Thursday, 30 July 2015

Mummy Time: Siobhan Miller

Siobhan is a fellow mummy blogger and all-round sweetheart; I had the pleasure of meeting her and her beautiful boys yesterday at a meet up in London along with many of the other mums that have featured on Mummy Time in the past! I can confirm they are all real people and are all beautiful in real life, as are their babies. I loved Siobhan's feature this week and I hope you will too.


Who are you?
I’m Siobhan, aka The Double Mama, a 29-year-old Mother of two (hence the double mama name). I live in London with my three boys – James (32), Oisin (8) and Arlo Bear (7m).

What do you do for a living?
I’m on maternity leave at the moment but will not be going back in September purely because full time childcare is prohibitively expensive and we don’t have any family within a 4 hour drive to help us out. Instead I’m launching a breakfast club for children and providing early morning childcare for local working parents. I’m also happy to be doing some work for The Calm Birth School using my digital marketing experience from my previous life.

How are you?
I am loving being a Mama second time around – I don’t know if it’s being older or just more experienced but I’m loving every minute. At a guess I’d say I spent 80% of motherhood first time around worrying and I read everything there was to read on raising a baby. This time I’ve not read a single book or looked up milestones or anything else. I’ve spent my time enjoying my beautiful baby.
That’s not to say life in general is all flowers and happiness. Keeping a relationship on track with kids is fu*king difficult and I struggle with that.

How does a typical day go? 
I get up about 5.45am and feed the baby Bear, he then generally goes back to sleep for another hour or so, so I do too! James then gets up next and gives the Bear his breakfast. Oisin by this point is already up and has helped himself to food. By 8.30am it’s pretty hectic with James leaving for work and Oisin off to school. At 9am – ish, Arlo Bear goes down for a power nap and I take a shower. I then try to get everything I need to get done (my work, life admin, housework, washing, dissertation(!!)) completed between the hours of 10am and 3pm, including feeding the bear a couple times (boob and food) and hosing him down a few more times (blame baby led weaning). Sometimes I might meet up with another adult, which is always blissful. At 3 o’clock I leave to collect Oisin from school and a couple of his friends who I look after normally come back too. Until 6pm it’s a madhouse with 4 kids, keeping them entertained, stopping wars breaking out, refereeing football matches, ensuring the baby doesn’t choke on lego blocks, making dinner and getting them all fed. After 6pm, James gets back from work and we work like a military team to get the house back to a half-way respectable state, the kids bathed, the homework done, and them into bed by 8pm. We then try and eat something vaguely healthy and filling ourselves and catch up on the day. I’m a real night owl so I will then stay up late most nights, reading blogs, scrolling social media, writing my own blog, window-shopping for clothes online and working on my dissertation. I normally go to bed around midnight but often later.


How was your pregnancy?
The first half of pregnancy with my second baby was pretty goddamn awful. I was so sick I ended up being admitted to hospital and put on a drip. I had that ‘morning sickness’ which is actually all day sickness and is given a fancy name hyperemesis gravidarum – it’s what Kate Middleton had. Any time I now get even the slightest wave of nausea I get the fear that it’s happening again. It was like a 24-hour bug that lasted 5 months. But then I remind myself that I would need to have had sex to be prego again ;) Plus I don’t think it would be possible because I’ve still not even had a period since February 2014!

Did you have any cravings?
Croissants and orange juice were the only things I could stomach for the first 5 months. After that I moved on to noodle dishes and milkshakes. Afterward giving birth I really weirdly started drinking sugar in my tea which I normally could not stand. Also cokes! I never drank fizzy drinks until after Arlo was born and now I have a least one coke a day – I’m an addict. What’s that about??!

Did you find out what you were having?
I did with my first but not with my second. And I have mixed feelings about that. It was kind of a cool surprise but you know what, you’re already pretty elated/shocked/awash with emotion when you push a HUMAN BEING out of your vagina that whether it’s a boy or girl doesn’t add that much more excitement. I do feel like I wasn’t able to bond as well with my baby in utero because I didn’t know if it was a he or a she and I couldn’t imagine what they would be like. So if I’m lucky enough to have a third, I’m probably going to find out…

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
We chose Phoenix for a girl (which I still LOVE) and Arlo for a boy. We did have the names ready but only because we liked them and then didn’t bother extensively searching for anymore. Bit lazy. No great story behind the names either – Phoenix came to me one evening and it just stuck. Arlo came to me one summer afternoon. I also liked Jet because I had a great-Uncle called Jet and he was pretty cool, but then people went on about the Gladiator and Katie Price’s child so that put me off.

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?
Hynobirthing classes!! I did mine with London Hypnobirthing and I would definitely recommend. We didn’t do NCT because a) I had already had a child b) we didn’t want to pay for another set of classes. I would say that because we didn’t do NCT I never met a group of local mums-to-be who were due at the same time as me and therefore I don’t now have a group of Mum buddies with babies the same age as mine who live near me. So I think I lost out there a bit. So if you can afford it, maybe do both. If you can only afford one, definitely do hypnobirthing – you can meet Mums in other ways.

How was your labour?
My labour was the best day of my life. I don’t say this to make people feel bad if they had a pretty traumatic time. I say this to bring hope! With my first I was well overdue and ended up being induced. My labour last the best part of two days and it was totally traumatic. I was hooked up to a drip for days, wasn’t allowed to eat, couldn’t sleep so was absolutely shattered and weak. I had an epidural on the second night so by the time my baby was born in theatre (mere moments from an emergency c-section) I was totally out of it and couldn’t feel a thing. The first photo of me holding my newborn shows me half asleep with my eyes rolled back in my head! Oh and I was hyperventilating in theatre with the panic because of his dropping heart rate and then being sick for some unknown reason afterwards. It was a horror show.

So please don’t think I’m being smug when I now talk about what a dream my second labour was. I have been there when everything goes wrong and they have to break your waters and take blood from baby’s head whilst he/she is still in the womb to check their oxygen levels and then monitor baby with a clip attached to their head. I’ve been there with the forceps delivery and the internal tears, the impersonal brightly lit theatre, all the people watching. I’ve been there.

