10 Tips On Getting Out And About with 2 Small Kids

My journey of becoming a mum of two small ones started off something like this ( that is, spending evenings in my pants knee deep in teeny tiny pieces of spaghetti desperately resisting making *that* phone call where you beg your other half / mother / neighbour / ANYONE to come over to offer some sort of assistance as soon as umm, physically possible). The idea of showering and generally sustaining myself seemed like a huge task and I would feel quite anxious running up to the days where I had the two of them (three out of five weekdays). Fast forward five months and a good few “learning experiences” later (manoeuvring a double buggy during rush hour on a packed tube with a hungry newborn and an extremely overtired toddler is not a good idea…the sweat droplets were real), and whilst I’m still very much winging it and taking each day, heck each MINUTE as it comes (we found a beer bottle lid in the kids’ bath the other night…WTAF?!), I feel like I’ve learnt a lot over the past 20 weeks. So here’s 10 things that have helped getting dressed, out the house and generally mothering two whilst still having fun when out in the big wide world easier ? :

1. Transportation

Obviously this depends on the age of your little ones, but when Sonny was a newborn I always went for the buggy + sling combo as he would just effortlessly attach onto my front (I use the close caboo) and end up falling asleep. Now Sonny is getting older and more wriggly (five months), he is a little big for the sling facing inwards and outwards there is a recommended time limit, and well, to get him onto  my back without another adult pair of hands requires a little more practice.  So now Jack tends to walk and Sonny goes in the buggy and I use the double buggy when I *have* to – it does my head in as it is crazy heavy (people go to offer with a limp hand and I have to politely explain that they will need their entire body weight). I’d also like to give the buggy board a go as I think Jack is *just* about at the age where he wouldn’t just find it hilarious to run off all the time and it would certainly get us around quicker (though I can’t say I don’t like the meandering…. that’s for another post!) Oh, and I always take reins too.


2. Try to think ahead

What I mean by this is that when the toddler is happy, it’s a good idea to feed /change/ generally show some attention to the baby (!) You won’t get much other time. Same goes for attending to mama herself. Any spare moment you have, I really recommend using it to eat, drink or pee (yes, peeing with two is IMPOSSIBLE).

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

I’ve wasted far too much time dawdling at the bottom of stairs staring aimlessly, hoping for someone to stop and help. These days I pretty much holla at the first person who passes to do anything from direct me out of a parking spot to take a quick snap of my crew to watch the kids whilst I dash to the loo (see #2). I’ve also been known to totally latch myself on to people for entire tube journeys when I think they can help further down the line (insert monkey emoticon covering eyes)

4. Avoid any extreme weather conditions

Umbrellas / rain covers / sunhats are just one thing too many in my books for an afternoon out. That said, however prepared you are, you will never be ready for the UK weather. Once I left the house with a thermos flask, sun cream, and raincoats for the boys. And I STILL felt too hot and Sonny still got wet. I kid you not. (forgot the raincover didn’t I?!)

5. Use bribery… and be ok with that

Let them eat cake, basically. And by them, I mean the toddler. It doesn’t really matter does it? Let’s just focus on keeping the peace. And on that note, my favourite snack is an apple (takes them ages to eat) . So just remember – chocolate rice cakes before 11am are totally ok.

6. Keep it simple

For us, spending half the day in the house and half the day out the house seems to work really nicely. And we tend to keep it real simple when we do venture out. If you follow us on Instagram you’ll know that we’re not huge fans of baby groups, so a trip the supermarket, the library or the garden centre are some of our favourite activities.

7. Go it alone

Venturing out solo with just my brood always seems to works best and everything goes much smoother – plus you can walk along singing Old McDonald without feeling awks about it (we sang that SO loudly the other day)

8. Remember your essentials

Snacks, books, phone charger (seeking out plug sockets in public spaces is not a fun activity). Plus I always try out bring out a hairbrush, perfume, hand cream and a red lipstick – applying any of the aforementioned will feel like a mini spa experience in the middle of the possible mayhem.

