Rough and tumble babies – How it never stops! Guest Post from Dave Freed

Your first newborn is tough to look after. And not because of the sleepless nights, feeding troubles, and poo explosions. It’s because nothing in life had ever prepared you for these things, and their constant wearing away at your normally well rested self. You’re sub-consciously wondering when your weekend will come, or if the baby has an off-switch. When will you get to sleep! When will you shower! Then you clock that it’s only been a week (felt like a month), and you’ve got the rest of the next 20 odd years to do… at least.

Fast-forward 8 months into parenting… It starts to feel like you can do this, and it’s getting pretty fun. It’s like you tasted your first pint of bitter (beer for non-Brits) 8 months ago and it was disgusting, but now it’s turning out pretty refreshing and has become your drink of choice.

little-bear-finds-pen-under-sofa-smiley-face

A few months back I noted how amazing it was that your unresponsive little potato of a newborn becomes a practicing yoga master in such a short space of time. Well, no surprise, it gets even better. Not to say he’s easier to look after, no. He’s now more than a full-time occupation.

The little trolls have a habit of doing away with one problem and then quickly giving the poor unsuspecting first-time parent another one. When will it end! The tough stuff like battling colic and being terrified of breaking the baby goes away, but you get some new things. Little Bear now has some serious opinions. Not just that all solid food is disgusting, but he now demands that Pappa never leaves his play area, and continues to read the same book again and again, or hand him balls to bounce.

[I say ‘Pappa’ I’m now being referred to as ‘daddy’ despite our attempts at only talking Swedish… Who am I kidding, he calls everything daddy, and I’ve been called ‘baba’, ‘mummy’ and fart noise in the last hour]

Me: ‘Stop chewing on that coaster Little Bear’ – LB: ‘Stop cramping my style!’
Me: ‘No you can’t eat the DVD’ – LB: ‘What else is it good for? Oldie’
Me: ‘I’m just going to make myself a coffee’ – LB: ‘NO! Come here! Make me fly! NOW!’
Me: ‘Stop trying to get through the gate’ – LB: ‘Why are you always following me? Get a life… Looser’

little-bear-baby-discovers-the-dvds

I was hoping I’d get till he was a teenager before this started.

His newly discovered mobility means that the second his nappy’s off he must attempt a gymnastic vault off the changing table. Holding him back from such a plummet prompts some surprised shouts and stamping his foot on the table. The only solution is to make fart noises on his tummy as giggling is better than a vaulting. But somehow the foot is always strategically aimed at the fresh poo in the old nappy. Not that his foot is the worst of him by this point after the wriggling.

Wriggling… He wont stop. It started when we were in Sweden a few months back. Whatever soft play area we’d make for him, he’d fidget and wriggle his way straight to the hard floor on the edge (way more fun as grown-ups keep pulling him away from it). By the time we got home, his once perfect jungle gym which could keep him content on his back for what seemed like hours, became the object of destruction.

First it got a baby-rage attack, with a bear growl his strong little arms managed to tear of the toys, with dolly and robot being innocent casualties in his Incredible Hulk moment. Shortly after, he rolled out of the jungle gym, and began dragging it across the floor… Ok, so it was time to upgrade his play area.

The new play area I built took up half the living room, and has since expanded to nearly the whole living room as he scurries around hiding ball-pit balls in various places for Pappa to step on. It temporarily expanded to the dining area and the kitchen, as we watched him make a b-line for the robot-hoover, switch it on, then attack the fire-extinguisher and finally head for the stairs… A fence was erected an hour later.

He shuffles all the way over to me from the other end of the living room to bite my feet (I think this is him trying to tell me he wants to be held). After a giggle and two seconds in my arms, he then fidgets round and continues his gymnastics practice from the changing table and tries to dive head first into the coffee table, only to find himself put back on his mat and start the process over again. You’d think he’d tired of this level of activity, but he just starts giving bad attitude rather than falling asleep.

I feel like this is the toughest and most fun stage of a baby, but then I thought that about when he was newborn too, and I’m pretty sure I’ll think that when he’s trying to walk, and when he’s a toddler. Simply because it’s new, and you quickly forget about the tough stuff you went through in the past.

Head bumps, getting stuck under the coffee table, attempts to escape from his pushchair, but he’s getting all the more fun to be around. I don’t go very long without thinking, ‘crap, how did he learn how to do that!’ Wouldn’t miss this for the world.


Introducing Dad’s Turn, Raising Little Bear – Dave Freed

In my early 30s and normally working in the energy sector in London, I’m sharing parenting equally with my wife for our first kid, The Little Bear. I’m from London, but my wife is from Sweden, and we’re planning on bring up the baby in both languages. It’s now my turn to take Shared Parental Leave and look after the little guy. Little Bear is now 8 months old and growing fast.

You can find Dave on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Right time, right place to be a Mindful Mummy (or Daddy)?

