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Aged 2+

  • Storytelling with Moonlite Projector

    This post contains items that have been sent to us for review purposes.

    I was a complete book worm as a child. It wasn’t teddies and soft toys that adorned my bed at night: it was books. I always had a pile at the foot of my bed, and often several underneath my pillow, stashed away for safe keeping once my eyes had gotten too heavy to read another page. It’s a joy I really looked forward to sharing with my own child whilst pregnant, and I am so glad that as he’s gotten older, Pickle is showing more and more that he’ll be just the same. He loves a good story and I’m always up for story time. read more

    Aged 2+, Parenting, Reviews
    / March 6, 2019
  • Press Image from Little Gift Theatre show for children a man standing in front of lots of suitcases

    Theatre Review: Little Gift – M6 Theatre at Birmingham REP

    This is a press review of the 11.30am performance of Little Gift at The Birmingham REP on 23 February 2019.

    If you read my February children’s theatre post, you’ll know I was particularly excited about seeing Little Gift, the latest touring production from M6 Theatre, performed by Guy Hargreaves, someone I’d had the privilege of working with many years ago through the National Youth Theatre. Sometimes, I can get an idea in my head of what a theatre production might be like before I go (rightly or wrongly), and it can often set me up for a fall – anticipating the show to be one thing, when the reality is quite different. Not this time. read more

    Aged 2+, Culture, Days Out, Parenting, Reviews
    / February 24, 2019
  • Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent at Hogsdown Farm Gloucestershire over bank holiday weekend

    Did we choose the right tent?

    Almost a year ago now, we bought our first proper tent. Before then, we’d made do with little pup tents – which are fine for the odd night away or a weekend in the summer, but not practical when camping as a family and for longer periods. We excitedly went along to the Caravan and Camping Show at the NEC and came home with our Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent.

    Kampa Paloma 5 Air Tent

    Finding the Paloma 5 Air tent felt like we’d stumbled upon the perfect tent for us. On paper, it ticked all the boxes we could have hoped for, and it was just on the cusp of our budget. read more

    Aged 2+, Camping, Countryside, Parenting, Reviews
    / January 5, 2019
  • Center Parcs Woburn Forest lodge at sunrise with sun flare

    Winter Wonderland at Center Parcs Woburn Forest in Pictures

    After trying to write up a blog post about our recent holiday to Center Parcs for what feels like forever, I’m scrapping everything I’d written so far and starting again. Why? Because I was going about it the wrong way. I was trying to fill in the back story – explaining why we went in the first place, how I wanted to make sure this year my birthday was better than last year. I spent over 1,000 waffling on about the lead up to the trip and hadn’t even begun documenting the memories I want to cherish from our time actually spent at Center Parcs. So I’m starting again. And focusing on what’s important.

    Our First Full Family Holiday in Years

    One of the most special things about this holiday was that my whole immediate family came too. My parents, all three of my brothers (including the one who lives in Australia – he made the trip over especially!) and my foster brothers too. It’s the first time the full Parker-clan (my maiden name) has been on holiday together in… I don’t even know how long. Possibly fifteen years. That’s half of my life. That really meant a lot to me, and I was hoping for lots of fun in the forest together to properly pre-celebrate my 30th birthday. read more

    Aged 2+, Lifestyle, Parenting, UK Travel
    / January 2, 2019
  • Pickle standing outside with a woolly hat on about to eat a Johnson's Baby Biscuiteers biscuit

    My Personal Parenting Evolution

    This is a collaborative post as part of my Ambassadorship with Johnson’s Baby.

    Back in 2015, I set this blog up to chart my pregnancy, and then as a way to document and treasure our baby’s childhood. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about how much Pickle has grown, how much he’s changed and his development. I’ve captured him on (digital) film right from those precious first moments in hospital right up until this morning when he delighted in tapping open his boiled egg for breakfast. What I’ve perhaps not realised, that through doing all of this, I’ve also documented my own development. The subtext running through all of my posts is how I’m learning a little more every day about what it takes to be a parent: facing each new challenge as they come, trying to realise and celebrate any successes and find ways to still stay true to myself and my own passions.

    So in the spirit of evolution and embracing change as a Johnson’s Baby Ambassador, let’s take a closer look at the defining moments of my parenting journey, and the key lessons I’ve learned so far, and what I still have to come.

    Lesson 1: Love is the Strongest Medicine

    As someone who used to wimper at the slightest sniffle, the process of trying to recover from an emergency c-section after a 48 hours of induction and a failed forceps delivery was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. If you’d have told me I’d be lying in a bed with a catheter preventing me from wearing anything to absorb the lochia bleeding, I’d have thought it would be the most mortifying experience possible. But instead, I existed in a cloud of love, snuggles and happy-crying along with my midwives (who nicknamed Pickle ‘The-Most-Loved-Baby’). Love really is the best medicine (although, you know, disclaimer… it’s not an actual substitute for modern medicine).

