Monthly Archives: April 2015

30th April 2015

7 Reasons Why I Find Driving With Children A Little Testing…

IMG_11871. The traffic lights. So we’re driving along, the baby is asleep, the toddler is happily watching the world go by out the window. All is good. Until we approach a set of traffic lights and they turn red. I brake as much as I can to put off the inevitable. We creep forwards. We eventually stop. The baby wakes up. The toddler starts shouting. Peace is destroyed. Thanks traffic lights.

2. The kicking. The conversation goes like this. Me: ‘Stop kicking the seat, please!’ Stanley: “OK Mummy”. Pause a few seconds. Me: “Stop kicking the seat, please!” Stanley: “OK Mummy.” Still get kicked. I pull seat as far forward as I can. Pause a few seconds. Still get bloody kicked.

3. The music selection. I get in car, switch on engine, and start enjoying my pre-selected radio choice. Oh yeah, the music is good, the sun is shining, the kids are happy. Life is good. Stanley: “Mummy, can we listen to nursery rhymes?” Me: “No Stanley, we’re listening to Mummy’s music today”. Pause a few seconds. “Mummy, can we listen to nursery rhymes?” “No Stanley, we’re listening to Mummy’s music today”. Pause a few seconds. “Mummy, can we listen to nursery rhymes?” I switch on nursery rhymes. I am weak. So weak.

4. The inevitable questions. Stanley: “Mummy, where are we going?” Mummy: “We’re going to the park.” Stanley: “The Park?” Me: ‘Yes, the park”. Pause a few seconds. “Mummy, where are we going?” Repeats 15 times until we reach the park.

5. The mess. Oh how I miss the days when the only mess in our car was a magazine I had slung into the back seat and a takeaway coffee in the cup holder. If my children ever eat in the car – and this sadly happens – it is inevitable that the entire back seat and floor mats will be covered in crumbs. In fact, our car seat never recovered from the time I passed back a pouch of banana baby puree to a hungry baby when stuck in traffic. And the car still has the vague whiff of banana.

6. The loo requests. Before we leave the house. Me: “Stanley, do you need a wee?” Stanley: “NO!”. Me: “Are you sure? As it’s a long journey in the car and we won’t be able to stop. Why don’t you try anyway.” Stanley: “NO MUMMY, THERE’S NO WEE COMING!” We get in car and drive away. Five minutes later. “Mummy, I need a wee”. Give me strength.

7. The dropped things. Baby cries. Me: “Here Wilfred, have this toy/dummy/comforter”. Contorts self to pass it to them. Pulls muscle in back and neck. Two seconds later. THUD. On the floor. Every time.



27th April 2015

10 Things I Did Differently The Second Time Round

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 21.36.081) I worried about different things

Lots of people say that they worry less with the second baby – and this was true for me in some respects. I definitely felt more relaxed as a mother from the first day of his life. I didn’t stress about small things like prolonged tummy time as a newborn, knocks when he started walking, or him getting dirty when we went to the play park. But I found new things to worry about. I only started reading up on the wonderful world of motherhood when I had my first baby – and with this new knowledge of all the things that could go wrong, I found myself worrying more about the bigger issues of sleep safety, choking hazards, and signs of something being seriously wrong. So whilst I did worry less on a day-to-day basis, I worried more about the bigger issues.

2) I forced myself out the door

Right from the day after we arrived home from hospital, I forced myself out the house with a newborn and toddler As even when I could hardly walk after giving birth, the alternative of staying in the house with a toddler running up the walls wasn’t worth the convenience of staying on the sofa. This has been my mantra ever since – it might be hard to get out the door with two children, but I almost always appreciate our efforts in the end.

3) I moved onto real food quicker

When my first baby was about 8 months old, I had lunch with my cousin and her two children. She was giving them fish fingers and asked whether Stanley would like some too. I was horrified! My homemade-puree-eating baby did not eat fish fingers! How ridiculous! And then I had my second baby, he saw his brother eating fish fingers around 8 months old, and gesticulated wildly until I gave him a taster. That was the moment I gave up on purees (mainly shop-bought this time, despite my best intentions) and I have cooked the same thing for both of them ever since.

