time flies when you're being a mum

Guest post from Lucy Stadward

30 Jul, 2014

My buddy, Lucy, has recently taken her family – hubby, baby and toddler – on a camping trip, Eurocamp style and when she offered to share her story, I bit her hand off! Lessons learnt from camping with two little ones, in Europe no less, what’s not to love?! Er, well, you’ll see but I personally would have gone home earlier (or more likely Mike would have sent me home) – because I’m not much fun to be around when I’m tired!

Not to put you off, because this does sound like a wonderful trip and everyone’s family is different, but I will definitely be observing Lucy’s lessons learnt if we were going to do a similar break to Eurocamp.  Enjoy, it’s a great story!

Eurocamp - baby's first camping trip! Lucy's experience and lessons learnt from camping with a toddler and a baby http://mumsdays.com/eurocamp/

Eurocamp – Baby’s first camping trip!

Guest post from Lucy Stadward

Choosing a first holiday destination for our family – me, husband Tom, Sophie (age 2) and Jack (8 months) – was a long researched affair. We took Sophie to Australia to visit my sister when she was four months old but hadn’t been away anywhere since. All of Tom’s annual leave had been taken up by planning around my pregnancy and new baby arrivals for almost two years – so we were all in desperate need of a proper away from home holiday.

We decided to avoid flying – tough enough with one very active baby never mind a toddler in tow, and Tom had done lots of Eurocamping as a kid with his family so we looked at the options there. We both speak a little bit of French (and both love Beaujolais, Croissants and Cheese…) so opted for Normandy. The parks Eurocamp offer are really varied and have some fantastic sites and activities available but we wanted one suitable for our small people so chose Chateau Lez Eaux, about a two hour drive from Cherbourg ferry port. We chose the park based on the swimming pools on site, and its proximity to a couple of lovely sounding towns and beaches, plus the great reviews on tripadvisor.

The Journey

First off, driving with the kids wasn’t as bad as I’d feared, mainly because we broke it up and planned journeys around their naps. The first stage wasn’t great however… We set off at 7pm from home in Newcastle after normal bath, story and milk routine assuming they would sleep in the car – normally they both have to be prodded awake on even very short journeys first thing in the morning – so I was somewhat stunned that Sophie, a great sleeper, just didn’t drop off. For over three hours!!! She was singing, playing with her baby doll, asking for ‘nummies’ (food or drink normally of a sweet persuasion) and demanding that we listen to ‘Tiger’ ie. The Tiger Who Came to Tea, on audio book. I got really bloody sick of that tiger! Jack slept most of the way but Sophie delighted in the fact that she managed to wake him up on and off. All in all it wasn’t too bad though and we arrived at our first Premier Inn Family room stopover at around 10.30pm. A very hot and sweaty nights ‘sleep’ later and we were on the road again, this time to call in on Tom’s 94 year old granny who lives near Salisbury, and where we stayed for a lovely couple of days.

Sailing day arrived and we packed the sleepy kids in the car at 6am to drive to Portsmouth. Other than a hot queue waiting for the ferry to start loading this was all fine, and we were all excited when finally embarking! We couldn’t take the trusty double buggy on board (no lifts) so came prepared with dummies for Jack and snacks and toys for them both to keep them going for the three hour journey. Again, this bit all went really well; we kept Sophie busy taking trips round and round the deck, watching Peppa Pig on the ipad (I developed a love hate relationship with PP over our holiday!), and having a decent although bizarre lunch (Sophie’s kid’s meal consisted of, literally, sliced ham in a box!).

Eurocamp - baby's first camping trip! Lucy's experience and lessons learnt from camping with a toddler and a baby http://mumsdays.com/eurocamp/

Arriving at Eurocamp

Arriving at Cherbourg we quickly adjusted to driving on the right and set off, with the kids instantly asleep, to our Eurocamp site. I got a text from them with contact details of our ‘camp courier’ so that was nice! But with no postcode the satnav struggled to get us there and the road signage wasn’t great either, so we took a few wrong turns. We arrived within two hours and checking in with Eurocamp was all very easy; there was a greeter who escorted us to our fantastic tent and pointed out the shower/toilet block on the way, as well as the pub, shop and takeaway, and both indoor and outdoor pools.