However for my second labour we put in a lot of work. We went to our hynobirthing classes and we did the homework. I was genuinely looking forward to the start of my labour. I was totally zen. My waters broke one morning – day before ‘due day’ (not that that means anything). My contractions started at 3pm that afternoon and Arlo Bear was born at 5.19pm on the sofa at home, in front of the Christmas tree with James and my midwife Natalie by my side. I had a planned homebirth and it was just the best thing ever. I knew my midwife because she did all my ante-natal visits (and post-natal visits) which is not the same when you have a hospital birth. Being part of the homebirth team felt a bit like having private healthcare. It was a million times better than the normal standard of care. I felt safer, more confident and more cared for. I needed no pain relief in my labour (not even gas and air), it was incredibly fast and really intense but just the most amazing experience. When Arlo was born, I was so with it and awake. I wasn’t tired at all. The photo of us together, taken just seconds after he was born, shows just how alert and happy I was. Completely different to my first birth experience.

I literally loved every minute of giving birth to Arlo Bear. It was most definitely the best moment of my life. I was filled with joy and pride and it totally empowering. I felt amazing.


How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding Oisin was really difficult at first. At one point he was bringing up blood because my nipples were in such a state (one was hanging off). A health visitor came to see us and told me I categorically couldn’t continue feeding on them so I expressed for a while to let them heal. I remember being so scared that he wouldn’t go back to boob after bottle but it was totally fine. After they had healed it was lots better. I ended up breastfeeding him for a year until he moved on to cow’s milk in a beaker. The painful bit probably only lasted a number of weeks but I remember it being pure hell. 

Second time round I’ve not had a single problem (are you seeing a pattern here? Have a second baby, folks J). He latched on, fed well, no pain, no bleeding etc. etc. It’s just been enjoyable. I hope to feed him for at least a year too.

Does Arlo have a feeding routine?
He has a breakfast, lunch and dinner and then approximately 4 breastfeeds a day but that is a bit more variable.

What does Arlo like to eat?
He absolutely loves mangos and strawberries. He eats strawberries like they are apples – just holds one in his tiny fist and munches away. With the mangos, I slice them so they are like crescent shaped pieces and leave the skin on so they don’t just slip through his hands. He then shreds the mango flesh out so there’s just a floppy bit of skin left. He does this with just his gums. It’s incredible. He literally leaves no waste. He also loves broccoli – again he holds the stalk in his hand and shreds the top off. He also eats sweet potato mash and carrots. He loves those Heinz baby biscotti biscuits and those Organix carrot-flavoured wotsits (they aren’t really wotsits, but they look like them). He also steals muffins and gobbles them up.

What was your approach to weaning?
He’s only 7 months old and already I can’t remember what his first food was??! How bad is that. I just let him eat what he wants to eat, which is basically everything.

Does Arlo have a sleep routine?
He will sleep from about 7.45pm sometimes a bit before through to 5.45/6am. He also has a morning and afternoon nap if we are at home. If we’re out and about then he just tends to nap in the car or the buggy sometimes.
Before 6 months I was breastfeeding him throughout the night – sometimes every hour or two. It did start to really exhaust me – that proper fog you only get with long-term sleep deprivation – I had that. It can make you feel ill. I didn’t know if he fed at night for comfort or if he was hungry so I decided to pump and see how much he was taking. I discovered he was drinking 3x full bottles of milk a night! So he was obviously hungry. So then for the next week or so I pumped every feed and made sure he had all the milk he was meant to be having (and some more) in the daytime hours. It worked a treat. He started sleeping way better almost immediately – because he was full. So after 6 months of pretty terrible sleep, we kind of fixed it overnight and quite easily. We kicked ourselves for not doing it sooner.
I also was told that sleep breeds sleep so getting him to nap in the day also helped with the night sleeping because before 6 months we had no routine whatsoever and sometimes he didn’t nap at all.
So as much as it pains me to say – routine does work – EURGH.

How do you keep Arlo entertained?
Arlo bear loves BINKS – that’s a bath in a sink. It’s probably his favourite thing to do – to get naked and sit in the sink – with the water running. He also loves me singing to him – and he is the only person in the world who enjoys that – so I appreciate that about him.

What do you do when Arlo has a freak out?
Hand on heart I can honestly say that the Bear has never done this. In 7+ months I’ve not had a single freak out. He winges if he’s hungry or if he’s sat in a massive poo and I’ve not noticed. He cries a bit when he’s tired but I’ve never had an episode where he’s crying and I don’t know what’s the matter or where I’ve struggled to calm him. I feel really lucky.

Ironically because before he was born I was really freaking out that he was going to be a nightmare and really difficult and I’d not cope etc. etc. I wasn’t scared about labour at all – I was scared about actually having a baby on a day-to-day basis. But he’s been a total dream. There’s not been a single night where we have had to push him up and down the street in his pram or drive him around town to get him to go to sleep. In fact, even when he was a ‘bad’ sleeper, he always fell asleep in his cot just fine. The problem was he’d wake frequently for milk but as soon as I fed him, he’d go straight back to sleep again – no rocking or singing or whatever. He is an amazing baby.

How does Oisin get on with Arlo?
My eldest is 8 so I’ve had no problems – I think having a large age gap has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that they understand when you have to focus on the new baby and they don’t get so jealous. Oisin has been a huge help to me and still is. He is a brilliant big brother and absolutely loves his new role. I am consumed with guilt however all the time about how much I’m neglecting him now – but he tells me ‘it’s ok because I like to do my own thing now anyway’ – bittersweet words given that it was just me and him for so many years.


Have you taken Arlo on any holidays?
We went skiing with the baby when he was 4 months old. Wasn’t prepared to miss a season J. We flew to Grenoble and then took a bus to the resort (alpe d’huez).  The journey was uneventful and Arlo was fine on the plane. I breastfed him on take off and landing as I heard that helps with the pressure because they are swallowing. We stayed in a small self-catering apartment that I found on AirBNB. We had to tag team with the skiing – I would go out in the morning with Osh, James and Arlo would hang out and then we’d swap in the afternoon – or vice versa. It was a different kind of ski holiday but at least we still got some time on the snow and the chance to breathe the fresh mountain air.

