Giveaway: Win a £50 Tesco gift card

Whether you are pregnant or already have children, the likelihood is that you know about Tesco Baby Club. 

As part of Tesco Baby Club, parents are offered the chance to join Mums Choice, a platform in which mums and dads can rate and review products that they love and trust the most, as well as enter surveys, win prizes and receive advice packed emails. In this year’s Mums’ Choice Awards,  parents and parents-to-be are invited to vote for their favourite brands and products by completing a survey. By voting parents could win a £250 Tesco Gift Card or one of five £50 Tesco Gift Cards, plus the first 50 entries will win a goodie bag.

It’s a great service. I love the idea that parents have somewhere they can go, where everything they need is in one place. It’s a great site to get ideas for baby products you really need (as well as those you can do without), enter some great competitions and get advice on all things feeding, weaning and potty training. A one stop shop for all your parenting needs.

Tesco Mum's Choice club

To help spread the word about Mums Choice far and wide, I have teamed up with Tesco Baby Club to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a £50 Tesco gift card – ideal to keep for all that Christmas shopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions – open to UK residents only. Competition ends on 8/11/14 and winner will be randomly selected from all correctly completed entries. Winner will be notified by email and must claim their prize within 10 days or it may be redrawn. Prize supplied directly from Tesco Baby Club. Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com 

Saving money this Christmas

Saving money at Christmas Express Monorail via Compfight cc

As soon as Halloween is done and dusted it feels like Christmas is everywhere. The supermarkets clear their shelves of trick or treat sweets and fill them with selection boxes and Christmas jumpers. The pumpkins in the shops are replaced with cranberry sauces and frozen turkeys. The town becomes full of fairy lights and the smell of mice pies.

I have to admit, I love it all. I love the warm feeling, the way that everyone seems more cheerful in the run up to the big day, and all the delicious things there are to eat. But there is no getting away from the fact that Christmas can be expensive. Here are a few tips to keep a few more pennies in your pocket this year.

  • Try handmade gifts. They don’t have to be tacky. The kids love getting involved in making gifts for the special people in their lives – think framed artwork made by the children, home made jam, chutney or cakes, or you could even get a bit more crafty and make your own body scrubs.
  • Shop around for deals. Try sites like Voucher Bin, where you can select the type of item you are looking for and search for all the latest deals, offers and coupon codes. Shopping like this can save you a small fortune – imagine if you saved £10 on every item this year – the extra money could pay for your Christmas dinner. The site also has a DrJays section – codes and offers that expire on the same day, sometimes offering huge savings on the things you have been searching for.
  • Try a cashback site. These are so simple to use – simply log on through a cashback site before clicking through to the shop you want to buy from. It takes one more click than normal, but every item you buy earns you cashback – and it all adds up! There are also some sites that allow you to donate any cashback you earn – we have the option to donate to Max’s nursery, which is what we will do this year – gives me a nice warm feeling to give something back at Christmas time.
  • Set a price limit. If you buy for friends children for example, then get together before Christmas and agree a spending limit. There are a few good friends who we don’t give gifts to, and we don’t get gifts from them, but we just buy for each others children. We set a £5 limit on the item we buy too – this means that all the children get an equal value present, no one feels awkward, and we are able to budget in advance.
  • Don’t worry about where the gift comes from. Charity shops are not always full of tat. You can find some real treasures if you look hard enough – at this time of year, people are clearing out to make space for Christmas things, and I have picked up so many great deals in charity shops – lots of things are brand new and still in original packaging. 
  • Set a final budget. Work out how much you can afford to spend on presents, food and decorations, and then break that down into sections. Stick to it. There is no point at all in getting into debt for the sake of one day, and then worrying about paying back for months. No one will notice, or care, if you spend £5 less on them this year. It’s not really about the gifts is it? It’s about coming together as a family and enjoying each others company – and that costs nothing.

How do you manage your budget at Christmas time? Do you have a spending limit, or are you a thrifty shopper? I would love to hear your tips.

Little Butterfly London review

Little Butterfly London review

I am always on the look out for new skin products that I can use on Max. His skin is so sensitive that we have a very limited range that I know I can use on him with no irritation. When Little Butterfly London got in touch about their organic skincare range, I headed over to the website to see what it was all about.

