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Virtually everyone who has a parenting blog does a Mothers Day gift guide. So I will apologies for lumping myself in with the herd by giving you yet another one. I am going to make this slightly more relevant to myself, and do one based on a mother’s first Mother’s Day, not that that’s anything new, but welcome to the world of blogging! So here’s what I think would make half decent ideas of what to get a new mother.

An Art Scrap Book

Sounds sexy, right? But hear me out. I got Rachel this last year, roughly one month before she even became a mother. The idea of it is quite simple. Every year you get the book out and let the baby draw, paint, write or just do something on a few of the pages. This is something that can be done every year as a tradition of some sort, and it’s something that I personally think would be awesome to see as the years progress. Here’s what ours looks like:

To start with, you’ll likely have hand prints, foot prints and photos, then, as the years progress, the drawings and ideas will get more sophisticated, likely until the child becomes a teenager and goes through that stage where they think everything is stupid. But either way, it’s a cost effective, thoughtful way to reminisce over past mothers days whilst adding to future ones. And if this is a mothers first one, then you’re doing it right at the beginning, which makes it even more memorable.

You can always get a custom made one via somewhere like Etsy, or simply buy a blank one on Amazon, or even pop in Hobbycraft. That’s probably the better option if you’re leaving it late. I had ours personalised before Isabelle was born, and it looks like this:

Photo For Every Day She’s Been a Mother

This is one I really wanted to do for Rachel, but seeing as we had Isabelle in April, there would be around 322 days in which Rachel has been a mother. So doing a canvas with that many photos on might be a little bit over the top.

But let’s face it. We all take a boat load of photos of babies, probably even more so in the early years. So you’ll probably find it quite easy gathering enough photos to make this work. You can do it a little more creatively and order the photos via something like Freeprints and cut them all out onto a giant piece of paper to get framed, or maybe a scrapbook like the idea above, or even make them online somewhere like Photobox.

Spa Day

Ok, I’ll admit, that this suggestion is a little bit of a cop out in the sense that it’s a pretty obvious suggestion and one that applies to mothers in general. But let’s be honest, what a mother does all day is bloody hard work, and if they’re new to it then it’s likely even more daunting. Unless she’s back in work and it’s the father that’s doing the caregiving, we do have shared parental leave these days after all. But, for the sake of this gift guide, I’m going to assume she’s the one on maternity leave and hence doing the majority of the parenting.

Rachel has recently gone back to work, so I’ve got to experience what it’s like being a stay-at-home dad, and yes, it’s hard work. It’s also something that I think all dads should really experience. Putting yourself in each others shoes is a very important thing to do if you want to better understand what you both go through, that includes the mother seeing what it’s like being in work all day and then coming home to having the baby. So why not send this new mother off for a day at a local spa. It doesn’t have to be a full day, maybe you just want to book a massage, or another treatment. I know they’re expensive, but you don’t have to go all out.

Handprint Jewellery

This is lovely idea but one that I’m leaving a little bit too late. But getting a hand or foot print on a piece of jewellery is a nice keepsake item that they could potentially add to should you want to have more children in the future. Here’s an example:

I know Rachel wants this one quite a lot, but it’s something we’ll probably get done together as I’ve left it a little bit too late and I think we’d both rather be involved in the process. It’s also a little more expensive and does start at £60. If you’re after somewhere that does it, then here’s Lollipops and Ladybirds.

Well, I think that’s about it. Hopefully you can find something here that might work for a first Mother’s Day, but we’re all different. I dare say you know the mother in question you’re looking to buy for better than I do, so do what you think is best. The only real reason I did this post was because I really liked my scrapbook idea. When I really put my mind to it I like to think I get pretty cute gifts, it’s just very rare that I think about them.

If you have any other suggestions then feel free to comment them below. I will then steal your idea and pass it off as my own, so thank you in advance.

If you want to follow Isablog, then you can do so via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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I don’t usually write posts where I complain all that much. But this is going to be one of those posts.

Yesterday me and Rachel popped to a local Asda, and, with it being a Friday, it was rather busy. We drove around the car park and eventually saw someone leaving a parent and baby space. We drove around and the car in front, with no baby, pulled in instead.

