Our Evening Routine With Two Under Two

If you’ve read my previous posts (morning routine here and daytime routine here), you’ll know I’ve been sharing what a typical day looks like for us, if there is such thing as ‘typical’ with a 23 month toddler and a four month baby. Do pop and read the past posts to find out more about earlier in our day as this one exclusively focuses on the evening routine and how we go from having two wide awake kids to two hopefully soundly sleeping ones!

Prep:

The first thing I always do is make sure I have five minutes during the late afternoon/early evening to nip upstairs and prepare everything ready for their bedtime. I just find it so much easier if all the bits and bobs I need are laid out on the bed, especially if Dylan is running late and I’m starting the routine by myself.

We get both babies ready for bed in our room which works really well as it means we can all sit together on the bed and have some much-needed family time. Perhaps when they’re older they might separate into their own rooms but for now this arrangement is lovely for the four of us. So on the bed I lay out Max’s sleeping bag unzipped, his open babygrow for the night on top of that and then a nappy folded open on top of that – so everything is ready just to be popped on as quickly as possible. Then next to that there’s always a space with the wipes and empty nappy sack. Then next to that there’s Alexandra’s sleeping bag, pyjamas and nappy.

On the bed post we have talcum powder, Sudocrem and clippers if I’m planning on cutting anybody’s nails. On the bed there’s always at least one book. Then on the nightstand there’s a spare Max sized nappy, nappy sack, muslin cloth and two bibs. The curtains are closed and the lamp on with the main light off then in Alex’s room the blinds are drawn and her fairy lights are on.

If they’re having a bath then I’ll put his bath seat and the bath toys in ready plus have both their towels on the radiator, the shampoo and flannels next to the bath and a stool for comfort for whoever’s washing them.

All of that sounds exhausting but it’s honestly about two minutes’ work now I know what I’m doing with it all.

Dinnertime:

Max has his penultimate bottle at 5pm and then he will normally be in his bouncer, on his play mat or propped up on some cushions with a toy until we’re ready to go upstairs. Around this time I like to get his last bottle ready as this is a formula one (he has one formula and four expressed bottles a day so this is the only one I have to prepare rather than pump!) and he always has his daily vitamins mixed into this one just because it’s easy to remember to pop the vitamins in while I mix the formula. It then goes into the fridge as he’s happy to have cold milk (and does most the time as I obviously store my milk in there too!).

Then it’s time for Alexandra to have her dinner, which is always at the table on her booster chair – we like to make sure the tv’s off during dinner. If Dylan isn’t home yet I’ll usually eat with Alex then save his ready to heat up later. We then take her water bottle and his dummy, bottle and last dose of ranitidine (anti-reflux medicine) upstairs ready to wind down for the night.

Bathtime:

We only bath the children every other night unless they’re spectacularly filthy (let’s be honest I’m talking about toddler not baby here!). Max has his hair washed first then he goes in his towel into the bedroom to get into his night clothes while his sister has a little longer playing then washing her hair and cleaning her teeth. If they’re not having a bath then we obviously just skip this part and get them changed ready for bed.

Bedtime:

Alex loves reading books so we normally do one but more often two – she’s at the stage where she doesn’t particularly want to follow the plot but would much prefer to point out all the things she can see on the pages. She also likes to show Max different books which is great as it’s never too early to get them involved!

I’ll be honest there is normally A LOT of laughter, running around, hide and seek, jumping and other activities that wouldn’t happen at bedtime if I was solely in charge. But for Dylan it might be the only half an hour he sees the children in the day so he certainly makes the most of it! (He’s normally the one running around). While I always panic it’ll make her too excited to go to bed, I think the manic half an hour actually helps get rid of her last bit of energy for the day!

Then at some point (could be as early as 7.15pm or as late as 8.30pm depending how tired she is), we all do kisses, cuddles and high fives then Dylan takes Alexandra into her own room where they have a crazy routine involving hitting each other on the head with a balloon, counting in Italian and saying goodbye to the blinds?! It’s very funny to listen to and I can never replicate it properly when I’m in charge of bedtime on the odd occasion Dylan isn’t there (Alex is never too amused when I’m brought on as bedtime substitute!). Then he leaves the room and she’ll go to sleep, sometimes with a bit of shouting ‘ta ta. Night. Bye’.

