22nd March 2017

Why we love Baby Sensory Classes…

17440175_10158447600015607_651619191_nRewind to January 2013, when my first baby was 9 months old. I was looking for something to do with him – to entertain him and to get myself out the house – and I stumbled on Baby Sensory, which had just arrived in the UAE. I’d done a few trial lessons when I was back in the UK when he was a smaller baby and we’d both loved it – it appealed to my own love of textures and colours and he had loved the bubbles, balls, toys and music. We carried on every week until he was 13 months old.

When I had my second baby, I never got round to attending classes. It crossed my mind several times, but I had nobody to look after his big brother – now a toddler – while I was attending. I felt quite sad about that and vowed to head back to classes if I went on to have a third baby.

So when Mabel arrived – now with her older brothers at nursery and school in the morning –Baby Sensory was back on my weekly calendar. We’ve now been attending for a whole term (in the 0-6 month age group) and her face lights up as soon as we step into the room. Just like her older brother did, she loves the familiar songs, the fun props, the lights and the bubbles.

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I’ve reviewed lots of baby classes in Dubai, but this is the one that I love the most. I just love the way that every lesson is different and so carefully planned out – baby mountains created from mounds of different fabrics with interesting textures for them to crawl over, space-themes with a darkened room and hundreds of twinkly lights for them to watch and hold, underwater themes complete with bubbles, fish and swathes of blue fabric to recreate the water… For me, it beats baby classes where every class follows the same formula – as if I’m bored, I’m less likely to take her every week. And Baby Sensory is anything but boring.

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Baby Sensory UAE hold classes all over the city for babies under 13 months old – and when they get older, they can join Toddler Sense Classes, which are very similar but include more physical activities.

More details and a weekly calendar is online here –  www.babysensory.ae – and the classes definitely come with the Mum of Boys & Mabel approval!



17th March 2017

Dear Mabel, you are six months old today…

17327911_10158426069295607_1072781804_nDear Mabel,

You are six months old today.

Half a year.

This morning, our day started at 5am. Your biggest brother woke up – and minutes later, the entire house was awake too. As I lay there, with heavy eyelids and feeling groggy with sleep, I decided to flick through the photos on my phone. I went right back to the beginning of my pregnancy with you – and as I flicked through those photos with sleepy eyes, so many happy memories came flooding back.

A silhouette of a tiny bump in a hotel mirror. The scan pictures with you sticking out your tongue. The note scribbled by my obstetrician that read simply ‘Girl’. The final pregnancy photos, where I cradled my bump protectively in the knowledge it would be the last time I’d feel a baby under my ribs. The first photos of you, staring peacefully into the watery eyes of your Daddy. Meeting your brothers for the first time – you curled and sleepy, they with just-washed hair in their printed pyjamas.

And then the photos since those precious first days in hospital – photos taken almost daily, with eyes that get bluer, thighs that get chubbier, and a dimpled smile that gets sweeter by the day.

You grew so quickly, Mabel. But I’ve done this mothering thing twice before and I was prepared for that. I soaked up every second of the early days. I didn’t allow the pace of life to sweep me away. I sat still for hours, nursing you, holding you, letting you sleep in my arms. I drank in every second of your newborn days – and when you grew, I was ready for it. I was ready to get to know the person you were becoming.

I embraced every little milestone, I enjoyed pulling new clothes out of your drawers when poppers got too tight, and I looked forward to taking your photo as another month ticked over, documenting your change into a little girl.

And what a wonderful little person you have become!

You are still so quiet, so thoughtful, and so serene. You spend most of your time watching your brothers, playing quietly with your toys, or seeking me – your Mummy –  in a busy room. You adore being held, being tickled, being kissed, and listening to me singing songs. You are wary of strangers, burrowing your head into my chest for reassurance. You are happiest at home with your family, rolling around on the floor, practicing sitting in your ring, and jumping happily in your jumperoo.

Soon you will be weaned. Soon you will crawl. Soon you will walk. Soon your hair will be long enough to be scraped into pigtails. Soon you will wave me goodbye on your first day of school. I know it’s coming – I’ve been there before, which is exactly why I’m enjoying every second of these baby days.

I enjoy leaving you in a spot and knowing you’ll be there when I return. I enjoy the fact you still sleep beside me in your bedside cot, so I can hear your breathing as I drift off to sleep. I enjoy your gurgles, your giggles, your chubby rolls, your delicious slobbery cuddles.

I enjoy everything about you.

6 months, Mabel.

Half a year.

It’s not a long time really – but already, I can barely remember life without you. When I look at pictures of the four of us before you were born, the photos seem incomplete. When I think back to holidays, or day trips, or celebrations, I wonder where you were, before realising suddenly you were yet to exist.

