Finding out your pregnant is so exciting (for most), but once the news has settled in, and your reading up on everything you need to get for your new arrival, it can be a daunting task.
As a self-confessed shopaholic, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to buying new baby clothes, but once i started doing some research i realised, i needed to furnish a whole new room, there were gadgets for everything, from breast pumps to nappy bins, to a nasal aspirator. Where did I start?
Once I had got some advice, from other mums, my own mum and the midwife I made a list of the priority items we needed. However to create this list you still have to answer some questions.
How are you going to get the baby around, will you use a pram or sling? do you need a carseat? or two?
Where will the baby going to sleep?
Are you going to breastfeed?
I decided we needed some help, so where better to go than The Baby Show – the biggest national baby event, it would have everything under one roof, and we could just take the challenge head on. This also suited my other half, as he could just do it all in one day.
The Baby Show has most of the top baby brands, but it also has smaller stalls for independent brands, which I found better for once you’ve had the baby as then tend to be clothing brands or gadgets you don’t really need till the baby is 6-months+.
The bigger brands will have plenty of offers on the larger items such as your travel system, your nursery furniture. For example we got our Mamas + Papas travel system (pram base, with buggy top, car seat and isofix base) at 30% less than the RRP.
I did my research prior to going, otherwise it can be totally overwhelming due to the volume of exhibitors, and the range of products offered – plus many are the same, so you get bombarded with sales jargon.
Below are some suggestions if you’re thinking of going:
My best buys:
Medela: This is an american brand of breast pump and bottles – focused on going from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. It is now stocked in the UK so much easier to buy, but their discounts are amazing. I got most of my kit at 50% off, and since it has been used by me, two friends, and i am getting ready to use it again (with new bottles and teets obviously)
Snufflebabe Nasal Aspirator: I had never heard of this one, but it was a godsend – this is used to clear a baby’s nose if they have a cold, or are bunged up
Nappy Bin: You can usually get them 50% off at the show – this is an essential!
Travel system: If you know which system you want, you can go in and negotiate off the RRP. I had it narrowed down to two options, and we went and tried each one. Looking at how it collapsed down, could I manage it alone and would it go in the car easily, and most importantly how much room was there for my shopping! Always make sure you get a cup-holder – I didn’t with my first one, and as coffee is staple to a new-mums diet, trying to push a buggy one-handed is no easy task.
Nursery Furniture: I got a Mothercare nursery set, at roughly 35% off. You order and pay a deposit, and then it is delivered 6 weeks before your baby arrives. This is something you could order once the baby is here, as you don’t actually use the cot till they’re 6 weeks +, but the deal was too good.
Feel free to add your best buys, or tips for going to the baby show.
It’s currently 4am, and I am 39 weeks + 4 days pregnant with my second child. This isn’t ideal, as I need to be sleeping as much as I can before my world gets turned upside down by sleep deprivation!
Instead, I am anxiously wondering if the 5th February will be the day we meet our little princess, and do I have everything ready? – almost. I have a couple of things to add to my hospital bag, and tons of ironing to do, oh yeah and a new house to get in order (we’ve been in less than two weeks!).
I then started thinking about how overwhelming it can be when you’re pregnant for the first time. My best friend is currently 24 weeks pregnant (so exciting!) with her first, and she has so many questions, and it has reminded me of all the emotions you go through with your first (btw you second pregnancy is far less exciting and a lot more exhausting when also running around after a toddler, working – and stupidly moving house at the same time).
Given I am wide awake, I thought I would use this time to jot down some of my thoughts / tips for first time mums-to-be
Finally, ENJOY! The first pregnancy is special, every day is new, every movement is exciting. Remember how incredible your body is for producing another human being, and make sure you rest, and relax. The feeling you have when the baby arrives is nothing I can explain, and its something I can’t wait to experience again.
I am sure lots of mums have other tips or suggestions, so please feel free to add them in the comments section! I would love to know if anyone has any for second time mums!!
Good luck to anyone who is expecting!
