12th June 2017

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…



17th May 2017

Currently Loving – May 2017

So here we are in May. The weather is getting pretty steamy here in Dubai – and we are getting closer to Ramadan, Eid, and the school holidays. I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by. Mabel is 8 months old today, which means she’s a lot closer to her first birthday than she is to that moment she was handed to me on a hospital bed (sob). I’d like time to slow down now please – but in the meantime, here is what we’ve been buying, trying, and visiting this month…

Currently Loving

1. ’13 Reasons Why’ on Netflix. If you haven’t yet got stuck into this 13-part series, drop everything (except the baby) and park yourself on the sofa. Actually, wait until the kids are in bed, as it’s adults only viewing. And get ready to be sucked into a story that has you gripped from the very beginning. Available now at Netflix here.

2. THE FMLY STORE – Super Kid T-Shirt. There are lots of new designs over at THE FMLY STORE (where I got my Mother T-Shirt, which I wear constantly). My favourite is this SUPER KID T-Shirt, which would appeal to my superhero loving boys. Shop here.

3. Mr Tumee. I’m keen for the boys to get a daily dose of DHA Omega 3, as I have always taken it as a supplement myself. Studies show that it can increase cognitive development and boost overall health – but the supplements that I take are big, hard to swallow and bitter tasting. That’s why I was happy when the boys happily gobbled down Mr Tumees DHA Omega 3 (‘as delicious as gummy bears’ as Stanley reports). Dubai mummies can buy them online here – or on the shelves at most pharmacies and supermarkets.

4. Burger & Lobster. This fab restaurant in DIFC has just launched a kids menu, with burgers and sandwiches, milkshakes, and puddings. We went there as a family a few weeks ago and had a really lovely time (expect colouring pencils and sheets on arrival too, which keeps them happy while waiting for food). The vibe during the day is extremely family-friendly and the staff were brilliant. There’s free valet parking too). For more information, visit the website here.

5. Giggles and Dimples. I’ve fallen in love with the gorgeous kiddie clothes, shoes, and interiors bits from this Dubai-based online store. Think along the lines of leather moccasins, denim play suits, cloud lights, message boards, bunting, and fun cushions. I could shop for hours… And I have been (oops). Visit the website here.

6. Bianca. I had an amazing meal with my husband and sister at Italian eatery Bianca a few weeks ago, which has locations in Box Park and The Beach. Honestly, I haven’t tasted food this good out of Italy. I can personally recommend the Burrata Jars (incredible!) and the Spaghetti Vongole. And I may have had a Nutella Pizza for dessert to check out the quality of the pizza ovens – and I can definitely vouch for the authentic Italian bases too (a hard job, but someone has to do it…) Visit their website here.

7. Clas Ohlson. I stumbled on this store in Mercato Mall a few weeks ago and was blown away by the affordable prices. Especially when it came to lighting, with these gorgeous rose gold table lamps and light fittings costing around 60 AED. I got a rose gold pendant light for our lounge, plus some solar powered fairy lights for our garden. I also raided the kitchen section and got a set of 6 jam jar glasses with straws for only 15 AED each. Visit the website to browse the range and see prices here.

8. Kippins UAE. Mabel and I have fallen head over heels for the sleep comforters and teething rings / rattles by Kippins! They are made from organic cotton and raw beach wood, making sure they are natural and safe for your little ones – and you can choose from lots of different designs. We couldn’t resist the cat – and Mabel literally won’t put that teething ring and rattle down! Shop online here.

9. Privilee. We are big fans of this membership club, which allows us access to beach clubs around the city (and a few in Abu Dhabi too). We were members last summer too and we used it lots – the pools are all chilled, there’s lots of shade, and generally valet parking (so the car stays nice and cool while we are enjoying the facilities). You also get a discount in most of the food and drinks outlets in the hotels (usually around 20%) making it an ideal club to see you through the summer. For details of the membership packages, visit the website here.

10. The Meydan Hotel. It seems like a while ago now, but we went to brunch at The Meydan Hotel when my inlaws were here last month – and oh my goodness, it was the perfect Friday brunch. The kids area was amazing (bouncy castle, craft tables, balloon benders, a full kid’s brunch table, beautifully decorated cookies). And for us? A seriously impressive brunch selection (everything from sushi, to full roast dinners, and everything in between), live music, and a gorgeous view across the race course. Highly recommended. Visit the website here.

11. Tub of Butter. If you haven’t tried this new Sheikh Zayed Road cafe and eatery (just off Al Thanya Street), you must add it to your morning coffee wish list. The breakfast is fantastic, the surroundings light, bright and seriously stylish, and the coffee superb. In fact, as the icing on the cake, you’ll even get your cappuccino with a celebrity face on it. Visit the website here.

12. 800 Flower. There’s something amazing about having fresh flowers in the house – and my latest company of choice is 800 Flower. Every bouquet I’ve had is so beautifully arranged – and they last well too, giving a least a week of enjoyment in the centre of my dining table. The new Signature Collection is gorgeous – and so well priced too, with bouquets starting at 325 AED (and delivery throughout Dubai). Visit the website here

In collaboration with Mr Tumee



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

BOXPARK

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)

CITY WALK

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

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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.



31st March 2016

Pregnancy Update: 16 Weeks

12921099_10156781679180607_640425439_nHow many weeks? I’m 16 Weeks and 3 Days. Still feeling sick, which I know is getting boring now, but I really don’t think it’s going to  ever disappear (sob).

How big is the baby? Baby is now the size of an avocado. I can feel regular movement, especially over the last few days. This is hard to explain and probably sounds bizarre, but I’m still not sure I like the sensation when you first start feeling the baby. Coupled with the nausea, I’m just not really enjoying it yet. I do love feeling the baby when kicks are more pronounced, so can’t wait for them to step up a gear.

