2 May 2016

Children don't come with a manual

When they hand you that small pink bundle that has just been born your journey as a parent begins, talk about being thrown in at the deep end. Here you are in charge of someone that doesn't sleep, poops constantly and suffers with trapped wind and stimulation overload. If this is your first child there is an overwhelming feeling of 'Oh goodness, am I ready for this, what do I do now and sheer fear on the first day that your other half returns to work.' If it is your second or latter child there is more of a 'I have done this before so I know what I am doing' feeling until you remember the bits you blanked out from the first time around and then the dread sets in as you know what is coming. 

Got this sleeping thing sorted!!

You just get used to burping techniques and finding a way of getting your little one to sleep so you can drink your much needed coffee hot for once and then there is something else thrown at you... teething, weaning, an illness and it is onwards from there. Of course there are lots of good things in there too, first smiles, words and those teetering first steps but being a parent is much like hitting the ground running and it never seems to let up, there is always something that you are learning to deal with. No wonder they say your child's early years will be the best and hardest of your life.

We all want to do our best as parents, to have happy, well balanced children and it isn't easy, we work out what we think is the right way to go about things, the right way to handle a stage or situation and go from there. Sometimes we do a brilliant job and all goes well for a while and other times we could do things a little differently or slightly better to obtain a different outcome. Parenting is all about learning as you go and being a team, a family unit and finding out what works for you all.

With the Little ones currently being 13 months old, 4 years old and 6 and a half they are all in very different places and we have to treat them very differently and I have to admit sometimes we get it wrong. Little 3 is entering the 'I want to do it myself' stage with meal times, he is pretty dexterous with a spoon and great at getting the food on a fork and into his mouth however it is the waving the implement around between mouthfuls that gets me at the moment, he creates such a mess on the walls, floor, me and the cat too. Mostly he feeds himself but for some meals such as his porridge I ignore the cries of protest as I hold his arm to stop him getting the spoon and shovel it in between the screams (slight exaggeration there in case you felt I was being unfair, but seriously close). Parenting him at the moment is all about allowing him to do what he wants to do but on my terms, such as having a spoon each and letting him have a go now and then keeping us both happy. 

I wonder what she is thinking...

Little 2 is in a bit of a limbo place right now, she knows she will be going to school soon and loves being a big sister but she still goes to preschool and so 'I am still your little girl, aren't I Mummy even though I'm getting big', was announced last week which pretty much sums her up right now. She has been very angry and shouty at times which is not like her at all, we have had a few emotional outbursts where she has screamed at anyone who has come near her and has needed quite a while to calm down. Little 3 has just started walking and is becoming a more active member of the family and I think all these changes are unsettling her and causing all the emotion. We have made more time to have quality time with her and are trying to allow her to express her feelings without telling her off for shouting and instead sitting down and having a cuddle and a chat to find out what is wrong, it seems to be working as she has been much happier the past few days. 

Helping Little 3 to walk

Little 1 has just emerged from the 'It's not fair' stage and is currently trying to be more grown up and helpful which is really great, but I am aware that as well as wanting to be a big girl and helpful to me she is young and sensitive. I do not want her to feel that she has to be the 'grown up one' as she is the eldest, I want her to be a child and enjoy her childhood. I want her to understand that she is brilliant just as she is, they all grow up far too fast anyway.

I have recently been sent a book called 'Children do not come with a manual, The essential guide to a happy family life' written by Carole and Nadim Saad which discusses common parenting issues such a whining, not listening etc and offers tools and strategies to help parents effectively tackle those situations. For example instead of saying 'Shall we go and brush your teeth?' and then having a battle with a child who has said 'No', they suggest saying 'Shall we brush your teeth in 2 or 5 minutes?', thus empowering the child with the decision but the parent wins as the job gets done either way.

I don't think we were doing too badly as parents but having read the book we have already implemented a few minor changes. Sometimes we used to say to the girls 'Who can get in their pyjamas the fastest?', quite often being the eldest Little 1 would win and often Little 2 wouldn't want to join in as she was likely to lose so now we say 'Who can get into the pyjamas before I get to 10?' Little 1 is generally ready before her sister but both girls are happy as they beat my counting and I win too as they are ready for bed. 

Simple changes to the way we parent and the way we respond to situations such as those suggested in the book can make a parenting situation much more positive and have a big effect on a child's behaviour and family dynamics. We may not always know whether we are doing the right thing but sometimes things like this can help us along the way. 

