Step One – my 3 week challenge

Food and Drink, Lifestyle

If you read my previous post you’ll know that I had planned to start on the anti-inflammatory diet this week. Unfortunately I ended up back at the hospital and on antibiotics so I decided to wait until I was all clear before embarking on this pretty big change.

I’ve set myself the start date of Monday week, which gives me time to menu plan, shop and do any necessary food prep so that I can fully embrace the changes.

The first step of the plan that I am following is to eliminate 4 food groups for 3 weeks; gluten, corn, soy and dairy. Gluten’s easy for me as I’ve been eating gluten free for 5 years now due to being a Coeliac. Corn and soy should be fairly easy, as they aren’t in any of my main ‘go-to’ foods (although there are a few unlikely exclusions on the list in these categories that I wouldn’t of thought of!). Dairy, however, will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge. Anyone who knows me knows that the only way I drink my coffee is as a latte! I also have porridge (made with milk) for breakfast everyday, have a penchant for milk chocolate and hugely enjoy cheeses, creams and buttery foods. That’s going to be a tough one!

I’ve been having a little practice and the milk substitute that I like best is coconut milk, although I have a few others to try too (hemp milk is a thing, it seems!).

In order to help with my menu planning I’ve also downloaded the Deliciously Ella app, which is absolutely packed with wonderful and delicious recipes. They are all vegan, so aside from a few substitutions and adding in meat (can’t ever see myself going vegan!), I’m excited to try them out.

I’ll be keeping you updated on my progress and using my Instagram to share some of the yummier foods and also the challenges (what am I thinking, having a dairy free Easter!!!).

Let’s see how this goes!

(After the three weeks I will gradually reintroduce each food group to my diet to see how my body tolerates it. The idea is that these are the groups that most commonly cause inflammation, so by emitting and reintroducing them I will clearly see how my body reacts to them and whether I should eradicate them from my diet longer term.)

Trying Something New

Food and Drink, Lifestyle

If you read my last post (Living with an invisible illness) you will know that I was feeling pretty fed up with always feeling sub-par. Well, writing the post has spurred me into action and I’ve spent the last week and a half (while I’ve been unable to carry on with my normal acitivities) researching different schools of thought around autoimmune diseases.

The first and most promising thing I have found is about dietary change. If you are familiar with Deliciously Ella this wont come as a surprise to you, as she changed her life by changing what she ate. I’ve been reading all sorts of online resources and have found that there is a lot of research around functional medicine and an antiinflammatory dient, with a number of the sources claiming to have halted the development of autoimmune diseases and even, in some cases, reversed them.

This is a very exciting discovery for me and I have decided to give one of the methods a go. I have a book that I will be using as a guide, for the initial phase of dietary change, called The Immune System Recovery Plan. This book was written by Dr Susan Blum and this is part of what appeals to me. Firstly, she trained as a traditional doctor so is entirely au fait with modern practices as well as having an in depth understanding of all things anatomical and medical. Secondly, she herself was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (one of the ones I have) and she used this method to heal herself.

Now, please dont think that I am going into this without doing a lot of additional research and finding out the good, the bad and the ugly before I make an informed decision about what I would like to try.

However, I am going to give it a go, see if I can make myself feel a bit better in the short term, see if I can translate that into feeling better in the longer term and then ultimately see whether this has any impact on the chronic conditions that I have been diagnosed with and those which have on the fence results and we are ‘watching and waiting’ to see if anything develops.

I have decided to share this journey with you for two reasons; if it works, I will be able to look back and see the process I went through and know that it may also help others going through the same thing. Even if it doesn’t work, I will find it motivating to be sharing the journey and the changes I am making, in order to keep me focussed and following through with what I have set out to achieve.

So, I have decided that I will start next Monday. Between now and then I will start getting my kitchen cupboards and fridge ready and working out a meal plan. I’ll share every step as I go and hope you enjoy joining me on this little challenge!

Living with an Invisible Illness (or three)

Lifestyle

This post has taken me a long time to get round to writing. Believe it or not, I set up the title as a draft blog post back in June last year. I’ve opened it up so many times to begin writing and I just haven’t been able to. I began to wonder why. What is it about writing about this subject that gives me total writers block? Well, I guess it could be a lot to do with the fact that I never like to seem like I’m moaning or being ungrateful. It could be that I definitely don’t want people to think of me differently. It could be that I’m not really sure what constitutes too much information and don’t want to be an over-sharer. Most likely, it’s a combination of all of the above. Either way, here I am, nearly a year later, finally biting the bullet and giving this little post a go.

