6

Why can’t we get a good cup of tea?

tea for two

“Tea, tea, tea for two?” YES PLEASE!

Remember the last time you had a great cup of tea? You shouldn’t have to think. It should be your last cup. But why as parents are we subjected to such atrocious tea standards when it’s a time we need it the most (alongside chocolate Hob Nobs).

I love tea. I’m British of course I do. But then, I do love tea A LOT! I don’t drink it because I’m thirsty, I don’t find it at all refreshing in that way. My reasons are two-fold; pleasure and perfunctory. Up until I had a baby, tea was all about the pleasure for me and I love everything it signifies. I’m a busy person and rush around a lot and the act of drinking tea actually makes me stop, sit down and relax – if only for 10 minutes.

Tea drinking changed with the onset of parenthood. I’d given up tea during pregnancy which was hard but achievable as I’d felt sick for most of it. I’d naïvely wondered if this was the turning point for my tea drinking and that it was the natural opportunity to give it up. Then, after being up all night in labour, the midwife brought me a cup of tea and I gulped it down thankfully. From that moment, tea became far more perfunctory for me; I needed that caffeine fix. It was a careful balance of drinking enough tea to keep you awake after being up most of the night and not drinking too much so that if the baby napped, you could still sleep.

Ask almost any new mum and she’ll tell you how hard it is to actually drink a cup of tea when it’s hot and at it’s best. Most tea in the first six months is  drunk lukewarm or microwaved after a mammoth feeding session or a rare moment when baby does sleep – but on the condition that she lay on top of you and you don’t move, trapped on the sofa unable to move a muscle and watching your cup of tea go to waste.

My baby was into everything and was glued to me constantly but as she grew more aware, making tea became part of our routine. We made a game of it and she started to think making tea was fun – to the point now that when I ask her if we can make mummy a cup of tea, she replies ‘ooh yes please!’. We sing a song, she opens the pot, chooses a tea bag, gives it a shake and puts it into the cup. She knows the drill now and tells me what to do next – ‘be careful mummy, it’s a bit hot! Put the milk in, give it a stir, oooh delicious’. I feel like an actual Einstein genius for achieving this.

Back at work, it became a novelty to have a fresh, hot cup of tea which I could drink sitting down. My old office thought I was a tea extremist as I’d be fairly specific about how I liked my tea – skimmed milk, colour of a Rich Tea biscuit. I don’t have time to mess around with bad tea when I’m baby free. I would try to be polite and say I wasn’t fussy but then you’d end up with tea that tasted awful. Then you’d have to be even more polite and be seen to drink it. Why not just ask for something you like? Surely if someone is going to the trouble to make you tea, they’d rather it be a good one? That way, it’s actually appreciated.

I’ve wondered why soft play tea is so awful. Plastic cups, weak and tasteless, it’s usually just a tonic to survive the bedlam of children and to give you the caffeine kick to chase up ladders, through tunnels and race down slides. Surely there’s never been such a concentration of tired, thirsty mums just desperate for a great cup of tea. Maybe our desperation lets them get away with it.

My fussiness in tea drinking has reduced since having a baby. I need all the caffeine I can get and drinking cold tea or sub-standard soft play tea has lowered my standards. I consider it a huge act of kindness for someone to make or even buy me a cup of tea – and equally wary about people who don’t drink tea at all.

And so I’d like to call upon soft play centres, park cafes and anywhere that sees a mum with a baby to up their tea game. Take pity on us and serve us tea which is hot, has actually seen a tea bag for more than two seconds and has REAL milk in it – not out of a sachet or from a jug covered in cling film that’s been left out all day. You’ll not only win our custom but our life-long respect.

 

 

11

Recipe – easy baby meatballs

This baby and toddler recipe for meatballs is fairly quick and easy with the added bonus of having secret vegetables. They also make great finger food.

