Thursday, 6 April 2017

10 Mama Hacks To Make Your Life Easier

I will be the first to admit, I am not the most organised person when it comes to home life, in fact my house is a little bit chaotic. This is something I am desperate to work on because mess causes stress and as a busy mum of two, I could definitely use less stress in my life. As a parent, it is a known fact you will rarely leave the house on time, it was bad enough when we had one baby but now we have two it takes us four times as long. Yes you read that right, not twice as long, but four times as long. Not only do I have to get myself ready, I have to feed two babies, change two sets of nappies, dress two kids and pack a bag for them both! Getting out is like a military operation in this house! I shout a lot, I frantically search for missing items (normally George's shoes), and to top it off I have to ge tboth of them in my bulky double pram or one in a pram and one in a sling! My washing pile is now ginormous (seriously, how much washing can a newborn accumulate?!), my sink is full of bottles and plastic dishes. So what do I do to manage all this? Here are a few tricks I've picked up along the way:

1. Pack your changing bag the night before. I always make sure I have 4 nappies for Henry and 2 for George. I always make sure I have a spare vest, baby gro, muslin cloths and of course baby wipes. If this is all in, I can pack what I need in the morning, such as bottles and juice/ snacks for George. 

2. Get your clothes ready the night before. Okay, I don't always do this one, but I really should! Especally as George has a habit of taking his socks off and leaving them round the house resulting in me never being able to find a matching pair. 

3. Have a portable makeup bag. I have a lot of makeup, I love makeup. My makeup collection is huge. However, I put my essentials in a small makeup bag which I can take round the house with me meaning I can do my makeup in the living room if necessary. I do try to get ready before Pete has to go to work but some mornings this isn't possible so being able to get ready wherever the boys are makes things dead easy. 

4. Empty the dishwasher every morning so it can be filled throughout the day, then be switched on of a night. Repeat.

5. Did I mention newborns seems to rack up more laundry than a family of 6 ever could? I normally put my washing machine on a timer so it a load can start when I'm out and be ready to hang up for when I get home.

6. Make bottles up in advance. Yes, this a controversial one. I always make 4 bottles up in advance and put them in the fridge. As long as the boiled water from the kettle has killed any bacteria in the milk I don't see any harm in pre-making them. 

7. Tablets! I would be lost without my iPad. Every Wednesday I go to my Slimming World group and my tablet manages to keep George entertained for an hour. If you ever need to go somewhere, such as a doctors appointment I highly recommend you take one. George will happily sit still as long as Peppa Pig is on. But make sure it's fully charged!

8. Pack snacks. If I have learnt anything in the past 2 and a half years, it's that food keeps kids quiet. I even bribed George home from the park with a little chocolate bar last week! I always take snack boxes of raisins, Organix oaty bars, and these horrible little packets of Smoothie Melts which are freeze dried smoothie pieces - they're gross but George loves them! 

9. Taking pyjamas on long car journeys. This is my favourite one! If I know we're going to be out late, I will pacl pjs in the car, so that when the boys fall asleep, they can be taken straight to bed when we get home.

10. Baby wipes clean everything! Need to wipe your couch down? Baby wipe. Deodarant on your black top? Baby wipe. Beans on the carpet? Baby wipe. But really, are you even a mum if you don't use baby wipes to clean everything?

So there's my top 10 mama hacks to make life easier. I don't manage to do these all the time and writing it out, I reckon if I did these more often, my life would be 10 times easier!

What are your mama hacks? 

Rachael xo

Friday, 31 March 2017

Mamas and Papas Magic Stargaze Playmat Review

When you're pregnant with your first child, people will always be willing to give/ buy you stuff. A lot of people always want brand new for their first born, but I wasn't too fussy. George had a brand new pram, clothes and furniture for his bedroom and I was happy with that. We were even offered a playmat which was in immaculate condition and we loved it. 

Two and a half years on, I'm not entirely sure what happened to that playmat (in fact, we had two which both seem to have got lost in our spare room). It was when I was scrolling through Facebook that I saw an advert for a grey playmat which I just fell in love with, but couldn't bring myself to part with the money for it, as it was literally just a mat on its own. Beautiful, but not really worth the money! It was then that I decided I wanted to buy a grey playmat because well, I really like grey and I had my heart set on this gorgeous grey one that I couldn't justify.

