i’m the mum who….

Lovely fellow blogger Chelle of The Mumington Post recently wrote a post entitled ‘I’m the mum who…’ as part of a chain of bloggers all doing the same, and she nominated me to write one too. The posts are basically a kind of ‘getting to know you’ exercise, where mums share a few points about their daily routine as a parent and a bit about how they view themselves.

I started to think about my post. I’m the mum who:

is generally very disorganised, has a shocking memory, relies on my husband to do all the DIY jobs around the house, is rubbish at maths, doesn’t really enjoy cooking, keeps putting stuff off that I could do today, has terrible willpower when it comes to cake, tried and failed to breastfeed twice, says “in a minute” to our eldest too often when he wants to play, and probably much more of the same if I kept going.

As mums, and more than likely a lot of dads too, we are VERY good at putting ourselves down. It’s all too easy to focus on the things we don’t really like about ourselves, the things we wish we could do better, or the things we would do differently if we could. Self-deprecation is the mark of classic mum guilt. By relying on formula instead of breastfeeding, or using disposable nappies instead of cloth ones, or by microwaving some baked beans instead of crafting a home-cooked meal from scratch, parents can feel like they aren’t providing the best for their children, and feeling bad about yourself is more debilitating than anyone else’s unwanted opinion.

But take a minute to look at your thriving, growing offspring – their smiling faces, their joyous giggles, their outstretched arms flying in for a hug – and you’ll realise that they don’t give two hoots about your perceived weaknesses. Because I’m also the mum who likes nothing more than lazy snuggles watching cartoons on the sofa, takes the time to read a bedtime story or two, listens intently as Little Man talks my ear off about Star Wars, enjoys cooking a lot more when I have a little helper in the kitchen, can’t bear to see them sad, and if I’m sometimes too busy to play, I’m never too busy for a cuddle.

I’m the mum who loves her boys with all her heart, and they are happy, so I won’t feel too bad about forgetting to buy bread again.


the alphabet photography project: a is for art

I love taking photos (and my phone keeps telling me its memory is nearly full) and although I stick a lot of them on social media, all too few of them end up on my blog. Now I’m coming out of the newborn haze a bit and I’m back into blogging again, I’ve resolved to use my photos more – and I’ve found the perfect project to get me started. The very talented Charly from PODcast runs The Alphabet Photography Project, a weekly photo challenge (fairly obviously) using letters of the alphabet as prompts. Fortunately I’ve stumbled across it when it’s still on ‘A’ this time, so here we go!

A is for Art

A is for Art

We have a creative little boy who loves to draw, paint and stick things on paper, so much so that we have piles and piles of his artwork stretching all the way back through his nursery days. This is some of his latest work!

Join in with The Alphabet Photography Project:
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review: a summer of babymule adventures

As September is drawing to a close, and it’s now officially Autumn, our first summer as a family of four already seems a distant memory. Before Joe started school this month and Daddy also had to go back to work after his well-timed teacher’s summer holiday of paternity leave, we made the most of our time together by getting out and about and enjoying the days of sunshine in between the numerous rainy ones.

Of course getting out and about with a new baby often involves bringing half the house out with you. Fortunately, I’ve been able to make use of a fab bit of kit which has made carrying the kitchen sink that much easier – our Babymule backpack changing bag.



The generous changing mat provides a comfy surface wherever you are

I was very lucky to be chosen to be a Babymule Ambassador in time for Jake’s arrival, and have since found the bag to be indispensable for day trips out, popping into town, or just acting as a permanent changing station in the corner of the living room. Here’s why the Babymule works so well for me:

  • It’s big without being cumbersome – there is ample room inside for all baby’s nappy paraphernalia, changes of clothes, bottles if you’re using them (we have easily carried three at once), your own stuff (purse, keys, phone, books etc.), and space to shove a bit of shopping in the top on your way home.
  • It’s comfortable to carry – the wide adjustable straps and padded back mean that you can carry a full bag for hours without it becoming a burden, and makes babywearing an absolute breeze as you can easily have baby on the front and bag on the back leaving hands free. There is a hidden strap to enable you to carry as a messenger bag if you prefer, and you can clip onto your buggy handles.
  • There’s a space for everything – the clever design provides several pockets for storage of various items, including a bottle bag, zip pouch for dirty clothes, and a removable nappy bag for nipping to the baby change.
  • There’s an ample changing mat – the nappy bag includes a folded padded changing mat which matches the floral design on the main bag, and is big enough to stop an errant mid-change wee from escaping all over the place.
  • It is excellent quality – the Babymule feels lovely to use, is well put together, and seems as though it will last to use as a straightforward backpack long after Jake is no longer a baby.
  • They’re for dads too! – no ‘yummy mummies’ here. The designs are attractive without being too feminine for dad to want to carry.

