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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Kevin’s-Hub Writing & Number Workbooks review.

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My daughter has been doing incredibly well at her nursery school, just after Easter her hours were increased so that she is now doing THREE whole days a week. We read her a different story every night and she often borrows up to a couple of books a week from her nursery’s library. As her pictures were starting to become recognisable and her speech was rapidly improving and developing, along with her recognition for colours, numbers, shapes and every day objects – I wanted to do all I could to help her learning across all areas.

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Kevin Walker’s series of learning workbooks ‘Kevin’s-Hub’ for kids ages 3-5 seemed like a perfect way to do this. The activities seem perfect for kids in the suggested age bracket. My daughter has only just turned three and so at the moment some of the activities in the booklet are more challenging- but this doesn’t deter her from trying them.

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I LOVE that these workbooks have a handy parent guide with parent tips- that reiterate the importance of not rushing your child when they are trying to work through these pages. I also like that the workbook seems to flow in order of difficulty, meaning that you are always working towards something slightly more advanced- a little like stepping stones.

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She loves using a pencil, following the dot-to-dots to make lines. She loves identifying shapes, numbers, colours and got incredibly excited when she was pointing out everyday objects that had been included in the book. We noticed the certificate at the end and knowing that if she completes the whole book, she can have her little award seems to really drive and encourage her.

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The only area for improvement that I can possibly think of is maybe including a list of tools that could be helpful to use alongside these workbooks- like coins and colouring pencils, as when I first wanted to use them we’d only packed a pencil, which meant if we proceeded we would have gone against the request to work in the book’s learning order. Although these books are challenging for a three year old, they are not in anyway unreachable or unattainable – which makes me think that maybe this workbook may prove to be not challenging enough for all five year olds? I guess that’s the risk of a work book that covers such a wide age range, and if this is the case – I guess the ‘next level up’ workbook could be purchased.

These are fantastic fun for at home extracurricular learning – I definitely recommend using them if you feel like your child would benefit from a little extra learning every now and then! I’d even say that some of the activities in the books are suitable from about two and half if your child is demonstrating wanting to learn more – maybe if they’re used to a nursery setting? At the very least these workbooks boost pencil control confidence, at the best they’re helping your child to develop and learn additional aspects from an early age.

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Review: Chaffree Knickerboxers During Pregnancy

Nothing I have tried has come close to the comfort and support offered by Chaffree Knickerboxers. I was concerned that they wouldn’t be suitable for me because I.m pregnant and they don’t offer maternity sizes but I am pleasantly surprised that at 27 weeks pregnant I am still getting on well with them.

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Let’s be frank here for a second, shall we? Thigh chaffing, the infamous “chub rub”. Most women, regardless of size, know what I mean. I have suffered through it and struggled to find an actual solution to this for years – I’m not much of a skirt/dress wearer and this is probably why.

I have tried chopping the legs off of my tights and leggings and wearing them as shorts but unsurprisingly the bottom of the legs would roll over themselves and make the problem worse.  I have purchased shorts specifically for the job – most notably the flimsy white ones that I bought to try and get through my wedding without catching my dress on fire from the thigh friction. Thank goodness my wedding dress went to the floor and wasn’t figure hugging because I can only describe those shorts as “gigantic bloomers” and they set me back £15 – for only another £3 I could have had a pair off Chaffree Knickerboxers… if only I had known. 

Honestly, nothing I have tried has come close to the comfort and support offered by these Chaffree shorts. I was concerned that they wouldn’t be suitable for me right now because I am hugely pregnant and they don’t offer specific maternity sizes but I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised that at 27 weeks pregnant I am still getting on well with them. I was a size UK 14/16 pre-pregnancy so I got the M/L size to fit UK 16/18/20 and they’re only just getting snug.  As a realist, I predict that this pair probably won’t be comfortable for me right up until the end of my pregnancy at the rate I’m growing, but they are not too tight yet! I’m considering just rolling the waistband down once they become too tight around my ever growing belly.

Inside of the legs/crotch

When the shorts arrived I realised that they have a slim padded section that almost looks like towelling but it is synthetic so I was concerned that I would get very hot in them and sweat but actually the oppposite happened, they kept me very much cool and dry. The main material feels like thick tights to touch but the wizardry that keeps them from riding up or drooping down like tights is impressive. 

