamiliar environment.
Here is a useful resource from Tots To Travel about baby items you can bring on a flight with you –
Finally, here’s some tips for your first flight with kids…
A long flight with a toddler or baby can be daunting and the duration of your travel is something you should consider before you book your holiday. The furthest we have flown since having kids was to Italy, the flight was just under three hours long and both boys (then 3 and 5months) managed to stay fairly calm for the whole journey.
I would say pack lots of story books, a sticker book or colouring book, download lots of CBeebies onto your phone/tablet and have a familiar comforter with you, like their favourite teddy or blanket. Sucking on a dummy or drinking from a bottle can help ease any pain in your baby’s ears during take off and landing and if you are lucky they might just sleep the whole way!
Phew, there is quite a lot to plan and organise when you are preparing for your first family holiday abroad but before you know it the hard part will be over and you’ll be off on your first even holiday as a family, making loads of wonderful memories. Enjoy!
If you have found this post useful, I’d love for you to share it with anyone you know who’s considering travelling abroad with their children for the first time. If you are an expert at traveling with kids, what’s your top tip for new parents? It would be great if you could share your advice in the comments.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to read..
The advantages and disadvantages of a self catering holiday
Our first family holiday in Majorca
Our camping holiday in Somerset
A trip to Centre Parcs
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Bupa Global.
Kids before career? Kids after career? Kids or career? Kids and career? Jeez, making life plans is hard when you’re a woman! It’s 2018 and while we would love to believe that by this point in history we can have our cake and eat it too when it comes to working as a parent, unfortunately that still isn’t the case for many of us. Articles in the media and online are rife about working (or not) mothers, everyone has an opinion and so often I read about mums and work and we always seem to be placed in to one of two camps: the stay at home mum who feels unfilled and unappreciated, or the working mum who feels guilty and miserable because they don’t get enough time with their kids. Ask a mum about her experience of the working world and I bet she has a story to share, maybe she wanted to go back to work part time but her boss wouldn’t cut her hours, maybe she’s desperate to work but can’t afford the childcare, maybe she is one of the rare lucky ones who has found the mythical balance between her work and home life. The climb up the career ladder can become extremely difficult once our little bundles of joy arrive, that’s for sure. The modern online world would have you believe that your escape route out of the 9-5 and childcare juggle can be accessed with just a laptop and a good internet connection. The development of technology, smart phones and WiFi pretty much everywhere has made working for yourself a viable option; if you are struggling with the pressure of keeping the work and family plates spinning, now, perhaps, there is a way to do it all. Working from home seems at first a great option for those who can’t or don’t want to go back to the work place but is this style of career really the best option for parents? Here is my experience as a self employed mum working from home, I hope it helps you make up your mind whether this is the career path for you too. View Post
How has this happened? Leo has finished his first year of school. Reception year is over, done, finito! As with most stages of parenting, I feel like the time since his first day has just whizzed by. With today marking Leo’s very last day of reception, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on Leo’s first school year and to see how far he has come since September. View Post
The summer holidays are almost here, who’s freaking out? I’m feeling quite relaxed about the whole thing, which is surprising! Having two kids at home is never easy so that’s why I’m planning on getting out of the house with Leo and Alex as much as possible. 6 weeks is a long time and it can be hard to come up with enough fun ideas to keep the kids entertained. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking there is nothing more frustrating than hearing your child say ‘I’m bored!’ about a billion times a day. This year I have decided that preparation is key and you can’t get more organised than a list. If you are wondering how to keep your little ones entertained this summer too, here is my summer holiday bucket list for kids under 5, there’s an activity for every day. I hope it helps to eliminate your summer holiday ‘I’m bored’ fears and that you and the kids have a lovely summer break making magical memories. View Post
Potty training, we all dread it don’t we? The thought of puddles of wee on the carpet or a smelly poo hiding amongst the toys on the floor, it’s enough to make even the most hardcore parent squirm as they reach for the anti bac and pull on the rubber gloves. We get through it though and whether it’s with or without some mess and stress along the way, at some point our toddlers start doing their business in the toilet and we are free from nappy changing duties at long last.
Except we’re not.
After taking a very relaxed approach to potty training, from about 2 years 9 months Leo was dry in the day but still wore a nappy at bedtime. In August last year Leo turned 4 and we ditched the bedtime nappies once and for all. There have been a few accidents since we said bye bye to the pull ups but at last I can confidently say Leo is 99.9% dry at night now – yay! View Post
Do you ever think you’re doing something lovely for the kids and it just ends being the total opposite? After school today, Oli and I had a few boring jobs to do in town and obviously we had to drag the boys along too. It was coming up to 5 o clock and everyone was getting a bit hangry so I suggested we grab some food from the shop and go to the park for a picnic and a play. Won’t this be a lovely treat for the boys, I thought. Is there a more perfect way to end a Monday than sitting on a blanket, munching yummy food in the glorious sunshine and then spending the evening playing on the slide and swings, I mused to myself as we filled our basket full of goodies in the shop. As it turns out, we should have just gone home, had tea at the table, watched the bedtime hour and done the bath, book, bed routine like normal. What happened to the perfect picnic in the park you ask? Well, it all went wrong and has left me feeling like my four year old hates me. View Post
Something happened this afternoon that made me stop and question how well I am actually doing at teaching my four year old about life. I am always trying to educate and encourage good morals and values in my children, I want them to grow up into kind and respectful adults and I know it’s mine and their dads job to make that happen. I’ve fallen short though, completely unintentionally, I have failed to educate my child about race.
This afternoon Leo was watching Go Jetters after school (that Cbeebies programme with the theme tune that gets stuck in your head for days) and he made a comment about one of the characters. This is how our conversation unfolded –
Leo: Mummy, Grand Master Glitch is brown.
