Top Tips for Spring Cleaning

Winter is slowly on its way out and with the first day of spring quickly approaching (20th March) there’s only one thing to do; spring clean! I think in winter I tend to get a bit lazy as the cold weather makes me less inclined to clean. I’d much rather be wrapped up on the couch with my girl, a film and a blanket.

spring clean

Sometimes we need a bit of a a kick up the bum to get going. I’m working with Bed Guru to share my tips for spring cleaning and de-cluttering. Be sure to check the end of this post for Bed Guru’s fantastic giveaway.

Clever Storage

Our spare bedroom is pretty much our ‘junk’ room. My husband would probably call it junk but really it’s all the bits and pieces I sell on Facebay. I have boxes and bags all over and it makes the room look really messy. Furniture with great storage would be a fantastic way of de-cluttering this room. Bed Guru have a fantastic range of divan beds with loads of storage options. The great thing about divans with storage drawers is that you can put loads in them and no one will ever know they’re there! We could certainly do with this in our spare room.

Be strict

Part of having a good spring clean is to be very strict what what you keep and what you don’t. Ask yourself if you’ve used something in the last couple of months. If you haven’t then it’s probably a good time to get rid!

Sell, sell, sell

While you’re in the process of having a good sort out you might as well make a bit of money from it! If you’re going to throw something out but it’s in good condition and could be useful to someone else, try selling it. Selling on local Facebook sites is a great way of earning a bit of extra cash.

Planning

I think in order to have a good, proper spring clean you need an action plan. There’s no way I could do our whole house in one day so I would need to come up with a plan of which rooms/ jobs were the most important and work my way down them. The spare bedroom will always be priority number one because it is the room with the most stuff in there!

Bed Guru are giving away a fantastic 4 drawer double divan to help with your spring cleaning! Head over to Facebook and Twitter to enter!*

*Giveaway is open until 27th March.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are our own.

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Meal Plan Monday: Getting back to it

Welcome to Meal Plan Monday, our weekly feature where we talk all things Meal Plan.

Meal plan

So, the other week I wrote about going off plan. I thought it was going to be nice to have a break from meal planning. I thought it would give me and Erin a bit more freedom and a bit less stress. That only sort of happened though.

I was a lot more relaxed about what Erin ate at each meal, pretty much winging it every day unless we had plans with friends. While it was sort of nice, it didn’t work out for the better.

I feel like without a plan Erin didn’t eat as much of a varied diet as she was before. Toast played a bit part in breakfast whereas normally she would only have that once a week. Erin also had more sandwiches for lunch than she would normally have. Again, she only normally gets this once or twice a week as I don’t like her to have too much bread.

Without our meal plan I feel like Erin ate too much of the same all week. I know she didn’t get as much in the way of fruit and veg as she would have normally. We were also super busy last week so this involved eating out a couple of times as well. Luckily, one of our meals out was at Giraffe so Erin could have something lovely and healthy instead of the normal fish fingers and chips.

So, this week we’re back to having a bit more routine and a bit more of a plan. We’re super busy again though and Erin’s nap times are still not regular so we’ll have to see how it goes.

Does anyone have any tips on how to stick to a healthy meal plan for a toddler when you’re really busy at not home much?

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Work-Motherhood Balance Secrets

Trying to balance work and motherhood is no easy feat. As a working mum, there are all sorts of factors that play into the transition from being a working professional to being a mum to, eventually, becoming a working mum. Scheduling, exhaustion, still-fluctuating hormones and just wanting to be with your baby can make going back to work a lot tougher than it might seem. In some cases, a career change and finding something more flexible instead of going back to the job you had before maternity leave might come as a better solution. If you are interested in pursuing a different career path, today’s job search sites like uk.jobrapido.com can be especially helpful with finding a job. In case you are looking for a freelance position, check job openings also in bigger cities like Birmingham, for example, as you might find more options available. With the right balance, work can be a great social outlet, intellectual boost and a source of happiness outside your home.

Here are a few secrets to help you find the work-motherhood balance that works best for you.

