Self care – making time for yourself in the midst of motherhood

Day 18 of #blogtober is ‘relaxation’ – something I don’t do a huge amount of, but something that is so vital to your well being!

The past 7 weeks I’ve been working full time, whilst juggling home life and parenthood. It’s been really really hard work, and 2 days away from half term, I’m feeling incredibly burnt out. There’s been a lot of burning the candle at both ends going on, and so this post is really a memo to myself: you can’t pour from an empty cup. 

Me time used to be a shopping trip with friends, or coffee and lunch in a pub. Sometimes I painted my nails, or fake tanned my legs… Since becoming a mum, relaxation and me time sometimes reaches the dizzying heights of treating myself to a 49 second poo in peace. 

So how do you make time to relax amidst the busy goings on of life?

Nowadays, for me, it’s with a cup of tea (preferably piping hot, no sugar, a dash of red milk; leave the tea bag in, thanks). Sometimes I don’t even have time for a cuppa full stop, but when I do have time to sit and enjoy one, it can really keep me going!

I rarely get a bath in peace, so I can’t say that’s necessarily a go-to for relaxation, but occasionally I get treated to a child free bath, and I absolutely love Lush bath bombs when I do! A friend recently gave me this one – I can’t remember what it was called, something with honeycomb, but ahhh it was bliss!

Sometimes me time is pub night with my girl friends. A rare treat, but all conversations over a bottle of prosecco seem to soothe the soul! 

Sometimes relaxation is reading a blog post from another inspiring Mama, or catching up on the goings on on social media. 

Occasionally, I get to read a book – something I absolutely love to do but don’t often have time for. I have quite a collection of books on audio so I can be read to – Harry Potter is my favourite!

Lastly, sometimes relaxation is curling up on the sofa with my hubby and chatting about our days. This seems to happen less and less nowadays – we’re both often still working until 10pm, but I love it when we do get a chance to chat about nonsense! 

How do you make time for yourself? 

See you tomorrow,

Love, Squidmamma x🐙



Four parenting mantras I live by #blogtober day seventeen

Squid on Saturday just gone… at a restaurant for a family birthday, I am not sure my blood pressure has ever been so high! On top form, Squid took great pleasure in crawling on the floor, eating dried bits of rice, screaming if anyone but me touched him and generally causing havoc!

#blogtober day 17’s prompt is ‘quotes’ – and there are many quotes that I parent by, so I thought I’d share the 4 that have often kept me going when the going gets tough(er than usual). Parenting is hard work. There’s no two ways about it, but keeping these phrases in mind can really help!

1. This too shall pass. 

Everything is a phase, and usually, at the point you think you’re really going to lose your shit, they cut the tooth/learn to stand/have a language explosion and things get easier again. 

Mischief personified

2. It won’t always be like this. 

This one works 2 ways for me: it won’t always be this hard, and also he won’t always be this little, and I’ll miss it. This helps me to try and maintain a rational position on the situation – because I do really miss each stage as it passes! 

ONLY Owl Ice Cream can brush his teeth…

3. He’s not giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time. 

Ahh. This one is so important. I think it every day. When Squid is having a shit-fit because I’ve cut his toast into triangles, not squares, and even worse: I’ve put the toast on the orange plate and he WANTED THE PINK ONE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, EVEN THOUGH HE ASKED FOR THE ORANGE ONE, I have to remind myself that he’s just asserting himself, he’s having a hard time making his opinion heard, he wants to be understood and validated. (Though I’m sure he also thinks I’m just plain stupid for not knowing about the plate-colour preference that day, and not guessing that when he says marmite he actually wants peanut butter…) Toddlers are a bloody mine field at times, but I remind myself that he’s learning and growing at a rate of knots and that really can’t be easy! 

A highly unimpressive Twister…

And finally…

4. There’s a cold bottle of Pinot in the fridge. 
Yes, this often keeps me going. Because who on earth can parent without wine? After 6pm, of course…

See you tomorrow,

Love, Squidmamma x🐙

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Why it’s okay NOT to ‘love every moment’ #blogtober day twelve

I love… family days out

You hear it all the time: ‘Soak in every moment of motherhood, because it goes by in a flash!’ and ‘Don’t you just LOVE this age?!’ 
Today’s #blogtober prompt is ‘love’, which got me thinking about the things I love, which would have been a very easy post to write: I love many things, namely my family, my job and my cat.

But the thing I kept coming back to was the expectation of the things I should love, especially as a parent. You’re told to appreciate your children’s youth, to find wonder and beauty in every day, but honestly, sometimes that’s just hard to do. 

It’s not that I don’t love being a mum: I do, very much. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. But it’s also the hardest job, and sometimes, in the thick of the shittest of shit days, I find it hard to savour each moment. 

