18 February 2018

5 Tips For Hassle Free Potty Training

If you're reading this then you are probably considering, or about to start, potty training. I am by no means an expert but having just potty trained our third daughter I thought I'd share some of my top tips for hassle free potty training. All three of our girls were potty trained successfully in this way in less than a week and were dry at night very shortly after - pretty much all on their own accord with a little guidance from us.

1. Introduce the concept

We have always introduced the concept of potty training a few months before the girls have tackled it by talking about wee and poo, reading books (we like Princess Polly's Potty) and having a potty around in the bathroom for them to see and get used to, which they often sat on on their own accord just before their bath. Then we simply reiterated that when they were ready to wear pants to let us know.

2. Wait until they are ready

This is something I strongly believe in and if the timing is right it really works, there is no rush. Waiting until your child is ready is so important and putting them in control of their body will give them so much more confidence. All three of our girls initiated potty training themselves telling us they didn't want to wear nappies anymore and simply declared 'I'm wearing pants today', we went with it and enabled them to try.

3. Set aside some time and keep it simple

Once the girls decided they wanted to potty train we kept out days simple, staying at home with just a pair of pants and t-shirt on and gentle, regular reminders asking them if they needed to go. We were then able to just focus on helping them figure it all out, from identifying when they need to go, to learning to pull their pants up and down and sit on the potty/toilet, to the hygiene of drying themselves and washing their hands.

4. Have patience and give lots of encouragement

There may be the odd accident particularly on the first few days, I think we had about a 50-60% success rate on day one and two. Being patient really pays with zero fuss and lots of reassurance that it doesn't matter and a reminder that 'next time we'll try and make it to the potty'. When the girls went on the potty we always celebrated with a big cheer and a big clap, seeing the pride on their faces was always so lovely.  Siblings are really handy for potty training and I found it far easier the second and third time round as they had seen their big sister using the toilet and knew what to do and wanted to copy her.

All three girls found poos a little trickier and took a little longer to master than wees, probably because they require a bit of time sitting and waiting and the sensation feels so different to when they were in nappies. They were noticeably worried and nervous about it and needed lots of encouragement and reassurance. We sat reading a book or two to relax and distract slightly which seemed to work.  If they went in their pants I just popped it in the potty for them to get used to seeing in there and to normalise it.

5. Be prepared

You don't need much to potty train, but lots of pants are handy. The girls have always been really enthusiastic about choosing their own pants, so we always make a special trip together to do that. I find the supermarket multipacks good value.

A potty is obviously an essential and a child's toilet seat to put on the toilet when they are ready to make the transition from potty to toilet.  We have a 'Pourty', it's really easy to tip the waste into the toilet and to clean. Our 'Pourty' always comes with us in a carrier bag for the first week or so as I find that when they are first starting out they will tell you they need to go and they generally mean NOW! Once you ditch the potty make sure you familiarise yourself with where the nearest toilets are when you are out and about.

Pack a little bag with everything you'll need for when you're away from home - a few changes of pants and clothes, a potty, a carrier bag for any wet things and some wipes. Leggings and jogging bottoms are great potty training clothes as they are easy to pull up and down without a struggle. A tea towel for the car seat is also a good idea as if you have ever had to take a car seat cover off and wash it you'll know it's not exactly a speedy process!

I was really daunted by potty training but by tackling it in a child led way with lots of encouragement it was actually really straight forward. I hope this helps and good luck!

Me x

9 February 2018

Parenting my way with the Baby Bjorn Carrier One

I honestly don't know how I would have managed three children under four without babywearing. It gave me my hands back and happy babies snuggled close to their mama, allowed me to potty train toddlers, cook dinner and most importantly leave the house! The very first carrier I bought was from Baby Bjorn when Ellie was just a few weeks old. There were no siblings to juggle at this point but I knew I wanted to hold her close when we were out and about and she was always far happier there than in her pram. I could talk to her, point things out as we walked and she felt safe amongst busy crowds. It was also really practical for off road walks and to access shops in our town with steps that were really tricky to manage with a pram. Most of all I loved the bonding experience it gave us with our daughter.

