Staycation toddler and baby essentials

As we’ve all been adjusting to a new normal way of life, we’ve also had to change our holiday plans slightly. Many of us are now vacationing within our own countries and exploring different places for the first time. If road trips are something your family are used to or whether you plan to venture into travelling by road for the first time it’s best to be well prepared, especially if there’s a toddler or baby with you.

I’ve compiled a list of some of the essentials that you may need for a slightly stress free family staycation.

Firstly, think about your destination, if your staying with friends or relatives, in a town near shops or somewhere remote that will affect the items your packing. If you’re concerned about social distancing in shops it’s best to take everything you’ll need for the kids to avoid any non-essential trips to the shops.

How many nappies?

As neither of my kids are potty trained (2 1/2 year old and 4 months) I pack enough nappies for our stay. I estimate that we go through 5 nappies a day per child, I add extra nappies in the nappy bag for the stroller. Although light, nappies can be bulky and take up space in the car so buy at destination if you can. Breastfeeding on demand means that nappy changes can vary for a baby so I always make sure I have enough.

Toiletries

In their toiletry bag I include their bath sponges, tooth brushes and toothpaste, shower gel, skin cream, hair oil and comb. I also have in there their vitamin d drops and some medicine in the unlikely event of a fever. Cotton buds and cotton wool are also added. For my daughter I have small travel containers I put her hair cream and styling custard in, just to save space if we aren’t going away for very long.

Snacks and food

Lots of snacks! If your travelling to your destination by car, snacks are a must for hungry toddlers I pack a mixture of chopped up fruit and packs of rice cakes, oat bars that my eldest can munch on. As I’m breastfeeding I usually only take my breast pump and two mam bottles which can be sterilised in the microwave- they are great. However if your baby drinks formula milk best to pack all you’ll need to make their feed at a stop off on the way and during your stay.

Skincare

I also pack sunscreen and swimwear, open spaces like beaches are great for kids to run around in and expel some energy!

Sunglasses and hats can come in really handy to protect the little ones from the sun. It can be scorching hot if you happen to be out when the suns at its hottest so don’t forget to protect their skin.

Clothing and shoes

I tend to pack for the kids based on two things- the weather and the activity. I always also pack something warm as the evenings can be cold for kids and you never know when you’ll end up staying out a little later. I pack one ‘going out’ outfit for each day and for a 4 day stay for example I’ll pack 3 staying at home outfits should plans change and we end up staying indoors. Vests I pack enough for the number of days for my eldest and 2 extra than normal for the baby. Same with pyjamas, if it’s a summer vacation it’s likely vests won’t be needed everyday anyway.

I try to keep footwear to a minimum and only take 2 pairs of shoes each max to save space. Socks are always good for keeping warm in the evening or just to keep their feet safe on non-slip surfaces, so these I pack one for each day.

A light jacket or cardigan, as mentioned previously sometimes the early mornings and evenings can be nippy so taking an extra layer on top of that t-shirt or blouse will help keep the kids warm.

Toys

Toys and activities- you don’t have to be on a long drive to know that kids get bored of activities/games really quickly lol. I don’t want to get into the habit of always buying new games for trips but I do pick toys that they may not have played with for a while. Colouring activities, interactive books, puzzles that are easy to use in the car work well. new toys do work well as there is something different and exciting for them to explore.

Take their own plate/bowl and cutlery. I think this adds some familiarity to mealtimes in a new environment. These are often light and don’t take up much space when packing.

Wipes, wipes and lots of wipes oh and hand sanitiser of course. When you’re on the move in the car this is a good way to ensure that little hands are kept clean especially when they are snacking. Of course there is no substitute for hands being washed under clean running water but in between that time sanitiser and wipes do a fairly good job.

Lastly…

Try and get enough rest, car journeys can be tiring especially if there are delays on the roads. Providing entertainment, feeding little ones and possibly helping with navigation is all part of the fun of a staycation so relax and make great memories!

As always thank you for reading and I hope you have found this useful x

What I’ve learnt about breastfeeding so far

I haven’t posted since April 29th, in those 8 weeks things have been pretty busy. I’ve had some major realigning to do as I get to grips with raising a toddler and a new born but I’ll save the in’s and out’s of that for another post! What I wanted to talk about today is breastfeeding as its something I had always thought came naturally to every woman without any required effort on my part which isn’t really the case. So here goes my list, I’d like to say before starting that the breastfeeding experience is completely different for everyone and how your baby is fed has no baring on the type of mother you are.

