Friday, December 14, 2018

Albie’s First Official Christmas

Well wrap me in bacon and call me a pig in a blanket - It's 10 days 'til Christmas!!

I'm super excited, can you tell?

Aside from from the normal things; the much anticipated Christmas dinner, the exchanging of presents, the round-the-clock tipples, the festive films and tv shows, there's one stand out reason why I am really looking forward to Christmas this year...

Albie can be part of it all.

I mean sure, he's still clueless as to what Christmas is, but he is able to join in  with the festivities regardless. So far he's enjoyed checking out all the sparkly lights and decs, bopping along to Christmas songs and sampling mince pies and gingerbread (he loves both - that's my boy). He's even had a special visit from Father Christmas at his nursery, where he got a little elf book and some bubbles for being a good boy.

For me, this is Albie's first official Christmas. Last year didn't count as he was just shy of 4 months - basically a very cute potato with arms and legs - and as much as he was there, he wasn't really part of the buzz. For Albie, Christmas day 2017 was a hazy one, fuelled by milk & naps. 

2018 will be the complete opposite. It will be lively, hectic and just wonderful. We are spending the day at home (our first Christmas at our house) so Albie will be the star of the show. I actually cannot wait.

Having Christmas at home also means we can work around his schedule so that he doesn't end up overtired or overstimulated. We can do what we need to do, when we need to do it to ensure he has the best day possible. And if he enjoys himself, we do too.

What are your plans this Christmas?

Until next time, 

Albie's Mum 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

50 Things I'm Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Hello & Happy Thanksgiving.

I may not be American or Canadian, nor will I be feasting on succulent roast turkey, yams and pumpkin pie today *sob* but there's something about this holiday that really resonates with me and therefore I'm going to celebrate it in my own personal way.

I bloody love the idea of dedicating a day to being thankful for all that you have in your life. Especially because I'm guilty of taking things for granted, as I'm sure we all are, occasionally.

It's easily done. Life passes us by far too quickly and we all get caught up in it, rarely taking the opportunity to just step back and APPRECIATE. Appreciate all that we have, both the big things (family, friends, our health) and the small, silly every day things that make us smile.

Today I'm mainly going to focus on the little things, because at this time of year, I often find myself struggling with my day-to-day happiness, motivation and energy levels (f**k you SAD).

So, in no particular order, here is a list of things that help make my life that little bit brighter when the days are oh-so-dark.

1. Being able to pause live tv.

2. Towels that have been on the radiator, bliss.

3. Albie's 'cuddles' that are actually more like little headbutts of happiness.

4. How helpful *most* people are when I'm out and about with the buggy.

5. My dishwasher.

6. Tights that I can pull right up to under my boobs. Who needs spanx eh?

7. Big fluffy socks.

8. Options white hot chocolate.

9. An 8am lie in - 21-year-old me is is pissing herself with laughter at this one.

10. That slight dull ache you get in your muscles the day after a good workout.

11. Red wine.

12. Dark chocolate, ok, any chocolate.

13. Big baggy jumpers.

14. All the festive food & drinks that are everywhere this time of year.

15. David Attenborough's Dynasties. 

16. Bitterly cold but sunny winter days.

17. That phones double up as cameras.

18. My husband's foot rubs. 

19. Cereal. It's seriously underrated, no? 

20. Fresh bed sheets.

21. My gym membership. I'm a firm believer that keeping myself active helps boost not only my energy levels but my mood too.

22. My hot water bottle.

23. Memes.

24. Netflix.

25. This blog for giving me an outlet.

26. Game nights. Good food, games and great company. What more could a girl possibly want?

27. The return of Spyro.

28. Trips to the cinema.

29. Hearty slow-cooker meals.

30. Books that you can't put down.

31. Too-hot bubble baths.

32. Curry nights with the girls.

33. Blankets, all the blankets.

34. My 'days off' work that I get to spend with my son.

35. When my house rabbit jumps up on the sofa for a cuddle.

36. The countdown to Christmas.

37. Power naps.

38. When you're laughing that hard it turns into silent laughter.

39. Cute old couples. Or cute old people in general. 

40. Crossing something off a to-do list that has been on there for ages.

41. My new outlook on life that I've had since Albie was born.

42. Albie's un-jaded view of the world.

43. Freebies.

44. Comedy shows, films, stand-ups. What's life without laughter?

45. When someone asks how I am and genuinely cares about the answer I give.

46. Concealer. Enough said.

47. Driving alone with the music blaring out the speakers.

48. All my plans for December.

49. Chinese takeaways.

50. Blustery, rainy weather whilst I'm dozing in bed.

What little things are you currently thankful for?

