Bad Mum

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31 December 2017

Monthly Horoscopes with Russell Grant for January 2018!

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21 December 2017

To my kids: It’s not you, it’s me.

Dear Sons,

                How are you? The weather is terrible here. Which you undoubtedly know because you’re currently trashing my living room because we can’t escape.

                Darling fruit of my loins (I plan to call you this exclusively in your adulthood), it has occurred to me that I am the first generation of those who will leave a digital paper trail. This means that every withering status I’ve posted about parenthood, every unflattering baby photo of a catastrophic nappy explosion, every snigger posted online about a missing tooth, or eating your Halloween sweets after you’d gone to bed (major dick move, genuinely sorry), or self deprecating comment about it all just being too damn much will be available to you some day. Your IT skills already intuitively surpass my own. So in advance, I am sorry.

                Social media is new to us and thus we’re clumsy with it and the thoughts of long term effects are only occurring to us now. Apologies miles in advance for future employers being able to simply Google your embarrassing baby photos, we really didn’t think that through.

                You’re going to have access to honesty previously only exclusively understood from parental generation to parental generation which meant there was context. Your grandmother could chuckle about wanting to throw her infant out the window to your mother as a new parent as a means of providing reassurance and the ever important idea that ‘this is not what you thought it was going to be, but it’s worth it.’

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20 December 2017

SONY PICTURES TELEVISION NETWORKS LAUNCHES FREE KIDS’ APP

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Feature: Interior styling!

Beautiful Baskets from Willow Bay

By Dawn Vincent (@itsdawnlouise), Editor, monochromemum.com

I was recently introduced to online home and garden store, Willow Bay. The first thing that caught my eye when I went on to their website was the gorgeous range of basket storage items that they stocked. As a mum, I believe you can NEVER have enough storage, and cute rattan / wicker baskets are just so much better than bog standard plastic or cardboard boxes, right?

Here are a few of my faves from Willow Bay (click the links to shop):



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19 December 2017

WISE MEN IN SHORT SUPPLY THIS YEAR


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Advert: Disco Doodle

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Feature: Slimming World Recipe!

I love this spicy chicken tray bake. It has a kind of naughty Mexican feel to it without any of the guilt!! Syn free, filling and delicious!

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15 December 2017

Last Minute Toy Ideas!

Thomas Alphaphonics - £19.99


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Feature: Word From the U.S

Letting Go Of Perfect For The Holidays

December: month of bright lights, parties, foods, family gatherings, and presents. Happy times of carols and good tidings, and even snow if you are lucky. Christmas is my favorite time of year, I love putting up the tree and cooking food, baking with the kids, and planning surprises. But this morning I found myself sending a message to family members saying “I’m so sorry there will be no gifts this year”. I would love to be able to wrap up hundreds of gifts for friends and family members but this year only the children will be on the list. Making ends meet is sometimes a struggle and I don’t want us to get to January 1st and have to stress out about questions like whether rent should be late this month or should we delay that already late bill instead? We have a warm and comfortable home, and enough to eat, that is the most important. I would rather spend money making sure Christmas is fun for everyone, and but not so much that it is a source of stress.

We are the norm here, a family that works hard and still struggles to make ends meet. We enjoy life when we can, have times when we have unexpected expenses, and other times when we are flush. But there are so many other people who have less than us, and this season may not always be one of happiness for them. Where we live right now in northern California there is a population of approximately 495,000. 3,600 of those people live on the streets. (Side note: that number is the same as the total amount of people whoare currently sleeping rough in the whole country of England). Sacramento isn’t an anomaly: homelessness is a huge issue all over the US. So while I am sitting in my warm apartment worrying about perfect Christmasses and if I can delay that bill another week, I also can’t not think about those who are much less fortunate than us.

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14 December 2017

Mothers and mums-to-be wanted to provide views on how pregnancy and motherhood affects physical activity

Researchers will use real-life stories to create accessible advice on physical activity during motherhood

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Gender Stereotyping

When you become a parent there are questions you ask yourself which I am sure 99% of parents ask themselves - will my child make friends? Will my child be good at sports/maths/science/music (whatever your tipple might be)? Will he/she be happy? Have I done everything I could for him/her? Then there are the questions you find yourself asking in those quiet moments of deliberation which you NEVER thought you'd be asking yourself as a parent.  Have I made parenting choices which have shaped my daughter into being a product of her gender, as opposed to letting her be whoever she is?! 


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13 December 2017

Ten ways to Keep the Santa Magic Alive:

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Discipline? How do you do it?

Do you have hard and fast rules? Do you have consistency? Do you follow through on every threat? Do you feel bad if you don’t?

