Mum in Brum | UK parenting and lifestyle blog inspired by modern family living
Hi, I m Natalie. Mum in Brum is an award winning UK parenting and lifestyle blog inspired by a modern family living. Apart from recording my journey (and challenges) as a mum, I also blog about our lives as a modern family, our travel adventures and my passion for interiors.
I remember when our eldest first met her baby brother. He was four hours old, she was two and a half years. As my daughter walked over to my hospital bed, I remember thinking that she had suddenly doubled in size. Compared to her baby brother she seemed so grown up, so big…
Of all the things I worried about when I was pregnant second time around, I was most worried about this moment and how Taylor would react to suddenly not being the sole centre of our affections. I hated the idea of her feeling pushed aside, or jealous of her baby brother.
Thankfully she embraced being an older sister in exactly the way I hoped she would. The two of them have always had such a special bond which continues to grow stronger as they get older.
Of course, I’m not naive enough to think that our parenting style alone is the reason for our offspring getting along so well. Some of it of it is undoubtedly down to character. Taylor is a natural ‘big sister’ – caring and maternal, brave and self-assured…She’s a team player and has never really been the type of child that likes to be left alone. So having a little brother to dote on and entertain was definitely a welcome addition for her.
But as parents, here are some of the behaviours we adopted, which I feel definitely helped us all to adjust to life with two…
Involve your toddler in the new baby excitement
At just two years old, Taylor really had no idea about what to expect when I fell pregnant. I read somewhere that nine months in the life of a two year old is the longest time ever, so if your eldest is still a tot themselves, don’t worry if they don’t show much interest in your future addition.
As we got closer to Harry’s birth and my bump became more obvious, we started to talk to Taylor about her having a new baby brother. I found it helpful showing her photographs of her as a baby and talking about other siblings we knew.
We also made a trip to town so that she could buy him a new cuddly toy. And once Harry was born we gave Taylor a new toy from him too. Whenever possible, we tried to encourage her to see Harry as ‘her baby brother’, rather than as mummy and daddy’s new baby.
Respect their own space and belongings
Every parent knows that sharing doesn’t exactly come naturally to two year olds. And it’s unfair to expect them to suddenly want to share all of their beloved toys and belongings with their new sibling.
In the run up to Harry’s birth I spent some time with Taylor going through all of her toys and we put aside anything that she no longer played with ‘for her baby brother’. She really loved the fact that she was the one in charge and she loved her first task as ‘big sister’. It meant that when Harry did become interested in her toys, she was happy to share some of them. But she also got to keep her favourites to herself.
We also moved Taylor into a ‘big bed’ in the run up to Harry’s birth (we needed the cot for him!) So we made a big deal out of redecorating her room at the same time as decorating the nursery.
Don’t forget that your toddler is still a baby too
The best advice I had from my health visitor in the days running up to Harry’s birth was not to forget that Taylor was still a baby too. I think it would have been easy for me to forget this, especially since she suddenly seemed so grown up in comparison to our squidgy newborn.
So on those occasions when she was whining at me as I was preoccupied with Harry, or playing up to get my attention, I made a point of trying not to get annoyed with her. Instead I tried to listen to what she had to say and make time for her…
Dedicate quality time to your oldest
In between feeds, nappy changes and general exhaustion, it can be difficult to muster the energy to play with your toddler. But I found it helpful switching this on its head and started to view my time with Taylor (during Harry’s naptimes) as my downtime.
As opposed to high energy activities, I would sit down and do a jigsaw with her, help her with crafts or get out the Play-Doh. In fact, I really enjoyed this time and relished the opportunity to drink a hot cup of tea and take my mind off the gazillion house chores that otherwise needed doing.
Remember – you can’t drink from an empty cup
I’m not going to pretend it’s always that easy and of course, sometimes the ‘mum guilt’ has a way of getting the better of you. Especially when you’re sleep deprived and feel like you’re constantly trying to divide yourself between your children, you home and (not forgetting) your other half.
But remember that you are enough. Sometimes, some things have to give – the sink full of dishes can wait, you can stay in your PJs until the afternoon and you can give yourself permission to order a take out. Time spent with your little ones at this time is precious and not something you’ll ever get back.
On those days when you are feeling overstretched, don’t be afraid to ask for support from close family and friends. Or sometimes a simple phone call can make the world of difference.
SMA® Nutrition has recently launched its dedicated Careline exactly for this purpose; to offer parents a friendly ear when they may need it most. Their team of parents with first-hand experience in everything related to babies and toddlers are on hand with specialist tips, advice and guidance. You can get in touch with them for free 24/7 via their live chat service, email and over the phone to discuss any concerns you may have.