Until next time,

Albie's Mum

Thursday, November 15, 2018

12 Tips To Save Money When You Have A Baby Or Toddler

It’s hardly news that having a baby is not cheap. As soon as you spot that second little blue line on the pregnancy test, you’re mentally frittering away your hard-earned cash on dinky baby grows, nursery furniture and that all-important travel system. And that doesn’t stop when they reach toddlerhood – in fact the older they get, the more 'stuff' they seem to need.

However, there are ways you can cut back on costs without, well, going without.

Here are my top tips to save money when you’ve got a baby or toddler.

1. Scour the online marketplaces
Local buy and sell websites and groups – Facebook is full of them – are brilliant for picking up bargain baby wear or toys. Baby and toddler items have a short life so you will often find many items in nearly-new condition, in particular clothes for pre-mobile babies, I mean, apart from the v.unfortunate poonami victims, the majority of Albie’s newborn clothes stayed immaculate.

2. Also try charity shops
Charity shops are equally great for toys and baby furniture and by buying from them you are helping out a great cause. Win win.

3. Make your own baby food
If you're heading down the traditional weaning route, or plan on giving a bit of puree alongside finger food, consider making your own. In the early stages of weaning it is best to give your baby simple tastes anyway, so it makes sense to blend or mash whatever fruit or veg you have in the fridge and serve that up instead of expensive pouches and/or jars. If you’re short on time, batch cook a load and freeze in individual portions. These handy pots from Morrisons are great for making sure you only defrost what you need. 

4. Don’t assume branded is best
Don’t be fooled by clever marketing and fancy-ass packaging. In my experience, supermarket own brand baby products often match or exceed the quality of branded products (Aldi Mamia nappies are a prime example). They are all required to meet the same super strict regulations after all.

5. Buy normal food
You don’t need to buy specific pasta, cous cous, rice cakes or porridge for babies when normal, much cheaper varieties do the same job. Same goes for snacks, for example, instead of buying individual cheese portions marketed for kids, cut up some chunks from a block of cheddar.

6. Stick to sleepsuits
When your baby is teeny-tiny, it's a right old faff trying to dress them in proper outfits, not to mention completely pointless. Save yourself some ££ by just buying sleepsuits/rompers and vests for those early months, it really is all they need. Besides, no doubt some generous relatives or friends will buy actual clothes which you can dress your baby in if an occasion arises.

7. Buy in bulk
You'll save a fair bit of money by picking up those humongous packs of nappies or wipes, it's not like they won't get used after all.

8. Hit up the baby events
Supermarkets and drugstores are always holding events for babies and toddlers, slashing prices on all sorts of things from bottles to clothing. Keep an eye out and you are sure to save on things you would need to buy anyway.

9. Only buy what you need
Beware of the countless 'miracle' and 'must-have' baby products which promise to make your life as a parent as easy as possible - they can be costly and well, unnecessary.

I'm going to use the rather pricey Sleepyhead as an example here. I'm not slating it as a product, (I know a couple of mums who absolutely swear by theirs) but in the past I've seen many influencers advertise it as an essential if you want your baby to have a hope in hell in sleeping through the night.

Well, here's where I call bullshit. Albie has been sleeping through since he was a few months old (Yes, we are lucky and yes I am a total cow bag) and he has only had his sleeping bag in a cot.

So yeah, my advice is to start off by only purchasing the basics and then go from there once your baby is born. Every baby is different and what one can't live without, another won't get on with.

