The First Term of School

We arrived at school and dropped him off at his classroom. Off he went without even saying goodbye. The whole thing felt rather unceremonious if I’m honest!

A year ago, the first Mummykind baby began his first term at school. Of course that first term was full of firsts for him and us. Now he is in his second year of school and I found some of my musings from the time in my dusty drafts folder. I thought I would take a look back and share some of the ‘firsts’ of that first term.

The First School Run

This was possibly the smoothest school run all term if you can believe it. Maybe because he had been looking forward to it for months. We got up on time (even with a newborn in the house) and breakfast went down quickly, uniform went on excitedly and the sun was shining so off we went with plenty of time to spare.

School is just over a mile away and he kept up the whole way, beaming with pride in his new uniform all the way. (Now he asks to be carried from about half way if my husband is with us. He must know I would say no…) When we arrived at school we had to walk him round to his classroom and drop him off. I had no concerns about him just getting on with it, he has always settled well in new places. There were some tears from other children when we arrived but not mine, off he went without even saying goodbye. The whole thing felt rather unceremonious if I’m honest!

The First day of term

The first day of term for Reception class (kindergarten to our friends across the pond) was a week later than the rest of the school so everybody else was already settled and the teachers could focus on the little ones. The first day was a half day, as were the next four days. As far as I can tell he spent the day playing with his new friends – nobody from his preschool or toddler group went to the same primary school so he didn’t know anybody! But, as is his style, everyone is his friend from the moment they meet. I was worried that the bigger class and older children would overwhelm him being the baby of the year group but if anything, he was pretty miffed to see me at pick up time, he wanted to keep having fun.

The First School Dinner

For the first day only, parents were invited to join their reception children at lunchtime to help them settle into the dinner hall. School dinners make me nervous because of his allergies. They have a set three weekly rolling menu and on some days all he can/will eat is plain pasta. The school is good at catering for his allergies but I can’t expect them to cater to his selective eating as well. On the first day he did have plain pasta and on subsequent days he was able to have some proper hot dinners. I now find it easier to send him with a packed lunch once or twice a week and let him have the plain pasta every so often. Don’t bee fooled, he would eat plain pasta all day every day if I let him, he doesn’t feel like he is missing out!

A few things made me anxious on that first shared lunch time. His care plan hadn’t been finalised so the kitchen staff didn’t know not to give him milk and I was surprised to see that some of the older children were not very good at using their cutlery so yoghurts and grated cheese went EVERYWHERE. It is now time for me to trust my son to not touch those things, it’s a lot of responsibility for a four year old but he has handled it like a champ.

The First Parents’ Evening

This is the most adult thing I have ever done. there are lots of things you have to be an adult to do but this really takes the biscuit. I am married with two kids, I drive and own a company… still not as grown up as being the parent at parents’ evening. My own personal revelation aside, my son is thriving. I had considered keeping him back a year as a summer born, particularly as he was still almost entirely non-verbal at 2 years old. My worries started to subside

The First School Event

My son was so ready for it. The school put on an autumn faire with rides and games and a talent show. Some of the teachers dressed up for a performance and there was even a little bit of food that he could eat before the evening closed with fireworks. It was amazing to be enveloped in the community and it was so fun. It was a brilliant way to close the term, with all of its ‘firsts’.

What I learned from the first week of potty training

Hi! It’s been a while!

I took a bit of a break to deal with the stress of miscarriage, and the excitement (and strain) of being in the first trimester with baby number two!

For the last few weeks we’ve been potty training our daughter. It was a bit of a shock to us that she seemed to be ready a few days after her second birthday, but we followed her lead. She’d been following us to the loo for a while, and was very adamant that she wanted to use the ‘big potty’. So, we threw ourselves in off the deep end, purchased a seat that fits our toilet, and away we went. Here’s what I quickly learned.

  1. Just because they say they don’t need to go, doesn’t mean its true.

After a few days of absolutely no accidents, I found myself relaxing a little around our trips to the toilet. My daughter had been in such a good routine of saying ‘mummy, wee wee’ that I was beginning to trust that she knew when she wanted to go.

