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Lilah at Six Months Old

Thursday, 19 July 2018

So our beautiful Lilah Bear is now six months old. 26 weeks. Half a year...

I am not okay with this!

She's growing into such a cheeky little girl, but I am already mourning those hazy newborn days. Everyone is definitely right when they say it goes by much quicker with your second or third. I feel as if Monday arrives, I blink, and then it's Sunday again and Lilah is another week older. It's not fair!

Lilah is now 16lbs 4oz, and has the most delicious leg rolls and chubby cheeks. We've switched over to size 4 nappies - although we're still having trouble with her waking up wet in the mornings. Clothes wise she's still in 3-6 months, although they are getting a little tight now so I fear we'll have to move up soon.

Now she's 6 months old, we've started introducing food to our routine. We slowly began a few weeks ago, letting her taste a few flavours here and there. She's already decided she doesn't want to be fed at all, so I think we'll be following baby led weaning for a third time. As she's still having five 8oz bottles throughout the day, she's not having lots of food yet. We're just letting her try bits and bobs throughout the day - although she always sits with us and has dinner now.

Sleep is always a big question we're asked, and thankfully we're still getting quite a decent night. Lilah now sleeps on her tummy (most likely the reason for the leaking nappies I mentioned earlier), so we've taken the Sleepyhead away. She does wake for her dummy occasionally, but no feeds anymore. She's also still in her Huddle in our room, as I'm not ready for her to go anywhere yet. But she is napping during the day in there now too, as she was rolling in her moses basket!

Lilah has developed and reached so many milestones this month; we honestly couldn't be prouder! As well as starting food, she has cut her very first tooth, is able to sit independently for a good few minutes, and she is crawling around the room too. She's making new sounds every day (I think we're close to hearing da-da!), and gives the biggest belly laughs when you tickle her.

The moses basket, carrycot, and sleepyhead are gone. She's almost outgrown her bouncers. She loves to actually play with her toys. And she doesn't sit still for nappy changes. So those tiny baby days are most definitely gone. But we are so excited for this next stage!

How to Enjoy more Me Time as a Parent

The concept of having free time when you’re a parent is something of a joke, isn't it? If your children don't need one thing or another, then you need to make sure that you’re keeping on top of your work or doing bits around the house. There's always something that needs to be done!

But you've got to remember to find that time to focus on yourself. You are important too, and you cannot pour from an empty cup. This is especially important for your mental health! So even if you’ve only got a limited amount of time during the day, I've shared some ideas for how you can enjoy that 'me' time.

If you’ve got a spare twenty minutes (and that means actually spare, not the time to catch up on tidying), then don’t spend your time scrolling through Facebook and other social media accounts. Instead, head outdoors. The benefits of walking have long been understood, yet they rarely get a mention these days. A brief stroll around the block will clear your head, refresh you, and allow your mind to drift in whatever direction it pleases. You can even do have little ones, strap them in the buggy and it may even get them to nap too!

Once the children are in bed, why not ignore the housework (it will still be there tomorrow!), and transport yourself into another world - be it one in a book or on the screen. There’s nothing quite like spending an hour engrossed in your favourite tv show to help reset the madness of parenthood. If you don’t have access to high-quality channels, look at getting cable from a provider like Suddenlink. And don’t worry if you’re not much of a reader, a magazine or paper might be more of your style.

It can often feel like we live in a parenting bubble when we have children, can't it? Our kids dictate how we spend our days, and most adult interactions tend to be with other parents. If you have an hour of free time, why not meet up with one of your non-parent friends. They’ll be a timely reminder that there’s a world beyond parenting life. This one is especially good if you turn it into a night out too!

If you were active before you had children, then why not look at heading back to the gym. It’ll make you feel great, and will give the bonus of giving you more energy too. Most gyms have creches now, so there's no need to worry about childcare. Or go in the evening once everyone is in bed!