10. Find out what they like
This tip is one for when you're looking for toys to buy. I've previously made the mistake in buying a hyped-up toy based on glowing reviews and well, Albie didn't want to play with it. Great.

Now I look to see what he gravitates towards when we are at play groups or at other peoples houses. If I notice that he seems to be particularly enjoying a toy that he doesn't have at home, I'll make a mental note for later.

11. Look for church play groups or ones held in the local library

They normally cost no more than £1, often 50p and this usually includes a hot drink and a biscuit.

It's worth noting that some baby and toddler groups are better than others (I found some a bit cliquey and unfriendly) so it may take a bit of looking around to find one that you enjoy and feel comfortable going to. It is worth persevering though.

12. Don't go mad on birthdays or Christmas
Your baby will not know nor care what you have bought them to celebrate these special occasions. Obviously buy them something but don't go mad - it won't be too long before they're claiming that they NEED every toy that they see.

Do you have any tips that I've missed? I'd love to hear them.

Until next time,

Albie's Mum

Monday, November 12, 2018

'Enjoy Your Day Off'

"Enjoy your day off" they chortled as they waved me out the office.

'Day off' I laughed to myself.

There is no such thing as a day off when you're looking after a toddler. In fact, a day caring for any small child is very much a 'day on'. But of course outsiders don't often see it that way, especially those without kids. 

A day where you've got the control over what you do is a leisure day - except no, it's not really, because if your toddler doesn't want to do what you want to do then you're not doing it, not peacefully anyway. 

Don't get me wrong, I love my non-working days with Albs, but it grates on me when people view it as 'time off', that it's somehow easier than going to work. Yes, it is a privilege to have one-on-one time to bond with my child but that time isn't just spent playing, watching Hey Duggee (new fave in our household, not just with Albie) or meeting up with other 'lucky' not-at-work folk and their offspring for coffee and a catch up. 

More often than not, my two days at home involve trying to catch up on the never-ending housework and life admin whilst simultaneously trying to care for, keep safe and stimulate a fearless child that has the attention span of a flea. It's a real balancing act.

And as with conventional work, there are both good and bad parenting days. There are often successful days, days that go without a single hiccup where I'll be revelling in my 'on point' parenting skills, longing to be at home with my beautiful, smiley boy every day.

But there are also days where I'm practically clawing at the font door, waiting for my husband to get in from work because I'm at my wits end with our angry, defiant toddler who has been determined to turn every simple task into a battle. Days where I'm covered in snot, banana mush and other unidentifiable stains. Days where I feel like an absolute fraud of a mum with no fucking clue what she's doing.

And this is why I think being a parent is often referred to as being the 'hardest job in the world', because it is so damn unpredictable. As soon as you think you've got it sussed, it's all change.

It's this level of unpredictability and uncertainty that stresses the point that having a day off with a young child is not a day off, you cannot simply switch off and relax. It may not be a job in the traditional sense but parenting is an extremely full on role. 

What do you think? is a day off work a day off regardless?

Until next time,

Albie's Mum

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Motherhood, 14 Months On

Ok so this was supposed to be a post marking 12 months of motherhood. However, being the queen procrastinator that I am, I kind of missed the boat with that one, by 2 ruddy months.

However I still want to write about the journey I've been on since becoming a mum, because it has been epic, crazy, mad, monumental, insane. Like no other journey I've been on in my 27 years on this planet.

So here goes. Motherhood, FOURTEEN months on.

Albie is officially a toddler. I know, technically babies become toddlers at 12 months old but I was refusing to refer to him as one until he y'know, actually toddled.

Well guess what guys, he now not only toddles, but he full-on walks. He started exactly 3 weeks ago: I brought him home from nursery, sat him down on the living room floor to play and literally, out of nowhere he just stood up and took at least 4 steps. Albie's dad, my mum and I who all happened to be watching him were gobsmacked. Before that day he had never even attempted to stand up on his own, let alone walk, yet here he was acting as if it was no big deal. Show off.

He won't crawl anywhere now, he much prefers staggering around, arms upright in the air like a little drunk.