The story behind Little Butterfly London is very simple. The founder, Gudrun, was looking for the ultimate natural skincare range for her son, and when she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she made it herself. The brand combines ‘organic purity with design deliciousness, bringing a touch of magic to the nursery routine, while nurturing delicate skin.’ All the products are organic certified, and infused with essential oils for a sensory experience – I would call it the premium baby skincare range.

Floating on Clouds bath milk

I love that this is a bath milk rather than a bubble bath. I don’t think babies need bubbles, but Max definitely does need a thick, soothing product in his bath, and this definitely fits that bill. It contains avocado oil to relieve itching, and peach kernel and papaya seed oil gently hydrate – so it really is perfect for Max, who suffers from eczema and often has dry, itchy skin. It smells beautiful – not overpowering at all, just a gentle fruity scent. The bath milk is priced at £23, which is more than I would usually spend but you only need to use a small amount each bath time – a little goes a long way – and the soothing properties make it worth the price tag for me.

Dewdrops at Dawn body lotion

I have to admit something here. I haven’t used this on Max. I kept it for me, because it smelt so delicious! It contains cocoa butter and meadow-sweet extract, so it is silky smooth and really nourishing, and the mandarin and orange essential oils make it smell good enough to eat. I have been using this on my hands, face and body and I can’t recommend it enough. It costs £23 for a bottle.

Little Butterfly London review

Soft as Moonlight nappy change cream

I don’t usually use a nappy cream on Max unless he has a bit of nappy rash, but if you think about it, it makes sense to use one daily to keep the area soft and supple. There are so many different ingredients in this cream, from mango seed butter and camomile to relieve any discomfort to cucumber seed oil and Vitamins C and E to maintain healthy moisture levels. The cream is thick, and I was worried that it would be hard to rub in, but once in contact with the skin it softens and melts in. We have made applying this nappy cream part of the morning routine. Priced at £25, this is again worth the investment as a little goes a very long way, and it is far superior to other nappy creams we have used.

Overall, I am impressed, with the quality, the ingredients and the look of this range. It’s a little bit of organic luxury in our lives.

Birth stories – Amanda & Cody

Birth stories

Welcome to part 2 of my Birth Stories blog series. This week we meet Amanda from Life with ASD and me as she tells us the story of her induction, and Cody’s arrival into the world. 

When I found out I was expecting for the 4th time I already knew the kind of labour and delivery I was going to have! My 3 previous pregnancies ended with inductions……… inductions that took 3 days to get started! It seems my body doesn’t like letting go of pregnancy.
Cody’s labour was slightly different in the fact that I was having a social induction as opposed to an induction for being overdue. Having 2 children with autism means I couldn’t just disappear in the middle of the night to go and give birth and needed to have childcare pre arranged as the children wont just stay with anybody. 
 
From having 3 previous inductions I knew it was to be a long process, I was admitted at 8am and had a 24 hour pessary inserted, monitored for 45 minute and encouraged to keep mobile. We spent the next 12 hours pacing the corridors, bouncing on balls and going up and down the stairs. David was sent home at 9pm and there were zero signs of anything happening and I fell into a fitful nights sleep. 
I wasn’t hopeful for a cervix check the next morning as I had felt nothing more than a twinge since the pessary was inserted. A midwife came to check me at around 9.30am and I hadn’t dilated a single centimetre, not one. The plan then altered and they decided that would use the 6hr pessary inside and I could have the maximum of 3. The first was placed at 10.30am to be checked at 4.30pm, we spent another day fitfully walking the corridors, same as the day before. I started to get a few twinges and aches and pains, so it was looking hopeful. I mentioned it to the midwife and they popped me on the monitor and there were some small contractions, they left the pessary in until 4.30 and made the decision as I was having some sign of movement not to insert another. They checked my cervix and I was now 3cms dilated, within half an hour all the little niggles I was having disappeared. They didn’t want to break my water yet, the midwife said she could but as the baby was so high up still there was a chance of the cord coming first and they would prefer to wait till he came down a bit more. David was again sent home at 9pm and left to explain to the children why Mummy was still at hospital. I spent most of my 2nd night in hospital awake with cramping in my stomach, some really took my breath away but they weren’t showing on the monitor, I was offered paracetamol for the pain! I remember being quite miffed and shouting at the poor student midwife “I’m in labour I’ve not got bloody tooth ache!” I couldn’t have anything stronger unless I went to delivery suite, they couldn’t send me there as there was no beds and I wasn’t in established labour! I was starting to feel frustrated now after 2 days of nothingness and cried myself to sleep
 
