What a weekend! It’s safe to say that we’re all a little bit tired after the last few days. It was full on, super busy but also lots & lots of fun. It all kicked off on Friday, which was my eldest daughter’s birthday. I wrote a blog post called Twelve if you’d like to check that out. We showered her in balloons, confetti, cards and love before she went off to school for the day.

Thankfully, Friday was quite relaxing because I was able to prep a little for the party day {on Saturday} and attempt to get our house into order. Our home is constantly falling into utter chaos and sometimes I just wish you could shake it like an etch-a-sketch and start all over again! Do you ever wish that? Of course, you do!

To celebrate Ellie turning twelve, we got a squad of family & friends together to enjoy a lovely meal at Cosmo in Victoria Square, Belfast. This venue was upon Ellie’s request and let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner! I even organised a birthday message to come over the speakers {Birthday song included!} in an attempt to embarrass her, but she wasn’t phased one little bit.

Dinner was a success which meant the next day was to be party day. By this point, which was 10pm at night I still hadn’t baked her cake nor had I everything ready for the following day. Looking back I’ll be honest, I do this to myself every single time. I am only one little person & I am forever taking on far too much. But somehow I manage to pull it off, every single time. Bar the cake {this time} – I’m good but I lacked in a Tardis to allow me more time, sadly!

Birthday girl

Confetti cannon

I think it is safe to say that Ellie had a real birthday fueled weekend. From her presents, dinner with family & friends, having a disco in a Party Hummer {from Keith’s Limos} and having a fun sleepover with some of her closest friends. By Sunday lunchtime I was a broken woman, but my girl was happy and that was my main goal. 

Now I can have a little breather before my little Jacob’s 9th birthday in August – he’s after a football themed party, so I had best get planning! 

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“Anyone can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a Daddy”. 

The saying above rings so true for us as a family, and I guess with this day and age we’re more of a normal family than we realise. I have an ex-husband and we co-parent with our children – I mean, that’s the best possible example to set for our children, right?

My children not only have their own Dad, who they love very much and spend most weekend’s with, but they have a StepDad too. However, we don’t use the term StepDad really, because well, if I’m honest I don’t really know why. My husband has been in their lives since they were very young, Jacob being just two years old when they met for the first time.

Through the years he has read bedtime stories, wiped away tears, been a true homework hero, comforted, cooked, and cleaned up after them and treated them like his own. Like a Dad should. He doesn’t see himself as their Dad, but he does seem them being his family. He’s a bonus Dad in their eyes and I really love that. Having two male Father figures in your life, both loving you, both wanting you to succeed in life and who both have your back, 100% can never be a bad thing.

Being the male role model they see 90% of every week is a huge responsibility and my darling man has taken it on with nothing but pride and honour. He regularly says to me that he sees them as his {in a way} and will treat them no less as that. They have their moments and we have our fair share of arguments and fallouts. What family doesn’t have those! But they look up to him for advice, help, guidance and whatever else they feel they can go to him for.

Them having that bond and that relationship is so very important to me. Bringing in someone new to your family unit can be a bumpy road, but thankfully ours wasn’t too rocky and we smoothed it out to form a beautiful family unit. 

My husband celebrates the day because he has a daughter of his own, but Father’s Day is for Stepdad’s too. It’s a shame that the Father’s Day cards for StepDads are so minimal in stores {hopefully that changes!} but I love that his ‘bonus kids’ shower him in gifts, cards, hugs and chants of “Happy Father’s Day” too. He deserves it and as I sit here typing this I realise that I do have enough photos of the children and their Dad/Bonus Dad. I’ll certainly change that!

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On this morning, twelve years ago, I had my newly born daughter in my arms. After a crazy few days, going into premature labour {35wks}, having the contractions stopped and restarted a few days later. Having a drip fitted and then induced – and nine hours later, she was born. She came out naturally, with her tiny little hand placed on her cheek and the cutest pink rose bud lips. Not a peep left those lips either, she was the quietest little thing. I guess the journey was pretty tough {and tiring} for her too.

I remember needing some stitches {downstairs – the joys!} and she was carted off to the S.C.B.U. It’s a weird feeling having that happen. Going through the pain and emotional roller coaster that is having a baby for them to be taken away. Even more upsetting was finally being well enough {I lost over a pint of blood following delivery} to go back onto the ward – babyless. 

