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Teaching children emotional intelligence – the ability to recognise and understand emotions

Happy and Sad cards

Teaching a child about to understand their emotions is a challenging task, when it comes to a child with autism the struggle can be even harder. Learning to recognise and regulate emotions is not easy. In fact as an adult we are constantly adjusting ourselves so our expectations of children should be set lower. You might wonder where you begin. I am sure there are many different methods I wanted to share with you what has worked for us.

The Basics – where to start with emotions

You can start with two basic emotions, Happy and Sad. With Ariella we were struggling badly with communication and understanding which then was leading into challenging behaviour. On recommendation of A’s private occupational therapist at the time, we were introduced to a red and green card visual.

Red and Green – Feelings cards

The plan was that both us and nursery would use a consistent approach. When we saw that A was sad (or a variant of that emotion like angry) we would show the red card and say “A is feeling red, sad/angry”. We would then ask her to try and calm herself down and let us know when she was ready to play again and “Go Green”.

You can use this same approach with your child to introduce basic emotions, green – OK/Happy and red – stop/sad.

In Ariella’s case we waited until she had calmed down and showed her the green visual and said “Are you ready to go green? Happy?”, or “Are you ready to play again?”. It took a very short time before she had picked up this system and was able to say “A is RED”. I knew she had great capacity to memorise visual content but I was astounded to hear her using it in context the very next day.

It might take longer for your child, you might have to adapt the wording that you decide to use depending on their personality and their abilities. However It is a great way of starting off understand of very basic emotion. It was the very early journey of learning emotional intelligence and from which we have been able to expand.

Example cards

You can download a copy of the red and green card here. You can print them and bind them, it’s worth carrying them around with you so that they can be used at every opportunity.

Expanding on the basics – other emotions

Rather than moving straight onto new emotions we focused on self regulation, it would be much more motivating and practically useful for A to recognise her emotion is “Red” and know that she can bring herself back to “Green”. To do this we started with another suggestion from A’s therapist, using a wheel. With this A understood the benefit of being able to identify her emotions for both of us.

The wheel has been quite good as it starts to expand on the middle ground between happy and sad but is still very simple. You can apply this method with your own child too!

Early years – self regulation wheel

Emotional self regulation wheel

You can start with a simple wheel, red to green. I’ve created a template which you can print off below, I recommend you laminate the sheet and the arrow and use some paper fasteners to attach the arrow.

It may take some time for your child to pickup on this approach but once the first basic emotions are locked down it should be easier to introduce and expand on these.

Self regulation actions for young children

To compliment this I would recommended self regulation calming actions which you can download here. These help suggest actions that your child can do to calm down, it’s easy to tell a child to calm however offering practical solutions that they can do alone shows how to actually achieve this.

I recommend you print and laminate this red action card which you can use with the wheel/gauge. You can say “A you are feeling red/sad/angry, what can we do to calm down?” and list each action explaining. I use these when A is very upset and past the point of verbal communication still now, regardless that she knows how to do each of these the prompt is often enough to remind her to self regulate. When they have calmed down you can move the gauge/wheel to green again.

If you have an older child whom has mastered this skill already then moving on to a mindfulness app like Calm for children would be useful. It is supported on both iOS and Android devices and offers some lovely calming stories, meditation and sleep methods.


Image result for calm logo

iOS & Android

“Calm is the leading app for meditation and sleep. Join the millions experiencing lower stress, less anxiety, and more restful sleep with our guided meditations, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, masterclasses, and relaxing music. Recommended by top psychologists, therapists, and mental health experts.”

The downside is there is a subscription for the service but I use this app myself and I find it very valuable.

The Calm App screenshot

Exploring other emotions

Introducing new ideas and new information has to be highly motivating, over the last year we have noticed that A has quite an interest in photos of herself. She enjoys cause and effect also, we wanted to combine both of these things together in a way that could be used to help her learn what her face looks like when she is feeling different emotions.

We decided to use our phones but you could use a mirror. Our iPhone has the ability to map your face to Emoji’s, A will sit and do this for a long time. We can model what faces look like and describe the emotion when asked “Can you show me happy?” and so on it helps her learn that this is a happy face.

Introducing dramatherapy

Recently A has begun dipping her toes into dramatherapy, if you have yet to come across this branch of therapy it is defined as…

Dramatherapy is a type of psychotherapy using the art forms of drama and theatre. It is one of the Creative Arts Therapies which include, art, music, drama and dance/movement. … Dramatherapy sessions offer a space to express feelings and enhance spontaneity using various methods including play, storytelling and movement.

In short sessions are the perfect place for A to express her thoughts 1:1 with a trained therapist, to give you an example. Throughout the week we might have a worrying situation pop up for A, a new fear or a happy situation that becomes quite fixed in her mind.

These sessions allow her to explore and talk about that incident. An example, when a fire alarm went off while she was at nursery and she was very distressed. We can relay this prior to the therapy session directly to the therapist and they can bring up this memory and coordinate their props.

Visualising the internal

During this particular session A was able to draw the scene, which is the first time we’ve seen such a descriptive image produced. Usually her art is quite abstract, she was able to label that the “dots” were the noise of the alarm and describe how she felt.

You could explore emotions through art with your child, it doesn’t have to be in a professional setting but I do think it has been helpful to build a safe relationship outside of the family to discuss emotional wellbeing.

A's drama therapy drawing

It’s useful to talk around these incidents so that positive reinforcement can be built in, another example working on balloons. A was quite frightened of balloons due to a popping memory at a party last year, since a therapy session and discussing this with balloons – playing with them and seeing that they can be fun and that popping is okay. A’s favourite item this week is her balloon which she took home from therapy.

Hopefully you can see how this therapy is rather beneficial in exploring situations that occur and how the child feels in that situation. However to do this they need to understand and be able to link emotions to events, so you might now be wondering other than the emoji face mapping how else did we achieve this?

How are you today visuals

Emotion visuals girl

We have a visual “How are you feeling today” chart which I’ve created my own version of you here. You can download it if you need for your own uses, print, laminate and buy sticky velcro (both sides). One side attaches to the chart and the other to the visuals.

You’ll need to cut around each visual feeling/emotion. I think this is really helpful up on the fridge, you could add some sticky magnets to the back of your chart to do this or just use any kind of sticky tac.

Emotions visuals for Boys
Feelings book

I hope that all of the above will help you begin to discuss and make emotions part of your daily discussions. If your child enjoys reading or looking at books there are some wonderful options, How are you feeling today? by Molly Potty and for an older child Feelings by Libby Walden.

