Saturday, 13 December 2014

6 Top Apps for New Parents

Our mobile phones are becoming increasingly integral to our day-to-day lives and also (scarily) part of our parenting. How often do you look something up on your phone? Dr Google is definitely an acquaintance of mine...How many times has your little one  reached for your phone or tablet? How often do you pass your phone with an app that you know will keep your little one quiet and entertained for a couple of minutes at least? Maybe you don't do this. Certainly before I was a parent I ruled out tablet use for my unborn child. But I have changed my mind in these past few months and I see how happy A is to play on a phone and experience the colours and sounds (right before she tries to put it in her mouth).  So I've given in and think that a bit of supervised use on child friendly apps is probably the way to go ( I may, however, be writing another post soon about the destruction of my phone by a nine-month old... watch this space).

There are a whole host of mobile apps out there aimed at parents and children and in these past nine months I've been surprised at how many I have used. I wanted to share with you my six top apps that we have found both useful and entertaining. I hope you find it helpful :)

1. Safe Dreams

I confess we downloaded this the first night we brought A home. We'd read somewhere that newborns feel comforted by white noise because its a familiar sound after hearing mum's heartbeat for the last few months. Safe Dreams is a free app that plays white noise sounds like jet cabin and womb sounds. You can set the time on it too so that it plays long enough to help soothe your baby. Ideal for those first few weeks.

2. Baby Centre

Often when you are looking on-line for information about babies, Baby Centre ranks quite high in the search results. The Baby Centre app is really useful as it provides daily updates about your baby and what's happening to them at different stages. There's a chat forum which can be helpful if you are looking to connect with other parents with babies of the same age and you can use the app as a picture diary of your baby too.

3. The Wonder Weeks

The Wonder Weeks app has been created to support The Wonder Weeks book. It breaks the book down into short, summarised chunks that are easy to read when you have a spare five minutes. The book is based on 35 years of research about the development of babies in their first couple of years and the milestones that they reach. I personally find all this very interesting and it has been a great resource to use when trying to understand A's behaviour and development. It has also helped to explain a few cranky phases!

4. Go Baby

Go Baby is a great app for London parents. From your location it can pinpoint the closest child-friendly venues and it details if they have baby change, high-chairs and lift access. This is a fairly new app so listings are being added all the time but its particularly well set up for central London travel.

5. Koi Pond

OK, so this is my new favourite app. So simple and is perfect for babies as they learn about cause and effect. The app is simply an interactive Koi Carp pond. The pond is full of fish and creatures and every time you touch the screen you interact with the pond i.e. scaring the fish away, splashing the water, creating ripples etc. It works really well on a tablet and I think I may be enjoying it just as much as my daughter!

6. Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes have been brought to life and into the twenty-first century with a dose of animation and bright colours in a mobile app. The old favourites have been animated into interactive videos for your little one's amusement. In Old Macdonald, the cows parachute, the pigs play the trumpet and the farmer dances (who knew!?!). Rhymes is an essential mobile app to keep handy when you need a break from singing!
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Monday, 1 December 2014

8 signs you might be having an off week

1. Your normally sound sleeping child stops sleeping through and decides that 3am is the new time to wake up. (the winter lurgies are currently paying our house a visit so poor A is all congested and just wants cuddles at night. I'm more than happy to do this but am praying we all get some more sleep soon...)

2. The woman in the bakery points out that you have done your three tog coat up all wrong. Fashion fail.

3. When trying to make a healthy smoothie the milk pours out the bottom of your blender and covers your kitchen floor. 

4. You forget the online shop and end up popping to the supermarket four times in one week not knowing what to buy when you get there. You only know there is not enough food in the fridge and you have run out of Ella's pouches and finger foods and milk and oh, anything you want for lunch.

5. You end up buying lots of chocolate.

6. After planning a nice meal out for your wedding anniversary months in advance,  lining up babysitters, getting your nails done and planning an outfit - you have to cancel due to sheer exhaustion and the knowledge you won't enjoy it as you will likely fall asleep in your starter. Plus you end up awake at 2am anyway so it was probably a good thing you didn't splash out on some champers.  Maybe next year...