Anyway, I digress. I'll stop waffling on about Albie and his newly found skills and get back to the point..,

2 months ago, or thereabouts, Albie had his first birthday. Our little boy turned one. And whilst Albie was none the wiser about this huge milestone he had reached, it hit me HARD. 

Albie reaching the end of his babyhood lead me to feel some really strong, conflicting emotions. 

On one hand I felt super proud. Proud of myself for getting through the first year with only a few 'WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK HAVE I DONE?' moments. Proud of myself for being a good mum (and also proud for finally having the confidence to believe that I'm a good mum) and also vvv. proud of my son and the amazing little person he is becoming before my very eyes.

Yet beside this overwhelming sense of pride, I also felt a deep sadness. I actually wept as I was getting things organised for Albie's party, big fat tears were streaming down my face and they didn't stop for a good hour or so.

I cried out of disbelief. After the first few weeks which seemed to drag out for an eternity, the year literally flew by and I couldn't believe that my baby was almost a whole year old. Just how?!

I cried out of regret. Honestly, I found motherhood a relentless slog in the beginning, what with the breastfeeding, sleepless nights and postpartum anxiety; so much so that I wished away a lot of the newborn days. 

I regret this immensely. I'd give my right arm to spend another afternoon with a newborn Albie snoozing peacefully on my chest, with only a packet of hobnobs and the remote control within my reach. Other mums, the veteran mums were right - they DO grow up so bloody fast. And after experiencing this first hand I wish I had appreciated every little baby stage for what it was. I wish that I had really savoured being a mum for the first time. 

Obviously all of that is easy to say in hindsight, now that I've got a little parenting experience under my belt. And I know that I coped as best as I could have at the time so it's pointless to beat myself up about what 'could have been' when it really couldn't and would never have been. Nevertheless it won't stop me getting emotional when I scroll through photos from last year, or when my brain registers that the toddler waggling his finger in my face, declaring no over and over again is the same child that could not hold his own head up just 12 months ago.

After 14 months of being a mum my conclusion is this: that motherhood is bizarre and full of contradictions. The most bizarre one being that your life completely changes overnight, yet as soon as you're holding that precious bundle in your arms, you can't imagine your life without them.

There ain't no hood like motherhood.

Until next time,

Albie's mum

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

To Hate The Term 'Full-Time Mum'

Right, whilst the little man is down for a nap I'm going to get something off my chest and have a bit of a rant. A rant about the labels attached to mums depending on their working status.

I see it all the time, and I'm sure you all do too - women on facebook with the words 'full-time mum' or, much worse, 'full-time yummy mummy' written as their job description.


Now before I go on, I need to make it clear that I've got nothing against mums who don't work, for whatever reason. There are many factors that influence whether a mum goes to work or not; it's a very personal decision, one that doesn't need judgement from others, so there's that.

What I do have an issue with is the terminology 'full-time mum', as it insinuates that those of us with jobs clock off as mum as soon as we mosey off to work. That we are only deemed worthy of the mum title when actually with our kids.

I never stop being Albie's mum.

No matter where I am; whether I'm tapping away at a keyboard in my office or standing directly over him changing his pooey nappy as he tries to kick me in the face. He is always at the forefront of my mind. He is always my responsibility. He is always my beautiful son whom I would shift the earth for.

And yes, I occasionally feel guilty that I can't be with him when I'm working, but I know that ultimately, having a job is part of what makes me a responsible parent. My income is needed to help pay for the food, bills and all of the other things things that are integral to Albie's welfare.

I am a mum 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, along with every other mum, working or otherwise - although, let's be honest, isn't every mum a working mum in some respect?

Why does there need to be a label attached? Why can't we all just be mums? After all, I am not labelled a part time wife, daughter or friend. What's the difference?

Until next time,

Albie's 'just' mum

Friday, October 26, 2018

Gift Guide For A One-Year-Old

1-year-olds are tricky to buy for. They are no longer babies but they’re not yet fully-fledged toddlers with real, genuine interests. They are heavy-handed, very fickle and have the attention span of a gnat.

Therefore, in my opinion, the best gifts for newbie toddlers are either practical or versatile. Things that either have a lot of mileage or that can be used in different ways.

