Monthly Archives: January 2017

30th January 2017

How my boy pregnancies differed to my girl pregnancy…

GIRL BOY PREGNANCIESI want to start this blog post by saying that there is absolutely no scientific reasoning in what I am about to say… It’s just a comparison of how my personal pregnancies differed – and it might be fun to read if you are trying to guess the sex of your baby or have had different girl/boy bumps too. But if your pregnancy is completely different to mine and it turns out to be the other sex, please don’t blame me… So here goes. This is how my pregnancies differed when I was expecting two little boys and a little girl…

The Early Days

Stanley and Wilfred - With Stanley, I had no sickness at all. Not a jot. I don’t know how I managed to escape it, but I felt amazing from the day I found out I was pregnant. With Wilfred a few years later, I did experience some mild nausea (enough to prompt me to buy some ginger teabags for first thing in the morning) – but by about 10 weeks, it had completely disappeared. I think the nausea I did feel was down to tiredness more than anything (with an active toddler on my hands) and it never lasted for more than 10/20 minutes a day.

Mabel - Bleurrrghhhhhh! I was never physically sick with her, but I pretty much felt sick from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. And when 12 weeks arrived, I really thought I’d get some relief – but no, it continued until nearly 20 weeks. By that point, I had so many food aversions – and most of those things I still can’t think about without feeling very queasy (I can’t even look at raw ginger, for example, which I chucked into a smoothie one morning thinking it would pick me up – and then felt the most sick of my entire pregnancy).

Cravings

Stanley and Wilfred - The saltier, the better! Marmite toast was my breakfast of choice. I also seriously craved burgers, chips and pretty much any fried food. I felt so unhealthy sat there chomping on packs of chips in food courts when every other pregnant woman around me seems to be treating their bodies as temples – but I needed it. I had no interest in sweet food at all. Savoury all the way.

Mabel - Sweet, sweet, sweet! Crunchy nut cornflakes for breakfast, platters of fresh fruit (especially mango and juicy apple) as snacks, chocolate, pick n mix sweets, stodgy sweet desserts like sticky toffee pudding and custard… I lived for the sweet stuff… In fact, I’m still craving sweet stuff 4 months after her birth (I’m blaming the breastfeeding…)

Feeling the babies

Stanley and Wilfred - Both very, very active – always wiggling around, jabbing at my ribs, and performing somersaults that made my tummy completely contort. And in the early days when I used to find their heartbeats on a home Doppler, they were always on the lower right hand side – always in exactly the same spot – in fact, that spot became so familiar that I can find it in a second with my finger even now.

Mabel - Much quieter, right from the beginning. I felt her later and she just wasn’t as active throughout pregnancy – I still had lots of movement, which occurred regularly throughout the day, but she definitely felt calmer from the beginning. And the home Doppler? She was always on the other side to the boys, meaning it took me ages to find her at the beginning. She was on the left lower side, exactly opposite where the boys had been. I don’t know if this is a total coincidence, but it was my first clue that she may be a girl.

The Bumps

Stanley and Wilfred - Both pretty neat and at the front – people would always comment that it was very definitely ‘a boy bump’.

Mabel - Actually pretty similar in shape – but much bigger, right from the beginning. However, I think this is down to it being a third pregnancy and the fact she was much bigger (born at 9Ib 8oz).

The third trimester

Stanley and Wilfred - I didn’t really struggle with either of the boys in the later stages, apart from the obvious aches and pains that you get towards the end. I had no Braxton hicks with Stanley – and only very mild ones with Wilfred. However, I think both of these factors are down to them being a first and second pregnancy, with the gender playing no part.

Mabel - I had so many Braxton hicks that I felt like I was in labour for a good month before she was finally evicted. People said to me ‘It’s girls! They do this!’ but I’m sure it’s down to her being a third baby too. And I really, really struggled – I felt sick again, I ached everywhere, and I felt like she was going to fall out at any second. Because she was a girl? I doubt it, but it was very different to my first two pregnancies.



26th January 2017

Is it time for us to get a dog?

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 16.21.13We have a dog in the UK – and the boys love her. In fact, since our holiday home at Christmas, Stanley has mentioned his dog Lily about 30 times a day. He’s even woken up crying her name and has taken to bringing a fluffy dog that closely resembles Lily to bed every night. We miss her too – so this is all a bit heartbreaking.

