June Firsts

Who can believe another month has come and gone again? The heat has made May, June and now July roll into one, so it’s taken some real thought to remember what actually happened in each month, and what date it was actually a first! I’m blaming this partly on going back to work, so things have been even more hectic than usual, but in reality I should probably just keep better note of things when they happen! However we still managed to get up to plenty of new activities together as a family.

First weekend without mum

So, I braved it. At the beginning of June, I had a girls weekend planned. This is an annual trip we take to Dunoon to celebrate birthdays, catch up and generally have a great stress-free girlie weekend. Most of the girls who go are mums too, so they feel the pain of the double-edged sword that is much-needed me-time and missing your kid(s). We usually go on the Friday and come back on the Monday, but I decided I wasn’t quite ready to leave Trav for that long, so opted to come home on Sunday, with Trav and dad coming to get me. It was a great weekend for me, with some much needed adult-only company, but it has to be said that I did miss the wee man, and facetimed him before we went out on the Saturday night. It was a weird feeling, going back to being my old self for a weekend, not being responsible for anyone else, but knowing that he was at home with his dad didn’t fill me with the dread that I thought it might. Although Travis has spent a night at grandparent’s here and there, I’d never been away from him for longer than that. It’s not something I’d look to repeat in a hurry, but I do think that the break from mum was probably a good thing for him, especially as he would have to get used to going to nursery and being away from mum for most of the day, all week.

First trip to the farm

Making the most of mum’s final few days off, we decided to do and see as much as we could – especially with the weather being so good. One place none of us had ever been to was Ardardan Farm. It’s in Cardross, which is really local to us, and has lots to see and do, so it was a no brainer to head along on 8th June. There are trail walks (some of which weren’t so buggy friendly), a farm shop, cafe, garden centre, and most importantly – there are animals! Travis got to see some wee lambs, some hens and some Clydesdale ponies for the first time. Unfortunately the main attraction, the pigs, had moved on to pastures new, and the farmers were awaiting new pigs in their place. Ardardan Farm also offers loads of activities for kids, families, and even has its own private space to rent for functions and gatherings, so it’s somewhere we will definitely be visiting again!

Mum first: First day back at work

Who can believe the last 9 months have flown by in the blink of an eye?! On Monday 11th June I returned to work with a bang. Craig was off, so the first day wasn’t as hectic as it could have been, and could rest somewhat easy knowing that Travis would be fine with his dad. The first couple of days seemed really long; things didn’t revolve around feeding and napping (boo to the latter!) and I could make tea and coffee, use the bathroom and even check email in peace! After the first few days passed, and the adrenalin wore off, I definitely needed to be fuelled by caffeine. It almost felt like back in the early days when Travis would be up 10 times a night and we were still trying to decipher night from day. But we’re getting there, and although I miss seeing the little fella all day, every day, it’s nice to get back into the swing of things and be around adult company and stimulation during the day.

First Hartbeeps with dad

So as mum went back to work, dad took on the responsibility of taking Travis to his classes, including Hartbeeps. I was unsure how Craig would get on, especially since the class is usually all mums, with the exception of a granny or a dad on haydays and bank holidays. I shouldn’t have worried though, as both of them loved it! The sun was shining so Laura decided to take the class outside for sports day. Travis got a wee photo with his medal (not sure what for, mind you. Maybe doing the most roly polys rather than crawling?)

First day with Auntie Kristen and his bestie

On Day 2 of mum’s return to work, Travis went to spend the day with his Auntie Kristen, and his bestie, Evan. Dad was working and he wasn’t due to start nursery until the following week so Auntie Kristen saved the day and even took the wee man to Bookbug so he wasn’t missing out! They got up to all sorts together – trips to the shop, a ride on the bus, playtime and even feeding too. There’s no denying, Auntie Kristen is a hero and superwoman managing to take care of and amuse 2 kiddos under 2.

First trip in mum’s new car

So my old car was a total treasure and I loved it. I mean it was 12 years old, had 3 doors and had so many ‘quirks’ to it that it wasn’t even funny, but I loved it nonetheless. So it was a real shame to have to get rid of it, but it was getting to the point that there would be something wrong with it every other week. Apart from the fact it was costing so much (and on a maternity wage!) to repair, it wasn’t practical for Travis with only 3 doors, and it certainly wasn’t convenient getting stuck with him anywhere if we broke down! I also drive a 50 mile a day round trip for work, so I need something reliable. So mum opted for a newer version of the same model (I’m a creature of habit), and with 5 doors this time, which meant Travis could get upgraded to a big boy car seat that fits comfortably in the car and is easy to get the wee fella in and out of.

First Father’s day

Last year, I wondered if dads-to-be should get Father’s Day presents, but this year there was no ‘to-be’ and dad got to celebrate his first Father’s Day as a parent! The way it worked out, Travis was actually staying at his grandparents on the Saturday night before Father’s Day, in a bid to let mum and dad get a sleep after mum’s long first week back at work. What that meant was that Travis didn’t actually see his dad till later than usual on Father’s Day, so he managed to get out of making breakfast in bed! We had a good but quiet day, but I’m pretty sure dad enjoyed it.

