Merry ♡ Christmas 

Wow. What a year it’s been.

I just want to say a very quick Merry Christmas.

I’m signing off for the festive period now.

When I return it will be in the New Year.

And 2017 is looking crazy already. Crazy in a good way.

New job. New house (fingers crossed).

And the blog?

Well, we’ll just have to wait and see 😉

Enjoy this time to relax and unwind with your loved ones.

Missuswolf Merry Christmas Rocking Horse Tree decoration Unsplash
I’m going to deviate from character here and coo ‘oh wow it’s Baby’s First Christmas for us’.

Haha. It certainly is Baby’s First Christmas and I’ve been the most unprepared I’ve ever been for Christmas in my life. Ooooops.

Obvs I am excited but it’s taken me twice aslong to do anything. Thank god for online shopping as I get pram rage.

Thank god for the nursery trials this week too (which were successful yeay). It meant I could run around the shops shackle-free and buy cards and presents.

And Thank You for sticking with my ramblings these past few months. Possibly the hardest months I’ve experienced. Ever.

So I’m off to pump Prosecco through my veins for the next week.

Cheers – here’s to 2017.

Bring it on.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from Unsplash and Pexel 

Not Losing Yourself To Motherhood

Image from Unsplash

I’ve been married nearly ten years and part of the reason I didn’t have a baby straight away is that I was scared to lose myself to Motherhood.

I didn’t want to become a ‘modern mum’ who had ‘lost the plot’.

I’ve written this post on the back of reading Why Mum Must Come First (Sometimes) – a very interesting and honest post by Gemma Capocci.

I found myself reading about a person that – if I’d have had a baby at aged twenty-three – I know I would’ve become.

I’m not saying anyone has to be an older parent to be a better parent. That’s not my point at all.

But I just did.  I needed a few years under my belt to let off steam. To go on holidays and grow in my career.

I feel stronger and more secure in myself than I did ten years ago.

All that combined gave me the strength to recognise my faults and weaknesses as a person and gauge how I’d react to Motherhood.

I knew breastfeeding wasn’t for me. And I felt strong enough to vocalise this.

Thankfully, the battle I envisaged with a matron health visitor turned out quite the opposite. The most unmatronly HV simply said that as long as the child was fed, she would be happy.

How I chose to do it was up to me.

How liberating!

I feel like there’s a shift coming up in Motherhood. Thanks to the internet and blogging world, information and experience is readily available.

Yet so are opinions.

I don’t give advice. I just say what has worked for me.

You can listen to advice and scaremongering until the cows come home. But one thing I will say is that old cliché of trusting your instincts. Be strong in your mind, your thoughts and intuition.

What I’ve learnt about myself over all these years is that I knew if I didn’t keep busy and look after me too, I would get depressed. There’s been days where I’ve felt down and pissed off that this had become my life.

Frustrating seems to be the word that’s summed my maternity leave up.

And I’m glad it’s nearly over.

There. I said it.

But I don’t care. Because I’ve fought for nine months to make sure that I’ve made time for me.

The Perfect Parent brigade can throw stones at me all they want.

Even they’ll break eventually.

No one can keep up that perfect act.

So I’ve gone to the gym. I went on my first night out six weeks postnatal. I’ve sat and wrote blog posts. I’ve had my hair and nails done.

And do you know what?

I’ve got a very healthy happy nine month old whose got a very happy, healthy mamma bear.

She’s going for her first hour at nursery tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited.

One whole hour to myself. One whole hour for her to explore and play.

Balance.

I can’t wait.

To restore that balance.

And don’t feel guilty that you’re sending them to nursery. That post above discusses the need to feel we have to stay at home to give them the best in life.

It had the opposite effect for that person. They experienced anxiety and depression. Which didn’t benefit mother or baby.

Childcare is costly but it’s only temporary. And they develop unbelievable amounts mentally and socially.

And so will you. As you have a break. A chance to go to work and get your identity. Feel like you have a purpose in life other than being a parent.

I knew before I had a baby that I wasn’t going to be forced into anything I didn’t want to do. My main priority was that she took her milk, we all got some sleep and that we both got fresh air once a day.

And gasp – I wasn’t always thinking what was in her best interest. Some days I was like ‘What can I do today to stop me losing the plot in this mundane cycle of Motherhood?’

I’ve written about it before and I’ll bleat on about it again: Looking after yourself benefits both of you.

We’re not going to be joined at the hip forever and one day she’ll have a mind and voice of her own. She will want to do what she wants and thinks is best.

Then what’s left of me if I’ve neglected myself?

So please please please look after yourselves!

Get involved in buggy bootcamps/swimming/pregnancy and postnatal yoga. Treat yourself! Buy that damn top for you instead of another baby outfit. Don’t forget yourself!

Join a gym and get your mam/dad/gran to push the buggy round the local shops while you do a class. I did bodypump at exercse4less while my Mam pushed E round the Range.

It was good all round. I got to a class, my Mam got to see Ella and she did a bit of shopping too.