4) I dressed him like a baby for longer

Whilst I excitedly bought proper little outfits for my first and wanted him to look like a boy from the early days, I left my second in cute babygros for months. And when I moved him out of them, I kept him in leggings because he looked like a baby still – and 15 months later, he still wears them.

5) I didn’t wish away the milestones

With a new understanding of the mischief a crawling baby could cause, I did not count down the days until my second was on the move. Instead, I enjoyed the early days when I could plonk him down and find him in the same place when I returned. And when he started crawling, I looked forward to him walking, but fully expected the bumps, bruises, and knocks that he would get when he took to his feet.

6) I was never complacent

Having gone through it all once before, I never felt smug when things were going right. My baby gobbled up vegetables, but I was aware he may start rejecting them a few months down the line (and he did). My baby slept through the night, but I knew he may catch a cold in the days that followed and wake up 20 times a night coughing (and he did). My baby loved the bath, but he may suddenly decide a few weeks later that the bath was now the devil (and he did). And so it continues. I was better equipped to deal with the setbacks and they never came as a shock.

7) I established a bedtime earlier

I was quite happy for my first baby to hang out with us in the evening when he arrived in our life – but when we finally established a bedtime months down the line, life transformed and I felt myself again in the evenings. So when our second arrived a few years later, we established a bedtime routine much earlier. Because despite enjoying the sleepy evening cuddles (and we did, we really did), I needed that time more than ever.

8) I didn’t bother with baby toys

As soon as my newborn baby could focus, he wanted the toys his brother played with. Here Wilfred, have a rattle! No thanks Mum, I’ll sit here trying to climb onto the scooter if that’s alright. Here Wilfred, have a teething ring! No thanks Mum, I’ll examine this racing car if that’s OK. Here Wilfred, how about a baby book? No thanks Mum, can’t you see I’m reading up on the alphabet? Buying baby toys would have been an utter waste of money.

9) I fell behind with the baby book

Despite my best intentions, I found it incredibly hard to keep up with the baby book that I had bought to match his brother’s. I bought milestone baby cards and took pictures right up to 11 months when I forgot, so we never completed it. I have so many photographs I want to stick into his book or put in frames around the apartment (if you took the time to study the pictures we have framed at home, you’d think we only had one child), but somehow it always get put back to the bottom of the ‘to do’ pile.

10) I learnt to appreciate every second

The first few years of motherhood passed in a flash – so when my second arrived, I was fully aware of how fast time would move. This made me appreciate how lucky I was. At times, I just sit and stare at him, trying to commit his baby self to memory, as I know it will be gone so soon; his chubby wrists, his baby babble, the way his fluffy hair stuck up in the morning. Motherhood comes with its fair share of stressful days, worries, and uncertainties – but my second baby has taught me that these little moments make every second worthwhile. Every single second.



25th April 2015

The 7 baby buys I’ve used every day for the last 3 years

I recently posted about the things I bought for my babies that were a complete and utter waste of money. Remember? Well today, I’ve decided to do the opposite, listing the things that were worth every penny (or dirham, if you are reading this in Dubai).

These are the things that I’ve used every single day for the last three years. And whilst they may not be the most useful (cots, pushchairs, and highchairs spring to mind), they are the things that stand the test of time as babies turn into toddlers.

We all mother in different ways, of course – and I’m not saying that everyone needs these items. What I am saying, however, is that you certainly won’t be throwing your money down the drain if you follow suit.

So here goes:

Untitled

1 – Changing Table. When I was pregnant, a few people told me not to bother with a changing table. ‘You just need a mat and you can change a baby anywhere’, they said. I chose to ignore them – and thank goodness I did, as that thing has had a baby on it at least four times a day for the last three years (and for a long time, two of them). Firstly, poo stinks and I don’t want that anywhere near my sofa, or my bed, or my carpet. And secondly, it’s a very useful storage device for all the paraphilia that comes with nappy-aged children (nappies, wipes, swim nappies, sudocream, nappy bags, and the list goes on). So if you have the space, get one. Mine is a cheap one from IKEA and it does the job perfectly.