Me: Yup, he is. What do you think about that?
Leo: I think it makes him weird.
Me: (slightly horrified) Why?! Why would the colour of his skin make him weird?
Leo: Because he looks different and that’s weird.
Me: (despairing to myself) Different doesn’t mean weird. You have blonde hair and mine is brown, does that mean I’m weird?
Me: Our eyes are blue but some people’s are green, does that make them weird?
Me: So, the little boy in your class who has brown skin, what do you think of him?
Leo: He’s weird.
Leo: Because he looks weird.
Ahh! It’s safe to say by the end of the conversation I was trying to calm down the voice in my head that was telling me I am raising a racist child. Obviously this isn’t the case, Leo is only four and just starting to really get a grasp of the world and all the people that live in it but I can’t help but wonder where this assumption that people who look different are weird has come from? I have certainly never said anything like that, neither has his Dad or any of our friends and family as far as I am aware. Has he heard something at school or is it just him starting to notice these sort of differences and just assuming different means something negative?
I have to admit, my friendship group isn’t very diverse. I can count on one hand the amount of friends I have who are not white and British, that’s not because I have any issue with those who aren’t, it’s just how it is. My family are all white and British, as are Oli’s and Leo has never really been around anyone from a different ethnic background before. We don’t really have conversations about race and that isn’t because I have been avoiding the topic, it is just up until recently I haven’t really had any reason to bring it up. I hope what I am about to say doesn’t get misconstrued or offend anyone but race is such a non issue for me, I mean that in the nicest way possible. I will treat everyone the same, I like or dislike you because of your personality, the colour of your skin does not play even the smallest role in how I form an opinion of someone. I have been foolish though, just because I see everyone on this earth as ‘human’ and not white/black/Asian etc doesn’t mean I don’t still need to teach my children to share this same outlook.
I’ve not been burying my head in the sand about this somewhat hard to explain life lesson, I have just been ignorant to how important it is to have these conversations even with very young children. I would be absolutely mortified if I picked Leo up from school tomorrow and his teacher told me he had called one of his classmates weird, purely because their skin is a different colour to his. I told Leo he is never to be nasty to someone just because they look different and he says he understands but it just worries me that those thoughts that different skin = weird were even there in the first place.
Trying to navigate the often highly emotive and easily misconstrued conversations around race can be really difficult, even when you are trying to talk about it with other adults. so trying to teach a four year old about it isn’t always as easy as using an analogy about different hair and eye colours. I turned to the blogging world for advice on how to talk to your children about race and here is a list of their really useful tips.
How to talk to your child about race.
Hold you arm up next to your child’s and point out that no skin tones are the same colour, some are darker some are fairer but everyone is beautiful and worthy of respect. – A Slummy Mummy
Print off images of different faces and make up stories with 2 or 3 at a time where the people are saving / helping / educating him. Magical etc. So he learns to see and value the person and not just the face. – Our altered life
Read lots of books with a range of people ages/abilities/ethnicities, sexual orientation etc and in so doing show your child the huge beautiful diversity of the people who populate our world. – Simple parenting
I would encourage kids programmes or videos where there is a mix of different races in one family or group of friends – My bump2baby
I have had a chat with my eldest about this in the past. I have explained that people come in all different shapes, sizes and colours, but underneath it we are all human, & it’s personality that counts. I am trying to reinforce this in relation to awareness of any physical difference so that my kids understand that it’s not about what you look like, but who you are and how you behave. – The Mum Conundrum
We’ve been reading the Oliver Jeffers book ‘Here We Are’ its a beautiful book with a beautifully simple message about how everyone looks different and sounds different but we are all people living on one tiny planet so we need look after each other and the planet. – Sinead Latham
My son shouted out ‘look at that black man’ on the train when he was 3. I had a big chat with him about how he wouldn’t feel comfortable with being made to feel different by him pointing out something that doesn’t need to be pointed out. Skin colour is just that and it makes people no different to us so that we have to point them out as different. He hasn’t done it since and when he talks about his coloured friends now he honestly sees them as no different to him. I stress that we must treat everyone as an equal no matter what their colour and that their race and colour doesn’t make them different as we are all human beings. – Our bucket list lives
Its really tricky to get the terminology right as what is and isn’t acceptable changes all the time. I have used the term mixed race to explain how HE (my three year old) can describe someone if he is talking about them to me and I make a big point of making sure we talk about similarities– lots of things we have the same as well as things that are different. – Arthur Wears
There are so many really good tips here, I am definitely going to start having more conversations about race with Leo and I would love for him to get to the point where he sees each and everyone of us as human and deserving of the same love, respect and treatment as people who have white skin like him. Go Jetters may be a seriously annoying TV show but it has helped me see that I need to start talking about the big issues with my little one and, for that reason, I will always be thankful to Grand Master Glitch.
Do you have conversations with your children about race? Got any advice you would like to share for parents like me whose children have started to notice that we don’t all look the same? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Today, I have to decided to write a post not for my usual demographic. This post is not here to offer advice and solidarity to other parents as is the norm here at Naptime Natter. Child free parents, I am speaking to you. Have you got babies on the brain? Maybe you are trying to conceive or are already expecting your first ever little bundle of joy, I am here to offer you a friendly reminder to start appreciating what you now probably consider ‘the little things’. Once your gorgeous baby comes along, all these day to day activities will suddenly not be as simple as they once were and when you hear parents say things like ‘going to Tesco on my own feels like a spa day’, they are not being dramatic, it’s the truth. Don’t think of this post as a mum moaning about life with kids, think of it more as a bucket list of things to enjoy now while you still have the chance. I love my kids but, I am not going to lie to you, it would be nice to not have to use the toilet with my little ones either watching or sat on my knee. View Post