Travelling with a Toddler

baby, Parenting

Violetta is now 16 months and travelling with her now is a whole new ball game!

Her Papa’s extended family live in a rural town near Rome in Italy and it was finally time to take our little lady our there to visit everybody.

Before we left I decided it would be best to pack a capsule wardrobe of clothes for her that she could wear whatever the weather. This turned out to be a brilliant idea as while we were away we ended up treating her to some new clothes and my careful packing meant that we had plenty of space to bring things back where her nappies had been!

The other sensible thing I did before leaving was to ensure that all our things fitted in two suitcases and two backpacks. This left us hands free for the airport and meant that once we’d dropped off the suitcases and car seat (I’m very particular about car safety and would never travel without this) we were able to focus on Violetta and letting her have a lovely wander around the airport before being confined on the plane.

In my hand luggage bag I packed a lot of nibbly healthy snacks for Violetta to occupy her during the flight, as well as a book with lots of flaps, a soft toy bunny, some wooden zoo animals in a tin and my iPad which I had downloaded a couple of fun children’s programmes on that didn’t require the sound to be too loud for Violetta to enjoy watching them. This was all we needed for the 2 hour flight, as by the time we took into account take off and landing, we really only had to occupy Violetta for 1.5 hours, which was easily done with snacks and games along with a little bit of screen time.

Being in our own home in Subiaco was an absolute blessing as we had everything we needed on hand and were able to be independent about food, bedtime, chill out time, etc. Sleeping in a separate room to Violetta also meant that she was able to sleep through the night and follow roughly her normal pattern (although the day she decided to lay in until 9.45 was particularly wonderful!).

While we were away Violetta was an absolute star; walking everywhere, chatting to everyone and generally fitting in with what we wanted to do. I am always quite strict about her routine and we loosely followed it while we were away – always ensuring she had her nice long nap in the afternoon and didn’t go to bed too late (although of course later than normal as that’s part of the fun of being on holiday!).

By the end of the trip our little pickle was saying hello to everyone in Italian and had developed a new self-confidence with her walking and communication.

Our mini Italian adventure has definitely given me a new level of confidence with regard to traveling with a child and I’m already planning our return visit!

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Sausage Risotto (for baby)

baby, Food and Drink

Shopping / Store Cupboard List

  • Handful of baby spinach leavesfullsizeoutput_9c1c
  • 1/4 cup arborio risotto rice
  • Small piece parmesan
  • Small knob butter
  • 1/4 courgette
  • 1 x sausage
  • 1/2 baby stock cube

 

Preparation

  • Wash and chop the spinachfullsizeoutput_9c1e
  • Rinse the rice
  • Grate some parmesan
  • Chop the courgette
  • Remove the sausage meat from the sausage
  • Make 300ml stock

 

Method

 

  1. Heat the butter over a medium heat until melted.
  2. Put the sausage meat and rice into the pan and allow the meat to brown.
  3. Add in the courgette and spinach.
  4. Gradually add in the stock, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until it has been absorbed by the rice.
  5. Don’t take your eyes off the risotto (if you can help it!): every time the stock is nearly gone, add more and repeat.
  6. Allow the risotto to bubble away as it cooks.
  7. When you add the last bit of stock, add the parmesan and stir it through.

Notes

I find these quantities are perfect for two baby sized meals (my little one is 11 months).

The spoon we are using is a proper risotto spoon! It has a hole in it to further enable the ‘agitating’ of the starch in the rice. But mostly it’s a pretty heart spoon so what’s not to love!

Verdict: Success!

 

Our Top Ten Christmas Jumpers of 2017

baby, Favourite Brands

(for baby girls!)

Violetta and I have been searching high and low for our favourite Christmas jumpers and we’ve compiled our shortlist for you! Click the pictures to find them online.

The Little White Company

Stylish, classic, timeless, super soft and cosy.

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 12.57.03Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 12.59.16

JoJo Maman Bébé

Fun, old-fashioned and so soft (cashmere bled). These was up beautifully too.

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 13.08.34.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-07 at 13.10.15

Marks and Spencer

Budget price, great quality, super soft, every day wear,

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 13.19.38 Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 13.23.54

Angel’s Face

Small business with fantastically unique items for sparkly girlies.

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 13.30.54.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-07 at 13.33.41.png

 

Mothercare

Affordable, comfy, easy to find

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 13.36.38Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 13.39.01

 

Happy Christmas Shopping!