Be firm on unacceptable behaviour from the off
At some point during Harry’s first week in the world, he received a clunk to his head from above as he sat in his bouncer. I was standing behind our kitchen counter and looked up to catch Taylor in the act, looking right at me, waiting for my reaction.
Without thinking about it I pulled her away from him, told her off in a way I had never done before and picked Harry up to comfort him. Of course the shock on her face and the cries that followed as I ignored her had me feeling (almost) immediately guilty. But it was definitely the moment when she learned that hurting her baby brother would not be tolerated.
As they both get older, we also try to ensure that we don’t let Harry hurt Taylor. It can be easy to brush off his pinches and smacks since he is so much smaller, but it’s important to us that she sees we have the same rules for both of them.
Encourage affection between your kids
Whether or not siblings get along, there are simple ways you can encourage affection between them from the start.
In the early days we would often let Taylor hold Harry on her lap in the same way as she’d seen her mummy and daddy do. We would also encourage her to help care for him – for example by helping us bath him, or fetching us a nappy when he needed changing. She enjoyed being useful and this also meant that we could involve her in all of those newborn activities that preoccupied us at that time.
As they’ve grown older, we encourage simple acts of affection such as kissing each other good night, holding hands, saying sorry to each other and cuddling each other if one is upset.
Encouraging them to play together and spend time with one another – for example by bathing together and reading to them together can also help to strengthen the sibling bond.
Of course, all siblings have their moments and our house has it’s fair share of tears, fall-outs and sometimes outright chaos. But seeing the two of them playing a game I don’t fully understand (but they definitely do!), or cuddling each other when they’re not aware I’m watching, is most definitely my favourite part of motherhood yet.
Do you have two or more children? Do you have any more tips for helping to encourage a strong sibling bond?
We were recently contacted by Cam Cam Copenhagen – a Scandinavian brand which creates beautiful products for babies and children – from changing mats, bedding and blankets to bedroom decor, wallpaper and furniture.
The brand is run by architect couple Sara Giese Camre and Robert Warren Paulsen and was founded on the belief that our surroundings are immensely important to us and influence us from the beginning. The products are timeless and beautifully classic with a contemporary twist – think muted colour palettes and understated, Scandi designs. A quick scroll through the brand’s Instagram account and you’ll see what I mean.
A main focus of Cam Cam Copenhagen is sustainability – all of their products are organic and their textiles are produced in GOTS certified factories – crucial for the environment, our children and their future.
I was kindly offered some products to review and believe me when I tell you I was completely spoilt for choice when trying to choose from their website!
I was particularly impressed by the range of bedding – from bedding for babies through to juniors and adults, the patterns and colours are adorable. Harry is still in a cot, so the junior bedding size was perfect for him. This would also be the perfect size for a toddler bed. I chose the Grey Wave design, which goes perfectly with his grey, navy and mustard themed bedroom.
I’m ashamed to admit that it’s taken me three months to write up this post – life got very hectic upon returning to my (real) day job! But on the plus side, this means that we’ve been using the bedding for three months and I can honestly vouch for the superior quality. The bedding is made of soft, organic satin weaved cotton and not only is it super soft, it also washes like a dream.
The bedding set comes with duvet cover and matching square pillow case. It was beautifully packaged in a matching fabric tote bag – so it would also make a fabulous gift.
I finished Harry’s new bedding set off with one of Cam Cam’s iconic decorative star cushions – they have these in multiple colours and they’re perfect as a playful yet classic accessory for a nursery or kids room. Again, the quality is more than evident in the cotton fabric and the detailed stitching.
So Harry’s bed is now complete. If only I could say that his new bedding has been helping him to sleep more…But at least it looks great in the middle of the night! Lol.
I of course couldn’t leave Taylor out of the new bedroom accessories and picked this super cute handmade rainbow mobile to go in her peach and gold themed room. I honestly don’t think kid’s rooms can ever have too many accessories and I love how this adds a playful touch to her walls.
This would be perfect to hang over the cot or changing mat of a baby girl and I love how the padded cotton rainbow and felt raindrops nod to a time gone by – a time when items were made by hand and made to last.
And this is probably what I love most about the entire product range from Cam Cam Copenhagen; their ability to create products which are at once contemporary and traditional. In a time when a lot of the goods we purchase are purely to fit in with the latest trend or fad only to be thrown away the next year, it’s refreshing to discover products which are truly timeless – in both style and form.
Yes, you may pay a little more. But knowing that the goods have been produced with sustainability in mind and won’t ever go out of fashion, mean that they are well worth their price tag.
Have you heard of Cam Cam Copenhagen? Follow them on Instagram now for swoon-worthy nursery accessories and bedroom decor.