Servings: Enough for two grown ups and two baby portions

INGREDIENTS:

  • One pack of pork mince – I use the low fat version
  • A small courgette
  • A handful of spinach
  • One tablespoon of hoisin sauce
  • One tablespoon of soy sauce – I use the reduced salt version
  • A sprinkling of sesame seeds
  • Pasta – or you can serve with noodles or mashed potato

METHOD

1. Blend the courgette and spinach until finely chopped (invisible to the eye of a baby!)

2. Tip into a bowl with the pork mince, sauces and sesame seeds – mix well.

3. Form into meatballs – as big or as little as you’d like:

4. Place them in a baking dish and put into the oven at 180 degrees.

5. Cook for 20 minutes – flip over half way so they brown all over. If they’re bigger in size, they may need an extra five minutes. Always cut one in half before serving to make sure they’re cooked throughout.

6. Meanwhile cook the pasta before serving together.

7. Enjoy! This dish was so popular at our house, my baby ate two portions!

baby meatballs

6

Grounds for instant divorce in baby’s first year

It’s For The Baby is proud to published new official criteria for divorce in baby’s first year. So daddies, beware and take heed!

Baby’s first year – us mums are tired. No, exhausted. No, we’re undergoing physical torture while learning to look after another life. Our limits are being pushed to the brink and, quite frankly, we don’t have the tolerance or patience to put up with any sh*t – from any source. Unfortunately, daddies, you’ve drawn the short straw. As you spend the most time with us, we often take out our tired grumpiness on you (sorry).

So to make life easier, here are some ground rules of what we’d ask daddies not to do in baby’s first year. Break them, and they’re official grounds for divorce.

1. Saying “I’m a bit tired”. You may be tired. You may have woken up during the night feeds too. And you do work hard. But seriously, you have NO idea.

2. Calling to say “I’m going to be late home”. Some days, we feel like we’ve been at home for a hundred years with a crying baby and constantly feeding. Daddy’s return home is literally the highlight of the day and we count down the minutes until you come in the front door. Just the very thought of you being late home can tip us over the edge. So we reserve the right to over-the-top go mental over this call. Even worse is not calling at all though so that’s not an alternative!

3. Coming home and saying “I’ve been working all day, I just need a break”. Sometimes, we haven’t eaten, haven’t showered, haven’t dressed, haven’t had a cup of tea, haven’t been able to put the baby down all day. Daddies please help us and forgive us for pouncing on you the second you walk in.

4. Waking up and commenting “They slept well didn’t they?”. Never assume baby has slept through when actually you’ve slept through and your partner has been up all night. Alternative – say “How was your night (would you like a cup of tea and pack of Hob Nobs)?”

5. Saying “I think they’ve done a poo”. If you smell it, change it.

6. Spending quality time with baby to give mum some relaxation but then saying “come and see this” every two minutes. I do feel mean about this one. We know you’re excited to discover what baby can do. And we do really want to share it. But we also need to eat, sleep and wee alone. So let us do that – we’ll be back pronto.

7. Changing the baby without doing up all the buttons on their grows / trousers. Just grrr.

8. When we do go out, not listening to the million instructions mums dish out. Look, we are barely a moment without our baby and we are a bit neurotic when it comes to leaving them for the first time. Please listen to the instructions and nod – it will make us feel better.

9. Never saying we look great. Okay so we may be a bit bedraggled, exhausted looking and still in need of our maternity jeans but this means that we feel awful and very un-sexy. Your compliments will genuinely make us feel awesome.

10. Telling friends you’re “babysitting”. Does not apply when it’s your own baby.

Anyone got any others?

Caveat to daddies – don’t take this personally, we do love and appreciate you really. Refer to this blog post which sings your praises. We’re just really really really tired. And grumpy. And irrational. And we’ll stay that way until we can sleep again. We know that us mums aren’t perfect either so if you want to submit your grounds for divorce, please get in touch *braces herself*.

Happy Mummy & Daddy

Happy Mummy & Daddy

2

Easy messy play – Cornflake bath

Sometimes the need for messy play comes unexpectedly and you have no time to prepare. It’s the middle of summer, you’re planning to go out and enjoy the sunshine but instead it’s pouring with rain.

I love a bit of messy play and happy to put in the effort to do something a little bit spectacular. Other times, I look in the cupboard and desperately look at what on earth I can use for some emergency indoor fun.

