09.04

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There’s something so special about the bedtime routine. Whether you’ve been out at work all day and the half hour before bed is chance to reconnect with your little one, or whether you’ve been side by side all day and the bedtime routine serves as chance to wind down together, it’s such a lovely part of the day.

I remember when Ottilie was really tiny, going through her bedtime routine with Gina Ford’s book open on the bed trying to stick exactly to the timings that were laid out on the ‘two month old baby routine’ page! I think it was shortly after these moments of new Mama madness that I lobbed Gina Ford to the back of the cupboard, realising that doing Ottie’s bath at 6.30pm instead of 6.15pm precisely was probably not the cause of her waking every two hours all night long ;)

I’m always intrigued to know how other Mums and Dads work their evening routine now- whether it’s a calm, quiet affair with dim lighting and relaxing music, or a half hour romp before everyone crashes out in bed!

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Bedtime essentials : An ultra-soft sleeping bag, cosy PJs, Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment, and Jeffie the giraffe who’s as much part of the family as Teddy and Elsie are!!

I’d say we’re somewhere in the middle of the two. Ottilie is generally one of those ‘run and run and run and then crash’ kind of toddlers, with hardly any wind-down needed before she’ll fall fast asleep in her bed. But I do love the cosy moments that precede bottle-and-bed, and treasure those cuddles even more now that Ottie’s on the go all day long!

Our bedtime begins each night with a bath, partly to wash the baked bean sauce-smudges from Ottilie’s cheeks but also because this little girl of mine is a mermaid and just adores the water!

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I love watching Ottilie learn as she plays in the bath, whether it’s by asking for ‘pop pop bubbles!’ or naming the colours of her stacking cups. She’ll often play in the bath for a good half hour, and loves taking the bath plug out and feeling the water swirl away down the plughole. Simple joys!

One of our favourite games to play in the bath is to match coloured balls with her stacking cups, and she also loves a little penguin toy that was Jason’s when he was Ottilie’s age!

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With bath time (and a couple of times a week, the ordeal that is washing a toddler’s hair…) over and done with, Ottilie hops out and is ready for some skincare! I always like to take time to moisturise and protect her skin, especially during the winter months when she seems prone to dryness just like her Mama.

For preventing and treating any rashes, my go to cream of choice is always Bepanthen. For the first few months of Ottilie’s life she was lucky and never had even the tiniest amount of nappy rash, but ever since she started teething properly at around 11 months she gets such angry skin in her nappy area whenever she’s cutting new teeth.

A light coating of Bepanthen at bedtime always soothes her skin right away, and leaves it clear and calm again by the time morning comes. It’s fantastic too for preventing any rashes caused by new and unfamiliar foods, especially during the early days of weaning! We’ve never had any rashes really take hold which I give Bepanthen full credit for, especially since using it in combination with cloth nappies which seem so much gentler on Ottilie’s skin.

I also love the fact that it comes in a tube rather than pot, that I always find to be messy and potentially unhygienic during nappy changes.

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With skin cared for and a fresh nappy and PJs on, it’s time for Ottilie to romp around the upstairs of our house to her heart’s content!

Ottie generally likes to burn off a last burst of energy for the day with a game of chase and hide and seek, and it’s the best thing ever hearing her roar with laughter as I chase her up and down the landing between our bedrooms.

But in the photos above, she’s doing a bit of nature study! Ottie’s bedroom seems so be a breeding ground for ladybirds, and she was very taken with the little one making it’s way across her bedroom carpet!

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Time for a few rounds of ‘One Little Monkey Jumping on the Bed’, before bed!

It’s Ottilie’s favourite thing ever, second only to being thrown up in the air and rough and tumbled by Jason who, as with all Dads, is 100x more fearless with her than I ever am and which Ottilie adores!

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Lastly it’s time for my favourite, favourite thing ever- story time <3 The way Ottilie adores books gives me the greatest joy, not least because some of my most vivid and happy childhood memories are of reading bedtime stories with my own Mum!

She’s really got into storybooks lately over more simple ‘lift the flap’ board books, which are so much more fun to read! I might share a few of our favourites in a post soon, if anyone would like to know which books we love the most?