    Lesson 2: It isn’t Always Perfect

    Although we’re smiling and looking like we’re having the best holiday ever… our first trip to Center Parcs when Pickle was not even six months old was actually a bit of a disaster. It rained almost the whole week, meaning the forty-five minute walk to the pool was soul-destroying and we all felt miserable with a cold. Pickle didn’t go to sleep each night until what felt like midnight and I left feeling stupid for having gotten so excited about our first holiday away. It didn’t meet the ridiculously high expectations I’d put on our trip. I’ve since learned to take joy in the smaller things. To not put perceived levels of happiness on a smooth running holiday, to go with the flow and appreciate each day for what it is and not what I imagined it would be.

    Lesson 3: Some Babies Just Don’t Sleep

    I spent most of Pickle’s first year thinking I was doing something wrong because he never ever slept through. Or anything closely resembling sleeping through. He was an hourly waker, and I felt like everyone assumed that was my fault. It wasn’t. It’s very normal baby behaviour. It’s only a relatively new concept that babies have been expected to sleep through the night in their own space. I was quick to point the finger at myself. I was quick to assume everyone else did the same. But really, what did it matter? He was well cared for, loved, and got the right amount of sleep for him, no matter how interrupted that sleep was.

    Lesson 4: The Centre of our World

    It perhaps took me until Pickle’s first birthday to properly appreciate that he wasn’t the centre of everyone else’s world like he was ours. For me, Pickle’s first birthday was a ‘drop-everything-else-all-focus-on-this’ kind of day. A day I’d been building up to since he was born. A day I’d prepared for meticulously, hoping all his presents, experiences and treats would bring huge smiles to his face. It came as a bit of a surprise that not everyone was as committed – but you know what? That’s absolutely okay. Of course it’s like that. And as long as Little Pickle’s Dad and I continue to make a big fuss of his birthday, that’s all that matters.

    Lesson 5: Finding Our Jam

    It may surprise you to learn that I’ve not always been such a great lover of the outdoors as I am now. As a teenager, I’d have much rather have been sat in front of a computer screen or locked away in a theatre black box studio. If it wasn’t for Pickle being a summer baby, it may have taken me even longer to cotton on to the fact that the days where I spent time outside, walking around our beloved lake or visiting local National Trust properties, were the ones I felt happiest. It’s gone hand in hand with my new found love of photography. Figuring out what it is that makes life easier, that reduces stress and lets me feel like the best version of myself possible was the best thing I’ve done for myself since becoming a parent.

    Lesson 6: I’m more than a Mom

    This one took a long time to learn. And it’s a lesson I wish I’d have allowed myself to learn sooner. It wasn’t until I went back to employment when Pickle was twenty months old that I realised how beneficial it was to have time for myself. Having time apart, and earning my own regular salary almost gave me permission to concentrate on myself again. I felt justified in devoting a bit more time on the things that I enjoy: socialising guilt free, taking up hobbies and even exercising. I hate to use the word but before this point, I think I was a bit of a martyr to parenthood. I felt like it had to come first above all else, even if that meant to the detriment of my own identity. I thought that’s just what being a parent was. It isn’t. And it shouldn’t be. It’s all about finding the right balance.

    Lesson 7: There’s No Such Thing as Perfect – and that’s a good thing

    The first time I picked up my DSLR camera, I didn’t expect to be an expert. I knew it would take time to learn the ropes, that I’d slowly grow in confidence and that it’d take a lot of practice. The first time I picked up my baby however… that was a different story. I wanted to do everything right. First time. I suddenly piled high the expectations on myself and there was no room for error. I had to be perfect. I thought perfect was possible.

    Now, just two and half years later, I don’t believe in perfect. There is no such thing. You can do your best. But that’ll never be perfect. Because perfect implies there’s a course of action that is solely correct. And I think we all know that’s not the case. Parenthood opens up so many choices and avenues – each with their benefits and pitfalls. It’s a parent’s job to navigate the way, choosing whichever way best suits their unique circumstances. Different choices might lead to different outcomes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean one is right and the other is wrong.

    What else is to come?

    I know I have many more lessons to learn ahead of me. I know I’ll make mistakes, and I know there’ll be difficult and challenging decisions to conquer… but that’s all part and parcel of parenthood, isn’t it? And having lots of different voices and opinions, friends, family, and professionals around helps us to make better, informed choices that we can feel confident about.

    This year has been a big year of change for me: going from being a stay at home Mom to a four-days-a-week employee with studying on top. It completely changed the playing field of parenting, and whilst there are obviously days when I yearn for our lazy mornings together with playdates and trips out galore, I definitely see the positive effect it’s had on our little family.

    Next year? It’s going to be a year of change for Johnson’s Baby UK. It’s all really exciting, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds and what you think of it. There’s not much I can say at the moment… (anything this top secret must be super cool, right?) but keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of months as we, gently, start to reveal the latest evolution of Johnson’s Baby.

    Disclaimer: this #ad blog post has been written as part of my Ambassadorship with Johnson’s Baby. If you’d like to learn more about how I’ve been working with Johnson’s and why, please read my Proud to be a Johnson’s Ambassador post.

