Family Lifestyle: Daily Essentials @12 months

Now that we have an almost one year old (say whaat?!), daily life is very different from those foggy newborn days. The changing bag gets re-filled with nappies and snacks, but the contents barely changes; we can pack the car for a night away and still be able to see out the back window because we’re not so worried about having to take everything and the kitchen sink “just in case”, and we can even go for a walk and stop for a coffee without needing much more than our coats. But we have definitely built-up a selection of family essentials that we use everyday and could not live without, they’re just not necessarily the same ones we were using when Freddie was tiny.

Becky did a fantastic post a few months ago on newborn essentials that you should all check out if you haven’t already, and I thought this would be a good next step. You won’t find nappies, a pushchair and a car seat on this list, because I figured that by this point you’ve probably got those sorted, but here are a few things that might make your days that bit easier (or give you something to look forward to if you’re still at the oh-my-goodness-we-only-brought-one-change-of-vest stage.)

Baby’s essentials
H&M baby socks
I bought a pack of these on a whim when Freddie was newborn and discovered that they are the best baby socks EVER. They simply do not come off! We’ve gone through 3 sizes already and find them thick enough for those first few cautious feet-dragging steps.

Sleeping bag
We loved the Arden & Anais muslin sleeping bags this past summer, but have used coser ones since then. I really rate the sleeping bags from Matalan, but as long as they’re easy to fasten and are warm enough for the time of year, then I’m not fussy.

High chair
We LOVE our Stokke Tripp Trapp and would definitely buy another for a second child. It’s lovely to have Freddie right up to the table with us and it doesn’t look out of place (or get in the way) in our kitchen.

Mum’s essentials
Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser
I included this in my Christmas gift guide, but wanted to put here it as well because I cannot rave about it enough. I bought this for myself the first time I went shopping without Freddie and wandered into SpaceNK, and said that I was sick of looking like I hadn’t slept in a week (which was only partly true) and instantly fell in love. Nearly every time I wear it someone tells me I’m looking well and it takes 4 seconds to put it on. Buy some now.

Waterproof jacket
I have this one from Seasalt in a different pattern and, while not cheap, is fantastic. For most of the mums I know, getting out the house everyday is an absolute necessity and while you can plonk the rain cover over the pushchair, it’s just miserable getting wet yourself when you know you need to do another loop of the park. High fashion a proper rain mack is not, just plain sensible it is.

Plain stud earrings
I stopped wearing dangly earrings and cut my hair short when Freddie was about 3 months old and started grabbing both, but I hated not being able to wear any jewelry – I just didn’t feel like myself. Luckily my husband was listening to one of these rants and bought me some gorgeous simple gold bird studs (they’re flat to my ear, so even when Freddie spots them he can’t yank them out) and I wear them everyday.

Dad’s essentials
A big jumper
Although it is getting warmer, if can still be quite chilly at 5.30 am. If you’re lucky, like me, daddy will often get up with the baby and give them breakfast, while you can have an extra hour in bed and a jumper like this pulled over pjs is what I usually find Tom in when I come down for a cup of tea.

Roobios tea
When I asked Tom about his daily essentials since becoming a dad, this was the only thing he could think of. Rather than having a normal cup of tea before bed, he now has this vanilla caffeine free roobios tea so that he can get as much sleep as possible. (I also liked this when I had morning sickness as an alternative to ginger, by the way.)

So, tell me readers, what have I missed? What are your daily essentials for older babies? And, as toddler-dom gets closer every day, what do I need to get sorted for the next stage?

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

First Time Mum: The Breast Feeding Post

This week I’m away in Barcelona and then next week we’re celebrating my Brother-in-laws wedding in the peaks, so I’m running a reduced schedule here with posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Today I hope you’ll give Becky a warm welcome back with a personal and in-depth insight into her breast feeding journey. I’d love you all to chip in and add your comments as I’m sure many of you will identify with her struggle, or relish the opportunity to read more about breastfeeding in readiness for attempting it yourself.

Hi everyone, I hope this finds you all well. Firstly I’d like to apologise for my absence……it’s been so long it’s embarrassing. Connie is unbelievably 16 months old now. Since my last post, and in addition to surviving my first year as a Mum, we also moved house to a completely new area and into a house that’s a bit of a project. I also returned to work, and made some rather enormous changes to my work life. It’s been non stop and unfortunately my writing time diminished as Connie started eating solids and became mobile. It’s funny that I now look back with longing at those endless hours of feeding.


