All posts by Leanne Taylor

About Leanne Taylor

Director and Owner of Baby & Children's Market UK. My husband and I launched the original Baby & Children’s Market nearly new sales franchise in Berkshire back in Nov 2009. Over the years our 8-year-old son has gained so much from us running the events along with us saving a fortune on toys, clothe's and equipment. So much has happened since we started our first Baby & Children’s Market which seems a long time ago now and over the 7 years we have seen it grown beyond our expectation with the help of our fantastic team of franchisee's. A lot has been learned along the way and a lot of fun has been had expanding our business across the UK.

Five Tips for Meeting Other Mums and Making New Friends

Five Tips for Meeting Other Mums and Making New Friends

By Aimee Foster

When I had my daughter almost nine years ago, I was wholly unprepared for the raft of life changes I was about to experience. One of the many changes I had not expected was the change to my friendships.

The first of my friends to have a baby, I suddenly had lots of free time during the days. But my friends were all at work. And come the evenings when they were available, I was shattered. Plus it became evident that my new baby conversations were, at best, confusing for my friends and, at worst, incredibly boring.

The first few months of my daughter’s life were incredibly lonely for me, mainly because I spent most of my time alone with her.

Recent research by the Co-op and British Red Cross highlights how widespread the problem of loneliness  is for mothers. 82% of mothers under the age of 30 reported feeling lonely some of the time, with 43% saying they are often or always lonely.

If you are feeling lonely or isolated, please know that you are not alone. Nine years on from the birth of my first child, I now have a wonderful network of mum friends. But it didn’t happen overnight.

Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1) Just Do It!

You have to get out there and meet people, they won’t come to you. I know how much of an ordeal it is to leave the house with a new baby and believe me I spent many a day stuck inside because I couldn’t be bothered to get dressed, get the baby dressed and get together all of the baby paraphernalia I needed whilst making sure I timed the outing around her feeds.

But, if you don’t leave your house very often you will find it incredibly difficult to make new friends (you can meet friends online but you will have to go out and meet them face-to-face eventually). When I was a new mum, my confidence was at an all-time low and this prevented me from going out and trying to make friends. It took a year for me to find the courage.

 

Eventually, I decided that I would have to step out of my comfort zone and just get on with it. I am so, so glad that I did.

2) Find Places To Go

Local and national parenting websites have wonderful resources detailing places you can go with your kids. Toddler groups, bumps and babies groups, children’s centres and libraries are all places frequented by mums (and dads) who are looking to make new friends.

If you work full time, there are normally groups on Saturday mornings run by other full time working mums plus plenty of weekend activities available for children. If you’re not into the group thing, there is always the internet!

3) Once You’ve Found Somewhere With Mums – Start the Conversation!

Being shy, it took me a while to realise that if I wanted to make new friends, I would need to speak up (out of that comfort zone I went again!)

Baby groups, toddler groups and classes can be daunting when you’re new to them, especially if it seems like everyone already knows each other.

Be smiley, say ‘hi’ to people and start up a conversation by saying something complimentary about their child e.g. ‘Wow, I love your daughter’s shoes’. Once you break the ice by talking about the little people’s shoes or clothes, you can move on to more interesting stuff!

Another thing to bear in mind is that if you go to a baby or toddler group and don’t find it very friendly; don’t give up on that particular group. If you go a second time, there will probably be different people there who you might strike up conversation with. And once you’ve been four or five times, you’re a regular and you can help other new people to integrate.

4) Once You’ve Started A Conversation – Close the Deal!

So you’ve been chatting away for a while with another mum and you feel you would like to meet up again. Make sure you don’t just walk away without following up. Exchange phone numbers or arrange to meet next week at the same group or somewhere else.

This can be quite cringy (along the lines of, ‘please be my friend!’) but I’ve found that if you really want to see someone again you must speak up or you may regret it later.

5) Go Online

There’s great potential to meet other mums in this way. Just as internet dating became a big phenomenon fifteen or so years ago, ‘mum dating’ is now an established way to make mum friends.

Eight years ago, I posted a notice on a local parenting website and had many replies. Of the twenty or so people I met, five are now lifelong friends (two of them were bridesmaids at my wedding).

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Using the internet to make friends felt very strange at first, but I quickly got used it and felt more comfortable. I’m so glad that I bit the bullet and did it, even though it seemed unnatural at first.

