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A wise woman once told me during the adoption process that you will never sleep like you did before kids once you have your child. How right she was…! That wise lady was our social worker when we were going through assessment. But you never get it when you don’t have kids. You just think “Yeh whatever… I’m sure it’ll be fine”

Fast forward three years and I need sleep. More of it. And I don’t think it’s going to come anytime soon. As parents we spend less time in our beds, that’s a given. So I truly believe that time we have in bed must be spent comfortable. Maybe a new mattress will help our situation? If it’s a magical mattress that will subliminally let four-year olds know their dads need more sleep and no more 5am wake ups? Hmm… I doubt it. But we can hope right?

Our old mattress was around five years old, so not too old at all, I think they say you need to upgrade every eight years or so? I loved ours for the first few years, but I definitely noticed something changed the last couple years. It wasn’t as solid or firm. And I love to feel supported. I’ve actually had some pretty decent night’s sleep on my sons floor before now… Ssshhh.

The Simba Hybrid mattress arrives in a box. A box you can’t quite believe is housing a king size mattress. Air tight and heavy we placed it on the bed and sliced open the bag with the handy little Simba cutting device (I’m all about the details so this was nice!) and with that first slice it starts expanding. Give it a couple hours and it’s a fully-fledged, lovely, ready to sleep on mattress. The mattress is scientifically engineered to give you the perfect night's sleep. It contains 2,500 pocket springs and has the luxurious memory foam feel as you lay down onto it. And trust me, it’s noticeable. In my opinion it’s in a different league to the old school stuffy mattresses. This feels different. It's solid and thick yet you sink into it in the right parts thanks to the memory foam. It completely supports your body whilst you sleep. It has 'five luxurious layers designed to fit you and help you get the quality of sleep you've been dreaming'. Scroll down here and see how each layer will help you get that good nights sleep.

I know you’re going to cover your mattresses with protectors, fitted sheets and then your duvet and spreads… but knowing how cool it looks is also a plus point. It just looks good. The straight lines, no flouncy (is that a word?) designs like the older style ones… it looks so good in the room without anything on it! We both woke up after the first night and genuinely felt supple, like our bodies had rested, as well as our minds when we slept. I’m completely sold now after just a five nights, can you tell?

We also went for two of the pillows available from Simba, the Hybrid Pillow with adjustable height and temperature control. Again, they knock our old ones out the park. We thought we were doing a good thing buying the firmest, hardest pillows but my husband in particular had been complaining about his neck whilst sleeping with these for a while. After just a few nights, these are proving to be way more comfortable.

If you’re reading this and thinking those few precious hours you actually get in bed these days could do with being a little more luxurious and comfortable then you're in luck as I am part of their affiliate program. This means readers of the blog can currently get £75 off their first order (when spending £349 and over). Just follow this link to get claim your discount!

Happy napping!

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Simba.

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In March this year I was so happy to be included in the TOTS100 Top 20 list of dad bloggers and now I have been included in the Top 10 adoption blogs for 2018! You can read the article here.

Thank you so much TOTS for the love and to all of those included representing the adoptive families! 

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So, we are now under four weeks til we head off to our Portugal villa holiday with James Villas! And the weather last couple weeks in the UK has got us more than ready… it’s been scorching! We received this box of goodies for when we're there and I for one am most excited about the inflatable watermelon! 

We are heading off to Casa Sol Nascente in the Algarve and we’re lucky enough to know the area really well since we’ve stayed in the Algarve for over a decade thanks to a close friend having a house there. It’s beautiful there and I genuinely prefer the food, the lifestyle and just the general vibe to anywhere else. There’s something about the Algarve… 

So how do I get holiday ready with a four-year-old? We’ve been abroad three times already with Kai, so I feel like we might have this part nailed. I just split the suitcase down the two sides which instantly limits me to one side. But I have also realised I massively over packed before now. I had a whole case to fill, so of course I did! But I can easily fit all my stuff into one, maybe one and a half sides if I can squeeze Kai’s in…

