Tuesday 20 November 2018

Tears, Tantrums and Tiredness - Coping With Sleep Deprivation As A First-Time Mum

Being tired is par for the course when it comes to having a baby, but you probably didn’t realise just how tired you would be. Babies can be
unpredictable, and despite your best efforts, their routine will not run like clockwork. When you’re tired, you can find it difficult to function,
leaving you irritable and miserable. When extreme tiredness sets in, it’s time to reevaluate your routine and make some changes to help you
get some precious sleep.

Elliot at 4 weeks old 
Take a look at some tips for getting more sleep as a first-time mum.

Sleep when your baby sleeps

This is often said to new mums, and while you’ve probably got a million things on your to-do list to tackle when baby is asleep - it’s good to
be selfish and take the time to get those zs. You’ll feel much more energised if you sleep, leaving you better able to juggle looking after the
baby and yourself.

Not my best look but you have to take a nap when you can!
Ask for some relief
It’s not a weakness to ask for some help. Having someone watch the baby for a few hours while you get some much-needed shut-eye
can really help you out. Tell a friend or relative that you're struggling and ask them to come over - make sure you thank them and
ensure that there’s plenty of tea and biscuits in the house!

Share the night feeds

If you can, sharing the night feeds with your partner could make a big difference. This is trickier when you’re breastfeeding, but feeding
from a bottle with Bubbahood can allow both you and your partner to split the work. You’ll get a longer sleep at night and your partner
will get the chance to bond with the baby.

Get an early night

Once baby’s gone to bed for the night, you could be tempted to stay up catching up on your favourite box sets and watching late night telly.
However, doing the sensible thing and having an early night now and then will do you the world of good. If you find it difficult to switch off,
there are some great tips for getting to bed earlier at night that will help you. Even going to bed early a couple of nights a week will make a
difference, leaving you feel like a new woman.

Try sleep training

Sleep training is something you could try from around the 4 - 4.5 months mark, and is an excellent way to help your baby sleep through the
night. It’s not for everyone, but it is something worth considering to help you and your partner get a better night’s sleep. You can read
sleep training stories to see how other mums coped with it, and it might inspire you to give it a try.

Get to know your baby’s sleeping patterns

Babies can adapt to a routine pretty quickly, and once you work out what their sleeping pattern is, you’ll be better able to plan your own
routine around it. Want to know how much sleep your baby should be getting? The NHS Choices website has some excellent resources to
help you get your baby to sleep and other useful tips for parents. Remember that your baby will become a better sleeper over time, sleeping
for longer stretches and waking up far less during the night.


Even if you’re not always able to nap or get to bed on time, doing some relaxing activities can help you to restore your energy, and prepare
you for sleep. Taking a nice warm bath will easily help to relax you, while a bit of yoga or meditation can also help relax your mind. Try chilling
out in a dimly-lit room with some calming fragrances and simply take a step back for a bit. This is a good chance for you to relax with your
partner while baby’s asleep.

Get active

While exercise might be the furthest thing from your mind, it can be something that helps you get to sleep, as well as helping you to stay
healthy. When you’ve got a baby in tow, walking is a fantastic exercise. Wrap the baby up and take all of the essentials with you so that
you can enjoy a nice long walk and up that step count. It will do you good to get out of the house and can form an enjoyable part of your
daily routine.

The lack of sleep can be one of the least enjoyable parts of being a new mum - but it’s something that most mothers go through. As much
as people can be annoying when you’re pregnant or have just had a baby, it’s worth listening to what they have to say - you never
know when a nugget of information could help! Always do what’s best for you and your baby and try to get those precious moments
of sleep when you can - you’ll feel better for it.

*Collaborative post

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Dinosaur World Live at Lighthouse Poole - Review

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you might have guessed that Elliot likes dinosaurs a bit. Well, not just a bit - he is dinosaur crazy and has been since he was a toddler!

Recently, a show called Dinosaur World Live roared into our local theatre and I just knew we had to go!

