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Being Mum Lifestyle Parenting Travel

Packing for three

Pre children packing…

This is rather enjoyable, look at this adorable dress, I’ll fold it all up neatly, do I have matching items for outfits?

Packing post children…

Mummy is packing now, please can you put that back, maybe if I tip toe I can pack while you are asleep, did I pack enough of X, Y, X for you? What If I don’t pack enough of Y?

For the first time I have a spreadsheet to keep tabs on all the items I need to pack for all three of us, with the run up of appointments for Ariella (Hello Neurology, Hydrotherapy, Portage) and appointments for myself – some self-inflicted, I would actually like my hair done before I go too! Others not so much, perfectly timed appointment to follow-up about my thyroid right before we fly. It’s definitely starting to feel like time is working against me, but we will rewarded with a huge amount of downtime and relaxation – yeah I know, we shall see right?

The spreadsheet I’ve created is very simple, it lists items, where they are going (hold/hand luggage and who’s) whether they have been purchased and finally have they been packed. You can make things easier with a Yes/No cell format and have it highlight certain colours if something hasn’t been packed or hasn’t been purchased. I also tucked a neat little “To do” task list in there to remind me to make a Boots order to be collected airside, arrange travel insurance etc. This spreadsheet might be considered overboard for some people but I find it aids my ability to keep calm and in control.

Monday, the slippage in my plans already started to show, I ordered Ariella some Piedro sandals for her holiday but no word from Piedro so I thought, hey I’ll call them Monday and find out where they are. Only to be told that the sandals are custom-made (eh?) and would take twenty-one – working – days to arrive due to lack of stock. Which would definitely be too late, so I told the guy cancel them if they can’t be made before we go. He gives me a run off about custom orders cannot be refunded if they’ve been started, bemused I thank him for his efforts and wait his reply from the manufacturer.

Meanwhile I try to get my head around how I could possibly have missed this window that is “clearly on the website when ordering”. Alas I did not, I go to order the sandals again and right there next to them “14 days delivery” and off the shelf item. I phone back, explain that the sandals are neither custom and that the 14 day delivery next to the product is misleading. He apologised and now we wait to find out from the manufacturer as to whether they will arrive in time or be cancelled (with a full refund thank you very much). Still this leaves me with one pair of Disney sandals, purchased on a whim and certainly lacking any kind of ankle support. I’ll have to try hard to find something else before we go, but at least I know I did my very best!

Needless to say Piedro are leaving me quite underwhelmed in terms of the purchasing experience right now. If you know of any great alternatives I’d be interested to hear about them!

EDIT – Another twist in the ever eventful game of procuring Piedro sandals, it turns out that they are coming after all in time for our trip. I’ll believe it when I see it but apparently the system was wrong!

To keep Ariella entertained on the flight I’ve picked up a couple of things which I thought would be worth sharing. As Ariella won’t get a proper meal (she isn’t two yet so would only be able to have a baby meal on Emirates) I’ve ordered some meals from Boots for her, but I needed something to put them in so I bought this OXO Tot bowl set which has lids and seemed quite compact. We actually were able to change her meal from “baby meal” to “standard” but I’m not relying on this actually working, if it does I’ll update this! I’m really happy with the quality, I may make her some pasta and store it inside the larger one for her dinner. I also purchased a OXO Tot Flippy Snack Cup which I thought would be great for snacks, she tends to tip things out so having this little lid on it which toddlers can put their hands into is perfect. Although it’s taken Ariella a bit longer to master as her fine motor isn’t as developed she is starting to get the hang of it – I intend to let her use it at home a bit before.

I wanted to travel quite light but still have things other than the iPad to amuse Ariella during the flight, I thought stickers seemed a good plan however I didn’t want to get ones which she could stick everywhere. These reusable stickers Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker pad – Habitats are just right, they aren’t sticky at all but only “stick” to the surface of the pad. More like thing static sticking plastic than a sticky sticker. It works though and I’m happy with it! My only complaint is that it’s a little bit big for hand luggage, if it was just a bit smaller that would be better.

Ariella trying on some Jojomamanbebe sun protection swimwear. It fits!

