6 Months in – What I’ve found useful

Edie is actually already 7 months old, how that has happened I can’t quite work out. I know people warn you that time goes quickly when your children are young but I didn’t understand.

I thought I would reflect on the baby bits I bought and have actually used and would recommend.

Nursing pillow/cushion

Wow. You spend so much time feeding in those early months, that being hands free to eat or have a drink, or browse on your phone is a real life saver. If your babe is anything like ours, you could find they end up napping where they fed, so having your hands is pretty handy!

Giant Swaddle Muslins

These things are so blooming useful! They are, obviously, a swaddle but also a play mat, a blanket, a muslin when you run out or forget, a change mat, a nursing cover when you are finding your feeding way and now a bib in a ‘Why haven’t I packed a bib?!’ moment.

Reusable Wipes

We were recommended to use cotton wool and water to start… that stuff goes everywhere. And then tried WaterWipes… sorry how much money for a disposable wipe with mostly water?!! Cheeky wipes were recommended by some friends and they have been amazing. You definitely could set up reusable wipes without using a ‘brand’ but as a new parent I just didn’t have the energy to look into it. We haven’t bought any more disposable wipes for the last four months, that’s a lot of money saved and a lot of wipes not going to landfill (insert my smug face).

Flannels

I bought a job lot of white cotton flannels before Edie was born (maybe 12/14 or so) with the idea that we’d need them for bath time, and help cleaning up any really mucky poops. Well, we didn’t use them for bottoms in the end, but they have really come into their own since we started offering food at around 20 weeks old. I try to have a damp flannel next to me during Edie’s meals, so I can mop her face , hands and tray at the end. She also loves chewing on a cold wet flannel on a bad teething day!

Jumperoo

If you have a baby that doesn’t like sitting or gets bored of being held, i.e. just wants to stand up alllllll the time, I cannot recommend a Jumperoo thing enough. I woudn’t bother spending money on a brand new one. There are so so many available on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.

Sleepbags

When the nights are cold, and your little wriggler keeps getting chilly because they have kicked their blankets off, sleeping bag really come into their own. We have been gifted some and I’ve bought a couple from eBay. Again, you really don’t need to spend on brand new unless you are keen too.

Teethers and dribble bibs

If you get given these before babe arrives or just after pack them away for the next 12 weeks or so. If you don’t get gifted any, I wholeheartedly recommend a Matchstick Monkey and Sophie La Girafe (I don’t know why but babies do seem to totally love her).

What else did you find useful? And what might I find helpful for next few months?

 

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Pregnancy: hospital bag advice

I’ve had some time to reflect on my choices for my hospital bag, and in hope that it might help a mum-to-be here are some of my thoughts.

Some things I packed and was glad of:

  • Nursing nightie – I had this one from Amazon, if I’d had a natural birth, I planned to have this for hospital, as it poppers at the back in case you need an epidural, and poppers on the front for feeding and the holy grail: pockets! It was still great for breastfeeding, and gross but dark colours = no worries about blood stains. Sorry!
  • Clothes to leave in, comfy in case of surgery… I left in my first ever pair of sweat pants, it was so, so cold when she was born in Feb!
  • Fairy lights – I had a little string of battery operated fairy lights that I left on all night, so I didn’t have to have the full lamp on.
  • Room spray – chilled me out, reminded me of home.
  • Snacks – wouldn’t have made it through the night without these! Include some fruit juice boxes or something, you need to stay hydrated and water water water can get a bit dull.
  • Slippers – trips down the hall to the loo were made a little more pleasant, if you have them, slip on ones would be ideal as bending down is not so easy.
  • Giant pants  – if you have a c-section you don’t want low rise knickers as that’ll be where your incision would have been made. Also, the pads you’ll need after are blooming massive!

Some things I wish I had remembered:

  • Swaddle blanket –  I think this would have helped Edie settle, but I hadn’t even learnt how to swaddle. We now have some Aden and Anais swaddle muslins that I found in TK Maxx, which now she’s bigger have a further use of a breastfeeding cover if I want, or standard muslin mopping duties if shes wet through the ones I brought out with me.
  • White noise machine – We have the Ewan the Sheep, but lots of friends used the MyHummy (we stayed in a private room, I wouldn’t have used this on the ward)

    £29.99 from John Lewis, but a white noise app on your phone would also work a treat!
  • Water bottle – I’ve found one with a straw that you don’t have to tip really good, which is great as breastfeeding is very thirsty work. In hospital, obviously you’ll be thirsty during labour, or in my case after surgery as you have to abstain from liquid beforehand, but they give you a little jug and a little cup. A water bottle of your own, that you don’ have to refill nearly as often would be a huge help!

What would you recommend to mums-to-be? Have I missed anything?

Being used a Catfishing bait

So weird one I thought I would share with you. A guy got in touch with me to let me know someone has been using my publicly available images to Catfish people, including him.

What the heck is Catfishing?

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So I prefer the first definition, but the one about luring people into a relationship by creating a fictional online character seems to be what’s gone on.