Thinking back it was gut wrenching truth be told. Your body had all the signs there that you had given birth, yet you had no baby to show for it. Other new Mums had their babies and mine was down in S.C.B.U, alone. I was too poorly to be by her side and that upset me all the more.

I recall through my fever spikes and sickness {any form of hospital medication renders me useless} one of the midwives bringing me a photo of my baby girl. She was wearing a cute little preemie beanie and I wanted to hold her so badly. It wasn’t until later that evening that I was well enough to be taken to see her – I was wheelchair bound because I couldn’t walk {due to the blood loss}. But as soon as we entered her room, out of all the little preemies, I found my girl in a heartbeat.

She was over by the window, getting all the natural light her little body needed to chase away her jaundice. She weighed 5lb 6oz and even though she was so little she looked so much bigger than the other S.C.B.U babies.

I wasn’t allowed to hold her. She had all kinds of wires coming from her and all I heard around her were beeps and other machine noises. She was mostly fine, just a little early and needed some monitoring. Her jaundice got worse and she required two sessions of phototherapy and it took 3 days before I could hold my baby girl in my arms. It took a further two weeks for her to be well enough to come home.

Fast forward 12yrs and I have this hilariously funny, dark & twisty and creative tween on my hands – with a witty nature and a pre-teen attitude brewing and bubbling in the background. We’ve had a taste of that attitude and God help us when it becomes fully formed. Hormones & all!

At twelve, Ellie loves to draw, listen to her music, snapchat {her latest thing} and Instagram. Her face is never far from her mobile phone, she loves visiting the ice-cream store after school on a Friday with her girlfriends. She hates doing laundry, loves roast chicken dinners and if given half the chance? Would eat BBQ ribs every day for the rest of her life.

She is a gaming fan, plays World of Warcraft, a few Steam games i.e. The Escapists & Goat Simulator. She rarely watches regular TV because it’s all about YouTube these days. She’s almost the same height as me {which isn’t hard} and can often be found wearing my shoes too. On top of all that, she is a huge animal lover and hopes to be a zoo keeper one day and has a real passion for Science. She got 93% in her Year 8 Summer exams and also came out as the highest mark in the year.

I’m so very proud of my little girl, who isn’t so little anymore. She is funny, laughs at the oddest of things {she reminds me so much of myself}, she is talented, creative, amusingly dark and has an all round quirky with a side order of geek, personality. I love her so much and I honestly cannot believe she is 12, on the cusp of being a teenager. How time flies!

Happy Birthday beautiful girl!

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When you are beginning to plan your annual summer family holiday, one of the first things you need to think about is the location. In equal parts exciting and stressful, the location has the ability to make or break your holiday, so it is important to get it right.

For many families, especially those with young children and those on tight budgets, a ‘staycation’ is a more realistic and affordable option. Foreign holidays may well be exotic, sunny and luxurious, but that is no reason why you can’t get all of that and more right here in the UK.

A family holiday is unique as it allows you to spend some quality time making memories with the people who are closest to you. Often, day-to-day chores and everyday life can get in the way of family time, which makes these summer getaways all the more important.

However, it is also important to select a destination that suits the whole family when you are looking to book your next holiday. By keeping everyone in mind, it should be much easier to create a shortlist of destinations which you can then eventually whittle down to select your final destination.

However, if you are struggling for ideas, here are some of the top destinations for a summer family vacation in the UK.

Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is a picturesque rural area in the heart of England, covering parts of six counties. It is characteristic of charming rolling hills and grassland, dotted with scenic villages and stately homes. The perfect image of traditional English country life, the Cotswolds offer the perfect accessible family getaway. For things to do, head to Gloucester Cathedral or Tewkesbury Abbey for a splash of culture. Alternatively, the little ones are sure to love a day out at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens. For places to stay on a budget, there are plenty of camping and caravanning opportunities within the area. If you would like more information about caravans for hire in the Cotswolds, click here.

Northumberland

For the holiday destination offering something for everyone, head to Northumberland for a summer getaway spent amongst glorious scenery and years of history. If the weather is being kind to you, there are plenty of beautiful beaches along the Northumberland coastline. Alternatively, you can take a boat out to the Farne Islands or head across the causeway to take in the sights at the unique tidal Holy Island. Plus, Harry Potter enthusiasts take note – Alnwick Castle, where many scenes from the original films were shot, is also in Northumberland!

