photo of toddler inside a moving box

Moving house with a toddler: prepped and ready to launch

So, tomorrow’s the big day. 

We are surrounded by boxes – most of which Little Miss has customised with her crayons – and we are already knackered.  

We’ve spent the past few weeks building Little Miss up to the idea. Unfortunately because of the distance, we haven’t been able to visit since we first saw the property but we’ve been showing her photos of the new house and the garden, explaining what’s going to happen; drawing pictures of our apartment block then the new house with us (and Lambie and Mog and Doggie) all at the new house.   

But the big one is packing the boxes, explaining we need to put our things in the boxes to go to the new house. You can see the cogs working in Little Miss’ head as she processes this and has watched me pack up the apartment over the week. 

She’s been very helpful, patting the tape down as I build the box and in her room, I’ve made a big deal of her choosing what goes in which box as she repeats, “my things, my box, new house” – which hopefully is her processing and understanding! 

There’s been a few tense moments when she’s not wanted to put things in the box and I’ve wondered, ‘is this it? The moment the penny drops and she loses it because we’re leaving the safe and known?’ But so far, we seem to be ok… 

 

Helping with packing… sort of…

  

Little Miss’ boxes were all specially customised .

  

Rediscovering toys she hasnt’t played with in ages as they get put into boxes. It took quite a while to pack Little Miss’ room!

  

Mustn’t forget the most important things! (These guys got packed into every box and wrapped a dozen times. Mog got sealed in a box by mistake somewhere along the way. Whoops!)

  

Playing ‘Sleeping Bunnies’ on repeat on day three of packing to keep her entertained… Meanwhile, Mama goes slightly mad…

  

Daddy helped her customise this one, drawing the whole extended family for her.

 

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender

photo of Parragon Books' The Three Little Pigs Mei Matsuoka

Huffing and Puffing at Pigs {Little Bookworm 4}

This is a bit later than planned this month, what with Christmas, two birthdays, an anniversary, three interviews and moving house. As ever, January is our busiest month of the year.

(I’m also for the first time, writing, photo editing and uploading and publishing a blog post all from my phone for the very first time as our internet got shut off at midnight last night ahead of moving house this week, so forgive me if this isn’t quite up to the usual standard…) This month Parragon sent us the classic, The Three Little Pigs (£5.30 from Amazon). But this isn’t just any Three Little Pigs. This new edition by Mei Matsuoka is an engaging ineractive story with pop up and pull out bits for little fingers.

Little Miss already knew the cautionary construction tale of three piggies and their houses, but has now fallen completely in love with it.
She huffs and puffs at the pages with the wolf, snorts at the pigs and has started insisting she reads to me. Though, that sounds something like;

“flub bulb blah goo PIGS! *snort* huu gwa shoo PIGS! glib fla HUFFFFFFF! *over animated puffing face* Blow Mami. Pigs. Sticks. fla glu hanupla woh…”

You get the idea… Still. I’m extremely proud of my little bookworm’s reading efforts and naturally believe she is Oscar nominee ready for best audio book performance… That’s a thing right? I digress…

The ‘Slide and See Fairy Tales’ edition encourages her to follow along with me reading as at the end of the line, it shows you (via a picture) which tag to pull from the side of the book. This is great for helping her understand I’m reading the words on the page, not simply plucking a story out of thin air to match the pictures. (I can imagine this will be especially relevant over the next year.)

Potentially worth noting that, being a vandal (there’s those Northern roots showing through! I’m kidding… Sort of…), Little Miss has managed to pull the board tags clean from the book, but luckily minimal damage was caused and we could easily slide them back in.

After the success of this book, a quick Google search kindly told me The Ugly Duckling, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Bean Stalk are also available in the Slide and See range, which I will definitely be investigating further for Little Miss’ upcoming second birthday.  

Visit Parragon.com for more information or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
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FINDINGOURFEET.CO.UK IS A MEMBER OF THE PARRAGON BOOKS #BOOKBUDDIES CLUB. PARRAGON BOOKS SENDS US A NEW BOOK EVERY MONTH FOR LITTLE MISS TO ENJOY AND REVIEW. BUT AS ALWAYS, THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS REVIEW ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN.

Baby Brain? Or Super Brain?

There was an article in the Telegraph last week supporting mums returning to work after having children (sad there needs to be an article supporting this really, #justsaying).

And not only that, but suggesting to employers that we’re the better choice when recruiting (I’m paraphrasing, but essentially, that’s what they’re suggesting.)