Recently my hubby went on a ‘Stag Weekend’ so I was left flying solo with the three tots. Now we are officially in our ‘late 30s’ Stag and Hen dos are few and far between. So I geared myself up for the weekend and contemplated how I would approach it mindfully.

In preparation for all that the next 48 hours had to throw at me I reminded myself of some of the core principles of Mindfulness – empathy, ‘beginners’ mind’ and staying present:

  • I reminded myself to empathise as much as possible with the children. Their frustrations, concerns, worries and tantrums. For example I would be ready for the late afternoon ‘scraps’ and have strategies to cope (namely the telly!!). They tend to get a little rough with each other at this time and who can blame them? They are often tired, ‘hangry’ and frustrated about being cooped up in the lounge while I’m getting tea. I have learned to my cost that this is not the time to try and enforce creative ‘junk modelling’ time or some such. In our house, where everyone is early risers, downtime is definitely the order of the day at this point.

behaviour

  • I gave myself a ‘pep talk’ about how important it is to allow the children the time and space to explore the world with their ‘beginners’ mind’. Therefore with the eldest this means being patient when out and about; to build in time for random stops (like when a heron was spotted looking incredibly dignified but also very much out of place in the urban wasteland behind Lewisham shopping centre – I totally missed it and would have walked on by had he not pointed it out). And to build in time for random questions too (like ‘what do snails eat?’).

For the twin tots this means ‘reconnecting with my breath’ A LOT. When the kitchen cupboards are being emptied again, when soil is being dug up, when snails are being brought to me (what is it about my kids and snails?!) in the kitchen, when they are ‘helping’ with the washing up…you get the idea!

double trouble AM

  • Finally I remembered the importance of being present for my children and giving each child my undivided attention when they needed it. For example after a tumble, when there is an important (in their mind) question or comment (about bugs, creepy crawlies and slimy things usually – see above), or when a new developmental milestone has been reached and is to be celebrated (twin 2 started to use her fork at the weekend competently and twin 1 began to put two words together when Daddy was away).

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So this all sounds like a good plan doesn’t it? What could possibly go wrong?

Then it dawned on me as I was running up the stairs ‘two by two’ on the Saturday morning that being mindful all the time and being in sole charge of 3 tots was not entirely compatible. There would be times that weekend when choosing the mindful route would NOT be a good idea. 

frazzled

As Ruby Wax commented (and I paraphrase) in her recent ‘Frazzled’ tour if we are mindful all of the time then nothing would ever get done. Mono-tasking mindfully is wonderful but there is also a time and place for multi-tasking too and a weekend when it is 1 parent and 3 children is very definitely THAT time. There was no way that I would be opting to shower ‘mindfully’ that weekend either; immersing myself totally in the experience, feeling the water on my body, listening to the sound of the water droplets, watching the steam rising and smelling the lovely shower lavender gel that I had purchased... Who was I kidding?! Instead I needed to follow my perfected two minute shower routine where a shower cap and dry shampoo are integral to proceedings, whilst keeping my ears peeled for World War 3 breaking out downstairs.

I was reminded of this again when I was enjoying a lovely interaction in the garden with twin 2 She was dancing and laughing – a real moment to be mindful of.  However, in the background I could see twin 1 just about to launch herself at one of our cats who seemed to be in a feisty mood.  I ended the mindful moment pronto in order to rescue the cheeky cat-teasing tot from a brawl with a potentially grumpy creature.

It was similar on the Sunday too. We’d met friends for a picnic in the park and twin 1 (who is clearly the adventurous one!) was intent on wandering far and wide looking for ducks and squirrels. There was no way this was the right time, nor the right place to immerse myself in conversations with other people and give them my full attention as per the mindfulness mantra. As many parents will appreciate I nodded along with conversations and dipped in and out as much as I possibly could whilst doing all I could to keep three children safe and well in a public space.

Finally my hubby returned on the Sunday afternoon with a bunch of flowers (AND a hangover of course) with him. This mindfulness malarkey is rubbing off on him and so he wanted to show me how grateful he was that I hadn’t complained (too much) about the weekend away. I allowed myself a moment to really study the bouquet. I drank in the colours, the textures, the fragrance, the sound that was made when I arranged them in the vase, and it was lovely. Then I brought myself back to reality and went back to multi-tasking – it was teatime after all.

flowers

However, not before looking around at my three sweet and mischievous offspring running around the place and allowing myself my own feeling of gratitude. I may not ALWAYS be able to approach life as mindfully as I aspire to at the moment – but I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

What strategies do you have to cope on weekends when you’re ‘flying solo’?

Have you ever had a go at incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine? How’s it gone?