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Keeping Healthy During Pregnancy

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

When you’re pregnant, your body has to go through a lot of changes. Your skeleton will restructure, internal organs will move out of place, and the chemicals that control the way you feel will be all over the place. Of course, this is simply part of the job, and most mums will be happy to go through it for their child. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it though. In fact, as an expecting mum, there are a number of things that can be done to help you through pregnancy.

Supplements - Those first few months of pregnancy are incredibly tough. Morning sickness, bloating and extreme tiredness, make it hard to make sure that you’re eating the right food all the time. A lot of mums (myself included) find themselves consuming options which are less than healthy, and much more convenient. To balance this out, supplements like hibiscus tea can be very powerful. Along with this, a lot of mums will choose to take multivitamins and pregnancy supplements throughout their pregnancies.

Exercise - Along with taking the right supplements, you could also think about getting involved with a little bit of exercise. Between sessions, your metabolism will be at its peak, and your body will be able to make proper use of all of the nutrients you’ve consumed. This is a great way to make sure that your baby is getting everything they need. Even when you’re eating the right food, it can be hard to tell whether or not the goodness is being passed down to your baby, unless you put some provisions in place to help with it.

Cravings - During pregnancy, lots of women will experience some sort of cravings. In most cases, this can be traced directly to the nutrients which you need the most. Those craving salt being low on sodium, and those who want sweet food needing a boost in sugar levels. This gives you the ability to make a difference through simple observation. Of course though, you can’t just give into the cravings, as you’ll also need to make sure that you’re eating healthily. To achieve this goal, it will be worth preparing your snacks in advance, making it nice and easy to keep yourself eating the right things.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start working harder on the time you put into your pregnancy diet. During this time in life, food is going to be more important than ever before, impacting your child’s development and your health when it comes to giving birth. Although your doctor and midwife will often have some of the best advice on offer, if you feel you need it.

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Visiting Mayfield Lavender | July 2018

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

For the last few years, I've seen the most beautiful lavender field photographs pop up on blogs and social media. Little ones running through the flowers and gorgeous family shots. So of course this year, I made it my goal to get to a lavender field ourselves!

Living in Kent I didn't think there were many around, but after a quick Google I found that Mayfield Lavender Farm in Banstead, Surrey was the closest to us. It was around a 35-40 minute drive along the motorway, so actually incredibly easy to get to.

We made sure to arrive early as I knew it was going to get busy (we visited on an very sunny Sunday in July), and managed to get into the carpark when we arrived at 10.30am. I'd definitely recommend this though, as not long after this the carpark was closed! Entrance to Mayfield Lavender was £2 for both Jack and I (under 16s are free), and this also included parking.

Despite the vast number of guests, the lavender fields didn't actually feel too overcrowded. There are 25 acres of land to wander through, so plenty of opportunity to get that perfect shot! We aimed for the back of the fields as there were less people there. Most kept to the spots near the shade and cafe, so this is probably the best place to head if you want pictures without other people in the background.

Another bit of advice would be to watch out where you step and crouch. There are hundreds and hundreds of bees buzzing around the lavender, and in the fields in general. There are also stinging nettles hidden amongst the lavender - something we only discovered when I knelt down for a photo and got stung. So definitely keep an eye on your little ones, and be careful yourself too!

As well as there being the beautiful lavender to explore, Mayfield Lavender have a lovely outdoor cafe and a little shop. Prices were pretty high, but I suppose it's similar to a day out at a National Trust property - and the views are stunning! The shop sells all the lavender products (and actual lavender) you can imagine. So it's definitely worth a visit.

You can also hop aboard a tractor trailer for a little tour of the fields, for an extra £2 per person too. Unfortunately it kept breaking down during our visit due to the heat, so the littles were a bit gutted. They soon cheered up with treats from the shop though - I can personally say the chocolate brownie and lavender flapjacks are gorgeous!

I am sooo pleased we made it to the lavender fields this year. We managed to capture some of the most beautiful photographs, and made some lovely memories too. Mayfield Lavender Farm was such a lovely place to visit, and I definitely think we'll be making it a yearly tradition, especially now we know how easy it is to get to.

