Monthly Archives: June 2015

29th June 2015

If I was in Dubai this summer…. The best ways to entertain kids in the city this summer

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1 – appleseeds Dubai Summer Membership

I’m so impressed with appleseeds Dubai that we have become members – and the great news is that the centre is offering summer membership deals so you can hide from the heat. The play area is one of best thought out I’ve seen in Dubai – and there are also classes, a café area (open after Ramadan), and a fun-packed summer camp. I highly recommend giving it a go over summer!

Unlimited for July; Dhs475 per family. Unlimited for July and August; Dhs700 per family. appleseeds Dubai, Gold and Diamond Park. www.appleseedsdubai.com

2 – Julia Donaldson Summer Camp

This camp almost made me cancel my summer holiday! Such an inspired idea for little Julia Donaldson fans, with a different story from the famous author introduced to children every day through mediums including arts and crafts, mask making, puppet shows, drama workshops, and much more.

Dhs1,000 per week. July 5-17 2015, 10am-1pm (morning) or 2pm-5pm. The Courtyard Playhouse Theatre, Street 4B, Al Quoz. www.courtyardplayhouse.com

3 – Lost Chambers at Atlantis

We adore this aquarium, located in Atlantis The Palm. It’s so well suited to smaller children, with displays that are so beautiful it takes your breath away – and lots of room to toddle, run, and explore. I recommend stopping by Cold Stone for an ice cream afterwards (open during Ramadan). And if you have the Entertainer app or book, you can get 2-for-1 on entry.

Dhs75 per adult (resident rate), Dhs100 per adult (visitors rate). Dhs50 per child (residents rate), Dhs70 per child (visitors rate). Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah. www.atlantisthepalm.com

4 – Mini Monsters New Location

I was very excited to hear about the new Mini Monsters location in DNATA Building on Sheikh Zayed Road. The play area and boutique café (closed during Ramadan) look brilliant – but it’s the sensory room I’m really excited about, with features including a colour changing ball pit that I know Wilfred would go mad over.

Dhs50 for two hours play, Dhs35 for sensory room, Dhs75 for two hours play including sensory room. Ground Floor, DNATA Building (beside Emirates Holidays), Sheikh Zayed Road. www.minimonsters.ae, 04 259 8843 or 052 529 2192

5 – Gelato Making Workshops at Dri Dri

Dri Dri at The Beach is one of our favourite places for treating the boys after a warm morning on the sand – and I love the idea of enrolling on their Gelato Making Workshop. They can be organized whenever you want, with a minimum of 4 and maximum of 12 children in each session. Give them a call for more information or bookings.

Call 04 553 0647 for more details. Located at The Beach, opposite JBR.

6 – Le Petit Palais Summer Camp

I’m a big fan of this lovely play area in Galeries Lafayette in The Dubai Mall, which is set out like a mini village. My boys had hours of fun driving cars around the track, filling trollies with groceries, and cooking in the large playhouse. The play area is running a summer camp this summer and I’ve heard some great things already, so make sure you book in soon.

Sun-Thurs, until August 28th, 10am-3pm. Dhs140 per day, Dhs650 per week. Le Petit Palais, Galeries Lafayette, The Dubai Mall. www.lepetitpalaisdubai.com 04 382 7333 ext 2754.

7 – Kidzania

I can’t wait to take Stanley to Kidzania, where he will be able to get a fun-filled taster of professions including a fire fighter, chef, surgeon, and much more. During Ramadan, kids can also take part in cultural activities like henna, Arabic calligraphy, and modeling traditional clothes.

Dhs140 per child, Dhs95 per adult (book online for discounts). Kidzania, The Dubai Mall www.kidzania.ae

8 – Fairmont The Palm and Falcons Junior Club

Regular readers know that I am a big fan of this extremely family-friendly hotel – and I could very happily spend a day of my weekend making use of the Falcons’ Junior Club, lounging around the pool, and enjoying the Break Slow Brunch (back after Ramadan).  The kids’ pool is shallow and safe, with water cooled down to keep little ones at the perfect temperature during the hot summer months and lots of shade.

