Introducing mothers2mothers, our new charity partner

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m2m III

m2m II

m2m VI

m2m I

We are incredibly excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with mothers2mothers as our chosen charity partner for the coming year. After several meetings with the European director, Emma France, and her team, we are so inspired by their work and are looking forward to partnering with mothers2mothers during our upcoming ShopUp events (and other opportunities) to help raise awareness and donations for this wonderful cause.

What I love about this charity is that they are empowering mothers to help other mothers. They do this by training and employing mothers living with HIV to bring health and hope to other mothers, their families, and communities. Another thing I really like about the charity is that their goal of eliminating paediatric aids is entirely achievable. In fact, the results are there to prove it. By donating to mothers2mothers, you know your money goes to saving a baby from being born with aids. As little as $10 is all that’s needed to save one baby’s life.

Rather than banging on about why we really believe in this charity, we thought we would list some key facts below (and you can also watch this inspiring video):

  • 240,000 children acquired HIV in 2013. That’s 1 new infection every 2 minutes.
  • Each day, almost 600 children are infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and without treatment, approximately half of these children will die before age two.
  • The transmission of the HIV virus from a mother to her baby is almost entirely preventable!!
  • The babies that have been born HIV negative through the 1.3 million plus women mothers2mothers has reached is proof of this.
  • Simple and inexpensive medicines are available, and with the right support that mothers2mothers provides transmission rates of the virus can be reduced from 40% to 2%.
  • Engaging women in care at all stages of pregnancy and motherhood is critical to protecting both her health and that of her baby.
  • HIV positive women, ‘Mentor Mothers’, are trained, employed and empowered to work side by side with doctors and nurses in understaffed health centres as members of the healthcare team.
  • Deploying mothers as frontline healthcare workers creates stronger health systems and healthier communities.
  • Employing Mentor Mothers helps them gain economic security for themselves and their children.

We are excited to introduce you to this wonderful charity and look forward to working with them over the coming year. Thank you in advance for your support.

Birthday gifts for a 10-year-old boy

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easton reading comics

I still can’t believe my baby is TEN!! It’s been an emotional year as I anticipated his birthday and reflected on the past decade, but then when the day finally arrived, it was happy and joyous (and I didn’t even shed a tear)! We celebrated our big boy with pancakes for breakfast, an afternoon spent at the school’s summer fair, pizza dinner with friends and then a sleepover party that evening. It was a happy day!

Following on from my post about what to buy a 6-year-old birthday girl, I’d love to share some of Easton’s favourite gifts he received last week. I’ll admit that I was really, really stumped for what to get him. And the sweet boy didn’t make it any easier, insisting he didn’t really need anything.

We only bought him a few small gifts, and the rest came from friends and grandparents. He ended up with the handsome selection of gifts below:

gifts for a 10-year-old boy

1. A simple Swiss Army Knife for carving sticks on the beach this summer.
2. A sweatshirt to celebrate double digits!!!
3. A subscription renewal of the Phoenix Comic magazine, because he SO looks forward to Fridays when his weekly comic magazine arrives.
4. A football from his favourite team
5. Adventure logs to encourage him to jot down all of his crazy outdoor adventures
6. A Swatch Watch!
7. A pack of playing cards because he’s really into playing cards right now (Crazy Eights, War, Go Fish, Concentration, etc.)
8. The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs, a comic book by the author of one of his current favourite books. (He’s really into comic books right now and I’m just happy he’s reading, so I’m going with it.)
9. A pair of swim trunks for the summer!

 

Please share in the comments below any other suggestions for what to buy a 10-year-old. I’m sure other readers would appreciate the tips!

Courtney x

Bikinis. Yes or no?

Little Creative Factory swimsuits
Marlow and Ivy in Little Creative Factory swimsuits
I think I might be raising a bit of a controversial topic, one that could possibly split many of us down the middle, but I would love to know where you stand on little girls wearing bikinis? Is it completely normal and fun and innocent, or do you think it sexualises innocent little girls?

One of my earliest childhood memories is from my 4th birthday, receiving my first bikini. I remember how excited I was to wear it to the beach for the first time. I felt so grown up! I absolutely loved that thing. Yet even with this happy memory of mine, I still can not bring myself to let my own girls wear a bikini.