5 Ways to Make Long Car Journeys with Children Easier

Monday, 16 July 2018

Any car journey with little ones can be stressful can't they? But long journeys can be especially tough! We have been on quite a few with our three now; to places such as Somerset, Wales and Norfolk. And most recently we've driven to Dorset for a little family staycation. I feel we've learnt a few tricks now we've got a few under our belts, so I thought I'd share 5 ways to make long car journeys with children easier!

Time your Journey Right

Our biggest tip is to time your journey right. Leave at your little ones nap time so they sleep through most of the journey. Or even pop them in their pjs before you leave and travel at bed time, so you can just transfer them when you arrive! This also applies to the time of day you leave to - check what times the route is busiest (avoid rush hour, especially if you're going on the motorway), and plan accordingly.

Make them Comfortable

Of course if you want them to sleep, you need to make sure they are comfortable! We specifically bought Parker (2) a carseat that reclines, so that he was more comfortable when he fell asleep. As Indie is now in a high backed booster, this neck pillow from LittleLife keeps her head in a comfortable position for sleeping (and helps with it flopping forward!). They also sell these fantastic window shades, that cover the full window like a giant sock, so there's no worrying about the sun being in their eyes either. 

Take Plenty of Snacks

If your little ones are anything like mine, they'll be asking for food before you've even left the house. So make sure to pack ALL the car snacks (especially for yourself as well!). We always make sure to take more than we need, especially when it comes to milk for the baby. This then means you don't have to dig for food / bottles when you arrive, and that it is there if you get stuck in long queues too.

Take Regular Breaks

Another one that's just as important for you, than it is for the little ones. Baby's shouldn't stay in their Stage 1 carseat for longer than 2 hours at a time, and toddlers usually need a wee break, so it's best to stop at least once on your journey. We usually time it with lunch or snack time, so we can all refuel, go to the loo and stretch our legs, before getting back on the road. It's better to stop and have the journey take longer, than to try and battle through we've found.

If in doubt, use you iPads or Kindles

If you've run out of car games, and don't want to fill them with anymore snacks, then a trusty iPad will definitely work! We usually download a few films or TV shows, from Netflix or BBC iPlayer (make sure to do this with wi-fi before you leave), and this will keep the big two happy for a while. A backseat holder for the iPad will stop them from pressing all the buttons while they're watching. But if you don't have one, you can go into the settings and turn on the function that disables the home button instead.

What top tips do you have for making long car journeys easier?

We received these LittleLife products in exchange for this post. All opinions are honest and my own.

The Siblings Project | July 2018

Sunday, 15 July 2018

A whole 6 months with these three little beans, and I honestly cannot believe it! One the one hand it feels as if Lilah has been a part of our family forever. But it also feels like just yesterday that she was born. It was actually a whole year ago since we announced that were were expecting Lilah too, which is absolutely crazy!

The bond between our three has definitely become stronger than ever these last fews weeks. The second the big two come into the room, or even if Lilah can hear them, she lights us and gets oh so excited. Indie keeps her entertained on car journeys, and Parker loves to talk to her when she's in the buggy. It's like she has her own entertainment crew - one that never get tired of their job!

When it was just the two of us while the big two were away a few weeks ago, you could tell she felt a little lost. And honestly, life with just one felt far too quiet and empty for me! Of course as they grow, I know we'll have our fair share of sibling rivalry and arguments (I'm one of 7, so I know exaaaaactly what it's like).

But for now, I love the dynamic of three! I love turning around in the car and seeing all three seats filled. Having a baby on my hip and a child either side. Being able to say "yes, they're all mine!" when we're out and about.

Three is seriously that magic number.

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful

9 Ways to Enjoy More Family Time

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Are you tired of not having the time in your schedule to spend time with your family? It’s a common problem that many of us have, but we all know it’s not fair on you or your children, if you don’t make time to spend time together.

But how do you actually make that happen if you’re currently struggling to do so?

There are actually plenty of ways to make more of the time you have available to you. And on top of that, you can create more time that can be spent with the family too! I'm going to share 9 ways you can enjoy more family time, so read on and put the ideas you learn about into action as soon as you can.

