Saturday, 5 August 2017

Im going Social....

Here is a blog post about a slight update and change to this page….

My life has significantly changed since returning to work from maternity leave, I am incredibly lucky to now work just four days.  However this is five days work into four.  It is non-stop from the moment I get up to the moment we have dinner and the few hours of free time I get once Ava is in bed is to have dinner, do housework, go to the gym, relax and spend time with Pete, all of which I wouldn't change for the world.  My Fridays I dedicate to Ava and I time, people say over and over again ‘they grow so fast!’ 
Well they really bloomin do, so I just want to embrace every moment I get with her, have fun and watch her change and grow.
With all this in mind, this is the reason behind my decision to step back from writing.  I have decided to take a step back from my Blog and direct all my ‘What Natalie Did Next’ content via Social Media.  I have loved having my Blog and sharing with you my life, becoming a mum, travel, product recommendations and of course all my shopping.  My page will still remain live but I am changing my ‘What Natalie Did Next’ focus onto just social media, mainly Instagram, with all that I love to share and my life stories that you follow on my blog.  I find myself reading more from posts on Instagram that are quick to read rather than sometimes reading a longer blog post. 

My blog is solely me working on it and I am totally honest in saying I struggle to find the time to focus on writing and then promoting my posts.  The time I have I want to dedicate to my Instagram, to have bigger and better posts.  Share even more, post fun Instastories and create interesting quick posts to read.
I want to take the time to thank all my followers and those who read my posts on this page.  I have regular high volumes of traffic to my page each day with you reading my posts from all over the world (which I absolutely love to see).  As well as thanking you for reading I want to direct you over to my social pages to keep in touch, see what I am up to and read my content….and of course be alerted when I do……and I will….come back to writing again on my blog one day. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

An overnight sleep sensation....

I have a new product that I LOVE and need to feature….

You may have seen this on my Instagram feed and I also did some Instastory reviews (although downside here is that they vanish after 24 hours).  Therefore lets go back to basics and write a review.

First up….I saved all my Boots Advantage Card Points (bonus of Mum Life with the amount of baby stuff I have to buy which equals extra points as part of the parent scheme!) and treated myself when Soap & Glory had a 1/3 off promotion.  I purchased this new night cream, an eye cream and a 5 in 1 super serum.

I was recommended to try the Soap & Glory Night Flight cream, it was a perfect time to try as at the time I had a long haul flight coming up.
I noticed the difference in my skin in just a few days, it felt less dry and had I felt like it had a healthy glow to it.

I used it the morning of our flight instead of my normal moisturiser, was concerned it might be a bit think and make my skin greasy. I was proved wrong, to me it is impossible to look good after any flight – long or short. Unless you are lucky enough to not fly economy and can invest in all these ‘amazing’ creams and serums you read about for flying....that come with very high price points.
I am proving these articles wrong, at just £14 this cream ticks all boxes for me....whilst flying economy.

My skin felt soft and lovely, not a single dry patch and even though I felt like a zombie inside from travelling my skin felt fresh and to me radiant.

I used it for our return night flight too, and had the same wonderful experience.

Here is what it says from the website -

Guaranteed to be an overnight sensation, Soap & Glory’s Beauty Sleep Accelerator™ has elasticity and barrier repair-boosting HIGHDRATION-24H™, and detoxifying OXYGINSENG™ TECHNOLOGY. It floods your skin with moisture; stopping dry, dehydrated skin in its tracks, so you wake up to – or land with – dewy, luminous skin. *Formulated to work intensively for overnight and long haul flights, but is equally effective should you choose to deploy its super healing powers at alternative times/ places.- with powerful rejuvenation boosters- regenerating and repairing dry, dehydrated skin- smoothes, hydrates and luminises- balanced for all skin types

Thumbs up all round, it really does all of the above – highly recommend!!

As you may have noticed since I returned to work from Maternity last September I am not posting as much directly on my Blog. My day to day stories are always featured on my Social Media so head over to my Instagram to see more frequent outfits, purchases, reviews on products I love or find, especially follow my Instastories - see them quick before they go!!