Social Stories

In addition to books and visuals you can also make your own social stories, the more custom made the better. As an example when we were experience some aggressive outburst or an increase in hitting, biting others we introduced a social story about biting.

Within the story it showed a person biting and how each person felt about it as well as the impact of that action, it is a good way of showing children that their actions have an effect on others.

Many books have social stories written into them to help all children understand this, we also used “Hands are not for hitting” book which worked very well for A. They have a “Teeth are not for biting” also but I have not checked this one through.

These books explain to children all the ways in which they can use their teeth or their hands while discussing the emotional impact of their actions, we have found this really effective.

If you need help creating visuals then you can check out my blog post here and if you are interested in ways to manage challenging behaviour you can also check out my post here.

I really hope that the above helps you navigate emotions with your child, as ever please do let me know your thoughts!

Being Mum Featured Lifestyle Parenting Special Needs

Not going to school

I picture this little blonde haired girl, hiding under a teepee playing with her teddy bears. She’s having a tea party and Mr Bear has taken all of the cake leaving not even a crumble for everyone else. Every item in your room has been given a different purpose far from the obvious and your imagination is rife in a way that most adults forget to be.

One day you come dancing into the room sheer joy on your face, round and round on tips toes like I did in the background of the kitchen growing up while my mother cooked. Always moving, elegantly from place to place and without any purposeful thought.

In September you’ll put your school uniform on and walk alongside your friends, excited and worried in equal measure about your new adventure. I would be so surprised how quickly you’ve grown, how fast time has gone. I’d wave alongside the other mothers at the gate knowing you were moving on to a new chapter with your peers, making friends and living life.

The girl above lives only in my mind, I think I created her long before I ever had children and she is full of preconceived ideas about parenting and how my children might be. I think mostly she is made of my own experiences reflected back perhaps manufactured during my childhood while pretending to play families as a child. You don’t exist, so let’s move forward.

School, when you fall out of sync

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” 
― Seneca

As we currently have a legal appeal ongoing I can’t discuss the schooling situation in specific detail, but what I can say is that we are truly out of sync. Not just with the mainstream but even the specialist, Ariella is back at nursery for now but her future remains unclear from January. It is not a process that I take kindly to, we were given mere weeks of warning at the end of term in July sitting until that point with uncertainty. I think to apply even more uncertainty to the life and families of children who live with the ultimate uncertainty of an unknown condition is “not good” (as Ariella would say). It’s taken a while for me to accept that perhaps we care the most about Ariella’s future and that perhaps others care a lot less than I might expect them to – a sad state of our educational system. I am thankful for all the practice that Ariella has given me to be able to sit in the unknown and accept we are here, that there is nothing we can do to change it and to make the very best of whatever situation befalls you.

School is one of the most asked questions that I get asked right now, my hopes for Ariella are that she is happy and given access to school which does not limit her or dull her personality. She is creative and interesting, over the Summer holiday period which were much improved to previous holidays (which I will talk more about in a separate post) she learnt to count to 100. It took her mere days to do this and I know that is unusual, all we are really asking is for Ariella to attend a school in which she can explore on her strengths and is not limited by the school curriculum. Art, music and numbers all being things she really has a keen interest in but in an environment which is suitable for her and understands autism. I believe I have found a school that would facilitate this in Sept 2020 but it unfortunately is not quite that simple.

It was a difficult week seeing all Ariella’s peers start at school, I was very happy for the children moving onto their next stage in life. It does feel a little like ground hog day! It sits alongside watching others hold their heads first, learn to sit, learn to walk, learn to speak. School feels like one of those large milestones for childhood. Another aspect to consider for children who attend specialist settings there isn’t the same playground pickup/drop off vibe. Most of the children are transported in, their parents don’t get to see the school on a day to day basis or say hello to other parents. I think this alone puts you at a disadvantage, I know in my mind part of being a parent is standing out in the rain, sun, wind or snow waiting for your child to come out – bag, jumper thrown over the shoulder.

For now we have the Autumn term as our “fixed plan”, Ariella has a confirmed future for the moment up until Christmas and our court hearing is in October. We will make the most of it and hope that things can continue to be a settled and calm for Ariella’s possible in 2020.

Featured Lifestyle Weekly Update

Autistic Spectrum Disorder and you

A day before Ariella’s fourth birthday and one day after Autism awareness week has ended Ariella was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We assumed that it was likely to be the case but knowing it is very definitive and I feel very at peace today. Up until now I have tried my best to describe the behaviours, the difference in the way A thinks and communicates without having the right words. I would often say “I think she’s autistic” or use all the descriptive phrases but what we really lacked was the support to know what is coming ahead. It probably sounds crazy but we are facing an unknown genetic condition, unknown prospects, we’ve never been sure at all that any of her blood tests, any of her immune reactions can be taken for certainty. When you are dealing with a rare condition that has no name, it’s impossible to look at the average. ASD is so well documented, I’m relieved to be able to put a name to the way that she behaves, the manner in which she “socialises” and communicates. The rigidity that ripples reaching far beyond just A and spills over into all of our lives. It’s reassuring to be able to justify the way we have to adapt finally, we have to adjust our expectations to new ways of thinking and that can seem rather overwhelming. But knowing why really helps put to bed any doubt in the methods – not that there were many.

On Sunday we took both children to Marwell Zoo as a birthday treat, once we had explained this to A she was keen to have birthday cake and candles. She walked her way into the Zoo with one aim, find cake, find candles. I tried to explain that we were here also to see the animals which was met by “No animals” repetitively. It’s not the first time we’ve taken her somewhere and immediately wondered if we have made the right choice, we’ve really not utilised a lot of attraction tickets over the years. When we visited Canada I think we probably did the quickest tour of Niagara Falls ever. We did after some time accept that we would need to find some cake, which we did. First we had ice cream, A has taken to moving her evening ice cream to pre food, so a starter rather than a dessert which is a direct result of me using it to keep her occupied while I cook in the evenings. After this she began asking for her lunch, which we knew would probably happen, we managed to take her to a playground briefly until the requests for lunch became frustrating and decided to take her for lunch instead.

It was after all her birthday treat and the aim was to keep her happy, while also giving Sebastian some time around to Zoo. Straight after finishing her meal she wanted to get up and go home. Which was rather predictable, again – we managed to add in a couple of visits around a few of the animals briefly and a small trip to another park. All in very predictable and we knew she would want to go home, but we still try because I think it’s really important that while she might be able to stand right next to a Rhinoceros and not even glance or acknowledge it meanwhile a black and white wheel is the most fascinating thing ever. Until we try we won’t know and neither does she, so try we must – always.