Why? I’m not entirely sure (even my own mother thinks I’m being unreasonable!). I just feel like a bikini top sexualises and highlights something that doesn’t exist. There is nothing sexual about a little girl’s chest, so when you put a bikini top on it, it draws unnecessary attention. In a way, I feel like a simple French-style bloomer (without a top) is more appropriate than a 2-piece suit. Not to mention, a separate top is so impractical and difficult to keep in place when swimming, etc. (But then again, I suppose it’s trickier to use the toilet in a one-piece!)

So where do you stand? Am I overthinking things?

Courtney x

p.s. The pretty vintage-style swimsuits the girls are wearing in the photos above are from Little Creative Factory who have a stunning collection of swimwear for both boys and girls (including bikinis as well!).

Birthday gifts for a six-year-old girl

Ivy colouring chalk blocks

chalk blocks

Birthday season has just come to an end in our family, which consists of five birthdays in quick succession. Marlow is our odd one out with a birthday in November, but the rest of us all have birthdays in the springtime. Our birthday bunting literally goes up and down and up and down from April to June. It’s quite fun, but I’m always so relieved when it’s over.

Since it’s all fresh in my mind, I thought it might be useful to write down some of the favourite gifts each of my children received for their birthdays (not just gifts from us, but from friends and family too).  I’ll start with Ivy, who turned six in May, and who only asked for a compass for her birthday. : )

Gifts for a six-year-old

1. A pretty journal for writing down thoughts and discoveries (the same one her mama uses)
2. Cat ears headband — a fun accessory
3. A flower press to preserve her first 4-leaf clover and other pretty flowers and plants (a thoughtful gift from my sister!)
4. Eco-crayons that draw on paper AND glass! So fun!
5. A brass compass in its own leather pouch to learn her directions
6. An intricate and beautiful ‘Colour Therapy‘ colouring book
7. The ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ books because I remember how much I loved them when I was young (we also bought her audio books because she’s really into listening to stories while we’re in the car)
8. A blackboard blocks and chalk set to create her own houses, towers and towns

 

Please feel free to share other gift suggestions if you can think of them! (And obviously many of these gifts are great for boys too — I only specified a gender because it felt appropriate for some of the gifts.)

Courtney x

Muddy Puddles — an exciting competition!

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Muddy Puddles rain gear
Muddle Puddles rain coat

My friend, Natasha, is a busy mum of three, an entrepreneur and also the managing director at Muddy Puddles. She runs the entire business out of her London home and has spent the past couple years completely revamping the brand, creating a range of outdoor clothing for kids that is both stylish, protective and functional (not an easy feat!). Their mission at Muddy Puddles is to encourage children to get outside and play, to explore the great outdoors whatever the weather…. because playing outdoors leads to bigger imaginations, better concentration, amazing memories and healthier bodies. Which is so true, true, true!

I’m a big fan of Muddy Puddles and their great collection (how handy are the pac-a-mac raincoats featured above? perfect for summertime travels and outdoor adventures!), and I love that Natasha has re-designed many of the pieces to be gender neutral and timeless, so items can be handed down from one child to the next.

MuddyPuddles pack-a-mac

Over the past few months Natasha has spearheaded a Virgin Media’s ‘Pitch to Rich’ campaign, and has battled through to be one of 10 companies shortlisted in the ‘Grow’ category. There have been thousands of entries, but the finalists have been whittled down and Muddy Puddles is now in the final stages to qualify to win a grant of £250,000 to roll out their “Get Outdoors” campaign for children across the UK. Super exciting possibilities for this wonderful, small business!

To encourage people to vote, Muddy Puddles is offering the chance to win a luxury outdoor holiday for 10 for a week & an entire year’s supply of waterproofs & a Go Ape Family Pass. Such a cool prize to win!

To enter:
• Vote here
• Click the Facebook button on pitch page and tag 5 friends you’d take on the holiday if you won
• Let them know you’ve entered and tagged, either on Facebook, or by email to marketing@muddypuddles.com.

If you can spare a moment, please go vote. It would be amazing for this wonderful, small business to win such a big campaign and prize!