Now, me and Rachel are both pretty socially awkward, me more so than her, and usually we would leave this and move on, but she was tired of seeing the same thing over and over. So my wife rolled the window down and complained to the person who quickly said that they didn’t realise it was a parenting space, which could probably translate to “we didn’t think anyone would notice.”

We then circled the car park, as we didn’t want to block everyone, and by the time we arrived back, a van was there instead.

We then found a space somewhere else that was rather tight, and Rachel then had to reverse back into the road for me to get Isabelle out before parking properly. Hardly a safe option in comparison.

So that was it. We thought fine, no one is going to stop doing this unless we actually complain. So we did. We went to customer services and said about the van, to which we were met with the tepid response of “it’s unfortunate, and annoying, but there’s nothing we can really do about it.”

Of course, we could’ve asked to speak with someone else, but neither of us are the types to go “I want to speak with a manager,” so we simply opted to leave it and just email Asda when we got home.

Asda even have a £70 fine sign by the parent and baby space for those who use the spaces incorrectly, but this was something that we saw later and by this point didn’t really want to go back in and be ‘those parents’ who kept complaining.

I’ll be honest. I don’t usually complain about this sort of stuff. I don’t actually complain that much in general, I don’t usually care enough, and there’s a small part of me that doesn’t with this. I also don’t want to be that parent going “oh, I want my own spaces!” but you do need them, and even more so when it’s busy and you can’t just park where it’s quiet. I don’t care where they are. I would actually prefer them not be so close, that way people wouldn’t actually use them as much.

I just want to not have to struggle to get the baby out without hitting the car next to me and be able to do so safely. Sadly, I don’t think this is really going to change all that much unless people start to complain.

I know it’s annoying when the car park is full and there are parent and baby spaces there, but that still doesn’t mean you should use them.

I guess all I’m doing here is just writing this in the hopes that more people will actually complain about those who are incorrectly parked. People don’t do it with disabled spaces, or at least it’s less accepted, so they shouldn’t do it with these. And if no one cares, then that’s fine, at least I’ve had my little rant.

How do you feel about this? Have you ever complained to yourself but never done anything about it like we have normally done? Or are we just being a little bit touchy and want to get over ourselves a little?

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I’m suggesting another thing that may not work for everyone, but it’s something that personally worked somewhat for me, so I’m going to talk about it. This one, as you can probably guess from the title, is about attachment parenting.

What is Attachment Parenting?

So, attachment parenting is basically a form of parenting where you connect yourself with your baby as much as possible. Generally it consists of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, holding and carrying the baby as much as possible and attending to their cries quickly without letting them ‘cry it out’. It’s essentially a more ‘natural’ approach to parenting, and one that has a large connection with our ancestral roots.

For me, this works because it’s hardwired into us to parent like this. Let’s not forget our evolution. Back in the day (thousands and thousands of years ago) they didn’t have a cot, they didn’t have a pram, they didn’t leave a baby to cry themselves to sleep for the sake of ‘sleep training’ and they didn’t have bottles. Of course, I’m speculating on most of that as I wasn’t physically there. But you only have to look at modern day hunter-gather societies to guess what it might have been like.

Michelle, of Attachment Parenting UK said this on attachment parenting:
Attachment parenting often supports parents to use nurturing touch through slings or co-sleeping – these practices feed the biochemical process involved in parent/infant bonding. Yet, the depth of attachment isn’t dependent on the amount of time with the child but the quality of presence instead. Our work at Attachment Parenting UK invites parents to recognise that they are not experiencing their children, rather their thinking about their children. This simple but profound understanding helps us to see the child in their full expression of innocence and to remember that our own insecure, anxious or fearful thoughts are not facts, nor true, and we can be relieved of the pressure of believing them to be so. Knowing our children have innate well-being and simply need an environment of love, care, support, encouragement and light heartedness is enough to soften the immense responsibility we can place on ourselves during those early years.

Before I continue, I will address the issue of whether you can still be an attachment styled parent without the breastfeeding element. The more hardcore ones out there would argue that you can’t, and sure, I see their point; at the end of the day it’s a very big bonding tool and something that was the most needed element back in the day.

But I personally feel that you can still be an attachment parent whilst using a bottle. If you couldn’t, then you’re basically saying men can’t parent this way. But you should bottlefeed as if you were breastfeeding. And by that I mean, on demand, try not to let everyone do it, and don’t ram the bloody bottle in their mouth like you’re trying to make foie gras. Case in point:

This is not attachment parenting. It’s barely even parenting

The above image is not only a form of bad parenting, it’s also actually dangerous and can result in death.