First full week of nursery

Travis was due to properly start nursery in the last week of June, something which I was quietly nervous about. He had a few settling in visits, and didn’t seem to be coping well with being left at nursery. The first week was definitely a struggle in terms of tears and snotters – not to mention him teething – but the girls at the nursery are absolutely lovely and so reassuring. Travis gets a diary filled in every day, telling me what he got up to, what he’d eaten/drank that day, which is comforting now that I don’t get to share all those moments with him every day.

First illness

With a first full wee of nursery came something we were dreading, but inevitably knew would happen – his first illness! We had noticed a runny eye near the end of his first week, but just put it down to the weather and made sure we kept it clean. However by the weekend it was clear that it was something more serious – conjunctivitis. Luckily we managed to get a doctors appointment and some prescribed antibiotics fairly quickly, but for the few days he suffered, along with teething and the unusual heat, nobody got much sleep!

And here was me thinking we didn’t get up to much in June!

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May Firsts

I realise we’re already halfway through the month of June, but we’ve had a lot going on lately (cue loads of June firsts!) so this and any other blog posts have taken a bit of a backseat, sorry Trav!

First taste of summer
The weather significantly picked up this month, even the first few days in May were nice. So not only did we go from jumpers and jackets to short sleeved vests, we got to wear shorts for the first time, and sunglasses too! Although he prefers to chew rather than wear the latter..
With such a change in temperature I was worried about colds but luckily we just had a few days of runny noses and not much more than that. More importantly, we had a mad dash to buy sun cream as both Craig and I are pretty fair-skinned (Craig burns even when it’s cloudy in Scotland) so we knew we would need to be extra careful with Travis in the sun. I love the little roll-on sun cream from Nivea, as it’s small enough to fit in the changing bag with everything else, and it makes the least mess when re-applying out and about.
As the month (and glorious weather) went on, this also led to firsts like first shot in his own paddling pool (28th May) and first feeding the ducks (12th May).

First shot in his travel stroller
Unfortunately this wasn’t due to any exciting travels, but it was good to get a feel of the stroller before we went afar with it. His regular, usually-reliable 3 in 1 pram/buggy got a flat tyre so we had to get about in the travel stroller until we could get the inner tubes fixed. I have to say, although I love his Vennicci pram, and it’s ability to take on just about any terrain, the replacement of parts is a bit of a faff. Fortunately, Halford’s can replace the inner tubes with their smallest bike ones, which fit the back tyres fine, but if there wasn’t a Halford’s near us we would have had to order parts online from Venicci and waited for delivery, meaning a few days in the travel stroller which wouldn’t be ideal. Although lightweight and compact, there’s pretty much no storage on ours, so popping to the shops with it was out of the question.

First top teeth
After his first teeth coming in pretty quick succession in March, we haven’t had to wait long to see a top tooth. The top right broke the gum around the 20th of May and the second one is right behind it, just scraping it’s way through just over a week later. I have to say, he’s had a lot more trouble with these teeth than the first two, with more visible signs of pain as well as nappy changes (always fun). Having said that, he seems content in himself most of the time, even if everything remotely solid gets fired straight in the mouth for a chew!

First swim with dad
On the 25th May, I was going to a breakfast meeting at work, and had planned to be back in time for swimming. The idea was that I would show dad the ropes and he could take Travis next week. However, since nothing ever goes to plan in our crazy world, his dad ended up having to take him – and without mum there until the end! After a stressful car breakdown, a loan of the company car and a lot of rage at roadworks later, mum missed the whole thing and only managed to make it for shower and change time afterwards. But since they are both still alive to tell the tale, I take it that it wasn’t as scary as dad thought it might be.

First night in our house
So once upon a time in December, we were rudely awoken in the night by a house fire and hadn’t been back since. That’s the short version of an otherwise long story I’ll get round to telling in another post on another day. After a number of mishaps and disputes, we were finally able to stay back in our own home from 25th May. Travis probably has a grand total of 0 memories from the house as he was exactly 2 months old when the fire started, so it was a weird first for him to have to experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s like a whole new house now, with new decor and furniture making it feel like a first for all of us in a way.

First sleep in his big boy cotbed 25th May
As with the first night in our home, Travis experienced his first sleep in his cotbed. We had previously built his cotbed pre-arrival, but he was still quite small before the fire, and was happily sleeping in his moses basket or Sleepyhead, so we didn’t push it with the cot at first. In the meantime before we got back into the house, he had been sleeping in a travel cot due to our change in circumstances. So, with a shiny new cotbed (such a shame as the first one had never even been slept in!) in his very own room (another first in itself!), in a house he couldn’t remember, mum and dad prepared for a long and eventful night ahead. In actual fact, Travis took to it really well. He barely moved all night and just moaned his usual few times for a dummy. Since the first night, we’ve had roly poly’s in bed, hugging the bars, blankets discarded in a corner and more!