We never knew it back then, but you were our missing puzzle piece, the last pea in the pod, the little girl that we’d all fall in love with from the second she was placed into our arms. Everything seems right now, with you alongside us. Neat and tidy. Exactly how it should be. Just so right.

And you know the best bit?

This is just the beginning.

Your beginning.

And I can’t wait for the rest.

Love from Mummy x



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.

 

 



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.

 



20th November 2016

When Super Granny made a return visit…

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-22-48-15If you haven’t read my blog post about the time that Andalene Salvesen (aka Super Granny) spent an afternoon with my family last year, you can read the post here. To summarise, she transformed life in my house for the better. Behaviour improved, dummies were thrown away, bottles of milk were no longer relied on, and both children started sleeping through the night the very same night.  Inviting her into our home was, quite simply, one of the best parenting decisions we ever made.

So who is Super Granny? Andalene Salvesen owned a playschool in Cape Town for 8 years and ran a Baby/Toddler workshop for a further 12 years. This exposure to children, along with a passion to help parents (and a ton of self-study) earned her the title ‘Super Granny’. She has now been presenting parenting seminars for the last 16 years, developing a home visit programme to change family dynamics and empower parents.

And it really does work – but fast forward 12 months and things had taken a turn for the worse behaviour wise. Baby Mabel arrived on the scene and Wilfred’s behaviour became challenging almost overnight. Tantrums were frequent, he woke in the night  (for the first time since Super Granny had visited last year) and he relied on his dummy and monkey so much for comfort that he flatly refused to go to nursery if he wasn’t allowed to take them (cue stand offs outside the gates, as that just wasn’t happening). He’s a lovely, sweet natured little boy, who adores his little sister and has never shown her any malice -, but he just felt so unsettled at home. Not only was the behaviour fairly impossible to deal with, but it was pretty heart breaking, as we just didn’t know how to help him.

Added to this was Stanley’s ability to wind his brother up. Cottoning on to how easy it was to make Wilfred flip out (and realising this earnt him ‘the well behaved child’ crown by default), Stanley very rarely helped the situation. It was World War Three at home – and we needed Super Granny back in our life pronto.

Thankfully for us, she is back in Dubai until 15th December – so we made a booking for her to visit us again yesterday.

But as lovely as Andalene is (and she is lovely – don’t expect a stern Nanny McPhee-esque character to walk into your house), I can’t say I was looking forward to her visit yesterday. In fact, I woke up with a bit of a sinking feeling. The truth is that I felt a bit embarrassed that we hadn’t followed her advice to the letter since she had come. She later told me that it always slips after a while, which is why she recommends a refresher every 4-6 months – but as we sat there waiting for her yesterday morning, I was dreading her reaction to seeing how bad the behaviour had got.

But I didn’t need to worry. After a cup of coffee and a chat, she started the same process we followed the first time (post again here) – and to cut a long story short, she worked exactly the same magic.

Or I should say ‘we’ – we worked the magic, as Andalene’s job is to simply show us the tactics to do it. And it’s so easy, resulting in a calmness in the house I hadn’t seen for months. No raised voices, no tantrums, and no arguments. Just two very, very happy children, who have stayed like that since she visited 24 hours ago. Oh and Wilfred’s dummy is gone, without a single tear or tantrum. How amazing is that?!

The best way I can describe it? It’s like someone has come into our house, waved a magic wand, and solved all the problems. I feel like I can breathe again – and there is a permanent smile on Wilfred’s face, which is worth its weight in gold. I highly, highly recommend booking her for a visit if you are finding things tough – you really won’t regret it.

Super Granny is in Dubai until December 15th and she has availability for bookings. She will be back in Dubai again in February. The cost of a home visit on weekdays (9am and 1pm sessions available) is 1,200aed. On weeknights (5pm), weekends and holidays (both 9am, 1pm and 5pm), the cost is 1,500aed. If you live overseas, she also offers home visits via Skype. Book now at www.munchkins.me



17th November 2016

Dear Mabel, you are two months old today…

15058694_10157806426785607_108903357_nYou are two months old today, little one – and it’s all going far too quickly.

A minute ago I had a sleepy newborn – but I blinked and you have turned into a chubby two month old, smiling away and holding your head up on your own. Slow down time, please. I’m not ready for the newborn bit to be over yet. I want to put the brakes on for a while and take time to drink you in.

I want to cuddle after feeds and feel your head loll peacefully onto my shoulder, stare at your  face while you sleep, and watch you lie on your Daddy’s chest every evening as you’re still too young to tuck into bed and leave on your own.

I want it to last longer; the last time with a newborn in the house. I don’t want it to end.

But it will, because you are changing – and whilst that makes me sad in one sense, it is so wonderful to see who you are becoming. You are such a sweet, placid little thing who very rarely cries. You’ve woken up from that sleepy newborn bit now – and you like to sit back and watch the chaos of our family-of-five unfold around you (and with a two year old brother, it has been pretty chaotic at times). You just sit there quietly watching – and whenever you see a face, you break out into a beautiful smile (especially if it’s Mummy, because I am definitely your favourite – let’s keep it that way little one, OK?)