I’m still a huge supporter of breastfeeding, but if you are using bottles then that’s ok. You’re free to do what you want, and your mental health has to also be a priority. If breastfeeding causes you too much stress, then you should either seek support to help you through it, or simply go to the bottle and not feel guilty for doing so.

How Does Attachment Parenting Help?

For me, I feel that this style of parenting has the possibility to get you out of postnatal depression as it’s the way it was always meant to be done. It’s something that is much more baby-led and hence means that your baby is far more likely to be content and that’s very likely going to then help you. At least that’s my opinion.

Take me to a hunter-gather society and show me someone not using this style. Then show me someone there who has postnatal depression. You’ll likely struggle with both. I’m not saying correlation implies causation, but there’s no smoke without fire. I will admit that those communities are just that, they are communities, and as such are incredibly supportive of each other, something we often forget about in the Western world.

I’ll admit, that it can be incredibly draining, and does involve you being fully involved with the baby when you are with them. I’m not suggesting that you use this parenting style if using it is going to make you feel worse. If you feel that you need to have time away from your baby to go out and regain your independence, then by all means do that.

I’ve recently experienced what it’s like to be with a baby all day as my wife has ended her maternity leave, so I know how draining it can be having a baby depend on you for the entire day.

But using something like the baby carrier helped me a great deal. I could go out for a decent walk across difficult terrain, and then I could let Isabelle sleep whilst I made food all the while she’s still happily connected with me. It’s also something that has helped me a great deal when it came to forming a bond with Isabelle, which was something I’ve struggled with quite a lot since first having her. Babywearing has played that much of a part in my postnatal depression recovery that you can read more about it via the toolkit.

Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is something that has worked incredibly well for us. We sleep really well with Isabelle, and have done so since she was around 6 weeks old. This is due to the fact that Isabelle sleeps next to us, occasionally ending up in the bed as Rachel feeds her on demand during the night. Does Rachel fall asleep whilst feeding her? Sometimes, yes. But it’s perfectly fine. Co-sleeping can be done very safely, if you want to read about how, then here’s a post.

I genuinely feel that co-sleeping is one of the best decisions we’ve made. We all love it, even the dogs, and it’s great waking up each morning to the sound of Isabelle babbling away to signal that she’s ready to get up, even if it is at 6am.

Summary

You don’t have to take all the aspects of attachment parenting and incorporate everything into your life. The main one for me personally is the babywearing. I’ll be honest, I haven’t used the pram since July last year, and I almost struggle to see the point in them. But if you’re struggling to form a bond with the baby like I did, then I do recommend that you try to incorporate some of these principles into your parenting, if it’s not for you, then simply try something else.

If you want other suggestions to try to go alongside this, then feel free to check out the Toolkit I’ve made.

Whilst you’re here, if you could like this blog on Facebook and follow it on Twitter then that would be great. I’m also on Instagram too, so if you’re into that then you can always follow Isablog on there too.

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When it comes to going away as a family, we kind of like to do things a little bit randomly. Did we have any particular reason for choosing the small town of Lynton on the coast of the Exmoor National Park? Not really. But the Lynton Cottage Apartment stood out to us, and if where you’re staying is great, then you’re off to a good start.

On the first day of arrival, we didn’t really do all that much. In fairness, it took me bloody long enough lugging three cases, around four bags and a high chair up to the room. Rachel had the much easier job of chilling out on the sofa feeding Isabelle and enjoying the view.

Lucky for some. But in all seriousness, we didn’t really do that much. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit in a different place with a different view to the same one you’re usually faced with. So I’d say we were pretty happy just chilling out.

Pancake Day

The very next day was in fact Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday for the hardcore Christians out there. And since Isabelle had never actually tasted a pancake before, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for her to try one. Here she is before getting her first try.

After this, we were a little undecided on what to do. Since we hadn’t actually planned anything for this trip, and only had a rough idea of what was around, we opted to go with the flow and just randomly head off to Exmoor Zoo.

I’ll be honest, it was a bad idea. It cost us almost £28, we spent barely and hour there, and found the vast majority of the enclosures lacked anything worth seeing. I won’t go into to much detail on this post as I’m going to be writing a full review on it, so feel free to follow the blog for an update on when that’s on here. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t want to go back any time soon.