First visit to nursery!
Talk about saving the biggest till last! Mum’s first day back at work is in June, and so it means time for Travis to go to nursery. We’re really fortunate with one retired grandparent and Craig working different shift patterns, but I still really want Travis to be mixing with other babies/children, learning and growing, and so nursery seemed like a no-brainer to me. As part of the nursery selection and placement, parents can usually book in for a visit to a nursery to see the facilities, chat with the nursery manager as well as nurses (if that’s even what they are still called?) and find out the things you could expect your child to get up to. We all had a wee trip to our preferred nursery on 31st May. The facilities available were fantastic, with the nursery even having its own soft play area, eco-friendly garden and more. The staff could not have been friendlier (it helped that I went to school with one of the nursery nurses), and there’s so much in the way of feeding back your child’s progress and development to you, so I would never feel in any doubt or panic about leaving Travis there while I’m at work.

How to Make the Most of a Baby Event

With regular baby events throughout the year, it can be difficult to navigate your way through them, whether you’re a first time parent or have experienced the events before. With online and in-store events, exhibitions and shows, there’s no doubt all the information and products available can be a little overwhelming. Speaking from experience – and with a lot of hindsight in mind – I’ve come up with a few tips to follow to ensure you make the most of a baby event.

Make a list before you go
The best way to make the most out of the day is to make a list of the things you need or want from the day. Are you still looking for big items like cribs and car seats? Or are you looking for travel items, everyday essentials, or feeding equipment? Perhaps you’re looking for something specific like a Sophie La Giraffe or Ewan the Dream Sheep that your friends have told you that you simply can’t live without? Either way, it makes the shopping and navigating much more efficient if you know before you go. Plus you’re less likely to miss anything than if you go in aimlessly without having specific ideas in mind.

Know what you need
Similar to tip one, know exactly what you need and what you don’t. This helps to avoid getting suckered by any so-called deals on offer. If there’s a steriliser that’s half-price, but not suitable for your needs, for instance if it’s a microwave steriliser or perhaps just too big for your kitchen, or indeed microwave, then actually the deal isn’t worth it at all. Similarly, there are always great deals on clothes at in-store baby events, with promotions at bigger shows too, so you can get distracted by pretty patterns when actually you have everything you need in that size, and really should be buying clothes in 6 months or above, if at all at this point! Maybe this point should be called “know what you don’t need” as this is probably a better way of looking at things. If you know you don’t need a 3 in 1 changing system, or state of the art changing rucksack before you go, chances are you won’t then be talked into buying one.

Be open minded, but not gullible
On the flip side of this, I would say that you have to be open minded when going into baby shows. There may be products or services which solve problems you hadn’t thought of, or which may be more useful further down the line as your baby starts to grow. It can be useful to go and collect business cards or leaflets to keep just in case (again, only for things you may be interested in, rather than collecting cards from every stand at an exhibition).

I would be open-minded but cautious to any “new to market” products. There are only so many times you can reinvent the wheel to make it better, so it’s worth being harsh and really questioning whether the new products serve any purpose.  Or do the products you already have, serve those purposes just as well? For instance, are wet wipe warmers necessary (yes they are a thing)? Do you need a Gro Egg if you have a room thermometer, nightlight and/or cot mobile already?

Stock up on essentials
This is probably the best tip I can give for in-store baby events at the likes of Boots, Mothercare or any supermarkets. By essentials, I mean the things you know you will get use of regardless of the size/weight/stage your baby is at. For example, Craig and I thought we were doing well by stocking up on loads of on-offer nappies before the wee man arrived. However what we didn’t bank on is that he would grow so rapidly that we would end up giving half those nappies away. So while yes it is good to get a pile of nappies organise pre-baby arrival, don’t go mad at baby events for these. Instead look at things like baby wipes, cotton wool, barrier creams, feeding equipment, long-life foods and things like bibs and muslin squares which have either very long shelf life or no expiry (lest your child’s neck outgrows the bibs!).

Question offers available

Quite often at in-store baby events, there will be promotions such as 3 for 2, BOGOF etc. Like with supermarket deals, these might not always be the great offers they initially seem. For instance, do you really need 3 of something when you were just after the one? Often, with things like wipes and baby toiletries, these offers can be useful. But you may only be saving pennies; say for example that wipes cost 60p, but you get 3 packs for £1.50, you are really only saving 30p, so its worth checking if that’s the best deal on offer. It’s also good practice as it means you won’t fill your boot or pram with unnecessary things on offer, leaving room for the things you came to the event for. Similarly, whether you’re at an exhibition or in-store event, it’s worth checking whether these kinds of offers are available online, meaning you don’t have to humph too much around – a godsend when you’ve got the littlies with you. Also question any 10% discounts or similar offers – like with black Friday, some sellers inflate their prices before baby events and then sell them at “discount” during the event, when realistically you aren’t saving that much (if anything) at all. Having said that, most discounts are genuine and it’s worth asking if they are available exclusively at the event, or can be applied either online or until a specified later date.