Of course you want what’s best for your baby.

But you also want what’s best for yourself.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

Nine Months In. Nine Months Out.

Sunday 4th December 2016

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As we approach your ninth month, I’m having a weird sort of reflection.

On the 11th of December, you will be nine months old.

We’ve passed the six month stage and it’s not as if it’s even your first birthday. Those are much more mega milestones.

Nope.

For some reason I’m very nostalgic that you’ve been alive nine whole months.

Because that’s the amount of time you were inside my body.

Nine whole months – from egg to cell to foetus.

That’s the amount of time

your body

developed in

my body.

And in that same amount of time out of my body, you’ve learnt how to feed.

How to differentiate night from day.

You’ve established a sleeping pattern.

You rolled over.

You’ve learnt to feed yourself finger food.

You’ve turned that roll into a crawl.

You sit up unaided.

You can even pull yourself up into a seating position.

You’ve even made attempts at scaling the furniture in prep to pull yourself up.

Missuswolf vintage baby touching wall

 

And just about the cutest – you chatter away in your little voice when you wake in a morning.

I love how you now play and interact with other children.

I love how you sit and entertain yourself with toys – and even watch TV. (Thanks – these latter skills are extremely helpful to your old mam – so she can fanny about on Facebook or you know – write posts like this.)

As we both laze about in our dressing gowns on this Sunday morning, you look so cute that I could die.

I’ve never considered myself maternal. I’ve admired babies from afar. The old give them a little cuddle. And then hand them back.

Like I’ve said previously, I’d been in no hurry to have a baby of my own.

Even despite a good pregnancy and birth, I’m in no hurry to have any more.

I openly admit I dislike the newborn stage. I selfishly hate the fact I put in so much (sleep-deprived) time and didn’t even get a smile in return.

I know.

Selfish.

It’s only human nature to want interaction – a smile, a cuddle.

Plus everyone tells you as a new mother to slow down. Enjoy it. Make the most of it. As time really does fly.

That’s not what my sleep-deprived self wanted to hear. In the fog of surviving on bouts of two-hour – sometimes even ninety-minutes – naps (as that can not logically be counted as sleep bah!)  I thought this was my life.

Forever.

No sleep and a tiny (and I mean tiny – the whole of five pounds) living, breathing, heart-beating human that relied so heavily on me.

Looking back, of course it went quick, and in nine whole months, it’s ridiculous how far we’ve all come.

And how much you’ve changed.

Missuswolf Rocking horse christmas decoration

I type this while shouting ‘no’ for the umpteenth time as you crawl under the Christmas tree to pull the baubles off. Or crawl towards the TV cabinet. Or the stairs.

But most of all, you’ve become your own little person.

So content and happy.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I was constantly moaning at being the designated driver during the festive season.

If truth be told, I thought you’d ruin my life (sorry) and my body.

You haven’t.

For fear of sounding corny or cliché, my life has more fulfilment. My former self would have slapped this self at writing such drivel. I’d read it all before and just thought blah another boring mam post.

Haha! I’ve become that boring mam!

A boring mam who now bleats on about her new-found sense of purpose. I love that I can be your role model. That you (annoyingly) touch (pull) my hair and my necklace. But I can’t wait til those are the things you want to talk about and play with.

And you’ve awoken a drive and determination in me that I never knew I had.

I’m actually healthier now than I was before I had you. Pregnancy taught me to eat well (aside from the slippery slope of Cadbury’s Easter Eggs towards the end). I ate a lot of green beans and boiled eggs – so much so that the midwives were in disbelief of my iron levels after I gave birth.

I don’t drink as much as I did beforehand. Obviously I still reward myself for keeping you alive with a glass of wine or two here and there. And on the rough days it’s a given.

But I don’t go out on benders every weekend

If I’m honest, I actually feel fitter and stronger since having you. And that’s something I never thought I would hear myself say.

I’ve not hidden the fact I’ve struggled being off work and looking after you constantly. But each passing week you’re getting more independent. Obviously we’re a long way off from the mainstream stuff like driving and moving out, but we’ve conquered a fair few stages already.

In just nine months.

But I’m finally taking the slow down advice this month. December is the perfect, snuggly time of year to wind-down anyway for Christmas. So we’re winding down together. Enjoying each other’s company in our dressing gowns a few days more than we really should.

In the beginning, I was forcing myself to be showered, dressed and made-up. Pressure I know. But I was worried that if I didn’t, I’d fall into a trap of never getting changed or leaving the house. I had to do that to save myself.

And because I did that, I’m happy in the fact that in less than a month now, I return to work. Where we’ll be up super early for nursery and family drop-offs. Life will be back to a million miles an hour that I’m used to.

We’ve gotten out of the last nine months exactly what we wanted from each other; you learning how to feed and entertain yourself, me learning more about myself than I have in my whole lifetime.