So what made me want to write it now (and actually follow through)?

Two things:

  1. I just came out of hospital having had abdominal surgery (not the one I went in for – story of my life!) and my recovery is proving more challenging than I’d anticipated thanks to my pre-existing conditions.
  2. I saw this incredible post on Instagram by @allontheboard and was inspired by the openness of it:

Having read that, it seems like a good place to start. I was diagnosed with endometriosis back in 2007, when I was 19 years old. It has been all of the above and more for me and definitely the most painful of the three autoimmune conditions I have been diagnosed with (this is a good place to mention that the other two are Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Coeliac Disease – I’ll come back to them later). I have had two thermal laparoscopic ablations of the endometriosis (the second of which was most likely what helped us to fall pregnant with our daughter) and was recently told that I will have to have a third, in the not very distant future.

So what is it like to live with endometriosis? Painful. Very painful. At least two weeks of every month, sometimes more, the pain is crippling. It has been known to have me bent double and it doesn’t pass very quickly. Once I even ended up being sent an ambulance after calling NHS 111 in so much pain, only to find out that it was ‘just’ the endometriosis. The trouble with a condition like this, is that you can’t really tell people what’s going on or how much pain you’re in. I personally feel that I don’t want unnecessary attention that surrounds being ‘poorly’, while also feeling that so many people out there have so much worse to contend with and that I shouldn’t be selfish with how I feel. When I get my period, it often knocks me flat for 2/3 days. And I mean literally knocks me flat. I struggle to get out of bed, I struggle to do normal tasks, let alone work a physically demanding job (albeit now part time) and look after an overexcitable and very active toddler. The tiredness and exhaustion is untenable and it’s practically impossible to explain it without sounding like I’m moaning about a heavy period. The trouble with autoimmune conditions, is that once my immune system takes a hit, it doesn’t just take the hit in the place it was targeted, it seems to take on a whole body response and can easily lead to me feeling like I’ve got the flu; full body aches and pains, headache, sore throat, insane levels of fatigue. Yet try explaining that every single month, in order for people to understand. I get bored of it myself, let alone how it must sound to others. So, I don’t. I crack on, do what I can, take it easy on myself at the times when I feel worst and learn to make up for it at other times.

I find that the hardest thing is comparing myself to others. I see my friends running busy lives, being on their feet all the time, working crazy jobs and bringing up their families as well as fitting in all their social engagements and more, and I know that I just can’t physically do it. My body literally doesn’t allow me to. And that’s really tough. Because my mind runs at 100mph and there are so many things I want to do, I just physically can’t do all the things I want to. In fact, at the end of last year it got to the point where I had to make the decision to almost entirely close the business that I had spent a decade (the whole of my twenties) building, because I simply didn’t have the energy and level of health required to continue running it. I don’t really ever say it, but that really sucked. I wish I could have kept all the plates spinning and still felt on top of my game, but my body keeps reminding me that for some reason it isn’t like that for me. And that paragraph is exactly why I don’t talk about it, because it sounds so self-centred and needy! Which is not how I ever want to come across. Eesh, I’m remembering why I keep closing this post before I start writing it!

Ok, next! Coeliac Disease. This is a really weird one because all it means really is that I can’t eat gluten and there are much worse things really, aren’t there. That said, it took until I was 24 for this to be diagnosed, in which time a fair amount of damage had been done to my intestine. The good thing is that once you stop eating gluten (if you have coeliac disease), you start healing, so the long term damages that can occur (such as osteoporosis) are much less likely. The thing that no-one really wants to admit out loud, however, is that not eating gluten, ever, is really really pants! Every single menu has to be scrutinised when you eat out, at weddings you get the most random foods so that the kitchen don’t take any risks on cross-contamination (tinned fruit salad, anyone?), if you want to grab food on the go it isn’t always possible, sandwiches with gluten free bread just don’t taste the same and don’t even start me on the amount of coffee shops where you can’t get a cake! Now, I know that this all sounds very petty, but if you want to know what it’s like, I challenge you to go totally gluten free (no traces, no sneaky little biscuits, no oats, the list goes on) for a week or two. It’s just so frustrating! You can’t ever just be the same as everyone else and the perfect example of this is when we went to Disneyland a few years back. Literally the only thing I ate was boiled rice and salad. That is not cool. I’m a big girl and I can handle it, it gets me down from time to time, but largely it really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. That said, imagine what it must be like for a child to live with Coeliac Disease. Not really understanding why they’re different from their friends, why their parents send lunches to school and separate cakes or treats to play dates and birthday parties and why they can’t just order off a ‘normal’ menu. As I said, it’s pretty pants. Not awful, not life changing or life threatening, but a total pain and a lifelong thing to put up with.