2 – Nappy Bag. My pregnant self wanted a big leather designer bag to cart around my baby stuff. I announced my intentions to a few mummy friends and they couldn’t conceal their unified hilarity. They were right. Pooey clothes, leaky milk bottles, and squashed raisins are not friends of leather designer bags. I have used various bags over the years, but always had one close to my side when out with the kids – and believe me, waterproof linings are your best bet. My current bag is from PacaPod.

3 – Sleeping Bags. I am a big fan of sleeping bags for babies and toddlers. In fact, both my boys still sleep in them now at 1 and 3. Not only do they keep little ones warm, but they do it safely – and as an added bonus, they make it harder for energetic toddlers to escape their cot (most of the time, anyway). I have got mine in the past from JoJo Maman Bebe (UK) and Just Kidding (UAE).

4 – Hooded Towels. I bought my hooded towels on a bit of a whim when pregnant as I thought the animal faces were cute, completely unaware about how useful they would become. Of course you don’t need hooded towels – any old towel will do, but children like to feel warm and cosy after their bath and I’ve found these make life easier, especially when bathing two children on my own – scoop child out bath, hook towel over head, and transport. I have recently upgraded to Cuddle Dry towel for both the boys from Baby Souk (see my last ‘Currently Loving’ post) and can highly recommend them.

5 – Jelly Cat Comforters. My oldest child’s Jelly Cat comforter (a blue bunny) was bought on impulse when I saw it shopping when pregnant. I took it to the hospital with me when I gave birth – and the two of them have been inseparable ever since. Some people aren’t bothered about comforters, but I have found them to be a very useful tool for both boys (Wilfred has a monkey) as they are always happy in their cot when clutching them. They are also a big help when travelling, instantly calming them when in an unfamiliar place. Use your judgement when it comes to comforters – I would never let a very new baby cuddle one, but they are breathable and can be used at night / naps when they are older.  Buy Jelly Cat here.

6 – Dr Brown Bottles. There was a brief period when the oldest child stopped drinking out of bottles and the smallest one was still in utero, but otherwise these bottles have been a permanent resident of my kitchen surface, sink, and draining board for the last three years.  If you plan to bottle feed – or swap to bottles at some point – I really recommend them. They help to keep air bubbles out to prevent wind and they are pretty robust too – in fact, mine still look good-as-new three years later. You can buy them at Mumzworld (UAE) and Boots.com (UK)

7 – Bath Thermometer. So when I posted about things that were a real waste of money, a few people mentioned bath thermometers. But we use ours every single night! In fact, I love it so much that I take it back to the UK with me for trips. Ours is in the shape of a duck and it lives in the bath, swimming around while the taps are running – and with one quick glance, I know I can dunk the boys straight in. It makes life quicker and easier, at very little expense. And I’m all for that! You can buy it from Truly Madly Baby (UK) here. If you are in the UAE, we got ours from Baby Shop three years ago, so it may still be available there.

Everything Mummy


23rd April 2015

This bunny is three years old

photoThis bunny is three years old.

This bunny was packed in my hospital suitcase, so clean, so soft, and so fluffy. He didn’t have much of a personality then. He lay there in the suitcase for weeks, as I watched my bump grow, decorated a nursery in shades of powder blue, and crossed off days on a calendar. He had no idea what was in store.

This bunny lay there while I hung up tiny outfits on the washing line outside – and then a day later, folded them neatly into the suitcase one by one. He watched as I held each one up and tried to imagine the person that would fit inside. He stayed still and quiet as I imagined a face, the sound of a cry, and the feel of a warm baby in my arms, when I couldn’t really imagine it at all.

This bunny watched as one nervous daddy-to-be zipped up the suitcase and heaved it into the boot of car. He lay quietly as the suitcase was unzipped again at hospital. And hours later, he heard a baby cry.