1. If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. Yes in the famous words of Aaliyah if you don’t quite get the hang of it try again. My first attempt to breastfeed my first born was a long tale of tears, sore nipples, frustration and basically not really getting the hang of it. By the time I did get the hang of it, it was too late. May daughter by then had developed a preference to formula milk and I only fed her breastmilk in the mornings and evenings for about 10 months before stopping completely. Second time around? A totally different story, I had milk from the very beginning and have had no issues whatsoever with feeding.

2. Be prepared for an increase in appetite. No one told me about this and I was surprised to find how ravenous I became when feeding the little one. I have noticed that the hunger levels are increased when I haven’t had sufficient sleep. It makes sense as the body is making milk plus breastfeeding itself takes up about 500 calories too so the body needs a lot of fuel.

3. I’ve found it harder to loose weight. Breastfeeding has increased my appetite coupled with looking after two young kids and interrupted sleep the motivation to work out has been pretty low. My midwife says the body sometimes actually reserves some fat during breastfeeding which can also make weight loss pretty difficult, so I guess it’s time to embrace these love handles a little longer lol!

4. My let-down responds to baby’s nap times. I found it interesting that around the time that my baby is about to wake up I feel my let down. It feels like a heavy prickling moving from my chest down towards the nipples and can feel a little uncomfortable until he begins to feed.

5. Breastfeeding tea has been a big help in keeping my supply up. The main ingredient in the tea is fennel which you can also buy as seeds and pop into some hot water and drink just the fluid.

6. 3 litres of water a day keeps me hydrated. I feel so dehydrated after a feed and as breast milk is almost 80% water I need to keep my body topped up. I keep a 1.6litre bottle of water with me at all times to ensure my body is getting what it needs.

7. My body makes more milk when I get some rest. As hard as it can be to fit in having a mini nap or a little rest helps me to produce more milk. I find that when I am stressed or rushing around I still make milk but it’s less than usual.

I really did feel that breastfeeding the first time around was a minefield. Even after all the help I had at the hospital from breastfeeding consultants I couldn’t quite get it right. After navigating sore nipples, working out my water and food intake I’m pleased to have mastered it second time around. If you’re on your breastfeeding journey some of these tips might be familiar to you too. Either way I hope it’s been an interesting read.

Until next time, have a lovely weekend xx

My birth story

Having had a planned c-section with my first child the entire experience of having braxton hicks let alone contractions was totally new to me. To prepare myself for what was to come I watched videos (some rather graphic 🙈) and read up as much as I could. Little did I know that this wouldn’t really do much for preparing me for the pain lol.

In the latter stages of my pregnancy and during the birth I was aware that there was a pandemic going on but chose not to dwell on it. I only stepped out for my compulsory walks and appointments and focused on preparing for the baby’s arrival. I felt like either way the baby was still going to come and I was at peace trusting in God’s protection during this season.

Anyway fast forward to 21st April, my due date was the 22nd and my hospital bag was packed. I was ready for the arrival of our baby boy. We had an appointment for me to be assessed at 10:15 in the morning and a decision would be made whether I’d be induced or not. I had a nervous excited feeling in my stomach that I probably wouldn’t make that appointment. I had been having pretty strong braxton hicks for about 2 weeks prior to this day and were always really regular in the evening.

Air balloons in the room to keep me calm during delivery

I prepped my clothes the night before and went to bed. At exactly 2:45 am on Wednesday 22nd April I had a contraction that woke me up out of my sleep. I’d never had one before but at that moment I just knew. The pain went from my back reached around my waist and hardened my bump in a way I’d never felt before. I grabbed my phone and started timing the duration and frequency. After an hour of contractions I woke up my husband and told him to get ready, it was time.

At this point my contractions were not too strong, I was able to have a warm shower and get ready to go to the hospital. I was smiling and laughing with hubby and thinking about how I’d finally be seeing my baby after 40 weeks! As I waddled to the car it crossed my mind that we still hadn’t decided on a name and I started to run through the shortlist we had picked in my mind.