Talking of lifelong, all of the conditions I’m talking about today are what’s considered to be ‘chronic’. That means that there’s no cure, there’s just management. The other major drawback is that they are really underestimated, misunderstood and mistreated. The GP doesn’t often think about them as having an impact on my life, although often the reason I end up at the GP is due to a response that’s happened thanks to one of the conditions. I’m lucky enough to have private healthcare thanks to my husbands work, but the major drawback is that it doesn’t cover chronic conditions. This means that any time I have a problem relating to them, in any capacity, it isn’t covered. No operations, no consultations, no diagnostic testing, ever. And this seems grossly unfair to me. Not because, as you might assume, I don’t want to use the NHS, quite the opposite. The NHS saved my life in 2016 and I think that many (if not most) of the best doctors work within the NHS and have no private practice at all. The reason is that part of the benefit of the UK’s private healthcare schemes is that it alleviates pressure from the already overstretched NHS. We know what the problems are with me, medically. Instead of taking up a large number of appointments, testings and a hospital bed to have something sorted out that is ongoing for me privately, I have to use all those resources on the NHS, because BUPA won’t cover me. Pre-existing conditions get refreshed every 2 years , but chronic conditions are exempt forever. How silly and frustrating is that.

I’m now at risk of writing an insanely long post that waffles and rambles and becomes entirely uninteresting. So, to finish off, I’ll say that there isn’t really anything interesting to share about the third condition, apart from that it totally messes up my thyroid, resulting in me being on a thyroid medication for life and struggling with a lot of fatigue and more flu-like symptoms. There was a 2 year period when the doctors thought I had Lupus (another chronic autoimmune condition) and this was due to having borderline results on all the relevant blood tests, as well as being symptomatic, however the diagnosis was removed after no change was notice over a two year period.

To summarise, living with an invisible illness is tough. You don’t want to moan, but equally it can make you feel totally horrendous. That not only has an impact on your physical health, but also your mental health. It can be quite demoralising and can bring you down a bit if you let it. In fact, it takes an awful lot of strength to not only fight through the tough physical times, but to have the positivity and determination to crack on again where you left off and continue living as much of a healthy life as you can. People often say ‘you look so well’, which is great to hear, but sometimes that is solely down to having a full face of makeup! In fact, just three weeks ago when I went for the consultation which ended up resulting in a pretty big abdominal surgery and being signed off work for six weeks, the consultant actually began by saying ‘well you’re a fit and healthy young lady with nothing else we need to be aware of’, only half phrased as a question due to the assumption of what the answer was going to be. When I explained to him about these three conditions, plus the 11 surgeries I’ve had in the last 12 years, he couldn’t quite believe it.

Invisible doesn’t mean it isn’t there, it just means you can’t see it, and funnily enough that sometimes makes it all the harder to handle.

The Quest for the Perfect Work/Life Balance

entrepreneur, Lifestyle, Parenting

What do you do when you know you have it in you to do great things, affect people’s lives in a positive way through your work and build a successful company that can grow as you do, but you can’t work out how to find the hours in the day to do it?

If you know the answer to this, please help!

I chose to start a business from scratch in my early twenties, in order for it to be sustainable when I went on to have my family. I know I am capable of growing it to a fantastic place as I have done that before. I had a set back when I fell pregnant as I also fell ill. At that time things changed and I had to dramatically scale back.

Since having my daughter just over a year ago I have worked slowly but surely on the business and focused on making sure that what is on offer is exceptional quality for my clients.

So why this post? I know I can do more. I am capable of it and I am ready for it. I want to do what I used to do; I want to grow the business, I want to inspire more children to realise their passion for the arts and I want to be respected in my field for the work I do.

I am not alone, I’m sure (I imagine many other working mums feel this way too). I just can’t seem to work out how to balance everything to the best effect!