Or are you like us? Just winging it.

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12 December 2017

Feeling the strain: Half of parents spend over 2,000 hours a year on child admin

The burden of extensive child admin is proving enough to put overwhelmed parents off kids for good
  • Child admin has a direct effect on the love lives of 53% of parents
  • For nearly a third (30%) of parents, child admin is the reason they decided not to have any more children
  • Cooking, gardening and cleaning tasks are all preferred to managing the paperwork involved in child admin
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Give a Mum a Break…

I’m a first-time mum to an amazing, funny and bold little fifteen month old boy. Becoming a mum was something I’d always dreamed of, but my journey to reach motherhood was a tough one. I experienced challenges with infertility and pregnancy loss, which too many women know too well. Every day I can honestly say that I look at my little guy and I’m thankful. Even on those tough days when I have no idea what to do, I know that I’m fortunate to be experiencing this chaos. I know motherhood will not be an easy ride, and sometimes it may push my limits, but I’m ready for this challenge. I have always been ready!

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8 December 2017

Official Figures Show Your First Name May Determine Your Salary

For boys, those named Oscar will scoop the largest salaries, at an average £37,786. 

For girls, those named Lily will pocket the highest salaries, at an average £30,821. 

Revealed: jobseekers who include a middle initial deemed ‘smarter, more eloquent and more qualified.’ 

Name abbreviations hinder a woman’s chance of employment, but boosts a man’s! 

Social scientists believe a name can influence personality, how we are perceived, and even our physical appearance. But, what about our salary?  

Have you ever wondered how employable you would be if you were judged solely on your name? Or, once employed, how much you could earn, depending on your moniker? This concept inspired education and training specialists, theknowledgeacademy.com to investigate the value afforded to the nation’s most popular baby names, by utilising Adzuna’s ‘ValueMyName’ tool. 



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Slimming World Recipes!

Batch Cooking…. Bore off.

That used to be my opinion of batch cooking, but you know what… Now I love it.
Another thing that Slimming World has changed within me.

Decided to share my bolognese sauce recipe as it is a firm favourite and SYN FREE!!
I know everyone has their own take on this… but carrots and celery do not belong in bolognese! 
THE END! Ha Ha.

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Single Mama!

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5 December 2017

Safer Maternity Care Video


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Feature: Lean Mum's

Hi everyone,

Well winter is officially here isn’t it!!! We’ve even had snow this week!

As the cold sets in and Christmas gets closer I often find that people struggle with motivation. Sure there are lots of people working hard now in preparation for all of the indulging to come but for most people it seems easier to just wait until January.

It’s that mindset that I want to talk more about. If you are one of those people who is happy to wait until the New Year to kick-start everything then the obvious reaction for most is to go completely the opposite way in the mean time, give up on all training and eat what you want.

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1 December 2017

SHOUT OUT TO THE SINGLE MUM’S

I suppose this should actually be a shout out to all "single parents" not just the mum's but they are the ones I know more about. It's quite a personal blog from me today. I've been a single mum nearly three years now...and after three years, it really does feel like the first chapter of my new life is drawing to a close and a new one is about to begin. These few years have been terrifying a lot of the time, but the years I've been proudest of so far in my grown up life and I've learnt so much about myself and others through the process. Maybe you or someone you know is in the same boat...if so, here are some things that I thought I'd share that I wish I'd seen a couple of years ago...You can do it!

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FUN DMC - The Daytime Family Block Party.

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30 November 2017

December Horoscopes!

Russell Grant's Monthly Horoscopes December 2017

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Hot Gossip Feature - Honey Rocks

Sarah Gilbert, who runs Box of Smiles - a gift boxing business, is passionate about supporting other creative small businesses. 

Read about her latest find, the stylish online store  Honey Rocks, and how the two founders, Hannah and India, got their colourful brand off the ground. 






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24 November 2017

Fashion Feature!

Colour

Hold on, hold on, I know, we all wear black, and the word 'colour' is like a swear word in most of our wardrobes (especially mine!), but bear with me, you may be surprised what you learn.

So, picture this, last year, on a trip to Florida to see my auntie, she told me that she was taking me to a surprise. 'Shopping', I gleefully thought, and started to work out the exchange rate at a rate of my own!!!

But alas, as we pass the sign for 'outlet shopping', I knew that's not where we were heading (and would have to work out later how to persuade my shopping-hating husband to venture into a mall!)

We park, we walk through a grey office, and are shown into a grey room. At this point I'm trying to work out how far it would be for me to run to the outlet.

A lady walks in, dressed in grey, places a grey cloak over me, introduces herself as Sheryl the colourist and my surprisingly fabulous afternoon begins.

