18th June 2018

Mabel tries: Baby Led Spreads

I am contacted about new products for babies and children on a daily basis – but every once in a while, a message makes me immediately stop what I’m doing and shout out loud “What a genius idea!” And when I found out about Baby Led Spreads a few weeks ago, that was exactly what happened.

So what are Baby Led Spreads? Designed for baby led weaning, these little jars contain a range of different healthy, versatile spreads. They can be used on sandwiches, as fillings in jacket potatoes, as an easy sauce for warm or cold pasta dishes, as bases for homemade pizza, or as dips for crunchy vegetables, breadsticks, or toast fingers.

The spreads are the perfect accompaniment to your baby’s diet, with a range of tastes, textures, and nutrients packed into each jar. You can pick non-dairy jars, dairy jars, or a mixture of the two – with six flavours to pick from, including ‘Spicy Pumpkin and Chickpea’, ‘Carrot, Apple and Hummus’, ‘Ricotta & Bean’, ‘Green Pea, Rocket and Dill’, ‘Red Lentil and Sweet Potato’ and ‘Avocado, Red pepper and Tomato.”

As a mum who went down the baby led weaning route fairly recently (with Mabel, who is my third baby), I would have found Baby Led Spreads so incredibly useful to have in the cupboard at home. I always found breakfast pretty easy – and dinner tended to be exactly what I was cooking for her brothers. But I often really struggled with inspiration for her lunches, usually giving her platters of bits and pieces I could find in the fridge. Having these little jars on hand would’ve given me so many options when putting together her plate – and I would have thrown the jars into my bag for meals out at restaurants too, letting her dip breadsticks into the spreads and feeling reassured she was getting some goodness.

We tried the jars out yesterday at lunchtime, letting Mabel use the spreads as a dip for her toast soldiers, cheese cubes, and tomato slices. I showed her what to do – and she carried on independently, happily gobbling up most of the plate. Her favourite was the ‘Avocado, Red Pepper, and Tomato’ – whilst her brothers (who happily dipped their toast soldiers into the leftovers in the jars) liked the ‘Carrot, Apple and Hummus’. I know the jars aren’t designed for older children, but it occurred to me that it would be a brilliant snack / packed lunch item to send into school, with a few breadsticks to dip into.

 

So how much do Baby Led Spreads cost? Well, I was seriously impressed. A selecion of 9 jars (three different flavours) costs just £6.50 (72p each) or a selection of 18 jars (6 different flavours) costs just £12 (67p each). Postage and packaging is free too, which makes it even more affordable.

But that’s not all, because this company has a heart too – and for every sale, money is donated directly to Bliss; a charity dedicated to helping babies born premature of sick (www.bliss.org.uk). For every 9 jars sold, they donate 30p to Bliss and for every 18 jars, they donate 60p.

You can buy them online at www.babyledspreads.co.uk

 

Written in collaboration with Baby Led Spreads



7th June 2018

Stanley tries: MentalUP (plus discount for every reader)

Summer holidays are coming – and if your children are anything like mine, they will need to keep their minds busy when school is out! I don’t always find it easy to dream up ways for them to do this, which is why I am relieved to have discovered MentalUP just in time – and having had the chance to play it, Stanley agrees…

Experts agree that the most effective and organic way to improve development in children is through play – and the MentalUp app contains a series of exercise that feel just like games to the children that are playing them. The app was developed by a team of doctors, scientists, academics and game designers, ensuring that every game challenges them, keeps their minds busy, and ultimately ensures that they have lots of fun.

 

So how does it work?

I’ve sat with Stanley while he’s played it several times now – and my favourite game is one called ‘Equalization’. It’s all about eliminating numbers you don’t need and collecting ones you do. Stanley really enjoyed it, completely unaware that he was practicing problem-solving skills as he played.

But that’s just one of the games… There are dozens with similar ideas, from remembering sequences of numbers, to matching patterns, to arranging letters in the correct orders. Each game helps children to practice different skills (focusing on memory, concentration, visual or logic) – and as the child progresses up the levels, the games become increasingly difficult.

MentalUp is used in 48 different countries worldwide, with over two million users. It has a rating of 4.8 in the app stores too, making it impressively popular with users.

The details…

MentalUp can be used on a computer, a tablet, or a phone.

It’s suitable for all children, adapting to their age, experience and performance.