Courtney x

Tuesday Tips: the art of distraction

silly marlow wearing my hat

silly Marlow

Marlow is at a stage (at least I hope it’s a stage) where she wants to challenge everything I do/say and try to do everything herself. She wants to pick out her own clothes, wants to brush her own teeth, wants to buckle her own carseat, strap on her own shoes, even wipe her own bum!!! She doesn’t want strawberries today, she wants raspberries. She doesn’t want braids in her hair, she wants pigtails, etc.  The thing is, I wouldn’t mind if she did it all on her own, but she just doesn’t do any of these things very well, so at some point I have to step in and help her, despite the fight she puts up.

I’ve discovered that the easiest way to deal with these challenges or to quell a tantrum before it arrives is to throw her off guard with some sort of distraction. I’ll ask her a random question like ‘what’s your favourite animal/colour/book/food/song?’ or ‘who’s your best friend’ or ‘how do you say thank you in Portuguese?’, or I’ll ask her if she had any interesting dreams last night or what she would like to eat for dinner. Anything to direct her mind elsewhere. Nine times out of ten she will forget what we were arguing about, and in the meantime I’ve buckled her shoes or strapped her in her carseat.

Another funny thing I’ll do with her is to sing a song and insert funny words. I’ll sing the ABCs and mix up the letters, or I’ll sing ‘twinkle, twinkle little… pickle‘ or ‘baa baa black… bird‘.  She thinks it’s hilarious! I can usually brush her teeth for the longest time just by singing crazy songs.

These distraction methods also work for the older kids. For example, if we’re in the car and the boys are arguing in the back, I’ll ask a question in a tone of voice that makes them feel like I really need to know the answer, so they take me seriously and try to give me an answer. Or I’ll point out something we’re passing in the car, or tell them a story I know they’ll want to hear.

One of my very favourite tricks when things get chaotic/cranky/loud is to start a sentence with ‘when I was little…’ and then tell a random story of something that happened when I was a child. I swear my kids ALWAYS go immediately quiet to hear my stories. It’s so sweet. If you haven’t tried this trick, it’s definitely a fun one!

Any other distraction tips you have? Please share. It’s always fun to have a trick up your sleeve for the next time you’re losing the mum vs. child battle.

Courtney x

Booboos’ Bonnets

booboos baby bonnets
booboos bonnets
booboo's bonnets
I received the sweetest email last month from Sophie McCurley, a mother of three and a maker of bonnets. She wrote to introduce me to her beautiful collection of handmade bonnets and I’m so glad she did. Aren’t they beautiful? I love the simple, classic styles and the gorgeous fabrics.

I ended up ordering one for Marlow and she wore it all last week when we were in Italy. I find that hats with ties are so handy for young children because they can’t just toss their hat off easily (and they don’t blow off if you’re on a boat, etc.). Not to mention, they are so adorable — Marlow looked deceivingly sweet all week. ; )

Courtney x

Father and son swimwear from Tom & Teddy

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Tracking down nice-looking swimwear for boys is surprisingly more difficult than you would think! Especially rash tops — they always seem to have some crazy text or logos and end up clashing with the swim trunks my boys wear. Which is why I was excited when Tom & Teddy announced their new collection of simple rash tops (without any text!) to compliment their stylish collection of swim trunks. Problem solved.

The Tom & Teddy UPF50+ rash tops are not only stylish and sensible, they’re also extremely durable. Unlike traditional surfing tops which are made for saltwater swimming and not chlorinated pools, these rash tops won’t break down in chlorine water, so they really do last a long time! You can feel the quality when you hold them in your hands – they’re slightly thicker and more matte in finish than normal rash shirts.

What’s more, they offer rash tops and trunks for men — so dads can match their sons. A perfect Father’s Day gift perhaps?

Courtney x

This post was sponsored by Tom & Teddy, a long-time member of our shopping portal and a brand we have worked with for many years. All views expressed in this review are 100% my own.

Woody knitting toy

woody sewing sheep Ivy with woody sheep
sewing woody sheep
wool and sheep
ivy sewing

This past Christmas I discovered the ethical French toy brand Les Jouets Libres when looking for gifts to give my nieces and nephews. They make the most beautiful, old-fashioned wooden toys, the kind of toys you keep forever. I ended up buying this pretty stacking toy for one and this colourful blocks set for another, both which were made from sustainable wood and eco-friendly dyes.