This weekend it was cornflakes. And you know I didn’t pre-plan this as I ended up using a large box of Kellogg’s rather than an own brand cheap and cheerful version. It’s not rocket science. I’m not pretending it is. It’s super easy messy play. It was quick, fun and hopefully will inspire you to do messy play at home with minimal effort too. 

All you need for this is:

* A small paddling pool – or tub or you can even use the bath

* A large box of cornflakes

* Toys a plenty. We had a Noah’s Ark and pirate theme but you can use any toys as long as you can wash them.

Plenty of games to be had here. Try sailing boats through the cornflakes or burying treasure to be dug up with spades or kitchen spoons. Lay out bowls, pots, pans and bottles from your kitchen cupboard and let your baby get stuck in. It’s more fun if baby will sit right in the middle of things and can rustle around in the cornflakes or even help them to jump up and down to squash them all. My tot’s favourite game this time was hide and seek with mini George and Peppa pigs. We know how to have a good time!

8

Family Day Out at Cardiff Bay Beach

There’s been a lot of hype about Cardiff Bay Beach this year – so what’s it all about?

It takes a lot to impress me. Just ask my poor husband. But after visiting Cardiff Bay Beach, I was really impressed. Visiting in the sunshine with my family on launch day, I was proud that Cardiff had created something so innovative and oozing of success on day one. It’s clear that this isn’t a half-baked attempt at a kiddies summer holiday activity, they’ve gone all out produced a quality affair which transforms the Bay.

Cardiff Bay Beach

Cardiff Bay Beach

What is Cardiff Bay Beach?

In it’s third year, Cardiff Bay Beach is set up from now until the end of the school holidays outside the Wales Millennium Centre with a giant sandpit complete with deckchairs, fairground rides, entertainment and a carnival atmosphere. The beach spans the entire breadth of Roald Dahl Plass with 300 tonnes of sand is hauled in – that’s the equivalent weight of around 25 buses. It’s estimated that the beach will attract 250,000 visitors throughout the summer.

What can I do at Cardiff Bay Beach?

Build sandcastles: It was pretty cool to see families lying back in their deck chair, toes in the sand eating fish & chips as if they were genuinely at the seaside.

Cardiff Bay

Excitement about Cardiff Bay Beach is already abuzz on Twitter

Take a dip: There’s a shallow swimming pool which gleamed in the sunshine and looked very inviting before it opened on the first day. It’s not huge though so you can definitely see it getting pretty rammed (cue fear of big kids trampling over my tiny little toddler).

Go wild at the fair: The rest of the basin is filled with fairground rides which includes a carousel, Ferris wheel, bumper boats, helter skelter, jungle trampolines, those huge balls you climb in and try to walk on water before falling on your face, a little train ride and a car ride. There’s also the standard hook a duck game, crazy mirrors and what I have to award the best fun house I’ve ever seen – usually these things look a bit lame but this pirate themed one had moving steps, a hamster wheel, bridges and water shots.

On the carousel…again

Beach games: I didn’t see it on my visit but the beach is also set to feature goalposts and nets for football and volleyball matches and tournaments.

Eat & drink: Food wise, you can grab yourself the likes of burgers, hot dogs and fish & chips at the BBQ grill, treat yourself to a cone or milkshake at the ice-cream parlor or visit a sweet stall that your teeth hurt just by looking at. Want something more? Then the Bay’s plethora of restaurants and cafes await you.

There is a rainbow of slushie drinks for kids and the Tropical Bay Bar for adults – essential if you’re combining hundreds of kids, the school holidays, sunshine (we can hope) and a load of sugar. It’s not the cheapest bar and everything is in obligatory plastic glasses but a good selection of cocktails, wine, beer and spirits. Among the choice was a pint of San Miguel for £4.50, a Pimms for £5 or a frozen cocktails for £6. I was immediately conned into buying an awesomely tacky palm tree cocktail glass – complete with strawberry daiquiri – for £8 on the promise that any refills all summer long were only £5 and guaranteeing my return to capitalise on my investment.