In the meantime, I’ll have been giving Max his last bottle in our room and then we normally have a bit of a cuddle and he goes down into his Moses basket in there. He’ll also settle himself to sleep although sometimes I do cuddle him to sleep – just not too often so he doesn’t lose the ability to self settle!

And that’s normally the last we hear of either of them until the morning. It’s then time for me to express, Dylan to have his dinner and we both make sure everything’s tidy although that normally takes two minutes because I try and tidy throughout the day.

Writing all that down does make it seem like it’s a really rigid routine – but things do vary each day and the timings also alter depending what we’re doing and how tired the children are. I guess we’ve just found what works and doesn’t over the last four months of adapting to two under two – so these are the things that help us get both of our little sleepy bugs to drift off!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Our Daytime Routine With Two Under Two

Trying to change nappies normally descends into chaos!

If you missed it, earlier in the week I talked about our morning routine. Today I’m focusing on what happens after that! Daytimes massively vary in this house from ones where we seem to be on the go all the time to very sedate ones!

As I’ve mentioned in the morning routine post, Alexandra goes to nursery on Tuesday and Thursday mornings which means she’s there from 8am to 12.45pm and has her breakfast and lunch with them. On a Tuesday my sister and my nephew generally come over so I’ll spend a bit of time in the morning with Max and then they’ll arrive. On Thursday mornings, I use the time to clean the house – completing tasks like hoovering and dusting which are infinitely harder with two kids around! On those afternoons we don’t tend to plan much, as Alex never naps at nursery so she normally wants to sleep when she gets home.

Other days can involve anything including soft play, going to the park, play dates, walks, visiting my grandparents etc. Or if we stay at home then there’s colouring, lego, playing in the garden, so many different toys and (I’m not going to lie) CBeebies to keep us busy.

Feeding and expressing:

Max feeds every three hours at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm and then tends to have a nap from about 9.30am and then maybe two long naps in the afternoon, all depending where we are and what we’re up to.

Expressing is limiting me a little so I tend to only go out for a few hours at a time. At the moment I need to express six times in 24 hours to get enough for four bottles, so that tends to be around 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm then twice overnight. I do vary the times if we’ve got plans but do my best to get all six in during the day.

In terms of Alex, she eats at around 8am and 6pm and her lunchtime meal can be anywhere between 12pm and 2pm depending on when she naps – which happens (hopefully) once a day for (hopefully) at least an hour.

I’m sure all of this will change as Max starts weaning and needing less sleep in the day but for now that’s how we roll!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Our Morning Routine With Two Under Two

Morning pyjama buddies.

I’ve mentioned before we don’t have a strict routine for our toddler and that’s been the case for the baby too. If we end up going to bed half an hour late (or half an hour early!) it’s fine. We’re fairly flexible about all elements of the day but I guess over time you realise what works and what doesn’t work for your family and you loosely structure your day according to that. So while it’s not an exact timetable, I thought I’d share our 2 under 2 daily routine.

[I was going to write this as one post about our entire day but I realised there was quite a lot to say so I’m going to split it up into our morning routine, daytime routine and evening routine so no one goes blind trying to read it all in one go.]

So let’s start at the beginning (because it’s a very good place to start). Our mornings:

Tuesdays and Thursdays:

These are the days she goes to nursery and Alexandra has to be there for 8am so we tend to focus on getting her ready and Max will be sorted afterwards. I find it helpful to get up and ready while Alex is still sleeping if possible – and she does tend to need to be woken up on nursery days. Her outfit is normally left on the spare bed and the bag packed the night before (extra leggings, top and socks, sudocrem and either a sun hat and sun cream or a coat depending on the weather). It’s then left by the front door alongside her shoes to make it easier to get out.

Because she has breakfast at nursery and it’s only about four minutes away in the car we can get away with getting her up as late as 7.40am.

Wednesdays:

During term time, Alexandra does Tumble Tots which involves getting all three of us out of the house for 9.10am to be there ready to start at half past. Again I find it really useful to pack the changing bag the night before (if I was just going to TT and coming straight home then two nappies each, wipes, couple of nappy sacks and then just before we left water and a snack for Alex and milk for Max) and to get myself ready beforehand.

Then it’s downstairs for breakfast for Alexandra and I’ll feed and change Max while that’s taking place. Then change Alex and run around tidying up (if we were running late I’d leave this til after) and making sure I’d got everything before leaving.