Our summer wardrobes did us well in Majorca already this year and I don’t think many things need updating. Maybe Kai will need some more ‘throw away’ plain white tees from Primark, they’re £1.30 each. Amazing! For me, my holiday style has really simplified over the years. I do like choice when I am away, so I can’t pack just 7 tees, some shirts and shorts. I need a little more than that. BUT the good thing about a villa holiday is the fact we’ll be able to do some washing whilst we’re there. I could even do a load before coming home so we have zero washing once we’re back. You know you’re a parent when that actually makes you happy…

The journey will be wonderfully full of a four-year-old wanting to touch every button and not have his seatbelt done up. But once we get over the initial tantrum and us doing the ‘parent voice’ under our breaths so that no one in front or behind can hear we’ll be landing before we know it. 

Once we land and pick up the car we’ll probably head to a mall we absolutely love, it’s called Algarve Shopping, and we love it there! We can stock up on some goodies, beach toys and enough food to last us a few days. This mall is like no other we’ve been to… it’s all outdoors, the colours, the architecture. It has everything including a park for the kids.  I wonder if Kai will remember it from last year?

When we get to the villa and we’re settled we’ll no doubt enjoy a pool/beach day or two and we’re going to have to head to Zoo Marina at some point. I just can’t wait for us three to experience a different kind of holiday together. We’ve done the all-inclusive and will probably do many more, but something excites me about being away from all of that. Being able to wake up and have our own breakfast. Have the pool all to ourselves. Eat at the local cafes and peri peri chicken restaurants (REAL peri peri, trust me, Nandos doesn’t compare). I can’t wait. And I must admit, it’ll be nice for Kai to not have to share the pool and all his toys for the week. Yes he loved making holiday friends in Majorca but I also think he’ll love to have our undivided attention and no one to fight with ;-)

The countdown begins… Keep an eye out for all the holiday spam!

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UNLIKELY DAD Blog by Unlikely Dad - 3w ago

Being a dad. It's quite possibly the most amazingly rewarding thing I will ever do. The rise of social media and instagram has meant dads can come together so much easier than ever before compared to previous generations. And I love that!

The Dad Network is a brilliant team of parents, headed up by Al Ferguson, that offers support, advice and camaraderie amongst dads. It's brilliant and clearly so needed based on it's ever growing popularity. Dads have feelings too and dads want to talk about them. This group is helping us do that.

So what is Dadcon? It is a day for dads to come together and attend seminars and talks on all things parenting, fitness, finance and even sex post-kids (thanks to the wonderful Sex Doctor, Karen Gurney) in London's Sony Music House. It was such a great opportunity to see my fellow dads, have a drink (or three) and catch up.

The day finished off with the hilarious Sam Avery, The Learner Parent, and then we headed out for dinner and drinks. Thanks again Al and Jen and all who took part in making it such a brilliant day! Looking forward to the same time next year...

 

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UNLIKELY DAD Blog by Unlikely Dad - 1M ago

It was bound to happen.

We recently had a letter sent home from pre-school explaining how they plan to help transition the kids into their first year of primary school, a.k.a reception. And this week we headed into school to join him on his first transition morning. In September he’ll be waltzing into school in his little red jumper, grey shorts and shoes. And my heart broke a little bit. It’s been said by every parent, every year… but HE. IS. MY. BABY! School? Are you kidding me? I remember his first day at pre-school clear as anything and now we're four weeks from the end. Terrifying. 

Over a year ago I wrote a blog called ‘Nursery’ and here we are, almost a year and a half later readying him (and ourselves) for school in September and everything they say is true, time flies. I have no idea where it goes. My head is battling back and forth on the subject; “it’s far too soon”, “he’s only four!”, “will he enjoy it?” then jumping to “I bet he’ll have a great time!”, “he’ll love being with all his friends”.