This bunny was taken out of the suitcase and placed alongside the tiniest, softest, newest human – and that is when this bunny’s life really began.  On that first night, while I tried to get some sleep, he watched that new person from the bottom of his basinet, his tiny chest rising and falling, his small lips sucking as he slept.

This bunny quickly became quite attached to his person. He slept with him every night and made regular trips to the washing machine when milk spills, sick, and occasionally even poo spoiled his once-perfect fur.

This bunny was dragged around an apartment by a crawling baby, picking up dust and sand from the floor. He was sucked when teeth started to appear and dunked in brightly-coloured purees when we started to feed with a spoon.

This bunny was carried around when his person took his first steps, his blanket clipping the floor. He lost count of the number of car and aeroplane journeys he was taken on, clutched tight in an excited little fist. Sometimes he was dropped and left, but he always found his way back.

This bunny went back to hospital; this time, to meet a new person. But his person never let him go.

This bunny was thrown during tantrums – but when he was thrown to the other side of the room, he became the very reason his person was crying. And as soon as they were back together, calm was restored.

This bunny was starting to look a bit old. But a curious thing was starting to happen – as the shorter, coarser, and dirtier that his fur became, the more he was needed and loved.

This bunny is three years old.

This bunny is no longer the clean, fluffy bunny that he once was in that suitcase in that quiet house. He is older now – and his tired fur reminds us that time has passed. And no matter how many times we wash him and no matter how many times we sew him back together with a needle and thread, he will never be the new bunny that he once was. But that is OK, as we love him that way. We love what he has become.

This bunny is three years old, but this bunny is so very loved.

Just like his person.

Exactly like his person.

 



22nd April 2015

Currently Loving… April

Oh dear, I always like to post my ‘Currently Loving’ posts at the beginning of the month, but life (and a trip back to the UK) got in the way of blogging for a few weeks. Better late than never, though, so here are the things we’ve been loving in the Mum of Boys house recently! I will try harder next month *slaps own wrists*

currently loving april

For everyone (UK and Dubai)

1 – Sago Mini Apps

Wilfred was doing some serious grumbling on our trip back to the UK thanks to the appearance of a random molar tooth (way too soon molar, way too soon). His godmother Katie was giving cuddles to try and calm him, but nothing was working – so she whipped out her phone and revealed an app called Sound Box by Sago Mini. He stopped crying instantly – and within seconds, his brother and friend Raffy joined them, all totally transfixed. I took the hint and downloaded a Sago Mini bundle for our flight back to Dubai yesterday – and believe me, these were well worth the download! I got a package of 4 games called ‘Sago Mini Starter Pack’.

Buy: Sago Mini Starter Pack

2 – Cuddle Dry Towels

I am now an ambassador for the kids store BabySouk.com, which means I will be trying out things every month – and the first item I have reviewed is Cuddle Dry towels. Stanley was sent a bunny towel, complete with floppy ears, and Wilfred was sent the pony, with hair and tail! Aside from the fact they look adorably cute (the towels are like costumes for bathtime!), they are really practical too. They are big enough to keep both the boys very warm after their bath, implausibly soft (even after a wash), and make it really easy to lift babies from bath, hook towels over their head, and carry out the bathroom (without soaking yourself in the process). So top marks for my first Baby Souk item; I am very confident that you will love Cuddle Dry as much as I do!

Buy: BabySouk.com (UAE) and Boots.com (UK)

3 – COLAB

Back in the mid 2000’s, I got a bit obsessed with dry shampoos – but when I died my hair dark, the streaks of white powder put me off. I didn’t pick up another can until last week, when I spotted COLAB in Superdrug; a new brand of dry shampoo brand co-founded by the blogger A Model Recommends, which promises to be invisible in hair. It’s true – there really are no streaks. And as a busy mum that sometimes just doesn’t have time to wash and blow-dry my hair in the morning, it’s great to have the product on hand. It’s available in the UK at Superdrug (only £2.29 a can!) and will be coming to the UAE very soon!

