Tips for starting nursery

Harry has officially finished nursery. Writing that honestly breaks my heart, we love Harry's nursery, they have done so much for him and he wouldn't be developmentally where he is now without the wonderful staff and key workers he had there. Harry started nursery in September of 2017 so has been there for almost 3 years. He initially went 5 days a week, 50 weeks of the year 8am to 6pm, so he was there more than he was home. Thinking about all the time he has spent at nursery got me thinking about all of the things that we had no idea he would need and I thought I would put together a nice list of tips and some essentials so that any other parents in that position have a starting point. 

This is actually a photo of Harry at nursery in September 2017!

Obviously, every nursery is different so it would be worth taking to them to see if there is anything you need I haven't listed!

1. Buy cheap 'Play' clothes - I know, especially if this is your first child you may have spent lots of money on beautiful clothes for them, I know I did! But please do not send them into nursery in those beautiful expensive clothes, I guarantee you they will be ruined. Go to your closest Primark and pick up a load of their £1.80 T-shirts and some cheap jogging bottoms or leggings. Things that you wouldn't care about getting stained or ripped or ruined in any way. And a big tip is to buy more than you think you may need. Harry still now has around 10 pairs of jogging bottoms and too many cheapy Primark T-shirts to found and every single one of them has a stain on it!

2. Get a recognisable bag - This is so important, especially if when your little one starts nursery they are still in nappies, while your changing bag is beautiful and probably cost a bit of money, the likelihood is someone another parent at nursery probably has the same or a similar bag, which can be confusing for nursery staff when looking for bottles, nappies or spare clothes, so try to use a bag specifically for your child or have some kind of easily recognisable feature on it. We used a backpack from My 1st Years, that was personalised with Harry's name, however, please be aware that personalised bags are not necessarily recommended as it advertises your child's name, maybe think about initials.


3, Label everything - This one seems so obvious now, but back when we were first sending Harry we honestly never even thought about it. We lost so many clothes, a few teddies and even a few packs of wipes in the first few months of Harry being a nursery because there are so many kids running around and things get wet or messy. We ended up using a sharpie to write in the label of all of Harry's clothes and packets of wipes and stopped letting him take toys in. 

4. Buy costumes well in advance - My word, how expensive are world book day costumes? For something that your children wear for one day and again are probably going to get messy or wet, but one thing I've noticed throughout the years is costumes are a lot cheaper online and easy to get hold of in all sizes when its not close to world book day or Halloween, so why not buy them a few months before and save yourself some pennies!



4. Buy 'nursery' outdoor wear - The number of times, in the beginning, we forgot to grab Harry's coat, wellies or hat and gloves so to remedy this we went out and got a second set to leave at nursery on Harry's peg. This meant that he always had them available as nursery would take the children outside even if it was chilly and wet, but make sure you label them all!

What to Watch on Netflix - Documentaries

Who didn't spend most of lockdown with Netflix? I know I did! Netflix is full of some great series and movies, and some not so great ones honestly, but I thought I would list my Netflix recommendations, for if you were looking for something new to watch! 

This post I am going to be focusing on documentaries.


The first thing I will always recommend someone watching is BlackFish. As a 90's baby, I was just as obsessed as everybody else with Free Willy and was desperate to go to SeaWorld to see the Orcas perform, then back in 2016, while on maternity leave, I consumed the entirety of Netflix (or so it seemed) and came across BlackFish. I won't spoil it for you but I highly recommend you check it out. 

My second Netflix go-to has to be Making a Murderer. If you haven't seen it, where have you been?! If you love crime documentaries check this out, and please someone, tell me, did they do it?!

A more recent Netflix documentary that I could not stop watching until the end was Surviving R.Kelly. R.Kelly was a huge part of my childhood growing up in the '90s and I must have been completely oblivious because I never had any idea that all of this stuff was going on - like him marrying a 15-year-old Aaliyah. This documentary was wonderfully done and had me in tears. However, I can never listen to R.Kelly's music again.