He currently goes to pre-school 9am - 12:45pm and he has a whale of a time and always comes back messy having played with his mates, carrying paintings he’s done, singing new songs he’s learnt. Some days we get the whole “I don’t want to go to nursery, daddy”. But we don’t worry too much because at drop off he runs in and sometimes we don’t even get a cuddle or a kiss goodbye and come pick up time he often doesn’t want to leave. Why do kids do the “I don’t want to go…” bit? I like to think he’d rather stay at home with his dad all day and chill.

We’ve recently booked him in play club after lunch til 3pm two days a week. I thought it’d be a perfect way to get him used to a full school day, but truth be told, he won’t even remember what school is after a six-week summer holiday, will he? But it’s been a good test for us to see how he gets on and I am so pleased he’s loving it for those two days. He is really tired come 3pm and goes down to sleep at bedtime like a dream on those days.

But I guess I do worry about school and the expectations and pressures the kids seem to be under. I know in the early years they learn through play, but I can’t say I agree wholeheartedly with the curriculum, at the same time I know he does thrive in the school environment.  It’s a real 50/50 for me. Making friends, learning valuable social skills, building that confidence… I know it’s good for him. 

What he (and I) may struggle with is the pressure but this is where I think parents play such a huge part. He won’t be getting any of that pressure from us at home. If he is struggling, we’ll take it on together. My love is unconditional, not based on your ability to remember stuff (because that’s what exams are… let’s face it). So, you’re not great at maths? Oh well… I think I almost failed my GCSE maths, I have no A-levels and didn’t go to uni. I’m not doing so bad. School will teach him amazing things, but it will also teach him things that will help him develop into the man he wants to be. He’ll learn what he DOESN’T want to do or who he DOESN’T want to be like when he’s older. And I love that! This is all part of his experience growing up.

I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do when I was at school, more so in the later years. But primary school was just so much fun. I sense a huge shift these days, kids are so much more self-aware and confident which is hopefully helping them not be as affected by the demands? I don’t know. All I know is, as September approaches and we all embark on this new chapter together, I am ready to be his sidekick, his biggest supporter and help him along the journey in every way, shape and form I can whilst at the same time learning/struggling to let go and let him experience life on his own… Give me time, give me time, he’s only four… he still needs his dad, right?

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UNLIKELY DAD Blog by Unlikely Dad - 1M ago

We recently got back from a night away. We have never had a night away from it all in the entire three years of being parents! I’ve stayed away about three or four nights in this time but my husband was always at home to look after our boy. To take care of bath time, bedtime and wake up. We’ve never left him with anyone else and I honestly think we were due. We ALL were.

It had got to the point where I think he was ready for a sleepover at his aunties. He has his cousins there and he loves them, so he’d have a great time and he’d (hopefully) go to bed like a dream. If I am being honest, I almost didn’t care (sorry auntie Mel!). I knew she’d have the tricks of the trade to sooth him to sleep and he listens to her much more than us so I knew she got this. And let’s be honest, we simply needed a NIGHT. OFF!

What better excuse was there than Danny’s 40th! My husband turned forty in June and why not start the celebrations on the 1st? So I booked him into a spa hotel in the New Forest. It looked absolutely beautiful (and cost me a remortgage) but it was worth it… So I told him a few days before that he was having a night away and a two hour treatment followed by the spa, some dinner, then the following day some breakfast and a mooch around the forests. Basically his heaven. He was ready. I was ready. We couldn’t wait.

The Friday morning arrived and so came the moment of actually saying bye to Kai and leaving him with his auntie. And yup… I actually felt a little lump in my throat. My baby. My little boy. He ‘d be having someone else put him to bed. What if he asked for me and I wasn’t there? Or what if he woke in the middle of the night as he often does? Only we know what works to help him back to sleep. But I had to wave him off. Cut that cord. And I could see in his silly, little face that he wasn’t quite sure what was going on but it was mixed with excitement at getting driven off in his aunties new car and having his best mate play with him in the back. They drove off and we waved goodbye. And then there were two. Just us. On our own.