9. Quit whilst you’re ahead

I’ve learnt this the hard way. If you’re doubtful about whether you can just nip to get yourself a(nother) coffee in time before the toddler starts to lose it out of tiredness, you should probably forego it. However important caffeine is (and we all know it’s CRUCIAL), it’s not worth the melt. down.

10. Have fun with your procreation

This is why you created them after all, isn’t it? So get out there, see the world, and enjoy it. Just don’t forget your lipstick. Or the snacks. Or the wet wipes. Or the sling. Oh…..

Sorry if the above seem obvious (they didn’t seem so obvious at the time…) and I hope they can be of some help. Let me know in the comments below what your top tips are for getting out and about with your brood.

As ever, thanks so much for reading.

Emma xxx

img_8427

Delicious Coconut Berry Smoothie

I’d always been more up for eating my fruit and veg rather than whizzing them up – so smoothies had never really appealed. That is, until recently since I have been discovering the joys of my magimix (you may have seen me reference this in this recipe and this one!), since I have come to think of them as an afternoon snack or as a dessert (they can contain a fair bit of fruit sugars) and since I’ve realised that smoothie-making is actually an amazing way of using up slightly tired fruit and veg on the verge of being left to rot at the back of the fridge…

So here’s one I tried this weekend for an afternoon treat, and it went down a storm – with Jack too.

Ingredients
  • 1 handful of goji berries (I really love the crunchy taste these give so deliberately don’t blend for too long)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of frozen raspberries (Can be fresh but frozen are so handy to keep stored up in freezer and give the smoothie a super cold, fresh taste)
  • 1 drop of vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of tahini (optional – but gives a lovely, nutty taste)

Method

Whizz it all up 🙂

Multivitamins For Kids – Yes or No?

First things first, I am not a medical professional. Anything but. What I am though is a mother navigating the parental minefield who, a little confused following some recent GP advice, a little reluctant to administer more ‘stuff’, took to my little corner of the internet, to the ‘instamum’ community, to do what I desperately wanted to do: just hear from another mama or two. View Post

A Fun Chia Pudding

We try to fill our home with as much ‘healthy’ food as possible but, when bringing up kids (and as adults, living on little sleep, and just generally being only human and therefore having a penchant for carbs and sugar..), inevitably there are sweet treats lurking in our cupboards. Breakfast is a tricky one though; for me it’s the most important meal of the day not necessarily nutritionally but almost mentally – what you put in your mouth first thing in the morning can dictate how you feed yourself, and your general headspace therefore, for the whole rest of the day. But then again, you – or your kids – don’t always feel like chowing down a spinach smoothie first thing in the morning…

Which is sort of what this recipe is about. Jack absolutely loves cheerios – but I’m well aware that they contain sugars which I’d rather he didn’t eat. So this breakfast is a compromise – he can eat his cheerios, and have fun dunking them in the milky yogurt, but he also enjoys the chia which despite their teeny tiny size, are amazingly packed full of nutrition and are a great source of fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids.

WHAT YOU NEED:

A generous handful of chia seeds

Half a bowl of milk (though it really depends how milky you like the oats – add more milk for a more ‘cereal’ like experience, more chia seeds and oats for a more solid consistency. You’ll see what I mean once you try it…)

A cup of oats

A few tablespoons of yoghurt

A dash of cinnamon and vanilla essence

A selection of fruit

An ‘unhealthy’ topping (we use cheerios – Cinnamon Grahams are next up…)

TO DO:

The night before the morning you plan to eat this, you will need to carve yourself out literally 30 seconds to prepare the below. And it’ll be the best spent time of your day, I am telling you.

Grab a bowl, and fill it three quarters way to the top with a milk of your choice (I use almond, dairy-free milk but any milk will do. I want to try it with coconut milk) Add the oats, cinnamon, and vanilla essence. Then grab a generous handful of chia seeds, and mix everything together. Cover with some clingfilm, place in the fridge to soak (you can also leave to soak for a few hours but it always seems to taste better when left to soak overnight).

Best served with a load of fresh fruit, of course that generous sprinkling of an ‘unhealthy’ something and a big smile (and cup of coffee for mama!)

Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Love,

Emma xx

Day In the Life (With a Toddler and a Baby)

The only rule is that there are no rules. On a good day, Jack watches no TV, he naps for 2 hours, Sonny gurgles with joy, we venture out somewhere fun, Jack eats all his meals, the boys splash and have fun together in the bath and Sonny goes down to sleep for the evening. On a bad day, Jack watches hours of Paw Patrol, Sonny is restless, I’m shattered, I have no imagination (on the games / food front) we don’t leave the house (let alone get dressed!), Jack refuses to eat much resulting in what we call a ‘bath time dinner’ (cleaning baked beans stuck to the side of the tub isn’t so much fun at the end of the day) and I shove Sonny in Sam’s face the minute he walks through the door.

As with everything in life, there are good days and there are bad days. You just have to do what you can to minimise the bad ones whilst remembering that there will almost always be a moment (or two) in the day when the wheels do definitely fall off; for us this is usually when we’re about to go out the house and is a sign that we need to get out ASAP or if both boys suddenly get very tired and need a nap.

I’ll let the video do the talking – I’m quite proud of this one mainly just because I think it’s a real representation of our days together and so I think it’s one that I’ll treasure for years to come.

How do you spend days with your little ones? Are you out and about or more of a home bod?

Big love,

Emma xxx

P.S What It’s Really Like to go from One Kid to Two

DIY BABY BATH WASH & SHAMPOO

Fed up with baby washes that are either full of toxins OR cost the earth, and now with two boys to bath at the end of the day, I’ve decided to try my hand at making some bath washes for Jack and Sonny. View Post

Roadtripping Through Upstate New York

If you’re looking for Manhattan sophistication without the business of a city, with a large dose of breathtaking scenery, then Upstate New York is your answer. The area, which surrounds New York City and extends all the way to Canada, is dotted with hundreds of beautiful small towns which take you right back to nature, are gorgeously quaint and yet are totally chic and effortlessly ‘cool’ due to the epic shops and eateries that populate them (or at least the ones we visited). Forget the Hamptons, some of the spots we saw look like something you’d find in small French villages, or in a painting (indeed the area was historically a haven for artists fleeing the city for some inspiration and respite in the 1800s). Below I’m outlining our itinerary, which was just a handful of towns – there are so many to pick from so I’d recommend you do a bit of research ahead of time to decide if it’s nature, food or shopping you’re after. Also we hired a car after staying the weekend in Brooklyn but it’s worth noting that you can also access many of these places by train.

And so it was one morning, with a tummy full of pancakes and too many mugs of strong coffee, that we headed North on Route 32…

img_4822 img_4865

Woodstock

Our first stop was Woodstock which, before I go on, must get one thing out the way: Woodstock is not where the famed festival took place. (It actually happened down the road in a place called Bethel – head to the Bethel Woods Centre for Arts to see the original site). That said, the town carries over a truly arty spirit with a good dose of tie-dye wearing folk and bearded hitchikers to give you a good feel of the energy of the festival. We stayed at Hotel Dylan which had super stylishy decked out rooms, a small but perfect little pool and a bonfire at night which was fun to sit around with some of the other guests (even if we did slightly cramp their style with a 3 month old babe in arms) That said, we can’t quite put our finger on it but we found the vibe a little sterile and the continental breakfast they put on during the weekend was really poor. The hotel is a short drive into Woodstock town which made it quiet but bear in mind that you’d need to have a car or take a taxi to get into the centre.

Food wiseShindig provided some of the tastiest food we ate our whole trip – serious comfort food made from organic,  seasonal ingredients which meant that our order of just a burger and grain salad tasted outrageously delicious. Another favourite of ours was Garden Cafe which is a must for any vegan – there is a gorgeous, spacious garden and bar which was divine for basking in the sun. The staff are also lovely and there is a really lovely laid back vibe in this spot. For something entirely relaxed, one evening we tried Tinker Taco Lab , a cute taco joint with seating outdoors and a simple menu of tacos and tamales. Just remember to order enough – they are super delicious but the portions aren’t huge (or expensive) so be generous with your ordering. And don’t forget to try one of their delicious margharitas from the bar (though you’ll probably want to drink yours on site – as opposed to taking it away which is what we had to do once we realised that we should probably put our toddler to bed circa 10pm) Oh and ice cream at Jane’s Icecream is a must – the cinnamon crumb cake is other worldy good. I had to share mine with Jack, which I didn’t appreciate (neither of us did)

