Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Something you buy that makes you richer - National Trust membership!

A National Trust membership was something we had on our bucket list for years. Even before we had children, we loved visiting parks, nature reserves, and beautiful places we could walk, stop for a cup of tea (of course), enjoy each other's company, and admire the beauty that nature has to offer. However we decided when little ones came along, we would definitely sign up for a family membership, to make it easy for us to continue exploring.

The National Trust is a British charity, set up in 1895 by three people who wanted to preserve our nations heritage and open spaces, and make them accessible to everyone.
They restore, protect, and open up to the public hundreds of forests, woods, coastlines, beaches, farmland, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, nature reserves, villages, historic houses, gardens, mills and pubs. This would not be possible for many of these places without the National Trust. In addition to ensuring the nations history is preserved and available for everyone to enjoy, they promote causes close to or hearts - they encourage everyone to enjoy the beautiful nature that Great Britain has to offer, and to get outside!

As time quite scarily runs away with you when you have a baby, Oskar was 9 months old by the time we got around to signing up! But better late than never, we used spring as the perfect time to become members. Membership for a couple is £108 a year (under 5s are free) and includes unlimited access to over 500 National Trust places, mostly with free parking. Luckily a guide book to National Trust places in each region is included!

We can't wait to start visiting new National Trust places, and revisit some places we enjoyed before we were members. So far this year our membership has brought us sunshine, cherry blossom, bluebell woods, herds of deer, spring lambs, bright yellow rapeseed fields, Sunday strolls, tulip gardens, waterfalls, picnics, and best of all, lovely memories as a family.

We really want Oskar to love the outdoors as much as we do, and to take a keen interest in natural beauty. We love the idea of sending him to Forest School when he is a little older, but with our National Trust membership are able to replicate some of the education in nature ourselves as he grows. We hope he learns to find as much peace amongst the trees as we always have!
We may have only had our membership for a short time but we already feel it has made a difference to our lives, it has enriched us in many ways and brought us wonderful memories of wonderful days out as a three. If you have visited any gorgeous National Trust places that you'd like to recommend, please do! We would love to hear where others have been and loved too!

This post is not sponsored by National Trust, and we purchased our membership ourselves.
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Monday, 15 May 2017

The holiday feeling at home

May is the month of bank holidays in the UK, and it seems that everyone is discussing how best to spend the long weekends (and what the weather will be!) But what if due to time or money, you aren't jetting away?

We were recently discussing with fellow mums how recreating things that we enjoy on holiday, and that are different from being at home, is instantly exciting for children. Also, it's actually good for everyone to realise that the little things that make holidays so wonderful can easily be replicated at home too!

So what makes a good staycation? We all agreed that the main aspect to embracing that holiday feeling is being outside. Especially if the sun is shining, but even if the weather isn't cooperating, when on holiday we all agreed that we spend very little time in the hotel room and a lot of time outside. Therefore, a walk around a local park or woods is ideal - there are often beautiful places not far from our doorsteps in England, so searching for your nearest National Trust spots can unearth hidden treasures! It's surprising that beautiful countryside is often not far away, even if you live in a city.

But there is also a lot to be said for just spending time in your own garden. We aren't the most green fingered of people, but adding a few flowers or garden decorations will mean it's your own little retreat. Being outside is literally a breath of fresh air, provides good exercise, and if you have good weather, and a few games (or even better, a cheap paddling pool) children will happily spend hours in the garden, while you relax and enjoy the view (or a book, or a coffee!)

Eating dinner outside is definitely a good way to get that holiday feeling! A picnic in the park with family and friends is always a good idea, but for being close by to everything you might need for little ones, you can't beat your own garden. Again, supermarkets, eBay and pound shops are definitely your friend here - a few lanterns, citronella candles to ward off bugs, solar lights and even a disposable BBQ will mean you'll want to stay out there relaxing with a drink long after the children have gone to bed!

So for the perfect staycation this bank holiday we urge you to plan to get outdoors altogether and enjoy the beauty of the world around us. A long walk in the woods, exploring in the garden or picnicking somewhere you've never been before. It'll mean that even on a budget, you have the very best bank holiday you can. Happy holidays!

