Nymans Gardens during Lockdown (June 2020) | Days out with the National Trust

27.6.20


We have been lucky enough to secure a few National Trust days out since the easing of lockdown restrictions, the most recent of which was to Nyman's Gardens for Father's Day. If you're struggling to get tickets (numbers to National Trust properties are currently limited due to Covid-19 restrictions), my biggest tip is to get onto the National Trust website as early as you can on a Friday morning, and have a property in mind that you wish to visit. You may have to wait in a queue, but I've found this way there are more tickets left rather than leaving it late and scrolling through what's left.

At the moment only the gardens and the woodland walks are open at Nymans (as well as the toilet blocks at the entrance), but there's still plenty to see and explore so don't let this put you off. Our slot was 1.30-2pm, so we didn't bring a picnic this time, but plenty were sat on the lawn enjoying theirs. I'd recommend bringing snacks and drinks though as the cafe isn't open at the time of writing, so there's nowhere to purchase anything (I was rather gutted the ice cream hut was closed).






There are also a few other rules and restrictions in place in order to keep everyone safe during their visit to Nymans. When you arrive a member of staff will ask for your name and tick you off their list, and then you are able to park wherever you like. Once you enter there is a one-way route throughout the whole of the property which is easy to follow and well signposted, although of course it's then up to visitors to follow these rules. Like I previously mentioned the house, gallery, shop and cafe are currently closed - although the latter are undergoing an upgrade which is exciting!

The lower visitor numbers made our visit feel much more special and relaxed (well, as relaxing as it can be with three young children). We found it incredibly easy to keep our distance from other families, even with lots sitting on the central lawn area there was plenty of space for the little to run around and enjoy the sun. And as you can see from the pictures in this post, the lower visitors numbers made it much easier to take snaps with no-one else in the background. A photographer's dream I'm sure.






The gardens at Nymans are looking absolutely beautiful at the moment, and I really think it's a great time to visit and enjoy them if you can get tickets. Of course our visit was a little different to when we visited on Father's Day in 2017 (and not just because we have another child now), but it still was a lovely afternoon out. I'm just so thankful National Trust properties are opening back up again as they really are perfect places to explore with little ones.

Top 5 Tips for Successful Potty Training

22.6.20

Having now potty trained three children, although I wouldn't call myself an expert, I would say I have some good knowledge on the process and what does and doesn't work. Of course all children and different, so what has worked for ours may not work for yours, but I'm hopeful that these 5 tips could lead to a successful potty training experience for all.


1: The biggest and most important tip of all, is to only start potty training if YOUR child is ready and showing signs.

Do not feel pressured into starting just because family members tell you you should, or because you see children younger than yours doing so. Every child is different and gets there at their own pace. The biggest signs your child is ready are:

- Being able to hold themselves longer (nappies staying dry longer).
- Them telling you that they have been to the toilet / need to go, and a want to get out of their dirty nappy.
- Hiding when going to the loo.
- Having a general interest in the toilet and the process of going to the loo.

2: Praise the good and don't focus on the negatives.

You cannot give enough praise when it comes to potty training - the more cheerleaders the better I say! At first you could just give praise for them sitting on the potty, and then as they progress you could introduce other rewards. We used chocolate as a treat with all three children and it worked well for us. Just a small piece for each time they went on the potty for the first week or two. You could alternatively use a reward chart or jar, and then treat them to a big 'prize' after they collect a certain number. 

There will understandably be accidents throughout the process too, but from experience we've found it's best to briefly mention what they did wrong, and then just clean up the mess and move on. Focussing on the negative could put your child off from using the potty / toilet at all. 

3: Make sure there's easy access to a potty or toilet at all times to help avoid accidents.

We have a potty downstairs, of course the toilet upstairs, and then a travel potty we use when out and about. I would really recommend a travel potty for out and about as you really never know when they're going to need to go. We have the My Carry Potty but there's a few options you can buy, and all are light enough to put under the buggy or in a backpack.


4: Buy lots of knickers / pants... and then buy some more!