Wrong.

Just because she knew she needed to go, didn’t mean she would. I found that my little one was often so enraptured with whatever she was playing with at that time, that she’d try and convince me that she didn’t need to go so that she could carry on playing.

Lesson learned. Do not believe a two year old. It will result in wet underwear and a big old mess.

2. If you don’t take spare clothes out with you, its your funeral.

I’ve recently found that 3 is the magic number. One change of clothes in, and its an accident. 2 changes in and you’re obviously not paying attention to the fact that your little needs to go, they’ve been having a nap, or in my case, you have a stubborn daughter. 3 changes means it’s time to go home. We carry a wet bag with us for wet clothes, and any reusable nappy inserts we’ve had to use to soak up wee outside. The one day I forgot this was obviously the day that my daughter went through all 3 clothes changes.

3. Wiping a toddlers bum is nowhere near as easy as I thought it would be.

Why did I think it would be easy to wipe the bottom of a toddler that’s pretending to be a dinosaur?! To be honest I don’t have any more to say about this one. If you have any good suggestions, help me out and leave a comment and potentially save my sanity

4. A little praise goes a long way!

I’m not talking full on sticker chart, prize at the end of the day kind of praise. If you find that works for you, that’s great! We’ve found that a simple high five for number two’s in the toilet has worked best for us so far!

5. Remember that they’re only little

At the end of the day, we take for granted the fact that we interpret our bodily functions so easily. It must be so difficult to learn to use the toilet properly at the same time as learning to talk, and learning all about the world around them that must seem so big and wonderful. We’ve found so far that a little understanding goes a long way. We only use praise, if our daughter has an accident we tend to say ‘oh no! Let’s clean it up’ and leave that to be the end of the discussion. Positive reinforcement has definitely been the way forward for our family!

So far, we’ve been potty training for a week, and honestly I’m so amazed by how far my daughter has come in this time. I know that its not a long time to be nappy free, but I never expected to be buying tiny knickers for my just turned two year old!

How did potty training work for you?

Becoming a big sister…

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I wrote a blog entry in 2019 about preparing my daughter for her brother coming along. It worked to an extent! She was so excited and seemed to be prepared for the change! But we’ve still run into a few hurdles along the way.

I cannot fault her for how helpful she is with him and for showing an interest in him. I’m so proud of her when she tells me on a daily basis that she loves him and when she introduces him to everyone that she meets.

Everyone said she’d get jealous but I was so adamant that she wouldn’t. I mean I never stopped giving her my attention so I naively thought in my head it wasn’t going to happen. The first few weeks passed and we had no problems whatsoever.

In hindsight this could have been because my partner was around for the first 4 weeks. Since then my daughter’s been copying behaviours such as wetting herself, (which has happened as  late as her brother turning 4 months old). On one occasion because her brother had drooled on me, she started licking my clothes! She’s stopped doing these things, (at the moment) and I found the best way to respond was to talk to her, to ask her if she was okay, reassuring her that I love her for her and that she doesn’t have to be like her brother. I’ve been trying to make more one to one time although it’s quite hard because my partner is at University as well as working full-time and we don’t have a lot of involvement from other family members, because they are busy doing their own thing. She’s constantly asking for cuddles and wants to sit on my lap when I’m feeding her brother, but I’ve found a way of having them on each knee! It’s easier said than done though, trying to juggle everything. I feel so guilty that she’s having to wait all the time for me and if she asks me to play with her, I feel like I have a million and one things I need to do first at the moment. I don’t want her to feel she’s not important, but I only have two hands! When my partner was home over Christmas I was able to take her out to do a few nice, inexpensive Christmas activities, so we could have quality time, but I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard to do that since. In my situation my partner finishes University soon, so hopefully that will create more opportunities for us as a family to do nice things.