 Introducing The mindful Mummy mission
Hi there, I’m Hayley, the Mummy on a Mindful Mission or mummy_mindful on Twitter. I am a Mum to a 5 year old boy and toddler twins. A wife to a VERY lucky chap (ha ha) and a secondary school teacher in South-East(or Sarf-East if you’re a local – which I’m not) London. I blog about a mixture of these things at www.themindfulmummymission.com. As well as also trying to raise awareness about Mindfulness – it’s benefits and different strategies that can be used easily by parents….or anyone else leading a busy life really. 
You can find Hayley on Twitter and Facebook. Pop over and say hi, don’t forget to say Pudding sent you 🙂

Teen & Tween Talent Spotting: After The Playground

Blogging about your teenage children is a very different matter to blogging about your baby. Teen and tween offspring are highly active on social media and, perhaps more importantly, so are their friends. This means that you will be highly censored. There will be limits placed on what you can say and which photos you can use. As you can see – I only just made it into this one. I’m squeezed in behind my eldest daughter!

After The Playground

On the other hand, it is definitely not all bad news. Ever the optimist. I decided to use the fact that I have older children to my advantage and recently launched a recruitment drive.

I put together a tongue in cheek CV for each of my children (and my husband) to work out what skills I could (exploit) harness to promote my blog.

Here are the skills that my family brought to the table. (without them even knowing it)

  • Husband – wry observations and witty anecdotes on raising three daughters which provide an endless supply of material. Useful to take with me to events as can be relied upon to find where we are supposed to be going/not say anything too embarrassing/get me home safely.
  • Eldest daughter – musical aptitude, video editing skills, provides material on kids leaving home and starting university and looks good in photos.
  • Middle daughter – IT skills, social media savvy, provides material on teen issues and looks good in photos.
  • Youngest daughter provides material on primary school kids and sentimental pieces on growing up, has a great eye for photography and looks cute in photos.
  • Pet rabbit – not quite sure yet but will be expected to contribute or will be removed from the team.

Pretty impressive or what? The moral of the story is this. If you have older kids and can get them on board they can definitely turn out to be more of an asset than a liability. To prove my point, here is a little video ‘we’ managed to put together. I honestly couldn’t have done this without them!


Introducing After The Playground

I am (in no particular order) a wife, a mother of three fabulous daughters (17,14 and 10 years), an academic with a PhD in epidemiology and a writer. And I am me. I fully intend to discover who that is and I’d love to share my experiences after the playground with you.

After The Playground was created out a perfect storm of unpleasantness during the early stages of 2016; pre-menopausal hormones, the not too distant prospect of empty-nest syndrome, a health scare and an especially nasty bout of flu left me feeling a little lost. It is my way of creating something positive from a potentially negative set of circumstances. I am no expert but as I find out what works for me I will share my experiences – I hope you find some of them helpful.
You can follow After The Playground on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Pop over and say hi! Don’t forget to say Pudding sent you 🙂

 

7 Ways to Make Sure You Are a Happy and Healthy Mommy

Being a mom requires a lot of time, energy and putting your every waking thought into your little one first and mommy last. Being a wife, or stay at home mommy requires a lot of putting your little one and your husbands needs first. And sometimes it is difficult to find that much-needed and highly spoken about, “me time.” It may be hard to find that extra time to yourself each day, but no matter what you need to make sure you are happy and healthy and your needs are met as well. A happy, healthy mommy equals a happy and healthy family. Now it’s time to take care of you.

7 ways that a busy mommy can make sure she is happy and healthy and take care of herself…

  • kaboompics / Pixabay
    Put aside a scheduled amount of time each week for you. Even if this means a couple of hours when your husband gets home from work. A couple of hours to put aside as time for you to catch up on some reading, TV shows, or even shopping is very important. Yes, we are highly needed by our kids and husbands…but what about us? We need that time just like everyone else so that we don’t forget about who we are and that we are worth more than just being a mom and wife every day.
  • PIX1861 / Pixabay
    Read for at least 20 minutes each day. It could be surfing the internet, reading a chapter out of your favorite book or article. As long as you give your mind 20 minutes to wander into another world then you are good!

    avalonrose / Pixabay
  • Have a set time to wake up in the morning and go to bed at nightIf you set a routine for yourself, it will make it easier on you to get things done during the day…in turn making more time for you at the end of the day. A proper amount of sleep can make you or break you. Too much sleep can make you sleepier, and enough sleep will make you feel energized and awake. There is also a link between illness and sleep deprivation. So stay healthy and sleep when you can, but not too much
    Nipapun / Pixabay
  • Feed your brain and body. Make sure you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner! I know it sounds so ridiculous that I am saying this. As a mommy you know that there are times when we don’t have time to make ourselves breakfast or lunch. A good way to find time to eat breakfast is to set your alarm 15 minutes earlier in the morning. This gives you a chance to eat something in the morning and possibly set something aside for lunch that day. Even if it is just a sandwich and some fruit, it is fueling you mind and body.
    geralt / Pixabay
  • Say “yes” to other obligations less and “yes” to your hubby and your baby more. Setting aside time that will benefit you and your family at the same time is important. A fully booked schedule all the time is not allowing you any room to make for time for yourself or your family. You will undoubtably feel as if you are falling behind on life.
    JamesDeMers / Pixabay
  • Make sure you get outside every single day. If you can add-on an exercise while getting outside, then you kill two birds with one stone.  Getting out into fresh air is revitalizing, refreshing, healthy and can set the tone for your whole day. I like to get outside in the morning when the air is fresh or later in the evening when the sun is setting. This is when I take a walk with my daughter and fiancé. I get outside and burn some calories at the same time. It is not healthy for the mind to be stuck inside your house day after day.
    wilkernet / Pixabay
    wilkernet / Pixabay
  • Set aside time every night for your bedtime routine. Don’t neglect what makes you feel good about you. You will hear most new moms say, “I haven’t showered in 3 days!” Honestly I was like that. I put my needs and hygiene aside to make sure others were bathed, clothed and fed. If mom isn’t bathed, clothed and fed then you will have one unhealthy and unhappy mommy. Take that time to breathe, reflect and think to yourself. You will also sleep better at night if shower or bathe before bedtime.