Be true to yourself

First and foremost, be true to yourself. What makes you happy day to day? What are your career goals? Family goals? If you are honest with yourself, know your priorities and give yourself space to change and grow, making the transition back to work will be easier and more organic. Stay true to yourself and be sure you also pencil in time for yourself, even to simply relax and hold your baby or take a bubble bath and reflect on how you are doing.

Be proactive

Being proactive will help you feel and be more prepared. If you have any concerns or curiosities about how something will work, take the steps to figure it out before the transition. For example, are your curious about how to manage breastfeeding? Find out in advance where you can pump at the office and the schedule you’ll have to work with. Or perhaps you are concerned about childcare and costs? If your partner works or perhaps needs a free hour twice per week, plan ahead. Choose the right childcare provider, whether through a daycare, family-in-law, neighbor or babysitter that you know you can trust.

Involve your partner

Open communication is key. When you come home from work at the end of the day, having a household that is in sync will allow you to put the focus at home on your family instead of figuring out how to make your home run more smoothly. Work with your partner to figure out schedules, who gets up during the night if (realistically, when) your baby cries and other tasks like household chores and errands. Working together to meal plan, set out clothes and anything else that you can get done in advance can make hectic mornings run smoother so you can spend a couple extra minutes holding your baby instead of trying to find a pair of matching socks.

Give and get: Flexibility

A company that is flexible for new mums can often make the transition smoother, and it is surely appreciated. Knowing you have some wiggle room in case, for example, you need to pick your child up at daycare early takes some stress off at the office. As you get this flexibility at work, be sure to reciprocate it. If this means later hours some nights or on the weekends, be sure your company understands it is a two way street. This way, everyone feels respected and appreciated.

At the end of the day, knowing what is right for you and your family is what matters. Be flexible and stay in tune with yourself and your family. Going back to work will be tough, yes, but that will not take away from your power of being a loving, supportive and engaged mum.

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Storytime Saturday: A first book of animals

Storytime Saturday a weekly blog feature showcasing any new books we’ve been reading with Erin, reviewing picture books and talking about our monthly library haul! Basically, Storytime Saturday is all about books! This week we’re talking about A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies. It was published by Walker Books on 6th October 2016.

a first book of animals

Nicola Davies, the award-winning author of A First Book of Nature, presents a spellbinding treasury of poems about the animal world, illustrated in breathtaking detail by Petr Horacek. Polar bears playing on the ice, tigers hunting in the jungle, fireflies twinkling in the evening sky and nightingales singing in the heart of the woods – there are animals everywhere. From blue whales to bumblebee bats and everything in between, A First Book of Animals takes you all over the planet to visit all kinds of different creatures. This book is a glorious celebration of life in the wild in all its variety and splendour, and belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

A first book of animals

Erin doesn’t really understand about animals yet. She’s 14 months old and the only thing she really understands is that we have a huge, white fluffy dog that she can run around after. However, we love the zoo and I want to teach her all about different animals. This book is perfect for that.

The book is split into 5 different sections which is really handy. These are:

Big and Small
Colours and Shapes
Animal Homes
Animal Babies
Animals in Action

With each different animal that is covered a verse comes with it. It’s a nice change from a standard story or just a list of facts. I love that the book covers such a wide range of animals from a tiny little ant to a massive whale! The book even talks about parasites!

This book is a must for animal fans or children who just love learning new things. However, although called ‘A First Book of Animals’ it’s not really aimed at babies and toddlers like the title suggests. It’s certainly not just a picture book. However, I still highly recommend it. It will be something I enjoy discovering myself when Erin is a bit older.

Disclaimer: We were sent this book for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

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The Library Restaurant, Norwich

I absolutely love finding new restaurants to go to when we go into Norwich. My sister and her fiance visit roughly every 6-8 weeks and we love to go out for lunch. John recently found us The Library Restaurant, even though unfortunately, he didn’t make the meal in the end!

the library

We had our table booked for 12pm as Erin came with us. She gets very grizzly when she’s hungry. No idea who she takes after there! When we arrived, we were shown to our table and asked if we wanted some chips brought over for Erin straight away so she didn’t have to wait. This was honestly so nice. I have never been anywhere that has offered this before, or even really taken notice of Erin. It’s little things like this that will make me want to go back.

the library

the library

the library

Erin had so much fun feeding Auntie Natalie her chips! They took a couple of minutes to arrive and it kept Erin happy for the whole meal.