Time is limited to 25-30 minutes per day, which is enough to keep their minds busy. I LOVE this feature! Stanley happily walks away saying he’s finished his slot, so no battles over handing back the laptop or iPad.

You can track your child’s performance with regular reports.

 

Where do you get it?

You can try the app completely for free for 7 days to see whether you like it. Head over to www.mentalup.co to sign up.

And if you want to buy the full-package, I have teamed up with MentalUP to offer a big discount. See below for all the details of the offer – and using the code 3056 with automatically apply your discount (valid until 24th June).

12 MONTHS PACKAGE

  • List price: £71.88
  • Current promotion price: £47.88
  • Price with the discount code: £23.88

6 MONTHS PACKAGE

  • List price: £35.94
  • Current promotion price: £29.94
  • Price with the discount code: £17.94

 

How to redeem the discount code (Android and IOS, Tablet and Phone)

After logging in, you will see the screen below. When you click on the buttons I’ve highlighted with arrows, you get to a screen with all the packages listed. You can then enter your promotional code.

 

 

Enter the code in the field and click “Apply code” – the package prices will then be automatically dropped.

 

Head over to www.mentalup.co or download it from App Store or Google store. The app is available both for IOS and Android.



28th May 2018

Motherhood is all about balance – and that’s why I love Annabel Karmel…

Regular readers of this blog will know that Annabel Karmel has been a bit of a guru to me since I became a mother. Because whilst I didn’t open a single other manual on motherhood, I religiously followed her recipes and tips when it came to weaning my first baby. And when I had a second and third baby, I reopened those books and revisited those much-loved recipes all over again.

But as much as I love Annabel’s cookery books, I don’t always have them to hand. I’ve been stood in the supermarket racking my brains about the ingredients I need for certain recipes. And whilst away on holiday or travelling with the kids, I have wished that I’d had the foresight to take a picture of the recipes on my phone so I could refer back to them when preparing food for the kids.

This is why I was excited to hear about the newly launched Annabel Karmel Healthy Baby and Toddler Recipes App, which includes a selection of her most popular recipes. The app is organised into neat sections so you can find the recipe you need (or browse for inspiration) – and when you click into each dish, there are ingredients and step by step instructions. You can add each recipe to a handy planner so that you are organised for the week ahead – and you can add ingredients to a shopping list section, so you have everything you need when you head to the supermarket. It’s well designed and easy to navigate – and means that I have my favourite recipes at the click of a button.

But do you know what? I don’t always have time to cook for the kids from scratch – and on the nights I’m in a mega hurry (which happens a lot), I’m a fan of the range of Annabel Karmel Chilled Toddler Meals too.

With dishes including ‘Lovely Beef Lasagna’, ‘Mild Chicken Tikka and Rice’ and ‘Tasty Spaghetti and Meatballs’, not only can the individual meals be stored in the freezer and prepared in a matter of minutes, they also contain good, wholesome, and nutritious ingredients. Each meal contains up to three of their five a day, are low in salt, and contain no artificial additives or preservatives So despite the fact I’m popping a meal in a microwave for their dinner, I am totally reassured that they’re getting a dose of goodness too.

So there may be nights when I flick through an Annabel Karmel book or open her app and knock up a dish from scratch – but there will also be nights when I reach into the fridge or freezer and pull out a chilled meal in a hurry too. And that is what I believe is called balance…

Find out more about the Annabel Karmel Healthy Baby and Toddler Recipes App here.

And find out more about the Annabel Karmel Chilled Toddler Meals here.

 

Sponsored Post



21st May 2018

When I was 11 years old, a friend wrote me a letter….

When I was 11 years old, a friend wrote me a letter and stuffed it into my hand in the cloakroom outside our classroom. As I unfurled the crumpled paper and started to read the words scrawled in navy blue fountain pen on the faint ruled lines inside, my breath caught in my chest. The world suddenly stood still. And whilst I can’t remember the content, I do remember they were spiteful and personal. She didn’t like me – and lying in bed that evening, I sobbed sad, unhappy tears as the words replayed in my mind.

I genuinely can’t remember the circumstances surrounding that letter. I may very well have written to her first or done something unkind to prompt it. We may have spat words at each other beforehand, both determined that we were right. It was long before the days of being interested in boys – but those were the days when stealing someone else’s ‘best friend’ was amongst the worst thing you could do. So looking back, with not a shred of memory about what the letter contained, that would be my guess. I guess I stole her friend. I guess it stung. And I guess she felt better as her fountain pen scratched the paper as she wrote.