Have a Day when your Children Choose the Activities
Sometimes, you have more fun when you let your little ones choose what to do. They’re the ones that matter most in all this, so it makes sense to do what they actually want to do! Whether they want to go to the park or play games with you, you’re sure to have a good time. Just make sure that they choose something that you can all do together as a family. Whether it's once a week or once a month, let your child/ren choose the activity for a change.

Change your Priorities
You can’t expect things to go perfectly for your family, if they’re lower down in your priority list than your job or your hobby. These things need to move to one side (unless it's impossible to do so), because your family should always be the thing that comes first. It can be difficult to admit that you have a problem with your priorities, but the sooner you take action the better.

Create a Dedicated Family Night
Having one night in the week that you’re able to spend with the family, with no-one and nothing else getting in the way can be really good. Switch off phones and other distractions, and create a family night that suits you. It could be about watching films together or playing some board games. Whatever you do is up to you; just make sure everyone has a good time.

Cook in Batches
One of the things that might be taking up your quality time, is the need to cook an evening meal every night. You can make this less of a problem for your family though, by cooking things in batches and then freezing them. You won’t have to worry about spending all evening cooking, because all you’ll have to do is reheat the food you put in the freezer previously!

Upgrade your Kitchen and Dining Area
Your kitchen and dining room are some of the most important rooms in the house. They are communal spaces, where you can spend quality time with your family each day. You can all enjoy breakfast around the table together, and then discuss your days over dinner in the evening too. If you find you've not got the room at the moment for a dining table; so you're not getting this time. Maybe it's time to update your kitchen and dining area, to get more out of these communal spaces.

Read Together
Reading is such an important activity for your children. So if this is something that you currently don’t dedicate all that much time to, this is something you should definitely change. By sitting down and reading together, you will not only be teaching your children important skills, but also instilling a love of reading and books from a young age. The bedtime routine is the perfect time to enjoy a book or two snuggled in bed together!

Enjoy Art Activities
Art activities are always fun to tackle as a family unit, because it allows you all to get messy and have some fun. Not everything you do has to be clean and about learning! Getting your hands and clothes covered in paint can be a lot of fun (as long as it's okay with you first of course).

Involve Children in Smaller Tasks
If you’re struggling for time and you have lots of chores around the house you need to do, why not get the little ones involved! If you’ve got to sort through the washing, give them the socks to sort. Or let them help with the vacuuming. Of course, you don’t want to make it into a chore for them - keep it fun by playing their favourite music while you go, or having races to see who can complete a task first.

Remove or Reduce Things that Waste your Time
There are so many things that we all experience each day that can completely waste our time and energy. These are the things that you should be looking to remove from your lifestyle! Do you really need to iron everything? If yo hang washing straight away and the creases should drop out instead. When you waste less time on things that aren’t all that important, you can then focus on doing things that are more important to you and your family.

Spending time with your family is not only really important for the development of your children, it’s also really important for your own health and happiness. The more time you get to spend with them the better it will be for everyone!
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A Trip to Diggerland Kent | Review

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Where do you take a little boy who loves diggers, a little girl who loves thrill rides and parents who want to join in on the fun too? Diggerland of course! We were recently invited to Diggerland in Kent, to experience their thrills and attractions on a family day out. We visited two years ago when the littles were younger, but as it was also a rainy day, we didn’t get the full experience. So with both littles now a lot older (and taller!), we were excited to visit.

Diggerland Kent is located near the River Medway in Rochester. It's a unique theme park where children (and adults!) can ride, drive and operate real diggers, dumpers and other full-size machinery! It’s really easy to find, and there is plenty of parking available in their (free) carpark on site. We visited on a very hot, sunny Sunday, and were surprised to find that although the park was busy, it didn’t seem too crowded and the queues were pretty reasonable too.