 N.B  I received 'Children don't come with a manual' in return for it's inclusion in a blog post. Hovever all words and opinions are my own honest thoughts. 

#MaternityMondays 2nd May

Welcome to #MaternityMondays 2nd May

Little 3 has been getting steadier on his feet this week, he can stop and change direction now, albeit it a bit wobbly. This week also saw him having his MMR vaccination, he has had a mild temperature and a bad case of the grumps but other than that he has been okay.

Emma hosted last week and her favourites from the link up were: 

'This fabulous post written by Laura Honeybee who is owning her own pregnancy and declining consultant-led care which makes me want to shout, good for you, Laura. 

Next up was Lynzy and Co with her musings of the pros and cons of having a two-year age gap between children. Is there every a right gap?'

As usual #MaternityMondays is for all your pregnancy, baby, toddler and maternity themed posts, please grab our badge from my sidebar and comment on the hosts post and as many of the others as you can as linkys can only work if we support each other. If you tweet about the link up please tag me in @lifelittleones and use the hashtag #MaternityMondays and I'll retweet as many as I can.

See you next week x

25 April 2016

10 reasons why I love reusable nappies

Little 3 has been wearing reusable nappies for over a year, I can now safely say we have tested them fully right through from breastfeeding and weaning and into toddlerhood. There are a great many reasons to give cloth a go and these are my top 10 reasons why I love reuseable nappies.

1. No chemicals on Little 3's bottom - This was one of the main reasons for switching to reusables with Little 3. Most of the disposable brands (apart from a few of the eco ones which generally contain something like wood pulp) are filled with chemicals, absorbing gels and strange things with long names! Little's 1 and 2 wore disposable nappies and got a lot of nappy rash at times. Since Little 3 was born he has only had a sore bottom once due to teething. I definitely think wearing natural breathable fibres next to his bottom is better for his skin, I only wish we had used them with the girls too.  

2. You never run out - There are always nappies in the house, I never have to run to the shops for nappies in the rain or lug great big packs of nappies home on the pushchair. As long as I keep on top of the nappy wash, which is only every third day, I will never have to go shopping for nappies.

3. The cost saving- Yes it did cost me around £450 to buy my nappies from birth until now but if you wanted to buy secondhand you could spent half that. But put it this way, I have worked out that in Little 3's first year we changed around 2250 nappies, add in a couple of packs of wipes a week (we use washable ones so saving there too) and this works out at nearly £600 for the year. We have already saved and every month until potty training we are now saving around £35 a month give or take a couple of £ for washing the nappies. When we are done we can sell on our nappies too.

4. They don't smell - You know that smell from disposables, the chemical one when your child has had a wee, you just do not get that from natural fibres. Reusable nappies are also brilliant at containing the other kind of nappy smell.

5. No poonami's - Reusable nappies are elasticated all the way around the back and the legs, this leads to no leaks, they really are far superior for containment, no up the back jobs in our house ever!

6. They are environmentally friendly - 2250 nappies we didn't send to landfill this past year - enough said!

7. Cute designsThere are so many gorgeous prints available, I love choosing which nappy to put on Little 3 and to see him crawling around in nappies like these, you have to admit he looks pretty cute.

8. The washing line - There is no better satisfaction than a line of nappies drying outside in the sun.

9. They are a conversation starter - The number of good comments I have had in baby changing rooms about Little 3's nappies is unreal. I have stopped and chatted to several mums about nappies in the past and even managed to get a couple of friends to try them. 

10. Shopping for new nappies - okay so shopping for nappies doesn't thrill you that much but with reusables there are always new prints and designs being released from somewhere, waiting to see what the new ones are going to be and deciding which ones to buy when you are building your stash can be fun.

#MaternityMondays 25th April

Welcome to #MaternityMondays 25th April

We have a new walker here at Loving Life with Little Ones. Little 3 started walking this past week, so far we have counted 8 steps but he is able to stop and steady himself now rather than just falling to his knees between attempts, life is about to get a whole lot more interesting with three of them running around!!

This week I hosted and was moved by a poem written by ‘Bread’ called Heartbeats are simple powerful things. It made me think back to being pregnant with Little 3 and all the issues we had with his heart during the pregnancy, I would lie in bed at night for hours thinking about his heart and listening to my own hoping that all would be okay, thankfully he is now fit and well.