I am a huge history buff and as a child was obsessed with the story of Anastasia so when Netflix put on the Docu-drama The Last Czars I knew I had to watch it. I finished the series in a day and loved every bit of it. I felt that this was different too as it has the dramatisation in with the documentary making it much more enjoyable to watch - If you loved Anastasia definitely check it out!

Who didn't love Don't F**K with Cats? I honestly felt like I was watching a crime drama series and couldn't stop watching - Apart from when the cats where being hurt! - But it was definitely addictive. Give it a watch if you haven't already. 

Best bath time products for toddlers

Bath time. Why is it some children love to have a bath and some hate it?

Harry has never been the biggest fan. He's never laid down in the bath and hates to have his hair washed - I'm honestly not sure he will ever grow out of it. 

But today I wanted to talk about the products we use in the bath with Harry. It's not the longest list but we do have some firm favourites. These are things we've used pretty much since the beginning. Harry has incredibly sensitive skin and changing the products we use usually irritate his skin so we tend to leave it alone. 

Harry pretty much only has a bath before bed. He doesn't have one every night because when he was younger it would dry out his skin. Because his bath time is before bed we use the 'bedtime bath' I can't tell you if it works or not, it's just something we have always done. We have tried the Johnsons brand and honestly haven't found it any different to the generic brand so use the Tesco own right now. 

To wash Harry's hair we use the dove baby shampoo. Harry is probably old enough now to use normal shampoo now but I love this stuff and his hair is so soft after using it I can never resist!

After bath time Harry has some Child's Farm moisturiser or if his skin is particularly bad we pull out the diprobase! If you have dry skin - definitely try diprobase its the best!

Activities to do at home with toddlers

I don't know about everyone else's children but Harry is not loving life during lockdown. He is really struggling with what to do, he's used to running around with 30 other children and so being at home 90% of the day with just me most of the time is hard for him. 

We have been trying to keep him occupied but his attention span is honestly about 3.3 seconds so we have been looking into things we can do with him to keep him busy until bedtime! 

We have been playing lots of Orchard Toys games with Harry. He didn't have any Orchard Toys games before lockdown and now we have them I wonder why I didn't buy any before! We don't play them properly, Harry just isn't there yet, but we do play the games. We currently have Shopping list, Lunchbox, Fruit Frenzy and Tell the time and he loves them. I got these in a bundle from eBay in pristine condition. 
Harry loves to play ‘game’.

Baking is another great one. Baking is a huge passion of mine and Harry loves to get involved - even if he just licks the spoon and bowl! 

Tablet time is great for Harry. He will use his Amazon kindle fire to play games -what he doesn’t realise is he is learning at the same time! 

Harry will also sit for hours playing with his dinosaurs. We try and spend as much time as we can in his room playing with his small toys and currently the dinos are his favourite.

What activities do you like to do at home with your toddler? 

Toddler toy reccomendations

I'm always on the hunt for the best toys for Harry, his attention span is about 5.5 seconds long (it has definitely improved over lockdown from the 3 seconds but still not great) so he needs lots of entertaining, toys are definitely one of the best ways to do it!

While we have been at home we have been lucky enough to test lots of toys so I thought I would put together a list of the ones we have loved the best.

1. Kinetic Sand - This has been the biggest win for us! I ordered it randomly on Amazon about halfway through lockdown and Harry has played with it every single day. 

2. Mega Blocks - Mega blocks are great for younger children when you feel that Lego may be too small. Harry got the Mega Blocks table for Christmas and honestly loves to build a tower and knock it over!

3. Toot Toot Cars - These things are SUPER annoying but great for little hands. Harry loves the noises and will push them around the floor all day if we let him. 


4. Orchard Toys Games - We have a few of these now. I wasn't sure how Harry would react but he loves the Shopping list game and can easily match the pieces. Great games for younger children and really educational too. 

5. Puzzles - I have ordered so many puzzles lately and Harry is getting really good at doing them on his own. They are great for hand-eye co-ordination and come in all of your children's favourite characters! Highly recommend.

Book recommendations for Toddlers



Books. Who doesn't love a good book? Harry has always loved to flick through books, even though he can't read himself. He will always be asking for us to read to him and we have built books into most of our daily routines. 
Harry has so many books, but I thought I would go through some of my recommendations for books for toddlers. 

