Date nights after children: The reality

Now before I begin I need to fess up, although we do use the term ‘date night’ in this house, I don’t like it. I like the premise, but I do wonder why we stopped saying “’let’s go out for dinner/drinks” and instead turned it into date night.

Anyway, we actively embrace date nights in our house, usually after prolonged periods of arguing due to lack of sleep or realise we’ve not had a conversation over dinner for some time that hasn’t involved catching a plate a toddler has thrown or watching Hollyoaks (what? I like it).

Nowadays our date nights are just a bit different from the childfree days, when we used to go out for dinner (when we had a three course meal and ate it slowly and shared a bottle of wine without feeling like people are staring at us for having a bottle of wine and a child), or when we used to go out for drinks (get sh*tfaced). These days they take careful planning, and usually go a bit like this:

Me: “I’m done, I’m not having anymore kids, I’m so tired, I don’t even look like my mum anymore I look like my dad I’m that tired. I never get any time to myself, I can’t cope.”

Husband chirps in: “Let’s have a date night.”

Excellent, seems like a massively good idea. What more could two tired, angry people want than a night out to rekindle their love for each other? Bring back the memories of the good old days. Relight those fires.

We need a babysitter, shit. So then you have to find a babysitter “we can’t ask mum again we asked her last time” “true”, *looks through list of Facebook friends*, “I’ll ask mum”.

So there you go, all booked in and ready to go. I’m even excited. Until…. WTF am I going to wear? All I have is Breton stripes and old leopard print H&M cardigans. So then I go on ASOS, the “new in” section to make sure that what I buy is so on trend. “Why the eff are they all cropped tops?”. Scrap ASOS, I’ll have a look at Warehouse and Oasis, reliable, safe, sometimes sexy, because that’s what I need to be. “Why is it £75 for a dress?” Shit. I’m going to have to go to New Look and buy something potentially flammable but that doesn’t say “mum that can’t coordinate a wardrobe”. Just need to fit the time in to go shopping, with a toddler, and get undressed in a changing room with a toddler. Sod it, I’ll just go with jeans and a black top, I’ll throw on a fake gemmed necklace and it will be brilliant.

Then it comes to date night, I get my mum over late afternoon to have a play with Reuben and sit down to dinner with him while I go and have a relaxing bath, paint my nails (toenails and fingernails), we’ll take him up the stairs, kiss him goodnight and off we’ll go. OR, mum will arrive as Reuben is mid tantrum, one of many that day. He’ll refuse to eat dinner, scream in the bath, and won’t go to sleep. So we leave the house stressed, smudged nails, barely on talking terms. But it’s fine because WE ARE OUT.

And thus begins an evening of talking about Reuben, his development, and am I too strict? Am I too soft? Do I spoil him? Did you see that thing he did earlier with the crayon? He’s a genius, he’s definitely advanced…. And then onto which room we are going to decorate next in the house, which requires a gin chaser, before realising it’s 10pm and if we’re not home soon we’ll really pay for it in the morning.

On the way home we dream about a lie-in in the morning, and a nice family day at the park. And then Reuben spends half the night waking up crying before insisting on a 6am get-up, which we both pretend we can’t hear until one person relents  and gets up. And thus begins the cycle: work, parenthood, work, being a zombie until the next date night.

Magic.

Me and him

Here we are loving life and each other….!

S xxx

 

 

Hospital Bags- What’s in Mine?

I have FINALLY got myself together a little bit (still not 100%) and organised hospital bags. When I had R, I only took one bag which had enough supplies for both of us for an overnight stay. When we had to be in hospital for four days it became apparent this was an error. Poor Ben had to endure me barking orders at him to bring everything from pants to sleepsuits – in the correct size.

This time I have decided that two hospital bags, one for me and one for H2 will be best, and I’ve filled them with enough clothes for a two-week all-inclusive in the Med, which is pretty much what the labour ward will be like, am I right?!