Below I’ve whipped up a little gift guide of things that would make great presents for any 1-year-old. 

Albie has 100% been my inspiration for this list. Some of these items he is lucky enough to have already and the rest are things I know he would absolutely love. 
1.  Wheelybug Bee, Small - £64.95
Wheelybugs are designed to promote spacial awareness and gross motor skills whilst providing hours of fun for your little one. The distinctive shape and padded seat make it comfortable for little bums and the castor wheels allow for movement in any direction.

They're quirky and fun to look at and are made of the highest quality materials, meaning that they will easily withstand the test of time. It's a pity they don't make ones for adults imo.

2. Baby Leggings, Jojo Maman Bebe - £10.00
When it comes to baby clothes I’m of the opinion that you can never have enough. It's not unusual for Albie to have 2-3 outfit changes in a day because his clothes are covered in dribble, food stains or just general grime.

So as a parent, clothes as gifts are always well received.

These leggings are not only the cutest things ever, EVER but they are also really thick and stretchy so ideal for little ones on the move. FYI, If you snap these up now you can save £5 when you buy 2.

3. Personalised Book Caddy, - £30
These book caddies make such unique and thoughtful gifts, Albie has one sat proudly in his nursery.

I like it because it keeps his books organised whilst allowing them to be on display. It's also handy that I can take it from room to room if I wish to read to him elsewhere in the house. I can imagine that when he is older, Albie will love having his own personal, portable library too.

The caddies are available in 10 colours to suit any colour scheme and can be personalised with a message of your choice.

4. Buckle Toy Bizzy, Amazon -£19.99
I came across buckle toys purely by chance. After noticing how infatuated Albie is with straps and buckles I thought I’d hop onto google and see if there was a toy that incorporated these things. Alas there is, buckle toy Bizzy.

There are several fun designs to choose from but the concept is the same for all. Buckle toys help to develop and strengthen fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, problem solving, and colour recognition.

5. That's Not My Zoo...Boxset, Usbourne - £24.95
Books make excellent presents for babies and toddlers, especially interactive books with flaps or touchy-feely bits.

At the moment Albie is particularly enjoying the ‘that’s not my..’ series of books from Usborne. They’re bright, colourful and have a delightfully simple concept. Albie loves the repetition of the words and running his fingers over the large textured patches.

6. Tomy Super Rainbow Deluxe Aquadoodle, Argos - £19.00
Aquadoodle is basically a playmat that you write on with a pen filled with water. It’s mess-free, reusable and encourages children to be creative - whats not to love? This particular rainbow mat comes with several stamps and a paintbrush as well as a pen, making it excellent value for money.

7. My First Dinner Set, M&S - £15
As well as being dinky and cute, dinner sets like this one from M&S are ideal for babies firmly on their weaning journey.

We have a few sets like this and they are used almost everyday - we even bought a spare set to keep at Nanny's house.

8. Mega Bloks First Builders Maxi Bloks, Argos - £11.00
You can't go wrong with Mega Bloks. Toddlers enjoy them as they are a breeze to fit together and take apart and parents like that they are big enough to spot whilst trudging through the living room, avoiding some painful consequences.

Joking aside, there are endless possibilities with Mega Bloks so they are guaranteed to be brought out time and time again, even when other toys have fallen by the wayside.

9. Lily & Dan Penguin Wellies - £6.99 ALDI
At the moment ALDI are selling a range of kids wellies in really cute designs. Personally, I think a pair of these would make a lovely budget gift for any 1 year old who loves being outdoors.

10. Explore & More Fox Xylophone, Jojo Maman Bebe - £18
Toddlers like to create noise, fact. They also like hitting things (well Albie does) which is why a xylophone has made the cut. This particular one has wheels and a pull along string so your budding musician can make tunes wherever they go. Maybe not every parents dream but hey ho.

11. Nordic oak toy box, Roseland Furniture - £159.00
Albie was lucky enough to receive this wooden chest from his grandparents for his first birthday and I just adore it. It's subtle design means that it looks stylish in our living room and doesn't scream A CHILD LIVES HERE. It's beautifully crafted out of solid wood and has been designed with tiny people in mind, with it's rounded edges and a lid that's easy to open but impossible to slam down.