I don’t love… losing an argument with my 2 year old over footwear

I spent much of Squid’s first 4 months of life feeling pretty damn shell shocked, wishing the days by until it was easier, feeling a huge sense of expectation that I should be loving every moment, but actually feeling a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing instead. I loved my son, but I didn’t love the sleep deprivation, my changed body or the 2am feed where I’d be chundered over. 

I love… sharing in his joy

So, although I do look back on each stage with rose tinted glasses, and yes, I am astonished at how quickly time has gone, parenthood is really tough; enjoyable, amazing, incredible… but also hard work. And it’s okay not to love each second of it. It doesn’t mean you love your children any less! 

I don’t love… meltdowns because I won’t let him drink my wine…

I think the most important thing is to be realistic and honest about parenthood: I love to share our highs (the fact that Squid gave his friend a cuddle today at nursery because his friend was sad) but I’m also honest about the lows, too (like Squid weeing all over my feet in the shower this evening). Because, as try as I might, I just cannot find something to love about pissy feet…

See you tomorrow!

Love, Squidmamma x 🐙



Baby Led Weaning – the basics



(I’ve revamped this post for #blogtober 2017 – where day 11’a prompt is ‘kitchen’! We love food in our family, so have a read of how we introduced food to Squid, 18 months ago now!)

This blog post is the first in a series of posts about Baby Led Weaning! Weaning your baby onto solids is a huge step for everyone involved. It’s the start of your child’s relationship with food, and it can be exciting and daunting in equal measure.

Before Squid was ready for solids, I had done a lot of research into how to approach introducing food, and we decided that we wanted to try Baby Led Weaning (BLW) as the method to do that. Traditional Weaning (TW – weaning with puréed foods, gradually introducing textures) works for some families, and that is fine; we have not done traditional weaning and so I do not know very much about it.

So what is BLW? 

The principle of BLW is that your baby eats whatever you eat, in the same form that you eat it (ie not mashed or puréed). One of Squid’s first foods was steak! Soup, mashed potatoes, yoghurts etc are all fine too – as they come in the form you would eat them. The only things you need to avoid are honey (not before 12m – risk of botulism), whole nuts (choking hazard!), shark and Marlin, and you must be mindful of salt and sugar intake! Apart from that, your baby can eat whatever you eat – family meal times have never been so easy! Your baby’s food doesn’t need mashing or chopping up – just serve the food to your baby in ‘handheld’ chunks (think ‘chip shaped’!) and watch them go!
Top tips – bread soaks up soup really well, little hands can easily pick up mash, and pre-loaded spoons work well for yoghurt! 

The world’s most disappointing narna

My first port of call was to get myself a copy of the BLW book, by Gill Rapley – I got this when Squid was around 3 months old. If you are considering BLW, then I would really recommend the book – we picked ours up second hand for a few pounds on eBay!

The long and short of it is that you skip the purées. This means that, unlike with TW babies learn to chew their food first, before swallowing. 
Another crucial element is that the baby is in control of what, how much and how quickly they eat. With TW the parent might keep going until there is no purée left in the bowl, though the baby may be full already – once a liquid is in their mouth, their instinct is to swallow. BLW helps babies to understand their appetite, and to only eat until they are satisfied.


Squid loves apples!

In the book, Rapley tells you the signs to look out for that your baby is ready to begin solid food. She states that these signs will usually occur ‘around the middle of the first year’ – 6 months/26 weeks.

The signs are:

  • Being able to sit, with little or no support;
  • Being able to reach out and grab objects accurately;
  • Being able to accurately bring both hands, holding an object, to their mouths;
  • Make gnawing/chewing actions with their mouths.

Other sources also state that a loss of the ‘tongue-thrust’ reflex is another sign of readiness – that is, a baby will not reject food by pushing their tongue back out. 
The theory is that it is not until around 6 months of age that the gut ‘closes’ and their bodies are ready to digest solid food. These ‘outward’ signs are good indicators that a baby is ‘internally’ ready to begin eating solid food. 
Waking more frequently at night is NOT a signal that your baby is ready for solids (this commonly happens around 4 months of age, where there is a ‘sleep regression’ or the ‘is-my-baby-broken-why-won’t-he-sleep-please-shoot-me-sleep-regression-from-hell’ as it was affectionately known in our house – more on sleep regressions here in a post I wrote for Breastfeeding World!)
There are some really interesting theories on the ‘Virgin Gut’ which swayed us to wait until Squid was around 6 months old to start weaning. Have a look here.

