25th April 2019

Currently Loving – April 2019

Somebody asked me what my favourite time of year was recently and I instinctively replied ‘summer’ – but I think I got it wrong. On reflection, spring is my favourite time of year. I love the candyfloss-pink blossom, the milder temperatures, the lighter mornings and evenings, and (most importantly) the fact that the kids are at school and we still have some kind of structure to our lives… Summer is lovely, but that long stretch of school holiday does push my parenting skills and my patience, so I am going to make the most of these lovely spring days and the routine that comes with it, so I have the energy to take on three kids 24/7 when the time arrives 😉 And in the meantime, here are a few things I have have been loving or coveting over recent weeks.


  1. Fy Print. I love this print for a little girl’s room – and I am sure that Mabel would concur! It costs from £19 in various different sizes here.


  1. Alex Monroe. I’ve fallen in love with the floral alphabet collection at Alex Monroe. Each necklace is available in either silver or gold, with prices starting at £105 here.


  1. GAP. These coral daisy-shaped sunglasses are high up my wish list for Mabel for summer. And they’re just £6 here.


  1. Mothercare. I love this T-Shirt and will definitely be snapping it up for Wilfred’s wardrobe. It’s available in sizes 3 months to 6 years – and starts at just £5.50 here.


  1. Mothercare. These rainbow sandals are so popular they’re flying off the shelves – and it’s no wonder with such a stylish design and £14.50 price tag. There are a few sizes left online here – or find them in store.


  1. The Alex Edit. I’m in love with this scarf with its soft grey hue and pop of neon coral for spring and I’m wearing it every day! It’s £18 and available here.


  1. Chilly’s. The compact, double-walled coffee cups by Chilly’s keep coffee warm for hours – no exaggeration, mine is often still too hot to drink after half an hour (I am not a fan of steaming coffee!) I’m coveting this 240ml baby pink version for £20 at Amazon here.


  1. The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary. The best thing I’ve read in ages! Available in paperback for £7.03, Kindle for £6.49, or via Audible as an audiobook here


  1. La Redoute. Just looking at these sweet star-print baby joggers is making me broody… Available from 1 month to 3 years for just £12 here.


  1. Cath Kidston. I’m loving the new floral initial keyrings by Cath Kidston – both for car keys and for hanging on school bags. They are £10 each here.


  1. H&M. If you haven’t yet discovered it, the online exclusive baby range at H&M is well worth a browse. Such simple, lovely pieces, in the gentlest fabrics and most delicate prints. This romper is my favourite at just £12.99. It also comes in a nearly-sold-out ditsy floral yellow – and both are here


  1. Boden. These woven bonnets are perfect for baby girls for the summer. I would’ve snapped one up in an instant if Mabel was still small. They’re £16 here


  1. Baby Annabel. Baby Annabell My First is a great starter doll for little people, with its soft body. The brand kindly sent one to Mabel and she’s enjoying carrying him around the house and cooking for him at her play kitchen. Available here.


  1. Yeti in my Spaghetti. Lay the yeti on top of the spaghetti – and then pull out a strand carefully in the hope he doesn’t fall through. Wilfred loves this game and it fills the house with laughter when the Yeti falls. Available here.


Some of these links are affiliate links

With thanks to Smyth Toys for sending Mabel a ‘Baby Annabel’ and Wilfred ‘Yeti in my Spaghetti’ 

With thanks to The Alex Edit for sending me the beautiful scarf to wear this sping

8th April 2019

Are you a more nervous driver since you had children?

As a mum, I’m wired to be safety conscious of my kids every minute and every hour of the day. Most of the time I’m in situations where I have control over this – however one of my main areas of concern is being out on the road. As with most parents, the majority of our driving consists of taking the kids to school, visiting family or doing the weekly shop. I was reading a recent survey conducted by All Car Leasinga contract hire and leasing firm based here in the UK which looked into the habits and priorities of parents when driving with their babies. Thinking about the results, I realised just how frequent accidents can happen along with how fortunate I’ve been to never experience something quite as significant when it comes to driving. A key aspect to the study was how long it would take parents to feel comfortable driving with their child alone following the birth. For me personally, when I first had Stanley, I was nervous about taking him in my car or any car for that matter just in case anything were to happen, but you find that you must embrace it to be able to go and do your everyday things. By the time I had Wilfred, it was second nature to pop the kids in the car anyway and the same with Mabel. However, I can agree with the study because It took me a few weeks to feel comfortable driving with a new born, as with most parents who answered the study.