And Congratulations to Laura Honeybee who shared her 13 weeks pregnancy announcement with us. I remember the pure exhaustion of the early days when I was expecting number 3, there is no let up with 2 children running around and it is even tougher when you feel so sick! I hope you feel brighter soon. 

As usual #MaternityMondays is for all your pregnancy, baby, toddler and maternity themed posts, please grab our new badge from my sidebar and comment on the hosts post and as many of the others as you can as linkys can only work if we support each other. If you tweet about the link up please tag me in @lifelittleones and use the hashtag #MaternityMondays and I'll retweet as many as I can.

See you next week x

20 April 2016

One year in cloth..our nappy journey so far..

This week it is real nappy week #RNW16 and seeing as Little 3 has worn cloth nappies for over a year now we thought we would share with you our first year in cloth, what didn't work for us and what cloth nappies we love too.

Little 3 has been wearing cloth nappies since the day after he came out from hospital so he was 9 days old when he wore his first cloth nappy, we started with pocket nappies first in Newborn size and then in the adjustable 'birth to potty' size. I wrote about our first experiences of using cloth here.

First cloth nappy ever at 9 days old

We started off with easy to use pocket nappies recommended to us by a friend, there were loads of different brands and prices too so we stocked up on a few of the cheaper branded ones and a few of the more expensive ones I had read good things about. We had 5 differnt ones in the end in our stash.

Nothing like a line of cloth drying on a sunny day
And then once we had got the hang of cloth nappies in the day we started using them at night. For night time we used a dual layer bamboo nappy and waterproof wrap combination as this is much more absorbent than a pocket nappy which requires changing every 2-3 hours, however they are bulkier hence why we only used them at night, Little 3 would easily go 12 hours in one of these.

First night nappy combo

We carried on happily until Little 3 hit the 5 month mark and we began to get leaks, only wee leaks mind you, it is rare in cloth to have the other kind of leak as cloth nappies are elasticated all round, unlike disposables. Little 3 was taking in vast quantities of milk at this age, shortly before we started weaning, and this liquid diet meant a lot of wee! I turned to the internet for help and found that this can be a common problem around this stage.

Being a boy Little 3 wees all at the front of his nappy, the front of the nappy would be soaked and the back bone dry, he also tends to do huge wees all at once flooding the nappy. After turning to the internet and nappy sites for help I found out that one of the inserts we were using (we were using a microfibre and bamboo combo) could be to blame. Microfibre inserts, although they absorb quickly, can also act like a sponge as they do not hold the wee as well as others. Little 3 was sitting up by now and so this seemed to be what was happening, they call it compression leaks, and so I bought some hemp inserts that can hold a great deal of liquid and experimented with combinations of inserts finding one to suit us. I ended up ditching microfibre all together and we were then using a bamboo/hemp combo. This worked well for us for another month or so when we started getting leaks again, the night nappies were also leaking sometimes too. I do not know what was causing the leaks but it could have been Little 3's changing shape, perhaps he was between the settings on the nappy rise and they were too tight on one but a little loose on another (this is why it is a good idea to have a stash made up on different brands as one may work better than another at different times).

I got very despondent and considered giving up but I love using cloth nappies and Little 3 gets sore the instant he is put in a chemical filled disposable now, I presume it is because he is not used to them so I had to find something else. I asked more questions and bought a couple of Close parent pop in nappies as I was told they are good for heavy wetters. I didn't want to spend more money on cloth nappies so just got a couple to try and the extra booster for night time too.

A pop in nappy

This was back in September when Little 3 was 7 months old and he is still wearing them now at 13 months old with no leaks. Pop-in's are brilliant, totally bombproof and super thirsty too. They are a kind of nappy hybrid, there is an outer shell and a soaker and booster so not a pocket nappy or all in one and not a 2 parter either, somewhere in the middle. I love the easy to use velcro fitting and the double leg gusset is a great feature (so no seeping like we were experiencing with the pocket nappies), plus there are some gorgeous designs too, they have just bought out some new prints and I'd just love to have them.

I love Pop in's and wish we had found them earlier, over the last few months I have sold on all the nappies that were no longer working for us and replaced most of my nappy stash with pop ins. We use them in the day time and get 3-4 hours out of them (it was 2 hours max in a pocket nappy before) and they go all night (often 13 hours) with the added night time booster too.  

Recently we were asked to test out the new Totsbots easyfit star nappy and so we now have a few of those in our stash too, they are super slim, comfy and absorbent and we do not get the issue with them that we had with our previous all-in-ones at all thanks to the fact they are bamboo and the new and improved anti leak features. 