And next week, we move to a house with a garden – and whenever I mention to the boys that they are getting their very own garden at last, Stanley replies “So now we can get a dog?” I’d love to say yes – especially as there are so many dogs here in Dubai in shelters needing homes, but there are so many other things for us to consider. So when is the right time? And what questions do we need to ask first?

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How much will the dog cost?

It isn’t going to be cheap to add a fluffy family member to our brood – and with mouths to feed, and school fees to pay, and rent to conjur up, we probably don’t need the extra financial commitment. In fact, a recent study conducted by Voucherbox revealed that a dog can cost over £15,000 over a lifetime (that’s nearly 70,000 AED if you are reading this in Dubai). Wowsers. And that doesn’t even count the cost of getting the dog in the first place either (which is nothing if you rehome, of course), but just the day to day cost of food, snacks, bedding, toys, collars, tags, insurance and vet treatments… The list goes on.

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Who will walk the dog?

I keep telling Stanley that somebody has to walk the dog – and whilst he enthusiastically volunteers, obviously we aren’t going to allow a 4-year-old to head off on his own, which means one of us will be waking that dog at least twice a day too. As if we didn’t have enough to do already. And when the weather heats up in Dubai during the summer, I can see us falling out over this. In fact, I recently read that in a study by the insurance company esure, the average family dog causes 2,000 family arguments during their lifetime – and yep, I can believe that.

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How much does it cost to fly the dog back to the UK?

I don’t know how long we are going to be in Dubai – so factoring in the fact that we would have to fly that dog back to the UK if we repatriated is also really important (after all, we definitely wouldn’t be leaving a furry friend behind). And how much would it cost? In a recent feature by The Guardian, Nick Foden-Ellis, Airpets managing director, says it is “rarely less than a business-class ticket for the same route”. And a business class ticket from Dubai to London? Not cheap. And if we did fork out that kind of money, it’d be me riding up the front of the plane…

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Is it the right time?

And of course, the biggie – is it actually the right time to add another demanding small thing to our family? And with a 4-month old baby in the house, I am pretty certain the answer is no. But when is the right time? I don’t know – but I think when she’s out of the toddler tantrum stage, possibly even at school, I may begin to consider it. I’ve had a puppy before – and they don’t wear nappies, they bite, and they can move (fast) – so yep, not yet. Definitely not yet.

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I jest – but the thing is, I am keen for them grow up around animals. I think having pets teaches so much to a child – about responsibility, about love, and ultimately, about loss. We aren’t cat people, so I want my children to have a dog to love, to walk, and to cuddle. But it’s pretty obvious that it’s not happening yet – so Stanley is going to have to enjoy his cuddly dog for a bit longer, at least.

 

 



19th January 2017

“What’s the best thing about being a blogger?” and other questions I am frequently asked about Mummy Blogging…

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 21.32.451. “Should I start a blog?” If you are thinking about it, my advice would be to go ahead and just do it. It isn’t for everyone, but the fact that the idea is in your mind shows that you have probably already have something to say or share. And what have you got to lose? If you choose to do it on a small scale as a hobby, you have a way to share what has been happening recently with family and friends (and if you live far away from most of them like I do, that’s quite lovely). On the other hand, if you want to start a blog with the aim to it becoming professional one day, why not give it a go? It isn’t going to happen if you sit on the idea for years.

2. “What do I write about?” Remember that your family and friends will probably be the first people to read your words – so how about a post introducing your new blog and explaining why you have decided to write it? Talk directly to them and the words should come naturally. With so many parenting blogs around these days, however, I do think that finding a niche is a good idea – an angle that will set you apart from every other blog out there. It worked well for me to start a blog for mums of boys in the early days, for example, as it hasn’t really been done before. Find your own niche – and make it something you will find easy and enjoyable to blog about it. If you like cooking, for example, you could perhaps start a recipe blog for busy mums. If you have a unique hobby, you could blog about that. If you travel a lot, you could start a blog with tips for other parents. Or (and I really like this idea), why not start a blog about being a parent in your local town or village?