1. The Gruffalo

While this book is a classic, I have to admit I had never read this as a child. I'm not really sure why we got this one for Harry but I'm so glad we did. This was the first book he sat and listened to us reading the whole way through and since then has asked for it most days. I highly recommend this book, I love that it rhymes and talks about different body parts too!

2. We're Going On a Bear Hunt

How many times have we read this book to Harry? Two hundred? Three? He never gets bored of it. This one is currently in our bedtime story pile but Harry will ask for it read at any time of the day. It's gotten so Sam and can tell the story without reading the book, and Harry knows most of it too! But all in all, it is a great book to read to your toddlers and the repetition will also come in useful when teaching them to read too!

3. Green Eggs and Ham

This book was one of my favourites when I was Harry's age, and now is one of his too! We like to use different tones of voice when reading with Harry and he finds it hilarious with this one when we make it sound slightly angry with dear Sam-I-Am. Dr Suess also has some other great books but this one is a great starter in my opinion.

4. The Large Family

Okay so this isn't one book, but 5. I remember reading these in school and loving them - Harry really enjoys them but that could be because they are elephants. However, the stories are short enough to keep a toddlers attention and the set makes a lovely gift!

5. Hands off my Honey

This book was a random find for us over Christmas when the works had their 10 books for £10 deal on in-store. We had gone in because they also had the two missing Large family books that Harry needed to complete his set and thought we may as well take advantage of the deal for stocking fillers for him. We found some great books but Harry really enjoys this one, possibly because of the gruff voice we put on for the bear but he will giggle at the end when he learns it is all a game. Great book!

Our birthday in lockdown!

Happy Birthday to us!

 

If you don’t know, Sam and I share a birthday – Crazy I know! – on the 10th of June. This year we were supposed to be in Prague over our birthday, just Sam and I, but for obvious reasons this didn’t happen and we are looking at rebooking for next year.


We didn’t celebrate our birthday on the 10th as Harry had an appointment at Great Ormand Street Hospital, but a few days before we booked a take-away afternoon tea at a local tea room, picked it up and took it to the stately home near us to picnic in the grounds. The house was not open due to the Covid – 19 situation but the ground were and so we leisurely ate our picnic in the grounds then went exploring! Harry loved the afternoon tea – the tea room did a children’s tea too and Harry had dinosaur-shaped sandwiches and a huge slice of cake which was probably his favourite bit! – and had such fun exploring the grounds of the home. We spent most of the day there.





A few days after our birthday we did a celebratory video chat quiz with all of our family and were very kindly treated to a wonderful Turkish take – away by Sam’s family.

 

While it wasn’t the birthday we had imagined and expected, it has been a great way to celebrate our day!

Books to read in lockdown

Please note this post contains affiliate links, this does not affect the price you pay but I may earn a small commission should you make a purchase.

Today's post is all about books! I very rarely talk about books on here but honestly, I love to read - not that I get much time to do so now but thank god for Audible - but now that my furlough is over I thought I would talk you through some of my favourite books if you are looking for something to read during lockdown. 


Eve of Man - Giovanna and Tom Fletcher
                                                           
This book is one of my favourite 'new books' I've never read anything from Giovanna or Tom Fletcher before but currently in my Amazon wishlist is EVERYTHING they have ever written (I think Harry is going to love 'The Dinosaur that pooped...' books) This book is brilliant. Definitely a Young Adult (YA) book but seamless. The idea behind this book is fab and I cannot wait to read the second instalment which I have ordered and should be here very soon!

You can find Eve of Man here

Dublin Murder Squad series - Tana French
                                               
So this is a series of crime books, but what I love is that you can read them as stand-alone books too - They are linked by the main character in each book which is just ingenious. My favourite from the series is The Likeness but every single one of them is beautifully written and just amazing. I was never a 'crime' lover when it came to books but I read In The Woods when I was around 15 and was obsessed. There are six books in total

You can find these here - 

Why Mummy... Series - Gill Sims

I think if you aren't a mum you maybe won't appreciate these books as much but I have laughed and cried and over every moment of these books. Confession - I haven't technically read these books as I have them on audiobook - but all in all fab books - There are three in the series and I would ADORE more!

