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SCREENTIME AND TODDLERS - Am I a Bad Parent?

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There's no doubt about it, parenting is hard. If we actually sit there and think about it being a parent is bloody hard work. I know this only too well as a first time parent. One minute you think that you have everything figured out and finally feel as if you have this whole parenting thing down, but then something is thrown into the mix to make life as a parent that much harder. Our daughter is nearly three years old so you could say that we've had our fair share of curve balls thrown at us. Separation anxiety being the mother of all the crappy parts of parenting. I will gladly take all those tantrums, potty training accidents and even accept the poo throwing incident in place of that. As parents we feel moments of laughter and giggles, moments where we feel like crying all day, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. But for me as a first time mum there are lots of feelings of self doubt and I'm pretty sure that I am not the only who knows what I am talking about. So you would think that we could be a little kinder to one another. Since becoming a parent to my daughter I have seen so many debates about in the parenting world. Breastfeeding vs bottle-feeding, baby-led weaning vs puree, or co-sleeping vs sleep training, just to name a few. Meanwhile I can understand that we can't all agree on the same thing, but there's one thing that I can't understand and that's being parent shamed for the decisions we make for our children. Yes, I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet. Namely, the screen time I allow for my daughter. Does it make me a bad parent?

I am a parent who will allow their child to have screen time, all in moderation I say. But it seems to me that parents who choose to allow their children to have screen time are getting a bad rep. Don't judge me when I say that I enjoy giving my daughter a little bit of screen time. It's not hard to guess why though? Peace and quiet to enjoy my cup of tea. Those fifteen minutes are absolutely magical. Please tell me I'm not the only one. But as I've said parenting is hard and we deserve those fifteen minutes to catch a breath and shouldn't be made to feel as if we are doing something wrong. I don't want to offend any parents who choose not to give their children screen time, I just want to make a point that parents who do should not be made to feel bad.
Before writing this post I did some research into toddler screen time and I found pages and pages of articles dedicated to the negative side of screen time. Most of the articles suggest that too much screen time for toddlers can have an adverse effect on their brains, in a nutshell. I have absolutely no idea whether what they are suggesting has any substance, but I'm not hear to tell you they have no value. I'm no expert but too much of something is bound to have some kind of impact of anyone's wellbeing. I just want to put it out there that screen time for your children is not always a bad thing.
I think that children born into the digital generation are lucky and are far more intelligent that we ever were. My toddler, like other toddlers are drawn to technology like moths to flame. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's a smartphone, tablet, electronic game or the television. As soon as it lights up, then their eyes do too. Have you ever watched a young toddler use a tablet for the first time? It's actually quite fascinating to see how quickly they can figure out how to navigate around the app or tablet. I actually sat with my daughter on her KidloLand app and I was quite surprised at how quickly she figured out how to get around the app and was even telling me that I wasn't playing her game properly. Well, that certainly put me in my place, that's for sure.

Children's programmes have changed so much, well in comparison to when I was a child anyway. I think we've come a long way from the Rainbow days. But children's programmes today are highly regulated to teach our children an array of activities. They can teach colours, letters, counting, basic morality (thank you Bing Bunny), teach them how to share, create friendships and to believe they can be who they wish to be. Why wouldn't you want to help encourage your child's learning? There is only so much you can do as parent, sometimes we need a helping hand from the good ole CBeebies channel. The CBeebies app has even been my saviour during those 4am get ups!

As a blogger to a toddler we are always been offered opportunities to try new apps. There are a countless number of amazing apps that can actually help enhance your child's development, some promote motor skills, enhance memory and pattern recognition. But as with anything, screen time should be limited. Screens are in no way a substitute for parenting! Both my husband and I make sure that we read with our daughter every night, without fail. We are always going out looking for adventures, going to toddler groups, and we are always at the park. We enjoy running around, playing indoor football (thank you for that one, Daddy), we like to jump on the bed, role play and dance like nobody's watching. We love getting in our kitchen and causing absolute chaos, that's the fun part. The cleaning up? Hmmm not so much.  We also spend lots of afternoons trying to unleash our creativity with playdough, card, pom poms or glitter. But we enjoy watching the box!

With anything in life, everything is moderation is key. Says the person who just ate an Easter egg! I have known some people see bad behaviour if certain electronics are taken away, this is something that we haven't experience with our daughter and one that I hope we never do. But cutting screen time altogether may not be possible in some households, but there are ways in which you can limit their time without an almighty tantrum unfolding.

Set time limits.
With our daughter we started to monitor her screen time. We soon realised that she was watching her kindle a little too close to bed time,  which was also reason why she wouldn't settle straightaway. So we don't include any screen whatsoever in her bedtime routine and we never have trouble getting her to sleep. With electronics set time limits and avoid them before bedtime, mama needs sleep too. You could also change the type of screen time that they are exposed to. So instead of having the television being on in the background, spend time on educational apps, e-books, or even a family film - something that you can do with them.
Electronics in their room.
I would have to say that you really need to think about allowing your children to have any electronics in their room, I feel that a bedroom should be make a 'screen free zone' as bedrooms are for sleeping. But that's personal preference. I don't think I will allow my daughter to have a television in her room for some time yet, my husband and I don't have one in our room, even when he's asked so many times. I think he secretly wants a man cave, but that's a whole different story. I think the real reason why I won't allow her to have a television in her room is because it's all I can remember about bedtime when I was a child. I shared a room with my little sister who was afraid of the dark and would always want the same DVD playing in the background, often waking me up during the night with the same sound of the DVD title playing, I can hear it now and makes me wince. 
No screen time before bed
After realising that our daughter was not settling and sleeping at bedtime because she was getting far too excited watching videos on her kindle. So it's no TV or kindle before bedtime. No exceptions. I think for all children we should realised the importance of down time before bedtime and make a point of shutting all phones, tablets and televisions down. Something that we all could do with in this household.