3. “How about the technical stuff?” I am asked this a lot – and the truth is that I am not remotely technical when it comes to things like this and have luckily always had friends to help me with the set-up bit (paying “mates rates”)! If you know someone, ask them! Bear in mind that these things are time-consuming, so offering to pay “mates rates” is a better tactic than asking for a favour – especially if you want them to help with any hiccups / updates in the future too. If you are more technically minded, I recommend setting up your blog through WordPress.  But if it’s all Greek to you  and you don’t have mates to help you out, why not just start blogging via Instagram and Facebook? It’s a great way to build an audience and following – and the blog itself can always come later.

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4. “Do you ever regret starting a blog?” I wouldn’t say that I ever regret it, but I definitely have moments of doubt and spend time wondering whether I should continue. This is mainly because I worry whether I should be putting my kids in the spotlight when they didn’t choose it. It makes me feel uncomfortable when I think about it, as my kids are my number one priority (just like any mummy). However, I do take steps to protect my children with what I choose to post (or not to post, as the case may be) – I won’t divulge those details, but each blogger has their own rules.  I also strongly believe that the benefits my children are getting from this blog means that the positives currently far outweigh the negatives. And let’s face it; this is the first generation that has grown up online / on social media – and there are no rules or manuals on how we should do it.  And anyone that takes time to read my posts will realise pretty quickly that I do it all out of love for them. I hope this will be obvious to them too, as they grow up – and if they still hate it, I’ll stop blogging about them immediately.

5. “How long will you keep blogging?” This is a really hard question and pretty impossible to answer – but I can’t see myself stopping any time soon. I can definitely see my blog evolving as time goes on, though – perhaps if we ended up moving back to the UK at any point (no imminent plans, but you never know) or if the kids didn’t want to be involved in the blog as they grew up. The beauty of a blog for me is that it grows with you – so I guess when I no longer have babies anymore, my blog will change with it. But I hope you lot will stay with me, as I guess your babies will be growing up too. We’ll all be in it together (and I am personally DREADING the teenage years!)

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6. “Is blogging competitive?” Yes, at times I think it is – but that’s just like any industry so I don’t think there’s anything too unusual or dramatic about that. However, I do have moments of self-doubt  at times when I bother to compare my blog and social media posts to others. The problem I think is there’s a fine line where the ‘me’ finishes and the ‘blog’ starts – we seem to be one and the same – so it can feel very personal if someone criticises it or if a brand chooses to work with someone else. But I have learnt along the line that there is very little point in worrying about all this – my blog is my voice – and just like people read more than one magazine and shop from more than one store, there is plenty of space for blogs to co-exist with the same gang of readers. That’s why it pays to support each other, promote blogging in general, and try not to get too caught up in the competitiveness of it all. It’s nothing compared to the world of fashion journalism anyway (been there, done that, worn the over-priced T-Shirt).

7. “Can you make lots of money from a blog?” Well yes – you definitely can. Not that I’d even begin to count myself in that gang yet, although things are definitely moving in the right direction. But if you take one blog that makes serious money, there will be hundreds more that make very little. It definitely isn’t a quick fix to riches – it took me a good year of solid blogging to get offered my first sponsored campaign. You have to really love blogging foremost – and if you start making money, that’s a bonus. And even with over 80,000 social media followers and 2.5 years of blogging under my belt, I don’t make enough for it to be my main revenue source and I need to keep up my freelance journalism. One day I hope the balance will shift to my blog – that would definitely be the dream for me, as it’s the bit of ‘work’ I enjoy most.

8. “What’s the best bit about blogging?” For me, this is definitely the support network I have created with my followers and readers. I love nothing more than posting something on social media and getting streams of comments underneath. It keeps me sane on the hardest days of motherhood – and I genuinely hope it helps all you too! Of course there are other big highlights – like getting invited to do cool stuff (getting an email inviting me to a 5-day review of a hotel in the Maldives, for example, was a real highlight – sadly we couldn’t afford the airfare at the time, but just imagine if we’d taken the plunge!), placing a big advertising campaign, and being sent lovely gifts to my door on a daily basis. I also love it when people recognise me, which is happening more and more (both in the UAE and UK). I don’t love this in a ‘wow, I’m totally famous!” way (as I’m actually quite shy and can easily clam up in these situations) – but I love it because it means my words are clearly being heard, my blog is growing, and all that hard work is paying off.



16th January 2017

Things I loved about Babies & Beyond!

16117967_10158126095900607_1248774804_nWe’ve come to the end of our two week booking with Babies & Beyond, so now is the perfect time to tell you about the things that I really loved about the company.