Friday, 23 June 2017

A long haul flight with a 17 month old....

Excusing the total mummy post here, but I really wanted to write a post about our first long haul flight with Ava.

Prior to travelling I spent quite a bit of time looking online and reading 'flying with a baby' tips so I felt it only fair to share my own trip.

Firstly, when we told people we were going to Jamaica many were surprised we were taking Ava, and wishing us good luck with the flight.  I took those wishes of good luck, as honestly I didn't know what to expect, but I replied truthfully that I was just planning to 'wing it'.
Pete and I want to travel with Ava and get her used to it from a young age, and importantly why not fit in a lovely Caribbean trip while she is under two and therefore free!! Also before we have overpriced school holiday times to contend with.

So here is how our 9 hours in the air looked like....when you board that plane and feel like 'the ones with the baby on a plane'....

I packed 'bags in bags' in my hand luggage....this was fab as I had a small bag with my essentials in that I could pull out with my purse and phone for example.
I filled a tote bag with all Ava's changing stuff in so that was all together for nappy changes.  This was my Selfish Mother tote then just stayed as the changing bag for the holiday as it hooked easily onto the pushchair.
Food and snacks were all in a bag.  Then there was an 'entertainment' bag.....which I talk about in a bit.
Also I pre pack all liquids together for ease at security.

In my mind our flight took off at 9.30am linking it (hopefully) with nap one of the day for Ava after the excitement of the airport tired her out.

She isn't a cuddly baby so we knew this maybe an issue, she was soon restless and wanted to not sit on my lap.  We entertained her with grapes for take off, to help her swallow for her ears and it was then as the plane took to the skies she was instantly entertained randomly waving to the window.

It took a while to get her to nap, she was restless but fairly ok.  She then got overtired so the tears started and that made her just pass out into sleep....phew!! She slept across us for over and hour, in that time Pete and I enjoyed some 11am wine and both started watching some films.

She woke for food, which eating entertained her for quite a while.  As she was on our laps and without a seat she didn't get a meal.  However I packed a good amount of sandwiches to last the day which was perfect. A tip I would highly recommend as she had round two prior to landing as her 'dinner'.  Also....the tubs I had used for sandwiches and snacks were simple take away style ones and they were so helpful on holiday.  Staying im all inclusive meant I could fill a tub up with snacks for Ava when needed from the buffet.

Back to the flight...after some walking up and down the aisle as she waved to fellow passengers and a few nappy changes, a bottle of water with a straw was great drinking entertainment and key to keeping her hydrated.  It was time to try to get her to nap, she was starting to understand the limited space she was in and happily just lay on me for nearly two hours chilling cuddling and chewing one of her bedtime toys.

We didn't get her to have a second nap but a two hour chill out seemed to help and she was full on smiles and giggles for the last few hours which involved eating again, being fussed by fellow passengers and some walking and errr dancing in the aisles.

I made a little bag for her for the plane, filled with a book, a few small toys, crayons, a puzzle and some snacks.  There was a sticker book too but that ended up in the bottom of Petes hand luggage so we never got it out.  I read stickers were a top tip for flying with children, this may have won us some entertainment time but she sure has had fun with the stickers whilst on holiday.  (Stickers were used for the return flight - a winner!!)
This bag was actually mine when I was at cute!! Ava loved it as she is already a Minnie Mouse fan too.

The puzzle not so successful, a tip I had read, but it ended up with the pieces on the floor in seconds.

I also packed a small tuperware box with dried fruit, cherrios, rice cakes and a few of her biscuits.  Another tip I read to help keep her amused as she looked through the tub for what she wanted to snack on.

She isn't into TV much but the screens we had on the back of the seats provided some slight entertainment as Spongebob was on repeat at times throughout the flight for her.

When we landed it was her bedtime UK time but six hours behind in Jamaica it was just gone 1pm.  Highly recommend a baby carrier for an airport!! We have never really used ours with her but it is so much easier to have her in as you go through immigration and get your pushchair off with your cases.