So I’ve been away for a while, nearly 16-months to be exact, and 2016 has been my most challenging year yet, and here’s why….
On the 27th December 2015 we lost my Grandad to a stroke, in January we had an almighty party to say our goodbyes, and what a fantastic send-off but such a sad way to start the year.
January also brought the news my agency had a lost a large contract, this later led to the agency closing (which i believe was for the best), therefore I was made redundant. Having worked at this agency for 8 years I knew nothing else…but maybe this is the change I needed.
Three weeks before my wedding a dormant cyst on my shoulder became infected and I had to have emergency surgery and was left with an open wound. Not only wouldn’t this be healed by the time I got married but it involved daily trips to the Drs to get my dressing changed, which my husband-to-be had to master so he could do it for the duration of our honeymoon. Plus I couldn’t drive or exercise and struggled managing harry as I couldn’t lift him.
May arrived and our wedding was amazing! It literally flew by, it was worth all the stress and chaos. We had an amazing day, we got very drunk with all of our favourite people. Our honeymoon was the trip of a lifetime, we flew to Hawaii (This place truly is paradise) , flew back to LA, drove up the west coast in an open-top-mustang to the Big Sur, and on to San Francisco. Couple of days sightseeing, and then back to our little boy.
The first four months of the year had been totally overwhelming, and not until we went on honeymoon had I stopped, then did I realise I didn’t have a plan….I always have a plan…..sh*t!!!
After 4 weeks at home with Harry, an opportunity came up a stones-throw away from home (well in comparison to my previous 90 minute daily commute), it was part-time and right up my street. However things can never be that simple…..Not long after my second interview I found out I was pregnant (we basically got pregnant the weekend of our wedding, not part of my ‘non-existing plan’ – whole other post coming!).
So, I went for my third interview, but I couldn’t walk-away without saying something. I was shaking I was so nervous, but that proved to me how much I wanted this role, and I couldn’t go ahead unless I was 100% honest. I dropped the bombshell and left them to discuss, and later that day they offered me the job, it was a 6-month freelance contract but with the opportunity to go back once the baby was born! AMAZING!!!
At our 12 weeks scan we got high-risk for Down Syndrome again, we opted for the harmony test, which Wrexham NHS offered for free (Only some NHS offer this service FOC – and only if you’re high-risk). Thankfully we got the all clear.
As we are soon to be four, we definitely needed a new house. Our house has been perfect for our little family and a great first home, but with a fourth member on the way, we need more space. We found an adorable cottage (that we had to fight off lots of other people for) that has been extended to more than double the original size. Its just what we were looking for – something full of character, but with lots of space! Its perfect, and fingers crossed we should be moving in January 2017 – a great start to a new year.
This year has been beyond challenging (though I wouldn’t change anything about it) with the above being a very very brief summary of my ups and downs, but there’s something I haven’t mentioned in here, that has had a huge impact on my life and that’s anxiety and depression. This I need to write about in my next post so stay tuned…
So I have come up with four resolutions, these are long-term, with no specific end point like quit smoking or stay sober for January, they are more lifestyle changes.
1a. Plan more, capture more!
As a family, we’re not great at planning things to do on our weekends, and I am always seeing pictures of my friends on weekends away, or at the theatre, the park etc. most of the time we are just glad it’s the weekend. Now I am back working five days a week, I want to makesure our weekends are filled with cool activities, creating memories and going on mini adventures.
That’s my four!
One final thought, which isn’t really a resolution, but something I learnt from my aunty (who sadly passed away way before her time), life is too short and you only get one go at it. No regrets, don’t stress, and make the most of each day, as you don’t know when it will be your last.
I work in advertising, so why not kick off the christmas season with a little post about Christmas ads!
Who has seen the new John Lewis advert?
They get me every year, well for the past three anyway. Monty the penguin is amazing. This one is up there with the John Lewis 2011 advert when the little boy can’t wait to GIVE his present.