Suitable for all the family (3+), this interactive show introduces us to Miranda, who grew up on a remote island off the coast of South America where dinosaurs still roamed. Miranda was very bubbly and engaging and chatted to the audience about her parents who were palaeontologists and how she looks after the dinosaurs.

Throughout the show, the audience are introduced to 6 different dinosaurs, from little baby ones to big ginormous ones! You're probably wondering how on earth they got dinosaurs to go on tour but they are actually puppets. And very very clever puppets! Even though you can obviously see the cast controlling the puppets (complete with noises!), they are so realistic and by the end of the show you almost don't see them as puppets.

Children from the audience were invited to come up on stage and help look after the dinosaurs - feeding them, and even brushing them. Miranda did a great job at putting the kids to ease in what could have been an intimidating encounter!

Our favourite moment was when Titus the  T-Rex came out on stage - the lights dimmed, there was smoke...and a deafening roar! Elliot did jump out of skin at this part so I think it could be a bit scary for little ones - although our friends were sat nearer to the front of the stage and their baby thought it was hilarious!

At the end of the show, the audience were invited to queue up along the stage for a special meet and greet with one of the dinosaurs. This could have been chaotic but actually everyone queued quite nicely and we didn't have to wait too long to get up close to the Segnosaurus! You could also meet the baby triceratops in the foyer which proved very popular.

Overall we really enjoyed the show. At just under an hour it was the perfect length to keep children entertained and the perfect mix of facts and fun!

Dinosaur World Live is currently touring the UK so check out the website for more info and tickets

*A big thank you to my friends Liska and Andy for letting me use their photos - my phone died 2 minutes before the show began!

Sunday 11 November 2018

Best Advent Calenders 2018 - plus WIN a Lindt Bear Advent Calender!

Now Halloween and Bonfire Night are out the way, we can mention the C word. Yep, Christmas is on it's way and we can't wait!

Ever since I was a little girl, I always had an advent calender and me and my sisters used to try and be sneaky and eat the chocolate without our parents noticing! I think one year one of my sisters even managed to eat her entire advent calender by the 2nd of December!

These days advent calenders are no longer just the bog standard cadburys ones Mum used to get us (although I still love these ones!), you can beauty ones, vegan ones, gin ones - the list is endless.

Here's my round up of some of our favourite ones this year:

Happyland Advent Calender - £20

My children adore playing with Happyland figures (even Elliot who is almost 6!) and this one is one of the cutest on the market. Featuring 24 festive themed characters and accessories, this is a lovely alternative to the traditional calender. Currently on offer at £20, this is actually quite good value as you would normally pay around £8-10 for a pack of 5 characters.

Lindt Bear Advent Calender - £10
I absolutely love LIndt chocolate and this advent calender is perfect for any chocolate lovers like me! Featuring 3 bears, 3 gold reindeer, 6 Lindor mini truffles, 6 snowballs and 6 Christmas napolitans, it even has a full size 100g chocolate shaped novelty behind door 24. Yummy!

If you'd like the chance to win one of these, WOW Free Stuff are currently running a giveaway. To enter, simply head over to their website before the 24th November.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Advent Calender - £14.25
This one, available from Amazon is a lovely alternative to the chocolate variety and is of course reusable year after year. Featuring 24 magnetic ornaments and a shining star for the top of the tree, they all neatly fit into the attached box at the base of the tree. Kids will love rearranging the pieces to customise their own tree!

LEGO Star Wars Advent Calender - around £20

LEGO calenders seem to be getting more and more popular each year and they seem to have a variety of different options to suit each taste, such as Star Wars, City and LEGO friends. It's worth shopping around because the prices can vary alot - the best prices seem to be on Amazon.

Yankee Candle Holiday Sparkle Fold Out Advent Calender - £39.95

I love a Christmas candle this time of year and this advent calender captures the very best of the festive season. Featuring 12 votive candles and 12 tea light candles, it also comes with a lovely glass votive holder.

Matalan Fabric Reindeer Advent Calender - £11.25

If you prefer to provide your own treats, this fun fabric advent calender from Matalan features a reindeer silhouette and is finished with festive coloured pom poms.