Ever since we ‘did up’ our living room some 14 months ago, I’ve not been entirely happy with it. It’s been crying out for those finishing touches that give it personality, but I’ve been really unsure of what accessories it needs and what colours to add.
You see, we were kind of big into grey back then. And as much I still love grey as a neutral backdrop, I probably wouldn’t have gone for a grey sofa, grey carpet, grey woodwork and grey curtains had we been making the design choices today.
My husband loves it of course. He’s a minimalist in the true sense of the word and he’d be happy to keep it pictureless and free from the so-called ‘clutter’ that I like to add around the house. You should have seen his face when he realised I’d been and got myself my own drill…Hello framed Kate Moss.
But being the sport that he is, he’s happy to ‘let me do my thing’, and so I’ve decided that this is the time to bring this room to life and inject a little colour and personality.
A “grown up” space
Our main living room is kind of what we call the ‘grown up room’. This makes us sound terribly posh, trust me when I say we’re not. But with two kids under five, we soon realised that having new things becomes a little tiresome as in the end, EVERYTHING gets wrecked.
And so the style in here is quite a bit more formal than in the rest of our house. And if I’m honest, it’s not a style that comes so naturally to me when it comes to accessorising the room.
Deciding on a colour scheme
I did buy a load of pink accessories, but then took the load back as I decided it wasn’t really the look I was after. I think I naturally prefer more blue tones and anything too ‘pretty’ gets the better of me. (Granted, we do have pink in our bedroom, but it’s paired with a midnight blue – a combination I love).
In the end I’ve decided on a colour scheme of grey, navy and ivory, using green as an accent through plants and foliage. Pinterest, as always, gave me heaps of inspiration and in the end it was this image that caught my attention.
So far, I’ve bought some sapphire velvet cushions, some ivory faux flowers and a rather nice looking tall plant. It’s a start.
I’m now on the hunt for a navy rug (the one in the image is one I’ve moved from another room), a large mirror to go on the wallpapered wall, and some black console tables. I’m also planning to get some of our family snaps developed and frame them on the walls in white box frames.
And more cushions and plants of course because we all know you can never have too many of those!
Hopefully I’ll have another update soon! Now, do we paint that woodwork white?…
When we found out we were having a second child we were of course overjoyed. Yet I was also a little apprehensive and at times, scared. Scared of adjusting to the sleepless nights again, scared of not being able to cope with two, and scared about not having as much time for Taylor, now it would no longer be just the two of us.
Our second child, Harry, is now 18 months old and I can honestly say that all of those initial fears were completely unnecessary. I’ve learnt so much all over again and the whole experience has been quite different from the first time around.
Time has gone by so much quicker, but I’ve also cherished these 18 months and the amazing milestones at each stage a little more – knowing too well how quickly they would pass us by. From his first baby giggles to his first clumsy steps, it really is remarkable when you think about how much they learn in such a short space of time. And boy did I forget how cute (and cheeky!) toddlers are!
So here are just some of the things that have surprised me so far, second time around…
Second children really do ‘just fit in’
I admit that when I first heard this it was probably met with a discreet eye roll. I put this phrase alongside all those other throwaway things people say to you – after all, just because it happened to them, it doesn’t mean it will be the same for you. Right?
But the truth is, in our experience our second child did ‘just fit in’. Simply because he had no choice but to fit in. With a toddler to take care of I just didn’t have the time to run to Harry’s every whimper, or Google every time he had a runny nose. I was most likely trying to prevent Taylor from falling into the toilet, or emptying out the entire contents of our kitchen cupboards…
You don’t have to follow the book (or Google)
My memories of Taylor’s baby days don’t exactly fill me with the warm fuzziness that I remember other mums talked about. She was a colicky baby in the true sense of the term – literally endless crying and screaming that went on for hours. And hours. And hours. Through the day, through the night.
Of course this wasn’t our fault as parents. But I so wish I had just chilled out a little. My problem was that I was trying to follow ‘the book.’ That one where they tell you about forming bad habits and the importance of routines.
What I didn’t realise is that each of the baby phases are so fleeting and soon she would be a toddler who would find her own routine.
I was so much more relaxed with Harry – probably because I didn’t have the energy to fight with him. I gave him what he wanted when he wanted it. He would fall asleep on an evening in my arms, or be in my bed come 4 in the morning. And guess what? He found his routine so much quicker than Taylor did!
When books and Google seem stressful, it can be really helpful to just have other parents to talk to. Whether it’s people from your NCT group, friends, bloggers, your own parents or even online platforms.
SMA® Nutrition offers a dedicated Careline team of expert parents with first-hand experience in everything related to babies. You can get in touch for free 24/7 via their live chat service, email and over the phone, to discuss any questions you may have – in relation to parenting, babies or toddlers. The expert team of mums are there to reassure and empower you through the early years of parenting with specialist tips, advice and guidance. And to lend you a friendly ear when you need it most.