I am not going to lie… I swiftly got into my head that he was going to be fine. He would be in his element at the farm with nanny and grandad and his cousins. Yes, I needed to know come bed time that he went down okay and was asleep, but until then, I was ready for this time alone. To head to the New Forest together and remember what it was like to be just us.

We headed off about half ten in the morning, got there for lunch and just pottered about a small village within the forest. At lunch there was no fussing over a four year old, no pulling of the table cloth, no crumbs being dropped everywhere. We just sat and we talked. Can you believe it? There was a family sat near us with two kids just being kids. I think they were stressing out that they were disrupting us… but it did not bother me in the slightest. I just secretly liked that it wasn’t my kid making the scene for a change…

We headed to the hotel leisurely, checked in, had some champagne and then headed to the spa. We well and truly switched off and I think this comes from knowing he was safe with his auntie. He was going to be fine and I was 100% relishing in the fact we had no responsibilities. After a few hours we had sweated and swam enough and headed back to the room to relax a little more and enjoy the silence. Actual silence. It got to dinner and we checked in with auntie Mel… but there was no reply. Oh god. Had he not gone to sleep? Was he kicking off? Was she okay looking after him? After a while, we were told he fell asleep with no problems. In a different room. A different bed. And a different routine. Perfect.

We stayed up so late with some friends that joined us in the hotel too. We really should’ve gone to bed at like, nine or something to fully benefit. But we were just having too much fun. We laughed our tits off and truly just forgot about the parents in us and were taken back to who we were before.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to ever change. When I became a dad, I know I changed a little, and I loved it. But every now and then it’s good for the soul to have some time out, for you and to remember who you are when you aren’t being dad. Or being a professional. Or being a good friend. JUST BE YOU. And I honestly cannot recommend this enough. I know so many couples who do get away fairly often and good for them. We waited so long. Too long. But I guess we did it when it felt right.

We both woke the next day at around 8ish. That’s a huge lie in trust me. There was no one jumping on us, demanding a drink at 5am or kicking us in the nuts. I’m not ashamed to say, I absolutely loved it. It felt like the world’s biggest luxury. I can’t tell you enough how much we needed it. We had the biggest breakfast known to man and then headed out to the forest for a sunshine filled walk. I think we were both getting to a point where we missed him even if we didn’t want to admit it. He would be loved the freedom of the forest and seeing the animals in the roads. Come 1ish, it was time to head home.

It truly left us feeling alive. We had reconnected and remembered who we were not just as a couple but as individuals. It felt like a mini holiday and it was only one bloody night! Maybe we had such a great experience because we left it so long I don’t know… but in my head I am already wondering when we can do it again. Would two nights be pushing it…?

We got home and there he was… ready to run away from us, not cuddle us and not wanting to leave his aunties. Just what we wanted weirdly. The sign of a good day and night for him too!

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UNLIKELY DAD Blog by Unlikely Dad - 1M ago

We recently got back from a night away. We have never had a night away from it all in the entire three years of being parents! I’ve stayed away about three or four nights in this time but my husband was always at home to look after our boy. To take care of bath time, bedtime and wake up. We’ve never left him with anyone else and I honestly think we were due. We ALL were.

It had got to the point where I think he was ready for a sleepover at his aunties. He has his cousins there and he loves them, so he’d have a great time and he’d (hopefully) go to bed like a dream. If I am being honest, I almost didn’t care (sorry auntie Mel!). I knew she’d have the tricks of the trade to sooth him to sleep and he listens to her much more than us so I knew she got this. And let’s be honest, we simply needed a NIGHT. OFF!

What better excuse was there than Danny’s 40th! My husband turned forty in June and why not start the celebrations on the 1st? So I booked him into a spa hotel in the New Forest. It looked absolutely beautiful (and cost me a remortgage) but it was worth it… So I told him a few days before that he was having a night away and a two hour treatment followed by the spa, some dinner, then the following day some breakfast and a mooch around the forests. Basically his heaven. He was ready. I was ready. We couldn’t wait.