Valentine’s Day

The very next day was Valentine’s Day! And since this was Isabelle’s first Valentine’s Day we thought we’d do a mini photo shoot of sorts. I don’t particularly want to bombard you with photos, so I’m just going to share the one. As usual, we uploaded plenty more of them on Instagram, so feel free to follow us there for more photos:

After this, we kind of just got out and about and went for a stroll. Fortunately, the hotel is ideally situated where you get the seclusion and privacy of a tucked away hotel, but one that’s also in very close proximity to the rest of the town. Within a short walk back up the hill we immediately found ourselves with a bunch of gift shops, restaurants and cafes to choose from. Most of which we tried and enjoyed.

In general, Lynton and Lynmouth are lovely little towns to wander around. There’s the Cliff Railway which takes you down towards the Lynmouth National Park Centre and with that we found a bunch more shops that we ended up spending a little more than we really ought to, but that’s what happens when you go away. We even managed to spend £125 on a bit of artwork. Did I plan on that? Absolutely not, but I’m a sucker for a nice piece of art. I’ll probably show you it at some point, but this post already contains too many pictures.

We then took a leisurely stroll towards the Valley of Rocks, which is basically just a nice scenic route you can take along the coast looking back out towards Wales. It’s just a shame that we could literally see Cardiff in the distance, yet it takes almost three hours to get there. Talk about frustrating. Someone please just start a ferry crossing! Anyway, here we are at the aforementioned Valley of Rocks:

Either way, after all that walking and stimulation for Isabelle, she was well and truly conked. I think this photo proves that one:

It was a shame that we ended up waking her up to go for a spot of stargazing. You see, I love the stars. I think they’re a natural beauty that almost no one appreciates. We’ve lost touch with our ancestors in our passion for the stars. Of course, they would’ve been met with a stunning sky virtually every night, but these days, with the levels of light pollution that we have, most people rarely get to see the wonders of the night. And since we were in Exmoor, a dark sky reserve, during a new moon, I thought this was the best chance to tick “see the Milky Way” off my bucket list. Alas, it wasn’t to be. It was a little bit cloudy, and even when they did clear it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. What I want to see is this:

But what we saw wasn’t even close. And I’ll be honest, I almost feel that images like the one above, which was taken in Exmoor, are fake. I just can’t imagine looking up at night and seeing that. I want to, I really want to. It’s one of the things on my bucket list that I most want ticked off, but I just can’t see it ever happening. Suffice to say I’m not a believer until I see it.

So yes, I was disappointed, and then to top it off Isabelle was quite erratic with her sleep when we did get back to the apartment. She was probably a little confused as she was taken out of her routine, and goes as a reminder of how important it is with a baby of this age to keep them in the same set routine for a better chance of a good nights sleep. It’s just a good job that we were on holidays, and didn’t really mind getting a little bit less sleep.

Heading Home

In typical fashion, on the day we were due to head home, the weather broke and the sun really started to shine. It hadn’t been disastrous the entire time we were there, but we didn’t have a full day of consistent sun. It was mostly just cloudy and windy. So, with an almost 3 hour car drive home ahead of us, we thought we’d break it up and stop off in Western, the very first place we ever stayed overnight with Isabelle other than the house:

I won’t talk too much about Western on here, mainly because I’ve already covered it as part of the #MySundayPhoto post that I now like to do, so you can read that if you really want to.

Well I guess that’s it. We’re back home now and that’s another trip with Isabelle all done. In total, this is the 12th place we’ve stayed at with Isabelle. I think it’s safe to say that we love to travel with her. And it won’t be long before we’re off again! If you want to watch a travel vlog of this trip, then here’s a video:

Isablog #18 - Short Trip to Lynton in the Exmoor National Park - YouTube

Thanks for reading this excessively long post, if you want to see more from this little family, then you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m really starting to up my Instagram game, so that one is well worth a follow if you like to see pictures of family life.

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I love this photo for quite a few reasons. But most of those reasons have nothing to do with the actual photo itself. Sure, I think it’s a great picture. The background looks awesome, and the two people at the front are the two most important people in my life. But there’s more to it than that.