Aldi Wine Advent Calender - £50

It wouldn't be a list without an alcoholic advent calender and this one from Aldi is ticking all the boxes! Featuring mini bottles of rose, white, red and fizz, this advent calender is one of the better value ones on the market. Even the box looks stylish!

Cheese Advent Calender - by So Wrong It's Nom

I have to say, I'd never heard of a cheese advent calender before researching this post but how amazing is this? For me, cheese is a big part of Christmas and who wouldn't want to open a tasty cheesy treat every morning in December!!

Reeces Peanut Butter Cups Advent Calenders - £5

I actually had this one last year and it was really tasty, featuring the iconic peanut butter cups.So tasty in fact that the whole family got a bit jealous and we ended up taking it turns to open a window!

Japenese Whisky Advent Calender - Master of Malt - £194.95 

Personally I think almost £200 is a bit much to spend on an advent calender but I included this on the list because it would be my husband's dream to have one of these! Featuring 24 drams of single malt, your December would certainly be merry ;)

*Collaborative post

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Spooky Half Term Fun - October 2018

I think the October Half Term is one of our favourite times of the year. For a start, Halloween is just around the corner but there just seems to be so much on in our local area - this year was no different, and I think I could have filled 4 weeks with activities and days out and not just one week! Usually I try and pace ourselves by scheduling quieter days at home but not this time - our week was busy, fun, full on and I wouldn't have changed a thing!

Pumpkin Picking - Saturday

We decided to go and pick some pumpkins at a local pumpkin patch at the start of the week - usually we just pick up a couple of cheap ones in Asda so this was a bit different for us! We've never been to a pumpkin patch before but it was such a lovely morning and I'm really glad we did it. The kids loved finding all the different shaped pumpkins and Elliot took great pleasure in finding the biggest one there to take home with us!

Autumn Fun at Kingston Lacy - Monday

The Monday began with a visit to one of my very favourite places in Dorset - in fact, my National Trust Membership is pretty much made up of visits to here! The grounds are beautiful but especially at this time of the year with the stunning Autumn colours. It's a fab place to take the children because there's no traffic and they can pretty much run free! We met up with some friends, Elliot dressed up as Dracula (standard half term attire!) and we had a lovely walk followed by a picnic while the children played on the ride ons.

Corfe Castle - Tuesday

Another National Trust visit, this time to the spectacular ruins of Corfe Castle. This is another brilliant place to visit in school holidays because there are always special events on for children and plenty to keep them amused. We loved spotting the pumpkins around the castle and the children had lots of fun doing the creepy creatures quiz. We sent our teddies down the terrifying zipline and we also managed to catch the trebuchet being fired. All in all it was a great day!

Pumpkin Hunt at Moreton Walled Garden - Wednesday

It took us a while to decide on todays activity. We discussed visiting the Shire Hall Historic Court Museum in Dorchester but in the end the weather was lovely again so we decided to head outdoors.

We met up with our friends and spent a wonderful morning in the sunshine following the pumpkin trail and exploring the beautiful gardens. We even found a brilliant play area that we didn't even know existed so that kept the children amused for ages!

Spooky Fun at Lulworth Castle - Thursday

This was probably our favourite day of the week - we had so much fun! The castle and grounds had been transformed into a spooky attraction and honestly, the effort that had gone into the event was fantastic. As we walked through the entrance we were greeted by a friendly ghost and then there were lots of spooky themed games scattered throughout the walk up to the castle.

Once inside the castle we were directed through the basement where there were spiders, witches and all kinds of scary things. But still tame enough for the gaggle of 1-6 year olds we were with! We stumbled upon a disco in one of the rooms so the kids had a good old boogie to bat out of hell - we could have stayed in there longer but we were itching to see what the rest of the castle held for us!

There were spooky crafts and even a magic show which was great fun. It was a nice dry day too so we were able to sit outside at lunchtime and enjoy the Halloween themed music blasting out from the castle! After lunch we went to explore the haunted forest and for those that were brave enough, there was a zombie infested area....Elliot and I wimped out of that one ;)

It was such a brilliant day and when we finally managed to drag the kids away, we realised we'd been there around 5 hours so we definitely got our moneys worth!