A peek inside Ariella’s hand luggage

There are a couple of things missing which I’ll be packing last minute, a few more nappies, a blanket, more food, dummy and snuggle elephant.

Handy tips for packing with children

You would think it would be sensible to pack each of us into separate luggage, this is how I’ve always packed previously. However a handy tip is to pack things equally, this way if one piece of luggage is lost (temporarily or forever) then the impact on your holiday as a whole is minimised. I do like to build in redundancy!

Another tip which may be obvious but roll your clothes instead of folding, you’ll be surprised how much extra room you have if you do this and your clothes should be less creased.

Decant your large liquids into small travel bottles, there is no need to take your huge tub of shampoo all the way across the world with you. If you need more than 100ml then buy a smaller bottle and take them with you instead. I’ve decanted some suncream specially into my hand luggage like this so that we can cream Ariella up ready for the speed boat leg of the journey.

Make sure you pack appropriate clothing for the other side! You might well be sitting around for a while, you don’t want to be too hot or too cold so be sure to pack something that you can either take layers off (a dress with leggings for example) or take something to change into on the plane and if sunny then a hat/sunglasses.

Take spare sets of clothing in case there are any accidents! Bring along a set of PJ’s so you can keep the routine on the plane.

I should mention that we’ve agreed to ditch social media and our phones for the duration of the holiday but I’ll be updating on our return and may sneak a picture of two on The Unruffled Mum Instagram during our stay.

Being Mum Fitness Lifestyle Parenting Weekly Update

January – Fitness, Sales and breaking a Wagamama addiction

Wagamama Ariella

What is it good for? Sales, eating up left over Christmas chocolate, starting (and failing) new goals. This week we braved the shops to check out the sales, I’m not the best “sales” shopper. I prefer to have my outfit choices taken straight from the mannequin, trying to match items that are on sale, in a random order and out of season is really tough. We struck very lucky however when we headed into House of Fraser to find their Polarn O. Pyret section had been filled with lots of summer wear and they had Ariella’s size! They must hold some summer wear back as I didn’t see this before in that store.

I managed to grab a single pair of shorts (the white ones) in GAP kids too, it seems that most of Ariella’s holiday wardrobe has been compiled from bits and pieces I’ve found so far. I think however she is going to be the best dressed of us, it’s even harder to find items for ourselves.
January is a strange month, it’s incredibly long, it’s Winter but the build up to Winter feels like it’s -done – once New Year’s Eve is over with. What do people do in January? My first thought was clean, tidy and organise but applying that to a non walking toddler isn’t easy. For now we’ve been working on practicing to post items with her post box, make tea with her Christmas tea set and reading books has come back in favour with Ariella. With the MRI now behind us we have a long month to get through, but I’ve had lots to do with reading, preparing for our holiday, lots of fun shopping and compiling a huge spreadsheet as our packing list.ariella laughing

A few designers have thrown up an unexpected holiday selection, I was greatly informed by a friend this week that Boden have a bunch of summer items in (they indeed do!). Next also have a small selection of playsuits and swimwear, GAP also have a holiday wardrobe in. Knowing Ariella fits GAP the best I’ve made an order with a selection of their holiday range which should arrive shortly.

Picture credit to Piedro official site

I’m trying to hold off on buying any shoes until I know what size feet Ariella will have, but we will order her these Piedro sandals so her ankles are supported still.

I’ve been doing some reading into this whole organised home notion, while browsing I found that Apartment Therapy are doing a January Cure which you can sign up to. I’m in no way affiliated with them I should say, but if you fancy being sent a daily organisational task then it looks great for motivation. As I said though I find these things -enjoyable- so I’m a bit of a weirdo, but I do struggle now to find as much time. I have fond memories of clearing out and organising our wardrobes when we lived in London and I was no longer working. Colour coordinated, perfectly folded, organised into sensible sections – perfect! Nowadays things are still organised (probably because we’ve moved three times since 2013) but only because they get put back where they were originally put when we moved. I made sure this time around to not just fling everything away and to take time to organise where all our belongings were going, particularly in the kitchen.