The Friday morning arrived and so came the moment of actually saying bye to Kai and leaving him with his auntie. And yup… I actually felt a little lump in my throat. My baby. My little boy. He ‘d be having someone else put him to bed. What if he asked for me and I wasn’t there? Or what if he woke in the middle of the night as he often does? Only we know what works to help him back to sleep. But I had to wave him off. Cut that cord. And I could see in his silly, little face that he wasn’t quite sure what was going on but it was mixed with excitement at getting driven off in his aunties new car and having his best mate play with him in the back. They drove off and we waved goodbye. And then there were two. Just us. On our own.

I am not going to lie… I swiftly got into my head that he was going to be fine. He would be in his element at the farm with nanny and grandad and his cousins. Yes, I needed to know come bed time that he went down okay and was asleep, but until then, I was ready for this time alone. To head to the New Forest together and remember what it was like to be just us.

We headed off about half ten in the morning, got there for lunch and just pottered about a small village within the forest. At lunch there was no fussing over a four year old, no pulling of the table cloth, no crumbs being dropped everywhere. We just sat and we talked. Can you believe it? There was a family sat near us with two kids just being kids. I think they were stressing out that they were disrupting us… but it did not bother me in the slightest. I just secretly liked that it wasn’t my kid making the scene for a change…

We headed to the hotel leisurely, checked in, had some champagne and then headed to the spa. We well and truly switched off and I think this comes from knowing he was safe with his auntie. He was going to be fine and I was 100% relishing in the fact we had no responsibilities. After a few hours we had sweated and swam enough and headed back to the room to relax a little more and enjoy the silence. Actual silence. It got to dinner and we checked in with auntie Mel… but there was no reply. Oh god. Had he not gone to sleep? Was he kicking off? Was she okay looking after him? After a while, we were told he fell asleep with no problems. In a different room. A different bed. And a different routine. Perfect.

We stayed up so late with some friends that joined us in the hotel too. We really should’ve gone to bed at like, nine or something to fully benefit. But we were just having too much fun. We laughed our tits off and truly just forgot about the parents in us and were taken back to who we were before.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to ever change. When I became a dad, I know I changed a little, and I loved it. But every now and then it’s good for the soul to have some time out, for you and to remember who you are when you aren’t being dad. Or being a professional. Or being a good friend. JUST BE YOU. And I honestly cannot recommend this enough. I know so many couples who do get away fairly often and good for them. We waited so long. Too long. But I guess we did it when it felt right.

We both woke the next day at around 8ish. That’s a huge lie in trust me. There was no one jumping on us, demanding a drink at 5am or kicking us in the nuts. I’m not ashamed to say, I absolutely loved it. It felt like the world’s biggest luxury. I can’t tell you enough how much we needed it. We had the biggest breakfast known to man and then headed out to the forest for a sunshine filled walk. I think we were both getting to a point where we missed him even if we didn’t want to admit it. He would be loved the freedom of the forest and seeing the animals in the roads. Come 1ish, it was time to head home.

It truly left us feeling alive. We had reconnected and remembered who we were not just as a couple but as individuals. It felt like a mini holiday and it was only one bloody night! Maybe we had such a great experience because we left it so long I don’t know… but in my head I am already wondering when we can do it again. Would two nights be pushing it…?

We got home and there he was… ready to run away from us, not cuddle us and not wanting to leave his aunties. Just what we wanted weirdly. The sign of a good day and night for him too!

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This Father's Day I helped Marks and Spencer celebrate all things dad style!

TV presenter Ore Oduba, instagrammer London Dad, Van Helsing actor Will Kemp, M&S menswear editor Ian Wright and MYSELF all showed off our best Vogue skills with our little ones whilst wearing some great pieces from the M&S collection.

We had so much fun on the shoot and you can see all the behind the scenes action from the day on my instagram highlights! The full feature with all the dads can be found here.

Happy Father's Day!

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If you’ve travelled with a child/children you know exactly what I am about to say. But more specifically this applies to times when travelling abroad or to an all-inclusive style holiday. The flights, the pools, the sunshine, the free flowing food and ice cream (literally) on tap. Luckily our next trip in July is to a villa in Portugal with James Villas where we can control the sugar in take a little more...!