Day 3 came and the Doctor came round to see me to explain our options, I basically had 2 choices:
  1. Have another 6 hour pessary
  2. Go home and wait 24 hours to rest my cervix and come back
I explained to the Doctor that there was no way I could go home without a baby in my arms, it would be far to confusing for my children who were already unsettled after not having me there for 2 full days. So we started the process of the 6 hour pessary again, the aim was to get me to 4cm so my waters could be broken and get the baby to move down. I spent the whole 6 hours bouncing up and down on the birthing ball and the last 2 hours of the pessary I started to feel stronger contractions. It was removed at 3pm and I was a good 4cms and my waters could finally be broken.
 
We moved to deliver suite at 4pm and my waters immediately broken and I was placed on a syntocinon drip to speed up my contractions. They started coming thick and fast and I was coping just with gas and air. Skye was born just 50 minutes after my waters were broken in one bog push. So when I started pushing just 55 minutes later the midwives immediately put there catching gloves on and got ready for business. After pushing for 15 minutes and nothing happening I begged them to check me, it was an odd feeling, I was pushing but knew I didn’t need to, but I couldn’t help it, I just felt that pressure that made me want to push. They reassured me to follow what my body was telling me to do and go with it, but 10 minutes later I got off all fours and said that if they didn’t check me now I would go outside and find someone who would! I was a woman full of gas who meant business! So they checked me……… I was still only 4cm and the pressure I was feeling was due to Cody being back to back. 
Over the next 14 hours my drip was constantly adjusted and my contractions came in waves, this part of my labour was all a bit of a blur and time. I know I had a shot of pethidine and some point and a change of midwife, it was when the midwife’s changes that things stepped up a gear. Baby was really happy and on my last cervix check the previous midwife recorded I was a good 5cm, the new midwife checked my a few hours later and was confused as she was only getting me at 4cm. She decided to call in the doctor to review me as at this point I had been on the drip for 16 hours and from her cervix check I had made no progress. The Doctor came and examined me and agreed I was still only 4cms and that we needed to make an alternative plan to get this baby out, even though he was perfectly happy I had given it the best chance I had pessaries and also a drip and not got further than 4cms. I was signed off as a failed induction and asked to sign papers for an emergency section. Dave was passed some scrubs and my poor Mum who was there the whole time banished to the waiting room.
 
This part should be straight forward but it wasn’t, there were 17 attempts made to insert an epidural into my spine, a mobile scanning unit was even brought in to assist with placement and they still couldn’t get the epidural in. It was then decided the only option was a general anaesthetic, David was sent out I was asked to drink an awful substance and strapped to the bed! Everything then went black.
David tells me he was outside for less than 10 minutes before he heard Cody cry.
 
Birth stories - Mandy and Cody
 
Next thing I remember was coming round in recovery to see David holding a teeny tiny baby, my first question was what did he weigh? David told me he weighed 8lb 4oz and he says I replied with, well he can’t be ours he’s too small! 
I was in and out of consciousness for around 6 hours and struggled to properly wake up. I was moved to the ward at around 6pm and was still very groggy. I was finally fully awake and mobile at around 7am the following morning and Cody spent his first night being looked after by the midwives on duty as I just couldn’t stay awake.
 
I was up on my feet, catheter and drips removed by lunchtime and was begging to go home, obviously there wouldn’t allow me due to having a section and my reaction to the anaesthetic. I was allowed home the following day at around lunch time.
 
Cody’s was definitely an epic labour and delivery and one that I wouldn’t like to repeat!
 
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Family Fever

Does a third child bring less happiness?

3 kids, less joy?

I read this article today, about how a third child brings no extra joy. Apparently research has shown that happiness levels increase for both men and women before and after the birth of a first and second child but by the third child this effect is ‘negligible’

Needless to say, it made me mad.

How can anyone say that a third child brings any less joy than a first or second baby? I understand that for many a first baby is a very special time – you are on the verge of becoming a parent, you are filled with love and joy that you are about to become a family, and bring a new life into this world, to nurture, to comfort and to shape into a new person. But isn’t that the same no matter what number baby you are welcoming? It certainly is for me.

It wouldn’t matter if I was having my second child or my sixth child – the fact that I have been lucky enough to have that child in the first place is enough for me. 

