Break Out Of Auto Pilot

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog and the saying ‘life gets in the way’ definitely has been the case as of late. I have a threenager on my hands who is both fun and not so fun in equal measures.  I’ve always been surprised at how quickly he started to talk and now he even talks back at me when things don’t go quite his way. *Sigh* .

I believe establishing routines early on in his life has helped us somewhat but parenting is still the hardest job ever in my opinion. Recently I reached a point where I felt that it was time to take the foot of the pedal when it came to my usual mummy routine and mix it up a bit.

It had been a particularly horrendous week of meltdowns in the last week of March. I don’t know why I ever thought that the terrible twos would stop on his 3rd birthday. On one occasion I had failed to bring out mini bread sticks in his favourite orange bowl and had  unintentionally let the said bread sticks mingle with other biscuits which I thought he would have appreciated. This resulted in an almighty ding dong which set the mood for the rest of the day.  We have of course like any other parent and child team experienced the public meltdowns too where I have wanted the ground to swallow me up whole. Like the time I had to abandon my full trolley in Tesco and head home with a screaming toddler. That was not a good day at all.

I remember catching a glimpse or reflection in the shop window and I looked dreadful.  As I sat in the car with my screaming toddler I remembered my long journey to motherhood and I got myself together and drove us both home.  These tantrums won’t last forever I do know that and I can’t be mad at a  little boy who is learning about the world around him. It’s “that age” people say to me “that age”.

Before I get criticised for criticising my only son I will say that I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park raising a child. I do believe some children are easier than others but then everyone has their good and bad days.  Many parenting books will tell you that toddlers love routines because the predictability of knowing what comes next makes them feel safe and secure.  Parents shouldn’t be judged for creating routines that are responsive to the individual temperament of their little human(s). Do what’s right for your own baby as there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to implementing a routine. I have mummy friends some very laid-back, and don’t enjoy the structure of a routine.

Three years on we have become some what relaxed lately when it comes to things like bath time for instance. I sometimes bath Jay in the morning and if necessary he will have a shower with me in the evening.  It’s working out perfectly fine and hasn’t upset his sleep pattern. We tend to wake around 7am each day and on the days when he is not at pre-school I am far more willing to let things go and  be flexible with the realisation that month to month toddlers needs and habits change.  Breaking out of daily routines requires reframing your thinking taking a different path, it doesn’t mean that you’ve fallen off the wagon.

I would personally prefer Jay not to be totally dependent on predictability that he’ll fall apart the minute something changes. I hope he will be resilient like his mother and goodness knows I am resilient.  I try to add variety to the day for instance eat a picnic lunch in the living room instead of at the kitchen table or head out for walks in the early evening around our neighbourhood.

So for now I’m waking up in the morning and free-styling my day with my buddy which in turn may raise a few eyebrows but I’m okay with that. I dedicate most of my time and energy to Jay. With all my pregnancy losses I am reminded how precious our bond is.  The time I want to spend with my child is important when he is happy so am I. There have been times when this incredibly house fussy Virgo has left her many house chores so that we can sit and play with his favourite sticker books and magazines. Just because he wants me to there and then in that moment.

I loved a recent campaign that I worked on with Marks & Spencer for Make It Matter Day 1st June encouraging people to step out of their usual routine and do something different.  As I use Instagram a lot it was an opportunity for me to show my thoughts and it has been a welcome eye opener for me.  I guess it’s made me think some more about how we can all get comfortable and stuck in a rut  with the pressures of daily life.  Small changes often aren’t small at all. something like trying a new fruit or vegetable or buying a bunch of flowers for the kitchen window sill. Being in auto pilot mode isn’t that interesting and sometimes it’s good to shake things up a bit. Try it for a few days and see how you feel. To be honest I am just winging it, life,  motherhood, eye liner…everything.

The single most important roles in my life are that of being a wife and a mother. They take a lot of work, a lot of patience and strength to deal with the spinning plates and keep them all up. I keep telling myself “don’t fret Bella” parenting is a constantly evolving role. There are no perfect parents and no perfect children but there are plenty of perfect moments along the way.

If you’re a parent and reading this I’m hoping you can relate to this…

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Bentall Centre Father’s Day

On the banks of the Thames and just 12 miles from Central London, Kingston Upon Thames is a vibrant market town and one of the liveliest London boroughs.  Ever since I moved here in 2009 I’ve become familiar with a huge array of shops both independent and high street brands as well as a fantastic riverside dining scene.  Kingston has something for everyone.

The month of June heralds Father’s day which this year is Sunday 18th June. The idea originated in the USA and has been officially celebrated there on the third Sunday in June since 1966.   After a huge struggle with infertility I became a mother and my husband became a father in March 2014. I adore the bond he has with Jay and enjoy treating him to show how much he means to the both of us.

The lovely team at Carousel PA gave me an opportunity to head to one of my favourite shopping centres The Bentall Centre to choose a gift for Father’s day so I knew I was going to be spoilt for choice.  This was the first centre in the UK to adopt a no smoking policy throughout and has been the foremost shopping destination in Kingston for the past 25 years.  Getting to The Bentall Centre is hassle-free. It’s well connected to train lines, bus routes and major roads.  My eyes are always drawn to the beautiful atrium ceiling which is higher than the nave of Westminster Abbey or the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.  There are over 80 stores and  over 1000 brands with more set to join over the coming months. Click here for a list of all the stores.