She luckily had an hours sleep on the tranfer to our resort but as we got to our our room she was clearly exhuasted, that moment when you feel like the worst parent!! She was so upset but we managed she settle her in the cot for a lie down and she perked up in about twenty minutes so we freshened her up with a shower and all totally dazed we headed to grab some dinner quickly.
We wanted to then try to put her to bed as close to her normaly bed time but in Jamaican time....she settled well that night and slept till 6am.  It then took a few days of early morning naps but she adjusted super quick.

The return flight home, I prepared the same as the first flight but as this was a night flight I also took her sleeping bag to snuggle her im to help her associate her sleep as a bedtime one.  A small tip but she got 4 hours sleep so that was great.  We were super lucky on the flight home as we had a lovely air hostess who offered us a row of seats to ourselves as the plane wasn't full - win win!!

As we landed back at Gatwick the baby carrier was helpful again.  They do provide pushchairs that you return at baggage reclaim which is fab....we knew that was an option too if needed.

What I have can't predict a flight and how it will be for yourself let alone a baby!!  Just go with the flow, my top tips above definitely helped us feel prepared with food and entertainment so I hope they might help anyone reading this planning a flight with a baby.

Holiday was at Sensatori in Jamaica via was totally fabulous, simply perfect....

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Post baby Bikini season....

I decided to take a blog and social media break and not take the time to post during these last few weeks and just enjoy some quality family time with Pete and Ava without the guilty distraction of a phone.

We did a long haul trip to Jamaica with an 18 month old and it was super....flight and all hurrah....I will pop details on my here these next few weeks about travelling with Ava!!
Two absolutely wonderful weeks away just simply relaxing the 3 of us and having lots of was amazing seeing Ava have so much fun and be fussed over everyday by the staff....we were lucky to bring her back, they wanted to keep her ha!!

You may have read my posts pre-holiday about my wardrobe and talking about the dreaded wearing of a bikini....which has now lead me to write this post.
Since returning from holiday I have seen many of those who I follow on Instagram, such as Mothers Of Daughters and Giovanna Fletcher, posting about being proud of post baby bodies and I couldn't agree more with their comments.

There is too much post baby pressure, comparing bodies to others and I am totally guilty of this.

In this day and age of Social Media we daily follow the lives of people we don't know from all over the world, why do we follow random people? Because we have something in common or we like their style, their hobbies, their creative posts, follow their day to day lives or we like to read their blog.  It is no longer all about following the lives of our favourite 'celebrity', well it still is, but there is just so much more to Social now.

The downside of social media....we compare ourselves and our lives to other peoples, when how much is it set up? Over the last two years I have really reviewed who I follow.....I want reality, inspiration and posts that interest me or I can relate too.

As a new mum, like any social media page or magazine there really is so much pressure out there on how we look, our post baby bodies or how we are feeding.  In reality the mums who are honest are great to follow.....

I found myself following many fellow Mums to be on Instagram who were due at the same time as me. Many who have are either well known 'celebrities', high profile bloggers or I just found through suggestions or because they followed me first.
For some, and I really am talking the more 'higher profile' ones, when you see they are back to work before you, their figures look like they never had a baby and they always look made up and perfect you find yourself (through tired eyes back then) thinking how do they do it??  What do they sacrifice to achieve all this??
So how do these higher profile Mums do it, are they at the gym daily? Are they sacrificing time for the sake of their bodies, do they take their baby with them?  How do you do a gym class/session with a walking 1 year old? Or are they simply feeling the pressure of having a higher profile or do they secretly go that extra bit further?

I read recently about a 'soap star' who just had a baby and she is choosing to have 3D lipo and has been honest about it because it is quick for getting her body back into shape and it means no time away from her baby!  She made an honest point about all these secret stars who have a secret tummy tuck but never admit it.  One of the stars on Real Housewives of Cheshire was the same, she has work done post baby to look all slim again....but has admitted this!