Whether it’s because: she’s now 3; that she’s dropped her daily nap; or because of all the change, her behaviour has definitely become more challenging. She is such a strong and determined young lady, which I’m proud of but she can be so defiant and a handful when she wants to be. So taking both little ones out on my own, trying to build up my confidence, has been difficult when she’s been doing what she wants to do and not what I’m asking of her. Not only that but the not listening is so hard isn’t it?!

Please tell me this phase passes soon! 

Mental Health Monday: The Aftermath of Christmas with Sensitive Kids

We have had a fabulous family Christmas. It’s been intense but it’s been fun and full of love and laughter. We’ve had overnight guests, cooked for 10 on Christmas day and then another Christmas dinner for 8 on Boxing day. It’s such a busy week every year because we are the ‘hub family’ and tend to host more than anyone else for the sake of practicality. We love it, but something happens with our little boy when things get crazy.

Our usually well behaved little guy becomes completly horrible. It started on Christmas eve when we accidentally lost track of time and didn’t feed him his lunch before we left the house, we had to stop at the only place I knew I could get a quick bit of dairy free food for him and hope for the best. So he had a muffin from  a coffee shop for lunch. The rest of the day involved full blown tantrums over every single little thing, in the packed town centre (our own fault for being disorganised I suppose!). As a result, we spent far longer out and about than we had planned and of course that just made things worse. When we got home we still had tons to do and he just wanted to cling to us relentlessly. Anyone who knows our little guy will know how fiercely independent he is, and how uncharacteristic clingy behaviour is. He has been going from cuddly to lashing out at us over the tiniest thing. I’ve had to keep reminding myself that he wasn’t doing it on purpose, he was just tired and confused. We stopped the feverish tidying  and organising and played trains on the floor until his eyes started getting heavy and put him to bed, he had conked out before I had even finished reading to him.

We didn’t think much of his low appetite on Christmas eve, but after we specifically made him mashed potatoes and peas to go with christmas dinner the next day and he didn’t even touch two of his favourite foods we knew this was more than just fussiness. The over excitement had drained our little lad and then we sit him at a usually calm table with 9 other people, Christmas crackers and music and expect him to eat dinner as normal but at lunch time? No. It just wasn’t happening. We let him go, knowing there had been a bit of snacking and that we could try again later. He had a late nap, followed by a jam sandwich and more excitement – the poor kid doesn’t know which way is up and which way is down by the time he gets to bed 3 hours after his bedtime.

Boxing day rolls around and we do it all again with my side of the family (on a slightly smaller scale). There are sweets and snacks everywhere, he somehow gets away with eating an entire moo free cocolate Santa in one hit, he’s completely baffled by how much other stuff has cows milk in it so he isn’t allowed to eat it but everyone else is.

When he refused his meal again on Boxing day I felt a pang of guilt that we had put him in this position, he’s acting out because suddenly everything he knows has changed in the blink of an eye and he has no idea how to handle it.

I’m tempted to pack away the decorations early to help us get back to business as usual  as soon as possible, because my poor little guy is exhausted and miserable now, especially since all the presents are done and the people are gone. We’re just left here with wrapping paper all over the place and a super fractious little boy who is needing a lot of contact and reassurance.

So if you need me, I will be on the sofa cuddling my toddler until the new year. See you on the other side.

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My first smear test

The most awkward part really is the getting undressed bit. Both my kids are summer babies so all my late pregnancy speculum exams have been easy, I was wearing a dress! This time I had to try not to get tangled in my own skinny jeans. The rest is all pretty straightforward.

Way back in March I got a letter inviting me for my first smear test because I was about to turn 25. I was pregnant at the time so had to find out if you can have a smear test during pregnancy. Turns out you can, but it’s best not to.

After going overdue and then waiting the recommended 6 weeks post partum it was late October before I booked my test and I was nervous. Not for the usual reasons, I’ve recently given birth with various medical professionals all up in my business. They have seen it all and I have had speculum exams and cervical sweeps galore. No, I was nervous because of my scarring.

TMI WARNING: When I gave birth the first time I had an episiotomy, it was stitched too far and left me with excess skin. When I gave birth the second time I ripped it. With a second degree tear. I was stitched up well, no extra stitches this time, no extra bit of skin. But now I have a mass of scar tissue that is tight and painful.