To recap, Babies & Beyond is a Dubai company that offers a pay-by-hour nanny service for little ones – right from the early newborn days to pre-schooler years. You book the nurses per hour, with a five-hour minimum booking – and the company will aim for you to have the same nurse every time to make sure your little one is settled and happy. And if you need a long-term booking? Babies & Beyond will offer you a discount to make it affordable too.

So without further ado, here are the things I loved about the company…

1. You can trust the nurses

Just like every mother, I find it very difficult to leave my children with someone I don’t know – but without the luxury of family around to help, what choice did I have when my nanny was away for two weeks and I had work deadlines nipping at my heels? Step forward Babies & Beyond with their fully qualified nurses, all licensed by Dubai Health Authority, with paediatric first aid and life support qualifications. It all reads well on paper – and my experience over the past 2 weeks proves it too. I barely had to give instructions with the two nurses we used – they were baby whispers and that was obvious from the very first day they stepped through my door.

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2. The company matches a nurse to your child

I loved the fact the company match the perfect nurse to your child, based on their previous experience. Babies & Beyond called me for a chat when I first enquired before Christmas and then followed with a questionnaire sent to my email address to get further information. For this reason, they knew Mabel’s age, how she was fed, whether she had a routine, and whether I needed any help with my elder boys too – and once they had the information, they could match me to a nurse that was perfectly suited experience-wise to my baby.  They have nurses with experience in NICU and maternity wards in hospitals, for example, which suit the smallest babies – and they also have nurses with previous experience in nurseries across the region, meaning they are much better suited for toddlers. Thanks to this groundwork before your nurse arrives, you get someone that knows what they are doing before they have even arrived.

3. You can be flexible with your booking

You can book the hours that suit YOU – whether that’s first thing in the morning until lunchtime, a full day when you are at work, or even during the night.  Even if you have a regular booking, you can enquire about changing it / adding hours to suit your schedule and the company will do their best to accommodate. I did this twice during my booking when I realised I needed a few extra hours for a meeting – and the booking was extended by two hours and confirmed via email. Life is unpredictable – and the company really seems to understand this.

4. The nurses are totally focused on your child

This isn’t a maid service – and the nurses won’t spend time cleaning your house during your booking. They are solely dedicated to childcare – and if that seems like an inconvenience, this isn’t the service for you. The company caters to parents who want a qualified nanny to give 100% of their attention to their child – and for me, this was hugely reassuring when I walked out the door. I didn’t have to worry about the nurse missing Mabel’s cries because she was hanging up washing, nor that she’d be too focused on finishing chores to play with her. I knew she would her only priority for the length of the booking – and there is something wonderfully reassuring about that. It’s well worth the money that you pay.

Babies & Beyond Nurses cost 75 AED per hour, with a minimum booking of 5 hours (discounts offered to long-term bookings). Visit www.babiesandbeyond.ae or call 04 278 9832.

In collaboration with Babies & Beyond

 



13th January 2017

Yesterday, I decided to sell my maternity clothes…

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 20.04.41With another house move in the next few weeks (finally a family home that we can settle in for the next few years), we need to declutter – and I decided the maternity clothes had to go. So I photographed each item, carefully wrote down the brand and size details, decided on a price for each item, and listed it all on community Facebook pages.

And then I waited.

But nothing.

Not a single message.

Nobody wanted my beautiful maternity dresses.

I felt a bit deflated, but joked with a few friends that maybe the universe had other plans. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be selling them at all. Maybe I would need them again. Funnily enough, the husband didn’t find it quite as funny when he got home from work and I relayed the story.

Still, as I went to bed that night, I must admit I felt quite relieved those dresses were still in my wardrobe. I knew I would never wear them again, but maybe I wasn’t ready to part with them either.

But the next morning, I woke up to a message. A mum-to-be who lived nearby had seen my advert and wanted to come and look at the dresses. This is it, I thought. This is it. She’ll come to my apartment, try them on, and take them all off my hands. That will be it. Done and dusted. Finished.

She was on her way, so I made my way into the spare room and hung each dress on the front of the wardrobe so she could see them all clearly. Most of these dresses had seen me through three pregnancies – and after the first two babies I’d stashed them away, hoping that I would get a chance to wear them again. After Mabel was born, I moved them to the spare bedroom knowing that I’d probably never move them back again. I wasn’t sad about it – how could I be, when the bump they’d dressed was now sleeping peacefully next door – but it did make me stop in my tracks and think. And now I was about to say goodbye to them.