We need to remind ourselves how fake Social Media can be and how great a simple filter can make you look....or you have the money to make those body changes.  However, to someone like a new mum lacking in confidence these ‘look at me’ posts are not helping at all.

For me I didn’t feel the need to rush back into my pre-baby jeans, my body felt pretty awful for the first few weeks and I was lucky with a fairly straight forward labour.  I went out walking every day (the fresh Winter cold air was the ultimate 'wake me up' after a sleepless night) and I did go back to the gym after my 6 week sign off. I went back because yes, I did want to help get back into some shape, have a small bit of me time and I just love the feeling of a good work out both physically and mentally.

Interestingly if you dig deeper into posts on Instagrams the 'Instamum' is all about reality too and this is where I have found many people on there to follow.  I can relate to their posts, can giggle over them and realise how I can feel is normal.  I have mentioned Mothers Of Daughters and Giovanna Fletcher who are just two of many who I follow, as I love what they write, their honestly and their humour.  They have received a lot of backlash for simply being honest in comments or about their figures which is just awful.  To see them fight back powerful and strong is really inspirational.

I was the most confident about my body than I have ever been in my life when I was pregnant, I am not sure why but I loved the experience and how it made me feel.  Now I need to sit back and truly think that yes my hips are wider and I would like to shift some weight across my stomach.... but I love wine and chocolate too much to name a few! (It was great to see Mothers Of Daughters say exactly the same thing!)  Now is the perfect time to embrace my body, remind myself that it grew my gorgeous little daughter and be proud of what it did.  I love going out for dinner and choose spare time with my family rather than always hitting the gym.

Yes my body has changed, but I have something amazing because of this and thats my daughter.  I couldn't agree more with a comment by Giovanna, its true, my body gave me one of the bestest things in my life!

I mentioned in a post before holiday that I had purchased a cut out swimsuit, a perfect distraction to cover my stomach and to be totally honest I loved wearing it but once away I didn't care and felt more confident in a bikini.

If anything walking around in a bikini those two weeks made me not feel self conscious, all I cared about was continuing the fun we were having.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the pressure of that 'Social Media' appearance as a new mum, it is great to see it as a more trending subject....a chance to feel proud and confident!

No Instagram filter but it had to be done.....18 months post having Ava my waist is wider, my hips are bigger, my belly needs toning and to me I feel different and a bit self conscious to pre baby shape but my holiday taught me one thing, to be proud!

As mentioned many times in this post.....

Monday, 1 May 2017

Holiday packing...part 2....all about the clothes....

Last weekend it was all about working out what to pack for my holiday….

I pulled out all my ‘summer clothes’ many of which are kept just for holidays….as we know we never get too much of a scorching summer in the UK, or if we do I am work, so little shorts do not get much of an airing.

My packing tip, I lay out all my options of clothes and then start to pull together looks. I style them with shoes and jewellery and photograph them. Why? Because it stops me over packing.

I have been speaking to a few friends this week, they all agree they throw in extra items of clothes in a panic and never wear all that they pack.

Since doing it this way the last few years I have found its helped decrease my packing and I know what I am wearing when I arrive. It is great to know then which tops and shorts can be mixed and matched too.

It also helps me reduce how many accessories and shoes I pack. In the past I used to throw lots of accessories into a bag and that can weigh quite a lot! 

By doing this at the weekend I ended up packing away a good quarter of the clothes I started with (no…. don’t ask if it is time for me to actually get rid of these items ha!) and highlighted any gaps for anything I needed. Which I found out, I needed an extra plain black top and it meant I could treat myself to the cute little tee I had spied in New Look that morning.

It also meant that the lovely rose gold sandals I had my eye on I didn’t really need to get as in fact I had enough sandals already, including a brand-new pair that I bought in the River Island sale at the end of last summer.