Falcon Juniors’ Club, from Dhs60 per hour per child. Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah www.fairmont.com

9 – Kiddies Café

I recently rediscovered this brilliant play area in JLT and remembered why I loved it so much when Wilfred was first born. It is one of the only play areas in Dubai where you could happily sit with a newborn while an older sibling played the other side of the glass window. Staff are brilliant and very helpful – and what is inside the play area (a large play house, craft room, small jungle gym, and mini grocery store) keeps toddlers and young children very happy.

Dhs45 per hour, Dhs25 per additional hour. Kiddies Café, Cluster Y, Lake Shore Tower www.kiddiescafe.com (04 360 8571)

10 – Urban Picnic at Vida Downtown

I have a new favourite brunch in the city – so after Eid, I would highly recommend trying the Urban Picnic. You can pretend you are in cooler climes, with picnic baskets to fill from a vast and absolutely delicious spread – and then a selection of dishes are brought to your table as mains. It’s the perfect way to bring the outside inside this summer – I cant wait to take visitors when we are back in the autumn.

AED 265 inclusive of unlimited soft beverages and juices; AED 295 inclusive of unlimited selected beverages; AED 495 inclusive of unlimited bubbly. Vida Downtown Dubai. www.vida-hotels.com

11 – Dubai Dino

No trip to The Dubai Mall is complete without a visit to Dubai Dino; the bones of a dinosaur from the late Jurassic era, circa 155 million years ago. This dinosaur skeleton was discovered in 2008 at the Dana Quarry in Wyoming, USA, and air-freighted to Dubai. It now lives in The Souk Dome and is completely free to pay a visit. Stanley loves checking in on Dubai Dino between shopping errands – it’s amazing and surreal that such a precious thing is free for everyone to see!

Free. The Souk Dome, The Dubai Mall. www.thedubaimall.com

12 – Caboodle, City Walk

Caboodle at City Walk is another place that I have rediscovered recently – and both my boys were in heaven when we paid it a visit one Saturday morning. They both had a haircut in the salon section, before moving next door to the play area to climb, slide, and use their imagination. It’s a lovely airy play area that you could easily go to with two children and keep sight on both – and if you have errands to run, you can also drop the children with the amazing staff.

Dhs70 per child for first hour (with parents), Dhs70 per child per half an hour (supervised by staff). Caboodle, City Walk, Jumeirah 1. www.caboodle.ae 04 3444570

 

 

 

 



28th June 2015

How to be a proper 3-year-old, by Stanley aged 3

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 21.12.121. How to talk to grown ups. To be grown up, you need to do ‘conversation’, which means that talking for a long time. Here’s what I suggest. When your grown ups speak to you, reply with the word ‘WHY?’ “Put on your shoes!” “WHY?”Because we are leaving!” “WHY?”Because we need to go to the shop!”WHY?”Because we need potatoes!” “WHY?” Keep going and they will shout: “STOP SAYING WHY!!!” And make sure you reply: ‘WHY?

2. Getting dressed. When approached with clothing, RUN. As far as you can. And don’t look back.

3. Car etiquette. It is your job to give a running commentary when you are in the car. It is best to do this in a shouty voice. If the traffic lights are red, shout at them! If you don’t like the music, shout at it! If the view out the window is a bit boring, shout at it! Keep this going until you reach your destination.

4. Tell them what you want. The phrase ‘I WANT’ should be used as often as possible. You want an orange ice lolly – and only orange will do? Tell them! You want to wear the pink T-Shirt with your yellow anorak, green ski socks, and purple swimming goggles? Tell them! The more you can use ‘I WANT!” in one sentence, the more points you will score.

5. Naps are for babies. You are three now, which means you are practically a grown up. So naps should be avoided at all costs. If you have graduated to a big boy or girl bed, escape! If they put you back in, escape again! Eventually your grown ups will give up, move you to the sofa, put on the TV, and tell you it’s ‘quiet time’. You can consider this a win.

6. Change your mind. It is good to have favourite things. You should have a cup that you like to drink from, a favourite type of food that you must have at every meal, a favourite T-Shirt that you want to wear every single day. The grown ups should respect this and provide aforementioned item to your every command.  But once they’ve got used to it, it is absolutely within your rights as a three year old to change your mind. Do this frequently to keep them on their toes.

7. Patience is overrated. Standing in queues, countdowns to holidays, waiting for food in restaurants, and being stuck at red traffic lights are all things that you should not have to tolerate. Shout, scream, run away, or lie on the floor and sob. You should not have to accept these inconveniences.