The links for these - 

Harry Potter - JK Rowling
                                                     
I can't do a book post without talking about Harry Potter! If you haven't read them - Where have you been?! If you have - Why not read them again!

Find the set here or individually (please note - I don't think you can get my covers anymore as these were the original publish covers);

The Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult
                                                    
This was the first book by Jodi Picoult that I read and I couldn't put it down! Its a crime book again - with loads of other stuff thrown in. This book had me crying towards the end so make sure you have your tissues ready. If you've never read anything by this author please read this one!

Find this here


And the final recommendation from me - The Causal Vacancy - JK Rowling
                                   
This book was really controversial when it first came out and was JK Rowling's first foray into books for adults and away from Harry Potter, many fans didn't rate it but I loved it! It felt like JK Rowling understood her audience and as a Harry Potter child, I needed something more substantial - and boy did she deliver. A fab read but gets dark and heavy in places so be prepared for that. 

The Casual Vacancy available here

I'm always on the lookout for new books to read so let me know your favourites! And if you read any of these let me know what you thought.

Organisation tips for working mums

Well, my furlough is over and I am back to work. 

I had nearly 11 weeks off in total and have just finished week one back at work. Getting back into that routine was hard, to say the least. 

I definitely made things easier for myself though. I was lucky enough to have about 5 days notice before my return to work so I could prepare. When thinking back to that Sunday night before I felt really smug about how organised I was. So I thought I would put together some of my tips for working mums. 

1. Have a nighttime routine - A solid nighttime routine has always been the biggest help when it comes to being organised, and I'm not just talking about your child. It's important to make sure you have enough time to do everything you need to and still get enough sleep so that you can function at work the next day

2. Plan every detail - I am obsessive about being prepared and so have a list of things that I keep in my work bag at all times - I have a work bag post coming up if you are interested too - I check my bag every night and pop in everything I need. This is also important because you need to know what it is you are doing each day - Maybe you are going shopping after work or out with friends, so you may need to grab some reusable bags or lipstick and eyeliner for after work too. 
                                        
3. Get everything ready the night before - If you only take notice of one of the organisation tips in this post, let it be this one. I hate rushing around in the morning, trying to grab lunch and get my bag together while dealing with Harry who is asking for snacks and juice and something on the TV or me to read his book with him. When I already have everything ready and its just a case of grabbing my lunch from the fridge as I'm leaving the house means I'm more relaxed, also means that I get half an hour to sit with Harry and read his book or play his mega blocks before I leave. 
4. Develop a work 'capsule wardrobe' - Obviously, if you wear a uniform this one isn't really all that relevant to you. If you don't, however, I have found it very useful to have a capsule wardrobe for work that make picking my outfits so much easier. I have 8 tops, 2 dresses, 3 pairs of trousers and 3 different pairs of shoes in my work wardrobe at all times. I tend to swap pieces out every so often so it doesn't get too samey but basically wear the same thing. It's not adventurous but means I have more time to relax and spend less time stressing out my outfit.
                                        
5. Meal planning - I think I would meal plan, even if I weren't a working mum, I hate that question 'what's for dinner' Have a plan. This will help with time-saving and also help you build your shopping list. 

I hope you have found these tips helpful! Let me know if you think I've missed some.

What no-one tells you about becoming a mother

Motherhood. What a crazy, amazing, terrifying, beautiful rollercoaster. 

The moment you announce that pregnancy, people are telling you about the sleepless nights, the constant dirty nappies and huge washing pile that never ends and all of the other terrifying things that pop into their head. They tell you about the horrible labour, the after pains and how your body will never really go back to the way it was again. 

But they don't tell you about all the wonderful things that motherhood brings. 

No-one tells you that becoming a mother will be the best thing you will ever do. They don't tell you about how it feels when you get to hold your baby for the first time, that rush of pure love that nothing in this world can taint. A type of love you have never known before.