Image via

I’ve attempted to write this post on a number of occasions but I’ve found it incredibly tough to tackle. Maybe that’s because breast feeding is such an emotive subject. I stopped feeding Connie myself a few weeks ago which has spurred me on to finish writing this post that I started in the early months of her life. It’s certainly been a turbulent journey which I found limited support for along the way. I hope that if I share my story here, some of you will also share your own stories in the comments box and between us all, we might be able to cover most problems for anyone that might be struggling and stumbles across this post late at night, in the dark, with only a hungry baby and Google for company.

When I was pregnant I had always had the intention of breastfeeding but never assumed it would be easy or come naturally to me. I certainly wasn’t prepared however for the tough and emotional journey I was about to embark upon. Most ante natal information focuses on the act of giving birth. Not surprising really as when you’re pregnant it’s hard to think beyond the delivery room. I did attend a couple of feeding workshops late on in my pregnancy but neither of them taught me anything that I remembered or used post natally.

I had a pretty straightforward birth. I had to go into theatre straight after but had time to feed Connie for the first time beforehand. It was all such a blur. The midwives helped position her and that was that. We stayed in hospital for another 36hrs but once I was up and about, the midwives and I seemed to think feeding was going fine so we were allowed home. Once she’d slept off the birth and we were home alone, Connie became an incredibly unsettled baby. She wanted to feed 24/7. She hardly slept, even on me. I kept asking if there was something wrong. Everyone brushed it off as normal newborn behaviour so I just persevered and became more and more sleep deprived. Surely not all babies screamed that much? A few days in, one midwife suggested she may have a tongue tie but another dismissed it altogether. We were referred and waited for a month to see a specialist. During that month I battled on with the constant feeding and we did everything in our power to settle our screaming baby. The knowledge that an answer might be on the horizon was enough to keep me breastfeeding. A month later, her posterior tongue tie was diagnosed and cut by a specialist midwife. It was a quick and simple procedure and I immediately noticed a small improvement in her feeding. Two weeks later life had got a little easier but I still had my doubts that our problems had been solved.


Miranda Kerr announced the birth of her child with Orlando Bloom using this picture, via Twitter.

Connie’s weight gain was very slow. Slow enough for the health visitors to question and put huge doubts in my mind whether I was doing the right thing continuing to breastfeed. The trouble is, the Health Visitors I saw seemed so programmed to support breastfeeding that I wasn’t sure if they’d ever actually voice any other opinion. Every week I questioned whether I should give up and switch to bottle feeding. Life certainly would have been easier but there are historic health reasons in our families which made me want to breastfeed for as long as I physically could. Not to mention that by this point, I had no idea how else I would settle her. Every week, there seemed to be a new glimmer of hope on the horizon which kept me going and feeding for another week.

A couple of weeks after her tongue tie was cut, her weight did start to increase but it was very slow. At her 8 week check the GP actually used the words ‘failure to thrive’ discussing Connie with a paediatrician over the telephone. I hit rock bottom but my GP was amazing and couldn’t have been any more supportive of me and my attempts at feeding. We were referred to the paediatrician but were advised there would be a long wait as albeit very slowly, Connie was still gaining weight. I went home deflated but thankfully the support of my GP spurred me on and I continued to feed with the addition of a formula top up at night. Everyone told us she would sleep for a little longer and be easier to settle at night with the top up. Sadly it made no difference at all. There were so many nights that I lost count of the number of times I got up to feed and settle her. Whilst waiting for the paediatrician appointment, I continued to look for answers and attended all sorts of breastfeeding clinics and groups to gather as much information and help as possible. Finally, at around 10 weeks old, Connie was diagnosed with silent reflux by a midwife at a breastfeeding clinic who’d watched an entire feed and her behaviour afterwards. Reflux is like heartburn for babies and is pretty common and easily spotted as the babies are often sick a lot. Silent reflux is the heartburn but without the vomiting so far less easy to spot. It was a lightbulb moment. I felt ecstactic that we’d finally found the root of the problem, devastated that my poor baby had been in pain for all of that time, and completely let down by all of the professionals we’d sought help from. We immediately bought a wedge for her cot and the changing mat and swapped the carrycot part of the pram to ensure she was never laid flat. I kept her upright for 30 minutes after every feed and we were given infant gaviscon (which turns out is a total nightmare to administer to a breastfed baby) but the positioning made all the difference for us. It was like someone had swapped my baby.