There is so much to do in Woodstock from art galleries to hikes to shopping. Highlights for us included an afternoon at the beautiful Big Deep watering hole and a morning spent meandering around the shops. Simply wander up the main drag and you cannot fail to be pulled into one of the many interiors, food or clothes stores. Woodstock General Store sells the cutest backpacks and candles I think I’ve ever laid eyes on, I wanted every single cushion at Shop Little House whilst The Golden Notebook is full of unique kids books and accessories: a “Goodbye Moon” tote bag anyone? Yes please. You can also do stunning hikes all around the area and the town itself, nestled at the base of Overlook Mountain, is a great place to do some hiking. We*attempted* the two-and-a-half-mile trek up (and I mean up it – it is entirely uphill) Overlook – there are apparently amazing views of the Catskills and Hudson valley but I say *attempted* as we had to give up half way up; we (well, I) had been a little too ambitious and the upper lip sweating and ergo wriggling had become a bit much. We probably should have opted for the more suitable Kaaterskill Falls hike….#ihateitwhenthehusbandisright.

Hudson

Next up on our Upstate travels was the town of Hudson. With hundreds of historic buildings of every architectural style you could imagine and a plethora of classy restaurants, antique shops, art galleries and cool boutiques and located just by the Hudson River, for me Hudson felt like the epitome of all I’ve learnt Upstate New York to be; that is, an urban gem set in Nature with a huge amount of charm. Hudson is very easily accessible via train on the Amtrak so there is no need to rent a car, and the town itself is totally walkable – basically everything you need is centred around Warren Street. We stayed at the wonderful WM Farmer and Sons Boarding and Barroom which for so many reasons I can not recommend highly enough. It is perfect for families in that our room (we stayed in the Ann Marie Suite) also had a kitchenette and a living room which gave us plenty of space to spread out and really feel at home. The bathroom had a beautiful clawfoot tub which I won’t lie, I pretty much jumped straight in to as soon as we arrived, and the accompanying gorgeous toiletries didn’t go amiss either. Indeed, the attention to detail at WM Farmer and Sons is pretty spectacular; from freshly ground coffee and biscotti left in the kitchen to the fact that each room is decorated slightly differently (ours had a huge splendid vintage American flag hanging high above the bed), the thought and care that has gone into creating each space is evident. The fact that our room was right above not only a super cute coffee shop serving up amazing coffee and freshly baked muffins in the mornings, but also one of the best restaurants in town was another huge bonus. It meant that with some help from the iSitter app, we were able to leave Jack sleeping in his cot upstairs whilst we wined and dined downstairs. Do not miss the heirloom tomato salad – sounds simple but those tomatoes will stay with me forever. I’d also like to give a special shout out to their staff who were some of the friendliest folk that we encountered during our whole trip Upstate (we spent one early evening hanging out with the owner and their kid at the local playground and drinking cocktails together).

img_5103 img_5201 img_5239

The activity de rigeur here in Hudson is simply just strolling up and down Warren street popping in and out of all the stores and eateries. Do not miss Relish where all we ordered was an egg and kale sandwich and some oatmeal but I cannot stress to you how delicious and fresh both were. For picnic provisions, head to Talbott & Arding (or just pick up a gorgeous bunch of sunflowers like I did!), try Moto Coffee Machine for motorbikes to entertain Jack and baked goods and strong coffee for parents and Food Studio which gives local food a Vietnamese twist is supposed to be amazing. Also don’t miss Grazin’ for their burgers and Bonfiglio and Bread for out of this world delicious sandwiches.