IMG_7301Naturally, as an Unemployed Mum, this caught my eye.

Research has previously shown that the female brain shrinks by up to seven per cent during pregnancy (wow!) possibly offering up reasoning behind the much fabled ‘baby brain’.

However, new research shows that it is specifically the ‘fight-or-flight’ area of the brain that reduces, and in fact, the female brain expands during pregnancy and is rewired to better cope with stress and increased demands.

Having a baby can improve employability and performance because post natal brains are re-wired to cope with the increased necessity to plan and multi-task [after having a baby], experts found.

Yet since being made redundant the week I went on Mat Leave two years ago, I have met and heard so many stories about pregnant women and new mothers being unfairly treated in the work place.

The response to my Unemployed Mum blog post back in October was overwhelming with women literally around the world getting in touch with sad stories of their own.

Some readers (and employers) may argue that although a mother may be better equipped to multitask, deal with stress and increased demand on her resources, this brain expansion merely ‘makes room’ for all the extra worries and things a mother has to consider at any point in time.

Add to that the fact she’s doing this on a fraction of the amount of sleep than a non-parent employee, and the image of super mum at work starts to fade a little.

This is true. Sleep helps the brain and body rest, heal and process the day. Without sleep, we don’t function at full capacity. Hard to deny this isn’t the ideal recipe for a kick-ass employee.

Yet alternative research shows that the mother’s brain is rewired after birth with regards to sleep patterns as well.

When newborn and young babies sleep, they have shorter sleep cycles than an adult (50-60mins vs. an adult’s 90-100mins) and experience the all important light, REM sleep first (approx 20mins) and restful, deep NREM sleep second (approx 30mins).

Some studies suggest a new parent’s sleep cycle swaps round to match a newborn’s ensuring they get the much needed REM sleep and a portion of NREM so they can function.  Studies have also shown that while sleep deprivation can cause impaired memory function at the time of sleep deprivation, this has no long-term effect on a person’s memory function or ability. Evolution at it’s best people.

So, back to the Telegraph article.

With this sleep cycle research in mind, you could argue that even if a mum is sleep deprived, her brain and body are built to withstand this and therefore, even if the new found brain expansion ‘merely makes room for’ all the extra motherhood concerns, aren’t we then – worst case scenario – just as capable as we always were?

So why is motherhood still perceived as a hinderance by some employers?

Truthfully, I didn’t buy into the thinking that since becoming a mum I am able to manage my time better or that I’m more organised, etc, etc. I thought it was something mum’s said to themselves to make themselves feel better – especially those of us who were mistreated by an employer when pregnant or because we were a parent.

But after reading the Telegraph article and seeking out other articles as a result, I admit I’m inclined to change my opinion.

Hopefully, as shared parental leave becomes the norm and our male counterparts begin to experience more of the same as mothers, opinions and practises will start to shift naturally.

But with 54,000 women dismissed or forced out of their jobs as a result of pregnancy and 100,000 experiencing harassment as a result of pregnancy in 2015*, can we wait that long?

You can read the full Telegraph article by Victoria Ward here

*stats provided by MaternityAction.org.uk. Findingourfeet.co.uk is not affiliated with any of the brands or organisations referenced in this blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article, or would like more information on your rights as a parent on parental leave or when returning to work, check out MaternityAction.co.uk who are working tirelessly to ensure parents (mums in particular) are treated fairly in the workplace. 

photo of Finding Our Feet in Dublin

How to: completely surprise your girlfriend with a weekend away

Last Friday was my birthday. To be honest, I wasn’t hugely excited. But the OH was taking the day off and I was looking forward to just spending the day together and chilling out (and hopefully a lie in!).

Little Miss kindly slept in until 6am, at which point I shook the OH. He dutifully got up, not forgetting to say ‘Happy Birthday’ as I was already falling back asleep.

30 minutes later he and Little Miss were standing at the foot of the bed singing Happy Birthday.

When I saw the time I was nothing less than horrified. No birthday lie in?! What is this madness?!

“Nope, come on, get up, busy day.”

Cue disbelief and near refusal to get out of bed.

“There’s coffee, come on.”

Waiting on the dining room table were my cards. The first, from Little Miss, read:

To Mummy,

I think you and Daddy need a break! That’s why I’m going to stay with Dodo, GrandPam, [my favourite Uncle] and [Auntie Chatterbox] for the weekend!

You’re welcome!