According to the data, one in four parents have experienced some form of car accident and those parents’ biggest concern when driving is other drivers, which is quite scary really… I share the same opinion – though half the time I’m in slower moving traffic- so thankfully it’s rare that I experience driving I’d consider reckless; if I do it’s normally when I’m on the motorway. The statistics are even more worrying for 25 – 34 year olds, as apparently 37% of those young parents had experienced an accident whilst their baby was in the car! Before my kids were born, I’d always been confident on the road, but something changed when it wasn’t just me and my husband in the car. Kids can be a bit irritable in their earlier years and don’t always feel comfortable in their seats or will start screaming which can be really distracting, it could put me at further risk of having an accident.

One of the more interesting elements of the study is that two thirds of first-time parents will buy a new car when their baby is on the way. I suppose in the same way I spent time researching and choosing which pram or carrier to buy, cars could also almost be treated as a baby product. I agree with the three main reasons these parents bought their cars – safety aside, reliability and fuel economy are important to me as it helps keep our monthly spends under control.

Baby Driver - Parents and their driving habits

Baby Driverby All Car Leasing


Written in collaboration with All Car Leasing

22nd January 2018

5 Tips For Taking Kids On Ski Holidays!

  1. Go for catered accommodation

I’m usually all about self-catering on holidays with kids, but going with a company that provides meals is such a godsend when you are skiing. Not only are you using up way more energy than the average holiday (not just on the slopes, but in getting three kids into a million layers and then marching them through snow, then entertaining them in the afternoon too) so you are way too exhausted to feed yourself and the kids – but it also saves fitting supermarket trips into the schedule and working out how you’ll trudge there with the kids in the snow. We chose the holiday company Morealps, which meant we had breakfast prepared every morning, a freshly cooked cake mid-afternoon, the kid’s dinner at 5pm, and a 3-course dinner (with the option of cheese too, which we never managed) for the adults at 8pm. It worked really well – and meant that even though the days were tiring, the evenings really did feel like a holiday. You can check out details of Morealps here – http://morealps.com/

  1. Choose a great ski school

If you are planning to hit the slopes (or indeed the spa), you are going to need some childcare for a portion of the day. And whilst you are in the mountains, it makes perfect sense for your little people to hit those slopes too. My boys had never even seen snow before, let alone skied, so I did my research – and settled on ESF (Ecole Du Ski Francais), who looked after our boys perfectly all morning. I was amazed to see them skiing down slopes within a few hours on skis – and the very-friendly welcome as the boys arrived every morning eased any nerves. Visit the La Rosiere site here – www.ski-school-larosiere.co.uk/

3. Pack thermals

It seems obvious to pack warm clothes when you head to the snow, but it isn’t just the thick skiing jackets and trousers that are important. In fact, I quickly came to realise that long-sleeve thermal tops and trousers to be worn underneath were just as crucial to keeping little people warm – and having dressed them in these base layers, my Dubai-born children never shiverred. The brand Engelbert Strauss is worth checking out for this as their thermals are very high quality and affordable. I recommend this top and these trousers.

  1. Pack favourite snacks

A friend gave me the top tip to take away a selection of the childrens’ favourite snacks so you can zip one into the pocket of their ski jacket for hungry moments on the slopes. The ski school hadn’t told me to do this, so I was very relieved when we turned up and the instructor asked if they had snacks to ward off hunger pains. It is expected – and it is necessary when they are burning up so much energy on the slopes. And if you have a fussy eater (and I have one of them), packing what you know they’ll eat from home is a good idea.

  1. Take along ‘quiet time’ entertainment

When my boys finished skiing every day, it was fair to say that they were absolutely exhausted. Completely dead on their feet, dragging their heels and whining. They desperately needed a bit of time to chill – and so I’m very glad that I packed a selection of activity books, colouring books, DVD’s and their iPads. We usually spent between midday and 3pm together in the chalet letting them recharge batteries before we went out again around 3pm – and it would’ve been hard without ways to keep them still!

12th June 2017

A day in the life of Mum of Boys & Mabel…


5.30am – Stanley comes rushing into our bedroom and plonks himself on the end of our bed, saying ‘is it time to go downstairs?’ That’s enough to wake up Mabel, who sleeps in a cot alongside our bed. She starts moaning, because she’s still tired, but eventually rolls over, claps eyes on her big brother, and lets out a shriek of happiness. The day has begun.