7. You eat more chocolate.

8. You don't get to write any blog posts or articles as you don't have the time or energy. This equals a super crabby mummy.

So now it's the beginning of a new week, and indeed a new month, so here's hoping the germs will leave our home and we can start to get into the festive spirit. And that I can do my coat up properly upon leaving the house...

The List
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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Nearly New Bargains

So last Saturday we went to not one but two local nearly new sales. Reassuringly, we weren't the only ones because I spotted a couple of familiar faces also filling their cars up.  As I mentioned in Swapping High Street for Nearly New, since having A we have become big fans of nearly new sales as they help us to kit out our little one for a reasonable price (particularly useful as we currently have to update her wardrobe every three months as she grows!).

This time, for £30 all in all  we picked up around fifteen items of clothes and a few toys. I thought I'd share with you a couple of our favourite finds!

If you fancy visiting a sale near you keep an eye on these websites:


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Friday, 21 November 2014

10 facts about me

After reading the lovely Running in Lavender With My Girls 20 facts about herself and discovering the YouBabyMeMummy List Linky, I feel inspired to pull together a ten facts about me list. It’s so easy when blogging (and indeed in life) to focus on my daughter and forget about myself. In fact, it was quite a challenge to find a recent non-baby picture of myself to include with this post (it seems my addiction to selfies has fallen by the wayside) so you lucky peeps get a new picture freshly taken today.

So here are ten facts about me that I hope you find interesting!

1. Brighton is one of my favourite places – I went to university down there, had my hen do there and visit friends there as much as I can. It’s a home away from home and I love the lanes, the chocolate shop Choccywoccydoodah and the smell of the sea. Oh and the donuts… I LOVE the donuts.

2. I am a coffee shop fiend (even though I don’t drink proper coffee – according to my husband) – I don’t know if it’s the smell of the coffee beans, the sound of the machines or just the pastries but you will regularly find me in some chain coffee shop with a mocha in hand. Especially on those mornings where I just have to get out the house or if I need a caffeine fix to get me through the day

3. I do love a bargain - OK who doesn’t but since becoming a mum I’ve become much more in touch with this side of me. I have become a prolific eBay shopper and a connoisseur of the second-hand kids clothes market and as a result my daughter is now far better dressed than me.

4. I’m from a big family – I am the eldest of four and have one sister and two brothers. Growing up with this many of us was well, honestly quite chaotic. With four children and a whole host of pets from dogs to chinchillas to stick insects (who got on the loose) our house was far from quiet. But it was fun and entertaining and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

5. I love stories – I’ve been a keen reader since I was small and have continued to read avidly as an adult. I usually have an opinion on the best seller’s list or know what the hot new book-film will be but having a small person to look after has slightly slowed this. Maybe in 2015 I can get this back on track…

6. I lost my mum two and a half years ago- I wasn’t sure if I should include this (my finger is hovering over the delete button as I type) but I think the lists I enjoy always have a degree of frankness to them.  My mum was an amazing woman and is missed by many. This was a defining moment in my life and whilst it saddens me that she will never get to meet my daughter (and any other children I have) I know she is watching over us and her loss has taught me to cherish every single day.

7. I am currently studying for a diploma in freelance journalism – being on maternity leave has helped me to put life in perspective and I am planning on embarking on a new career next year (a combination of writing and marketing). Studying with a new-born has had its challenges (I thank my husband for all his support) but I am so excited and inspired to learn again.

8. My favourite TV show of the moment is  Masterchef Australia – I know Yummy Blogger is also a fan! It’s definitely the best series so far and I love that it’s on every night. Much more dramatic than the UK one (*sorry*). Although, I have yet to try out any of the recipes…

9. This year I have gone from Mulberry to Mothercare- since having A I have gone from living the city life complete with cocktails after work and a lot of shopping in Covent Garden to a quieter life at home in Croydon. It was a challenge to start with (those first few weeks on leave were let’s say ‘interesting’) but I have now made some amazing friends and have been pleasantly surprised at how family-friendly the area is.