I have no idea what happened to that letter. If it didn’t immediately get thrown in the bin, it probably ended up in a box somewhere, long forgotten with the years slowly fading the ink.

I do remember who wrote it though – and 26 years later, we are good friends. We meet regularly, putting the world to rights over strong coffees and glasses of wine.  We attended each other’s hen do’s and weddings. Our children play together. Our husbands stand over barbecues together. She’s part of my past, my present, my future.

I doubt she remembers writing that letter.

I hope she doesn’t remember writing that letter.

But imagine if we’d been born 25 years later. Imagine if we were 11 years old now, with phones in our hands, computer screens in our homes. Imagine if she’d typed that letter with angry taps, pressing ‘send’ before her mother called her down for dinner and she checked between bites that the message had been delivered so that she knew the words were playing in my mind.

Imagine if, 25 years later, I could look back at a stream of messages and find it right there at the very beginning.

To be reminded whenever I wanted to be reminded.

And imagine if she could’ve written it publicly and tagged me – or, with a sense of 11-year-old injustice and anger, I could’ve shared it with our peers, our parents, and the world.

I have no answers – but just imagine…

It scares me.

It really scares me.

Does it scare you?



27th April 2018

10 Arguments Couples Will Have When They Become Parents…

  1. 1. “You’re tired? Seriously?!”

Are you even a parent if you haven’t argued over who was awake more times in the night or who was up the earliest with the kids? I mean, sleep deprivation and parenting may go hand-in-hand, but both have the tendency to fray tempers. Especially when the person next to you in the bed has the audacity to snore as you are trying to settle a baby back to sleep.

  1. “It’s definitely your turn!”

You know how it pans out. The distinct aroma of a child’s skanky nappy starts working its way around the room – and it’s a game of who can make themselves scarce first. And if you are both unlucky enough to be on the scene at the same time as detection, it’s definitely not your turn to do it. Because you did it last time. And let’s face it, probably the time before that too.

  1. “Where are the sodding nappies?”

You’re out and about with the brood, when the smallest one needs a nappy change. You reach into your bag to pull out a nappy – but there are none to be found. You know there was one in there this morning, because you checked. And then you remember the nappy change before you left the house, when your partner clearly raided the stash because they couldn’t be bothered to walk upstairs. And it’s definitely not a coincidence that they are now googling the nearest supermarket on their phone…

  1. “It costs HOW much?”

Whether it’s investing in a new buggy to accommodate a new baby (because this one has tons of features we didn’t have with the last one), buying a dress that you saw online that you loved but wasn’t exactly thriftstore, or realising your two-year old now needs their very own seat on a flight and has nearly doubled the price of the holiday, it’s nearly impossible to navigate parenting without the odd argument about how much these little cash-guzzlers cost.

  1. “Good Cop, Bad Cop”

One of you does most the legwork, changes most of the stinky nappies, does most of the night shifts, calms the most tantrums – and the other walks through the door and has little people running to them with a look of pure joy on their little faces. And when it comes to disciplining, there’s usually one that is seen as the soft touch, while the other gets a rap for being unkind. It’s all part of parenting as a team, but it’s bloody unfair – and you aren’t afraid to say it.

  1. “Romance? Ha!”

Because children + romance = barely compatible. But one half of the couple probably wants to try anyway.

  1. “You want to buy a mini bus?”

When kids come along, car dreams are shattered. And whether it’s the first leap to a sensible family car (when you were quite happy in that sporty little number) – or having to succumb to a mini bus when your brood expands, it’s rare you’re going to agree in the early stages of your ‘discussions’.

  1. “The Wake-up Call”

Whether they flushed the toilet during nap time, shut the door a bit too noisily, or decided to ramp up the football a notch or two, if it’s their bloody fault that the baby woke up, you will be telling them. And then passing them the baby.

  1. “WHERE ARE YOU?”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a legitimate reason. It doesn’t matter if they are dealing with an emergency at work or if the car broke down or if an old friend flew half way across the world for a drink and a catch-up, if they aren’t home by the time they said they’d be home to share the parenting, it’s nearly impossible to bite your tongue and smile sweetly when they walk through the door.

  1. “Are you even listening?”

And when you’ve just completed a five-minute soliloquy about childcare dilemmas, the merits of every primary school in the area, or a list of adorable things your shared offspring did earlier that day and your partner looks up vacantly and says: ‘Sorry love, what was that? I don’t think I was listening…” Well. Seriously. They may as well just pack their bags now.