I’ve decided to start exercising, cliché I know! I’ve signed up with Asana Rebel which is a yoga fitness app, the app gives you weekly exercises with an end goal. I’m currently starting the “Fatburn” programme which has four workouts to do in a week. You can adjust it though if you wanted to work out more or less. This programme is eight weeks long which should put my nicely into the start of our holiday, it was hard to decided whether to go for Fatburn or beach body but seeing as I think I need to lose the fat first that’s probably best. I don’t have a huge amount to lose but it would be great to drop a few lbs before I’m destined to wear a bikini as my daily outfit. I’ve been using Myfitnesspal on and off for years with varying results, it does work – naturally if you eat less your body uses up it’s reserves. But I lack the commitment to the cause, enjoying food too much – I’m hoping that with a scheduled goal and date in mind that I’ll find motivation again to keep to it. I’ll be trying to combine this with using Myfitnesspal too, with all the cooking I do now it’s a little more time-consuming to add in the recipes but I’ll try!

It was this or join the local gym, I feel like this is a more gentle approach to exercise. One in which I can’t terribly embarrass myself too badly and the only faces will be those of my daughter and my husband. I’ll be keeping you up to date as to how it goes so check back for updates or sign up to my newsletter on the right hand side to get a monthly highlight of things going on here.

Wish me luck!

Being Mum Featured Lifestyle Parenting Travel Weekly Update

Twenty Months – “Walking in a winter wonderland…”

Twenty months old, twenty. I guess we stop counting in months soon? Maybe when they reach two? To say they are only one for such a long time in which so much changes, seems silly so I understand why things still count in months. I guess if I was looking at clothes, they all seem to stop counting in months at two. Two it is then.

Sleigh Bells Ringing, Just hear those sleigh bells
ringing and jing ting tingaling too
Come on its lovely weather for
a sleigh ride together with you – Neil Diamond

We put the Christmas tree up this week, I wasn’t going to I know but looking at it every day sat out in the cold looking sorry for itself all wrapped up. Everyone else seemed to be putting their’s up and it only has to survive a couple of days without me topping up the water. Worst case scenario? The husband has to take it outside and saw an inch or two off the bottom again. Because I’m not doing it, having done it by myself while I was feeling all high and mighty during the start of the week I’ve decided that using a saw while simple involves quite a lot of physical effort and it’s definitely not for me! I did it though and I dragged it’s sorry self all the way up into the living room. Put it in it’s stand, unwrapped it, threaded all the lights myself and then decorated it. Where was little Ariella during this? She was napping, pretty good use of time in my view. My back does not agree but that’s an ongoing debate between me and it.

Taking a little rest while admiring the various hours of hard work

Taking a little rest while admiring the various hours of hard work

If you don’t have a Christmas tree stand for your real tree yet I really do recommend you spend a little more than you might normally and buy a Krinner. You can put the tree up by yourself as it has a little foot pedal and a great big water storage area.

In other news, we’ve ditched the bottle (hooray)! Ariella has slept through the whole night for quite a while but when we tried to remove the bed time bottle she was waking up in the middle of the night for milk. She definitely wasn’t waking due to hunger at this age and she didn’t really want the milk after all she wouldn’t drink it in a beaker cup. We decided to just go cold turkey, we explained to her that she was a big girl now and big girls don’t drink milk in a bottle. The first night was predictably dramatic, she had full blown tantrums, threw her arms around, threw her head back, screamed, cried, could not be comforted. We kept going in to reassure her and eventually she wore herself out when her efforts did not bring us running to her room with bottle in hand.

The second night, it was like a switch had flicked and she no longer woke for milk. Just a little whimper then soothed herself back to sleep. Third night in she didn’t wake at all, I did go have to go in and put the blankets over her again as she really loves to move around at night. But other than that she was totally asleep, I had no idea we would only be in for one night of tantrums. It feels really too good to be true!