It was taken in Western, whilst we were on our way home from Exmoor. This wasn’t our first time in Western with Isabelle. No, it was actually the first place we ever stayed overnight with Isabelle that wasn’t our own home. She was 8 weeks old, it was unbearably hot and we didn’t really have that much of a clue what we were doing. Rachel was still struggling to establish breastfeeding, she was using the cover as she was worried about doing it in public, and I was still very much in the midst of my postnatal depression.

But things started to change when we were in Western. For the first time ever, I actually started to feel some kind of love towards Isabelle. When we had her propped up on the nursing pillow, and I was casually walking (or maybe dancing) around the room, she looked at me, and then smiled:

From that moment, things slowly started to change. I had felt a brief moment of love where there had previously been nothing. We realised that Isabelle loved to go away, we realised that we loved it too; I realised that Isabelle did in fact actually like me and perhaps more importantly, that I could like her too. It was a pivotal moment in my recovery, and one I will always remember.

So I love this picture as it brings back memories of starting to feel better. It represents how far both myself and Rachel have come. We’re not that clueless couple who had no idea what they were doing. I’m not that father who doesn’t love his baby. And Isabelle isn’t that baby who can only lie in a nursing pillow with nothing else to do, absolutely no chance. We’ve all changed so much since our first time here, and the sun is literally shinning on a family that love to spend time together and cherish moments like this.

This is the second time I’ve done this, but you can go back and read last weeks #MySundayPhoto if you want to as well.

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This is my first time doing this #MySundayPhoto thing and I’m not exactly sure why I’m doing it other than it’s a good excuse to take photos and talk about them.

So why this photo? Good question. It’s hardly one that shows Isabelle off as a happy, easy to laugh baby which she often is. But I guess I like it because it’s slightly ironic. She’s wearing a top that says “YAY!” with a very un-yay face.

Today Rachel is in work, and I’m making sure I do everything that I can to not slip into the same depressive state that I did on Tuesday. And instead, I’m setting myself up to have a good day. So one thing I decided to do was a Facebook live stream during breakfast:

I think I’m going to keep it up. It’ll give me something to look forward to doing in the morning. Maybe I’ll connect with some people as I do it. Maybe no one will watch or care, but the point is that I’m starting the day off with something positive. And that’s going to help me cope with the morning and hopefully the rest of the day.

I’m still learning all the time with what helps with my depression. And I’m still not fully used to looking after Isabelle for an entire day when Rachel’s in work, but I’m slowly getting there, and that’s what counts.

Anyway, what do you think of the photo? Could’ve picked a better one? Probably, but I like it.
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I don’t usually write posts where I complain all that much. But this is going to be one of those posts.

Yesterday me and Rachel popped to a local Asda, and, with it being a Friday, it was rather busy. We drove around the car park and eventually saw someone leaving a parent and baby space. We drove around and the car in front, with no baby, pulled in instead.

Now, me and Rachel are both pretty socially awkward, me more so than her, and usually we would leave this and move on, but she was tired of seeing the same thing over and over. So my wife rolled the window down and complained to the person who quickly said that they didn’t realise it was a parenting space, which could probably translate to “we didn’t think anyone would notice.”

We then circled the car park, as we didn’t want to block everyone, and by the time we arrived back, a van was there instead.

We then found a space somewhere else that was rather tight, and Rachel then had to reverse back into the road for me to get Isabelle out before parking properly. Hardly a safe option in comparison.

So that was it. We thought fine, no one is going to stop doing this unless we actually complain. So we did. We went to customer services and said about the van, to which we were met with the tepid response of “it’s unfortunate, and annoying, but there’s nothing we can really do about it.”

Of course, we could’ve asked to speak with someone else, but neither of us are the types to go “I want to speak with a manager,” so we simply opted to leave it and just email Asda when we got home.

Asda even have a £70 fine sign by the parent and baby space for those who use the spaces incorrectly, but this was something that we saw later and by this point didn’t really want to go back in and be ‘those parents’ who kept complaining.

I’ll be honest. I don’t usually complain about this sort of stuff. I don’t actually complain that much in general, I don’t usually care enough, and there’s a small part of me that doesn’t with this. I also don’t want to be that parent going “oh, I want my own spaces!” but you do need them, and even more so when it’s busy and you can’t just park where it’s quiet. I don’t care where they are. I would actually prefer them not be so close, that way people wouldn’t actually use them as much.

