Thursday, 20 October 2016

Regatta Outdoors and the Vogue Williams Collection

I recently got the chance to spend an exciting afternoon with Regatta which included a style consultation with Irish model Vogue Williams - was kind of spooky as it was the very same day that Mayo was playing Dublin in the all Ireland final and we were supporting the respective teams. All of my family live in Mayo on the West Coast of Ireland and Vogue is a fully paid up Dub on the East Coast:-) Luckily we didn't come to blows as it was a draw (alas at a later date there was a replay and Dublin won)! You can see my excitement at the products and colours she chose for me below. You may even recognise the pic if you follow me on Twitter as I posted it there with lots of fanfair and excitement when I realised it was featured in OK Magazine!!! 
So first of all I had a consultation with Vogue where she chose from her Autumn Winter Heritage Range of Regatta what she decided would suit me. She picked a Kizmit Hooded Fleece in deep teal (which I adore and they're now reduced from £40 to £29.95) and a Women's Icebound Jacket in deep lake (now reduced from £70 to £52.45) for me. Both the colours and the relaxed style really suited me. They were actually quite slimming too even though people make the mistake of thinking that's only the case with black. Then it was off to have my makeup and hair done so that when I put the products on I would look the part. 
You can see Vogue holding her choices up to me in the first pic and you'll notice she's also wearing the Kizmit Hooded Fleece herself. Vogue Williams is actually currently the face of #RegattaOutdoors and is a passionate advocate of their style and products. The fleece is hooded and the jacket is not, so you get that cool youthful look of having your hood out over your jacket. Not ideal when it's raining but PERFECT for the cold temperatures when walking a dog or in my case the 2 school runs I do a day, walking 30 miles a week as I don't drive. Being wrapped up is crucial and the fleece and jacket combo is a winner!!

As you'll know from Instagram, Lottie modelled one of their hats on the day, unintentionally so it's quite large to say the least but ever so cute! We've since received it in the correct size and it's gorgeous as you can see here.
Aaron also received the Regatta treatment. You can see him on the day here in his new stylish Parka jacket:
After the event we received wellies for Aaron - you'll have seen him trying them out in a water fountain with videos I have posted on Twitter (but this pic gives you some idea) - and a Mudplay Rain Suit for Lottie - wearing it being pushed by Aaron on the swing below. I got it in the Enamel Blue as to me it looks turquoise and although not a colour you'd associate with a girl, I just really liked it and it suits her. Aaron loves it on her too due to the face on the hood. He adores playing with his Sister as you can see.
Lottie's all in one jacket (Mudplay Rain Suit) is coming in very handy for trips to the park when she is not snug in her buggy's cosy toes:
She has it in the 9-12 months, which I thought may not have been a good idea as it finishes at the ankle, meaning you're meant to wear it with shoes and she's not yet walking, but equally I wanted her to be able to wear it right away, so decided to opt with that and I am actually glad I did. Just after this pic was taken for example there was a very short shower of rain and she was totally sorted as she even had her hood up, so when Aaron was running for cover and I was busy putting the raincover on the buggy she was just sitting in the swing smiling at us wondering what all the fuss was about.

After the event, I regretted that my jacket didn't have a hood so I then ordered the Roanstar Jacket in Spiced Mulberry. It's one of Vogue's style picks and you can see her in it here. She looks great in it, but it's proved to me that I need to lose a few pounds. Before getting pregnant I was a size 18 and after having Lottie I was a size 16 as my legs and arms went really slim whilst pregnant as they also did when I carried Aaron. But just like when I had Aaron, I seem to pile it back on once my baby is about 6 months, maybe due to them going onto solids but I AM still breastfeeding. Anyway, I ordered the jacket in a size 18 but it is quite snug on me. You can compare and contrast Vogue in the jacket versus me ha ha. It's reduced from £90 to £67.45.

As you can see, I wear the fleece lined cuffs down, as they keep my wrists and hands snug and I find it a little skimpy if I fold them back. The jacket coordinates with my handbag AND my nappy changing bag, so it's perfect. There's no way I would ever want to order anything in a size 20, so if I want it to hang better I am just going to have to eat fewer mince pies this holiday season and less goodies even before that during Halloween.

I love the pockets as they are top loading with a popper where you can put something safe and I often find myself temporarily putting my phone in there during those moments when I can't get to my handbag quick enough and there's also side access to the pockets too. The hood has a beautiful fur trim in the same fur that's on the cuffs and along the zip line. My only criticism would be that the fur sometimes gets in the way of the zip but I've now trained it to sit back. I've worn it in the rain and unlike my Tu jacket from last Winter it does not let the rain through so I do actually get back from the school run nice and dry and toasty.
Forgive me that I don't have hair and makeup done in this pic but it is an ordinary school run and an ordinary day and that is genuinely how I look - as I rush out the door I am lucky if I have time to comb my hair, but the jacket is practical for grabbing as my top layer, especially for someone like me who does not dry. I can't push the buggy and hold an umbrella at the same time so that cosy hood is a must. It has a drawstring toggle either side, so that I can ensure that a gust of wind doesn't pull it off either as I've had that happen with other jackets and then you're wet anyway. An added benefit is that because the fur lining in the hood is inside rather than outside, like you usually see with Parkas, it means it is SO practical when doing the school run as it doesn't obscure your vision when crossing roads and keeping an eye on your active six year old. With my Tu jacket last year I often left the hood down and got wet as I couldn't see Aaron or anything left and right of me. This is way better. I love the colour it feels very Christmassy. That was the other thing with my jacket last Winter, it was black and you know me, I prefer to dress colourfully. Colour in my clothes just like my personality.