To say that I’m happy I finally took action and met other mums is a huge understatement. I now couldn’t imagine my life without my wonderful mum friends. And as an added bonus, my daughter has made close friendships through them too.

Seven Things You Don't Want to Hear From Your Child When You're Running Late

Seven Things You Don’t Want to Hear From Your Child When You’re Running Late

You’ve been up since the crack of dawn ensuring that the kids are fed and dressed, lunches are made and bags are packed.

Despite the early start, you’re still running late. There’s practically no chance of making it to your destination in time unless you leave the house at this precise moment.

And, it is at this precise moment that you will invariably hear one of the following seven things from you child(ren):

 

1. ‘Mummy, I need a poo!’

Seriously? They’ve had all morning to cook that up and you’ve given about five reminders. And did she just take a book into the bathroom with her?

2. ‘Mummy, the baby stinks!’

I.e. the baby has done a poo. Great, more poo-related reasons for being tardy. Despite his innocent looking face, the baby is standing in ‘his corner’ and we all know what that means. And of course it’s not just a small nugget; it’s a squirt-up-the-back-and-out-the-sides job.

3. ‘I don’t want to go to school/ pre-school/ Nan’s house because I’ll miss you’

This statement is accompanied by sad eyes similar to those of Puss In Boots from Shrek.

That’s very touching but you don’t have time for it.

4. ‘Whoops!’

This normally translates as ‘I’ve just spilled something all over my clean school uniform and you’re going to have to change my entire outfit – knickers and socks included.’

5. ‘I’ve got a tummy ache/ sore throat / headache / body ache’

Can you be completely sure that this isn’t a made-up illness? Nope. But you can be damn sure you will spend all day feeling guilty about the fact you ignored it.

6. A loud crash followed by the sound of rapidly retreating footsteps

What has she broken this time? As long as it’s not something that will cause fire, flooding or a burglary it will have to be left until later.

7. ‘I’m still hungry!’

Really? Even after a five course breakfast? The only thing to do is grab a packet of chocolate biscuits from the cupboard and hope other parents won’t assume they are her actual breakfast.

After dealing with one or more of the above, being late is inevitable. It’s time to admit defeat, munch on one of the chocolate biscuits and resolve to try harder tomorrow.

Your 20 Week Scan: So Much More Than A Gender Reveal

Your 20 Week Scan: So Much More Than A Gender Reveal

By Aimee Foster

There’s so much more to the 20 week anomaly scan than we sometimes realise. I was one of those parents who left the scan room with more than a blurry picture. My baby was the reason this scan is offered to all pregnant women. She was sick, she needed help and without this scan we wouldn’t have had a clue.

The 20 week anomaly scan is one of the pinnacle moments of any pregnancy. In the majority of cases, when the baby is healthy, it is the second and final time you’ll see your baby on screen before you meet face-to-face. Yes, it’s a time to discover your baby’s gender and receive a series of pictures. But that’s not the only reason for the scan. Believe me, there’s so much more to it than that.

It is the most detailed medical examination your baby will have during pregnancy. Each of your baby’s tiny organs will be checked in turn to ensure they are developing properly. The odds are everything will be fine and the shadowy, hazy picture on screen will reveal a healthy baby. But what happens if this isn’t the case?

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(Image Credit: Tiny Tickers)

A natural worrier, during my first pregnancy I obsessed over every minute detail. The complicated and delicate process of growing a baby overwhelmed me and I fretted over every act and omission I had made. I hadn’t taken folic acid pre-conception. I had a few boozy evenings before I even knew of my little friend’s existence. I’d had too many hot baths…the list of worries was endless. The 20 week scan loomed before, a possible crescendo of all these unwelcome anxieties.

Perched on a brown plastic chair outside the scan room, I was physically shaking. In my head I’d been through all the worst case scenarios. I’d lost her over and over again.

Every time the sonographer checked off a tiny organ or body part as healthy, the iron fist clenching my stomach loosened its grip slightly. After the scan was complete (and I left with the obligatory pictures and gender knowledge), I relaxed a little although my fears didn’t completely dissolve until she arrived 20 weeks later.

And arrive she did, in a shock of black hair and disgruntled screams. Bonny and healthy, she was living proof that there had been no reason to worry.

The second time round, I was far more relaxed about the whole baby-growing process. My body had done it before, it knew the deal. On the day of the anomaly scan I felt relaxed and perfectly able to hold a paper cup of coffee without my shaking limbs spilling its contents everywhere.

