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Returning to Work After Maternity Leave: Is it Really That Bad?

Sunday, 15 October 2017
So it happened. After 11 months of maternity leave, I went back to work. I spent so long dreading it. I finished work in October last year and it only took a few months before I started counting down to the day that I'd have to leave my baby. It felt so unfair. I felt like Oliver needed me, and it just didn't feel natural to leave him for so long every day. It didn't feel right that I might miss his first steps, or that he might start to rely on someone else as much as he relied on me. The thought of going back to work made me feel sick and it hung over me like a dark cloud throughout my maternity leave.

With that being said, I can't really say that I loved maternity leave. I loved being with Oliver every day but maternity leave means maternity pay, which essentially means you've got all this free time and no money to do anything. I didn't spend my days going out for lunch or shopping for cute baby clothes like I thought I would have and there's only so many walks you can go on before it starts to become a bit like groundhog day. By the second half of my maternity leave, I was getting cabin fever. I was getting out and about with Oliver, but we'd ran out of 'new' places to go and it just felt like we had so much time to kill and not enough money, or company, to go and make the most of it.

RETURNING TO WORK AFTER MATERNITY LEAVE LIFESTYLE AND PARENTING BLOGGER UK GLASGOW MAISY MEOW BLOG

In the final weeks before I went back, I had equal feelings of dread and excitement. I was excited to be doing something different because, as bad as it sounds, I was bored of maternity leave. I wanted to enjoy being off with Oliver and to get rid of the feeling that we're 'killing time' because we've just got so much of it. I wanted to chat to different people every day and I wanted to have money again, so we could do fun things together. But I also knew it was the end of an era, and I knew I'd miss this time when I went back. I also knew that any time I'd left Oliver for an afternoon at my mums, I'd rush home to see him because I missed him so much, so how was I going to cope with a full 8 hours a day? 

So in August, the day finally came. I started back at work and do you know what? It was fine. 

I got to catch up with old colleagues, drink hot tea and chill out on my lunch break (or look at photos of Oliver, let's be honest). Oliver gets watched by his gran and papa when I'm at work, so I know he's in safe hands and I loved getting photos of him throughout the day. I was so excited to see him at 5pm, and he was so pleased to see me too. Every minute until bed time was cherished.

SCOTTISH PARENTING MUMMY BLOGGERS

Working again and having limited time in the mornings and evenings has forced me to be super organised and to make the most of every minute we have. I know that I've got half an hour to play with Oliver in the morning before we have to get ready and leave, so I give him my full attention for that time and give him an extra big cuddle before I leave in the morning. After work, I'm so excited to give him his bath and play before bed time rather than being exhausted. And I've finally shook off that feeling of constant cabin fever. 



I'm working part-time now and even though I look forward to my days off so much, I actually don't miss maternity leave. I value my time off more than ever now. I make the most of it, we do fun things together (because we can afford to) and it's given me back that independence that I'd lost. We still go on long walks, but now I appreciate them because it's something I've been looking forward to when I've been working on the other days.

AUTUMN BABY PHOTOSHOOT UK

Returning to work is just another stage in the process of having a baby. First there's the pregnancy, the newborn days, the maternity leave and then the return to work. It's returning to real life, really, and it's kind of exciting to go through a new stage and see how your baby slots in to that world. 

It turns out that returning to work, and returning to 'life' was just what I needed.

How did you feel returning to work after maternity leave?

p.s I've filmed our morning routine before work on my youtube channel, watch it here

Recycle Week 2017 | So how did I do?

Tuesday, 3 October 2017
Last Monday, I posted about Recycle Week UK with Zero Waste Scotland and my plans to take on the challenge of doubling what I recycle in a week. In my area, we have all the facilities for recycling. We have separate bins for paper, glass, food and plastic that are collected weekly, but I still found myself using the black bin way more than necessary.

Agreeing to do this challenge made me think about what was stopping me from making recycling a normal part of my everyday life. We have a small kitchen (and a small house in general), with a tiny bin that fills quickly and we simply don’t have the space to have more than one bin for different types of rubbish. With a little one running around, I can’t nip outside to the main bins every time I have a piece of rubbish either. 

So how did I get around those obstacles?

Zero Waste Scotland Recycle Week Waste Warriors

We started by thinking about what we put in our bins the most. It was food waste, empty cartons of juice and milk and boxes. We couldn’t stop the food wastage (most of it is down to a baby who likes to throw food on the floor) and we couldn’t stop amazon from sending huge boxes for tiny items, but we did realise we could get rid of those bulky milk cartons. We’d been offered a milk delivery service the week before and realised that this was the perfect way to get rid of those big plastic bottles. We started having our milk delivered in glass bottles three times a week, and once they’re finished we can leave them on the door step for the milkman to collect the next morning.

When it came to food waste, we knew we had to make it as easy as possible to keep it separate from the rest. Previously, our main bin was a tiny black bin on the inside of a cupboard door and in all honesty, it wasn’t really fit for purpose. It filled so quickly that we’d often have to have a separate bag hanging on the door for the big items, so we changed how we used it and it became the food waste bin.


Since we don’t have space to have several bins indoors for plastic, glass and paper, I moved our big recycling wheelie bins to just outside our back door. This meant I could put the big items like paper and bottles straight out and into the right bin once we’d used them. Most of our rubbish comes from the kitchen, so it’s easy enough to open the door and put bottles or boxes straight into the big bin. For other rubbish around the home, we have smaller bins in each room which I sort into the wheelie bins every couple of days when they need emptied.  

Recycling was always something that I thought would be a huge inconvenience but, actually, it only took half an hour or so to implement. Once I’d taken that time to think and organise how recycling would work for our household, it was easy to maintain every day. Our main bin won’t be overflowing by the end of week one anymore, and we won’t have to do the undignified task of cramming the last few bags in before the fortnightly black bin collection. More importantly, we’re setting a good example and teaching good habits for Oliver. 