The Isle of Wight

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Give the little ones the chance to head ‘abroad’ and take the ferry crossing over for a summer holiday on the Isle of Wight. The entire island is perfect for families, with pretty beaches, walking routes and family-friendly attractions like Blackgang Chine and Osborne House aplenty. There are also plenty of places to stay and the best part? Since the island is relatively small, everything is within easy reach, so say goodbye to those long, hot and never-ending car journeys!

North Norfolk

An enduring family favourite, the North Norfolk coastline offers the perfect opportunity for the traditional seaside holiday. Stunning beaches and quintessentially British villages dot the coastline, each one offering a unique set of attractions perfect for families. Go crabbing on the quayside with a delicious fish and chip lunch, or spend an afternoon getting rid of all your spare change in the amusement arcades in Hunstanton. The Pleasure Beach in Great Yarmouth is also a great place for kids to spend their pocket money on fun rides! Alternatively, if the weather is good, head down to the beach for a glorious day in the sun. The sand dunes, vast expanses of golden sand and row of colourful beach huts set against the backdrop of the shady pine woods makes Wells-Next-The-Sea well worth a visit.

Pembrokeshire

The home of the only coastal national park in the UK, Pembrokeshire is great for a more active family holiday. Head off on one of the many walking trails in the area for a relaxing day spent exploring the countryside, or alternatively, pop down to the beach to make the most of the warm summer weather. There is always plenty to see and do in Pembrokeshire, so let the kids run off some energy and take advantage of the opportunity to soak up some sun this summer.

thumbnail_Pembrokeshire

No matter which destination you decide on, it is important to select a location that suits the unique requirements of each individual family member as well as the family as a whole. Once you have picked out the perfect destination, the rest of the holiday planning and preparation process will soon begin to fall into place. Your holiday will be here before you know it!

*This is a collaborative post. 

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Father’s day is fast approaching and if you’re anything like me, you want to spoil your man rotten! My Husband always goes above & beyond with the kids for Mother’s day, so doing the same {if, not more} for him on Father’s Day is a huge deal to us.

Our usual Father’s Day would consist of letting the man of the house sleep until midday – however, can anyone else’s man sleep the clock around? I honestly don’t know how mine does it. But sleep is certainly on top of the list for gifts for him. Lie-ins with kids are like gold dust! Next up would be a cooked breakfast – for my Husband {the sleepy-head} I’d call it more lunch, possibly an early dinner? We would give him his presents and he would literally just mooch around the house like Lord Muck for the rest of the day because it’s Fathers day and he can.

However, if your Husband is also like mine and what I mean by that is ‘hard as hell to buy for’ because he has everything he needs – I thought I’d put together a list for you guys to help you out because I needed a little gift inspiration myself.

Father's day gift inspiration

Father & Baby T-shirt set // Sky Drone Pro V2 // Why you’re so awesome book // Glenfarclas 12yr old Single Malt // Fitbit Blaze // #DadsDayDeals on my Voucher Codes // Red Letter Days Super Car driving // Go Pro Hero 5 // Black watch //

I actually love these gift suggestions and I also love that there isn’t a power tool in sight. In fact, in all honesty, and as much as I love my Husband, the power tools would likely be on my gift list than his! Please tell me I’m not the only one with a husband/partner/boyfriend whose never used a drill in his life? Hands up you guys! I know I’m not the only one.

As for my own Father, collectable War soldiers are his thing. He has so many that I am literally baffled how he has room for anymore. So in retrospect, my Dad is easier to buy for than my own Husband. Go figure! But gifts aside, it’s making the men in our lives feel appreciated, more loved than ever and to show them how much they mean to us.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Daddy’s out there!

 

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I love a good subscription box {call it my guilty pleasure}. For a long time, I loved receiving my Lootcrate every month and the children really enjoyed having their Munch Box subscription box too. Now, as well as the love of receiving that monthly subscription box, we love LEGO. So you can only imagine our faces when we heard of Brickbox – a monthly LEGO subscription box. Our minds blew and for the children, I mean this literally.

Lego Subscription Box

Lego Subscription Box Each monthly BrickBox contains a different theme – for May, the theme was LEGO Airport. We received the LEGO Airport Starter set which features a Helicopter and four mini figures. We also received a LEGO City Race plane with its own mini figure pilot and airport employee.  

Lego Subscription Box
Lego Subscription Box In no time at all, my two LEGO loving daughter’s got started on their builds. Annabelle enjoyed building all of the little mini figures together and Ellie set her sights on the larger models. Ellie had both the plane & helicopter built in no time at all – and both of them looked awesome. 