I’d originally planned to feed for 6 months but as it took almost 4 months for feeding to become a totally relaxed, pain and stress free experience for us both, I wasn’t ready to stop at 6 months. It certainly wasn’t plain sailing from then on. We still had ups and downs such as the appearance of teeth and biting (ouch!), the nosey phase – when she was far too interested in the world going by to feed during the day but made up for it at night, and the Peepo phase – when emerging from behind the muslin I had draped over her and me whilst feeding in public became a hilarious game for her and terribly embarrassing for me. The final hurdle to tackle was when I made the decision that I really did want to stop. There’s very little information and guidance on how to stop but I expect that’s mainly because all babies are different and somehow, you will find a way that works for you. I found this useful though.

So, here are the bullet points that I’ve made during my journey of things that affected me which I felt might be beneficial to share:

Calories – Put losing your baby weight to the back of your mind and eat. Every cup of tea you drink should come with two biscuits. I was constantly hungry and I took a tray of snacks and a flask of hot tea to bed to keep me going during night feeds.

Growth spurts – these happen very regularly – get comfy on the sofa and rope in as much help as you possibly can at home.

Undersupply – as a result of Connie’s weak latch from her tongue tie and associated upper lip tie, I was told by the midwife it was likely that the milk transfer was poor and therefore my supply wasn’t stimulated enough. I ate copious amounts of porridge and flapjack (for the oats), drank alcohol free beer (for the brewers yeast) and fennel tea (which I’d read might relieve her reflux). During one growth spurt which coincided with some very long days at work when she was at nursery, I even made these lactation cookies. I also took between 9 and 12 fenugreek tablets (610mg) a day as advised by a lactation specialist midwife. NB. Please be sure to consult a medical professional before using any herbal remedies.

Blocked Ducts & Mastitis – unpleasant all round.

Expressing – I hated doing it and never got on with my breast pump. I also had a baby who wanted to feed all the time so had very little time to do it and get a decent yield. I accepted quite early on that I was one of many women who struggled to express. This doesn’t mean you don’t have enough milk to feed your baby.

Medication – unfortunately it’s highly likely you will be ill at some point whilst you’re breastfeeding. I found these medicine and breastfeeding fact sheets invaluable.

Feeding safely in bed – ask a midwife to show you how to feed your newborn safely in bed. I was shown about a week in and just the knowledge that i could rest whilst feeding was enough to drastically reduce my fear of the early sleepless nights.

And most importantly, where I went for help and advice:

  • The National Breastfeeding Helpline – 0300 100 0212
  • The National Breastfeeding Network.
  • Your local La Leche league.
  • The NCT breast feeding support line – 0300 33 00 771
  • Local NCT breast feeding counsellors.
  • Your local Sure Start centre will have a weekly group meet.
  • The hospitals in your area will usually offer a weekly drop in support group.
  • There are many websites you might stumble upon from a google search but I can’t recommend the Kellymom website highly enough. Don’t be put off that it’s an American site. It has the answer to every question you might have, no matter how strange or stupid you think it is. Every topic covered is backed up by factual evidence too.
  • A local ILCA registered lactation consultant.
  • Milk Matters – a great resource for breast and bottle fed babies with feeding problems.
  • Facebook – you will find numerous groups based on feeding and also problems such as tongue tie, colic etc. I joined a few to begin with and then once I’d got a feel for the type of group either remained a member or removed myself as I found some of them a bit too full on.

It may be a cliche but despite being one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it has also been the most rewarding and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

I know each of us will have been on a very different feeding journey and I’m sure you can all add something to help any new Mum or Mum to be who might be reading this post.
I can’t wait for you all to get stuck in with your comments and to hear how you’re all progressing with your own baby journey’s.

If you would like to read another breast feeding story, Esme (who writes our family lifestyle posts) also wrote an honest account of her breastfeeding journey here.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

News Flash!

Ahem! So, today is quite a big day and I’m going to let the picture do all the talking… :)

I can’t believe that the time has gone so quickly already and I’ve been waiting to have a bump to show you all! It’s lovely to be finally able to announce that Pete and I are expecting our first baby! I’m almost half way along now and so glad the bump has finally popped out so I can start talking babies, motherhood and get advice from so many of the mums who I know read Florence Finds.

As always, the blog is a reflection of my life, so I hope I don’t put off those of you who don’t have or want children, yet or ever, but I’m not expecting to have a personality transplant now there are three of us, so much of the blog will remain unchanged. Hopefully, this will be a welcome addition, it certainly is for us. :)

Anyway, I’m going to write a bit more next week, for now, I’m so glad you all know!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS I’m wearing the ASOS dress I posted about last week in a size 12 for extra room!