Buy: Superdrug (UK), stockist to be announced soon in UAE.

UK

4 – Godstone Farm

We have spent a lot of time at Godstone Farm in Surrey over the past year, as it is the perfect middle-way meeting point with my friend Katie. The farm was in the news a few years ago for a hygiene / health scare, but they shut down, made some major improvements, and are back better than ever. I really do love this farm for a day out – there are animals (everything from cows, to chickens, to bunnies, to goats), tractor rides, a dinosaur trail, an indoor soft play, an outdoor car track, a huge sand pit with slides and diggers to push round (great for very little ones), a petting zoo, a café, and lots of lawn / picnic tables to enjoy lunch on. Stanley and Raffy love the place and I always leave looking forward to going back, which has to be a good thing. One to bookmark for summer holidays if you live in the area…

Details: http://godstonefarm.co.uk

5 – Les Enfants

In the midst of organising Stanley’s party last week, I had a dream one night that I hosted the most amazing Frozen-themed party. When people arrived, it started snowing on cue – and then they entered a huge chalet that the events company had constructed in the garden and discovered a roaring fire with marshmallows on sticks to roast. It was a good dream and I woke up wishing I had the funds to hire a party planner to pull it off. Sadly I don’t – but if I did, I’d go straight to Les Enfants, who have worked with royalty and a host of celebrities, including the Beckhams and Elle McPherson. Their parties really are the stuff of dreams – and if you are reading this after winning the lottery, you should get in touch immediately. But if you’re a pauper like me, you can get the look of their amazing events with their sister sites www.littlepartyshop.co.uk and www.littlepartyhire.co.uk

Dubai

6 – Essentially Juices

Back in March, I went a bit bonkers and decided I was going to a juice cleanse. I failed miserably, but one thing I did discover was how amazing the juices from Esssentially.ae are. I am now hopelessly addicted and can highly recommend ordering online. And yes I know you can make our own (and I do, thanks to my Nutribullet), but there’s something about these juices that makes me feel amazing. Give them a go if you want a health boost – after flushing my system with these juices over the course of three days, I felt so much more energetic and healthy. They taste delicious too.

Order: www.essentially.ae

7 – Atisuto

I’m a bit obsessed with Japanese food, so when I was invited to dine at Atisuto at Galleria Mall (Al Wasl Road, just round the corner from City Walk) with my friend Priya, I jumped at the chance. The food was to-die-for. We filled our plates with tempura, sushi, and an amazing array of veggie dishes – and after eating more than I thought was possible, we left knowing we’d discovered a new dining favourite. Since our evening, I have been told about how family friendly the restaurant is too, with a great kids menu, highchairs, and a fun rubber fish that teaches little ones how to use chopsticks. And to keep them entertained, skilled waiters will teach them the art of origami! I will definitely be heading back soon!

Website: www.atisuto.ae 



21st April 2015

The Toddler Tantrum I Will Never Forget

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Back in 2010, when I was swanning around without a child in tow (anyone remember what that felt like?), I walked through the doors of Paperchase to choose a birthday card.

The noise hit me as I walked through the doors. As walking around this small shop was a mother with a toddler in a pram. And that toddler was having a tantrum louder than I had ever heard before.

But whilst he fought the straps of his buggy, his face an angry shade of tomato and hair clammy as he screamed at the top of his lungs, his mother walked incredibly slowly and calmly around the shop. She didn’t hurry; in fact, she didn’t even acknowledge the screaming child below her. She slowly moved between displays of cards and read each one, placing it back before selecting another.

I was thinking two things.

Firstly, “Wow, I hope I never have a child like that!” And secondly, “That woman has totally blocked out the sound of his crying!”

I was wrong on both levels.

At times, I do have a toddler just like that. And now I have him, I know that she was hearing that noise. And she was hearing it far louder than any of the rest of us in that shop that day.

Far louder.