A Weekend in Brighton - Saturday/Sunday

Our fun packed week ended with a lovely, if a little cold, trip to Brighton. I'd forgotten what a vibrant, fun place Brighton is and we had a really nice time exploring on the Saturday. We loved finding the giant snail sculptures that are scattered around the city too!

On the Sunday we woke up the sounds of the sea right outside our window (we stayed at the Holiday Inn Brighton Seafront and it was a fab location) and fortunately the kids weren't awake too early with the clocks going back. After a big breakfast we headed to the Old Market theatre nearby to see our favourite kids band, Andy & The Odd Socks!

It was a fab show and it was brilliant to hear their newest song, Choose Respect which has been written for Anti-Bullying Week 2018 . I think it's fantastic that Andy his using his celebrity platform to publicise such an important cause.

The kids had so much fun dancing to their favourite Odd Socks songs and at one point I thought Elliot's arms would fall off because he was so flossing so fast!!

After the show we were lucky to meet the band again and Elliot was able to give them a drawing each that he'd spent ages doing. Erin did her usual trick of screaming when Andy spoke to her....I'm wondering if she will ever grow out of this!!

A big thank you to Odd Socks HQ for inviting us down to Brighton for the show!
We hope you had a fun half term break too! 

Monday 5 November 2018

Balancing Mum Life With Student Life: Tips To Make It Work

Being both a parent and a student can take its toll on you, as both roles have their challenges and their
stresses. Parenting challenges include the need to keep your kids entertained and looked after properly,
while student challenges include those dreaded deadlines and dealing with huge workloads. If you are
currently managing both roles, or if you are thinking about becoming a student again (bet you never
thought you would after leaving school/university), we have some tips to help you make the balance work!

Find a course to fit around your schedule.
Find a way to study that accommodates your role as a parent. There may be daytime or night school classes
near you that are a possibility, provided you have people around to look after the kids. If that is difficult because
of your mum duties, then you may consider taking a course online. From GCSE's to professional courses, such
as this MBA engineering management degree, know that you don't always have to leave the house to study.
Whatever you choose, pick a course that will allow you time to study in the week AND still have time to spend
with your family.

Stick to a studying schedule.
You will have homework to do, essays to write, and exams to prepare for. You need to find the time to do all of this
somehow, so look at your day, and find those available windows of time that are open to you. It might be early in the
morning when the kids are in bed. It may be for those few hours when the kids are at school. Or it might be in the evening
when the children are asleep or busy elsewhere. Whenever it is, set yourself a studying routine, and do your best to
stick to the schedule.

Include your kids in your study time.
Older children and teenagers may appreciate your need to study, but younger children may crave more of your time.
If you do have to study when they're not otherwise engaged elsewhere, include them in your study time. They might
only cause constant interruption otherwise. While you're beavering away with study books or essay writing, set them up
with an activity of their own, whether that's colouring a picture or doing something that will complement their school work.
This might create a nice bonding time with your child, and you won't feel as if you have neglected them.

Find a support network.
You can't do this alone. At some point in the day/week, you are going to need people to help you. You need somebody
to watch the kids while you're working. You need somebody to offer you words of encouragement when you get stressed
with your workload. You need somebody to offer you a little light relief away from your busy schedule.
So speak to family, friends and neighbours. Ensure you have people around you for whatever need you have, and draw
on their support as much as possible.

Create 'me-time.'
You need time for yourself in the week. This will help you to recharge your batteries, giving you the strength to manage both
your children and your study schedule. So get those childminders in. Enlist your partner's help. And do something that helps
you to turn off your brain and relax, whether that's having a pampering session in the bath, or sitting down in front of the tv
for a few hours with your favourite movie.

It is possible to balance mum and student life, but you need to take those steps that will help you to manage. We hope our
advice was useful, but if you have any tips of your own, especially if you have experience of this mum-student juggling act,
then please let us know. Thanks for reading, and happy parenting/studying!

*Collaborative post

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