8. When to be tired. Times when you should grumble and cry about being tired include: when your grown ups want you to walk anywhere, when you are asked to tidy up, when you have a nursery class performance and are supposed to be dancing, and when your grown ups want to leave the house but you fancy a quick lie down in bed. Times when you should not be tired AT ALL and should run around the house at top speed include: bedtime, nap time, and when you get woken up by a car backfiring at 3am.

9. Lose your shoes. When your grown ups shout ‘Come on! We’re leaving! Where are your shoes?” run in the opposite direction. When they catch you, demand that you put the shoes on yourself. Take your time. Put them on the wrong feet a few times. Tie the laces together. Throw them across the room. Put them in the washing basket and proclaim innocence. Your aim is to keep them off your feet for as long as possible.

10. Refuse to pose. You are three now – which means a camera has been pointed at you for three entire years. Now is the time to rebel. Turn around, stick your tongue out, shut your eyes, gaze at the camera with an unimpressed look, or run away. They must have millions of photographs by now. This needs to end.



24th June 2015

Breast or bottle?

IMG_3645I’m in a bit of a unique position to discuss feeding babies, as I formula fed my first baby and breastfed my second.

I intended to breastfeed both, but it didn’t work out – and through lack of support in Dubai after my first went on strike at day five, I switched to formula.

With my second, however, I made sure there was a support network around me from the beginning and I managed to feed him until he was nearly 6 months old.

I understand the benefits of breast milk. I did my research and I attended breastfeeding classes. I know that it boosts immunity and adapts to fully nourish the child as they grow. That’s why I wanted to do it – and that’s why I am proud I got colostrum into both children and was able to feed Wilfred for so long. It’s also why I have some frozen in cubes in the freezer to clear up eye, skin, or ear infections. Breast milk really is the stuff of magic.

But I also understand the importance of a mother being happy, healthy, and confident that her child isn’t hungry. I have seen other mothers cry into their decaf-coffees as they tell me how much they are dreading the next feed as they are in pain. I have had friends tell me that they are ready to stop but are worried how their family will judge them. I have had others tell me that they have stayed up another hour after their baby goes to sleep in the middle of the night to express to boost milk supply, making themselves even more tired when the morning rolls around. And I know why they do it too – as I have been that mad lady sat on the sofa at 4am attached to a breast pump while I flick through my Facebook feed on my phone, worrying that the whir of the motor will wake up the baby for round two.

I get it. I totally get it. I’ve been there.

The first time round, I was the mother that sobbed as she fed her five-day-old baby his first bottle of formula, utterly convinced I was a failure, but relieved that he had stopped crying and was getting something to eat. After that I’d got over the initial guilt and sadness, life became easier. I had a really easy baby, who knew when his food was coming. And I knew that he was getting enough milk – and yes, he still cried, but it was such a relief to be able to cross out ‘hungry’ from the imaginary tick list in my head.

So I have been in both camps – and here is the revelation.

My bottle fed baby is happy, healthy and clever.

My breastfed baby is happy, healthy and clever.

At the age of 18 months, neither one played piano concertos, painted pictures like Picasso, or recited the Greek alphabet backwards. Disappointingly, admittedly.

Neither one grew horns, turned a luminous colour, or started speaking in tongues. Not so disappointingly.

They both look the same. They both met milestones at the same time. They both seem equally happy. And, thankfully they both rarely get ill.

So having said all this, I have come to a conclusion.

Breast or bottle?

Whatever works for baby and you.

Because nobody else matters.

Really. Nobody, but you.



23rd June 2015

Having A Baby In Dubai – And How It Differs To Doing It At Home

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 22.03.18If my blog has one aim, it’s to show that all mothers face the same challenges and enjoy the same rewards – wherever we are based in the world. But being a mother in Dubai means the process has been a bit different for me, so I thought I’d write a post about the process of becoming a Mum in Dubai.

I never expected to be an expat, let alone an expat mum. I never got the travel bug that most people get when they leave university. But here we are, 6 years after my husband first got the job offer in Dubai, and we have no plans to leave any time soon!