 



24th April 2018

My Top 15 Summer Buys for Little Boys and Little Girls (everything under £26…)

There are some gorgeous clothes out there for little boys and little girls this season. From dinosaur-print swim shorts, to ditsy-floral sun hats, to ice cream motif T-Shirts, to heart-shaped sunglasses, I’ve spent some time today pulling together my top 15 buys from the high street for toddlers and small children – and the best bit is that nothing in my selection costs more than £26… So now all we need is the sunshine to come out again.

My Top 15 Summer Buys For Little boys…

  1. Crocodile T-Shirt (part of a set of three) at H&M, £9.99 – Link to buy
  2. Colour Block Stripe Jumper at The White Company, £24 – Link to buy
  3. Dungarees at H&M, £14.99 – Link to buy
  4. Ice Cream T-Shirt at Boden, from £16 – Link to buy
  5. Shark Sun Hat at Joules, £12.99 – Link to buy
  6. Black aviator Sunglasses at H&M, £3.99 – Link to buy
  7. Yellow sunglasses at River Island, £6 – Link to buy
  8. Star denim shorts at Next, from £11 – Link to buy
  9. Shark Rash Vest from The White Company, £22 – Link to buy
  10. Balloon T-Shirt from Scamp & Dude, £26 – Link to buy
  11. Bear Espadrilles from H&M, £5.99 – Link to buy
  12. Dinosaur Swim Shorts from La Redoute, £12 – Link to buy
  13. Ice Cream Swim Shorts from Zara Kids, £7.99 – Link to buy
  14. Cork Sandals from GAP, £16.95 – Link to buy
  15. Dinosaur Cap from Zara Kids, £6.99 – Link to buy

My Top 15 Summer Buys for Little Girls

  1. Tassel Dress from Next, from £15 – Link to buy
  2. Cardigan from Boden, from £22 – Link to buy
  3. Floral Sun Hat from Olivier Baby & Kids, £24 – Link to buy
  4. Striped All in One from La Redoute, £19 – Link to buy
  5. Heart Shaped Sunglasses from GAP, £6.95 – Link to buy
  6. Watermelon Swimming Costume from H&M, £5.99 – Link to buy
  7. Cat Hat from Zara Kids, £9.99 – Link to buy
  8. Bear T-Shirt (part of a set of three) at Next, from £11 – Link to buy
  9. Leather Sandals from H&M, £19.99 – Link to buy
  10. Rose gold leather sandals from Next, £15 – Link to buy
  11. Rash Vest and Frilly Swim Pants from Boden, from £26 – Link to buy
  12. Frilly Denim Top from GAP, £14.99 – Link to buy
  13. Liberty Print Bloomers from Etsy, £20 – Link to buy
  14. Bee Print Leggings from Mint Rainbow Shop at Etsy, from £13.50 – Link to buy
  15. Striped Bow Sandals from Zara Kids, £19.99 – Link to Buy

 

This blog post contains some affiliate links



10th April 2018

After you arrived, everything changed…

Dear Stanley – on the eve of your 6th birthday…

Before you arrived, life was different.

It was busy, but it was ordered.

It was simple, but it was full.

I lived for booking far-flung adventures, going on romantic dinner dates, and drinking really good cups of coffee at the weekend with a magazine in my hands.

I dreamt of career promotions, and white weddings, and one day, so distant in the future that it seemed hazy and surreal, of perhaps having babies of my own.

But back then, I wore clothes that I knew wouldn’t get covered in muck by grubby mitts and open-mouthed kisses within two minutes of getting dressed.

I wore shoes that I knew I could walk in – not having to consider suddenly breaking into a panicked run to chase you or carrying you for the entire walk as you point blank refused to sit in your buggy.

And I ate the food that I wanted to eat, not giving two hoots whether I was getting my five-a-day or drinking far too many glasses of cheap white wine as I rolled out of the office and into a bar with friends.

Before you arrived, life was different.

I was happy – and to be honest, I didn’t know that anything was missing.

But it turned out that it was.

Because one April afternoon, six years ago to the day tomorrow, you changed everything forever.

A little boy, like I’d always dreamt.

And as I stared into your deep blue eyes as you were placed on my chest, in that very instant, my life spun into a completely new course.

Life wasn’t so ordered anymore – but it was still busy.