Wow, that was a ramble and a half. I hope you didn't mind. At the end of the day, screen time is not a bad thing. It all depends on how parents decide to benefit from it and how long children spend time in front of it. As I have made it into adulthood intact, I am more than confident that my daughter will do the same. So why should I prevent her from enjoying it too. We are all parents, who are doing what we can, the best way we can.

Looking For A Helping Hand with Bidvine

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It's spring and what comes with spring? The beautiful sunshine, spending afternoons in the garden, blues skies and pretty flowers. It's also the perfect time of year to make plans for the coming months and to make a start on that ever growing list of tasks that we never seem to get around to doing . But like most families, life can get busy and things can take a back seat. We all need a helping hand sometimes, whether it's a plumber, handyman, photographer or even a party planner. For all these types of professionals we normally find ourselves trawling through pages on the internet, or looking through adverts in the local newspapers. It can be such a tedious task, so what if this could be made easier? Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Bidvine.

What is Bidvine?

Bidvine is a site that helps you hire trusted local service professionals easily. It's really simple to use, you fill out a form beginning with your postcode and which service you are looking for. You then go on to answer service specific questions. Bidvine then sends this job request to trusted local professionals to bid on. It's 3 simple steps
1. Tell them what you need
2. Get bids to choose a pro
3. Hire your professional and expect great things
Bidvine brings together local businesses and people to help achieve the quickest outcome possible, so a winner all round. The website is very simple and easy to navigate yourself around, even those who are not great with computers or apps can work their way around. Bidvine covers all areas of trades. Be it a handy man to help with all those jobs that make the never ending list of jobs to do. A decorator to help wallpaper a room, so you can unleash your creativity rather than trying to wallpaper with a spouse, it's never a good idea. Perhaps you're in need of a photographer to capture those special moments or want help planning the perfect wedding, birthday or other occasion. Bidvine is the way to go.
ARE YOU READY TO BIDVINE?
Bidvine charges a small fee to their professionals to offer you a bid, which means that you get genuine professionals and skilled people who are bidding for your work. So, as you can imagine I couldn't wait to see what Bidvine could offer when we decided we needed their handyman services  to help us around the home. Our spare room has been neglected for some time and this year is the year we need to make more use of our washing room/junk room. Our daughter will be three this year and so it seems natural that she has a bigger bedroom, but it needs some work. We need a handyman (or woman) to help us redecorate and mend the current furniture. After entering my postcode I was then asked to fill out a few questions about the task in hand such as: 'What do you need done?', 'Where is the project is located?' and 'How big is the room?'. Where I then signed up to receive a number of emails bidding for the job with their quotes. It as so quick and easy to do, I couldn't wait to pick someone to help with our daughter's room.
Why YOU should be using Bidvine?
Bidvine believes in getting your work done by the best professionals. Bidvine pride themselves on perfection in work and help professionals find their customers. Even when a professional has just started up their business, it can be hard to build up a clientele and so by registering with Bidvine can help them get their company and services on the map for consideration. Bidvine has some brilliant values that promise to help support both the customer and the professionals providing the service too, which is something that is always nice to see.
Secondly with Bidvine you can find a trusted and certified professional easily, within minutes. Just a few clicks, answer a few questions you are able to find plenty of professionals in your local area an even check their certifications before hiring them, no pressure. There certainly is no fear of any cowboy builders with Bidvine, that's for sure. Lastly, and probably one of the most beneficial deciding factors is that finding a professional with Bidvine is completely free, with no hidden costs. Bidvine emphasises on getting you your desired professional who will fulfil your requirements and be able to reply on their services wholeheartedly.

Have you ever heard of Bidvine? What are your thoughts? Are you ready to Bidvine?

#Feed Your Happy With We Are Haps

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Feeling low? Need a boost. Why not #FeedYourHappy with WE ARE HAPS. The perfect drink to brighten those darker days. The recently launched brand HAPS have created new innovative ways to improve low moods and boost wellbeing in the form of this yellow sachet of goodness. Being a parent to a toddler is so much fun, but it can be so tiring. Our days are full of activities. Baby classes, play dates, walks in the park and that's without including the normal running around doing errands. So by the evening I have no energy whatsoever. Ever since my daughter started walking it's been non stop and it's great to know that there may be a new way to help boost my energy levels with HAPS instead of the 483398839 cups of coffee a day.

The HAPS Mission
Empower people to take control of their happiness.



What is HAPS?

HAPS is a delicious fruit drink that is designed to help improve mood and boost wellbeing. The amazing sachets of goodness only contains Baobab, Mango, Pear, Pineapple, Guava, Banana, Griffonia Seed Extract, Ionic Electrolytes, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, D, Zinc, Natural Flavour, Stevia. Unlike most supplements, there are no bulking agents.

However it's more than just a delicious fruit drink. Let's talk a little bit about the reason behind HAPS. Rik who is the founder behind the brilliant idea that is WE ARE HAPS decided that one day he wanted to make a difference. Rik has experience mental illness at first hand. His mother suffered from depression and he has been a sufferer of anxiety and he became so frustrated that he decided to take action and in doing so he created HAPS. Hoping to empower others to take control of their happiness in the form of this delicious fruit drink.


Why should you have a little bit of HAPS in your life?