Out for a walk with the Baby Carrier One Air

When Phoebe arrived I invested in three more slings and carriers and my love of baby wearing grew. It allowed me to confidently take two children out on my own, with the baby safely snuggled in the sling and Ellie in the pushchair. It also meant I could run round after Ellie at the park and at toddler groups without having to abandon the baby in the pram when really all she wanted to do is be held anyway. Phoebe was a cluster feeder, a little snacker and so I even learnt to breastfeed her in the sling meaning she was able to eat on the go and I wasn't tied to the sofa. It was a life saver when they were grouchy or teething as being cuddled close to mummy was all they really needed and the movement of me walking around with them seemed to comfort them.

Lottie napping in the Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier One Air

Lottie pretty much spent the first six months of her life in a sling, firstly because I didn't dare put her down because of her very inquisitive 18 month and 3.5 year old sisters who liked to try and pick her up or give her a loving prod as soon as I put her down, but also because she was a very tactile baby and wanted to be held ALL the time. More than ever I needed my hands free in order to be able to look after her siblings and run around after them. Baby wearing very much gave me the confidence to parent my own way and often to survive the day. It also meant I could snuggle my babies, kiss their little heads, drink them all in which I have to say is my favourite part of baby wearing.

We love baby wearing! Lottie fast asleep in the Baby Bjorn Carrier One Air

Baby Bjorn have recently launched their 'Love Manifesto' to celebrate the arrival of the new Baby Bjorn Carrier One/Baby Carrier One Air which is all about empowering parents to trust their instincts and take the pressure off themselves - a campaign I can really get behind. We've been testing out the new Baby Carrier One Air which is suitable from newborn to three and absolutely love it. Now aged two and a bit Lottie insists on walking everywhere trying to keep up with her sisters but still really loves to be carried, particularly when her little legs get tired. I also really like to put her in the carrier when we're amongst the crowds as with three children I just don't have enough hands and then I know exactly where she is, it's perfect for things like fireworks night, the farmers market and visits to London navigating the tube steps and bustle of the city. She also weighs over 12kg now so with her buckled in and my wellies on I can get some exercise with a good walk over the fields while she naps which as she now refuses to nap in her cot is an absolute winner!

The Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier One Air is super supportive and comfortable to wear

Here are some of the things we love about the Baby Bjorn Carrier One/Baby Carrier One Air:
  • It's super comfortable to wear for you and your child, made from soft, breathable fabric with padded straps which offer even weight distribution and great support.
  • The Baby Carrier one has been developed in close consultation with paediatricians and provides the correct support for your child's head, back and hips. The International Hip Displasia Institute has tested it and acknowledges it as a 'hip healthy carrier'.
  • It's really easy to put on, adjust and put your child in. I really love how easy the buckles are to fasten and how secure it feels once on.
  • You can carry your baby inward or outward facing and wear them on your front and also back once they are a year old.
  • It has great head support which is great for smaller babies and napping toddlers!
  • It grows with your baby and is suitable from newborn to approx three years old (minimum 3.5kg and maximum 15kg) allowing you to carry them that little bit longer! 
  • It comes in several gorgeous colour ways, we have the Baby Carrier One Air in Frost Green Mesh

You can find our more about the Baby Carrier One and Baby Carrier One Air HERE. We also have a 10% online discount code for you to use which is valid until 26th February 2018, simply enter LOVE2018 at checkout.

Me x

* This is a collaborative post, we were kindly send a Baby Bjorn Carrier One Air for review. 
All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

31 January 2018

Me and Mine Project - January 2018

Was it just me or did January seem like the longest month ever? After the excitement of Christmas we have had a fairly quiet month getting back into the routine of school and work and also hibernating from the cold, grey days. Like most families we were on the countdown to payday this month so found ourselves at home a lot which has actually been rather lovely, although it's also given me plenty of time to look at all the house projects I want to tackle! We took our photos this month in our living room and had lots of fun with my new tripod that I got for Christmas. It's going to be a game changer in terms of taking photos and my beloved camera will no longer be balanced precariously on fence posts or the buggy! I'm hoping it will mean that I can get a bit more creative with our family photo project this year and already have lots of ideas to capture our family throughout the seasons.