This particular night was the turn of The Gruffalo! Ottilie’s a big fan of any books with lions or dinosaurs or creatures that she can ‘roaaaarrr’ at, and the Gruffalo fits the bill!! 

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And with stories read, teeth brushed, milk drunk, and little rosy cheeks kissed, so to bed.

What does your bedtime routine look like? <3

~ This post was sponsored by Bepanthen, a brand I’ve used and loved for as long as I’ve been a Mama! Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible. ~

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20.01

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T H E   W O R L D   O F   C L O T H   N A P P Y I N G

{Let me get head off this post by saying that despite how brand-heavy the photos are, this post is in no way sponsored by BumGenius! It’s also a very wordy, in-depth post, so be warned! :) }

I’ve posted a fair bit online recently about my aim to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. In fact, it’s my one and only 2018 resolution! And as part of that resolution, I’ve decided to take the plunge with cloth nappying.

I recently read that each year, enough disposable nappies are thrown away to circle the Earth 80 times over. A disposable nappy is thought to take between 200 and 500 years to break down, and in the UK alone, 8 MILLION disposable nappies are thrown away each DAY! These facts, and the realisation that the disposable nappies I wore as a baby won’t even have degraded yet, shocked me so much that I figured enough was enough. Time to make a change!

It’s something I’ve been toying with the idea of doing for at least six months now, but it took me such a long time to get brave and go for it! I’m sure for lots of parents, and definitely for me anyway, switching to cloth nappies felt like a very daunting step. With possible downsides like factoring in another daily chore, the upfront expense, the potential for leaks, and having to get more ‘up close and personal’ with the contents of your child’s nappy (not to mention the time it takes to decipher all the lingo and jargon when working out what to buy!), it’s a whole new level of parenting I wasn’t quite sure I was brave enough for!

But after approximately a billion hours spent researching types and brands of cloth nappies, watching YouTube reviews, asking for advice on my social media channels (thank you to all the sweet Mamas who’ve given me help!), I’ve done it!

Ottie’s been in cloth full time for around a week now and so I thought I’d write up a ‘first impressions’ style post, as well as some consolidated tips of my own from everything I’ve learnt through all my research! So let’s go!

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First up, let me talk to you about the brand I chose, and why!

We’re using the BumGenius v5 Pocket Nappies, which come incredibly highly recommended both from friends who’ve used them, fellow Instagram Mamas, and via online reviews!

A pocket nappy is a nappy system in which absorbent pad/pads of material (in this case, microfibre) are inserted into the space between the waterproof outer layer (that’s the coloured or printed part), and a soft cotton layer that sits against baby’s skin. The pocket can be stuffed with a single or multiple fabric pads (to provide extra overnight absorbency for a long stretch of sleep), and then when the nappy has been worn the pads are removed, both parts are washed, and then can be hung out to dry.

So far, I’m absolutely thrilled with them! We’ve had no major leaks at all, only two incidents of a slight dampness right at the edge of Ottilie’s vest- once when she’d been sat in her carseat for a long time and had been in the same nappy for a little over 4 hours, and once overnight when she’d worn the same nappy for 13 hours and drunk a lot right before bed.

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Here’s what made me choose BumGenius:

- Ease of use: once the pocket of the nappy has been stuffed, it goes on just like a disposable would- all in one piece, with no faffing about using clips or pins or multiple nappy parts!

- Popper closure rather than velcro: time and again I read that nappies with velcro tend not to be as long lasting, since they degrade in the wash and get loaded up with lint and lose their ‘stick’. Even changing a wriggly toddler, poppers have been super easy so far.

- Good looking nappies: I had previously ordered a few of a cheaper brand of nappies, (‘Sandy’s nappies by Motherease) and when I tried them on Ottie they were laughably huge and bulky, even when bone dry! Cloth nappies are always going to be slightly bulkier than disposables, but BumGenius are a very slim fitting cloth nappy and though I have bought a couple of new, slightly roomier bottoms for her, they do fit under all Ottie’s regular clothes. Plus I love the nappies’ cute colours and prints!

- Quick to dry: being able to pull out the absorbent inserts and hang them on a line all separated out cuts down drying time such a lot, important given that it’s not recommended to use a tumble dryer on cloth nappies. Some types of cloth nappies can take 18+ hours to dry, whereas these are washed in the evening, hung out around 9-10pm, and are dry by the morning.

- One size fits most: the adjustable popper system make these nappies fit from around 8lbs, to 35lbs. The other brand of nappies I originally bought ran from 18lbs up, so I would have had to buy a whole new smaller set for any future babies.

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F A C T S   A N D   F I G U R E S :

One of the things I found most tricky when researching cloth nappies was knowing how many I’d need, so here’s our cost breakdown:

12x BumGenius pocket nappies: £217.
I ordered two sets of BabiPur’s ‘Five for £89′ offer, plus two extras. I’m planning on purchasing a couple more as backups for when I’ve been late to hang the nappies out after washing and they’re not quite dry come the morning when I need a fresh one, but we’re getting on fine with 12 for now.

We tend to change her every 3 hours or so in the day, and so use around five over a 24 hour period. Of course, with a younger baby you’d be looking at roughly double this amount of nappies needed!

4x HempBabies doubler: £19.80
This acts as an extra layer of absorbency for nighttime, and gets inserted into the pocket along with the BumGenius microfibre pad. To be honest, I only really needed to buy three of these as I wash the nappies every other day.

1x pack of fleece liners, + 1x triple pack of Bambinex disposable liners: £7.99, + £13.99
Liners are laid inside the nappy to catch any poo. The benefit of a disposable is that they can be either flushed (though we don’t) or put into biodegradable nappy sack and binned.

The downside though we found is that they tend to get all scrunched up and poo still ends up on the main part of the nappy (not a problem, but kind of defeats the object of the liner) but more importantly I found they got sodden quite quickly and then sat damp on Ottie’s skin. I can’t imagine it’d feel very nice, so we’ve switched mostly to washable fleece liners. These are a bit more ‘yuck’ to clean after a poo (we tend to sluice them off in the (clean!!) toilet, honestly not horrible to do but of course more of a faff then lobbing a rolled up Pampers in the bin!) but feel so nice and soft and add a ‘stay dry’ layer against baby’s skin inside the nappy.

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T H E    D O W N S I D E S ?

You can’t just throw them on and forget about them in the way you do with a really decent quality disposable, because I just don’t think they’re as absorbable as, say, Pampers Baby Dry. I just used to change Ottie when her nappy felt a bit heavy before, whereas now it feels like I’m changing far more frequently. Not a bad thing, but worth thinking about!

Does it save money? I’m sure it does, but disposables are SO cheap to buy (until Ottie was around 8 months we used Aldi, which were dirt cheap!!) that the cost is so spread out it might feel more affordable to use disposables. Long term I’m sure the saving is there with cloth, but it feels like a luxury to be able to blow £300 up front. There are cheaper cloth alternatives of course- I just chose what felt like the best option for us.
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M Y   H O N E S T   T H O U G H T S ?

It’s way, way easier than I expected! Not the disgusting, poo up to your elbows kind of situation I feared, but actually incredibly simple and a lot more ‘clean’ than I could’ve imagined. They don’t smell bad at all, when it comes to washing them I simply unzip the top of the waterproof laundry bag and empty them all out into the machine, and they’re away!

And it makes me feel so, SO good not taking out a huge mound of nappies to the bin at the end of each day, knowing that they’re destined to sit in landfill indefinitely! Seriously gives me a little ‘pat on the back’ happy feeling every time :)

And despite what I mentioned about the cost, I don’t feel as though it’s been too bad- coming in at slightly under £300 is pretty good! I hope that with careful washing, drying, and use, we’ll be able to use these on future children once Ottilie is finished with them, of course supplementing with extra nappies during the newborn stage.

~ ~ ~

All in all, I absolutely love it! Love the feel good factor of knowing I’ve cut down our waste an incredible amount, love the sweet prints and colours (we have a couple of bright red and purple nappies too, which are so cute), love how effective and simple the nappies are. To anyone deliberating about it, I’d say go for it if you can! Buying a couple of tester nappies in different brands and styles can be helpful, and TheNappyLady is a brilliant place to go for free bespoke advice.