Family Lifestyle: Family Fraud

Today Esme is broaching a subject that is very near to my heart as a blogger, the reality behind the on-screen facade. It’s extremely hard as a blogger to bridge the gap between those who want pretty escapism and those who find a perpetually positive approach at best saccharine and at worst perpetuating the media factory of idealism that makes the average reader feel inadequate. I personally prefer positivity as I feel I really have little in life to complain about, but thats not to say that like all of you I don’t have the same daily trials and tribulations. Being a new Mum is difficult enough without holding yourself up to ‘blogger mums’ so I’m glad Esme is keeping it real today…

I’m a fraud. I think you should know that I’m not what you think I am. Perhaps I should explain…

Nearly all of us bloggers are guilty of presenting an image that is not a complete representation of our lives, but, of course, most of the time that’s fine and kind of the point of blogging: it’s escapism and offering something to aspire to. Ever since Rebecca started Florence Finds that’s what this blog has been for me, an opportunity to look at some pretty clothes, dream about perfecting my beauty routine and a bit of a break from the daily grind imagining that one day I too could be as stylish and organised as her. When Rebecca asked me to write a family column here, I jumped at the chance. But when she titled it ‘family lifestyle’, I have to admit I was a bit scared – there was no way my real life could live up to what she would want.

The fear of coming across as Rebecca’s boring mum friend soon went away as I realised I had lots to write about, but when I started thinking about my next columns I realised that I had inadvertently already begun to portray a side of my family that is not completely honest. Don’t get me wrong, we really did go to Belgium, we do love the National Trust and Freddie really is that cute, but the smiley, happy, loved-up family days such as the Welcome to the World party are not our everyday and I would never want any new or expectant (or hoping one day to be) mums to think I’m something I’m not.

I adore my life right now, but it is not all baby giggles and trips away. We are by no means a perfect family and I am not a perfect mum: money is tight, my husband works more than I’d like, my baby does sleep through the night, but can be a complete nightmare during the day if he wants to. I get very stressed sometimes, am generally found to be wearing my least dirty terribly fitting jeans with a baggy t-shirt to hide my 9 months post-baby tummy and find myself doing that mum cliche of collapsing on the sofa at the end of the day with a glass of wine more often than I’d like to admit. I am not stylish, back in my pre-pregnancy jeans or able to juggle looking after a baby full-time with being a housewife (not mentioning an actual wife) and keeping in touch with friends as often as I’d like. I definitely don’t ‘have it all’.

I know that when Freddie was first born and I was struggling very, very hard with breast feeding, reading something like this ‘New Years Resolutions’ post on the stylist Emily Henderson’s blog would have made me feel completely inadequate and feel like I was failing even more than I already felt I was. Now I’ve got a few months under my belt (and a few more than Emily Henderson, I might add), I can step back from that post and knowingly declare to the mums who may have read it that they are not to worry. And because the last thing I would want to do is write something that would make someone like the new mum I was feel bad, I wanted to write this post so you all know the truth.

So what is the truth? Am I worthy of writing a column titled ‘family lifestyle’? Of course I am, as long as I give you all something you can believe in – a bit of the ‘sunnier’ side of life as a three, along with the starker reality.

Is that alright with you?

Love, Esme

Have you ever found yourself feeling inadequate after reading a blog, and do you have any favourite blogs that ‘keep it real’?

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

#JanuaryJoy: Celebrate your Family

Last Saturday was a big day for my family as we held a Welcome to the World party for Freddie. Not being religious and so not wanting to have a Christening, it’s long been a family tradition (from my side) to gather family and friends together to coo over the new (or not so new in Freddie’s case) baby, catch-up, eat cake and celebrate the fact that our family has grown bigger. As both my husband and I had been overwhelmed by the support we’d received since Freddie was born, we also really wanted to be able to thank everybody who had kept us going through those long sleepless nights, brought us food, helped us learn to parent (although, of course, we’re still growing in that area) and generally just kept us sane over the past almost 9 months. Freddie didn’t have the easiest start to life, and still has some underlying health problems, so this seemed just as important as the cake-eating part.