We had our first hydrotherapy session on Wednesday and I had no idea what to expect, although Ariella did attend swimming lessons for many months I had never taken her myself. I also wasn’t sure exactly how hydrotherapy would be different to normal swimming, but from what I can tell the pool is warmer but so far most of the swimming exercises are on par with the likes of Waterbabies. Naturally the amount of children attending is a much smaller group, just three but this gave the two therapists plenty of one to one time to help out with the exercises. Ariella really enjoyed herself and spent most of the time laughing, It reminded me to book up some regular swim classes again as she really does enjoy the water (we stopped when we moved). One big difference as I said was the temperature which is comparable to being in a hot tub, so rather warm! Ariella has never liked a cold pool so this was perfect for her, for me I can’t say It bothered me too much but I do tend to have quite a good tolerance for warm water.

At our last physiotherapist session Ariella was given some orthopaedic footwear (Piedro) to aid her recently diagnosed hyper mobility, hyper mobility is in basic terms over flexible joints. We decided this week to put them on her routinely, so she now wears them from waking until bed time and this has really improved her walking hugely. I’ll definitely be looking at the Piedro brand for her next pair of shoes, they also do sandals so I’ll look to add those to our holiday list. The pricing of the footwear is greatly inflated but the extra support really helps gain confidence in the basic structure of the foot. Even when we take the boots off now she seems much more stable, so I’m sure the specifically designed footwear is having a large impact.

Watching Tv in new boots

Standing practice

This week has been a real run up to festivities for us, we had plans to attend a glitzy red carpet affair on the weekend and then continued that with a long weekend spa break. Both were exceptionally well timed, fun, relaxing and I think Ariella enjoyed spending a few days with her grandparents who offered up their babysitting service for the red carpet affair before heading into the Cotswolds. We greeted them at the door with a vomit soaked toddler, vomit covered mum and the external pieces of the car seat in hand. Everything was sponged down or washed, just in time for her second go hours later at which point we decided she was either car sick or unwell. As days past it was clear she had some kind of vomit bug given the car seat was covered once more (and currently sitting in the washing machine for a good deep clean).

Red carpet evening, child free!

Red carpet evening, child free!


Next in line was Calcot Manor & Spa in the Cotswolds, one of our favourite places to relax. They have an onsite creche which you can use included in the room rate when staying in the family rooms alongside the baby listening services. The Creche is such good fun, the staff are always very reassuring and all lovely. As well as this they have the most awesome spa with a blissful outdoor hot tub and top of the line treatments. We used to visit often before children and it’s remained consistently excellent throughout the years with a unique balance between catering for the couple market and also families. This is such difficult line to walk on! The food is top quality, the spa excellent, the family rooms lack nothing – they are as comfortable and accommodating as our own home. Perfect!

Calcot Manor

Christmas Tree outside

On this occasion we decided to go for a family suite as Ariella tends to get disturbed now when we come in and out of rooms. It’s not always an option but she did sleep a full 12 hours as normal here, the rooms are beautiful whether you have older children or younger. They are accommodated with tv’s, games, books and also the younger children have all the extras you might usually need to bring (steriliser, washing up liquid, nappy bin). Family Suite

The first evening we dine with Ariella at the children’s high tea then once she was asleep enjoyed some superb cocktails in the beautiful decorated lounge area with some of our close friends, with roaring fires and Christmas trees scattered throughout it was very relaxing. Just what we needed to unwind and prepare for the rest of our stay (as well as the treatments had scheduled at the spa). The following day we made use of the creche, dropped Ariella off and headed to the spa where we enjoyed spectacular massages – I opted for my usual hot stone but a much longer duration this time. We managed to change or creche booking to a little earlier so that we could enjoy the spa and the hot tub before our treatments, as we weren’t sure if we wanted to take Ariella swimming. The swimming times for children is quite a narrow window but as it turned out, Ariella wasn’t feeling very well anyway.

Cocktails with friends

Yummy lunch in the conservatory restaurant

Yummy lunch in the conservatory restaurant

The following evening we had a baby sitter booked in, the creche at Calcot offer baby sitting in the evenings which is really a treat. So that left us free to dine with more friends in the fine dining Conservatory, exceptional food and wine is on offer. It was so great to have a huge amount of time to ourselves, child free and I feel very much ready for Christmas now!