Les Jouets Libres has come out with a new toy, this lovely wooden knitting sheep, and I recently picked it up for Ivy who has lately been showing interest in sewing and weaving. The concept is really simple — it’s a wooden sheep with little holes, and kids can thread the wool in and out of the holes to cover the sheep in a woolly coat. It’s a great way to teach kids the basics of sewing, encouraging them to learn dexterity and patience. Ivy has now covered her sheep in wool twice, and it was impressive how much better she was the second time she did it.

“Woody” is available from the Les Jouets Libres site in France or from EeenyMeeny Kids here in the UK.

Courtney x

Ivy’s colouring party

Ivy's party

colouring in

ivy's colouring party

Ivy turned six last week and we hosted a little party in our back garden to celebrate her big day. It’s become a tradition in our family of hosting parties at home and on the actual day of the birthday rather than waiting for a weekend day to celebrate — it’s our way of keeping things small and intimate, and I always think it makes their  birthday that much more special for them. Ivy got to invite a few friends to come over after school, and we spent a sunny afternoon celebrating the birthday girl.

Ivy’s favourite thing to do right now is to colour and draw, so we loosely themed the party around colouring. We bought her these cool, eco-friendly Kitpas markers which colour on windows (seriously cool!) and the kids had so much fun colouring our glass sliding doors. We also gave each of the kids a pack of sidewalk chalk to decorate the pavement and write messages to Ivy.

happy birthday to you

ivy colouring at party
party decor from Little Lulubel

Marlow at party

writing

Ivy on her birthday

window grafitti

writing on windows

I picked up some colourful party decorations from Little Lulubel and ordered their colour-in party kit, which, in addition to all the cute tableware and accessories, included colouring sheets/placemats for the kids to colour in. I’ve mentioned before how much I like party-kits — they make it so easy to decorate your table and throw a pretty party together at the last minute, which admittedly is always the case for me.

What I liked about this party was that we really didn’t need to organise games or provide any entertainment. It was super relaxed — we played music, the kids danced, they coloured, they chalked, they ate, they played… and that was really it. Just good old-fashioned party fun!

Courtney x

Stonehenge, inside the circle!

Stonehenge inner circle
Last weekend our little family, along with 24 friends, made a special visit to Stonehenge. We’ve been to Stonehenge once before and we’ve driven past it several times, but this visit was an entirely different experience, one that none of us will ever forget.

My friend Lesley organised a private group tour for 30 people  which meant that we got to go into the inner circle after it was closed to the public, without any barriers surrounding the stones. We had an hour to stand/run/play amongst the stones, soaking up the mystery and magic of this incredible site while the sun was setting on the horizon. I think we all sat there pinching ourselves!

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friends at Stonehenge
Marlow at Stonehenge
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inner circle Stonehenge
Adamo Family at Stonehenge
Stonehenge is just a two-hour drive outside of London, located in pretty Wiltshire. We stayed in the area and made a weekend out of it, but you can also drive out there for a day trip (most of our friends drove to Stonehenge and back to London that day). It’s pretty incredible that, in the middle of the rolling hills and pastures of the English countryside — just two hours out of London, sits a site that is more than 5,000 years old (built at the same time as the great pyramids in Egypt)! We listened to a podcast about Stonehenge in the car on our drive out there, and what I found most incredible was that the site was created in several construction phases taking more than 1,000 years!

Visiting Stonehenge the normal way is still quite amazing, but if you’re able to plan in advance and book private entry it’s something I so highly recommend doing.  Lesley booked our trip back in January and even then the availability was really limited for the summer months, so it’s something you really have to plan. But totally worth it!

Courtney x

Tuesday Tips: Encouraging good table manners

Table manners

When I was little, my mom would occasionally organise at-home tea parties around the kitchen table for me and my four siblings. We brought out the fancy tea set with tea cups and saucers, we often got dressed up in our fanciest clothes and came to the table looking very proper, and my mom would joke that the Queen might very well show up to our tea party so we had to be on our very best behaviour. She taught us to sit still in our chairs, put our napkins on our laps, use our utensils properly, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, to offer treats to others before taking one for yourself, to sit at the table until everyone is finished, etc. Because it was such a fun and special thing to do, we all (even my rambunctious brothers!) got really into the idea of using our best ‘tea party manners’ at the table. Little did we know that my mom was teaching us table manners (and that the Queen of England was never going to show up to our house in small-town America).