I came across this dress that I had worn the summer I was pregnant, it was a non maternity dress and quite figure hugging.  I wasn't feeling it last summer, but this year I am tempted to wear it again.  Surprisingly it did not stretch out of shape from a bump!  Has anyone else done that, bought something non maternity and then not worn it post baby?  I think its because it feels strange as you wore that particular item at a special time and had a different body shape in your mind?

I also factor into my holiday wardrobe the fact that I do not really tan. Therefore, jumpsuit and my maxi waistcoat from last summer are great as they cover pale legs at the start of the holiday. Tops with a high neck cover pale top of the shoulders too.
Then it’s over to the more revealing outfits for the second week when I stand a bit of a chance at a bit of colour.

As for swimwear – don’t ask! In my last post I wrote about all the options there are in terms of style. For me I have found a super cut out swimsuit, I tried the high waisted bikini and can report back that I found it made me look wider and shorter – so not the look for my shape!

All photos are just quick snaps on my phone....nothing fancy!

Natalie x

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Holiday packing....part 1 of many....

Holiday season is upon us, the bikini body panic is in full swing, purchases of fake tan are being made to colour those pale legs that have been hidden away for the winter and diets are a top talking point....

I have a two week holiday to prepare for - fab! Just all the above mild panic to go with...

I have decided that my next few blog posts will follow my manic holiday preparation....

My Fitness Pal app has been downloaded AGAIN! To help me monitor and rein in what I am eating, especially after a long Easter Bank Holiday weekend where chocolate was a must eat...teamed with wine of course!

I find this app really helps, even if I use it for just a few weeks. It can be time consuming adding in all your meals but I find it helps me see where I am being too naughty. It makes me feel guilty so that I log everything!

I love that you can add in any exercise you do too, and what I have noticed with the latest version is that is has branded classes too on there. Therefore I can just add in each time I do one of my favourite Les Mills classes as they are on there with details on how many calories you can burn per class.

There is always the 'I simply can't wear a bikini' panic. It wouldn't be summer without this.

Fear not, (yet I am still in a bit of fear) this year the trend of swimsuits, cut out swimsuits and high wasted bikini bottoms is amazing! You can look stylish and feel body confident with all the options available on these styles. I bought a cut out swimsuit from Boohoo and I feel pretty ok in it, pale body and all. Therefore take note of your style options, we all know wearing bikinis can feel daunting so this trend has arrived at a perfect time.

What still fits?!?! My summer wardrobe only seems to be worn in short spells each year so I try to make the most of what I own to save on buying a whole new wardrobe...well some new purchases are all part of the holiday fun of course! The plan this coming weekend is to lay it all out and see what can survive another summer holiday.

I then like to lay out all my outfit choices, accessorise them and take photos. Why? Because then I know what to pack, what outfits and accessories I can mix and match and what shoes to take. I found this really helps me limit the 'I might wear this?' which adds to your baggage allowance. Keep watching as I will share this all with you in another post.

Not only am I packing for me, I am more panicking about packing for Ava! We went on holiday last year and I took way too much for her, but it was a first trial and error holiday. Better to have more for her than less I say!

Lists, I need to start these. I need lists to have lists. Lists on what to pack, what to buy and what to do. How much work needs to go into a 2 week holiday - LOTS!!

I thought it would be fun to blog about how I go about packing, you can then also share your tips which can help too!

My travel top tip for this blog - did you know you can do Click and Collect with Boots at the airport?? As a parent, great for ordering more nappies and baby milk, the items that weigh loads in your suitcases. Yes you then have to carry them onto the plane but that's the benefit of a pushchair and loading it up.

Click & Collect can be great for any toiletries like shampoo and sun creams that weigh loads in your case.

I was amazed that many people I had spoken too were not aware of this, so thought I would share!

Keep watching for my next post to see how I get on with planning my holiday wardrobe....


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Natalie Loves....April Edit

Welcome to my second 'Natalie Loves' edit....where each month I pick my current top favourites, my wish list items or anything that has simply caught my eye. From fashion, beauty, shopping, food, drink, travel .... each month will be different....

I missed March as I was away on holiday, so here to kick start April is this months edit....