Eurocamp - baby's first camping trip! Lucy's experience and lessons learnt from camping with a toddler and a baby http://mumsdays.com/eurocamp/

We LOVED our Safari tent (although I don’t mind admitting that I would have loved it more sans kids!). The tent was raised on wooden decking with a large open plan living area including a lovely big wooden table and chairs, fridge freezer, cupboards stocked with pots, pans, plates, etc. and a four hob burner. There were two equal sized bedrooms, one with two single beds and one with a double bed. We partly went for the Safari tent to have the experience of ‘camping’ to some degree but with the benefit of not having to set anything up on arrival, and sleeping in proper beds!

Eurocamp - baby's first camping trip! Lucy's experience and lessons learnt from camping with a toddler and a baby http://mumsdays.com/eurocamp/

Sleep

Ah sleep… if only!!! The major, major drawback of the holiday was the serious lack of zzzd’s. Sophie is normally a tremendous sleeper and, as with the car journey, I naively assumed she would settle quickly into her usual patterns. There was a good baby bathroom with a shallow basin and shower head in the toilet block so we could stick to the kid’s normal routine of dinner, play/Peppa Pig/story and then bath, teeth, bottle for Jack and bed. Despite the one hour time difference the kids were seemingly shattered by 6:30 on the first night so we tried to aim for normal 7pm bedtime… Bathing and getting into PJs in the shower block we carried the kids back to the tent and tried to settle them in their blow up readybeds together in the twin bedroom.

Jack typically zonked out on his bottle so it was a case of trying to keep a suddenly-full-of-energy-and-mega-excited Sophie quiet… an impossible task! We ended up putting Jack in his blow up bed in the double room, and after putting Sophie back in her bed over and over and over again (hours passing – unheard of for her to be awake after 8pm!) I eventually wrestled with her in the double bed while Tom ‘slept’ in one of the single beds with Jack back in there with him. Bless him, he was repeatedly woken by Sophie’s singing and shouting but kept dropping back off. Eventually we got everyone to sleep by 10pm, me cuddled round Sophie and Tom stroking Jack’s hair. I was filled with dread I have to be honest, I was expecting Jack to be a bit of a sleep pain but I had no idea Sophie would be such hard work!

Eurocamp - baby's first camping trip! Lucy's experience and lessons learnt from camping with a toddler and a baby http://mumsdays.com/eurocamp/

The holiday

The next day, while Tom and I attempted to be nice Mummy and Daddy as opposed to exhausted monster parents, the kids were on good form and we set about enjoying the holiday. Daytimes overall were really, really great – we went on lots of trips, the kids napping in the car en route to the zoo, aquariums, lovely medieval towns for ice cream, a great farmers market. The double buggy was invaluable and meant we could spend the entire day out while kids napped as normal. We found food pretty easy to manage, lots of cheese, ham, veg and crepes were scoffed.  We also shopped in the local supermarche and had a couple of BBQs at the tent, made basic pasta meals and the kids ate tons of delicious fresh avocado, oranges and bananas. We all fell in love with the croissants from the campsite shop – you order the night before and collect them warm at breakfast. Amazing and necessary after no sleep!

Eurocamp - baby's first camping trip! Lucy's experience and lessons learnt from camping with a toddler and a baby http://mumsdays.com/eurocamp/

Unfortunately sleep became the big missing joy of the holiday so it really wasn’t restful at all – something Tom and I were both in need of! Sophie didn’t settle any evening until 9pm at the earliest; it was too light for her and she was too excited. We tried later bedtimes, stories, cuddles, ignoring as much as possible and everything you can think of. Jack slept most through most of this but was pretty much awake every hour on the hour  from 10pm (accompanied by huge loud yells!) so we got pretty much zero kid free time. At home we have been really lucky in that from 6 weeks on both kids have given us our evenings to digest life so it was a bit of a shock to the system! By the end of the week we were so shattered we were desperate to go home, which is a bit of a shame.