Then, whenever my parents would take us all out to dinner at a restaurant or at a friend’s house, she would brief us beforehand, asking us to use our best ‘tea party manners’. We knew exactly what she meant when she said this because we had practiced it.

Isn’t that smart?! We may not have always been perfectly behaved at the dinner table and she didn’t always enforce perfect manners at every meal, but when she really needed us to behave, we knew what to do.

I’ll admit to being a bit of a stickler about table manners now that I’m a mother. I think it’s important for kids to learn how to sit properly through a meal — to know that they can’t get out of their seats, they’re not allowed toys or other distractions, and that they have to behave and be respectful at the table. I find that establishing these rules at home makes it easier to go out to restaurants with your kids and means that mealtimes are generally more enjoyable for everyone.

Do you have any tips or tricks for encouraging good table manners? I’m thinking I might copy my mom’s technique and start hosting the occasional tea party for my kids…

Courtney xx

Early exclusive discount at Elias & Grace

Elias and grace boys discount

Treat week at Elias & Grace is coming up next week with 20% off all non-sale items, and they’ve offered our readers first dibs before the sale starts! Babyccino readers can shop all weekend (starting now!) with an exclusive 20% discount code before the sale opens up to everyone else. Wahoo!

Elias & Grace discount
If you haven’t yet picked up summery sandals, shorts, swimwear and pretty summer dresses, then now is the time to do so. Use code BCTREAT15 to receive 20% off your order (more details here).

Happy weekend, everyone!

Courtney x

Little Scosha, bracelets for kids

Little Scosha bracelets
Little Scosha birthstone bracelets
Scosha children's bracelets

When I was in NYC in March, my mom and sister flew in from Seattle to spend a rare girlie weekend together without kids or husbands. We spent an afternoon exploring the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn and luckily popped into Scosha to take a peek at all the pretty jewellery.  By chance we got to meet the designer, Scosha, and talk to her about her handcrafted jewellery, art, travel, and kids (photos were exchanged and you should see how cute her kids are!!).  She then showed us the studio in the back of the shop where all the pieces are designed and crafted on site. I always love getting a behind-the-scenes peek at how other mothers run their businesses and how their products are made. It gives you such an appreciation for the final product.

Little Scosha

Before we left the store, Scosha very kindly handed me four friendship bracelets to bring back home for the kids.  The bracelets are so cool because they’re adjustable to fit any sized wrist, but include a little bead woven into the plait so it can’t stretch too far to fall off. My kids have been wearing their bracelets since I got back from New York and I really think they look so sweet on their little wrists.

This past week Scosha launched her children’s line, Little Scosha, which includes the friendship bracelets as well as the pretty birthstone cuffs (featured above). I think they make such sweet gifts!

Courtney x

 

When the sea calls…

Birling Gap
flying kites
Ivy at Beachy Head
walking to the lighthouse
Ivy and Quin

playing cards
Marlow on the beach
This past Saturday, despite the weather being quite cold and windy, we felt the urge to drive out of London and get ourselves to the seaside. Friends laughed at us when we told them we were going to drive two hours only to spend a cold day at the beach, but it turned out to be the medicine we all needed. Even though the English coastline doesn’t really resemble the one where I grew up, I still always feel at home when I’m standing on those rocky beaches with the smell of saltwater in the air.

We bundled ourselves in woollen hats and scarves, we packed a big picnic and brought kites and board games (and blankets!), and we spent the entire day outside in the prettiest setting, tucked away from the wind. Birling Gap in Beachy Head is one of my very favourite spots, and I thought I would mention it in case you’re also in need of a beach day to blow away the cobwebs or planning a trip to the UK and want to see these stunning white cliffs.

After a day at the beach, we always stop at the Tiger Inn for dinner on our way back home. They have several outdoor tables that often catch the evening sun (if it’s out) and a big grassy field where the kids can play while you wait for your food.  We always drive back home feeling re-charged and inspired by a day out of the city. (We’ve also stayed overnight in the nearby Blue Door Barns B&B and it’s really lovely!)

I feel like I’ve just shared a secret with you. It’s such a special spot!