I don't know about you, being a parent to a toddler is hard work. I find it so hard to keep my eyes open past 8 o' clock some nights. After all the classes, the endless walks to the park, the mealtimes, prepping activities to do throughout the day - I have no energy left. Parents with more than one child to follow around all day, take a bow, I don't know how you do it.  I am always looking for ways to try and boost my energy, which normally comes in the form of copious amounts of tea and coffee. But let's face it, it's not the best way to fuel myself for energy. A good nights sleep and these SuperFruit & Boosters sachets may be the way to go, so why should you have a little bit of HAPS in your life?

Regulates your mood, appetite and sleep
Improves your response to stress
Supports your immune system & skin health
Helps you stay alert throughout the day
Keeps you hydrated


Our experience with HAPS

After discovering HAPS I thought that being a parenting and lifestyle blogger it would be something that a lot of my readers may be interested in finding out about. I have seen a number of people suffer from mental health and I thought that an innovative product such as this may be able to help empower them to take control of their happiness.

I received three sachets of HAPS, which was a generous amount to be given but the perfect amount to see whether the product has any effect on me in any kind of way. The sachets are a very bright yellow and has the HAPS branding all over, I do like the bright yellow as it gives me a sense of happiness, sunshine and smiley faces. The black and yellow branding is simple but effective as it immediately grabs your attention.
I immediately opened the sachet and all I could think about was the distinct smell of pineapple, it was so mouth-watering I couldn't wait to taste it.  To make your HAPS you add a sachet of the powder to 250ml of water. Boom. That's it. The drink itself? At first due to the delicious smell I did expect the drink to taste a lot more fruity and sweet, but it was mild and tasty, not overpowering at all. I added one of these sachets to a Banana Breakfast Smoothie and it went down a treat. You could also use your HAPS to create the most scrumptious breakfast, simply add your sachet of HAPS to your smoothie, porridge or granola, using a hand mixer to combine the ingredients and top with fruit. Super tasty breakfast in minutes.


Final thoughts

This is not just a healthy drink, there's a real science behind it. It's natural because it contains whole fruit powders and boosters which increases serotonin production naturally, re-hydrates, revitalises and improves mental well being. Anything that tries to boost your mood naturally has got to be a good thing right? I do have to say I cannot be sure if this trial effected my overall mood, but I can say that during the days that I had one of these I felt as if I had more energy to tackle the day, it helped my motivation that's for sure.  

You can find out more on the WE ARE HAPS website, don't forget that while you are there you could make a little purchase for yourself from as little as £1.10 per serving with the sachets or pouches. There are also different ways in which you can purchase your HAPS.

#FeedYourHapy with WE ARE HAPS.

The Baby Feeding Series with Prose and Progeny

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Hello and welcome back to another instalment of The Baby Feeding Series, that features real stories from real parents who have experienced how hard and baffling feeding your baby can be. I want this series to be a place where parents can share their own experiences in the hopes that other parents who are struggling can feel less alone. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world but it's one of the most rewarding jobs too and so I want to share their stories.
 

Last week we had the lovely Lucy from Muffin Top Mummy who kindly shared her bottle feeding journey with her daughter, a journey that that resonated with me as a bottle feeding mother. This week I would like to introduce another fantastic blogger who has just moved her website Rachel from Prose and Progeny who shares a beautifully written post about when breast isn't always best. Without further ado, I'd like to hand it over to the lovely Rachel...

When Breast Isn't Best

Everyone talks about how breast is best when it comes to feeding you baby. Best for nutrients, best for the bond between mother and baby. Best for losing baby weight. Best for convenience. It is made out to be so simple and easy that women who don't breastfeed are often labelled as lazy, selfish, and stupid.

Nobody ever talks about the reasons for not breastfeeding. There are so many reason beyond the expected I don't want to.

Granted, there are many women out there who don't want to, for one reason or other. Some women feel uncomfortable with the idea. They see their breasts as something for their partner rather than their child. Some women want their partners to be able to do feeds too, so decide to go straight to formula. Some women who already have children decide that it will be easier to bottle feed so that they can split their time evenly between their children and get other members of the family to help with feeds. Whatever their reasons, they are entitled to make their own decisions.

But what about the women who want to breastfeed but can't?

I've spoken to women who desperately wanted to breastfeed, but they weren't allowed because of the medication they were on. I've spoken to one lady who was unable to because she had inverted nipples and her baby couldn't latch, and another whose milk never came in no matter how much she encouraged it. Then there are those whose baby doesn't like the breast.

I'd always intended to breastfeed, and it had never really crossed my mind that I wouldn't be able to. I'd spoken to a couple of friends who hadn't breastfed past the first couple of days, because it was too painful for them so they moved to formula. That wasn't going to be me though, because I would get through that pain and all would be well. I remember when my son was first born (by emergency c-section), and after some skin to skin time he made his own way to my breast. That first feed was perfect; he latched so easily, and it felt so right. I felt complete.

After that, however, was a different story.

The first day and a half in hospital, I had nurses and midwives in and out trying to help me with feeding. My son was so sleepy from the medication I'd had during my 36 hour stint from first pains (half hour after induction) to c-section, that he found it hard to stay awake. I had people coming in to help me keep him awake whilst feeding, but it just didn't happen. I was encouraged to hand express onto a teaspoon, because just a couple of drops of colostrum was all he needed to keep him going. Have you ever tried to hand express before your milk has come in? It's bloody difficult. After that first day and a half though, he latched by himself and feeding became so easy. Painful, as it is to begin with, but easy.

The next hurdle I came across was my social anxiety. I've had social anxiety for years and years, and it can get quite severe. I found it pretty much impossible to feed in front of people. I don't know why, because I think it's brilliant when I see women out feeding their little ones. I always think good for her! I just couldn't break that barrier though. There was only one time I was prepared enough to feed in public, and that was the one time he didn't even wake up!