Do check out Regatta as they have up to 60% off in their Sale and up to 40% off on some new season bits, at the time of going to print here :-)

The Regatta Great Outdoors heritage collection with Vogue Williams is to celebrate 35 years of the company.

They have a lovely active Instagram account here and can be found on Facebook here.

I'll leave you with Regatta's description of my lovely new Winter jacket as they explain it so much better and with the correct jargon too :-)

The women's Roanstar Jacket is the perfect cover-up for the colder months. It's cut with flattering curved seams, a peaked hood and a drawcord at the waist so you can tailor the fit. The waterproof and breathable Isotex 5,000 coated fabric is seam sealed to lock rain showers out and the inner is lined with low-bulk, high warmth Thermo-Guard insulation. This stylish winter parka looks the part around town or on country strolls. 

  • Waterproof and breathable polyester Isotex 5000 coated taslan fabric
  • Taped seams
  • Durable water repellent finish
  • Thermo-Guard insulation
  • Luxurious faux fur lining to hood, cuffs and facings
  • Polyester taffeta lining to the body
  • Grown on hood with shockcord adjustment system
  • 2 way centre front zip
  • 2 lower pockets with handwarmers to side
Disclosure: all of the products mentioned here were complimentary as me and my little ones attended a photoshoot with Regatta.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Exciting New Products at The Baby Show at London’s Kensington Olympia this Weekend

Regular readers will know that I often attend the Baby Show. I went when pregnant with Aaron. I went when trying to conceive Lottie and again when expecting Lottie and now this weekend will be my first time attending WITH Lottie as she was too young to travel for the show earlier this year.

One of my favourite aspects of the show is the fact that you often see brand new products there that you'd otherwise not know about. You also see products that revolutionise motherhood, like Snugglebundl which is one of my all time favs!

The Baby Show with MadeForMums will be arriving at Kensington, Olympia from the 21st – 23rd October for the fourteenth year! The Show is the must-attend event for mums and dads preparing to become parents.

On The Baby Show Stage with MadeForMums there will be essential tips from the UK’s leading parenting experts and fashion shows showcasing the latest trends in the baby world. Sharing their knowledge at Olympia will be baby feeding expert, Annabel Karmel MBE, breastfeeding specialist, Clare Byam-Cook, lactation consultant, Vanessa Christie, sleep experts Chireal Shallow and Andrea Grace, British Red Cross first aid trainer, Tracey Taylor and for the first time ever – pregnancy fitness expert and ex-Olympian, Professor Greg Whyte OBE who has just launched his new book ‘Bump It Up.’

There will be over 200 exhibitors showcasing everything you need for your little one from leading brands to boutique stores, plus incredible discounts that you won’t see elsewhere. 

If you don’t know where to start in your search for the perfect buggy or you can’t decide on what colour furniture to have in the nursery, experts will be on hand at every stand to answer all your questions – no matter how big or small.

Many exhibitors use the Show as a platform to introduce their latest collections and products to consumers for the very first time, (like The Gro Company who will have their brand new Orla Kiely range with them - see my Lottie below) making this the ultimate destination to get ahead of the game and buy everything on your shopping checklist. 

There’s everything you need for your new arrival including: prams, car seats, nursery furniture, slings, clothing, feeding equipment, parenting gadgets and more – all under one roof!

Wing Yan Lee, Marketing Manager at The Baby Show says: “At The Baby Show we pride ourselves on showcasing the very best and latest products that are available on the parenting market. We’re the only Show to feature all the major baby retailers including Mothercare, Mamas & Papas and Babies R Us, as well as major leading brands such as, Stokke, iCandy, Tommee Tippee, Chicco, UPPABaby and Medela, alongside not-on-the-high street boutique brands – so there’s plenty of opportunities to browse, speak to product experts and try before you buy. We understand that a new arrival can be expensive so there are amazing discounts available to make your budget stretch that little bit further.”

Here’s a glimpse at what’s new and exciting at The Baby Show:

The new gb Pockit is the perfect pushchair for families on the go. At just 30 x 18 x 35 cm when folded and weighing just 4.3kg, the ground-breaking Pockit holds the Guinness World Record for the smallest folded stroller. It’s small enough to fit into a handbag, in an aeroplane’s overhead locker or under a train seat – whilst being sturdy, extremely durable and easy to manoeuvre. So, whether you’re planning a staycation in the UK, a mini break in Barcelona or a week in the Algarve – the gb Pockit means travelling with little ones will be fuss free! Furthermore, gb Pockit has all the qualities parents expect from the gb brand – advanced safety technology and flawless design elements such as its front swivel wheels to navigate different terrains, and roomy underneath storage basket. £149.95. Visit this record breaker on stand A14.

Hugely popular Norwegian manufacturer, Stokke are offering all visitors to their stand the unique chance to have their Tripp Trapp chair engraved. This name engraving offer ensures that your Tripp Trapp is truly personalised so whether you want the name of your child, their nickname or their birthday, you can decide! This limited edition offer is only available at their stand (E30) when a Tripp Trapp chair is purchased.