Seconds before the sonographer called us in, I said to my husband, ‘I can’t believe I was so scared before Susie’s scan. This time I’m not worried at all’.

Oh the irony. The blessed irony of those words.

The scan progressed much the same as my first. The crucial difference occurred when the sonographer reached the baby’s heart. She was silent for too long. There were too many clicks of buttons and too much eye narrowing. I felt cold fear growing inside, rising up to my throat and rendering me unable to speak.

‘There’s something wrong with your baby’s heart’.

I stared at her blankly, still unable to speak or comprehend her life-changing words.

‘Your baby’s heart looks asymmetrical,’ she explained. ‘I need to get the doctor.’

After another deafeningly silent examination, the doctor said she thought she knew what was wrong with our baby’s heart but that she didn’t want to tell us the exact diagnosis until we had seen a fetal cardiologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital. She explained that this was to prevent us from jumping on Google when we got home, which incidentally was all I wanted to do. She must have known the burning desire for answers would in no way be fulfilled by Dr Google.

We left the scan room with a million unanswered questions scattered between burgeoning hopes that this was all a big mistake.

As we drove home, I turned on my phone to find numerous messages from friends and family asking about the gender of the baby. Forgetting my new burden for a second, I managed a small smile. I had almost forgotten we were having another girl. I couldn’t even begin to fathom how to answer those texts and messages. The gender of our baby, which had seemed so crucial a few hours earlier, was now so utterly insignificant.

The neat scan room at the John Radcliffe and our soft-spoken fetal cardiologist became part of our weekly routine until our baby, Grace, was delivered by Caesarean section at 32 weeks gestation.

Before her delivery, we came to know the scan process intimately. To this day, the skill with which our consultant was able to examine Grace’s tiny heart takes my breath away. To me it looked like a mass of greys and blacks, all running into each other like a monochrome watercolour painting. But with the expertise of our consultant we were able to understand Grace’s heart condition and plan and prepare for her birth.

To the sonographer who first spotted Grace’s heart defect, I will always owe my immense gratitude. The alternative scenario, had we continued in the dark without any knowledge of what was really going on inside, plays out in my head often. The sonographer’s eagle eye not only gave us 12 weeks to prepare but also instant access to the best medical care available. In circumstances such as these that’s really all you want – to know your baby is receiving the best treatment possible with no regrets about what could have been if only you’d known.

Heart defects are the most common of all birth defects, affecting one in 111 babies. Early diagnosis gives babies a better chance of survival and long term quality of life. Detection during pregnancy means the right medical experts can be on hand at birth, treatment can begin as soon as possible and parents can start getting the support they need – from the start. This is the purpose of the 20 week scan and something all parents-to-be need to be aware of.

2016-09-28-1475088327-6554886-fullimage.jpg(Image Credit: Tiny Tickers)

If you are about to have your 20 week scan, the chances are everything will be fine and you will leave the scan room in a cloud of excitement and joy. But while you look forward to finding out the gender and taking home a picture to frame, please also make sure you are aware of the importance of this process and how you can help ensure you baby receives the most detailed and accurate examination possible.


If you are pregnant, you can test just how much you know about the 20 week scan through an online quiz – www.think20.org.uk – developed by Tiny Tickers, the baby hearts charity. At the end of the quiz you can also request an information pack with a checklist of questions to ask the sonographer at your 20-week scan, giving you the confidence to protect your tiny ticker.

Six Ways to Brighten Your Child’s Day

Six Ways to Brighten Your Child’s Day

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

― Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s famous quote is especially relevant for children. Many of our strongest childhood memories relate to how we felt at certain times. Children don’t need expensive clothes or toys – it’s the little gestures of love that they will remember best.

Here are six simple ways to brighten your child’s day and create some of those great memories.

Lunchbox Love

Slipping a note in your child’s lunchbox is a great way to show them you’re thinking about them while they’re at school or nursery. It doesn’t have to be a long note – just a few words to say you love them and are proud of them.

For pre-school children, you could just leave a bright picture with a few words in their lunchbox or book bag. Even if they don’t understand the words, they will feel the love from your gesture.

Make a vision board

To motivate and inspire your child, you could help them create a vision board full of positive messages and images to hang in their bedroom. All you need is a stack of magazines, a large piece of card to stick them on, scissors and glue.