Being Mum Featured Parenting Special Needs

Managing challenging behaviour

Challenging behaviour is behaviour that causes problems for people around the person

No Fighting, No Biting, No Screaming – Bo Hejlskov Elvén

Probably not unfamiliar for families of children with or without additional needs, in fact Sebastian occasionally shows frustration by throwing his toys around the room. Challenging behaviour for us has manifested in many ways, while we can use many of the usual techniques with S so far very few of the standard methods (distraction, calm redirection, talking it through) really work for A.

Where to begin?

Emotional Intelligence

Right now our current method involves using two cards, one with a red block of colour and a sad face and another card with a green block of colour with a happy face. You can read about working on emotional intelligence here.

What we are looking to achieve is firstly understanding of feelings that one behaviour causes another to feel sad and secondly the start of self regulation. Can we get A to stop and think about her actions and how they impact someone else.

This method has been incorporated reasonable well, A seems to understand one thing can make her or someone else feel red or green, we never modelled the cards as ourselves but she has taken the abstract thought and applied it to us rather than just her behaviour. For example If S is feeling sad she might say “S is red” and this has allowed us to further enhance with other words, S is sad, S is feeling angry, S is feeling happy.

It’s very simple but has allowed us to cross a barrier in communication, due to A’s incredible visual memory she took to the cards within a day which is much quicker than we or nursery had planned.

At first it was treated like a game and I wondered if we had made a mistake, she wanted to see the cards all the time but slowly the novelty has worn off and we are even adding a “I can calm myself down” card too.

Working together – School, nursery and at home

Both us and nursery are using the same technique, which is incredibly important to enable children to generalise. It hasn’t stopped all of the challenging behaviour but it’s a start to understanding and learning, which I think applied in the right way – visually and logically A quickly can apply to social situations.

One of our biggest barriers is cognitive rigidity, that is simple that once you know this is the way we do things it’s hard if you have cognitive rigidity to then change that way up. Having worked in Information Tech I know how reluctant the general population are to move away from what is comfortable, the know is easier and fosters a resistant to change, this was one of the biggest considerations when changing any system.

The known is safe, expected and thus anxiety is kept to a minimum in A’s case. So I thought about it and what would I do in a business context to navigate change? Well I would normally talk to a person and explain what I’d like to happen, what I’m expecting of them and how discuss through any concerns or questions they have.

When it comes to children with complex social communication challenges that is not something that is easy or even really possible to do always. The red and the green card along side a visual timeline of events allows us to try and navigate that in a way that can be understood, reducing anxiety, reducing surprises and hopefully reducing challenging behaviour longer term by giving A the tools she needs to start paving down expectations.

Changing your outlook – Why?

People who can behave, will.

Bo Hejlskov Elvén

Let me take you back to a situation that arose a few weeks ago, we had a hospital visit planned which would wipe of the whole days schedule for A. Taking both children to the hospital anyway is quite an event, A really doesn’t like hospital much anyway – who does! Although things have improved a lot (with the help of visuals and staff understanding her needs).

The day before I tried to prepare A that she would not be going to nursery that day, that morning I arranged her visual timeline to show that we would be going to hospital, I explained again that she would not see her 1:1 today.

All was going reasonably well and just as we were about to leave, our new cleaners arrived – I had intended to leave to avoid this as I knew seeing new people would be a risk. A coped reasonably well and other than yelling “HELLLOOOOOO” and “BYE, BYE” on a loop (she was waiting for them to say bye back in the way she likes) we headed out the door without any stress.

The morning other than a few surprises was going reasonably well, certainly better than I had anticipated. At the hospital we managed to park nearby, which was again great, part of the challenge can often be waiting in the car while I try to find somewhere to park which I can lift A out of the car.

Dealing with the unexpected

We arrived into outpatients and I went to check A in for her appointment. No appointment in the system, at about this point I realised something was not quite right but meanwhile A wandered off down to play with the toys, this being a very well known outpatients for her she initiated her usual routine. I spoke with a member of staff who kindly told me that the appointment had been rearranged until the following week.

I explained that we were not seeing the doctor and in fact we were going back home, A took it better than I expected. I suppose in hindsight she probably wasn’t too keen to see a doctor anyway, but I had a problem. I couldn’t just go home because I had expected our clean to be done while we were out that day, A really dislikes vacuum cleaners.

It was raining and I thought while driving, I’d brave going to a supermarket. This was the very worst choice I could have made, it turned out that A was not over the fact that she did not get to see the doctor. I offered her ice cream to go inside but she thought we were getting ice cream from a very specific store locally which sell the ice cream in a tub with a flake on top. To her great displeasure upon reaching the back of the store, which she had repeatedly said ice cream over and over to get to it was not the kind she wanted and she became distressed.

Staying calm

Remaining as calm as I could possibly manage I told A that we would need to go home if she wanted a different kind of ice cream, it was at this point that she said “Next is doctor”. I realised she had something very different going on in her mind than that I had, she had not let go of the fact that she was expecting to go to the hospital and instead we had a delayed reaction.

After this point while trying to get her to leave she had a very public melt down, which involved biting, hitting me in the face, kicking and hitting S. All while S is throwing his snack everywhere in the pram yelling in distress, I felt very sorry for A because in her mind she was going to the hospital, she had spent that morning worrying about going to the hospital only to get all the way to the hospital and not go.

This alongside the fact that she also wasn’t attending nursery that day due to the hospital appointment it tipped her over into chaos. It was that day that I decided we definitely need an extra pair of hands!

Reflection – How could I have managed this better?

In hindsight I should never have taken her into a supermarket, which to date we very rarely go into with A unless I am in desperate need. I should have realised that she would eventually need to vent her frustration at the change in routine and ultimately I needed to manage and adjust my expectations to enable A to achieve success that day.

There is always a trigger and a reason for a meltdown and I have found it much easier to divert before we tip over the edge to avoid a meltdown than managing the cleanup situation afterwards. I see similar tantrums with S but he is much easier to distract and he is able to communicate his desires so it’s easier to avoid, also he does not have the same limitations in his environment and is not as triggered by sound, touch/texture, social interactions and routine. It means it’s less frequent and less restricting overall.

Methods? So what do I do?

I’ve had to really change up the way that I look at parenting with A, no matter how many times I say “use gentle hands” and yet, we still have very non gentle hands. Ditch out all the things traditionally we are taught from my own upbringing.

My parents would probably have used persuasion or bribes for example “If you hit you won’t get X” or “Don’t hit, nice people don’t hit” neither of these work on A and I would encourage you instead to look at why they are doing it. What is triggering that challenging behaviour, what are they getting from it? What are they trying to communicate?