 

If there are any other baby event tips you can think of, please let me know below, I’d love to hear them!

Simple Water Boost Hydrating Sheet Mask

*I was given this product in exchange for a review as part of a product testing experience, and was not required to write this post. This review is entirely my own opinion.

I was recently sent the new Simple Water Boost Hydrating Sheet Mask to review, and was excited to be included in this campaign as I love Simple products, particularly their makeup removing face wipes, which I religiously use every day.

My skin has changed somewhat since I was a teen, and my beauty regimes have taken a bit of a knock on the head since becoming a mum, so I’m not as aware of new products or those which would specifically benefit my skin. With winter taking it’s toll, not to mention buckets full of snow in March, Simple’s Water Boost hydrating sheet mask could not have come at a better time for me.

I have to say I’m a bit of a sheet mask novice, tending to go for clay or peel-off masks, so I was a bit apprehensive at first. I found the process of unfolding the mask and placing it on my face correctly to be a bit fiddly, but that could be more to do with lack of practice than any shortcoming on the product’s part.

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My face looking freakishly plastic with the mask on

After a small battle with the slippery sheet, I chilled out for 15 minutes with the mask on. The main thing I noticed was how instantly cooling the mask felt. I loved the smell of the mask too – nice, fresh, cucumber vibes.

There was quite a bit of excess when it was time to peel the mask off, which you’re instructed to either remove with a towel or rub into the skin. I opted for the latter and am glad I did as my skin felt lovely and soft for the rest of the day (I didn’t add any other products or makeup to my face all day).

I would definitely recommend this mask to others as it’s so gentle and fresh that I’m sure it would be fine with most skin types. I also think it definitely delivers its promise as my skin feels more refreshed not only visibly, but to the touch too.

Bookbug week 2018

Bookbug is one of the new things we tried this year (in our January firsts) and something which Travis completely loves going to each week. It’s also free (bonus) and something I mentioned in the top free things to do on maternity leave. It’s something I can’t advocate enough as something new parents should try, so I was delighted to learn that this week is Bookbug Week.

What is bookbug?
Bookbug is essentially a story and rhyme time class for babies and toddlers, usually held in the local library. It’s an initiative organised by the Scottish Book Trust, so I’m not sure if there are similar programs or events available elsewhere in the UK. The sessions are 45 minutes long and usually run in tandem with school term times. Each week parents and kids sing nursery rhymes, play some games with lycra on the floor and of course have one dedicated story read aloud. Travis particularly loves the “what’s in my bag” section and the nursery rhymes which follow.

Bookbug Week 2018
Bookbug Week runs from 14th to 20th May, and the theme this year is “Bookbug friends”. This involves bookbug bringing a friend to class, stories involving friends and spreading the word about bookbug to your friends.
Highlights for this year include a live online broadcast, where illustrator and writer Ross Collins talks through his latest book and illustrations, printable bookbug colouring sheets, special bookbug week books and more.

Bookbug-week-2018-scottish-book-trustIn our class on Tuesday, Bookbug brought along his teddy friend Alfie, and they read a story about a colourful elephant with lots of different lively animal friends. There were finger puppets and bookbug colouring sheets to play with in the library or take home, and there were special bookbug postcards which kids were encouraged to write about what they love about bookbug before sending the postcard to a relative or friend. Our bookbug teacher (not sure if that’s the right term?) also brought us in some yummy snacks for the kids (I didn’t eat any I swear…) so they could feel like they were having a little party, while the adults could get to chat a bit more to each other.

I think Bookbug is such a great concept and something which I think we are really lucky to have in Scotland for free. Bookbug Week is just one of the many reasons it’s great for both children and adults alike. Personally, I’ve learned nursery rhymes I never knew existed, and have rejoined a library – something I never thought I’d do after the maze of uni libraries! I’ve also met some great people and have enjoyed watching Travis grow while at bookbug; being able to sit up for story time, knowing what bit comes next, and getting excited for specific nursery rhymes he has learned at bookbug. I really can’t recommend it enough, and if you’re too early to book onto the next block in your area, I’d definitely give the Scottish Book Trust website a browse for great ideas and resources in the meantime.

April challenge: the results

In April, I set myself the personal challenge to cut down on my caffeine intake. Note, not completely cut out caffeine, just cut down. This was a big step for me as I basically live on caffeine to help plug the gaps in sleep lost thanks to the joys of a newborn (I wouldn’t change it for the world).

I realised something probably had to change as I was getting headaches or would find myself being overly tired if I hadn’t had a particularly strong coffee or two. Plus, most of the time, I was accompanying my coffee with a biscuit, pastry, cake or something else I probably didn’t need to eat. So for the sake of my waistline, not to mention my wallet, I decided to start weaning off the coffee.