Now we’re both ready to face the big wide world. You have the excitement of nursery; learning more new things and making new friends. I get to go back to work to a new role where I too will have to learn new things and make new friends.

But we’re both well equipped. We’re happy, strong, determined ladies.

So we’ll spend a little longer lazing around this Sunday. As that’s what our Sunday’s will become. Our day of rest after our chaotic week back in the real world.

Your small life in this big wide world.

But that’s just it.

You are my big wide world.

In this small life.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from Unsplash and Pexel

Lean In: A Must-Read Book For Working Mums (Career Loving Parents)

Friday 25th November 2016


The time is vast approaching when I will be returning to work full time following nearly ten months maternity leave.

I’m not going to lie. I’ve really struggled being away from work for this amount of time.

Since I was sixteen, I’ve worked full time.

Half my life in fact.

So to go from that to being at home with a baby all day has been somewhat of a culture shock for me.

I’m used to being busy. I like being busy. I’m typing this as I try and cram some ‘me time’ in as Ella naps. I’ve blogged to keep me sane.

I’ve got a brain.

I want to use it not lose it.

And it’s helped massively.

But what has spurred me on even more to make the decision (to be a full time working mum) is Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’.

Missuswolf Lean In Sheryl Sandberg Kindle cover with baby shoes and wand

I’m choosing to go back full time. I want to stay in this rat race.

I know Ella will be fine at nursery – heck nursery will prep her for school, which in turn preps her for the world.

At her visit last week she was craning her neck to see what was going on. She was desperately trying to wriggle out of my arms to join in.

I’m not worried about her going to nursery in the slightest. It will be good for her development – better than what I could ever provide her.

I don’t want her to have flown the nest and I’ve sacrificed my ambitions when I had the opportunity to chase them.

Missuswolf Mother and daughter walking on a country lane

Ella’s not mine to keep.

She’s mine to teach.

One day she will have a life of her own.

And I’ve thought this practically from the day she was born.

I’ll do my job with her and always love her beyond belief.

But we are both human beings and want the best for ourselves out of life.

In the book, Sheryl mentions Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller foundation, and the subject of how women choose to leave the workforce.

It would make sense for me to cut my hours. In essence I’m working to pay for my child to go to nursery and the household bills with very little play money at the end.

Missuswolf piggybank

But I’ve chosen to do this.

I don’t want to give up my career now when I was at the peak of it prior to maternity leave.

I’ve worked too hard. I’ve put in too many hours to just hold my hands up and step down.

Because in a couple of years, Ella will be at pre-school. Then actual school.

What do I do then? If I’d chose to leave the workforce, I’d be back in a position where I could go full time and not have to pay the nursery fees.

After discussing this with my OH, we are both acutely aware that the next couple of years are going to be hard financially.

But it won’t last.

Plus, we’ve struggled and survived on my maternity pay this year. We can make it through the next couple of years.

If I look back to November last year when I was twenty weeks pregnant, the time has flown over. I now have an eight month old.

Next November, I’ll have a twenty month old. Nearing that gap to fifteen hours free nursery care. Which will certainly ease the burden.

So I know I can do this.

I think maternity leave is the hardest part. You’re left alone to deal with this baby day in, day out, with little help and lack of money.

But come weekends and trips away, with the OH, family and friends – I don’t feel the stress and burden anymore. And bizarrely, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my KIT days. They’ve been welcome breaks.

I’m not saying this is what everyone should do – far from it. Every family set-up and circumstance is different. This isn’t a bash at parents who stay at home or work part time. It’s simply what I’ve chosen to do and I’ve found a book that’s supported my thought process.

This post is in case there are any like minded people out there struggling to come to a decision. I want them to read this and know it’s OK.

Sheryl broaches the subject that us women are often the breadwinners in our generation. So we do have to go back full time. Which is good. However, we’re penalised with nursery fees.

This was my case but I’m actually taking a cut when I go back to my new role. However, it’s still a promotion – and a development opportunity. I’m still in the game.

Sheryl’s point though is that if there was more help with childcare, more women would go back full time. For some families, it’s just not cost efficient to do so.

And I get that.

But what if those women really wanted to go back to work? That they were clever, hard-working and had ambition and drive?

Missuswolf woman at laptop working

Not only is it them missing out on bettering themselves and in turn bettering their families, but businesses are missing a trick. They are effectively losing out. Losing a strong member of staff simply because they can’t afford the childcare.

This is something that the government needs to look into and help with funding nurseries. But that’s a different topic for a different day.

However, Sheryl’s stance on this is that women mistakenly drop out of the workforce as their salary barely covers childcare. She promotes a different way of thinking. That we should measure the cost against our future salary rather than our current.

And with that in mind, I’m more than happy to go full steam ahead of working full time.

Sheryl discusses childhood bossiness and the neighbourhood. Looking back, I had similar drive. As an eight year old, I used to dance on our driveway with my sister and our friends.

 

img_1480We would put on shows.

Our favourite song to dance to was Two Unlimited’s ‘Get Ready For This’. I know. How cool were we?