Every child is different
Something else I heard a lot from other parents was that ‘you never get two the same’. Of course I’ve always known that every child is different, but when we just had Taylor I probably assumed that I’d influenced a lot of her habits and personality traits.
Now I have two, I see how much each child really is their own person. And it’s true – our experience with Harry has been totally different – bad sleeper vs good sleeper, great eater vs. terrible eater, dolls vs. cars…But they are both equally cheeky and playful, feisty and defiant!
The sibling bond is so special
When we first found out we were having a boy second time around, I assumed our kids wouldn’t get on as well as they would if they were the same gender. How completely wrong I was! I could never have anticipated how well these two get along and the love they have for each other literally makes me melt every day.
Yes of course they wind each other up and I have to play referee on an hourly basis, but the tenderness and care they show towards each other at such a young age completely blows my mind.
‘Taylor’ was Harry’s first word, she was the first person to make him giggle uncontrollably, the person he wanted to help teach him to walk and the one he lets cuddle up to him on the sofa. It’s like Taylor was made to be a big sister and she’s taken to her role in ways I never imagined.
I’m not naive enough to think that they’ll always get along so well, but I know that the love they have for one another will be constant.
Baby feeding issues don’t go away
I was pretty hard on myself first time around when I had a difficult time breastfeeding. I felt like it was something I should be able to do as a mum, and not being able to left me feeling like a bit of a failure.
Second time around I was a lot more relaxed about it and didn’t beat myself up. And it all seems like a distant memory now that we have a fully fledged toddler!
That’s not to say of course that feeding always gets easier once solids are introduced. Since we were used to having an adventurous eater who loved her food, it came as a bit of a surprise when our second born turned out to be an extraordinarily fussy eater!
Suddenly we were challenged with trying to get our son to just eat a decent meal and it was a little distressing at times. Luckily he would have his milk, so at least that gave us some peace of mind that he was getting some of those all-important nutrients into his diet.
With over 100 years in leading baby nutrition research, the team at SMA® Nutrition have an expert understanding of the evolving needs of babies and toddlers. Did you know SMA® Nutrition has recently rebranded their SMA® PRO Growing Up Milks? The fresh new look presents the feeding stages more clearly on the packaging, meaning identifying a milk for your little one is now super easy.
SMA® PRO Growing Up Milk, recommended for babies aged 12+ months, is nutritionally enriched with iron to help support normal cognitive development in a child’s brain and to help support growth up until their 4th birthday. It comes in both the 800g powder format and the handy 200ml ready to use cartons, perfect for feeding little ones whilst out and about.
Time with your other half is even more precious
Since having Harry 16 months ago, the hubs and I have had two days away (thanks to a friend’s wedding!) And we’ve probably had no more than three date nights out of the house. This is partly because we don’t live close to family so we don’t have childcare on speed dial…But also because it is difficult to find time for each other when two kids take all of your time and energy.
We’ve learnt over the past four years that our relationship has had to adapt with the kids. It’s so important to make time for each other – even if it’s by having a special ‘date meal’ at home on a Friday night, having friends around for drinks, or scheduling a mid-week film night on the sofa.
It’s also so important not to sweat the small stuff (otherwise you will drive each other insane!) and support each other – as much as time allows at least!
Disclosure: Paid partnership with SMA® Nutrition.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: SMA® PRO Growing Up Milk is suitable for young children from 1-3 years, as part of a healthy balanced diet and it is not a breast milk substitute. Breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible.
I know, I’m notoriously bad at timekeeping and this post is a little overdue (again). I’m sorry, it’s something I’m working on – when you start school I promise I’ll get you there on time…
And so, here you are at 18 months old (and 15 days to be precise). You continue to grow cheekier and we’re now seeing more of your feisty side too, as your independence grows with each passing day.
You’re still our little pocket rocket – small for your age, yet with all of the character and boundless energy that makes you so utterly adorable (and able to get away with pretty much anything!).
You are relentlessly mischievous, always trying to find new boundaries to push. ‘Oh-oh’ is your favourite word and you’ve mastered your ‘mock horror’ face where you open your mouth to make a big ‘o’ whilst looking to us for our reaction. ‘Captain Chaos’ we call you.
But you’re also so full of love and you generously dish out the cuddles and kisses to us all. Harry hugs are the best, as you grip onto us like your life depends on it, and you still love to nestle your head into my neck like when you were a newborn. Your open mouth kisses are adorable.