My aim was to trim down to just a couple of cups of instant coffee a day, and easing my bank balance by purchasing just 1 or 2 strong barista coffees a week. Here’s how I got on:

Week 1 (Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th)
I started off lightly in week one, trying to limit my coffee intake at home first. On a normal day I would have 3-4 cups of Azera, in addition to any barista coffees and cups of tea, so my first aim was to knock those down to just 1. I’m happy to report that I pretty much succeeded from this week onwards. By starting in good stead, it became easier later on. There was one day (the Saturday) which I was particularly struggling with lack of sleep from a bad night with the wee fella, so I did have more than one coffee that day. But in all, I made a good start to the challenge.

Week 2 (Monday 9th to Sunday 15th)
Week 2 was all about tackling the stronger coffee. At one point in the winter (the long, never-ending winter) I was getting coffee at cafes or takeout from the likes of Costa at least once a day. Partly to warm up, partly to wake up thanks to an unpredictable newborn, I ended up drinking a lot more caffeine and spending a lot more cash than I probably should on something that last for about 7 minutes. I knew this new habit was going to be hard to break, but that it would be worth it in the end. I definitely found myself wandering aimlessly around shops to avoid going and getting coffee, but I also noticed I had more cash in my bank, and we all know that every little helps when you’re on maternity leave!

Week 3 (Monday 16th to Sunday 22nd)
This week, all Travis classes started back after the Easter break, and we started swimming lessons for the first time (see April firsts for more on that) so I was worried I’d need more energy to get by. Did someone say caffeine dependency? In actual fact I found that because we were always busy in the day, I didn’t have time to go out of my way to get a takeout coffee or even really to think about coffee too much. I’d say this was probably my best week challenge wise, despite having more on and a more unsettled baby this week (he had a bad cough and cold which was tailing off and leaving some nappy issues!).

Week 4 (Monday 23rd to Sunday 29th)
I’d say this was where things started to get difficult again. I’d been on my best behaviour when Craig and I were away for the weekend, even opting for tea after a wee trek up the Nevis Range, but I somehow started to falter a bit. I was trying my best not to get takeout coffee but I most definitely didn’t manage to get down to just 1 or 2 a week. One thing I was proud of however, was returning to work on the Tuesday for a keep in touch day, and managing not to have a single coffee all day. I think it probably played havoc with me though – that and a sleepless night with Travis before work meant I slid rapidly downhill as the week progressed. By the Friday I’d had about 3 coffees (2 barista ones) by lunchtime.

I may not have gotten completely to the target is set myself for my April challenge, but it’s clear I was consuming too much caffeine beforehand and I’m glad I’ve managed to cut that down quite substantially. I found that not only did my bank balance take kindly to the less frequent coffee stops, I also found myself losing more weight than I had done in any month since having Travis. In fact, since my exercise stayed the same (if not less) in April as in previous months, and since I made no conscious effort to make any other changes to my diet, I can only assume it was the lack of caffeine that contributed to the weight loss. With the lighter nights coming in and warmer days, I doubt I’ll crave coffee as much, as it’s not my go-to for a cool-down drink. That said, I did just purchase my first iced latte of the year today so hopefully I manage to keep a reign on that!

April Firsts

I was beginning to think the “firsts” would start to dry up by now, or at least thought there would be much less of them as the year went on. However we managed loads of new firsts again this month.

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My Easter bunny with his haul

First Easter
Easter may have started in March, but Easter Sunday and April fools day collided. I thought the wee man might be a bit young to prank so we opted to give eggs and Easter themed toys instead. By eggs I mean a tiny white chocolate buttons egg which is still unopened as yet, for all you judgy folks out there. It was far too cold and miserable here to go to the park or anywhere to roll eggs downhill (snow was still forecast at this point) so we opted to play indoors instead – maybe next year little man!

First hospital trip
It wasn’t for anything serious and actually he’s already been discharged but we had a wee trip to the Royal Children’s Hospital on 9th March. We found a strange mark and bruising under his arm that didn’t go away over the course of a couple of months. After a referral to a dermatologist, our mind was put to rest when we were told it’s perfectly normal and present in 1 out of 10 babies. Apparently it should fade and disappear before he goes to school so we’re not worrying about it!

First Circus!
To coincide with the school holidays, the circus came to town at the beginning of April. On Friday 13th of all dates, we headed along to the circus with best friend Evan and his mum. Although he fell asleep for most of the second half (it was running late and the second half started at about 9pm in fairness), he was mesmerised by the lights and, in particular, the dressed up heroes. The Madagascar animals were a highlight (because there are literally 0 real animals at the circus these days, not even rogue pigeons) though we didn’t fancy paying a fortune for a photo with them. I think the circus will definitely be more of a must-do as Trav gets older.

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my little farmer at Baby Beeps

First baby beeps
Travis loves his Hartbeeps, which he started going to in January (more on that here) but had become a bit too advanced for the Baby Bells class. I say advanced, but what I really mean is that he was starting to roll about and grab other happily laying babies, not to mention he was starting to try and sit up on his own. These are all indicators that he would be more suited to the Baby Beeps class, which is for babies in the sitting and crawling stages.
What a difference we found in that class! Its certainly a lot livelier, as babies don’t just lie there patiently, only smiling, moaning or grabbing at things. Instead, some babies are up and off like a shot, crawling across the floor whilst others are trying to stand and walk, some stealing or sharing toys with other kids and every mum on edge ready to grab her kid should they fall/run/cause some mischief. The class is also much more interactive (though there is still a dress-up portion which I’m thankful for!) with puppets, ball pits, bubbles and more.

