The holiday travel checklist for families with children under the age of 3

As we look towards sunnier days some maybe thinking about a family holiday. If like me you like to get organised early and book the perfect place. There’s a lot to think about when travelling with babies so here are some tips to help your trip run as smoothly as possible!

1. Give yourself time to prepare and plan for your trip. Check that passports are in date and that your baby is up to date with their vaccinations.

2. Read reviews on the hotel where you’ll be staying. Ensuring that your accommodation caters for families and can provide amenities like a baby cot and baby bath. Read reviews left by families especially. Booking.com usually show you if a review has been left by a family. Check the hotel pictures left by customers to get a real feel of the place.

3. Check if the airline your flying with provide meals for children. Some short flights do offer separate meals for babies and children.

4. Most airlines offer additional allowance without charge for you to check in your car or booster seat, collapsible buggy, travel cot and baby back carrier. Some airlines are specific about the type of stroller you can take to the door of the plane. Once checked in you should specify whether you want to pick up the stroller from the door of the plane or from the conveyor belt. Either way it’s best to have your baby carrier with you just incase baby is asleep when you land for example.

5. Baby food and water for your baby is allowed on the plane but will be screened by security. You can get more information from your airports website.

6. Pack snacks like fruit and sandwiches for the kids. It’s always good to have some to hand incase there are any delays to the flight.

7. Nappies and wipes although light can be bulky in a suitcase. Pack enough for the first night and second day of your stay. Use maps to check the local area for the nearest supermarket or pharmacy so you know where to go to pick some up.

8. Will you be hiring a car? Some providers offer car or booster seats. If your planning lots of trips whilst away it may be worth hiring a car seat instead of bringing the one you have. Call your car hire company and find out.

9. Most airports have a family check-in area, take advantage of these as they have specific tags for bulky check in items like pushchairs and buggies and are usually less busy than the normal check-in desks.

Credit: Getty images

10. Check your children’s baggage allowance. Some airlines don’t offer children under a certain age any baggage and some do. Always check beforehand to avoid any surprises at the airport.

I hope you’ve found this useful. Let me know in the comments section if you have any other top tips for travelling with babies. Thank you for reading x

5 things that potty training my daughter has taught me

Hello hello! It’s been a while and I’ve missed blogging. Parenting two young kids has been a big adjustment and the adjusting is still taking place lol.

It’s been a few weeks now since I started potty training my daughter and I wanted to share some real life lessons that I’ve taken away from it.

1. Patience when trying to reach your goals is key. When your patient you’re less likely to become frustrated and give up. Patience helps you to see the bigger picture and keep the end goal in mind. I’ve learnt to understand that I’m steering my daughter into a new way of thinking and also negotiating with someone who is very independent lol!

2. It’s okay to change strategy. Changing your mind and being innovative keeps the challenge fresh and less laborious. I’ve asked for lots of advice from mums and I’ve implemented them at different times to help reach the end goal.

3. Stay positive. Even when my daughter has an ‘accident’ I assure her that she’s going to get there. I never make her feel bad for what she has done, make a scene about it and I most certainly don’t tell her off. Positivity and a smile goes a long way and will actually help in progressing with the training. The way we talk to ourselves and the thoughts we entertain are important, say good things about your plans and ideas, use scripture if you’re a believer.

4. Celebrate the small wins. There has been more dancing’s between singing in our home these past few weeks than ever before as we celebrate each successful use of the potty and the same can be said about life too. Don’t demote something to mediocre when actually it should be celebrated. It gives you motivation to continue and reminds you that progress is being made.

5. Stay the course. It would be easy to give in and put a nappy on but we are so determined to stay the course and finally have a potty trained child. The reward at the end far outweighs giving in now into what’s more comfortable and familiar for her. The same goes for any other goal you have, put in the work and the results will be something you’ll be so so proud of.

Thank you for reading x

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

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

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

My 5 top tips for new parents

I truly believe that becoming a parent makes you an expert in YOUR  OWN child. If you pay enough attention and spend enough time with them, you and your partner get to know them better than anyone else. There are some things that I have realised in my 8 and a bit months of parenting that I would like to share. Here they are:

  1. Observe your child and watch for any patterns that develop with their feeding, nappy changes and baths. This may not be possible within the first 8 or so weeks but you will eventually recognise when they respond well to nappy changes and baths. You’ll be able to spot signs for hunger, tiredness or even trapped wind.
  2. Help your baby to feel secure in your arms. You are doing an amazing job and are the best person to be your child’s parent. Babies can sense insecurity, uncertainty and fear. Speak to them in a loving and assuring way, even if they are crying, try your best to remain calm and not get worked up.
  3. Take lots of pictures of your baby as they grow and change because its true what they say- time does really fly and they’ll be a toddler before you know it.
  4. Staying organised will help you to spend more quality time talking to and engaging with your baby. Simply putting a few things in place during the evening for the following day will help you start the day in a more relaxed way. This could be setting up for the morning bath, running a wash through the night or making sure bottles are cleaned/sterilised will all help.
  5. SELF-CARE – this is so so important mums. Take some time out for you! It could be a work-out, going on a short walk alone, having your nails done, a bubble bath. Whatever it may be try and get some time to look after yourself. You need to be in a good place to give your child your best. Agree with your partner a set day or a little time each week to do something yourself, you’ll feel refreshed.

Thank you for reading x

Birth and beyond – the first few weeks

I had many conversations about the birth itself with others going into real detail about what takes place. My birthing class had also prepared me for what would happen when our baby was ready to make her appearance.