The stress began to build up inside me because I was always fretting about when he would wake up and where we would be. I couldn't go out for more than an hour at a time, and that had to be straight after a feed, or I would be on edge the entire time. Even then I couldn't completely relax.

I was given some very bad advice...I was told that sometimes they needed to be forced onto the breast and held there

My son started to pick up on the stress after the first couple of weeks, and things began to get difficult. I had health visitors come round to check up on us and give me advice on feeding, and one of those visits actually made it worse. I was given some very bad advice...I was told that sometimes they needed to be forced onto the breast and held there, so they knew what to do. That they would soon get used to it and give in. Well, my son didn't like being forced. He didn't like being held there, and I don't blame him.

The stress was mounting even more, and it got to the point where I was dreading him waking up because I knew he would wake up hungry and it would be a screaming fit because he didn't want to latch. All it took was for me to get my nipple out, and he would start screaming. I was beginning to resent him because everything was going wrong and I was constantly exhausted and spent more than half of each day in tears just wanting to scream myself. Although he was my baby and I knew I loved him, I just couldn't bond with him at all. I was being told to persevere, because it would get easier after the first 6 weeks, but he was just too hungry and I was too exhausted.

I firmly believe that this was the tipping point that triggered my Postnatal OCD.

When we got to 5 weeks, I made the decision to switch over to bottles. We knew he would take them, because we'd given him expressed milk in bottles previously to make sure he actually got some milk in him.

As soon as I made that decision, I felt like a weight had been lifted. I felt guilty for giving up, because the only thing I had running through my head was breast is best breast is best breast is best over and over and over, but I also felt incredibly relieved.

The next morning, I started the day with a bottle for him. We had cuddles and chilled out, and it was a nice relaxed start. He had formula the rest of the day, except for a couple of small bottles of expressed milk that I'd managed to build up during his naps. I could see the difference in him from that first day. He was no longer hungry – he was full, and he was content. The stress seeped out of me, and I started finally being able to properly bond with him.

He was no longer hungry – he was full, and he was content.

So, next time you hear of a mum who isn't breastfeeding, don't jump straight to judgement. There could be many reasons behind her decision, and it might not even be a decision she was happy with.

For me, breast wasn't best. To continue breastfeeding would have led me down an even darker road, and who knows what would have happened. The pressure of it all had such a large impact on my mental health, that I know stopping was the best decision. I wouldn't have been able to build a proper relationship with my son either.

Sometimes, breast isn't best.

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About Rachel
 
Rachel is a family and parenting blogger and mother to one. A lover of bunnies, a bookworm and a gamer.  Rachel became a blogger to join the crowd of individuals filling the internet with nonsensical thoughts and notions, mainly about her experiences in motherhood.
 
 

MOTHERHOOD MONDAYS FEATURING ROCK AND ROSES MAMA

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Hello you lovely lot and welcome back to another instalment of the #MotherhoodMondays guest post series; a weekly feature for mothers to share their stories about their incredible journeys of motherhood in all kinds of forms. Don't forget to get in touch if you want out get involved, we're always looking for some more mamas to guest post for us.
Feels like such a long time ago since we had a guest post for #MotherhoodMondays and for this weeks feature we have the oh so fabulous Rebecca from Rock and Roses Mama who kindly offered to write a post for us, namely 'Why I chose to rock up my rosy mama self and you should too'. This title immediately grabbed my attention and I couldn't wait to get stuck in reading this post, and it did not disappoint. I absolutely love Rebecca's blog and it's concept. The whole idea to offer advice and support for mamas who want to rock up their rosy mama selves. It's a great concept and one I am sure that many mamas will appreciate. So with this I shall hand you over to Rebecca...

Why I chose to rock up my rosy mama self and you should too
When I first heard about Kelly-Anne's series 'Motherhood Mondays' focusing on Motherhood in all its glory, I was inspired to write something about the reason I started blogging; my quest to inspire and empower Mamas to not lose themselves after childbirth; why you should, and how you can, 'Mama it up without losing you'.

It all began when I attended my first few 'Life with Baby' classes run by my local Health Visiting team; I quickly made connections with a few Mamas who seemed to have similar backgrounds and parenting styles to me. I was soon to find out that there was a huge problem emerging within the Motherhood community that I felt needed to be rectified. So I sought to inspire and help Mamas realise this; if only for their sanity!

As we sat down in a circle we were each asked what we missed most about our lives before having children; I answered completely honestly and said that I missed my social life. I had always been quite the social butterfly and although I was entirely aware that this is still possible after childbirth and I was determined to make it so, your social life undoubtedly shifts with a new born baby! I was immediately shot down by one of the very mothers who I believed I had so much in common with.

She confronted me with her personal experience of having 'lived her life' and that she was 'ready to have children' and give them all of her; she was a Mother now and she had said farewell to herself as her child was more important.

I was in shock. She made me feel like I was being selfish by wanting to spend time as ME.

I didn't rise to it at the time obviously but that experience stuck with me and I thought about it a lot and realised she was totally and utterly wrong. It is completely natural and entirely normal to want to retain a sense of self after you have your children.

You are the amazing and strong woman that brought your children into this crazy world and you are the ones they are going to look to as a role model; I don't know about you but I would far rather be an epic role model to my children by being totally myself and guiding them through how to be an individual, follow their passions and dreams instead of falling victim to just being 'Mom'.

If not also for your sanity.

If I accepted that after I had my little man I could never do the things I enjoyed before he came along then I would honestly go insane! That is no way to live! You don't live your life through your children, they live their life through yours and learn from you!