I haven’t always loved JL’s Christmas adverts, looking back on Youtube I don’t remember many of their adverts pre 2010, it seems adamandeveDDB (the ad agency) changed their strategy after 2010 to focus on an individual or single character’s story, opposed to featuring multiple characters. I imagine this approach was to encourage the viewers to ‘buy-in’ emotionally, well they certainly ticked that box!
Now the John Lewis advert is out, Christmas has officially started!! Last year I loved M&S’s fairytale theme, especially the mad hatter tea party food version, and Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the traditional Coca-Cola, with the lorries through the trees.
ON searching for the 2013 advert, I have come across the M&S 2014 Christmas advert (I think that has only been uploaded to You-tube today), they’ve lost the celebrities and have a whole new concept around fairies, and I am a little disappointed. This could be any brand, it doesn’t scream M&S to me. Don’t get my wrong, it is lovely and seasonal, and I like the part where they get the kids out in the snow, but also I like how John Lewis and M&S have previously focused on the story of one character. The 2013 advert made me go online and want to buy everything I had seen in the advert, unfortunately this year I don’t have the same excitement.
Last years surprise advert was defiantly Apple’s iPhone advert, this did bring a small tear to my eye! I liked how real and family focused this was – again following one character. I see a trend.
I wonder what advert will surprise me this year, I can’t wait to see!
I’d love to hear about everyone else’s favourites!!
11 years ago my life changed forever. I not only moved to Manchester, started uni, and began a new chapter of my life, but more importantly I met my best friend. Miss Katy G stood next to me in the queue to collect our accommodation keys. If I remember correctly, we were both with our Mums and we began gabbing away. We parted ways to go find our new rooms only to meet again ten minutes later as we both pulled up outside the same building and our rooms were practically opposite each other.
I had moved in to a house with nine other girls, but it was Katy that I clicked with instantly. Once we started chatting, we discovered we lived just 20 minutes from each other. Katy had gone to the same college as my sister and even sat next to her boyfriend in one of her classes. Small world! We became inseparable at Uni, living together for the entire duration, never missing a night out together and even working together. But when the time came to graduate, our lives lead us down different paths. Katy stayed up north in Manchester and bought a house with her then boyfriend, whilst I moved down South to start my career in the Big Smoke.
Eight years later and our lives are still on completely different paths, yet we still remain the best of friends. After partying my way through my twenties, I am now settled in London, living with my Fiance and our Baby Boy in our family home, attempting to juggle motherhood with my career in advertising. Katy settled down for a few years, but in 2012 she made a life-changing decision to go jet-setting around the world. She has since travelled around Asia, moved to France for 18 months, learnt the language, bagged a new French boyfriend, and both can currently be found somewhere in South America. Who knows where she will end up next (hopefully within visiting distance).
We may be miles apart, but the one thing I do know is that no matter where in the world we are, when we get together to catch up (even if that means having a cuppa together via skype) it’s like no time has passed and we spoke just yesterday. A chat with Katy is like therapy for me, she is always honest, she always knows what to say, and never fails to make me laugh! Together we’ve been through heartbreaks and holidays, house moving and house buying we’ve been there for each other through the career bumps and the career triumphs (me with a recent promotion and Katy writing her first book!) and now, even a Baby.
I was lucky enough to get a fresh dose of ‘Friend Therapy’ recently when Katy and Greggers (the French beau) stopped over with us for a few days before they jetted off to Rio. With all the change in my life recently – going back to work, introducing Harry to nursery, turning a year older – it was the perfect timing for some much needed ‘Friend Therapy’. I needed a good old chinwag, and having Katy around for the whole weekend really did the trick. We didn’t do any overly exciting (well except for meeting Katy’s book mentor!!), just stayed in, drank lots of tea and lots of wine and played with Harry, just normal things best friends do.
Roll on the next 11 years of Katy and Jen’s adventures!!
(To follow Katy on her South American adventures, follow her blog NotWedordead)
So I have been awful at keeping my blog updated, my little sister would not be happy that I have not blogged for 6 weeks!!! In my defence I started back a work full-time in September, and have been trying to get Harry in a new routine of going to his Nanna’s and starting Nursery. Plus we had 8 family birthdays in September, including mine, so big party month!