So I arrived at my appointment and explained this all to the nurse and she was lovely about it. She told me a similar thing happened to her and that she would naturally be gentle and swift and use plenty of lube.

The most awkward part really is the getting undressed bit. Both my kids are summer babies so all my late pregnancy speculum exams have been easy, I was wearing a dress! This time I had to try not to get tangled in my own skinny jeans. The rest is all pretty straightforward.

The nurse was quick and efficient, I let her know that it was painful around my scar tissue and she told me should could see it and understood why it was painful, she took the swab which wasn’t comfortable but it wasn’t painful either… and it was over in no time at all. The only real pain was because of an issue with my own body and not what the nurse was doing.

Incidentally, the nurse told me that it was likely that I would require reconstructive surgery if my scarring hadn’t softened after 6 months, so if you like a good TMI post then watch this space, I’ll tell you all about it!

The results for my test came back normal for anyone wondering. I am so thankful that I was able to have such an important test and relieved to have good results.

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Military Children – The World They Live In

Adapting to change is something we all struggle with, and we all know how change (and lots of it) can disrupt children and affect their wellbeing.

Military children are inspiring.

We waved goodbye to Daddy in our house for the 2nd time in 2 years. Last year, she had her 2nd birthday a month into his deployment and was barely aware that he was going. When she asked, I told her Daddy was at work (or on holiday!), but with little concept of time at that age, she didn’t know when he was coming back. That was probably made all the more confusing when his tour was extended, and he returned for 2 weeks R&R in the middle of it before heading back out to finish the tour off.

This time is different. It’s a much shorter tour for a start (just shy of 3 months as opposed to 8), and Olivia is older now. She’s 3.5 years old and much more aware that Daddy has gone away to work for a while.

It’s something she’s used to, though more from me being away at work than Daddy. In fact, she is used to both of us working long and unusual hours, having little routine in terms of who will be picking her up from the childminder, or who will be tucking her into to bed.

She takes it all in her stride, only occasionally being upset that either Mummy or Daddy aren’t around when she wants us. I am so immensely proud of how well she manages all of that change at such a small age. I suppose the big, independent and fierce personality (that she was destined to inherit from me and her Nanny) probably has a lot to do with it!

The other home truth about military families is that, usually, when one parent goes way, the other one is around to do everything. If they work, it’s part-time or in school hours or a normal job with normal dependable hours. The army mantra is still very much set back in the 1950s, expecting the ‘wives’ to do everything when it comes to childcare or managing a home. I’m not sure how this equates when the serving member is a woman with a husband at home, but, in our situation, Olivia is a bit of an anomaly in that respect. When Daddy is here, it’s him doing the majority of the home life, but in reality, neither of us are dependable because either of us could be away at the drop of a hat.

She didn’t choose this life, and no military children do, no military spouses do either, for that matter! We’re all lumped with it and have to make the best of it. But our children are certainly the most incredible little people, managing the change so well and with few complaints along the way.

Their voices are rarely heard. Spouses often feel overlooked when it comes to the respect and awe that their service member receives for ‘what they do’, because the people left behind dealing with the everyday are forgotten. If the spouses feel that way, imagine how the children must feel. Especially those like Olivia who are too young to really understand where Mummy/Daddy is other than ‘at work’ and wondering how long it will be until they’re back.

The cake we baked for Daddy after his last deployment!

Unfortunately for Olivia she has even more change to come. There is no support at all for military families needing childcare while one spouse is deployed, and so Olivia will be spending the weekdays with Nanny for the next 3 months so that I can carry on going to work.

Military life is so incredibly frustrating, and definitely better suited to single people who want to travel the world! Our family of four became two, and is soon to become one, whilst we wait for Daddy (and Kiera with him) to come back home.

I’m so proud of our ‘pad rats’ for adapting so well to everything that’s been thrown at them. But we certainly cannot wait to have Daddy back home!!!

Are you a military family? What’s your experience of military life?