Lego Subscription Box
Lego Subscription Box
Lego Subscription Box
Lego Subscription Box The LEGO City Race Plane has a spinning propeller as well as an opening cockpit. It’s a great size too and will be a perfect fit for display on my daughter’s shelves in her bedroom. 

Lego Subscription Box
Lego Subscription Box
Lego Subscription BoxThe second set we received was the LEGO Airport start set that included a Helicopter and four Minifigures. This set is very cool and really allows you to make a fun little scene with the Minifigures provided. You have a handy man, a postal worker, an air traffic controller and a pilot for the helicopter. 
Lego Subscription Box
Lego Subscription Box
Lego Subscription Box
Lego Subscription Box

We really loved this subscription box and it is something my daughter is now asking for me to get her and she’ll even do extra chores around the house to pay for it. She’s such a huge LEGO fan, and this sort of subscription box is pretty perfect for her.

The monthly fee for the BrickBox subscription is £24.99 – however, BrickBox does have a selection of subscription options that save you money depending on the type of subscription you go for.

Disclosure: This product was sent to me for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, photos & opinions are entirely my own. 

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We all want to raise kids who care about planet earth. We also know that to foster environmental consciousness in children, it’s important to engage with them, encourage questions, and inculcate good habits early in life. But going green can seem like a daunting task to many families. We would all like to do our bit by driving an electric car, but this is not possible for every family. Moreover, questions are still being raised about the safety of electric cars. So, what can parents do to teach their kids to save the earth (without breaking the bank)? Here’s a list of 20 easy-to-implement ways to help your family go green.

1. Plant trees. Talk to your kids about how trees cleanse the air we breathe by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

2. Drive less. Instead, walk, ride bikes, carpool, or take the bus to get around.

3. Bundle up. Heating homes in the winter can use a lot of energy. Put on a sweater, bundle up in a blanket, or use space heaters instead of turning on the central heating. Consider getting an energy audit to find out if your home is losing energy.

4. Save electricity. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Unplug electrical appliances that are not in use.

5. Save water. Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth or lather up your hands. Shorten your shower. Fix those leaky faucets.

6. Re-use plastic containers. Don’t buy bottled water – refill instead. Recycle the plastic you can’t re-use.

7. Go green on groceries. Re-use plastic bags or buy cloth bags for your groceries. When shopping, don’t put every fruit and vegetable in a separate plastic bag.

8. Recycle. Before you throw something away, ask, “How can I re-use this?” Think of ways to re-use newspaper, cans, plastic and glass bottles and keep them out of the garbage as much as possible.

9. Recycle old batteries and sell unneeded electronics (phones, televisions, computers, etc.) to keep them off our land and out of our oceans.

10. Start composting. Install a composting system in your backyard to turn kitchen scraps into fertiliser for your garden.

11. Spend time outdoors. Instead of remaining glued to laptops, tablets, and smartphones, encourage outdoor family time, enjoying nature.

12. Go organic. Eating locally-grown organic food is healthier and better for the environment. Farmers’ markets are cheaper than the organic aisle at the supermarket. It’s better to shop locally as the food travels a shorter distance from farm to kitchen.

13. Use eco-friendly cleaning products. The cocktails of chemicals in householder cleaners can be bad for your family’s health. Going green will minimise the impact of cleaning chemicals on earth’s water and air.

14. Celebrate a green birthday. Here are some ideas to show friends how much you care for planet earth.

15. Re-use gift wrapping paper or buy gift bags and re-use them.

16. No idling. Idling automobiles are a waste of resources and damage the environment with exhaust emissions.

17. Save paper, save trees. Ask for e-mail bills instead of paper bills. File taxes electronically. Read the news online instead of a newspaper. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. Join a library and share books and magazines instead of buying new ones.

18. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and save electricity. It’s also good for your health.

19. Buy gallon-sized shampoo and conditioner. You save money. You throw away less plastic. You make fewer trips to the drug store. Re-use travel-sized bottles by refilling for every trip.

20. Wait until you have a full load of laundry. Wash your clothes in cold water. Line-dry your clothes when possible.

None of these ideas is difficult to implement and many of them will save you money. For more tips on saving energy and using environment-friendly technologies in your home, visit https://www.usa.gov/green.

*This is a collaborative post. 