You really can never have enough of these, especially for those early days. A lot of people opt for the bottom free approach, but we personally think it's best to introduce bottoms as early on as possible - it's all well and good having them nail it when naked, but you might have to start over again when you add clothes. Getting them used to wearing pants means you can carry on with your days as normal too; important if you've got school runs you can't avoid like me!

5: Follow your child's pace.

My final piece of advice is to not try and rush your child through their potty training journey. Follow their pace and try and make it enjoyable for everyone. If your child has aced being dry during the day, don't automatically assume they are ready to be dry at night or during naps. Both of these come with time - and nighttime dryness actually requires a hormone for them to be able to achieve it! There's no need to rush with anything, especially when it comes to your child.

I hope these tips have been helpful! Are there any you would add?

Newport Bay Club Hotel at Disneyland Paris

20.6.20

If you are like me and want your Disneyland Paris holiday to be fully immersive, then of course you are going to want to stay in one of the 6 Disney hotels on property during your trip. These hotels are split into three different groups - Value, Moderate and Luxury - but all are within the Disneyland Paris resort area and offer that extra bit of Disney magic. In this post I'm going to be focusing on Disney's Newport Bay Club Hotel.

Disney's Newport Bay Club Hotel

Disney's Newport Bay Club Hotel fits into the moderate category, although it has got a 4 Key rating (Disney's version of a 4-star rating) and has been recently renovated, so it does feel like a luxury hotel. The hotel itself has been designed to look like a 1920s New England coastal mansion, which fits perfectly as it is set on the waterside of Lake Disney. The whole hotel has a nautical theming throughout, from the blues and golds in the Lobby to the porthole borders and luggage themed storage in the rooms. There's even a lighthouse on the lake which is such wonderful theming!


Like all Disneyland Paris hotels the parks and Disney Village are easily walkable from Newport Bay Club. This is advertised at 15 minutes, but I think this depends on how fast you personally walk as we did manage it quicker than this most days. There are also free shuttle busses available that take you to Disney Village (perfect when you've had a long park day!). If you are planning to drive to Disneyland Paris then you can also park in Newport Bay Club's car park free for the duration of your stay.

Amenities

Disney's Newport Bay Club Hotel is the largest hotel on property but don't let that put you off, it just means there's more on offer to enjoy! The gift shop Bay Boutique (located opposite the reception desks) is a great place to stop to grab any essentials or gifts. You can also pick up your Disney Photopass from here, and if you want to send a postcard they have stamps on sale too.

Newport Bay Club features fantastic swimming pools and full service gym. Both the indoor pool and outdoor pools are heated and flotation devices are available for children. They are open to 10pm most days too, so are a great place to head if you want a more relaxing Disney evening. It's worth noting Jack was able to take two of our children by himself, but I'd check ratios before you go! The gym is packed full of high quality equipment and is usually open 24 hours. And there's even a sauna and a steam room to enjoy too.

As well as the check-in desks there is also a fantastic concierge desk in the lobby; a place to purchase tickets, make or change dining reservations, and just help with any queries you have during your stay. We had an issue with our meal plan vouchers one day, and they were so helpful and managed to solve the problem for us as quickly as possible.


Photo credit: Emma-Louise



Like all of the Disney hotels each morning there is the chance to meet a Disney character - this was in a room just by the gift shop when we visited, but this may change. I'd advice getting there a little early though as queues can form quite quickly for these meets.

A couple of other great features of Newport Bay Club include free wi-fi throughout the whole hotel, although I did find this to be hit and miss with it's speed. There is a babysitting service available at the hotel (an extra charge), and something that most people don't know is that you can get one hot drink per person, per day at the hot drinks machines in the corridors! And in regards to the size of the hotel and number of guests, there are plenty of lifts so don't worry about having to wait too long to get back to your room.

Rooms

There are 3 different levels of rooms you can book at Newport Bay Club. The lowest level are the Superior Rooms, which you can upgrade slightly to have a lakeside view or a family room (these have an extra pull-out sofa bed). You can upgrade to a Compass Club room, which is Disney's equivalent of a club level room, and again these can be upgraded to a lakeside view or a family room. The highest level rooms are the suites - a dream of mine to stay in one day I think!