Eurocamp – Lessons learnt

I would definitely do France/driving/ferry travel holidays again. I would also do Eurocamp again but, until the kids are much older, I would opt away from glamping and choose a three bed cabin. Walls and curtains are needed in our family!

Thank you Lucy!!

Yes, walls and curtains are needed in our family too…you and Tom are a proper troupers but I’m sure you’ll forget about the lack of sleep at some point in the future and just have happy, nostalgic memories of warm croissants first thing in the morning!

Have you ever been on a Eurocamp holiday with young children? How did you find it?

Want more from Lucy? You can read her birth stories here: the long one and the gas and air one!

29 Jul, 2014

In pursuit of happiness - what makes you happy? All About You http://mumsdays.com/happiness/

Image courtesy of SparkleMix

It’s AllAboutYou time again and i’ve been thinking about happiness. I came across a wonderful pineterst board the other day by one of my most favourite pinners, Meg Fitzpatric, called, Board of Happiness…I highly recommend a look, it’s full of lovely ideas!

I’d say I’m pretty happy at the moment, lots of time on the beach with my family and being really busy with my blog but it’s a bit of a juggling act! I think I feel happier of late because I’ve actually made myself a timetable! I’m a proper scatter brain and I’ve learnt that I love being told what to do so now I know what I’m meant to be doing when and seeing it all laid out like that means I can check everyone or thing (like those pesky dishes!) is being catered for!

What I don’t think I spend enough time doing though is thinking about what really makes me happy and making sure I do it. It’s so easy to get stuck in the day-to-day that you forget the end game but if you don’t work on that every day, you’ll never reach your goal! For example, I never make time for reading a good book. Not a book that will ‘improve’ me in someway, I mean a good old fashioned novel that I read for the sheer pleasure of it. I’ve got a whole reading list still to get through by the end of the year!

So, I can’t wait for our holiday in just over 2 weeks time – we have the best part of 2 weeks away and I plan to completely (almost) unplug, be with my family, recharge, read a few page turners, and write… not because I have to but because I want to…I recon that could make me very happy!

What plans have you got over the summer that will make you happy?

AllAboutYou – taking part

So, what have you been up to this week? What are you loving/hating/thinking/doing/making/wearing? We love reading about your passions, your thoughts, your views, your style, your projects, anything about you in fact.

I really enjoyed hosting last weeks AllAboutYou! There were so many (emphasis on the many!) great articles and apologies for taking so long to get around you all!

I thought Angie’s post over on Reasons to Dress was hilarious but has also inspired me to try and be a bit more ‘put together’ when I’m heading out the door, even if it isn’t to the airport!

This is the coolest city review and now I REALLY want to go to Marseille (but maybe with The Real McQ so I don’t get lost!).

While Mama in heels was considering if summer was her new favourite season I was busy enjoying my new favourite dress – I just love this outfit!

Over to you! You can link up to 3 posts, and ideally please visit a couple of other linkers too to share some comment love.

Mama and More

If it’s your passion, we want you to link up a post about it.

Party rules -

  1. Please link posts specific to the theme of this party – this is your space to link up posts all about YOU, whether it’s style, fitness, food, concerts or sky-diving!  You can link up to 3 posts.
  2. Please link the URL of your specific AllAboutYou post, and please feature the badge or mention the linky, because it’s a nice thing to do!  We tweet out and comment on every linked post that does!
  3. Please comment on at least two other posts within the AllAboutYou link party – don’t just link-dump!

Feel free to tweet or share about the link party so that more people come along and join too, although this is by no means obligatory!

In short, you link and we’ll pin it.  But the community bit is up to all of us – so do spread some comment love!

All About You community links:

Link it up!