Brain freeze thanks to my palm tree cocktail

What else: Face painting, games, street entertainment, picnic benches and music with Radio Cardiff. Want to get fit? There’s also beach boot camps every Wednesday in August at 6.30pm.

How much does it cost?

Visiting the beach is free which includes the sandpit and pool. However, if you want to hire a deckchair, it’ll set you back £3. The rides aren’t cheap and can spend a small fortune especially if, like mine, your toddler doesn’t understand the words “four times on the horsies is enough” – and that was on the carousel at £2 a pop.

When is Cardiff Bay Beach open?

The beach is open 10am – 8pm from Sundays to Thursdays and 10am – 10pm Fridays and Saturdays.

What do I need to take to Cardiff Bay Beach?

  • Sun cream and hat
  • Buckets and spades
  • Towels
  • Picnic – if you’re on a budget
  • A portable deckchair if you have one
  • Lots of money
  • Your camera – although you’re not allowed to take pictures at the pool
  • Your refillable palm tree cocktail glass

Where can I park?

  • Havannah Street car park (by St David’s Hotel), CF10 5SG, £2.50 for 2 hours, £5 for 4 hours
  • Pierhead Street car park, CF10 4PH, £2 for two hours on a weekend or £4 for 24,on weekdays it’s £3.50 for 2 hours and £6.50 for 4 hours
  • Mermaid Quay car park, CF10 5BZ, £2 for 2 hours, £4 for 4 hours

More info

4

Does baby brain exist?

What is baby brain? Is it a debilitating condition that turns your brain to mush or is it an excuse for when you’re not on par?

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I can’t deny I’ve had my share of baby brain moments. Such as when I put a whole toilet roll in with the washing the week after baby was born and when I dented my brand new car by literally driving into a parked van. There has definitely been a post-baby change to my brain where at times I wonder what has happened to my mental state of mind. I actually hope baby brain is real because it’s nice to have something to blame – I’m not actually going mad, allegedly.

The good news is that as my baby has got a bit older, my moments of baby brain-ness have reduced. This increase in mental strength has got me thinking and I’ve developed a theory on baby brain…

I don’t believe that mums’ brains are being turned to mush. I think that mums’ brains are being filled with so much more information and are being used so much more, we’re actually displacing our old knowledge. A theory I’m calling BBD – baby brain displacement.

Learning how to look after a baby takes a lot of time, concentration and (without realising it) brain capacity. Your senses are heightened and you not only need to look after yourself but need to become automatically atuned to looking after another human being. We’ve all heard of a mother’s instinct. I think that this is something that your brain actually builds and develops. In the same way that your body is tired while you’re pregnant because it’s supporting another life, your brain is bound to become fatigued when it’s learning to do the exact same thing once baby is born.

Think about how much more you do when you’re a mum:

– Even when you’re asleep your mind is on alert for baby. In the early days, even the semi-silent sound of baby wriggling and opening their mouth can be enough to stir you from slumber. If that’s not instinct, what is?

– Your day takes meticulous planning. You have a 10am music class followed by a play date. You’re up at 7am (if you’re lucky) so surely you can get out in three hours? Routine: Up, nappy, bottle, breakfast, wash, dress, nappy, desperately try to help baby fall asleep so they’ve napped and are not therefore grumpy making any outing pointless, get yourself washed, dressed, sterilise bottles, pack changing bag with nappies, spare clothes, bottles, milk, muslins, wipes, clean dummies (once hunted for), toys and books to entertain, lunch (once you’ve figured where you’ll be and will they heat it). Then another bottle, set up the pram, leave the house, return immediately for a dirty nappy requiring a full change of clothes. Leave again – this time needing to run because you’re so late…already thinking about the next feed and nap.
Think we just rolled out of bed and leisurely rocked up drinking tea and eating cake? No, this was a military operation.