Yes I understand, as mentioned above, that there is an undoubted shift when you hold your child in your arms and have to fit a baby into the many facets of your personality and life; yes of course part of you changes and part of that personality becomes 'Mom'. But that doesn't mean the other parts are suddenly carpeted over, they are ever present just a little less bold!

It gets easier as your children grow as I was lucky enough to have an amazing support network of family and friends around me that were willing to babysit regularly and give me some time to myself and with my now husband (couple time is a whole other kettle of fish but equally as important to maintain!) Nurseries usually offer a babysitting service if you just ask!

I take the little man to festivals in the summer, I go to gigs around once a month and grab babysitter (music was one of my passions... can you tell! Also the Mr is the guitarist in a local band so I like to watch him rock out sometimes!). I was determined to return to work and started blogging as I loved writing (nap times are amazing for fitting in whatever you enjoy!), I meet up with friends for coffee or lunch, I take relaxing baths and read a chapter of my book here and there...

Manage your time and just make sure that you remember YOU!
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Thank you very much for sharing you lovely post with us Rebecca and taking part in #MotherhoodMondays and don't forget those of you who enjoyed Rebecca's post to share, share and share some more. You can find Rachel over at Rock and Roses Mama and I'll link her social media links below.


 PINTEREST  | FACEBOOK| INSTAGRAM | TWITTER

The Baby Feeding Series with Muffin Top Mummy Blog

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Hello and welcome back to another instalment of The Baby Feeding Series, that features real stories from real parents who have experienced how hard and baffling feeding your baby can be. I want this series to be a place where parents can share their own experiences in the hopes that other parents who are struggling can feel less alone. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world but it's one of the most rewarding jobs too and so I want to share their stories.


Last week we had my lovely friend Naomi from Life By Naomi who shared a post about moving on from toddler snacks and her post has even given me some tips for snacking with my little girl, don't forget to check out her post. This week I would like to introduce Lucy from Muffin Top Mummy Blog, brilliant name right? The lovely Lucy has decided to share her feeding journey with us today about bottle feeding her daughter and so without further ado, I'd like to hand it over to the lovely Emily...

On the bottle

My baby is not an alcoholic as the title of this post suggests...but she is exclusively bottle fed, which seems to be equally as bad if you take too much heed of the internet.

I feel like it's almost blasphemous nowadays to say, "I've never put my boob anywhere near her mouth" (on purpose anyways), and I'm always expecting someone to rugby tackle me away from the formula section in Morrisons.

I do get it though. Breast is best, and of course it is. It's just not best for me.

You may now be thinking such things along the lines of - does she not want to give her baby the best start in life? Or protect against illness? Or do the most natural thing in the world? And the answer is yes I do, but it didn't work out like that.

I toyed with the idea of breastfeeding throughout pregnancy but honestly didn't know if it was for me. I wasn't breast fed and neither were my sisters and we haven't turned out too badly (actually we're awesome and we never get ill) so I never really saw the big deal. I bought bottles and formula along with a breast pump, thinking I could try both out for size and just go with the flow.

However, after having my daughter, I lost a lot of blood (I had to have a blood transfusion 5 days pp) and contracted sepsis and was, for all intents and purposes, nothing more than a blood-stained sack of potatoes for 6 days.

I was on an antibiotic drip and barely had the energy to look at my daughter, let alone hold and feed her. Combine this with the fact she also had to go on antibiotics, 'just in case', and the idea of giving her my messed-up milk to make her tummy even worse was pretty much unthinkable.

Do I feel guilty? No.

At the time, I was wracked with guilt; not because I couldn't feed her, but because I couldn't do a thing for her and I was almost too gone to care. The fact that formula existed so that my husband could do everything was an absolute relief.

Now, I'm feeling great, she's great and we are making up for the lost time at the start of her life. She's still bottle fed and that's the way it's going to stay.

It breaks my heart to read posts on online forums about desperate mothers who have given up breast feeding for various reasons and are absolutely devastated that they are 'letting their baby down'. And it's even worse when other mothers comment about how they should have tried harder. Surely the most important thing is that your baby is fed when it's hungry? I'm very aware it goes the other way too - with poor mothers being asked to leave or judged in shops/restaurants/anywhere for feeding naturally. You just can't win!

So please respect a mother's right to choose how she feeds. Motherhood is hard enough without any extra judgement. Fed is always best.
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About Lucy
A newbie blogger and a new mum Lucy created her fantastically named blog as a way to avoid watching too much TV that is not baby friendly and to hopefully find some other mothers that are struggling to loose that baby weight. Lucy is a mother to the beautiful Mila and is enjoying her time off whilst on maternity and doesn't want to go back to the world of work.  Lucy is lives with her husband, baby Mila and their two rabbits in the lovely Warwickshire after moving from Brighton.
Remember you can find Lucy over at Muffin Top Mummy Blog

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5 Egg-cellent Books for Babies and Toddlers

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We love chocolate, we love jelly beans but we also love books. Every Easter we do like to get our daughter an Easter book for her basket and I want to share a few that are perfect for Easter reading. These egg-exciting stories will help you hop into Easter with a spring in your step. Enjoy.




Peter Rabbit: Easter Surprise, Beatrix Potter. £6.99

My daughter has a slight obsession with Peter Rabbit and Easter is complete without a bunny, is it? In this charming seasonal tale, you can hop along with Peter Rabbit as he shares an Easter surprise with his friends. This is the perfect delightful Easter treat or gift for any Peter Rabbit fan



We're Going on an Egg Hunt, Laura Hughes. £11.99

Join the Easter bunnies as they set off on an exciting lift the tab Easter egg hunt. With ten eggs to find and count, it's great fun. But watch out for the obstacles along the way. Don't forget to grab the 'We're Going on an Egg Hunt Activity Book'. Little ones will have plenty to keep them occupied over the Easter holidays. Laura Hughes' beautiful illustrations jump off the pages of this activity book and children will adore the cute springtime animals.