Courtney x

Pretty Spanish dresses from La Coqueta

La Coqueta dresses
La Coqueta and flowers
La Coqueta spring dresses
La Coqueta headband
girls in La Coqueta
La Coqueta dresses and headbands
I was driving the kids to school the other day when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a clan of the most beautiful children scootering down the pavement next to my car. From smallest to biggest, five small, smiling kids whizzed past me followed quickly by their mama, Celia Muños, the owner/designer of La Coqueta. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself, because I’m sure she was frantically trying to get the kids to school, feeling frazzled from a busy morning (I’m only assuming), but from the outside, her sweet family looked so, so cute.

I think what I love most about La Coqueta, apart from the beautiful clothes of course, is that it is a brand started by a busy mother of five who designs every piece with an eye for timeless Spanish design, all the while knowing how important it is to find easy care clothes that will stand the test of time so they can be passed down from one child to the next.

Celia brought these dresses over for the girls when she came for tea last month, and with spring weather finally here, the girls have happily been able to wear them. (Oh, and cute cat-ear headbands too!)

Courtney x

All photos above are by Sarah Winborn who kindly agreed to snap some photos of the girls. This is not a sponsored post; I have chosen to write about a brand I know and love. 

Picking daisies (and floral bloomers!)

Marlow and daisy
Billie Blooms bloomers 2
floral bloomers 2
marlow picking daisies 2
I recently signed up for a photography course with Lesley Colvin in an attempt to really learn how to use my camera. For years now I’ve taken decent photos in auto-mode (all thanks to a good camera and some good lenses), but lately I’ve become frustrated with the photos I’m getting and I decided I really, really need to learn how to use my camera in manual mode if I want better results. I’ve tried to learn by reading and taking online courses, but what I’ve learned about myself is that I learn best by doing and that I need someone to actually show me how to do it.

Ivy picking daisies
daisies

I’ve now taken one very enlightening class with Lesley (the first of a 3-part course) and I’ve been trying to practice with my camera all week. I took my camera to the park over the weekend and got some photos of the girls picking daisies — they were so focused on their daisy picking and crown making that they actually stayed still enough while I played around with my camera settings, and I managed to take a few photos I really like!

Also, can we talk about Marlow’s floral bloomers? Aren’t they so adorable? (This style is conveniently called ‘Marlowe’ so how could I resist?!) They’re available from Darling Clementine, and if you’re interested I curated some favourites from the shop this month and you can find them here.

Courtney x

The girls’ jumpers are from Babaà (Marlow’s is from this current season and is available online). 

Pregnancy Yoga DVD by Nadia Narain

Nadia's pregnancy yoga

I’ve mentioned Nadia before (here), and in that post I wrote a little bit about how she supported me through my pregnancy with Marlow and how she transformed the way I view childbirth. I am certain it is because of her yoga classes and support that I was able to give birth in a way I had always dreamed about doing. Nadia’s classes are both empowering and beautiful, offering both the emotional tools as well as physical endurance to feel strong, grounded and capable of giving birth.

I’m actually just about to head over to one of her (non pregnancy) classes this evening (!), but I wanted to quickly write to let you know that her new pregnancy dvd is finally out and I’m so excited to share about it with all of you lucky pregnant mamas. Her Everyday Yoga dvd is awesome (my husband does 20 minutes of yoga with her dvd nearly every morning before work!), and is such an easy way to squeeze in yoga from your home whenever it is convenient. How wonderful for pregnant mothers to be able to practice yoga in the same way, from the comfort of your home and without having to pay for each class.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
Courtney x

Room decór & accessories from Little Cloud

Little Cloud accessories
Marlow wearing headband
Marlow on her bed
The wall behind the girls’ bed was feeling a bit bare, and I was trying to think of what to hang there when I discovered these sweet name wire signs from Little Cloud. I ordered one for each of the girls and I think they look so sweet hanging on that wall. (It also, conveniently, put an end to the nightly arguments over which side of the bed they sleep on! Now they just want to sleep under their name!)

Little Cloud has the prettiest collection of bedroom decorations (cushions, garlands, mobiles…) which make really lovely baby gifts, as well as a sweet collection of hair accessories for girls. Marlow was playing on her bed yesterday morning and I happened to snap a few photos while she sat still enough to capture. I’m really relishing these mornings with just Marlow at home while the big kids are at school because I know these days are limited. (My other kids started nursery school at 2½, but I just can’t bring myself to sign her up yet… or ever! Haha!)