6am – Wilfred joins his brother and sister on the bed and we manage to keep them there with the help of books, toys and cartoons on the TV. By 6.30am, we’ve all had enough and my husband heads downstairs with the kids.

6.30am – I shower, while my husband and our nanny start doing breakfast, packed lunches, and getting the boys ready for school. He makes coffee and brings it up to me. At 7.15am, we swap and he goes upstairs for a shower, while I take over downstairs.

7.45am – It’s time to head to school – 30 minutes later than usual, because it’s Ramadan and that means later school hours. We wave goodbye to Mabel, who is staying at home with her nanny for the morning – I usually work from home so I am at least around her as I work, but I have a meeting at Stanley’s school this morning, which means there isn’t time to head home if I want to get any work done. Luckily, the traffic isn’t too bad today. We drop Wilfred at nursery first, then I drop my husband at the metro, and head onto school to drop Stanley. The temperature is already 36’C at 8.30am.

8.45am – After dropping Stanley into his classroom, I head for a meeting in the school hall for parents of children moving up to Year 1 in September. We have the chance to wander around the classrooms, see current Year 1’s taking part in activities, and then listen to a chat about the transition in the school hall. The children look so much older and taller than Stanley and I ponder that for a while, imagining him amongst them in a year’s time. It definitely all goes too quickly, this parenting malarkey.

9.45am – I head back to the car and wince as I climb in, with 40’C hitting me in the face. I crank the AC up to high and head onto Sheikh Zayed Road.


10.15am – I’d usually work in a café near to school if I was working out for the morning, but it’s Ramadan so most cafes are closed. Instead, I drive a bit further to the Lakes to work in a restaurant called Reform (who are serving food behind frosted windows). I order poached eggs on toast, a cappuccino and an apple juice. I check my emails, respond to a few messages from companies here in Dubai, and start preparing a Facebook and Instagram post for Small & Mighty Babies. This support group are putting together memory boxes for parents going through neonatal death, stillbirth, or miscarriage – and need people to crochet hoods to go inside the boxes. After saving and editing the image to size, I write the text and press enter to upload. An email pings into my inbox within minutes from the founder of the organisation thanking me and saying that she’s already had two messages from families in need, which is great to hear.

10.45am – It’s now time to turn my attention to my freelance writing (‘The Day Job’ as I like to call it). Today I’m working on a beauty feature for an online magazine here in Dubai – and I need a botanical expert to provide a quote. I fire off a few emails in the hope of someone coming back to me – and within a few minutes, one has responded. We discuss over email what I need and the deadline for her quotes. I get started on the copy, between sips of cappuccino. I get up to 800 words (of a 1,500 feature) before it’s time to head back to the car (yuck – it’s hot again) and drive to school for pick-up.


12.45pm – Back to Stanley’s classroom in 39’C to collect him. I wait outside, urging him to be quick collecting his bags before I melt into a puddle on the floor. We head back to the car, then drive around the corner to nursery – and then we do it all over again. This time I have to get two boys in the car, both who have demands and requests that ensure their mother is a big hot mess by the time I manage to climb inside. Five minutes into the journey home, they both fall asleep.

1.30pm – We arrive home, with both boys still asleep in the back of the car. I pause for a few minutes in the drive to let them sleep for a little bit longer, enjoying a moment of peace. I check my email inbox, see that I have some important blog emails to respond to, and check all my social media account to see whether I need to respond to any comments or messages. After 10 minutes, I shut off the engine, wake up the boys, and head inside.

1.45pm – I make the boys a snack each and sit at my desk to reply to the emails. I manage to get 15 minutes of work done while the boys munch, before I hear Mabel waking up from her nap on the monitor.

2pm – I head upstairs to get Mabel – and as soon as she sees me at the door, she breaks into a ginormous grin. As we walk down the stairs, she shrieks – she always does this and I think it’s her way of saying ‘BROTHERS! I’M COMING! I’M ON MY WAY!” We spend the next few hours together in the lounge. Mabel crawls around investigating everything, the boys play with playdough, colour in their colouring books, and have scraps with pillows (of course). This is my time with the kids and I spend time on the floor playing with Mabel or helping the boys get toys. My nanny is done with childcare for the day, so she moves onto tidying, sorting laundry, or cleaning – this is something I will never take for granted, as it means I can dedicate my time entirely to the kids.


4.30pm – The boys are full of energy and getting on my nerves, so I throw them outside to play as the sun starts to cool. We don’t spend every afternoon at home – we often head for play dates or go to soft play in the summer, but on a Sunday it tends to be a little more relaxed as they’re all tired from the weekend. As I’m putting their dinner on the table, my husband walks through the door. He’s arriving home earlier than usual as it’s Ramadan – he’d usually make it home just before the boys get to bed at 7pm.

5pm – It’s dinner time and the kids sit up at the table to eat sausages, mashed potato and peas. Mabel is having toast fingers, cheese slices, and strawberries, along with a shop-bought apple puree. They all sit together eating (interrupted by both boys needing the toilet, both boys saying they don’t want their dinner, and Mabel throwing most of her dinner on the floor).

5.30pm – I run a bath for the all the kids. My husband sits by the bath and washes all their hair, while I gather together all the pyjamas on our bed next door. I realise we have no nappies left – so jump in the car and pull up at our community supermarket to buy them. But when I get to the checkout, I realise my purse is still sat at home on the side. As I climb back into my boiling hot car, I want to cry – but I hold it together. 5 minutes later, I get home – and my husband offers to head back to the supermarket to pay for the shopping.

6.30pm – Mabel is asleep in her cot – and the boys are in their pyjamas. I throw down a bowl of pasta waiting in the fridge and kiss the boys goodnight. I am so busy with work at the moment that I am heading out to work for the evening. My husband will put the boys to bed – and I’ll sit in a coffee shop and write a blog post and make some serious headway on my freelance beauty feature. Despite being freelance, I definitely work full-time hours – but I choose to be with the kids in the afternoon, which means I have to sacrifice my evenings. I work at least 6 evenings a week, usually on the sofa – but when work is really intensive, heading out to work means I am less distracted. Tonight is one of those nights where I have to focus. So I climb back in the car.

7pm – I make it to Costa, order a coffee, and open my laptop. I start typing and the hours run away. Occasionally I check my emails or reply to a message on WhatsApp. I also regularly check my social media accounts for comments or messages to reply to.

9.45pm – I get a message from my husband to say Mabel is unsettled and he is heading upstairs with a bottle. It’s not like her to be so unsettled this early in the evening (she usually saves that for 3am) so I decide work is done for the night and head back to the car.


9.53pm – I get home, check the calendar for tomorrow on the fridge, and realise Wilfred isn’t going to nursery tomorrow so I only need to get one packed lunch ready. Just as I’m about to start getting everything ready for his lunch, Mabel starts crying again. My husband takes over, as I run upstairs.

11pm – Mabel is still awake – and I’ve given up trying to get her back to sleep. We’re on the bed together, with the light on, playing with books and toys. It’s really unlike her so I think it must be teething. My eyes are bleary with tiredness – so when my husband comes to bed, he agrees to swap sides and try and settle her back in her cot as I get some sleep. I think she drops off around midnight – but I’m not entirely sure, because I’m asleep by that point, dreaming of packed lunch boxes, Year 1 classrooms, ethical beauty features, and future blog posts. And by 5.30am, the day will start all over again…

23rd March 2017

Love is…

17439535_10158452800930607_1094468225_nLove is rocking a baby to sleep, while marvelling at the plumpness of her lips and length of her eyelashes.

Love is dressing two small boys with wet hair in their pyjamas and pulling them onto your lap for a story, whilst breathing in the familiar scent of baby shampoo.

Love is creeping upstairs to watch them sleeping, then laughing with her husband as you retail tales of their antics earlier in the day.

Love is looking back through photos on your phone, feeling warm and fuzzy as you flick through shots of gummy smiles, podgy thighs, and silly dances in the garden.

Love is thinking ‘it’s all going too quickly!’. Love is worrying about them 24 hours a day. Love is wondering whether you are doing it right. Love is all of this.

But love is more than this too.

Love is keeping in touch with family and friends, making plans to meet up, commiserating when everyone goes down with the lurgy, and wiping tears when news of baby scans, engagement rings, and newborn cuddles pings on your phone.

Love is connecting with neighbours, making new friends, asking strangers ‘do you need some help with that?’, and sharing smiles of solidarity with other mothers when toddlers decide the supermarket aisles are the perfect place for a tantrum.

This is life. Everyday life. But this is also love.

And we saw that yesterday, didn’t we?

We saw so much love.

We saw strangers help others on the street. Barely any panic – but instead, a truly stoic British calmness as people stood over the injured, comforted the dying, made phone calls to emergency services, and calmed each on the street.

We saw the emergency services there in a matter of seconds, fighting to save lives. Fighting to save every life.