I still admire that lady – but I have a new understanding now. I know she felt pushed to very limits of her patience. I know that despite her calm demeanor, she wasn’t feeling very calm at all. I know that the noise of her child screaming was deafening in her ears. I know that she was picking up cards, but she probably wasn’t even reading what they said. And I know that when her husband or friend asked her ‘how was your day?’, this tantrum in Paperchase would be the first thing that came to her mind.

Because a similar thing happened to me in a shopping mall in Dubai recently, when after treating my toddler to a lovely morning, he had a full-blown tantrum because he wanted a second cupcake. I walked through the mall, without a buggy, holding a kicking and screaming toddler and wondering what on earth I should do. I just kept going, as I didn’t see an alternative – and close to the carpark, my happy, well-behaved toddler slowly reappeared. But I wonder now how many people I passed that day that thought to themselves “Wow, I hope I never have a child like that!”

So what would I do if I could rewind the clock to that day in Paperchase?

I’d make eye contact, smile and mutter something along the lines of ‘Toddlers!’ so she knew I understood. And then I’d leave her to it, because no one likes people interfering when they are dealing with World War Three.

But I’d hope that simple gesture would make her realise that she isn’t the only one with a toddler that screams and shouts. Because she isn’t – and whilst it’s one of the hardest things about parenting a small human, we often feel we are the only ones dealing with it. Because no-one wants to brag about the last time they walked around with a screaming nutter, do they?

And I’d hope that gesture would show her that one day – even if not that day – people would understand exactly how she felt.



17th April 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Shared Parental Leave

If you live in the UK, you may have heard about Shared Parental Leave (SLP) legislation, which came into force on 5th April 2015. This new policy gives eligible parents, partners, and adopters the flexibility to decide who will care for their child in the first year of its life – and when you think about it, it seems absolutely right that we should be able to choose who stays at home with our  own child.

The changes mean that maternity cover can be split between a mother and her partner or the father, giving them the chance to either take time off together to care for their child (beyond the current two weeks paternity leave that is currently available to fathers), or split the leave so that the mother can return to work, allowing the father or partner to spend additional quality time bonding and caring for their child.

And good news for those adopting a child – they are entitled to the same rights as other parents to Shared Parental Leave.

It sounds like an amazing piece of legislation, but quite confusing – but when I saw this infographic by Citrix GoToMeeting, it suddenly all made sense, so I thought you’d like to have a read too.

Shared-Parental-Leave-V3

In partnership with GoToMeeting.

Visit http://blog.gotomeeting.co.uk/



13th April 2015

How to get to stay up late, by Wilfred, aged 14 months

10676276_785429551493475_6510360587059711587_n1) Make sure you yawn lots and rub your eyes during bath and story time. This gives your big people the impression you are really tired and they start getting excited about the moment they can walk out of your room and sit on the sofa. They are probably even imagining what they will eat or drink. They can probably almost taste it. If they say things like ‘oh baby, you’re very tired‘ you know you have cracked it. This first step is important.

2) Allow yourselves to snooze in the early stages. DO NOT GET TEMPTED TO FALL ASLEEP! Just a few long blinks and slow shuts of your eyes. The trick is to give your big people the impression this is going to be easy.

3) Just as your big person thinks you’ve gone to sleep and tries to walk, sneak, or commando crawl out of the room, open your eyes wide and shout ‘Dog!’ ‘Duck!’ or ‘Moo!’ Any random word will do! And if they don’t immediately scoop you up and take you into the lounge, CRY! And keep crying.

4) Your big person will do one of two things. They will either try to ignore you and sit on the sofa with the baby monitor drinking a glass of wine and humming a little song while they pretend not to hear your wails (do not worry, they can hear you!) or they will come straight back. Either way, keep crying until they return. The louder you cry, the quicker this will happen.

5) If your big person comes back and offers milk, take it! But – this is important – BE CAREFUL NOT TO GO TO SLEEP! You can do a few yawns, by all means, and your big person will think you are off to the land of nod. You may have to stay still for quite a long time, as big people can be surprisingly patient. They will try and avoid eye contact and may even pretend to be asleep, but DO NOT BE FOOLED! This is just a trick to get you to make you shut your eyes! Your big person is not sleepy! In fact, they have a whole 3 or 7 or 9 hours or something left until they go to bed – and believe me, they would much rather you joined them for it!