Do you think you could change how you recycle too?


*collaborative post

Westerwood Hotel and Spa Review with SpaSeekers

Monday, 2 October 2017
Westerwood hotel and spa afternoon tea spaseekers review

Spa days are one of those things that usually come to mind when I'm at my peak of stressful day, or when I'm staring at my to-do list and wondering what I could bump off in favour of a massage and facial. I've been saying that I wanted a spa day since I was pregnant and craving that menthol sauna smell, so when I received an invitation from SpaSeekers to the Westerwood Hotel and Golf Resort for a spa day with some blogger friends, I realised the universe was clearly begging me to go. 

The Westerwood Hotel is a beautiful old hotel in north Glasgow, with a huge golf course and spa resort. The spa has recently had some refurbishments and the first thing I noticed was how clean and tidy everything was, the place was absolutely gleaming and it was such a calm environment from the moment I arrived. I was given a robe, slippers and a card for my afternoon tea when I arrived and was shown around the place.

Spa days in glasgow reviews

Our spa day started with afternoon tea in the restaurant where I met with the other bloggers, Suzy and Lis. There was so much to chose from - sandwiches, little rolls, brownies, cakes, scones with tea, coffee and a mocktail too. I consider myself a seasoned pro when it comes to afternoon tea (aka I just love cake) and I really did think that was one of the best ones I've had. 

spa days in glasgow reviews

We had our treatments booked in for 2pm, and we'd arrived at 12.30pm. That gave us a good hour of cake, chatter and tea before we had to make our way to the treatment areas so if you're going in the afternoon, I'd definitely recommend aiming for that kind of timescale. I had booked in for an ESPA facial and a back, neck and shoulder massage -  you can either have one longer treatment or two shorter treatments and since I couldn't decide, I thought it made sense to try both. 

My treatments were done by Patricia, who was absolutely amazing. My massage was so relaxing, my facial was perfect and the ESPA products are seriously some of the nicest smelling products out there. Patricia gave me some really good tips for my skin too and we were given an ESPA gift set with some smaller products to try when we got home too. 

After the treatments, I met with the girls again through in the relaxation room. This is a dark, quiet room with loungers and chilled music playing and it's where you can go to chill, read, sleep or just hang out after your treatments. The room has water bottles and tea that you can help yourself to. After a massage, you're so chilled that a lounger in a dark room is exactly what's needed. 

spa days in glasgow review

After hanging out in the relaxation room, we decided to head through to the swimming area. I'm not much of a swimmer, but I do normally like to use the jacuzzi and steam rooms so we wanted to check them out before heading home. The swimming and sauna area is accessible through the spa, but it's part of the main hotel so the hotel guests use the pool too. I did feel like the spa atmosphere was lost a bit when we went into the swimming area, as there were kids playing and it was definitely a lot louder than what we'd came from but the jacuzzi and sauna area was still really nice. The pool had loungers all around the side, a large jacuzzi and a sauna/steam room too. 

At the end of the day, I left feeling so relaxed, chilled out and re-charged. It really was exactly what I needed. Since having my spa day at the Westerwood, I've been making plans for another and I've realised that it's so important to make time for myself like that every now and then. 

I'd definitely recommend checking out the Westerwood hotel if you're looking for a spa day for yourself or with some friends. You can check for the best deals on SpaSeekers or if you're not in the area, you can use that site to find the best deals near you. 

How do you guys like to unwind? 




Recycle Week 2017 | The Challenge

Monday, 25 September 2017
Today marks the start of Recycle Week 2017 the annual UK-wide campaign to raise awareness of the vital importance of recycling. During the campaign, which runs from Monday 26th September until Sunday 1 October, Zero Waste Scotland will be encouraging people from all over the country to join in and become 'waste warriors'.

I've agreed to take the challenge, which is to double the amount I recycle in a week. As someone who doesn't recycle enough, I'm looking forward to the challenge of changing my bad habits, learning a bit more about why it's so important and of course, seeing the benefits (hopefully, a wheelie bin that doesn't overflow!). 

In recent years, recycling has become the norm in a lot of homes across the UK. In my area, we have fortnightly collections for our normal bins but our recycling bins are collected every week. With only one large black bin to last us the fortnight, we really need to recycle to make sure it doesn't fill up too quickly. We're family of three (with a baby in nappies) and it can be difficult to manage without using the recycling bins for all our recyclable waste.

I have to say though, there are times when I only begin recycling once I've noticed our large bin getting full. The main reason, admittedly, is that it's far easier to throw it all in the one bin and take it outside at the end of the day than it is to split our rubbish into the four separate bins. I'm often home alone with my little one, and will go for the simplest option that takes the least amount of time!

recycling challenge

As a blogger and an online shopper, we have a lot of paper waste (we all know those online companies that send the smallest items in the biggest boxes), so I'm expecting to see a big difference when I make the effort to recycle all my paper waste. We also go through a lot of plastic bottles and empties and recycling them will save tons of space in our big wheelie bin.

If you'd like to read a bit more about Recycle Week, head over to Zero Waste Scotland website to find out how you can sign up, or follow the Recycle for Scotland facebook page for fun updates and activities throughout the week.

I'll be posting an update at the end of the week to let you know how things have went. Wish me luck! 

How do you all feel about recycling? 
Do you think you do it enough? 

*collaborative post



Review: Pacapod Mirano Changing Bag

Thursday, 31 August 2017
I had a changing bag on my 'must-have' list when I was pregnant but in all honesty, it wasn't something I gave much thought at all. In the end, I picked up one from the reduced section in the pram centre and thought it was plain enough to go unnoticed on the back of my pram. How it looked was probably the most thought I gave it and even then, I picked one that I didn't want to be seen. I'll be carrying my own nice handbag anyway, I thought. Oh, the naivety! 

