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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29.09

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It’s always the small moments of joy that make a day, isn’t it? Whether it’s that first sip of coffee in the morning, or finding that your favourite top is hanging washed and ironed in your wardrobe, or waking up feeling rested after a great night’s sleep (the MOST important thing to me these days!), there’s nothing quite like being able to look back at a day and realise that it was full of moments of simple happiness.

The best kinds of weekends are the ones that have an abundance of those kinds of moments, and last weekend we were lucky enough to spend the day devoting ourselves to chasing life’s little victories in a brand new, very beautiful car! Vauxhall loaned us one of their swish new Astras, and challenged us to spend the day as a family using the car to seek out some of those little ‘wins’ that never fail to bring a smile to our faces.

And so, our happy day began first thing Saturday morning, with a hop into the car and a quick drive into Guildford to go and view some houses…

(Sidenote- did I tell you yet that we’ve sold our house and are moving?! Things are happening fast so I need to do a proper update soon…!)

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Now, I think I’ve told you before how much that baby girl of mine just HATES being in the car. Unless she’s sleepy and ready to drop off straight away, I can pretty much guarantee that she’ll get cross and loud about how unhappy she is to be strapped into a seat with nothing to look at but the boot of the car within about 5 minutes of our journey commencing.

And so because of this, I plan any day involving car journeys that’re going to last longer than 10 minutes or so with military precision! The outward bound journey ALWAYS occurs during Ottilie’s morning nap, and we head home after lunchtime and a few hours of play when I know she’ll be about ready for another doze in the carseat! And when all goes quiet in the back and I know she’s fallen asleep? Well, it’s bliss!

I used to hate driving, but with a sleeping babe in the back and an audiobook running through the speaker system? It’s basically a holiday!

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And speaking of media systems, I’m pretty sure the Astra’s is a fancier bit of kit than the laptop I’m currently writing this post on! It’s all touch screen and totally intuitive, with wireless connectivity that lets you play your best Spotify playlist loud and proud through the car’s speakers!

We made use of it to lull Ottilie off to sleep with a few rounds of her favourite nursery rhyme playlist, and she was asleep by track three…

…which left Jason and I free to switch over to Haim’s new album and enjoy the heated, MASSAGE seats the whole way over to Guildford! I mean, it was such a little victory, it pretty much turned the journey into a date!

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With houses viewed (we’ve since had an offer accepted on one and I honestly can’t wait to share it with you, it’s our dream home!), car parked (with the help of the Astra’s reversing camera- a GODSEND for those of us challenged in the field of car-parking!!), and little legs stretched, we made our way up into town and in search of lunch.

And where do you head when you’re all juuuusstt edging into ‘hangry’ territory and need feeding with something delicious and quick?

To Franco Manca, of course!

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Seriously, does it get any better than Franco Manca? That base is just the best! Jason likes his pizza with ALL the cheese and meats…and for Ottie and I, we like our veggies!

I think my obsession with olives has been passed on to this baby girl, because she honestly can’t get enough. The ones in Franco Manca were so delicious but so salty I felt guilty letting her have more than one or two, and you should have seen the strop she had when I wouldn’t let her eat any more…

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We followed our pizzas with a portion of the gelato, and Ottilie couldn’t quite decide whether she liked it or not at first!She gave it her best effort though, and after the first couple of mouthfuls was like a little baby bird opening her mouth for spoonful after spoonful!

I was so precious about her not having sugar for the first year, so I think she’s enjoying being one now!! ;)

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After a mosey around the shops running a few errands and falling in love with expensive homewares in Anthropologie, we headed back to the car and loaded up ready to drive back home. Oh, and speaking of loading the car up, check that boot space! We could’ve fitted both dogs in there with the pushchair and change bag no problem at all, and they’d both have been happy with plenty of room!

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With the end of Saturday traffic beginning to build up on the main roads home, and an Ottilie who was about ready for another snooze in the car, we decided to use the Astra’s sat nav system to show us the best route home.

And so with our car guiding us back home through beautiful orange leaf tree-lined country lanes and not a hint of traffic in sight, we had a calm, peaceful end to the day.

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And if that doesn’t count as one of life’s little victories, I don’t know what does.