I stood back and looked at them. So many memories right there on the wardrobe. I always loved having a bump. I loved the way I felt and I loved the way I looked – but most importantly, I loved the anticipation and pure excitement I felt when I looked in the mirror and stroked my bump. These dresses were part of those memories and I felt strangely attached to them. Just like the feelings I had when I stashed tiny newborn sleepsuits away in boxes, I felt stabs of emotion when I realised I’d never set eyes on them again.

My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. And within a few minutes, a stranger was trying on my maternity dresses in the spare bedroom.

She came out of the room 10 minutes later, clutching just one of the dresses. “I’ll take this one,” she said, “I just love it!” She handed me a few notes and we said our goodbyes – and I laughed to myself that the dress she’d taken was the only one I’d rarely worn during my pregnancies. It just hadn’t suited me when I’d got it home from the shop – and it was sod’s law that it was the only one she wanted.

Before I went to pick up the boys from school and nursery, I hung the remaining dresses back in the wardrobe. All still mine – for now, at least.

But just as I started to wonder whether the universe really was sending me a message, my kids stepped in. It is no exaggeration to say that I had one of the most difficult afternoons I have ever had as a mother. Nothing dramatic happened, but the boys fought, I screamed at them, Mabel cried, dinner had to be taken off the hob three times while she demanded more milk, dinner was ruined, boys refused to eat what I knocked up instead, I screamed again, they cried – and to top it all off, the 4-year-old told me he only loved me “some of the time”.  Nice crescendo Stanley, nice crescendo.

So that evening, with a glass of wine in my hands to recover, I decided I needed to give myself a pep talk. I might be sad that those dresses won’t ever wrap around a bump again – but my goodness, three children was quite enough. I admire those mothers that keep having babies, but I had definitely reached the point of coping. The point of staying sane.

So I heaved myself off the sofa, walked to my desk, scrolled ‘WE ARE DONE!” on a post-it note in thick black letters, and marched to the spare bedroom to stick it on the label of my favourite maternity maxi dress as a reminder of that afternoon.

Because we are done. I am sure of it.

WE ARE DONE!

I think we are, at least.



10th January 2017

My top 10 ultimate buys for new babies…

Third baby in – and I think I’ve finally nailed the mum kit. And by that, I mean that I’ve gathered together the things that really do make motherhood easier. Those clever inventions that cut corners so you can spend more time enjoying your baby. And whilst these aren’t necessarily budget buys (I see another post in that), I can promise you won’t regret investing in any of them. So without further ado, here are my top 10 buys for new mums and mums-to-be – and I’ve included a UK and UAE link for shopping for all of them, so mummies in both countries can make use of my list….

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1. Sleepyhead

In a nutshell: A portable bed for your baby, which you place inside their cot.  

I reviewed this incredible invention here – but it’s essentially a snug bed that you place inside a cot, bed, or other flat surface for your baby to sleep. I don’t know how exactly it works, but babies just seem to love it. It’s like they are being hugged I guess, but whatever the science behind it, Mabel happily self-settles and sleeps like a dream.

UK – John Lewis – http://bit.ly/2j0o0ok #aff

UAE – Sleepyhead GCC –  http://sleepyheadgcc.com

2. Snuzpod

In a nutshell: A bedside cot that allows you to sleep safely next to your baby.

We ended up co-sleeping a lot with Wilfred, as he was just one of those babies that didn’t settle well – so I knew from the beginning of my pregnancy with Mabel that I wanted a bedside cot. I enjoyed co-sleeping with Wilfred, but I always worried about the safety of it – so this would allow me to sleep alongside my baby and get to them quickly when they woke in the night, but they’d have their own space too. Out of all the cots on the market, this was my favourite as it’s big (it should last Mabel until at least 6 months) and it looks really lovely as a piece of furniture. Expensive yes, but I’m pretty sure they will sell on well second hand.

UK – John Lewis – http://bit.ly/2j0m13k #aff

UAE – Mumzworld – www.mumzworld.com

3. Mamaroo

In a nutshell – A baby chair that bounces and sways, just like parents

This chair is quite simply amazing. You plug it in, choose the setting (including car ride, tree swing, kangaroo, rock-a-bye and ocean), and choose the speed. It isn’t cheap admittedly, but I would have palpitations if anyone took it away from me (my babies have never been able to resist sleep when on ‘car ride’ on the fastest setting, which I’ve resorted to more than few times). We used a voucher given to us by work colleagues to buys ours when Wilfred was born and have passed it onto friends when they have had little ones. It’s definitely one of my top baby buys.

