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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🐙

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#blogtober day three: birthdays on a budget 

So #blogtober day three’s prompt is ‘cars’, and I thought I’d merge two ideas into one! The link to ‘cars’ may be very tenuous, but bear with me!

Squid turned 2 a few weeks ago, and as anyone knows, birthdays can be very expensive! However, with most of my wage going straight back out of my bank account to pay for child care fees, we like to save money where we can, and for us, birthdays are no different! Most of our furniture and clothes are second hand, and I get a real buzz from finding something lovely!
I absolutely love searching through charity shops and boot sales for bargains, and so Squid’s 2nd birthday presented an excellent opportunity to hunt around the local charity shops to find some cut-price presents. We’re not fussed about ‘new’ things – so long as I can clean up a pre-loved item, if I want it, consider it sold!

Squid’s birthday goodies!

We did buy one new thing, which was this Aldi puppet theatre – and at £29.99 I thought that was a great gift to invest in – plus we purchased it in June, so it was a nice bonus for us to have that stashed! I think this will be the kind of gift which lasts for years and we will get lots of play from! I made some Gruffalo puppets to use with it – printables from Twinkl, on lolly sticks!


Squid is an avid fan of all things Julia Donaldson and so I jumped for joy when I picked these books up for 20p at a car boot sale! These books complete our JD set and Squid absolutely loves them. The rhymes are so fun and child friendly, Squid knows ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ and ‘The Gruffalo’ word for word!


Next I found this Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler interactive magnetic farm book for £1. Absolutely hours of fun, and in excellent condition!


I thought this would be good for out and about – in restaurants when bored toddlers want to cause mischief!

This Early Learning Centre aeroplane was also just £2 – complete with 3 little characters! A great addition to our Happyland sets.


Finally, I found this. A beautiful, vintage wooden farm (£2!) and stable (£1). They go perfectly with the wooden farm animals we already have – also a charity shop find!


Squid ADORES this farm set and has spent many happy hours playing with his animals, feeding them hay and herding sheep!

£37 well spent, I’d say! Considering how much money all of these things would have cost new, I was really pleased to keep the costs down.

Birthday boy!

And the ‘car’ element of today’s post? Well, Squid’s beloved ‘Daddad’, my dad, turned up with THIS monstrosity… I can’t exactly put this on the Kallax next to the wooden farm can I?!

Where I am supposed to keep this?!

What’s been your best second hand bargain?! Share it in the comments!

Join me tomorrow for another post, and on Instagram and Facebook to see what I’m up to!

Love, Squidmamma x

#Blogtober17
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#blogtober day one: about me

In an attempt to give myself a kick up the bottom and get back into the swing of writing again, I’m taking part in blogtober: a post a day for a whole month! Let’s see if I can manage it…

Day one is All About Me. 

I’m pretty ordinary so I am not entirely sure there’s much to say, but here are 8 facts about me which hopefully give you a bit of an insight into my life!

1. I was born in County Durham, in October 1990, and I lived up north until I was around 6 years old. I used to have a very broad northern accent – old home videos are quite hilarious! It always amuses me that my accent is so ‘southern’ now – not a hint of Geordie left!

Baby with dad

Daddy and I – no he’s not Freddie Mercury!


2. I am a teacher, currently teaching Year 5, which is, in my opinion, the best year group. I love my job, and a teacher is the only thing I ever wanted to be when I was growing up! I am shockingly disorganised and untidy though – so I am always losing bits of paper and my mission this year is to keep my classroom tidy! 

Stationery

Best bit about being a teacher! New stationery!


3. My name is Emily, but 99% of people call me ‘Em’ – though my mum calls me Lulu or Loulabelle – on account of my middle name being Louise! Highly embarrassingly, my husband calls me ‘Pickle’…!

4. Speaking of husbands, I met mine at the student union bar at uni – we were 20 (just!) and as soppy as it sounds, I knew straight away he was ‘the one’ – despite being very anti-men at the time 😂 The student bar was called Sparrows (Greenwich Uni, anyone?!) and we now both have sparrow tattoos permanently etched into our skin – a bright idea from our younger years! We were engaged at 21, married at 23 and parents at 24, and the rest is history! 

Husband and I 💛


5. Together, husband and I are the proud owners of one child (aka Squid), who is 2 years old, and one cat (a British Blue Shorthair named Boofulcat). They are the loves of our lives. 

Our boys


6. Our son is nicknamed Squid for a few reasons. Whilst in labour, at the point I had lost my marbles on gas and air, apparently I was telling anyone who’d listen that I had lost my legs and they’d turned to tentacles – and I was a squid! This squid theme continued when we got home, as feeding our baby boy was a bit like wrestling a many tentacled creature… and so Squid got his nickname. 