They don't tell you about those quiet moments when you just hold your baby in your arms and bask. 

No-one ever thinks to mention that indescribable feeling when they smile for the first time, the first time you hear 'mama', their first steps and every milestone after. No-one tells you how proud of your child you will be for the simplest of things. 

I'm not pretending that motherhood is easy. I've been doing this for just over 4 years now and I swear it never gets any easier, but these special moments make it so worth it.

So next time someone tells you they are pregnant, maybe instead of the horror stories they are getting from everyone else and their mother, tell them about the special times, tell them that it is the most wonderful and amazing thing they will ever do. 
 

How to stay positive during lockdown

I know, I know another lockdown post. 

I swore I wouldn't write too much about the lockdown, but we are in week 8 now and honestly, I'm not finding much else to write about. 

I read through some of my other posts about being in lockdown and I realised that they were all a bit... depressive. So I got myself together and swore to myself I would remain positive for the rest of this mess that we as a world are finding ourselves in. 

Staying positive in a global pandemic is admittedly not easy, but this is how I plan to try to stay on track.



Thinking about the future

This is not going to last forever, although it certainly feels like it will sometimes, we will be able to see family and friends at some point, we will be able to do all of the things we are missing, whether that be going on a night out, to the pub, to the gym, or even just nipping to the shops to do a bit of retail therapy - I know which onesI'm most excited for. 

While everything may not be exactly like it was before, we will get back to some sort of normalcy. When I feel myself getting fed up or upset about the lockdown, I think of that quote 'this too shall pass' and it will. 

Making plans

Sam and I were supposed to be celebrating our birthday in Prague this year. Our birthday is 10th June and so this will obviously not be happening, so we have agreed that when this is all over we will still go. We also have plans for days out with Harry and fun things to do as a family. 

While we cannot put an exact date on these, it's nice to think about things we would like to do when we are able to do so. 

Think about all of the things we can do and have right now - and make the most of it

Lockdown, while hard, has given me so much time with Harry and Sam. While I am at work I rarely got to see Sam and he works shifts, and although he is a key worker and still working as normal, we get to spend lots of time together. I am also here every day with Harry. The moment lockdown is over he is off to his Nanna's house for a good couple of days, but I am loving spending all of this time with him that I never would have gotten before. It has opened my eyes to just how smart, fun and just purely amazing my little boy is. 

Be grateful

The one thing I am reminding myself of every day and that keeps me positive is how grateful I am that we are all well and together. If lockdown had not happened I don't know if that would have been the case. It's still dangerous out there, and we all jump at every cough, but we are well and together, what more could I ask for?

Toddler Lunch Ideas

Today's post is all about food - Namely lunch for your toddlers!



Harry is currently 4, so I'm not 100% sure that he counts as a toddler, but these are some of the great meals we have been feeding him during lockdown!

Keep your eyes peeled for breakfast and dinner ideas too!


For most of Harry's meals, we use section plates. Harry gets very upset if things touch on his plate a lot of the time. 

Our current favourite plates for him are these munchkin apple shaped plates - We got ours from Amazon - You can find these here (Please be aware links to Amazon are affiliate links - I may earn a small commission for your purchase but this will not affect the amount you pay!)

1. Picnic lunch - This lunch is definitely a huge hit in our house. We try and keep this as balanced as possible - He usually has a sandwich, fruit, dairy, protein and a treat. While he doesn't always have everything listed we find when he has a picnic lunch he usually eats most of it quite well.




2. Snack lunch  - What toddler doesn't love a snack? Harry normally doesn't even really realise this is a lunch and always demolishes this. The most often used combination is hummus with carrot and cucumber, fruit, cheese string, chorizo and yoghurt, but again this varies depending on what we have in.




3. Hot lunch - This is possibly the one we have least for Harry and probably his least favourite but he still does love it. 
We do still tend to try and give Harry a balanced meal when giving him hot food though, so he always had some kind of fruit with these lunches. 









Postnatal depression symptoms and signs

For today's post, I wanted to talk about the symptoms and signs of Postnatal Depression. 