If you got to the end of this mammoth post, you’re a hero! Thanks for reading, and I hope it helps!

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10.01

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16 months felt like a lifetime away when Ottie was a little baby. A whole world of toddlerdom and next-level parenting that I, with a baby stuck to my chest 24/7 and a social life that consisted of leisurely afternoons spent chatting over cups of coffee with Mum friends in Starbucks, couldn’t even imagine belonging to.

And yet, here we are! Ottilie’s a real little person now- walking, talking, obsessed with babies and animals alike, stubborn as a mule (she gets that from Jason…and me too. Oops!), so incredibly sure of her likes and dislikes, always keen to share, and getting sweeter and more fun by the day. I thought today I’d share a little update of her, and of motherhood, at 16 months! More for myself and my own memories than anyone else really, so you’ll have to humour me…

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O N   T H E   G O .

Walking! It felt like it took Ottile aaaages so get her confidence with walking. She wasn’t ever keen to be stood up on her feet as a baby (she liked to sit, crawl, or more often than not just be carried around!!), and was a pretty reluctant walker even after she’d taken her first steps a couple of weeks after she turned one. It wasn’t until we moved to our new house midway through November that the walking really clicked, and she’s been off ever since! It’s something I’ve really noticed with Ottilie actually, that she takes a fair while to master a new physical skill. She was the exact same when it came to learning to crawl, she tried for a good couple of months before it finally happened. I think she’s naturally quite a cautious child, and doesn’t like to throw herself into something until she knows she can do it well. So it took a while, but we got there in the end! Talking however, is a whole other kettle of fish…

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H E L L O ?

I remember Ottilie turning to me at 7 months old and saying ‘Mama!’ clear as day, and thinking ‘no way, she can’t possibly be talking this young’, but when by 9 months she was saying about 10 or so clear words, it became pretty obvious that she’s a bit of a chatterbox! Now, at 16 months, she  parrots literally  e v e r y t h i n g   we say, and so we’ve learned to be very careful with our words around her!! She likes to sign ‘friends’ (which she learnt from our Sing and Sign classes…and also Mr Tumble!) and then list off all her favourite people! Her cousin Bea is always top of the list, as is her best friend Archie, and then then her Nanny and her Grandma and sometimes if we’re REALLY lucky, Mama and Dada make the list too! My favourite, favourite thing she’s learnt so far is to ‘sing’ happy birthday, and it made my year when she sang me ‘happyooooo doo Mama’ on my birthday just before Christmas! She’s started stringing two or three words together, and still uses baby signing to communicate a lot too. It’s been the best thing I ever did with her, I’d recommend Sing and Sign to any new Mum!

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Y U M !

Ottie’s generally always been a very good eater, always happy to try new foods and fairly adventurous with what she’ll eat. She’s been through a few fussy phases, but over the last couple of months seems to have become really clear on what she does and doesn’t like, and found her appetite! At the moment she’s a bottomless pit of hunger, and likes to tuck into whatever she sees me eating as well as her own meals and snacks all day long. At breakfast time she tends to eat either avocado toast or a bowl of porridge or bircher muesli (I like bircher as it means I can sneak yoghurt into her diet, one thing she outright hates on its own!), lunch might be a bowl of pasta, some tofu chunks with veggies, or soup with added grains, and at dinner Ottie loves risotto, lasagne, noodles, mild curries, or a jacket potato with beans.

She asks for apples approximately 85 times a day (often the first thing she says in the morning is ‘apple?’) and last week decided that she’d rather share my slice of dark chocolate tart instead of eat the strawberry sorbet I’d ordered her as a treat whilst out for a meal! We both eat a vegan diet so I’m quite conscious of making sure she eats a very well rounded and balanced range of foods, and she takes a multivitamin each day added to a small amount of green smoothie or some watered down orange juice to make sure that she’s getting all the nutrients she needs! I’m actually planning on sharing some ‘What my toddler eats in a day’ type posts soon, just as soon as I get myself organised enough to take photos of each meal whilst I’ve got a hungry toddler whinging around my ankles ;)

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L E T ‘ S   P L A Y

I love watching Ottilie at play, it’s one of my favourite things. She’s never been a very independent baby, and still now usually wants my input into whatever toys or games she’s playing with. Her current favourite game? Organising! Ottie’s big into moving her toys (whether it be her blocks, wooden animals, musical instruments, or the contents of her tea party set) in and out of boxes, from one neat pile to another, or from the sofa to the coffee table and back again! It makes me laugh every time!