UK – John Lewis – http://bit.ly/2j0liis #aff

UAE –  The Baby Boutique – www.thebabyboutique.com

4. The Ergo

In a nutshell – A baby carrier that can be used comfortably as your baby grows

I’m not really a baby wearer as I like pushing my babies in buggies, but a carrier is a necessity when you fly as often as we do – and after trial and error, the Ergo is definitely my favourite. The weight is carried around the hips (rather than shoulders), which means you can use it for longer as baby gets heavier. We had a different carrier when Stanley was a baby and I couldn’t carry him past 4 months without pain in my shoulders – but I carried Wilfred very happily in the Ergo until he was 18 months. Highly recommended.

UK – www.ergobaby.co.uk

UAE – Mumzworld – www.mumzworld.com/en/ergo-baby/

5. Snuza Hero

In a nutshell – A breathing monitor that clips to your baby’s nappy when they are sleeping

I know there is some controversy about breathing monitors, as they can make mothers even more anxious – but the peace of mind I feel when I clip this little monitor onto Mabel’s nappy is definitely worth it. Without it, I’m one of those mothers that wakes up in a cold sweat to check their baby is breathing every 10 minutes – but with it, I can go to sleep knowing this little device is monitoring that she’s breathing at least 8 times in a minute. If she doesn’t, it vibrates gently to rouse her. And if there is still no movement, an alarm would go off to wake us. I’ve used one with all three of my babies from the moment they are born, right up until them being old enough to yank it off (I’ve stopped at around 8 months in the past).

UK – Amazon  - http://amzn.to/2jcv925 #aff

UAE – Just Kidding – www.justkidding-me.com

6. Milkies Milk Saver

In a nutshell – A silicon device you pop in your bra to catch milk when you are feeding the other side.

What exactly is a milk saver? Well it’s a simple silicone device that you pop on the other boob when feeding and it collects all the milk that would usually be wasted in your breast-pad (it’s amazing how much you get, which can then be saved in the fridge or freezer for when you need to do a bottle feed). I’ve used it with Mabel since she was born – and this simple thing has saved me pumping and has therefore been a lifesaver (I hate pumping). Midwives and lactation consultants have all been amazed by it – and I never knew I could love a strange milk catcher thing quite so much.

UK – Amazon – http://amzn.to/2id7Oiq #aff

UAE – Order via Amazon and Shop & Ship (as above).

7. Boppy Pillow

In a nutshell – A cushion to help support your baby during breastfeeding

Talking of breastfeeding, I have been totally reliant on my Boppy Pillow with all my babies. I’ve tried smaller, more compact cushions, but none of them have compared to the Boppy – and I’ve even carried it onto flights (great way to comfortably cuddle a small baby on a long-haul by the way!) I got a really gorgeous cover for mine at Pottery Barn Kids in Dubai, but that’s just a luxury extra that you don’t really need if you are on a budget.

UK – Argos – www.argos.co.uk

UAE – Pottery Barn Kids

8. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets

In a nutshell – Giant muslin cloths that can be used for all kinds of different things at home and when you head out.

My first two babies loved to be swaddled as newborns, but not Mabel – oh no, she wasn’t having any of it. She cried and struggled and fought her arms out – and when we finally gave up, boom, she started sleeping through the night at a week old. So as great as these swaddles are for actually swaddling (and they are the best), that’s not actually why I’m recommending them. I’m recommending them as giant muslin cloths, which have so many different uses with newborn babies around the house. Lightweight blankets for warm weather, sick moppers, bottom sheets for the pram basinet, window drapes to block the sun in the car… The list goes on. Basically they are brilliant – and worth the extra money to get the big ones!

UK – John Lewis – http://bit.ly/2j2AdbX  #aff

UAE – Baby Souk – www.babysouk.com/

9. Cuddle Dry Apron Towel

In a nutshell – The best towel for newborns, allowing you to scoop them out the bath and cuddle them without getting soaked.