10. I love to dance – not professionally or anything but I love to have a good boogie whether its in a bar (which rarely happens these days), at an exercise class (which happens even less) or just in the kitchen (which usually happens most days at teatime). I do wonder what my daughter will make of it as she grows up – hopefully she will join in! 

I look forward to reading your lists and learning more about you...

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The List

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

5 inspiring parenting quotes

After a long day, I do like to spend a bit of time on Pinterest to unwind (my OH doesn't quite get it and often finds me chuckling to myself). My favourite section is 'quotes' and I find many insightful, funny and touching words. I often come across inspiring parenting quotes that make me smile as they illustrate the reality of day-to-day parenting. It's nice to know I'm not the only one out there looking round their house wondering where all the mess came from...again...

I've pulled together five of my favourite inspiring parent quotes. Let me know if these resonate with you or what your favourites are!

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*most of these quotes are anonymous so haven't been credited.

Friday, 14 November 2014

What we're reading in...November

Pre-baby I was an avid reader. I love books; reading, writing, reading about writing; so much so, I spent three years writing about books for my degree. I even set up a blog about books to capture my thoughts and recommendations. I am a book worm through and through (slightly strange sentence… but you get my point!)

Since I fell pregnant and had A, unfortunately I haven’t had as much time, energy or head space to sit down and read. I can’t complain too much though, as thanks to the internet I am able to read a lot of fab articles, blogs and content on my phone when I do get a few minutes to myself.

My fiction fix is now coming from the children’s books we are reading to A. Now that she is eight months old, our little one is becoming more engaged with the books we are reading to her and I’m hoping this will grow into a love of reading as she gets older (*must try not to be pushy about this*).

I want to share with you the children’s books we are enjoying, so each month I will post up a review of our current favourite. And if you have any to recommend then please let me know… I’m always looking to expand our collection!

This month we are reading Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Written by the same talented duo who created The Gruffalo, I had high expectations when we chose this one to read. I was not disappointed. Set to the same rhyming couplet structure as The Gruffalo, Stick Man is about a Stick Man (!) who ventures out from his family tree one day and unexpectedly ends up on an adventure. He finds himself moving further and further away from his home and getting involved in all sorts of situations. ‘I’m not a stick, why can’t you see. I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, I’m STICK MAN, that’s me’ he cries out as he is consistently mistaken for a useful stick, and in this book sticks have many, many uses…

A enjoys the sing song rhythm of the story and seems to like the beautiful illustrations. The pictures are bright and varied and A likes to show her appreciation by smiling and banging the pages. She is too little to understand the story just yet but likes to sit with me when reading and help turn the pages!

Stick Man is ideal for the winter months as it has a festive twist (you may have noticed the snow on the cover) and would be good to start reading to your little ones in the next few weeks. But the story is ultimately set all year round so don’t feel restricted!

I think Stick Man will appeal to babies and pre-school children as it has bright and detailed illustrations, a varied story line and rhythmic language.

Have you and your family read Stick Man? What do you think?
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Super Busy Mum

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Five reasons why Blogfest Rocked


So yesterday I headed off for my first child-free day in eight months and went to Kings Place for my first ever blogging conference; Mumsnet's Blogfest. It felt a bit like the first day of school as I didn't know anyone but I was very excited by the line-up and the thought of using the learning part of my brain again! 

It was an exciting, educational and truly inspiring day and here are my top five reasons for why Blogfest officially rocked. 

1. The panels: I felt very spoiled as I got to hear from a whole host of writers, journalists and bloggers. From the Fleet Street Fox to Suzanne Moore to Francesca Martinez and Nick Hornby, everyone who spoke was inspirational and left me with some food for thought. My favourite quote of the day ( there were many to choose from) came from Suzanne Moore; ' Writing is about living, live as much as you can'. True words. 

2. The masterclasses: as a new(ish) blogger and digital addict I am keen to learn as much as I can about the world of blogging and social media. I found both the 'getting more from Google' and  'advanced social media' sessions invaluable and I'm now itching to get to grips with Google +. Wish me luck! 