What were your baby holiday essentials?
Again boobs are pretty valuable here. Also we bought a super lightweight travel cot on eBay (I basically buy all baby paraphernalia second-hand). It’s made by Phil & Teds and it’s been great. We have been away now a number of times now with it and it’s so much easier than lugging a massive heavy one plus it takes up much less space!


Does Arlo have a favourite toy?
The choking hazard – this wooden toy with lots of sticks with little balls on the ends that is held together with elastic. Looks like something a physicist would have. It is actually a baby toy. Also looks like it’s a choking hazard – hence the name.

What has been the most useful thing you've bought?
The door bouncer – absolutely fantastic. He’s been hung in the kitchen doorway since he was quite small and he’s so content bouncing up and down and letting me get on with making breakfast/lunch/dinner. It’s brilliant – fun for baby, hands-free for Mum.

What is Arlo’s mode of transport?
I have a Bugaboo Cameleon which I bought off eBay before Arlo was born. I knew exactly what I wanted since I’d been through so many with Oisin and I’d found the Bugaboo to be the best. It’s been brilliant and I have no complaints. It’s a bit more money yes (although not necessarily if you buy second-hand like me) but it’s so worth it. The bassinet was perfect in the early days. He’d fall asleep in it when I was on the morning school run and then I’d get back into the house and I was able to leave him sleeping peacefully in it.
I had a Baby Bjorn carrier but hated it – killed my back. Switched to an Ergo baby carrier which is super comfortable. Sometimes I just use it to carry him around the house so I’ve got my hands-free to get on with other things - like hoovering!

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
I don’t have a change bag (!!) because I’m holding out for one by Tiba and Marl – check them out if you don’t know about them. The brand has been set up by two super (cool) Mamas.
I do have a small change mat that folds up and holds a couple nappies and a pack of wipes. It was about £12 in JoJo Maman Bebe and it’s so easy. I would definitely recommend. It’s the only thing I really need to take when I go out  - that and my boobs!

Body and Mind:

Has your view on, or relationship, with your body changed since you've become a mother?
Ha! Well I have mixed feelings when it comes to my post-second-baby-body. I don’t have any stretch marks, which I’m grateful for because that was something I became super paranoid about in pregnancy. I avoided getting any first time around but because I’m now 8 years older I became really worried that I’d get them this time. Silly really I know because they aren’t that bad and it’s true that your body has done an amazing thing but all the same, I worried. Weight –wise I’m still a stone more than my pre-pregnancy weight and my baby is 7 months old. I don’t fit in my skinny jeans and that’s annoying. But as much as I’m happy to moan about being too fat for my clothes I’m not unhappy enough to do anything about it – I’ve not started exercising or trying to eat healthily. I think that’s something I will do when I stop breastfeeding. At the minute I feel like I look ok and yeah I have just grown a baby, and I’m going to eat my bloody cake.

How do you relax?
What’s that? J

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
Time to myself? Come again?
I joke. I read blogs online, spend too long on instagram stalking other Mamas and filling my asos/whistles/topshop basket (but rarely check out).

When things are tough  what gets you through?
My baby – he is a bundle of joy and always cheers me up. Sometimes I wake him up at night just because I want to cuddle him – bad aren’t I?!
I also like a Diptyque candle and listening to one of my hypnobirthing relaxation tracks if I can’t sleep. Oh and a tidy bedroom – I’m not a tidy person but I appreciate a tidy, calm space.
Oh and of course talking to friends – free therapy. I’d never survive without my friends.


If you could give your pregnant a heads up what would it be?
I’d tell myself it’s not anywhere near as bad as you imagined!!! I was petrified I was not going to love being a Mum to a newborn again and that my baby was going to be a mini-devil and ruin my life and I’d never sleep again. It’s actually been the best thing – I am loving motherhood second time around. I want loads more!! At least two… then maybe I will adopt a couple!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?

You are enough. Try to put down the books, step away from Google and just live in the moment – and enjoy it! Trust your instincts. You’ve totally got this. And babies really don’t stay small for long. Soak it up. Even if there are bad days – it won’t last. The newborn days are precious and too few. 

Thank you for sharing and good luck with your studies, you are a super mama!
Find Siobhan
Instagram @the_double_mama
Twitter @thedoublemama

Sunday, 26 July 2015

You can walk!

This week was a big week; Joseph started walking!

He'd taken the odd step here 'n' there in the last couple of weeks but, on Thursday, after nursery, and after he'd had his tea and most of his milk... He started walking. Just like that. Taking tumbles but laughing his head off as he'd get up and try again. It was the cutest thing I'd ever seen and I don't know how I didn't cry. I've been so looking forward to seeing him walk and now he's gaining more and more confidence each day - walking further and becomint more and more sturdy on his feet. Stopping for aplit seconds to regain his balance. Today he even tried to chase a fly!

It's so funny to see him standing unaided, whilst being mesmerised by things (birds in the garden, flowers, the telly) for minutes at a time, when just last week it was an achievement that he'd stood for long enough for me to take a photo.  

We bought him some new Clarks today; he was overdue a new pair as he first got measured in April - and had been wearing sandals for the last few weeks as it'd been so hot - not to mention he'd itretrivably chucked one of his first pair of Clarks in a river. Anyway, once the shoes were on him, he was off, running around Mothercare, making friends with pretty girls and hugging giant bears.

I'm so happy he's walking; I'm so proud of him and I already love, love, LOVE holding his hand whilst we walk around the house and garden together, and having him walk by my side and occassionally clinging onto me. It has been a real milestone week, and not really like other milestones, it has made me super soppy but in a good way - not in a horrible anxious panic whicgu is how I felt around his birthday. Things are good. 

When did your little one take their first steps?