She asks me what colours I wear.
Haha, colours (!!!), and I proceed to tell her all the flattering shades of black that adorn my wardrobe.

After a quick 'tut tut' and a little eye-rolling, the process of partnering me with my perfect few colours begins.

What an eye opener! 

Very quickly I see how important wearing the right colours actually is. I've always known that as much as I have lusted after the perfect white shirt (and have failed time and time again to find one), I have always known that it's not the shirts that haven't been suiting me, it's the colour (if you can call white a colour?). And now I understand why.

Have you ever put on a coloured top and have had your ego massaged a little when the compliments flood in.
I have worn colours on the odd occasion and have always thought that the compliments are just because of the vast contrast to my comforting usual black. 

It's not. 
It's actually because certain colours actually make you look fabulous. If you find a colour that compliments your skin tone it will actually do miraculous things to the colour of your eyes, your hair and even your teeth.

 If you look at the pics below, you will quickly see which colours make me look like I've been dead a few months, and which colours Sheryl sent me away with in my 'colours I should wear' package.

The final pic is me, broken away from black (well, for one night only!!!) and am wearing a colour that was highly recommended by Sheryl. Honestly, at the party that I wore it to, I have never had so many compliments on my outfit!!


Excuse the facial expressions in the colour testing pics, I was trying to act serious. 


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21 November 2017

Feature: Slimming World Recipes

So now it’s actually freezing, I only want warming hearty food! I whipped up this syn free and full of speed soup.

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Advert: LittleFolk Tales

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17 November 2017

World Prematurity Day

Nothing can prepare you for the arrival of your little one. You can be super prepared or not at all. The reality is, once you baby decides it’s time to arrive, a lot of the time it’s never how you’d thought it would be. 

Becoming a parent is hard enough, becoming a parent to a baby that arrives early is even harder. 

In November 2016, my husband and I became parents to our beautiful daughter Aarya. She arrived 6 weeks early as I was suffering from severe preeclampsia and doctors said the baby was safer out than in, for both of our sakes. 

Some of you will know that I didn’t really see my daughter or hold her for two days. Becoming a parent to a premature baby brings a whole load of physical and emotional feelings. 

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12 November 2017

Winter vs Spring Babies

With my youngest having recently reached her half birthday we have safely come out the other side of the exhausting, amazing, overwhelming phase that is having a newborn baby.  For me, it’s very much like riding a never ending seesaw, constantly flitting from revelling in the cuteness of tiny toes, first smiles and sleepy cuddles to being desperate for the near hourly feeds and relentless poo-namis to end.
Having had both winter and spring newborns I have realised each season brings with it a different set of parenting hurdles to negotiate because whoever said this parenting malarkey (also known as keeping the humans alive!) was going to be easy!
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10 November 2017

Feature: Slimming World Recipes!

I get so bored with my Healthy Extras. Sometimes I find it hard to fit them in or use something I don’t really want. Mainly inhaling 2 HiFi bars and then not feeling fulfilled. So, I came up with this tasty recipe for something a bit different. 

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9 November 2017

Feature: Word From the U.S

This Is Not A New Phenomenon

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7 November 2017

Does size matter?

I recently realised that my poor, slightly neglected second child hadn’t been weighed in over two months so we trundled along to our local baby clinic.  My chunky monkey weighed in at a hefty 16lbs 3ozs which was a pretty impressive starting weight for her 4 month old frame.  She had moved up from the 50th percentile to the 75th.  I was absolutely delighted …. but why?
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2 November 2017

The Single Mum Mansion – how it saved me from heartbreak.


No one sets out to get divorced or separate from the father/mother of their children. If only there was a box one could tick to stop it happening, but happen it does, every day. I bore three kids in quick succession and by the time my marriage dissolved into a sticky mess, I was left holding three children under five. It was a dark time, a private agonising dystopia fuelled by grief of the like I had never experienced before. Every day felt like someone had died as I forced myself to function for the sake of the children. No one else understood, how could they when they had a husband who was present, being part of a family and sharing your life? I felt like the only person to ever suffer this level of brokenness.

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Feature: Lean Mums

Hi everyone,

This month I want to talk to you about how you can get more active even if you don’t have time to get to the gym.

I wrote in my recent blog for Lean Mums about getting in shape for Christmas rather than after Christmas and avoiding the weight gain and feelings of guilt and sluggishness. It basically involves eating well and exercising regularly for the next couple of months so that you can relax and enjoy Christmas. It’s a great idea and something that a lot of the Lean Mums members are jumping on board with. Here’s the link to the blog if you want to check it out:

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31 October 2017

Feature: Wish you were here!