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Mental Health Monday: Keeping up Appearances

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has been interviewed by ITV news recently and shared the stark reality of her feelings when she became a new wife and mother.

The thing is, how many of us recognise that look in her eyes? I’d be willing to bet we all do in one way or another.

But as she says, nobody has really asked her how SHE was doing. She’s been keeping up appearances, looking so incredibly strong on the outside, that it probably never occurred to anyone that she might not be feeling that way on the inside.

How many of us are guilting of doing that, too?

How many of us have a picture just like this one? Smiling and happy on the outside, but actually suffering a lot more than people would realise?

When you have a baby, you’re “someone’s mum”, and all of a sudden everyone is concerned with the new baby, how they’re doing, if they’re okay. It’s a lot less often that anyone is concerned with how YOU are doing, and if YOU are okay. It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that you are your own person, especially in Meghan’s case, where she has the entire world watching her through the eyes of the press. I felt lonely and isolated enough after having a baby, that I cannot imagine how it must feel for her.

I recently had the strange experience of actually having some time off work, and decided, for once, to treat myself. I took care of ME for once, invested in myself a little bit, and felt so much better for it.

It’s important to remember that every “new mum” is still a person in their own right. It’s important to remember that YOU are still YOU, not just “so and so’s mum”, no matter how many people call you that.

Meghan, thank you so much for being honest about how you’re feeling. Being a parent is so hard, but if you’re only ever told how amazing it is, so that you’re never fully prepared for when it isn’t so amazing all of the time.

I don’t think I’m alone in being in awe of how inspiring a woman Meghan is, all the more so for this honest and frank interview. But there are SO many other mums in the UK and abroad just like her, feeling like things aren’t really okay.

Rosey (@PNDandME on Twitter) is also one heck of an inspiring lady, working so hard every day to make sure parental mental health is taken seriously, and providing an amazing support network for new mums and dads who are suffering with their mental health. I 100% recommend her weekly twitter chat #PNDHour on Wednesdays at 8pm if you feel like you’re alone and could do with a supportive network of people around.

If you are reading this and could do with some extra support, check out these online resources to access help with mental illness:

  1. http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk
  2. http://www.samaritans.org/
  3. http://www.papyrus-uk.org/
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4WLs5NlwrySXJR2n8Snszdg/emotional-distress-information-and-support
  5. https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/how-to-access-mental-health-services

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Pinewood Pods at Port Lympne Zoo

On the morning of Sunday the 13th October, we headed to Port Lympne where we were going to spend the next couple of days. Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve is about a 25 minute drive from our home, the perfect sort of distance away for a short break! Here is my review of how our stay went!

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The Accommodation- Our Pod at the Pinewood Pods facility was lovely. It had the room to sleep four, although in doing so- leaving the pod is definitely made a little more difficult. The bedding and towels were clean. The beds were comfortable and we had more than enough tea and coffee bits and bobs to get us through our stay. The Pods are located right next to the Lion and Tiger enclosures and hearing the Lions, especially Daddy Lion ‘Milo’ throughout the night was magical. The Lions have three beautiful cubs that were born about five months ago, staying so close to them was definitely very special!

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The facilities- Despite the Pod being well cleaned, the toilet and shower block was pretty dirty, not only did it not look clean, but it didn’t smell clean either. We checked out the facilities right after check in, so they were not dirty from use- if anything they should have been cleaned and ready for new guests. The extractor fan was thick with dust. The floors had a fine layer of watered down mud. The pedals on the sanitary bins did not work. The access to the toilet and shower block had steps, meaning that even if you were to stay at the accessibility friendly pod, you wouldn’t necessarily have an access friendly stay.

The Staff – The staff at Port Lympne generally seemed very helpful and genuinely happy to be there. The Safari drivers were fantastic and very knowledgeable. The restaurant and shop staff doted on my daughter and were full of praise for her manners.