You like car journeys (as long as we don’t stop at traffic lights) and your rocking chair always sends you to sleep at home. We set up your cot mobile last week and you think that’s brilliant! You smile and gurgle and giggle when we switch it on every morning – and your brothers stand over you, jealous that you have your very own toy. You are an amazing sleeper and already sleep right through the night, waking for a feed just before we need to get up. We know how lucky we are, you clever, clever little thing.

You were born at 9Ib8oz on the 97th percentile – but now you are down at the 37th. I was small as a child, so I think that’s probably where you are supposed to be. You are still fed on the boob, but you take the bottle happily. It’s usually breastmilk (which you definitely prefer), but you do get the odd bottle of formula now too (and it always makes you poo!)

You only fit a few of your Newborn size clothes now, but fit perfectly in 0-3 months. I’ve felt sad as I’ve taken the smaller things out of the drawer and stored them away (for what, I don’t know) – but discovering what I have bought you for the next size and getting you dressed in something new always makes up for it.

You look just like your oldest brother as a baby – and at times, it takes my breathe away when I glance at you quickly and see him instead. You have bright blue eyes that seem to get bigger by the day, a dimple when you smile, and dark hair (with just a touch of auburn) that sticks up whenever you have a bath.

You fit right in, our lovely little Mabel Beatrix. I haven’t found it nearly as hard to go from 2 to 3 children, as I did from 1 to 2. Experience makes it all easier, I guess – but I know your calm, patient nature makes a big difference too.

It just seems so right; you being here with us. A calming influence on your two nutty brothers. The last piece of the puzzle, fitting so perfectly in the gap we never knew we had.

 You are two months old today, Mabel Beatrix – and how lucky we are to have you in our life.

Love Mummy x



1st November 2016

7 reasons we loved the 7-seater Chevrolet Captiva…

14494857_1099293233440437_5179997213266301871_nFor the past month, we have been test driving the 7-seater Chevrolet Captiva to see how it works for families with three children (or more). We love this car – so today is a very sad day, as we are handing it back. And that’s not only because life been really easy as a two-car family, but also because we just love the car. It suits us, our lifestyle in Dubai, and our family size so perfectly – and here is why…

1. It fits all our children – and a buggy!

This is the most important thing, of course! There are different ways you can work it, but we chose to put Stanley in the very back (with the seat next to him collapsed down, so that we could fit the buggy alongside him), then Wilfred and Mabel in the middle row. We usually do up Stanley’s car seat by sitting on the boot ledge – but you could access from middle row and lean over if you prefer. When he reaches the age when he can do up his seatbelt, it will be even easier. All the children have plenty of room, lots of leg space, and there is room for buggy, luggage, handbags, and shopping. Impressive stuff!

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2. But it’s not too big

It fits all of us – but it’s still quite a small SUV (when measured against the Tahoe, for example). This suits me, as I want to feel high and safe in my car, but I like it being easy to park and swing in/out of spots.

3. It drives really nicely

I know NOTHING about cars – I mean, seriously (my first question is usually ‘what colour is it?’) – but I have to admit that this car is really lovely to drive. It’s smooth, powerful, and accelerates quickly. The power is down to a 2.4L engine – and that’s always a good thing when you are driving on Sheikh Zayed Road at least  twice a day!

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4. It’s safe

It feels very safe – but more importantly, it is very safe. In fact, it has a 5-star standard in safety tests, with features including Hill Descent Control, Side Blind Zone Alert and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system. Furthermore, there are 6 airbags fitted to protect driver, front and rear passengers in the event of a collision.

5. It’s easy to park

I loved the fact there is a rear parking camera, with guides to help you swing the middle of a spot. I was driving our car this morning (which doesn’t have them) and I really missed the camera – it’s amazing how quickly you get used to it! The parking sensors are also really useful and make life easier.

6. You can leave the AC on when you lock it

This is a big bonus for me during the school pick-ups – as it means I can leave the engine on, lock the car, head into school, and come back to a cool car. It’s a small thing (and my husband tells me a fair few cars are fitted with this feature) but it’s made a big difference during the warm days of late September and October (especially when you have a newborn baby to put in and out the car).

7. It looks great

OK I know this isn’t hugely important in the grand scheme of things, so I’ve left it until last – but let’s be honest, we all want nice looking cars. And the Captiva is seriously good looking. I often walked back to it in the school carpark and admired it for a while before climbing in.

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So thank you Chevrolet for letting us be your guinnea pigs for the last month. I’m just off to convince the husband that we do really need another car – and if he agrees, it’s definitely going to be the Chevrolet Captiva…

For more information, visit http://ae-en.chevroletarabia.com