One of the things I really wanted to do was make a speech. As well as getting very emotional while trying to tell anecdotes about our baby boy, I also read a poem and talked about how much we had appreciated all the help everyone there had given us. I quoted the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”, said that everyone there was Freddie’s village and we hoped they would all continue to play a part in his life. Lastly, I introduced Freddie’s fairy/ungodly parents (as it wasn’t a Christening we couldn’t have ‘official’ Godparents, but this is something else me and my siblings have and my husband and I definitely wanted to continue the tradition), my best friend Lucie and her husband George. Although I completely embarrassed myself by not being able to stop crying at first, I’m really glad I got over my nerves and did it because it was wonderful looking out at all of our family and friends’ smiling faces and realising they all wanted the best for our son as much as we did.

We also had a ‘wishing tree’, where we asked all of our guests to write a piece of advice or wisdom for Freddie on a leaf-shaped piece of paper and hang it on a branch, for me to later stick in his baby book. As with wedding guest books, there were the usual silly comments, such as “Learn a good supply of cheese-based jokes” (a dig at my husband’s penchant for terrible jokes), but there were also some thoughtful and thought provoking messages, like “Time is more valuable than money” and “Plan for tomorrow, but live for today”.

There was an F-shaped cake, mounds of sandwiches and lots of laughter, and it was wonderful seeing friends from different parts of our lives reconnect after not having seen each other since our wedding. I’m so glad we took this opportunity to celebrate our little family and, more importantly, remember that although usually it’s just the three of us, our family is actually much bigger. There’s some January Joy for you.

As an aside, I also want to take this opportunity to thank some other people who couldn’t make it on Saturday, but have nonetheless played a huge role in Freddie’s life by simply keeping me going: my twitter friends. Huge sloppy baby kisses to you all, you know who you are. I don’t think my family would be as happy as we are now if it wasn’t for you. And now I’m getting all emotional again…

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

Family Lifestyle: Baby’s first trip abroad…

We’re not breaking from our usual columns this month as I figured you’d all be ready for a little break from the Christmas overload happening right now. Plus, at Christmas time when you’re getting together with family and spending time with your other half I naturally tend towards using the downtime to plan for the New Year – This post will come in very useful for all the mums out there…

Hello again, Findettes! Last month I talked about great family day trips with the National Trust, but this month I thought I would share Freddie’s first trip abroad and some of the travelling tips I learned along the way.

Earlier this month, my little family loaded up the pushchair and headed off on the Eurostar to Brussels. The main reason for going was to continue the tradition of having a pre-Christmas meal with my husband’s university friends, which this year was being hosted by our friend who lives and works there, but we decided to stay a few days and include a night in Bruges while we were in the country. There was a lot of good food and wine, laughter and reminiscing shared with fantastic company, as is always the way when this gang gets together (one of the highlights was playing the name game and discovering that one person had never heard heard of James Brown), but most importantly the trip was a family-friendly success.

Travelling

As I mentioned above, we travelled to Brussels on the Eurostar, which I would highly recommend as a method of travelling with a baby or small children. Not only are the seats bigger than aeroplane seats, but you don’t have to stay in them at any point, which was ideal when I was trying to get a very tired and upset Freddie to sleep not long after leaving London (although the train manager did tell me that sometimes they do ask that everyone stays inside the carriage during the Channel crossing, but that didn’t happen to us). There are baby changing facilities onboard, ‘family’ carriages with more tables and more luggage space and we didn’t have to reduce how much we brought – including being able to bring baby food and formula milk through security – or even collapse the pushchair. Much, much easier – and faster! – than flying.

We also took the train to Bruges in the middle of our trip, but had we not been staying in Brussels we could have continued using our Eurostar ticket as you can travel within Belgium within 24 hours for the same price. The Belgian trains were cheap, fast, clean, on time and the train station in Bruges is a short walk out of the city centre.

Food and accommodation

We stayed with our friends in their gorgeous city centre apartment in Brussels and the group rented a second apartment nearby through Airbnb. We then stayed for one night in the Ibis Bruges Centrum – watch out when booking because there’s also one at the station – which, as it had a bath, black-out curtains, supplied a travel cot and only cost €62, was absolutely fine for our purposes and is somewhere I would definitely stay in again.

As our time in Brussels was all about turkey and Christmas pudding, we didn’t eat out while we were there apart from sampling the best chips in Belgium (very, very good) on our tour of the city. But we made up for it in Bruges, the city of hot chocolate and beer…

After an average meal straight after arriving from the train in one of the closest restaurants to the hotel, which we probably would have forgotten about if it hadn’t involved Freddie devouring his first mussel and demanding more, we had more success the following day. Here are my top picks:

Miss Ellie cafe
We had an excellent breakfast here and found it to be really good value. It’s slightly off the main tourist route and near the shops, which is what made it a bit cheaper I think. Lovely coffee, melted chocolate for dunking your croissant in and high chairs available – what more could you want to set you up for a day of walking through the gorgeous streets of Bruges?