The housing bubble

Jul
28th
2014

28 Jul, 2014

I don’t want to get political on you (mainly because I’m not well informed enough!) but something isn’t right about this housing bubble everyone keeps going on about…we live in a beautiful, old house in between a lovely beach and an award winning park (you can look around our house here!). I give my area a little bit of stick, saying it has a bad reputation, but in all honesty, it is lovely and in its own way, thriving. There is regeneration, new developments and, industry-wise, a busy port and a National Centre for Renewable Energy, both of which are doing well. Yet, no takers.

the housing bubble

The housing bubble vs the food bubble

I saw an infographic the other day about what if the cost of food increased at the same rate as house prices and I was quite surprised…back in 1973 houses were around £10,000 (and in fact I’m pretty sure our neighbour bought his house for something like that too!) and they have increased by 1724%!! In my area I’d say it’s more like 1000% but that’s still incredible.

The average weekly shop is apparently £56.20 (seems a bit cheap but I guess if you’re just buying food and not clothes, that cute play tent, a BBQ and whatever else they lure you to buy in the big supermarkets, that could be doable!) and the infograph goes on to show how food has increased in price, the average chicken is now £3.36 (that can’t be organic!) compared to SIXTY THREE PENCE in 1973!! But if it had inflated with the housing market it would be £11. I find it fascinating to read the difference in food prices…beer, for example, is the only thing that has inflated more than the housing market by quite a bit!

Basically, if food had increased in price with the house market, the average weekly food shop would be £154.45 (or in London it would be £243.99). There’s little wonder there aren’t many people snapping our hands off with this house, especially when you consider that people’s wages would need to be 45% higher to keep up with the housing market!

Keeping up with the housing bubble

This has got me thinking, can the people who live and work and have families in my area afford to move at all?

Back in May there was lots of talk of the Bank of England stepping in to ‘cool the housing market‘ and this talk of the housing bubble makes you think that the housing market has regained the vigour it had pre-2007 but I wonder if that’s true. It might be in London, where the same £100K house from my area would be worth £435K, but what about elsewhere? – I know for a fact that the houses Mike has been looking at since this time last year aren’t selling. So while London might be single-handedly blowing a huge housing bubble, and making use of the Government’s help to buy scheme and low interest rates, it certainly doesn’t look as jolly up here (in fact our house is yet to regain its pre-2007 value, and I’m unsure if it will!).

I also don’t understand why we need so many new houses (and in fact this article goes on to explain why we might not need more houses to burst the housing bubble)? They are literally throwing houses up down the road from us but unless they have dramatically improved the building materials since I stayed in one, these are basically cardboard! And the lovely, old  houses with a bit of character and sound-proofing (!!), remain unsold…So I would kindly ask the powers that be to perhaps consider how to ‘prick the London bubble‘ without stabbing the rest of us?!

I realise this sounds like a good old rant and I don’t mean it to be, we are happy where we are for the time being, very lucky in this weather actually. But if we had to move it would be a different story! This is more me dipping my toe into the world of real-estate and trying to fathom what on earth is going on!!

Answers on a post-card (or just comment below) and please don’t burst my housing bubble!

 

27 Jul, 2014

I have a too good to be true birth for you now! Rosie has sent me her birth story, which is out of this world quick. But as you read on you’ll get the same sense I did of ‘uh-oh’! And sure enough, Rosie suffers a retained placenta, which turned her tranquil birth into an emergence – worrying for her and her husband, particularly as he has to drive their 1 hour old baby from the birthing suit to the hospital! It’s a great story, well told…

The Perfect Birth Followed by a Retained Placenta!

Everyone had told me that first babies are always late, so I certainly wasn’t expecting our little girl to arrive 9 days early! However there was no chance of misreading the signs when I got back into bed after my usual 3.45 bathroom break – I felt a huge jolt, and then my waters breaking. “I think it’s happening!” I told my husband excitedly. I got back to the bathroom just in time for a huge gush which soaked our bathmat! I phoned the birth centre and was told to have some breakfast and paracetamol, and go in to be checked around 7.30. I will never forget sitting on our bed eating porridge while my husband removed the nail polish from my toes – it’s not allowed in the birthing pool, as we had found out on our tour of the centre.