3. New friends: it was so lovely to meet some new blogging friends and find some great new blogs! It was amazing to see how the internet had brought us all together and I look forward keeping up with with these lovely ladies in the future.

4. The Twitter screen: during the panel debates, the live twitter stream was projected up on the big screen. It was great fun to see everyone's responses to the live debate and it made the discussion feel very interactive. I was also secretly ( or not so secretly) pleased when my comments popped up!

5.  Gin & Tonic: the day ended with some well-deserved gin & tonics from Fever Tree. It was a lovely chance to have a good chat before jumping on the train home to see how OH had fared with the little one...

Super Busy Mum

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween!

So we've embraced Halloween and gone for a cat outfit! At seven and a half months old, A hasn't protested but I wonder what she'll be saying in years to come...

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sleep training

I am currently writing this with Masterchef Australia on in the background (a programme I am slightly addicted to), OH on the sofa and our darling daughter lying on the floor (on a pillow) making strange purring noises. She won't go to sleep. We've completed our night time ritual:  bath - change (in a dimly lit room) - milk - burp- put down. Then the crying began so after leaving her to settle herself for a few minutes we caved and gave her more milk. No luck. We think she's teething, the red cheeks and jagged gums would certainly suggest this,  but the small dose of Calpol and application of Bonjela has not sent her to sleep. She's fairly chipper mind you, happy to be her with mummy and daddy babbling away. So I can't complain really. I just have the nagging super-nanny voice in my head saying I should be sleep training and we should be upstairs in a quiet dark room gently rocking her to sleep. That the TV is over-stimulating and we are creating bad habits. But the reality is... I don't have it in me to battle tonight.  I'm tired, it's the end of the day and I just want to chill out. I want to have the energy to write a blog post (something sadly I haven't had the time or energy for recently), I want to know who wins the immunity pin and I want to enjoy these moments with my little one; when she's giggling and happy and grinning at me. 

You never know she may fall asleep on her own... or Masterchef Australia may just become her new favourite programme!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A thrifty local find: The Little Clothes Shop, Croydon

I do love a bargain and having a baby has really brought that side out of me (as you may have already picked up on reading this blog...). I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across a lovely second-hand children's clothes shop on a local walk recently. My husband and I ventured in to have a glance and well... you can guess what happened... ten minutes later we came out with a bag full ..

The Little Clothes Shop  sells second- hand clothes from children from 0-5 years. What makes this shop such a great find is that the clothes have hardly been worn and are in really good condition (some items are in fact brand new with original tags) and you can buy them for really reasonable prices (we spent around £20 and picked up six items). The shop has a boutique feel about it and the staff are really helpful.

A fab pair of Zara shoes for just £3!

In a town like Croydon where our high street is full of chain shops it's so refreshing to find an independent shop like this which is aimed at parents. 

This will definitely be a regular stop on my afternoon walks now. The weekly-updated window displays will no doubt catch my eye across the road and invite me in...

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Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Changing Bag Essentials: the large muslin cloth

A great find which I will buying for any mum-to-be I know. I picked one of these up from Jojo Maman Bebe a few weeks ago and now couldn’t be without it.

This particular one is great as the colourful pattern means it can double as a playmat too. Abigail has enjoyed spending some of her tummy time on it!

Muslin cloths are a must-have anyway but this large one has worked as a blanket, breast-feeding apron, cloth, sun-shade and baby comforter. It also folds up teeny tiny so is easy to carry around. Sorted.

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Saturday, 2 August 2014

Mummies day out at Wakehurst Place

Recently, Abigail and I paid a visit to Wakehurst Place in West Sussex with some of our friends. We turned up on mass, and our buggy brigade (!) spent the day enjoying the grounds, walking and picnicking. The weather was definitely on our side and was perfect for taking our little ones out for the day.

Wakehurst Place is the country estate of Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens in London. It boasts beautiful landscapes including tree collections, lakes, woodland, a country house, gardens and the Millennium Seed Bank project.