First dentist appointment
It was a busy month for appointments and since we saw the appearance of the first tooth in March (closely followed by the second about 10 days later) we thought it would be best to get the little fella registered with a dentist and make his first appointment. On the 19th April we headed along to the dentist so she could see the two spectacular gnashers for herself. She examined his pretty bare mouth and explained all about oral hygiene in babies. It was really informative and helpful (we left with leaflets too) and hopefully allows us to give Travis the best start in life with his smile.

First swimming
I’d been wanting to get the wee guy along to swimming lessons for a while, as I didn’t want him to end up with the same fear of the water as I had as a child (and still do tbh, the deep sea is scary!). We tried to book him into Baby Splish sessions in February, but had missed the first few weeks of lessons, and were told the next block didn’t start until April – after the school Easter holidays. After some confusion from the first lady we spoke to at the local pool, we managed to get the wee guy booked onto a block on Fridays (our original day had been Monday’s but that class had booked out because we were told the wrong information about booking), starting on 20th April. Unfortunately, he had a terrible cold and cough that week so we decided not to take him on he first lesson. However there is a spectators area which we went along to see what the class was all about, as mum would be doing the whole thing solo the following week. He ended up loving his first lesson on 27th April, although I was far too scared to dunk him all the way under water on the first go. In fact, he loved it so much he slept for about 2 solid hours afterwards.

First baby and toddler show
When I was pregnant, there weren’t really many baby and toddler events around. Aside from the odd Mothercare expectant parent event, or big shop events at the likes of Asda, Argos etc, there wasn’t much in the way of shows or exhibitions where everything was contained in one place. So I was delighted to find that there was one being held at the SEC across the last weekend of April. The Baby and Toddler Show, which is supported by Emma’s Diary and Made For Mums, happened to be on the same day as our first Baby Splish class so Travis actually slept through a chunk of it, but it was interesting all the same. There’s more about the show on my recent post here, but if you don’t want to read the whole thing, then at least take away the main point that it’s heavily geared towards expectant parents. There are a good few stalls relevant to babies and toddlers, but at least half to three quarters of the event is made up of things like nursery furniture, prams, car seats, baby chairs/swings, newborn toys etc.

First safari park visit
After a miserable start to the month, April ended spectacularly with a warm, sunny Monday where the temperature soared from an average of about 8 degrees to 18. Any other Scottish folks reading this will know exactly what this means – taps aff. And ok so while it was possibly slightly chilly for that, it did mean there was a single sunny day, not to be wasted in case we never seen its likes again. In a bid to enjoy the sun but also give Travis a new experience we could all enjoy, we decided to head to Blair Drummond Safari Park in the afternoon (after his Baby Beeps class, can’t be messing with the boy’s social life you know!). It was fairly empty, aside from a school trip, some tourists and other parents of under 5s, so we were able to get about freely without stress or panic or running anyone over with the pram. Travis loved it, especially the boat ride out to the chimp island, and of course the chimps themselves. We were disappointed that the drive through enclosure was closed when we went to leave, but that just gives us an excuse to go back when the wee fella is a bit bigger.

Baby and Toddler Show

I was really excited to learn that the Made for Mums Baby and Toddler Show was going to be in Glasgow in April. I hadn’t been to anything like that whilst I was pregnant (truth be told, I don’t think there were any shows like that when I was expecting) so I was keen to go along and see what was on offer and what new products or services Travis and I could try.

So when tickets became available for the event, which took place from 27th-29th April, I just had to snap some up. Craig and I decided to go together with the wee man and by ordering tickets early enough, we also got the option to purchase a Made for Mums goody bag for just £5.

Goody goody
I was certainly impressed with the goody bag, which contained items for mums, babies and toddlers. There were a couple of travel size tubs of Palmer’s cocoa stretch mark cream, which I used religiously posts-partum and would definitely recommend for expectant mums, or those who still have newborns. Toddlers will certainly get endless enjoyment from the magazines included, which contain stories, puzzles, stickers, colouring fun and of course some toys too.

Baby centric
What I will say is that the show is definitely far more focused on babies than toddlers, and even more so at newborns. The back half of the show was taken up by the bigger items such as prams, pushchairs, car seats, cribs, cotbeds and other nursery furniture which most parents will already have sorted for their little one if they are already here! Obviously there’s some usefulness from car seats and pushchairs or strollers in larger sizes for kids moving from their first pram or car seat to ones more inline with their height and weight.

With many of the other stands, particularly the clothing stands, a lot of time and effort was put into presenting beautiful clothes for newborn, 0-3 months and in quite a lot of cases, up to 6 months. After that there was limited stock or simply none available at the show – bear in mind I attended on the first day so it was likely there was even less older age stock as the weekend went on. I found that disappointing as although Travis is only 6 months, he wears 9-12 or 12-18 month clothes, so we didn’t manage to get him any cute new outfits.