Now then. My initial reaction was “I don’t believe you” so I asked for links and how long it had been going on. He said it’s all been taken down and it had been going on for quite a while. So I am now left a little perplexed.

Was someone using my photos? Do I need to do anything about it now? I don’t know. I enjoy using instagram, not only for browsing and seeing what other people have been up to, but also to share and that includes my own face. I feel bad if anyone has been hurt, but it wasn’t my actions or choices that caused that hurt.

So for now I am going to carry on sharing as I share, and just politely ask: please don’t use my face. It’s mine, I grew it myself (with the genetic help of my parents), and I don’t like to think that it is being used in a dishonest way, because I am not dishonest.

Stay safe out there, on and off line.

Redundancy

It really is about as much fun as it sounds. Once I was around my third week of job hunting and spending the majority of my days motivating myself I had gained a little more understanding of how hard it can be.

It’s a big change to go from seeing your little team of colleagues everyday, and having a set routine, to having the freedom and challenge to plan it all.

I was very fortunate so as my family and in-laws were super lovely in keeping me busy with weekly invitations to do things, such as visiting the South of England Show.

I knew I would find it harder to find work than my developer colleagues. Their skills are in demand in Brighton and all three found new jobs in the first few weeks. The Admin side of things is much more competitive, as there are lots of talented people with transferable admin skills. I was sensible and spent each day checking jobs boards for roles that interest me, I also accepted all advice and suggestions made to me. I wanted to be in work. I wanted to be useful.

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Upside of being frugal and having free time: enjoying more of Brighton’s parks.

One of the the things that I had found frustrating was the suggestion to ‘sign on’. I didn’t want to claim Job Seekers Allowance if I could possibly help it, I had some savings – yes they were for a trip we are planning for next spring to the USA but that could wait. I feel that benefits should go to those who need them, not people like me, who should have been able to manage. But my savings were small, and new, and not the recommended three months worth of bills and mortgage payments I’ve now read as the right amount to always have set aside.

Past Laura was frivolous with money and I am quite frustrated with her.

Future financial plans include learning from my past mistake and setting aside a emergency fund, to help if I or Jack is ever in a similar position again, though I really hope not!

The good news is: I have just started a new job at Liquid Light, so wish me luck!

What advice would I give to you, myself or anyone who wants some:

  • Have some savings for emergencies
  • Try to set yourself a routine – you will get back to work and you don’t want it to be a shock.
  • Set yourself goals for applications, even if it’s just one or two per day.
  • Vary your search terms and read the job details thoroughly, there might be exactly what you are looking for, just under a slightly different job title.
  • Accept help: if someone wants to recommend you, say yes. If someone wants to pass on your details, say yes.
  • Know your rights and apply for what you are owed as soon as possible.

The process of getting redundancy compensation via National Insurance in hindsight was quite quick, but waiting for the initial payment was painful and I am glad I had my savings to fall back on.

Have you been unemployed before? How did you find it? What advice would you give someone?

Relationship Rules

That sounds like not much fun does it! I’ll start with this: I can’t comment for anyone else because I am just one person with my own experiences.

Later this year we will be approaching 8 years together, and although we are strictly speaking “newlyweds”, we aren’t in the traditional sense. We already lived together and had our routine kinda down. Life  easily gets in the way of spending quality time together and sometimes we can find ourselves in ruts, where we don’t go out much, romance is wilting and being in control of the tv remote is important (to me).

Last year I read about a couple who had a 2-2-2 rule:

  • Every 2 weeks, they go out for the evening.
  • Every 2 months, they go out for the weekend.
  • Every 2 years, they go out for a week.

I really liked the idea of try to make more of a priority of spending time together. Now we aren’t quite in the same double digit set of guidelines, but I liked the idea and we try to:

  1. Have a planned date every two weeks – this is a walk together, or dinner out or home, going to the cinema, or just out for a couple of drinks.
  2. Put technology on the back burner on dates, and in the evenings in together.
  3. Have a weekend away every 6 months
  4. A week away every year.

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I can’t say that I have asked friends what they do, because everyone is different and I so would not want to imply that anyone else needs rules like these. But they help us out.

Is there anything you try to do as a rule in your relationship?

Valentine’s Day – When you are married

So this year is a little different for Jack and I. It’s our first Valentine’s day as a married couple. And Jack surprised me back in January by booking a night for us in Rye. I counter surprised by booking a table at a steakhouse for dinner out in Rye. (Yes, maybe this does make a me a bad vegetarian, but I think it makes me a thoughtful wife.)

Not the card I have chosen, but a super appropriate one nonetheless - from Paperchase.
Not the card I have chosen, but a super appropriate one nonetheless – from Paperchase.

Back in the day, we’ve muddled through with valentine’s gifts, and flowers and “romantic” dinners out. What I’ve learnt over the past 7 valentine’s days together is that those bits aren’t the important part. Yes – I do bloody love roses, and I will always dream of being surprised with a beautiful hand-tied bouquet of pinks and reds. But does it mean quite so much when there is already the expectation of those type of gifts… maybe not.