 After a bit of Googling, I came across the Mamas and Papas Magic Stargaze Playmat and I was instantly drawn to the colours! Have I mentioned I love grey and mustard? The price tag was pretty hefty for a playmat so I did a bit of research before purchasing it. Every review I read was glowing so I popped it into my basket and waited eagerly for its arrival. 

As soon as it came, George and I set it up immediately and weren't disappointed. It is pretty straightforward to assemble, the mat has two poles which need inserting into the tent part (sorry, I really don't know how else to describe it) which was quite fiddly but easy enough. Once the poles were in place, I just clipped them to the mat, positioned the tent part and it was ready to go!  

The Magic Stargaze Playmat comes with two music packs, one that plays soothing music and the other has the option to insert your phone and play your own music, we had the Wicked soundtrack on there on our first go! I think you can also puchase additional packs. There's just a little cable that goes into the headphone socket of your phone and a pouch for it to sit in. So easy! When the toys are hit or kicked, the tune changes and a light show plays accordingly, there is even a button at the bottom for feet which also makes changes to the rhythym. Henry really loves watching the lights and listening to the music, and even George has a good go! There are buttons to adjust the volume so you can have it as loudly or as quietly as you want and the on/off switch is so easy to do that most of the time I just ask George to switch it off for me. Perfect for when you're trying to settle your over stimulated newborn!

The mat also comes with a mirror, toys to dangle and an additional hook for your own toys, which can be hooked anywhere as there are plenty of loops for different options. There is also a detachable, crescent pillow ideal for tummy time which we strongly encourage in our house.

The Magic Stargaze Mat is amazing for sensory play and so worth the price tag! I thought it would be difficult to put away due to the big tent part but in fact, it's no harder than a standard playmat. If you're looking for something for your newborn then I highly recommend this! 

What playmat does your baby have?

Rachael xo


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

10 Things I Swore I'd Never Do As a Parent

Let's face it, we all have ideas of what we will be like when we become parents, but realistically we're all just winging it! I like to think I know what I'm doing but really I don't have a clue, I'm just finding what works for us. Don't get me wrong, I've been doing this parenting shit for 2 and a half years so I think I've got a pretty good grasp on it but I'm still adjusting to life with 2 babies! Here's a list of 10 things I swore I'd never do as a parent. 

1. Let George eat a sausage roll in his pram 
I used to see kids in my local town centres scoffing sausage rolls whilst being pushed around in their pram and thought 'oh my god, how common!' Now, George can often be seen in his pram and scoffing a sausage roll. I call it a Birkenhead dummy! 
2. Swear in front of my kids 
I'm common, I'm from Birkenhead (a small town near Liverpool - Google it), and I swear like a sailor! I always vowed I would never swear in front of my children and whilst I do try to make a conscious effort not to do this, I often slip up. Especially when Pete has pissed me off! 

3.  Co-Sleep
Yes, yes, we have all been lectured on the dangers of co-sleeping and SIDS but George used to get in our bed all the time! Not when he was a newborn but when he was a couple of months old. We actually did this safely, he was never allowed under our duvet and we both used to sleep at the edge of the bed. Not that I ever slept properly when he was next to me but who needs sleep right? 

4. Use a buggy board
God I hate these ugly things, however, we recently bought one for George and whilst I do think they're a good idea, I still maintain that they're too bulky! I hate how they look, I hate how they stick out so far. Ugh I just hate them. We used ours this week and luckily George would rather walk.

5. Baby wearing
I used to think this was so hippy, but on recommendation from a family member, I tried it out with Henry and I love it so much. It's so convenient to pop him in the sling and not have to worry about dressing him to go outside. 

6. Go to baby groups
When I had G, I was a bit of a snob and turned my nose at the thought of talking to other mums at baby groups and to be hlonest, I quite liked it that way. Now he's a bit older, we've started going to a mums and tots on a Monday then Tumble Tots on a Saturday and I love it!  