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In one week’s time, my eldest girl will be twelve. I cannot even comprehend how she is 7 days away from being 12yrs old because I remember the morning she was born like it was yesterday. But more on that next week! For now, I am still planning her party – apparently, when you turn twelve, inflatables just don’t cut it anymore. So I’ve had to up my party game a few notches. Planning a party for a tween girl {whose ungirly} has been quite tricky – but we cracked it in the end. 

She decided on a Party Bus {without a pole, thankfully! None of that just yet, thank you!} followed by a Movie themed party at home. Think candy floss, hot dogs, a chocolate fondue with fruit skewers and more. There may even be seven tween girls sleeping in my living room, so that should be fun! 

Party planning aside, we managed to visit a funfair that is on in Carrickfergus at the moment. Cullens Amusements have set up quite the attraction and we managed to enjoy it in between some downpours on its opening day. We had a rare day of just having our littlest lady with us, as the older children were at their Dads. But taking our youngest sprout to these sort of things makes me very aware of how much of a thrill seeker she is; and how much of a coward, I am. I mean, when she saw the below amusement she shrieked “Mama! I want to go on that thing!” – you can imagine my response.



Hook the duck prize



Carrickfergus Funfair

Our first family pet

We didn’t spend too long at the funfair because, if I’m honest, it cost £2.50 per person to get on the rides so the urge to stay fizzled out quite quickly. We would have been broke in no time at all if Annabelle got her way. Plus! We inherited a new addition to the family and he needed to be taken home and put into a proper tank. Not to mention we dodged a mammoth downpour {just about!}.

I’ll be sure to update you guys on how my daughter’s birthday party goes {and if I survive the tween girl sleepover!} – I’m rather looking forward to it, truth be told. I love bringing the wishes of my children to life and seeing the happiness on their wee faces. It makes everything leading up to it all, 100% worth it.

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My husband and I have been together for quite a while now and will soon celebrate out first wedding anniversary together. But one thing I have never done on the blog is share a fun Q&A type post with you guys – so when BedGuru got in touch asking my Husband & I to join in on their #CoupleQuiz campaign, I knew we had to get involved.

My husband and I have a pretty solid relationship, I’m happy to report. We work together as a team against the hoard of tiny humans we have at home {we’re like the Brady Bunch!} and we really try to not go to bed at night with an angry head. We’re very much air-it-all-out-before-we-go-to-sleep sort of people; which will hopefully result in a good night’s sleep.

However, with my Husband’s snoring & constant duvet thievery, a good night’s sleep isn’t always a sure-fire thing. In fact, lately, there have been countless visits to the sofa for the remainder of the night! We both sleep quite differently e.g. I like two pillows, he has one but folds it over {what’s THAT all about?} he snores & I cannot sleep through it, whereas when I snore he has no issues sleeping through it. Bed Guru have a selection of Couple’s mattresses to accommodate different sleeping requirements, so I think we are going to have to look into those. 

Husband & Wife Q&A

How did you meet?

Me: We met through playing a tabletop game called Dungeons & Dragons – I know, pretty nerdy, right?
Husband: We met by chance.  A friend called me up one night saying a guy had pulled out of an event and did I want to fill his place. 

How long have you known each other?

Me: We have known each other for 8 years and been together for 7yrs.
Husband: Oooo that’s a question I feel if I get wrong I will be sleeping on the sofa for the rest of 2017…. around 7 years? 8 years?

What do you do to keep the love alive?

Me: We make time for date nights each week. Sometimes we fail, because of you know…life! But we really try to set aside that one evening a week to chill out together, enjoy a nice evening meal and have a catch-up.
Husband: Stop and ignore the craziness of the household. Tell her she is beautiful and try to steal as many kisses as possible. Try to do the little things of when least expect it a takeaway when their starving, a lush bubble bar when looking to unwind and relax and trying to make her smile all the time even if it’s at the expense of my street cred by making myself look silly.What are your partner’s pet peeves? His snoring and he can eat loudly.

What are your partner’s pet peeves?

Me: Sean doesn’t annoy easily, if at all. He hates it when people drink from the same glass his juice is in {which I find quite funny} but he really doesn’t like it. 
Husband: Everything. Oxygen, grass, the sky being blue? haha, I would have to say my snoring and my carefree attitude of “Don’t worry about a plan of attack love…. Let’s just wing life!”

What do you love the most about each other? 