About 20 minutes later, I started to feel some strange cramps, just like severe period pains – surely this couldn’t be contractions? They started off about 5 or 6 minutes apart and I hooked myself up to the TENS machine. Before too long the contractions were coming every 3 minutes and my hospital bag was being packed into the car. I threw on some old tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt and we set off just after 6; I just knew I couldn’t wait until 7.30. I phoned the birth centre on the way and could hear the disbelief in the midwife’s voice (probably thinking “another one we’ll have to send home”!) I was doubled up with contractions at the reception desk and was quickly taken into a room to be examined. “You’re 9 centimetres dilated! We’ll start running the water now!” Things were moving faster than I had dared to hope. My overall mood was one of great excitement; my Mum had told me in no uncertain terms not to worry about labour, that it didn’t need to be a horrible experience and that the happy outcome would more than make up for everything.

After being given some medicine to (ahem) clear my bowels, it was time to settle in for the birth. I was looked after by a lovely midwife and a student midwife too. We put on our Mozart CD and I got into the pool around 7.15. It wasn’t long until I felt the pressure of baby’s head pushing down. I was kneeling in the pool with my head on the side, on a lovely cool flannel, with my husband sitting by me outside the pool and feeding me sips of Lucozade. Between the contractions I felt really clear-headed and focussed – “Your breath smells”, I told him in a particularly romantic moment! He burst out laughing and I think the midwives were thinking “what on earth”! I used the gas and air to get me through the contractions, though I was afraid to inhale too deeply in case it made me feel sick so I don’t think I actually got much of the benefit. There were moments during the worst contractions when I found myself thinking “I can’t do this” –but thankfully I recognised these feelings for what they were and pushed them to one side. The only moment when I almost lost my cool was when I got out of the pool to use the loo and my husband tried to help me – “please don’t touch me!” I growled.

“OK, we need you to stop using the gas and air and push with the contractions”. It seemed to take a long time but finally baby’s head popped out. This was the moment I was the most worried about but in fact it was over before I even had time to register what was happening! I asked my husband if he wanted to go to the “business end” and see baby’s head but he said he wanted to stay with me (aaw)! It was a very odd feeling kneeling in the pool with just the head sticking out. I did remind him to change the CD at this point!

11.10: Time for the final push (eek, even weirder feeling but over very quickly), then before I knew it I was having our baby passed to me – we both just gawped in utter disbelief! Had this perfect baby really just come out of me? Or had the midwives just magicked her out of thin air? We were both astounded by how long she was! Though in fact she weighed a perfectly average 7lb 1oz.

Rosie's fast birth with a retained placenta http://mumsdays.com/retained-placenta/

 

We enjoyed some lovely skin to skin in the pool and had a go at breastfeeding (clever baby seemed to know exactly what to do). It all seemed too good to be true: a lightning quick first stage and relaxed second stage, then a nice lady came to take our orders for lunch! “We need to get you out of the pool now to deliver the placenta” urged our midwife, anxiously checking her watch. So the cord was cut and we cautiously stepped out. And yes, this is when it all started to go wrong. I tried pushing on the toilet, more breastfeeding to get the oxytocin flowing, the syntocin injection… nothing. Next came a procession of individuals who all had a little tug at the cord, but to no avail, I had a retained placenta. And so the ambulance was called, and I was whisked away to hospital to have the placenta manually removed. I didn’t realise this means that an obstetrician basically scoops it out with their hand… luckily, I was asleep for this part! I was fine throughout all of this because I knew our baby was healthy, safe and sound. My poor husband on the other hand had a slight panic when he realised he would have to drive to the hospital with our 1 hour old baby! Luckily, lovely people were on hand to help to dress her and get her safely in the car.