However, I wouldn’t let that put anyone off the show, as most clothing retailers were pretty apologetic and offered lots of information about their product ranges, sizes available etc.

Highlights for us
I would say that for us the highlights were certainly more focused on activities rather than products. We missed some of the demonstrations, but there were taster sessions of baby sensory and toddler sense which I’m sure Travis would have loved. Unfortunately he had a swimming lesson so we couldn’t make the show till after lunch – it’s a hard life for a busy baby!

We did manage to speak to the organisers of baby sensory at their stand and found a range of information including classes in our area. Along the same vein, there were numerous stands for other baby and toddler activities like swimming lessons and other play and development.

Another great point for us was all the photography stands, which are great for expectant mums too. Quite a few offered services such as a cake smash and other birthday or milestone photography or celebrations. We even spoke to a celebrationist who conducts naming ceremonies and other special celebrations for kids which are non-religious.

There were plenty of stands offering products and advice on weaning and offering sample foodstuffs, but again, Travis has been eating for a couple of months now so we had most of that stuff sorted. Similarly there were stalls focused on different teethers, educational toys and so on, but we felt that we already had enough in the way of those sorts of items, so didn’t really give those stalls our full attention.

Mum time!
I have to say though, I definitely came out of the show with the best experience. At one stand I had my makeup done (and duly bought one of their wonder products – original beauty glow), and also managed to get myself a massage with a lovely company called massage sense who provide services for parents and babies.

There was definitely a great balance for both mums and babies, including large changing and feeding stations to accommodate so many babies and buggies. I’d say this event was definitely a “must attend” for expectant mums, but if you’re pretty organised with your baby or toddler, you might not get as much from it unless you’re attending for something specific like a new pram/stroller.

Top 5 free things to do on maternity leave

This list is post baby, not for any mat leave when impatiently waiting for baby to get here. I’ve been there, done that! If that’s what you’re after then maybe this post might help?

Everyone has different ideas about mat leave and how they would like to spend it with their children. However not everyone has a limitless budget to spend on things for baby to see, do and learn from every day so sometimes us mums have to get creative. Thankfully there are also some free resources out there that mums can enjoy with babies. Here are the top free things I’ve utilised whilst on mat leave.

Walking
If its nice (even if its not) then getting your baby out in the fresh air can be a great for both you and him/her. As my mat leave has fallen predominantly in a horrendous winter, there have been times where we literally couldn’t get a pram out in the street for snow/ice, and it really made a difference to our days. Walking gives mum’s gentle exercise whilst breaking up the day for you and baby. Plus babies love seeing and taking in everything going on around them, so a walk provides more stimulus for their senses. And to top it off, Travis loves sleeping in his pram so walks have also been a good, free, helper with sleep and naps.

Going to the park
As I said, my mat leave has been predominantly in winter so there haven’t been a great deal of times to enjoy the park so far, but we go there if we can. Great combined with point 1, the park is a great place to walk through, or to have a wee rest on a nice bench if you’ve overdone it on the walking or need to stop for a feed (for either you or baby, I’m not judging!). Plus, as your little one grows stronger, baby swings and slides become more appealing. A 10 minute play on the swings on an otherwise boring day can burn up energy for your little one, and give you a lot of joy as they giggle their little heads off going back and forth!

Soft play
Soft play is a great invention for kids of all ages, and in our area (and most places I’m assuming?) infants under 1 go free. Admittedly we’ve only started going since the wee fella turned 6 months old, but as long as your kiddo can sit up they will be able to get some enjoyment from it. He loves the ball pit, any mirrors and, after a few confused attempts, the baby slides.

Bookbug
We started going to a bookbug group at our local library in January (see our January firsts) and I couldn’t recommend it enough. As far as I know this seems to be a government initiative (in Scotland anyway) which encourages a love of reading from a young age. The group is for young babies and toddlers and combines nursery rhymes with stories and play to instil an interest in reading, but to break up activities enough so that children aren’t expected to sit still and pay attention for long periods of time. The only criticism is that bookbug runs during term times, which has meant no classes during Easter/Christmas/summer breaks in line with schools. Although it’s free, place a are limited, and you need to sign up through your local authority’s website or page for library services.

Baby massage/baby yoga
Again, I’m not sure if this is just a Scottish service, or even just specific to central Scotland. Our local authorities run a number of free mother and baby classes, again often taking place at the library or community centres. The main ones in our area are baby massage, baby yoga and breastfeeding support classes. I’ve never been to the latter but can definitely recommend both the former classes. Baby massage was great for the wee man’s colic, and we still use some massage techniques today to calm him before bed, help with colic or teething, or just to help promote development. Similarly, the baby yoga is great for their muscle and bone development, and helps you remember some of those old nursery rhymes if you’re a bit rusty!