Duck and Goose Here Comes The Easter Bunny, Tad Hills. £ 5.99

The Easter bunny is coming and Duck and Goose want to find a good hiding place so they can see him when he arrives. However there are some issues with the hiding places... This springtime board book story is the perfect addition to add to your little ones Easter basket.



The Itsy Bitsy Bunny, Jeffrey Burton. £4.99

In an adorable twist of the classic tale of the "Itsy Bitsy Spider," babies and toddlers will delight in hearing the familiar rhyme, bunny style! The perfect Easter gift.



Peek-A-Boo Bunny, Holly Surplice. £4.99

Hop along with Bunny and play peek-a-boo in this gorgeous rhyming hide-and-seek adventure! Bunny is having such a wonderfully exciting time during his forest game of hide-and-seek that he manages to miss most of his friends' hiding places. I'm more than sure that your little ones will delight in spotting all the hiding places as they follow along with Bunny.


What would book would you choose for your baby or toddler? Was there a choice I missed off the list, feel free to list your favourites in the comments below. Have a great Easter!

MONTHLY ROUNDUP | March

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Hello, I'm back with my very late monthly round-up post for March. This month was another busy month for us with welcoming spring, a new nephew, some surgery and many adventures. If you wanted to see what our favourites for this month then please take a look at March Favourites.  Can you actually believe we are in April already? I'm so glad to welcome the beautiful sunshine, blue skies and all the pretty flowers. So let's see what we got up this month...
Work
As you may or may not know I host two regular guest posting series on my blog.  I have been very overwhelmed with how many lovely bloggers want to take part, but as overwhelming as it is I am always looking out for more bloggers to come and guest post for me. It's a great way to discover new blogs. If you want to get involved then please get into contact, I am more than sure that we can come up with a few ideas for either guest post series. #MotherhoodMondays or The Baby Feeding Series. As well as having some amazing guest posts this month we have started to get  busy. We have been offered a few opportunities and I can't wait to share them with you...soon. So keep your eyes peeled.
Family
Wow, what a month it's been for my little family. We are been very busy bees. This month saw my husband and I celebrate our fourth anniversary. I know many people say this when they celebrate their anniversaries but I honestly cannot believe how quickly four years flew by. In the four years as husband and wife we have learned so many valuable lessons, ones that are more important than we ever imagined. We have had career changes, a flat, building our forever home, two towns, a beautiful little girl and so many more magical memories. Not forgetting the harder moments. The family disputes, separations, deaths, the hospital stays, troubling times with conceiving and our own issues as a couple. But it's been amazing. Feel free to  read all about our fourth anniversary.
Also this month my husband has had some surgery on his knee. My poor husband has been suffering with his knees for years, but men, like they do, leave things until they are unbearable. He has been waiting for a date for surgery for some time and we finally got in because someone cancelled, however, we waited nearly six hours to be told that the surgeon didn't have an assistant - more like it was 5pm, it was Friday! But we got in two week later and everything went well. My husband was signed off for 10 ten days after being told that he would need three weeks off, he pleaded with the surgeon for 10 day, haha. But he was more than happy to go back on the Tuesday but I told him no. It was the perfect week to have off, it was beautiful sunshine all week so we got to spend some quality time as a little family. Perfect.
In other family news we are still in the throes of potty training with the little lady, I do feel as if we are heading towards that finishing line. With the odd mishaps every now and again. One that I wish to forget, but being a blogger we like to share everything and so if you want a giggle...We also saw the arrival of my handsome little new nephew Alex Robert Clark who was born 18th March at 4.50am weighing a very healthy 7lb 14ozs. I cannot tell you how broody that this little man is making me, he's very adorable.
Home
With the beginning of spring I am really looking forward to being able to spend some more time outdoors. Spring is my favourite time of year, there's nothing better than seeing all the beautiful flowers, the days getting brighter and enjoying afternoons relaxing in the garden. My husband loves to get out in the garden and this year our daughter can get involved a little more, as we don't have to watch her so much. I think she's out of the eating mud and grass stage now. But it was so lovely to watch them both bonding whilst gardening together. This year I am determined to join in with her. For someone who doesn't like gardening in the slightest this is the biggest step, so we have planted some seeds, watered lots of plants and made a little fairy garden together.
Spreading The Blog Love
I love this segment of the monthly roundup is another way to discover some great posts and other bloggers. So don't forget to have a look at these posts and share them. Sharing is caring and all that! I'm sure that it will be appreciated. So what have you been up to this month?
The Inspiration Edit - When The Child I was Adopting Died
Bridie By The Sea  -  You're a Parenting Expert Too?
So what have you been up to this month?

Chocolate Easter Egg Nests

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Chocolate Easter Egg Nests are a classic favourite to make over Easter. These little nests of chocolatey goodness are the perfect recipe to create with your little ones, there's no baking, you can make a batch in minutes, but I cannot guarantee no mess though. But nonetheless these will be a big hit with the little ones.


You will need:
200g milk chocolate
100g of your chosen cereal (Cornflakes, All-Bran, Shredded Wheat)
2 tbsp. of golden syrup, optional.
1 90g bag of mini eggs

How to make these nests of chocolatey goodness in three easy steps...
1. Line a 12-hole fairy cake tin with paper cases and break all the chocolate into pieces without eating too many before adding to your bowl.