This is a fantastic way to help your child lay out their goals and dreams while encouraging him or her to pursue them.  Look through the magazines with your child and cut out any pictures and words that inspire them. You can also include pictures of the people and places they love. Talk about their hope and dreams and add them to the board in words, pictures and drawings.

Once you’ve finished, place the board in a prominent place where they can see it daily.

Bake together

Create long lasting, happy memories for your child by baking some yummy treats together. Not only is baking cakes, biscuits and other goodies a lovely way to spend quality time together, it also helps your child learn various different maths and science skills.

Make a treasure hunt

Treasure hunts are a brilliant way to keep children entertained, especially when it’s raining outside.

All you need to do is find a small box and fill it with treats, small toys and other ‘treasure’. Once you’ve hidden the box, place clues around the house. The treasure hunt can last for as long as you want it to and your kids are guaranteed to have a lot of fun with it. They’ll never forget the excitement and anticipation of finding their treasure.

Make a pass-the-parcel

Pass-the-parcel doesn’t have to just be a birthday party game. Make it even more special by asking each player to write something nice about the other players.  You can wrap the notes between the layers, so everyone gets to unwrap and read out at least one nice statement about another player.

Ask your child to do something kind for someone else

Whether it be helping a neighbour or sending a card to a friend, ask your child to think of something kind they can do for another person. Acts of kindness not only benefit the recipient – they will make your child feel good about themselves too.

How To Handle The Stroppy Sevens

How To Handle The Stroppy Sevens

‘I HATE you!

‘This is so rubbish. I’m soooo bored.’

‘Just leave me ALONE!’

If you heard all the above, accompanied by door slamming and foot stamping, you’d assume you were in the presence of a teenager wouldn’t you?

When everything you say is met by a smart comeback, an eye roll or a grimace, you’d grit your teeth and remind yourself that this is typical teenage behaviour.

So imagine my surprise when my previously sweet tempered and pleasant daughter began acting just like a teenager as she approached the age of seven.

I thought she’d been possessed. Honestly, I couldn’t understand what had happened to her. She’s always been slightly feisty but her behaviour over the past few months has really ramped up a gear.

And the tantrums… She really knows how to ‘voice’ her displeasure when things aren’t going her way. This often involves violence towards her unsuspecting younger brother too.

I constantly have the feeling of trying my best but never being able to win. I’m forever having to hold my temper because she knows exactly which buttons to push and she’s pressing them many times throughout each day.

It’s emotionally exhausting.

To be honest this behaviour has been beginning to get me down. Everything has become a battle and family life has been suffering a bit. Ok a lot. Wine consumption in our house is at an all-time high (even my husband joins me for a glass in the evenings and he doesn’t even like the stuff).

Enter Dr. Google. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to find that this behaviour is ‘normal’. It is a thing. It even has a name.

 ‘The Stroppy Sevens’.

(My son is firmly implanted in the Terrible Twos but I think most people know how that goes. Let’s just say that I’d take the Terrible Twos over the Stroppy Sevens any day – with a cherry on top.)

I started asking my friends if they had encountered the same sort of challenges when their children turned seven. As it happens, many of them had.

 

What’s it all about?

My first question, after feeling the relief of discovering I wasn’t alone in this, was, ‘Why the hell is it happening?’

I came across psychologist Jean Piaget‘s Four Stages of Development Theory. According to Piaget, children go through four important stages of cognitive development. These stages happen at ages 0-2, 2-7, 7-11 and then adolescence to adulthood. It is when the child is about to progress from one stage to the next that challenging behaviour occurs. These transitional periods, when the brain is gearing up for the next cognitive stage but isn’t quite there yet, can explain all the behaviour I’ve come to associate with the Terrible Twos and now the Stroppy Sevens.

Apparently it can last for up to a year (oh goody).

In all seriousness though, being able to understand why my daughter is behaving the way she is and knowing that it’s perfectly normal has made dealing with the challenging moments (and there are many of them) much easier.

So once I knew why my little angel seemed to be possessed by the spirit of a disgruntled teenager, my next question had to be…

What’s the best way to manage the challenging behaviour?

How do I get through this without yelling all day and constantly feeling like I’m on the verge of losing my shit? And more importantly, how can I support my daughter through this stage?

I turned to the internet and found some great advice:

  1. Have a good routine in place

Older children need routines as much as they did when they were babies and toddlers. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that.