H2’s bag is new, I picked up in T K Maxx a couple of months ago. I’ve gone for leopard IMG_6971.JPGprint, which I think Ben will look very fetching carrying around for me. I did almost pick up a rather sensible neutral bag, but it’s just not me, I’m a big leopard print fan so this one will get lots of wear.

IMG_6979I have no idea how big this baby will be, R was 8lbs 12oz and was straight into size 1 nappies and 0-3 months’ clothes. I have included
a couple of newborn-sized vests and sleepsuits just in case, but I’ve mainly gone with 0-3 months.

There seems to be a lot of emphasis on a baby’s ‘going home outfit’, it’sIMG_6977 not really something I considered with R, and one of my learnings from him was that sleepsuits really are easier to keep them in rather than fussing with vests, tops, bottoms and socks – especially if/when they’re sick. Most of the sleepsuits I have are plain white, but I have picked up this cute star print suit with matching hat from Jo Jo Maman Bebe, just to make some effort.

IMG_6974I’ve also packed some muslins, including these fab extra large muslins from toTs by smarTrike. I found muslins incredibly useful with R (he had reflux) so I’ve really gone to town on making sure I have enough to wrap around the house twice and then some. Always be prepared! The toTs by smarTrike muslins will also double up as a swaddle blanket too, just in case little one prefers to be snuggled up for his naps. I love the grey and the bird design, they’re not overly ‘baby-like’ which isn’t me, and they’ll be handy to use in the carrycot (also grey) of his pram. Top tip: pop a muslin over the sheet wherever baby sleeps so you can whip it off and replace that if they’re sick, rather than washing sheets constantly.

I also took R on a trip to choose a teddy for his baby brother, he chose the smallest little rabbit, it really made me chuckle, he was not budging on size. The lovely team at Bump PR also sent us this toTs by smarTrike comforter, which is super soft and the perfect match for the bunny chosen by R!

I’ve also included essentials such as a small pack of nappies, WaterWipes (these are a fab alternative to cotton wool and water, and suitable for newborn’s skin) and these bibs from Tommee Tippee, I found these to be the best with R so I’ve stocked up again. I’ve also included a couple of nice soft blankets, one is from GAP and the other is a cellular blanket from Mothercare.

 

For myself, I won’t harp on, but I’ve packed:

  1. Full-sized briefs, not sexy, but it’s not a sexy time, pack for comfort and these bad boys are heaven, I’m already in a pack. Bow-chicka-wow-wow.
  2. Snacks: I’ve packed for myself and Ben, I’ve gone with healthy dried apricots, malt loaf, almonds and topped it up with Mini Cheddars and Mars Bars – for erm, energy.
  3. Wash bag: I’ll decant my own shampoo and conditioner into mini bottles as I’m a huge snob when it comes to these products. Also included is shower gel, a toothbrush, toothpaste, make-up wipes, moisturiser, hairbands, hair grips and dry shampoo.
  4. Nightdresses, I’ve packed a couple of dark ones.
  5. Flip flops for the shower, a requirement at my hospital.
  6. A thin dressing gown, for when I’m hobbling around the ward.
  7. Snugglebundl – an absolute godsend with R, so useful for holding baby and transferring from car seat to the crib etc. It really helped with my previous C-section recovery as well as it doesn’t put so much pressure on the scar area.
  8. Post-partum lady toiletries: breast pads, maternity pads.

Still to go in….

  1. Make-up, I don’t plan on going full face but a bit of rouge for the cheeks, mascara for the eyes and concealer will help towards me feeling human.
  2. A couple of bras.
  3. iPad and headphones, because it’s 2016.
  4. Phone charger.
  5. My incredible sense of humour and positive mental attitude…

S xxx

Disclaimer: We were sent the toTs by smarTrike extra large muslins and comforter free of charge, but all opinions are my own.

