Sure Start rocks! 

Peek a boo!

On Monday I had no childcare so I gladly took a day’s annual leave and looked forward to spending the day with my little lady.  That was until I remembered what a whirling dervish she is.  She has the attention span of a gnat and gets bored with an activity before she’s even finished getting the activity out of the box.  My romantic ideas of us playing happily on the rug all day faded before we had even eaten our Weetabix. What on earth was I going to do that would keep her entertained?  Enter our local Sure Start Centres!

What to do?

My mum usually takes her to a Sure Start group on Monday mornings so I decided to stick with the routine.  There was painting, play dough, chalk drawings, reading books, dressing up, playing inside and playing outside with sand and fake snow.  There really was something to keep even the whirliest of little whirlwinds entertained for couple of hours. The children got a healthy snack and we rounded off the sessions with a good old sing song (even if it was bloody Dingle Dangle Scarecrow which we have to sing on repeat in our house. I wish he would bloody dingle dangle off to be honest). We had so much fun that we ended up going to a Sure Start group that afternoon as well. Double bubble, double fun! 

Wonderful chaos 

In the midst of the wonderful chaos it struck me just how important these groups are. Parents have forged friendships, the children are learning how to interact socially and may be making friends they will know their whole lives (I met my oldest friend at play group when we were two).   The staff were amazing, they knew all the children by their first names and just generally let them be children and express themselves not bothering about the mess, insisting they wash their hands before snack and encouraging them to get involved with the different activities.

Busy, busy, busy

The heart of the community

It’s centres like this that are at the heart of our communities.  They are safe, free and accessible and bring people together: The lonely first time mum who needs to get out of the house because otherwise they wouldn’t get any adult conversation that day. The sure start breast feeding support group was a real life line for me in the early days.  I honestly don’t think I would have carried on if it wasn’t for the help from the feeding buddies and other mums, some of whom I’m still in contact with now. Sadly that group has been cancelled because of lack of funding which makes me feel for the mums missing out on that vital support. There’s the army of grandparents providing child care so parents can go back to work and the tired parents with three kids under four who just need a bit of a break and a safe space for their children to run off some steam.  It’s criminal that the Government has reduced it’s spending on early years development and that many centres have closed or face closure. I know that many community/social departments are stretched but surely it is crucial to give children the best possible start to avoid problems later on in life? 

I think sometimes there is a bit of a stigma attached to using these free services but there needn’t be and I would urge everybody to show their support and use their Sure Start centres because if the funding is cut then it will be all but impossible to get them back.

I really enjoyed my day, as did Willow.  We were both shattered by the end of it. Hats off to you guys doing this every week, I’ll be going back to work for a rest!

Do you use your local Sure Start Centres?  Leave me a comment to let me know which activities you like or how you feel about the cut in funding or if your local centre has been affected.

Speak soon,

Kat x

JakiJellz

 

Mummy Times Two

 

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I love coffee! 

Ah a little cup of coffee heaven just for me.
After a rather stressful morning I sat down recently to a much needed coffee in one of those lovely, trendy cafes where I’m never quite sure if I fit in because I’m not tapping away on an Apple Mac or if I’m lowering the average age by five years. It struck me there and then just how much I love coffee. I’m like actually in love with it. I drink it every day, several times a day. I go to bed looking forward to my morning cup of joe.  People rave about tea but I just don’t get it. Coffee all the way. When I got pregnant I went on a mission to find the best tasting caffeine free coffee so that I could still partake (I didn’t get morning sickness but my word did I suffer with caffeine withdrawal when I had to go cold turkey overnight).

To that end here is my little ode to the dark stuff and why it is so bloody brilliant:

  • The wonderful smell. Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh coffee wafting through the house, or when you first walk into a café tantalising you before you take a sip.
  • It wakes you up. After a night reluctantly partying with the toddler at 1am, 2am, 3:30am and 4:36am when you know you have a really important presentation to give to really important people at work in a few hours, a cup of coffee in the morning defibulates me back into functioning mode (not too dissimilar to the scene in pulp fiction when John Travolta stabs Uma Thurman in the heart with an adrenaline shot) and I am able to prepare myself for a day at the office.
  • It gets you out of the house. Friend: “Do you want to meet for coffee?” Me: Coat on, Willow in the pram, out the door before the sentence is finished. When the only conversation you have had that day is with a toddler who is more interested in putting random shiz in the washing machine than talking to you then the offer to go and sit with a hot coffee and maybe cake and a human to talk to who won’t try and wipe their nose on your sleeve is an offer never to be turned down.
  • Coffee “makes” me buy nice mugs.  I therefore enjoy the experience more and feel fancy drinking out of the posh cups.
  • It’s portable. Paper cup, plastic cup, travel mug whatever your choice you can take your lovely coffee with you wherever you go. (OK I realise that technically all drinks are portable but it’s frowned upon to cart a demi carafe of merlot, indeed my second favourite drink, to baby group at 9am)
  • You can put booze in it. Baileys coffee anyone? (please drink responsibly – only one bottle to be consumed at a time).
  • Come to think of it you can put it in cake, ice cream, chocolate…. I’m that one person in the world who likes the coffee Revels.  Send them all to me!

So that’s why I heart coffee and long may

I heart coffee
our love affair continue.

Do you love a particular food or drink? Leave me a comment to let me know what it is and why you heart it so much.

Speak soon.

Kat x

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The Bedtime Tag

The Bedtime Tag – oh the irony. We’ve had about three full night’s sleep since Willow was born (you can read more about this here) and that was only because she was sleeping over at Grandy’s. The lovely Annie at meanniebee tagged me so I thought it would be amusing to give it a go because if you don’t laugh about these things then you will cry and probably never stop crying until they are old enough to move out of home. And then you probably won’t sleep because you are worrying about them. I think it will be easier if I just wave the white flag and give up on the notion of sleep forever.

She’s sleeping – get a photo quick!
Here goes:

1. Describe your usual bedtime routine

We aim to have Willow fed, bathed and in bed by 7:30pm. Then it’s all in the hands of the sleep gods. Sometimes she sleeps through until 11pm, sometimes she’s up and down like a yo-yo. We just take each night as it comes. If we’re lucky we get to have our evening meal before 8pm. We have been known to eat after 10pm (which isn’t good for setting up a relaxing night’s sleep). While she is asleep I’m usually multi tasking – doing a load of washing, blogging, watching a bit of TV. Once Willow is awake there is no going back into her cot so she gets in our bed and we basically squidge round her.

 2. What are your favorite pyjamas?

I have a really comfy pair of pjs from Primark which I love because I’m tall and the legs are nice and long – something hard to find in pjs trust me!

3. What is your favourite bedtime reading?
These days I’m usually reading blogs which I love. I used to be an avid reader but haven’t had the time since I had Willow and since I started blogging.

 4. What would I find on your bedside table?

I don’t have one! If I did it would be piled with all the books I have waiting to be read. One day…

 5. What scents make you sleepy?

Lavender every time, it reminds me of my grandmas in a comforting way. I have lavendar candles and all our washing powder and softener is lavender scented. It’s so nice getting into fresh sheets with a lavender smell. I took a little bag of dried lavender into hospital with me when I was having Willow and it really helped to relax me.

 6. What is your usual bed time and wake up time?

I always plan to go to bed about 10 pm but it never turns out that way. It’s usually more like 11pm. I get up at 6:30 am so I can get myself showered and dressed and the breakfast things out before Willow wakes up and we start the chaos of trying to get her ready and at nursery by 8:30am (ish).

 7. What are your top 3 bedtime products?

I always cleanse tone and moisturise with Garnier Micella Water, Tropic Spritz Toner and Clinique Moisture Surge before bed.

 8. What is your most common sleeping position?

I just fit into the bit of space Willow leaves me as she’s normally starfishing in the middle of the bed. I’ve become quite adept at sleeping in small spaces.

9. Do you have anything you like to take to bed with you?

My phone because that’s my alarm and a big glass of water as I get really dehydrated during the night.

10. What is your worst bedtime habit?

Not going to bed at a reasonable hour because I’m glued to Insta and Twitter or reading blogs!

So that’s my bedtime tag. I nominate:
Bridget at Bridie by the Sea &

Becky at Sparkly Mummy

Don’t forget to tag me in so I can have a read!

Kat xx

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Nursery: The facts 

I started blogging because I was so anxious about returning to work after my maternity leave. Writing down how I felt and connecting with parents who had been through the same thing was a massive help and got me through those pretty awful first few weeks.

‘No I haven’t been eating the foam!’ Possibly one of my favourite pictures of her at nursery to date 😂

So for all those parents now going through the same thing I thought I would share our experience of nursery so far to reassure you that everything that you are thinking, feeling and doing is totally normal and to give you a heads up about things that are about to come your way. 