6) As they try to creep away, carefully avoiding nudging the side of the cot or treading on a squeaky bit of floor in the process, repeat step 3.

7) Now you need to make your big person aware that you are wide awake. You do not need sleep! If you can stand up, do it! They will keep lying you back down, so you must keep standing right back up. If you can’t stand yet (don’t worry, your time will come), just keep smiling, cooing, and trying to roll. If your big person leaves, start crying again! DO NOT GIVE UP!!

8) Remember, perseverance is the key to winning a return to the lounge, they WILL give in eventually. You may need to repeat a few of the above steps – but if you keep going, your big people will eventually scoop you up and carry you out the room. YOU HAVE DONE IT! They may make a phone call or take a selfie with you to share the good news that they have company (especially if you only have one big person at home at bedtime!) If they take a selfie, make sure you smile. You did well baby, you did very well!

PS) If you are taken somewhere new and expected to sleep, skip straight to step 7.

PPS) If your big people are watching something on the TV when you join them, point enthusiastically at the TV and squeal until they switch it to Peppa Pig.



12th April 2015

Stanley’s Bumble Bee 3rd Birthday Party in the UK

Stanley celebrated his third birthday yesterday – and it was the first birthday he’d ever celebrated in the UK with his family and friends. It was a such a treat to see the smile on his face as he danced,  laughed, and ate cake with his family surrounding him – and I thought you’d like to see what we got up to. I’ve shared all the details below of what I bought / what I booked, so scroll to the bottom of the photos and you will discover all the information.

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Details:

Cakes
Bee hive cake and cupcakes designed and made by my talented mum. If you live in the Tunbridge wells area in Kent, she can make your cakes for you. Just contact me to get in touch with her.

Decorations
My friend Leanne had a bumble bee party for her daughter Poppy in January. This was obviously Stanley’s inspiration when he decided he wanted a bumble bee party – so I took his request and ran with it, as it’s such a lovely theme (and I have a feeling it’s the last time he’ll choose something cute like this!) Leanne was kind enough to give me a lot of her leftover decorations, including a table cloth, banners, hats, and twirly decorations that hung from lights. I had a quick research and this is all available to buy on amazon.co.uk

Lunch boxes 
I found this idea on Pinterest and loved it. I made a little packed lunch in a yellow box for each child. Each box contained 2 x sandwiches in the shape of animal faces, a bag of popcorn, a bag of fruit, a bag of biscuits, and a fruit shooter drink. The kids got so excited finding their box and discovering what was inside – and it was the easiest way to prepare for a party. I also found that the children (or their parents!) put their rubbish back in their box so there wasn’t much tidying up to do at the end either! I bought the boxes on eBay.

Entertainment 
We had children at the party between 8 years and 5 months – and I wanted to entertain everyone. But we had just flown back from Dubai, I was working, and looking after the children full time too (as my husband isn’t back in the UK yet), so I didn’t have time to think up party games nor the energy to become the party entertainer. So I asked my cousin who lives in Tunbridge Wells to recommend a party entertainer and she suggested Kelly the Clown.
Kelly was BRILLIANT! She came, set up, then mingled with the children so they felt comfortable. Then we all moved next door into the dining room and she kept the children laughing, smiling and dancing for a full hour. I knew she’d be good as she came highly recommended, but she was better than I even hoped – and every adult at the party commented on how good she was. It’s high energy and a bit nutty, but the children (right from babes in arms to 8 year olds) were transfixed throughout. I loved the fact that she kept singling Stanley out so he felt special – and he loved it so much we’ve had to play Kelly the Clown all day today in the dining room (me Kelly the Clown, Stanley, Wilfred and my sister the audience – yep, we know how to live on a Sunday!) You can find out more and book Kelly here.