The Pinewood Restaurant – When staying at the Pod we decided to bring our own bits and bobs for breakfast- juice, croissants and long life milk for F. I am very glad we did, because a basic dinner of hot dogs and chips for three of us, set us back over £35. I cannot imagine how much we would have spent if we’d had to buy all of our meals, snacks and refreshments there- but based on the prices for four meals at the Pinewood Café alone, we’d be looking at around £140 alone.

The Animals- I wholeheartedly believe that Port Lympne is one of the greatest zoos in the country for conservation efforts. This can be seen in their successful attempts at breeding endangered animals such as Lions, Gorillas and Rhinos. The work they have done to reintroduce animals that have been on the brink of extinction is nothing short of amazing- especially in regards to Silverback Gorillas, over 50 of these beautiful and endangered animals have been sent to wild Congo over the years where they are safe and thriving, all thanks to Port Lympne’s conservation and breeding success. The animals all appear happy, healthy and well cared for. The keepers and staff clearly adore the animals that they work with and see on a daily basis.

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The Safari- The Safari as an experience was excellent. Being able to see the animals wander free, without bars or the conventional confines of an enclosure was fantastic. F wanted to go on it three times and still didn’t tire of the whole experience! Some facts given to us by the three different safari drivers varied, for example “We only have one male giraffe here, if we have more than one, they may swing their necks to fight and this can cause a massive amount of damage, injury and distress to the animals and their enclosures” compared to “We have 4(?) females and 3 males in the giraffe house and surrounding enclosure” .. and “African hunting dogs have a success rate of up to 90% unlike other comparable but larger carnivores like tigers or lions who have a success rate of 20 to 40%” compared to “African hunting dogs have a success rate of up to 90% unlike other comparable but larger carnivores like tigers or lions who have a success rate of 30 to 50%” Leaving us wondering what exactly was true and accurate and what wasn’t. We were also quizzed by one driver on F’s age, when other drivers let babies less then six months on board- the inconsistency in safety information was definitely confusing! I also feel that maybe, like with rides at a theme park, it could be beneficial to warn people about how bumpy the safari is, so they can make an informed decision to ride- especially in case they are pregnant, suffer from back / neck complaints, arthritis, complex pain syndromes or heart conditions.

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Accessibility- Some types of accommodation include a Golf Buggy to use at your leisure throughout the park along a Buggy route, our accommodation unfortunately did not include this. We enquired to see if we could maybe hire a Buggy for the duration of our stay but sadly the reserve only ever has enough buggies to cater for users of higher end accommodation. I feel that if additional buggies could be made available, it could really benefit Port Lympne’s guests with additional mobility needs- the park is particularly hilly and access to manual wheelchairs is a nice option, but putting their use to practice seems almost impossible in a park where even pushing a three year old in their stroller was a struggle.

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We enjoyed our stay and really recommend going if you can find a similar experience at the off peak reduced rate. For the full £200 to be worth spending, the toilet and shower facilities need to at least be clean. As a whole, I feel that if I had paid the full £200 for a nights stay, I would have been disappointed, solely based on how dirty the toilet and shower facilities were. However, as I paid the off peak price of £100, I was very pleased with the value of money for two days park access for two adults and a child, a nights stay in a lovely little pod and unlimited rides on the safari- Realistically I would have been happy to pay up to £150 without extras for this experience! I have been visiting Port Lympne for just under 25 years and have never been disappointed- visiting the animals makes learning about them and their habitats super fun and interactive. I grew up visiting this zoo and I am pleased to be doing the same with my daughter as she grows!

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Why I decided against a home birth

I want to start by saying I LOVE the idea of a home birth and adore hearing people’s experiences of giving birth at home, so please don’t read this as anti home birth, these are just the reasons it wouldn’t have worked for me.

I had never considered a home birth until a saw a friend talking about it being what she wanted when she was pregnant and later what a wonderful experience it was. It piqued my curiosity and sure enough several of my friends had done it or planned to. I joined a group on Facebook (as you do) and started seriously considering it myself. In the end, for a couple of reasons, I opted for a birth on the midwife led unit at my local hospital.

So, why didn’t it happen?