As a first time mum, I had no idea about the significance of a changing bag. I had no idea that a changing bag becomes your handbag. I had no idea that within a few weeks, I'd grow to hate that plain, boring bag hanging on the back of my pram and how completely unpractical it was. It had no organisation inside and I'd find myself emptying the full thing just to find some wipes and nappies.

I needed a good changing bag, and then along came the Pacapod Mirano Changing bag.*

Pacapod changing bag review mirano pewter photos uk family mummy vlogger

This Mirano is the style that I'd wished for and the Pacapod system has all the organisation I need. 

The Pacapod bags aren't just beautiful luxury changing bags, they have a unique pod system which lets you organise different areas of your bag and keep everything separate. The front section of the bag opens out to allow access to two pods - one cool bag for milk and food supplies, and one changing pod for nappies, wipes etc. The pods can be removed and have their own clips which means that if you're pushed for space, or if you're taking your own handbag for everything else, you can just take the pods out and either put them under your pram or attach them to the handle using the hooks.

Pacapod changing bag review mirano pewter photos uk family mummy vlogger
Pacapod changing bag review mirano pewter photos uk family mummy vlogger

The best thing about the pod system, I've found, is how easy it is to organise. Before I leave the house, I pack each pod individually and it helps me to mentally tick off the list of things I need to pack. Each area of the bag has it's own requirement and I work my way around the bag packing each thing until we're ready to go. And when we're out and about, it's so much easier to find what I'm looking for when everything already has it's own place.

I love that if we're going out for a short walk, I can carry light and just take one of the food pods with me and it fits neatly under the pram. This was a god send when we were on holiday, and could fit the pods into our larger beach bag so we didn't have multiple things to carry at once!


There are so many beautiful styles of bag from the Pacapod brand. I went for the Mirano in 'pewter' because I wanted something reasonably spacious (so it can double up as a handbag), something neutral that looks good on my pram and one that's not too feminine so that Andy loves it out too. There are so many beautiful styles on the website, I totally struggled to chose but when it arrived, I knew I'd made the right decision - it's absolutely beautiful! 

This changing bag is everything I wanted and needed, I only wish I'd discovered it earlier! It's totally changed how organised I am when I'm getting ready and when I'm out of the house. The bag is so well made, and the high quality means I know it'll last a long time. It's a bit more pricey than my bargain bin changing bag, but for something that I use every single day for a couple of years at least, it's worth every penny.

Have any of you tried the pacapod?

*this bag was kindly sent to us to review. 

The Struggle of Chronic Baby Brain

Tuesday, 29 August 2017
uk parenting and lifestyle blogger maisy meow family blogger

At first, I blamed it on the hormones. Then when the pregnancy was over, I blamed it on the sleep deprivation. Then when he started sleeping through, I ran out of excuses. Okay so I'm up at 6am every day, but the exhaustion knocks me out by 9.30pm most nights.

So why's my brain not working anymore?

In the last few months, I've made countless trips upstairs only to forget why I'm there. I've put my steriliser in the oven (and only discovered the melted mess after 10 mins), I've went out without my purse (too many times to count) and recently, I convinced the man in the ice cream van that he'd forgotten to put a flake on my ice cream only to realise as I walked away (with the replacement flake) that I could taste chocolate. It turns out I'd eaten it, instantly forgotten and asked for a new one. 

I can't work out if I've lost brain cells or if there's just so much going on up there that it's a bit overcrowded. It's the latter, probably. My endless to-do list alone could take up the full capacity up there.

I have that constant nagging feeling in my mind, like I've forgotten to do something. Sometimes it's because I've genuinely forgotten something and other times it's just because I know that I've so much to do, that's there always something I need to do. I suppose 'baby brain' isn't just a pregnancy or sleep related thing - it's just baby related. Once you're caring for another little person and their every little need, you need to use some of the brain space that you previously used for things like storing the location of the tv remote and the reason why you went upstairs. 

The good thing is, I'm not alone. I've spoken to mums of kids of all ages about it and it's safe to say  that judging by what they've said, my 'baby brain' is here to stay. Although it seems there's probably no hope of me ever being back to how I used to be, it's comforting to know I'm not the only mum who feels like they're losing their mind sometimes. 

I used to get so angry with myself for doing stupid things, but I've learned to laugh at my baby brain moments now. This morning I went to make myself a cup of tea and as I flipped the switch to boil the kettle, I found a roasting hot cup of tea right next to it. Yep, I'd already made one .. within the last few minutes, and of course, I'd already forgotten about it. I think that was the only time I've been pleased to have my baby brain around - it surprised me with tea!

I asked some other mums for their best baby brain moments and here's what they said...

"I've put the kettle in the fridge, way more than once.."

"I put Teddy's dirty nappy in the fridge..my fella got a smelly surprise when he went in a couple of hours later for his milk!" 

"Put chicken in the kitchen drawer two days ago and only found it this morning!" 

When you mention baby brain to any mum with a young baby, you can guarantee you'll get a story like one of these. There's definitely a theme to the above ones - wouldn't it be interesting to go into the kitchen of a mum and inspect their fridges and drawers, to see what crazy misplaced things you'd find! It's funny how mums can cope with the busiest, most demanding job in the world yet can't operate basic brain functions at times! The way I see it though, at the end of the day, as long as I'm keeping my tiny human alive and happy, then who cares if I can't find the remote (edit: it was in the fridge).

Have any of you had long-term baby brain?







BABY | Everything You Need To Know About Taking A Baby On Holiday

Friday, 11 August 2017
There's a lot to think about when you're taking a baby on holiday and I know, because I worried about each and every one of them for months before we took Oliver to Portugal in July. I don't think I even got excited about our holiday until about a week before, as my mind was just totally consumed with everything that could go wrong.