Simple techniques to avoid tipping over

I have learnt that there is a very small window of opportunity before the behaviour switches over into aggression and a fight or flight response emerges, just before this I try:

  • Talking calmly to understand what is causing the challenging behaviour
  • Use the red and green visual cards discussed above to communicate that the behaviour is not appropriate, offering a chance to learn
  • Lowering down to A’s level and making sure I am to her side rather than directly in front of her, if she takes a step back I try and distance myself also
  • Avoid too much eye contact while still appearing interested
  • Using simple phrases and makaton
  • If I need to touch A I will limit this to the shoulder area
  • If it is obvious to me I will try to stop whatever is triggering the behaviour or guide A out of the situation
  • If we are at home A’s bedroom has lots of sensory calming lights which really help, but this is not always practical.
  • Compromising, A really loves ice cream and if all else fails I will compromise with something to transition. Before researching and reading this is one of the things I was reluctant to do in case it increased the challenging behaviour for reward, if you are concerned about this I encourage you to read the book I’ve listed below.

When all else fails..

If the above do not work then it is a matter of damage limitation, making everyone safe

For me always there is a reason, whether it be lack of structure, changing in routine, poor sleep, pain, difficulties in understanding cause and effect, mental overload, sensory input (sound, touch, vision), too many or too little demands in life, relationship conflicts (siblings, parents, friends) or just an effect of the mood of others around A.

When we first started this journey and I was asked “Are there any warning signs” I said no, but now I can see that there are many warning signs indeed. I think these are unique to the individual and I’ve found it very helpful to read around the subject.

Expanding your knowledge base

For more in-depth reading I can recommend “No fighting, no biting, no screaming” by Bo Hejlskov Elvén.

It’s a work in progress for us, challenging behaviour continues to be a real challenge but I feel equipped with the tools and understanding, which on the days when we are on our sixth meltdown and I’ve been bitten several times and with more unsuccessful attempts than I can count. I can reflect and know why it happened, learn and try to adjust for tomorrow.

Featured Lifestyle


I really love the eve of a new year, it’s the one day that we try to reflect and seek gratitude looking at the year overall, rather than the ups and downs as we are in them and also who doesn’t love fireworks? It throws so many people in reflection and I think it makes us better people to do so. That’s exactly what I want to do here and if you’ve been watching my instagram you may have noticed I’ve been reading a lot of positive psychology books lately, for good reason – it’s not been the kindest year to us. We’ve had an eventful year full of very worrying downs but also some wonderful highs of which I am grateful for.  I’ve met some wonderful new people this year who have made me laugh constantly, laughter seems to be the key to any dire situation. When you experience the very low it really illuminates the caring  and the kind around you, so thank you so much for being you!

I am so pleased to be ending the year happy despite every down we have had and with it every challenge we have had to overcome. Getting the bad out of the way but acknowledging it, starvation, coeliac disease, epilepsy, sepsis, screaming, rigid routine and cherishing the good, Sebastian’s birth, my birthday weekend, transforming S’s bedroom, 100k genome project, the endless beach trips, the gym and  Canada is important. Accepting that no matter what is handed to you there is no point worrying about things beyond your control has been my saviour. There are always issues no matter where on the scale they seem to you, to us they always seem to be the very worst because you only know the worst you’ve experienced so far. Perspective is key and for me allows me to look at the bigger picture and realise that my mindset had a huge ability to change how I feel afterwards.

I am grateful that I was able to experience another year where some of my friends were not so lucky. On the eve of a new year I am able to look ahead with positivity because I know that no matter what lies ahead we will face it together and that’s all that matters.

Happy New Year!

Being Mum Featured Parenting

Your tribe

Long before birth, while Ariella was still kicking away inside a little bump and I was ignorant of what awaited me; I prepared myself for what I thought that narrative would be with research. Books on parenting, blog posts, second-hand experience from other mothers who had babies that frankly seemed quite foreign to me.

Once she was here I thought I’d read emails on development, read about weaning and potty training, behaviour and beyond the terrible twos. But instead I was invested in medical journals, specialist groups, therapy books – I unregistered from the developmental emails and let go of any vision I had of the future to accept what appears in front of me. Children do not come with a manual but when things get rough or you hit a difficult spot usually you can find somewhere to reflect on the “phase” of life that you and your child are going through. Whether that be a blog, a social media group, a collection of friends with shared timelines like NCT – there is always somewhere you can go to ask for help. Is this normal? Did your child do this? Why is mine doing it? Will this stage end? How do I navigate around this? One way or another these people be it online or face to face become your tribe. Your backup for reflection when faced with challenge, these things do not correlate with a child who has no diagnosis.

We have specialist areas of tribes, we have epilepsy, we have the coeliac crowd, we even have global developmental delay. We have social media groups of children born the same month, we have the families and children we met on the way but the questions never quite line up because overall things are not the same because the overall picture is different. It doesn’t mean you don’t continue to try to bring advice and concepts in but they don’t always quite fit, for example I really admire the gentle parenting approach. I feel like had things been different this approach would be much more successful and harmonious, simple the general principles being respecting your child – not forcing their hand and giving them choice. Trying to be empathetic with your child, listening and modelling empathetic behaviours to encourage them to achieve them later in life. Giving choice and respecting the child’s opinions, giving them attention and accepting their limitations.

Now trying to apply this to the day-to-day for Ariella, every week we have appointments and today was no exception. Ariella dislikes certain textures, cold wet jelly on the skin certainly being one of them but today she had an echocardiogram. I explained in advance what would happen, that there might be sticky pads and there would definitely be cold jelly on her chest. That the doctors would be looking at her heart and we would be going to the hospital. But when it came to the procedure how do you approach that gently? I try as much as possible to offer choice but for her best interests she needed the procedure done, she did not want to be there and was restrained while screaming and crying. How do you approach this gently? Who do you ask, where is the tribe?

With Sebastian getting older deciding on an approach that will work across both, be fair and consistent is going to be a challenge. Already I am able to ask for him, is this normal? And I’m able to look at a variety of resources to know it is. Already I feel more confident in my choices with him, but as he grows and learns their will be more complexity and working out a method that fits both children may require understanding on his part. Although there is a lot of calm there is also a lot of strongly felt emotions as Ariella works her way through toddlerhood and that can manifest itself in aggression, screaming, meltdowns and repetitive phrases. The household rhythm is chaotic and unpredictable, I try to apply good routine but how can you do so when the next seizure can clear your weekly schedule and mean another extended stay in hospital? It is really mentally exhausting.