The Old Chocolate House
After a couple of hours of walking in the winter sunshine, Freddie was more than ready to have a break and a play and we popped into the first tea shop that caught our eye. It was a good choice. A high chair was brought to us instantly and the best (and largest) hot chocolate either of us had ever seen was delivered not long after. For €4 you get a HUGE mug of steaming hot milk, a (chocolate) bowl full of chocolate chips to whisk in and a home-made biscuit and chocolate on the side. You can choose the milk, dark or white classic option, add ginger or rum, marshmallows or cream and then buy the mug and chocolate in the shop below – brilliant. There’s also baby changing, which was much needed.

What we did
Bruges in a city made for wandering – there are beautiful canals, cute Christmas markets and stunning buildings you could stare at for days. For information on what to see, I recommend this post on the Mrs Makes blog as we didn’t actually much. Saying that, we are a family that love walking around new places and Bruges has is somewhere we would definitely return to with an older child as there is lots to see.

Although shopping with a baby who likes to grab at everything is not usually recommended, we like to buy one thing for our home whenever we go away and this being Freddie’s first time abroad, we couldn’t leave empty handed. Dille & Kamille is a beautiful kitchen/home shop that we fell in love with straight away. As well as picking up a mini whisk to add to the chocolate chips we bought in the Old Chocolate Shop and a new pair of sage green oven gloves for less than €12, we couldn’t resist buying Freddie a knitted stocking for his first Christmas.

Tips for travelling with a baby
I’m no expert on travelling with children, but we’ve done enough long journeys with Freddie in his first 7 months on the planet that I can offer some tips on how to make travelling with a baby that little less difficult.

  • Think about how you’re going to transport the baby… We have an Ergo baby carrier that all three of us love as it leaves your hands free and can be better when travelling, especially if you don’t know whether there will be a lift or you need to be able to move quickly. As Bruges is pretty much all cobbled streets, we only took the Ergo with us on that part of the trip and it turned out to be a great decision. However, we couldn’t have carried all of our baby paraphernalia on the train without the big bag at the bottom of the pushchair or the clip that hangs off the handle. It might be that if you’re doing a mixture of driving and walking, the best option is to take the car seat and pushchair base (don’t forget the adaptors if you need them!) to save space.

  • Take the minimum you can, but always have muslins and baby grows: Freddie only wears baby grows at night now, but we always take spares because they can be worn all day (and always look cute) and are really easy to layer-up if it gets cold.
  • A favourite blanket will help a strange bed feel familiar: We are lucky that Freddie is an amazing sleeper, but we didn’t want to take too many chances so brought his sleeping bag with us for some continuity.
  • Travel with other people: Freddie has been on the train a few times now, including one 3.5 hour trip just the two of us. Although it wasn’t as bad as I had feared, the fact that I couldn’t go to the toilet for the whole journey (tiny train toilet + baby + no friendly people in the carriage…) made it difficult and it’s much easier when there’s someone else there to help navigate unfamiliar places. Saying that, we decided not to travel to Belgium with our big group of friends as we knew we would be better off being able to move at our own pace, stopping off for play/coffee/nappy changing breaks whenever we needed to.
  • Make peace with the fact that travelling with children is expensive: You pay for convenience, whether that be an overpriced sandwich in a service station because you have to have a car break NOW and everyone is starving, tipping the waiter to apologise for the state of the table or jumping in a taxi to get to the hotel so that you don’t get stressed trying to find it.
  • Wine! Put the baby to bed, open a bottle and enjoy reaching your destination. That Belgian beer tasted even better after negotiating the Brussels metro system with a tired, hot, bored baby that we had to carry up 4 flights of stairs I can tell you!

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

Do tell us if you have any tips on travelling with a baby or from your first trip abroad with a little one?