I got the ‘long’ leg Knickerboxers, which I thought would be fine as I am not much of a short dress wearer and I worried about them rolling up if they were too short. At 5’3″ (29″ leg) I would say the long is just slightly too long for me unless I am wearing a dress on or below the knee – anything above the knee can flash them a little bit – what I didn’t account for was my dresses appearing shorter after they’ve made their way all the way over my bump!

As far as I can tell these are not intended to be a shapewear garment – they have too much stretch for that – but I have found them to be supportive and flattering. They hold my bump up and take some of the pressure off of my hips and seem to smooth out some of my wobbly bits without being constrictive. 

My one quibble with the product is the use of synthetic fibres and the risk that poses to the environment – if they developed a natural fibre product I wouldn’t hesitate to buy every colour – as it is, I am pleased that one good quality garment is replacing all of  my feeble attempts at comfort. 

What other products have you come to swear by during pregnancy?

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Blue Reef Aquarium, Smuggler’s Adventure and Hastings Castle

annual tickets entitle you to use the Aquarium as well as visit the Smuggler’s Cove and Hastings Castle. We used the Aquarium tickets a few times over the year and a few days before his 3rd birthday we decided to hit all three attractions in one day

For my son’s second birthday my husband an I took him to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Hastings, East Sussex. He loves animals and was really into fish at the time so it was perfect. When we looked at prices we decided to get annual passes because they were very good value for money and our son would get another whole year of free entry.

The annual tickets entitle you to use the Aquarium as well as visit the Smuggler’s Cove and Hastings Castle. We used the Aquarium tickets a few times over the year and  a few days before his 3rd birthday we decided to hit all three attractions in one day along with three more adult family members.

Using our passes we were able to get a further 10% discount on the price of the already discounted “triple” tickets so we were quite pleased with the price of entry to the attractions.

Blue Reef Aquarium

As aquariums go, this one is actually quite small but I feel like it is fairly reflected in the price of a ticket when compared to others like Sea Life. If you want to go somewhere that is a whole day out then this is not for you, but if you’re looking for an enriching morning or afternoon then it’s perfect!

There are several scheduled talks and feedings throughout the day and we were lucky enough to watch a few of them. There is also a reptile section that my son absolutely loves, we got to hold a boa constrictor which was pretty cool. The staff are all friendly and helpful and seem to really care about the animals and the work they are doing which makes a really lovely atmosphere.

The aquarium has a small gift shop, a cafe and accessible toilets with baby changing facilities.

The food and drink in the cafe are pleasant enough and are inline with seaside prices. Sadly, they weren’t able to cater for my son’s allergies but they were apologetic and able to provide allergen information easily at my request. They had no issue with my son eating his packed lunch whilst we all had a coffee.

One thing that I do find quite disappointing about both the cafe and the gift shop is the lack of environmental sustainability. The cafe readily uses plastic cutlery, straws and single use cups and the gift shop sports a whole host of “cheap and cheerful” toys and souvenirs. I would have thought that a place that values marine conservation would have made these changes a long time ago – before mainstream attention.

Overall, we do really enjoy the aquarium and the negatives I have found are easily negated with a bit of preparation. We take food for our son and we take our own cutlery or eat elsewhere and we don’t spend long in the gift shop.

Smugglers Adventure.

Now, I really liked this. It was informative with a touch of humour and a little bit of “creepy” thrown in there. My three year old? Not so much. When we went in, the first thing we did was track down a dark, narrow corridor and into a dark cavern where they projected a ghost onto the wall that was to narrate our entire trip around the caves. Luckily, I had taken our toddler sized sling because he needed to be carried the whole way round after (unsurprisingly) refusing to walk down the first corridor because he couldn’t see.

There were a couple of things in there to make you jump but not badly.  Because of the nature of this attraction, I wouldn’t recommend visiting with a wheelchair or pushchair – being a cave there are some narrow spaces, rough ground and low ceilings to navigate. I imagine it could be done with a lot of coordination and help from the staff and a few sections would get missed, so if you are considering a visit with a wheelchair then make sure you call ahead and arrange it all with the staff and pick a time when it will be quiet. 

There were toilet facilities on site but a little tricky to find in the middle of a tour in a dark cave, if you pass a loo it’s best to use it! The gift shop was fairly similar to the one at the aquarium but less ocean themes and more pirate themed, some of the gifts were slightly better quality. There was no cafe there but there was one a short walk away across the top of the cliff.