 

We recently sat down and wrote a family routine, which I have stuck up on the kitchen wall. My decision to cut down on the kids’ TV time was met with cries of, ‘Why do you HATE me??!!’  I’ve stuck to my guns because, you know, you kind of have to once you’ve made these decisions.

  1. Stick to boundaries

You certainly need some firm boundaries in place to make it through this stage unscathed. So just stick to boundaries, ignore the behaviour and you’ll hopefully get your darling back sooner or later.

Consistency is key, I believe.

  1. Encourage positive friendships

There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that with the burst in hormones at seven children also take a leap of independence. It’s an age where friendships take over as the bigger influence in a child’s life. Encouraging  positive friendships can help with this. It’s also about giving a little more freedom and opportunities to be more independent so you don’t feel they’re constantly banging against that parental wall.

Whereas my daughter used to be happy going to the park or soft play with me, she now only wants to go if she can take a friend. I try to make sure she sees her friends out of school as much as possible.

  1. Offer rewards instead of punishments

I tend to always jump in with, ‘If you don’t stop doing that, you’re going to lose this’. For ‘this’ insert TV, a favourite toy a planned treat. A very wise friend of mine recently suggested I offer a reward instead, to make the whole experience more positive for my daughter.

So I changed my tactics to, ‘if you do that, you can have this’ and we also drew up a reward chart. Reward charts were something I associated with younger children but it turns out they work equally well at this age too.

 

All of the above advice really does seem to help when my daughter is having one of her, erm, ‘turns’.

Basically, you need a bucket load of patience and understanding, the tips above and  a fridge full of wine to make it through to the other side.  I’ve never wanted to believe the words, ‘It’s just a phase’ as much as I do right now. Here’s hoping….


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, bookworm and sea lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog, New Forest Mum.

Shout for maternal mental health

Shout For Maternal Mental Health

One in ten women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or during the first year of their baby’s life. This week (April 30th – May 4th) is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.  The aim of the week is to encourage more people to talk about mental health issues during pregnancy and beyond.

In order to spread awareness of maternal mental health issues even further, Mummy Links founder Emily Tredget, came up with the #shoutieselfie, an innovative new kind of selfie to raise awareness of an issue so many mums struggle with.

The idea behind #shoutieselfie is simple – take a picture of yourself shouting, share it on social media and tag five friends to do the same. Even if you don’t have personal experience of postnatal depression or other maternal mental health issues, the chances are you know someone who has – even if they haven’t told you.

By sharing #shoutieselfies, everyone can play a part in normalising maternal mental health issues to stop sufferers feeling isolated and lonely. The aim is to remove the stigma around postnatal depression and reach out to those who are suffering in silence.

The campaign has been backed by celebrities such as Made in Chelsea star Binky Felstead and has been gaining traction ever since its conception. Netmums, the NCT and other parenting organisations have also joined in.

With one in ten mums suffering from maternal mental health illnesses, it’s so important to spread the message that it’s ok not to be ok. Help and support is out there and is easily accessible for all. Organisations such as PANDAS and the Assosiation for Postnatal Illness offer support in the form of helplines, information leaflets and support groups. The NCT organises courses and local support groups and events for parents.

It’s very common for parents to feel lonely, but luckily there are now many apps like Mummylinks to help parents connect and meet up for friendship, advice and support. Mummy Social, Mush and Peanut also help obliterate the loneliness and isolation so often attached to parenthood.

To share your own #shoutieselfie, simply take a picture of yourself shouting, share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag five others to do the same. Together we can make a difference to the ten percent of mums suffering from maternal mental health illnesses. Nobody needs to suffer in silence.

6 Annoying Things Strangers Say To New Parents

6 Annoying Things Strangers Say To New Parents

I didn’t notice with my first baby (possibly because I was wading through the treacle that is ‘That New Mum Feeling’) just how many ridiculous and annoying comments are made by total strangers to new parents.

When my son arrived, however, I was better versed in the language of parenting and more aware of what was going on in the world around me.

Again and again I was asked the same annoying questions and subject to frustrating comments. Let me take a moment to acknowledge that I know the strangers involved were well-meaning and simply excited to see a baby.  Intentions aside, it still becomes exasperating after a while, whether you’re a new parent or a veteran.

Yesterday we received the happy news that Kate Middleton gave birth to her third baby with Prince William. She may be a Duchess, but I bet she’s heard some or all of these:

Is he a good baby?

This has to be up there as the most irritating question I was asked when out and about with my son.

How I responded: ‘Yes, he is.’