We have been asked to work with Provident on their ‘don’t break the bank holiday’ campaign to advise families across the UK on bank holidays on a budget. You can read more tips here: https://www.providentpersonalcredit.com/bank-holiday-budgeting/

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

European Baby Wearing Week - a year of wearing our boy

One of the dreams I had long before we even conceived was to carry my tiny newborn in a sling strapped to my chest. I imagined how it'd feel to have something so tiny and precious, the very being of your dreams, bundled up asleep on your chest, safe, secure and loved. I used to spend hours looking at different slings, deliberating over styles and types and designs. When my sister adopted her little girl I bought her a toddler carrier as an adoption present, keen to inspire a love of baby wearing in her too, desperate for her to feel the bond that carrying your baby with you inevitably brings.

One of the things I love now is that something that was once reserved for "earth mothers" is now so mainstream. It is as normal to see a woman carrying her baby in a sling as it is to see her pushing a pram. And of course with a change of attitude in society must come an explosion of even more available types and styles of carrier. So if you always fancied giving baby wearing a go, but have never quite known where to start, in honour of it being European Baby Wearing Week, I thought I would take you through our journey, from newborn, to carrying a (very almost) toddler.

In the beginning i had just had a c-section, and Sarah was off work. We fully believe in the principles of attachment parenting, and thus, we never put Oskar down. He spent pretty much every moment of his life in our arms up until a few months old. This meant that we passed him between us, he lay in our arms and on our chests day and night, so we didn't actually have that much use for a sling, apart from on walks. We used the first carrier we ever purchased, an Ergo, which we had bought from The Baby Show. However, although we were happy enough with it, we always planned to try others out, and find something a little more comfortable.

That was, until Oskar was 6 weeks old and Sarah had to return to work. Suddenly there were just my arms, and that meant i couldn't do anything at all for myself, even make myself a cup of tea, and suddenly, I need the sling like never before. In the beginning we used a stretchy wrap, as it cocooned him beautifully, and was incredibly comfortable for me to wear too. Brands such as the Close Caboo, Boba Stretchy and Moby wrap all fit in to this category. A little tricky to put on at first, all that material seems never ending, but once you've done it once or twice it becomes second nature. Oskar spent hours asleep in the stretchy wrap in the early days, meaning I could easily walk willow, do a bit of housework, or even just make myself some tea and toast!

From 6 weeks to about 4 months old, we used the stretchy wrap every single day. He seemed to change quite a lot around then, and began to get used to being on his own while playing etc a little more. Therefore I needed something really quick and easy for the moments I needed my hands free and he needed me. We went to a sling library to see what was available, and came home with a ring sling, which was perfect. No standing and folding and tying involved, just over your head, under baby's bum, and pull tight. For the two months we had it we loved it. So easy to use, so quick to adjust, and again it meant i could get on with the things I needed to do, and Oskar was happy to be tucked up with me.

Many people continue to use ring slings for older babies and toddlers but we began to feel we needed something else, so did a bit of experimenting. We tried two different types of mei tai, which is a bit of a hybrid between a structured carrier and a wrap, with a soft body piece and four long straps that are tied to secure the baby in place. Both were ok, but not quite the supportive carrier we were looking for to take us in to toddler hood.

So now we use a soft structured carrier. The most popular would be the Tula, but we also love the Caboo DX Go, for it's versatility and easy use. Soft structured carriers have a main seat panel, a waist strap and two shoulder straps. They kind of go on like a backpack, and the baby sits in the main body. Even more appealing, you can wear them in your front or back. We initially borrowed a Tula from a friend but loved it so much we bought our own, and let me tell you, we use it ever single day, often many times a day. If I am going to walk the dog, nipping in to the supermarket, doing the hoovering (Oskar has decided he hates the hoover and must be carried while you do it!), cooking and he needs attention, if we are going out for the day we take the sling. They are absolutely worth their weight in gold! We have been away for the weekend and not taken the pram, we have been for walks for hours and hours and not been uncomfortable with carrying him. They really are brilliant!

And of course most importantly at all, Oskar loves being 'worn'. He starts getting excited and flapping his arms when one of us gets the carrier out! He knows he is going to be close to us, so we can talk to him, point out things we can see, sing him songs and laugh with him. And his new trick, reaching up to put kisses on us while sitting in the carrier, heart melting moment!

For me, baby wearing really is a dream come true. I have so much pride being out and about with my beautiful boy safely held on my chest in a gorgeous carrier. I think I'll be a little sad when he finally gets round to walking, and doesn't want to be held all the time!

If you are interested in baby wearing but don't really know where to start, Babi Pur offer a free no obligation sling consultation, along with stocking a huge range of slings and carriers. Use code BUDDY to get a lovely 10% off full price (excluding the Tula range). All brands mentioned here apart from Ergo are stocked by Babi Pur and we are supporting them during European Baby Wearing Week. However, all slings and carriers featured here were purchased by ourselves. For more information, click here.