~ This post was sponsored by Vauxhall. Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible! ~

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10.08

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There’s no denying that the early days of motherhood can be daunting, both when you’re pregnant and are anticipating the joy and chaos to come, and then once baby has arrived and you find yourself adjusting to life as new parents! I remember wondering what exactly you *do* with a newborn, when you bring them home from hospital, and spent much of my time during my final few weeks of pregnancy trying to prepare as much as possible for the unknowns that lay ahead. And so to that end, I thought it might be fun to put together a little post of tips and tricks for managing life with a newborn, with a few of the things I was so glad I’d sorted ahead of Ottilie’s arrival, and a few great ideas I’ve picked up along the way that I’ll be remembering for next time…

O N E  :  Fill your freezer!

Like many newborns, Ottilie had a knack for waking up wanting a feed JUST as I sat down in the evening to eat my dinner. Thankfully for both Jason and I though, I’d been given the wise advice to spend my final couple of weeks of maternity leave stocking the freezer with ready to cook/reheatable meals, and so with Ottie resting on a cushion on my lap feeding away and a bowl of something hot and tasty beside me, we’d both fill our bellies at the same time. Meals you can eat one handed are ideal, so think cottage or shepherd’s pies, ragu (to be heated then spooned over pasta or jacket potatoes), mild curries, chilli con carne (I’m veggie so would make this with lentils and beans instead of mince), ratatouille, stews, and soups (reheat and serve with some potato wedges or a stack of toast!). Those little foil pots that Chinese takeaways often come in are ideal, as they can be put straight in the oven and don’t need washing up!

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T W O  :  Set up feeding spots around the house.

I attended an event with Graco last week, and learned from Sarah Redshaw of BabyCentre that a newborn’s stomach is the size of a hazelnut, and by the end of their second week of life it’s expanded to the size of an egg. That explains why they want feeding around the clock, I guess! And it also explains why my abiding memory of the newborn days are the many, many hours I spent sitting and feeding!

Whether it’s by bottle or breast, feeding is time consuming and leaves you stuck in one position for often up to an hour at a time. It’s a great idea to set up a few little boxes around the house in arm’s reach of in spots you’ll likely be sat feeding, containing a bottle of water, some tasty snacks (flapjacks or granola bars are great!), the TV remote, a book, and other essential nonessentials like hairbands/lipbalm/handcream.

T H R E E  :  Practise, practise, practise with the pushchair and carseat!

I’m fairly sure every new parent has experienced the flummoxing stress that occurs when trying to assemble/disassemble a travel system in a car park, whilst a sleepsuit-clad 7lb person shrieks in the background. It becomes second nature in no time, but practise taking it apart and putting it all back together again a few times in advance to save on the early days-stress!

F O U R  :  Prepare for stain removal.

Babies poo. A lot. Usually at inconvenient times, and very often on things that are not a nappy. A tub of Vanish Oxy Action should be handed out to all parents departing hospital with a newborn, if you ask me, and plain white vests are best to buy as you can bleach them back to good as new as many times as is needed without messing up any patterns or designs.

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F I V E  :  Connect with other new mothers.

There is nothing, NOTHING better than the support of other mothers. Whether you attend an antenatal course whilst pregnant, reach out to other Mums you meet who live locally to you (my neighbour has a baby 10 weeks younger than Ottilie, and we’ve been a lifeline for one another more times than I can count this year!), visit your local children’s centre, or book onto a music, baby massage, or sensory class, the chance to connect with other women experiencing the same life changing joys, highs, lows and challenges as you will be invaluable. And you’ll be so glad you got brave and got yourself and little one out of the house!

Sarah Redshaw recommends contacting your local children’s centre in advance of baby’s arrival to request a timetable, and to see if there are any waiting lists for classes you might want to add your name to. Such a great idea!

S I X  :  Wraps and slings are your new best friend.

This isn’t true for all babies of course, but many, Ottilie most certainly included, hate being put down. I’d been bought a Solly wrap as a gift when I was pregnant, and remember tying it on and putting Ottie in it for the first time when she was 5 days old, and she stopped crying at once and fell fast asleep. The proximity to your body and the secure way in which the wrap holds them to you is incredibly comforting for a baby during the fourth trimester, and having both your hands free at the same time will be a welcome relief for you! (Photos above from that very first baby-wearing occasion! Ignore how loose the wrap is, I got better at it as time went on!)