I wonder how this research was carried out? How do you measure happiness? I am pretty sure that we all have days when we are happier than others, no matter how many children we have. But I can honestly say that I have never been happier than I am right now with my 3 children sat around me. I won’t pretend some days aren’t hard – of course they are. But those days would still be hard if there was only 1 child here. Looking at my 3, and seeing the amazing relationship they have makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world – and if that’s not a measure of happiness then I don’t know what is.

Having three children is an honour and a privilege. I am truly blessed.

Book review round up & win a copy of ‘Beyond the Sling’

I love a good book, and my children have inherited that trait. Gemma and Jacob nearly always take a book to bed with them, and a bedtime story is part of our nightly routine. This week’s story of choice has been ‘ Madeleine Goes to the Moon’.

A lovely story about a little girl who uses her imagination to create a rocket from the things in her room, and heads off to explore outer space, where she meets aliens and sees many exciting things which are all created from the toys in her room. I love the story behind the book, the fact that childrens imaginations can take them anywhere they want to go. Since reading this book, we have built our own rocket out of boxes and sofa cushions and the children have been blasting off to the moon, meeting alien teddies and collecting moon rock building blocks. 

Madeleine goes to the moon book review

Madeleine goes to the moon book review

Madeleine goes to the moon book review

The book is beautifully illustrated in a way that appeals to both adults and children, and really helps to tell the story. The gently rhyming text is a pleasure to read, and easy for the kids to follow, understand and read for themselves. As Max gets bigger, I think he will also enjoy the rhymes.

If you like the look of Madeleine Goes to the Moon, you can find out more, and order your own copy here.

Once the children are safely tucked up in bed, I love nothing more than settling down with a good book myself. My current book of choice is ‘Beyond the Sling’ – a real life guide to raising confident, loving children the attachment parenting way.

Beyond the Sling book

I have never classed myself as a full blown ‘attachment parent’ but I have certainly followed a lot of the principles. I believe in breastfeeding, baby wearing and bonding. I believe in bringing up my children in a gentle way, and not setlling for being a ‘good enough’ parent, but believing that I know my children well enough to be a great parent for them. I trust my instincts and I follow my own advice rather than the development records.

Beyond the Sling is right up my street, it focuses on how to be the parents that nature intended us to be, and how to make an attachment parenting lifestyle work for you on an everyday level as your children grow up. There are some useful tips, things you may not have thought of trying yourself, and some first hand experiences which bring this book to life. 

If you would like to win a copy of ‘Beyond the Sling’ for yourself, then enter my giveaway now – and don’t forget to tell your friends about it too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions – open to UK residents. Competition closes on 19/11 and winner will be selected from all correctly completed entries and contacted by email. Winner must claim their prize within 10 days or it may be redrawn. Prize supplied directly from Pinter & Martin. Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Declutter your home: storage solutions for autumn

I blinked, and Christmas seems to have sneaked up on me. It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes ago that we were celebrating Max’s first Christmas, and now that time of year is almost here again. I can’t wait – it’s such a happy, family time. 

The one downside of Christmas can be the sheer amount of presents my children will receive. There are always a lot of toys, and finding homes for them all can be an issue! So autumn is always the time when I start to declutter, throw away a lot of things we don’t need, and get on top of our storage. 

There are lots of ways to do this. For the playroom, we like to use the big wooden units with space for boxes. They are fairly cheap to buy from places like Ikea, Argos or Homebase, and it makes it easy to tidy up all the toys at the end of the day. We have little photos on the front, showing what lives in each box – Lego, cars, dolls etc, so it’s easy for the kids to help pack away.

Toy storage

For other household items, I am a big fan of underbed drawers and those big sacks that you can fill with bedding, towels etc and then vacuum the air out of? They are so clever and free up a lot of space – perfect for the items you don’t need on a daily basis – we use them for packing the summer duvets away during the colder months, or for storing the sleeping bags when camping season is over.

When it comes to the big Christmas day, there can sometimes be an issue. Our house isn’t small, but it’s also not a palace – so if the whole family are coming for lunch we do sometimes need a bit of space. Temporarily storing the items you don’t need in the short term can be a great idea for creating a more open plan, party space, and that’s where warehouse storage solutions and services can be handy – you can save money and space with proper warehouse management facilities, and it eases a little bit of the stress at this time of year!

How do you manage family storage? Does everything have a set place, or do you just pop things wherever you can? Do you have any great tips for decluttering?