Other days:

On days when we don’t have any commitments, it’s a much more laid back affair which can see us take a few hours to get ready. The priority is always changing Max’s nappy, even if he stays in his babygrow for a while, and giving Alex breakfast. She sits on a plastic mat in our lounge watching CBeebies for breakfast – which is something my husband Dylan started but it works really well in keeping her occupied until she’s finished and I’m ready to change her. Alex has cereal and/or toast with fruit and milk and/or water to drink every morning.

Max likes to have his first bottle of the day at 8/8.30am but is generally happy to wait even if he’s been up since 7ish (which is the earliest he wakes) so it’s a good opportunity to change the water and Milton tablets in the sterilising tub, do any leftover washing up from the previous day and get ready myself.

I try to bring down a stack of nappies and bibs plus a muslin cloth and we also keep our changing mat, nappy bags and wipes downstairs so that I don’t have to run up and downstairs too many times in the day. Once Max is changed I’ll turn my attention to Alex and then clear up her breakfast things.

Phew! It’s not until you write it all down that you realise there are a lot of things involved in getting two under two ready for the day! I imagine things will get harder once Max is weaning then easier once they’re both able to feed and dress themselves. Although then the nagging about getting shoes on and brushing teeth will amplify!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Where To Buy Baby Essentials

So many nappies to buy, so many options!

Everyone has their ideas about where their Holy Grail Baby Product Mecca is and often this is based on numerous factors including the price you’re willing to pay for certain things. The way I see it is I’d rather not shell out on something costing the earth if I can go down the street and get it for a fraction of the price, so we’ve always gone for reasonable and practical when picking out items. Of course there are the big one-off purchases like prams and cots but there are also the day to day costs of owning a child and there are SO many options when it comes to solutions to mop up sick, contain wee and all the other things you need to do daily.

Nappies:

Initially with Alexandra we only ever used Aldi nappies. They came heavily recommended by pretty much everyone we knew who had a child and they’ve never really let us down (aside from the odd poonami which NOTHING in this world could have contained). Recently she’s worn Asda nappies and although they don’t leak I find they sag horrendously as soon as there’s a little bit of wee in them (she’s a size five).

However with Max I actually prefer Asda nappies (he’s currently a size two). I think they fit him better although Aldi’s don’t leak and are perfectly fine. We’ve never really used Pampers except for when we’ve had promotional freebies but to be honest I can’t really see the benefit of using them when the cheaper alternatives work so well.

Nappy bags:

We used the peach coloured ones from Bodycare for a long time and I thought I was getting a bargain at 65p for a pack of I think 200. However Dylan recently discovered Asda’s mint green versions. They’re not fragranced but they’re just as thick and we find they contain two nappies easily (I try and change everyone at the same time!) and they’re about 30p for 300.

Wipes:

Aldi all the way here. The Mamia fragrance free ones are excellent and have never caused either baby any issues (although neither of them have particularly sensitive skin). I also use them to take off my make up because really who has time for all that cleansing and toning business? I hate the texture of Huggies wipes, Johnsons are fine but pricey and no better than Aldi’s and Asda’s are okay but I’m definitely a Mamia fan here.

Steriliser:

With Alexandra we bought a Tommee Tippee sterilising set on offer for about £65 which contained a few accessories too. It was fine and I didn’t really have any complaints about it. This time round while Max was in hospital I was cold water sterilising and we’ve carried this on at home. I didn’t think anything could be more simple than using an electric steriliser but this is! Literally pop a Milton tablet in five litres of water and that lasts for 24 hours so you can just throw in all your bottles after you’ve washed them and they’re safe to use after 15 minutes. The tablets work out at a couple of pounds for a month’s worth and we bought a big Tupperware box rather than an official tank so it was even cheaper.

Clothes:

This is where you can go completely overboard! We’ve been very lucky in that friends and family have passed on things their children no longer wear and about 50 per cent at least of Max’s wardrobe was first seen on his cousin Zachary. However if I’m buying for the kids I’m a huge fan of Asda (so good for leggings which are going to get ruined at nursery anyway! Plus they have sales really frequently. We also love their coats for boys), H&M (particularly for tops for Alexandra and newborn baby leggings which have feet in them – so useful to save constantly putting socks back on the baby when they inevitably fall off every five seconds), Primark (especially for vests which are going to get stained, pooed on, worn frequently. You don’t feel guilty about throwing them away when they only cost a couple of pounds! We’ve also had some lovely dresses for Alex from there and her 2016 winter coat which she got compliments on all the time).