I just want to not have to struggle to get the baby out without hitting the car next to me and be able to do so safely. Sadly, I don’t think this is really going to change all that much unless people start to complain.

I know it’s annoying when the car park is full and there are parent and baby spaces there, but that still doesn’t mean you should use them.

I guess all I’m doing here is just writing this in the hopes that more people will actually complain about those who are incorrectly parked. People don’t do it with disabled spaces, or at least it’s less accepted, so they shouldn’t do it with these. And if no one cares, then that’s fine, at least I’ve had my little rant.

How do you feel about this? Have you ever complained to yourself but never done anything about it like we have normally done? Or are we just being a little bit touchy and want to get over ourselves a little?

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I’m suggesting another thing that may not work for everyone, but it’s something that personally worked somewhat for me, so I’m going to talk about it. This one, as you can probably guess from the title, is about attachment parenting.

What is Attachment Parenting?

So, attachment parenting is basically a form of parenting where you connect yourself with your baby as much as possible. Generally it consists of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, holding and carrying the baby as much as possible and attending to their cries quickly without letting them ‘cry it out’. It’s essentially a more ‘natural’ approach to parenting, and one that has a large connection with our ancestral roots.

For me, this works because it’s hardwired into us to parent like this. Let’s not forget our evolution. Back in the day (thousands and thousands of years ago) they didn’t have a cot, they didn’t have a pram, they didn’t leave a baby to cry themselves to sleep for the sake of ‘sleep training’ and they didn’t have bottles. Of course, I’m speculating on most of that as I wasn’t physically there. But you only have to look at modern day hunter-gather societies to guess what it might have been like.

Michelle, of Attachment Parenting UK said this on attachment parenting:
Attachment parenting often supports parents to use nurturing touch through slings or co-sleeping – these practices feed the biochemical process involved in parent/infant bonding. Yet, the depth of attachment isn’t dependent on the amount of time with the child but the quality of presence instead. Our work at Attachment Parenting UK invites parents to recognise that they are not experiencing their children, rather their thinking about their children. This simple but profound understanding helps us to see the child in their full expression of innocence and to remember that our own insecure, anxious or fearful thoughts are not facts, nor true, and we can be relieved of the pressure of believing them to be so. Knowing our children have innate well-being and simply need an environment of love, care, support, encouragement and light heartedness is enough to soften the immense responsibility we can place on ourselves during those early years.

Before I continue, I will address the issue of whether you can still be an attachment styled parent without the breastfeeding element. The more hardcore ones out there would argue that you can’t, and sure, I see their point; at the end of the day it’s a very big bonding tool and something that was the most needed element back in the day.

But I personally feel that you can still be an attachment parent whilst using a bottle. If you couldn’t, then you’re basically saying men can’t parent this way. But you should bottlefeed as if you were breastfeeding. And by that I mean, on demand, try not to let everyone do it, and don’t ram the bloody bottle in their mouth like you’re trying to make foie gras. Case in point:

This is not attachment parenting. It’s barely even parenting

The above image is not only a form of bad parenting, it’s also actually dangerous and can result in death.

I’m still a huge supporter of breastfeeding, but if you are using bottles then that’s ok. You’re free to do what you want, and your mental health has to also be a priority. If breastfeeding causes you too much stress, then you should either seek support to help you through it, or simply go to the bottle and not feel guilty for doing so.

How Does Attachment Parenting Help?

For me, I feel that this style of parenting has the possibility to get you out of postnatal depression as it’s the way it was always meant to be done. It’s something that is much more baby-led and hence means that your baby is far more likely to be content and that’s very likely going to then help you. At least that’s my opinion.

Take me to a hunter-gather society and show me someone not using this style. Then show me someone there who has postnatal depression. You’ll likely struggle with both. I’m not saying correlation implies causation, but there’s no smoke without fire. I will admit that those communities are just that, they are communities, and as such are incredibly supportive of each other, something we often forget about in the Western world.

I’ll admit, that it can be incredibly draining, and does involve you being fully involved with the baby when you are with them. I’m not suggesting that you use this parenting style if using it is going to make you feel worse. If you feel that you need to have time away from your baby to go out and regain your independence, then by all means do that.

I’ve recently experienced what it’s like to be with a baby all day as my wife has ended her maternity leave, so I know how draining it can be having a baby depend on you for the entire day.