Party bags
For the party bags, I ordered some popcorn-style boxes from eBay and filled them with a crazy straw (also eBay), few bags of haribo for the older children or fruit snacks for the babies, and box of raisins. I also ordered foam masks to hand out with the party bags – either bumble bee, ladybird or butterfly. The kids loved these and all left wearing their masks.

I will leave you with this video, which sums up how much the children loved Kelly the Clown. Happy birthday little man – I can’t believe you are three already!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdDmQ5p07ZY&feature=youtu.be



8th April 2015

5 Reasons Why Mums In The UK Are Brilliant

10593322_674980769254160_2070473010_nI come back to the UK a couple of times a year with my children – and these trips home last between two weeks and three months. So I get regular insights into what it takes to be a Mum in the UK.  I arrived here again on Friday and have been busy with the boys ever since – and  as we’ve been out and about, a few things that have struck me about why Mums in this country are brilliant…

(nb: Mums in the UAE are also brilliant! We are brilliant for different reasons and I will be sharing these soon!)

1 – Dressing children in a thousand layers before you leave the house. I have got very used to dressing my boys in two bits of clothing every day – T-shirt, shorts, and we’re done. And when you have a wriggling 14-month old who is trying to evict from the changing table and a stubborn 3-year-old who wants to wear his pyjamas to nursery, this is difficult enough. Mums in the UK, HOW DO YOU DO IT IN THE WINTER?! Vests, T-shirts, tights, trousers, jumpers, coasts, scarves hats, and socks? Don’t even get me started on the socks – I thought these things would be easy, but the simple act of putting a foot into a sock can take me 10 minutes. The toes move! The feet move! I give up!

2 – TV Adverts. It only took five minutes of switching on the TV for Stanley to announce that he wanted a Ninky Nonk train, Play-Doh Burger Machine, and My Little Pony Race Track. I’d left him in front of Peppa Pig, so you can imagine my confusion. Then I focused my attention on the screen for a few minutes. IT’S THE ADVERTS! THE ENDLESS ADVERTS! We don’t have many adverts on the TV in Dubai – and those we have don’t target children, so I was shocked to see how relentless it is. Stanley stared at the TV like a zombie, making a virtual wish list in his mind. Mums do not need this kind of pressure from a box in the corner of the room! Do the TV people not realise that we just want the talking pig?

3 – Mud. Children + mud = big mess. What do you mummies do? Bath them in the middle of the day? Bath them three times a day? Never take them out of the bath? Or is it just that my children, who are far more used to playing in sand, are attracted to dirty stuff like moths to a light-bulb? I don’t know, but I need some time to get my head around mud. The first time Stanley leapt into a muddy puddle in his wellies and slided straight onto his bum, I though it was funny. “Oh he’s just being a boy!” I said, silently wondering how many pairs of long trousers we had left in the drawer (we only own two or three, so we were running the risk of having to rely on pyjama trousers for a few days). Now that it happens every time we go out the door, I don’t find it so funny. I’ve never filled a washing machine and tumble dryer so regularly in my life.

4 – Supermarket Shopping. When I need to restock the cupboard or fridge, I call the grocery store down the road and they bring it to me. This means I don’t have to pile the children into the car, out the car again, around a supermarket, and then back home again – and I will admit that I have got very used to this ‘delivery’ culture in Dubai. Having to go to the shops with the kids in the UK every time you forget a vital ingredient for that night’s dinner (food?) requires serious mum skills. And I guess serious planning to make sure that rarely happens or you’d go a bit bonkers.

5 – Rain. When it rains in Dubai, we go outside and dance in it because it happens so rarely. I think we once owned a rain cover for our buggy, but I have no idea where it ended up. I had a comical moment on my trip home last summer where I attempted to walk a toddler and baby in the rain, holding a plastic sheet fashioned into a rain cover over the buggy and narrowly missing a serious eye injury thanks to the toddler’s umbrella. And me? Well I just got wet. Mums in the UK, I salute you for your rain skills. And I need some tips.