Me: His compassion and thoughtfulness. No matter what mood our relationship is on, he will always be there for me, even when he is mad at me.
Husband: Easy her blush. When she blushes and looks at me with rosy red cheeks, a beautiful smile and just the two of us on planet earth.

What is the most memorable gift you have received from your partner?

Me: The necklace he gave to me on our wedding day. It had a photo of my Mum inside, and in his letter, he wrote “Because she cannot physically be with you today, maybe this will help you to get through today without her here. I cried LOTS of tears.
Husband: A daughter – if this one doesn’t count I would say my heart pillow! haha (she isn’t the best at gifts sometimes).

What is your favourite memory as a couple?

Me: Gosh, do I have to choose just one? I have many favourite memories, from our evenings out when we were dating, to find out we were pregnant, to hearing that we were expecting a little girl and even our wedding day. There are too many to choose just one!
Husband: When we found out we were pregnant with Annabelle, it was terrifying experience due to massive health issues that run in my family with little ones but Debi calmed me down, reassured me and was just the fact I knew whatever life threw at me she would have my 6 (back) 

What is the most key component of your relationship?

Me: Honesty, communication & respect for one another. These three key things are so, so important in a relationship. 
Husband: Hmmm… I would say determination. We are determined to spend our lives together, determined our kids have the best life possible, determined to ensure each other are happy.

Where is your dream destination for a couple’s holiday?

Me: In truth? Anywhere would suit us. I honestly think we’d be happy in a caravan in Castlerock, with Netflix, a few cheeky drinks and just ‘us time’. 
Husband: Ooooo. Palma – Sunshine, Beaches, Beautiful waters with activities, food and the ability to get away, refresh and lose ourselves on the other side of the planet.

What are your favourite things to do as a couple?

Me: Grabbing some dinner and a movie….and maybe have a little time after for a little drink in a cute pub somewhere. 
Husband: Eat! We love mixing things up and trying food both eating out and trying to recreate our favourite dishes inside on a budget which usually ends up brilliant or burnt to a crisp. Very rarely an in between!

Husband & Wife Q&A
*In collaboration with Bed Guru.

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Arriving home from the hospital with a newborn bundle of joy can be a daunting occasion, particularly when they start crying in a tone you don’t recognise. Care, the number one healthcare brand sold into UK pharmacy1 and Penny Lazell, a qualified midwife and independent health visitor are here with advice to help you comfort your little one.

“Babies are genetically programmed to call out for comfort when distressed”, says Penny. “Crying is your baby’s way of getting you to understand what they need as their brain isn’t developed enough to manage this on its own. Babies DO NOT cry to exercise their lungs or to annoy you! They cry when they need to alert you to something that is bothering them, either physically or emotionally, and requires you to meet their needs. The more these needs are met and understood over time, the less your baby will cry as you will learn to understand what they want before they become upset.”

Top 9 reasons why your baby might cry and what to do:

Hunger

· “Young babies’ brains are not developed enough to anticipate hunger”, says Penny. “Therefore when they realise they’re hungry, a message goes directly to the brain to alert the baby to let their carer know they need feeding. This can happen very quickly and the force and escalation of the cry often catches parents out and can be quite worrying.”

· What to do: “If your baby has not been fed for 2- 4 hours then they may be hungry. If they are soothed immediately by a breast or bottle then that’s probably what they were trying to tell you. Over time, babies will learn to regulate their feeds and often manage to have longer gaps in between, which will help you anticipate when the feed is due and reduce crying.”

Wet or dirty nappy

· “All babies are different so some don’t mind a slightly dirty nappy while others will cry as soon as it has been filled”, explains Penny. “Often babies will open their bowels straight after feeding so if they start to cry after a feed, it may be that they have a dirty nappy.”

· What to do: “A cry for a wet or dirty nappy is often mistaken for them still being hungry. Try to change your baby’s nappy frequently to avoid distress.”

Tiredness

· “Your baby yawning, rubbing their eyes, becoming fidgety, or disengaging are all signs of tiredness”, reveals Penny. “Once a baby becomes overtired, they find it really difficult to calm down again. This often causes anxiety for the parent and in turn, the baby picks up on this and is even less likely to calm down.”

· What to do: “A change of environment or someone different soothing the baby may help”, recommends Penny. “Or sometimes just allowing your baby to start using their own self-regulation; placing them in their cot with you nearby may actually give them permission to fall asleep.”