But using something like the baby carrier helped me a great deal. I could go out for a decent walk across difficult terrain, and then I could let Isabelle sleep whilst I made food all the while she’s still happily connected with me. It’s also something that has helped me a great deal when it came to forming a bond with Isabelle, which was something I’ve struggled with quite a lot since first having her. Babywearing has played that much of a part in my postnatal depression recovery that you can read more about it via the toolkit.

Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is something that has worked incredibly well for us. We sleep really well with Isabelle, and have done so since she was around 6 weeks old. This is due to the fact that Isabelle sleeps next to us, occasionally ending up in the bed as Rachel feeds her on demand during the night. Does Rachel fall asleep whilst feeding her? Sometimes, yes. But it’s perfectly fine. Co-sleeping can be done very safely, if you want to read about how, then here’s a post.

I genuinely feel that co-sleeping is one of the best decisions we’ve made. We all love it, even the dogs, and it’s great waking up each morning to the sound of Isabelle babbling away to signal that she’s ready to get up, even if it is at 6am.

Summary

You don’t have to take all the aspects of attachment parenting and incorporate everything into your life. The main one for me personally is the babywearing. I’ll be honest, I haven’t used the pram since July last year, and I almost struggle to see the point in them. But if you’re struggling to form a bond with the baby like I did, then I do recommend that you try to incorporate some of these principles into your parenting, if it’s not for you, then simply try something else.

If you want other suggestions to try to go alongside this, then feel free to check out the Toolkit I’ve made.

Whilst you’re here, if you could like this blog on Facebook and follow it on Twitter then that would be great. I’m also on Instagram too, so if you’re into that then you can always follow Isablog on there too.

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When it comes to going away as a family, we kind of like to do things a little bit randomly. Did we have any particular reason for choosing the small town of Lynton on the coast of the Exmoor National Park? Not really. But the Lynton Cottage Apartment stood out to us, and if where you’re staying is great, then you’re off to a good start.

On the first day of arrival, we didn’t really do all that much. In fairness, it took me bloody long enough lugging three cases, around four bags and a high chair up to the room. Rachel had the much easier job of chilling out on the sofa feeding Isabelle and enjoying the view.

Lucky for some. But in all seriousness, we didn’t really do that much. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit in a different place with a different view to the same one you’re usually faced with. So I’d say we were pretty happy just chilling out.

Pancake Day

The very next day was in fact Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday for the hardcore Christians out there. And since Isabelle had never actually tasted a pancake before, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for her to try one. Here she is before getting her first try.

After this, we were a little undecided on what to do. Since we hadn’t actually planned anything for this trip, and only had a rough idea of what was around, we opted to go with the flow and just randomly head off to Exmoor Zoo.

I’ll be honest, it was a bad idea. It cost us almost £28, we spent barely and hour there, and found the vast majority of the enclosures lacked anything worth seeing. I won’t go into to much detail on this post as I’m going to be writing a full review on it, so feel free to follow the blog for an update on when that’s on here. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t want to go back any time soon.

Valentine’s Day

The very next day was Valentine’s Day! And since this was Isabelle’s first Valentine’s Day we thought we’d do a mini photo shoot of sorts. I don’t particularly want to bombard you with photos, so I’m just going to share the one. As usual, we uploaded plenty more of them on Instagram, so feel free to follow us there for more photos:

After this, we kind of just got out and about and went for a stroll. Fortunately, the hotel is ideally situated where you get the seclusion and privacy of a tucked away hotel, but one that’s also in very close proximity to the rest of the town. Within a short walk back up the hill we immediately found ourselves with a bunch of gift shops, restaurants and cafes to choose from. Most of which we tried and enjoyed.

In general, Lynton and Lynmouth are lovely little towns to wander around. There’s the Cliff Railway which takes you down towards the Lynmouth National Park Centre and with that we found a bunch more shops that we ended up spending a little more than we really ought to, but that’s what happens when you go away. We even managed to spend £125 on a bit of artwork. Did I plan on that? Absolutely not, but I’m a sucker for a nice piece of art. I’ll probably show you it at some point, but this post already contains too many pictures.