Dutch firm, Dubatti, will be introducing their One Stroller, with new updates, to the UK for the very first time at The Baby Show. This stroller can be customised to meet your exact needs – with more than 500 colour combinations so parents can alter the colours for the frame, base (bassinet/seat and shopping basket), handlebar and the cover, making it truly unique. In addition to the expanded colour combinations, parents also have a wide selection of different wheels to choose from. For example those who will use the stroller more often in the city can opt for small wheels, ensuring the stroller’s optimal manoeuvrability. Or parents can opt for the large, all-terrain wheels that guarantee a smooth ride on any type of surface. The optimised Dubatti One Stroller starts at £895. Stand F30.

Life is a journey that can start safely with the launch of Britax Römer’s BABY-SAFE i-SIZE infant carrier. Designed with Britax Römer’s renowned crash testing capabilities and research, it conforms to the new car seat regulation ECE R129 (i-Size) and is suitable for newborns up to 15 months, with 83cm of space. The BABY-SAFE i-SIZE can be used with one of two new bases, including a one-of-a-kind FLEX BASE that allows parents to adjust the angle, providing an ergonomic, flatter position for their baby. Visit Britax on stand C24 to test out their brand new BABY-SAFE iSIZE infant carrier for yourself! BABY-SAFE iSIZE infant carrier + Flex Base = £300.

Dynamic new company, ‘Lullaby Shades’ is using The Baby Show to launch their first product; the ‘Lullaby Shade for Buggies.’ This nifty product is the first sleep shade that also offers an integrated music system and free album download of bespoke music; making it the ideal compact travel companion in any situation. The easy to fit sleep shade is designed to suit all major brands of buggies and pushchairs with a hood, and offers 94% UVA & UVB sun protection for your little one. By creating a music-filled, darkened sleep pod, baby can sleep whilst being protected from external elements such as sun, light wind and rain and annoying insects. It also offers other features and benefits which include: ‘Cool Flow Vents’ – especially designed and developed to promote excellent air flow through the shade and ‘SeeME’ Florescent vents so you can be seen in the dark. This innovative solution for maintaining sleep routines on-the-go will retail at £49.99 with a special Show discount to £39.99 from stand E82.

Nûby have developed a new steriliser that also dries your bottles at the press of a button for improved hygiene and total convenience – the new Nûby Natural Touch Electric Steam Steriliser & Dryer! It’s ideal for parents who are concerned about hygiene issues as there is less risk of cross contamination, as opposed to using tea towels or kitchen roll to dry bottles. Plus, the automatic drying function is totally convenient and saves time versus air- drying bottles on a kitchen work surface or the hassle of shake-drying bottles. Compatible with all bottle brands and kills 99.9% of harmful bacteria and can also be used to sterilise up to five bottles, breast pumps, soothers and other baby feeding accessories. £60 with a Baby Show offer of 50% off! Visit stand F90 to find out more.

After launching in 2014 in the States, ezpz is being introduced to the UK at The Baby Show in October. Now chaotic and messy mealtimes with your little ones are a thing of the past! These all-in-one silicone place mats and bowls stick to your dining table and catch all your kids mess at meal time. With three compartments you can ensure fussy kids are kept happy with their vegetables and meat being separated - and the smiley face design puts kids in the right mood for a positive mealtime experience. Once they’re all finished, the mats are easy to clean with warm soapy water and are dishwasher safe. The ezpz range includes the Happy Bow, Happy Mat, Mini Mat, Play Mat and the Snack Mat. Find them on Stand F102.

Belly Bandit, leaders in maternity support and shapewear are excited to launch three amazing products into their range for expecting and new mums that includes; o2-in-1 Bandit – A revolutionary product that provides pregnancy support and post-delivery compression. oC-Section & Recovery Undies (pictured right) – Post-surgery undies that are designed to protect the senstitive incision area, help reduce swelling and discomfort post-surgery and speed up the C-section healing process. oBelly Boost – Super-comfy, ‘Grow-With-You’ undergarment that provides vital support, improves weight distribution and can even help relieve back pain. Prices range from £24.95 to £59.95 from stand A16

Tutti Bambini are excited to announce the launch of their brand new range of travel products at The Baby Show; ARLO is a ‘do it all’ travel system. A compact pushchair with full size features! At just under 10kg, the forward and reverse facing seat folds in half but yet is one of the biggest seats in its class, designed for baby’s complete comfort. With an optional carry cot and new ByGO ISOfix car seat (as well as compatible with leading car seat brands), it really has it all. KOJI is a full size micro travel system. For the parents on the go, or for those who prefer a smaller pushchair. It offers a forward and rear facing, super comfy seat which folds into a compact frame. Leading the way in full size mini minor travel systems, with no compromise. With over 12 different colour options, a complete range of accessories including comfort pack, cosy blankets, bags and all weather protection, parents have complete choice to make their pushchair their own. The CoZee (pictured to the left) is the perfect crib for baby’s first bed and features a clever drop down side with a "stay in place" system to allow parents to connect it quickly and easily to their bed to be as close to co-sleeping as possible, but in a safe and secure way. Visit them on stand G68.