We spent 2 nights in hospital then 3 more back at the birthing centre, I had lost 2 litres of blood so felt quite weak and the milk took a few days to put in an appearance. Although the early days were not easy, I feel so fortunate to have had a short and (dare I say) relatively enjoyable labour. I would definitely do it all over again!

Thank you Rosie!

I like the speed but  maybe not the retained placenta bit – thanks for sharing it lovely! xxx

Did you suffer a retained placenta? Do you put it down to a quick birth?

Do leave your comments below or head over to the Mums’ Days Facebook Wall to join in the conversation!

25 Jul, 2014

Welcome to another Mums’ List (the 21st)! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week; I’ve been getting running this week in more ways than one which I’ll tell you about in a mo…

Last week’s Mums’ List was the busiest to date! Welcome to Katie from Pouting in Heels, who wrote a wonderful, touching and true list on her little girls Birthday of 50 things she has learnt about motherhood. Welcome also to Lauren from Blogger Mummy Lauren, who wrote her list of goals and to Being Mummy Green with her 1st Mums’ List!

Real Life

Mums' List 21 - Getting running http://mumsdays.com/mums-list-getting-running/

Wow, this week’s been a bit short on the old photo taking – too busy living and all that! A few exciting things happened though…

  1. We went to a Frozen themed kids party a local ‘gastro pub’, which is a genius idea; you could almost see the pound signs in their eyes! (As You Like It have girl and boy themed parties every Saturday and Sunday)
  2. I’ve signed up to do a 10K, and have been for 4 runs totalling around 6 miles (3 miles yesterday in the blistering heat nearly killed me!). Susan, you’d be proud of me!
  3. South Shields have music on in Bents park practically all summer – we saw 10CC with the original rockers (Mike’s Mum and Dad!) on Sunday.
  4. Reuben’s found a new place to watch telly…he’s testing my patience a little with his climbing. I told him 5 times not to climb on the kitchen table on Sunday and now he thinks it’s hilarious. New tact, get him down without saying anything.
  5. I had a really good planning session yesterday with my good friend Jenny. I’m terrible at prioritising and can go through a day feeling like I’ve not done anything. Jen’s lent me this really interesting book, which challenges the notion of you can be anything if you try hard enough…saying it’s far better and more enjoyable to work to your strengths. I can’t wait to get into it!!
  6. Under Jenny’s advice, I’ve also done myself a weekly timetable – it’s like being back at school! I’m a visual person so storing things in my head is a recipe for disaster but I’d never thought to do this. I already feel so much clearer and less muddled.

Blogging and Social

The biggest success of the week was when I shared this post on the Mums’ Days Facebook Wall, written by Beth from Betty and the Bumps about when to let your kids stay at someone else’s house. Word press even emailed Beth to tell her how well the post was doing! It was a touchy subject with the potential for fall outs but everyone just talked about what they do and there was no bitchyness. Thank god, I have no idea how to deal with conflict and the 2 times it has happened I’ve not dealt with it well.

I also hit a milestone!

2000 FB likes - Mums' List 21 - Getting running http://mumsdays.com/mums-list-getting-running/

Inspiration

People who are organised are my inspiration this week – I want to be in that gang! Maybe not to the Anthea Turner extent as shared on Mummy’s Blog…but just feeling a bit more sorted, together and like I’m progressing on my mission without forgetting my other duties!

How to grow a blog slowly got me thinking – particularly about this linky (I’m considering a slight rebrand to make it more useful to my readers!) and the ones I take part in (like making sure I can participate properly and not just link dump)…

I’m also inspired by my featured blogger Donna from Redhead Babyled, and her 2 home births…I want one!

Your Turn!

How has your week has gone? Please do link in your lists (or any other list posts you’ve written this week)!

To join in the linky pop this badge on your post (make sure you copy all the code and paste it into the HTML section of your blog – you can delete the bit after the badge that says “see more at…” I don’t know why it does that!), add your link below and don’t forget to go and see some of your fellow linkers and comment! For more info, see the Mums’ List rules here.

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