The Pregnancy. Healthcare in Dubai is mainly private, with an American-style system – so the first step is to find an obstetrician. It feels a bit odd to research people that will eventually deliver your baby like you are shopping for something online, but as soon as you’ve met them on that first appointment, it just becomes the norm. You visit the obstetrician at around 6 weeks for the first time and they confirm your pregnancy – and then on a monthly basis, increasing to weekly when you reach 36 weeks. Both my obstetricians had scanning machines in their offices, so I got a scan at every appointment (for my second baby, it was a 3D machine). I absolutely loved seeing my baby at every appointment and counted down the days. I also had their mobile numbers on speed dial and could call them at any time of day and night – my obstetrician once answered my call between a patient’s contractions when delivering a baby! It was so reassuring to have this speed dial.

Meeting Other Mums. It’s harder in some ways and easier in others to make Mummy friends in Dubai. There are no arranged NCT groups – so it’s up to us to go out there and find people. I found friends in my first pregnancy through an expat forum, where fellow pregnant ladies due in April 2012 arranged a coffee morning. Three years later, I think groups on Facebook are springing up to arrange the same kind of groups. Although we don’t have anything organised for us, we are lucky that there is such a close community feel amongst expats in Dubai. Literally everyone is in the same boat, so people are very warm and welcoming. I am still close to a fair few of the girls I met when I was first pregnant and see them at least once a week.

The Birth. First things first – you need to sort out a hospital. Some obstetricians only deliver in one hospital, so that is sorted. But others give you a choice – so you can do hospital tours and decide which one you prefer (for the record, I delivered in American Hospital the first time and City Hospital the second – and the latter won hands down). Once that’s decided and the insurance forms have gone through, you are given a direct line to the labour ward to call when your contractions start. They will advise when to travel to the hospital and midwives will be with you during the early stages. Once you are nearly ready to deliver, your obstetrician is called and will come to the hospital to deliver the baby (regardless of the time of day or night). Both of my boys, however, were induced – so the hospital was called when I went overdue and I was even given a choice of dates.

The Aftercare. This is the bit when I started to wish I was in the UK. After two nights in the hospital (the usual deal for natural births, with 5 nights for c-sections), you are discharged and given one appointment for the baby to be checked at 5 days old (back at the hospital) and one appointment for you to be checked a couple of weeks later. I was a bit staggered. I struggled with breastfeeding, stopping at day five, and really didn’t know who to call. Luckily I had no major complications and my baby was healthy. The second time round, I had been a journalist in Dubai for a few years so I knew about the service at Healthbay Polyclinic, where midwives visit your home. For the reason, the experience of having a baby was so much better the second time, I really recommend it.

Having No Family Around. When I had my first baby, I was on my own with my husband and baby for the first 10 days and then my parents arrived for a week. We had no visitors at the hospital and just a handful of friends visiting in that first week. This might sound a bit strange and lonely, but I look back on it as such a special time hibernating away with my husband and our brand new baby. The second time, I needed relatives here for Stanley when I went into labour, so we had the grandparents here with us from two weeks before my due date. I got the visit in hospital when my baby was a few hours old and the help at home – it was lovely in its own ways too.

Waiting for a Passport. There’s something very strange and unsettling about knowing that you couldn’t fly home to relatives even if you needed to – and that has been the case with both my babies until their passports arrived, at around 2 months old. We have to send all our documents back to the UK to be processed – a complicated and not exactly reliable process that can take anywhere between a week and several months. Still, we were lucky that both of our boys arrived in times when there wasn’t a backlog and we could fly home fairly quickly to introduce the boys to friends and family!

Did you have a baby as an expat? I’d love to hear how your experiences differed to mine…



21st June 2015

The Ways Our Relationship Has Changed Since We Had Kids

10421481_10154579178315607_2393034672819189649_n-1Our conversations have evolved

I can’t even remember what we used to talk about before children. I imagine it was fascinating though. These days, we have whole conversations about poo and snot and don’t even flinch. That’s if we can even get a sentence out without being interrupted by a child who is about to fling himself off the windowsill.

Nights out aren’t quite what they used to be

Even when we leave the kids at home, we never really leave them. As we sip cocktails or tuck into dinner, we know we have the curfew of getting back to the babysitter at a decent time. And even if it’s the weekend, we’ll be up at the usual time the next morning picking cheerios out of the rug and listening to the dulcet tones of Peppa Pig. Oh yes and that rule about not talking about the kids on date night? It usually lasts about 2.4 seconds before one of us rebels.