All rooms include :

  • Fantastic nautical theming
  • Plenty of storage
  • A hair dryer
  • 1 free travel cot (if needed)
  • A kettle (upon request)
  • TV with Disney and international TV channels
  • Air conditioning
  • Telephone and radio
  • A safety deposit box
  • Free luggage service





If you stay in one of the Compass Club (or higher) rooms you also get:

  • A private reception desk
  • Access to the Compass Club Lounge for private breakfast, drinks and snacks (4pm - 5.30pm)
  • Tea and espresso coffee facilities
  • One Disney Hotel Fastpass per day, per guest (suites get VIP Fastpasses that give unlimited access) 
  • Bath robes and slippers (upon request)
Photo credit: Beth

Photo credit: Beth

We stayed in a Superior room last Summer and had an amazing stay. Our room was located in the main building and actually had a balcony overlooking the front of the hotel (without any requests), so it was easy and quick to walk to everything within the hotel. The room had plenty of storage and room for two buggies - an essential when you're travelling with children. The bathroom area was the only area I didn't think was luxurious enough, but the bath/shower was practical and bath amenities were provided, and I liked that the bathroom was separate from the toilet too. I would advice brining an extension cable when travelling too, as there is a distinct lack of plug sockets in the room. But I think my favourite part of the room were the headboards.. so fun!

Restaurants

Newport Bay Club Hotel has two main restaurants Cape Cod and Yacht Club, as well as the Captain's Quarters Bar (and the private dining area for Compass Club guests). Cape Cod is a buffet restaurant which is open for breakfast and dinner. The breakfast buffet is a mix of hot and cold foods including pastries, yoghurts, cereals, fresh fruits, deli meats and cheeses, pancakes, sausages, eggs and of course fruit juices and hot drinks. We were full every morning so I would definitely recommend a visit!

The dinner buffet has a Mediterranean and seafood menu, but do not let that put you off as there is plenty on offer for everyone - including children! We saw curry, pasta, chicken nuggets, chips and salads, and of course there was a generous dessert selection too (ice cream machine and candy floss anyone?). 



Yacht Club is a premium table service restaurant which also serves Mediterranean inspired tastes and flavours. There is a lot of seafood on the menu so it's definitely one to avoid if you're not so keen (like us), but you can see an example of the menu here to give you an idea. Booking a reservation is recommended for both restaurants as they can get busy!

Overall we absolutely loved our stay at Disney's Newport Bay Club Hotel. The theming alongside the more luxurious feel of the hotel really made our trip feel that little bit more special, and I know 100% we would go back to stay again in the future. Of course we did encounter a few negatives during our stay - the fact there's only ONE lift down to the restaurants and way out to the parks if a big down-side. But the little things such as the staff giving out chocolates and badges to the children when we arrived, to just the hotel smell in general (if you've been there you'll know!) really made up for any negative we had.

Have you stayed at Newport Bay Club? What did you think?

Our Month - May 2020

8.6.20


May was the month where some normality and freedom was finally given back to us. Being able to go out more than once, or hop in the car for a change of scenery doesn't sound like much, but my goodness did it make a difference! It gave us the freedom to go and visit our new nephew (through the window of course), explore some new places and head back to some of our regular favourite spots.

Of course we continued home learning with Indie and Parker throughout the month, although we definitely found it to be more of a struggle towards the end. They still did their work, but we had to bribe and encourage them both a lot more! It was probably the novelty wearing off mixed with the want to enjoy the beautiful weather - who wants to be inside learning phonics when you could be outside in the paddling pool?





We did make the most of the weather though, with even more BBQs, plenty of time in the paddling pool, picnics in the park and walks in the sunshine. We finally invested in a proper backpack carrier for Lilah too so we could really explore. A day that will definitely be remembered as one of my favourites in lockdown was VE Day. We didn't partake in any street parties, but we did make our own scones for afternoon tea, spent the day in the garden, and enjoyed a late evening walk to round off the day. It was so lovely to see everyone so happy and it kind of felt like the whole Coronavirus nightmare had gone away for that one day.