Our family in January 2018

I love stepping back and looking at our family dynamic which is what these monthly photos allow me to do. When I look at this months photo all I can think is how outnumbered Oli looks - totally surrounded by his girls and taking it all in his stride, he's such a brilliant dad and husband and we are really lucky to have him. I also noticed how much our girls have grown and compared to this time last year how much easier life feels in some respects. We are still juggling the same number of children and what feels like a million commitments, but they are getting slightly more independent and most notably we are finally getting more sleep which makes things feel easier even if they are not. We have a weekly routine that is working for us all right now and we all know where we need to be when - most of the time! 

However, with our work and childcare arrangements as they are, we are rarely together as a five and I do feel that regular family time is something I envy when I see other families at weekends. I can't actually imagine what it would be like having every weekend together, it must be lovely! We on average have one/two full weekends off together a month which we look forward to so much but end up having so much to cram in. The girl's social lives are busy with ballet lessons and birthday parties often structuring our weekends and then there are jobs that need doing which can only be done when there is another parent around. There is also a pressure on these family days to be wonderful and special because they are so precious and rare. Inevitably they aren't always and the usual sibling rivalry and conflicts arise, or Oli and I have different ideas about what we want to achieve from the day and are quite frankly exhausted. Then there are family and friends who we like to see together to fit into this equation too, along with time together as a couple and one on one time with each of our children - it's really tricky, in fact it feels like a bit of an impossible puzzle at times trying to get all the pieces to fit. 

We are working hard to balance this by using our annual leave to maximise family time and have five full days together coming up over February Half term. We have already talked about what we would like to do with those days so we can really make the most of them. The benefit of not having as much time together as a five is that we truly value it when we do have it. We just need to communicate, lower our expectations and celebrate the little wins I think -  skills which our six years and a bit of parenting have taught us. Our girls are happy, it's just Oli and I that feel the strain sometimes which again is part and parcel of parenting and part of family life whatever your dynamic.  These family snaps are a little reminder that we are a good team, doing our best and that our home (as well as bursting at the rafters with children and all their stuff!) is filled with so much love.

Me x

24 January 2018

Cosy and Cool Winter Knits from Bernie and the Beanpole

We love to get out and about for an adventure and don’t let the colder weather stop us. However It’s absolutely no fun when the girls get cold and our outing is cut short so I always make sure I wrap them up in warm clothing - as the saying goes, "there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing". The lovely folk at Bernie and the Beanpole kindly sent the girls some items from their gorgeous collection to keep them cosy this winter. We’ve given them a good road test, we’ve even ‘snow tested’ them - and they get a big thumbs up from us ticking both the style and practically boxes for me.

Ellie wearing the Rose Violet Bobble Hat and Snood

One of the things I struggle the most to get the girls to wear is a scarf but it can make a real difference. They really love the Bernie and the Beanpole Snoods, they are easy to put on and comfortable to wear and just keep that extra little bit of heat in. Ellie has been wearing hers to school and she can easily put it on herself and it doesn’t get in the way at playtime.

Lottie wearing the Mint Waffle Bobble Hat and Snood

If you follow me over on Instagram you’ll know that we have quite an extensive bobble hat collection. I love the bright colours of our latest additions. They are amazing quality, fleece lined and super soft and I think the girls look great in them!

Lottie wearing the Mint Waffle Hat and Snood and Phoebe wearing the Rose Violet Bobble Hat

I really like that the designs are simple, yet bold and but aren’t stereotypically girly. Ellie although only 6, is becoming increasingly choosy about what she wants to wear and thinks the headband is fantastic. I think it’s more about her finding her individuality and expressing herself rather than fashion at this stage. I don’t mind what she wears as long as she is warm!