Shoes:

I’m an utter stickler when it comes to shoes and Alexandra has only ever worn Clarks shoes. Yes they’re not cheap but the fact they measure her up every time and you know you’re getting a sturdy pair of shoes which are going to support her as she grows is the key thing. When she’s a bit older I’m sure she’ll have some cheapy shoes for playing in but for now she’s a Clarks toddler.

Toiletries:

We don’t use many products on the babies but we do have shampoo and baby bath from Aldi – as I mentioned before neither of them have sensitive skin but we really like the Mamia products and they’re much cheaper and just as nice as Johnson’s. We have talcum powder from anywhere as it’s all very similar! (Alex has ‘snow’ after a bath but Max doesn’t yet) and we use Sudocrem on her bum if there’s any redness (Max hasn’t had any yet but we will use it if and when he does).

Food:

Make your own! I was astounded when I looked at the price of baby food jars in the shops when it came time to wean Alexandra. So I bought different vegetables every week, steamed and blended them and created flavour combinations, froze any excess ready to defrost when needed. Same with fruit once she’d started eating that. Then after a while I simply blended down whatever we were having for dinner, making it chunkier over time until she didn’t need it blended. I’ll definitely be doing the same this time round – I’m sure we saved hundreds by not buying any jars or pouches!

Hope that’s useful or interesting to anyone looking at where to buy all those things you need to sustain a baby. I think it’s just confirmed to me that I need to buy shares in Asda and Aldi!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Electric Pump Reviews: Avent, Tommee Tippee, Medela

I’ve mentioned a few times on the blog that I’m currently expressing for my son who’s four months. In that time I’ve had three different pumps so I thought I’d compare them for those who might be looking for one:

Phillips Avent Comfort Electric Pump
Price: we got ours from Boots for £93 – they’re now slightly more expensive in store but less online.
Review: buying the Avent pump was out of necessity rather than choice – we’d just checked in to the Ronald McDonald House by the Children’s Hospital and found out there was no pump there I could use. Cue a dash to Boots ten minutes before closing time to get the last pump they had.
Regardless, I found it quite a good pump to use. There weren’t too many parts to sterilise or fit back together after and, as Max took to the Avent teats we bought their bottles and could attach them straight on to the pump which was easier than decanting.
I found I could express more without the comfort shield on.
Unfortunately it broke after just over two months’ use, however as I pump about seven times a day it may just be that it wasn’t suited to such heavy use and might be better for someone who’s maybe just expressing one feed a day?
Overall: 7/10

Tommee Tippee Electric Breast Pump
Price: £100
Review: I totally gave up on this pump after two days when it took me half an hour to get 10ml. I knew my supply hadn’t dropped that much and I still felt full afterwards. The tube which connects into the pump itself came out constantly (and my husband tried connecting the tube too so it wasn’t just me being an idiot) and there were SO many parts to wash and sterilise. I’m a big fan of Tommee Tippee having used their bottles and steriliser with Alexandra but I’m afraid it feels like they’ve overcomplicated their pump just for the sake of it. I didn’t get on with this one at all.
Overall: 1/10

Medela Swing
Price: £100
Review: the daddy of all pumps (or should that be mommy). If you’ve been on a postnatal ward you’ll probably have seen the yellow Medela pumps lurking around as that’s what they use in hospitals (or the ones I’ve been in certainly). While the Swing is never going to match up to the hospital ones which are very expensive, it’s the closest you can get at home. I’ve been able to increase my supply using it and it’s SO simple to clean and sterilise as there are only three parts which need to be washed. Also it’s incredibly quiet (for a pump) – I express downstairs overnight to save waking anyone, our lounge is directly underneath the bedroom and my husband says he can’t hear the pump at all whereas he could hear the Philips one. Had I not had to go with the one available at the time, I would have got a Medela first.
Overall: 9/10

My overall advice here is: there’s a reason hospitals use Medela! It’s not any more expensive than the others and it’s far superior! There are also double options which are pricier but quicker (and you don’t have to deal with the whole ‘one leaky boob’ situation).

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

23 Months and 4 Months

This is the penultimate month of joint updates! I’ll carry on updating you on Max every month but I’ll revert to twice a year for Alexandra (otherwise I’ll end up being one of those moms ‘oh yes she’s 628 months old’).