We then took a leisurely stroll towards the Valley of Rocks, which is basically just a nice scenic route you can take along the coast looking back out towards Wales. It’s just a shame that we could literally see Cardiff in the distance, yet it takes almost three hours to get there. Talk about frustrating. Someone please just start a ferry crossing! Anyway, here we are at the aforementioned Valley of Rocks:

Either way, after all that walking and stimulation for Isabelle, she was well and truly conked. I think this photo proves that one:

It was a shame that we ended up waking her up to go for a spot of stargazing. You see, I love the stars. I think they’re a natural beauty that almost no one appreciates. We’ve lost touch with our ancestors in our passion for the stars. Of course, they would’ve been met with a stunning sky virtually every night, but these days, with the levels of light pollution that we have, most people rarely get to see the wonders of the night. And since we were in Exmoor, a dark sky reserve, during a new moon, I thought this was the best chance to tick “see the Milky Way” off my bucket list. Alas, it wasn’t to be. It was a little bit cloudy, and even when they did clear it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. What I want to see is this:

But what we saw wasn’t even close. And I’ll be honest, I almost feel that images like the one above, which was taken in Exmoor, are fake. I just can’t imagine looking up at night and seeing that. I want to, I really want to. It’s one of the things on my bucket list that I most want ticked off, but I just can’t see it ever happening. Suffice to say I’m not a believer until I see it.

So yes, I was disappointed, and then to top it off Isabelle was quite erratic with her sleep when we did get back to the apartment. She was probably a little confused as she was taken out of her routine, and goes as a reminder of how important it is with a baby of this age to keep them in the same set routine for a better chance of a good nights sleep. It’s just a good job that we were on holidays, and didn’t really mind getting a little bit less sleep.

Heading Home

In typical fashion, on the day we were due to head home, the weather broke and the sun really started to shine. It hadn’t been disastrous the entire time we were there, but we didn’t have a full day of consistent sun. It was mostly just cloudy and windy. So, with an almost 3 hour car drive home ahead of us, we thought we’d break it up and stop off in Western, the very first place we ever stayed overnight with Isabelle other than the house:

I won’t talk too much about Western on here, mainly because I’ve already covered it as part of the #MySundayPhoto post that I now like to do, so you can read that if you really want to.

Well I guess that’s it. We’re back home now and that’s another trip with Isabelle all done. In total, this is the 12th place we’ve stayed at with Isabelle. I think it’s safe to say that we love to travel with her. And it won’t be long before we’re off again! If you want to watch a travel vlog of this trip, then here’s a video:

Isablog #18 - Short Trip to Lynton in the Exmoor National Park - YouTube

Thanks for reading this excessively long post, if you want to see more from this little family, then you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m really starting to up my Instagram game, so that one is well worth a follow if you like to see pictures of family life.

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I love this photo for quite a few reasons. But most of those reasons have nothing to do with the actual photo itself. Sure, I think it’s a great picture. The background looks awesome, and the two people at the front are the two most important people in my life. But there’s more to it than that.

It was taken in Western, whilst we were on our way home from Exmoor. This wasn’t our first time in Western with Isabelle. No, it was actually the first place we ever stayed overnight with Isabelle that wasn’t our own home. She was 8 weeks old, it was unbearably hot and we didn’t really have that much of a clue what we were doing. Rachel was still struggling to establish breastfeeding, she was using the cover as she was worried about doing it in public, and I was still very much in the midst of my postnatal depression.

But things started to change when we were in Western. For the first time ever, I actually started to feel some kind of love towards Isabelle. When we had her propped up on the nursing pillow, and I was casually walking (or maybe dancing) around the room, she looked at me, and then smiled:

From that moment, things slowly started to change. I had felt a brief moment of love where there had previously been nothing. We realised that Isabelle loved to go away, we realised that we loved it too; I realised that Isabelle did in fact actually like me and perhaps more importantly, that I could like her too. It was a pivotal moment in my recovery, and one I will always remember.

So I love this picture as it brings back memories of starting to feel better. It represents how far both myself and Rachel have come. We’re not that clueless couple who had no idea what they were doing. I’m not that father who doesn’t love his baby. And Isabelle isn’t that baby who can only lie in a nursing pillow with nothing else to do, absolutely no chance. We’ve all changed so much since our first time here, and the sun is literally shinning on a family that love to spend time together and cherish moments like this.

This is the second time I’ve done this, but you can go back and read last weeks #MySundayPhoto if you want to as well.

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