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s Day is fast approaching (Sunday 19 June), and while I shall be giving Ben the gift of another son (I can totally get away with that), I thought I would share some nice bits and pieces I’ve spotted, usually during my middle of the night online shopping sprees that I forget about until I sign for them from the postman. “What’s this?” I always ask him, smooth Siobhan.

I’ve tried to keep it as broad as possible and reasonably priced, so here’s what I think would make a nice gift or two for those superstar dads:

  1. T-shirt, Parenting Apparel, £26

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2. Personalised Barbecue Tools, Notonthehighstreet.com, £30

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3. The Beer Chocolate Hamper, Hotel Chocolat, £25

father's day hotel chocolat

4. Weber, Grill Academy Courses, Nationwide, from £69

meat

5. Clarins Men Essential Grooming Set, Allbeauty.com, £29.95

clarins

6. Brewdog Mixed Cases, from £23

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7. Framed Instagram Pics, nowframeit.com, from £10.95

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8. Socks, John Lewis, £12

socks

9. Whisky Wedge, Oliver Bonas, £15

whisky wedge

10. daddy cool mug, big tomato company, £12.95

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Happy shopping!

S xxx

 

Will you PLEASE just put your shoes on?

I know I’m not the only person who starts most of their days exasperatingly asking a toddler to just sit still and put their shoes on. Michael McIntyre perfectly summed up leaving the house with kids in a sketch that I cry laugh at time and time again, sometimes I just cry.

Getting a small person to cooperate with getting dressed and then get ready to leave the house is my Everest. We only have to leave the house a couple of mornings a week, but those mornings are fraught with tantrums, tears and my inner monologue that could land me in a heap of trouble if it every came to light.

As I’m sure I’m not the only one I’ve put together an unprofessional guide to leaving the house with a toddler. Maybe don’t take this too seriously:
  1. Count to three. There is nothing more terrifying to a child than the prospect of their mum getting to three. There is nothing more terrifying for a mum than counting to three and then having to do something about it. “Right I’ve counted to three, I’m really cross now. Please put on your shoes.”
  2. Bribe them. Don’t bring out the big guns first, start small, offer a packet of raisins, then go in for the Pom Bears, peak with a new toy from The Entertainer and chocolate for breakfast for a week if you’re struggling. You’re in survival mode now.
  3. Make your life easier and dress them before they wake up.
  4. Quit your job, take them out of childcare, never leave the house.
  5. Stop being unreasonable. Come on now, are you sure it’s not just you?
  6. Tell them you’ll phone Daddy / Mummy / Granny / Santa / The Easter Bunny and tell them they’re being really naughty. Watch them not care.
  7. Tell them that’s it, you’re not taking them out, and go and sit on the sofa in front of Lorraine. Watch them call your bluff.
  8. Plead. Beg. Shed a tear.
  9. Tell them they’ll have to leave the house without shoes and their feet will fall off because of the cold.
  10. And repeat.

Good luck!

 

S xxx

Bra day

Bra day: When R refused to leave without my bras.

As We Become Four: A Letter to Reuben

My Little R,

You’re soon to become a big brother and your and our world is about to go through a huge change – but for the better I promise.

You came into our lives nearly three years ago now and what a three years they have been. You made me a mum, and the proudest mum at that. While we got off to a shaky start what with the colic, reflux, driving up and down the A30 night after night trying to settle you, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It gave us a strong bond, even if I did swear a few times (just because I do it, it doesn’t mean you can).

You’ve grown into the loveliest boy, I genuinely love spending time with you. Reubs you make me laugh every single day, either by playing the class clown, performing your “shakey bum” dance or simply by being you. 

You’ve always been strong-willed, determined and have an independent streak, like me! There’s nothing wrong with knowing your own mind. Don’t ever let anyone take this away from you, but don’t be rude to people.

I’m ever so nervous about bringing a new baby into your world, mum guilt is a strange thing, there always seems to be something new to feel guilty about!

