Keeping Children Safe in the Sun

Sun Safety Pic

Keeping the children safe in the sun is something that I will always worry about – I got burnt a lot as a child and spent so much time covered in aftersun with peeling skin and itchiness. As LP has the same colouring as me I worry constantly about her getting burnt. It isn’t just LP though, I worry the same about Little Man and other children as soon as the sun makes an appearance.

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When House of Fraser got in contact and asked me to write about how I keep the children safe in the sun I knew that I’d have a lot to say as it is a topic so close to my heart. Here are my tips for keeping children safe in the sun:

Sun Cream

Always, always remember the sun cream! We have sun cream at home and sun cream that lives in the change bag. Make sure you get as high a factor as possible and reapply every couple of hours.

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Hats

Always get your child to wear a hat in sunny weather (Even if they have to borrow one from their sibling!) – LP now has a routine where she will put her hat on before she goes outside – She knows that sunny weather means she has to wear a hat and even enjoys wearing it! Getting babies to wear hats is more difficult. We always found the hats with velcro chin straps to be better as the baby can’t get them off as easily and they tend to stay in place.

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Stay Out Of The Sun

I know, on sunny days you just want to be out in the sun but it’s recommended that during peak sun hours – 12pm-2pm ish – when the sun is at it’s hottest you limit your children’s time in the sun. We tend to have a relaxed extended lunch on very hot days and go back out later in the afternoon when it’s cooler. If we’re on a day out and can’t stay inside during this time we try and find shady areas or cover the children up a bit more.

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Water

Make sure your children drink enough water when they’re out in the sun. It’s easy to get dehydrated especially if they’re running around enjoying themselves.

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Disclosure: House of Fraser sent us the above outfits to feature in this post however all opinions are my own. You can find Little Man’s All in One from Bonnie Baby at House of Fraser and LP’s dress from Toby Tiger at House of Fraser.

Pets and Children

* This post is in collaboration with All Pond Solutions

I have always had pets growing up, mainly cats but fish as well. Our cats were pets for years, literally my whole childhood, and even now we have cats that our children will grow up with. It was such a lovely part of my childhood to have cats to come home to – A constant friend and companion, someone to tell my worries to and talk to. Those cats I had as pets through childhood made me see a pet-less home as a lonely place.

I loved having fish too, although they are a completely different pet. Lovely to watch but they don’t do a huge amount. Once you’ve got them and everything they need – A fish tank, fish tank lighting, stones and plants, a filter system – Then fish are easy to keep, relaxing to watch and teach children how to care for pets with little effort involved.

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Many friends of mine had hamsters but they didn’t seem to live very long – A great pet to teach your children about mortality but I’d rather have fish rather than get something that will only live a year or two!

Dogs are great pets and one that I’m sure we will have in the future. I’ve always had a preference for cats over dogs, mainly because I grew up with cats, but also because dogs need more work – Walking them, bathing them etc. This is something I’m sure we will have more time for when the children are older and I would love for them to experience the loyalty of a dog and what a great friend they can be. Dogs are fantastic – Playing fetch for hours, keeping you company, learning tricks.

We will definitely have a dog one day.

Do you have pets? What pets do you have or are you thinking of getting a pet?

Having Two Babies is Hard

It’s only now, that Little Man is a year old, that I can find the words to talk about how hard it has been having two children.

When LP was newly born our world had turned upside down by this gorgeous bundle of helplessness that needed us so completely. We were in a blur of feeding on demand, sleeping when we could, constant nappy changes and everything else that came with a baby. But before we knew it we found ourselves in a routine and getting out of the house, doing housework and even having a hot cup of tea became second nature. Without even realising it we fell into a routine that worked for us and the day to day logistics of looking after a baby and a home all fell into place. By the time Little Man came along Hubby and I could care for LP with our eyes closed – It was easy, it was fun and we loved it. Just over a year ago I didn’t appreciate how easy having just LP was.

Little Man came into our lives when LP was 20 months old. We found ourselves immediately changing two lots of nappies. Little Man fed constantly and for most of those feeds the TV was our saviour to keep LP entertained. In the mornings Little Man would often be in bed with me, having had very little sleep, and LP would wake up. I couldn’t stay in bed as I had when LP was new, I had a toddler to look after. So even if Little Man slept a bit longer, I still had to get up for LP.

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When we were up LP needed breakfast. LP also needed lunch and dinner. When LP had been newborn we would eat when she was sleeping – Sometimes missing breakfast or having dinner at 10pm. When you have a toddler you have to feed them and hopefully around about the right times of the day. You have to keep up with their routine whilst still trying to care for a teenie baby that has no routine at all.

Little Man went through a phase, from very early on, where he would be sick after every feed. We’d keep him upright after feeds for as long as possible but even then he would be sick through his nose whenever we put him down. This phase lasted forever. Every night was a blur and every week blended into the next. I don’t think I left the house during those weeks. I can’t even remember how long it lasted for – Having no sleep, having a baby sleep on you, feeding Little Man constantly as he just kept throwing up all the milk he swallowed. It was relentless and some of the darkest times since we became parents.

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At some point something changed. Little Man stopped being sick, he started to sleep for three hours at a time and we got into a routine of sorts. He would wake at 6am every day having had a feed at 10pm, 1am, 4am. I was up all night every night and until 8 months I hadn’t had longer than three hours sleep in one go. It was only at 11.5 months that he slept through and he has still only done that a handful of times.

I don’t remember last summer. I see pictures of last summer and know that it happened, that I was there, but I was a zombie. I was running on no sleep and chocolate biscuits. I was going through the motions to get through another day, that would then lead to another night where I would hope I would get sleep but then inevitably not get sleep and the cycle would continue.

But again, at some point, we started to make it out of the house during the day. We’d go and see friends or pop to the shops. This was around the 6 month mark where Little Man would be a bit more interactive, not just wanting food and sleep but happy to watch the world go by. He also started to sit up and was happier then. Everything got so much easier when he could sit up – When he could sit in the highchair and chase a raisin around the tray for half an hour without getting fed up.

Now, Little Man is a year old. We’re regularly getting sleep in 4+ hour installments and there is light at the end of the sleep tunnel. He also eats at the same time as LP does, we have meals together and everyone is happy. Little Man plays, his sister even plays with him sometimes and he is happy playing with whatever is around. He’s also happy in the pushchair, in a shopping trolley or in the car. Little Man, generally, is a very happy little thing and as a family we are happy.

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I guess what I’m trying to say, is having two babies is hard. Very hard at times, but it does get easier. I don’t remember the hard times, they are a blur. I do remember my beautiful newborn baby boy and his sister giving him cuddles. The best thing ever! Then I’m aware of now, and the amazing family unit that we have become, where hard times are few and far between and most days are full of smiles and happy times. Getting to this point was hard but in the scheme of things it wasn’t that long to cope with and get through, it was a few months of a dark cloud over us and now the sun is shining again.

I don’t remember last summer but I’ll definitely remember this one – Life with two – or more – gets easier eventually!

An Afternoon From Hell

I wrote, quite a few months ago now, about how solo parenting sucks. I wrote it when our family of four was still a fairly new thing and doing the dinner, bath and bed routine by myself was a horrendous experience. Since then a lot has changed. We no longer have bathtimes when Hubby isn’t here in the evening but I’m hoping to introduce baths again soon, now that Little Man is more independent – to some degree at least.

Since that episode of solo parenting hell things have got better and I haven’t had a solo parenting meltdown in a long time. Since that post actually. Well, until today. Today everything that could go wrong did go wrong and it really wasn’t a good day.

Last night LP started to show signs of being poorly. She was lethargic and not herself at all, she didn’t want dinner and just wanted cuddles – Eating ice cubes and watching cartoons instead of having dinner. She told us her teeth hurt and so I put it down to teething. Add to that the fact that Little Man is teething too at the moment and we really had a happy house last night! We skipped bathtime as neither baby was in the mood for it and put them both to bed.

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To say the children were unsettled is an understatement. I think the only sleep Hubby and I got was between midnight and 3am. Wake ups before that, wake ups after that and the cherry on the top was LP being sick on her bedsheets at 4am. Two unsettled, unhappy babies, nurofen everywhere and sheet changes.

We didn’t get back into bed until 6am and I knew that today would be hard. Hubby went to work at midday and I resigned myself to a day of PJs and Disney movies – Sometimes that is all that will do. I had no energy for anything else and both children were out of sorts and not themselves at all.

The day was going fine until 4pm when Little Man needed a nap. I took him upstairs whilst LP watched Curious George downstairs and rocked him to sleep/ I had just put him down when LP started crying hysterically downstairs. Little Man woke up in his cot and started screaming too so I thought I’d see what was wrong with LP before trying to settle him again.

I got downstairs to a scene from my nightmares. LP was standing in the doorway covered from chest to feet in sick. There was a trail behind her over the rug, foam floor mats, wooden floor all covered in sick and the sofa, where it obviously started had two huge sick patches on it as well as cushions and blanket all covered. LP’s newest cuddly toy – a review item that arrived today, was also covered in sick.

I had a Little Man screaming upstairs. LP was screaming too and all this sick as well. I decided that Little Man had to just get on with it for now – He was safe in his cot and I just hoped that wouldn’t be sick too from all the crying. I stripped LP off, wipes her hands and face over and got her to sit somewhere clean whilst I cleared up. I told her we’d have a bath in a minute and every time I went in the kitchen to rinse a cloth or grab something she said to me “Bath in a minute Mummy” in between tears. I chucked the blanket, cushion covers, cuddly toy and LP’s clothes in the washing machine, cleaned off the floor and sofa and took LP upstairs.

I grabbed Little Man and gave him a cuddle whilst I ran the bath and then he stood happily whilst I bathed LP – Who had now decided that she didn’t want a bath and would scream through the whole thing. I wouldn’t have bothered but she had sick in her hair. Every time she cried Little Man cried too so it was a cycle of both of them taking it in turns to cry.

I got LP out the bath as quick as possible, dried her off and took them both into her room whilst I got her into some clean PJs. I then put her in our bed to watch TV whilst I got Little Man to sleep. A few minutes later Little Man was in his bed and I was watching cartoons with LP in our bed.

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That hour was one of the most upsetting and stressful that I’ve experienced since having Little Man nearly a year ago. Having two, or more, children who are upset at the same time and only being able to comfort one of them is horrible. I will never, ever be ok with leaving one baby to cry whilst I sort the other one out and will always feel guilty that I can’t be there for both of them at once.

I’m hoping now that we have turned a corner with the sickness, that we have a better night tonight and that I never, ever have to repeat that hour again.

Solo parenting still sucks, just not as often as it did before.

How To Make People Feel Awkward When Out For A Meal with Small Children

This guide is brought to you with thanks to a recent meal at Strada just behind Oxford Street when I met up with the lovely @MeandMyMunchie for the day in London. We walked our socks off and were glad to finally reach the restaurant.

I have to say that from the start the staff were lovely and absolutely gushed over Little Man – waved to him, chatting to him and LM even had a flirt with one of the waitresses and held her hand. This wasn’t a bad meal out. Just awkward.

We asked for a table for two and two highchairs and I asked if there was somewhere to leave the double buggy, folded, once we’d sorted the children out and was told I could leave it over by the side of the restaurant. The next man that comes along asks if I can leave the pushchair outside – No, I’m folding it and putting it to the side, give me a minute. Would anyone leave a £300+ pushchair outside a busy central London restaurant…?

When we’re all sorted, and the children are in highchairs a waiter comes over with colouring in menus and crayons for the children. Both children. I whisk Little Man’s crayons away before he starts eating them and give the second placemat to LP to colour.

We wait an eternity to order and the waitress takes both our drinks and food orders at the same time – we could have done with being asked for our drinks order when we arrived after a morning walking round the London sights. She then comes back with our drinks and LP’s starter – cucumber and carrot sticks with baby tomatoes and a tomato dip was actually peeled cucumber chunks and standard tomato slices, not a carrot to be seen. LP wasn’t that bothered, kept drinking her juice and eating breadsticks from the change bag whilst Little Man happily ate the cucumber – After we prised a china side plate away for him that the waitress had given him because we’d said he was sharing our food rather than having his own meal.

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By the time our mains arrived the waitress had wiped down the children’s side of the table twice, whilst they were eating and had picked food up off the floor from around them. A waiter had also swept completely under their highchairs. We ignored this and carried on as we were.

Our mains arrived and Little Man shared mine – Until he got bored and ate mini gingerbread men instead! LP ate her pasta happily and we all enjoyed our meal – whilst the Strada staff made sure our table was wiped regularly and the floor swept continuously. I was aware that we were the only table having this treatment – Every other table was wiped between courses if necessary (not usually) and after the customers had left. No-one else had their table wiped around their plate whilst they were eating yet LP had her table wiped down around her plate and Little Man had the table cleaned near enough every time he picked his food up from the table to put it in his mouth!

After we’d all finished our plates were cleared away and we ordered our desserts. Mine arrived a lot before @MeandMyMunchie‘s and the waitress said another would be out in a minute but I’d finished mine before the other arrived – we had to send it back too as it was meant to be a tiramisu and instead was a second chocolate fondant – The waitress didn’t seem happy that we’d queried the dessert –  ‘That’s what you asked for!’ Clearly, it wasn’t.

The staff continued to clean the table religiously and at this point LP was done eating, done colouring and wanted to play with the salt and pepper pots. By this point I was a bit sick of the constant cleaning of our table and though ‘to hell with it’ and let LP explore the salt and pepper mills on the table. She couldn’t turn them but I didn’t realise that the salt mill would let salt out if she knocked it on the table. It was only after we’d paid and were leaving that I noticed the quite large patch of salt under her chair – Oh well, the staff would have something to clean up now!

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I don’t think Strada staff have ever come across a 10 month old baby that eats from the table a la baby led weaning, doesn’t use a china plate, would rather eat crayons than draw with them and when eating drops food onto the floor. As a parent of my second 10 month old baby I know that this is all entirely normal.

In future it would be great if Strada staff offered parents crayons before handing them to babies – the same can be said for china plates. It would also be great if customers with small children were treated pretty much the same as customers dining without children – Cleaning the table between courses or even after we’ve left is attentive enough.

Just for the record, whenever I usually go out anywhere with my children I always clean up after them. I wait until the end of a meal, wipe off the table, the high chairs and even use a baby wipe to clean up the floor to. This visit to Strada was the one and only time I haven’t cleaned up after them, why? Because Strada staff seemed to love cleaning so much and to be honest, by that point I just wanted to leave.

So, eating establishments take note, to make people with small children feel incredibly awkward make sure you clean incessantly every time there is a square inch of table surface with any sign of food on it, regardless of whether the people eating have finished or not.