Romance? Let me just consult my diary

Romance is not dead, but it is very rarely spontaneous. And there is the very real possibility that a small child will totally ruin the moment by popping his head around the corner and announcing he needs a poo.

We still feel like we’re 20 – but we’re definitely not

Having kids makes you feel a bit more responsible, but that doesn’t mean we feel any older. In fact, we still feel exactly like we did back on that day in 2003 when we first set eyes on each other across the bar – until that is, the group of 20-somethings who live in an apartment down the hall have a party loud enough to wake up the baby and we roll our eyes in unison, glance at the baby monitor with a look of fear, and realise we probably have grown up a bit.

We don’t have time to argue

I think I was quite good at arguing when something unjust happened in the days before kids. Not boasting or anything, but if there was an Olympic medal for arguing, I probably would’ve won it, These days, however, just as I’m about to explode with anger, a baby waddles over to us with a gappy grin, points at us, and shouts ‘BIG SHARK!’ – and the moment has kind of passed.

We’ve become a little bit boring

The other day, I uttered this sentence to my husband: “I think we should get a slow cooker”. And he didn’t even laugh at me. And then that very same evening, he asked whether I fancied booking a babysitter and going to a gig the following evening – and we thought about it for about two seconds, before realising we’d both much rather don comfy clothes and sit on the sofa watching a film and sipping a coffee (7.15pm) and then a glass of something stronger (7.17pm), before falling asleep mid way through the film and wondering what was going on in the plot when we woke up. This could be an age thing – or it could be the fact our children’s eyes pop open between 5.30 and 6am every day. I would put money on it being the latter.

We point out each other’s flaws

One child has my temper. The other displays the same lack of patience when he’s hungry as my husband. And yes, we point them out to each other several times a day. I fear this wont be changing any time soon.

We have a new kind of respect for each other

Once upon a time, he expected me to faint if I got so much as a splinter – but now he’s seen me grow two babies, deal with aches and pains for 9 whole months, push them out on a hospital bed, and then mother them for the next three years. And I have seen him step up to fatherhood in a way that makes me feel lucky and proud in equal measure. Parenthood is the hardest thing in the world – and we are surviving, which is actually quite brilliant given the circumstances. And we still like each other quite a lot – even at 5.30am when a small child jumps into our bed and demands a dippy egg with soldiers. How remarkable is that.



16th June 2015

10 Reasons Why Being The Second Child Is Brilliant

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 19.26.231. Baby food is rubbish. And when I spotted my older brother was getting to eat proper food that you actually have to chew, the big people let me eat it too. Same goes for snacks – who wants a baby rusk when you’ve tasted a chocolate digestive?

2. Baby toys are boring. The big people dangled toys in front of my face when I was small – but as soon as I could sit up and drag myself to the toy box, I played with my brother’s toys. And honestly, I know my way around an iPad and iPhone better than anyone.

3. Second hand clothes aren’t that bad. Everyone feels sorry for the second child wearing hand-me-downs, but I like it. It means the big people don’t care when cover myself in red pasta sauce (bibs are for babies) or when I wear holes through the knees of my trousers pushing a car around (sitting still is for babies, too).

4. Baby classes are boring. The big people took me to a baby class once. We sang baby songs and waved baby toys around. It was OK, but I’d much rather hang out with my brother’s friends. One of them pretends to be a monster while we run around screaming and then we carefully slot our rice crackers between the sofa cushions when the adults aren’t looking.

5. Baby TV is rubbish. My brother watched things like ‘In the Night Garden’ and ‘Telletubbies’ when he was little (I know, because there are stuffed toys lying around the place) – but I never had to watch that rubbish. As soon as I was old enough to focus, I was watching grown up stuff like Ben & Holly, Charlie & Lola, and Paw Patrol.

6. They know I’m gifted. My brother wasn’t trusted with a crayon or lump of playdoh until he much older than me. But after a tantrum on the living room floor, I was given the chance to show off my skills. I’m so talented that the big people have displayed a few of my masterpieces on the fridge. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt my brother got that kind of glory.

7. Danger is fun. My brother told me that our big people have relaxed a lot since I came along. I believe them – after all, it takes them a whole 10 seconds to get to me when I am balancing on the windowsill.  Life is good.