How I wanted to respond: ‘No, actually he is not a good baby. In his two short weeks of life, he’s already been done for armed robbery and drug smuggling. Yesterday, I found out he was involved in a plot to defraud a bank. He has a criminal record as long as my arm!’

Of course he’s a good baby! Seriously, can a baby ever be bad?

Do you want more?      

At the end of a difficult and stressful pregnancy and days after having my stomach sliced open, people were asking me if I wanted to go through it all again.

How I responded: ‘Oh I don’t know yet.’

How I wanted to respond:  ‘More what? Chocolate buttons? Pelvic floor muscles? Oh you mean babies! Just give me a while to get used to this one will you?!’

Do you feed him yourself?

I knew exactly which road this question was heading down. I wasn’t prepared to get into a discussion about how I fed my son with total strangers.

How I responded: ‘Yup’.

How I wanted to respond: ‘Nah, I get someone else to do it’.

Does he sleep through the night yet?

This question is especially irksome when followed up with a comment about how little Jimmy slept through the night at two weeks old.

Inhale. Count to three. Deep exhale.

How I responded: ‘No, not yet!’

How I wanted to respond: ‘He’s three weeks old, I’ve just inhaled an extra-large mug of coffee, tried to put the kettle back in the fridge and the skin under my eyes is so purple it’s almost black. What do you think?’

You don’t want to spoil him

When I think of a spoilt child, Verrucca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory immediately springs to mind. Let’s remember we’re talking about a baby here. A baby. He’s not manipulating me, he’s crying because he needs something.

How I responded: ‘Thanks. I’ll try.’

How I wanted to respond: ‘Oh, so that’s why he cries when he’s hungry, tired, hot or cold? Because he’s spoilt! Thank you for that epiphany!’

Is your husband at home with his feet up?

On occasion, I was asked this at the weekend when out and about with my kids. I hate the stereotyping and belittling of dads as being useless at and uninterested in caring for their children. This question falls neatly into that category.

How I responded: ‘No, he’s at work.’

How I wanted to respond: ‘Your question is loaded with assumptions. You’re assuming that I have a partner, he’s male and we’re married. While these assumptions are actually true in my case, your deduction that he’s at home doing nothing is not. Not everybody works Monday to Friday from 9 until 5. It’s called shift work.’

 

Of course I just had to humour people because they didn’t mean to be irritating. Knowing they meant well helped me to hold my tongue – I would never want to upset a well-meaning stranger.

Parenting seems to be an awfully public business and questions and comments from total strangers is something all parents, including duchesses, eventually become accustomed to.


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, bookworm and sea lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog, New Forest Mum.

8 Creative Ways To Announce Your Pregnancy

8 Creative Ways To Announce Your Pregnancy

In today’s digital world, pregnancy announcements on social media are the norm. Posting on your favourite social network is a quick and effective way to let everybody know your exciting news.

We took to Instagram to find some uniquely creative pregnancy announcemnts and weren’t disappointed with what we found. The pregnancy announcements below are easy to recreate and are sure to be a big hit with friends and family!

1. Balloons

US blogger, Jessica Roberts used gold number balloons to announce her latest pregnancy. Lining up her adorable children and numbering each one with the seventh balloon on her bump was an original and incredibly cute way to share her big news.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWs0cNFDVk-/?taken-by=mrsjessicaroberts

 

 

2. Loading Sign

Bump art doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple ‘loading’ image is an exciting way to unveil your pregnancy to friends and family!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BW-fD2MHRDU/?utm_source=ig_embed

3. Shoes

In this case it was an adorable pair of tiny Converse, but you could use any kind of shoe to recreate this beautiful pregnancy announcement.

4. Pets

Not wanting to leave your furry friends out of the excitement, why not include them in your pregnancy announcement?

We’ve been keeping a secret for the past couple of weeks! #pregnancyannouncement

A post shared by Sarah Pierce (@sarah_pierce14) on

5. Siblings

How about using a picture of your children’s first ever conversation?!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BhmZT5AnZXV/?tagged=pregnancyannouncement

6. A Slogan Tee

Slogan tees are all the rage these days and you can find many different ways to tell the world you’re pregnant without having to say a word!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BW8wzM_DPe-/?utm_source=ig_embed

https://www.instagram.com/p/BhlTlhwF53d/?tagged=pregnancyannouncement

7. Cake

If you know someone who can make a cake like this one or you can make it yourself, this would be a very tasty way to share the news.