Hastings castle

I had no idea what to expect with Hastings castle and I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. I knew it was a ruin but I didn’t think that’s all it would be – especially with a normal ticket price of £5! Luckily, it worked out with the triple ticket the price of entry for us was £1 each. When I have visited other ruins they have been well kept and neat. the hedges trimmed and the grass cut. There are usually plaques with information for every part of the ruin and pictures of what it would have looked like. Hastings Castle seemed to be lacking these, even in the height of peak season. Admittedly, it probably would have been pleasant enough if it hadn’t been raining at the time, but we all felt quite bitter at having trudged, soaking wet, up a hill for… not very much. Even the view across the coast was obscured but overgrown bushes.

There are absolutely no facilities on site, just the ticket office and a small unsightly temporary structure with a screen showing a battle reenactment on loop, large enough perhaps to seat a class of school children. 

Getting there and parking

There are no motorways in East Sussex at all, so you will use a lot of A roads and not all of them give a pleasant ride, leave with plenty of extra time to get there if you’re planning to drive!

There is limited street parking available near(ish) the Smugglers’ cove and Hastings Castle, but being on the top of a cliff, they understandably don’t have their own car parks! Alternatively, you can park on the seafront and use the funicular railway to get up the cliff side. The aquarium is on the seafront surrounded by parking but it is a 10-15 minute walk to the funicular railway from there, there are closer car parks further along the seafront as well.

Hastings is well serviced by public transport, there are a couple of bus routes that will drop you right outside the aquarium and all along the seafront.

Have you been to either of these amazing places in Hastings?

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Mummykind’s April Top 5

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We are back for another monthly round up of our stats and what an exciting month it has been!

April is possibly one of my favourite months – it’s definitely spring time and although sometimes you have an April heatwave, the weather isn’t too unbearable! (For someone like me, who can’t handle hot weather!!!) Plus April comes with the added bonus of 2 bank holidays, and 2 weeks of the kids being off school – every mum’s dream, eh?

So what have we been up to this month??

Top 5 Blog Posts

Some of our top posts from last month have reappeared here too! Up first we have…

In second place throughout April is…

In third place…

In fourth place…

And, last but not least, our fifth top post this month is…

Top 5 Instagram Posts

Top 5 Things we did

  1. Amy and Sarah went to New York for 5 days! Whilst there, we saw many sights including Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Staten Island, the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge!
  2. Olivia is now nappy-less all day AND all night! Well done, Olivia 🙂
  3. Our brand new Facebook group ‘Mummykind – Chat and Support’ has 100 members already!
  4. Maria has been manning a reusable nappy pop up shop in Ashford over the last couple of weeks (if you’re local you should head over!)
  5. We probably all ate too much chocolate over Easter!

Top 5 Photos this month

Unsurprisingly, some of our favourite photos this month are all to do with the trip to NYC!

View of the Manhattan Skyline taken by Sarah Middleton on the Staten Island Ferry
Inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum at New York Cory. Photo taken by Sarah Middleton
The four musketeers in front of the Statue of Liberty. Photo taken by a kind American stranger who had visited Birmingham before and met her partner there!
Olivia enjoying the Easter weekend activities in the town centre
Oliver enjoying the summer sun!

Top 5 Other Blogposts we LOVED

  1. How to Make an Easter Tree in 5 Easy Steps – Confessions of a Crummy Mummy
  2. My Cervical Cancer Story – Morgan’s Milieu
  3. Do Our Daughters Really Need Rescuing? – The Desperate Housewife
  4. My Son’s Journey with Autism – The MK Journey
  5. You Are Worth Putting First – Soft Thistle Life

Oliiki app review

Two members of the Mummykind team with kids at different ages (and a growing baby bump!) were given the opportunity to try out the Oliiki app, an app designed to aid your baby’s brain development from early pregnancy through to 2 years old.

The app itself is free to download, and then you can choose to buy one section at a time or buy all of the content at once, which works out a lot cheaper.

Higher quality image of app

Maria

I have been testing the pregnancy features of the app as my son is much older than the suggested age for the toddler activities, although I have had a peek through the app at the newborn and toddler pages as well!