I went so far as to type up tickets (on a typewriter too – no computers in those days) on yellow or green paper. Then we would march around the neighbourhood and sell them to people. To come and watch six girls in crop tops and cycling shorts dance.

And people actually bought them.

Could you imagine if we did that in this day and age??

Suffice to say our parents marched us straight back to return the money.

But looking back, you could say it was the start of business thinking.

When I was ten years old, I bought jewellery making kits and pulled together some earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

I packaged them and marketed them as ‘GG’s Gems’ and sold them at fayre’s at the local community centre.

Why I’ve never pursued this little trait I’ll never know but my god I wish I’d gone to University and done English/Journalism or Business and Marketing.

Never mind. I suppose it’s never too late.

My point being is that Sheryl Sandberg had a similar streak and ‘bossiness’ about her. Now I am no way comparing myself to her at all (I wish!) but her point is that it’s not bossiness as a little girl. It’s leadership qualities coming through.

And I’ve never seen myself as a leader. But maybes at this point in my life, it’s time to become one. Especially through the eyes of my little girl.

Missuswolf little girls taking photo

I want her to look up to me. To see her mammy working hard but playing equally as hard. Show her independence and drive. That mammy enjoys using her brain and contributing financially. See her mammy happy as she has a healthy balance in life.

And lead her to strive for that same well-being.

Leadership is also a quality to look for and nurture in little girls of our own. Which I’m going to do with Little Miss E.

Missuswolf little girl in princess outfit

#GirlBoss

Sheryl points out that thriving marriages appear to be ones where both parents work full time and have careers as well as children. There’s less guilt and good mental health. Some data also suggests that two working parents outside the home are advantageous to a child’s development – especially girls.

Missuswolf little girl reading

I agree with this statement for my set up. I’m used to being extremely independent – working full time, having my own money and coming and going as I please.

 

To say this has been turned upside down this year is an understatement. I’ve had to be dependant on someone else, had very little money and my schedule is dictated by a small human.

Who wouldn’t look back on their former selves with envy? Of course parenthood and maternity has probably been the hardest year of our marriage. So I’ll be welcome of a level playing field come January.

Missuswolf couple on top of mountain

Like I said before, there’s no question about my love for my child. I just know exactly what I want out of life and Sheryl Sandberg has shown me I can get it. Being a mother does not prevent me.

In fact, it fuels me. I’ve discovered a drive I’ve never had before.

I’m more determined than ever.

Caroline O’Connor refers to herself as a career loving parent instead of a working mum.

And I love this title.

From now on, I will refer to myself as a career loving parent. A woman who loves business and works to better herself as well as her family.

Like Beyonce says:

Missuswolf woman with child on her back in working fields

 

Who Run The World.

Girls.

Where you can grab a copy of Lean In:

Love Missuswolf xxx

Please note this post contains affiliate links

Images from Unsplash

Baby-Led Weaning Essential: Tidy Tot All In One Bib and Tray

Wednesday 16th November 2016

Missuswolf Typewriter Compliments Disclosure

I received a Tidy Tot All In One Bib and Tray as part of this blog post. Please note this post also contains affiliate links

I managed to crack this Baby-Led Weaning lark and I’ve also found an essential along the way.

For those who’ve stuck with my ramblings over the past few months you’ll be well aware how daunting I found weaning (who could forget the episode of The Woes of Weaning huh?)

And I was very dubious – and super cautious – of Baby-Led Weaning.

But do you know what?

I prefer it.

Little Miss E is fiercely independent (always has been – she’s not one for sitting on her mama’s knee for snuggles).

When I started weaning, it was baby rice and porridge. We ventured into pouches but I’ll admit it. I don’t have the patience to sit and spoon feed (bad mother alert).

So I persevered with offering her finger food with her feeds.

And she loved it.

Baby-Led Weaning is actually my kind of weaning. Letting them crack on with feeding themselves means I get to eat at the same time. Brucey bonus!

But one thing I dislike about Baby-Led weaning is the mess.

My. God.

It gets everywhere; her hair, her chair, on her clothes, all over the tray and don’t even mention the poor floor! I even got a hoover specifically for the middle floor (I live in a Town House) that’s cordless to clear up all this mess.

So when I was offered the opportunity to try a Tidy Tot All In One Bib and Tray Kit I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I hadn’t heard of them and I was super intrigued.

Missuswolf Tidy Tot package

 

I felt like the OCD

clean freak in me

had been saved.

 

The bib and tray kit come in a rather small plastic wallet, which I was surprised with. I opened it and took the bib out first, followed by the tray.

Missuwolf Tidy Tot All In One Bib

I was like a magician – or better yet – Mary Poppins herself.

The tray looked deceivingly small.

But as I pulled it out of the wallet, it sprung into shape. A neat little trick – I’ll def be folding this away with the bib in the plastic wallet to take out with me.

It also has two suction pads underneath which easily attach to the high chair tray to keep it in place. It also has a line of velcro along the front.