Love Victoria and Violetta x

Mummying My Way

baby

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty headstrong. I’ve been called feisty, opinionated and many other things that imply strongly that I like to do things my way. And I do. But it’s worth noting that alongside that I have also been told that I am one of the most caring, giving and easy to talk to people.

Makes for an interesting combination, doesn’t it!

I’ve never been a great one for being told what to do. I’m not a rebel at all, goodie two shoes through and through, but I know my mind and I like to be the decision maker of my own life.

So now that I have a daughter, that fierce independence is still there. You’re probably thinking that I sound like I think I know it all? Absolutely not. I’m the first person to ask for other people’s input about what they did, how they crossed certain obstacles in parenting and what they really enjoyed, but what I always do is take in the information, think about it and then decide how I’m going to do it.

I don’t subscribe to any of the traditional methods out there, or any of the new ones for that matter. I don’t attachment parent, I don’t do controlled crying, I haven’t done baby led weaning, I haven’t fed my daughter exclusively on breastmilk, I haven’t ‘co-parented’ with my husband and I haven’t religiously co-slept. I’ve done bits of all of them.

Let’s start with ‘co-parenting’. Mine and my husband’s relationship is quite traditional; he’s the bread-winner, I’m the stay-at-home-Mum. I just happen to run a business too. But that doesn’t make any difference to me being a stay-at-home-Mum. I spend most of the day, every day, with my daughter. She is rarely away from me and we enjoy doing everything together.

I am the main decision-maker on what my daughter wears, eats, her routine, her activities and which brand of nappies she wears. My husband has input as we do discuss everything, but he defers to my opinions a lot. Why? Because he’s (physically) at work Monday – Friday 7am – 9pm ish. When he’s not at work he’s available on his Blackberry. I can’t remember the last time he didn’t have to work both days at the weekend. Not only that, but he trusts my judgement. He respects my ability as a Mummy and knows that everything I do is with the best intentions for our little girl. Don’t get me wrong – he puts me to the test from time to time (‘but she’s half Italian, I don’t understand why she can’t eat pasta now’ when I had literally just started weaning her!), but we tend to find a compromise or I assure him that we can do what he is suggesting in the not-too-distant-future. When hubby looks after Violetta at the weekend, if I have to pop in to work, I lay out her clothes, pack the nappy bag, set out breakfast, lunch, milk, snacks etc and jot down her nap times. Why? Because he doesn’t spend enough time with her to know it all off-hand and I’d so much rather that the precious time they spend together is used for fun and playing, than with a grumpy baby who’s out of her routine, or a grumpy Papa who can’t work out which milk has to be mixed into the baby porridge.

Now, none of this is to say that I think every family should operate in this way! Absolutely not – I have utmost respect for every which way families choose to operate. This is just the way it works for us.

I’ve already written about weaning and breastfeeding and I’ll be doing posts on spending time together, sleep routines and more of our parenting style in the not-too-distant future.

 

A Local Heaven for Children and Parents

baby, Local Things to Do

We have found the perfect answer to rainy afternoons, burning off energy, meeting friends and having some mummy/daughter time.

In Woolwich Arsenal, in an unassuming, converted warehouse, is a haven for children and parents alike.

Under 1 Roof kids is everything you hoped for when you pictured in your mind the kind of place you would spend some time with your children.

Violetta and I have been frequent visitors since she was born, but the venue has really come into it’s own now that she’s a little bit older.

Today our plans for seeing friends fell through. Faced with the prospect of a day indoors and a little baby with too much energy to spare at the end of the day, there was an obvious answer as to where I would be spending the day!

We jumped in the car and headed of to Under 1 Roof. For just £1.00 (as she’s under 1) we had entry to the play area. This is by far my favourite soft play I’ve been to. It’s safe, secure, clean, not too big and because it is attached to a playroom for older children too, it doesn’t get too busy.

After spending some time burning off some of her extra energy and learning to climb steps for the first time, we headed into the Menagerie Café for lunch. This place exceeds expectations. Everything about it is focused on families and it is easily the most child-friendly place I have every visited. With lots of high chairs and plenty of space around each table, as well as a healthy children’s menu, pouches and plates/cutlery for the kids too, it’s absolutely ideal. Parents are well catered for too, with lovely cakes and bakes, an extensive lunch menu and drinks to rival your favourite coffee shop. To top it off, the staff are amongst the friendliest I’ve ever met.

