Toddler Christmas Gift Guide 2016

Father Christmases feet and legs as he lays presents under a Christmas tree
I LOVE Christmas! It is my favourite day of the year (now tied with J’s birthday). I love all the build up… the lights, the shop windows, the advent calendars, the smell of roasted chestnuts, visiting Hamley’s, wondering around the garden centres Christmas sections, chocolate, advent calendars, Christingle, Christmas Carols… you get the idea! I LOVE it all! I have a lot of Christmas traditions which really help to get me in the spirit of Christmas, one of the first being looking through all the big shops Christmas Gift Guides for inspiration of the perfect present for family and friends. So as a blogger when I realised I could make my own and people (admittedly not many) would read it I got very excited! This guide is all about the little ones.


So what should you buy for your Toddler for Christmas?

Here are my Toddler Christmas Gift recommendations just for you…

 Toddler Christmas Ice skating Father Christmas
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Review – Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottel front cover of book with Kiki sat on the bottle in the ocean

When I was a child I loved reading! I remember going to the library at least once a week and it is a passion that has never ceased (although I certainly don’t have as much time to read as I once did!!) When I found out I was pregnant I couldn’t wait to buy books so I could sit snuggled up with my son reading and looking at picture books. Once J arrived, I didn’t wait long; we were looking at books together before he was two months old. When I was asked to be a member of the Message in a Bottle launch team I was thrilled as it meant I would get to review the book once it was released as well as see the journey it took to getting published.


 Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottle tells the story of Kiki, a Scarlet Hawaiian Honeycreeper, who really wants to go on an adventure. She finds a bottle washed up on the beach with a message inside. Since you can personalise this book the message is addressed to your child. In a spontaneous moment of bravery, Kiki decides to deliver the message to it’s rightful owner and off she flies into the unknown. Message in a Bottle charts her adventure and the wonderful creatures she meets along the way, from the highly sprung sailfish to the cheeky monkeys. It isn’t all plain sailing for Kiki but she makes it in the end to deliver your chosen message to your loved one.

Message in a Bottle promo photo of owl cuddling Kiki to keep her warm at night

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The Reality of Being a New Mummy

New mummy and newborn baby cuddling

The Reality of Being a New Mummy – A letter to my friend

I am so proud of you for everything you have already achieved as a new mummy and your little boy is only 10 weeks old. You coped valiantly with a difficult pregnancy – hyperemesis gravidarum, indigestion, anxiety and a stressful work situation. You kept going bravely through several weeks of on/off contractions; wondering if this time might be the one you get to meet baby only for it to all cease again. You conquered your fear of hospitals by encountering everything you didn’t want in your labour and facing it head on – your induction, your emergency caesarean, your longer than planned hospital stay. I am so proud of what you achieved and yet you can’t see it.


I am so proud of everything you have already achieved and your little boy is only 10 weeks old. You didn’t lose your calm when you had half the family descend on you all at once in the first few days (although you had every right to!). You battled with the sleep deprivation as your little boy cluster fed all through the night. You accepted that breast feeding was painful but did what you needed to do to help it by using nipple shields so that you didn’t have to give up because you didn’t want to. When you were ready you persuaded your tired body to get off the sofa and go to baby classes to interact with new mums and their babies. I am so proud of what you have achieved and yet you can’t see it.


Being a new mummy (and daddy) is tough. It is the hardest thing I have ever done and I thought that I had already been through my fair share of those moments! Every single journey is unique, even if you already have a child the second is a new baby and they are all individuals, so it makes sense that no two new mummy experiences are the same. Of course this makes it hard as I wanted to prepare you, to help you understand what to expect, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t because I didn’t know what your personal journey into motherhood would be like; I only knew what mine had been like. I wanted to tell you that labour was not as painful as I had expected, but what would that mean to you? I wanted to tell you that the sleep deprivation initially wasn’t as hard as I had thought it would be but that the accumulative sleep deprivation is far worse, but what would that mean to you? What if your baby slept through the night from 6 weeks? I wanted to tell you that breastfeeding is hard, but that there is lots of support out there so seek it out and let people help you, but what if you found it easy, or decided not to carry on with it? I didn’t want to force my decisions, or my experience onto you. I didn’t want you to think, why am I not experiencing it like this and think that made your experience wrong because it wouldn’t.


However, now I know that you are having a bad day and I want to reassure you. Parenting is tough. It can also be the best and most wonderful thing that you have ever experienced but at times it is the toughest and that is okay. The most important advice that I want to share with you and with all new parents is something I remember saying to you in my lounge with another recently new mummy when you were still pregnant, but I am sure that you didn’t realise at the time the significance of this advice.