Overall I really like the concept of the app, it provides you with a daily activity to aid specific areas of development and explains how/why it works and a link to the scientific study.

During pregnancy it is a little harder to interact with your baby, it encourages a lot of independent activities which is fine if you bought the whole content library at once but I would feel short changed if I had paid for a single trimester at the same cost as 3 months of the more in-depth content for babies and toddlers.

The information in the app is incredibly interesting, the Oliiki team have done an amazing job compiling it all and condensing it down into bitesize chunks. If you love learning and finding out how things work this app is perfect for you. If you are more of a visual learner you might struggle with the lack of images/videos/graphics in the app.

Paige

My daughter is coming up on fifteen months old, so we’re testing out the toddler activities.

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So far we’ve enjoyed using the app as a family. The app offers one activity per day on the homepage, but you are also able to access all activities by age or by subject using the menus at the bottom of the screen. There are some activities for her age that I never would have thought to encourage her to do (such as walking in jelly – big clean up needed!), but my monkey has thoroughly enjoyed them. There are some recommended activities that we’ve been doing long before using Oliiki, but I suppose that is more down to a child’s individual development, and at what stage you started using the app. At the end of completing the activity, a graph appears to show the relevance of the activity to the brain learning areas. This is really interesting, and you can see your child’s overall progress in the user profile area (however, if you’re like us and didn’t start using it until later in your child’s life, the progress won’t be 100% unless you go through and ‘complete’ all the activities for previous months, which is tedious).

Higher quality image of app brain area

The one thing I would say about this app is that if you’re not a big fan of reading, this may not be the app for you. I love to read, and I find the ‘Science and Research’ section fascinating, especially the ‘find out more’ section, which links to a larger article for further reading. You’d still be able to use the app well if you’re not a fan of this kind of thing, but I feel it would be better suited to parents who want to understand the scientific reasoning behind the activities they are doing with their children.

Overall the Mummykind girls loved this app and were thrilled to review it! Have you used the Oliiki app before? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

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New Bath Time Play Products from Zimpli Kids!

A short while ago we had the opportunity to trial the Gelli Baff and Slime Baff products from Zimpli Kids… Click the thumbnail below to read which was our FAVOURITE!

We’ve now been asked to review some new bath time play products from Zimpli Kids, and have been sent the Unicorn Slime Play, and Glitter Gelli Baff! I absolutely could not wait to try these out. I knew for a fact Olivia would love both of them – though she probably would be slightly biased towards the unicorns…

So, can you guess which was the FIRST one we tried?

Of course, the unicorn slime play!

I was interested to see Olivia’s reaction to this one, as she had definitely been more keen on the Gelli Baff last time. But she absolutely loved this!

I learned from my previous mistakes and DID NOT put this in the bath, instead doing it on a smaller scale messy play sort of level. This allowed the slime to thicken up a lot more and she had some super slime unicorns to play with (every child’s dream, right?)

So, we started off with Olivia reading me the instructions on how to get the Slime Play mixed to optimal consistency.

We sprinkled half of the mixture into this washing up bowl filled with luke warm water. Olivia then got the wooden stirrer out to mix it up!

 

She then very tentatively took over to mixing it up with her hands! This was her reaction when she first touched the slime:

She then got stuck straight in with the unicorns, and of course managed to play with the slime a lot longer than if she had been in the bath! We even invited Kiera (aged 9) and her friend (aged 8) to come and join in, but they weren’t so keen on the slimey texture! Their reactions did give us a good laugh though.

Again this was super easy to get rid of as I simply ran hot water to thin the mixture out, and it simply poured away! No fuss at all. This time Olivia was wearing normal clothes (as opposed to her swimming costume like she had on last time), and yes, they got very slimey! But it all came out in the wash with no problems at all.

All in all I would give this a 10 out of 10 – she had fun playing with the slime for the best part of an hour, and it works really well as a messy play activity as well as just at bath time! Olivia loved it and she got the unicorn toys as an added bonus, making the Unicorn Slime Play one of her new favourite things to play with!

So! Moving onto the Glitter Gelli Baff…

We of course retained the unicorns from the slime play and they were
thoroughly de-slimed, then deployed again in our Glitter Gelli Baff! This time we used the bath, as the Gelli Baff dissolves instantly and is so easy to clean out of the bath, making it mess and hassle-free – a HUGE WIN for any parent!