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Mummy Time: Emma Ross

I've been following Emma's Instagram for a while so when she asked to feature on Mummy Time, I had absolutely no hesitations. Only when I read her responses did I realise that we're the same age, our babies are the same age, she's also a working mum who has Wednesday's off, has the most beautiful hair and is totally who I should've got in touch with when I was freaking out about taking Joseph on holiday. (How did I not realise all of these things?!) If you're not following on Instagram already, go and have a peek on IG @mamalinauk (also check out the vlogs Emma has linked to in this post for some of her 'home truths' and more proof that her hair is in.cred.i.ble.)
Who are you?
I’m Emma, 29 years old, a Londoner but a secret hippy wishing I could pack up and move to the countryside and live on a farm with Sam (my husband) and Jack (15 months) and a load of pigs and hens!

What do you do for a living?
I have recently returned to work four days a week at Google, where I work in the YouTube Sales team.

How long did you take for maternity leave?
I took nearly a year off for maternity – the best year of my life! (Though I would be lying if I said that there weren’t days at the beginning where I just wished I could jump on the tube and enjoy a peaceful commute with a newspaper and coffee.)

How did you feel when you returned to work?
Returning to work has been...challenging. It has definitely changed the dynamic as there is no longer any ‘norm’ anymore. Sam and I don’t have our set roles as we used to really. Jack goes to nursery twice a week and we are lucky to have support from our mothers who have him the other two days (I have him on Wednesdays – which is a great day to be off, I find.)

How do you manage the work/life balance?
With difficulty during the week! Sam and I have a new rule that we each have one night off per week - the rest of the time I need him for support (and g&t making!) We try to get organized and pack our bags and Jack’s bag the night before, but that never really happens. [Emma's video: 10 home truths on being a working mum.]

How do you get things done?!
I actually now do a lot of YouTube editing and blog writing on the tube commute (like I’m doing right now!) Weekends I find myself working and I do a lot less socializing.  Something’s gotta give, right?!

How are you?
I’m pretty exhausted with an aching sore throat! Being back at work has changed a lot!

How does a typical day go?
Up anything from 5.30-6.45am, one of us gets milk for Jack, the other jumps in the shower, brush Jack’s teeth, change Jack, find some pants, throw some jeans on, smear some make up on,  … you get the idea! Bundle out the house ideally by 7.30am and drive to nursery.  I take Jack in, Sam reverses, I jump back in the car, we drive to the station, park, pay for parking (so expensive!), tube it work… all before the day has even started. 
Then the same again the other side as I leave work at 5pm, collect Jack (the highlight of my day is seeing him at nursery before he sees me) give Jack dinner (usually a scrambled egg or peanut butter sandwich), bath (sometimes I jump in too out of pure exhaustion) and bed before I’ve even thought about food for me and Sam. Chill time for me? Forget it. It is getting easier – but we’re definitely still manoeuvring it.
How was your pregnancy?
I loved being pregnant! I felt feminine and wholesome and healthy (the lack of booze probably contributed to this!) One highlight was having my belly painted! I felt fairly nauseous at the start however, and by the very end I could hardly walk as I had severe back pain.

Did you have any cravings?
Just food in general!

Did you find out what you were having?
Nope – there are so few surprises left in life I wanted this to be one of them!

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
For a girl, we were pretty decided. But we were umming and ahhing for a while over a boy’s name and thought we had decided on one, but as soon as he came out, we knew it had to be the ‘other’ one (Jack!)

How did your prepare for Jack’s arrival?
We did NCT classes as a couple, and I did pregnancy yoga. I actually didn’t read any books but I read some blogs and watched some vlogs - my main source of baby info these days! I wasn’t actually too keen on reading loads beforehand as I wanted to go in to it open-minded.

How was your labour?
In short, it was... long! I went into hospital Thursday evening and Jack entered the world Sunday morning. He was back to back (I only found this out once in labour!) which meant that everything progressed very slowly and very painfully. I held out with no pain relief for nearly two days at which point the midwives advised me to get an epidural as I was obviously just beyond exhausted. There were various little mistakes along the way (I was mismeasured and my epidural fell out) but I was just relieved to get Jack out. He was also quite a big boy for me (7.9 lbs). You can see my birth story here.
How did you get on with breastfeeding?
I really loved breastfeeding. Of course it takes a bit of getting used to but soon enough it became second nature and I was getting my boob out wherever / whenever I could. One time I even had to feed on the tube - not ideal I know, but when need calls! When  I stopped breastfeeding I made a video about my opinions on the pros and cons of breastfeeding here.

What does Jack eat?
Jack now has three meals a day but I have to admit I was reluctant and a bit anxious about the transition from just milk to food. Breastfeeding was so lovely! I started Jack out on the normal things (squash potato, baby rice, mashed carrots) but soon he was eating more and more solid food quite quickly (I found all the mashing really tedious!) He now basically eats anything, and mostly with his hands.

Does Jack have a have a nap/ sleep routine?
We really had very little / no routine with Jack - I just followed his cues. When he’s with me and not at nursery, he now generally has two naps a day and it is really clear when he is tired  as he rubs his eyes and clings to me.

What are Jack’s  favourite things to do.
Jack is super independent and curious so he is pretty happy just pottering around. This does mean I have to keep an eye on him because before I know it, he is half way up the stairs or knee deep in black chalk paint (this actually happened.)

What helps to calm Jack down?
Fresh air! Either a walk outside or just a blast of cold air often snaps Jack out of whatever was up.

Does your Jack suffer with anything and what do you do to help it?
Jack had colic when he was much younger which was tough. My husband, mother in law (who we were living with at the time), and I used to just have to take it in turns in the evenings to hold him. He would scream for a few hours each night. The sound of constant crying is really hard to deal with. Now he can wake up really crying in the middle of the night and we usually need to pace up and down with him or sit in the rocking chair until he falls back to sleep on us and then transfer him back to the cot.

At what age did your baby become mobile and how did you cope?
Jack became mobile (rolling, crawling) pretty early, at about four and a half months. I tried to do some child proofing but Jack just kept pulling off the things I put in place. Now we don’t really have much, we just let him explore and keep an eye on him, and hope that if he has the odd tiny bump or trip up, he is actually learning in the process (I’m not a cruel mum I promise, I just want him to learn through experience!)