I know that these ideas for how to stay healthy as a busy mom are not extravagant and fancy…. but they are realistic, basic and MUCH needed every day for your sanity as a human being and as a mom. If mom isn’t happy there is no way that the rest of your family can be happy. Your baby can feel your stress and your anxiety. So relieve your baby of that un-needed stress and take care of yourself. In the long run it will not only benefit you, but it will benefit your family as well, having a healthy and happy head of the house!

What do you do on a daily basis to make sure you are healthy and happy?


Introducing A Blushing Mommy’s Lifestyle

Hello, my name is Ashley and I am a new mommy to a beautiful baby girl. My daughter and my journey as a first time mom and stay at home mommy have been my inspiration for starting “A Blushing Mommy’s Lifestyle” blog. I love to write and share my tips and knowledge with other moms as they have done for me. I hope you join me on this incredible and hilarious journey through motherhood, as I share with you tips and tricks to getting thru “new motherhood” like a champ, breastfeeding tips, DIY’s, Beauty tips, Lifestyle hacks and much more!! Subscribe via email at the bottom of the front page of my blog, so you don’t miss a post!

You can find Ashley on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Pop over and say hi! Don’t forget to say Pudding sent you 🙂

Time Management Strategies for Being a More Efficient Mom

Being a mom is the most beautiful, but one of the most difficult jobs in the world. When we observe it from afar, it seems that it is something women just do, an inborn process of taking care of their kids, but in this modern world, women have much more on their minds. A mere look on their “job description”, from the endless to do lists to the tantrums in supermarkets or the wide range of skills you need to organize a child’s birthday party, makes us feel overwhelmed. The things do not get any easier if you have a career to think of, or if you are a single mom, and stay at home moms also have a ton of things on their minds. Here are some strategies to help all of you supermoms out there to keep it together and to be efficient.

Slow Down

This might sound counterproductive, but doing everything in a hurry can actually slow you down. When you are under pressure, don’t take a bunch of things to do at the same time just to save time. In the end, you’ll do nothing properly and you will have to invest more time into repairing the mistakes you have made along the way. According to Psychology Today, if you take some time to slow down and properly assess the situation, you will be in better position to prioritize.

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

Be an Early Bird

A busy mother knows how quickly a day can get away. Do not give it that chance, and wake up as early as you can (you should still get your 8 hours of sleep), possibly before your kids open their sleepy eyes. Then you can get the chance to do a number of things you can’t possibly accomplish when you have to watch them.

Streamline the Housework

Housework doesn’t have to be such a monumental task. You can take one day to organize the house better, and the cleaning will be much simpler. For instance, you can remove wall-to-wall carpets and use area rugs, instead. Clear the kitchen counters of anything you don’t use daily. Remove small items from shelves, so you don’t have to move them each time you are dusting, etc.

stevepb / Pixabay

Simplify the Cooking

Sure, Boeuf bourguignon is delicious, but time-efficient mother doesn’t have the time for that. That doesn’t make you a bad mom, though. In most of the cases, the simplest meals are the healthiest. Try to make necessary preparation for breakfast and lunch in the evening. Also, you can opt for slow cooking meals where you can just “throw in” meat and vegetables and leave them to cook while you do other house chores.

Care about Your Health

If you are constantly tired and sleepy, you will never be able to get things done. Be sure to eat healthy food, be hydrated and exercise. Not having enough time or money for gym membership isn’t an excuse. You can get a yoga mat and proper workout equipment and exercise while watching YouTube videos.

Unsplash / Pixabay

Find Some Time for Yourself

A happy mom is a productive mom, and if you don’t find time for yourself you will only be stressed out and miserable. Devote that time to doing something you love. It can be everything ranging from reading a book or binge watching a TV show to learning a foreign language.

Find Hobbies for Kids

Kids should have hobbies, because they make them more self-confident, independent and generally happier. Besides, you can use the time when they are on their dancing lessons or soccer trainings, to finish up the chores around the house, and prepare everything for the next day.

