My Fitness Journey – Losing Motivation & Losing Myself

Maybe it’s boredom, maybe I just need a giant kick up the arse. Whatever the reason, my postpartum fitness journey has well and truly ground to a halt! A few months ago I wrote about how I was working towards building myself back up post-pregnancy, the goals I had set myself and the programmes I was using in order to do so.  I’m forever thankful that I found the motivation to commit to the twelve week Mutu programme when I did (read my Mutu Review here) as I do feel like that gave me a solid foundation to build from at a time where I really didn’t recognise my body at all. It helped to solve the issues that had arisen as a direct result of pregnancy itself (hello abdominal separation & leaky pelvic floor). When I felt as though I was ready to move on from recovery mode, I signed up for the fairly intense BBG ( bikini body guide) programme and still, my motivational levels remained relatively high. I hit all the targets and powered on through the achy joints & muscles. I persisted in my fitness journey even as the exercises intensified to the point my exhausted body could barely get out of bed to feed the baby. And then I hit a wall. One Monday morning my body and brain aligned and just said no. That was two months ago and to be brutally honest, I’m struggling.

What Happens When You Lose Motivation

Before I had my daughter, I didn’t need to exercise to remain trim and as one friend put it, food never ‘stuck to me’. I’m not going to lie, the realisation that that carefree existence is most probably over for good has been a bitter pill to swallow and yes I’ve been guilty of some serious diva stropping. I’ve stomped and wailed with the kind of Kevin & Perry style attitude that’s most unbecoming of a woman in her 30s. Aside from the fact that I really do not enjoy exercise in any way shape or form, I find scheduling it into my day, difficult at best. I don’t care what anyone says about ‘half an hour a day being easy to slot in’. By the time you’ve psyched yourself up to do the workout, poured your engorged boobs into a sports bra seemingly designed for a ten-year-old, assembled the necessary equipment, found something to contain/occupy the baby, done the physical workout (furiously hating every painful second), mixed up a powdery protein drink that tastes like vanilla-infused cardboard, showered and dressed (while simultaneously containing/occupying the baby), half the morning or more has disappeared and you still haven’t made any headway on things that actually need doing. Not to mention the fact that you’ve most likely been up half the night and this ‘half hour’ (read two hours) has just about finished you off before you’ve even started. (Christ that was one long sentence…apologies)!

My Fitness Journey

Exhaustion is a funny old thing. After a while, it sinks so far to your bones that you’re not really aware of it anymore. Sure, you feel it in the sandpaper-like quality of the backs of the eyelids or the dull grey pallor that tinges the skin but its the general sense of malaise and complete ambivalence to the world and everything in it that shrouds you like some kind of heavy, mist and pulls you down into places you’d rather not visit. We give ourselves such a hard time on an almost daily basis. We spend every spare moment, phone in hand scrolling through the perfectly curated Insta feeds. The fitspo accounts, the bronzed, long-limbed, designer activewear clad girls, the smug 5 am risers – all for what? To feel just that little bit more shit about ourselves? That old adage “comparison is the thief of joy’ has never been more relevant. In order to move forward with my own fitness journey, I feel we need to be kinder to ourselves, stop self-flagellating, comparing ourselves with others and actively trying to make ourselves feel like we’re crap.

Losing Fitness Motivation

Levi 501 Skinny

Round Rayban Sunglasses

I wish I could conclude with an action plan or give you a comprehensive list of what to do when you just can’t find the drive. The honest truth as you can probably tell is that I’m all at sea, a little bewildered and at a loss to know how to get my fitness journey back on track. I’m loathed to try again only to fail.  This isn’t a pity party, I don’t expect anybody to feel sorry for me and maybe at best, this rambly, incoherent post will give somebody else the piece of mind that they are not alone. Moving forward on my fitness journey, I would like to be able to find a way to incorporate exercise into my life without making a chore of it. As much as I want to be that girl who loves the gym, it’s just never going to happen and I think I’m at the point where I’m at peace with that. I’m going to start small by simply getting out into the fresh air. Autumn is made for walking and it takes significantly less time and thought to bundle myself and the baby up and out of the door than it does to prep for a workout. For me, fresh air is also key to managing the inevitable physical and mental effects of exhaustion so it’s a win-win. If anybody has any thoughts of their own on this topic then please do leave me a comment or, if you have any tips on working exercise into your day (without taking over it) then I would love to hear them.