Luckily, nothing did. We had such a lovely time, and everything just kind of fell into place. I have to say, though, a lot of it was down to preparation and taking on board all the advice from friends and other mums I'd spoken to about it.

So here's our holiday experience, bit by bit, covering all the questions I asked before I left and everything I think you need to know about taking a baby abroad.

For reference, Oliver is 9 months old - crawling, pulling himself up but not yet walking. He has 2 bottles of formula a day - morning and before bed, and sleeps pretty well (but he's an early riser).

With that said, grab a cuppa - there's a lot to cover...

TAKING A BABY ON HOLIDAY TIPS AND ADVICE FOR FORMULA FED BABY ABROAD PARENTING AND LIFESTYLE BLOG

Travelling: Airport Security and Flight
'What can you take through security for a baby?'

We flew with Ryan Air on an early morning flight at 7am. Ryan Air are pretty good in terms of what you can carry for a baby. We were allowed one fold-down pushchair, a car seat and a changing bag at no extra cost. We weren't going to take a car seat originally but our airport transfer company didn't have any seats for a baby under 1. I had already worried a bit about getting taxis abroad without a baby seat, so I was kind of relieved that we could take one with us. I knew it might be a hassle though, so when we were looking for a buggy to take with us, we went for the Mamas and Papas Armadillo as this one let us fit the car seat on top (with adaptors) which meant we wouldn't be carrying it around on our arm if we got a taxi somewhere. 

For the changing bag, we were allowed to carry on snacks and formula for Oliver. I phoned ahead to ask how much formula I could take in my carry-on luggage and was told that we were allowed to take as much as we needed for the onward journey (usually two for a short haul flight). We only needed one but I took two small ready made bottles any way, just in case. They took my changing bag to check at security, but I didn't have to taste the milk like some of the forums had warned. I think they just checked to make sure the seal wasn't broken. 

We gave Oliver snacks when he woke up at the airport - some bread and butter and a fruit puree, to try and postpone his first bottle of the day. A few of you had recommended giving him a bottle when the plane takes off to help ease any pressure on his ears and it worked, he didn't flinch at take off and the milk sent him straight to sleep. Although I'm not sure the ears popping would have been an issue anyway, as he landed without any milk and didn't flinch then either! Oliver napped for the first hour of our 3 hour flight, and for the rest of the time he ate snacks, and played with his toys. 

TIP: Take plenty of snacks and toys in your carry on luggage for the airport and plane. 

everything you need to know about taking a baby on holiday uk parenting bloggers maisy meow

Formula and Food
'How do you give formula to a baby on holiday?'

Oliver has two bottles a day and we use powdered SMA pro milk but when we're out and about, he has Aptimil ready made bottles (he hates ready-made SMA). I read initially that it's fine to take powdered formula and make it up with boiled bottled water while abroad, but then I realised I'd be doing this without a perfect prep machine and it would be a total pain (the perfect prep has made me lazy, I admit). I googled to check if you could buy ready-made aptimal bottles abroad but read that they don't sell them in Portugal. 

Note: If you do decide to give powdered formula with bottled water abroad, be sure to check that the bottled water you're using is safe for babies as some have a high sodium content. (more info here)

So then I considered taking ready made bottles with me. The most common advice given was to order formula and get it delivered to the Boots store past the airport security so that it doesn't go against your luggage allowance - great advice and totally makes sense. However, our airport was tiny and didn't have a Boots store so we ended up packing all 22(!) bottles into our suitcases. 

To my surprise, our local supermarket did actually stock ready made bottles - they had aptimil, cow & gate and a few other brands (although they were around 2/3 euros a bottle!). Oliver ended up having 3 bottles a day instead of 2 (mostly because I was worried he wasn't drinking enough) so when we ran out, we were able to stock up again easily (although it was expensive to do so). 

When it came to sterilising bottles, we used these sterilising bags and popped them in the microwave for 5 minutes. They're super lightweight and easy to use.

When it came to food, it wasn't much different to eating here. We took a supply of snacks from home like wafers but you could buy most of it over there any way. He ate scrambled eggs, toast, lots of fruit and we bought purees and snacks from the baby aisle in the supermarket which he loved. We also made our own ice lollies for him which did a great job of keeping him cool and hydrated!

TIP: Take a fruit popsicle maker so you can make baby-friendly ice lollies!

what to pack for taking baby on holiday uk parenting blog maisy meow

Packing: Clothes and Baby Supplies
What should I pack for a baby on holiday?

We did that thing that everyone told us not to and bought lots of cute 'night time' outfits for Oliver - lots of shirts and smart shorts that he could wear to dinner and cute little shorts and t-shirts for night time. It turns out everyone was right and he barely wore any of it. 

During the day, he mostly wore his long sleeve, long leg swimming suit as he'd be in and out of the pool. We took other swim suits but we always went for the one piece as it's easier to get on and off and in future, I won't bother with the sets that have a top and shorts. When he needed dry clothes, we'd put him in either his one piece romper or a t-shirt and cotton shorts. 

At night time, it was roasting and it didn't feel right to put him into a shirt or smart trousers so he ended up wearing his super comfy clothes at night too. I wanted the option of being able to put him straight to bed if he fell asleep on the way home as well. 

I assumed he'd sleep in just a vest at night but in fact, we always had air con on and the room was quite cool so he actually slept in a baby grow with a blanket over him. If I'd realised the room would be a cool temperature, I'd probably have brought his normal sleeping bag but we just used a blanket instead. I'm so glad we brought a couple of blankets with us as we used them loads!

In regards to other baby supplies, I can only speak about Portugal but my goodness, baby stuff is expensive in the supermarket. We took one pack of nappies and two packs of swim nappies and luckily only had to buy one large packet of normal nappies while we were away. Nappies were twice the price over there so I'd recommend taking as many as you can fit in your suitcase!