The Great British Seaside

Mums on tour – my oldest and dearest friend and I had been planning a few days away in the Summer with our gang – eleven years old, seven years old and three years old. Luckily for us my friend’s father has a large ground floor flat overlooking the beach in Westgate on sea, five minutes from Margate, with a heated pool which he was happy for us to camp out in– Result! He was also kind enough to stock both the fridge and cupboards with essentials; wine, prosecco, gin and chocolate! We packed everything we could get into the car including all three children, coats, sun cream, hats, wellies, sandals, board games, lilos, high heels, ipads, ipods, kindles, books and more booze (because really you never know what you are going to end up with weather wise – and you always need a lot of booze)

We were so fortunate to get four days of glorious sunshine and we planned to do a traditional bucket and spade seaside holiday and enjoy everything that Margate had to offer. A five-minute cab ride from the flat in Westgate on Sea meant we were near enough to all the seaside attractions. Trains run from London St Pancras, Cannon Street and Victoria to Margate and the train station is right on the front. It has always been a popular seaside destination and is enjoying a much needed renaissance.

Here follows a few of our highlights, with recommendations of attractions and eateries. My son said it was the best time of his life and it was a fantastic, affordable and highly entertaining mums
 on tour trip for two old school friends and their gang of children! If you get the chance to visit Margate then do – it really is lovely

·         Dreamland!!!! Recently revamped with all the old original vintage rides. Having spent time here as a teenager the nostalgia was overwhelming (mixed with the Pina colada slush puppies from the bar!) Helter Skelter, Chair Swing, Wurlitzer, Carousel and the famous Scenic Railway are all back and looking spanking. The park is free to enter and wristbands can be purchased for ride all day or alternatively rides can be paid for individually. Small people are £14.50 and big people are £17 a band. We spent 6 hours here and still hadn’t done all the rides – great selection of street food from local producers on offer all day too - https://www.dreamland.co.uk/

·         Dinner – GBK – On the seafront – thinnest crispest pizzas topped with fresh local produce – Kentish pear and blue cheese with local honey was my favourite– Buy 1 get 1 half price – and the sun setting over Margate beach! http://greatbritishpizza.com/

·         The Shell Grotto – Hidden in a back street and discovered in … this underground grotto was discovered in 1835 although the original purpose remains a mystery. There are over 6 million shells adorning the walls and although this will only take up an hour or so of your time it really is a hidden gem of Margate - http://shellgrotto.co.uk/

·         Pit Stop– The cupcake café – Eclectic furniture, outdoor seating, your nans best china and the most divine cake selection – this was a hit for both young and old. Pistachio and rose layer cake was the hit of the day. The staff were fabulous and the lunch menu looked great too – I’ll be going back here –

·         The Turner Contemporary Gallery – Although I will admit to not being that open minded about art – I did enjoy the gallery. The building is architecturally interesting and Anthony Gormley s statue in the sea at low tide is worth a visit for alone. I think the children were more interested in watching the life boat go out to sea (I was too if I’m being honest) If you like art chances are you’ll love it here. I loved the bar though! - https://www.turnercontemporary.org/

·         Dinner – Giorgios – Quite simply the best service and real homemade simple Italian fayre. The children sat for two hours with no electronics or colouring, the staff were so attentive and the constant stream of food and drinks were wonderful. Amazing value for money and huge portions. This is in an underground basement of a building near the beach – seek it out and you will not be disappointed - https://giorgiosmargate.co.uk/

·         Finally – My son’s “best day of his life so far” moment – the penny arcades! Yes, they are still noisy, yes, your feet still stick to the floor but where else can you get two hours of entertainment for £3.50 each!

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Advert: Ladies Who Learn

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30 October 2017

Fashion Feature!

My love/hate relationship with Marks & Spencer

Throw back to circa 1985, I'm 8, I hate shopping. My mum loved shopping (can't imagine where I got it from!), we boarded the train for Glasgow City Centre at 9am, returning, on our hands and knees, at 6pm most Saturdays. We often returned empty handed; window shopping for my mum was just as exciting as actually purchasing. 

Shopping as a child in the 80's was a completely different experience to what my kids have nowadays. There was no 'fashionable' clothes for children to choose to build their own identities (you wore what you were given, or more to the point, what was available), there were no 'accessories' to touch, to play with, to try, to want, in every shop you go into, there were no sweeties at the till for a last minute impulse buy, there was no dispensable money to spend £10 on a load of rubbish just to keep the kids happy whilst I'm shopping.