I mentioned it to a few people, close friends and family and they were all terrified. No matter how much I explained why it was just as safe as the hospital and that it would be okay there was always fear. My husband witnessed my previous traumatic birth and still struggles with it himself and my mum had to have an emergency cesarean with my brother. These were to two people I needed on board, wholeheartedly, or it wouldn’t have worked.

I don’t want to hear how it’s my body, my birth and my choice – I know that, just ask the midwives who were around for my birth. If I had gone ahead with a plan for a home birth they both would have stood by me but not with the confidence and conviction I would have needed from them. I didn’t have my heart set on it and I certainly can’t hold it against anyone, it just wouldn’t have been right and it was 100% my choice. A home birth is supposed to be in a relaxed environment with no fear or negative energy and as supportive as they would have been if I told them that’s what I was doing I have a feeling they would have been poised to call an ambulance the entire time.

Of course, there is also the small matter of my house not being at all “birth ready”. I’ll be the first to admit that it is a total mess, particularly towards the end of pregnancy when I could hardly move without pain and a four year old with a massive aversion to tidying. Not to mention the fact that I wanted a water birth and had nowhere big enough for a birthing pool. I really didn’t fancy giving birth in the chaos.

I stuck around in the Facebook group I joined. It was a hugely helpful resource for learning my rights as a pregnant woman and helping me decide how I wanted my birth to be. I’m not sure exactly how confidently I could have delivered a 9lb 8oz baby at almost 42 weeks with no intervention without them.

I would encourage every pregnant woman looking for an empowering birth to at least look into home birth, even if you decide it isn’t for you. The things I learnt along the way shaped my attitude which got me the positive birth experience I craved.

Have you had a home birth? How was your experience?

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Perfect Weaning Recipes for Busy Mums

When you start to wean your baby, the last thing you want to do is prep separate meals for the whole family.

The best kinds of meals are going to be ones that you can batch cook, and have plenty leftover to make up baby sized portions and that freeze easily!

When I started weaning Olivia, I still suffered with anxiety and had a particular fear around her choking. So baby led weaning didn’t work out for us very well at first. Instead, I prepped lots of (pescetarian) meals for her and blended them up.

These are my top meals (and quick recipes) that I used a lot while weaning Olivia onto solid food!

  1. FISH PIE
  2. BOLOGNESE
  3. LASAGNE
  4. PASTA BAKE
  5. LEEK AND POTATO SOUP

Fish Pie

Ingredients:

  • Frozen White Fish Fillets x 6
  • Frozen Haddock Fillets x 4
  • Peas
  • Plain Flour (25g)
  • Butter (25g)
  • Milk (1 pint)
  • Cheese
  • Baking Potatoes x 3
  • Chives
  • Black Pepper
  • Parsley
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C.
  2. Chop the potatoes and place them in a pan. Add boiling water to bring the potatoes to the boil and keep them on a medium heat. Stir regularly.
  3. In another pan, add the butter and flour. As the butter melts, whisk the butter and flour together to make a roux.
  4. Add a little milk at a time, whisking the roux into the milk. Whisk out any lumps and continue until you have used all of the milk to create the sauce. Do not let the sauce settle for too long.
  5. Sear the haddock and white fish fillets in a frying pan and remove the skin from the back of the fillets.
  6. Add cheese to the sauce and continue stirring. Add as much as you want for however cheesy you want your sauce to be!
  7. Add the fish and 2 cups full of garden peas to the sauce and stir regularly.
  8. Now add your herbs to the sauce. If you’re using ready chopped herbs, you need a pinch of black pepper, about a teaspoon of parsley, and a teaspoon and a half of chives.
  9. By now your potatoes should be soft enough to mash. Drain the water, and mash them using a splash of milk and a dash of butter.
  10. Pour the sauce, fish and peas into an oven dish.
  11. Gently scoop out the mash and spread it over the saucy layer into the oven dish. Use a fork to spread the mash so that it covers the dish evenly.
  12. Add more cheese to the top and put it in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and browned.

This can easily make 6 portions, and is very easy to blend thanks to the sauce!