Christmas Gift Guide #2: For Mums (of all ages) by Esme

Today’s gift guide is from Esme, who is bringing us a list of pampering and spoiling suggestions for new mums and in fact, mums everywhere of all ages. Hint: Forward the link to your OH and thank Esme later ;)

Under £20

£20 – £30

Splash out

Can you add to this list readers – We’d both love to hear any suggestions you might have. It’s looking like the Joules pyjamas are pretty hot this year!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Introducing Esme: Family Lifestyle

Good morning readers! Today I have another lovely lady joining the Florence Finds team. Esme is a smart cookie, great writer, and Mum to 7 month old Freddie. As I know so many of you are mothers, I want to include more family life here on Florence Finds. Esme is going to be our family lifestyle contributor, talking about all things family. This month, think Girl about Town, with a BabyBjorn :)


Hello lovely Florence Finds readers! I’m absolutely thrilled to be here writing for one of my favourite blogs, especially as I will be writing about one of my favourite topics: family. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Long before we welcomed our little boy Freddie into the world, my husband and I were big fans of the National Trust. We’ve been members since we were about 19 and were lucky enough to be given a joint lifetime membership as a wedding present, so we’ve been to our fair share of properties and gardens. But since we’ve become parents our love for this British institution has grown even more – National Trust places are ideal for family day trips.

Here are my top picks for family (and especially baby) friendly days out with the National Trust.


Aberaeron

Baddesley Clinton
A 15th century house with large gardens and, most importantly, a great restaurant that offers a selection of homemade hot and cold food options (along with tea and cake, of course). We visited Baddesley Clinton not long after Freddie had started on solid food and they didn’t even bat an eyelid when he threw his mashed swede around the highchair, one member of staff was happy to show me how to use the microwave available for baby and children’s food you’ve brought yourself and there was even a bottle warmer. Baby changing facilities are in the disabled loo, which is the usual, and everything was pushchair and wheelchair accessible.

We stopped off here halfway round a circular walk that started at Packwood House and takes around 2.5 hours in total. The route is beautiful, taking you along the Stratford-Upon-Avon canal passing plenty of canal-side pubs if you fancy Sunday lunch rather than tea and cake. Unfortunately it’s definitely not buggy-friendly, but there are plenty of things look at to keep slightly older children entertained.


Anglesey-Abbey

Knightshayes
We only discovered Knightshayes this year, but it’s so lovely we’ve been there twice already and it is certain to become our default place to stretch our legs when driving to the South West (it’s 7 miles off the M5, not far from Exeter). It’s got a beautiful kitchen garden (perfect for inquisitive little ones), acres of grass for letting off steam and a perfectly manicured garden with funny topiary.

The cafe has a larger-than-average selection of cakes and I can confirm the staff are definitely not anti-breastfeeding.


Snowshill-Manor

Brockhampton Estate
This is one we’re looking forward to exploring further next time we go to visit my mum as we literally drive past it on our way to Mid Wales, but have only managed to stop for a quick lunch and to give a grumpy baby a break from the car. This is one of the things we love about the National Trust: when you’re travelling and need to stop for anything other than petrol, you can’t beat them – the food is often homemade on the premises, you’re guaranteed to find something more interesting to look at than a service station car park and the toilets are always clean and have somewhere to change the baby.

Lanhydrock
We tend to spend most of our time outside or in the cafe when we visit somewhere National Trust owned, but one of the properties you have to take time to look around is Lanhydrock in Cornwall. I probably wouldn’t recommend taking your 4 month old baby if you really want to appreciate the 100 plus rooms (like we did), but if you do then rest assured that although you can’t take your pushchair around with you, there is somewhere to lock it up securely and they will lend you either a sling or a ‘hippy chick’ (a belt that clips around your hips/waist with a hard ledge that you can rest the baby on to give your arms and back a rest) and staff will coo over them in every room even if they are crying and/or grabbing at everything.


Lanhydrock

Also, the cream tea in the cafe comes with a proper pot of tea, a large pot of clotted cream and two scones (as is only proper in Cornwall, but is unfortunately not always the case).

I can’t wait to take Freddie to some of our other favourite National Trust places such as Anglesey Abbey, which is just outside of Cambridge and has one of the best selections of trees in the country, and Llanerchaeron, the 18th century Welsh estate with a home farm that will definitely be combined with a honey ice-cream and a stroll by the sea in nearby beautiful Aberaeron – my four year old niece’s favourite day trip. Oh, and Snowshill Manor  with its quirky model villages, but maybe that’s one for when Freddie is a bit older.

I hope I’ve inspired you to take a trip to your local National Trust property, garden or coastline or to revisit somewhere you used to visit as a child.