Alexandra:

We’re still getting new words pretty much every day. In fact we totalled up how many words she knows (ones she’s used multiple times) and it came to around 90 which we were surprised by! She’s still not attempting many two-word sentences aside from ‘mommy do’ but she manages to make her meaning known with the vocal she has so I don’t think she’s that fussed about putting words together.

Talking of words, ‘no’ is still a firm favourite and we’re getting a lot of strops and tantrums. Alexandra is the most pleasant, cheerful child most of the time but she likes to decide what she’s doing and eating 100 per cent of the time so trying to change her nappy at the wrong time or get her in the car if she doesn’t want to go is met with strong resistance to say the least!

Animals are still a firm love and they capture her attention all the time. She went on a donkey ride recently which she loved and she also loves picking out stories featuring animals (if they have moons and stars in too then double bonus!).

Alex has now had all her settling in sessions in the toddler room at nursery and moves up next Tuesday. She’s not in the least bit bothered about the change!

Max:

Max hasn’t actually been weighed since the last update as he’s allowed monthly weigh ins now so that’ll happen when we go and see his paediatrician next week. I estimate he’s at least the heavy end of 11lbs if not 12lbs. He’s now mostly wearing 0-3m clothes but he does now fit into some of his 3-6m stuff which is good as we had lots of dungaree shorts and rompers in that size so it’s nice to get some use out of them before the summer ends!

The doctors are fairly confident that the anomaly in Max’s brain is just that rather than a bleed so they’re not too concerned about its effects and will rescan him in six months to get another look at the affected blood vessel. However there is worry about his diaphragm, with an X-ray showing it’s moved back up on the right side. Again he’ll be checked in six months to see what’s happening with his lung then but we have to keep an eye on his breathing in the meantime.

Most people say you’d never have any idea of the health issues he’s had. Max is the happiest, smiliest little boy and chats away all the time! We honestly couldn’t ask for a more good-natured baby (although today’s he’s been grumpy but that’s because he had his jabs yesterday so I can understand that).

He’s now having 5oz bottles at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm with the first four being expressed milk and the last one being Neocate formula. For the last two weeks he’s been sleeping through the night which is absolutely lovely. I don’t want to say he’s cracked sleeping through in case he goes back to waking up but actually when he wakes he’s not crying for food and will happily lie in his Moses basket for a bit. Or sometimes he doesn’t get up til about half 8 so it’s not as if he’s starving in the morning!

See you next month when the big one will be 2!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Donating Breast Milk

Max is very pleased another baby is benefitting from the milk he couldn’t use.

I’ve mentioned briefly before that I donated some of my milk but I wanted to use today’s post to talk a little more about that process.

When I had my first, Alexandra, I wasn’t really aware about donating milk or even using donor milk so when I stopped breastfeeding we just switched straight to formula. Because I was so unwell I didn’t even express and so our journey with my milk was over – I went cold turkey and my milk dried up eventually.

With Max, I started expressing the day he was born despite the fact he was nil by mouth. I’m still expressing now so he’s having four bottles of boob milk a day and one of formula. Because he hardly drank anything in the early days when he was poorly, we ended up stocking up the freezers in both hospitals he was an inpatient at and when we fetched both batches we had around four litres of milk in our freezer.

My plan was to gradually use the freezer stock (as there’s obviously a time frame when you need to use it by) and replace it with ‘newer’ milk. This meant I could potentially stop expressing at some point but still give him boob milk from the stockpile. However at six weeks he was diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy which meant I had to cut out dairy and soya to carry on feeding him. It also meant we couldn’t use anything from the freezer as that had been expressed before I cut dairy from my diet.

The thought of throwing away my milk which had taken so long to get made me feel a little bit ill! So I began researching how I could donate it. The milk bank nearest us said they normally only took milk as an ongoing thing from moms who were breastfeeding but had an over supply but when I explained the situation they were willing to take the stash. However once they started filling in the paperwork they said it wasn’t possible for me to donate because I have had blood transfusions in the past. This for the same reason that I can’t now give blood – there’s no test they can do to rule out that you haven’t been given CJD (mad cows disease) from the blood so they ban you from donating in case you pass it on. Annoying but I can see why! Donated milk is extremely heavily screened before being sold to neonatal units.