TIP: Pick long-sleeve, long leg swimsuits - you'll appreciate something that's easy to put on when it's boiling hot and your baby has sticky, sweaty skin! It also means less skin is on show, which means you need less sun cream! 

TIP #2: Forget the shirts and smart clothes and take comfy, light weight clothes. 

TIP #3: Remember sun lotion can stain clothes yellow, so don't splash out on expensive clothes!


Sleep and Routine
Will going on holiday ruin my baby's routine?

The villa that we stayed in provided a travel cot for Oliver which was in our room, and we just brought our own sheets for it and gave it a wipe down before using it. I was a bit worried that Oliver wouldn't sleep in a different bed but he settled fine. Our normal routine went out the window obviously, but we came settled into a new mini routine for while we were away. 

Oliver would wake at 6am, have a bottle and then all 3 of us would go out for a walk to the beach. You'd think that sounds crazy going out at 6am, but we'd often bump into other tired-looking parents and their prams! The beach is actually lovely first thing in the morning and it's a good time for babies to explore without you worrying about them getting sunburnt or lost in the crowd. We'd go for breakfast at a cafe around 7ish, then we'd walk back to the villa and he'd be ready for his nap. 

He'd normally have a long sleep in the afternoon too and for that nap, we'd put him into our bedroom with the air con on and a blanket which kept him really cool and let him sleep for hours. We were in a villa, which meant we could lay by the pool while he napped indoors and we could keep an eye on him using our baby monitor. 

When we went out for dinner, we'd go at around 6.30/7pm and Oliver would have already eaten by then. We actually came up with a genius little system (if I do say so myself) that let both me and andy eat our dinner in peace and quiet, while it was still hot! We'd go to the restaurant with Oliver in the buggy, order our meals and then me or andy would take oliver for a quick walk in the pram. The combination of the bumpy cobbled streets and the snooze shade meant that Oliver would fall asleep quickly and he'd usually last an hour or so while we ate our dinner! It was so easy! 

At night, he'd go to sleep after a bottle and our room had black out blinds so the room was pitch black until morning. We did bring this portable blackout blind but obviously didn't need to use it! 

Once we were home, it took no more than one day for Oliver to settle back into his normal routine.

TIP: Bring your monitor so you can relax on the balcony/poolside while the baby sleeps!

everything you need to know about taking bottle fed baby on holiday uk parenting bloger

Sun Protection
What's the best way to protect baby's skin on holiday? 

This is very much a 'learn from my mistakes' section. Well, it was a mistake on the first day anyway. I was really worried about Oliver getting sunburnt on holiday so the minute we arrived, I covered him in Boots Soltan Sensitive sun cream for babies and within half an hour, he was crying uncontrollably as he'd rubbed his eyes in it. He cried for hours and rinsing his eyes didn't seem to help. Oliver has never had sensitive skin, and for some reason I didn't even think about it going into his eyes! I felt so guilty.

The next day, we went to the pharmacy and they recommended Avene sensitive sun cream - this was thicker and absorbed much better (I put on a lot less too). I made sure that I put a  small amount on but covered all his skin and when it came to his face, I only put it on his cheeks as he had a sun hat covering most of his face and to be honest, he was almost always in the shade. 

We took this pop-up beach tent so that when we were hanging out by the pool, Oliver could play in his tent and watch us while still being in the shade. Sometimes we'd put a little paddling pool inside too so he could splash around, or we'd set up some sun umbrellas outside it with some towels and blankets so he could crawl around for a bit. He came into the pool with us too in his little rubber ring.

When we went out walking, we'd always put up our snooze shade over the pram and this kept him out of the sun (and usually sent him off to sleep too!). 

TIP: Buy a good sun cream for babies, and use it sparingly! Use clothes and shade to protect. 

uk parenting and family bloggers maisy meow

Well, I told you it was a long post didn't I?

This may look totally overwhelming but in all honesty, everything was so much easier than I thought it was going to be.

I think I've covered everything but please let me know if you have any questions or if you have any further advice on what I've said above - I'd love to add some of your tips to this post too!

What's your top tips for taking a baby on holiday?





Vlog | A Mum on Maternity Leave

Tuesday, 1 August 2017
One of the main reasons I started vlogging again was to record all these early memories of baby Oliver. I want more than just the family album and the milestone photos - I want to remember all the little things like our maternity leave days that seem uneventful at the time, but ones that I'm sure I'll look back on fondly in years to come. 

With that said, I'm going to start vlogging at least once a week. I'll try and pick a day that's not just me and Oliver rolling around on the rug but I can't promise that won't feature at some point on most videos. That's life on maternity pay, after all. 

Lifestyle and parenting blogger and vlogger uk glasgow scotland scottish

I really hope you enjoy watching these too and seeing the day in the life of a mum on maternity leave.  I love watching daily vlogs and seeing what other mums like me get up to and how they fill their days with a young baby. Plus, in this video there's some Primark shopping and who doesn't enjoy a bit of that? 

Make sure you're subscribed to my channel so you don't miss any videos.


Do any of you vlog as well? Leave links to your channel below if you do!

BABY | Oliver's 9 Month Update

Wednesday, 26 July 2017
I've not been around much on my blog recently - which is pretty evident given that I'm currently writing Oliver's 9 month update and the last post on here is his 8 month update! My bad. I have good reason for my absence though, we've been on our first family holiday in Portugal and we had the best time ever. I'm going to be making a video all about that on my youtube channel - so make sure you're subbed if you want some tips and advice on taking a young baby on holiday! 

While we were away, it felt like Oliver aged way more than 2 weeks. He's came home much bigger, more mobile and he just looks like a little toddler now. Here's all the developments of the last month.. 