8. Spell It Out

A lightbox, chalkboard or noticeboard will allow you to tell everyone the big news in your own unique way.

For this little child we have prayed ❤️

A post shared by S A Eng (@meet.the.engs) on

How did you announce your pregnancy? We’d love to hear about more creative pregnancy announcements!

See That Perfect Mum Over There? I Bet She Wishes She Were You

Do you see that perfect mum over there? The one with the beautifully made up face and the toddler who is sitting nicely eating a finger of red pepper dipped in hummus. He really loves that red pepper. She must excel at feeding him a varied diet packed with super foods. He’s finished the pepper now and, still sitting nicely, he begins completing the puzzle she placed in front of him. He’s so clever. I bet she spends all her time playing educational games with him. Her clothes are incredibly stylish. Where did she get that amazing change bag from? Yes, she really is perfect. I wish I were her.

Now divert your glance back a bit. Can you see the toddler in the corner? No, not the one riding a trike at the back of the hall. I mean the one in the far corner licking the wall. His clothes are covered in biscuit crumbs and his overgrown blonde hair has a large brown smudge in it. Let’s hope that’s chocolate. He’s still munching on the soggy biscuit in between wall licks. When he finishes cleaning the wall, he toddles over to an unsuspecting child, smiles at her and pulls her hair.

See the mum running over to stop him? Yes her, with the hole in her jumper and the dishevelled hair. See her? Her clothes are certainly not stylish; she must have worn them a lot. She doesn’t have an amazing change bag; it’s one of those free ones you can get in Boots. She’s picked up her son and now he’s angrily slapping her in the face while screaming, struggling and spitting the biscuit all over her.

The second mum – the harassed, biscuit covered one – is me.  I imagine that the perfect mum is watching my son and I in complete disgust, while making a mental note never to invite us over for a play date.

Or is she?

It’s funny how we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. Sizing them up, mulling them over, deciding what to feel envious about and berating ourselves in the process. She’s prettier than me, she’s happier than me, she’s a better mother than me…It could go on forever and there’s really no logic to it.

I recently came across a quote that changed my perspective on the whole comparison thing.

‘DON’T COMPARE YOUR BACKSTAGE TO SOMEONE ELSE’S HIGHLIGHT REEL.’

A great example of the accuracy of this statement is Facebook. Not many people, myself included, share their backstage on their newsfeed. I see pictures of friends on exotic holidays, beautiful gifts they have been given and all of their child’s gymnastics medals. But I don’t see pictures of them up all night with a screaming baby or snaps of their white carpet after one of their kids has trampled dog poo all over it. Yes it’s great that your friend’s son got into Cambridge University to study astrophysics at age seven. But I bet she doesn’t share pictures of him having a tantrum and smashing up the TV.

Facebook is the ultimate highlight reel. Once I understood that, I stopped comparing.

This applies in real life too. Appearances can be deceptive and snap judgements can be fantastically wrong. You may look at someone and wish you were more like them, while at the same time they are wishing they were more like you.

So perhaps I will brush the regurgitated biscuit off my holey jumper and go talk to the perfect mum with the beautiful face and the clever son. I’m sure she must have insecurities too. Maybe she doesn’t feel the perfection I have projected onto her.  I have no idea what her backstage is like. We might become friends. She may even be brave enough to invite us over for a playdate.

Though, good luck to her if she tries to give either of my children slices of red pepper and hummus as a snack.


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, bookworm and sea lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog, New Forest Mum.

44 Top Tips For New Mums

44 Top Tips For New Mums (From New Mums!)

There’s no one like another mum to provide support and guidance when you need it. We asked 44 mums for their top parenting tip. Here are the responses in their own words (and in no particular order):

1. Olive oil is great for banishing cradle cap. And it’s cheap too!

2. Try and make some meals up pre-baby to put in the freezer. Or if you’re not that organised,  then ask everyone who visits to bring a dinner with them.

3. If you are bottle feeding buy a Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine. It’s worth its weight in gold and will save you lots of time and hassle!

4. If breast feeding wear a bracelet on one wrist then swap after a feed to the other side so you know which side you need to feed from next.

5. A few drops of tea tree oil in the bath helps you heal after the birth

6. Baby towels are too thin; using an ordinary towel is much better and means you don’t have to waste money on more stuff you won’t actually use!