We saw an MP, still in his shirt and suit, desperately trying to save the life of a policeman.

We saw outpourings of grief, of defiance, of solidarity.

But mostly of love.

Love for London. Love for Great Britain. Love for our emergency services. Love for our way of life. Love for each other.

We held our children a little tighter last night. We watched them sleeping a little longer. We made vows to protect them. And we made vows to carry on.

To carry on loving.

And in all of this, do you see any hate?

It isn’t there.

It doesn’t count.

There simply isn’t a place for it.

So today, we keep on loving. Packing our children’s lunchboxes, filming them dance in the garden, smiling at other mothers in the supermarket, embracing the diversity of our world, and knowing that the world will come to our aid if we need it.

Today, we remember those that lost their life, we thank the emergency services, and and we allow ourselves to feel grief.

But we embrace love.

We embrace love and we carry on.

Like always.

30th November 2016

It is quite possible that I am losing my mind

15310327_10157870607945607_1522030981_nIt is very true that our hearts grow bigger with every child we have.

But the same definitely can’t be said for brains.

In fact, mine seems to be shrinking since the birth of my third child a few months ago – and it’s a sorry state of affairs.

I considered myself a pretty organised person until baby Mabel came along. Having a second baby tested me for a while, for sure, but I still kept the cogs of the family moving pretty smoothly. I felt a bit foggy and stressed at times, but I definitely wasn’t forgetful.

But since she arrived on the scene, I am a forgetful, absent minded wreck of a woman!

Take this week, for example… My eldest – Stanley, aged 4 – is famous for his lack of communication when I pick him up from school.

“How was school today, Stanley?” I ask.

“Woof!” he replies.

“Did you enjoy your lunch today, Stanley?” I ask.

“Miaow!” he replies.

But on Monday, I didn’t get the usual onslaught of animal noises. After enquiring about his day at school, he turned to me with a cross look on his face.

‘You forgot to put my reading books in my bag, Mummy!” he scowled. “And when my group had their turn to read, I couldn’t join in.”

To say that my heart sank is an understatement. I had forgotten. For the first time ever, it hadn’t even crossed my mind to put those books in his bag that morning. I didn’t even have an excuse – it was the same day they always went in his bag. It’s scrolled in massive letters on a weekly calendar pinned by magnets to the fridge. They were even sat on the dining room table, right under my nose.

But still, I’d forgotten.

“I’ll put them in your bag tomorrow!” I stammered, clutching at straws.

“It’s too late. My group has already done the reading. You keep forgetting things, Mummy.”

Tears pricked my eyes – not because I blamed myself, as I know having a 10-week old baby is a pretty good excuse. But at the thought of him sat on his own while the others read. He loves reading! And he couldn’t join in! I wanted to break down in a sobbing heap right there on the sand of the carpark – but I couldn’t, of course, as I had a toddler to pick up from nursery down the road.

It isn’t an isolated case either. I sometimes forget to change Mabel’s nappy and she screams angrily under I work it out. I forget to put a banana in Stanley’s bag for his fruit snack, when I have done it every day for the last year. I even forgot that he had a National Day parade for parents on Sunday – and when my husband enquired “why were there parents on the school field this morning when I dropped him off?” my heart sank once again.

It seems that having a third child hasn’t just fried my brain, but caused it to explode.

An extreme case of baby brain.

And every time my heart sinks, I make a vow to try harder to remember things. I don’t want to let the kids down. I don’t want them to be the kids with the Mummy that always forgets things. The ones at PE classes without their kit. The ones without their sun hats so they aren’t allowed to play outside. The ones hungry at break time as their absent-minded, baby-brained mother forgot to pick up a banana from the fruit bowl and put it in their bag.

And I’m sure that baby brain will eventually subside. I’ll get more sleep and I’ll work out how to juggle three kids with a busy work life a little more effectively.

But until then, can I borrow a brain please?

I could really do with an extra one – for a while, at least.

8th November 2016

My birthday breakfast at Arrows & Sparrows, Dubai

It’s been over a week since my birthday now – but with a quick trip back to the UK squeezed in between, I’m only just getting round to sharing a few more pictures of the breakfast I shared with friends to celebrate that morning.

The idea for breakfast came about when I realised I couldn’t do a boozy dinner or brunch this year, due to having a 6 week old baby in tow – and when I heard that Arrows & Sparrows had opened its doors in The Greens, I knew it was the perfect venue to gather together my best girl friends.