Ellie wearing the Rose Violet Headband and Snood

In terms of other plus points for me they are machine washable which is really important when they are being worn when out and about adventuring -my girls manage quite a bit of velocity with their puddle jumping splashed! The size range is great so they will last a few winters (my girls are wearing M and the snoods are one size) The XL bobble hats will fit an adult if you fancy a bit of twinning!

Phoebe wearing the Rose Violet Bobble Hat

Bernie and the Beanpole have a fab range of accessories including mittens, leg warmers, pjs and comfy loungewear all in really stylish and cool designs. I think I may have to invest in some leg warmers for my girls who are rather fond of skirts and dresses for adventuring in, the 80s child in me wants a pair too! Pop over and take a look at the collection HERE.

Me x

*This is a collaborative post, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

20 January 2018

Phoebe is Four

To my lovely little Phoebe,

There is a theme running with these letters having just looked over the last two... you are in an awful rush to grow up! As I put you to bed on your birthday you asked me when you would be five! You've been asking for the last 364 days when you will be four! I think you just like a good party and cake, in fact I know you love a good party and cake and who can blame you. I want you not to wish your years away though my sweet girl because right now you are everything that is wonderful about childhood - inquisitive, adventurous, brave innocent and absolutely unapologetic with zest for life that is enviable and which radiates from you. Your imagination is also absolutely beautiful and you are convinced that every time it's frosty or snows that you have made it happen with your 'ice powers'! It certainly makes me smile as i'm scraping ice off the windscreen on the school run.

A letter to my daughter Phoebe on her 4th Birthday

You know your own mind and do not take any nonsense which I really admire because it's taken me almost 34 years to get there! You have a brilliantly unique sense of style which I'm not sure many other people could carry off to be honest. I love how you express yourself with your outfits and request bizarre hairstyles and choose your best party dress for playgroup - because why on earth not?! Your current love is stick on earrings, teamed with a tutu and a top with daisies on which is far too small for you but that you are refusing to relinquish. You are also developing an entrepreneurial spirit, or rather the skill of learning how to negotiate with your parents... and recently charged your daddy 80p to appease Lottie who was having a bit of meltdown because she wanted to wear your flowery pyjamas!

You love going swimming with daddy on Wednesdays just the two of you while your sisters are at school and playschool and I'm really pleased you get that time together. You are particularly proud at the moment because you swam to the edge all by yourself and while you don't like deep water we struggle to keep you above the water in the shallow end as you dive beneath the surface like a little mermaid.

You have a ridiculously sweet tooth and love to bake, mostly to lick the bowl I think and will take any excuse for a hot chocolate or milkshake at our favourite cafe. We've had some of our best chats you and I over a babycino in Waitrose, I love to sit opposite you and share the simple joy of hot bubbly milk sprinkled with chocolate.

You are great company, asking lots of questions and making us laugh and also the biggest instigator of dancing in the kitchen which has become a family favourite. You love your sisters and have such gorgeous relationships with them both, you relish your role as both a little sister and a big sister - looking up to Ellie and showing Lottie the way and I'm really, really proud of you for that.

You love playing with trinkets, your dolls and cutting and sticking and are getting to grips with forming some letters and writing your name. You're really good at aqua beads and sit so patiently putting them all in place. You're learning how to ride your balance bike at the moment having mastered your scooter and I can see how much you love the challenge in your eyes. You balance bike has actually been sat under the stairs since your last birthday pretty much unused but then one day the other week you decided you wanted to ride it and off you went! You do everything on your terms and when you're ready and I totally respect you for that. This year you will be starting school, which given the above will go either one way or another - you will either saunter in with a little smile and a wave over your shoulder or we will have protest on our hands! Either way my darling girl know that I will be there for you whatever.

All my love

Mummy x

You can read previous birthday letters here:

Phoebe is 3
Phoebe is 2