Trying to find time to write over the past few weeks has been really hard, I have started a new role at work, and really struggled with being away from Harry four days a week, and we have had birthday celebrations most weekends. Once I lost the momentum a little, I got a bit scared of what I could write about. Guess i stuck my head in the sand.
After a month of chaos, I am ready to start the next chapter of life as a working full-time mum. I am settled in to work (in a new job), Harry is getting settled, and my sister has kindly taken Harry for a walk, so I can get cracking on some new posts, here goes…..
A new baby can be so consuming, and it is easy to forget the relationship you had before they came along. We try our best to get time together, either a day out, or going for a meal, but it can be quite hard when you don’t have a long list of babysitters to call on.
Rich was given tickets for the Red Bull Air Race at Ascot Racecourse. We were invited as ‘Friends of Red Bull’ (FORBS), which included complimentary food and drink all day, the best view of the race course, and all day entertainment. We packed Harry off to his Grandad’s for the weekend, and managed to squeeze in a visit to the cinema on the friday, two lie-ins, and our day out to the air race.
Red Bull, as usual put on a good show. The whole set-up was vintage / retro themed, with all the staff dressed up, the interior of the FORBS section was fantastic, the cocktails flowed (all Red Bull based of course), the food was never ending and we had a front row seat to the air race.
The whole day was great from start to finish, to relax with a morning cuppa in bed, take my time to wash and style my hair, do my make-up and have breakfast together. The day at Ascot was such a treat, and we managed to talk about a lot more than just Harry. We finished the day off with a visit to the local Chinese, just like old times. However I do think I had a little too much Red Bull, as the insomnia kicked in soon as I leapt in my bed.
After a whole weekend without my baby, on Sunday I was like a kid waiting for father christmas, I sat looking out the window, waiting for him to come back! I was so excited to have him back in my arms. I thought him going away would get easier, but I think it is getting worse!
A lot of people, admittedly me being one of those prior to having my own baby, thought mums who stayed at home had loads of time on their hands. How wrong was I!
I am sure all mums would agree, taking care of a baby 24/7 is a lot harder than it seems, and one thing you never catch, is a break. What I mean by a break is your little one being the responsibility of someone else, be that your partner, a family member, so that you can relax, and know they aren’t going to wake-up just as you sit-down.
Yes the baby will go down for naps, sometimes a few times a day, so why don’t you get a break whilst they’re napping? Perhaps because you always find a million and one things to do round the house. There are always bottles to wash and sterilise, if you’re weaning, there is pureeing and cooking to do, cleaning the house, which seems to get messier now your on maternity leave as you are there all day! If like me, my hair started dropping out 4 months after giving birth, i was hoovering and sweeping everyday. You now have twice the amount of washing and ironing…. the list is endless.
Yes there are the nice things you get to do, like coffee with other mums, shopping, walks in the park, but you’re not relaxing, as you still thinking about the next item on the schedule, well when will the little one need a feed, and do I need to change his nappy, do I want him to fall asleep in the pram or in the car…it is mentally draining.
I have come to realise (only taken me 7 months), that mums need time off too, the same as other people do from their jobs. Sometimes just an hour away from the house, away from other responsibilities, a couple of drinks with a friend, go for a swim, pop round your mums for a cuppa. These are such simple things, that can be overlooked, and I confess I took having ‘me-time’ for granted before having Harry.
I’ve found my blog has been a great escapism. For example today – Saturday, I have been with Harry all week, and unfortunately my partner had a super busy schedule, and so he has been away most of the week. I think this really took its toll on me, being responsible for Harry all week, alone, especially after a 10 day holiday and having support on a daily basis. So today I have been in a funny mood, I had a lie-in which was great and I woke up feeling positive and ready for the day, but as the day progressed, and Harry decided not to have his nap, I’ve become anxious, and snappy, unfortunately taking it out on my partner. Both my baby and his daddy have now gone for a nap, and I have been able to just chill-out (opting to do no cleaning, no cooking, no washing), just me, my blog, and I am about to treat myself to a fresh juice! I feel so much better for just having this past hour, to collect and download my thoughts.