Babymoov have worked closely with midwives to develop ‘Dream Belt,’ the first support belt to improve the sleep and comfort of expectant mothers. It was ergonomically designed to suit each pregnancy stage whilst also following movements during sleep. It consists of a central portion made of soft, elastic fabric that holds the tummy, and two memory foam panels that fill the hollow between the pelvis and the mattress. Being well maintained and properly supported, the expectant mother can find a pleasant position in bed and sleep peacefully. £39.99 from stand A52.

Meet Maven's FIRST STEPS - A new innovative design that allows you to be part of the FIRST STEPS milestone of your baby's life. A choice of a locally sourced leather, vinyl or leatherette strap keepsake which attaches your footwear to your child's so that you could teach them to walk, keep them still in queues or simply tire them out for an earlyish night! Portable for on the go use with minimal effort. Prices from £19.99 at stand H35.

For Aisha are Europe’s number one halal baby food brand who will be launching their Stage 3 baby pouches at The Baby Show. New flavours include; Chicken Rainbow Quinoa, Green Bean & Lamb Curry and Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry. The recipes created in consultation with a French/Moroccan chef include a wide range of herbs, spices and ingredients that provide more complex flavour combinations to satisfy your baby’s growing appetite and developing taste preferences. Priced at £1.95 per 190 grams with a special Baby Show price of four for £6! Stand E112

Kiddihug are launching a new generation of carriers this October, specially designed to provide the ultimate comfort and wellbeing for both parent and baby. The new design has a large lumber-supporting strap to provide the ultimate comfort and prevent lower back pain. While the baby is embraced in a snug and safe position, parents have the extra comfort of an extra wide waistband and reinforced padded shoulder straps. One of its key features is to provide crucial support for babies’ thighs and reduce the risk of hip dysplasia, a technique approved by the International Hip Dysplacia Institute. The lightweight carrier features a fully removable head cover, providing protection from the sun and wind. Front pockets open out to expose a cooling mesh layer, ideal for warmer months, whilst side pockets provide easy access to soothers, snacks, a wallet or keys. In addition, the tough, wipe-clean fabric makes cleaning hassle free. £59.99 from stand F21.

Launching to the UK market for the very first time is the Foldaway Bumpermat. This extremely versatile play mat consists of six PU leather pads that are filled with 40mm high-density elastic form. The four sides can be zipped up to create a spacious playpen so that babies and toddlers can go on their exploration missions while remaining bump free. Suitable for all ages and perfect for tummy time, rolling, crawling, and those nerve-wracking moments of learning to sit up, stand up and taking the first steps. Each side can be opened individually to create a flexible place space for the whole family – try parent and baby yoga on this with one side open! The possibilities never end. They are free of harmful chemicals, durable and easy to clean. Plus, with the lovely soft pastel colours, it is a stylish addition to any home. Priced at £225 for a standard size. Stand: F29

Baby Play Limited are very excited to launch its eco-friendly and thermo-regulating range, bamboo Kidz. This exclusive range is made from the softest of fabric and therefore it is perfect for your baby's delicate and soft skin. The bamboo Kidz range includes “easy to wear” and stylish wrap around body suits with matching trousers, as well as onesies and sleep bundlers. In the collection, there are also trousers made especially to protect your baby's knees as he or she starts to crawl. Exclusive 15% Show only discount on all clothing. Prices begin at £6.79 on stand F31.

Tickle Tots are launching their new hybrid nappy, Tickle Tots 2’s – an all in two nappy - following the success of their original pocket nappies that are loved for their fantastic absorbency, slim fit, and simplicity to use. Each nappy is made up of a double layer of breathable waterproof PUL shell, with the all-important leg gusset, and snaps to adjust the rise, and a set of bamboo boosters. If the outer shell is not soiled at changing time, just unsnap the boosters and put in your wet bag, give a quick wipe over, and snap in your new set of boosters! Available to purchase for £17.99, which includes the waterproof shell and a set of snap in boosters, from stand: D103.

Brand new parent and child fashion website, Mini-Me London, has taken inspiration from celebrities who purposefully match their stylish attire with their children by creating a range of beautiful clothing for adults and kids. The brand aims to bring fun and style to dressing up with your kids by combining the joy of expression through clothing with the proud feeling of being a parent. After all, your little one is the most precious part of your world - and likewise YOU are their biggest inspiration. Hence, there’s no more of a beautiful way to show off your 'Mini-me' than rocking out in style together! Mini-Me London stocks menswear, womenswear, boy’s and girl’s wear; giving every member of the family an opportunity to find joy in dressing up with the most cherished person in their life. Visit stand H25 to find out more.

For the first time at The Baby Show, MerryGoRoundUK will have their new MuslinZ Prefolds available for purchase. Many new parents love to use muslin squares for a new-born’s nappy as they are trim and absorbent. MuslinZ Prefolds are even easier to use! They are made with 4-6-4 layers built in. Prefolds can be used with minimal folding or just used flat inside a waterproof wrap. They’re very economical and an easy entry into using washable nappies. Easy to wash and quick to dry. Made from the quality MuslinZ muslin fabric that is soft, absorbent and hard wearing so they can be used time and time again. Suitable from newborn and great as boosters and inserts in any nappy cover. Priced at £8.00 for a 6 pack from stand H29.