He eats what we eat – lazy Sunday breakfast

BLW has so many benefits. To name but a few:

  • You don’t have to feed your baby – you can all enjoy a hot meal together!
  • They learn about textures and individual tastes.
  • The baby controls what, how much and how quickly they eat – this means that they only eat until they are satisfied, never ‘over eating’. A BLW baby is less likely to struggle with portion control, and therefore their weight.
  • It takes the stress out of eating – as milk is their main nutrition until they turn 1, food is just great fun before then!

Remember – milk is your baby’s main source of nutrition until they turn 12 months old, so you need to fit milk feeds between meals – milk comes first! Squid nurses 10+ times a day still at 9 months – although he enjoys food, he prefers his milk! (Revisiting this post at 25 months, Squid now eats like a teenager – he had three portions of dinner today! Plus he nurses several times a day too, what can I say, the boy loves to eat! There are very few foods he won’t eat, and he is in control of his own appetite and tastes – we absolutely loved doing BLW and don’t regret anything about it! He uses cutlery beautifully, rarely gets in a big mess, and food has never been a battle. Meal times are happy and social!)

He eats what we eat… everything in moderation, right?!

I really, really do recommend reading the BLW book, because I could essentially just rewrite it here and that would be silly!
There is also a ‘Baby Led Weaning Cookbook’ which I got for Christmas. I would say that this book is nice to have, but not essential.
Did you do BLW with your baby? What made you choose BLW over TW? Let me know in the comments below!

To read more posts about BLW, click here!

Squidmamma x 🐙

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#blogtober day ten: newborn photo shoots – a cautionary tale…

#blogtober day ten’s prompt is ‘jokes’ and I’m pretty crap at telling jokes so I don’t have any to share. What I am quite good at though, is embarrassing stories, and this one is quite spectacular. 

So you know how ‘newborn’ photo shoots are all the rage? A tiny, curled up newborn baby, strategically placed in a flower pot, or a peacefully sleeping babe wrapped in a swaddle, with beautiful flowers surrounding them? You get the picture. 

Well, these photo shoots are really bloody expensive (and I know the reasons why, I’m not saying they’re not worth it), so when my Auntie offered to pay for some photos of newborn squishy Squid, we jumped at the chance.

However, the photographer could only fit us in at the end of October, when Squid would be 6 weeks old, and about 4 weeks outside of that ‘ideal’ golden window when newborns are still all curled up and still… but anyway, we went along with a few outfits and props, hoping to get some snaps to make calendars for family for Christmas. 

We arrived: the lady had her photography studio set up in her house. We got straight to business, and she set up a few back drops with props, and we placed our lovely boy in a basket for some photos. 

And then the hell began 😂 Squid hated it. Every second of it. He screamed and screamed – I had barely been unattached from him for more than 3 minutes since he was born (…not much has changed!!!), and the bright lights were too bold and he hated it. So, I fed him, happily whipping out a boob to calm his cries. 

He fell asleep, so the photographer suggested trying again. But as you can imagine, he cried again, and so I picked him up and boobed him… again and again, and he was always such a leisurely feeder! This went on for more than an hour, and I was sweating and in a total flap. 

And then, Squid did the biggest poo you have ever, ever seen. A total poonami, poosplosion, pootastrophe. It went through his clothes, up his back: everywhere. We ran out of baby wipes, we were wrestling a small, poo stained baby into clothes, husband and I half crying, half laughing, all the while, the photographer was looking on in panic at these new parents who were on the edge of a sleep deprived break down. 

We left: not one photo was taken! So essentially, I went to a stranger’s house to get my leaky boobs out and for my son to shit everywhere. Not my finest hour, and if we ever have a second baby, I swear we will not be getting any newborn photos taken. I am forever scarred!

See you tomorrow,

Love, Squidmamma x🐙

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#blogtober day nine: our favourite toddler story books

Day nine of #blogtober has the prompt of ‘ice cream’ but you’ll have to bear with me to get the link to the theme for today’s post! 

Squid absolutely loooooves reading, and we must read upwards of 10 books a day together. If I’m sitting down, he will climb onto my lap with a story and ask me to read. I’m so glad he loves books, and I really hope he never changes – his dad and I love to read too. 

So today’s post is about our favourite stories, and some books I can’t wait to share with him. 

1. Anything by Julia Donaldson

It’s no secret that we are huge, huge JD fans in this house – the way she writes rhymes, and her short, catchy, memorable stories are just perfect for toddlers. Squid can recite the words to a lot of her books, and I’ll often peek him reading to himself because he knows the words and uses the pictures as prompts. 

Our current favourites are The Gruffalo, One Mole Digging a Hole and A Squash and a Squeeze. 

Oh help! Oh no!