Lifestyle Parenting Baby Mummy Blogger UK Maisy Meow

Crawling and Pulling Himself Up 
Oliver has been army crawling since 8 months and he's now super quick and mobile. In the last few days, he's progressed to crawling up on his knees although he still reverts back to his army crawl for quickness! He pulled himself up for the first time the day before we went on holiday. I was sitting on the floor in his room drying my hair while he played in his cot and I could see him grabbing the bars of the cot and pulling a little. Then, as if he knew exactly what to do, he lifted on hand and pulled up even further and then before I knew it his little face was peaking over the top of the cot with the biggest smile I think I've ever seen! We both just stared at each other with open mouths trying to work out how he'd managed it so perfectly first time! He kept practising on everything in sight while we were away, and since we came home he's on everything - the couch, the fire place (baby proofing required!) and he's keeping himself up for an extra half hour each night practising climbing the bars in the cot. I must admit he's harder work now that he's on the move - he can't be left for a second and he's always desperate to get onto the floor so he can keep practising! 

Reflux - We've ditched the Dairy Free diet
I mentioned in Oliver's 8 month update that we were trying a dairy free diet to see if his reflux was the result of a lactose intolerance. We were prescribed Nutrimigen but after 2 weeks it was clear it wasn't helping the reflux and in fact, it was making him really windy and uncomfortable too. After another visit to the doctor, we went back to SMA pro milk and we're now using gaviscon sachets in every bottle which helps a lot. He's only having a bottle in the morning and before bed now too and having less milk definitely improves the reflux. We've been trying to stick to more solid foods too as they seem easier for him to hold down - scrambled eggs and sweet potato fingers are his favs! 

Lifestyle Parenting Baby Mummy Blogger UK Maisy Meow

Sleep - Controlled Crying (kind of)
I've always had to put Oliver to bed when he's already sleeping - whether that's because he's fallen asleep on his bottle or because I've rocked him back and forth for 10 minutes. If he woke once I left the room, I'd always have to start again - exhausting! I'm going back to work in a few weeks time and I knew I couldn't expect my mum to go through this process every time he needed a sleep so I decided to try a bit of 'controlled crying' to see if he could send himself to sleep. The good thing is, there wasn't really much crying involved. I started with his naps, when he's usually really tired, and I put him in his buggy with his blanket and faced it to the wall as I normally would. Then I left him and sat on the couch behind to see if he'd fall asleep. He moaned a little but didn't properly cry and within 10 minutes he was sleeping - I totally wasn't expecting it to work first time! Next, we tackled the bedtime routine and couldn't believe it that after 20 minutes of him crawling around the cot, babbling and being full of energy, he face planted the mattress and fell straight asleep. I could have cried with happiness, in all honesty. I think he probably could have done this months ago if I'd just left him long enough! Our controlled crying attempt ended before it really began - he's now a champion sleeper and we put him down awake every night now. He's still an early riser though - 6am is our wake up call and that's fine with me, really, because it means that when I'm back to work, I'll get an hour playing with Oliver before I have to get ready in the morning. 

Teeth 
He still has just two teeth on the bottom but given all the red cheeks and drooling, there's definitely more on the way! Calpol and teething powders have been our friend this month, and everything else that he can chew on .. including my shoulder and neck. He's secretly a vampire, I know it! 

Lifestyle Parenting Baby Mummy Blogger UK Maisy Meow

Oliver is still a super happy, cheery little boy and he loves when people chat to him. He's always got the biggest open-mouthed grin on his face when he's getting attention and he lunges towards people when he wants a cuddle/grab of their face. His favourite toys this month are mobile phones and tv remotes - he's not picky, he'll take any that are going as long as he can chew them. 

So many people have commented on how much he's grown recently, and you can totally see it in these photos I think. I took these in Portugal, on the day that he turned 9 months and it's the biggest change I've seen in him month-to-month since the newborn days. I must admit that the chunky baby stage is a firm favourite of mine - I just can't resist those chunky thighs and that double chin! 

Happy 9 months Oliver! 

 

Olivers 8 Month Update | Dairy Free & Crawling

Sunday, 2 July 2017
8 MONTH OLD BABY DEVELOPMENT UPDATE CRAWLING SITTING UP DAIRY FREE DIET

It's probably been his biggest month yet. In the last 30 days, Oliver has transformed from a little baby to a big boy that sits up, crawls and flashes two big teeth every time he grins. I really feel like this was the month he changed into a 'big baby' if that makes sense. He almost looks like a tiny toddler now, especially when he holds onto his daddy's hands and practises walking. It's the funniest thing watching him lift each foot up to waist height before slamming it down to the ground - you'd think he was doing the hurdles rather than going for a little stroll. 

Shortly after his 7 month 'birthday', Oliver started sitting up unassisted. He'd been able to sit up for a while, but had never been steady enough to sit without a few cushions behind him to soften the blow when he lost his balance. He doesn't need them now, and he's finally stopped throwing himself backwards! 

Oliver's crawling started around the 8 month mark. I'm not sure if you can call it a 'crawl' yet, to be honest. It's more of an army crawl than a baby crawl, but he's putting in the practise and his technique is getting better by the day. Gone are the days when I could leave him on the rug, knowing he could only roll side to side. He can now go side to side, and forward at a quick pace, meaning before I know it he's managed to reverse himself under the chair. It's the cutest thing to see his little face peering up at me, waiting for me to spot him hiding in the corner! 

BABY UPDATE 8 MONTHS DEVELOPMENT CRAWLING SITTING UP DAIRY FREE DIET FOR REFLUX

When it comes to sleeping, we've managed to phase out the Sleepyhead in the last month. It took a good few nights of broken sleep, because he kept rolling over and waking himself up but now that he's used to it, he rolls over at the start of the night and sleeps on his side or his tummy now. He's still an early riser, waking at 6am most days. If you'd have told me a year ago that 7am was a lie in, I'd have laughed but I live for those mornings now!