We were greeted by Duggy (one of Diggerland’s mascots) on our way in, and then the fun began! The second Indiana spotted Spindizzy - a specially constructed, super-sized digger bucket - she knew it was the first ride she wanted to try. Queuing was over within minutes, and the attendant on the ride checked Indie’s height before allowing her on (something I think is always fantastic as it shows safety is highly important to them). Indiana squealed with delight the whole duration of the ride, and despite feeling a little dizzy myself, she wanted to ride again straight away!

Like at most theme parks, different rides require different heights in order to be able to ride. Parker is 2 and managed to go on nearly all of them, including: the Dumper Trucks, Giant Diggers, Dig-A-Around, and the fun 'game style' diggers. Some rides require an adult to accompany the child who doesn't reach the required height. But the Littles were probably happier to have either Jack or myself with them anyway.

As we had Lilah with us (a 6 month old baby), we did find the height requirements a little tricky. As of course we both couldn't queue with the older two, when they wanted to go on! The staff were really helpful though, and allowed us to do a 'child swap' on every ride. This allowed one of us to queue with one child, ride, and then swap the child over without having to queue twice.

There were plenty of shady spots to wait while the other person queued, although I do think they could add in a few more benches! If your younger children didn't want to just watch though, there is also a fantastic Little Tikes play zone that they could enjoy. It's just outside of the soft play, and is full of play houses, rides on and smaller toys. Speaking of soft play, this was a great spot to come to escape the sun (or rain!) towards the end of the day.

As the weather was so wonderful during our visit, we decided to bring along our own picnic. This is something I am really pleased we did, as prices for food and drink in their cafe were very high. We paid £5 for just TWO 500ml bottles of fizz, and £7.50 for two 99s with a flake (with a basic cone) and a regular ice lolly. Ouch! Unfortunately the picnic spot wasn't great either. There were very minimal benches, it wasn't a huge space, and the floor was rough with lots of stones and cigarette butts. I would love to see Diggerland give some love to this area, as it definitely needs it!

Overall though, we did have such a lovely visit to Diggerland Kent. Despite the park not looking very large, there was soo much to do! Both littles enjoyed all of the rides we went on, and I think Jack and I had just as much fun too. We arrived around 10am and left around 3pm, so it really was a full day out for us. The Littles even got stickers and certificates when we left, which was such a lovely touch!

Diggerland Kent is open from February to October, and tickets cost just £16.99 for adults and children over 90cm (children under 90cms are free), if you prebook online.

We received entry into Diggerland in exchange for our review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Me and Mine | June 2018

Monday, 2 July 2018

How are we in July already? We're half way through the year. With 6 Me and Mine project photos already captured. And nearly half a year as a family of 5 enjoyed already!

I had big plans for this months photos, but with so much happening in June, we just simply didn't manage it. We took these very casual snaps on our trip on The Spa Valley Railway a few weeks ago. The lighting isn't great, the Littles weren't really feeling it, and I hate how I look in them. But I am so pleased we took them - they capture the moment perfectly (and means we haven't missed a month of family photos).

June saw Jack going away for the weekend for his friend's stag. The big two went off to his parents on the Saturday too, so it was just Me and Lilah for most of the weekend. I thought I'd enjoy the peace and quiet, but honestly, it was waaaaaay too quiet! I missed the laughter and singing that usually fills the house, and the constant background hum of toys or the TV. Of course the second we were all home again, I wanted that little bit of peace back... but I've already made Jack promise to never go away again for that long!

June also started Indie's school adventure, as we had our very first parents evening at her new school. She then had her first taster session too, which was a mixture of exciting and heartbreaking. I honestly cannot believe she's going to be starting school so soon!

We also had some lovely days out during June too. As well as a trip on the Spa Valley train, we enjoyed a gorgeous day out at Nymans, picked strawberries with my sister and her little ones, the big two got bunk beds, aaaaand we have enjoyed garden fun and bbqs during this recent heatwave too. 

I'm hoping July is going to be just as good to us as June was. We have a little holiday in a few weeks, more school visits and Indie's preschool graduation to enjoy, as well as hopefully more glorious sunshine! I'm looking to write up a summer holiday bucket list this month too, so if you have any ideas for what we could add, I'd love you to let me know.

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful