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....


Saturday, 25 March 2017

Welcome to my wardrobe....

I have been asked to write a blog about My Wardrobe....How do I set up my wardrobe?

This is letting you into my secret as people always say that I must have a large wardrobe, wrong!  I actually have a small wardrobe so it really is jam packed.

Now the wardrobe set up in our bedroom looks fabulous with my dressing table opposite....almost walk in wardrobe style.  However, I have to share this space with Pete! No lie, he shops as much as me!

For many years I have always styled my wardrobe by product group, not sure why but it seems to be my thing and I now do Ava's the same!  It starts with skirts, trousers, onto knitwear, tops (grouped by vest, short and long sleeves to then shirts).  Then onto dresses then tucked at the back at the moment are blazers as I am totally all about knitwear rather that blazers this Autumn and Winter.

What I love about my wardrobe doors, they are great for hanging outfits on, ideal for outfit planning!

Underwear, pj's, gym wear and joggers all live in draws!

My dressing table...well....I have a certain curious one year old who loves pulling things off it and is especially a magpie for anything shiny.  Therefore you may notice everything is pushed back or put away making it all look quite bare at the moment with a lot stuffed in a draw.

Above it I have a frame which I want to use to store jewellery in.  I need to add in some nails so I can hang necklaces from them.  This is still on my to do list....opps!!

Shoes are seasonal, at the moment summer ones are all boxed away and the boots are out.  Oh to have a shoe closet like these celebrities!!  This photo actually makes it look a right mess!!

Handbags are hidden in storage under my bed making me forget what I own.  My day to day bags live either next to the bed or balanced on top of my shoes.

There you have it, a sneak peak into my wardrobe.  I would love to hear how you set your wardrobes up, please let me know.

Now Pete is asking for his wardrobe to be organised after seeing me write this....ummm how about no as there is no way you will keep it like that!!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

2017 so far......What I did next....

I've felt like I've had semi writers block these last few weeks, or more like I've been so crazy busy there hasn't been a moment to think about what to write.

Which then reminds me that actually my blog is about 'what I did next' .... so what exactly have I been up too which explains my lack of new blog posts as both Ava and I have had busy schedules....

It was a wonderful January for 1st birthdays, seeing all Ava's little ones hit that milestone.  I was truly lucky to make a wonderful bunch of new mummy friends through as class I did with Ava.  It has been amazing to see all our little ones share these milestones.  So it has been party central, multiple party frocks and lots of cake and dancing for Ava. So much fun.

What was great about going to all the parties was that I was also getting super fun time out with Ava, as so far this year at work has sort of been hectic.

I have had two trips away, both back to back over two weeks and one being the longest time I have yet had away from Ava. 

The end of January and start of February was all about packing, unpacking, re-packing and organising Ava for the week ahead.  It was over to Daddy Day Care, our childminder and super grandparents to look after the little princess and a fab time was had by all.

Trip one was a wonderful hotel in West Sussex, conference time for work teamed with yummy food, Bollywood dancing and good wine!! With long work days of course included....

Trip two was over to France to a dodgy hotel (after being spoilt the week before!) and a week of long meetings, teamed with an 8 hour coach trip to end the week in Frankfurt for the huge Ambiente trade show.
I couldn't have been happier to get home late that Friday night from my last trip totally exhausted but knowing I was in for big cuddles in the morning with the little lady.

Since then it has been fabulous to be home, all unpacked and able to relax a bit. Team that with a girls night out followed by a night with friends.....yup two nights in a row, check me out!! So the rest of February has been pretty super.

Over to my girls night it was great to take my latest cheeky sale purchase from Topshop for an outing!! I promised I would share it on here....a beautiful lace bottle green dress.  I added some sparkle with accessories and of course had to include a splash of leopard print.

Up next, I am currently enjoying a few days off work with my little lady and taking a chance to relax.

If you follow my Instagram you will have seen these photos and followed my stories, please do check me out on there and follow for my day to day adventures.

Have you had the chance to view my previous Natalie Loves post? I am currently working on my March edit ready to share with you....and a shopping 'hint hint' the shoes I featured in this months edit are now £10 in the sale....quick shop!!