Oliver's settled into a routine with his naps during the day now too. Before now, he'd have a long nap in the morning then kind of sleep at different points during the day when he felt tired or when we were in the car. Now, though, he has a 1-2 hour nap at 9am, a quick nap at 2pm and then he'll always sleep for an hour after his bottle at 4pm. That's the time I always look forward to because I normally make up his bottle, pick something good on the telly and let him nap on me while I have a wee cup of tea and chill out. I'm really cherishing moments like this just now, as it's not long before I return to work and I know I'll be looking at the clock at 4pm every day and missing those naps. 

Reflux is still a big problem and we're in the middle of a dairy-free diet just now and nutrimigen milk. The doctor wants to rule out any kind of intolerance, since we've noticed his reflux is amplified after cheese and yoghurts. In all honesty though, I don't think he has an intolerance and despites some good days at the start, the dairy free diet hasn't improved anything so far. I think I'll write a post on it at the end of the trial to say how we got on, but I can't say I have high hopes. 

Oliver is the happiest, sweetest and friendliest little guy at 8 months. He loves to 'roar' like a little lion, to wave at everyone he see's (including blank walls, which freaks me out!) and he's at his happiest when he's splashing around in the sink with lots of bubbles. Of course, I'm going to finish on the same note as I always do with these monthly updates. 8 months is my favourite age so far!

Watch Olivers 8 Month Video Here ---> 8 MONTH OLD BABY UPDATE

Have any of you put your baby on a dairy free diet?

Instagram: How to Get Your Creative Spark Back

Wednesday, 28 June 2017
Instagram is my favourite social media platform. I love looking at the beautiful pictures on my feed and reading little snippets of what's going on in everyone's lives that day. I've met some lovely friends through it and over the last few months, I've been using instagram a lot more - working hard to improve my feed, build my following and working on my photography skills in general. Despite that, I find myself in an instagram rut every now and then. For a few days, I'll have absolutely no idea what to post.

For those few days, I fall out of love with instagram. But all is not lost, because I've found the best way to get that creative spark back.

Here's my tips for regaining your insta-inspo:

Instagram how to get out of an instagram rut lifestyle blogger maisy meow insta tips

Take more photos 
When you're stuck for inspo, take photos of everything - even if you don't think it's an instagram moment! The more photos you take, the more ideas you'll get.  This photo above was on one of my 'rut' days, playing Oliver on the rug like we do every morning and I took a couple of photos from different angles and, it turns out, this is one of my favourite photos now.

Get inspo from your favourite accounts
I often use the new 'save' button on instagram if I see a photo that I really like on my feed. Whether I like the angle they've used, the colours in the picture, the way it's edited - anything! When I'm looking for inspo, I'll scroll back through my saved pics and try and get some inspiration. Of course it goes without saying that you should never copy another account, or if you want to do your own take on a unique idea then be fair and credit your inspiration so they see it too.

tips to inspire creativity on instagram maisy meow lifestyle and parenting blogger uk

Think outside the box - look around!
Maybe it's just me, but I definitely have my go-to spots where I take photos. Most are places where the light is good, or where I know there's a nice background. In a rut, these places aren't appealing and instead, I'll normally take a minute to properly look at my surroundings and see if I'm missing out on a photo opportunity somewhere. My instagram is family/lifestyle and interiors based, so thinking outside the box, for me, means moving some items around and creating a new little space for a cute photo. Thinking out the box can also mean trying out a new camera angle - a birds eye view can make a simple set up so much more interesting!

Get inspo for your own account
You might have forgotten about some pics you took months ago that you really liked. Look back through your own feed and see if there's any that stand out to you, or ones that performed really well and see if you can do an updated take on it. If you're like me and take loads of photos every day, there's probably a few in there that you really loved but have totally forgotten about! 

How do you get out of an instagram rut?





Mamas and Papas Sales Haul

Sunday, 25 June 2017
SUMMER SALES HAUL MAMAS AND PAPAS HAUL BABY BOY OUTFITS

I challenge any of you with babies or young kids to walk past the Mamas and Papas sale without 'popping in' for a quick look/shopping spree. It's just a couple of weeks until we go on our first family holiday to Portugal so I felt some holiday purchases were justified, and I'm so happy that I managed to get so much stuff for half price. 

Here's a quick video showing you all what I got - the sale's still on so be quick and go shopping! 






Keeping Baby Cool in The Heat

Monday, 19 June 2017
Teething hit us full force this month. Oliver now has two brand new teeth but for the past few weeks, we'd have days where Oliver would be crying constantly and chewing on everything he could get his hands on. If teething wasn't a big enough problem on it's own, along comes a heat wave. It's not as warm in Glasgow as it is elsewhere in Britain at the moment, but Oliver has still been feeling it. Luckily, we've found one thing that really helps with both teething and keeping baby cool and we can now get outside and enjoy the weather that we've been praying for all year!

HOW TO KEEP BABY COOL IN SUMMER TIPS FOR TEETHING BABIES UK PARENTING AND LIFESTYLE BLOGGER

The Nuby Garden Fresh Fruitsicles have been a life saver recently. This little set of 4 moulds can be filled with fruit/veg puree or with breast milk and popped into the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, Oliver has a healthy fruit lolly that are easy to hold and suck on, relieving teething pain and keeping him cool at the same time. Oliver chews down on the ice (which, admittedly, makes me shudder) but I can see how much the cold sensation helps his gums. It's also a good way for him to get a bit of extra water in him when he's sweating more in the heat. 

HOW TO KEEP BABY COOL IN WARM WEATHER ICE LOLLY MAKER FOR BABIES

We usually buy a frozen smoothie bag from Tesco packed with strawberries, blueberries, avocado and spinach. We blend it up with water in our Nutri bullet. It only takes a few mins to make the smoothie and then we've then got 4 days worth of ice lollies ready to use in the freezer. The handle is really easy for Oliver to hold and it's also the right shape to put one of the dummy clips around, to stop your little one from throwing it straight out of the pram (something Oliver regularly attempts!).