Whoever came up with this incredible concept really does have the most wonderful imagination. As well as being a child’s dream, there are so many more services available all ‘Under 1 Roof’. From hairdressers to crafters, children’s clothes to party suppliers. Every class worth doing holds a session there and there’s even free parking.

Today I found a second hand clothing shop with the most beautiful, pretty clothes in immaculate condition for truly amazing prices. I couldn’t resist a little bag of goodies and have a feeling I’ll be a regular customer!

I know that this is somewhere we will be visiting again and again and again as Violetta grows up and I know how lucky we are to have it on our doorstep.

If you live locally and I’ve tickled your tastebuds, go and have a look! You won’t be disappointed.

www.under1roofkids.com

 

Baby’s First Holiday

baby, Lifestyle

Violetta is six months old and she’s just enjoyed her first holiday abroad!

It was her Nanny’s 60th birthday and a family week in the sun was booked for all to enjoy.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about what a week away with a little baby would entail; the packing, the change to her routine, the heat, the constant attention and potential overstimulation, just to name a few of the things that were on my mind.

The lead up to the holiday was pretty intense. I had to work out what she would need, what we would need, could the hotel cater for me (a coeliac) and provide everything I needed for her, would I get to relax at all or would I just be constantly worrying about whether she was cool enough, warm enough, hydrated enough; you get the jist!!

I needn’t have worried. Aside from having to take turns sitting inside with the baby as it’s been too hot for her outside in the middle of the day, the holiday couldn’t have been better!

I’ve learnt to relax (a little – definitely never going to be the type to totally switch off) and let other people help with the baby, Iv’e also worked out what needs to be found out ahead of a holiday, what to pack and what not to pack and how to make the most of local knowledge and hotel services.

Here’s an insight into what this week has taught me, a sort of Parent’s Guide to Baby’s First Holiday! I’ve never been a big traveller, so I’m sure there are more seasoned approaches, but this is mine!

1. Talk To Your Hotel

I wish I’d asked these questions ahead of arriving, as they not only help with what to pack but also they mean that the hotel has the chance to help you out and prepare for your arrival.

  • Do they provide a high chair and cot?
  • If using a transfer service do they do they provide an age-appropriate car seat?
  • Is there a bath in your room (if not, can they provide a baby bath)?
  • Can you have a kettle in the room (for making bottles/heating food)?
  • Do they have a steriliser?
  • Do they have baby toys?
  • Is there a pharmacy/supermarket in walking distance?

By asking these questions you will be able to eliminate some of the larger necessary items and also know ahead of arriving exactly what is provided in your room and what is available nearby. Had I of asked these questions it would have removed so many of my stresses pre-leaving and on arrival at the hotel when I discovered that there were only showers and small hand basins in every room, but that on asking (very late in the holiday) they were happy to provide a plastic baby bath!

2. What To Pack

I won’t teach you to suck eggs, but this is my guide for a week in the sun with a 6 month old baby

Clothes:

  • 10 daytime outfits (cool, easy to move in and easy access for nappy changes.
  • 7 evening outfits/changes of clothes
  • 2 cardigans or jumpers
  • 5 x Socks
  • Enough bibs for the first half of the holiday (then rinse them and dry them for the second half!) we took 10 and used them all.
  • 5 x Pyjamas. We chose not to turn our air con on, so V went to sleep in just a vest, but if you are thinking of using the air con also take a sleeping bag and longer sleeves.
  • Pretty pyjamas (if you want to take your little one out in the evening and then straight to bed)
  • 3 x swimming costumes (they take a while to dry and smell of chlorine after being used a couple of times)

Necessities:

  • 56 nappies – but only if you use a specific brand – otherwise get them from the local pharmacy.
  • Three packs of wipes – same applies as the nappies!
  • Muslins (if you still use them- we do, a lot!)
  • Toothbrush
  • Calpol
  • Teething granules
  • Small selection of toys
  • Any sleep-aids (Ewan goes everywhere with us for overnight stays!)
  • Food pouches and formula if you use them
  • Two bottles
  • Two spoons
  • Sippy cup / beaker. I love the Munchkin one as it’s leakproof
  • Sterilising tablets
  • Detergent (for washing clothes in the sink – the kitchen will happily wash up baby’s dinner bits if you ask!)
  • Snooze Shade – the best invention ever for taking baby out on hot days or bright evenings!
  • Buggy / stroller (I would highly recommend the Mothercare XSS which folds down so small you can pop it in its bag on your shoulder and hide it away in the wardrobe when it’s not needed)

3. What Not To Pack!

There isn’t a lot in this list because travelling with a baby means you need quite a bit of paraphernalia, but save yourself the baggage costs by leaving these non-essentials at home!