I didn’t however have many discussions about the days/weeks immediately following the birth and what would take place. It was all added experience. How your stomach feels after pregnancy. My appetite increased rather rapidly after birth. Hormones were leaving my body at a rapid rate making me sweat profusely, it was really quite something!

After the delivery I felt exhausted and the pain set in in a big way once the spinal anaesthesia had worn off. I felt the cut with every single move but in the same breath was overcome with joy and relief that my daughter was finally here and she was just so perfect.

Being just over an hour old my daughter latched on for the first time and drew her first few sips. I was so amazed that a baby who was yet to open her eyes and really see her mother was able to make her way to my chest and feed. I felt a proud sense of responsibility to be her source of food, comfort and security.

I didn’t immediately have enough breast milk to meet her demands and had to supplement with formula milk. It took around 2 weeks for my supply to be adequate for a feed and for me and even longer to feed comfortably without pain and discomfort.

Statistics say that only 1% of mothers exclusively breastfeed after 6 months and I totally understand why. I’ll never dispute that breast milk is an amazing source of food and nutrition for babies and is 100% sterile you cannot beat that. However for me I did find feeding in this way incredibly strenuous and painful for some time.

I made the decision to feed my baby both breast and formula milk and that decision worked best. I knew that she was getting all that she needed from me, all the goodness and nutrients that my milk had to offer.

In the beginning I put a lot of pressure on myself to get enough milk and sometimes didn’t even trust that my milk was enough. I took fenugreek tablets and ate lactation cookies to increase my supply. The pain of the initial latch made me often not look forward to feed times but I equally also felt this responsibility to feed her.

As time went on I let go of this pressure I’d put on myself which made me more relaxed about feed times and allowed me to enjoy this precious time with my baby. What mattered was that she was fed, healthy and happy.

Thank you for reading x

Third trimester

Ahh finally!! Third trimester arrived! The excitement had really reached its pinnacle lol. The waddle was in full effect, the nursery was ready and we had even filled our daughters wardrobe with some lovely gifted items as well as things we had bought for her. Each day felt like a week as I waited and I felt as though every little twitch could potentially be a contraction lol

During the last few months I had pelvic pain as the weight of the baby pressed down, which also caused lower back pain. I still had increased melanin on my neck and chest see pic below

Swollen ankles meant that slippers and more precisely single strap sandals or flip flops became my footwear of choice for the last 2 months before birth. It’s a good thing the weather was nice. I experienced braxton hicks from about 36 weeks and they were often pretty intense.

The simple tasks I once did swiftly and easily I now needed help with – putting on shoes, picking items off the floor, basically any action that required me to bend down towards my feet lol.

Interestingly I had even more energy in my last trimester and felt motivated to really tidy and clean up, I had read that this was common during the last trimester, this sudden urgency to have your home ready to receive your baby.

I had always wanted to find out the gender of our baby beforehand so you can imagine how I felt not finding out until almost 5.5 months! Each time we had gone for a scan our baby’s legs were either crossed or the position wasn’t clear enough to make out the gender. As my pregnancy progressed it became even harder to see as the bones became more dense. We finally did however get a scan which could give us a definite answer 🙂 it’s a girl!

From around week 35 our baby had gotten into the breech position and we were told there was a possibility that I would have to go through a c-section. Her head was tucked right up in my womb towards my chest, with her bottom facing down towards my cervix and her legs folded in towards her chest. I wasn’t worried, I still had enough amniotic fluid for her to have some shuffle room and turn around.

Of course I had heard a lot of stories about how other people’s births had been and it did make me dream about my own. Was it going to be quick? Was it going to be as painful as everyone said it was?

I would have absolutely loved to have had a natural birth but as I reached closer to the 40 weeks mark it was becoming clear that our dear little princess wasn’t going to get into position. For one reason or another she simply couldn’t turn. Having done everything I could (in the safest way possible) the decision was made to deliver via c-section.

As the delivery via this method had been planned I had just over a week to prepare mentally for what would take place and to be totally relaxed throughout. I knew that I was in safe hands and that I’d soon be meeting our precious gift.

Thank you for reading xx

Second trimester

This I have to say was the trimester I enjoyed the most, I had energy (way more than in my first trimester) and I had begun working out. My morning sickness subsided around week 17 and I just felt so much better. As my body began to change I felt the effects if I stood for too long, I become thirsty incredibly quickly, needed the loo frequently, tiredness, chapped lips, peeling skin, a cold and increased melanin made the skin around my mouth and on my chest very dark. All of these changes were signals of what was happening inside of me.

I had to also give in and got myself some maternity jeans as the weather grew colder and I needed to make room for my expanding bump. ASOS came to the rescue and I was able to get some fairly nice over the bump jeans to see me through this season. Maternity fashion isn’t great, with many of the styles lacking in creativity and style. I stumbled across many a bootleg jean and unflattering top that made me want to squeeze into my pre-pregnancy clothes lol

30 weeks pregnant

Being creative with my wardrobe helped, for example buying 2 sizes up or baggy fit items from some of my favourite high street brands meant that I could still maintain my style even with my baby bump.

The shape of my bump as the pregnancy progressed did make it hard for me to fit even the maternity jeans as my belly grew outwards giving me a long melon shaped bump. I was even more excited though and couldn’t wait to meet my baby. Time seemed to drag on and i just wanted her to be here already. Quite a lot of people had been telling me to get lots of rest because when the baby came it would be tiring but I now realise that there is no way that you can ‘store up sleep’ and nothing actually prepares you for this unique experience.

 

Thank you for reading! xx