Missuswolf Tidy Tot Tray

 

This line attaches to the line of velcro along the inside of the front of the bib.

Missuswolf All In One Bid velcro on front

I firstly put the tray around the high chair. Very easy, it just goes over and you feel for the suction pads and push these in place.

Then I attached the bib to the tray using the velcro.

Now comes the hard bit. Grabbing a wriggly baby and getting her to sit in her high chair. I don’t know why she protests so much. She should be well aware it’s feeding time at the zoo by now and happily slide into her chair.

Once said wriggly baby is in place, I sing to her (this is optional. Otherwise she kicks off. She hates having clothes put on her. Weirdo.) while I slide her arms in the bib and fasten the velcro at the nape of her neck.

Missuswolf baby in a high chair with Tidy Tot Tray and All In One Bib

Baby-Led Weaning Ready.

I then scatter her food along the green tray and voila!

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She can’t reach over the side and feed the floor.

Nor can she sneak pieces down the front of her dress.

Everything is caught either on the tray or on the bib.

Missuswolf Baby in a high chair eating food on a Tidy Tot tray

Nee Mess.

I can sit back and tuck into my own grub without freaking out about the carpet eating more food than Ella.

Look at my floor here! Nothing – zilch.

Missuswolf baby in a high chair using Tidy Tot

Plus the tray and bib are easily wipe able and the bib is machine washable. Hurrah!

It can also be used for messy play. A realm I’m yet to venture into. But now I have the tools what the heck.

Let’s get messy.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

Guest Post: Park Life

Wednesday 9th November 2016

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Today’s Guest Post is by Cat from RockandRollPussyCat.co.uk

The North East is home to a great selection of parks which are perfect for toddlers. Since the birth of the little man I’ve pretty much worked my way round most of them. Here are some of my favourites : –

Saltwell Park

Missuswolf Saltwell Statue

With plenty of free parking around the perimeter of the park and a large free car park Saltwell Park is perfect for a free day out with the whole family. It’s my go to place for a short notice day out and always seems to be a hit with my toddler.

The park, set in the heart of Gateshead has picturesque grounds and is filled with lots of things to do.  There’s a small animal corner, two large well kept children’s play areas, a large lake that you can take boat trips on in the warmer months and a little train that drives round the park for just £1.50.

There’s plenty of space to walk with good ramps and flat paths for wheelchair and pushchair access. It’s a haven for wildlife and I’ve managed to capture some great photographs of both animals and flowers and it’s a great scenic backdrop for any photoshoots for little people.

There are facilities within the park, with toilets located in both Saltwell Towers and a block near the play parks. Saltwell Towers also has a reasonably priced cafe but you can also eat at one of the picnic benches outdoors or plonk a rug down on one of the large grassed areas.

If you haven’t visited Saltwell Park before I’d urge you to give it a go. It’s a beautiful space which is well worth a visit.

Barnes Park

Missuswolf picture of Barnes Park sculpture

Barnes Park is a recent rediscovery for me. I used to visit as a child but it became quite run down with very little to do, but in recent years it’s had a complete overhaul. It’s located just outside the centre of Sunderland and has free parking, though the car park is pretty small so parking isn’t always guaranteed, especially on sunny days.

Missuswolf Barnes Park

There are lots of walks which meander through the overhanging tree’s and along the lake edge, it’s a very pretty place to spend time when the weathers nice.

There are two modern play areas, one for little ones and one with climbing equipment and a huge slide for the older ones. There’s a beautiful sensory garden which is great for photographs, well used bowling greens and tennis courts and a small café with outside seating.

There are toilets are changing facilities right next to the children’s play are that are free to use, modern and clean. They even have adult changing facilities with a hoist which I think is a fantastic addition.

Herrington Country Park

Missuswolf Herrington Park picture

Herrington Park is a vast space in Penshaw, built on top of an old colliery site.  It’s overlooked by Penshaw Monument which at 70 foot high stands high on a hill and dominates the local landscape.

The park has plenty of open space for kicking a ball around or learning to ride a bike and with a large lake there’s plenty of opportunity to feed the ducks or watch the model boats being sailed.  There sculptures dotted round the park and lots of wildlife to see and a good sized BMX park for the more adventurous among us.

Penshaw nurseries and tearoom is located on the other side of the main road to Herrington Country Park and is worth a visit – their scones are delicious!

Do you have a favourite park?

Where you’ll find RockandRollPussyCat:

Twitter:@Catherine212

Facebook: Rockandrollpcat

Instagram: catherine212

 

My Parent Hacks: No 2 – Poddle Pod

Tuesday 1st November 2016

Please note this post contains affiliate links.

My second Parent Hack is a Poddle Pod.

Missuswolf Baby Ella lying in a Poddle Pod

Oh my god so tiny!

I was introduced to this by some close friends when Ella was only a few  weeks old.

She was born a very tiny five pounds and everything she lay in – a moses basket, the Bednest, her crib – they all swamped her. We found that she didn’t really settle with all the space around her.