  • Towels – as long as the hotel can and will provide them for baby
  • Baby’s bedding – if the hotel provide a cot, they’ll have bedding
  • Bowls, plates and all the other ‘essentials’ we use at home for mealtimes
  • Too many toys – I took 3 fun toys (links, stacking towers and Sophie the Giraffe) and V’s absolute favourite thing the whole holiday was an inflatable penguin we purchased from the beach shop for €1! We also got a few books and games from the local children’s shop to bring home, so she got to play with those too.

4. Buy When You Arrive

I wish it had occurred to me that I wasn’t going to the middle of the desert, but was in fact visiting a developed country where people need what I needed every day too! Save yourself some weight and agro, and buy these locally!

  • Nappies
  • Wipes
  • Baby bath/shower soap
  • Pouches/jars if your little one isn’t too fussy

5. How To Make The Most Of The Hotel

This one’s simple, ask them! Our waiters and front desk fell in love with V and couldn’t do enough for us; from sterilising her bottles and spoons in the industrial steamer in the kitchen, to providing us with a fresh towel each day for the pool and directing us to the best places for babies locally. Your enjoyment is key to them and a happy baby means happy parents!

I hope you find this useful. I’ll be doing a separate post on flying with a baby for the first time, but for now that’s everything.

Feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have!

Happy holidaying!

Mummy-lead Weaning

baby, Food and Drink

Why I’m going against the grain and doing it my way. 

I love food. I love all the flavours, smells, textures and combinations that are available. I love the experience of creating delicious dishes and meals and sharing them with the people I love for everyone’s enjoyment. 

In fact, I’m so into food and sharing it, that when we bought our house my one non-negotiable deal-breaker was that it have an open plan kitchen/dining/living area for this precise reason. 

So, when the paediatrician we’ve been seeing to get to the bottom of why my little one is sick all the time suggested we start weaning her at 4 months my inner foodie jumped for joy! 

For me, Violetta’s food journey is about so much more than just filling her tummy up and keeping her content. It’s about flavour and texture, social time as a family and experimentation. 

I have decided to wean her on purées that I make myself (or with my Mum – food is a family affair in our house!), instead of the popular  approach that is baby-lead weaning. This isn’t to say that I’m anti baby-lead in any way. I’m a big believer in parents making the right decision for them and their little ones! 

So why mummy-lead weaning?

Simply, it works for us. 

Violetta happily eats from the spoon. She loves purée and we have a super interactive mealtime. She tends to finish what’s in her bowl, sometimes even wanting more, and she’s currently not too bothered about holding the spoon. 

This means I get to indulge her with homemade purées and flavour combinations that I’m fast learning she loves! 

One day, when she’s a bit bigger, I’ll give her samples of foods to hold and try feeding herself, but for now mummy is in charge and we’re loving our food journey together! 

A Problem Shared…

baby, Lifestyle

It’s true. But I never really appreciated how true until this week.

Last August, when I fell seriously ill during my pregnancy, I started the craziest juggling act of my life. I tried to keep my business going (a dance school with six staff members and over 200 students) and be a wife, mum-to-be, daughter, sister, friend and all things to all people.

I was struggling with it all, trying to make everyone think that you’re ok when you really feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders is really hard.  No matter how into the arts you are, that’s an act that’s seriously hard to keep up!

So this week I decided it was time to ‘fess up. Time to let my friends and family know that actually, it’s too hard for me to be all things to all people and keep my business going, while most importantly being Mummy to my new little baby and wife to my lovely hubby and somewhere along the way remembering to look after me too.

And do you know what. I’m so glad I finally had the courage to explain the cancelled coffee dates, the unanswered text messages and the disappearance from my normal life. Now everyone knows that it’s nothing personal.

On top of that, it’s amazing as I now have had the chance to stop feeling guilty and get a little plan in place for moving forward and getting the best balance in my life.

The messages of support from friends and family have actually been quite overwhelming. I wasn’t putting it out there for people to comment, per se, just so that everyone knows it really wasn’t anything personal – just a little glitch from me that I was sorting out. Yet the words of kindness and wisdom from my nearest and dearest have made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Lesson learnt.

This blog was borne out of an intrinsic need to find the sparkly lining of every cloud, no matter how dark. I need to take a leaf out of my old book and remember that!