7. Give my baby a dummy to shut him up
I'm not anti-dummy but I wasn't keen on using one in the beginning, but George was a baby who needed something to suck and Henry is the same way. I try to take George's dummy off him when I can, but admittedly I will give in if he asks for it continuously and I'm trying to get something done. Sometimes you just need a bit of a break you know? 

8. Tell my children to shut up in public
You've heard those mums screaming at their kids in the supermarket, before I had kids, I swore this was something I would never in a million years do. It's common, it's mean and it's unnecessary. I've done it many a time! Sometimes George screams for no reason, sometimes he talks on and on. I just consider it an accomplishment that I don't tell him to shut the fuck up. 

9. Give them sweets
I remember seeing mum friends give their kids sweets and judging them hard. Now George has sweets or chocolate almost every day much to his dad's dismay. However, he does brush his teeth twice a day and I have no fear over him becoming over weight as the only time he is still is when he's sleeping.

10. Use the telly as a third parent
Who doesn't love the telly? If half an hour of Paw Patrol lets me get a bit of housework done, then so be it. If watching Andy Day on every single programme makes George happy and teaches him about nature, it just has to be done!

What did you vow never to do when you had kids?

Rachael xo

My Mama Style #002 | Metallics

This is a bit of a lazy post really, but I wanted to share my new favourite obsession in the form of metallic biker jackets! Recently I saw my friend Laura from Lojo Vs The World post a photo of a gorgeous metallic biker jacket and it was love at first sight so when I was browsing ASOS, I spotted one and it went straight in my basket. I'm off to Leeds at the beginning of April to be reunited with my three best friends so I'm saving it for then. Bet I don't though.

My go to mama style is pretty much jeans and pumps, I've ditched my heeled boots in favour of my trusty black Converse as they're so handy for running after a toddler and most of all practical for if I'm wearing Henry. Desperate for a pair of grey pumps, I was instantly drawn to these Vans - actually, I wanted grey suede ones but they were out of stock in my size boo! 

I live in hoodies, tshirts and jeans these days because they are just so easy to throw on and require minimal effort but I still want to look good, so a statement jacket is definitely a must have for me! Especially when I'm rocking a mum bun and am probably covered in snot or sick or some other bodily fluid. Who says mums have to dress badly? 

A decent jacket and bag will instantly transform - normally I'd throw my stuff in my Isoki changing bag, but for days out without the kids (a rarity) it's good to have a handbag and I love handbags! Pete always tells me off for the many bags I have but I'm a woman, I need them! 

What do you do to transform your mum uniform?

Rachael xo

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Dealing with Mama Stress

I will be the first to admit, I am a massive stress head. I stress over things I shouldn't stress about. I stress before there's things to stress about. I guess it comes part and parcel with anxiety, I like things to go as planned and if they don't, my anxiety levels rise. I can't help it, it's just who I am, I'd like to think that over the years I have calmed down a bit or I have at least tried to. Pete is the complete opposite of me, he is so laid back it is unbelievable, I don't understand how he can be that way, not to mention this adds to my stress levels. Poor lad, good job he's so laid back really. Anyway, the point of this post is to talk about 'mama stress.' Possibly the worst kind of stress to ever exist! Mama stress doesn't seem to be something we talk about, but we really should!

I have a toddler, a very independant two year old that likes to do as he pleases. On top of his toddler ways, he is a very clever little boy who is always looking for something new to do. This results in him often becoming bored or frustrated and we all know this can be disastrous. Before Henry came along, this was manageable. I would become stressed when George would misbehave and I was trying to get things done. I would get stressed if we were running late for something, which inevitably happens when you have little ones.

I became pregnant, hormones took control, my stress levels would rise over the smallest things. It could be that George wouldn't choose a book, or pick something up that he had thrown. Luckily, I have laid back Pete, is always happy to take over in a situation like this. Crisis averted. Mama stress levels down. 

Then Henry came along, queue mega stress levels 24/7. When I had one child, I maintained a tidy(ish) house (I'm not the tidiest of people at the best of times) but it was liveable. Now I have two babies and oh my goodness. My stress levels have magnified by 100. We almost never leave the house on time, I have laundry up to my eye balls, the dishwasher is constantly whirring, there are toys scattered everywhere, and I hate it. I hate that this is out of my control, no matter what I do, things are never easy. Not that I expected it to,b but as soon as I think I'm on top of everything, I blink and I'm five days behind. 