2. My Dad is Brilliant by Nick Butterworth (and the other books in this family series!)

Firstly, does anyone remember Percy the Park Keeper?! My goodness, I loved those stories as a child, so I was so thrilled to find these books by the same author. Squid absolutely loves these books: we have ‘My Mum is…’, ‘My Grandad is…’, ‘My Grandma is…’ and ‘My Dad is…’. The text itself is very simple, with just a few words on each page, but the discussions these books promote is amazing, and we will sit for ages talking about the pictures and other things that Daddy does, for example. 

Really lovely books!

3. Mog by Judith Kerr

Oh Mog. These stories are very firm favourites here: we love Mog as much as Mog loves an egg for breakfast. The illustrations are gorgeous and these are really timeless stories. Some of them are slightly longer, so they’re great for proper bed time reads. Squid loves Mog so much that he even has a cuddly Mog, who is slightly crusty but goes everywhere with him. 

4. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen

Another great story for toddlers, because of its memorable repetitive verse, fast pace and accompanying actions. The pictures are beautiful too, and I love the mix of colour and black and white illustrations. ‘We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one! What a beautiful day! We’re not scared…’

5. Say Goodnight to the Sleepy Animals by Ian Whybrow

This book has been read so frequently that it’s been mended in several places, and we actually have 2 copies of it in case one falls to pieces! This is the perfect bed time story book, as you ‘say goodnight to the sleepy animals’ in the story. Again, gorgeous pictures! There’s also another versio: ‘Say Hello to the Snowy Animals’ which we found for 20p in a charity shop and are saving for Christmas!

And the link to today’s theme of ‘ice cream’? 

Well, owl ice cream, of course! 

FYI: my favourite ice cream is rum and raisin, I just wasn’t sure if I could write a whole post about it… although when I was 19 and on a girls’ holiday in Magaluf (😂🙄), there was an ice cream bar on our stagger back to the hotel – sod a greasy kebab and cheesy chips, a huge tub of R&R sorts any impending hangover out! 

Love, Squidmamma 🐙 x

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#blogtober day eight: holidays – how to survive going away WITH the kids

#blogtober day eight’s prompt is holidays! We’ve been away on a few holidays since Squid arrived – once to Malta for a week when Squid was 8 months old, to Nottingham for a week when he was 22 months old, plus several overnight and weekend breaks with him. Holidays aren’t quite the relaxing experience they used to be, but it’s lovely to get away as a family nonetheless! 

Here are my top 4 tips for holidaying with kids!

1. Pack savvy

It’s so easy to ‘over pack’ when you go away with children, but take the time to really think about the things they will need. Make a list, and stick to it. Consider whether you’ll have clothes washing fascilities where you’re staying – and if so, halve the amount of clothes you were planning on taking. I love this clothes packing hack tutorial for when we go away! 
Don’t forget things like a first aid kit, plus any medications (especially things such as anti histamine and anti diarrhoea tablets!), lots of baby wipes and more nappies than you think you’ll need!

Trunkis are essential!

2. Take All. The. Snacks 

The journey to your holiday, be it by plane, car or otherwise, is likely to take time – and so snacks are absolutely essential! Easy to eat things such as raisins, bread sticks and rice cakes have got us through several plane journeys, and a packed lunch is vital on a long car journey! It will break the journey up and save you pennies – feeding a whole family at the service station or 34,000 miles in the air is very expensive!

3. Take it in turns to relax

When you’re on holiday with other people, make sure that you take it in turns to chill out. Children can be hard work when they’re not in their own environment, and often safety is a concern – especially around the pool. So tag-team with your significant other for who will be watching and playing with the kids whilst the other reads their book. It may not be as relaxing as the sun, sand, sea and cocktails holidays of the past, but being a parent doesn’t mean that you can’t kick back a bit when you’re away. 

4. Relax the rules and routines

Holidays are a chance for your little ones to chill out a bit too, which means that perhaps bed time might be a little later than usual, or they are allowed an ice cream in the heat of the day. Try not to get hung up on maintaining routines, especially around nap times. Relax and go with the flow – when you’re home, you can settle back into the swing of normal family life. 

5. Pack a few ‘all rounder’ toys 

Try not to take the whole play room with you when you go away – a couple of toys which serve a variety of purposes are all that’s needed! For example, a pad of paper and a set of pencils, a Fuzzy Felt book, and a carry-along wooden play set can be easily transported, and the opportunities for imaginative play with just a select few toys are great. 

The wooden farm animals come most places with us!

6. Get in the photo

Finally, don’t forget to take snaps of your family holidays, and most importantly, make sure you’re not always the one taking the photo – be in the picture too! Many of our old family holidays photos from my child hood are taken by my dad – meaning he’s not in many of them, and I’d have loved to have seen him in the pictures now. 

Have you been away with the kids? What would your number 1 top tip be? 

See you tomorrow! 

Love, Squidmamma x 🐙

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