On the downside (and this is being quite picky), sometimes the plethora of pockets and compartments means you have to open two or three before you remember where you put something so it won’t suit everyone if you want a straightforward bag to chuck everything in. Also, one thing it is lacking is a mesh pocket on the outside of the bag to slot water bottles or an umbrella in, as you might find on a standard rucksack. We would have found this a useful addition. Some may also find it too big to use as an everyday bag, which I can understand as you might not need all the space for a trip to the shops, but it really comes into its own when you’re out for the whole day.

On the whole, we’ve loved taking our Babymule around picturesque North East England over the holidays. Check out what we’ve been up to:


The gorgeous coastline at Tynemouth – Daddy and Joe had fun on the boating lake


Joe loves the play park at Cullercoats, just up the coast from Tynemouth


The Babymule in action thanks to my dad’s sneaky photography


The bag doubled as a very useful goalpost down at Jesmond Dene, a popular local park for families


We took the bag all the way up to Holy Island off the Northumberland coast – here it is in the shadow of Lindisfarne Castle. Joe loved it on the beach at Bamburgh later that day.


Unfazed by the sand on Bamburgh beach


Enjoying some pizza in our local park on their Family Fun Day


I couldn’t resist the blue sky on the rooftop car park of our local High Street shopping centre (you don’t always have to go far!)


Even in the supermarket Babymule has its uses!


Whatever we’ve been up to, it’s always good to come back home for cuddles


As a Babymule Ambassador I have been given a Babymule changing bag for the purpose of sharing our experience of using it. All opinions of the bag are my own. Find out more about Babymule at babymule.co.uk

review: shnuggle baby bath

As a Brand Ambassador for Beebies Baby Store, I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a few new baby items to try out with Jake. One of which I can highly recommend is the new design Shnuggle Baby Bath – and I was one of the first parents to try it out!


Jake was born into the water in a pool at our local birthing centre, and he is most definitely a water baby. He absolutely loves his bath time and seems so relaxed in the water, kicking his little feet and splashing his hands as if he feels at home in it. The Shnuggle bath has not only made bath time enjoyable for him, it has made it much easier for me too. There are several features of the bath which I think make it perfect for your water baby:


  • High sides mean that you can fill it with deeper water, making your baby feel more cocooned than a traditional long and shallow bath. The deeper water seems to retain its temperature for longer so baby doesn’t get cold. There’s plenty of room to grow but is suitable for newborns too.
  • The ‘bum bump’ provides a secure seat for your baby so that they are less likely to slip down, which means you have a hand free for washing them. I found it very easy to support Jake with one hand to stop him tilting to the side, and now he holds his head more steadily he can sit unaided in the bath for a short time as it supports him so well.
  • A foam insert gives a soft backrest for your baby, and the textured plastic of the bath means it doesn’t feel cold to the touch.
  • A generous lip to grab onto around the sides make lifting, filling and emptying the bath extremely easy. Its compact design means you can fill it in the kitchen sink if you need to.
  • Its non-slip feet give a secure base on any floor surface so it won’t slide around on laminate or tiled floors.
  • Available with a choice of three colours of foam insert.
  • A snip at only £19.99! It really is excellent value for money as it is superb quality.


I would definitely say the Shnuggle bath has been one of my newborn essentials, and I can see us getting several more months of happy bath times from it! Order yours now from the Beebies website.

Beebies Ambassador BadgeAs a Beebies Baby Store Brand Ambassador, I was sent a Shnuggle Baby Bath free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions of the product are my own though.

the thigh’s the limit

I’ve been so lax with blogging in recent weeks as I have struggled to find the time in our new routine of both baby and school, but I’m back on it with renewed vigour! Firstly, I thank my lucky stars I’m not Kate Middleton. This piece has been printed as my column in the Evening Chronicle today:

So, the Duchess of Cambridge has gone ‘back to work’ for the first time since baby Charlotte arrived in May, and we’re all supposed to care a great deal about this momentous event. And in case you hadn’t noticed, Kate’s got a new haircut, which despite not being all that different to her previous one, has been one of the biggest news stories of the week (before something about a Prime Minister and a close encounter of the porcine kind made everyone lose their minds).

Kate was re-entering the limelight after her period of confinement to visit the Anna Freud Centre in London, an important organisation helping children and young people with mental health issues. You could be forgiven for overlooking the actual purpose of her visit though, as the media were much more concerned with the fact that she now has a fringe, in apparently a world first for a new mum in her thirties. Not only that, but she had the temerity to look slim and toned a mere four months after giving birth, something that the nauseating coverage of the story on Mail Online (obviously) was all to eager to point out.