Upon arrival at the hospital we were taken into one of the assessment rooms where the baby’s heart rate was monitored for an hour or so. My contractions continued but were okay enough for me to not need the medicine they were offering for the pain. As the contractions weren’t getting closer together we chose to go home. By this time it was 7am and I was feeling both hungry and tired having been up since almost 3am.

We got home and I had a lovely breakfast (this was a bad idea) the breakfast actually made me nauseated as I was in the early stages of labour. At around 7:30am that morning I had a contraction that caused me to loose my mucus plug but my contractions were still not getting closer together but they were getting more painful.

By 7pm the contractions were so painful that I couldn’t speak whilst they were happening. I’d get on all fours and breath in as deeply as I could till the minute had passed. As the contractions grew stronger it became harder to practice these breathing techniques and I just wanted to scream to be honest lol. My daughter kept looking at me and saying “mummy is sooo tired” ha ha! She was right, I was exhausted and I thought to myself if this baby comes tonight will I even have the energy to push?

We left for the hospital that evening around 8 and I was given some painkillers via transfusion which helped me to sleep a little and numb the pain of the contractions. This soon however wore off and I was left to remember my breathing techniques again. As soon as I woke up from my nap my waters broke and I felt a small sense of relief that my labour was progressing and these painful contractions would soon be a distant memory.

Looking at how my stomach made all of these distorted shapes during contractions and marvelled at how the body was doing all it could to get the baby out. I was still feeling very nauseated so was given another medication via infusion for this and it went almost immediately.

At this point it had been 13 hours since my contractions had started and I was 5cm dilated. I decided to get into the water bath and see if that bought any relief. It did for about 30 minutes but I then began to feel so hot and uncomfortable.

The water bath in the delivery room

As time progressed my contractions finally began to be closer together and were so intense I wanted to cry. I was checked to see how dilated I was and the midwife told me I was still 5cm! I felt so deflated. After all this time I didn’t get why my labour wasn’t progressing and there was now talk of having a c-section. I was fed up and felt as though I had come so far only to now go through a c-section.

When the midwife left the room hubby and I prayed. We prayed that the Lords will would be done and that He would be with us. As soon as we had finished praying our midwife came back into the room with her colleague. She told us that she wanted to get a second opinion on how far along I was. The second midwife checked me and said “no, you are actually 9cm dilated!” I was in shock and thanked God for the second opinion of this midwife.

I couldn’t believe it, if this midwife had gone with her first opinion I would have had a c-section when I didn’t need to! God is so faithful and I’m so glad he turned this situation around within minutes and completely changed the outcome of this birth.

By now it was around 9am and I had had an epidural but could still feel each contraction. I started to feel the need to push at this point. I was advised to breath in deeply through my mouth and hold my breath, lower my chin deep into my chest and push as hard as I could as though doing a number 2.

It was so encouraging to have hubby and a well informed midwife in the room, they both motivated me all along the way. At just before midday )and after much pushing) our baby boy was born and I felt so many emotions, relief being the biggest of all. I was also excited, tired, proud and just so so happy. All tiredness seemed to leave my body as I had this precious boy in my arms.

As always thank you for reading xx

Third trimester fashion

So as my pregnancy develops and my baby bump becomes bigger I’m having to adjust my wardrobe quite a bit. Finding what is comfortable and also looks nice can be a bit of a challenge.

They say everyone carries differently in pregnancy which is indeed true even for one person your bump can be different from one pregnancy to another.

Top – Zara, Skirt – H&M

The biggest change I’ve noticed is how soon I was showing with this pregnancy. Having an elongated bump means opting for longer tops that cover my bump in its entirety. This also meant going for over the bump maternity jeans and midi-length dresses.

Jumper – Weekday, Skirt – H&M

As I don’t have much longer to go I won’t be adding any new pieces to my wardrobe but I have started thinking about my wardrobe post baby. Especially the weeks/months following the birth which I remember were filled with lots of breastfeeding! Being a nursing mum means ensuring that I’m wearing items I can easily feed in whether I’m at home or out and about. For me tops that button up are the most convenient. I’m not a fan of having to hoist up my t-shirt in order to feed my child so having to just undo a couple of buttons to allow baby to quickly latch on worked best for me.