I should clarify that when I talk about the tribe I don’t mean friends of which we have many very supportive friends instead it’s about having a group of people going through the same situation as you at that moment in time. Being able to relate, support and empathise, with each other and solidarity – it’s why we sign up to due date groups, pay for NCT friends, go to mother and baby classes. There is an element of safety in numbers, entering always the unknown together it doesn’t seem quite as difficult to navigate when you always have tribes people.

I think when you are put in a position of uniqueness, you can only really put your sail up and go your own way. Sometimes your child’s health and mental wellbeing dictate their way, weaning for example requires mobility and all the developmental and structural normality to swallow. We were fortunate that we could try baby led weaning, Ariella had the mobility to do so – but what if she had not? Well then we would have sacked off my vision of how I wanted to wean her and accepted spoon-feeding puree, a completely acceptable weaning method but not the choice I had made for my child. This one tiny element would have excluded us from participating in baby led weaning but what happens when your child’s development is completely out of line from their chronological age? What if they have a medical condition that lands them living in hospital for months? I think you do the best you can to parenting how you choose to. I think that you just have to accept solidarity and find comfort in the pieces of guidance that you can apply, ignore any self-doubt and know that you are doing the very best for your child.

It is a challenge, when you consider well covered areas in terms of available guidance material like potty training. Yet potty training requires developmentally a child to be in the right place, to understand what is being asked of them (or for you to understand their cues) and those things are not always in line together with children whom are delayed in development. One area might be delayed while the other is not, suddenly all the guides and books don’t apply to your child and both of you may be frustrated. How do you overcome this? With Ariella I try my best to go at her pace and adapt whatever activity for her, we tried potty training back when Ariella was chronologically 2.5 years old yet she wasn’t mentally ready for it. Now she is mentally 2/2.5 we will try again soon, but she may still not be mobile enough for it (she cannot squat or pull to standing from the potty yet). Recognising these limitations and adjusting my expectations has really helped me to appreciate that while part of our “tribe”, that’s to say the group of parents with children born the same month as Ariella are mostly potty trained and discussing other more developed issues I am not at all surprised that we are not there yet. I no longer expect to be there and instead I look at Ariella as her unique self and consider what her needs are rather than what society expects her to be doing. This is particularly relevant during the run up to attending preschool after Summer in which there will be no hiding from the current, Ariella at the moment has not moved onto the next room at her nursery so is with children who are around her developmental age.

It’s nice in many ways to be removed from the pressure and competition between parents and their various parenting styles, I really have not had to deal with this and it’s lovely to be removed from it. In many ways I am very glad to have had the experience I have, it’s really taught me that we are unique as individuals and actually perhaps our educational system and the early years can be far too rigid. Ariella is a wonderful creative, happy, non compliant little girl and I expect absolutely nothing from her other than for her to be happy. I couldn’t possibly tell you what she should be doing at 3 and a bit years old and it’s wonderful.







Being Mum Featured Lifestyle Parenting Reviews

The Bugaboo Donkey2 – Duo

When it was clear that Ariella was not going to be able to hold on to a sibling board I began my search into the world of double prams/strollers/buggies. I struggled at first to decide which pram would suit our needs best and switched between all sorts of makes and models. To settle the matter I made a rather large comparison list, comparing the essential features for us. Firstly seat weight limit,  then seat height, overall weight of the pram, width, cost, fold and finally features (particularly parent facing options).


Some of the runners up were the Mountain buggy duet was a close runner up alongside the Baby Jogger City Mini double. However when looking at the prams in person I was won over by the unique ability to make the pram smaller that the mono version of the Donkey2 provides. Ariella will be increasing her nursery or preschool hours soon and there will be more days where I will want to take just Sebastian out without her. The Bugaboo Donkey although it was not the top contender for seat weight or the highest seat limit it seemed to be a good compromise all round for both children. Offering comfort for both rather than the newborn receiving a worse deal in terms of either a narrow carrycot or non parent facing position.

Sibling love – Bugaboo Donkey2

S riding in Mono mode

When the Bugaboo Donkey2 Duo arrived I had to compile it, it came in a multitude of boxes due to the custom fabric options. I chose the Grey Melange premium fabric option for everything because I really love grey, but there are so many to pick from and combinations. I found it pretty easy to put together however and soon enough the pram was up in my front room, which is when I realised I’d want to take it outside. Luckily for me folding it down is a breeze and carrying it was fine, I don’t know if that’s because I’ve been conditioned to carry heavy weights – carrying A for so long!

First thing I did was try and put all the pieces down into the boot, with one piece setup with the carrycot fabrics and the other the seat fabric it fit really well into our Range Rover. If you happen to have a smaller boot I would recommend you go visit a store that stocks the Bugaboo Donkey2 to clarify it does indeed fit. With the carrycot now in seat form both seats stack on top of each other where the carrycot is in the photo below.

Fits nicely into the boot..

I have been delighted to own the Bugaboo Donkey2, it pushes with ease even though it has a heavy load most of the time. With two children and the lower storage area full you would not notice unless perhaps pushing up an incline in which case it makes this easier than our previous option. The carrycot has ample room for a newborn, at three and a half months old Sebastian still had plenty of space to grow into the carrycot. Although this should be the case, guidelines recommend up to six months most carrycots are our grown long before this time. 

I feel this is due to the fact that Bugaboo use the same frame for the carrycot as the seat, changing out just the fabrics so you get a really long frame and thus a nice long carrycot. Space isn’t compromised however you do need the boot space to store such a carrycot (there is the option to remove a few pieces to compress but that seems impractical using the pram day to day). The fabrics entirely are of beautiful quality and materials, it feels very well durable and I love that I can completely remove them to wash at home.

The versatility is perfect, when in duo mode it fits through every door I’ve ever tried. When in mono mode it feels like just a little wider than “normal” but is not restrictive at all and the extra shopping bag space makes for a great option. It is a donkey though, certainly looks a beast next to the baby zen yo-yo we have for when we want to travel light, but we also have taken the Bugaboo Donkey2 with us many times across the UK to visit family just fine.

While travelling with the carrycot we used this as a cot and that made our load even lighter. Bugaboo carrycots are really spacious and the basic mattress is comfortable enough to sleep on if you don’t want to buy an independent mattress option. Rather than buying a fitted sheet I made use of the huge Aden and Anais muslins we were gifted as a base sheet which worked just as well. I was really impressed that the carrycot frame turns into the seat with a quick change of fabrics, most of my friend’s children had long out grown their carrycot before we did. I really do feel given the price of the carrycots normally this made the cost much easier to accept!