Life wasn’t so simple anymore – but it was fuller than ever.

I still dreamt of far-flung adventures – but first, I needed to check there was travel cots, and high-chairs, and food on the menu that you’d actually eat.

I still lived for romantic dates – but they happened so rarely, I would delve into my handbag for a lipstick and discover spare dummies, and odd socks, and tiny toy cars instead.

I still adored cups of good coffee, but it wasn’t just for the taste anymore. It was for the caffeine – and the stronger, the better.

I had changed.

I still considered myself strong – but I was softer round the edges. My eyes welled up at emotional songs and films – and I full-on lost control of those tears the first time I saw you perform in a nursery show.

And as hard as it was to even imagine a life without you in it again, the thought occasionally crossed my mind and paralysed me for a moment – so terrified of losing you that I couldn’t function, or speak, or move until I forced it out of my mind again.

After you arrived, I was painfully aware of my flaws. My lack of patience, my vulnerabilities, and my inability to remain strong in the path of a stubborn toddler with pleading eyes.

But I realised my strengths too. Not only physically (because who can truly feel weak when they have grown and birthed a small human), but emotionally. To get through those hard weeks at the beginning, to learn to become a mother away from nearly everyone I knew and loved, and to get to the end of one of the hardest days and realise that we had survived.

After you arrived, everything changed.

Everything.

And six years on, I find it hard to remember what life was like without you in it

You were my first baby.

The little boy that made me a mother.

You changed me, challenged me, softened me, strengthened me, and taught me to love in a way I didn’t even know was possible.

And as you celebrate tomorrow, with those same deep blue eyes sparkling with excitement and happiness, I will take myself back to our first moments together.

Quietly remembering the first time that we met.

When everything changed.

Everything.

And I will smile.

Love from Mummy x



7th April 2018

Currently Loving – April 2018

I meant to write this blog post in March – but then the snow happened and the kids were off school for a week (i never thought I’d be angry with the snow, but I really was by the end of that week). And then before I knew it, the Easter holidays had crept up on us – and alas, there hasn’t been much blog writing going on with three kids running around the house.

But here we are. I have finally managed to pull it together, thanks to a combination of coffee, pleading with the husband, and ear plugs – and I hope you enjoy what I’ve pulled together.

1. Boden T-Shirt. Boden’s new season collection is in – and top of my picks is this ice cream tee. You’ll find it in the boy’s section, but I think it’s equally lovely for girls. Shop here.

2. L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Cream. I’ve started using this moisturising cream again, after years without it – and my skin is delighted. It leaves my skin looking all dewy and feeling well hydrated, even after the most disturbed nights with the kids. Shop here

3. Mrs Beasley’s Bows. I’m so desperate for Mabel to keep this beautiful Liberty-print bow in her hair, but alas, she’s having none of it. If your little one is more keen on the bow wearing, I can confirm that it is exceedingly beautiful, very well-made, and has a price tag of just £3.50. Shop here.

4. La Redoute Swim Suits. What’s that, you say? Swim shorts covered in tiny dinosaurs? That’s right – and they are just £12 from La Redoute. Shop here.

5. Lift the Flap Books. These brilliant books are perfect for busy little minds. I’ve bought three of them for Stanley’s birthday, including this one about the World. I know he’s going to love them – and he’s just turning six (thanks to Jo at Scamp & Dude for the recommendation!). Shop here.

6. Essie Nail Polish. The Spring 2018 collection by Essie is making me swoon – and my favourite is the chic Anchor Down. I’m buying myself a bottle and will be wearing it all season. Shop here.

7. Bloom & Blossom Bath, Book and Bedtime Collection. Oh how I love this new range of bathtime products for kids from Bloom & Blossom. I used this brand throughout my three pregnancies and rate the beautiful, safe ingredients and stunning scents – and this range for kids definitely hasn’t disappointed, with wonderful packaging, affordable price tags, child-friendly ingredients, and seriously affordable prices. Shop here.

8. Stories For Boys Who Dare To Be Different. This is a truly wonderful new book that you should purchase for your boys immediately. Each double page spread tells the story of a different boy who dared to be different – from Oscar Wilde, to Ralph Lauren, to Vincent Van Gogh, to Grayson Perry. And the illustrations are beautiful. Shop here.

9. Boden Frilled Swimsuit. I may well have added this to Mabel’s summer stash. Well, OK I did. Because it was impossible to resist. Shop here.