Here are some ‘breastfeeding friendly’ dresses that I quite like:

Zara
Zara
And Other Stories
Hugo
Espirit
Isabel Marant

As always thank you for reading and I hope you found this useful if you’re an expecting mum x

Purpose Beyond Motherhood

I knew once I got the hang of what I was doing that I was going to absolutely love motherhood and I honestly believe that (by Gods grace) I am doing a good job. The rewards that come with nurturing a little one are absolutely priceless but this doesn’t take away from wanting to achieve more and to be more. Besides the fact that children grow up incredibly quickly, there was a purpose and a drive inside of me long before children, meaning that there are still things that I am passionate about and projects and ideas that God has laid on my heart to (by His grace) bring to fruition.

This of course doesn’t take away from those who are solely stay-at-home mums, its not an easy job and is one that takes up all day and some! Especially if you have more than one child.

I know that first time around I definitely became swallowed up by all that motherhood required of me and delved into this role with everything leaving very little time for any of my own interests. Finding the balance can be hard especially when each stage of your babies growth requires you to adapt just when you feel as though you’re getting the hang of things.

If you’re like me and believe that actually the passions, interests, desires you had pre-children are still very much there I encourage you to dedicate a little time to it everyday. Whatever it may be. It could be 10 minutes of research or a good 40 minutes of brainstorming/planning a few times a week. I believe there is more fulfilment to be found in nurturing the gifts that we have and balancing home, family and personal interests.

As always thank you for reading, please share this with someone that you think will enjoy reading this too.

 

Have a great week! xx

Holiday Maternity fashion

I had to plan my outfits for our holiday quite strategically as I knew that my bump would grow during that time and I had to be mindful that we were going to a hot country and that above all I would need to be comfortable in what I was wearing too. For this pregnancy I wanted to avoid buying maternity wear specifically but instead go for things that I could still wear in the summer after the baby was born. So my criteria was trousers would need to be beneath the bump or elasticated in the waist. I also opted for stretchy dresses and skirts and loose fitting dresses.

Here are some of the outfits I wore whilst away…

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Dress made in Ghana. Shoes – ASOS

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Top – Massimo Dutti. Skirt and Bag – Zara. Shoes – Topshop

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Dress and Sunglasses – Mango. Bag – Michael Kors. Sandals – Mint Velvet

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Shirt and Bandeau – ASOS. Skirt – H&M. Shoes – Zara

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Top, Vest, Trousers, Heels and Earrings – Zara

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Dress – And Other Stories

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Dress and Fascinator both made in Ghana

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Blouse, Trousers and Mules – Zara. Bag – Michael Kors

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Shirt and Sandals – Zara. Cycling Shorts – ASOS

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Headband and T-shirt – Zara. Jeans – ASOS Maternity. Shoes – Topshop

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Dress – H&M. Mules – Zara

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Dress and Fascinator both made in Ghana

Travelling to Ghana with a 1 year old

Okay so now that we are back, unpacked and settled I thought I’d do a blog post on some of the things that I did to prepare ourselves to travelling to Ghana with our little one. The main reason we decided to ship the items that you’ll see below is because we were staying with family. We would have had to plan things a little differently if we were staying in a rented apartment or hotel. I hope you find this useful if you’re planning on going away with young children.

Vaccination

I wouldn’t say I was worried about going on this trip with my little one but I definitely wanted to make sure that I took all the precautions necessary and covered almost all eventualities. I began ensuring that she had her vaccinations, being the yellow fever vaccination, we were advised by the doctor that she needed it and I actually regretted it because she didn’t react well to it and her paediatrician later said that it wasn’t actually necessary and she was still too young to have it. That was a big lesson learned because the fever and symptoms lasted a week but was glad that I had done the vaccinations knowing she was well protected and has also done so well before our departure date, so she was back to normal for the flight.

Medicines

I had a pretty extensive first aid bag in our suitcase lol which included everything from medicines to treat stomach aches, colds, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. As well as plasters and other first aid bits. Thankfully we didn’t need to use any of these but it was good to know that we had all of these to hand should they be required.

The flight

I wasn’t sure how things would pan out on the flight given it was an afternoon flight so ensured that I packed enough entertainment in the form of books, colouring in material and toys. None of this was used in the end as she found it far more entertaining to play with another baby who was sitting on our row lol. I packed food for her for the flight which was just as well as our airline provided none whatsoever to our surprise!