The Baby Show also offers a free Emma’s Diary Collect-by-Car service so you don’t need to worry about carrying lots of bags around for the day. If there’s no room left in the car boot then many retailers also offer delivery services for larger items. The advanced ticket price to The Baby Show is £14.45 on Friday and £15.45 for either the Saturday or Sunday, while on-the-door tickets cost £20. For more information visit

Opening times:

Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd October, open from 10:00am-5:30pm each day.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Choosing The Right School for Your Child for September 2017

Being a parent, the first few weeks, months and years are full of exciting milestones but none so huge as starting school. It's a huge change for both parent and child. You'd think nursery would prepare you for it but somehow it doesn't unless of course you go to a school nursery that's attached to what will become your child's Primary School, which wasn't the case for us. Aaron in fact went to 2 different nurseries. One that he started at when he was 15 months because I was still working 3 days a week as a HR Manager and the pre-school he started at just 5 months before starting reception in big school. Only the latter wore a school uniform.

At the age of 5, you are legally required to provide suitable education for your child. Whether that is a State School, Private School or home education is up to you. I've never quite understood why the attendance requirement is so hard on schooled children when home ed kids seem to be able to be so much more flexible. Home Ed wasn't for me though, no matter how much of a hippy and free spirit I sometimes am.

Between league tables, catchment areas and what you hear "word-of-mouth" from other parents, it can feel quite daunting finding the perfect place. In fact it can become all consuming. You have the worry of choosing, from the year before. Then round about now is the time to start attending open days or open evenings with the deadline to apply being January. 

This blog post aims to make the choice a little easier with some helpful tips and it is not the first time I have blogged about this topic. Aaron was really nervous Summer 2014 about starting school that September and what made him excited and saw the nerves dissipate overnight was the purchase of a school lunchbox. This is a post I wrote, with the benefit of hindsight, JUST after he started school: Starting Reception - what I knew what I didn't!


One of the first things to think about is where the school is situated. Some schools may only allow children to apply if they live within their catchment area so, finding out which schools would accept your application is key. In fact this is the first thing you should do before you get excited or too attached to the idea of any particular school.  I spent 2 years going to church (Roman Catholic) in all weathers every Sunday, even going as far as joining the Choir which I adored, only to find out we weren't in the catchment area (which was TINY - we're talking like 3 or 4 roads) and that most of their intake was taken up with siblings anyway.

Most people think about location once they know they are planning a family as it can literally dictate where you buy a house, so this really is the first consideration early doors. Thankfully we found that for each and every house you select on Right Move, the tabs below each house onscreen include one for schools. It shows all of the schools near your chosen property (letting you dictate whether it is primary or secondary you are interested in) and tells you onscreen what their most recent Ofsted result was, even allowing you to click through to it. It is so nice to have this info available at a glance when speedily scanning through house options, even though Ofsted is just one piece of the puzzle you have to put together when choosing a school. You'll notice that Ofsted results can even impact house prices. In some areas, when you apply for school you have to add supporting documentation to your application to prove that you live in that postcode as people have been known to lie about their address to get into their school of choice.

Route to School

When you know where you can apply, plan the route to and from each school. If you drop your child off each day, check if there are any traffic hotspots or parking restrictions along the way. Check online to see how frequent buses are in case your child needs to make their own way home. If you live close enough to walk, make sure the route is safe and walk it through with your child. It’s also worth seeing how easy the school is to reach from your place of work in the event of your child falling ill during the day. 

Don't be swayed by a distance like a 15 minute walk. When Aaron was in Reception we cycled to and from school every day so it was easy. Also, when walking fast it was only 12 minutes. Equally it was nearly 30 when I was heavily pregnant. We hardly ever get the bus, but if that is going to be your plan, then do consider the cost of bus fares when budgeting. Don't overly worry about weather either, as the amount of days where we've been too cold or too wet I can quite literally count in single figures. You just have to plan your wardrobe wisely. Aaron loves the rain when he has a decent waterproof jacket or umbrella.

That picture above is from September 2014 as it can be quite warm when they start school. Funnily enough it WAS September 2014 and September 2016 but in 2015 he was pretty much in a jacket every morning from the start :-( but yeah 2014 when he started school everyone was in Summer Uniform as it was warm till the start of November, which this year hasn't quite managed. If you noticed there are no stabilizers this is because Aaron did 10 months on a balance bike so then went straight to a big bike with pedals, which it only took 45 minutes to learn to cycle. I now swear by balance bikes. He was riding a proper bike BEFORE he even turned 4 years of age - they really work.


All schools are subject to frequent Ofsted inspections and feature on league tables. You can find this information readily available online if you do a quick search. It should give you a good idea of how well the school performs against others in the area. Whereas Ofsted reports will give you an overall view of a school, there are sites where students can rate their teachers which will give you more granular information. Something to bear in mind is that the better a school performs in inspections, the more likely they are to be oversubscribed. If you know anyone whose child attends your preferred school then ask them their opinions on the school. Getting a parent's and child’s advice could provide you with information that you can’t find in an inspection! Schools often specialise in subjects such as science, languages or sports; which is good to know if there is a particular subject that your child is interested in. Certain schools act as a ‘feeder’ into specific middle or secondary schools so if you had a preferred high school for your child, it's worth finding out which primary feeds into it.

I wouldn't necessarily have picked Aaron's Primary School but we were allocated it by the local authority due to my first 3 choices being over subscribed. Funnily enough it's turned out to be for the best. He loves his classmates and teachers and I've been in the PTA since he joined. Also the other schools can't match ours for facilities like our huge field and footprint. The school promised we'd have a good Ofsted within 2 years of our joining and that's exactly what we've got. A school with a great Ofsted could be on a downward cycle after, i.e. the same Head may no longer be in charge. Whereas with our Ofsted we were on an up cycle after and Aaron was there for that. With the school on every level, striving for a good Ofsted, Aaron benefited from that passion and enthusiasm instead of the complacency that is often visible in what appear to be great schools on paper. Don't underestimate the stories you hear from other parents. They add colour to the black and white Ofsted report which is often only half the story.

Settling In

It’s imperative that your child enjoys their days at school and feels comfortable enough to stay and learn. Children often make their first friends at nursery so ask around with other parents to see where they are applying. If your little one has cousins, neighbours or family friends of a similar age then ask those too. 

How culturally mixed and diverse the school is or isn't can have a huge impact. Also consider whether it is a religious school and whether this is or isn't important to you. If your child has behavioural problems/challenges and is on the spectrum, whether diagnosed/statemented or not, it is imperative that you find out what the school is like at handling this. Some schools excel in this area. Some let themselves and the children down unforgivably so.

If you require early drop offs or late pick-ups then some schools will do breakfast clubs or after school activities. Our school breakfast club is at 8 am and is free. They only need money for what they decide to purchase to eat, which is very cheap. The after school clubs are entirely free and he is actually there for an hour this evening, which coincides with parent's evening so I should be able to collect him from one, and go straight to the other. These are perfect if you work outside of school hours and will give a your child a chance to mix with different age groups or even learn a new hobby! Look into whether the schools provide lunchtime meals or snacks and if they can cater to any dietary requirements they may have.

Finding the perfect school can be a time consuming task but with a bit of planning and research you can feel confident that you have made the correct choice. Once you’ve made your choice, a visit or open day can help you and your child to get more of a feel for it. In fact, I would recommend visiting more than one, as this can determine your choice rather than be the result of it. NOTHING beats the gut intuition that you feel when you actually go on a tour of a school. Luckily my tour was during the day, so you get a real vibe of what the school is like. How many smiles there are. What the atmosphere is like. Chances are you and your beloved child have similar taste so if you think, based on a visit, that you'd love it there, then so too will your child. I'm saying this with a child in year 2 and I did indeed get a good feeling during a tour of the school and they did keep their promise of turning the school around. A process that had already begun about 9 months before he joined, just that we had to wait a further 2 years for Ofsted to visit again. Hubby tends to believe what he reads so during this time I just had to keep reassuring him again and again and again. That Aaron was happy was my main focus.

I know this post is not exhaustive but I hope it goes some way to making you think about those all important school days. September 2017 is not at all far away and the open days and evenings really do start happening now, if they haven't already!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Helping Our Babies AND The Elderly by #BreakingBarriers

She's standing up in the bath! My little* 8 month old Lottie. Oh my goodness. And she's been doing it for a week or two now. We've got one of those hand rails down the side of our bath. Are they intended for the elderly? I don't know but they always assist me ha ha! I'm only 43! Well really we have a pair as there is one rail each side. She'll just literally out of the blue, with no warning, grab the handrail and position her feet to stand and there she goes, pulled right up to standing. She's a bit of a magpie so I think it was the shining silver surface that first caught her attention before she realised it was a mobility aid!! 

    *not so little, she's 98 percentiles in her lil red book!!!

Scares the life out of me as she is not yet cruising or walking. Actually not even crawling. She can work her strong upper body but can't seem to lift her torso up and come onto her knees. I blame the slippery wooden floors. When I do lift her torso up, as she is often on her tummy, I have to bring her knees together as she is so not ready yet. Not even coming up onto all fours.

Anyway, back to the bath. We've always had her in an Angelcare bath support seat (pictured below). As it is not something we had with Aaron, it is actually pink and not a hand-me-down. We bought it in Mothercare: Angelcare bath support, but I can't remember if it was just before or just after she was born. Lately I have been letting her sit in the bath with the bath support next to her full of her toys, (it helps make the bath seem smaller too and confines her) BUT when she tries to do that standing thing she slips and slides as she gets ready to stand, so now I have Aaron's old bath mat (they still sell it all these years later OMG: Tommee Tippee non slip bath matunder her to make it more safe and less slippy. She loves it as it is covered in sea life and bright colours. But all of this trying to stand business means I literally can't look away from her for a second. 
Only trouble is Aaron likes to come into the room and play with her Nuby bath toys as he discovered you can fill them with water and spray them like a water pistol. I hadn't even realised and it would be a long time before Lottie would be old enough to make that discovery so siblings certainly have their uses. It would also help if I read the packaging LOL. Given there are 8 of those bath toys in different shapes and sizes this means lots of fun. On the one hand when they're playing she is less likely to hurt herself, but I have to be careful that looking at him doesn't distract me from looking at her. Last night Aaron got in at the end of her bath and it made my heart melt to see them have a bath together. I was actually able to run and get something a couple of times whilst he stayed with her.

All of this (the bath handrails) set me to thinking that babies are really like small old people aren't they? They need help walking and standing. They often get wheeled around. And thanks to Facebook memories I discovered that as much as Aaron has a full head of healthy hair and amazing curls now, when he was a tot it looked like it was receding, no doubt how it will look again when he is an old man. Look. Long time readers will remember him looking like this bless:
I don't like the way society often views old people, writing them off as silly old fools. I love cultures that revere the elderly as a font of all wisdom, which is why I was keen to collaborate with Bathing Solutions on their  #breakingbarriers campaign. When our babies and toddlers need mobility aids we assist them. When someone's been in an accident they get rehabilitation and again they are assisted with Physio etc... I think the elderly should be given the same assistance without judgement and this change of mindset needs to become mainstream as we are living in an aging society.

How does watching this video make you feel?

He may not have the speed, flexibility, mobility or ability to run or jump up to that basketball hoop but the benefit of knowledge and wisdom means he simply does not need to. Like with many things older people can go A-Z while we are working our way through the alphabet. We don't even have technology over them as there are plenty of silver surfers who are just as up to speed as you and I dear reader. My Mum had a phone that she could text on (SMS) before I did!

But back to my analogy of tots being like the eldery... next time you look at your VTech Walker, think of it like a zimmer frame. 
For one of the first times in history we are about to see the number of our senior generation surpass that of the youth, with those 65 and up making up 15.6% of the global population by 2050! 
Advances in healthcare and standards of living have improved quality and length of life for older generations, but it has us asking, 'Why does society often cast off its seniors as 'incapable' or 'unable' to learn new skills?' 
Times are changing and it's time for us to change too, breaking the stigma and encouraging each other to take action and get inspired to learn new skills or tricks of the trade. Source:
So if the elderlyare going to represent that large a percent of the population isn't it time we started aiding and respecting them. After all, one day all too soon won't we be one of them? We're always saying "it seems like yesterday s/he was a newborn" or "where did those 8 months go?" so we could realise that the same too will be true of our lives. Old age is coming and we want to enjoy it in a society that allows us to grow old gracefully without fear or prejudice. Making us work longer to get a pension, when those retiring now built this country, just made me angry but let's not get all political in this blog post ;-)

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Urinary Tract Infection at 8 Months and How Bepanthen Helped #BepanthenBedtimeChallenge

We were posted a 30g sample of Bepanthen by BritMums for the #bepanthenbedtimechallenge and the timing could not have been better, although I did not know that at the time.

The timing was perfect because Lottie recently got rushed to hospital in an ambulance. 

We spent last night in the hospital. Lottie vomited Friday night and had a high temperature but we monitored it all weekend and there was no further vomiting and absolutely no diarrhoea. Sunday night she had paracetamol suspension at 1930 and asleep by 2000. But she woke 1 am on fire and when I lifted her out of bed to my shoulder she vomited bile everywhere (empty tum as had been refusing food) and I thought I heard bottom sounds so took her down to change her. She then starting shaking a lot and lost all her colour and looked like a green palor. She was limp lifeless like a ragdoll. Couldn't open her eyes. No muscle resistance and unresponsive so I called 111. Based on my answers to their questions they called an ambulance but it took 90 mins to arrive by which time she was a little bit more like herself. I thought therefore they'd not bring her to hospital but her temperature was 39.4 and they did a heel prick test and her blood glucose was high and her heart rate so they brought her in. To cut a long story short we arrived at hospital at 315 but it wasn't till 6 that a Registrar asked for a urine sample which it took me till 730 to get. Turns out she had white blood cells and blood in her urine so now has Amoxyclav for 10 days (antibiotics). Got the prescription at 9 (late somehow due to night / day handovers) but it took till 930 for Boots to dispense it. I didn't get in a minicab home till 10 am but luckily my Mum took Aaron to school. Right now she's asleep.
A photo posted by Liska (@newmumonline) on

But let me rewind a tiny bit: My Mum flew over to the UK from Ireland Friday 23rd September. Her flight's landing clashed with school pickup so we had to take Aaron out of school 30 minutes early (two of my school mum friends each couldn't have him for various big reasons). 

Her flying over was a huge deal as she hasn't seen our house, or the baby. We'd last flown to Ireland May 2015, but I only got the positive pregnancy result the very day we flew back, so little *tiny* in utero Lottie actually was in Ireland. But all during my pregnancy and Lottie's early months, we were yet to see my Mum, so clearly I had lots of plans for her arrival and few precious days here. So different to the Aaron days when she flew over when he was 2 weeks old and stayed for 9 weeks.

Hubby drove me, Aaron and Lottie to the airport. We then came home where she had dinner and a Bacardi and Coke in the garden (what can I say it was a lovely evening). He then drove us all to football as Aaron never misses it (even when I was 39 weeks pregnant and then when Lottie was 4 days old). Lottie literally bounced up and down on my Mum's knee at football and we thought all was well. I gave her a jar there - I think it was ham and pasta. That night I was watching the soaps as Lottie breastfed and slept on my lap. My Mum was out on the patio speaking with Ireland as a relative had sadly passed away that day. Then all of a sudden it was like Lottie went rigid internally like a rod and then her arms and legs started to tremble. I watched her for perhaps 30 seconds and then lifted her upright to my shoulder and ran to the patio. I called my Mum who got straight off the phone and as she walked inside Lottie vomited on us both. It was coming out of her nose too. I was terrified. We looked after her that evening and night and she seemed fine Saturday and Sunday apart from sleeping much more than normal. But Sunday night she was asleep by 1930 after having Paracetamol suspension and woke at 1 am. She made noises like passing something so I took her downstairs to change her. I opened the bottom half of her Sleepsuit at which point she started shivering uncontrollably and was burning up like a radiator so I ran to get my Mum and she vomited several times but where she had been off her food it was all only bile but she wretched several times.

I rung 111 as by this time she'd lost all colour and it was like she was quite literally green. My normally muscular strong girl felt like a limp ragdoll in my arms and she was trying to open her eyes and couldn't. Based on my answers to their questionnaire 111 said they were sending an ambulance, but it took nearly 90 minutes to arrive by which time she was more herself, but she still hadn't had any medicine as I wanted them to get a true temperature and kept telling myself they'll be here in a minute. They allowed me to give Paracetamol again when they arrived and it swiftly brought the temperature down but it was 39.4 on their arrival.

They said her oxygen levels were okay but were concerned with her heart rate so they took a blood sample from a heel prick. That showed high glucose which can be a sign of infection so they said we'd have to go to the Children's hospital. They said "bring the car seat" (you can see how they strapped her in it in the ambulance in the collage above) but neither they nor I thought to bring the buggy!!!! Thank God my Mum was there as hubby was at work. She stayed with Aaron who slept through it all and took him to school in the morning. Although I'd got up with Lottie at 1 a.m. we arrived at hospital at 3:15 a.m.

There were actually 3 paramedics as there was 1 in training, soon to be qualified. Having a sick child is scary but having 3 paramedics in uniform in your sitting room in the middle of the night is even more so. I only started crying when I walked across my front garden and SAW the ambulance and then it really hit me.

All the way to the hospital though, she was kicking her legs and smiling at the paramedic. She couldn't see me but as I don't stop talking I think she was content that she could hear Mummy's voice.

On arrival we weren't seen immediately and had to wait for a Triage nurse same as if we'd walked in off the street. She then took her observations and we waited what we thought would be 3 hours. During that time a nurse came round and routinely took ops; she gave me a glass of blackcurrant thank goodness. I hadn't come prepared other than with a nappy bag. Oh and as for nappies there was a pile of them on the radiator but I left without them.  A fellow Mum leant me one in the waiting room, which is how I know it was wet.

When we finally saw a registrar he asked for a urine sample at 6 a.m. and I said "if Triage had asked for one that wet nappy could have been it". I said "how do you get a baby to do a sample?" and he showed me how to balance her above a pot, but I had to do this whilst she breastfed (so she'd have the fluids to pass) AND then while she slept. Turned out she was back in my arms after sleeping and it was 730 when she finally peed. A full 90 minutes after his request. I only knew when I felt it running warmly down my leg (due to the angle of the plastic bowl). I yelped as if I had run the lottery as I thought the sample would mean we could go home, but this was the time the night team handed over to the day team.

I heard them discussing us. Turned out the sample had blood (not seen to the naked eye) and sugars in it. She had a urinary tract infection. One team wanted to give amoxycillin for 3 days and the other team wanted to give Coamoxyclav for 10 days. The latter won thank goodness as the former would not have worked. BUT I did not have the prescription in my hands until 9 a.m. and Boots did not dispense it till 930 a.m. I was in a minicab home by 10 a.m. and not home until 10:30. I chatted to my Mum from 1030 to 1130 and Lottie and I hopped into bed and slept till 230 in time for the school run, but my Mum did it and let us stay indoors.

The Doctor had said that the antibiotics would make her stools loose to which I confidently replied "they already are as she is breastfed". Little did I know I would still see an effect which was that her normal bowel movement of once to twice a day would increase to five times a day which is where the Bepanthen came in. It really and truly protected her skin during this time and was invaluable. I already knew it was amazing thanks to how it healed her chest when she had a rash on her chest due to too much dribbling months before.

I really do fully believe, from experience, what they say on their website
Bepanthen is an ointment containing pro-vitamin B5. Pro-Vitamin B5 gently aids natural skin recovery, while keeping it soft smooth and moisturised.
Bepanthen forms a long lasting, breathable transparent layer, protecting even the most delicate skin from the causes of nappy rash.
I'm also impressed with the new packaging. The tubes were metal when Aaron was a baby and you'd end up squeezing the Bepanthen through a crack in the metal. Now it is plastic which feels way nicer. And you get a better handle on it. It also means it doesn't scratch baby if they get too close. Being transparent it's not messy either. An added bonus is the fliptop lid like toothpaste which you'll see had been requested by Mums on various forums. So it is great to see that they listen to their customers. The increased stools has stayed with us, so she's getting a protective preventative dose of Bepanthen on her bum at every nappy change. I know from the Aaron days, that this is imperative at teething times too, because poo makes for really sore bums then. Literally if even left in a dirty nappy for only a couple of minutes a teething poo is VERY sore - I think the poo is more acidic or something and having researched Bepanthen I think they say that babies bums don't have the same PH on their skin as us, so need protecting.

Hopefully I'll have a more cheery blog post for you soon as we've had some fun recently, like an amazing tea party on Sunday.

As you'll see on Instagram
she has recovered: 
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This post is an entry for #BepanthenBedtimeChallenge, sponsored by Bepanthen. Learn more at or

Bepanthen for both of my babies #BepanthenBedtimeChallenge