While it probably won’t be easy at first, we’ll all grow into this change together and you will make the best big brother. This new little guy is going to be so lucky to be able to call you that, and you will become the best of friends, eventually…!

Thank you for making me a mum, because of who you are is why I want to do it all over again.


Love,

Mummy xxx

Pregnancy Post: Freezer Meals

Pregnant or not food pretty much dominates most of my day, I love food. I say that a lot.

When we had R I was pretty slack at preparing freezer meals beforehand, in that I didn’t do it, which was pretty much the biggest error. Post EMCS and starving with the prospect of making dinners was a pretty sad scenario. Fortunately my lovely sister-in-law found Cook and sent us a care package of the most delicious ready meals I’ve ever had. We have continued to use them since (not all the time because I do like cooking), but I always like to have a few in the freezer for when I can’t be bothered and pizza/quiche with a side salad isn’t going to cut it.

We will definitely be using Cook again this time – top tip they offer a 10 per cent discount for new parents. My favourite dishes are the macaroni cheese, fish pie, steak and red wine pie, and coq au vin.

However, in a bid to keep costs down, I have actually managed to organise myself to make a few meals, which I have stored in the freezer in these foil dishes from Lakeland.

I’ve basically made meals that Reuben is guaranteed to eat, to try to make our lives a little easier, there’s nothing gourmet here, just classic freezer meals that you can serve with rice / pasta / garlic bread / salad etc.

1. Sausage and bean casserole

This is a firm family favourite, the full recipe is snaffled from BBC Good Food, this is a classic slow cooker meal for us, which I serve with fresh olive or tiger bread. Sausages are Reuben’s favourite thing so we can always guarantee him a full tum on sausage casserole night.

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2. Chicken pie filling

Mmm pie. Disclaimer: This is a pie filling with a puff pastry lid, I know some people can get very funny. This “pie” recipe is taken from Jamie Oliver’s 30 min meals and again is always a winner. I’ve simply made up the pie filling and frozen without the puff pastry, but will add that during reheating. I actually chose to roast a chicken rather than use chicken breasts, I find the meat is nicer from a full chicken, “moist” if you will. It also meant I could get two lots of pie filling from one chicken, saving those pennies. I’ve also added in some pre-packed pulled ham hock and used a leek instead of spring onions, because I’m a rule-breaker.

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3. Bolognese

Another classic, there’s no recipe here, I just chuck bits in and simmer for an hour or two to get the flavours going. I’ve made a few of these dishes and bought some pre-made white sauce so we can either have spaghetti bolognese or lasagne (my favourite dish ever).IMG_6204

 

4. Chilli

The weather is potentially a little too warm for chilli, but actually this is a toddler-friendly chilli, it doesn’t actually contain any chilli so in fact I guess it’s just flavoured mince… Again I prefer to use a BBC Good Food recipe but tend to go with whatever is in the fridge / store cupboard and omit the chilli part. I like to serve it with some mashed avocado with lime, sour cream and grated cheddar. To keep things simple I’ve also got some microwave rice packets in the cupboard (because rice is the hardest thing to cook EVER).

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5. More Than Toast – Pulled Pork

Alice at More Than Toast is one of my fave bloggers and inspired me to get into blogging, if you haven’t read her posts I do recommend them, and her recipes are spot on. For a few years now Alice’s Pulled Pork recipe has been my go-to, I have tried a few others but I like how simple this is and the result is always better than others I’ve tried that have required more ingredients or a bit more effort. I chose to make this as we all love ‘Pulled Pork Day’ (we do call it that) in this house and I figured we could have a nice treat. Plus there’s only so much minced beef you can eat…

As per Alice’s blog post, I serve with coleslaw, wedges, side salad and some shop-bought brioche buns. Do try these one, you will not be disappointed!