Here goes:

The guilt
You will feel guilt. It’s unavoidable but then I think you wouldn’t be much cop as a parent if you didn’t. You feel guilty for leaving them, guilty if you arrive to pick them up and they are the last child there, guilty if you forget that it’s the day they needed to bring a teddy bear in for the teddy bear’s bloody picnic… The guilt will get easier but will never go away. I think if you accept the guilt (and it’s self imposed guilt, NOT guilt imposed by your mother in law, health visitor or smug rich yummy mummy ‘friend’ who doesn’t need to work ) then things get much easier. Remember you are entitled to go back to work and pick up your career if you want to. If you’re like me you will have worked damn hard to get where you are. You had a baby, not a lobotomy.

The tears
Your child will probably cry. You will definitely cry. For me the first week was the worst. After spending every day together for nine months it was such a wrench not to see Willow all the time and I was constantly wondering what she was doing and if I was missing any of her milestones. Cue lots of tears in the car or toilets at work. The great thing is that her nursery provide me with a diary of her activities every day – what she eats, when she naps (that bit is often blank), even the contents of her nappy. They also send me pictures so I feel like I know what she’s been doing and can comment or ask questions if I need to. Tip: Don’t call nursery to see if your child is ok because you are guaranteed to call the second they have just started crying which will set you off again.

General health
You will never be well again. Once your child sets foot in nursery they become instant germ carriers and will pass on particularly virulent strains of sickness, flu and a million other unidentifiable viruses. Also establish and be prepared to activate an emergency childcare plan at any moment because depending on nursery policy sometimes children are not allowed back into nursery for 7 days after being ill. 7 days!

The ‘extras’
You won’t just pay your nursery fees, oh no. There will always be extras. Some weekly activity that will cost you more dollar. Nursery photographs that come in bundles where there aren’t enough photos to go round the relatives so you have to buy two bundles then end up with spares (grrrr…) Nursery branded sweatshirts and t-shirts seems a great idea but you need to buy at least three of each item unless you want to wash them every night because your child will come home caked in mud, play dough, baked beans, paint, glitter (oh the glitter) every day. 

Your child’s development
They will come on in leaps and bounds. We were astonished at how much Willow’s development accelerated after she went to nursery. Her speech,

Another work of art in the making
movement and interaction with people just blossomed and every day now she comes home and can say or do something new. Not that we left her to rock in front of the TV before but the amount of activities and stimulation nursery can provide is so much more than we could ever do in a day (and they give us inspiration for activities we can do at home).

I suspect we still have loads of nursery milestones to reach yet: head lice, biting ‘incidents’, the politics of birthday party invites. Life is a journey isn’t it? 

I hope this helps. My overriding message is that it is all going to be ok. After a few weeks Willow couldn’t wait to get into nursery and start playing. Little miss independent waves me off before she even has her coat off (which pulls at the heart strings – see I told you would definitely cry). You will adjust to your new routine and the time that you spend with them becomes so precious that you really start to make every moment count and appreciate it all the more. If you are going through the return to work ‘thing’ at the moment and would like some support or reassurance please do leave a comment below.

Speak soon,
Kat x

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Diary of an imperfect mum

Walking girl

Come on daddy we’re going this way!

Willow has been walking for ages now but it struck me the other day as I watched her stomping around, pinballing off every surface just what a little independent lady she has become.  It’s funny because walking is such a ‘grown up’ thing to do but it makes her look even smaller in a way; our little doll totting around, exploring her world. More than any of the other milestones, sitting, crawling, sleeping through (oh wait, no that’s right we STILL haven’t hit that one) it was always walking that we couldn’t wait to get to.  I think in our naivety we thought it would make life easier as she wouldn’t get as frustrated and be able to reach things and get to what she wants easier.  Well, be careful for what you wish for! Here are my pros and cons of having a walker:

The cons

The constant falls, bumping heads on tables and chairs, accident forms sent home from nursery every other day, banged teeth and grazed chins (especially when she tries to run – instant face plant).  Nearly everything we own has been moved up to a higher level but there have been a few casualties: plants, candle holders, books and every day she can reach just that little bit higher standing on those tippy toes.  One of her favourite games now is ‘putting things in the bath’ which to be honest I leave her to when I’m getting ready for work as it keeps her quiet.  It’s always a nice surprise when you’re running late and your car keys and work pass find a new home isn’t it? The baby gates have really naffed her off and she tries daily to figure them out, testing them for weaknesses like the