In the end, make it your priority to show love every day. No matter how busy or overwhelmed you are, this is what makes everything worthwhile.

Guest Post by Zara Lewis

Zara

 

Zara Lewis (Twitter: @ZaraELewis) is a mom, designer and a regular contributor to highstylife.com , devoted to implementing healthy life habits in every aspect of life of her family and friends. She seeks for beauty in everything that surrounds her. Will start a blog about it once. Until then writes her diary occasionally. Romantic soul and tech geek in one body. She enjoys hiking, cycling, yoga and cooking.

The Sunshine Spot: Feel Tired…But Look Good!

Like millions of women around the world, I feel the need to be like the Energizer Bunny.  I plan absolutely everything, I make goals which I feel are realistic and I sign up for activities because it seems my help may be needed.  It’s wonderful that I do these things-but then I forget to plan the time to get these things accomplished.  I once had my doctor tell me that I needed to work harder on my treatment regimen and I told her that’d be totally doable if she was going to put more hours in my day!  (she didn’t give me any more hours nor did she revise my regimen! )

I finally came to accept that I fit in with probably 95% of all women all over the world.  Ask any woman how they are doing and if they are completely honest with you, they will tell you that they are tired.  I decided to take a harder look at my day to see where some adjustments could be made.  I was not a happy camper when I didn’t find much moving room.  I’m thinking you probably won’t, either.  So what’s a gal to do?

DieterRobbins / Pixabay

After not being able to add more hours to my day, and not being able to really take any activities out of my day, I decided to work with what I had left:  my appearance.  Here are some of the things I have found helpful:

  • Figure out your face shape and use it to your advantage.  I think long hair is beautiful.  I always had long hair in my younger days.  But now, long hair does something to my face that I can’t deny-it makes it look droopy and accentuates the puffy bags under my eyes (which I’ll address later).  I have found that a chin-length bob works best for my oval-shaped face.  From time to time-particularly in the hot, humid summer months-I’ll grow it past my chin but I usually feel like an old hag-and I’m sure I look it, too!  So I finally just had to accept that even though I think long hair is beautiful, it just does not work well with my facial structure.  Added bonuses to shorter hair:  a) short hair elongates your neck which gives the illusion of additional height!  I’m 5 feet so I always love to look taller – and thinner!; b) less hair products to use; and c) less hair to clog the drain (which makes my hubby happy!)!
RyanMcGuire / Pixabay
  • Learn your skin tone and use it to your advantage.    I’m fair-skinned and freckle easily.  I figured out that soft colors look best on me.  When I’m under the weather but have to keep it going without the world knowing, I opt for soft pastels in pink, lavender or blue.  If you aren’t sure of which colors suit you best, you can go to Wiki.com and search for “How to Choose Colors That Flatter Skintone”.  Or, you can have a little fun and try different colors and see how many compliments you get from close friends and/or acquaintances.  We all have those best friends who will tell us like it is!
  • The eyes have it.  This is a two-part section. For starters, learn which eye shadow colors work best for you.  I have blue eyes so I prefer browns or maybe a brown with a pink undertone.  I love color, so in my younger days, I played with many different colors.  Over the years, I have also learned which colors do NOT work well:  purple and green; blue I use in extremely small amounts.  (This is very unfortunate because I really love purple eye shadow.)  You can go to Google.com and search for “eyeshadow colors for eyes” which pulls up many articles to help you figure out which colors work best for your eyes.  I have always enjoyed playing with colors on my own!
PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay
  • I suffer from sever under eye dark circles and puffiness.  There are some mornings I honestly wonder if my husband hit me while I was sleeping!  I have spent tons of money on products for this, but I have found two rather cheaper alternatives that I now turn to:  a) Preparation H; and b) Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel.  Preparation H can be found in any supermarket but be careful to not over use it.  I will usually use it only a couple of nights a week.  I’m sure you can use it more, but I just simply choose not to.  As for the soothing eye gel, I found it at my local Walgreens for less than $15.  It is a known fact that cucumbers are a miracle cure for puffy eyes.  After only two nights of using this gel, I could tell a difference in my “eye bags”.  You can actually use it morning and night if you’d like.  For my dark circles, I use my Estee Lauder Advanced Eye Repair in the mornings under my make-up.  It really is a little expensive, but a little goes a long way so I really only buy a jar every six months.

There are so many other things to try-and believe me, I’ll keep trying different things!  Actually, while I was getting this article together, I came across several things I want to try myself.  I hope you’ve found this article helpful.  Feel free to comment with what you’ve found helpful as we keep moving on!

Thank you for reading!


