Lifestyle and Parenting blog based in Surrey.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Sleep Seeking

The White Company gifted me products for this post, but as ever all opinions are my own.

The summer holidays are a time where routine goes a bit out the window. The warm weather, fresh air and having new adventures meant that Sophie started needing naps again after dropping them
in the spring. This combined with BBQs going on into the late evening and no school run to set the alarm for, meant that bedtime often slipped.

September feels more like a new year than January. I’m a teacher, so its the start to a new academic year, having a new timetable, new classes and often new colleagues. Sophie too has started back at school, now in the Upper Nursery with full days rather then finishing at lunchtime. New starts.

So at the start of this month, I decided this was the time to get the bedtime routine back in shape - for both of us to be ready for what the new school year has to throw at us.

Bath time is a great way to relax and unwind - for the grown ups as well as the little ones. I’ve been strict with making sure S is in the tub by 6.15 to give her plenty of time to enjoy it before getting all dry and snuggly in her PJs and dressing gown and tucked up in bed ready for her story and a night night kiss as close to 7pm as we can get. 
After Sophie is tucked up I’ve been having a bath myself. We’ve just renovated our house and getting our perfect tub was high on my list and I think we nailed it. As well as a bit of time to destress, being perfectly clean always helps me sleep better as well (so if I’m short on time I’ve replaced with a shower).
A little ritual of pouring in the bath oil, running the water and lighting a candle before getting in for a good soak gives a bit of me-time, importantly off my phone all helping me let go and unwind. I’m currently in love with the Sleep range from The White Company, which comprises of six of the most soothing essential oils – including lavender, chamomile and clary sage. It smells heavenly and burning the candle in our bedroom before we go to bed sets the tone for a tranquil nights sleep.

Clean sheets also promotes a good nights sleep and changing them weekly helps make sure you are more comfortable and likely to drift off. I only ever buy 100% cotton - yes they are a bit harder to iron (if you’re that we inclined… I only ever iron the pillowcases!) but it makes for a much more comfortable nights sleep, especially if you go for the highest thread count you can afford.

Also having nightwear that I'm really comfortable in makes a big difference. As its getting cooler, I’m loving this super soft jersey set from The White Company. The fabric again is important - choose nothing breathable that will regulate your temperature.

I swear by the the W’s when I’m struggling to sleep:
Window - being too hot is often the reason I’m lying awake, so if I’m not cold, opening a window and cooling down as well as letting some fresh air in is helpful
Water - I always have a glass on my bedside table to make sure its not thirst keeping me up
Well, the other W is the opposite! taking a quick visit to the ladies can also help

If these three don’t work and its worries keeping me awake, jotting down whatever I’m concerned about in a notepad by by bed can help. Often what has kept me awake worrying at night seems so trivial in the morning. 
My most important tip is never, never, look at your phone. It is the quickest way to wake myself up and stop me being able to get back to sleep!! I went to a talk by Dr Chatterjee at New Scientist Live last week and he gave an amazing speech about wellness and one of his focuses was how important sleep is. Some additional tips I learnt were the impotence of getting ‘morning light’ to make sure your circadian is properly regulated - even on a cloudy day. Its really hard in the winter when you arrive and leave work in the darkness, but I’m going to try and make an extra effort to get outside. In contrast, making your bedroom as dark as possible helps to reinforce that it is night time and sleep time.

Shop the post


Thursday 9 August 2018

Our wedding anniversary weekend

Some weekends are just perfect aren’t they? Often it’s the unplanned and spontaneous, but sometimes the ones you organise turn out to be just the way you planned.

It was our 6th wedding anniversary last Saturday and, in previous years, I’ve relied on the husband to arrange a surprise for me, but this year I took the reins.