Now the Bugaboo Donkey2 is fabulous as S parent faces (please excuse the grub he is enjoying a lovely snack) and Ariella faces the world which is familiar to her. But they can look at each other and often will touch hands or amuse each other, any parent of two children will know how much that interaction between siblings breaks your heart to watch. As S has become more interested in the world I can choose between facing out or facing me, not normally an option for most double’s. Everything is really easy to adjust with their white button system.

Ice cream?

Bugaboo have added a few extra things with the latest version, new fabric options firstly. The side shopping basket used in Mono mode now comes with a fabric cover and can hold a heavier weight, very handy when it rains as it protects your shopping well. The wheels are now foam so no longer do you have to worry about pumping up air, I think that might have put me off a bit – as well as this the suspension has been upgraded. No complaints here on that one!

If you aren’t sure about it you can always buy the Mono and should you want to extend to a second child buy the expansion of the extra seat. I really love this option as it allows the Bugaboo Donkey to grow with your family. You could even extend it to include a third child by adding on a sibling board/seat later. The versatility of the stroller I felt really pushed it to the next level and when you consider the price being able to keep the stroller as your family grows becomes quite cost effective.

Graduated to the seat fabric
Ariella with her snack tray accessory, such a great idea

Now to the main negatives:

  • The size – I think the obvious issue is it’s a big pram there is no disguising that fact but I’d also say any double is really. I had real genuine worry about getting around with a double pram day to day, living in a small market town with little paths but I have had no issue with this at all. The other main downside is the larger fold, you do need to go check out your boot space, Mamas and Papas usually have the pram in stock so you can go trial that out (do ring ahead to check!).
  • Rain covers –  I don’t really like the rain covers that much, they are quite annoying and fiddly – I preferred the Stokke Xplory rain cover which just was on elastic where as the Bugaboo covers have a velcro in the middle you join together. You are supposed to be able to fold them down into the neat little package they come in using the velcro but i’ve yet to figure out how to achieve this unless it’s a really hot day and the plastic is much more pliable.
  • Cost – It’s really very expensive, when you take the base unit plus the accessories but if it’s within budget it’s well worth the plunge in my view, plus if you buy it with your first child and use it as a single with the option to expand later it seems very cost effective. The quality of the pram and the accessories is really good, I think there is quite a reasonable market for resale later too.

With all of the above said I really can’t fault the Bugaboo Donkey2 much at all. It’s great they have done a fabulous job with it and I love ours! 

For your amusement, don’t always take the way a shop puts the boot space test run in your boot at the best method. Only those well established at Tetris are qualified to work out how to put a Donkey in a boot.

*All of my reviews are my own personal opinions and I have no affiliation with any other the brands mentioned above.

Being Mum Featured Parenting

“Muddle” Puddles – Another update


Like clockwork the meteorological calendar ticks over to Autumn and the rain comes, we have our first sight of leaves falling from the trees today. Plenty of muddy puddles to jump in for all the children, something I’ve been waiting for a while. I thought that it would just be bound by Ariella’s ability to A. stand B. jump but it turns out C. anxiety has reared its head. Yet here it is and I’m so glad Summer is over with now, pregnancy and heat are just not for me. In fact much as it may surprise you I don’t really like direct sunlight all that much, I still enjoy going on holiday but prefer to spend my time in shaded spots – preferably with a lovely cold drink and a good book. I know some of my friends were amazed when I said that since we do favour hot locations, I’d happily go somewhere snowing if I could convince anyone to come with me!

The last few weeks have been full of tears, tantrums, crying and of course children of her age do these things – I hear that a lot. They do, but before you take that thought path let me direct you down this road because I think the behavioural aspects of special needs children is really overlooked. Check out this brilliantly written article by a physiologist part one which lists the cons and part two which lists the pros. It’s odd to see so many of my thoughts written down as I’d never really considered that other people often feel this way too, the feedback reward loop is something that I’ve always found a challenge.

With SN children, however, they often require that you teach—and reteach and reteach—some of the same lessons until the children learn. What happens when the student doesn’t learn? The parent understandably feels frustrated. Parents need positive reinforcement to keep chugging along, but they don’t get the reinforcement they need if the child doesn’t learn the lessons. In this way, the parent’s experience leads to a sort of crisis of faith: Are my efforts making a difference? If not, where do I go from here? – Psychology Today

The hope is that Occupational therapy will aid with some methods and techniques to counter the anxiety and sensory aversions that Ariella seems to be showing. It was rather disappointing when our private assessment had to be cancelled by the therapist, I’m now undecided about whether to continue my search for a new therapist while we wait out the very long (so I’m told) wait list for NHS O/T or just hope that things settle down a little in the meanwhile. I am trying to find out how long the current wait is but it’s proving elusive, hopefully with this knowledge in hand I can make an informed choice for Ariella.

Since starting nursery a fear and dislike of other children has settled in, I’m not sure why this has happened and I’m not really sure what to do about it. There seems to be a proximity around her in which if a child comes near she will meltdown and hit out – I can only think that she did have a collision with another child while walking at nursery a few weeks back. It was only a matter of time, but I hope in time this might ease a little, taking her outside where inevitably there is grass, sand, rain, noises, other children is proving more and more difficult. Usually resulting in biting, hitting and screaming until removed from the situation. Challenging indeed!

We’ve not seen Ariella’s physiotherapist all Summer as there has been a change over of staff but her next appointment is next week and luckily she has been assigned a therapist who she has met before through hydrotherapy. I’m sure she will be pleased with her progress, when her therapist left her she was just starting to walk unaided a little but regressed. Now Ariella is walking well indoors, as of this week she has started to stand up from the ground rather than needing support. She is still a little wobbly and often unsure but her confidence is growing, we just need to work on this outside too! Generally speaking I feel happy to watch her toddle around and no longer feel I need to prepare her for falling like in the early days when she would fall over or lose balance. Next I’m hoping to focus on going up and down stairs, climbing – all tasks which will really help me out with another baby on the way.

Update – Today she asked for the steps and she climbed up with a little encouragement by herself! Taking her lead I offered her the chance to climb the bigger stairs from our entrance door up and she did those all by herself. I’m so pleased for her! So lovely to see all her limbs moving together and building her strength.

Ariella has a new pair of orthopaedic shoes on order, they are a size bigger than her current boots and will have supports which remove in a dashing shade of pink. The plan is to use the supports in regular shoes too and slowly wean her off the support, music to my ears. Her feet are still very bent over but apparently this doesn’t matter so much, it’s about how much balance she has and stability.

Music class is back on the weekly schedule, the break has made her clam up a little in class but Ariella adore music. She loves shaking her maracas left, right, up high and tapping. She’s come such a long way in terms of using her instruments, often copying what the class teacher is doing when it suits. We’ve had many renditions of Twinkle, twinkle and Happy Birthday (ever since her nieces birthday party a few weekends ago). Often she will be humming or singing the words while playing with her toys, doing a little dance. Here is a little clip the original is several minutes long, I wish I had captured it in landscape but never mind!