So those are the great free things we’ve been getting up to on mat leave. I’m really interested to know if there are any other great cost-free activities we are missing, or if there are different local services in different areas. I’d love to get your thoughts!

The real reason mums post hundreds of baby photos

Before I had a baby myself, it used to annoy the life out of me that people, especially first time mums, would share pictures of their child on social media every blooming day. Not only that, there would be the mums that would share a whole album of photos of essentially the same 10 mins of the day from about 90 different angles (just take a video?) or the mums who were all about a selfie before, never to be seen again, instead replaced by this mini-me. But now I get it. And it’s not what you think.

I used to think these mums were filled with self-assurance that their child, was, in fact, the cutest baby there ever was. And don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely an element of “aww cute” about baby pics, especially if, like me, you like to dress your baby up in old man outfits. But actually, the heart-melting factor wears off after a couple of weeks when you remember other people have kids and you see their photos and, oh gosh, isn’t little Amelia/Max (insert on-trend baby name here) cute in that little outfit/doing whatever they are doing.

So no, it’s not an egotistical thing where we magically think we’ve co-created the perfect being. It’s for a few reasons. Firstly we want you to know we are still alive. You may not have heard much from us in the first few weeks after we announced the birth of said perfect being. That’s because no matter how many books we read or sites we researched or advice we took, absolutely nothing prepared us for actually having to take care of these tiny beings all day every day. It’s like when you go off the radar for the first day at a new job, except you can’t just clock out at 5pm and join the real world again. There’s been a lot of learning, going with the flow and general panic and disruption at every hour of the day, so we haven’t had the chance to brush our hair let alone get ready and pose for a selfie, never mind actually go anywhere or do anything like we used to in the good old days. But we did get our baby up and dressed, and they did a windy smile. That was the highlight of the day rather than a fancy meal at a nice restaurant or catching a new film/band, so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Secondly, many of us feel like absolute shit. Our bodies have been through more trauma than any non-childbearing person will know; we are fragile, trying to recover and simultaneously being flung into the most difficult role we’ve yet faced, with about 5 minutes sleep into the bargain. We currently consider it a good day if all parties in the house can manage to get washed, dressed and fed, so forgive us if we don’t feel like taking a selfie or doing anything other than take a quick snap of this beautiful little creature with wide eyes and perfect skin and long eyelashes and heart-melting smile. We’re not jealous, honest.

Not only do we feel like shit in the exhausted, outward-looking sense,
we’re mentally exhausted too. We are tired of looking in a mirror, not sure of what we see. We’re tired of being told about mums who walked out of the hospital in their size 8 jeans, or the mums who manage to get their kids into a routine and sleeping through the night by 6 weeks old. We’re tired of society telling us how we should behave as a parent, what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives and bodies now our child is here. And despite knowing that all this stuff doesn’t really matter, it still gets to us.

Whether it’s scrolling through our Facebook feeds to see some supermum taking perfect pictures from the perfect adventure with her 3 perfect kids in tow, or the Pinterest infograhics telling you how to lose the baby pouch, it all creates an overwhelming amount of pressure and guilt. It’s so hard not to compare ourselves with others in this situation, even though we know all pregnancies, births and babies are different. Us ladies get a rough time as it is from the media always telling us how to look, what to wear, how to behave, never mind when you throw a child into the mix. And despite our best efforts to rise above it, sometimes we just can’t.

Sometimes we feel really low and hate our bodies and the way they have changed, even if we have already been told a thousand times that pregnancy and childbirth will change your body, and that creating the miracle of life doesn’t always come without battle scars. Nevertheless, we still can’t quite come to grips with the fact that our body wont 100% go back to the way it was before, and, for impatient people like myself, it can turn into an internal battle between your head and body, when you still don’t fit into those pre-pregnancy clothes months down the line.

Sometimes we hate that we can’t even do our simple daily makeup like before, and hate it enough that we have to go to the shops for nappies with bags under our eyes and spots on our face, and don’t really feel like showing anyone that face, other than the cashier at ASDA – and that’s only because we absolutely have to. Everybody tells you about the changes to your boobs, belly, bum and thighs as a new mum, but nobody warns you about the massive changes to your skin and hair post-pregnancy. For me, my skin returned to that of a teenager, with eyebags you could carry a Primark spree in. Then, my hair started to fall out at an alarming rate (more on that here), so now there’s even more desire for me to actually do my hair and make up, despite having no time. This created more feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth (still comparing myself to supermum with her perfect eyebrows and coiffed updo), meaning I was reluctant to go anywhere and do anything unless necessary, in turn meaning less life updates, pics, witty things to Tweet etc.

Sure, this may not be the case for all new mums. Some might really believe that their kid is the cutest on the planet and that everyone else deserves to see at least 45 pictures of them a day. But for many of us it’s a mask, preventing people from seeing what we don’t want them to see. Our child (or children) represents the light in our life – smiling, bright-eyed, learning and doing something new every day, where sometimes we don’t feel good enough ourselves, we know that they are perfect to us and worth sharing. So please remember that the next time you see another new mum posting yet another album of her little treasure.