Love you Mummy,

Little Miss xxx

My first thought was, ‘so I don’t get to spend my birthday with Little Miss…?’

Which the OH had already considered; I couldn’t lie in so I had some time with Little Miss (and to pack) before we left mid-morning for a mystery weekend away. His parents were collecting Little Miss at 9:30 and we had to leave at 10:30.

Packing instructions: wrap up warm, comfy shoes for the day, something nice for an evening out and bring a swim suit.

At this point I thought, right, we’re going to Iceland (somewhere we’ve talked about going in recent years but thought wasn’t appropriate with a baby or toddler).

So we had breakfast together, Little Miss and I read some stories and had a play. When GranPam and “Dodo” [Grandad] arrived, she was thrilled to see the back of us. (And by the sound of it, that sentiment continued as she had a blast this weekend, not missing us one iota, even sleeping through the night until 7 or 8am! Fingers crossed that will carry on now we’re home….)

GranPam gave me two cards, both with Euros in for the weekend – aha! A clue! Only at this point, she says, “something to spend in Dublin.”

Oops…

“Oh, no, I didn’t end up booking Dublin. I went with the other option in the end.”

I can’t quite believe the OH managed this but he played it so coolly I actually believed my mother-in-law had the wrong destination. I don’t know whether to be impressed or concerned by his lying skills.

So off we went to the airport. 

En route, the OH suddenly said, “oh, did you pick up your iPad from it’s hiding place?” Rats, no. (We’ve had to start hiding the iPads from Little Miss as she’s now officially obsessed.)

At the airport, I was forbidden from looking at departure boards and the OH kept hold of my boarding pass. As we queued up for the gate he said, “OK, you can now look at the board.”

Venice!!

“I thought we were going to Iceland! Awesome!”

Five minutes later;

“I’m actually kind of glad we’re not going to Iceland. It would have been really cold-”

“Oh no wait, our gate wasn’t 44. I meant 42…”

Shit…

As we approach gate 42, I spot the destination;

“Oh! Oh. Oslo…?” (Not going to lie, this would have been totally left field. Maybe the Northern Lights?)

One minute later;

“No, not Oslo, come on.” And off we go again.

Finally, we queued up at out gate; I wasn’t allowed to look at the board.

When we sat in our seats, the OH presented me with my iPad (more sneakiness!), loaded with a list of articles on our destination, suggestions of what to do, where to go, where to eat, etc and more cards from my parents with yet more Euros.

Dublin! 

He said he had booked nothing but a restaurant for dinner that night for my birthday. The rest of the weekend was our’s to organise together. And Dublin did not disappoint.

Safe to say, he totally blew me away; I had absolutely no idea what he was planning in the run up to my birthday- much to his relief. But can’t help but feel I need to raise my game for his next birthday. Thankfully I have a whole year to plan!

(I don’t actually like Guinness… the Whiskey tasting was much more up my street.)

photo of daddy and daughter wellies in muddy puddles

Close to home {The Wonderful Ordinary 15}

Last weekend, we had a quiet one, just enjoying our favourite things to do as a family and our favourite spots close to home ahead of our move (now just two weeks away – yikes!).

I’m afraid this is one of those posts that’s more for me than anyone else; a little reminder of the quiet times as a family, of a happy Saturday and Sunday spent tramping in wellies through muddy puddles, coffee in hand, enjoying spending time just us three.

The photos aren’t the most spectacular or eye catching we’ve ever taken but their simplicity sums up our lovely quiet family weekend perfectly ahead of the turbulent few weeks ahead (and no doubt lack of sleep as Little Miss adjusts to her new surrounding so).

 

We took a walk down the canal to Victroia Park for beetroot samosas at the Cafe in the Park, one of Little Miss’ favourite lunchtime spots.

 

Squelching through the mud in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (our all time favourite spot in the area).

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

Find our favourite family friendly East London haunts on Foursquare.

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonderful Ordinary posts. 

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender

Heading for the hills…

It’s been no secret on the blog that two and a half years ago our pregnancy took us somewhat by surprise. Or that we weren’t living together at the time.

Two years, one month ago, shortly before Christmas, heavily pregnant, hormonal and tired, I finally moved into the OH’s bachelor pad. We had looked for somewhere new but he had an absolute steal on rent in London’s Zone 2 and although it wasn’t exactly what we had imagined (you know, being uber realistic in our real estate hopes and dreams……) it had two bedrooms, a dishwasher (I despise doing dishes) an elevator and was close to a tube line.