– When you’re doing something seemingly simple such as walking down the street, you’re not only concentrating on the task in hand but are on high alert for any hazard and foreseeing any potential danger or accident; there’s a pot hole at five paces, dog poo at eight paces, pebbles to be picked up at 16 paces, steps to mount at 20 paces, is that the sound of a car? Will that patch of gravel trip baby over? Is baby about to make a run for it? Will not crossing the road to pet a doggie make them roll on the floor in a tantrum rage? Do I bash the car that’s parked on the pavement with the wheels of the buggy? Wait, it’s tea time in 10 minutes and we’re 15 minutes away from home! And all this while singing wheels on the bus on a continuous loop.

– Then there are the endless to-do lists which circulate in your head and the panic of when you’ll get stuff done. If baby naps for only 40 minutes, can I wash and sterilise the bottles, clean up after breakfast, boil the kettle for tea, shower, change, make the bed, do the washing, pack the car ready to go out…oh and catch up on precious sleep? Not really. No wonder the tea never gets drunk hot!

– And don’t forget you’re doing all of this while being physically tortured by sleep deprivation. Fuelled by (cold) caffeine and as much cake as you can lay your hands on, you have to perform like a super hero when you’re so tired you could sleep standing up.

So the next time you try to put yourself down by worrying about having baby brain, think about the amazing feats you perform every single day in caring for, nuturing, feeding and entertaining your baby. All this with no experience, training, guidance or sleep. If you do have a “baby brain” moment, it’s not that you’re losing your mind. That piece of information has just been justifiably displaced.

What do you think of this theory? Leave a comment below or say hello on Facebook or Twitter.

Like this blog post? Read these:
Post baby: why I changed
Things parents do they’re not proud of

4

How to get rid of the black stuff from bath toys

IMG_5038

The gunk from just one bath toy

What’s the best way of getting rid of the black gunk in your bath toys? You know, the little black flakes which pops out of your five little ducks and your squirty bath toys when squeezed.

At first you think you can’t have cleaned the bath properly. Then with one firm squirt, you witness the gunk pour out of your baby’s beloved duck. Disgustingly, it’s mould. I’ve thrown a few of the offending ducks out but I’ve gone through so many now that I’m convinced there’s a way of reviving them. So I’ve done my research and here are my results to getting rid of the bath toy black stuff.

IMG_5039

One of the offending creatures

1. Dishwasher: don’t bother, this did nothing. Although my toddler thought it was vaguely amusing seeing them in there.

2. Soak them in cola: squeeze out the air and suck up the cola into the duck until it’s full, then leave to soak.
Some people swear by this but it couldn’t persuade the ducks to clean up their act for me. It was slightly old Coke but I did try leaving it for 24 hours. No impact.

3. Soak them in Milton: I read that you can soak them in a solution of bleach and water but I worried about the bleach residue so I opted for Milton instead.
This worked a treat! The ducks do smell a bit Milton-esque but a good rinse and a trip on the dishwasher ride sorts that out:

IMG_5044

Happy clean duck and his dolphin pal

4. Vinegar: If you don’t have bleach or Milton, try soaking them in a solution of 80% white vinegar and 20% water. Can’t vouch for this as I’ve chucked the rest of the gang in the Milton bucket. I’m a mum, I don’t have THAT much time to waste. Anyone else tried it? Let me know.

5. Stab them: take out your frustration by stabbing the hole in the toy a little bigger – or cut it carefully with a scissors. Then you can use a toothbrush to give it a scrub and it also means the water drains out of it easier in the first place to stop the mould building up.

6. Glue gun them: best to do this on new toys to prevent the problem in the first place. Dab the hot glue over the hole to make sure they’re fully sealed. No water will get in and the toy will float. This is fine for ducks but kind of defeats the object for your squirty toys.

7. Life too short? Don’t have the time to scrub a duck and you’re not crafty enough for a glue gun? Send them to ducky heaven and buy some more. Invest in non-squeezy toys or, if ducks are a must, keep a look out for ones without a hole – such as the Munchkin Bath Ducky which are a bit more expensive but they come in lots of different characters and they also tell you if the water temperature is too hot (by a sensor on it’s bottom – not by quacking!)

Going to try this? Has this worked for you? Got your own tips? Add a comment below🙂

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