The easyfit star

We seem to have finally found a couple of brands of nappy that suit Little 3 after trying half a dozen others. I am glad that I only bought a few of each nappy first to see if they were the right ones for us and I was able to sell the unsuccessful ones on and replace them with others so I am not too much out of pocket however, the saving from using cloth is still big compared to using disposables.

If I have one piece of advice to you (that I wasn't told before I ventured into reusable nappies) it is to do your research, and only get a few of several different types of nappy, that way you can see what you like, what fits your child and test them all out before stocking up on anything. There are some nappy libraries around where you can hire trial kits with lots of different brands/types of nappy in them when you are starting out and some retailers sell sets of popular brands as starter kits which can be a good starting point too.

There is one kind of nappy that I have heard good things about and I would really like to try and that is a nappy called gNappies, they are a kind of eco disposable with an outer cotton pant and a snap in pouch that can have either a fluff pulp (no nasty chemicals) disposable insert you can compost (wet ones only) or throw away or I can use my redundant bamboo and hemp cloth inserts inside too and be totally reuseable with them. I think these look really great.

Image courtesy of Gnappies UK

Whilst our current nappies are great and work well for us they are bulky to carry around in the change bag particularly on a day out where you might need to take 5 or 6, carting a bag of wet nappies around the zoo on a hot day is not the greatest thing I can think off.

I think gNappies would be a fab option for my change bag and trips nanny's house or on holiday (where I have resorted to disposables in the past- eco ones though) as you only need to change the inserts and wipe out the pouch between changes or snap in a clean pouch if it is dirty, no need to change the whole nappy each time. Plus they cut down on washing too, always a bonus with 3 children! 

N.B This was NOT a sponsored post, all the products mentioned are ones we own and use/used. We did review the Totsbots stars previously though.

18 April 2016

Warm and dry with a Trespass coat

When we were recently contacted by Trespass to see if we would like to review one of their products it was an easy decision, 'Yes, please'. We have bought several Trespass items in the past and both myself and Little 2 currently wear their coats and like them. Out of all the items they sell from kids coats to camping gear we decided to chose a coat for Little 1, having gotten a lot taller over the winter she was in need of a new jacket to keep her warm and dry.

We opted for the Skydive girls 3 in 1 jacket in Damson colour  (It was £49.99 but is now down to £27.99). I have had a 3 in 1 jacket before but the Little ones haven't, and with Little 1 having outgrown her winter coat and nearly outgrown her lightweight waterproof as well, this coat ticked both boxes.

The outer material of this coat is waterproof to 3000mm, it is windproof and has taped seams for added weather protection. The coat has a hood that can be hidden away in the fold away pocket and 2 zipped pockets as well as a draw cord hem. Unzip the inner fleece from the coat and you have a stand alone raincoat for those spring showers and a lightweight 240gsm fleece jacket with elasticated cuffs and zipped pockets for those chilly spring mornings, zip the two back up together and you have a versatile jacket suitable for rain, wind and the cold weather.

The 3 in 1 jacket appealed to me as I am never really quite sure what the good old British weather is going to do, take the day we road tested our coat for example...

Off we went to a family farm park, when we left home it was sunny but it is only April and I thought we might just need an extra layer to keep the chills away so in went some jumpers. Showers were forecast for the day so in went the waterproofs too. What did Little 1 need? In went this coat and nothing else, I knew she would be covered come what may... 

When we arrived it was blooming freezing as we were on a hill and it was raining, Little 1 was glad of her 3 in 1 jacket all zipped in together which kept her warm and toasty, it did keep the wind off too. A little later the wind had dropped and after competing against Little 2 in an obstacle course Little 1 was feeling rather warm in her cosy coat, as it was still raining a little we removed the inner fleece and continued with our day. Later on as the sun was going down and the wind picking up, tired and weary after a day out, Little 1 wore the fleece on it's own to snuggle up in the car on the way home. I love how adaptable this coat can be according to the weather situation. 

It will be great for her to take to school too, sometimes it is cold in the mornings on the walk to school but warmer by playtime, Little 1 will be able to zip out the inner jacket so she isn't too hot running around and still have a light jacket to wear if it is raining. 

We bought Little 1 who is 6 and a half her coat in age 7/8 as she had all but outgrown her 5/6 one, the sizing of the coat is very generous and we did have to roll back the sleeves so that she didn't get them filthy at the farm!! After a growth spurt over the summer this coat will fit her well for next winter. I like the fact that this brand of coat come up longer in the length than some, keeping her back and bottom warm too.