A couple of obsessions for the month definitely include Animal Crossing for me and Scooby Doo for the littles. We've also watched plenty of movies on Disney+ as a way of winding down in the afternoons. As much as it is lovely to get out on our walks, I have definitely enjoyed relaxing all snuggled up watching films together.





The last few weeks of May brought even bigger changes for our little bubble. It was announced that on June 1st early years would be opening again for all children, as well as schools for years R, 1 and 6. So for us that meant Jack returning to work and Indie and Parker heading back to school. An exciting but also sad change, because as hard as the last few months were, I had kind of gotten used to living in our own little bubble as a 5.

With this change in mind we decided to enjoy the May half term as much as possible. We enjoyed a picnic at the local park, milkshakes and football at another, released our now fully grown butterflies, and let the little stay up to watch a movie with pizza and treats. For our last evening together we headed to the beach for our first visit since New Year's Day. Seeing just how happy the littles were splashing in the sea and playing in the pebbles really was the perfect ending to our lockdown bubble!



5 Food Hacks for Fussy Eaters

5.6.20

Even if your little one is a whizz when it comes to weaning - trying absolutely everything and loving new flavours and food - they can still become a fussy eater over time. I remember my eldest absolutely loving tomatoes at 6 months old, but try getting her to eat one now at 6 years old and you'll end up in an argument! There are a few tricks and hacks you can use to try and overcome this though, and hopefully this post will help you if you are struggling.


The Right Cups
If you are struggling to get your little one to drink enough, then it might be worth changing up the cups that you're using. For very young babies a free-flow cup is best while they learn to drink properly. Then as they get older you can invest in the suitable tommee tippiees for their ages. Children don't need juices or added extras in their water, but if you really are struggling, then a few drops of sugar-free squash to encourage them may work.

Hidden Fruit & Vegetables
Frozen packs of fruit and vegetables are actually are a very convenient option without compromising on goodness (they maintain their vitamins and fibre content while lasting longer!). If you're little ones are refusing to eat their vegetables a great hack is to hide them in meals such as stews and casseroles. That way they won't see them being added as you sneak them out of the freezer!

Frozen fruits are perfect for things like smoothies and quick desserts too. These are a great way to get lots of different types of fruit into their diets (and maybe even some hidden veggies), while still offering a tasty treat.

Make your Own Food
There are a lot of brands on the market at the moment that offer fresh, organic baby food. However it is actually incredibly easy to make baby food in a thermomix at home. Making your own food means that you know exactly what is being added (including those sneaky veggies mentioned above).

Healthy Snacks
If you are worried that your child isn't eating enough due to their fussiness you may want to introduce some healthy snacks. Of course these shouldn't be used as a replacement to mealtimes, but alongside to keep them healthy and not hungry. Examples include rice cakes or bread sticks with dip, oatmeal cookies with raisins and banana, popcorn, greek yoghurt with fruit, or simply make fruit kebabs!

Make it Fun
This post shares some great tricks to help make your children's food a little more fun. Making mealtimes fun and engaging will definitely encourage little ones to eat more over shouting and arguments. Never force your child to eat something if they are getting really upset - you don't want to enforce a negative association with a certain meal. Make family meal times fun and positive as it really will make a difference.

This is a collaborative post.

Pregnancy in a Pandemic | GP Advice for Pregnancy During COVID-19

4.6.20

If you are currently pregnant or planning to start or expand your family soon, then I can imagine you have even more questions than usual right now. Advice and guidelines changed a lot between my three pregnancies as it is, and that was without a global pandemic to contend with. GP and new mum herself, Dr Stephanie Ooi wants to help with these worries, and has answered some of the most frequent questions regarding motherhood during the Coronavirus pandemic, which I am going to share in this post.


“We are in the midst of an uncertain worrying time and it is very understandable to have lots of questions especially if you are pregnant. I can sympathise as I have recently given birth to my second daughter so have been through it!

Do I need to be self-isolating if I am pregnant at the moment?