You can always rely on the Daily Mail website to take inappropriately lecherous commentary of any story involving a young female celebrity to the nth degree, and they didn’t disappoint here. Apparently Kate ‘showcased her trim figure and slender legs’ in a stylish shirt-dress, which they illustrated with approximately 700 near-identical photos so we were in no doubt how trim and slender she looked.


The Sun joined in (of course) with the staggeringly disrespectful move of printing a sweaty-palmed paparazzo shot on their front page of Kate walking from her car and showing a bit of leg, with the whimsical headline ‘Thigh there, Kate’. They also included an inset picture of Kate’s new ‘do, to clarify that she is apparently nothing more than hair and a pair of legs.

Most hilariously, the Mail helpfully told us all where we could buy Kate’s dress from, in case we were so desperate to emulate her style that we were willing to spend £1245 on a work outfit. The article genuinely asks “Without the Duchess of Cambridge to copy, what have we all been wearing for the last few months?”. I don’t know, maybe clothes of our choosing because we have a brain of our own? As Kate does too under that hair. Brains don’t get you on the front page though, do they?

things to do at 4am

I wrote a version of this post for my Evening Chronicle column this week but was limited by my word count (and the fact that Jake had gone back to sleep so I did too). Here’s a fuller version. What do you get up to during the obligatory night feeds?

You join me in the wee small hours of the morning, which you could do regularly if you also have a small person who doesn’t appreciate that adults prefer to be asleep between midnight and 6am. However, if you’re optimistic like me, you could see it as extra time in your day to get some essential jobs done. Realistically though, here’s what you’re probably doing if you’re awake at 4am waiting for a milk-drunk baby to nod off again:

  • Watching unbelievably addictive reality TV – I must spend 90% of my time during a night feed glued to trashy fly-on-the-wall programmes that require little to no brain activity to watch. My current personal favourites are the Border Security type shows where people have their bananas confiscated before they’re allowed into Australia, and whimsical traffic cop documentary Road Wars. They’re still showing the same ten year old episodes on a continual loop and they’re all essentially the same but it’s perfect for the early hours when anything you have to concentrate on is out of the question. Consisting of the odd car chase through a housing estate, a few incidents involving an idiot with a blurred-out face and no road tax, and grainy dash-cam footage of a Ford Fiesta with 14 passengers in the back being pulled over on the M4, you will find yourself inexplicably glued to the screen until your little one has drifted back off to peaceful slumber.
  • Catching up on your ‘correspondence’ – which essentially means scrolling through your Twitter timeline for 45 minutes and liking a couple of cat videos on Facebook. If you’re lucky there will be some other lonely soul doing exactly the same thing – why not send out a Tweet of despair and see who answers? The best online friendships are maintained through mutual sleep deprivation. Also, don’t bother checking your emails at this hour, unless you are desperate to know how some dubious organisation can help you with your blog’s Google ranking.
  • Playing whatever mobile game has taken over your life – you will have a puzzle game on your phone that once you start, you can’t stop, and find yourself ‘just doing one more level’ even after you could have gone back to bed. You may have a problem. My personal addiction is ‘Two Dots’ – install it and curse me later. Its only saving grace is that you only have five lives before you have to wait for them to regenerate after an hour and a half, so you can’t play it into infinity, but it’s infuriating nonetheless.

Dribble bibs will buy you some time before the next inevitable outfit change (this lovely example is from The Essential One!)

  • Mopping up milky vomit – you know that clean, dry sleepsuit you put on your just-fed baby? It’s not clean and dry anymore. You quickly realise when you have a newborn that if you changed their clothes every time they spit up milk on them you would run out of clothes within about four hours. As a result, I think most parents set their own acceptable vomit saturation point before they feel they absolutely have to put on a new babygro. Just acknowledge that the best you can do is to try and stem the milky tide with a muslin and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.
  • Eating – because you just fancy a little something. And that something will be either cereal or whatever you can pick at in the fridge that requires no cooking. For the love of God, don’t trust yourself with the hob at this time of night. Oh, and don’t keep a chocolate stash in the house so you won’t be tempted – scoffing a Twirl and a King Size Twix in the middle of the night is a sure fire way to pile on more ‘baby weight’.
  • Doing some housework – actually, no. I’ve never done this. It rarely gets done during the day, never mind when I’d rather be asleep. Perhaps you could use some of your ‘correspondence’ time to trawl Google for a cleaner instead. Of course, if your baby is soothed by white noise, multitasking by getting the Hoovering done might actually be doubly beneficial.
  • Marvelling at how beautiful your baby is – of course this depends on the amount of milky vomit, but if you’re lucky enough to have them nod off in your arms, there are few better ways to spend the night. Everything else can wait.