I love watching you and your big sister grow up together and you really do love each other so much. For the most part you play so well together and there’s nothing cuter than seeing the two of you make up your own little games. Your favourite thing to do is using the play mat as a blanket as you pretend to put each other to bed. You also love pushing her around on your ride-on car (and vice versa) and she’ll often put you in her dolly’s buggy/pram and wheel you around the house, much to your approval!
You do have your moments too of course, but I secretly find them quite amusing. You certainly won’t put up with being bossed around anymore and Taylor is sure to get a whack if she takes a toy off of you. You also continuously push her if she won’t play with you – you sure don’t like being ignored!
Toy cars are still your most treasured thing to play with. This week I even had to let you go to bed with one of your miniature model cars, as you had a meltdown whenever I tried to take it out of your cot! Whenever we take Taylor to preschool you make a beeline for the crate of toy cars they have there and it’s always a battle to get you to leave.
You also LOVE books and will happily sit on your own going through each book from your shelves. At bedtime you always want us to read more than one and it can be a struggle to get you into bed!
You love your own nursery now too and you’ve settled in so well after the initial few months. You go for two days each week whilst I’m at work, and I pick you up at 2pm before we have to fetch Taylor. You seem to have a lot of fun there and they tell me that you’re always giggling and you like to make lots of noise. You’re making friends too.
You’ve been walking for around three months and you hate being carried or going in the buggy anywhere now. You’re not quite as bad as your sister was with the buggy, but you’re certainly keen to explore the world on your own two feet. The problem is you take forever to get anywhere, so during our short walks to preschool, you will mostly be found screaming at me, trying to land one on my nose and generally trying to wriggle free from my arms. Lucky for me, you’re still so little.
You’ve had a lot of teeth come through recently, with 12 now fully through. I noticed not long ago that your front one is chipped – I have no idea how or when it happened! Oops.
You speech is coming on too and you say lots of basic words – mama, dada, tayor, dirty, hot, cold, more, birdy…You’re also happy to humour me for a while when I ask you to copy the words I say. It’s one of my favourite games and you seem to find it funny how excited I get.
You seem to pick things up easily in general and you have a real interest in learning how things work. You’re pretty good with shape sorters now and you seem to like lego. Although you get frustrated easily when you can’t figure things out and often throw toys across the room once you’re bored with them!
Eating & Sleeping
Your appetite is immense and you really enjoy your food. You’re still way fussier than Taylor and you’re quite particular about what you like. Baked beans have always been a favourite, along with sweet potato, bananas, pasta, sweetcorn, sardines and peanut butter sandwiches. You’re still on a dairy free diet which can sometimes be a challenge. You seem to really dislike a lot of vegetables and most fruits, so I sometimes have to disguise them in your meals!
Despite the encouragement I give you when you hand me your dinner plate, most days you still insist on throwing it on the floor to let me know you’ve finished. Regardless of what you didn’t eat. I swear you know exactly what you’re doing, but you seem to find it entertaining watching me search the floor for peas…
You sleep pretty well now, apart from the odd teething episode. You now mainly just have the one daytime nap, and you’re always ready for your bed by 2pm. After your bath that is, which seems to be your favourite activity of the day! You’ve just figured out how to blow bubbles under water, which you love doing.
Thank you for the endless fun, the cheeky grins, the sleepy cuddles and even the toddler tantrums. You are the cutest. xxx
We were recently sent a NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® automatic coffee machine to review and to say that we have upgraded our mornings is an understatement!
Like most family households, mornings over here can get pretty hectic with preschool runs, nursery drops offs and two adults trying to get ready whilst navigating the mood swings of the four year old and the mischievous antics of the toddler.
So breakfast tends to be more grab and go and we’re lucky if we get more than one hot drink to see us off.
Our NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Lumio Red Automatic Coffee Machine
We’ve never owned a coffee machine before, so this is a bit of a game-changer for us. We were sent the Lumio Automatic Coffee Machine by Krups, which comes in a choice of three colours (red, white or black) and retails for £119.99.
It’s one of the most compact NESCAFÉ® coffee machines with a slick, minimalist design that will look great in any kitchen. But the best thing about it is the ease of use and the endless choices.
The Lumino Krups Coffee Machine works with the Dolce Gusto® range of pods, so you can enjoy over 40 different types of coffee. Simply pop in the pod, select the size drink you require and flip the switch for instant frothy coffee!
The key features
The volume selector is such a handy feature, enabling you to easily select different sized coffees dependent on your preference. So you can enjoy a small espresso, or a tall macchiato with absolutely no mess.
Hot or cold option
There’s also the option to select a hot or cold coffee – and the hot function is just as instant as the cold function. No more waiting for the water to boil!