So I turned to Facebook. I joined a couple of sites including one called Human Milk for Human Babies. I posted on there explaining how much I had to donate and some details (they ask you to include things like any medical conditions you have/medications you’re on, whether you drink etc). I got one really weird message but then within hours I got a comment from a lady who was pregnant and had supply issues with her previous two babies so was stockpiling donor milk so her new baby wouldn’t struggle with weight loss in the way they had.

The lady came to pick the milk up from us, which felt a bit weird at first giving someone what is essentially your bodily fluids! But once I met her and chatted to her for a bit I felt so glad it was going to be used and not thrown away! She’s now had her baby and keeps everyone (there’s quite a few people who’ve donated milk to them) informed on a Facebook page which is lovely. Because all the milk is labelled, she was even able to tell me they were using my milk the other day!

It’s lovely to know I’ve been able to help another family and it’s really changed my viewpoint on donor milk – in fact I feel a bit gutted I don’t have enough of a supply to regularly donate but I’m already having to supplement with formula.

To anyone out there with an oversupply – or anyone who knows they can’t breastfeed due to a medical issue but desperately wants to use breast milk, milk donation is definitely something worth looking into!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Leaving The Kids

Who wouldn’t want to spend all their time with these adorable things?

If there’s one thing you learn when you become immersed in the world of motherhood (mothering? Motherdom?) apart from how to cut grapes correctly and how to poo in front of an audience, is how different we all are when it comes to our preferences and the way we bring/drag up our offspring.

Never is this more true than when it comes to leaving the kids. And by that I mean having someone babysit them while you have a break, not abandoning them on the steps of a local church when they’re being little shits. There are some women for whom dropping them off at the gates on their first day at school will be the longest they’ve left them for the entirety of their existence. For others, they’re jetting off on a kids-free holiday before the cord’s been cut.

I like to think I’m somewhere in between although I do veer more towards the ‘I made these children so I might as well spend some time with them’ camp.

With Alexandra we were forced to spend a lot of time apart in the first three months while I spent all my time lying around contracting near-fatal illnesses (dramatic I know!). When I finally made it out of the hospital, Dylan and I went on a couple of ‘dates’ while my mom looked after Alex and then there was a bit of a gap as I’d kind of bonded with this little thing and was happy to spend all my waking hours with her.

Then nana started having her for a couple of hours some weekends to take her to the park or to eat cake and whatever other glorious things grandmothers spoil their grandchildren doing. When I got pregnant with Max, we decided it’d be a good idea to get her used to sleeping at nana’s so she went there – and still does – perhaps every month for a sleepover. Other than that she’s had some time with my sister when I’ve been off at hospital appointments and she obviously was looked after by a few different people when Max was in hospital and I was by his bedside every day.

In terms of social events I’ve been to without her, there’s probably been a handful in her life. I went to a theatre show once, went for a morning at a spa with my sister and went out for my second hen do last summer.

Since Max has been here, I’ve spent most my time with him or both of them (Alexandra goes to nursery twice a week and that’s the longest time I spend without her normally). I haven’t yet got to the stage where I feel the need to have a break from him so apart from when he was in hospital the first time round and I slept in parent accommodation nearby, we’re pretty much together 24/7. I’ve been to the gym a couple of times and once or twice popped to the doctor’s just taking Alex with me and leaving Max with my sister.

So why am I sharing all this? I guess to promote the fact everyone is different and that’s fine. I know people with babies younger than mine who’ve been on nights out already and equally I know parents with babies older than mine who wouldn’t even dream of going to the gym for an hour at this stage (and some who would take their baby with them to the loo. I say pee in peace until they’re old enough to follow you there and ‘help’ with the loo roll in the style of an Andrex puppy).

I think you just need to have the courage of your convictions so if family ask to look after your little one and you’re not ready, then tell them ‘thanks but no thanks’. Approach them and ask weeks, months or years down the line when you ARE ready. Equally you need to respect your partner’s views when it comes to leaving the kids.

Dylan’s off on holiday in September for a week by himself (our children will be two years old and five months old at this point). He’ll have minimal, if any, phone contact with us as he’ll be diving off a boat in southern Egypt. The thought of leaving our children for an entire week brings me out in a cold sweat but the point is he’s happy to do it and so that’s fine by me. However I may decide to jet off somewhere sunny by myself when the kids are teenagers as I have a feeling I really will want some time apart from them by then!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Babies At Weddings

A few weeks ago we were invited to the first wedding we’d attended since having two children. In fact, the last wedding we’d been to before that was our own way back in September. In terms of kids, that one was a breeze because my parents were in charge of Alexandra pretty much all day and of course everyone wanted to cuddle her and spend time with her. In fact, I remember a few people commenting in the following weeks how quickly she’d got up on her feet when they saw her toddling round – she’d actually been walking by the time we got married but hadn’t had the chance to show off cause she was being cuddled so much!