8. I  always get my own way. I only have to do my ‘cute smile’ at the big people and they give me what I want. I don’t want to brag, but I am definitely sure that I must be cuter than my big brother. I smashed a mug of cold coffee all over the floor yesterday – and then I did my smile. I don’t even think they cared.

9. Weekends are better. My brother told me that the big people dragged him around boring places at the weekend when he was a baby. It was all about coffee, food, and shopping. They realised the error of their ways when I came along – and now we go to play areas, build sandcastles on the beach, or visit aquariums. I think they all know that I have improved things for the better.

10. I have a friend. The best thing about being a second child is that I have a friend – right from the moment I wake up and shout ‘Snack! Snack! Snack!’ from my cot for no other reason than to annoy him, to the moment I fall asleep to the sound of him singing Christmas carols in June. Why would I need any of the other stuff when I have him?



15th June 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Car Seats

IMG_2997I’ve got to be honest; I find car seat safety a bit baffling. Rear-facing or forward facing? Where is the safest place to put their seat in the car? Do car seats have an expiration date? These are all questions I have inputted into Google in the past – but you can never be too sure, can you?

So I decided to sit down with Miranda Hilton, CEO and Chief Mum at Family Souk Ventures (Official distributor and reprehensive of Mountain Buggy and Phil & Teds in the GCC) to ask the pressing questions – and here’s what she had to say…

What are the main things to consider before choosing a car seat?

Firstly the age of your child – if buying for a newborn you will require an infant capsule that easily clips into the cars isofix or onto your stroller and is rear facing. When buying for a toddler you need a car seat that will cater for your child up to 6 years old. As children of the same age can differ in size and weight, you must also check and be aware of the maximum and minimum weight allowance.

Always buy a car seat brand new as they have been tested and approved before they go on the stores shelves and they do therefore have expiry dates – most car seats will expire within 6 years. This means that buying second hand you need to understand the date of purchase and ensure that it hasn’t been involved in an accident at any point – safety standards and testing are consistently improving. This is not one area you want to take risks on.

Why do babies near to face the rear of the car? And what age can we move them forward facing?

Forward facing and rear facing is so confusing for many parents and the guidelines differ for many countries throughout the world. Here’s a really simple guide:

Why rear face? In the case of a crash, infants are especially at risk for head and spinal cord injuries because their bones and ligaments are still developing. Their spinal structural support is still developing. In the rear-facing position, a child’s head, neck and spine are kept aligned. The rear-facing car-seat supports the child’s head and absorbs the force of the crash and cradles the child.

Rear-facing seats give the best support to your child’s head, neck, and spine, and will prevent your child’s head from being thrown away from his or her body. Infants and toddlers should travel in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible (up to the weight and height allowance of the car seat). Many countries now recommend that your child rear face for up to 2 years.

Where is the safest place in a car for a child to sit?

There are conflicting laws depending on which country you are in. But as far as safety is concerned, there is a consistent message that where there are two rows of seats, infants should always travel in the back seat of a car rear facing. Being as far away from glass is advised and air bags in the front seats can cause additional risk of injury to an infant when released through the impact of a crash. Many research studies suggest that the safest place for an infant is in the middle rear seat where a full seatbelt is installed to secure the car seat – this being the farthest seat from any glass.

What key safety features should feature on a car seat?

A five-point safety harness: The straps – one for each shoulder, one for each thigh, and one between your baby’s legs – are more adjustable (and thus safer) than older designs.

Side-impact protection: Some car seats have special energy-absorbing foam and other features designed to better protect your baby’s head and chest in a side-impact accident. Even when you move into a booster seat, we recommend ensuring you source a high back booster seat to provide side impact and head protection. Just because kids are bigger doesn’t mean that the impact of an accident will be any less.

How can you make sure the car seat will fit properly in your vehicle before you buy?

Isofix is often used by parents for newborn to 12 months as a base for an infant capsule for convenience so you can click and unclick and go. But when you’re not removing the car seat to fix to a stroller (ie post the infant capsule stage), the convenience factor disappears and car seats attached with seatbelts still dominate the market share of car seats sold. A number of cars still do not have isofix in the back and there is then no alternative for a number of parents.