Baby furniture

In terms of the day to day things that my daughter would need we decided to ship these in advance. These included all of her snacks, car seat, travel cot, foldable high chair, nappies and wipes. This was a great idea and really made it a smooth transition for her as she had all of her home comforts, which made feed times and sleeping much much easier. The travel cot and highchair were not bought new as we only used it for 3 weeks and we knew we wouldn’t be bringing it back with us. Our foldable stroller came with us and was most useful for travelling through the airport we only used it on a couple of occasions during the trip, we also got a mosquito net for the  buggy but never needed to use it.

Clothing and shoes

When packing her clothes I took into consideration that she wouldn’t be going everywhere with us, as she’s only one there would be few tourist attractions that would be of interest to her. I also knew that hubby and I would take the opportunity to have some date days/nights seeing as we had my parents around and help at home too.

With regards to what I packed I of course kept all outfits as light as possible so 80% of her clothes were light cotton dresses (many of which I was able to pick up from John Lewis during their end of summer sale) with some knee-length leggings and vest tops for staying at home (I bought these from Primark)

For footwear, we wanted something that would cover her feet well but were still breathable. So we packed 3 sandals, one pair that were waterproof and suitable for the pool or beach, one full shoe and one pair of trainers.

I did also pack cardigans in the event that we would be somewhere air conditioned that was a bit cold for her and I did end up using it on some evenings. Things such as hats and sunglasses are also a must and came in handy on those hot afternoons.

Food

I had packed some berries in my hand luggage that I thought would be hard to find in Ghana such as blueberries and she was able to have these as part of her breakfast for the first 5 days but thankfully she took so well to all of the delicious fruits available in Ghana such as the mango, pineapples, banana’s and oranges. I also packed her cereals for breakfast and took some long life milk with us too.

Protection

Both hubby and I always ensured that whether we were going out in the day or in the evening we all had our repellent spray on and were fully covered. If we went out with our daughter we made sure that we were home or were heading home by sunset as there are more mosquitoes around in the evenings. We found the spray on repellents particularly effective and there are ones that are made specifically for children which is great. I also picked up a children’s hand santizer from Boots which was great for when we are out and about, especially with a one year old.

Seems like a lot of prep right? Yes it was lol and was something that I had started to plan months in advance especially in terms of finding summer wear I knew it would be difficult if I left everything until December. All in all we had a lovely relaxing trip, it was great to see family and enjoy a bit of sun during the winter months.

Thank you for reading xx

Am I making the most of my time as a mum?

Being a stay at home mum means that I sometimes feel as though I’m not being productive, even though I’m maintaining a home and raising a child my efforts can sometimes feel as though they aren’t really bring forth any tangible benefits.

This is when I must remind myself that I am investing in my children’s future and what I am doing now will put them in good steed for the future.

I must also remember that this is just a season and one that I must embrace and enjoy because it will pass and it will be before I know it, my daughter will be much older and independent not needing my help in many day to day things.

Remembering this also helps me to relax and doesn’t give me the feeling that I’m in some way ‘missing out’ by not being at work. I must say that after you’ve cleaned up food off the floor for what feels like the 55th time in one day, being in an office does sound very very appealing 🙂

Having worked since my teenage years this new season has taken some adjusting to but watching my little grow and blossom has been so so rewarding, it’s such a honour. I’ve gained a new perspective on life and I’m thankful for that.

Thank you for reading x

Hair care for my little one

Hey everyone! It’s been a while and why not kick off my return with an easy haircare routine.

I’d like to point out that What I’m going to share with you has been based on trial and error and me studying my daughters hair pattern and how it reacts to different products. I hope you find it useful for your little girl/boys delicate tresses 🙂

– Firstly, I wash my daughters hair once a week. I do this because her curly hair locks in moisture very well and doesn’t get dirty that quickly. I wash her hair using Cantu Care for kids tear-free nourishing shampoo

– I then finish this off with Cantu Care for kids leave in conditioner. I use this rather sparingly and work it through the hair with my fingers, I don’t comb her hair at this stage. I then put a shower cap in her (if allowed lol) to let the leave-in really do it’s work

– I also have the Cantu Care for kids Conditioner, I use this after the shampoo every other week because for me I feel like it does a very similar job to the leave-in conditioner with the only difference being that I rinse out the conditioner. The consistency and smell seem identical to me but that could just be me.