10. Grass & Air Rain Mac. It’s that time of year when we don’t need coats, but it’s still highly likely to rain – and that’s why I’ve swapped from Mabel’s thick winter coat to this beauty by Grass & Air. It’s stunning on her, totally waterproof, and when a bright light shines on the fabric, rain clouds appear. Shop here.

11. Saltwater Sandals. I don’t have these Rose Gold Saltwater Sandals yet, but I am seriously coveting them. I mean, what’s not to like?! They come in kids’ sizes (from 5 to 13) and adult sizes (from 3 to 8). Shop kids here. Shop adults here.

12. Zara Kids Cap. I love this denim cap by Zara Kids, which nods to dinosaurs in a really fun, stylish way. It works well for boys and girls – and costs just £6.99. Shop here.

13. T-RQ Adult Gummies. I’ve come to the end of my six-month trial of T-RQ Adult Gummies – and they’ve now become such a regular part of my morning routine that I have already re-stocked and will be doing so again soon. From the multi-vitamins (which contain nine essential vitamins), to the Biotin (which supports hair, skin and nails), to the Omega 3 with DHA + EPA (which helps power healthy brain, vision, and heart functioning), the entire range contains high quality ingredients and come in natural, great tasting flavours. Gummy vitamins aren’t just for kids, after all! Shop here.

 

Some Links are Affiliate Links. 

Written in Collaboration with T-RQ Adult Gummies



31st March 2018

We try: Tutti Bambini KOJI Pushchair

With my youngest now 18 months, I’ve been hunting for the perfect pushchair for a while. I wanted to move on from the bulky, hard-to-collapse, and not hugely practical travel system I’ve been using since Mabel was born – but given I needed a replacement to be as suitable for laps of the local park as it would be strolling down the high street, I needed it to be a bit sturdier than the average umbrella stroller. And naturally I wanted it to look stylish, be lightweight and easy to push, and have a big basket underneath (because as a mum of three, I have everything but the kitchen sink to transport when I muster up the energy to take them out).

With perfect timing, I was asked whether I’d like to try the Tutti Bambini KOJI Pushchair and tell you all my thoughts – and after a browse online, I realised it ticked every box for our next pushchair and hastily agreed to give it a try.

 

The Specifics

The KOJI is suitable from birth, with a forward and rear facing seat (also compatible with a carry cot and a car seat) that can be removed from the chassis. It can be folded with the seat attached and has a large shopping basket underneath, extendable handle, five-point safety harness, a large shopping basket with magnetic flap for easy access, and a hood with an extendable sun canopy. It also comes with a rain cover and has puncture-proof tyres.

First impressions

First impressions were very good. I set my husband the challenge of getting out the box and building it – and he was finished in a matter of minutes. I took it for a quick stroll around the lounge and was impressed with how lightweight and easy to steer it was. I was so used to the bulk and heaviness of my old buggy that it was an absolute pleasure to push around (you know when you have long hair and get several inches cut off? it was similar to that…) Even looking at my old buggy made my arms ache and now I couldn’t believe I’d clung onto it for so long.

It looked great too. The brand sent me the red Poppy colour and in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have chosen the red – but it is also available in Oatmeal, Liquorice, Charcoal, and Midnight Blue (and you can buy the fabric packs separately too if you want to swap between them). You can choose the chassis in either silver or black too, making it truly customisable. I know that the aesthetics of a buggy isn’t important to everyone, but it is to me – and the KOJI is definitely a stylish one.

Taking it out

It took us a while to work out how to collapse it down for the car boot, but once we’d mastered it, this was super easy – and you can even do it with one hand (handy when you have a baby or toddler in the other one).

Pushing it around was a dream, as it was just so light and easy to manoeuvre. I found it easy to use the break, which is down by your feet, and also found strapping Mabel into the harness very easy (I have had strollers in the past that sometimes made me tear my hair out trying to get a child into them, so this was a big plus point for me).

I loved the magnetic flap on the shopping basket underneath too. It means that when you need to pop something in the basket, you can pull the edge down to slide it in easily, then pop it back up in a split second. As I’m that mum piling things up underneath the pushchair, this is also a big positive.

I also really liked the hood, which has an extendable sun canopy with UV protection. Having lived in Dubai with small babies in the past, I know that the sun glaring in a baby’s eyes can be a big problem – and this small but very useful feature will make life a lot easier in the summer, without having to fiddle with sun umbrellas or completely cover them (which isn’t advised).