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

** The National Trust have currently got a special offer on membership where if you pay by annual Direct Debit, you get 3 months free! A family membership with two adults (under 5s are free) is £75.72, an absolute bargain if you ask me **

Found: 1965 Kids

This morning’s post is one for the mummies, daddies, aunties, godparents, and doting honorary aunts reading. Today I have a find to share with you that shows unequivocally that style does not have to become history when you are buying for a small person.

1965 Kids was set up by an old contact of mine through the wedding industry – Jodie Chapman, who is a wedding photographer and now a mummy herself. I’ve long admired Jodie’s style on Instagram, where I discovered her passion for mid-century modern design and followed her quest to keep that alive in her nursery decor and baby Roman’s clothes and toys. I love the selection of cool brands she has curated for the style-hunting mum or gift giver, including decor, toys and clothing.

1965 kids … caters for the modern, style-conscious mum who wants to dress her kids with a similar aesthetic.

The market is particularly short on cool kids clothes that stand out and don’t feature fairies, butterflies and tractors. Cute as those things can be, I know I’ll want to have as much fun dressing and outfitting my children as I do with myself, and sherbert pink doesn’t feature so much in my aesthetic, so I’m super excited to have found Jodie’s new venture.

What do you think readers? Are you looking for great design for kids?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The Baby Body

I don’t often talk about ‘social interest’ topics on Florence Finds as I’m never sure how you will all engage with a a given topic. Last week however it seemed everyone had something to say about the birth of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby, Prince George, but an even hotter topic was Kate’s post baby body. Her simple appearance with baby George infront of the Lindo wing sparked a flurry of comments, ranging from bravo to admiration to weight loss advice – particularly the now ubiquitous comments from OK magazine on her post-natal shape up routine.


Image via The Metro

If I’m honest, I’m not surprised at OK. They are a trashy magazine and their weekly choice of content and celebrity stories pretty clearly states their position on championing ethical female role models. That would be not at all then. Am I surprised at them trying to make a quick buck out of capturing the public interest in The DoC, her always immaculate presentation and enviable figure? No. It’s sad that they are also targeting every woman who has recently given birth and will sadly be comparing themselves to Kate and how she looked leaving hospital; women who are often questioning their every decision already and desperately trying to rescue a self of self and self-esteem after such a life changing event and physical transformation. But am I surprised at that even? Not at all.

My reaction was two-fold. My first thought, prior to seeing the media storm that followed was how daunting it must have been to go out there, only 26 hours after becoming a mother, and face that bank of photographers. What can have been going through Kate’s mind? I am not a mother but have seen and can only imagine the ferocious change that women undergo, the fierce protectors they become of this little life they are responsible for, the immediate worry that arrives with the baby. How terrifying to be tired and emotional and so very vulnerable in so public a situation. I wonder if she saw their lives flash before her with the ever present papperazzi encroaching on every moment of his life?

Which leads me to my second thought. How mortifying after showing everyone your first born son to have some people find the main event to be the size of your post-partum bump? Did Kate make a conscious decision to display it rather than try to hide? Who knows. I suspect whether she ‘displayed’ her bump was the last thing on her mind. No doubt she hadn’t given it a passing thought amongst her emotions of joy and fatigue.

Aside from my feelings for Kate however, it has been fascinating to see the public reaction. I’ll admit, before I had close friends and family who had babies, I didn’t really realise that bumps don’t just shrink away after the birth, and that’s after seeing many babies born – when mums are nursing their newborn or lying flat post delivery it’s not as obvious at all, but once stood up it’s clear that the uterus and abdominal muscles are going to take some time to shrink back to their pre-baby shape. So it’s not surprising I suppose that some women are taken aback by a new mum’s tummy. After all if you’re not party to those first few days and weeks when a woman is post delivery then all the experience you have is of celebrities ‘snapping back’ into shape, described by the media like a piece of elastic stationary with no thought to responsible journalism. It was amazing to see the outpouring (both publicly and amongst my friends) of pride amongst the virtual sisterhood that identified with her ‘mum tum’, women applauding her who spoke about it like a badge of honour and the palpable sense of affirmation that even someone as ‘perfect’ as Kate had looked like they did post-baby.

I don’t have a conclusion to my musings, other than that it seemed to me to represent the most intrusive and distasteful part of being in the public eye, and that Kate as always handled it all with aplomb. I would love however to hear what you guys thought about it all. Are you one of the mums who cheered her on? Had you never seen a woman so close to a delivery before and were you surprised? Were you delighted to see some normalcy when it comes to a post-baby body?

Do share your thoughts readers…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Apologies if this is very mother and baby centric when there is obviously a very present father involved!