Check out Mr Unicorn Duck chilling his beans in amongst the Glitter:

Olivia joined in mixing the bath and jumped straight in! The Gelli forms quite quickly, so she had lots of fun picking it up in her hands.

Olivia was excited by the sparkly Gelli as she was mixing it and played in it for a little while.

Unfortunately this Gelli Baff didn’t seem to solidify quite as much as the last time we used it, and I don’t think we had vastly different volumes of water in the bath! Also, once it started forming, the Glitter all sank to the bottom and it was pretty indiscernible from the normal pink Gelli Baff which we had tried before, which was a bit of a shame.

Still very easy to clean, we sprinkled the dissolving powder and rinsed the bath. All Gelli had disappeared from the bath within less than 2 minutes!

Overall, I’d give this one a 6 out of 10.

The product is great, but the Glitter is the main aspect of this particular Gelli Baff and unfortunately there just wasn’t ENOUGH Glitter, as you could no longer see any as soon as the Gelli had formed.

Have you tried either of these products from Zimpli Kids? Which was your favourite?

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12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of being a mum

Somehow, my teeny tiny person is a year old this month. It seems like yesterday that I was panicking about breaking her every time I touched her, and it’s a little crazy to me that she’s gone from this tiny human on the left, to the cheeky monkey on the right that would rather eat cheerios than do anything else.

So, in the spirit of turning one year old, here are 12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of being a mum.

1. It’s ok (and normal) to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing 100% of the time

Let’s be honest, when you deliver a baby, they’re not born with a handbook too (though that would be super helpful). While everyone would like to think they do, nobody has the perfect formula for the ideal way to raise a child – you can only follow your instincts, do your best and listen to guidance from sources you trust. Don’t let people make you feel like less of a person if you’re unsure on the best way to do something, it’s perfectly natural.

2. While babies are fragile, they’re more sturdy than you give them credit for

When my daughter was born, I was so worried I was going to hurt her because she looked so fragile. In the months to come, however, I’d learn she was anything but. At 8 weeks old she was diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis (you can read about that here) and had emergency surgery to correct the issue. It was a scary time for us, but it showed us that she was stubborn, and a born fighter. Since then she’s been learning to crawl, and she’s now walking. I’ve seen her fall (and bounce) so many times and been worried she’s hurt herself, but she just carries on like nothing has happened.

3. It’s ok to ask for help

Everyone needs a break from time to time. Being with your little person 24/7 is physically and emotionally draining, and it’s really hard to keep up with everything and keep up with them at the same time! If you read my previous post on being a disabled parent, you’ll know I have a lot to contend with at the moment, so this is probably the thing I’ve learnt most in the last year. Before I had my daughter, I was so stubborn and tried to do everything myself. I’m trying to be better at knowing when I’ve hit my limit and realising I need to ask for help before I burn out!

4. Cloth nappies are a game changer

This one was a major learning curve. Before trying out cloth nappies with my monster, I’d never come across them before! Thankfully, with some encouragement from Maria we got to grips with them fairly quickly. You can read Maria’s post about cloth nappies here.
It’s so handy knowing I’ll never have to run out for nappies in the middle of the night, it keeps the £££ down and they’re good for my little one’s sensitive skin. The prints are adorable, and that extra chunky butt is oh so cute. Plus, they’re good for the planet, so they’re a win win really!

5. Make time for yourself and your partner

This one is for all of you who are in a relationship. Make time to maintain that foundation, because you model your relationship every day to your kids. Even if it’s just half an hour at the end of the day, make sure you sit down and communicate properly with your partner. And for those of you who aren’t in a relationship – make time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

6. Be your child’s advocate

This (along with my next point) has taken me a while to be comfortable with, but honestly it shouldn’t have. At such a young age, my daughter isn’t able to verbally communicate that she doesn’t want to do something, but as her mum I can tell when she doesn’t want to do something, and I need to be there to back her up. This includes not making her hug or kiss people when she doesn’t want to. You can read more on this on Harriet’s post on sex positive parenting.

7. Be clear on how you want to raise your child, and don’t compromise for others

If you want to discipline your children a certain way, make sure you’re clear about it with everybody who will be taking care of your child, because there is nothing more frustrating than teaching your child for six weeks that they cannot play with your glasses, only to look over and see someone handing theirs over as a chew toy.