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A few more of my favourite tips and ideas:
- Have a bottle of Infacol in the house ready for when baby comes home from hospital. A Godsend for windy newborn tummies!
- Aden + Anais swaddle blankets are expensive, but worth it. As a light blanket in warm weather or for layering during winter, as a swaddle, breastfeeding cover, or throw-over for the pram or carseat, they’re invaluable. Ours have washed so well and are in mint condition for next time around!
- Pick up as many packs of maternity pads as you think you’ll need (Boots slimline ones were best, I found!) then buy at least 3 more packs. And you’ll probably still run out.
- If your baby hates being put down in the pram or a cot, try warming it with a hot water bottle first (Lady Ottilie of Surrey demanded this for the first three weeks!) and a rolled up towel placed around the edges of the bassinet and covered over with a soft blanket can help baby feel more secure.
- You might not think you want to use a dummy, but have one to hand just in case. I was stupidly adamant we wouldn’t need one but caved after 10 days, and the blissful silence that fell as soon as Ottie took it was a complete and utter joy!

In short, Sarah’s motto, ‘Whatever your expectations are- lower them!’, is a brilliant one. Ignore anything or anyone who tells you your 8/12/20 week old should be sleeping through the night, or be in a predictable routine, because it’s all nonsense. And hard though it may be at times, being kind to yourself should be as high a priority as taking care of your sweet baby.

I’d love to hear any more tips, tricks and ideas for life with a newborn in the comments!

~ 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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28.07

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T I M E   F O R   A   G A R D E N   P A R T Y ?

Now, Jason and I are hardly your typical festival goers.

We’re too fond of home comforts- of the snuggliness of our own lovely bed and crisp, line-dried sheets, of familiarity and routine, of the dogs who fall asleep by our feet each evening, and of, let’s face it, the glory that is hot running water ;)

And, let’s face it, we’re just not that cool either!

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But, the lovely relaxed atmosphere of some of the more family-friendly festivals I’ve seen pop up over the past few years does totally appeal to me!

The ones where children and adults alike enjoy music and great food and refreshing summer drinks from sunrise to sunset, and the whole affair has a garden party kind of vibe, as opposed to being all about mud and tent-burning and the like! ;)

And so, when just recently DFS got in touch and challenged me to give my garden a mini ‘festival chic’ makeover using some of their gorgeous furniture, my immediate response was a big fat YES!

I loved the idea of trying to capture a little of the summer festival spirit, and bringing it home to my very own garden!

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The set we picked out for our garden makeover ‘look’ is called the Napa, and is made up of four woven rattan armchairs and a glass-topped table, comfy grey seat cushions, and a parasol to boot.

The chairs are insanely comfortable (especially when accessorised with a few colourful cushions to complete the look) and the table is the absolute perfect size for our pretty tiny garden and deck space!

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I love that right now the decking is looking so lush and vibrant, flanked on all sides by flowering plants and our hanging basket and wall planters.

The tomatoes are nearing the end of their life (I’ve been picking regular handfuls of ripe beauties for a weeks now, and eating them in salads and on toast in the mornings!) but our strawberry plants are just beginning to spring into action!

I’m a little concerned about the little nibble marks that have been appearing on the strawberry plant leaves, but I can never seem to spot any slugs or caterpillars when I go out looking for them. Keeping my fingers crossed Jason and I get to enjoy the fruit before the bugs do!

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Once Jason and I had finished bedecking the lovely parasol with a set of the festoon lighting we’d bought for our wedding last year, we put some music on (still obsessed with Bear’s Den, and also the Spotify Weekly Discovery playlist!) and then sat back with a tall jug of watermelon and apple juice pepped up with some frozen berries and mint.

Candles were lit, Teddy and Elsie pottered in and out of the house proudly showing off the rawhide treats I’d given them to keep them from getting under our feet whilst we set up the garden, and eventually we all settled down outside on the deck, and whiled away the evening whilst the sun went down.

So what’s that- music? Check! Fancy drinks? Check! A beautiful and cosy outdoor space to enjoy? Check!

All the ingredients for a ‘festival chic’ vibe at home, don’t you think? :)

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Thank you to DFS for sponsoring this post.

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Posted in HOME, Sponsored, SUMMER

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