The PODDLE POD® is a naptime nest that gently snuggles little ones, giving them the feeling of being cuddled that they so desperately want.

I was a bit dubious to buy one at first as they cost about £50.

But it was the best £50 I’ve ever spent. Well, in baby land anyway.

The snuggle effect was exactly what our tiny baby needed. The Poddle Pod fit inside the moses basket, the Bednest and her crib.

Missuswolf Tiny baby Ella asleep on a Poddle Pod

And she slept. Hurrah! The key to all parent survival.

Although it doesn’t encourage you to let them sleep in them overnight, this was the only way tiny Ella would settle. The snuggle effect obviously comforted her. She slept in her Poddle Pod in the Bednest (another Parent Hack to come) next to me up until she was three and a half months.

Of course I was worried that she’d become accustomed to it and wouldn’t sleep without it.

So I made the decision to take the Bednest down and just have her in her moses basket next to me on the night-time. Without the Poddle Pod.

She’d obviously grown and her body filled more of the moses basket at this stage. The transition went smoothly and she found comfort in snuggling into the sides of the moses basket.

My point being here is that it’s all trial and error and you do what you need to do in order to survive. 

What works for one baby, may not work for another.

But the Poddle Pod has many other uses.

You can take it to friend’s houses and you have a portable place in which they can safely nap. We did this one Bank Holiday weekend where we rocked up to a friend’s house with the Poddle Pod. And the Perfect Prep (Hack no 1).

Missuswolf Baby Ella lying on a Poddle Pod

With a Poddle Pod, you have a dumping ground for when you want to take a shower/go to the toilet/get a cuppa or just to stare at them in disbelief that they’re yours.

We used ours every day up until she was about four months where she no longer fit it and was more mobile. Totally got our money’s worth.

So preggers ladies and new parents out there – if there’s anything that I would recommend you invest in, it’s definitely a Poddle Pod.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Halloween Baby Rave

Friday 28th October 2016

Yesterday saw the Little Lady and I attending our first Halloween Party.

And it wasn’t just any old party.

It was a Halloween. Baby. Rave.

Missuswolf Halloween baby rave Albion Centre Blyth dark room uv lights

I’m not the most creative of people. So when it came to Ella’s Halloween costume, it was a good old trip to Asda (Actually it was more like a lazy-online-order-in-my-pjs-while-necking-wine).

No doubt there would be other’s in the same outfit (turns out I didn’t see any).

It was suitable Halloween Baby Rave attire.

A bright orange pumpkin vest with a fluorescent green tutu and stripey white and green tights.

I’m actually jealous.

I want an adult sized one.

Instead I took the opportunity to wear the darkest and vampiest shades of my Urban Decay Naked 2 eyeshadow coupled with my new Crimson lippie from Boots Natural Collection (recommendation by a very good friend). Hell I even did a bit of backcombing of my hair to save me from brushing it properly.

Missuswolf Halloween baby Rave woman holding baby in pumpkin outift looking at each other

Halloween Baby Rave Ready

With it being the closest I’ll get to a rave in these toned down years of my life I’m bliddy making the most of it!

So off we trot to the Albion Centre in Blyth. The Rave started at 12.30 (and was on until 2pm) so this gave me a lovely long morning to potter about.

It turns out the more time I have, the worse a mammy I am. I packed her milk, just not the actual bottle.

Or any kind of plug device (dummy).

More fool me as we stood in the queue and she just whinged the entire time. So much so that we had to borrow a dummy from my really good mammy friend (high-five to the mammy tribe!)

Once we signed in, we parked up our buggies in the buggy park-come-chill- out-room. Cue mammy friends standing round catching up seeing how each other is and offering moral support to those who are having a tough day.

That’s when the music started.

Ah the distant memories of being pulled towards a nightclub for the pulsating music. Now I’m being pulled towards a soft-play in the dark.

Shoes were not permitted in the Rave Room so we all played pass the babas as we took it in turns to take off our footwear.

Once inside, the room had been darkened but there were plenty of UV lights to still be able to see where we were going.

Missuswolf Halloween baby rave darkened room with UB lights and soft play

We made our way through the room, stopping to chat to people we knew before taking our place with our mammy tribe (cake club) next to the ball pool.

Halloween Baby Rave baby in a ball pool holding a red ball

Although the room was really warm to start with, it did cool off a little as the party went on.

The lovely Rachael Logue who organised the event, did a speech about Tots and Tums and her experience with Postnatal Depression. This was then followed by glo-sticks and dancing at the front of the room.

Missuswolf Halloween baby Rave people in a dark room with uv lights

There was a set-up in the middle of the room with soft mats and soft play toys. Cushions were scattered for little babies to lie on or for mammies to perch their tired backsides.

Ella played in and around the ball pool with her little playmates until I had to do the mammy jig to calm down her whinging. Of course I still wanted to chat so I was up and down with her while I nattered on.