We’ve been staying at my ever patient parents whilst the our house renovation has been going on, so a night away, just the three of us really appealed. We had a million house jobs to do over the weekend, so staying local was key, so we decided on a night away at The Brooklands Hotel (who kindly had us for the night free of charge) for their Brooklands Museum Discovery Break (£199 - full details here), I've written about when we lasted visited here, if you fancy a read which gives a full tour of the room. As it was a special weekend they also upgraded us to one of their beautiful suites, which meant Sophie could sleep in a a separate part of the suite as she doesn’t sleep very well when sharing a room with us! There was also loads of space for her to play in and she loved the noughts and crosses game in the room which we played endless rounds of!

As Sophie had an afternoon nap, the three of us went for dinner at 6.30pm, as kids eat free as part of the package. Sophie dined off the kids menu and was an absolute dream. I often find she is really well behaved in the situations I worry about most (and a devil when I expect her to be good!!) She chatted, ate, coloured and watched some of her programs on the iPad whilst we enjoyed 3 courses of amazing food. 

We both had the scallops and shared the chateaux briande - both of which were utterly delicious, before indulging further in pudding.

We then put S to bed and chilled out on our balcony enjoying the rest of the evening together. Sophie slept like an absolute jem in her travel cot (which I’d been really worried about as we’d only just made the love into a big girl bed) and we all had tea in bed before the husband went to the gym and then we all headed down to brekkie.

The package also includes a ticket to The Brooklands Museum, where we looked around cars, bikes and planes from yesteryears along with a trip to the soft play. Our favourite part was looking round The Sultan of Oman's former private jet which was gifted to Brooklands museum in 1987. Sophie sat in the pilots set (as did Gareth!) pretending to fly the plane. 

We also had great fun in the interactive gallery playing on the racing car games, and lots of sciences based activities.

Then it was on to carpet decisions, Choosing grout colours and kitchen details….

On Saturday evening my parents were back on babysitting duty and I took Gareth to No 97 in Surbiton - one of my favourite local-ish restaurants. I kept my phone in my bag and camera at home, but you can see lots of lovely pics on their website.They have a menu that changes monthly and we had one of my favourite seats at the bar over looking the kitchen. The restaurant has a brilliant atmosphere and sitting at the bar makes it even more of an experience. The food is divine and I think really reasonable a £25 for two courses or £30 for three with an amuse bouche and petit fours making it feel like a banquet. We ate, sipped, laughed and enjoyed each others company, thinking how quickly the last six years have flown by and how excited we are about what our 7th year together has in store.


Friday 22 June 2018

What do you do when your toddler doesn't eat fruit...

This post was written in collaboration with BEAR

Before I had Sophie, when I thought about the type of parent I’d be, there were many things I said I’d never do when it came to food and snacking:

I’d never feed my child snacks to keep them busy going around the supermarket, all food would be eaten at the table and all snacks would be healthy and nutritional.

But boy oh boy, most of those ‘rules’ were thrown about the window very early on!

When Sophie hit 18 months she decided that she’d no longer eat fresh fruit, which, to my despair, she kept up for nearly a year and a half!  This made choosing healthy snacking choices even harder for my fussy eater. Sophie loved dried fruit and fruit puree which I incorporated into her diet, along with ‘toddler snacks’ One of Sophie’s favourite of these are BEAR Yoyos, but I was always a little wary about how much sugar they contained, and how healthy they really were.

During half term, on a rainy Tuesday, Sophie and I were invited to London with a group of other mums to the 'BEAR Kitchen’ to learn what goes into their Yoyos and have a go at making them for ourselves.

Being a biology teacher, I was really interested in all the science behind the nutritional information.  I had thought that fruit puree would be ‘better’ for Sophie than dried fruits in my bid to get some fruit into her diet. However, this isn’t actually the case as in the production process of purees, the cellular structure of the fruit  starts to break down and much of the fibre is lost, and the vitamin and mineral content is reduced (due to the pasteurization in the manufacturing process). However, with BEAR products, the fruit is gently mashed rather than liquidized so they retain a higher level of fibre and as they are baked at very low temperatures this helps to maintain a higher vitamin and mineral content.