I have taken the choice not to put my 14 month old in a nursery 5 days a week as that’s not what I want for her (or me) at the moment. If you follow my Instagram account you’ll know that we have an absolute ball together and I cherish being able to be there with her so much of the time. I do have childcare 2 (sometimes 3) days a week from her lovely grandparents, but I seem to find I have to use that time for a million and one jobs on top of working and the teaching I do on those days.

So I guess what I’m wondering is; how do I do it? How do I achieve the perfect work/life balance? How do I give everything I want to to my young family while putting everything I can into my established business? How do I make the most of my natural maternal instinct while also using my intellectual capacity to achieve in the workplace? How do I juggle being the best mum, wife and company director I can be, while still having time to be a good friend and be good to myself?

The answer is I don’t yet know.

But I plan to embark on a bit of a journey of discovery as these things all mean a lot to me and as we only live once I am determined to give it my best shot.

I imagine some of this reflection has come about thanks to my imminent thirtieth birthday! Maybe soon I’ll be older and wiser! I’ll keep you posted 😉

Victoria x

Conquering the Nerves

entrepreneur, Lifestyle

One tiny step at a time.

It’s a funny juxtaposition, but even though I’m a dance teacher by training and have been running my own company for the last 8 years, I have always suffered from anxiety, mostly brought on by new social situations.

I realised when I had my little girl last year that I was going to have to do some serious work on this so that I didn’t let her know I felt this way and to make her as confident as possible (although never too forward or precocious!).

So I have been consciously ‘putting myself out there’. I have made an effort to go to mummy and baby groups, and actually talk to the mummies not just hide behind V as I would have been more comfortable doing. I have got out there for the first time in two years and pitched for new business and today I am off to a seminar in Islington!

That’s a pretty big deal for me; no daughter to give attention to if I feel uncomfortable, no hiding behind needing to leave for nap time and none of my friends will be there to buddy up with. Just me and a room full of people I’ve never met.

Must admit I’m pretty proud of myself, albeit utterly terrified at the same time!

So off I go! Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how it goes later.

Victoria x

A Job Role to Fill!

Lifestyle, Parenting

There’s a gap in the careers market that I think really needs to be filled.

I need a life PA.

And I bet I’m not the only one (was going to say Mum, but then I realised I needed this before I became a Mum!).

Life these days is just so busy, it’s almost impossible to keep on top of everything.

Everyone kindly sends you email reminders when policies are expiring, invoices when payments need to be made and calendar notifications for important dates (if you remembered to put them on your calendar in the first place), but someone like me could really do with this all being consolidated.

My life PA would be sent all my important house admin to keep on top of, make sure I had the best rates for energy/insurance/etc. They’d make sure I always had enough stamps to send important mail. They’d give me enough notice to actually purchase and wrap birthday presents and get them in the post in time, instead of being a last minute thing when that’s really not my style – I much prefer the personal touch but I can never seem to get organised enough! They’d make sure we see a dentist and an optician whenever we’re supposed to (twice a year?!) and they’d consolidate important information about term dates, classes, fees due etc for the kids activities.

Oh, and I don’t have a bottomless pot of money (or much of a pot at all for that matter!) so this would all need to be done on a shoestring budget.

I feel like there’s someone out there who would be SO suited to doing this for busy Mums, for a sensible price, and who with enough people to do it for could actually manage to make a good living doing it!

So if you’re out there, here’s the idea for you : )

I’m off to try and sort my diary, send last minute cards and presents, check the calendar for our Christmas arrangements, try and get a food shop and sort out our energy bill.

Happy Mummy-ing!

Victoria x

 

How To: Christmas Shop with a Baby!

Lifestyle

This year is my first year of Mummying at Christmas.

I have never been especially good at getting ready in advance and quite enjoy the thrill of leaving all the shopping to do on one day, with stops for mince pies and mulled wine, then coming home to go through all the purchased goodies, sorting them, stacking them and eventually the week before Christmas (generally while hubby is at his Christmas party) setting myself up with Love Actually, Elf and White Christmas, an endless supply of hot chocolate and nibbles and wrapping, labelling and decorating every single one.

It was mad, it was last minute and I absolutely loved the thrill of it. I totally, completely failed to realise that this is a pipe dream when you have a ten month old baby who is into everything and wants to help (can I call it that, really?) sorting, unwrapping, tearing, exploring textures and ‘posting’ very usefully in hidden places.