Oh, baby Squid 🐙😍


7. I am a huge breastfeeding advocate. I am feeding Squid and we will continue until he decides to stop, whenever that may be! Want to know why I breastfeed my toddler? Read more here

Ain’t no milk like my mama’s milk 💛


8. Raw carrots make me gag. I honestly cannot swallow them 😂 

Well, if one of the most interesting facts about me is about carrots, maybe I should just stop here…! But, ever onwards!

See you tomorrow for a post all about… babies! 

Catch me on Instagram and Facebook for more life snippets 😘

Love, Squidmamma x

#Blogtober17
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Top Toddler Toys – things my toddler loves

First off, exciting news if you didn’t already know! I am now a regular blog contributor for Breastfeeding World, so although I’ve been quiet here, I have been writing! You can see my first post here, and check out Breastfeeding World on TwitterInstagram and Facebook. Come and give us a like or follow! Lots of great posts about motherhood, shared daily!

Secondly, apologies for a quiet few weeks here. If you’ve seen my Instagram or Facebook page, you’ll know we’re about to move house! Incredibly stressful at the best of times, but even more so with a toddler who wants to ‘help’ with everything!

I thought I’d show you some of the things that Squid is enjoying playing with recently! He’s a few months off being 2 (HOW???!!!), so he is well away with imaginative play, which is so wonderful to watch.

So without further ado, these are our Top Toddler Toys of the moment! (I must add that all views are my own, I bought everything with my own money and I’m not sponsered by any of the brands or products I mention in this post.)

1. Egg Hunt!At Easter, Squid was treated to not one, but two Easter egg hunts, and since then, has asked regularly for me to ‘hide eggs!’ So I was over the moon when I found these plastic eggs in the reduced section in Tesco – they were only 37p for a pack of 6! Naturally, I bought about 90 packets (it’s the teacher in me!!) and we have spent many a happy afternoon, searching for the eggs in the garden. I’ve filled them with animals from our toy farm, stickers and even fruit, and Squid has just loved finding and opening them!

2. Cardboard Pirate Ship

I bought this nifty little pirate ship when I was pregnant, as well as a space rocket one. It’s essentially a book, which opens out to become a play mat for small world play, and then you can Velcro the sides together for it to become a sit-in pirate ship! It’s even got a little steering wheel, and Squid absolutely loves to sit and steer his boat! I got ours in Lidl, but I’ve found them here and here. It’s worth shopping around, though, as they were only about £7 in Lidl!

3. Bead Threading


Wow, this little threading set can keep Squid occupied for AGES. I love watching his little face, screwed up in concentration, often with his tongue sticking out. He loves to make necklaces with this threading set, and as well as being a great motor skill toy, it’s a good pathway to talk about patterns, as well as being a brilliant tool for counting. I also love shoving it in my bag for out and about – it’s saved us in the car and doctors’ waiting rooms many times! I found ours on eBay.

4. Small world wooden toys 

We spend so. many. hours playing with our growing collection of wooden small world toys, and I absolutely adore watching Squid’s imagination flourish. Wooden toys are so open ended, without any flashing, plastic adendments, and are so hard wearing too.

This little pirate ship was a car boot sale bargain and we love the cute pirate peg people. The dolls house is a carry case, which makes it perfect to take out with us. It was a bargain from Lidl, again! It came without anything inside it so I scored it for £5, and then I picked up the furniture in a charity shop the next day! This Melissa and Doug dolls house is almost identical, though more than double the price of the Lidl one (originally £14.99). This one from Asda looks like it could be a cheaper alternative!

Squid’s favourite small world toy has to be the Plan Toys allotment set, though, in the top right photo. It was in a flash sale on Amazon, so we got it for £4.79, and there are SO many parts. It’s not available at the moment, but this was the closest I could find – at 4x the price! It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the flash sales on Amazon, because you can really nab a bargain!

5. Story Sacks

Squid LOVES books. We read about 27,903 stories a day (well, it feels like it!), and I can just never resist those little arms thrusting a book under my nose as he plonks himself down in my lap for another book. Our favourites are all of Julia Donaldson’s stories (especially A Squash and a Squeeze!), Mog the Cat and any book to do with animals!

I love putting together story sacks to help Squid really get involved in a story. A story sack is literally a bag full of items to help a story come to life. This one was for the book ‘Farmer Duck’, so I used some puppets, and some wooden farm animals, to help us act out the story as we read it. Story sacks are super easy to throw together: I usually use toys and items from around the house! There’s loads of inspiration here and of course, Pinterest is your friend!

6. Dressing up!

Squid LOVES dressing up – any excuse to don a funny hat and he’s there! This is how we store our dressing up gear – on a children’s hat stand! It’s brilliant as it’s child-height and accessible, and easy to hang items on. Ours was a second hand bargain from a local Facebook page but I’ve found this one in Argos which would do nicely, too!

I pick up our dressing up things in charity shops and at car boot sales, making it cheap and easy! Squid’s favourite is his police officer hat – he says ‘Ello! Ello! Ello!’ when he wears it!