Halloween baby Rave two babies in pumpkin outfits sitting together

Floozy Ella flirting already

The sensory aspect of the rave was hugely successful. It wore a lot of the babas out – including Ella. She NEVER falls asleep on me but she was passed out on me towards the end.

That’s how I measure a successful baby event!

Enough to wear her out that she falls asleep on me.

Back home I troop to feed and change her. I think someone must be teething as an incessant whinge ensues the whole afternoon – enough to drive me to avoid bedtime.

Instead I escaped to ‘tidy the kitchen’ where I promptly popped open a bottle and hid drinking fizz.

And had my own mammy rave.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

Pregnancy: Fetal Movements Matter

Wednesday 26th October 2016

The charity Tommy’s has this month launched it’s Movements Matter campaign.

The campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of monitoring baby’s movements during pregnancy.

Getting to know your baby

and your body

Each baby has their own individual pattern and this is what you need to monitor.

I say this because when I was pregnant with Ella, she moved mostly at night time.

I’d be sliding into bed about 9pm and just getting settled, when the movements came.

And boy did they come.

But I became accustomed to it. She’d kick in the morning when I started eating my breakfast.  I’d then get a few kicks throughout the day. However, the bulk of her movement was always at night. Typical party animal. Like her parents.

This was my pattern.

I knew it inside out; my body was in tune with her movements.

This is what you need to look out for.

Your baby’s pattern.

And take note of when the movements slow down.

Reduced baby movements can be the first sign that a baby is in distress. Recent research has shown that around half of women who had a stillbirth said that they had noticed that their baby’s movements had slowed down beforehand

And ALWAYS go with your instinct.

Missuswolf Tommy's Movements Matter Campaign pregnant woman holding belly

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since becoming a mammy,

it’s to trust those instincts.

They are with you from the moment you are pregnant and they are there for a reason.

Our recent survey showed that 52% of women would be worried about looking for help when they notice reduced fetal movements due to a fear of ‘wasting midwife’s  time’.

What’s that old saying? ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’.

It’s always better to be over-cautious.

It is heartbreaking to think that babies’ lives may be lost because women are not aware of the importance of monitoring fetal movements. Or because women are afraid of ‘wasting midwives’ time’. Raising awareness and empowering women to seek help promptly could save lives.

That’s what the midwives are there for.

Use them.

Contact them.

There is always someone at the end of the phone. Please, use it and put your mind at rest if you notice any changes or you just feel that something is not quite right.

Stillbirth rates are shockingly high in the UK – in 2015 we ranked 24th out of 49 high-income countries. For every 220 babies born in the UK, one is stillborn.

So please, spread the word. A similar campaign was launched in Norway and bought stillbirth rates down by a third.

If you’re pregnant, become in tune with your body and your baby.

Get to know those movements.

And the moment something doesn’t feel right, pick up that phone.

Kick Me Baby One More Time – as Movements really do Matter.

Love Missuswolf xxx

The Juice Festival: Our Trip To Lulladub at The Cluny 2

Disclosure

image

Monday 24th October 2016

Yesterday, my Little Lady and I were invited along to Lulladub at The Cluny 2 as part of the Juice Festival.

The Juice Festival is a festival for families and under-25s

running from 21st to 29th October in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Lulladub is a performance of traditional lullabies from around the world remixed. Taking influence from dance and electronic music, Lulladub combines voice, percussion and music technology to generate a musical and visual experience perfect for dancing, music-loving little ones and their grown ups.

The performance we were attending was at 1pm. Due to popular demand, an additional slot had also been added at 2.30pm.

Missuswolf The Cluny 2 entrance Juice Festival Lulladub

Prologue

I’ll get to the performance in a second but I wanted to set the scene for the day:

In my true form I thought I had plenty of time to get there. I pottered around in the morning, catching up on the never ending house work I’d let slide on Saturday (Yup I managed to escape being a mother for the day and had a day in York with girls the woohoo!)

So my parent battery was fully recharged and I was raring to go to Lulladub. I had the address of The Cluny 2 ready on Google Maps and I was giving myself an hour for a 28 minute car journey.

Well, as best laid plans happen these days, they always go to pot. There was the usual feeding/changing rigmarole, then forgetting to print tickets so running to do this at the last minute. Upon packing the car with the pram, the changing bag and then the child to only realise the attachment point for the carseat is no longer there – I was running twenty minutes behind my schedule.

Several attempts later and I couldn’t get the attachment point back in the car. Sweating and swearing, I strapped Ella’s car seat in using the seat belt. Cue that awful whinge that drives me nuts as I did this. Dummy shoved back in – I jumped in the driver’s seat. Hurrah – we’re finally on the road.

I always get lost no matter how good a Sat Nav is. I obviously took a wrong turning somewhere at some point and wound up in a dead end. Never mind I eventually managed to get in the vicinity of The Cluny 2 on time. I struggled for a space and ended up in a side street. Not to worry it wasn’t too far.