And the bump? After a growth spurt between weeks 12 and 14, I don’t think my bump has changed much in the last few weeks. It’s that classic pregnancy thing of not really showing in the morning and then growing to a 6-month bump by bedtime! Having said that, my husband laughs at me every morning when I safety pin my vest to my underwear so it doesn’t pop up (I hate a bare bump under clothes). Maybe it’s time to invest in some maternity vests…

Do you know the gender? Well no – the gender is written down on a piece of paper in a sealed envelope. I am supposed to be opening it with my husband tonight – but it’s 8pm and he’s still at his desk at work, with no sign of leaving any time soon. I’ve ordered a pizza and am watching rubbish on TV to distract myself. I want to know – but I am also scared to know. I want it to be both genders, if that makes any sense! I love baby boys, but I’d love to see what it’s like with a baby girl too. We’ll open at some point, share with friends and family, and then I’ll work out a way to tell you the news over the next few days! Sorry I can’t share now (husbands, who’d have them?)

Any symptoms? Apart from sickness, the main one is extreme tiredness. The boys have been brilliant as their Mummy is officially a couch potato at the moment. I had blood taken today to check my iron levels, which always dip crazily low in pregnancy. There was talk of ‘iron infusions’ which sounds pretty brutal, but Ill cross that bridge if we get there.

Anything else? My friend George is due to give birth to her number three baby any day now (well she was due a week ago, actually) and we are all getting very excited. Both of us spent quite a lot of time at the doctors today – and it’s reminded me about those exciting days just before the baby arrives.  I’ve also been eyeing up some lovely products from an online baby store here in Dubai called Mumzworld.com and I’m going to put the orders in soon to get the shopping started on what we need for this baby – nothing huge, but I do like the sound of a bedside cot this time (I enjoy co-sleeping, but worry with a newborn) and need a few things that broke last time round, like my breast pump and digital monitor.

That’s all for now – and gender reveal coming soon (if my husband ever gets home from work, that is!)



7th March 2016

Pregnancy Update: 12 Weeks

12596280_10156645920525607_434445440_n-1This is the first time I’ve blogged about pregnancy, as Wilfred was already 5 months old when I started this blog. I don’t know how often I’ll post these updates, but I’ll see whether anyone is interested and plan the next one accordingly.

To start, I’m going to answer a few questions that people have asked since I’ve shared the news we are expecting number three – including everyone’s favourite question: “will you change the name of your blog if it’s a girl?’

How many weeks are you?

I’m turning 13 weeks tomorrow and I still feel sick as a dog if I don’t fill myself with carbs every hour (at least!) I had no morning sickness with Stanley at all and I had very little with Wilfred, so it’s been a huge shock. I have a lot of food aversions. Eggs – yuck. Chicken – bleurgh.  Avocado – can’t even think about it. But I’m lucky that I never actually vomit and I know a lot of pregnant ladies have it far worse.

How big is the baby?

A large plum apparently – and my bump is growing at a quite alarming rate. I’m already wearing a few of my maternity clothes and considering getting the pregnancy pillow out of storage. It’s going to be a long six months ahead!

What will the age gaps be?

Between Stanley and Wilfred is 21 months. I knew I couldn’t do that again as it was hard going to essentially have two babies in the house. The gap between Wilfred and this baby will be exactly a year bigger at 2 years and 9 months, which I hope will be more manageable. Stanley is so excited about the baby, which is so lovely as last time he had absolutely no idea. He says there is no need to buy a bigger car as he will just hold the baby! He’s quite a sweet, sensitive little boy, who loves nothing more than to please – so I am expecting him to be helpful when baby arrives. Wilfred, however, has been in training for ‘classic middle child’ since the day he was born (and I say that as a ‘classic middle child’ myself). I don’t think it will be plain sailing – but maybe I’ll be surprised!

Will you find out the sex?

Yes, we found out with both our boys and we plan to find out again at the next scan (16 weeks) – as long as the baby plays along and lies in the right position. As much as I love the idea of finding out the sex at the birth, I’m a planner and probably a bit of a control freak, so I need to know what I’m having so we’re prepared. I also love naming the baby while I’m still pregnant, which (for me) really helps me to bond. I was told with Wilfred at 12 weeks, but my obstetrician couldn’t tell at my scan last week. So three more weeks to wait until we know whether to buy pink or get the blue out of storage!

Do you want a girl or a boy?

I always wanted boys – but I have two now and given the choice, I’d probably opt for pink this time to see what it’s like on the other side of the fence! Of course I’ve always wondered what my little girl would look like – and I’d love to have a daughter for the future especially.

I do, however, have very mixed feelings on this one as I just have a thing for baby boys! They are so delicious and I would be sad not to see another newborn in all the gorgeous baby boy outfits the other two have worn. It also feels less scary to bring another boy home. We’ve done it before and I know we could do it again!

I’m a true believer that we get the children that best fit our family unit – and I’m happy to leave that in Mother Nature’s hands. Whatever we find out at our next scan, I will be one lucky Mummy if the baby is safe and healthy.

Will you change the name of your blog if it’s a girl?

If I had a pound/dirham for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be bathing in champagne (not drinking it though, obvs).

At first, I didn’t think I would – as I am still Mum of Boys and always will be. But then I imagined how that girl might feel as she grew up and realised I’d need to acknowledge her too.

So yes, I’d change it – but it would just be a few added words to keep it very similar – and until I know whether it’s pink or blue, I won’t bother giving it much more thought.

That’s all for this update – but I will definitely blog another update soon!