When I was first sent this to try (thanks Cuddle Dry!) I must admit that I thought it was a bit pointless – but then I started using it, and wow! It’s amazing. You pop it over your head, scoop your newborn out of the bath, and pull them into you in a cuddle. There’s a pocket at the bottom that you fit over their head as a hood to keep them warm – and the towel between you stops your clothes getting soaked (and having two boys that splash a lot in the bath, anything that stops it happening with the baby too is a real bonus!) Highly recommended!

UK – Amazon – http://amzn.to/2idn0vZ #aff

UAE – Baby Souk – www.babysouk.com/

10. Water Wipes

In a nutshell – Baby wipes made from 99.9% purified water for easy nappy changes and healthy bottoms! 

With my first baby, I used cotton wool and water for weeks – and then gave up and started using pure wipes, which made life so much easier. With my second baby, I decided not to take on the meconium and start with the pure baby wipes – cue a horrible weeping nappy rash that made me sob every nappy change. So I wasn’t going to make that mistake again with Mabel and decided to invest in 12 packs of Water Wipes for my hospital bag and early days at home. They are made with 99.9% purified water and 0.01% fruit extracts, making them the world’s purest baby wipes. I love them so much that I have restocked my supplies and will definitely be continuing to use them for Mabel as long as possible.

UK – 12 packs at Amazon – http://amzn.to/2iXfIuK #aff

UAE – Deliver 2 Mum – www.deliver2mum.com



7th January 2017

We try: Babies & Beyond Baby Care Service

15934803_10158079257840607_983223524_nWhat do you do when you work from home in Dubai and your nanny decides to take a well-deserved holiday? Well after sobbing into your pillow for a few nights (and that’s not far off the truth), you look for alternatives – and that’s exactly why Babies & Beyond have come into my life this January.

The Dubai company offer a pay-by-hour nanny service for little ones – right from the early newborn days to pre-schooler years. And with every nurse fully qualified and licensed by Dubai Health Authority, with paediatric first aid and life support qualifications, I was already impressed by what they were offering on paper, so I decided to go ahead and book for 5 x mornings a week for the first fortnight of the year.

So what happened next? Once I’d got in touch with the company to ask about availability, I received a phone call from staff member Hazel. We chatted on the phone for a good 20 minutes, talking through the ages of the children, what I needed help with, where I lived, and what timings would suit us. And within 24 hours, I was emailed with details of the nurses the company could provide for me – Candie in the first week and Lhean in the second.

The CV’s of both nurses was attached to have a read through and was offered the chance for myself and the children to meet them before my booking began. As I was in the UK until a few days before the booking commenced, I declined the offer of a meeting, but I thought it was a lovely touch for mums feeling a bit anxious about leaving their little ones for the first time. I did enjoy looking through the CVs and was very reassured by both the nurse’s experience and qualifications. A few forms to fill out and sign were also attached, which gave me the chance to give further details about both Mabel and Wilfred so that the nurses would be fully aware of our situation before they knocked on my door. So far, so good – I was impressed.

Fast forward to Monday 2nd January 2016 – and it was Candie’s first day with us. I had both Mabel and Wilfred at home with me that morning and so much work to do after the crazy Christmas period, which was making me feel pretty stressed. I expected to spend at least the first hour or so with Candie, explaining and showing her the ropes – but when she came, I realised I had nothing to worry about.

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Candie was exceptionally good with Mabel from the moment she met her. I talked her through Mabel’s current routine and feeding schedule and she nodded with understanding. I went to show her how to turn on Mabel’s snazzy rocking chair and she told me she’d used one lots before. I then told her about how Mabel likes to lie in her baby gym and how she enjoyed sitting up in her bumbo chair and she nodded along. She told me not to worry about anything and I felt very reassured – so I got to work at my desk.

And it wasn’t just Mabel she was good with, but Wilfred too. She managed to entertain and care for both children that morning so perfectly. At one point I glanced over and she was lying on the floor with Wilfred playing with his Octonauts, while keeping a careful eye on Mabel in her baby gym alongside. Wilfred loved her – and just before I took him out on his scooter in the fresh air for a while, he turned to her and said: “Don’t worry Candie, I’ll be back to play with you again later!”