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • Mince / Quorn Mince (500g)
  • Chopped Tomatoes (2 tins)
  • Carrots
  • Brown Onion
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Cheese
  • Spaghetti
  • Tomato Puree
  • Black Pepper
  • Basil
  1. Put a little bit of oil in the bottom of your slow cooker and turn the heat onto low.
  2. Peel and chop the onion and add that to the slow cooker.
  3. Crush the garlic and add to the slow cooker.
  4. Add the mince/quorn mince and chopped tomatoes.
  5. Stir the pot thoroughly.
  6. Peel and chop the carrots and add to the slow cooker.
  7. Add some tomato puree and stir the pot again.
  8. Add your herbs and stir again.
  9. Now you can leave your pot and come back to it later. I don’t tend to leave it more than 4 hours, even on a low heat, without stirring!
  10. About 10 minutes before you want to serve dinner, boil enough spaghetti for all of you. Then drain once cooked.
  11. Grate your cheese (cheddar or parmesan).
  12. Plate up and garnish with your cheese on top! The leftovers can be blended up for baby to enjoy with you, and are easy to freeze.

Lasagne

Ingredients:

  • Mince / Quorn Mince (500g)
  • Chopped Tomatoes (2 tins)
  • Aubergine x 1
  • Courgette x 2
  • Brown Onion
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Cheese
  • Lasagne Sheets
  • Tomato Puree
  • Black Pepper
  • Basil
  • Easy Mix Béchamel Sauce / Ready Made White Lasagne Sauce
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C.
  2. If you need to prepare your Béchamel sauce, do that now.
  3. Put a little bit of oil into a frying pan and turn the heat onto low.
  4. Peel and chop the onion and add that to the pan. Stir until the onion starts to go transparent.
  5. Crush the garlic and add to the pan.
  6. Brown the mince/quorn mince and then add chopped tomatoes and stir.
  7. Stir the pot thoroughly.
  8. Chop the aubergine and courgettes and add to the mixture.
  9. Add some tomato puree and your herbs and stir again.
  10. Leave the pan to simmer while you pre-boil your lasagne sheets.
  11. Lay as many lasagne sheets as required on the bottom of your oven dish, then pour about half of your lasagne on top.
  12. Pour some of your Béchamel / White Lasagne Sauce over the lasagne.
  13. Repeat no. 11
  14. Top off your lasagne with more lasagne sheets, and the rest of your Béchamel / White Lasagne Sauce.
  15. Grate your cheese (cheddar or parmesan) and sprinkle it over the top of your lasagne.
  16. Cook for 30 minutes or until the cheese has all melted and begins to brown.
  17. Plate up – the leftovers can be blended up for baby to enjoy with you, or for you to have on another rainy day.

Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

  • Fusilli Pasta
  • Chopped Tomatoes (1 tin)
  • Tinned Tuna Chunks
  • Cheese
  • Tomato Puree
  • Garlic Puree
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sweetcorn
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C.
  2. Boil enough pasta to fill your oven dish when cooked. Remember that pasta doubles in size when cooked, so don’t do too much!
  3. Drain your pasta and put it back in the pan. Add your tomatoes, tuna and sweetcorn. Depending on how much pasta you’re making, you may need more than 1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
  4. Stir the pot and add your purees.
  5. Grate some cheese. Add about half to your pot and continue stirring.
  6. Now add your herbs and stir thoroughly before you pour the pasta into an oven dish.
  7. If you’re not making baby a portion, add some crunched up crisps to the top of the pasta to make it nice and crunchy once baked. If you are making a baby portion, it’s probably best to just sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Plate it up and blend/keep the rest for baby! Pasta is a great weaning food because it’s soft and easy for little ones to pick up with their hands.

Leek and Potato Soup

This one is one of my all time favourite recipes, so I’ve blogged it before! Check it out here.

This one is also great fun for babies because

  1. it’s already blended
  2. they get to munch on bread and butter with it

What are your favourite weaning recipes for your tots? Have you used any of these ones before?

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