The lunch menu was really impressive and we all had a hard choice. Everything sounded wonderful and we wanted more than 1 thing! In the end, we had starters and mains.

the library

Soup

the library

Brushetta

Chicken Wings

I had the chicken wings and they were so good! Instead of just being regular chicken wings, they were Southern Fried. However, there was so many and I didn’t finish them purely because I knew I wouldn’t have space for my main as well. Starters were around £5.95 each but they can also be made into a main meal if you want to!

For the mains I went for gammon while my sister and her fiance had a chickpea burger with halloumi, red onion and homemade pesto. These were £8.95 and £10.95 respectively.

the library

Gammon and chips

the library

Chickpea burger

We so desperately wanted dessert because they sounded amazing. However, we were all stuffed!

Another lovely little touch was that the bill came in an old book. It was perfect for this restaurant. Speaking of books, this was actually an old library and you can see bookcases and books all around. My sister even wore a book Cath Kidston dress to match the decor!

I absolutely could not fault our meal or the service at The Library. The staff were so lovely and our meals were served quickly and presented really well. Nothing was too much trouble and Erin was made a fuss of which she loved.

I cannot wait to take John back so he can experience this place for himself. It’s such a shame he had to work on the day!

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Ditching the high chair

Erin was born premature which meant that a regular high chair was far too big for her when we started weaning. I spent ages and ages looking at other options and I finally decided on the Chicco Polly Magic High Chair. This was amazing for Erin when she was still so small but over the last four or five months maybe, she’s really grown to hate it. I have no idea why. The minute you put her in it she got annoyed, cried and sometimes even screamed. It has made meal times quite hard at times. Sometimes she would flat out refuse to eat and cry until she made herself sick.

high chair

We bought the Mamas and Papas Baby Bud a while back when Erin had a bad time with the high chair and it solved it for a while. She has sort of happy to go back in the high chair for a while but once again, meal times have been incredibly hard. Erin has gotten a lot worse when it comes to what she will and will not eat. Since we started weaning she has been amazing with trying and eating new things. The high chair seems to stop this. Originally, we thought it was down to teething or being ill but when I thought about it more and more, it seemed to only be the high chair.

high chair

We made the decision a couple of weeks ago to stop using the high chair for a while to see if Erin changed at meal times. I cannot believe the change in her! She has eaten whole meals with barely any meltdowns at all. She has eaten most of whatever we’ve fed her and seemed quite happy about it. high chair

high chair

Another thing is that Erin seems to get bored when she’s eating. She quite often needs a spoon for herself which is fantastic because she tried to scoop up the food herself. Sometimes though she needs a toy. I would love the Babyplay Universal Highchair Activity Tray which goes with the Baby Pud to give Erin a bit more to keep her occupied at times, even if it was so we could finish our own meals in peace!

I’m glad Erin seems to enjoy meal times more now she gets to sit up at the big table.

Do you have any tips for making meal times easier for a baby who doesn’t like a high chair?

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5 year travel plan

2016 was the first year in a long time that John and I didn’t go on holiday. Things were very different last year. I don’t think either of really felt like we were prepared to try to take a baby on holiday. We went to London for a couple of days and that was hectic enough. However, I feel like we’re now finding our feet as parents and we’re getting back into the mood for going on holiday again.

travel plan

2017 – Centre Parcs

We do actually have a holiday booked for this year. We’re going to Centre Parcs for 5 days in October. I am so excited. As we’ve had to book a lodge with 2 bedrooms we’ve invited my sister and her boyfriend to come as well. They come to visit us and Erin so much and spend so much on train fares from London so this was something we could do for them!