How did I realise this? I carefully compiled Christmas present lists of what needed to be bought for who (with a lot of gaps – I love spontaneity when I see the ‘right’ gift for someone), I set of for Bluewater with Violetta in tow and optimistically set off to shop.

This is not a negative post. I absolutely loved it. Every minute. But oh my goodness, I think I’m mad.

I started off with all the best intentions – a lovely lunch with my miniature bestie! Pizza Express have a wonderful Bambino menu, so we had a pizza and a mini bowl of pasta respectively (shared dough balls to start, naturally) and all was well in the world. We then wandered round looking at the lights, ambling through the shops chit chatting (me) about what we could buy people, wooing the shop assistants (V – she was given a key ring in Jo Malone and a chocolate coin in Ted Baker!) and generally enjoying the festive atmosphere. We even stopped and listened to the gorgeous choir!

Then, bang! It was nap time and Violetta was getting grumpy. No problem though, out came the Snooze Shade and after a couple of laps of the shopping centre she was soundo. I thought this meant I had an hour or two to make all the purchases, popping back to the car to drop bits off as needed and then, when she was well rested we’d stop for a hot chocolate and milk break, before finishing off any little bits and heading home.

I am so naïve sometimes!

Firstly, navigating a buggy, picking up things in shops, taking them to the tills, paying for them, bagging them and then balancing enough bags on the pram (with a sleeping baby in who wakes up if the wind blows) before the run back to the car every few bags should not be underestimated! Add into this that I am a moocher and you begin to see where I went wrong!

A few items ticked off my list (including some of the unknowns, thankfully!) Violetta woke up. She had been asleep for all of 30 minutes. This is unheard of!

So we popped off for a drink break – which was super lovely actually and exactly what I wanted it to be. But then I realised I still had to finish the whole list of presents. Eek!

Anyway, long story short – we did it! Thank goodness for Ella and her nibbly banana biscuits, Ted and his cheeky chocolate coin and a heavily discounted penguin that we spotted in House of Fraser, who I think might be Violetta’s new best friend as she cuddled him non-stop until she went to !

My car was full to the brim, Violetta was just on the edge of having had enough, but we did it! And guess what – I loved it : )

I think next year I may get someone to meet me half way through and look after V for me, instead of relying on a nap to get things done, but other than that we had a wonderfully festive mummy-daughter day and I really thoroughly enjoyed it. I think V did too, judging by the happy, giggly and chatty mood she was in all the way home and right up until she fell asleep.

Happy festive shopping!

Victoria x

PS. I’m just about to post this and I looked over to the sofa where I have piled all the goodies to show Mr S…. I have literally just realised I will now have to find the time to wrap them. Oh my. 11 sleeps ’til Christmas!

Making Big Changes

Lifestyle

11 years ago I left school.

9 years ago I started Footsteps and embarked on a business degree.

6 years ago I graduated from university with a First Class Hons.

6 years ago I met my now husband.

5 years ago my health started going downhill.

4 years ago I started receiving medical diagnoses.

3 years ago I got engaged.

2.5 years ago we bought a house.

2 years ago we got married.

1.5 years ago we fell pregnant.

1 year ago, while pregnant, I was admitted to hospital for a lifesaving operation.

1 year ago I survived and so did my baby, against all the odds.

9 months ago I had my daughter.

6 months ago I started feeling ill again.

3 months ago my thyroid medication was changed.

2 months ago my dance school entered it’s 9th year.

1 month ago I went back to teaching.

2 weeks ago I covered my main staff member for a full time week of teaching alongside the administration of running the business.

1 week ago I decided to make a change.

3 days ago I finalised my decision.

Yesterday I actioned my plan.

Today begins a new mindset and a fresh start.

I have embraced every step I have taken – I love my work and I am passionate about what I have created. I live for the children I teach and their families. But I live for myself and my family too. And it turns out that the year I’ve had has forced me to make some big decisions. I’ve taken the decision to scale back my business to give me more time to do what I love – teaching. Thanks to the changes I will have a more definite schedule, meaning I have more time with my family, and I’ll be focusing on getting a few blog posts out too, because it turns out I quite enjoy this! I think these changes are going to make me happier, more fulfilled, less stressed and more present in everything I do. I’m sad to have had to make this big decision, but excited about what it might mean for the future.

I hope you’ll be joining me for the journey.

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!

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!