Pain

· “Cries from pain can be quite frightening and are often very different to those of hunger or tiredness”, says Penny. “They tend to be more high-pitched and have quite a sudden onset.”

· What to do: “Trust your gut instinct. If you think your baby’s cry is one of pain, take their temperature and check them over. It may just be that a piece of clothing is tight or they are in an uncomfortable position. If the cry continues, seek medical advice.”

Boredom

· “The brains of young babies are wired to crave attention so they can start to learn about the world. For this reason, they become bored very quickly and will often alert you on a regular basis that they want you”, explains Penny. “Although this can mean you find a little time to get things done, it is very important to respond to these cries to ensure your baby’s brain develops.”

· What to do: “Babies learn from you so try to set aside time to provide short periods of stimulating activities. This could just be talking to them or singing. They love your voice and eye contact. Try to avoid putting them in front of a TV. Even watching you hang the washing out is fun for them even if not for you!”

Over stimulation

· “This can be as hard to deal with as boredom. Babies’ brains are like sponges but can only take so much at a time. An over stimulated baby will become very fretful and can be difficult to settle which may be mistaken for many other things.”

· What to do: “If your baby appears to be fretful and isn’t settling with rocking or cuddling, try taking them to a quiet low lit room and just hold them still, gently shushing and talking to them. It may take a little while to settle them but stick with it.”

Wanting a cuddle

· “Babies have emotional needs and having spent nine months tucked up in a nice cosy womb feeling secure, they can often feel a little lost when out in the big wide world”, adds Penny. “Cuddling babies is important for their emotional development and for growing their ability to self-regulate themselves.”

· What to do: “Don’t be afraid to cuddle your baby. It will not make them clingy, in fact, it will help them become more independent.”

Being too hot or too cold

· “Babies have immature temperature regulation which means parents have to regulate it for them”, recommends Penny. “Babies lose heat from their heads so you should leave this uncovered. If a baby looks red with their crying it may be that they are too hot.”

· What to do: “Start by removing a layer of clothing from your baby. You may also need to check their temperature to see if they are hot due to a fever. Equally, babies may alert you to being cold by crying. Try to remember to always be aware that this may be a reason for their crying.”

Transient Lactase Deficiency

· The available evidence states that the immature digestive system of babies can struggle to make enough lactase to digest the lactose (a natural milk sugar found in breast and formula milk) in their feed, which can induce colicky symptoms. This is called Transient Lactase Deficiency. Guidelines from both the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the NHS Choices website suggest that Transient Lactase Deficiency could be an underlying cause of infantile colic and that a one week trial of a Lactase Enzyme Drop is worth a try in colicky infants.

· “Transient Lactase Deficiency is a common occurrence in young babies”, says Penny. “It can make them very uncomfortable and difficult to settle, which can lead to increased stress for both baby and parent.”

· What to do: “Introducing a lactase enzyme drop with feeds can often resolve the problem without having to move to or change the formula.”

Care Co-Lactase Infant Drops

Designed to reduce lactose content in milk, Care Co-Lactase Infant Drops help make digesting lactose easier for baby without delaying the feeding process.

These drops can be used from birth, and are sugar, preservative and flavour-free. They are to be added to breast milk or infant formula prior to feeding. The lactase enzyme breaks down the lactose in breast and formula milk which should reduce the symptoms of Transient Lactase Deficiency. Unlike other preparations, Care Co-Lactase Infant Drops do not interfere with the feeding process, meaning a baby can be fed immediately (rather than waiting 30 minutes for the drops to take effect).

Care Co-Lactase Infant Drops (10ml), priced at £9.99 for 60 feeds, are available from Asda stores or online at www.asda.com and independent pharmacies nationwide.

Did your little ones suffer from any feeding issues? We’ve had colic, gastric refluxes and more. I’d love to hear your experiences and what you used to help your little ones. 

Notes to readers:

· Care Co-Lactase should not be given directly to baby or added to soy or lactose-free formulas

· Care Co-Lactase should only be used for as long as it takes the infant to produce enough of its own lactase enzyme as the gut develops – typically at around 3 – 4 months

Using Care Co-Lactase Infant Drops

· For breastfeeding; a few tablespoons of breast milk should be expressed into a sterilised container before four drops of Care Co-Lactase Infant Drops are added. This should be given to the baby with a sterilised plastic spoon or syringe – then breastfeeding can continue as normal.

· For use with infant formula; add four drops to made-up formula when warm and then shake before feeding.