The cafe is the latest opening from the team behind Friends Avenue – and as you’d expect, the interior is incredibly stylish, the menu tempting, and the food really quite exquisite (in fact, the plates often look like works of art as they arrive at the table). Arrows & Sparrows is located in Emaar Business Park in The Greens – and with free parking outside for up to two hours, it’s pretty convenient too (I also found out on my birthday that if you visit on a Sunday morning, you can get a coffee completely free too between 8am and 10am – no catch, just completely free!)

I’m a big believer in cake (especially when I’m breastfeeding), so I also wanted to give a quick shout out to the clever lady behind my birthday cake – Sobia from Cake N Cupcake worked to a picture I’d found online (and the boys had decided was ‘the one’) and delivered the night beforehand. The pictures don’t even do it justice as it was so delicious inside – just like a moist, fluffy chocolate gateaux. Thank you Sobia – it was perfect.

So without further ado, here are some pictures of the lovely morning at Arrows & Sparrows – and I highly recommend popping in to try the place out for yourself. I will definitely be back soon.unspecified

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4th August 2016

It’s DSS – and that means free events all around town for kids!

The Jungle Book (2)It’s been a long time since I was in Dubai during DSS (that stands for Dubai Summer Surprises for those not ‘in the know’) – and it’s a real treat to be able to enjoy it for once!

Along with the shopping bargains to be had in nearly every store in the city (keep an eye on my social media accounts as we do our last minute shopping for baby girl), the most exciting thing about the festival is the endless FREE events for kids throughout the city.

So this summer holiday, I don’t have to think too hard about how to entertain the boys (or bankrupt myself in the process) – I just pick an event in a mall, drive them down, and let DSS entertain them instead. A real blessing at any time, but especially in your third trimester of pregnancy!

Here’s a little run down of what you can experience:

Mercato Mall, Jumeirah 1

Circus Fiesta – a live show of acrobatics and circus tricks that will amaze little ones, running until 20th August (4.45pm, 6.45pm, 8.15pm and 9.30pm)

Details – 04 344 4161

Circus Fiesta (5)

Dragon Mart 2

Trash Pack – a live show called ‘S’not Your House’ that introduces kids to a world dedicated to recycling and protecting the environment, running until 10th August.

Barbie the Athlete – running in conjunction with the Rio Olympics, this event features both a live show and a fun workshop where you can be a medal winner, running 11-20 August

Sweet Celebration – little ones with a sweet tooth will enjoy this cupcake decorating / creative pretzels workshop, running until 20th August

Details – 04 362 1900

City Centre Deira

Alvin & the Chipmunks – a live stage show of music and laughter, lasting 25 minutes, running until 10th August

Details – 04 295 1010

 Alvin & The Chipmunks (4)

Ibn Battuta

Miss Fortune Circus – a fun circus performance, with lots of audience interaction, running 11th-20th August (3 x shows between 4 and 9pm)

Details – 04 362 1900


Bricks – a LEGO pop-up shop run by LEGOLAND Dubai, with the chance to win annual passes to the theme park, which opens in the autumn. Open until 20th August (12pm-10pm).

Details – 04 317 3999

 Bricks at Boxpark (2)


Jungle Book Workshop – a fun activity zone where little ones can come face-to-face with Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera and Sher Khan, running until 20th August (4pm-10pm)

Details – 800 637227

 The Jungle Book (1)

Dubai Festival City Mall

Summer in the City – an interactive activity zone, where the outside has bought inside. Kids can choose between beach, park and sports with arts and crafts workshops, photo booths, and interactive simulators, running until 20th August (2pm until mall closing)

Details – 04 213 6213

The Dubai Mall

Giant Ball Pit – a fun giant ball pit for the kids to release energy and have lots of fun, open until the end of August

Details – 04 362 1900

I’m planning to head down to a few of the events with the boys in the next few weeks, so keep an eye on my Facebook and Instagram pages for photos of the fun! (although I’m not sure I’m getting into that ball pit with this bump – I’d never escape!)

For full details of all the DSS events, visit www.visitdubai.com/en/dss/events





26th April 2016

How to survive a small age gap between children

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 21.20.27The gap between my boys wasn’t the smallest at 21 months – but when I got home from the hospital with Wilfred to begin life as a family of four, it felt like I had two babies. It was tough at times, but also pretty wonderful.