There was less choice. Less choice for kids, and less choice for adults. My mum hated disposable fashion, the thought of her buying clothes every season, and only lasting one season, would not even be considered. 'What Every Woman Wants' (was that just a Scottish shop? - quite like Primark) was passed by on route to M&S, where she knew the clothes were reasonably priced, and the material would last her a good few years. Were the collections stylish? No. Did she even like what she bought? Not really? So why did she buy them? 

M&S was like an institution. If you think of good British shops, you immediately think of M&S, there's even one in Gibraltar. If my dad saw bags from M&S it was immediately thought of as being 'OK', anywhere else and he would ask 'what have you bought now, did you need it?', but if it was from M&S it was OK. 

My 8 year old self and my 7 year old brother had different thoughts about M&S, we didn't like going in there, in fact it's suffice to say we LOATHED it. So big, so bright, so many adult clothes, nothing to look at, nothing for us, no sweets at the tills, so many old ladies trying to talk to us, no iPads to keep us entertained (yes, my kids are spoilt brats!)...and always 10 more minutes, and another, and another, and another. 5 hours later we left, half a person to who walked in. 

I reach my teens, I started to show an interest in what I wore, I swore that in my whole life ahead of me I would never, EVER, shop in M&S. the mere building gave me the creeps and filled me with that dreaded feeling of when I was 8. I wanted Tammy Girl, I wanted Chelsea Girl, I wanted Dash. 

Fast forward to now. I'm 40, still love fashion, still want to shop in the stylish, disposable, high street shops. I don't need M&S...or do I? 

Over the past couple of years I've been slowly but surely adding every fashion blogger out there on Instagram. "Where's it from?" Their followers ask, "M&S" is a frequent reply! 

Now, I'm not sure if they're paid to endorse M&S, but what I do know is that they look amazing in their clothes and shoes. 

So, over the past year, I have become a convert. I still try and not go in with my mum (sorry mum!), and try a 'tapping' method to get the childhood stress suppressed when I walk in, but I have to say, some (and I do mean some) clothes and shoes are just right for my 'too old for Topshop, too young for Jigsaw' kinda age. 

In M&S, what you see is what you get. If you're a size 12, you're a size 12. If you're a size 8 shoe, the size 8 shoes will fit you (and boy, with these 'Insolia' bottoms you could literally wear all in them all day!). 

Here's my pick of what I love in Marks & Spencer right now, and a photo of my latest purchase...when 8 people walk past me trying on these blue ankle boots and tell me I HAVE to buy them, who am I to tell them otherwise?!?!

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Monthly Horoscopes with Russell Grant

Russell Grant's Monthly Horoscopes November 2017

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25 October 2017

TITS Feature: My Story

Imagine the absolute joy/oh shit moment when you are told you are having twins! That was my situation back in 2015. Fast forward to April 2016 and the twins arrived, after a couple of weeks in neonatal the girls were home and we were enjoying life as a foursome! That was until I found my lump…

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23 October 2017

Feature: Made For Parents

Changing Bag Essentials

As a parent of a baby or a toddler, your changing bag will probably become your most used item. But knowing what to take out can be difficult, as you don’t want to over pack and make your bag incredibly heavy, but then you want enough out with you to be prepared for every eventuality. Of course, every parent and child is different so every bag contents is going to vary slightly.
This list consists of the items which I have found useful when out and about with the little one over the past two years.

The Changing Bag

When it comes to choosing your changing bag there a few things to consider, as you want your bag to be something that works with you, not against you. Especially when you’re mid feed and all of sudden your baby suddenly pukes everywhere and you need to quickly rummage in your bag and find a muslin cloth, it needs to be easy to find. Somethings to think about:

·         A few pockets to help keep you organised and help to ensure that everything has its place. However, I do think that having too many pockets could add complications, especially when you are trying to quickly find things. Also, you could end up just filling the pockets with things you don’t need.

·         Your bag needs to be comfortable and easy to carry. Bags which are adaptable and can be carried in a couple of different ways are brilliant and can make life slightly easier.

·         Importantly, you want a bag which is easy to attach to your pushchair, as you definitely don’t want to carry a heavy bag all of the time. If your bag has a long handle, you can just hook it over the handlebar or you can use buggy straps. Some bags have them already attached, but you can buy them separately.


These ones I bought from Jojo Maman Bebe for £6.


Most importantly you need to choose a bag that you like and want to carry around, as it is likely to become your everyday bag.  

Nappy Changing

Nappies – 4 seems to be the golden number, not sure entirely sure why, I just think that with this amount you are unlikely to run out, but you will have enough if you have any unexpected moments. You might need more if you have a younger baby, as they need to be changed more frequently or if you’re going out for an extended amount of time.

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