Introducing The Sunshine Spot

Melissa Langston is a blogger for hire and creator/author of The Sunshine Spot, a fun blog meant to encourage and inspire others. She enjoys relaxing at the beach and/or creek, shopping, playing the piano and being with family and friends. Check Melissa out on Facebook and Twitter for some more inspirational tips and ideas! Don’t forget to tell her that Pudding sent you 🙂

Mouse Moo & Me Too: Garden Centre Joy

All Hail Wyevale…and Other Such Garden Centres

How the hell did my life come to this, where a trip to a garden centre on a Saturday afternoon gives me happy feels? Not for the gardening crap, you understand, I barely have time to clean my house let alone fart around with a herbaceous border. And yet…. The lure of the place is strong – the faintly damp smell of terracotta and old ladies, the dish of pot pourri in the toilets, perhaps an errant dog… It’s like being hugged by the Dalai Lama and being told that hey, the world might be going up the shitter, but you’re safe here for an hour. Below are the things that I like very best about the humble garden centre:

1.       Cake
Garden Centre Cake
Couleur / Pixabay

No two ways about it, I always seek out the café first. I make a sweeping judgement about the state of the entire place based on the selection of sweet offerings. The hunkier the chunks, the better. I don’t get out for cake that often so I really like to take the opportunity to the max. £2.25 for a 0.5 inch slither of sponge? No. £4.99 for a cream tea where you only get ONE SCONE? See ya. The worst offence of all – the most heinous of café sins, is the pre-wrapped muffin or flapjack. Shudder. Get the car engine started, we’re not staying.

Conversely though, a café can go TOO far with trying to score brownie points. I get very anxious if the selection includes a top heavy ratio of NEW cake flavours that both tempt and baffle me in equal measure. Because in my heart of hearts I just want to tuck away 500g of Coffee and Walnut, but if you put in front of me a Basil and Blueberry Duffin then I’ma wanna try that, too. Really, you’re best off sticking to the greats. Scones (cherry, cheese, plain); Chocolate Fudge; aforementioned Coffee and Walnut; Vicky Sponge; Lemon Drizzle; Millionaire’s Shortbread; Carrot Cake; Brownies; Wildcard. All traybakes must be generously sliced, all sponges must be three-tiered. All cappuccinos must have Froth Art.

2.       Free Zoo
Garden Centre Fish
condesign / Pixabay

Assuming that all is well in the cake world, the next big hitter to elevate a garden centre to the top of the podium is the inclusion of a franchised pet shop or aquarium. Everything is at a lovely low level so the toddler can peer into cages without needing to be hauled up onto shoulders. All animals are behind glass so no touching, accidental or otherwise, can occur. The notion of commerce hasn’t yet entered the world of the children so there’s no expectation that one day, we might purchase such animals on display – they’re just for looking at.

There’s nothing bad there, no reptiles or trays of crickets or ominously cobwebby tanks. Just nice, safe, fluffy things, and fish. The almost luminous blue hue of the fish tanks have something of a meditative effect. Meaning that the drive home MAY afford us adults a bit of peace and quiet as the children kip in the back. Recently, we visited a garden centre where the adjacent fish emporium was called “Aqua Jardin”. We ate cake, we saw fish, we did FRENCH!

3.       Utterly Pointless Knick-Knacks
Teacup Garden Centre
Couleur / Pixabay

I love an ornamental piece made out of wood. East of India might as well be Slightly North of My Kitchen, for the amount of it I have. Quote plaques and calendar blocks and photo frames and small animals hanging from brown string…. I’m a bugger for all of it. My husband rolls his eyes into next week whenever I receive such glorious treasures as gifts. He calls them “those things” – a bold, sweeping collective of allcomers under the shabby chic narrative. “Great, more of those things you like. Which stationary surface are you going to clutter up now?”

Garden centres are second to none for these lines of ultimately pointless decoration. While they’re overpriced, they’re overpriced in CONTEXT so after you’ve trawled the trinket circuit once, you’ll think nothing of spending £6.99 on a ceramic egg cup that’s shaped like a flower and actually far too small for purpose.

4.       Dirt Cheap Books
Book Garden Centre
MichaelGaida / Pixabay

Never pay £12.99 for a hard-backed spiral-bound slow cooker recipe book, there’s simply no need! Likewise, “Diabetic One Pot Desserts for Christmas” and “100 Microwave Sponge Recipes” can easily be yours for the knock-down price of £3.99, tops. Mums, grandmothers, aunts are all catered for. These are great places to scrabble together a literary gift for a child where you need to look as if you’ve spent at least a tenner. You probably won’t get the greats for cheap spends, sadly – your Julia Donaldson’s and your JK’s will be standard issue RRP so I’d head straight to Amazon on that score. But if it’s a slightly nondescript book of 1000 bedtime stories together with a bumper sticker activity pack, you’ll be spoilt for choice. And if you turn your head towards 3 o’clock you’ll find some lovely cards and gift wrap, too. The last garden centre we visited had no less than seven types of retirement card. Seven!