7. Grimm’s 12 piece wooden rainbow 

This is our all-time favourite toy at the moment. I wanted one of these wooden rainbows since Squid was born (or there abouts!) and I ummed and ahh-ed over purchasing one, because they ARE expensive. In the end, we bit the bullet, and I am SO glad we did! We have more than got our money’s worth from this toy, and it’s played with as much by us adults as it is by Squid! It is the most open-ended toy we own, and has at some point been, amongst other things, a marble run, a farm yard, beds for babies, a tunnel, a race track, a tower, a bridge, a house, a telephone and unfortunately, within 49 seconds of us receiving it, the rainbow also became a canvas for Squid’s masterpiece – ‘Colin the cat for Ramra’…

Money well spent as far as I’m concerned, and we will be getting Squid these semi circles to go with the rainbow and help extend our play for his upcoming 2nd birthday!

You can get a Grimm’s Rainbow in lots of places, but they’re often out of stock so you have to keep checking. We got ours here, but other reputable stockists are herehere and here.

I hope lots of the above toys will be favourites for a while, as I think they have longevity in that they’re durable AND can grow with Squid as his play and imagination develops.

What are your toddler’s favourite toys at the moment? I’d love to know – plus I’m still looking for one more birthday present for Squid!

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for cute pictures of my small boy, plus life updates and insights to my job as a teacher!

Love,

Squidmamma 🐙 x

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Story time: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!


Ahh. Bank Holiday Mondays. Every Brit loves them right? A free day off and all that. Not that it makes much difference to me – I work Wednesday to Friday so never have to go in on a Monday and anyway, I’m a mum. That’s a full time job right there in itself. 

But in the spirit of enjoying a ‘free’ day off with my husband, we took a stroll through a deep dark wood with our friends, Squid’s godparents. And what an experience it was.

I had wanted to see the bluebells in bloom for ages so we all trekked to a local wood which was full of them. Squid’s godparents have just got a new puppy so along the pup came too. Squid calls him ‘Bank’ so we’ll go with that. 


You know how the saying goes ‘never work with children or animals’? Well, yes. That. Never do. 
Three days off together really is just too long, isn’t it? Especially after 3 years of marriage. After a morning spent bickering over whose turn it was to change the small boy’s nappy, or whose job it was to replace the loo roll, we should probably have just stayed home. 

Nevertheless, we persisted. To the woods! I wanted some pictures of Squid, candidly frolicking amongst the bluebells. You know, like on Pinterest? So into the bluebells we went, as I ‘candidly’ placed my mini human on a log and asked him to smile. 


No such luck. Toddlers don’t have Pinterest. Squid wouldn’t play ball and looked, quite frankly, disgusted at the bluebells. I was beginning to feel the same way too. 


Squid wouldn’t stand with Bank for a photo either, and Bank wouldn’t keep still or look at the camera, so my Pinterest worthy snaps were out of the window!


Nevertheless, we persisted. You know I said ‘never work with children or animals’? Well, I have a third thing you must never work with: husbands. My husband and Squid’s godfather, let’s call him Bobby, insisted on throwing the tennis ball (meant for Bank, the pup) to each other, using a cricketing type throw, for the duration of this relaxing stroll. I think they thought they were actually competing in the Ashes, as our walk was complete with a running commentary of the precision of ball-throwing. Men and their balls… Squid tried to join in but I had to draw the line when the ball bounced off his head. 

Nevertheless, we persisted. Squid wanted to be carried, no, walk, no, be carried, which was excellent fun. Eventually, after another minor marital disagreement, Squid settled on daddy’s shoulders, holding on to his ears as reins and commanding ‘go go go!’ And all was happy and good in the world. 

And then Bank did a poo. And then Bank ate the poo. 

Why? Why do dogs do that? It must’ve been delicious, because he was sniffing the ground for more. More delicious poo! Yum!

Which got me thinking: there are SO many similarities between toddlers and puppies:

– Neither have a fear of danger

– Both want to be carried at every opportunity 

– They’re both unpredictable 

– Both have a tendency to do unpleasant things with their own faeces

– Both can be very easily clicker trained *

– Both are really bloody adorable (which is a good job. Because poo.)


After the poo eating incident we were all a bit horrified and so had to very quickly find our way to the nearest pub. 


I don’t think I’ll bother with the bluebells again. Can’t quite see what all the fuss is about, anyway. 
(Of course, though, I did gush on Facebook about the lovely afternoon we had, complete with angelic looking photo of Squid treading candidly through a blanket of bluebells… because you have to keep up appearances, right?!)

Catch me on Twitter and Instagram @squidmamma and on Facebook for daily Mama-baby-life-work-family updates! 
Love, 

Squidmamma x

*As Bank is just a pup and is learning the dos and don’ts of ‘walkies’, Squid’s godparents use a clicker, which they click when he does something good. Every time the clicker clicked, Bank ‘sat’ beautifully for a dog treat, which Squid gave him – so in the end, every time the clicker clicked, both Bank and Squid were there waiting patiently for the treat!