Bump to Baby Featured Lifestyle

Bump to Baby #2 – Four weeks!

I won’t be announcing my pregnancy officially until twelve weeks providing everything goes well and we have a good scan but I wanted to start documenting as I did previously. Once twelve weeks passes (and I’m under no illusions that things still happen after this point) I’ll open up the weekly posts over time.

I found out that I was pregnant at three weeks, very early around nine days past ovulation on a very sensitive First Response Early Result (FRER) pregnancy test. After finding out that Ariella was suspected to have a genetic condition the topic (which I excluded in my previous post for what is probably now obvious reasons) about more children was asked. We knew there was a possibility that we may have conceived that month and it seems fate had things lined up for us.

I’m pretty terrible when it comes to looking at lines and testing stupidly early, eventually I ditched the cheap internet tests which I had relied on so heavily last time around. The quality of them seems to have really gone down hill? Instead I ordered some FRER and knew I’d only use them when there was a good chance I might actually see something as it turned out Amazon took quite a long time to bring them to me and delivery day was nine days post ovulation. Soon as the parcel arrived I took one test out having at this point not had anything in the house to test on and decided now was as good a time as any to test.

I sat in the kitchen on our cute little window seat with both of my cats while I watched the little window go across remembering how much this whole process was like watching a lottery draw. There it was, it was faint but it was there a second line staring me right in the eyes.

Pregnancy Test 9 DPO

Can you see a line? It was hard to capture but very obvious in person.

Only around 47% of women get a positive pregnancy test this early, based on the website countdowntopregnancy stats. The next day in the morning I tried another test, it was lighter which had me worried. One of the downsides to testing early is that you can pickup a chemical pregnancy which you would never know happened before the early tests were invented – unless of course you had blood test done. In the afternoon I decided to try another test and I got a darker line, it seemed that the afternoon was a much better time for me.

Over the following days I decided to take a few test to check progression, I’ve never felt the need to do this before and I think if I hadn’t had the lighter line I wouldn’t have. But I’m please that from 9 days past ovulation to 12 days past the line darkened. Eventually I geared myself up to taking a digital and I’ll be honest even though I had seen the two lines already I was shocked to see it say “Pregnant 1-2”, it was from that point set in my mind as true.

Progression of pregnancy test – First Response Early Result

Finally a week or so later I got my 2 – 3 weeks on the digital too.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of planning this week, my last pregnancy I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) and I was completely useless for three months. During which we ate, well Jamie ate ready meals – I didn’t eat anything much. The ironing and washing piled up high, we called in help in the form of a cleaner and I just existed. I’m hoping I don’t get HG again but the statistics are somewhat working against me, so instead I’m preparing for it. I’ve started freezing home cooked healthy meals for Ariella and Jamie, I’m preparing busy bags for Ariella to keep her happy when I may not be able to play as much. One of my friends recommended them and they look excellent, just need to compile it all before week six. Week six was the week I started feeling pretty rough last time and it only got worse from that point.

I don’t remember being tired this early, or feeling this hungry. Heck I think last time it helped a lot that we were jetting off to enjoy two weeks in France just as I was hitting my six week mark. Surviving to twelve weeks when you have your first scan seems like quite a marathon when you are a mere four weeks pregnant, my first tip would be don’t wait! If you can book an earlier appointment, mine will be eight weeks and If I start feeling unwell I’m sure that will be the light at the tunnel for me. Second tip, try to stay positive. Google is a wonderful resource but NOT when you are pregnant, I thought the second time around I’d be all chilled out about it all, but no – not at all. It’s slightly different this time around, or I’ve forgotten how it was either way I have to continually tell myself to chill out.

I set the ball rolling letting the doctor know I’m pregnant and checked my app to find it’s  been updated, yippee! The process here seems to be quite different to living in Central London last time, they want you to meet your midwife at ten weeks to book in/bloods and then have your scan, later I assume. Last time I had an all in one, blow out three hour long sessions which included booking in, bloods and a scan. It almost sounds like the midwife might even be in the doctors surgery, how quaint is that!
Returning to my old format for my weekly bump updates here goes!

Top moment the week? – Finding out that I am pregnant!

Stretch marks – Only the ones from my first pregnancy!

Sleep – It’s totally fine, now and again I hit a wall and go to bed but it’s fine. If it stays this way I’ll be so lucky, I doubt it though!

Maternity Clothes – Not yet, although this time around I’ve already dug out my old stash and thrown them in the washing. I feel “prepared” and frankly I’ll be quite pleased to get back into those, some of the comfortable clothes I’ve ever worn. Ha!

Food Cravings –  No but I can smell EVERYTHING. I can also tell that this will eventually work against me. I really hope I don’t come out of this pregnancy disliking my so loved White Company home fragrances. I can smell everyone that walks past me, the aftershave or perfume they are wearing – I can smell it after they leave the room for ages. I can smell our detergent lingering on clothes that have just been washed and the smell of the rain outside is blissfully nice!

What do you miss – Very little, too early! I guess I miss just being able to eat and drink what I like without thought, I’m going to miss sipping on a cold glass of Sav Blanc this Summer.

Movement – No, it’s only the size of a poppy seed after all. I didn’t feel any movements until around twelve weeks last pregnancy and that was more like little scratching sensations inside until nineteen weeks.

Symptoms – Tiredness now and again, waves of nausea when I’m hungry. Oh thirsty, how could I forget that?! I don’t remember being this thirsty last time, I’m constantly I need of water.

What are you looking forward to – Hearing the first heartbeat and my scan at eight weeks.

These posts are retrospective, if you’d like to check out other weeks please click below

< – > Week 5


Being Mum Featured Lifestyle Parenting Travel

Travelling to the Maldives with a toddler – Our trip

If you haven’t caught up on the first part of this post then you can read about the flight here. Else you’ve come to the right place, here and now The Maldives. I’d love to say it was just the same as our trip back in 2013 for our honeymoon, it wasn’t – it was different but this time around it was for the family. Last time I felt utterly relaxed one hundred percent, I could spend all day just doing nothing, browsing the sky, the stars and watching the calm sea in which hidden under it was life.

This time around it was less self-indulgent and more about the whole family, it took us a little while to get Ariella used to eating out every night. It took a little while to adjust her and us to the jet lag, you can’t just sleep it off when you have a child to attend to. It was magnificent to go back and include her in our adventure, she sat on sand for the first time and what sand to sit on it was. Everything aspect of the Maldives is designed to look appealing on the eye, to be luxurious and accommodating. Largely their career prospects are naturally tourism, when you live in such a secluded paradise what else can you expect? They are good at it, excellent in fact.