Of all the questions about my boys from readers of this blog, the age gap is usually the one that people ask about – so I thought I’d write a post with 10 tips for surviving a small age gap between children. I’m no parenting expert (believe me, if you were a fly on the wall some days, you would realise that) but I speak from experience. So here goes…

1. Accept help

So obvious, but so difficult sometimes. As a mum of one, I wanted to be superwoman. To be a great mum, to be the perfect wife, to be successful at work, and to keep everything running smoothly at home. I wasn’t perfect by all means, but felt like I had it pretty much under control – and then I gave birth for the second home, arrived home with this perfect bundle of chaos, and very quickly realised I couldn’t do it all anymore (it might have been that day that the baby fed for 22 hours straight while the toddler took every DVD we owned out of the boxes and threw them into the toilet, but I forget…).

It took me nearly a year to realise it, but when I accepted help, life transformed. This might be in the form of nursery, some professional help at home, family stepping in to entertain the toddler, or simply accepting an offer from a friend. Superwoman will be back, I guarantee it – but she just needs a break for a while.

2. Routine is everything

Routine, bla bla bla. I know it’s boring, but getting to the point where I could put both boys down at 7pm, tidy up the lounge and kitchen, and then collapse on the sofa (until the next feed, at least) was a godsend.

This is difficult during the day (although nailing that coordinated lunchtime nap eventually will feel like you’ve won at life) but simply bathing together, getting them snuggly in pyjamas, reading stories, and then putting them to bed at roughly the same time made me feel like an actual human again.

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3. Go hands free

You only have two hands – and a baby carrier or sling makes life a million times easier when you have a baby that doesn’t like to be put down during the day (naming no names, Wilfred).

And if you’re pumping, get a double pump and a hands-free bra. It’s life changing, I tell you.

4. Consider a double buggy

If you are happy using a sling and single buggy, that also works – but in the heat of Dubai, I worried about Wilfred overheating. My double buggy (Baby Jogger City Select) allowed me to strap both children in – and believe me, knowing that they are secured out of harms way (and unable to run away / have a full-on tantrum on the floor / knock over a display of glass bottles in a shop) is worth its weight in gold.

5. Go to the toddler first

I was given some invaluable advice in the early days, that if both children wanted me at the same time (and baby was fed, warm, and in a safe place), I should give priority to the toddler. After all, I knew the baby was out of harm’s way and he wouldn’t remember that I left him there for a few minutes. His brother, however, would remember. Knowing it was OK to do things this way round took some pressure off and I think (and hope) I had a happier toddler for it.

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6. Take them out

I remember how fast my heart was beating the first time I left the house with both of my children. It seemed like an impossible task. But I survived.

For me, the key was to find places where the toddler was safe and contained – and I could feed the baby when he decided he was hungry. I found play areas where staff would help me, toddler classes where Stanley was entertained but I didn’t necessarily have to stick with him, and the ultimate – friend’s houses where Stanley could play with other toddlers and there was a comfy couch for me. Two years later, there are still places I’d take them out on my own and other places I’d avoid – but I always find the day easier if I make the effort to go out.

7. Give yourself a break

Having two children is hard – and just like every demanding job, you need to have a bit of time out to recharge batteries and stay sane. The key to my happiness as a mum-of-two has been to allow myself some ‘me time’ – whether that’s booking a babysitter and having a date night, escaping at the weekend for a lunch with my friends, or even leaving the boys with grandparents for the odd night away with my husband. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve left the boys overnight in the last few years, as we don’t have family around to do it often – but when it’s happened, it has absolutely reminded me that I need some time to myself too. And I think that it’s so important to spend some time with my husband without small voices demanding our attention every few seconds. It’s bliss, actually.

8. Move on from bad days

There will be bad days – but they will be peppered with the most beautiful, precious moments that keep you sane. I learnt early on that I shouldn’t beat myself up when I had a bad day. I still feel regret, sadness, and frustration when something doesn’t go right for me and I don’t feel like I’ve handled it well (especially at the moment, thanks to Wilfred’s epic terrible-two-tantrums) but I have also learnt that the next wonderful moment is always just around the corner. Parenting isn’t easy, but the boys won’t remember the times I have wanted to scream into a pillow (well hopefully, at least) – so there’s no point wasting time worrying about it.

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9. Know that it gets easier

In those difficult moments, know that it does get easier. Each stage comes with a new challenge – but when you have a small age gap, there will never be a more challenging time than the newborn days. Just a few months in, as a routine establishes, you will feel life ease a little – and then when the siblings start playing together, you can feed them the same food, you can streamline the nappy bag, and (halleluiah) eventually leave the house without a buggy, you will have a epiphany and think ‘wow, life just got easier’. And if you are crazy like me, you may even consider making life harder for yourself with the arrival of a number three (gulp). 