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Real Nappy Week - cloth nappies explained!

We love using cloth nappies for many reasons. They are good for the planet - saving hundreds of disposables going into landfill, they are better for our baby -comfier, more natural, and less chance of rashes, they are cheaper in the long run, and they look adorable!

We are really happy that so many people have contacted us online regarding trying cloth nappies, as even if you don't use them full time, every time you do, you stop a nappy going into landfill! But whilst the reasons we use them is clear, we understand that where to start can be a bit mind boggling!

We have already published a post here explaining how cloth nappies work and answering your questions, but something that deserved a post of it's own was the different types of cloth nappy available. What with all in ones, all in twos, two parters, wraps, covers, inserts, liners, and pockets...where do you start, and what does that all mean?!
Basically, although they are sometimes called different things, we would say the types of nappies available can be split into three types

"All In Ones"

All in ones are probably the easiest cloth nappies to use, and are the most similar to disposables as they are 'all in one' and need no effort, just put on as you would a disposable. You can also get hybrid all in ones, such as the below pictured one from Close that have different parts but popper together to make a complete nappy. Totsbots Easyfit, Tickle Tots, Bumgenius, Close pop in and GroVia are all fab.


Pocket nappies have just that - a large pocket in which you can place an insert, or some have their own insert which you simply fold inside.
They are extremely simple to use, easy to change, quick to dry, and you can customise the absorbency.
They are offered by a multitude of great brands, including Milovia, Bumgenius, Tickle Tots and Wonderoos.

"Two parts" or "covers/wraps & inserts"

You also have the option of nappies that are 'buildable' - fabric nappies that have an additional waterproof nappy 'shell' over the top or that that you fill with your own fabric liners or inserts, which add absorbency.

Some great brands to have a look at are Milovia, Close pop in (with liners), Totsbots Peenut wrap (with pad liner or over a Bamboozle nappy),Planetwise and Tickle tots all in two.

With that (hopefully) made a little clearer, as we have tried what seems like millions of different types and brands, we thought we would share our favourites so far...

Best Night Time Nappy - Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretch & Peenut wrap

We posted here about our transition to cloth at night, having tried what seems like every nappy in the planet. Bamboozles are super duper thirsty nappies, and the waterproof peenut wrap over the top keeps it all contained. Oskar has never once leaked through this combination, and trust us, as he still wakes up frequently to breastfeed throughout the night, it holds a lot of pee!

You can also use the Peenut Wrap with these Peenut pads

Best daytime nappy - Milovia

We vote Milovia best day time nappy both for their fit and absorbency. They are incredibly easy to put on, fit beautifully, and are mega absorbent and yet still slim enough to go under the vast majority of clothes without looking bulky. Milovia aren't a particularly well known nappy brand, but they really are brilliant, and are now the ones we reach for time and time again. If you are heading out for the day you can take a few clean inserts and re-use the wrap multiple times, meaning it doesn't take up a load of room in your changing bag, either. 

Best for beginners - Tots Bots EasyFit
This category could also be called "Best nappy to leave with Grandparents" and "Best Nappy to send to Nursery". Totsbots EasyFit are the nappy most people start with, and for good reason. They are easy to use, wash well, dry quickly, and are pretty fool proof. In our opinion they don't last as long on the bottom as other brands, but when you are just starting out with cloth, they are economical, easy to use and a really good place to start. 

Best all-rounder - Close Parent Pop In 

Day, night, baby, toddler, heavy wetter, super pooper, no matter what it is, Close Pop-In comes to the rescue. They have amazing double gusset designs which hold in any amount of wee, are easy to use, easy to dry, easy to change the level of absorbency, and come in the most beautiful of designs. Our absolute favourite all time print on a nappy has to be Babi Pur's exclusive elephant print as pictured below. What is not to love about the gorgeous yellow and red elephants with purple trim? We are also lucky enough to have got one of the limited edition rainbow elephants print to celebrate Babipurs 10th birthday, which you may have seen on our Instagrams!

To celebrate Real Nappy Week, we are excited to be working in partnership with our favourite eco friendly baby store Babipur to offer an exciting giveaway! We are giving away one of the above Close Parent Pop In nappies in the gorgeous elephant print that's exclusive to Babipur, to one of our lucky followers. Whether it wold be an introduction to cloth nappies, or a fab addition to your collection, we really rate this nappy.  
You can find details on our Twitter, Laurens Instagram, or Sarahs Instagram. Good luck! 

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