5.       Christmas Shizz
Garden Centre Christmas
cegoh / Pixabay

This makes me a bit twitchy, as I am not the world’s biggest lover of Christmas. However, there’s something that sparks off the rampant OCD in me when I see bewitching colour coded sections of tat, neatly segregated and orderly, even though we might just have enjoyed the late August Bank Holiday Weekend. That poor-footfall area by the old lady changing room finally has a purpose as it’s converted into a lighting grotto, full of gently nodding reindeer and eerie Santas cocking their leg up a rope ladder. Those miniature villages are actually quite captivating, even if you do have to stand in the same spot for ten minutes waiting for the steam engine to trundle around to your vantage point again. More importantly, everything is now laced with the scent of clove-spiked oranges, which my brain translates into that seasonal beauty: Mulled Wine. Which, if you’re lucky, your local garden centre might just be licensed to serve.


 Introducing Mouse Moo & Me To
Hello! I’m Sam, aka the “Me Too” element of Mouse, Moo & Me Too. I live in Southampton with my husband and my two daughters, Mouse (aged 3) and Moo (aged 5 months). Since having Moo, I’ve found that I’ve got a constant carousel of prattle going around in my brain, little anecdotes and semi-witty musings that I thought people might enjoy reading.
So far, so good – I love my blog and the world that it has opened up although it’s been a whacking great learning curve and I could do with an extra few hours in the day for Blogmin!
We think Sam is a great new addition to the blogging community. She writes funny and relatable posts we think you will love as much as we do! You can follow Sam and her beautiful daughters on Twitter, Pintrest & Instagram – why not pop over and say Hi! Don’t forget to tell her Pudding sent you!

Juggling – Guest Post By Agatha & Mary

Agatha & Mary Juggling

So Mary, I bumped into your granddaughter Emily in Wimbledon the other day. She looked well, her little boy is a bonny lad, sitting up in his pram and chucking toys at me. What a darling!

Oh he is quite adorable isn’t he? Looks just like his father don’t you think? Shame about the hairline of course – he’ll be bald by 20, but c’est la vie! Yes lovely young Emily has caused quite a stir with the in-laws as she’s is thinking about going back to work. Did you know?

No, dear, she didn’t mention it. But little Hubert is only six months old. Does she want to go back so soon?

I think it’s more a matter of needs must, Agatha. But she did used to enjoy her job so I think a part of her is looking forward to working again and no doubt regaining some of her identity.

Of course in our day, Mary, we had maids and nannies to look after the wee ones when we needed. And do you remember that fabulous job I had when my offspring were little?

Wasn’t it stuffing teddy bears for the WI, dear?

I only did that once as you well know Mary, don’t you remember that dreadful reaction to the stuffing that I had? Everytime I see calamine lotion I shudder! No, no, if you recall I was Head of Jam. It was a much tougher job than one would imagine and of course it was terribly important – I was in charge of ensuring quality, consistency of colour and texture and making sure no one had bought it in Marks and Spencer and switched the labels. Of course, there was a great deal of tasting involved and one had to be incredibly diplomatic of course.

Yes, I do remember the time when you got into a heated discussion with Mrs Porpington-Smythe about boiling temperatures. It was wooden spoons at dawn, wasn’t it?

Ooh you do make it sound quite dramatic Mary dear! But getting back to Emily and her job, how did she decide it was the right time to go back?

Well, she and her husband Jasper had long discussions, dear. But I think it was her decision, when she felt “ready” as they say nowadays. And I have been telling her that she will be absolutely fabulous back in her job and not to worry that she has forgotten anything.

Oh I do remember that “nappy brain” feeling, when you can’t seem to string a sentence together, let alone type a coherent proposal.

Well, Agatha, in your case I think that lack of facility was more to do with too much brandy, after all it seemed to last even when the children had left home!

Oh Mary dear how you do like to exaggerate, it was just a little pick me up as you well know. Unlike you I can’t eat too much cake or chocolate because of my thighs!

Point taken Agatha! But Emily has become so terrifically organised since little Hubert came along – it will help her when she goes back to work. After all, most new mums find they achieve spectacular things they never thought possible when baby comes along.

Like waking regularly in the night and making a bottle, or changing a nappy, without screaming you mean?

Oh absolutely dear; just like juggling when to wash your hair, or go to the toilet. Sometimes I managed that more than once a week – it was all quite thrilling!

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But Mary dear, in our day we didn’t have any rights so we just had to get on with things, but what about nowadays? What happens if Emily needs to work, what is it called, flexible hours?

Well Agatha, she found this amazing spiders web link thing which gave her lots of good information.

Legal situation: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/know-your-rights-when-you-go-back-to-work-after-having-a-baby

Mary, dear, I think it’s called the Interweb, not Spiders Web – but never mind. This all looks perfectly topping to me.

Oh Agatha yes it is, and there are some lovely people out there ready to help you if you need some advice on all sorts of things to do with going back to work after having a baby.

Women Like Us are a good place to start: http://www.womenlikeus.org.uk/

In our day, of course, you just listened to your husband and did what you were told.

Quite, Mary, except you never listened to the Count, did you?

Never understood a word he said, dear. Always spoke Italian and I never could get the hang of it. Still, that’s probably the secret of our successful marriage! Another slice of jammy sponge?