Courtney x

Marlow’s wearing the Liberty bow headband in the photos above, and her pretty chambray dress is from Velveteen

Tuesday Tips: Transitioning from one to two…

two boys

We’ve had lots of requests from readers to share tips on dealing with the transition from one child to two (or from two to three, etc.). It’s a tricky one for me to answer because it was 8 years ago that my second was born and my memory is foggy, but I wanted to raise the topic as a discusion and to try to gather tips from readers for readers.

I’ve said it before, but for me the most difficult period in the past ten years was the three months after my second was born. I found it so, so overwhelming to go from one baby to two — to have two small children with completely different needs, both of them needing me at the same time!  I just wasn’t prepared to be tugged in two directions like that and I think I cried nearly every single evening, both from pure exhaustion and from a sense of relief that I had survived another difficult day. I also remember wondering how anyone could possibly have more than two children! : )

My first two are only 22 months apart and my second was a colicky baby, so I think it was an especially tricky time. But I also think that there is something about this transition that is different from others, and that once you learn your way and master the multi-tasking, it’s actually not that much more difficult to go on to have a third or fourth baby. It’s a bit like juggling – once you learn how to juggle, it’s not that much more difficult to add another ball to the mix. (At least I found this to be the case — I would be interested to hear how others have found it.)

Here are some simple tips I can remember, but again I would really love to hear from mums who have done this more recently:

  • Cut yourself some slack. Don’t worry about how tidy your house is, don’t feel guilty if you cook scrambled eggs for dinner two nights in a row, don’t worry if your kids aren’t bathed every day — everything will be perfectly fine despite not being ‘perfect’.
  • Try not to feel guilty about the lack of time you give to your eldest child. Focus instead on how important it is to teach your child how to share the attention, and even more importantly on how wonderful it will be for him/her to have a sibling to play with as soon as the baby gets a bit older. (My second child started walking at 8 months and my boys were playing together from a really early stage. I remember seeing them playing together, or watching my eldest push the youngest one on the swings, and thinking that it was definitely ALL worth it!)
  • Use the baby feeding down-time to your advantage. Make good use of all that time on the sofa by reading books to your older child or just simply sitting still and talking to them, asking questions, or playing simple games while you feed the baby. (We had a stack of flash cards sitting next to our sofa and I taught Easton his letters while nursing Quin. It was something he really enjoyed, and it meant that nursing Quin didn’t have to mean time away from Easton.)
  • Allow your eldest to be as independent as possible. Velcro shoes and elastic trousers that your child can do and un-do himself are so smart. Also, keep toys in baskets on the floor, so they learn to access their toys on their own and tidy them up too. Buy step stools for the bathroom sinks so he can wash his own hands, etc.
  • Get out of the house, even though it’s difficult. I have always found that a simple walk around the block can do wonders for your mind, and that running small errands can make you feel like wonder woman! It might be tricky to get two small children out of the house and it might take twice as long as it did before, but once you do it, it feels so good and you feel so proud of yourself for putting in the effort.
  • Make friends with other mums who are in a similar boat. Esther lived just down the road from me when our second babies were born, and it was SO nice to be able to have someone to talk to and share tips and tricks.  Sometimes it’s just nice to admit to someone else that your day was really hard or that you’re feeling especially exhausted or that you haven’t been romantic with your husband in months, or whatever it might be. Most often, she’ll be feeling the same way and it’s nice to know you’re not alone.
  • Depending on the age of your older child, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a good double buggy, preferably one that isn’t too wide to fit into shop doors and one that folds easily to fit into your car/train/plane, etc. (We loved the Phil & Teds double buggy, but I’m sure there are loads of other great ones on the market now.)
  • Remind yourself how quickly time passes and try to enjoy those precious first months of babyhood. It took me until my third baby to really understand what my parents were saying all those years when they told me to stop willing away the time and to enjoy even the sleepless nights and busy days. It really is so true — you blink and they are big!

I hope these simple tips are helpful. Please, please share any tips you can add.

Courtney x

The photo above is of my boys when Quin was around six months old and  — the first time that Easton could push him on the swings. This was a turning point for me when things started to feel easier and when I could finally see the benefit of having two kids so close in age.

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