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6. Sticky Toffee Pudding

I’m way more of a savoury person, I’d have a cheeseboard over a cheesecake any day, but pregnancy turns me into a sweet tooth and it takes me a while to recover. I’ve made Paul Hollywood’s Sticky Toffee Pudding as a pick-me-up treat for us. It’s a really simple recipe (made easier if you buy pre-chopped dates) and best served with some vanilla ice cream.

sticky toffee

7. Nigella’s Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these a few months ago for the first time and since then both Ben and Reuben always ask for them when I say I’m going to bake. Last time I made a batch I managed to snaffle away half in the freezer to wheel out at some point over the next couple of weeks. I’m not sure how they’ll be defrosted but I figure I can slightly warm them if need be and serve with ice cream..?! I have no pictures of these because if I didn’t put them in the freezer as soon as possible they wouldn’t have made it. Plus my pics need more work anyway so I’m not sure you’re missing out….

S xxx

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy post: The Last Hurdle

The end of this pregnancy is in sight, HOORAH! I am very much at the permanently exhausted stage, and fully believe I’ll get more sleep once this baby is born. Yes I will, yes I will, yes I will.

Sleep is pretty non-existent (it’s to prepare me for when the baby comes as lots of “helpful” people say). I just cannot get comfortable, I’m sleeping propped upright with a V cushion and pillows, and longing for the day I can sleep on my back again, it’s the little things.

I am officially on maternity leave and have a week or two or three or I’ll smoke this baby out (not with cigarettes), to “rest” before our newborn arrives. I must admit currently I feel the least rested I could possibly be. The last few weeks of cramming in as much work as possible, coupled with general life stuff has pretty much wiped me out emotionally and physically. Ben and I have had a few “discussions” around priorities, I think it could be a gender thing… Many conversations with friends with children echo my complaints of the fact that sometimes their partner doesn’t fully understand how tiring it is to grow a human and how can they? I have often wished that Ben could just experience it for a day, but then he was ill for a couple of days and I realised he is definitely not as hard as I am.

What he has been helpful with is putting together the last couple of bits and pieces before H2 arrives. We’ve chosen a Snüzpod for our bedroom, which I covered in a previous post. I snuz.jpgreally like this crib because you can move it around the house, so no need for a moses basket, which R didn’t like anyway.  I figured when you add up the price of the moses basket, stand and bedding it was worth spending the extra on the Snüzpod.

We’ve also got a changing table in our living room, we had a similar set-up with R and post C-section it was really useful to
have somechanging tablething my height to change nappies and save going up and down the stairs (a wee bit sore post-op). This changing table is a Mothercare unit and was brand new from eBay for about £20, bargain.

When I was pregnant with R I was quite the nester but this time it hasn’t really clicked in. I look at bits and think how much I’d like to clean them but I just don’t have the energy or desire. Instead I’m focusing on enjoying spending some time with R before his little brother arrives, usually on the sofa reading books. We read so many every day, he really enjoys being read to and I enjoy the additional cuddles. Getting out and about is a bit exhausting now, I can’t keep up with him at all if he runs off, so I limit where I take him (mum guilt klaxon), but I must admit he’s turned a corner the past couple of weeks and been super helpful. I’ve just totally jinxed it.

As my due date approaches my thoughts are now naturally turning to labour and I’ve had a few sleepless nights worrying about it. I definitely felt less anxious when I was expecting R because I didn’t know what to expect and pictured a gas and air natural birth – then had quite the opposite. R is actually my main concern this time, whatever happens I just don’t want him to be freaked out or think something is wrong. We have introduced him to the fact that I will be having this baby in a hospital, just like when he was born, and he seems to be ok with that. I do feel a bit more in control in terms of decisions this time however, and I feel more informed about what I do and don’t want to happen, so watch out world!

We had my friend Donna at Sweet Whimsy Photography come and take some pics of us a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I’d share a pic below. We’re really pleased to have some bump shots and our last pics as a family of three taken so beautifully!

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Until next time…

S xxx