None of us have ever been to Centre Parcs before but I know Erin will love the swimming. There’s something we all want to do and I’m very much looking forward to a spa day with my sister!

2018 – Beach holiday

I haven’t quite decided where we should go for this holiday. Erin will be 2 in 2018 and I want to make sure we go somewhere where there is enough for her to do. She has also never flown so I want her first flight to be quite a short one. I’m thinking we’ll probably end up going somewhere like Tenerife or Lanzarote. At least these plaes are only a couple of hours away and Erin can swim loads and play on the beach. John and I can also sort of relax with a fruity drink!

2019 – Disneyland, paris

travel plan

We’ve always said that we wouldn’t take Erin to Disney until she could at least maybe remember some of it. In 2019 she will be 3 and I think Disneyland, Paris is a good way to start. John and I have never been either so I think it would be a lovely family holiday. I also think we’d probably stay in the city for a couple of days at the same time so it’s not a holiday completely filled with Disney.

2020 – Caribbean Cruise/ Florida

travel plan

We’ve sort of been planning this one for a little while. I gave a savings account going for it and everything seeing as it will cost quite a lot! My mum hits a big birthday in 2020 and we thought it would be fantastic to go away as a  family. My sister really wants to go on a Caribbean cruise again and John and I are desperate to go back to Orlando. This way we both get what we want and we can cruise from somewhere in Florida.

2021 -Wedding tbc

This one is a maybe and a bit of a ‘who the hell knows’ kind of plan. My sister and her boyfriend got engaged last month and they’re throwing around ideas about where to get married. New York has popped up a couple of times, which I’m personally routing for! It could happen anywhere really knowing my sister. There is a good chance of it being abroad though and if it is, it will be our holiday for the year!

Where do you plan on going on holiday over the next couple of years?

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New Swimming Lessons

Towards the end of last year we made the decision to stop Erin’s swimming lessons. It was taking us roughly 4 hours for a 30 minute lesson. We had to get a bus there, wait around for about 35 minutes before the lesson and the wait around again for the bus home. It was absolutely exhausting and after going back to work, I couldn’t do it anymore.

swimming lessons

Luckily, we live 10 minutes away from another pool. Honestly though, I was a bit worried about joining up. I’d heard how cold the pool was and Erin has a tendency to turn a bit blue in the water. I needn’t have worried though, Erin and the water are fine. I’d spoken to Erin’s swimming teacher, Lisa, a few times before we signed up because of another class we did there and because she is so fun and bubbly, it put my mind at ease a bit. swimming

We’ve been going to Erin’s new swimming for about 5 weeks now and Erin absolutely loves them. I was really worried that after such a long break that Erin wouldn’t like the water anymore. The minute we got in the pool she had a massive grin on her face and she was happy as anything. She also really got back into the swing of lessons quickly too and remembered to hold on to the sides, which I was so proud of.

I absolutely love seeing Erin enjoy her lessons so much. I can’t swim so it was always something I wanted Erin to learn. Lisa is such a fun teacher and Erin loves her. Unfortunately, Erin gets called a distraction sometimes because of how much she smiles. She does it from the beginning of the lesson right up until the very end. She even smiles after being dunked under water or swimming through a hoop.

 

I really think having a teacher like Lisa makes the swimming lessons what they are. Erin loves her so much that when we go swimming on other days, she waves at Lisa all the way from the other end of the pool. Erin’s lessons may not be quite as intensive as some I know of but she is happy and confident in the water and that’s the main thing right now.

Does your child do swimming lessons and do they seem to enjoy them?

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Meal Plan Monday: Mummy to Dex

Welcome to Meal Plan Monday, our weekly feature where we talk all things Meal Plan. This week we have Nicola from Mummy to Dex writing about what works for her family!

meal plan monday

Before our little baba was growing in my belly, we did not meal plan at all. We mainly lived on takeaways and ready meals and I rarely cooked from scratch. More often than not, I would buy blindly in the supermarket and decide on the night what I would cook. I would always forget to get meat out to defrost and when I did remember, I would change my mind or find I didn’t have the right ingredients, meaning the meat was left in the fridge for days on end before it finally went off. We were always chucking meat away and fresh ingredients were left in the fridge to rot.