Outfit Details

JEANS – LEVI

CAMISOLE – UTERQUE

CARDIGAN – MARKS & SPENCER

SHOES – GUCCI

BELT – GUCCI

BAG – JW ANDERSON

NECKLACES – MISSOMA

NAME NECKLACE – GIFT SIMILAR

*this post contains affiliate links*

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My Top Five Wooden Toys For Babies & Toddlers

*disclaimer…I am pressing publish on the back of a shopping trip which has seen me purchase approx 1.2 tonnes of Duplo a.k.a plastic tat…you win some, you lose some!

Top Five Traditional Gifts For Babies & Toddlers

I had very specific ideas of what life post-baby would look like (read about our breastfeeding and weaning journey here) and I am slightly embarrassed to admit that it did somewhat resemble a Dickensian idyll. I envisaged (through a hazy, dreamy, hormone-addled filter) the family gathered around a log fire, the baby calmly playing with a toy train (probably with led infused paintwork but let’s not spoil the fantasy). I think perhaps in hindsight I had watched one too many documentaries on how the Victorians invented Christmas (or possibly too many American Christmas films – I’m looking at you Miricle on 34th Street) and suffice to say I got something of a shock when Luna did put in an appearance. It’s like the opening credits of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding…a traditional image that then collides with the 21st Century and in this case, plastic, in all its garish glory! So while I harboured hopes that Luna would be content to sit and play with a toy train (and don’t get me wrong, there are many occasions where she is and does), the poor old railway really doesn’t stand a chance when pitted against a bright pink monstrosity with flashing lights and the sort of music that is enough to send even the most serene of us quietly loopy. That being said I am still a firm believer in the value of wooden toys to a child’s learning and development and I’m determined to prove that they can be just as much fun as their plastic counterparts. There are some truly beautiful wooden toys on the market that never fail to give me the warm fuzzies when browsing the toy departments. Here are my top five…

The London Bus

We have had so much fun with this London Bus from Early Learning Centre. It comes complete with eight little passengers helpfully colour coded to their seats. At the moment she’s having tremendous fun just taking things out and (haphazardly) putting them back in but as she gets older this is going to be great for developing fine motor skills and colour coordination. I’m also rather looking forward to the day we can set up a little village and pick up passengers along the way…I think I may have developed an over-fondness for this one!

Wooden London Bus Toy

EARLY LEARNING CENTRE LONDON BUS

The Walker

Luna can crawl at approx 5 million miles per hour but is still a little unsure on two feet so my most recent purchase has been this beauty of a walker again from Early Learning Centre. Now I have to say, this was an absolute b**tard to put together particularly when you have an inquisitive 13-month-old on the loose. All those tiny screws and knuts are not conducive to an environment the Health Visitor would approve of! However, once assembled (with a large dollop of help from my mother – I was determined to prove to Mr.R that I could do it myself), this walker is an absolute dream. First and foremost, it’s sturdy and doesn’t run away with her and secondly, its just so much fun! It has little pots, pans & utensils, a shape sorter, turning cogs and clickable dials. There’s also a rather larger ‘oven’ compartment which allows her to play her favourite game of put everything in then take it all out again!