What are your go-to resources?
Blogs and vlogs all the way! Oh and the NCT newsletter was useful.
Have you taken Jack on any holidays?
Jack is so well travelled! We took him away to my best friend’s wedding in France when he was 12 weeks old, he attended his first festival at 15 weeks, he’s been to Cyprus, Italy, South Africa, Devon, Bournemouth and Israel! My husband and I love travelling so Jack just comes along on the ride too!

What were your baby holiday essentials?
I would say that our buggy sunshade is an essential for the blocking out light and noise at nighttime when we are out and about and Jack needs to sleep. We just put him in the buggy, place the sunshade over and he usually falls asleep really easily.  Oh and I always make sure we travel with lots of books to keep him entertained. I’ve made a video here going backpacking with a baby here.

Was  Jack’s routine affected by being on holiday?
The fact that Jack doesn’t have a routine means that travelling with him has always been pretty OK. South Africa was great though as we realized that there was no time difference! With regards to different formula or food, Jack has always been fine with different sorts of formula milk and I actually quite enjoy shopping in foreign supermarkets for new food for him to try. Otherwise you can’t go wrong with a cheese sandwich ! I always take porridge, pasta and peanut butter whenever we go away though as back ups.
Does Jack have a favourite toy?
Books! And anything that beeps.

What was your most recent baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?
An all in one waterproof for the summer festivals

What has been the most useful thing you've discovered?
I love the website Bring Your Own Baby which tells you everything going on in and around London.

What is your baby’s mode of transport?
Jack seems to be ok in the buggy. I love wearing him in the sling but I find it super hard to put on – especially when I'm on my own!

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Books and snacks for Jack, oyster card as we are always out and about, bottle of water and a dummy.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
Scout & Co Kids, GAP and charity shops.
Body and Mind:
Has your view on, or relationship, with your body changed since you've become a mother?
I feel more comfortable in my own skin I think. My boobs have shrunk which I’ve loved and I seem to be better at yoga than I was, which is nice!

How do you relax?
Yoga! I do yoga at work once a week and I try to do some online. I try to go for a run or even just stretch out at the end of the day. To be honest, I don’t get that much time just to relax. I should take more baths!

When things are tough, what gets you through?
Yoga and talking things out with my mum or sister.
What have you found to be the most challenging age?
The return to work has shaken me up as a person and made me reassess what I want in life. It has not been easy.

If you could give your pregnant self a heads up, what would it be?
That you’ll never again get a lie in! I still can’t quite get over that! That it will be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster; but this is more often than not from a lack of sleep.

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
Everything’s a phase – just when you think they’re doing one thing, it changes.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?

Get to sleep early! I don’t do this but wish I did!
Thank you for sharing Emma!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

08.07.15 - A day in the life

I was asked to take over my friends' blog's Instagram account @craftedsisterhood for the day as the founders Jody and Carrie have been super busy lately. I decided to show a day in the life of me and Joseph, and I also thought it'd be nice to save it here for my records too! Make sure you have a peep to see lots more 'days in the life' of our other friends... Lots of whom so far have featured on Mummy Time!

1. Good morning! This is 14 month old Joseph eating his second breakfast of the day! He's so excited to be taking over the CS Instagram today and can usually be found over at @onthechangingmat.
I, his mum Nicki, work 9-5 in an office managing online marketing four days a week, and Wednesdays are my day off with Joseph. (We haven't actually got any plans for the day so this could turn out to be a really dull, so apologies in advance and good job I'm only taking over for one day) P.S. This is not our house... Tell you about it later!

2. I can't believe Joseph's changing mat used to be his happy place (hence the name of my blog). I can barely get him to stay still long enough for a photo on it let alone a nappy change these days... A real battle of wills. Today we wore party hats. Just because. Does anybody else's baby hate nappy changes?

3. I was hoping Joseph would nap now so I could have a shower, but play time is far too much fun... He started saying 'cockerel' yesterday! Of all the words!! Let's hope he doesn't get in the habit of shortening it!

4. You've been up since 6.30, why you no nap?! Yeah, Joseph has loads of teeth. Those have been fun! Anyone else got a sleepfighter today?

5. Joseph is napping so I am reading my book, Mind Over Mood by Greenberger and Padesky. I have had episodes of depression throughout my life and the most recent incredibly low point came at around Joseph's first birthday. I was struggling with the concept of going back to work and feeling like a failure in so many respects. I ended up seeking help; going back on medication and I self-referred myself to receive cognitive behavioural therapy offered at Kent University. The course of treatment was 8 weeks long and has been extended to 12 weeks. I usually have it on a Wednesday but my therapist is on annual leave for two weeks so I'm reading this as homework. It's actually a workbook to challenge your own unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and assumptions that perpetuate the feelings of hopelessness you may feel. It aims to equip you with tools to help you dig yourself out of the pits of depression when you find yourself in it. In all honesty I've had this book for years but I have never felt like reading it. Something had to change when this latest slump happened, so I dusted it off and am working through it slowly. CBT is a lifesaver.

6. I could pretend we went on an exciting woodland walk, but really we just went to a nearby garden centre for a cup of tea and now we're going swimming.

7. Joseph fell asleep in the car on the way to swimming and I didn't have the heart to wake him up as he woke up from his nap all upset earlier and I ended up giving him calpol. I am now sitting in my car, waiting for him to wake up again, so here's a denim-clad garden centre selfie. Hair's a mess/in my eyes. No make-up. That's how I roll! (Thank God for filters!)

8. Underneath the highchair... We did baby-led weaning. Never used my dustpan and brush as much before in my LIFE. Bathtime now then hopefully he'll sleep in the car and we'll have a smooth transfer to bed. (We're visiting Grandma in Canterbury right now but we're living with Granny in Ashford whilst we're doing building work on our house which is between the two.)

9. Heading home now and will hopefully get to work on my blog,
It's a personal blog about my life as a mum and documents the things Joseph and I get up to. But on Thursdays I feature other mums it in a thing I call 'Mummy Time' (a lame play on 'tummy time' because I suck at naming features!) It started because I just wanted to know how other mums cope with the day-to-day of having a new-ish baby.