Today I got my period, the first period I've had since before Henry was born, so it's been nearly twelve months. Just when I thought my hormones were in the process of settling down after the arrival of my squishy newborn, they're back. Oh and they're back with a vengeance. I'm sore, I'm grouchy and I'm torn between wanting to eat everything in sight or kill somebody. Pete went to work late afternoon, I was on my own with both boys, bear in mind, Pete had taken George swimming in the morning, I'd had some time to myself and I'd even had a bath. Well as soon as he went to work, both boys kicked off (I'm sure kids can sense when you're on your own - bastards!) and I could have cried. In fact, I snapped at George, my poor two year old, who wasn't misbehaving, he was just being two. I was instantly hit with a wave of mum guilt, it wasn't my boy's fault that I was miserable today. He doesn't understand about hormones and all the rest. I changed his nappy, I picked him up off his changing mat, gave him a cuddle and a big massive kiss and said "I'm sorry for being grumpy, babe." And you know what he said to me? "I'm sorry for being grumpy too. I'm sorry for waking Henry up." I nearly melted there on the spot. I didn't feel better, I felt even more guilty that I had been such a bitch. We sat on the beanbag, we cuddled and we watched a movie. I know he won't remember it. I know we have more fun times than miserable times but I do't want him to grow up and think I am a moody mummy. 

We can get so caught up in the stress of the moment, things that don't need to be stressed over, especially when it comes to our little ones. There are times when I let George run about in the garden, get muddy, get wet and don't bat an eyelid, that's childhood. So why am I so bothered if he accidentally makes a mess when he's eating (sometimes he does it on purpose, but not always)? 

I have been trying to control my mama stress - some days are easier than others but the thing I always remember is they are just babies. Babies that need their mummy and I love being their mummy. Some days I could cry because I just want one day to myself, a day where I don't want to answer to the name mummy and I will complain about it (mostly to Pete) but the truth is, I wouldn't want it any other way. I have probably said to Pete about a hundred times "no more kids - I hate them" today alone. Do I mean it? Well I'm not ready to get my tubes tied just yet ;) 

How do you deal with mama stress?

Rachael xo


Grey and Mustard Wishlist

I will be first to admit, I live in clothes from Primark, my boys live in things from supermarkets (clothes - not potato sacks) but every now and then I will have a little splurge in Next and their Spring range never fails to impress me. George had an absolutely gorgeous little collection from their which I can't wait to dig out and pass on to Henry for when the weather brightens up. 

It's no secret that I am a massive lover of grey (seriously, see my Instagram), a colour that goes with everything, but I adore it with mustard! Naturally, when I saw this collection in Next I fell head over heels for it and I want to buy it all. I added this all to my basked on Monday only to find out Pete has misplaced our vouchers but I love it that much, I might just have to buy it anyway. Seriously, how gorgeous? 

You can shop the collection here*

 Rachael xo

*not a sponsored post - I just really loved it and it is high up on my wishlist!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

10 Things I'd Like This Mother's Day

With Mother's Day fast approaching (this being my third, I know, how do I almost have a three year old?!) I thought I'd compose a list of 10 things I'd like this Mother's Day. Since becoming a mum of two, I barely get any time to myself, that was only to be expected though when I decided to have two babies! Although my boys (Pete) will have put a lot of thought into my present, there are somethings money just can't buy, so here are the things I'd most like this Mother's Day:

1. A lie in! This is every mama's dream yes?

2. The ability to drink a cuppa before it goes cold.

3. To have a song other than the theme tune to Paw Patrol stuck in my head.

4. Following on from that, to watch anything other than Paw Patrol.

5. Time to straighten my unruly hair.

6. To not wash and sterilise bottles - seriously, I hate that job.

7. Not to change a shitty nappy.

8. A meal cooked for me - since joining Slimming World, I've taken over cooking duties.

9. Time to read a book. I miss reading.

10. Not to be roared at - George really thinks he's a dinosaur.

So there you have it, a list of 10 things I'd like this Mother's Day. 
What would you like most this Mother's Day? 

Rachael xo