CALLICOON

We spent the final part of our roadtrip in the small sleepy towns of Callicoon and North Branch where we enjoyed some unforgettably slow and wonderful days. We may well have just passed these towns by had we not had the opportunity to stay at the small and perfectly formed North Branch Inn and Nine River Road – two of the most beautiful hotels we may in fact ever stay in! Both hotels, together with The Arnold House, are owned by a husband and wife team and together with a super friendly but discreet team of staff, really make you feel like you’re staying at a friend’s house rather than a hotel – in all the right ways.

 

img_5270

Totally unpretentious, but super comfortable. Think plates of chocolate cookies left out for you (not to mention the huge vat of sherry), postcards ready to send home, boardgames, Malin and Goetz bath products, firepits, rocking chairs that you cannot resist flopping down in, crisp cotton sheets, antique lamps, libraries, to name just a few of the details that these beautiful places offer up. Oh and the beds. I cannot describe the magnitude of the beds. (For anyone that knows the chain, the hotels reminded me a lot of the Soho House hotels) Finally, a big highlight is the two-lane wooden bowling alley (seriously old school – it dates back to the early 1900s!) at North Branch Inn – Jack was beside himself with excitement and spent a good hour (could have spent longer) pushing balls up and down the lane whilst staff looked on amused (and totally cool with it!).

img_5298

As I said, these towns are sleepy so the emphasis when you are staying at these hotels is to take it easy, enjoy a coffee in the hammock and soak up the beautiful countryside that surrounds you- both properties are located besides water. You won’t want to rush anywhere. When we did venture out, we spent one blissful afternoon lazing by Crystal Lake (there is a 1.3 mile circular around it which sounded gorgeous but we were having a rather dreamy time in the water so didn’t want to move. If you do go, remember to check for tics afterwards).

img_5318

If you have kids definitely check outApple Pond Farm – it’s very rural and rustic so phone them first to check that they are around – but it’s a wonderful, fully organic working farm and they run tours and workshops and you can even stay overnight on site. It’s also a renewable energy Education centre, if that’s your thing.

Food wise, a stay at North Branch inn includes breakfast – all locally sourced – as there is an excellent on site restaurant where I’d highly recommend eating. The menu is limited, but superbly fresh. One evening I had a delicious piece of trout that I won’t forget in a hurry. Otherwise, these towns are small so there’s not much choice but we ate a full organic and delicious breakfast of challah, toast and eggs with the brightest yellow yolks at Adella Dori on Lower main street and I’d definitely recommend Peppino’s for pizza, salad and decent glass of red wine (the pizza was so good, and so big, that we had to leave with a little doggy bag)

img_5389

Finally, you won’t want to miss Main Street Farm in the nearby town of Livingstone Manor – it is one of the most rad delis I’ve ever visited with the most gorgeous local seasonal organic vegetables, cheeses, meats, and general groceries not to mention amazing pancake mix and maple syrup (“tree juice” they call it) which we couldn’t resist getting to take home with us. Other local activities which you might want to try your hand at include fly fishing, golf, local breweries, hiking, horseriding – there’s even an alpaca farm in the area where you can visit baby animals and stock up on warm socks.

It’s a truly special part of the world. I only wish we could have stayed longer.

**********

So if there is one piece of advice I’d like to leave you with, it’s this: there is definitely more to New York than just flat whites and skyscrapers. I would highly recommend taking a short drive or train ride from the concrete jungle to visit some of these spots, or just spend the day – there’s a whole state to explore full of unassuming, unhurried but beautiful nature, amazing seasonal-focused food and wildly good indie boutique shopping. You’ll find a much slower pace of life, and I promise you you’ll feel all the better for it. Have you visited Upstate New York? Would you like to? Or are you just a New York person through and through? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or drop me a line.

Check out this short video I made from our time there and here is how we spent our weekend in Brooklyn before heading off up North.

Thanks so much for reading as ever,

Emma xxx

 

 

 

What It’s Really Like To Go From One Kid To Two

So many people scared us before having Sonny about how we would cope with two. “Say goodbye to *any* free time you have” was one particular phrase we heard a lot. Lines like that one, as well as the sleepless night, mess and bickering that having a new baby inevitably involves made us both begin to feel anxious in the weeks leading up to Sonny’s due date. Not ideal when you’re waddling around 40 weeks pregnant and running after a toddler… View Post