At the time, the ceiling didn’t leak (that changed within the month) and there was no mould (this changed within the year). Thankfully, the property management are relatively fast acting.

Despite it’s failings, it’s actually been a good apartment – the easily wiped clean laminate flooring has proved very convenient with a baby – and we’ve actually been really happy here.

And we love East London. It’s got loads of green space, a great community, we’re a stone’s throw from Central London and the OH could be home in 45mins despite working just out of London.

Many (*cough* mainly my mum *cough*) suggested we shouldn’t stay in London with a baby. But it was the right choice for us.

None of our existing friends had babies yet and paying an arm and a leg in rent meant we could still see them easily, whether it was a quick drink after work or popping out for brunch on a Sunday with buggy in tow.

But, slowly and surely, over the past two years, reality has chipped away at our resolve to live in London.

The OH is a bit of a Country Bumpkin at heart; he grew up in the rolling hills of Surrey and always thought his children would grow up with woods and fields to explore and clean air to breath. To be fair, it’s not such a tall order.

I’m much more of a City Mouse. In fact, it’s a running joke in the family how ‘un-country’ I am in my Vivienne Westwood coat and red Hunter wellies tramping through the field walking the in-laws’ dogs.

Little Miss, however, seems to take after her Daddy. When we visit the family, you can see how happy she is running in the garden with so much space to explore. When we went to Whitstable, she was in her element. Even at just three months old, when we went to France, she was happiest when she was outside amongst the trees – in fact, it was the only thing that stopped her crying some days.

As much as it pains me to say it, it’s been clear from the off, Little Miss isn’t a City Mouse. She’s a Nature Girl through and through.

So as my unemployment drags into a second year; as we started to question the quality of life we could provide for Little Miss living in London vs. outside the M25; as we started to feel uneasy about her being on the tube everyday wondering how much pollution she was breathing in; as we started thinking about schools; as we started to take a hard look at how much we actually made the most of ‘the London lifestyle’ these days whether because we couldn’t afford that awesome new restaurant this month or because we were just too knackered… our house hunt started to head further and further out of London.

The nail in the coffin was when the OH’s employer announced they were moving the office to further out of London into deepest, darkest Hertfordshire in early 2016.

The weekend before Christmas, we were visiting my mum and decided to look at a few houses to see what we could get for our money.

You know when you walk in somewhere and it just feels like home? Well, quite unexpectedly, that happened.

It was a cute little terraced cottage, opening out onto a garden, a big, open kitchen (very important to us), two bedrooms and third teeny, tiny, box room we can use for a study. (We have a study – I officially feel like we’re moving up in the world.)

So at the end of this month, we’re leaving our first little family home and we’re leaving London.

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Little Miss already unpacking her changing bag and making herself at home in her new room.

We’re moving to a small town in leafy Hertfordshire (thankfully not the one where I spent my tween and teen years – that would just feel like too much of a backwards step for me!) with a little high street and a playground, plenty of young families and a lovely, old-school little movie theatre.

I’m really excited. The OH, despite his natural affinity for the countryside has some stronger reservations about us leaving London given we’re only 27. He’s worried we’ll lose touch with our original friends, become those people, and I have my own worries too. But I have a feeling what we’ll gain by living somewhere we’re happy in, that fits with our family rather than our family fitting it will make us happier in the long run. The rest will come out in the wash – it always does.

We’re not going super rural. There’s a good train link into London and the house isn’t isolated by fields. But safe to say I probably need to invest in a more appropriate coat for weekend welly walks .

But I’ll be damned if I’m giving up my red wellies.

Find our favourite family friendly East London haunts on Foursquare. And don’t forget to check out our growing list of favourites in leafy Hertfordshire too.  

That moment when it all goes quiet…

Every parent knows that moment all too well. The house goes quiet. Your toddler is no were to be seen or heard.

Decision time.

Do you finish whatever you’re doing in peace and deal with the potential disaster zone later? Or do you go check the monster is still alive and stop them drawing penises in permenant marker on your bedroom walls?

Yesterday, everything went quiet and I took option one. I found Little Miss quietly reading The Snail & The Whale on my bedroom floor. She then crawled into my lap and asked me to read it to her. It was one of those beautiful motherhood moments.

image 6-5

One hour later it went quiet again and lulled into a false sense of security from the morning’s charming episode, I finished what I was doing.