8. Your house will never be tidy 100% of the time and that is ok

Everyone knows that if a baby is having fun, there is a high likelihood that they are making a massive mess! I love having a tidy home, but I love seeing my smiler having fun more, and I’d rather take the time to enjoy her while she is small and have a tidy house when she’s older (read:she can clean up as payback) and make some brilliant memories now. Plus, as soon as she’s gone to bed I hide her toys away inside the TV unit and suddenly my living room is tidy again. Who knew.

9. Take photos, but be present

I love taking photographs as much as the next person, and now that she’s learning to walk I’d love to get it on video, but I’d rather watch it happen in front of me rather than through a screen.  We do tend to limit screen time in our house; little one doesn’t watch television so is fascinated by the television in other people’s houses. In 2017, researchers at the Illinois State University and the University of Michigan Medical School published a paper funded by The Pennsylvania State University, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in which the conclusion was that parent’s excessive use of mobile phones can drive behavioural problems in children under 5. You can read the NHS’s assessment of the paper here. While the study has some issues, I did feel convicted when I read it and resolved to try and be more present in the day time when my mini me was up and about.

10.Be prepared or prepare to fail

I’m an organised person anyway, but since having a baby I find I have to be an organised person on steroids. If we don’t have a meal plan for the week, we’re in trouble and I fall behind. We have a column in our calendar for jobs, and I write the jobs I have to get done each day, even the basics like hoovering and putting a wash load on (which is a must if you’re keeping on top of washing cloth nappies). We have spare clothes, thermometers, every cream you can think of, bibs, bottles, and practically the kitchen sink in our nappy bag, but it’s better it’s spare than desperately needed.It may sound like overkill, and I feel like I make lists for my lists sometimes, but it keeps us afloat so something must be working!

11. Always carry snacks

There is nothing worse than being hangry. Hanger. Is. A. Real. Thing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, The Oxford Dictionary defines being hangry as

“ADJECTIVE – informal. Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.”   

There is no shame in keeping a snack in the nappy bag for adults and babies alike. It sounds like such an obvious thing, but you’d be surprised how many people have been shocked that I keep food in there for me too. Try it. You’ll thank me.

12. Allow yourself WAY more time than you’d think to leave the house

This. Took. Some. Time.
Ask anyone who knows us, and they’ll confirm, we were at least an hour late for everything until baby was at least a month old. It sounds stupid because at that age, they don’t move around, but my goodness was it a challenge. I’d try and leave the house 47 times and realise I’d left something vital inside every single time. Somehow, even though it’s much tougher to get little one ready and dressed now (think crocodile wrestling) we’re rarely late. It’s taken us some time, but we’ve finally got there.
I honestly can’t believe that time has flown so quickly and my little miracle is going to be one in just a few days time. The last year has been tough but so rewarding, and she makes my day every day.
What did you learn in the first year of being a mum?

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The Trampolining Trend and Why it’s Actually Amazing!

If there’s one thing little 2 year old Olivia loves, it’s trampolines.

Actually, in all fairness, it’s not just her! Kiera loves it too and she’s about to turn 9. Heck, even I love it and I’m 23!

But there are soooooo many benefits. You might think that trampoline parks are like soft play hell x1000, but they’re actually pretty cool and if you haven’t tried taking the kids out to one, you most definitely should!

We, as a family, are a bit of an expert at trampoline parks. We seem to have tested out quite a few! There’s Airhop in Guildford, Gravity Force in Camberley, and Flip Out in Ashford (they also have locations in Southampton, Basingstoke, Portsmouth, Chatham, Nottingham and more, but Ashford is the only one we’ve sampled!) and I have actually recently bought an annual membership at Gravity Force for me and Olivia! £8 per month for unlimited jumping, excluding their Gravity Fit sessions, but that’s a bargain for me considering how often I take Olivia. It’s easy to make it a weekly thing every weekend and it never loses its charm!

So, why do we love them so much?

First of all, they are nothing like soft play. There are screaming kids, yes, but the kids tend to be slightly older and better behaved, even in the tots sessions! They have far more space to run around in and loads more variety in what they can do. While Olivia loves a soft play, she would always choose to go trampolining over that any day, and so would I!