Removable water tank
The water tank holds up to 1L which we find gives us around 3 cups. This is perfect for us, since we only really ever use it for the two of us. The tank is super easy to remove and fill up too, so it’s not really any bother if you want to make coffee for a larger group of people.
NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® coffee pods
I have to admit that I’ve never been a huge coffee fan. At home I’ll usually opt for a teabag over a spoon of instant coffee. However I do like to indulge in a latte or cappuccino in a coffee shop when I’m out and about. And in all honesty, the coffees we’re now making at home with our new coffee machine taste just as good!
As I said earlier there are over 40 different types of coffees on offer in the Dolce Gusto range of coffee pods. So far we’ve tried the macchiato and the café latte, which have both been delicious and super frothy – just the way I like them!
The coffee pods cost around £4 for 16 pods and are available in all supermarkets. So when you think about it, you’re getting 16 coffees for the same cost of one from a coffee shop.
Cleaning the Dolce Gusto® Lumio Automatic Coffee Machine
Another one of my favourite features of this machine (and I believe others in the Dolce Gusto® range) is that there is virtually no mess. All of the coffee grinds stay within the pods, so once you’ve used it there is really nothing to clean – simply empty the water tank and you’re done. Thanks to the volume selector, spillages are also non-existent, so it’s a super practical option.
Simply put, I’m quite the fan and a complete coffee convert. If you’re looking for a stylish and compact coffee machine that is simple to use and makes a delicious range of coffees, I would most definitely recommend the NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Lumio coffee machine by Krups.
Anyway, all of this writing is thirsty work…
Disclaimer: We were kindly gifted the Dolce Gusto Lumio Coffee Machine in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Post written in collaboration with Asda Birmingham, Barnes Hill
We’ve been gradually updating our house since we moved in 18 months ago, starting with our kitchen/diner renovation and living room last year. The main bathroom is in desperate need of an update, however our ensuite is relatively new and was updated by the previous owners not so long ago.
Although the tiling isn’t particularly to our taste, the actual suite is more than adequate, so we decided to give the room a bit of a makeover with a lick of paint and source some new accessories, rather than by replacing everything.
The room was previously painted magnolia and was pretty uninspiring, so I wanted to add some colour. We went with Dulux’s Denim Drift – a classic mid blue/grey which I’ve loved and wanted to use since it was their Colour of the Year in 2017. I painted the wood work in Farrow & Ball Cornforth White to finish the room.
Organising the room
Our ensuite is probably one of the busiest rooms in our house. It’s also one of the smallest, so things can get pretty hectic in there! It’s where the hubs and I shower in the morning, where the kids clean their teeth and it seems to have become the go-to toilet for all of us!
So I knew when we were updating the room that storage and organisation would be key. With impeccable timing, the team at Asda Birmingham Barnes Hill invited me to choose some items from the store to help us to get more organised. I’ve always found some gems in the George home collection, and this time was no different.
My first choice was these black wire baskets which cost just £6 for two. They’re perfect as a stylish storage option – for spare loo roll, toiletries or kids bath toys. They come in copper and chrome too!
Since we have limited floor space in this room, a simple wall shelf was the perfect solution to provide further storage. It also means that we can display our new bath towels, also by George at Asda, which are far too cool to store away in the airing cupboard!
I also added a row of hooks for us to hang our towels and dressing gowns on – ready to grab when we get out of the shower.
Adding the accessories
Vase and towels both from George at Asda
Accessorising is most definitely my favourite part of any room makeover and I love how you can add a bit of your own personality at this stage. I couldn’t resist the print on the shelving – it reminds me every morning that I’m actually running late (again) and need to get a shift on!
I finished the shelving area off with a modern origami vase. These actually come in a set of three from George and cost just £14. I’ve been looking for a ceramic vase of this style for quite some time, so was pretty pleased with this find!
Adding simple house plants and foliage is a simple and low-cost way of adding personality and impact to a room, so I added plenty of greenery in here.
Chevron bath matt from George £9
My final pick from Asda was the chevron bath matt (above), which goes with our new en-suite perfectly!
We’re just waiting for our new flooring to be fitted and then it’s on to the next!
What do you think? Are you planning any home updates this year?
Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fabulous festive break. I for one took a long blog break – the longest since I started blogging way back in 2014. It was much needed, giving me some perspective and reminded me of all the reasons I love it. There will be some changes coming over the next few weeks – watch this space! But back to our New Year…
Our Christmas was spent at home and we had the most relaxing few weeks – some days were spent in our PJs, only moving to get yet another block of cheese from the fridge…
We then spent New Year with friends at a cabin in Blackwood Forest. Armed with copious amounts of food, drink and games galore, our party of 10 plus one dog made the road trip to Winchester on New Year’s Eve to our Forest Holidays resort.