I started meal planning half way through my pregnancy when I was signed off sick with SPD. I had nothing better to do than to sit and create a month’s worth of meals and then go online to order the food from Morrison’s. I took great joy in looking up new and exciting recipes and ordering the right amount of food to make them. I haven’t looked back since.

We roughly spend around £250 a month, that’s to feed two adults and one baby which does include formula and nappies. In a typical month I’ll get two Morrison’s deliveries of around £100 each and may end up doing a few top up shops towards the middle and end of the month. I usually make meals like spaghetti Bolognese, chicken curry, burritos, paella, a range of pasta dishes, stir fries and fajitas. For breakfast I choose four options and alternate them, things such as porridge, peanut butter on toast, shredded wheat, crumpets and pancakes. Lunch is usually something simple like a sandwich, omelette or something I’ve batch cooked and thrown in the freezer like pinwheels or sweet potato burgers.meal plan monday

The first benefit of us meal planning was the amount of money we started saving. We were having on average four takeaways a week, costing around £15 a go. Over the past 13 months we have saved close to £2500 by limiting takeaways to one per week as a treat. We are also no longer throwing away food which was a huge waste of money.

This leads me on nicely to another plus for meal planning. We very rarely throw food away nowadays, which means a less stinky bin in our apartment and us helping the environment that little bit more. I always felt extremely guilty letting good meat go to waste, now the only things that go in the bin are the scraps Dexter inadvertently drops on the floor when he is being fed.

Thanks to meal planning, we now have a much healthier diet due to eating a more varied diet of different fruits and vegetables. I am a sucker for offers and order fresh produce that is on a special deal meaning we try lots of different things, most recently, persimmons for the first time.

Finally, I love the organisation of it all. Before the month starts, I print off a calendar showing us what we are having for dinner each night. This means I can see what food I need to get out of the freezer and check if I need to pick up any additional fresh bits from the local supermarket. It also gives me great satisfaction to cross off when we have finished a meal.

All in all, meal planning has been a massive change for the better for us. It has helped keep our budget under control during those months of zero maternity pay and has meant we have eaten healthier than we have done for many, many years. I recommend it to anyone who is willing to try it.

 

Where to find us:

 

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Smooth, sleek and ready to go with Frizz Ease

You may have read some of my recent posts where I mention that Erin can now run circles around me. The past couple of months have proved that getting ready to leave the house with a toddler is hard work. If Erin isn’t trying to steal my make-up brushes she’s running between my legs when I’m trying to dry my hair. We were recently sent some products from the John Freida Frizz Ease range.

frizz ease

I have been colouring my hair since I was 14 and that means my hair isn’t in the best condition. I guess I never really thought of it as being frizzy though before but it is! Before having Erin I would straighten my hair every day, making it smooth and lovely looking. Now, I either don’t have time to do this or Erin makes it a really hard job. I’m very much a quick blow dry and go kind of girl now but I know my hair doesn’t look great!

frizz ease

Every day I have washed my hair as normal using the Frizz Ease products. Before blow drying I have also added one pump of the Original 6 Effects Serum. When my hair is wet it has a natural wave to it and when left to dry naturally, it ends up a bit of a poofy mess!

Frizz Ease

I honestly didn’t do anything fancy with my hair at all apart from blow dry straight down with a large paddle brush. I don’t dry in sections and I pretty much get it done as soon as possible.

Frizz Ease

I’ve been using the John Freida Frizz Ease Shampoo and Conditioner now for a week and wow, has it ever made a difference to my hair! My hair is so much smoother and sleek looking and it nearly matches what it looks like after using a straightener. I am so impressed.

Never would I have purchased products from this range before now but I have to say that I’m converted. Before I was using cheap shampoo and conditioner costing 65p a bottle from Lidl. I guess you really do get what you pay for and I’m willing to spend a bit more now to go out looking a bit more polished every day.

Disclaimer: We received samples for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own.

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