We found it to be ideal for a child-friendly day out with plenty of space to roam, family-friendly facilities, lovely cafes and picnic areas.  

I loved the formal gardens with all the gorgeous flowers in bloom and tried to show them to Abigail, although she didn't look too impressed...

After buying the year’s membership at £24 (the cost of two visits), I think it will become a regular on our list of day trips!
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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Thoughts on modern parenting and mindfulness

As a new mum I have been amazed by the amount of varied thoughts I now have on a daily basis and the sheer number of things I now need to consider. Whilst we have all settled down into a routine and go about our little life quite happily, I feel like my brain is in constant overdrive thinking and churning over all sorts of things. Even though we seem to be successfully raising a little person right now, I often find myself thinking about the next step and then further ahead. 

To give you an example, in one day I can go from planning what we are doing next, to the logistics of taking a baby abroad,  to trying to learn about weaning as that’s not too far off now, to making a packing list for our holiday, to being concerned about how much TV we should be letting A see, to considering the dangers of social media in thirteen years’ time, to thinking about what type of gender image we should be projecting on to her and then back to what to order for next week’s shopping. It’s exhausting just writing it and to be honest it probably happens in less than a day, more like an hour. Then on top of that I’m checking my phone, emails, messages, trying to hold sensible conversation with other adults whilst making sure A is happy and her latest physical need attended to! Oh yes and me too, I’m trying to look after me…

In today’s society multitasking is a mandatory and now as we raise our children in a multi-screen world, I sometimes think we are all at risk of some kind of information overload. So I’m trying to slow down a bit and take a breath, or two as my Mindfulness app keeps telling me (more on that shortly).

I’ve recently started hearing about Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a therapeutic practice about focusing on the present moment and being really aware of your physical state through your breathing. It’s a way of stopping to take a moment and take in what life is like for you right now. It won’t solve life’s problems but it can help you to take a calmer approach and anchor yourself in the here and now.

In true twenty-first century fashion, an app (or many apps!) have been created to help with introducing Mindfulness into our daily lives. I’ve just downloaded Mindfulness Daily  and whilst I’m not always able to pause at the times scheduled (!) I’m really enjoying the pause function that allows me to look at different landscapes to help centre myself and take a couple of breaths.  

Someone told me that when it comes to raising children, ‘the days are long but the years are short’ and so far I have found this to be very true. We are now at the four-month mark and we are already glimpsing in A the little girl she will become. So I want to try and slow down the whirring in my head (easier said than done...) and savour as much of this time as I can. It’s about enjoying the simple things, lying in the park, cuddles at night and giggles when you’re singing nursery rhymes for the twentieth time in the row!

For more information on Mindfulness, click here.
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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Mummy tip #2 - Free Clinique makeup with Glamour


I was pleasantly surprised to receive a Clinique Chubby Stick with the August edition of Glamour magazine (particularly as makeup isn't too far up my priority list at the moment!) Glamour costs just £2 an issue  and the Chubby Stick is worth £17 (RRP) so this is a great bargain. The lovely people at Glamour and Clinique are giving away four Clinique items this month: Mascara, Moisturiser and two types of Chubby Stick. Might be worth picking up four issues to collect them all... 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Mummy Tip #1- Iphone Reading List

Many a time I have found an article or blog online, started to read it and then my attention has been needed elsewhere and I've lost or forgotten what I was reading to start with. Well... not anymore! 

This week I made a discovery, the iPhone reading list function. Perhaps everyone already knows how to do this, but for those of you who like me haven't worked this one yet out, here's how you could make your web browsing slightly easier. The reading list option on the iPhone means you can send the web page to a list in Safari that makes it available offline. Quite simple really but perfect for when you need something to keep you awake during the night feed or have found yourself trapped by a sleeping baby on the sofa!

Here's how:

Step 1: Open Safari, click on the Send To icon (third icon in) on the page you want to keep.

Step 2: Select 'Add to Reading List'.

Step 3: Open the Safari Browser and choose the Bookmark icon and then the Reading List icon (the glasses) to find your saved articles.

Happy Reading!

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