The cabin and facilities
We stayed in a Golden Oak cabin cabin which had four bedrooms, three bathrooms and an open-plan living area. It was super comfortable and larger than I was expecting, with ample room for us all.
The cabin was equipped with all of the modern facilities to create a real home from home with comfy beds, hairdryers, heated towel rails, a dishwasher, kitchen utensils, cleaning products, TV and toiletries. I was expecting it to be on the cold side given the time of year, but the underfloor heating made it super cosy and it was also well equipped for the younger kids, with stair gates and travel cots all provided.
If I had to make one criticism it would be that the cabin could have done with a little more cleaning before we arrived. It was obvious that the party before us had been celebrating Christmas and there was a lot of green glitter! It didn’t feel like the cabin had been vacuumed, only swept. But all in all, it was more than a comfortable base for our stay.
We arrived around 4pm for check-in and didn’t waste any time in getting into the hot tub! There’s something about a hot tub when it’s cold outside – especially in the middle of a pitch black forest! The kids had a blast and once the younger ones went to bed, we saw in the New Year in the tub, complete with copious amounts of fizz.
Activities and things to do
There are various activities available at Blackwood Forest including bike hire, archery and group walks with the expert Forest Ranger. There’s a main resort centre/lodge where you can buy a select range of food and home cooked meals (all for a premium!) and there’s a cafe there where you can refresh with a beer or a hot chocolate following a day of outdoor activities. They also host a couple of events such as a family quiz, which everyone can take part in.
But in the main, Forest Holidays is more about getting away from it all, reconnecting with family and friends and entertaining yourselves. We took along numerous games and had so much fun on the evenings.
Our days were spent enjoying the forest. Bike hire starts at £18 for 24 hour hire – great if you don’t want the hassle of taking your own bikes. We were also able to hire child seats and covered trailers for the younger kids which was perfect and meant we could all go out biking together. The kids had so much fun and we all enjoyed watching dad get utterly knackered pulling them up the inclines!
We stayed for four nights in total and it was the perfect group holiday where we could relax and take some time away from the stresses of everyday life. I’m not sure there would be enough to entertain us as a family of four with the kids being so young, but as a large group it was just the ticket. It was also great for us being able to take Max – meaning we didn’t have the added hassle and expense of finding a dog sitter.
I would definitely visit a Forest Holidays resort again and would love to experience it in the summer months too. Have you been on a Forest Holiday or to a similar resort in the UK? I’d love some recommendations!
I feel like your 4th birthday is quite the milestone. You really have grown up so much this year and I find myself full of nostalgia for the past, pride for the present and excitement for the little lady you are growing into.
I’m grasping at these days. These days when you still have your own little language and the innocent quirks of a pre-schooler. These days when you still want ‘cuddles in bed’ each night and you’re still proud to show me that you’ve eaten all of your dinner.
Your fourth year has definitely been the year in which you’ve become more self-aware. And with that, more sensitive. Suddenly you care what people think about you and you’ve broken my heart on those few occasions where someone has upset you because of something they’ve said to you. Sometimes I want to wrap you up in cotton wool and protect you from the harsh realities of growing up.
But with your growing maturity also comes an emotional intuition and intelligence that amazes me every day and I have to admit that I love our chats, our games and our giggles now that you’re that bit older.
It’s so difficult to sum up the four year old you in a blog post, since I could of course talk about you all day. But if I had to use one word to describe you it would be lovely. A little simplistic perhaps, and of course I’m totally biased, but you are just so lovely in every way.
You’re always smiling or giggling and you’re happiest when you’re with your family and friends. You have a non-stop playful nature and throw yourself into friendships new and old. We threw a big party for your birthday last Sunday and invited all of your friends along. You were so excited to wear your new party dress and it was priceless seeing how happy you were dancing and playing games with everyone. Nanna of course made you a cake – Mermaid this time which seems to be flavour of the month!
You love nothing more than playing with me on your days at home – and of course you’re an expert now at knowing how to make me feel guilty when I’m not giving you my undivided attention! Crafts are still your favourite thing to do and you’ve also become pretty ‘girly’ this year favouring Barbie, Disney Princesses and all things pink! We also do lots of jigsaws together, which you’re so good at.
You’re still outdoorsy at heart though and a trip to the local park is always top of your activity list.
You’re caring beyond your years and you love to be helpful. You seem to have adopted the position of second mother to Harry and you love looking after him! Obviously you have your moments when you don’t always feel like sharing or you want to be left alone, but for the most part you are so patient with him and love playing the part of big sister.
Although your feisty toddler streak seems to have subsided, your stubbornness and fierce independence has gone nowhere. You (still) want to do absolutely everything yourself (you now make your own sandwiches and wash your own hair) and you have no regard whatsoever for being told ‘no’.