So first of all - What is Postnatal Depression?


Postnatal depression (PND) is a depression that affects parents who have recently had babies - Contrary to popular belief, PND can affect both the mothers and fathers of babies and symptoms can present up to two years after the birth of the baby. PND affects 1 in every 10 women giving birth every year. 

What symptoms should you look out for?

The NHS describes the symptoms of PND as
  • A persistent feeling of sadness and low mood. 
  • A lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
  • Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • Trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from contact with other people
  • Problems concentrating and making decisions
  • Frightening thoughts - For example thoughts of hurting the baby
Not everyone will have all symptoms and mostly these will come on slowly with the parent often not realising that they are suffering.

What is the difference between PND and 'Baby Blues'

Baby blues can often cause the mother to feel a bit down, tearful or anxious. These feeling do not last longer than two weeks. 

What to do if you think someone is suffering from PND

If you think someone is suffering from PND, the best thing to do would be to offer help. While I was suffering I couldn't cope with the daily tasks of looking after Harry on my own. I didn't get dressed and we would sit in the dark in front of the TV all day. 

I often found it helpful when people came round to lend a hand. Even to take Harry for an hour while I got a shower and possibly a nap. 

Another thing that would be helpful, would be to encourage them to seek medical help, but be sensitive about this - This was definitely not something I wanted to hear while I was at my worst. 

What are the treatments for PND?

There are lots of different options for treatment for PND. Every person is different and the depression affects them differently. Something that worked for one person may not work for another. 

  • Antidepressants
  • Therapy

There are also things that you can do yourself to help if you are suffering from PND such as exercise, eat well, have a schedule or routine, rest as often as you can, talk to people close to you and ask for help and making time for things you enjoy doing. 

When I was diagnosed, I felt like the worse mother in the world and honestly thought I would never feel any better and while I am nowhere near 'cured' and don't think I will ever be, I am doing so much better even with everything going on in the world right now. 

If you are worried about someone or think you may be suffering yourself, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I am happy to help where I can.

Down Syndrome Facts and Theories

Down Syndrome, Everybody knows something about it, but today I thought I would talk about some facts about down syndrome and disprove some 'theories' that people have. 



So first things first, if you want to know more about down syndrome you can find my blog post here but here are some facts about people with downs syndrome;


People with downs syndrome are NOT always happy. This is such a terrible theory that people have. The next time someone says this to me, I may need to give them Harry when he's having a meltdown. People with downs feel all emotions, exactly the same as you and me.

People with downs can have jobs and live independently –  I’ve lost count of the number of times people have said that Harry won't be able to have a job or live on his own. People with downs may need a little help, some may even need a lot of help but plenty live independently and have jobs.

 Children with downs syndrome are not always born to older parents – When I had Harry I was 23. 

People with downs syndrome have a normal life expectancy – In the past, people with downs syndrome have much shorter life expectancy than people without because there was no support. Fifty years ago if a child was born with downs syndrome they were put straight into a home or asylum and refused medical help for any issues. This isn’t the case anymore and people with downs syndrome can live as long as anyone else.

People with downs syndrome are often not overweight – Some people with downs syndrome may appear slightly overweight but this is caused by the low muscle tone which can be a symptom of downs syndrome.

People with Downs syndrome can have children –  Someone with downs syndrome is perfectly capable of having children. There are plenty of parents who have down syndrome. Sometimes males may have fertility difficulties but for the most part, they will be able to have children

These points I feel at incredibly important to remember about someone with downs syndrome but the most important thing to remember of course is that they are not defined by their diagnosis just like someone with cancer isn’t ‘that guy with cancer ben’ Harry isn’t ‘that boy who has downs syndrome Harry’ He’s just ‘Harry’ He’s not downs. And he isn’t the amazing little person he is because he has downs. He’s just Harry. Just like I am Kat and you are you. So the next time you meet a person who just happens to have downs syndrome, take the time to get to know them and don’t judge by their diagnosis.

Where It All Started

Birth Story

Harry's birth story seemed like a fitting first post on here. Bear with me because it was written months ago. More posts to follow ever...