Although there’s always a risk that someone will end up with bumps or bruises, there are designated ‘court monitors’ dotted about to minimise the risk of any children getting hurt. Unlike at a soft play, you haven’t got to crawl on your hands and knees through a tunnel that’s really only big enough for a 6 year old to track down your crying tot after someone else’s kid has pushed them over!

It’s not just the thrill for the kids that makes them so worthwhile though, there’s actually a huge health benefit to trampolining – it’s an hour of exercise that your children otherwise wouldn’t be getting. And let me tell you, 20 minutes of jumping around or running around after your kids would get you breathing heavy, too! Also, for the kids, it’s 100% fitness disguised as fun, so if you have children who hate anything sporty, I guarantee they would probably not apply that same disgust to trampolining!

I’m not sure about the other parks, but Gravity Force near us also do tailored Gravity Fit sessions which I am yet to try! There are loads of different kinds of fitness sessions, some of which are even suitable for older kids to join in.

I know, you’re thinking ‘why can’t I just get my own trampoline and let the kids run wild?’

You can, but we have our own trampoline in the garden and Olivia still would prefer to go to the trampoline park. They often have foam pits, dodgeball, basketball, and tons of other activities. Plus, outdoor trampolines don’t get used very often in the winter. The trampoline parks we go to are indoors, nice and warm, and again, have so much more space for the kids to run around in!

Not only that, but it’s an hour’s session to get you out of your god forsaken house. I get sick of being stuck indoors and when you have something like this close by, it’s a great idea to get everyone out of the house, away from electronics and loving life.

For us, we really see the benefit because of the age differences between our two girls. Kiera is 8 going on 9 and Olivia is almost 2 and a half, but yet this is somewhere we can take them both and they both love it so much. Yes, there are loads of places we could take both kids, but actually we end up having to split up into two families – me and Olivia, Jamie and Kiera – so that the kids can do things for their age groups.

Husband back home means Daddy Day Care is in session!

Trampolining really is great fun for both of them and Jamie and I can tag team so one of us can sit and have a break, or we can both get involved and have a huge dodgeball fight with both of the kids (mostly aiming at each other).

Do you take your children trampolining? We’d love to hear your experiences!

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Organix Snacks for Babies and Toddlers!

We were recently sent a big box of goodies from Organix to review! Included inside were a number of baby and toddler snacks which are all vegetarian and some even suitable for vegans and children with cows’ milk protein allergies (CMPA).

Part of the bundle of goodies we were sent were these new pea-based snacks:

The pea puffs on the left are suitable for vegans and CMPA, and the other two packets are suitable for veggies and a huge win with Olivia! Her favourites are the cheese and onion lentil hoops, but whenever she eats them I have to sit her away from me because the cheese and onion smell is quite strong!
These packets are great for taking out and about with you and even for packed lunches, and are a fab alternative to just having unhealthy crisps in the kids’ lunch bags. Organix have a no junk promise, ensuring that these are pretty much as good for your children as you can get. I love that these have hidden veggies in them but are marketed as NORMAL things your child would eat, specifically aimed at kids and with fun, colourful designs on the packets to make them more appealing… In fact, these ones Olivia calls her “sweeties”:

The fact that she thinks they are sweeties is adorable and great from a mum perspective, because I can bribe her reward her good behaviour with “sweeties” that are actually not full of rubbish! No mum-guilt here!


Here’s what Amy and Oliver thought!

Oliver tucked straight into his pea puffs, infact he snatched the bag as soon as he saw them and ga
ve me a massive grin, I was very intrigued to see his reaction as he has a tendency to be picky sometimes, but as you can tell by the picture, he was tucking straight in and at some points I had to ask him to stop ramming as many as possible in his mouth.

They we’re great to have in my handbag or his nappy bag to take out and about and since trying them I have bought more as they’re good value for money and it’s reassuring to know what he is eating is healthy and won’t give him a massive sugar high.

I could tell he enjoyed it as Oliver does this super cute thing where when he is enjoying food shouts “Mmmmmm” and makes a cute attempt at saying “delicious!”

These biscuits were also a big hit with both of them, and definitely a much better alternative to normal sugary biscuits! Oliver and Olivia enjoyed sharing them and kept coming back for me!

All in all, these are fab little snacks for babies and toddlers of all different ages! Oliver is almost 2, and Olivia is 6 months older than him.

The no junk promise makes these the perfect selection for picky children who want a treat, without any mum guilt!

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