Using a seatbelt to fasten and stabilize your car seat has been safety tested to be as safe as Isofix. Isofix can feel a little more stable because it tends to not have any movement at all in the seat when fixed but from a safety standpoint, both methods are as safe.

How do we know when a child is ready to move up to a bigger car seat / move to a booster? 

Firstly You can safely switch your child to a booster seat if she’s over 4 years old and she weighs 40 pounds or more or has grown too tall for her car seat (when her shoulders are higher than the top set of harness-strap slots in the car seat’s back). Don’t move your child to a booster seat simply because she’s four years old. Car seats are the safest option, so keep using yours as long as she fits in it.

Do car seats/boosters expire?

This is a really interesting question. They do have an expiration date and the standard is c.6 years. This is not marketing or car seat companies trying to make more money. Why do they expire?

1.              Technologies improve and more research is done.

2.              Materials over time and exposed to extreme unpredictable circumstances, for example the extreme heat in the middle east, can wear down.

3.              Manufacturing testing is not done consistently on a product  – only at the beginning.

To find the expiration date, it is normally located on a label on the car seat OR the manufacture date is stamped on the car seat – 6 years from this date is then the expiry date.

Are toddlers allowed in the front seat in cars without a back seat?

It is safer for your child to travel in the rear seats in their car seat or booster – less opportunity to hit glass on impact means a safer travelling environment. Legally in most countries, where there is no back seat option (only one row of seats), then it is allowed but not advised.

We needed to move Stanley up to the next car seat and went for the Phil & Ted’s Discovery Car Seat;  an ultra safe child car seat that converts from a toddler car seat to a child booster as your toddler grows. If you have three children, this is a brilliant choice as you can fit three across the back seat of the average car. There is also a removable 5 point, anti-twist safety harness which features non slip padding and single strap tighten. Buy online at Baby Souk here.

Visit Phil & Teds www.philandteds.com/me



14th June 2015

Mummy Milestones

Forget about baby’s milestones for a minute – they get all the glory. Here are the milestones we face during our first year on the job. How many have you ticked off the list?

 

1. The morning you wake up, look at your wardrobe, and think ‘today is the first day I will wear proper clothes” and throw your pyjamas into the washing basket. And you walk out of the bedroom like this:

giphy-3

But two minutes later, you realise you still feel like this:

giphy-5

 

2. The first day you are left home alone with your baby and you feel like this.

giphy copy

And when your partner gets home, you feel like this.

yay2

 

3. The first day your baby claps eyes on you and gives a big cheesy smile. And you feel like this:

giphy

But it comes out a bit like this:

giphy-1

 

 

4. The first day you venture out the house alone with the baby and feel a bit like this:

giphy

And this

giphy-1

 

5. The first time you feed in public and you feel like everyone around you is like this

giphy-2

 

6. The first time you drop the baby to the grandparents for the whole day:

giphy

And five minutes later:

giphy-1

 

7. The first time you give your baby solid food and your baby is like this:

giphy But your face is like this:

giphy-1

 

8. When your baby moves for the first time and you feel like this:

giphy-1

And then you realise you will need to babyproof the entire house

giphy-2

 



11th June 2015

What is the perfect birth?

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 20.10.41When it comes to birth plans, we all have our preferences.

We imagine meeting our baby for the first time well in advance of our due date – and the way we want it to happen features heavily in our mind.

We tell our partners our wishes, practice our breathing, and write a birth plan to give to every member of our medical team in advance.

Everyone is aware of our plan.

Everyone except the baby, of course.

And the thing about babies is they don’t always play along with the plan – so birth plans tend to change. And that can leave us feeling guilty before we’ve even had the chance to be a mother.

Both my boys were induced with epidural. I was open-minded about how my babies would be born and was certainly never against pain relief. But still – I imagined, just like most other first-time mothers-to-be, that my waters would break at home, that I would call my husband in a panic, and that we would spend the first part of my labour at home. I would lie in the bath, he would time my contractions, and we would stay in regular contact with the hospital. When it was time, we would head to hospital – and if I needed pain relief, I would take it. And then my baby would be born, we would feel proud as punch, and everything would be perfect.

And despite neither birth happening like that, they were both pretty perfect. I had an epidural early in the induction process – and I spent my labour in relative comfort (until the latter stages, at least). I played games on my iPad, I watched TV, and I listened to a calming soundtrack I’d prepared in advance. There was lots of laughter during those labours and lots of happiness. My boys were born into calm rooms, surrounded by a great medical team and lots of love.