Her other true love is her baby dolls- oh does my baby love her babies! I’d held off buying one as I was keen not to do the whole ‘little girls need a baby doll to play with’ thing, but when she made a beeline for them every time we visited her Nanny and tried to put one she was given to play with at our singing class into my change bag to take home, I figured it was about time to buy Ottie her very own baby doll! She likes to feed them with one of her old bottles, cover them with a blanket, and smother them in kisses and cuddles. It melts my heart <3

O T T I L I E   L I K E S . . .

Feeding carrots to the horses in the yard over from our house. Singing songs at playgroup, especially ‘Hop Little Bunnies’…though the hopping is more of a knee bend as we’ve not quite learnt to jump yet! Apples, bananas, avocados, blueberries…basically anything sweet or creamy. Playdates with her cousin Bea. Watching Mr Tumble, or Hey Duggee. Popcorn. When the sheep next to our house come right up to the fence and say hello. Throwing seed out for the birds. Rubbing the paws of her giraffe comforter on her face (and sniffing them too!). Being carried around by her Mama. Emptying out the contents of the kitchen cupboards, and playing with her own mini kitchen too. Being allowed to carry the feather duster around the house. Jumping in from the side of the swimming pool.

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O T T I L I E   D I S L I K E S . . .

Having her teeth brushed. Being encouraged to eat yoghurt, or carrots. Hair wash night. Being put down when she’s hungry or tired or just doesn’t want to be put down, thank you very much. Being barged by the dogs. Having her hands covered over by gloves or the sleeves of her coat. Having cold hands whilst out on dog walks.

So that’s my baby girl! The last year and a bit have been the best whirlwind, and it’s getting more fun by the day. I can’t wait to see what the year ahead will bring!

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I’m wearing: Silk spotty blouse – c/o Boden, FatFace Midwash Skinnies (my FAVOURITE jeans ever!)

Some of our current favourite toys + baby clothes:

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01.10

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Ottilie’s now just over one year old and has been on the move for a good four or five months, though I honestly can’t remember a time before she could crawl at 100 miles per hour!

Gone are the days when I could park her on a playmat in the middle of the living room and then dash into the kitchen to wash and sterilise bottles (whilst checking in on her every minute or so, of course!)- now she can get from the living room to halfway up the stairs in the blink of an eye, and is never happier than when bombing around pushing her walker and leaving a trail of mess and destruction in her wake! Books come flying off the bookshelf, shoes get picked up and redistributed around the house, and she’s drawn to my sock drawer like a bear to honey…the mess is like nothing I’ve ever experienced!

As part of my ongoing collaboration with Graco this year, I was recently sent over a little factsheet all about how non-stop and physically strenuous the life of a new parent is, and it totally blew my mind. Did you know that according to Graco’s research, new parents typically spend an average of 8 hours a day on their feet and carry around up to 17.5kg in weight (SEVENTEEN KILOS!), all whilst functioning on less than 6 hours sleep a night?!

So, as a kind of of two-parter to this post here, all about the tips and tricks I’ve learnt for life with a new baby, I thought today I’d share a few things I’ve learnt about juggling life with a baby on the move!

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01 :: Go lightweight…

As any parent with a mobile baby knows, as soon as they can crawl or walk, it’s basically all they want to do!

The pram used to be the place Ottilie took her longest and most peaceful naps- some days we’d go out for lunch and she’d snooze in her bassinet for two solid hours! Bliss! Now however, when she’s done with being in the pushchair, she is DONE!