10. Wait for the bond

Right from the beginning, seeing the two of them together will make your heart melt – especially when the small one clocks the big one and breaks into the biggest smile. And around the time that life steps up a gear as the small one begins to move, you’ll notice an incredible thing happening. They will start to play together – and as they do, their bond will grow at the most amazing, whirlwind speed. And one day in a few years time, you’ll be sat with your husband or partner watching them play together – and you will utter the words to him: “I thought we were mad at times, but THIS is why the small age gap was the best thing we ever did”. Just as I did to my husband this weekend.  And believe me, I meant every single word.

15th April 2016

Guest Post: The day the bottom dropped out of my world

Emma is one of my school friends – and as adults, we have shared wedding planning and compared growing baby bumps. Her second son Connor was born in 2012, just before Stanley – but on February 4th this year, his parents were given the devastating news that he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This cruel illness affects 1 in 3,500 boys in the UK – and without a cure, it will be fatal.

I have invited Emma to write about Connor, his family, and his diagnosis on this blog to raise awareness about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – and she starts today with a post about the day she got the devastating diagnosis.

As a mother, I didn’t find it easy to read, but I believe it is so important we learn more about this little-known-about disease and support research into a cure.

Grab your tissues and take a read – and make sure you like the Facebook Page Chasing Connor’s Cure, where a charity will shortly be set up and we will be able to follow updates on Connor and upcoming fundraising events.

The day the bottom dropped out of my world


Meet Connor; my gorgeous, boisterous, fun loving, fancy dress wearing and rather loud 4-year-old boy.

And us; the Crawford’s, an average run of the mill household. Just average, in every way.

Until that day.

It was February 4th 2016; just 4 days after Connor’s 4th birthday.

The day when my world literally fell apart.

We headed to hospital for what I expected to be a routine appointment for my slightly awkward 4-year-old boy. One who had reached every milestone with little concern, but who I just felt wasn’t as agile or quite so able physically as his peers and who was increasingly being overtaken on the stairs by his younger sister. I had expected to be referred for some physiotherapy or some such insignificant intervention – maybe a dodgy hip, one leg shorter than the other or the like. Something small, something fixable.

The reality wasn’t so. Instead, I would find out that my darling, my baby, had the awful, degenerative and life-limiting genetic disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

For those of you who don’t know about this cruel disease (that was me just a few weeks ago), it is a genetic disorder where the body is unable to produce a protein called dystrophin, an important protein that repairs muscle. As such, his little body will gradually degenerate. His muscles will weaken and usually these boys (as it mainly occurs in boys) will end up in a wheelchair between 8-12 years old. These are the very basics of the disease, I am unable to read or write much more on the future right now, but I do know that life expectancy is shortened and my heart already breaks at the very thought.

Six weeks on from diagnosis and I still struggle to utter the words without tears rolling down my cheeks; so much that I often just abbreviate it to DMD. I don’t know why, but letters seems to cut less deep than the words. My emotions are like that of a rollercoaster, one that is going so fast I am scared, very scared. One that flies high, twists, loops, drops down then climbs back again only to repeat this cycle over and over again. I feel dizzy. Sick. Along the way I have shed tears, many tears – ones for fear, pain, panic, anger, sadness and loss. Tears for Connor and tears for me. Tears for his siblings and tears for his Dad. Tears for everyone that adores and loves Connor as I do.

I don’t yet know why I am writing this blog, why I feel the need to put my feeling into words. Maybe right now it is too painful to talk. ‘Will it ever be any different?’ I ask myself. I suspect not. But maybe I will learn to cope. To be strong, resilient and to have hope. That I must have, that I need, for myself, my children and for my family.

Talking helps, I know that. I work for a mental health charity and it’s my job to know that. But it burdens others, others who are also in pain and it makes it real. Right now, maybe writing words helps because I can pretend this is not my nightmare and that this is someone else’s. That this won’t ravage every inch of my heart and soul, tear through every fibre in my body, steal every ounce of my energy.

From here, this is a story. A story of a mum, a dad and their three beautiful children.

To be continued…


For now, the best way to support Connor and his family is to like the page Chasing Connor’s Cure, where a charity will shortly be set up and we will be able to follow updates on Connor and upcoming fundraising events.