Valentine’s Day aims these days:

  1. Spend time together, doing or visiting something new.
  2. Express my unending affection for the awesome man I married.

Keeping it simple really.

What are your plans and/or thoughts about the day?

Mooncup

This isn’t something I necessarily thought I would blog about as a topic. Periods don’t really enter the subject matter I read about, let alone consider writing about. But recently I have had conversations with friends discussing the possible pros and cons of such a device. And then last week I watched a couple of YouTube reviews and thought I have to try one of these things.

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The environmental impact disposable sanity products have and the cost saving for me were key factors in trying one. Yes  – the upfront cost of the cup is more than I would normally consider spending. But in just three months, I would have spent that on tampons and pads that litter the earth.

So what did I make of it?

  • It was bigger than I thought it would be
  • The pamphlet was super helpful and informative – you will want to read it before cracking on with using it.
  • I couldn’t feel it – so based on that it was very comfortable.
  • I worked out and had no issues at all.

Would I recommend it? Yes! Can I see myself going back to using other sanitary products? Nope.

A couple of facts I have stolen from the Mooncup site:

  • One woman will use over 11,000 disposable sanitary products in a lifetime
  • 22 tampons or towels are used, on average, each period
  • In the UK alone, 4.3 billion disposable sanitary products are used every year

There are other menstrual cups you can try, Mooncup is just one of many brands available and I just went with that as it’s stocked in Boots and was recommended by a friend. Just a few of them are:

In case anyone wonders, I wasn’t asked by anyone to review this product and my review is my honest opinion. This post is simply to encourage women to consider the other options out there.

New Year and a new resolve

Firstly: Happy New Year! I hope 2016 brings you happiness.

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I never used to attempt to set myself resolutions for new years. I assumed I would fail, so why bother starting. But really I’d been doing myself a deservice – surely it’s better to try and fail than not try at all.

With that in mind my 2016 resolutions are:

No Added Sugar

This one is definitely going to be a challenge for me. I am a chocolate addict and at the end of last year all my pre wedding good behaviour and weight loss had been undone by this.  Sugar is addictive folks – you don’t need me to tell you that! I’ve been reading a bit of Jack’s copy of I Quit Sugar for Life by Sarah Wilson, and she talks a bit about the science behind why we can’t / don’t feel the need to stop eating it. Our brain’s have “that’s enough” switches for carbs, protein and fats, but not sugar.

Start Each Day with a Glass of Water

Simple – but writing this post this morning has served as a reminder that I nearly missed this today, and it’s only day two!

Visit the Gym Three Times a Week

Again nothing groundbreaking here. I’ve been a gym member since joining with my encouraging old housemates back in 2012, and although I have continued to attend it has been with varying enthusiasm. I wouldn’t say there has been more than a 3 week period were I haven’t been but there definitely have been ups and downs and I hope to make 2016 more consistently up.

Not planning to be strict – 20 mins, or an hour sessions – they will all count.

Mind My Money

Being more conscious of how I am spending my money is the aim of this one. I have a bad habit of just popping in to H&M or grabbing a new piece of make-up from Boots rather than paying too much attention to a budget. No more – treating myself this year, will hopefully be about seeing my savings grow, rather than dipping into them.

What resolutions, if any, are you making this year? And do you have any advice on how I can stick with mine?

Let’s talk about smears

Yes. I do mean smear tests.

I know. No one *wants* to talk, think or have smear tests. They aren’t an enjoyable. I had my first when prompted by a letter from the NHS a couple of weeks before my 25th birthday (a little while ago now). And I was super nervous about what it entailed so I went and met with the nurse at my local surgery and she talked me through it, showed me the little brush thing they use and it really put me at ease.

In case you didn’t know: if you are between the ages of 25 and 49 you should be having a smear test every 3 years. Lucky me that means this year – Happy 28th Birthday Laura!Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 11.50.32 am

There are the obvious reasons I won’t be delaying on booking my test in:

  • Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
  • It’s possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer.
  • It’s estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers.

When I was 18 years old a friend of my sister and mine passed away. I will never forget her – she was awesome, like the best person. And it would seem so disrespectful if I were to not pay attention to the fact cancer can strike younger than you think.

I have struggled with the fact I know lots of my female friends haven’t had smears yet, even though they are old enough – so if you are too please do yourself a favour and get one done.

If you want anymore information about the test check out information on Cervical Screening here.

Gratitude

I struggle with this one. I am such a lucky person: I have my health, my family, a lovely home and the list goes on but in life I am a secret or not so secret ‘glass half empty and why has someone else got more in theirs’ type person.

I recently read a couple of articles about keeping a gratitude journal and I think I might give it a go. I do have a diary. I usually only write in it when things are really getting me down so it doesn’t make for cheery reading and I like the idea of turning that around. Making my focus the good things that are going on.

Paperchase Notebook

I have a journal on the go from Paperchase from a few years back but I am currently coveting this lovely fabric floral one.

Anyway – not the point – I need no more stationary! I’ll let you know how I get on. Is there anything that you do regularly to try to be more positive?