Fast forward to this June and we had a toddler and a newborn to contend with. At the church, we decided to take one child each and I’d packed a big bag full of toys and snacks to keep Alex occupied. While we waited for the bride she was golden and I thought we’d done really well until the second after the bridal party had arrived when Alexandra suddenly decided she didn’t want to be in there anymore. That meant I missed the entire ceremony while walking around the grounds with her. Dylan reported Max had also been a little unsettled inside.

Later at the hotel we missed some of the drinks reception as I was expressing and we needed to feed Max and change nappies etc. At the meal, I watched as my starter was taken away uneaten as I’d been feeding the baby while everyone else ate. Alex had become restless at times but luckily the bride’s uni friends were on our table and were fab with her, she played games with them all and watched Peppa Pig on one of their phones.

So altogether while we’d had a lovely day, it was pretty full on! We were wondering what the evening would bring but luckily Max slept in between feeds and Alexandra LOVED it. She danced until 11.15pm bless her. We then had to contend with both of them in the same room which had never happened before so baby woke toddler who ended up in our bed for the first time ever. I expressed late in the evening and decided not to overnight due to the possibility of waking everyone up but ended up sat on the bathroom floor early morning as I was about to explode!

The next day was much easier, Alex seemed fairly well rested considering she’d had nowhere near enough sleep and enjoyed a big breakfast and a swim. As I recall there was a bit of crying as we got into the car but both babies soon zonked out as soon as we started the journey home.

I think my summary is that toddlers don’t like behaving themselves by sitting in churches or waiting for meals – but they do love running around like a lunatic chasing lights on the dance floor at the evening reception!

Congratulations Jordan and Tom and thanks for having all of us at your special day!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Joie Twin Aire Review

I’ve never been keen on the idea of spending a lot of money on prams. The idea of shelling out nearly £1,000 for a travel system makes me feel a little bit ill – although I appreciate for some people the pram is a massive deal. For me I’d rather spend that on, well, everything. If you take into account £300 odd on a car seat you can get most if not all the other things you need with the rest of that grand.

So when it came to choosing a pram for Alexandra we firstly used a second hand Hauck system (from good friends so we knew it was fine!) and then we purchased a Joie Nitro which has never let us down. It’s still going strong, we use it now if we only need a single and we’ll be buying Max one once Alexandra is too old for a pushchair.

So when my nephew Zachary was born and we decided to buy a double pram for Alexandra and him, I was won over by the Joie Twin Aire which Max now uses as well. It’s essentially two Nitros stuck together with some nifty reversible blue and pink inserts (I’m not bothered about gender colours and will happily reverse them if the kids want a different colour when they’re old enough to choose – you’d be amazed how often people still ask what gender the kid is though as if the blue pram insert and blue outfit isn’t giving the game away).

I’ll start with the cons because there are so few:
– It’s quite wide so often you’ll find doorways and shop aisles a little bit of a challenge. If you’re really worried about that then you might want to look at a different option which isn’t side by side.
– When you fold it down it needs to be lifted rather than dragged along because of the positioning of the basket. A minor point but at first we thought the basket was faulty because it sits so low and drags along the ground in the folded down position.

The pros:
– Each seat lies completely flat so it’s suitable from birth. We bought an insert off Amazon for Max just so it’d feel a little bit less roomy in there but I haven’t been using it when it’s been super warm. I’ve also slightly inclined him because of his reflux which works really well to allow him a comfortable sleep.
– It is so light weight. Once you add two children and all their stuff, it’s obviously fairly heavy but the pram itself isn’t bulky so it pushes and corners beautifully.
– The basket is massive. I can fit everything I need in it. The only slight drawback is if I pop the entire changing bag in there I need to have the seats upright to get it back out but I just take Max out first to save having to move his seat while he’s in it.
– The price. Lots of places do it for £120 but if you shop around some do it for £99 which is the price we got it for doing a price match at Mothercare. You can’t really complain about getting a double for less than £100!

Have you used a Joie? What do you think?

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x