It is so easy to do. You arrive at the baby group you have dragged yourself to with matchsticks holding open your eyes, your top on inside out, your shoes on the wrong feet and only 1 nappy in the bag you forgot to repack before you left. Your tired eyes can’t focus but your ears can listen.


“X slept through the night from just 3 weeks old, I feel wonderful! Being a mummy is so easy.”

“Y took to breastfeeding without any problems at all. He latched on immediately and I’ve never had bleeding nipples/mastitis/pain. You must be doing it wrong if you have.”

“Yes little A is already weaning at only 4 months old. I just couldn’t wait to start sharing my home cooked meals from scratch with her.”

“I have been back in my pre-baby jeans since B was only 3 weeks old, haven’t you?”

“Oh well little Z has been in a bedtime routine for weeks now. He feeds and then self soothes and is asleep by 7.”


I am not accusing these parents of lying; all of the above is perfectly possible. However, I am saying that they are not in the majority and they are not YOU! And most importantly… that is okay. Don’t expect you, or your baby, or your journey through parenthood to be a cloned version of everyone else’s. Don’t think that you must be doing something wrong if your baby hasn’t/doesn’t do as their baby does. It is okay to be different. In our teaching profession we know, perhaps better than most, that all children are different and we celebrate their individual journeys and achievements. Celebrate your journey with your boy as you won’t ever take this exact path again; enjoy it for what it is. Parenthood is a sharp learning curve which changes you and your life and your perceptions and choices and this should be celebrated.


Rest; recuperation; support; going at your own pace; learning all about your baby; recognising his hunger cues and sleeping cues; learning what makes him happy and content – these things are far more important that worrying about whether or not you fit back into your old jeans, or worrying about why he isn’t sleeping through the night. He will do that when he is ready to. If you don’t make it to your baby group because you had a long night and you can catch a nap while the baby sleeps – do so. If you need to order a take away pizza for dinner tonight because your cupboards are empty – pick up the phone. If the house is a mess and you have a visitor coming – show them where the hoover is and ask them to help out. Once upon a time, and in most of the world, there is a community that helps to support a mother and raise a baby. We don’t have that in the UK and we are failing new parents as a result.


So what about going forward? Yes, it will get easier because you get to know your new ‘normal. You get to know your baby and your little boy gets to know the world he has been thrust into; you will both settle into your new life together. But it will also get hard again as babies go through phases and regressions and changes as they develop, which is all perfectly normal. I had the complete misconception that the first couple of months would be tough and then J would be sleeping through the night by 6 months and I would be energised and exercised to the point of being thinner than ever before. Neither of these things happened. I thought I would be breastfeeding with ease after a week. This didn’t happen. I thought I would be making home cooked meals from scratch for my little boy to enjoy at 6 months. This didn’t happen. I thought I would never turn the TV on for him to watch. This didn’t happen. Do any of them matter? No. What matters is that we found what worked best for us as a family; that J is happy and thriving. We had to compromise between our preconceived ideas and the reality of parenthood and that is okay. Does it make me a crap mother? No. It is all about survival!


You will find a path that works best for you and your family and you will follow that and find your way. Yes, it takes time; yes, you will need to be flexible and adjust your path from time to time as rocks and bumps appear, but you will find your way through the challenges just as you always do; just as you already have. You are strong, you are determined, you are doing what is best for your little boy. I am so proud of you.



Diary of an imperfect mum


Pink Pear Bear
Two Tiny Hands
Dear Bear and Beany
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How to entertain your child while you are ill

Orange jelly in a clear plastic bowl with 6 black plastic spiders and a plastic spoon.
What do you do to keep the little ones entertained while you are ill?


I am quite a chatterbox, so am regularly verbalising play, chatting about what we can see as we drive along in the car, singing songs and reading books to J. However, when illness strikes in the form of Laryngitus and steals my voice away what do we do then?! It isn’t the first time I’ve had Laryngitus, but it is especially inconvenient when it arrives just as my mum has gone on a 2 week holiday and hubby is away for the weekend! I couldn’t leave the house and had no voice to talk to J.


I had to be creative, so I decided to drop the baking and painting I had planned (far too much exertion required by me) and create some simple but enjoyable activities instead. Some of these are Halloween themed since it was that time of year, but they are easily adaptable to suit other themes/seasons.
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Scottish Highlands : A family Adventure

Scottish highlands: river running across the landscape with hill to the right and beach in front, grass behind

Scottish Highlands

We went for a holiday in the Scottish Highlands earlier this month. This was a location that was a little different for us as we love hot holidays, but with a toddler we thought we would try something a little different. We based ourselves in a self-catering lodge near the village of Ballater, close to Balmoral Castle and had ourselves a little Scottish adventure.

2 dolphin fins off the Moray Firth coast.
Wild dolphins off the Moray Firth in the sea.








Red deer in a Scottish valley
Red deer in a valley near Loch Muick.

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