For me, that was perfect. And afterwards, it didn’t even cross my mind that I had taken a shortcut by choosing to have pain relief. After all, once it wore off and the feeling returned to my legs, I still had the same painful stitches, the same hungry newborn to feed, and the same plunging hormones that left me a blubbering wreck a couple of days in.

The babies were my badge of honour – not the way they arrived into the world.

Since having the boys, however, I have a new found interest in childbirth and my ears prick up when I hear anything related. And on more occasions than I can mention, I have been made to feel like I cheated my way to a baby.

I have given up counting the times people have mentioned lack of pain relief at the end of their birth announcements. This is something that those who chose to have pain relief would never do, but why?

I have also lost count of the number of journalists who have scorned celebrities for being ‘too posh to push’, having zero clue about the lady’s medical history or that of their unborn baby.

I know what 10cm dilated contractions feel like, as my epidural was switched off in both births. I admire women that do it without pain relief totally. I admire their strength and their courage.  They are amazing.

I also admire those who go into hospital for scary inductions, lie still while their waters are broken, feel painful contractions back-to-back, and then have the courage to sit still while a needle is inserted to take away the pain. They too are amazing.

I admire those that go into c-sections, whether they were planned or emergency, their choice or against their wishes. I admire their bravery during the operation and I admire their strength and recovery afterwards. They are amazing too.

I admire mothers of premature babies, mothers of angels, and mothers of rainbow babies beyond measure. They display strength, love and courage that is staggeringly amazing.

There are no medals or award ceremonies for the way we give birth. There is no scoring system or trophy handed out to sit alongside your baby in its newborn basinet.

So what is the perfect birth?

If there’s an answer to that question, I think it is this:

It is your birth. It is my birth. It is every birth.

Aren’t we all amazing?

 



10th June 2015

The Parenting Shred (Not Actually Guaranteed To Help You Lose Weight, Sorry About That)

IMG_2678Anyone want to join in with my workout? All you need is a child or two!

Yep? Well here goes.

1. Raisin Squats

To complete this exercise, give a child under the age of three a box of raisins and follow them around the house. Every time they drop a raisin, squat to pick it up. For the advanced move, give two children under the age of three a box of raisins and attempt to sprint between them.

2. The Climber

This exercise is good for all round cardio. Start by placing a small child that is way too young for a toddler bed into a toddler bed. Go downstairs. Run up and down stairs 73 times in one evening.

3. The Weight Lifter

For this move, you simply need to pop a second baby out within a few years of the first, giving you the need for a double buggy.  Once you’ve ticked that off the list, walk those children to your car in buggy, lift them into car seats individually, and then lift ginormous, clumsy, difficult-to-collapse double buggy into the boot of the car. And repeat four times a day.

4. The Endurance Test

For this exercise, you need two small children (feel free to borrow one if you currently only own one). Take these children to a shopping mall. Within minutes, you will be required to carry at least one of these children, whilst pushing a buggy, carrying several shopping bags, and chasing the other child in the opposite direction. For the advanced move, add another child.

5. The Assault Course

Start this exercise by driving to a soft play area with a toddler. Get yourself a coffee and take a sip, which will ensure toddler arrives at your side and demands your company immediately. Spend the next hour crawling through tunnels, across wobbly bridges, up hatches, and down slides, while your coffee sits at your table getting cold.

6. The Wrestler.

For best results, interrupt a toddler whilst he or she is playing with a favourite toy, scoop them up, and head for the changing table. Spend the next 10 minutes trying to wipe poo off their bottom, whilst using every bit of your strength and energy to prevent them from ejecting from the changing table in a dynamic roll move. 

7. The Beach Dash.

You will need a stretch of sand for this exercise – so if you don’t have one convenient to your location, you should swiftly book a holiday. Once that’s sorted and you’ve arrived at the beach, make a base by putting down your bag and spreading out your towel. Then release your toddler and spend the next 7 days running after them as your towel base becomes a pointless dot on the horizon.

8. The Bicep Builder

This move is easy! Simply have a baby, feed it until it grows, and carry it around for the next 2-3 years! For the advanced move, don’t bother investing in a buggy. Or a car.