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Archive for the category “Keep your baby entertained”

Old haunts – good for the soul.

What I didn’t realise about motherhood, until it happened to me, was how many cogs I had to adjust in my brain. I couldn’t just put myself first – there was a small, sometimes shouty prawn that told me she was more important.

This meant I had to wave goodbye to some aspects of my old life. The problem, though, with sacrificing things – my job,  lie-ins, instant gratification, a decent pelvic floor – is getting carried away.

I made so many adjustments and sacrifices I forgot I didn’t have to lose everything from my old life.

Am I the only one? Do we only think we’re good mums if we constantly toss our loves, pastimes and hobbies on the sacrificial flames of parenthood?

It’s early days, but I’ve found myself going back to old haunts and old interests recently and finding the whole thing really UPLIFTING. I’d even go so far as to say it’s felt SPIRITUALLY CLEANSING. I feel stronger. 

Here are some things I’ve rediscovered over the last month or two:

  1. The pub in my old hometown. A lunchtime drink and a walk by the canal. Amazing.


  1. Messing around on the Clifton Downs. I used to come here all the time when I’d just moved to Bristol, marvelling that I’d swapped this:Commuters in LondonFor this:

clifton downs


But after I moved to South Bristol and got married and had a kid, I stopped going, I have no idea why. It was one of those mental barriers that needed to come crashing down. Anyway I recently took P. and bought us both an ice-cream, and after I’d taught her how delicious the chocolate cones were, she left me alone to read a section of my newspaper in peace! It had been at least three years since I’d spent an afternoon here and I couldn’t believe I’d left it so long. Definitely one of my spiritual homes and I’m glad I reconnected.

the downs

  1. Spending a few hours in Bristol Central Library. This is one of those places I used to spend hours in. Recently, I read about a series of events about writing being held in the library, and managed to go along to one of the sessions one sunny Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago. I hadn’t been in for years, having stuck to my local, much smaller library, but as soon as I walked in it felt amazing. And I spotted this little post-it note on the wall:


  1. Cycling the Bristol Bath cycle path. This place meant a lot to me when I first moved to Bristol, and I would try to cycle along it at least every couple of months. Hadn’t been back for about 5 years and as soon as I got on my bike I started grinning like a fool and didn’t stop, not even when I swallowed a bug. Look at this view!



I know it’s really, laughingly simple. Pubs, libraries, bit of grass, and cycling. Like I said, it’s early days, but I feel inspired.

Partly I think it’s just time – now P. is two years old, things are much easier in terms of where I can take her and how portable she is. But I can’t wait to try out other stuff and adventures on a domestic scale that I’d felt were out of my reach before.

What’s your experiences of visiting old haunts since you’ve become a mum? Do things feel just the same, better, or worse? Where would you love to go again if you could?



Quality time with your baby and your clothes!

Whenever my wardrobe is looking a bit like this:

I find it quite hard to feel enthusiastic about getting dressed in the morning.

I’ll just pull out the first thing I can find, sniff it, and then put it on. Not stylish.

Keeping my clothes organised and colour coded is not something that comes naturally to me. Nor do I like giving myself more housework. But I have invented a wonderful game for P. and me to play which transforms the mess above into something more organised while also giving us quality time together.

Here it is!

The Magic Tidy-Up.This takes about half an hour and can be slotted into either one afternoon in the week or if you’re working it can be done one rainy Sunday afternoon.

You will need:

One very messy wardrobe

A camera

Lots of smiles and hugs

Music to play in your bedroom

One mug of coffee for you (optional)

A few bags

One willing child – any age

Skills taught:

Imagination, sorting, dress-up, hand-eye co-ordination, object permanence, self-reliance, logic.

How to play:

Take the child into your bedroom or wherever your wardrobe is. If they are very young, ensure they are comfortable and can see what you are doing. If they can’t sit up yet, prop them up with pillows near you. If they are mobile, close your bedroom door so they are in the room with you and you don’t need to worry about where they get to.

Now for the fun part. How you go about sorting out your clothes is up to you. I like to pull all the clothes out; P. loves this bit and loves to help!

Once all the clothes are in a pile in front of you, you can then go through it together. If you have toddlers you can ask them to find you all the jumpers, or everything that is green. P. is still a bit too young for that, so I give her something very special to look after – it’s normally a hat or a handbag, something she doesn’t play with normally – while I quickly go about folding and sorting out the pile.

She really likes belts and can spend a while working out where they go, while I quickly sort out my t-shirts, jumpers, shoes, etc. (Obviously don’t leave the bedroom if they are playing with belts or shoelaces, keep an eye on them at all times!)

Occasionally I’ll break off to show her something, like a new texture, or a scarf. Sometimes I’ll give her something to hold and say ‘Isn’t this soft?’ or ‘What colour is this?’ If you have a young baby, you can wave a scarve around her head so she can see the fabric fluttering in the breeze. Scarves are also great to play peek-a-boo with, a valuable lesson in object permanence (the knowledge that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s disappeared.)

P. is at the age where she likes to try things on. She can spend ages trying to fit her feet into one of my shoes, or putting a hat on then taking it off. Yesterday she spent about half an hour playing with a shoelace on my dad’s shoe before ‘taking it for a walk’ (dragging the shoe along the floor with her as she crawled.) One of our favourite games is to  just put hats on – you can always pick some up for nothing in a charity shop. They are such good fun to have around babies and toddlers and you can take some great photos for your album.

If you haven’t gone through your wardrobe in a bit, you’ll probably find a few clothes that you never wear or suit you any more.  Put them in one of the bags you brought with you. If your child is a bit older you can ask them to do this for you – this gives them a ‘job’ and helps them feel involved.

This game is fab for time-pressed mums for many reasons. Not only do you manage to get an organised wardrobe and have a clear-out, but your child or babies’ senses are being stimulated on lots of levels.

By watching you and helping you, they are learning about shapes and textures. Playing with hats, belts, shoes and handbags helps younger toddlers learn hand-to-eye co-ordination. When they start to try things on, they are sowing the seeds for a vivid imagination; an essential tool for childhood. And watching you put things away teaches them about putting like-with-like things together. In this way they are learning about the world and the way it can be logically thought out. Hats go with hats. T-shirts go with t-shirts.

Also, by letting them play undisturbed with scarves, shoes, etc, you are letting them learn how to entertain themselves; this is such a great lesson for kids to learn and will make your job a bit easier. If you play this game regularly, not only will you have a happy and stimulated child but you’ll also find it much easier to put on a fabulous outfit in the morning!

You don’t have to play music, but it can be really nice to listen to music together as you play this game. Classical music is fab for babies brains as the irregular chords and silences make their brains work extra hard. It’s also very nice to listen to. If you have a musical or rhythmic baby, you will notice that at some point they will start to dance to music. P. likes to lift her arms and sway when the music gets dramatic. I just turn my radio to Classic FM, but if you have a CD player in your bedroom you could beg, borrow or buy a CD of classical music for babies. Check out this list for inspiration:

Classic FM: Music For Babies compilation (currently available on Amazon for £12.20 new) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Classic-FM-Music-Babies-2005/dp/B0007WBDQG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340356931&sr=8-1

Classical Baby: a compilation (currently available on Amazon for £14)

Alternatively you could ask your parents to recommend or compile an album which they think would be suitable for your child, this is a nice gesture for grandparents particularly if they live a bit further away but still want to be actively involved.

How do you manage to stay on top of your clothes? Let us know!

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