Anywayyy... Tomorrow I have the honour of featuring the brains and beauty behind the incredible @redtempleprayer; @nadineanddolly (pictured). The post will go up first thing in the morning if you want to read about how Nadine balances motherhood with running her own business after quitting her literal high-flying job.

I have featured Carrie and Jody in the past, so be sure to have a peep if you haven't already! And give me a shout if you'd like to share your story!

[Read Nadine's Mummy Time here]

10. Thank you all for having Joseph and I today- I've had so much fun just sharing what we normally do. As you can see we don't really do anything special but I do love my week-day off with him (and highly recommend having Wednesdays off if you can!)
I am back to the grind tomorrow, Joseph is in nursery and I'll be responding to your comments from my personal account when I can.
Thank you to the girls behind @craftedsisterhood for having me and trusting me with your account!
Tomorrow the hilarious @oh_merde is taking over, sharing a day in the life with Rudy and Edie, so stay tuned for lolz and beautiful photos.
See you at @onthechangingmat, I hope!

Nicki & Joseph xxx

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Mummy Time: Nadine Oxley

As well as being a super-mama to one year old Dolly, Nadine is the brains and beauty behind the insanely cool homewares company that she runs with her partner, Red Temple Prayer. Read how Nadine copes with the day-to-day, what have been her life-savers and how she juggles being self-employed with baby-raising. Oh and Dolly quite possibly has the best shoe collection ever! I hope you enjoy this week's post!

Who are you? 
Hello! I’m Nadine and I turned 31 a couple of days ago (sob). I live in Leeds in a very cosy little cottage with my partner Sam. I’ve known Sam for 8 years, we both used to manage a skate shop called Exit in the city centre at different times in our lives (Sam is 7 years older than me so he got there first!). For one reason or another it took us a long time to actually get together but we didn’t waste time making a baby when we did! Dolores Martha Loki was born on the 22nd of May 2014, just over a year after our first date…. 

What do you do for a living?
I currently run the business I own with Sam ( 
Discussions on RTP began back in spring 2012 before Sam and I were a couple. We know a lot of creative/artistic people and we wanted to find a way to harness those talents to develop something new…something a little different. We played around with a lot of ideas, all surrounding print on different mediums. We finally decided to launch with ceramics. It felt like a great niche for us, something unique and also it made a beautiful canvas! 
We started printing the designs ourselves and the response was amazing! So by Autumn 2012 RTP was officially born.

How long did you take for maternity leave?
Well, before Dolly was born I had 2 jobs, my night job was RTP and my day job was International Manager for a clothing company called Joules. I worked for Joules for 5 years and managed to grow to a pretty senior position. I always thought “If I just get to the next level I will start enjoying it more”. It got to the point were I couldn’t go much higher. I was doing 60 hour weeks, waking at 4am to start my commute to the offices in Market Harborough when I was in the country which wasn’t often. I was miserable, so I knew that I needed to do something I enjoyed but taking that leap from what on paper was an amazing job, company car, security etc. to a little artsy business just wasn’t something I could risk. So I did both! I worked for Joules up until I was 38 weeks pregnant. I remember flying to work in NYC at 36 weeks; no idea how I did it looking back!
Sam was self employed when we found out I was pregnant, so we weren’t sure what would happen after Dolly was born. The thought of having to go back to work and him stay at home with Dolly was extremely depressing for me! So of course I nagged him to find a ‘real’ job where we knew x amount was coming in every month. Which he did, because he is the best. The role he was offered was an international role as well…we have no family at all close so we both couldn’t work out of he country, which meant that I had to quit Joules. I happily handed my notice in at the end of my maternity leave in Febuary. People always ask how I had the energy to work so much at night during the early days after Dol was born, knowing I had to hand my notice in by Feb gave me a deadline, I needed to know RTP could be successful before ending my career with Joules. That is what dragged me off the sofa and got me through the exhaustion. 

How did you feel when you returned to work?
So I didn’t go back to Joules, and I only took 3 weeks off with RTP after Dolly was born. That was mainly because we moved house over Dollys birth so it took me 3 weeks to unpack all the stock and make an office in one of the bedrooms.
I didn’t use daycare until Dolly was 9 months. My working day started at 6pm after bath and bed and went on until I got the work done. 
Now she’s in nursery for 5 hours a week, which means I can actually have a solid stretch of time to think about the business and take the orders to the post office without a 2 stone lump strapped to me.

How do you manage the work/life balance?
I don’t manage it very well. When I think about the passed year-the first year of Dollys life, I feel a bit sad that I haven’t really enjoyed a lot of it. Work’s definitely taken over life. Sam is away in the week a lot, so the weekends should have been about Dolly but a lot were sacrificed for RTP. 
Sam does a lot of the design work for the business and because I want the company to work I usually push for any spare time he has to be spent doing that. The lay in on a Sunday that I dream about all week every week usually goes to him because he has to sit up until 4am ticking things off the relentless lists I make for him! Poor Sam ha ha. 
It's getting better though, things seem calmer and we do get out together as a family at least once at the weekend. But I think that’s because I’m actually feeling more confident with being a mum. All the other stuff seems less stressful now that I feel more in control of the most important thing. 

How do you get things done?!
I am SO strict with my time. Pre baby I was pretty easy going. Now my life is about routines…as most mums are! 
I never nap with Dolly, ever. I learnt my lesson on that in the beginning. If I went back to sleep in the morning with her then I don’t get a shower and I’m constantly behind so I keep it pretty tight with what I do. 
I go out twice a day with her, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Her naps are always at home if it's possible. Which means I can do work, make her food for the day, clean etc…and we play in between. It took a long time to get the right routine. But it feels like I’ve got it down now. I’m probably a bit too mental with it…if someone pops around uninvited for a cuppa whilst she’s sleeping I start feeling like I want to punch them because they have ruined my flow hah!