The compact design of the pushchair was also a big positive when shopping on my local high-street. I’ve had to ask for double doors to be unlocked in the past so I can get my wider-than-average travel system through them, but the narrow width of the KOJI allowed me to get through all doors of shops and cafes (and small gaps between rails), which makes the pushchair idea for city-based parents that want something totally practical.

Overall opinion

This is a premium pushchair and you can tell from the way it looks and the way it feels to push it. Mabel is super comfy in it – and I am super comfy pushing. And compared to my last pushchair, it’s light as a feather.

The price tag reflects all of this and it certainly isn’t a budget option, but I have spent double the amount on a pushchair in the past and I feel the price is very good value for money for what you are getting.

Mostly, I love the fact it’s compact and takes up less room in my car boot, takes less effort to push around, and is easy to strap Mabel in. I feel like I’ve streamlined my life and that is such a relief after six years of bulky pushchairs.

It just makes life so much easier – and when you are a mum of three, that is a godsend.

 

You can find out more online at https://www.tuttibambini.com/product/koji-pushchair-silver-liquorice/

 

This post is sponsored by Tutti Bambini

 



28th March 2018

We review: Toy Box Tots

I’ve travelled a fair bit with my children over the years – and whether we are heading away for just a couple of days or jetting away for several months, the one thing I make absolute sure that I pack is a whole bag of their favourite toys and books to keep them amused throughout our stay. I say ‘make absolute sure’, but I actually forgot once on a weekend away and immediately regretted it when the kids threw themselves on the floor and wailed that they were bored. I never made that mistake again, but that has meant sacrificing a fair bit of boot space / luggage allowance over the years.

This is why I think Toy Box Tots is an inspired idea for parents – and we got to try it out over the past three days while we were glamping at Kaya Lodge.

So what is it?

Toy Box Tots will send you an age-appropriate box of toys for your little one for breaks away. You log onto their website, choose the box to match the age of your child (we went for 18-24 months for Mabel), and choose the length of time that you would like to rent the box for. This could be as little as 3 days or as long as a month. And once you’ve decided, simply input the delivery address and date you would like your box delivered – and hey presto, your children have toys to play with throughout your stay.

I think this concept works really well for families across the UK heading away for short breaks and holidays – but it also works incredibly well for expat families returning to the UK for holidays to stay with relatives. Just book a box in advance – and it’ll be there waiting for you when you arrive, without having to use up your luggage allowance to transport everything back in your suitcase.

What’s in the boxes?

The focus of each box is a book – and the toys that are included in the box are themed to match the book. For example, Mabel got the book ‘The Lion Who Lost His Voice But Learnt To Roar’ and she had a whole box of safari / animal / drawing themed toys to enjoy for the few days we were away. This included a wooden jigsaw puzzle, a large Noah’s Arc filled with plastic animals, a safari-train, a hand puppet, an aqua doodle mat and water pens – and lots more.

I was seriously impressed with how well matched the toys were to her age. She especially loved the Noah’s Arc and spent hours putting the animals in and out the arc, putting the top back on, and then marching around the tent with it! She loved it so much that I am now considering buying her one for home to keep her busy. The company really understood what keeps her age of toddler busy.

But it has to be said that it wasn’t just Mabel that loved the box. The boys loved helping her unpack it and spent as long as her playing with the items inside. In future, I think I’ll order a box for Wilfred too (as they go up to aged 4-5) so they both have their own selection. I also think the concept works really well for group holidays where you can club together to get a couple of boxes to entertain the various kids in your party.

How do you send it back?

When you are ready to head home, simply pack up the box of toys (you get to keep the book!) and the company will pick it up again (they will pre-arrange this with you when you first order the box).

It’s as easy as that – and believe me, these boxes make such a big difference to stays away from home!

How much does it cost?

The boxes start at £19 plus delivery/pick-up for a 3-day rental and rise to £30 for the month. If you have twins, you can get a 50% discount on a second box of the same age category (either an identical box or a different selection). Simply input TWINNINGIT at the checkout and the company will sort out the discount.

I really recommend Toy Box Tots. Packing light for our holiday felt really liberating – and Mabel was far more interested in these toys than she would be if I’d packed her own anyway! She was such a busy little girl playing with her box of toys throughout our stay – and that made my life so much easier too.

To find out more or to book online, visit www.toyboxtots.com  

 

This post is sponsored by Toy Box Tots