#Miles4MAMA – the challenge is on!

I mentioned in my recent post about my difficult postnatal recovery that I was planning an exciting fitness challenge to raise awareness and hopefully funds for MAMA Academy, the charity I volunteer for as General Manager and trustee. MAMA Academy aims to help more babies arrive safely by supporting mums through pregnancy and providing up to date resources for midwives to facilitate best practice in maternity care. It is an absolute privilege to work for such a brilliant little (but growing!) charity, and I wanted to take on a bit of a personal challenge to help a cause I am so passionate about, but that would also help me get back into shape after my own pregnancy.

And this is what I came up with – the #Miles4MAMA challenge! In a nutshell:

Starting on 13th September, I’ve given myself 10 months to cover 1000 miles by Jake’s first birthday on 13th July next year. That’s around 100 miles a month! I’ll be counting miles walked, on our exercise bike, and from running, as I’ll hopefully be training for the Great Manchester 10k next May. My 1000 miles is in support of MAMA’s Made to Measure campaign to save 1000 babies’ lives through the nationwide uptake of customised growth charts, which can better detect growth restricted babies, a key early warning for stillbirth. Make no mistake – this will be a big challenge for me as I work to get my fitness back, but will hopefully be a lot of fun and will do a lot of good.

So where do you come in?

Basically I don’t want to do this alone! I’m calling on all bloggers who care about the cause of reducing baby loss and supporting positive pregnancies to take on their own #Miles4MAMA challenge. That’s not to say you have to do 1000 miles! I’d love for those who are interested in helping our charity while pushing yourselves to improve your own fitness, regardless of your current ability, to set yourself a target to achieve by next summer and we’ll achieve it together.

Miles4MAMA image

Here’s how it will work:

  • If you’re interested in taking part in #Miles4MAMA, drop me an email at jenny@mamaacademy.org.uk and Tweet me @GreatNorthMum to say hello.
  • I’ll send you a #Miles4MAMA badge for your blog, and ask you to write a post to tell everyone what your personal challenge will be, and why you’re doing it. You can set any number of miles and you can walk, run, cycle, swim or any combination of these.
  • Share your post on social media and make sure you mention @MAMAAcademy and use the hashtag so that I can big you up and welcome you to the team!
  • Start your challenge on 13th September (or whenever is convenient for you!). You’ll need to keep track of your miles covered – I’ll be using an app called Map My Fitness to measure distance for walks and runs, but there are lots available.
  • I’d love for you to join in with Hannah’s #BloggingToJogging linky at Budding Smiles each week to share your progress and offer mutual support to others. Then on the 13th of every month I’ll be hosting the #Miles4MAMA linky on my blog for your monthly update of miles covered and how you’ve been getting on. There will be a monthly update on the MAMA Academy website to say thank you to all of you.
  • There will be a special #Miles4MAMA fundraising page set up on Virgin Money Giving which will be our communal fundraising hub – rather than everyone having separate pages, I would love for everyone taking part to share the link to the page with friends and family and encourage them to sponsor our challenges as a team effort. We can then see at a glance the impact our hard work is having!
  • Throughout the duration of the challenge, social media will be key to spreading awareness of the work of MAMA Academy and of #Miles4MAMA itself. Please use the hashtag as freely as you would like to share your blog posts, brag about a brilliant run, or keep us all updated on your mile count. I’ll be setting up a supportive Facebook group for everyone taking part for those who need some words of encouragement or to share your health and fitness tips. Perhaps like me you’ll be using the challenge as means to lose some baby weight or get back to fitness after some time off so hopefully you’ll find this of benefit.
  • It will never be too late to join in, so if you miss the September start date, don’t worry! You can set your own challenge at any time.

You’ve probably got questions…..

You can contact me at any time on Twitter @GreatNorthMum or by email jenny@mamaacademy.org.uk if you want to ask anything – I’m still in the process of thinking through some of the details myself so we’ll be ready to go on 13th September. Once you’ve contacted me to register your interest I’ll be able to keep you up to date when things are set up. I’ve got no idea at this point how much interest there might be so we’ll see how big our #Miles4MAMA team will be!

Please visit the MAMA Academy website to find out all about our charity and what your challenge will be supporting. You can also follow us on Twitter @MAMAAcademy and find us on Facebook /MAMAAcademy.

Thank you :-)