How are you?
Errrrm. OK I think…
Its been such a crazy year. New house, new dog, new baby, newish relationship, newish business. Hormones have been all over the place and I have definitely had some serious lows (as well as some serious highs of course!). 
It’s really hard not to look at other mums on social media and compare my life to theirs, seeing them all dolled up and happy, just having lots of lovely mummy time with their babies and friends whilst I’m sat surrounded by boxes in my sweat pants. 
But I remind myself daily that all the stuff I’ve missed out on this year has meant I don’t have to go back to a 9-5 and I can spend more time with my baby in the long run. I know I’m SUPER lucky in that respect. 
Positive thinking and tiredness are not very compatible though! 

How does a typical day go?  
Typical day…
Dolly has always been an early riser. She wakes between 5am and 6am. Depending on how much noise she makes I try and leave her in her bed until 6.30am. 
We get up and play until around 8am, then she goes down for an hour which is when I shower/clean the house and cook her food for the day. 
When she wakes we usually have a baby date with someone or we go for a walk with Buddy (the dog). Depending on the day I would usually take all the orders to the post office around 10am as well. 
She goes back down at 12pm which is when I do work. This is my most productive time with RTP as I actually feel awake! 
She’s back up at around 1.30pm, we will play for a bit and then either go on another baby date or to the shops. Back home at around 4 for more play time. 
Then I give her dinner at 5pm. If Sam has a work from home day he will start bath time at 6 which gives me a chance to clean the kitchen after her dinner madness, clear all the toys away and start cooking our dinner. Then I always give her her bottle at around 6.30pm. She sings herself to sleep usually at around 7pm. 
Then I eat dinner with Sam, pour a nice glass of wine and start work! We’ve got an office upstairs but due to the noise of the mug press I have to move all the stuff I need down to the living room. As well as RTP and the day job sam co-owns two different skate companies. So thankfully he works at night as well so at least we are doing it together! 

How was your pregnancy?
My pregnancy was fine. I did LOADS of work out of the country which obviously tired me out a lot. But I was distracted by buying a house I think. Extreme nesting kicked in and I didn’t really have a chance to think about the aches and pains….

Did you have any cravings?
Lucky Charms! Just cereal in general actually. Couldn’t get enough of the stuff…

Did you find out what you were having?
Yes, we paid to get an early scan. I admire people that can wait that long to find out. No way I could not know! 

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
We had a massive list that we added to right up until she was born. I wanted to call her Alabama but Sam said no. We both love Dolly Parton, Dolly (Dolores) was the only unusual name that we both could agree on in the end. 
Her middle name ‘Martha’ was Sams sisters name, she passed away a while ago and we wanted her to be involved somehow. As Sam got to chose a middle name I obviously wanted one too…again he wouldn’t allow Alabama so I went for Loki as Ive always been drawn to Viking Mythology. I thought it would bring her a little bit of magic. 

How did your prepare for Dolly’s arrival?
We went to NCT. Which was a little bit of a waste of time in terms of information. I learnt more from Google! But great for a support network. It was amazing to have people to talk to that were going through the same things at the same time. But the free parent classes would offer the same so I'll do that next time!

How was your labour?
The labour was OK. It lasted 3 days…so its all a bit of a haze! They overdosed me on pethidine on the first day by accident. So I felt like I was on acid. AWFUL. It made me really sick. I think that ruined the experience. After I came around I just had gas and air…

How did you get on with breastfeeding?
I was really confident with breastfeeding at first. Then the midwives came round a couple of days after dolly was born to weigh her and she had lost a lot of weight. They were pretty harsh to be honest…basically said I wasn’t doing it right and that if she lost any more weight then she would have to go in to hospital. Of course that freaked me out big time! They told me to give her expressed milk after every feed to make sure she was getting enough. So I basically just had to feed/pump/feed/pump for days. Then I went to a midwifes appointment at my local doctor and they were amazing. They told me I was doing everything fine but I had a ‘slow flow’ and Dolly was a hungry baby. 
My confidence was knocked a lot by the initial comments and treatment from the home visit. I constantly felt Dolly wasn’t getting enough from me and all the pumping on top of feeding left me exhausted. If I wasn’t working I think I would have chilled with it a lot more but after a mini breakdown Sam and I decided to move her to formula after 3 months. Dolly is SO big now I cant believe I worried so much!

What does Dolly eat?
Dolly loves food. Weaning was so easy for us. I think we started with toast/fruit/cooked veg and she loved everything. I did a mix of baby led and purees at first. 
She now eats 3 proper meals a day and she has as many snacks as she wants in between. Her favourite thing by far is tangerines. She squeals when she sees them. Then she’s pretty even with her love for everything else. 

Does Dolly have a nap/ sleep routine?
So I'll probably get boo’d for this. But desperate times called for desperate measures! I knew dolly needed a routine but I had no idea where to start. I didn’t really get one in place until I started formula feeding because then at least I knew she had had enough milk and if she woke up and cried I would feel confident she wasn’t doing it because she was hungry! 
RTP was getting really busy as we had just launched our first line of kitchen china. I needed sleep desperately so I saw a Gina Ford book in the charity shop and bought it. I didn’t read the book but there was a section on routines and gave a really basic timeline for what babies should be doing when each month. So I used that and after a week she was sleeping through. It worked for about a month and Dolly started teething so everything got a little harder but we stuck to what we were doing and generally if she’s well she sleeps from 6/7 until 5/6. Which is great!

How do you keep Dolly entertained?
I just make sure she's not doing the same thing for too long, I try and make every day a little bit different for her, which does become expensive! Sometimes I think it would be cheaper to have her in nursery than for me to entertain her all day. But I just cant let go quite yet!

What calms Dolly down when she's having a freak out? 
I usually pick her up and chase Buddy the dog around the house. Honestly he is the only thing that calms her down. It’s so weird! 
I guess distraction is the thing that works for us. I also give her another Dummy if she’s screaming in her bed, she lays there and switches the dummies around and that calms her quite quickly. 

What have you found to be the most challenging age?
I think the first month was the hardest mentally and right now (the 12th month) is the hardest physically. It’s so difficult to gather the energy to make it through to day at the moment but Id take physical exhaustion over mental exhaustion any day!

Does Dolly suffer with anything?
She had silent reflux from birth. It was so hard to work out what was wrong with her but when we did we moved her on to the ‘comfort’ milk and she was fine. She’s had nothing else really! Teething is obviously a nightmare but we just give her loads of calpol and cuddles. 