Trouble is, it was an incline walk down to The Cluny 2. I clung on to the buggy for dear life, terrified my boots would slip on the wet pavement and leaves. This is not a criticism at all about the venue or weather; I should have planned a bit better and got there earlier to park closer. And wore shoes with grips.

Never mind, we made it! Albeit a couple of minutes past the starting time but in parentland, this is the norm. There were other families still arriving as I rocked up.

Lulladub

The above rambling was necessary. My tardiness was not tutted at by the lovely staff who were more than helpful on arrival.

The event staff greeted us with smiles.  I scrambled for my now screwed up ticket in the side pocket of my bag. The staff on the door had a guest list to hand and, upon seeing my panic stricken face, were super sweet and said not to worry. They asked for my surname, which I blurted out and, as he began checking his list, I found the ticket.

Waving it around with elation like a Golden Ticket, he nodded and ticked me off the list.

Lulladub is specifically

for babies 0-2 years

Another member of event staff advised there was a buggy park to the room on the left, where I promptly dumped my travel system, grabbed Ella and the changing bag and scrambled out the room. The same member of staff then advised that the show was down a couple of flights of stairs and to take care while going down. He also told me where the toilets were and the ultimate essential – where the Baby Change Facility was.

The housekeeping of the event staff was superb; for a flustered parent trying to make all things collide in the universe at the right place and the right time (without having a meltdown) – these people nailed it.

I took my care down the stairs and entered the studio.

There were a collection of soft padded blue mats in the centre in front of the stage and, at the opposite side of the room, was the tiered seating area. Despite being a little late, I hadn’t missed much. The band were chatting to the audience and were just starting their background to Lulladub.

Missuswolf The Festival performers on stage at Lulladub at The Cluny 2

What’s great about events like this is that it’s done by parents themselves, who’ve been through (or are still going through) the crazy sleepless nights, the weaning, potty training you name it. They can bring experience to their performances. That reassuring, understanding we’re-all-in-this-together you need as a harassed carer of a little human.

The opening speech encouraged parents to come and go as they needed to, to make use of the space and get up and dance with their little ones and to generally have fun with it. This really put me at ease after the anxiety of getting there (my fault not there’s). It meant I could well and truly relax into it.

The Lulladub band consisted of four people, three men and a woman.

As a music-lover, the performance was an all rounder. There was the mixture of percussion instruments with musical technology.

It was totally different to what I expected.

I think I was envisaging nursery rhymes with a twist. This was not that at all.

But that’s what made it good. As it says above, it’s about traditional lullabies from around the world.

Missuswolf Musicians on stage playing percussion instruments at The Cluny 2 Juice Festival Lulladubs

Despite not recognising any songs, the combination of the instruments and vocals produced catchy lullabies that I could rock Ella too. Whether it was swaying her in my lap, bouncing her up and down on my knee or swinging side to side with her hooked round my hip.


In true Ella style, she was hungry half way through (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree does it?) No issue was made of this either – the band had encouraged us to do what we needed to do and all around me babies were being fed.

One of the songs was a nod to the sleepless nights.

The female vocalist used her experience of when she woke up at 3am for the umpteenth time one particular night. She recalled the annoyance and frustration that she felt. However, the moment she held her baby, all that anger disappeared.

It’s replaced with that insane rush of love.

Completely and utterly relatable.

The song that followed was about sleep and dreams. She gestured to the mobile hanging from the ceiling that signified this.

Missuswolf juice festival Lulladub mobile patterns hanging from ceiling

The songs all had a little back story to them too, which was interesting. And they were themed from around the world, such as Brazil as well as a song about our very own River Tyne.

I got up on my feet and swished Ella about for the last song. She had her nosey parker face on the whole time, absorbing everything; the music, the lights, the decorations and of course – the audience. She loves a good people watch.

Missuswolf The Juice Festival at The Cluny 2 Lulladub performers on stage

The performance lasted an hour but that seemed to fly by. An hour is a decent time for events like this when you have babies as no matter how entertaining, they do start to get restless.

Overall it was a good experience. I loved bringing Ella to somewhere like The Cluny 2 where I’ve been in the past to gigs. It felt good to share that side with her – but on the baby spectrum. I’m introducing her to concepts and interests that I like. I hope that it will stimulate and encourage her to have the same appreciation that I have for music.

My only feedback would be for a bit more visual as part of the performance, more colourful imagery on the Projector at the back. Although this may deviate from what the performance is actually about, this is just personal to what I experience with Ella. As, aside from liking music, she’s a very visual baby.

Before I left, I got chatting to one of the women sitting next to me. She was saying it was the first time that she’d come out to anything like this with her baby on her own – and she loved it. I think the welcoming nature of the staff and the relaxed environment of the performance really helped her.

It’s why events like these are important for parents as well as babies.

The idea of the Juice Festival is a celebration of creativity and culture – opening up our children’s minds.

And in doing so we open up our own.

Love Missuswolf xxx