We go on holiday in 3 weeks time and these frozen puree moulds have earned their place on my 'essentials' list for packing, and I'm sure Oliver is pretty pleased about that!

Have any of you tried these? What's your top tips for keeping baby cool in summer?


Stokke Steps High Chair Review

Tuesday, 13 June 2017
When it came to hunting for a high chair, we wanted three things. 

Firstly, we wanted one that was good quality and built to last. I'm all for cheap and cheerful but for something that we'll use three times a day, for up to three years and possibly twice over (if we have another baby), it had to be hard wearing. Secondly, it had to be easy to clean. Weaning is a messy business and it doesn't really get much cleaner from then on. I wanted a chair I could wipe clean every meal time, with a cover that could be machine washed on the days that Oliver's extra 'creative' with his leftover weetabix. Last but not least, I wanted it to be stylish. Call me vain but I didn't spend months decorating my living room for a pink and red strawberry printed high chair to waltz in and kill my minimal vibe. So with that being said, what did we go for? 



This high chair meets all the points on our list and more. The gorgeous modern, minimal design is exactly the style I was looking for, the quality is out of this world and despite having the messiest baby ever (seriously, sweet potato everywhere .. all the time), the chair still looks as good as new. 

The Steps high chair is customisable  - you can chose the colour of the legs from six choices, the seat  can be black or white and there's a great selection of colours for the cushion. We chose 'natural oak' legs, with a white seat and 'greige' cushion. This made our chair the perfect neutral combination to blend into our living room seamlessly. I loved being able to chose my own colour scheme and the 'create and buy' feature on the website allows you to view different combinations to help you decided which ones you like best. 

The high chair is made for the newborn stage all the way to age 3+ which is great. What's better is that you can pick and chose what you need, rather than paying for the whole bundle that you might not need. We didn't get Oliver's high chair until we were ready to start weaning (he was around 5 months) so we ordered the chair with the baby set, tray and cushion. We can remove the baby chair when he's a bit bigger and he will then use the standard seat as a raised chair at the table. 

The baby set offers the seat for a young baby that can sit up, with straps to keep the secure. The backrest of the chair can be moved into a forward position, for a smaller baby, or further back when they get a bit bigger. I've tried many high chairs in coffee shops over the last few months that have made me realise how important this feature is. In our Steps high chair, Oliver sits close to the tray and there's no gap where food can fall or where he could lean forward and be uncomfortable. 

Stokke Steps high chair review modern minimal high chair review

After lunch, I usually give the tray and cushion a wipe down with a damp cloth, as it's always easier to get the mess before it dries in. Every few days, I'll remove the cover from the chair and pop it into a quick 15 minute washing machine cycle. It dries over the radiator in under half an hour and I can have everything back in place in time for his next snack. I love having the option of throwing this into the machine and, with it being such a good quality cover, it hasn't faded or shown any signs of wear and tear in the three months that my son has been vandalising it every breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm confident it'll stay in good shape throughout the years. 

Although we used this high chair from 6 months onwards, I think if we have another baby we will invest in the newborn bouncer too. Looking back, I know that it would have made life a lot simpler if we could have had Oliver at the table with us in the newborn days, rather us taking turns to eat! 

If you're looking for a good quality, stylish high chair that's made to last then I can't recommend the Stokke Steps chair enough. 

Have you tried this chair? What's the top things you look for in a high chair? 

*PR sample. As always, all opinions my own. 

Why was I so scared of stretch marks?

Monday, 12 June 2017
It sounds crazy but one of my biggest worries during pregnancy was stretch marks. I analysed the skin on my stomach and smothered myself in bio-oil and cocoa butter stretch mark cream at least three times a day. I loved watching my bump grow, but looking at each progress picture and seeing how big I was getting also gave me this inner dread. What if I end up covered in stretch marks?

Being happy in my body has always been important to me and I felt like I was having that taken away from me. I don't think it's abnormal to worry about your post-partum body. I knew I wouldn't snap back to normal the next day and that it would take some time to get back to my normal weight but for me, stretch marks were irreversible and if I got them, my skin would be ruined forever. 

It was week 34 and I was doing the daily ritual of checking my skin when I noticed the smallest little line. Over the next few weeks, a few more appeared and it was clear my fears had come true. I was terrified of how much worse they were going to get as I grew. I also had so much regret that I hadn't done more to prevent them - had I used the wrong creams or not eaten the right foods?

Stretch marks in pregnancy post partum body maisy meow lifestyle and parenting blogger vlogger

By the time I had Oliver, I had a patch of small red marks to the left of my belly button and after labour, I noticed some red ones on my hips which looked a bit like I'd been scratched. I was devastated. I felt like I'd never be happy in my body again and the weight gain didn't make things any better.

So how do I feel seven months on? My bump has deflated, I've lost my 'baby weight' and the stretch marks have faded a lot from what they were but more importantly, I feel like my whole attitude has changed - I just don't care as much as I thought I would. It's not that I've had a baby and 'let myself go' or that I no longer care what I look like, because I do.

The thing is, I used to be terrified that stretch marks were permanent but that's actually the thing that comforts me now - they're irreversible .. and I need to just accept that. I might not have any control over the marks on my skin but I can exercise and have a healthy diet so that I feel happy with my body and comfortable in my clothes. After all, I'm in my clothes 99% of the time. 

When I'm lucky enough to find myself in a warm country and in a bikini, I seriously won't care if anyone notices my less than perfect skin. When I think about how much time I put into judging other peoples bodies on holiday (and that's none), I realise that no one is paying any attention to my imperfections. Having a baby makes you truly realise what's important and what's not. That change in perspective is something I really didn't anticipate and something that I'm so glad to have now.

If stretch marks are the price to pay for my beautiful little boy and how happy I am now then it's more than worth it. 

Were you worried about stretch marks or your post partum body?





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