The day we arrived was warm but a little cloudy, it rarely stays cloudy for long during the dry season (Dec – April) and we only had one real rain storm on our last full day before we flew home. It was ideal weather to ease Ariella into the change in temperature, as well as us! Ariella was knackered and so were we, we settled her down for a nap but she wouldn’t sleep so we ended up waiting until proper nap time (timing adjusted for the location) which worked out really well. We really didn’t struggled that much on the way there, it was much harder adjusting back. Ariella fit really well into the travel cot,  I was concerned that she might be too long for it but they had huge travel cots and I think she was as comfortable in it as she is at home.

On Friday evenings the Island lights up for a Maldivian themed event, cocktails, entertainment, food stations and live music. All the other restaurants close and everyone dines as one with lots of food being made up. It was a real welcome and was love to involve Ariella in, at this point she didn’t seem to mind staying up late – I guess for her being five hours ahead it didn’t feel that late. The island provided sarong’s for us all to wear and we fashioned Ariella one, as you do. We watched the bar staff perform and drank lots of Champagne, we were eased into the holiday with a bang. It was such a wonderful evening, I felt like we had returned – I had dreamt of returning for years and finally we were back! Ariella went down a hit with all the other guests who adored her.

The bar staff were juggling with wine, it was really cool to see! Then they knocked all these Jager bombs into the glasses with one hit.

It was wonderful to wake up the next day (and every day!) to our own lap pool, the first night I lapped the pool with the stars above and below me. Ariella enjoyed the pool too, the little swimming toys I had picked up were perfect fun. We even incorporated the flexible bucket for her to gather each of the swimming toys up in and collect them tidy. I highly rate the Jojomamanbebe sun protection swimwear and hats, it really was a life saver over there. Really easy to wash out and then dry in the sunshine, very light weight so you don’t need to worry that they were get too hot.
I think given that we had brought a small human with us to the Maldives we did pretty well to include her in as much as possible. When we went to the pool for snacks and cocktails we always grabbed a bed, this allowed her to use her iPad while we enjoyed our drinks and watched the horizon. If not the iPad then I would take along a mobile toy, her Grimms rainbow friends came with us. The island was actually at full capacity for a large portion of our stay but never felt crowded and there were always places to sit wherever you wanted.

We even did the excursions but were careful to pick things that we felt were child friendly enough. This is us on the Sunset dolphin cruise, I think if Ariella had been walking at this point we wouldn’t have but seeing as she wasn’t going to be running around on an open boat (without sides in places) it worked well.

Ariella’s having fun in the Kids playroom, thankfully air-conditioned

We ate as a family quite a lot in the evenings, but occasional to break up the holiday we decided to book a babysitter from the kids club. This worked really well as Ariella was familiar with the staff and we were able to enjoy the other restaurants on the island more which had considerably longer menus. We did attempt to take Ariella to the Chinese restaurant one evening which had a huge amount of different courses, she really didn’t cope well and I can’t blame her! We learnt our lesson after that. I think a lot of this is trial and error, eating later was tricky for Ariella – she was eating from 7pm in the Maldives whereas at home she eats around 5.15 – 5.30pm. I do wish they had a high tea style offering, usually the hotels we stay in the UK do an it’s really handy!

Our butler did a fantastic job scheduling our dining bookings for the holiday, I hadn’t really thought to do that before we arrived. But we were able to get 7pm bookings for all the restaurants which is prime time, Ariella dined in the Indian restaurant (Indocelyn) with us with a little star, the main buffet style restaurant (The Palms) as well as the fine dining Seafood underwater restaurant (M6M). We took her once to the Chinese restaurant (Peking) which turned out to be our very favourite.
Much time was spent enjoying the beach, as we opted for a beach villa we had direct access to the beach and Ariella while not initially liking the feeling of sand eventually came to accept it. It’s definitely still not her favourite but she didn’t mind sitting near it (and eating it).

The housekeeping staff would make up lots of interesting animals for Ariella out of towels or palm leaves. She was made to feel really welcome, it was lovely to see what animal would be waiting for us next – they kept us guessing though by not always doing it!
The underwater restaurant called M6M which we went to twice, once with Ariella during the day and then next for our wedding anniversary in the evening. The evening was a lot more relaxing, but I’m glad that I attempted it with Ariella in the day. She couldn’t manage to stay still for the full menu but she loved seeing all the fish.

Our anniversary cake, the lovely staff sang to us!

Holiday with Ariella was a compromise, the day we played and swam, we ate and we had good fun. During the evenings while Ariella slept were our own, we read books, we swam, we enjoyed drinks from the mini bar (best mini bar we’ve ever had!) and we watched the stars. I could by the end of the holiday have stayed here forever, all together

Building castles in the sky.

One of the rooms of the spa

Long before arriving I emailed the spa reception team to ask them to book our spa appointments for the holiday. I arranged for us to each have four treatments spread out so that one had one during one day then the next day the other had theirs. A few days gap between every now and then worked out really well. This meant that it felt fair and we had an hour’s pampering each session, during some of Jamie’s treatments I would call a buggy to take me and Ariella to the kids club and that would pass the time quickly. Last time we came to the Maldives the Island we stayed on did have a kids club but I confess I wouldn’t know where. It was nice to have access to an air-conditioned room with toys, I only took a few key toys with us.

Jamie also went fly boarding twice, it looked all very worrying for me from a distance – I watched from our Villa. But he seemed to enjoy it and on his first go lots of dolphins came to swim with him which he is told has never happened before. I can understand the attraction I suppose, ha!


A turkish delight sunset, there is nothing like the Maldivian sunsets.

We did have one big eventful stress while there which was when we realised one day before leaving that we had run out of nappies! It was early morning and I thought we had more stored in our luggage as it turned out we didn’t. Our butler sorted things out for us really quickly, someone fetched some more nappies from the main island Male and brought them back by boat. Surprisingly this didn’t cost a fortune as there were already sending the boat out for departures.

Flying home with Ariella

If you are wondering whether to take your toddler with you on a long haul flight, to a hot country, maybe one that generally more of an adult destination. I say do it! We would do it again, Ariella coped marvellously, she did bite both our faces during a tantrum about her high chair – that happened but I think she would have done that anyway. It was amazing, it was relaxing and it was beautiful – nothing is off-limits. If you can think of it there is always way to do it and I say you won’t know unless you try! For us we will have these memories of our holiday forever and that’s all you get folks.