Oh Amie. So optimistic. So foolish.

toddler mess #losing_ Finding Our Feet

It could have been a lot worse. Although, she’s getting cheeky. She kept blaming me for the mess!

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender

2016: the year we bottle up happy

SONY DSC

Little Miss was absolutely over the moon with her Tinker Bell costume on Christmas morning.

We returned home on Saturday after a busy Christmas period seeing the grandparents and extended family, seeing in the New Year with friends in the countryside and celebrating the OH’s birthday on New Year’s Day.

Two weeks before Christmas, the OH caught a nasty cold and chest infection, which he kindly passed to me just in time for the big day. Though mine manifested as awful sinusitis, which I’m now on antibiotics for (hallelujah!). My throat ached, my head ached, my face felt like someone was pushing on it from the inside out, my teeth hurt, my nose was raw… Between Christmas and New Year, I became slightly narcoleptic, falling asleep wherever I was sitting before they gave me the antibiotics!

Thank god for the OH as Little Miss continued not to sleep. Though by what can only be described as a miracle, she slept 7:30pm to 5:30am on New Year’s Eve meaning we could relax, sip Prosecco and play party games with our friends without one of us spending half the evening with a crying toddler. (Unlike Boxing Day when she was totally overwhelmed by the 18 people in my in-laws’ living room and we did indeed spend most of the night tag teaming upstairs with Little Miss while the other socialised and ate some dinner.)

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FaceTiming Nana L with Nana H to say Merry Christmas across the miles!

I think Little Miss had the same as me in the run up to Christmas, which would explain the complete meltdown month of December. (You may recall me writing about the 18m-2y sleep regression in utter despair before Christmas.)

The weekend before Christmas, Little Miss was running a temperature of 39 degrees for four and half days. She didn’t eat for nearly six. We were really worried and had multiple doctors’ appointments. They insisted it was ‘just a virus’ despite the steady stream of thick green goo oozing from her nose day and night. She was coughing so hard she would be sick with phlegm, which only added to the lack of sleep we were all getting.

The cough subsided shortly after Christmas but she only started eating properly again in the last few days. And although she isn’t sleeping like an angel, things aren’t as bad as they were… touch wood…

*edit* I started writing this post on Sunday evening. And jinxed everything. She woke at 10:30pm last night and was awake until about 3:30am. We tried our usual ‘pat pat shush shush’ until she was crying so hard she was shaking and trying to throw herself out of the cot. At which point the OH gave her a big cuddle to calm her down. After that I sat by the cot holding her hand until she fell asleep and got into bed at 2am… She woke at 2:05… And so it went until she finally exhausted herself. So I was grossly mistaken, the sleep situ is no better. 

So basically, we returned exhausted. Nobody’s fault, but not exactly a relaxing Christmas break. But it was lovely to see Little Miss get more involved this year and understand more of the day. Though, I think we have the only child in existence not bothered by presents. She was so unphased on Christmas Day she would just wander off after one or two. We were still opening presents at 6pm! Seeing her cousins, two year old Buttons and three year old Munchkin, I think next year is when the real fun will begin…

With so much going on, the blog took a bit of a back seat over Christmas, but I just wanted to check in today, say ‘Hello’ and a belated Happy New Year.

No resolutions for us this year. I gave up on them some years ago after I failed to stop biting my nails for the fifteenth year running.

Last year, I came up with a word to guide me through the year. ‘Mojo’ was great and did what I needed it to – I found my mojo again in many ways, lost it in others and some I’m still working on. But this year, on December 31, I saw an old colleague of mine post this on Facebook:  I thought it was such a lovely idea; so simple but effective. And it made me think how easy it is to dwell on the negatives in this parenting world – the lack of sleep, the arguments, the tantrums, the time Little Miss threw up on me… the time Little Miss threw curry at the wall… the time Little Miss threw herself out the cot… the time, the time…

And so I thought this would be the perfect way to keep a record of those magical little moment throughout the year for us to open on New Year’s Eve next year and look back on all the wonderful times we’ve had as well. And you never know, when you’re battling through the everyday with a stroppy toddler who wanted pasta, not rice today – you moron – when you get that text from the OH saying he’ll be home late tonight…  as the year goes on and the jar fills up, the sight of the ever fuller jar will hopefully be a little encouraging smile and a reminder of the giggles and kisses and quiet story times or welly walks we have had when the shit hits the fan.

Because let’s be honest shall we? This is parenting in real life. The shit will hit the fan at some point.

Happy 2016!