– After leaving the shower cap on for 10 minutes or so, I remove and pat dry any excess leave-in and style her hair. I begin with the Cantu conditioning creamy hair lotion. This is the adult one so I use very little.

– I follow this with some Castor oil, I bought this one on amazon and it’s pretty good, with its nice thick consistency, you wouldn’t need much.

– Then finally I use Cantu Care for kids curling cream to define her curls. Again you don’t need to much of this but can always adjust quantity depending on the thickness and length of your child’s hair. I’m really impressed with this product, it leaves my daughters hair so shiny and the curls stay defined for most of the day.

– For creating styles that require hold like cornrows or putting the hair into bunches I use the Cantu Care for kids styling custard. I really like how it holds the hair and there is no residue what’s so ever, no bits in the hair, the hair doesn’t become hard, it’s still soft and nourished. This is my favourite product out of the range.

– For day to day care I do not use a comb on her hair, I tease out any knots with my fingers and run my hands through the hair gently, even if I’m putting it into bunches I don’t come it, I just tease it out with my fingers then gather it into a hold. For slicker styles I do use a very soft brush.

– I gently message the scalp concentrating on the hairline with castor oil to keep her scalp moisturised and promote growth, I do this daily.

– I was putting a silk headscarf on her head at night but that didn’t last long lool! May be when she’s a bit older. The cotton bedding really dries out the hair and saps the oil out, but will keep moisturising her hair daily to combat that.

I hope you’ve found this useful. If you have any questions please leave it in the comments or drop me an email 🙂

Thank you for reading xx

Skincare and self care

I’ve never really had a strict skincare regime but have always followed the basic rules of cleansing, toning and moisturising my skin twice a day. Now that I’m a mum looking after my skin is still important and I really want to give it my best.

In January I got some Wildseed Botanicals skin care products and I have to say that they are the best products I’ve used on my skin in a long long time. I’ve tried both high end and high street brands and I can honestly say the results from these have been impressive. I’ll take you through what I got and how I use it.

Pink Grapefruit Energising Body Polish

I find this product so luxurious and it has become a staple product that I use without fail every week. Once I’ve showered I smother this all over my skin and rinse away. I then pay away any excess water and I’m done! There’s no need to moisturise my body after that. It leaves my skin with an undeniable glow that lasts all day. My skin just feels so nourished, silky and soft. It really gives you a glow that isn’t greasy looking but just looks healthy and well looked after, I love this stuff!

Green Smoothie Vitamin and Mineral Rich Clay Mask

I use a spatula to scoop a little of this into the palm of my hand and add a little water and mix into a paste. Using my fingers I glide the clay mask all over my face, giving full coverage and avoiding the eye area. I leave it on to harden then remove with a warm soft cloth. I saw results after just one use of this mask. It’s pretty much the most revitalising mask I’ve used. I have used other clay masks that just draw out all the goodness from your skin and leave your skin super dry but this left my skin looking bright and cleansed. It really gave me a deep clean. I also use this product once a week.

Asase Aba Radiance Body Oil

I mix this oil with my moisturising lotion and apply daily to give my body that soft glow. It’s also great for this season when the air is still a bit dry, keeping my skin nice and hydrated throughout the day. This oil isn’t heavy. It’s beautifully light. What I love about all these products is they are all full of ingredients that are good for your skin and they are all natural! You can find a full list of the ingredients and some of the benefits on the Wildseed Botanicals website.

Rānā Regenerative Facial Serum

I’ve saved my favourite product in my collection till last. I’ve been using this day and night for almost 2 months now and I have noticed a real change in my skin. A little of this product does go a long way, so once I’ve cleansed, toned and moisturised I just place 3-4 drops in the palm of my hand, spread and gently press it into my skin ensuring full coverage. I just love the way it makes my skin feel, I feel like I’m feeding it good food haha! My skin has become clearer and feels really moisturised.

These products have really helped me to care for my skin in the way that I should and makes my ‘me time’ just that bit more special. I can’t recommend these products enough. There are others in the range so please do check them out too. You can check out the website here I am really enjoying using these products and just had to wrote a blog post and share.

Thank you for reading! X