Don’t misinterpret this for me being ungrateful, I love my baby more than anything in the world, but I need to be Jen as well as mummy.
I am going to try and make sure each weekend, I take myself out for a coffee, get my nails done or see some friends, letting the boys have some ‘father and son’ time, and allowing me to have a bit of time to be Jen and not mummy or wife (to be).
It would be great to hear anyones thoughts on how they relax, or have created their own time away from being a mum?
I will be the first to admit I am a sun worshiper, 99% of my holidays have been about sitting in the sun, reading a book with a glass of vino, working on my tan. I would possibly dedicate one day to either shopping or sightseeing…if the weather was bad. Well I can kiss those holidays goodbye for the next 10 years….at least!!
We decided for our first holiday with Harry we would drive to France. Contemplating having to get all of Harry’s stuff on a plane made me want to cry , whereas driving we could shove it all in the car, stop when we wanted, and do everything at our own pace.
We opted for Normandy / Brittany as the drive wasn’t to long, and my best friend lives in Normandy so we were able to stay with her for a few days for a real French experience. We had 5 days in Fecamp, a small coastal town about 2 hours south of Calais. We stayed in a typical French home, ate fresh croissants each morning, and stuffed ourselves with bread, cheese, meats and wine for lunch. Sylvie (whose house we stayed in, and she spoke very very little English) was an excellent cook and made us a homemade cheese tart, it was divine, and I think rich will definitely be trying it at home.
We spent our days relaxing, and catching up on some sleep, visiting an old Mill recently bought by Katy’s family, checking out the local markets, also we had a day trip to Rouen and a walk through Fecamp and along the promenade.
Rouen’s famous gold clock / our trip to the mill / Rouens beautiful architecture /date night!
Each evening we did something different, we attended a French birthday BBQ, where we were taught how to lasou, had meat fondue (not sure it was my cuppa tea, but glad I tried it), went to a steak restaurant where the meat was cooked in front of you on an open fire (this tasted AMAZING), had another BBQ, and our final night we ate so much at lunch we couldn’t face another meal, so had a lovely date night whilst Katy babysat Harry, and we went for a few drinks.
We decided to take the scenic route to our next stop in Roz sur Couesnon, until we saw it was a 7.5 hour drive. So we took the motorway to Caen (our half way point), and then took the scenic route, admiring lots of tiny French villages along the way. We had rented a cottage for 3 days / 4 nights, based in between Mont St-Michel and St-Malo. We spent a day at each of these locations, and then a day in the cottage when we had the best weather (make sure to read my blog post about the cottage we rented, it was wonderful and a reasonable price). We’d not had the best luck with the weather so far, but on our last day we had glorious sun, and were able to get the paddling pool out for Harry, and being typical Brits, soon as he was down for a nap, we were out trying to catch what we could of the sun, so at least we come back looking a little healthier.
All-in-all we had a great time, but I must admit going on a holiday with a small baby was much harder than I thought despite packing our car so it was bursting with all his stuff. Harry really missed his jumperoo, and I think just having playtime, as a lot of time was spent out and about so he was either in his buggy, his car seat or the sling.
I guess it also didn’t help that Harry had a stomach bug for the first week and projectile vomited multiple times over Sylvie’s sofa, which I might add is black. It rained for our first two days, Harry screamed for 2 hours on date night, so we nearly never made it out, and to finish it off, we spilt red wine down the cottage’s white curtains on our last night, and the owners didn’t speak English so trying to express how deeply sorry we were was very hard.
Would I do it all again? YES! Spending a week with my boys and a few days with my best friend was totally worth the hard work.
Despite our child being ill, and vomiting everywhere I would like to thank Katy, Greggers, Sylvie and Katy’s family for making us feel soooo welcome! We had a great time and a true French experience.