· When making the formula in advance; two drops are added to warm, made-up formula. This should be stored in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours and should be used within 12 hours. It should be warmed to usual feeding temperature before use.

For further information, product photography and a full product range press pack call the Care press office at Pegasus – 01273 712000 or care@thisispegasus.co.uk. For more information about the Care range visit http://allthecareyouneed.co.uk/self-treatment/colactase/. or facebook.com/allthecareyouneed.

About Thornton & Ross

Founded in 1922, Thornton & Ross grew to become the largest independent pharmaceutical manufacturer in the UK, before becoming part of the STADA group in 2013.

From a base in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Thornton & Ross develop, manufacture and supply a growing portfolio of healthcare products including leading brands such as Covonia, Hedrin, Care, Setlers and Cerumol.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

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My school age children finish for the summer holidays next month and we cannot wait! However, finishing one year of school means you need to prepare for the next term. I worked with Marks & Spencer a few years ago on their Sportswear range for children and recently I was asked to work alongside them again to share with you, their Back to school range.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never shopped in M&S before for my children’s school uniforms. For my preschooler, there was no need because tracksuit bottoms or leggings alongside a branded polo shirt & jumper was her uniform. And for my {at the time} two Primary school children would just need skirts and or trousers. Again, due to requiring branded polo shirts & jumpers.

Does anyone else dislike forking out the expense for branded school uniforms? I do! Why not just sell us the school badge to sew onto our children’s t-shirts, jumpers and/or cardigans!? Anyway…

So, having never shopped in M&S for schoolwear before, I was keen to see their range – needless to say, I was far from disappointed. Marks & Spencers have such an extensive schoolwear range that I was seriously impressed. Whether your child wears a Gingham dress or blouse, school shorts or slim leg trousers – M&S literally have it all.

Back to School

Back to school
Back to school
Back to school

Back to school Did you know that you can even buy Easy Dressing School uniforms? Marks & Spencer have collaborated with the National Autism Society to provide school uniforms with velcro instead of buttons and easy ‘pull-up’ trousers too. I have never heard of these and I think they are such an amazing addition to their Back to School range.

For my littlest lady, who is due to start Primary One this September, I picked up the following for her: Girls Embroidered Pinafore, Pack of 3 – Pure Cotton Polo Shirt, Girls Wool Blend Cardigan, Pack of 3 – Fresh Feet School Cable Tights & Kids Freshfeet Leather T-Bar Shoes with Silver Technology

Back to School
Back to School
Back to School
Back to school I always provide my children with a packed lunch during the warmer months of the year and allow them to have school dinners during the colder months – it just makes sense, doesn’t it? So I picked up this gorgeous Heart Print Lunch Bag with Thinsulate and Princess water bottle {which I picked up instore}. It has enough space for both her Yumbox & her Flask which I was pleased about. 

Back to schoolI am a big fan Stormwear style coats for my children. Coats that will keep them warm and dry as well as being breathable – so having a breathable coat is a key factor when it comes to choosing a coat for my children. This Hooded Parka Coat will be perfect for my little girl to wear during our school runs.

For P.E, my youngest girl will only need to wear a polo shirt and some Cotton Rich Joggers, as well as a little pair of Kids Plimsoles with a new and improved fit.
Back to school

My two Primary school children wear polo shirts during Spring & Summer & their Shirts & Ties in Autumn & Winter. I picked up a 3 Pack of Easy Iron Shirts for all three of my school age children and I picked up a few pairs of the 2 Pack Boys Flat Front trousers for my son as well. 
Back to school

Back to school

Lastly, in preparation for my little girl starting Primary school I loved the selection of educational books that M&S had in store, that I had to pick her up a few. I chose: a Magnetic Play & Learn First Words book – if you’re new to my blog, my youngest girl experienced a very late diagnosis of a tongue tie {one month before she turned three} and for the last 14mths, we have been on a butt-kicking speech delay journey.
M&S books for childrenI also picked up an Arty Mouse Stick & Draw activity book, an M&S Kids Preschool ‘Let’s get ready for school’ I can Read – Biff, Chip & Kipper pack and lastly, The Little Mermaid from the M&S First Readers range.

Having never shopped at Marks & Spencer before I am very pleased with not only the quality of the uniforms I picked up but the cost too.

*This collaboration was supported by Marks & Spencer and Shopping Links. All thoughts, photos & opinions are entirely my own. 

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