Onwards and upwards. And thank you to my truly wonderful friends and family!

A letter to my daughter. 

baby, Words to Inspire

To my beautiful daughter,
As I lay here and watch you sleep, my heart bursts with love for you. 
I cannot believe that someone so perfect in every way is mine. Mine to look after, to nurture, to teach and to watch grow. 
I lay here wondering how I can make your path through life the happiest, most fulfilling and most satisfying journey you could possibly take. 
There are so many lessons you will learn in life, so many experiences that I won’t be able to prepare you for, but there are also many wisdoms I can impart, many lessons I can share and some important affirmations you should start believing as soon as you understand what they mean. 
Let me first start by telling you that you are strong, you are kind, you are clever and you are beautiful. You are my little warrior princess who, against all the odds, became everything we never knew we were missing. You are also very loved, by so many people and as you grow, so will everyone’s love for you. 
Strength can be shown in many ways. We know already that you have a great inner strength; a determination that defies your tiny size and tiny age. And this strength will grow as you do. You must always use it to be supportive, to help others, to earn respect and to achieve wonderful things. Be strong in everything you do, but don’t be afraid to show weakness. Asking for help is also a sign of strength. Emotions are there to be shared and in doing so you will learn so much about both yourself and your friends and family.  
Kindness is a trait that I will be reinforcing with you throughout your life. By being kind to others you will always be surrounded by love. Know how important it is to share, to listen, to talk and to be a friend. By being a friend to others, they will be friends to you. Our lives are enriched so much by the friends we choose to share them with. 
Being clever isn’t judged solely on academic ability or the results you achieve 

in tests and competitions. Being clever is about finding your passions and pursuing them. Learning from everything you do and everyone you meet and taking a genuine interest in the world around you. Take pride in your achievements, no matter how small, while at the same time remaining humble and gracious. There are already so many wonderful people in your life who can teach you so much! Listen to what they say, learn from what they do and you will have a wealth of knowledge and a wider understanding of the world around you. 
You are truly beautiful. Inside and out. Some people will say this doesn’t matter, some will say it’s all that matters. For me, it is important that you know I believe you to be perfect. I want you to be confident in yourself and feel certain that no matter where you go or who you face, you are enough. In every single way. 
I will always be here for you. To hold your hand, to give you a cuddle, to sing you a song, to play games, to teach you to cook, to dance, to ride a bike, to plait your hair, to kiss it better when it hurts, to talk to, to share with and to love you with all my heart.
All I want for you is health, happiness and contentment and it is my goal, as your mummy, to help you find these things as you create your own path through the incredibly exciting life ahead of you. 
Remember to always be true to yourself. Follow your own fashions and dance your own dance. There isn’t another you anywhere in the world, so show the world who you are and why you’re so special. 
All my love, forever.
Your Mummy x

The Importance of Doing Nothing

baby, Lifestyle

Admittedly this has taken me nearly 8 weeks to realise (or 28 years, depending on how you look at it!), but this week it dawned on me, sometimes I just need to be at home ‘doing nothing’.

I find this realisation really tricky, because to me, time at home is beneficial for catching up on work, cleaning, tidying, washing, probably inviting people round, etc.

But I had a revelation this week that doing nothing really can mean doing nothing when you have a baby.

I’m a nightmare for picking up the laptop and cracking on with work while she sleeps, or quickly whizzing round the whole house cleaning, tidying and doing any other little jobs that need doing. This week, though, I’ve felt really tired… probably because Violetta has decided that sleeping isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and being awake with Mummy is much more fun!

So I set myself a challenge; for one day only, to sleep when she slept, rest when she did and chill out playing with her the rest of the time. Do you know what? I’ve loved it. It’s exactly what I needed.

In light of this, I sat down with my diary and scheduled in what I’m going to call ‘home days’ with my little lady. This doesn’t mean to say I can’t then do bits and pieces while she sleeps, if I want to, but it does mean that if I just want to be at home, chilling out with my baby, I can.

FullSizeRender

I, like so many Mums out there, am very guilty of filling my diary with busyness; friends, family, business meetings, classes, etc. Whilst it’s all great fun, the gaps in my diary quickly fill up and I soon found that there is no time at all for ‘down time’.

Well, that stops now, and I’m hoping it will make for a happier and healthier Mummy in the long run .

Do you feel the same? Give it a go with me and pop some ‘home days’ in your own diary too : )