There isn't an absolute need to self-isolate. Pregnant women fall into the vulnerable category in the UK. The current guidance is that pregnant women should be adhering to strict social distancing rules - so only leaving the house for certain essential trips and remaining 2 metres from others when out. In general it is about minimising the risk to yourself as much as possible but also balancing this with managing your mental and physical health. Being able to go out for a walk can be very helpful during pregnancy as well. Of course, if you choose to self-isolate then this is absolutely fine too. It’s a tricky situation so I urge you to do what makes you feel comfortable.

I am feeling quite anxious about labour. What can I do to help?

It is very normal and understandable to feel anxious about labour in general, let alone in the current situation. My advice would be to try and focus on the things within your control and empower yourself with knowledge. I would advise to read information from trusted official resources such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and the NHS website. Both have excellent informative websites. Given the current situation, it will also be helpful to be aware of any changes made in the unit you will be giving birth so you are aware of what to expect. For example - are birthing partners allowed and when can they be present? You can find out this information by having a chat with your midwife.

I would also recommend looking into hypnobirthing - a technique that can be used during labour but also will be really helpful in the run up as you practice more and more. It consists of relaxation tools and positive affirmations which can be so helpful.

Is it advisable to wear gloves when you give birth in hospital?

It’s not essential and with gloves, there is actually an increased risk of cross contamination if you wear them the whole time. The best thing is to make sure you wash your hands frequently. In labour you may find it easier to use alcohol hand gel though (this must be at least 60% alcohol to be effective). I also have been quite hot during both labours so gloves may make things worse! A time where you might consider wearing gloves is for specific periods of time e.g. when going from the hospital entrance to the ward. You will have to open doors/press buttons BUT you must still be aware not to touch your face or phone and to remove them on arrival in labour ward and still wash your hands.

I’m unsure how many days I should pack for and what I need in my hospital bag?

If you have a fairly smooth birth, you may be discharged a bit earlier. Hospitals will be looking to discharge people home given the current situation if all is ok and you are happy. Pack for a few days. If you need more items then someone can drop them to the ward for you (but will not be able to come in) or the ward will have most essentials!

Some of my hospital bag essentials are:
 Lip balm – my lips have been super dry each time because of the gas and air
• Portable speaker – I found making my own playlist so helpful both times in terms of helping me to feel more relaxed
• Headphones – to listen to hypnobirthing tracks
• Phone charger
• Multi-Mam breastfeeding compresses and Multi-Gyn maternity compresses – designed to provide soothing relief to any sore nipples if you plan to breastfeed and soothe perineal/vulval discomfort following a vaginal delivery.
• A few treats for afterwards like your favourite face cream – I found it so familiar and restorative!
• Clothing/bras that are easy to breastfeed in if you plan to


Is it ok to have my parents come visit when the baby is born if they have been in quarantine?

Unfortunately in the current restrictions, visitors coming to your home is not allowed. Even if they have been isolating, you have also returned from hospital so there is a potential risk there. It is a very difficult time and I completely empathise. All I want is for my family to come over and hold the little one but sadly it will have to wait. At the moment, you could consider a socially distanced walk with one relative but physical contact would not be allowed.

Obviously there may be some circumstances where someone coming to the house is necessary but this would be my general advice.

With not many baby clinics should we be weighing our own newborns and how?

Visits from health visitors and midwives once you are back home will vary across the country. Some will be conducting home visits but calling the day before to screen for any symptoms and they will most likely arrive in protective gear too (apron, mask, gloves). Some may offer appointments either by phone or using video conference calls. I think we have to be cautious about buying scales for the home as sometimes it can cause more anxiety. If you are concerned about your newborn’s weight, contact your health visitor who can invite you into a clinic.

What can we expect with the postnatal checks during this time?

It is important to remember there are 2 checks at 6-8 weeks - one for you and one for baby. I would check with your GP surgery and see what they are doing at this time. For baby, some surgeries are combining the 8 week vaccinations with a check up. It is important not to forget about your own physical and mental health too. As new parents, we can find that the focus is on the baby but if there is any aspect of your recovery or wellbeing that you are concerned about, please seek advice from your GP.

Hopefully this post has been helpful and answered some of the questions you had. If you are still unsure the best thing to do is to contact your midwife, and find out the advice for your personal circumstances. Good luck!

This is a collaborative post.