Oh please, and this must be your own jam recipe no doubt! I must say as one gets older one does rely more on the support of one’s underwear to cope with the fact that everything is either spreading or heading south.

Speak for yourself dear, the Count commented how ‘fit’ I think the term is, I was looking the only the other day.

Well dear, I find that hard to imagine.

Yes, come to think of it he was talking about that night the four of us invented a new dance. I’m convinced the lovely Michael Jackson took inspiration from us for his Thriller song.

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But you know what Agatha dear – I think these young women today are absolutely marvellous.

Not only do they embrace motherhood and all the picalilly nappies that go with it, but they somehow manage to go to work on minimal sleep, or juggle babies and running the home. And look at the rise of the mummy blogger, how wonderful they are. But we know that the old idea of “having it all” is not possible. Women don’t need to be juggling a high powered city career with six kids – to feel successful. Just getting through the day and giving your children a cuddle and story at bedtime is a real achievement.

Oh Mary dear how right you are! We don’t need Super Mums to make us feel like we are constantly failing. And sometimes success comes from doing what you love. Just look at that Nadiya from The Great British Bake Off, she’s just getting on with motherhood and doing all the stuff that holds a family together as well as fitting in time to bake a cake for the Queen and write a cookery book.

I quite agree dear. I feel we should raise a glass to our fellow mothers, working or at home, who are holding everything together and still finding the energy and commitment to make their lives and that of their families better.

Oh admirable Mary dear, I’ll ring for Snetter. A bottle of the Bolly ’48 would be perfect with your cake.

Scrummy!

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/recipe/jammy-coconut-sponge/


Did you love this post? It was written by two new bloggers who I absolutely love! (Hence why I am showcasing it!) You can find Agatha and Mary on their own blog here. You can also find them on Twitter. This quirky duo cover all types of topics on their blog with an old fashioned twist. We think they are a pretty jolly pair. Make sure you go over and say Hi, don’t forget to tell them that Pudding sent you 🙂

Blogging – 3 Months In

So here we 3 months into the blogging world and I have to say I think it’s going pretty well! It’s certainly been a journey of its ups and downs and I’ve learnt so much in three months. I have achieved more than I ever thought was possible it’s still not going to pay the bills at the end of the day but then I guess that is every bloggers dream! However I have managed to join a fantastic community within the blogging world I am really enjoying my #PuddingLove linky it really is amazing to read all of these great blogs on A weekly basis and to know that I have something to aspire to.

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

Writing has certainly helped me with my postnatal depression, I really think that this has improved during the three months I’ve been blogging. It’s like it gives me a focus outside of my own life but without having to worry about what everybody thinks all the time; yes I get comments but I have yet to come across anyone who is unkind.  The support I found out there are from other mum bloggers has really made me put into perspective how bad I was feeling. I’m still waiting for my counselling sessions that were supposed to be a six week wait (I’m pretty sure it’s more than that now) but because I feel better it doesn’t seem quite so important that they hurry through although I still want to have them!

As we Keep Blogging on?

Well I’ve just started on Instagram which I love! My photography leaves a lot to be desired but I’m told practising will improve the pictures I take, so be prepared for an instagram influx (you can follow us here if you don’t all ready). I have started a lovely Instagram party #PuddingPoses! Just so that other people who are taking ridiculous snaps of the children can share them with me, this is now going to be a monthly feature on the blog, check it out here.

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I’ve also launched my Inspirational Parents guest series and am trying to get more people involved. This is so we can spread the word about the great works that some families do in the face of adversity you can see our first feature on The Lilly Mae foundation here. Our next one will be with Noah’s Big Charity this is a family I’ve worked closely with in my career and I’m very much looking forward to the feature post on the blog and hoping to help raise some money for them.

LILY MAE FULL COLOUR LOGO

Other goals?  I guess I’d love to reach 2000 Twitter followers or maybe even 3000 Twitter followers in the next month although I never thought they would be so many people interested or at least pretending to be interested in what I have to say! I really like to work with small brands and like the idea of working with new of brands; things that people haven’t heard of. Being an individual I like to have stuff that no one else does and then be able to gleefully tell them where I found it! This month is also the first month of advertising on Petite Pudding, I don’t know how I feel about this at the moment but it seemed like a business savvy thing to do… I wish I was going to BritMums live but unfortunately with my maternity coming to an end and having to go back to work next month this is just not going to be an option this year. But I hope that all those who are going have a fantastic time and I can’t wait to hear all of the great tips that you’re going to share with me and the rest of us bloggers!

Finally from me and Pudding, I’d just like to say thank you for your continuing support. We really appreciate every comment made on the blog and everybody who takes the time to read a post. I know I don’t always get round to responding to your comments as quickly as I would like; I promise you I do you read all of them! It’s just that with two small children and to crazy sausages life does sometimes get in the way of blogging!

Love Pudding & Mummy xxx