    Aged 2+, Johnson's Baby, Parenting
    / December 7, 2018
  • Pickle cuddling Flop from Bing with his new grown up haircut

    Toddler Hair Care with Johnson’s Baby

    This is a collaborative post with Johnson’s Baby.

    In the past few weeks, both Pickle and I have had our hair cut. Which may not sound like much to write a blog post about, but it was Pickle’s very first professional haircut so it marked a huge milestone. Getting your child’s hair cut is weirdly emotional… and I can’t quite pin down the reason why. Is it because it always makes them look more grown up? Is it because (particularly in Pickle’s case) it took such a long time for him to grow what hair they had, that it seems like a shame to chop it off? Is it because we’re purposefully choosing to alter their physical identity?

    Whatever it is, it’s emotional. And I was there (just like many parents before me), tin foil in hand, ready to catch those gorgeous golden locks of hair to treasure and keep. Not entirely sure what I’ll do with it for the decades to come, but I know I’m not the only sentimental one out there to do the same.

    Preparing for their first Haircut

    Although it was Pickle’s first time at the hairdressers, I had made (quite frankly awful) attempts at cutting his hair myself before. I am not a hairdresser. And the result was a bit amateur to say the least… but I knew from that how tricky it was to keep him still. I tried doing it whilst he was preoccupied in his high chair, I tried when he was in the bath – but whatever I did, he wasn’t going to let me cut it without a fight or a fidget.

    I asked on Instagram Stories for any advice any other parents had, and took all of them on board – and thank goodness, they worked! I honestly couldn’t believe how well behaved he was: so comfortable and relaxed. It could have just been a happy coincidence, but here’s what I did in the run up to his haircut, with the last point being particularly effective.

    Tips for your Child’s First Hair Cut

    • Find a salon that is known for doing children’s hair: I asked my friends for local recommendations of where to have Pickle’s hair cut, so I was able to learn from their experience where was worth going, and where was best to avoid. Just because a salon is brilliant at doing adult hair, doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing when it comes to putting children at ease.
    • Talk to them about it beforehand: as soon as I booked the appointment, I started talking to Pickle excitedly about his upcoming haircut and preparing him for what would happen.
    • Pack lots of snacks: I had a bag full of raisins, oat bars, rice cakes, carrot puffs…. you name it, I had it in my bag. A little box of raisins is always my go-to choice when I want him to be still, whether that’s at the cinema, the theatre or now the hairdressers.
    • Arrive early: I purposefully arrived ten minutes before our appointment and wonderfully, there was a boy sat having his haircut as we came in. It meant I could sit with Pickle, point out all that was going on and talk to him about the other boy having his hair cut. I pointed out how still the boy was being, and how it wasn’t hurting him. We marveled at the sound of the trimmer and hairdryer together, and laughed at the water spray bottle.

    The salon we went to had a special brightly coloured gown for children to wear, and even had a sweetie jar as a little treat too. Although they didn’t have a special shaped seat (I’ve seen other salons with special seats that look like cars or carriages), they did have a booster seat for children to sit on and Pickle loved watching in the mirror.

    Baby and Toddler Hair is Different to Adult Hair

    As I stood next to him, marveling in disbelief at how well behaved he was being, it reminded me of all that I’d learned at our second Johnson’s Baby Ambassador event. I had no idea how biologically different hair is from when we are born, to when our hair matures at about twelve years old. The structure and properties of my hair, is so very different to Pickle’s, which is why we both need hair care products that are specially formulated.

    Primary Terminal Hair

    From around the age of one year old, toddler hair is classed as primary terminal hair. Before this, that gorgeous baby-fine hair can only grow a minimal amount. Once a child starts getting their primary terminal hair, this can grow two to three times thicker than their baby hair, and up to four times in length.

    If we do a quick comparison, you can see the changes in Pickle’s hair from the super fine baby hair here when he was about eleven months old…

    … to much thicker and longer hair just a few months later. I think it’s quite clear from these photos that it’s not just hair that’s grown longer, but the strands themselves are so much thicker, carrying more weight and beginning to look more like the hair we have as adults.

    Secondary Terminal Hair

    Pickle won’t reach the next phase of his hair until he reaches puberty, at around twelve years old. His secondary terminal hair will be thicker again (up to five times as thick as his baby hair), and could grow up to seven times longer. What this means, is that the hair he has now, needs the same care for potentially the next ten years. And he won’t be ready to start using adult shampoo until then.

    A Johnson’s Family for a while longer…

    It’s good news then, that we’re such fans of Johnson’s Baby, as their range of baby and children’s shampoos will be long on our bathroom shelves.

    Disclaimer: this is a sponsored #ad post as part of my Ambassadorship with Johnson’s Baby. All content, ideas and views are my own but, as always, remain honest and genuine. If you’d like to read more about my relationship with Johnson’s Baby, have a read of my introductory ambassador post.

    Aged 2+, Johnson's Baby, Parenting
    / October 5, 2018