I was also surprised that the ingredients for the BEAR YoYos are only fruit and veg. We made ours using 5 strawberries, 2 apples and a pear, removing only the core and pips of the latter two fruits. That’s all. So BEAR Yoyos actually count as one of your five a day and contain the same amount of natural fruit sugar as a small apples - no added sugar. This made me feel so much better - during Sophies’ fruit refusal she was actually getting the goodness from other sources and she loves BEAR products that they count as a ‘treat’ too. 


Thankfully Sophie is eating fresh fruit again, which I owe to my ever patient mum. As she started nursery school at Easter and she had to bring fruit for her break time snack - what was I going to say to her teachers?! So a few months before, we started operation fruit-eating in ernest. We started off giving her the tiniest pieces of pear with a chocolate reward for eating them (needs must). Since then we’ve gone larger with portion sizes and she now eats pretty much all fruits, not necessarily without complaint, but we'll get there. So Sophie started nursery school confidently taking in her pear (albeit chopped up with all the skin taken off!) but we’ve progressed and now she will take a banana - much less morning prep needed!

I do tend to keep a pack of BEAR Yoyos in my handbag when we are out and about, as a bribe, distraction, tummy filler or to make up part of Sophie's packed lunch. As they are so convenient; I know that she loves them (so do I, if I’m allowed to share…) they take a bit of time to eat, so aren’t inhaled and more instantly demanded and when it comes to the summer, they aren’t going to go off in the heat. Perfect.

Thursday 26 April 2018

Sophie's 3rd Birthday Party

How quickly the years seem to steam by. Three years seem to have gone by like a flash,but at the sam time I struggle to remember what life was pre-Sophie now.

On Sunday we had a little party for little dot turning three after having quiet family cerebrations on her actual birthday last Friday.

Its been a full on few weeks, moving out of our home and staying with my lovely parents, the builders starting (and all sorts of associated admin!) and Sophie starting school, so we opted for a relaxed garden party to celebrate Sophie’s birthday, which is actually what we did for her first and second birthday too!

This year Sophie was REALLY excited about her birthday and we wanted to make a fuss over her after all the change that she’s gone through recently. She really wanted to wear a party dress and have a cake and balloons. Totally understandable expectations!

Angel and Rocket have the most gorgeous swishable girls dresses and I picked the Beatrice Peplum Waist Dress for Sophie. She loved it and every day pre-party asked whether it was her party day and if she could wear it yet.

As for the cake, my amazing sister (who has three kiddies, is a high flying solicitor in the city and runs marathons - told you she was impressive!) offered to make it. Which arrived still warm from the oven and oozing home made jam. Heaven! To make it look the part I added a personalised cake topper from Other Letters and candle from Talking Tables.

Bless little Sophie didn’t want to blow out her candles, asking me to do it for her, but she seemed to manage to eat her piece of cake without any help from mummy!

We went for a 3-5pm party time so that we didn’t need to give people a ‘meal’ to reduce stress but went all out on the snacks. Crisps, dips, cheese straws, biscuits, fruit, ice-cream cones, proper party food and a decent bar for the grown ups too. (A party isn’t a party if there isn’t prosecco right?!)

My parents garden has hosted the best parties over my lifetime and it looked so beautiful on Sunday. The weather held and we added balloons and decorations from Other Letters and Talking Tables to make it even more special and a summer wreath on the door from Wharfedale Cottage Crafts.

We put all the garden toys out and my sister who lives round the corner brought some of her kids toys too and the children had the most wonderful afternoon playing with old friends and making new ones too whist the grown ups chatted happily. I love all of these shots of the kiddies and hope there are some that there parents print and frame too.

I wanted to make little party bags for the little guests of honour and I had little Meri Meri Shell bags from Other Letters for the girls and more traditional style bags from Talking Tables for the boys filled with wands, toy snakes, bubble blowers and a piece of cake.

The last two birthdays I’ve run around with my camera trying to capture the day, but this year the lovely Pippa from Philly Photography came along and took all these gorgeous pictures. She sent all the images to us that evening for us to remember the gorgeous day we’d had. Until next year...!

Blogger Template Created by pipdig