Luckily you are well behaved for the most part, but on those occasions when I tell you off you simply carry on with what you’re doing and tell me not to shout at you. You have to do things your way and no amount of scolding, threats or bribes can change that.
You’re not easily angered or upset and you have a laid back, care free attitude. You’re often telling me “never mind mummy, it doesn’t matter” or “we can fix it”. Like yesterday when we went to take you ice-skating as an early birthday present and got there to find it was fully booked. I was gutted for you (and pretty worried about telling you!). But your response was simply “Oh, but why? Okay we can do something else then?” I love your ability to see the positive in every situation.
You at 4:
You love to draw and paint and you’re so good at it.
You can now write your own name and count to 10. You can count higher but you get so bored!
You also still tell me the wrong colours all the time when I test you – you seem to think it’s funny…You are soooo easily distracted and don’t seem too interested in the curriculum!
Everything is a competition and you always have to win – from being the first to finish breakfast, the first to reach the front door, the first to get out of the car, the first to the bathroom…
Mummy is currently in favour and I’ve been your parent of choice for bedtime stories for the past six months – a change from the past three years!
You always ask for hot chocolate whenever we come in from the cold
Your favourite TV show still Paw Patrol
You save your favourite food on the plate until last
Your favourite game is hide and seek
Happy birthday my baby girl, know that you are loved so much.
Regular readers will know that posting on here has become a little less regular over the past 12 months and my online activity in general has scaled back somewhat.
This is partly to do with other business commitments. Since Harry started at nursery for two days, I’m working more closely with the hubs and I’m currently the sole developer of a very time-consuming e-commerce website – something that would never have been possible had I not learned the basics of website building from blogging.
I’ve certainly struggled to keep up the momentum with the blog since having Harry and find that juggling two children is quite different to just having the one. I no longer get the privilege of the structured nap times Taylor had and the time that I used to dedicate to blogging has just become more and more precious.
Last year I reflected on blogging for three years and what blogging had both given me and taken away. The time and commitment that it takes to run a successful blog is no secret and I think even at that time I was becoming a little overwhelmed and disenchanted with it all.
But here is the irony.
I’ve realised over the past 12 months that my perception of a successful blog has completely changed. I’m sure I’m not the only blogger who has thought at times that how much you can monetise a blog is a true reflection of how successful it is. If brands want to pay you to work with them, then you’re doing well. And of course that’s true to a degree.
But here I am in my fifth year of blogging, earning more from it than I ever have – and I’m simply not happy.
Y’see, the thing is there are only so many hours in the day and when you start prioritising paid work over unpaid work, the whole personality of your blog changes.
Sure, it is possible to have a balance of paid and unpaid work – but with the more paid work you get, the more unpaid posts you have to write and unless you have a lot of time to dedicate, then the pressure to constantly publish becomes a little overwhelming. And, in my experience, you start posting for the sake of posting – rather than because you have something you really want to say.
Hats off to those bloggers who make a career this way. But due to time constraints (and quite frankly caring a little less), the only posts that I’ve had time to publish this year are, in the main, the sponsored ones.
Of course I’m grateful for the sponsored work, and I’ve loved working with some brands this year as a brand ambassador. But I have taken on way too much in the form of sponsored content and in all honesty, I seem to have lost the purpose of why I started to blog in the first place.
Earning money of course if always good, but I would sacrifice the paid work for a blog I’m proud of and the community that I appear to have neglected this year (sorry). My blog has become a bit of a chore and something that I have placed firmly into the ‘work’ area of my life, rather than being the fulfilling hobby that it used to be for me.
I’ve not decided on what my exact next steps will be, but there will certainly be some changes coming in the new year. I’ll be going back to only working with brands that I truly believe in and I’ll be saying ‘no’ a lot more than I’ll be saying ‘yes’.
I’ll only be writing and publishing content which I’m totally proud of and the direction of the blog will be changing quite a bit. I’m even toying with changing the name of the blog, since we’re no longer actually living in Birmingham and I’ve moved on from wanting to document my daily life as a mum.
The blog will always have family life at its heart, but I want to focus more on those topics which I’m passionate about and love sharing. Home interiors for example will be taking a much bigger focus, since updating and renovating our home is what consumes and inspires me these days. I’ll still be covering all things lifestyle from fashion to recipes and days out – but the focus will be purely on quality, rather than quantity.
I no longer feel the pressure of having to post five times a week, or share everything across social media. Once you take a step back and realise that it was never the blog hits, the TOTS 100 ranking or the monthly income that mattered, it all becomes quite liberating.
And now I can get back to what I love and why I started blogging in the first place. So watch this space and please bare with me. I promise good things are to come.