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A few days later and Candie had Mabel’s routine down to a fine art. In fact, after the craziness of the Christmas holidays, she wasn’t really in any kind of fixed routine – but Candie managed to change that in just 5 days. I was really impressed with her knowledge of newborn babies and their needs. Take one morning, for example, when I heard Mabel grumbling in the bedroom after her nap. I looked up from my desk, wondering where Candie was, only to see them both leave the bedroom together with Candie explaining: “Mabel was just doing some tummy time!”

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I must confess that I am sad that Candie is leaving us, but I can see why she is in demand and had prior bookings – and I already know that Lhean will be just as professional when she arrives for the second week of care. And guess what? I’m no longer stressed about work and I know I will meet my deadlines over the next week, whilst Mabel and Wilfred will be expertly cared for. And you can’t really put a price on that kind of reassurance!

I’ll report back at the end of week two with my overall impression of Babies & Beyond – but in the meantime, keep an eye on my social media for details of how we are getting on!

If you’d like to book a Babies & Beyond Newborn Nurse or Childcare Nurse, simply visit www.babiesandbeyond.ae, call +971 (0)4 278 9832 or email info@babiesandbeyond.ae

In collaboration with Babies & Beyond.

 



2nd January 2017

10 Things To Consider Before You Have Number Three

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-16-21-431. If you thought your pregnancy flew by the second time, you will be shocked by how quickly it goes with your third. After all, you are far too busy refereeing sibling scraps to focus too much on the baby growing inside your tummy. You are unlikely to bother downloading pregnancy apps either – you’ve already maxed out the memory on your phone downloading apps for the kids, after all.

2. You may not notice the weeks ticking past – but by god, you will notice the bump. You will pop earlier, fit into maternity clothes quicker, and master the perfect fake smile for when passers-by ask if it’s twins. And by the end? You probably won’t be able to walk more than a few steps without feeling like the baby is going to fall out, which is ironic considering you have two small people under your feet who expect far more entertainment than just a few steps.

3. You don’t fear birth. Oh no. In fact, you daydream about that bit in the hospital after the baby is born from the moment you see that positive pregnancy test. You may have a demanding newborn to tend to, but they won’t be able to move – and what a luxury that will be!

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-22-21-344. You will have an argument with your other half about to fit all your children into a car. It’s unavoidable. And it will go on for months.

5. You always knew it would be a challenge to leave the house in the early days, but you will still be  shocked by how long it takes to move three small people through a front door. If it isn’t explosive newborn nappies, it’s toddler tantrums and last minute dashes to the loo. And you may as well accept now that you will forget something crucially important every time you leave the house. In fact, if you remember all three children, you should count that as a win.

6. Once in a while, however, you will get to leave the house with just two of your brood and the feeling of freedom will surprise you. One hand for each child? What luxury! You’ll have to stop yourself hop, skipping, and jumping through the streets in celebration. And rare occasions with just one child? That is classed as a holiday.

7. If two children scrambled your mind, wait until your third baby arrives home. From the moment you walk through the door clutching a car seat with a sleepy newborn, your mind will start doing funny things. Lunch boxes will get muddled up, weekly timetables forgotten, birthday parties missed – and, most disturbingly, you will have to run through every name in the house (including the one belonging to the cat) before you strike lucky and match the right name to a child.

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8. If you thought the comments about your ginormous bump from complete strangers were annoying, wait until you venture out with all three children in tow. Despite a good chunk of the adult population coming from families with three or more kids, it will quickly become apparent that 99% of those you pass in the street are shocked at the sight of your brood.. ‘You’ve got your hands full!” they will quip, as you glance up, force a smile, and promptly manage to trip over a child.

9. They do have a point though, as there will be moments in the early days when you stand back, see your other half with three little people, and feel genuinely shocked by how many children are now in your care. And when travelling with those children, you will watch young, single ladies in high heels and perfect lipstick glancing in horror and the general noise and chaos coming from your direction – and you will want to scream ‘I WAS LIKE YOU  A FEW YEARS AGO! JUST WAIT! IT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU TOO!”

10. But despite it all, you will not regret having that third child for a second. Not one single second. You never doubted that you would love this child – after all, you have done it twice before and know that your heart swells with every child you grow – but you did find it hard to imagine how this tiny human would fit into your family. But right from the moment you cradle that warm newborn on your chest, you will see that you had nothing to worry about. And when their older brothers and sisters get the chance to gaze into their baby sibling’s eyes for the first time, your heart will skip a beat. And that is the very moment you will realise it was the best decision you ever made.

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