It’s fair to say I choose a lot of what Mark wears, he prefers to get my approval!  Therefore after having a thorough browse of the shops I opted for a jersey polo shirt embroidered with the signature Ramskull on the chest from All Saints within the Bentalls Fenwick Store. This item retails at £55.00 and I really liked its simple but classic design. Just hope he enjoys wearing it! If you’re looking for a gift I definitely recommend this shopping centre, I’ve lost count the number of times I have visited!

I completely forgot to purchase a card as I got carried away walking from shop to shop but will be back I’m sure very soon.

The Bentall Centre

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*In collaboration with Carousel PA

Fisher Price Switch & Fix Bob*

Whenever I hear of Bob the Builder I can’t help but think of the English actor Neil Morrissey (I’m currently watching the gripping BBC Drama series Line of Duty).  Neil voiced the character Bob in the popular children’s programme which emphasised conflict resolution, co-operation, socialisation and various learning skills. Bob’s catchphrase “Can we fix it?” with the response “Yes we can!” is still very popular as I hear Jay often blurt it out when I usually break something .

Since a revamp by Mattel in 2014 the setting and appearance of the characters has changed from what I remember. I’m all for encouraging solving problems with a positive attitude and Jay was kindly sent the latest toy from the Fisher-Price Bob the Builder toy range ‘Switch and Fix Bob’ which came with LR44 batteries and suitable for ages 3+.
He particularly likes activating lights and phrases by pressing the helmet which comes with an adjustable welding mask. Recently Jay has really been into construction play and moves Bob to various rooms in the house carrying out his imaginative repair tasks, hopefully he will be really good at DIY one day.
I’d say the tool bits are probably his favourite that come with the rotating tool belt (Jackhammer, Saw and Auger). Although he is able to detach the tool bits he has a bit of difficulty putting them back on the belt sometimes. Must admit I do too with my long nails.  The ‘Switch and Fix Bob’  is available at Argos for £19.99 for the little builders in your home.

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mifold- the Grab-and-Go Booster

I’ve always been a bit baffled when it comes to the world of child seats, sometimes having too much choice can certainly hinder the decision making process. I remember buying my first baby car seat after a long chat with a lady in a department store I left feeling brain frazzled. It’s just a seat yet it’s more than that of course a lot of factors to consider and as a parent to a three year old I am trying to keep up with the ever changing laws on car seats. Recently I got contacted about reviewing the mifold. The first thing I should point out is that this is seat isn’t one that Jay is going to be able to use until he’s 4 years of age but I have heard good things about the product and was curious to find out more.

mifold Grab-and-Go booster seat is a Group 2/3 Universal child restraint system used by children from the weight of 15kg. It is more than 10x smaller than a regular child’s car booster seat and has been crash tested successfully in certified facilities around the world. It’s just as safe as regular booster seats and meets the highest legal standards for child restraint systems and is approved by the European regulation R44.4  suitable for children from the age of 4 all the way up to 12 years. UK law requires that all children must use the correct child seat until they are 12 years old or 135 cm in height (which ever comes first).  

I like the fact that from the moment I took it out of the box the seat felt very lightweight and I can see how portable and practical it is especially if you have a smaller car. It’s great for taxi rides, car rentals 3 in  row seating. While a regular Booster lifts a child to be in the position of an adult the mifold system does the opposite and holds the seatbelt down.

Although it does look really small I can see it is durable with a hard outer case and the cushion seat with supportive dense foam making it easy to clean as we know children can be messy!

The instructions seemed easy to follow, select a width setting depending on the size of the child and then place the seat against the seat back of the car. The seat belt is then fed through the guides and fastened and a mifold shoulder clip is attached to the seat belt. mifold is available in the UK from John Lewis and other selected retailers for £49.95.

John Sumroy is the inventor of this portable cat seat, you can read an interview here and his vision is to ensure that a child can always be safe no matter whose car they are in. This is particularly useful when hiring a car or where you need to travel by taxi. We will definitely be using this next year I still can’t quite believe its smaller than an iPad!

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*The product was provided to me for this review. As always, all my reviews are 100% honest and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Fisher Price Thomas & Friends TrackMaster Demolition at the Docks*

I have yet to come across a toddler that has never heard of Thomas the Tank Engine, I certainly remember watching the series in the early 90s and since then of course kids tv programmes have gone all fancy with their special effects. W. Awdry created the original toy model of Thomas the Tank Engine, which inspired the character, soon after the first book of stories was complete.

I think Jay was probably 12 months old when we first bought anything from the Thomas & Friends toy franchise but to this day he is fascinated with vehicles, cars, planes, rockets and of course trains. I’ve said many times that our house looks very much like Hamley’s toy store but it was nice to be sent the latest product from the Fisher Price Thomas & Friends suitable for toddlers ages 3+, retailing at £24.99 and is available here.

I was intrigued by the title of the product and when we opened the box we found the following features.  The set contains Cranky the Crane and the idea is that the motorised Thomas train goes around the track, passing the swinging  cargo on Cranky’s hook which can knock into the warehouse demolishing the building. Thomas can then race through the wreckage.

I have to say that although all the items are of good quality I was perhaps expecting a few more features to engage more interest.  Saying that Jay has been playing with the set and likes watching Thomas go around the track. I think if there was a few more buildings perhaps that could be added this would be much more appealing but then additional train sets and track packs are sold separately.

The ITV television series which premiered in 1984, Thomas the Tank Engine has since become the face of a franchise of toys, television programmes, books, and more. Not just a train, but a friend, Thomas is a special train that children love and remember for a lifetime.

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