It's a lot bigger than I had anticipated but that's actually a good thing as it means more of Albie's stuff can be stored away safely and out of sight when not in use.

12. Wooden Animals Skittles Set, George Home - £10
Last but not least, this lovely wooden skittles set from George. Featuring numbers, bright colours and animals, this is not just a simple game, but a learning experience too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Embracing The Mum Guilt

Argh, mum guilt. The actual bane of my parenthood life thus far. Not a day goes by where the feeling of ‘I could do better’ or ‘I’m not a good enough mum’ doesn’t enter my brain – it’s mentally exhausting. 

I left Albie in his cot for a whole FIFTEEN minutes after he awoke from his afternoon nap so I could finish emptying the dishwasher and pop to the loo, GUILTY. For dinner Albie had fish fingers, wedges and peas instead of organic, flaxseed-infused, quinoa bites, (do these even exist?) GUILTY.

I feel a pang of guilt every time I drop Albie off at nursery so that I can go to work – something that I have to do in order to keep a roof over our heads and aforementioned fish fingers on our plates.

And truth be told, even though I have to work, I want to work too, for my own sanity and self-preservation. I like being able to drink coffee whilst it's still hot and focus on something else that isn't a needy toddler. This too makes me feel guilty. I should long to be a SAHM, no? 

It just seems that as a parent, you're always going to feel that you could be doing something, hell, everything differently and as a result you are consumed by guilt. There's no escaping it.

But should we be trying to escape it?

I don't think we should. Not completely.

Instead, we should learn to embrace the guilt and what it means. Feeling guilty about the way you are parenting your offspring means that you care. Constantly questioning yourself and wondering what you could do differently means that you love your kid/s and want what's best for them. Ultimately, by feeling guilty and wanting to improve you are striving to be the best, most badass parent and role model that you can be.

However, whilst we embark on this mission for superiority, we need to cut ourselves some slack and remember that our wellbeing matters too. We shouldn't have to sacrifice our sanity to try and achieve the impossible that is perfect parenting. Our happiness is reflected in our children and ultimately, a happy mum means a happy home and that is the environment that children thrive in. 

And if that means that after a stressful day at work you serve up a plate of freezer food for dinner so you can have more time to yourself that evening then so be it. It doesn't mean you care any less about your children. In fact, they'll probably see the beige feast served upon them as a massive treat, win-win.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that if your child is loved, safe and secure then you are doing a grand job. Remember that. Sometimes good enough is just that, good enough. Every parent will occasionally cut corners, yes even those 'perfect' earth mummys on Instagram.

Until next time,

Albie's Mum

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Friday, October 19, 2018

The Start Of Albie's Mum

I feel that with this post I just need to bite the bullet and get it published, otherwise it will NEVER happen. It’s taken me long enough to get this far - I’ve spent an age faffing around, setting up new social media accounts, creating a new look and feel for my online space and so on.

I just want everything to be just right, which is ridiculous as I don’t want to portray any element of ‘perfection’ on this blog. I want it to be real, unpolished and hopefully, relatable.

So what is Albie’s mum?

Albie’s Mum is (or at least will be, when I get my arse into gear) a blog documenting my thoughts, feelings and life experiences as a first time mum to a beautiful, cheeky, inquisitive one year old boy named Albie.

I am an over-sharer, over-thinker and a massive advocate of honesty when it comes to parenting. Motherhood is lonely enough at times as it is, so it’s very important to me that I not only write about the good, but the bad and the ugly too. All parents will occasionally have ‘one of those days’ where they wonder if it’s legal to sell their offspring on eBay. 

Joking aside, I strongly believe that, apart from the obvious, there are no set rules for raising kids. Instinct is a powerful thing and as long as they are healthy, happy and loved then everything else will slot into place. 

Anyway, although blogging for me is cathartic hobby, I hope some of you will join me on my journey. I can’t wait to get started.

Bye for now,

Albie’s mum

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