We have recently got back from a week in Majorca and I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of bribes and lies that came out of my mouth whilst we were there. I was actually annoying myself so much at the amount of rubbish I was saying!

“Oh okay, no ice cream then”

“Do you want to go to the beach?”

“Ok no lollies at the beach”

“Alright if you don’t want to put your sandals on then we can’t go to the pool and see your friends”

I was like a BROKEN. RECORD.

I swore I’d never be one of those parents. The ones telling all sorts of fibs just to get their kids to eat at the table for longer than thirty seconds. HA! How foolish I was.

On holiday it’s a little like a sensory overload. The plane, the travelling, the sun and the pools. There’s just so much for them to do and see that I am not surprised they go a little nuts. And the pressure. You have this image that you will all sashay off of the plane dressed in your finest travel attire with a calm sleepy child and holding onto your designer hand luggage. When in reality you’re all tired from the 2am wake up to get to the airport, the kids have been playing up on the flight so you’ve, yet again, been using every excuse you can to keep them still. Or maybe they slept so now they’re all grouchy as you need to get them up and put the seat belt on them to land. That first day is never that magical Disney-like arrival to your destination. You’re all tired and haven’t settled into your new home for the week. We always say day one is a non-starter. Wait for day two to feel the magic I say...

Holidays with kids simply are not holidays like they used to be. There’s no real rest. You’re policing poolside fights over the inflatables and buckets you’ve all bought but have now got all mixed up. You’re trying to make sure they don’t run so fast around the pool that they slip in. You’re trying to distract them from seeing the self-service ice cream machine by the bar. You aren’t laying on a sun lounger with your new book or your headphones in. Nuh uh. Those days are long gone. For now at least.

Eventually when you get them to sleep after the kids disco, you’re back in your room trying not to make a sound so you don’t wake them. Flicking through your phone looking at the photos from the day, you smile. You’re creating wonderful memories for these little creatures. And it is so worth all the hassle trying to get suncream on them and making sure they don’t climb over the balcony while you aren't looking. You truly wouldn’t have it any other way.

This year I am a James Villa Ambassador! What I am looking forward to about our next trip is that we will have our own space, our own pool and with villa holidays you get to do things on your terms and timings. I love an all inclusive holiday, definitely, but with a villa you can make it a little more your own and it'll be a lot quieter. We've been away in a villa before and having that independence really makes a difference.

We're off to the Algarve in Portugal in July and luckily we already know the area so well. We must've been to the Algarve over ten times in the last few years as one of our closest friends has a house there, so we know our way around.

I'm excited to just jump in the hire car and whizz to the shops and stock up the house, get some inflatables for the pool and make it feel like home for a week. The one uncertainty I've always found with staying in hotels with kids is the sleeping arrangements. Will the bed be big enough? Do they have blackout blinds? Is it noisy outside the hotel room? When it comes to villas you are usually in a nice quiet area and you can see the bedrooms available, and even floor plans online, so you can work out which room would be best for the little one. But trust me, we'll still be popping to the shops for some tin foil if it's a little too bright in the room! (please tell me you know about the tin foil trick?!) Once he's asleep we have a whole house to roam about in, we could even have a cheeky evening dip in the pool without having to worry about the little monkey who is so intent on not having daddy's help but swimming on his own!

And if you're anything like me you'll secretly be living for the moment your partner tells you to take an hour to relax and they’ll take the little one off for a walk so you can enjoy a Cuba Libre and lay in the sun in peace. That one hour holiday feels like a week when you're a parent.

I am a James Villa Ambassador for 2018. This is a sponsored post.

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What would you tell your seventeen year old self?

At seventeen I had left school long behind. I was in college and had made friends that are still in my life now at thirty three. At seventeen I would also meet my now husband. I had no idea what was in store for me.

I recently wrote a letter to my seventeen year old self for The Muse. You can find it here.

 

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