Which is why the new Graco new Featherweight pushchair that we’re currently road testing is a total dream- it’s only 3.7kilos, so light that you can fold it down and throw it over your shoulder when little one wants to get out and be carried or to walk along holding your hands. As much as we’ve loved having a larger travel system pushchair over the past year, being able to fold up and carry the Featherweight when Ottilie wants out and so avoid the ‘baby on one hip whilst awkwardly manoeuvring pushchair with the other hand’ scenario is completely amazing.

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02 :: Plan, plan, and plan some more…

With an older baby comes a wider variety of demands. Up until six months the cries are usually pretty simple to decipher, with milk, a good burping, a nappy change, and sleep often being the cure for all evils!

But now…you’re hungry? You’d like a snack? Not that kind of snack, no? You’d like to walk, or crawl around on the floor of this busy restaurant? You’re tired but can’t go to sleep without Jeffie the giraffe and we left him in the car?…Things are more complex!!

I find it helps to plan my day in chunks, with the morning spent at home so that Ottilie can have plenty of time to crawl around and burn off a load of energy before a decent late morning nap, and then we’ll head out to meet friends or go to a class or activity of some sort before getting home for a later afternoon nap and another play before bed.

And having your changebag (top tip- go for a rucksack for hands-free carrying!) packed and organised is more important than ever, when it comes to getting out and about with an older and more active baby. Keeping a tupperware pot filled with a selection of snacks is essential (you know, for all the food based bribery you said you’d never do but totally will ;), and a little toy bag filled with a couple of fun pop up books, puppets, and musical instruments is great for keeping baby busy when you’re on the go.

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03 :: Hide cleaning supplies in every room!

Graco’s research says that 53% new parents number one stated their number one challenge is keeping on top of household chores. Well, I can fully believe that let me tell you!

In fact, I’m undecided if it was harder to keep the house tidy with a tiny baby who you can’t put down or with an older baby who makes a mess of whatever you’re attempting to clean and organise…I mean, it’s basically a never ending task either way!

The best way I’ve learnt for keeping on top of things is to have cleaning supplies to hand at all times! Stash away a bottle of polish and a duster cloth in the bedrooms so you can whizz round whilst baby plays on the floor by themselves for thirty seconds, and when little one is at the stage where they’re sitting completely steadily in the bath, bath time can be a great opportunity to clean the sink/put bleach down the loo and polish the toothpaste marks off the mirror. And hey, you’re a parent now! You get to clean AND sing Dingle Dangle Scarecrow all at the same time! ;)

But seriously, it might feel like one level of multitasking too much at the time, but anything that means you can actually sit down once you’ve put your baby to bed for the night and not have to then get cracking on the cleaning is a winner in my book.

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04 :: Streamline the food shopping process…

Tanith Carey, author of Parent Hacks, suggests snapping a quick photo of the inside of the fridge before heading to the shops, so that when you’re in the middle of Sainsbury’s wondering whether or not you finished the mango chutney last Tuesday or how many bottles of soy milk are left in the fridge, you can glance at the picture and have your answer!

Attempting a food shop in person can often be difficult in itself, and so online shopping is king if you ask me! It means you don’t have to attempt to juggle taking your baby round the supermarket with you, and most importantly allows you time to actually concentrate on what you’re buying so that you don’t end up overspending and wasting food.

I’ve also found it a godsend to have one or two basic food shops saved on Ocado, so that when you’re having one of those parenting weeks where it feels like you’re stretched to your absolute limit, getting in your groceries is just a case of logging onto your favourite supermarket delivery site and clicking ‘Order!’!

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05 :: Make time for yourself.

Okay, here’s my number one tip as learnt many, many times over this last year- when you put your baby down for a nap, the absolute first thing you should do is make yourself a cup of tea and something to eat, and then sit down and enjoy it! Because by the time you’ve thought ‘I’ll just stick a load of laundry on, and actually the dishwasher needs filling and maybe I’ll just sort out the baby’s lunch whilst I’m in the kitchen’, nap time will be over and you’ll not have had a single second of downtime!

So whether it’s by napping when baby naps, heading upstairs for a relaxing bath at the end of the day, or running out to a Pilates class once baby is in bed, it’s important that you take time to relax and unwind after expending so much energy all day long. And remember, happy Mum equals happy baby!

~ This post is part of my ongoing collaboration with Graco. Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible! ~

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