At what age did Dolly become mobile?
She was crawling at 6 months, we bought a pen for the living room but she soon broke out of that. I just made sure anything obviously not baby friendly was not within reach and got some baby gates. Im with her all of the time so nothing major would happen anyway. I did find her with a mouth full of dog biscuits yesterday though…pretty gross. 

What are your go-to resources for information when you're worried?
I think my bestie (Sophie Dowd) is always my first port of call as she’s been through most things with Ted, then google, then the doctors. 

Have you taken Dolly on holiday?
We have travelled quite a bit with Dolly! She was fine at the beginning. Now she’s at the stage where so doesn’t want to be restrained. We fly to Greece on Saturday with 2 other couples and their babies who are a similar age to Dolly and I'm dreading the flight! I'm hoping food/Peppa pig and toys will get us through it. 
Most of our holidays have involved other babies so its actually really easy when we are there and sorted as the babies play with each other and we get a break! The stress before was bottles and sterilising but they are all on cows milk now and fully weaned so it should be better this time.

What were your baby holiday essentials?
Apart from the obvious suncreams, sun hats baby monitors etc. I found the UV cover for the pram really handy as it created a shady day spot for Dolly to sleep in. The umbrella didn’t really cover her much so I was glad Id brought that. 

Was Dolly's routine affected?
Dols routine was never really affected as the times haven’t been that different to the UK. It was all really straightforward. For any mummies stressing about going away they adapt very easily…
We brought the formula and microwave sterilising bags with us as she was on special milk.

Was Dolly affected by the change of environment, weather or temperature?
She was definitely a little grumpy on any super hot days but that’s the only thing we noticed. I was grumpy too so I think its normal….

Does your baby have a favourite toy?
Buddy our dog is her favourite thing to play with, they play the ‘sock game’ which is basically her taking her socks off and waving them around then buddy takes them off her, it makes her laugh more than anything in the world. 

What was your most recent baby or baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?
I bought a Maclaren globetrotter for our holiday! I looked at all the lightweight prams and was tempted by the cheaper ones with nicer colours but I wanted it to last more than a year and I know that a Maclaren has a good 4 years in it. 
I also bought a Sakura Bloom ring sling. Dolly weighs about 26lbs now and I struggle carrying her on my back with the Baby Bjorn. I had heard great things about big babies and ring slings so thought I would give it a go. I can see potential in it but I don’t think I am positioning her right. Need some practice. 

What has been the most useful thing you've bought? 
Well the Jumperoo was a lifesaver for about 4 months. So far that’s been the best toy I’ve bought for Dolly. I cant think of anything else that has been particularly amazing!

What are Dolly's modes of transport?
As well as the ring sling, Globetrotter and Baby Bjorn we also use an Uppababy Vista in black. It was between that and a Bugaboo. I just think the Uppa looks a little more classy than the rest…but its personal preference isn’t it. Sam is really tall and the Uppa is nice and high so that sold it for us. 
For the car we have the Maxi Cosi Pearl. 
I love all of them but she seems to hate them. I think that’s because she doesn’t like being restrained at the moment. I always end up getting her out of whatever she’s in and carrying her. I'm hoping this phase will end soon!

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Baby wipes, food, books and toys. They are always in the bag ready to go.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
I have got a few cute things from online stores but Dolly grows so fast I end up getting most from high street shops. Next is actually my favourite! 

Body and Mind:
Has your view on, or relationship, with your body changed since you've become a mother?
I’m a lot more relaxed about how I look these days. Im actually eating more now then I ever have because I am at home all the time but I weigh less than before I had Dolly. 
I think that you really focus on your baby eating and being healthy, you make sure you always have fresh fruit in the house for snacks, that there’s fresh veg for meals and that you get out for walks and fresh air. The focus is on the baby but in turn you’re getting all that good stuff too. No way I would have gone for a walk every day before I had dolly! 

How do you relax?
Whenever Sam is home, after we finish all our work he gives me a foot rub. Its my favourite thing in the whole world. 

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
Any ‘me’ time is spent drawing for RTP. I used to love painting before Dolly was born, now it has to be a little more work focused but I still enjoy doing it!  

When things are tough, what gets you through?
Honestly Sam probably gets me through (when it isn’t him that has stressed me out!). He is super calm and helps me take a step back and break down the thing that’s troubling me. 
But Sam is away 50% of the time so my other coping strategies are lavender baths, rum and ginger and a good box set!

What do you wish you'd known before you had a baby?
I wish I had known that it always turns out OK! They eventually eat what and when they need to eat, they eventually sleep, they do everything in their own time and as long as you are attentive to their needs as much as you can be everything will be OK…in time!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Just do it your own way, obviously google/ask/educate yourself the best you can but don’t be afraid to do what you think is right. People love to throw opinions on you on what is best for the baby as soon as they find out your pregnant. But if we all did it the same way we wouldn’t have such different and amazing little humans.

Also, this I wasn't sure about sharing this but it's been playing on my mind... I had a smear earlier in the year, which I felt relaxed about as I'd had a baby recently and figured they would have seen anything bad (which in hindsight is extremely stupid as of course they don't look for things like that when they are busy getting a baby out. They aren't even trained to look for anything like that!)
My results were positive which completely shocked me. I went in for my operation in April and I still haven't healed which I guess shows the extent of what they had to take out up there!
The first reaction from my NCT group was "I thought they check for things like that when you're pregnant!". Which made me feel like slightly less of a moron..but also completely freaked my out that a lot of people think like this.

I just wanted to make sure that new mums know they need to get to the doctors and have that smear. Mothers are just as much at risk as anyone else!
Thank you so much for sharing, Nadine, and thank you for highlighting the importance of smear tests; I don't think it was stupid at all to assume they check for stuff like that, especially when you're being so closely monitored in pregnancy in general. I hope you're feeling better now and I can't wait to see what's around the corner for RTP, and of course seeing Dolly grow up!

Follow Nadine on IG: @nadineanddolly
Red Temple Prayer: @redtempleprayer,