2. Melt the chocolate and golden syrup in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water). Stir the mixture until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and gently stir in the cornflakes until all of the cereal is coated in the chocolate. Just bare in mind with the cereal you may need more or less, so add them a little bit at a time until they are evenly coated.

3. Divide the mixture between the paper cases and press 2-3 chocolate eggs into the centre of each nest. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

That's it, you're ready to tuck into your Chocolate Easter Egg Nests so enjoy!

The Baby Feeding Series with Life By Naomi

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Hello and welcome back to another instalment of The Baby Feeding Series, that features real stories from real parents who have experienced how hard and baffling feeding your baby can be. I want this series to be a place where parents can share their own experiences in the hopes that other parents who are struggling can feel less alone. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world but it's one of the most rewarding jobs too and so I want to share their stories.


Last week we had the lovely Helen from The Mumatron Blog who kindly shared her combination feeding story with her son, and how difficult it was to established any form of feeding straightaway due to a reflux. I was really keen on sharing Helen's story as we haven't featured a combi feeding mama on the series yet. This week I would like to introduce my lovely friend Naomi from Life By Naomi who shares a post about moving on from toddler snack. Being a mum to a fussy toddler my daughter seems to be more of a grazer than an eater at the moment. I don't understand the obsession with those dry tasteless rice cakes either. Without further ado, I'd like to hand it over to the lovely Naomi...
Moving on from toddler snacks
For a year or so, starting with weaning snacks, you always need a bag of toddler snacks in your bag. Rice cakes are a favourite. Bread sticks. Cut up vegetables or fruit. Mostly, I confess, I use these to keep my baby happy in the pushchair or to distract him when lunch might take a bit longer than planned.


Then, at some point in the toddler years, you start noticing things.


"Mammy, snack? More snack? More please?"


Despite eating more rice cakes than I personally could bear (how can they enjoy something so dry and tasteless), your toddler is still hungry.


Welcome to the snack phase.


I have two boys. They are 4 and 1, and both are pretty good eaters. They both have good appetites, and eat 3 decent meals a day. They both still drink cows milk as a drink morning and night. And they need snacks.


They are up early, and often eat breakfast before 7am. They might not have lunch for another 5 and a half hours. That's a long time for a small tummy to go. I read once that small children need 2/3 of the calories that an adult needs, and only have tummies 1/5 of the size. So snacks, and fairly calorie dense foods, are necessary.


Both my boys, especially my eldest, will eat fruit like it's going out of fashion. While that's great, fruit isn't that calorie dense, so I've had to encourage him to eat something else with his fruit, or to save fruit for pudding so that he's not hungry five minutes later.


Here are my go-to snacks for hungry children:


Bananas
Crackers and cheese
Mini-cheddars and grapes
Malt loaf
Fruit toast (especially hot cross buns)
Ham on crackers
Avocado on toast
Crustless quiches (make in batches and keep them in the freezer)
Flapjack
Cheesy flapjack
Low-sugar cereal
Ham and cheese wraps
Breadsticks and cream cheese
Hard-boiled eggs


I think part of this includes increasing the protein content. As adults, we know that protein keeps us fuller for longer: it works the same way for children. So if my children seem extra hungry, I'll give them some extra cheese or cold meat rather than additional carbs.


So far, they're both pretty healthy, eat a wide range of foods and enjoy them!
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About Naomi
A family lifestyle blogger, documenting about her life in Lancashire. Naomi is a wife, mother and teacher, and life is a bit of a juggling act at times. Naomi writes about parenting Ben and Samuel, discussing faith, food, family and anything else that may crop up. Naomi started her blogging journey in 2013 whilst on maternity leave so she could have a place to share her experiences as a mum and have a creative outlet. Back in August 2014 Naomi and her family moved Manchester to the Ribble Valley in Lancashire and her blogging had moved on too, and so Life By Naomi was created.
Remember you can find Naomi over at Life By Naomi
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Easter Activities For All The Family

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Easter is just around the corner and I don't know about you, but I am really looking forward to being able to spend some more time outdoors. Spring is my favourite time of year, there's nothing better than seeing all the beautiful flowers, the days getting brighter and enjoying afternoons relaxing in the garden. But with spring brings Easter, which was always a favourite time of year as a child. I loved the holiday because of the bunnies, eggs, and always looked forward to the bulging basket full of chocolate. There is always so much you can do for Easter and so I can come up with a few Easter activities that is perfect for all the family.

1. Easter Egg Hunt
The Easter egg hunt is a treasured custom that children look forward to all year. Just because you’re not a child doesn't mean you can’t partake in some Easter fun as well. You could invite some guests over and host your own Easter Egg Hunt, if you do host your own hunt it's also the perfect opportunity to play some games that everyone will enjoy. A few games could include an Egg Dance, where you place a few eggs on the ground and turn on the music. The whole idea of this game is to dance among the eggs while breaking as few as possible and the winner gets a prize. Another great game to play is Egg Tapping which involves two contenders holding hard boiled eggs, here each player takes a turn in tapping the other's egg without cracking their own. The possibilities for some egg-cellent (see what I did there) games are endless, Pinterest has a great selection of games if you are looking for further inspiration.

However if you'd prefer to venture out for your Easter egg hunt, Cadburys have teamed up with the National Trust to host some Easter egg hunts all over the country. So don't forget to search for a hunt near you, for us in Norfolk we are really spoiled for choice. This year we are thinking about going to the Easter egg hunt at Oxburgh Hall, which is the perfect place to take your children on an Easter adventure around the grounds by following all the clues that the Easter Bunny has left behind.