7. Sudocream can be used for more than just nappy rash – it works wonders on eczema, rashes, spots etc

8. If a baby is drawing his legs up to his tummy it is often an indication that he has wind.

9. Make a proper photocopy of your scan pictures as over time they will fade

10. Get some fresh air- is easy to get stuck in a rut at home. Going out for a walk helps baby sleep and you clear your mind

11. Buy sleep suits with built in scratch mitts, much easier than trying to keep the mitts on.

12. When you’re about to feed your baby get the remote control, a drink, a little snack and your phone or tablet close to hand because it can take longer than you think!

13. Dream feeds (feeding your baby in his or her sleep at around 10 – 11pm or just before you go to bed) work wonders.

14. Once your child has a favourite comfort toy make sure you buy a couple of spares in case of loss, sick, dribble etc.

15. Always leave a small changing bag in the car and another on the pram in case you go out and forget something

16. Read Baby Bliss by Dr. Harvey Karp. It will really help you understand your newborn and how to comfort and help with colic. It was a lifesaver in my house!

17. Make use of toy libraries, charity shops car-boot sales, nearly new sales etc. Your baby doesn’t know the difference between new and nearly new.

18. Always have a plastic bag with you – this is handy to wrap up dirty clothes

19. Keep plenty of muslin cloths and bibs to hand to mop up dribbles, sick etc

20. Have a changing unit – mat, nappies, cream etc ready to use upstairs and downstairs to avoid constantly running up and down.

21. Baby proof your house before little one can actually move around, they start to move when you least expect it!

22. Try and give your baby as much time as possible every day on their tummy. It does wonders for their development.

23. Baby sleeping bags (e.g. Grobags) are a must. This prevents covers from being kicked off during the night. Consequently, baby won’t get cold and you won’t worry!

24. When nappies are on special offer at the supermarket stock up in all sizes. Nappies don’t go off and your baby will fit the bigger sizes eventually. You can save a fortune with buy one get one free deals!

25. Never be afraid to ask for help and advice from health visitors, doctors and other professionals

26. If breast feeding, stock up on nipple cream before your baby arrives. Breastfeeding can be painful and the cream really helps. The last thing you’ll want to do is traipse round a late night chemist with sore boobs!

27. Let your baby have a bit of nappy free time every day if possible. You can lay them on a changing mat. This helps their skin breath and helps with nappy rash.

28. If the baby is screaming, put the hoover on. Babies love white noise and you don’t actually have to hoover anything…

29. Listen to all advice given by well-meaning friends and family members and then disregard 90% of it. You know best.

30. Breastfeeding may be best but at the end of the day if it doesn’t work out – don’t beat yourself up about it. Do whatever works for you and your baby. Happy mum equals happy baby. Fed is best.

31. When introducing older children to a new baby for the first time, make sure the baby is lying in the cot/Moses basket and you are not holding him or her. This gives you both hands free to give your older child a big kiss and cuddle and a present from the new baby.

32. Also, if you have older children, have some little presents ready to give them when visitors arrive armed with gifts for the new baby. That way they won’t feel left out and resentful.

33. Don’t wait till baby is old enough to understand books to read to them. Read from day one – babies love hearing the sound of your voice and this will establish a lifelong love of reading.

34. Always, always have plenty of baby wipes stocked up. You can seriously never have too many of the things!

35. When you first try to leave the house with your new baby it can take ages! Don’t despair, you’ll get much quicker with practise.

36. Make time for yourself. A soak in the bath can do wonders. And make time for your partner. Try and find someone to babysit once a month so that you can have a ‘date night’.

37. When potty training don’t bother with pull ups. Kids just think they are nappies.

38. Create an email account for your child and then email pictures and memories of things they said/did. When they reach 18 you can give them the email address and password.

39. Try and find other mums with similar age children for friendship, advice, playdates and (when needed) a shoulder to cry on.

40. If people offer help – TAKE IT! Especially accept offers from friends and family to look after the baby for a few hours while you nap and/or take a bath.

41. You think you will remember everything – date of first smile, first word etc but you won’t in the years to come. Make sure you write it all down (keep a notebook handy at all times)

42. Trust your instincts! You are mum and you know best!

43. Try and enjoy the experience and don’t worry about being supermum. You can use up so much energy trying to look like the world’s most perfect mum in front of others. What really matters is that you enjoy your children while they are small and smother them with love.

44. ‘The days are long and the years are short’. Never a truer phrase has been uttered!

What are your tips?