The fleece that zips out is surprisingly warm on its own as well, Little 1 wore it on a trip to feed the ducks, it fits nicely and again is a nice long length and has zipped pockets too so that she doesn't lose her gloves, lip balm or whatever she has decided to collect at school! We like the 3 in 1 coats from trespass, I can see us buying more in the future.

N.B We received this coat for the purposes of this review, all views and opinions are our own honest thoughts.

#MaternityMondays 18th April

Welcome to #Maternity Mondays 18th April 

This week is #realnappyweek so there will be some cloth nappy posts to come on Loving Life with Little Ones shortly... Have you thought of using reusable nappies for your little one, we use them with Little 3 and I would never go back to disposables now!

Emma hosted last week and her favourites from the link up were..

'The Trainee Mum's post Style thing about maternity clothes which spoke about the lack of affordable maternity clothing to follow a store's fashion line. I felt the same so am wondering if we should start a petition.

Also linking up last week was the lovely lovely Karen at That Lancashire Lass who is half way through her pregnancy. Do pay them both a visit.'

As usual #MaternityMondays is for all your pregnancy, baby, toddler and maternity themed posts, please grab our badge from my sidebar and comment on the hosts post and as many of the others as you can as linkys can only work if we support each other. If you tweet about the link up please tag me in @lifelittleones and use the hashtag #MaternityMondays and I'll retweet as many as I can.

See you next week x

11 April 2016

A little girl and a year of changes

I have been thinking about Little 2 a lot lately, she may have just turned four but in my mind she has been four for a long time. There have been big changes in her life this past year and I am only now getting the time to reflect on this and how they may have affected her.

Shortly after her third birthday she became a big sister as we welcomed Little 3 into our family. There was a lot of stress around the end of my pregnancy with him having his heart problem and not being sure if he would be okay during the birth, then my 8 day stay in hospital when he was born too. With all that toing and froing, being looked after by grandparents while I was sent for monitoring and when Daddy was visiting and then suddenly thrust into life as a big sister Little 2 had to grow up a bit, not that we ever treated her as a baby as she was far too independent and clever for that but she suddenly didn't have all my time anymore. 

Before Little 3 we did a lot together, hours of playing, cooking, crafting and messy play just the two of us when Little 1 was at school, it was our time and having been a stay at home mum since she was born it had always been that way when her elder sister had been at preschool and later big school (we did all those things with her when she was home too mind you).

Little 3 wasn't the easiest small baby, when he was tiny he screamed if he wasn't being fed, he had reflux and he was up much of the night, I was tired, worn out and fed up and this went on for months and months. I didn't want to do messy play or cooking, most of the time I couldn't as there was a baby attached to my chest or over my shoulder anyway. We got on with it, Little 2 was happy but I feel that she missed out for a while. It is only recently that Little 3 has finally started napping properly and sleeping at night, that he is much less tired and becoming a little happy cheeky, fun toddler and as a concequence I am a little less exhausted and I am ready to get back to the fun we had before.

I wonder what it has done to the relationship between Little 2 and I. I have been the one who had always been with her, as a stay at home mum and with Daddy working full time, there is just something there, an underwritten unspoken connection between the two of us, nothing needs to be said, it can't be seen but something joins us together, it is a totally different bond than with Little 1 and 3. It is hard to describe and it doesn't mean I love any of them any differently.

In recent weeks Little 2 has not wanted to play with me so much, she has begun playing with her little brother more now that he is becoming a toddler, she has become a little more like her big sister, telling jokes, growing in confidence and gaining a louder presence within our family. I have been thinking about her lately and about her starting school in September as she is not nearly as grown up as her sister was when she started. Little 1 was practically 5 and really ready for the challenges of school, Little 2 will be 4 and a half and I do not think she will be as ready as her big sister was. 

There have been a lot of changes in our house in the past year and with Little 1 being more outgoing and out at school much of the time I think they have had much less of an effect on her than her little sister. I have not had as much one on one time with Little 2 as I once did now that Little 3 is around too and I feel guilty about that. I am making up for it now though, we have been doing crafting and baking again and I am going to make sure that we do lots of lovely things with the little ones before Little 2 starts school. 

Parenting is hard and finding a balance is even harder, I can only hope we are doing the right thing by all our children to help them on their journey through life, as long as they are happy then we are too.