One of many bumped heads – poor baba
Velociraptors trying to escape  in Jurassic Park.  She has also become obsessed with the cupboard of doom under the kitchen sink which basically houses everything that could cause her serious injury.  Now that she has been told in no uncertain terms that she is not allowed to go in there she sees it as a challenge and, when she’s not busy with the baby gates, will sneak off and try to access the forbidden cupboard.  New house rule: if she’s gone quiet and you can’t hear those little stomps, then she is most definitely up to no good.

The pros

Out of the house she can roam to her heart’s content. It’s so wonderful to follow her round the park or beach and let her set the pace and go here, there and everywhere at random, hovering in case she makes a bee line for a dog turd (everything is treasure to her). She also loves to dance on those leggies!  Those little squats as she bobs along to the music at home, nursery, Aldi, the doctors when he’s trying to listen to her chest; this girl moves to her own beat.  I love hearing from nursery how she’s walked to the library with them or been toddling round the garden exploring.  It must be so much better for her than bum shuffling around or waiting for someone to move her.  Walking has made her independence shine through. Quite often now she’s content to wander about and play on her own for a while, which in all honesty, is marvellous because some days I just don’t want to play tea parties for three hours but I do love to watch her make believe games and wonder what is going on in that beautiful little head of hers. 

These shoes were made for walking….
Shoes!  Every girl needs a fab pair of shoes. She’s rocking her red Clarkes Mary Janes and will soon have her first pair of wellies so we can add puddle splashing to the pros (come on, who doesn’t like splashing in puddles?)

Her little uncertain, toddling steps are just the start of her life’s adventures. Who knows where her feet will take her in this big wide world?  (I can still remember mum’s face when I told her I was off to travel through Thailand and Cambodia by bus on my own – this is so going to happen to me when she’s older isn’t it?) So although every now and then I do feel a pang and want my tiny baby back, I can’t help but bust with pride at my little feisty, independent  walking girl and feel excited for all the fun and adventures the future will bring her.

Are there any particular milestones you have enjoyed reaching or marked in some way?  Leave me a comment to let me know.

Speak soon,

Kat x

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Hello TV my old friend

It’s been nearly 15 months but I’m finally welcoming TV back into my life. After Willow was born, in the whirl of breast feeding and broken sleep, my energy and appetite for watching TV totally diminished.  Actually it wasn’t just TV.  Films, books, adult conversation all went out the window.  I just about managed to keep up with Eastenders (my guilty pleasure) but otherwise I didn’t bother to start watching anything that had more than one part as I knew I probably

What shall we watch tonight darling?
wouldn’t be get to see the next instalment (much less remember it was on).

Lately, however, we seem to have established some sort of evening routine whereby it’s possible for Anthony and I to sit down at the same time and watch something. I’m not even really sure how it happened as previous attempts to establish a routine were dismissed by Willow without any discussion. Recently though she’s fed, bathed, had her In the Night Garden fix and down by 7:30pm. We don’t always watch programmes live (thank god for catch up TV) but we are able to sit and watch something. AT THE SAME TIME!

So in no particular order we are loving Taboo (Tom Hardy nuff said) on BBC1, Apple Tree Yard (bit harrowing but intriguing) on BBC1 and No Offence (dark humour cop drama) on Channel 4. I also took advantage of Willow’s recent bout of illness where she would sleep for hours

Gratuitous Tom Hardy image – I’m not sorry.
but only wrapped around me, by signing up for Netflix where I have started watching Stranger Things (I love this – it has a super cool 80s vibe which makes me feel nostalgic for my childhood).  If you do get chance to sit down I highly recommend all of these shows.

Getting back into TV has made me realise how much I’ve missed all this stuff and grateful I am for coming out of the new parent fog. I can also join in conversations in the office again and feel less like Old Mother Hubbard who has no idea what the ‘yoof’ are talking about.

I can’t help but shake this nagging feeling that I may be getting a little cocky about our TV consumption and will be rewarded with a massive dose of sleep regression which we all know is lurking just around the corner ready to pounce at any time and kill off our TV watching hopes and dreams.  Not to worry in this event I’ll still have trusty old Eastenders to turn to.

Speak soon,

Kat x

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