2. Local Petting Farm
With it being lambing season it is the perfect time to take your children to a local petting farm. Due to living in the countryside we are not short of a few petting farms, a favourite is Church Farm in Stow Bardolph. At Church Farm there are so many opportunities to be able to get involved with lots of Easter fun. From hunting for eggs, meeting chicks and even feeding lots of lambs there is so much to do. Another event that we came across was an Easter egg hunt with Dinky Pony Parties. With Benny, Isla and Pico the ponies along with a puppy called Twiglet, children will have an unforgettable experience for Easter.

3. Get Baking
Easter is just around the corner, which comes as great news to those of us who’d love the excuse to indulge in colourful sweets, hearty meals and bunny-related frolic all weekend. If you’ll be home with the family, it’s a great opportunity to whip up a tasty treat recipe for Easter.


Easter Cake Pops | Cute Chick Cookies | Easter Egg Cupcakes | Lovely Pastel Macaroons
  
4. Get crafty
As parents, we all know how much Easter is anticipated each year by little ones. If you are looking to create more wonderful memories for your children to cherish and look back on when they grow up, some Easter-inspired crafts would be something special. To make sure everyone enjoys your Easter get together with the family, you should try and make your home look as festive as possible. It doesn't have to be too much, just simple place cards, rabbit bunting or even balloons. Simple yet effective.

By providing crayons, paints, cardboard, scissors, glues, glitters, stickers and ribbon the possibilities are endless. I am more than sure that getting crafty with your little one will result in some fantastic masterpieces. From Easter cards, sun catchers, cute bonnets with matching baskets, salt dough ornaments or potato stamping. Go and get crafty.  
5. The Perfect Family Roast
Easter is a great time to gather family and friends together to enjoy some of the very best food and of course wine. With most festive holidays is always the perfect opportunity to show off your cooking skills so why don't you make the perfect Sunday roast Lamb. However for those who don't fancy getting their apron on to show off their cooking skills, dine out. Less stress, and no washing up. There are a whole host of restaurants, gastro-pubs, cafes and pubs that will be suitable for all the family.

6. Hop over to the local coast
We are fortunate enough to live in Norfolk and so we are not short of a few coastal destinations. If you live close to the coast why don't you pack up a picnic, grab your shades and sun cream (you may need it) and enjoy the beautiful coast.  We live so close to Hunstanton Beach, famous for it's striped cliffs, rock pools and amazing sunsets.


So what are your plans this Easter?


MARCH FAVOURITES

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 I hope that March was a great month for you all. March was another busy month for us with welcoming spring, a new nephew, some surgery and many adventures. If you wanted to see what our favourites were last month then please take a look at February Favourites.  Can you actually believe we are in April already? I'm so glad to welcome the beautiful sunshine, blue skies and all the pretty flowers. Like any other month we always have lots planned and I'm sure I will blog as we have our adventures. So don't forget to come back and see what we've been up to.

Our last monthly favourites was mostly about Soap and Glory and I thought that this month there is something for everyone. I do have to say that there have been a few things that I have been loving and I did find it hard to narrow it down to these five. Let me know what you think of my little selection of favourites.

Sanctuary Spa 'Enjoy The Little Thing' Mini Set (£12.50)

This month has been the month where I have been making more time for me. I never realised that this is something that rarely do and the mini set is the perfect way to start my evenings set up of 'me time'. With this gorgeous set courteous of the lovely mum-in-law I have been able to give myself a little boost most evenings. In this beautiful set you get a Cleansing Burst Body Wash 75ml, Gentle Polish Body Scrub 75ml, Silky Smooth Body Lotion 75ml, Luxury Bath Float 75ml & Velvety Hand Cream 30ml. I think what makes me love this set even more is that it would be perfect to grab one of these for getaways as you have everything you will need for those indulgent pick me ups.
Oh my, this was something that I have been wanting for some time. But the stingy person in me didn't want to pay shipping prices and so when I found out that this little beauty had free shipping I had to get some copies. It arrived pretty much a week later. I cannot honestly tell you all how much you all need to read this book, Constance is so inspirational due to her brutal honesty about becoming a mother warts and all. Seriously this is one purchase you will not regret.
One of the most anticipated albums of the year. I was absolutely gutted that his tour tickets sold out so quickly!!! We all love a bit of Ed in our house. The previous album X was one that helped me through my labour and through the hellish first few weeks of motherhood. I have to say that this album is just as incredible as his other albums, the man is pure genius. My favourite tracks on the album at the moment are Perfect every time I listen to this song I ask my husband if he would marry again as this would be the perfect wedding song. My other favourites include Castle on the Hill and Galway Girl. I know that in a few weeks or so we all will know the album off by heart and will all soon be our favourites.
If you follow me on here, you will know I have a problem. A serious rose gold problem. I cannot help it, it's such a beautiful colour. So this month saw these beauties arrive in the post and I was so excited to be let loose on these gorgeous brushes. I know I have wayyyy too many, but what is a few more added to the collection. I do however have my eye on a few unicorn inspired ones from Sugar and Cotton, should I get these for the ever growing collection?
I have had my gorgeous planner since the start of the year, but it's beautiful and I want to share it as my monthly favourites for March. It was this month that I wanted to up my blogging game and to actually organise my posts for this month, but the arrival of my gorgeous new nephew has seen my blog take a back seat other than post I have already scheduled. April I'm coming for you! So you know when I said I have a rose gold problem? I wasn't joking. Haha. I'm in love with this beautiful Platinum Rose planner and I was super lucky that I actually won this is a competition, I never win anything. Aside from how beautiful this planner is, there is so much you can do with it. I do like Webster Pages for planners because they can cater for all tastes and needs. Some months you might want to dress up your pages and other months not so much.
Do you have a favourite?

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