Early Learning Centre Wooden Toy Kitchen

EARLY LEARNING CENTRE KITCHEN WALKER

Building Blocks

What could be more traditional than a set of wooden building blocks? These ones from Ikea are super simple but perfect for learning about shapes and practising balance. They have a handy design on the bottom so you can keep them in order which pleases the Virgo in me enormously BUT there is something decidedly odd going on with the colours – I kind of feel there’s not enough of some and too many of others and its all a little bit too chaotic for my symmetry obsessed brain to handle. Nevertheless, for the price this is a lovely start to what I’m sure will be an ever-evolving collection.

Ikea Wooden Building Blocks

IKEA BUILDING BLOCKS

Shape Sorter

This was a birthday present from Luna’s Auntie & Uncle and is just beautiful! What is it with personalised inanimate objects? Even the mundane can suddenly become ultra desirable with the addition of a name or a bit of gold embossing! The pastel shades of this particular design are so pretty and as Luna gets older it will really help with hand-eye coordination (at the moment shes convinced she can get the heart shape through the cloud)! If you rather like the idea of wooden toys, something like this would make a lovely gift!

Wooden Shape Sorting Toy Box

Traditional Wooden Toys For Babies

PERSONALISED WOODEN SORTING BOX

Galt Pop Up Toy

As wooden toys go this is so simple and yet so pleasing! As with the London Bus, you have the colour coded figures – perfect for developing colour recognition – which bob up and down on concealed springs! This never fails to raise a smile and a cheeky chuckle and her hand-eye coordination has come on hugely by slotting the little figures into their holes.

Wooden Pop Up Toy

GALT POP UP TOY

I really could go on and on with this topic as there’s just so much gorgeousness out there! On my list for Christmas is this gorgeous Nativity and in our local florist of all places, there’s a delightful ambulance which toddler Jessica would have gone crazy for (I can only assume toddler Luna will be equally as enamoured)! Do you and your littles have any favourite wooden toys?

Top Five Wooden Toys For Babies & Toddlers

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Three Things I’ve Learnt On Our Breastfeeding & Weaning Journey

*Warning – those of a sensitive or squeamish disposition may want to look away now…TMI post incoming*

I’m writing this on the back of perhaps the most unsettled few weeks of motherhood so far. I’m tired. Tired in a way that only a mother can fully comprehend. My thoughts are confused, nothing seems to make much sense and getting through the day can seem as challenging as bread week on Bake Off. I feel supremely unqualified to offer anything resembling advice in the parenting arena – how can I offer insights or tips when I have so many unanswered questions of my own – Why won’t my baby sleep being chief among them. One year in and she still wakes at least twice through the night, recently for hours at a time. This single question and the pursuit of an answer is all consuming. The breastfeeding and weaning questions are a total minefield made that much harder to get to grips with by the complete lack of sleep. When you’re expecting a baby you know there will be sleepless nights but it’s so hard to comprehend what that actually means until it hits…and believe me it hits hard. Every baby is different, some sleep through at 8 weeks, some don’t. We are very much the latter. Luna has rarely slept for more than four hours and naps sporadically. She will not take milk from a bottle which means I am on call 24/7. She has never spent a night away from us. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t necessarily get easier after those hazy first few weeks. There seems to be an assumption after that first month when the visitors and well-wishers have dried up and you’re no longer in possession of a newborn that “hey, everything’s grand!” You hear the words,”It’ll soon be time for number two” on an almost daily basis and you start to believe that you are the only one feeling this way. Let me tell you, you’re not. As the saying goes “don’t compare yourself to other mothers, we are all losing our shit, some are just better at hiding it than others” With that in mind, here’s three (of many) things that I’ve learned on our breastfeeding and weaning journey – sleep deprivation notwithstanding!

Annabel Karmel Baby Weaning

Sometimes Babies Won’t Take A Bottle

I always intended to give breastfeeding my best shot but no one was more shocked than I was by how easy I found it. I had read every horror story known to man and genuinely believed that I wouldn’t be able to do it so to find out I could do it (and do it well at that) was amazing! I followed all the rules and breastfed exclusively for the first eight weeks so as not to affect my milk supply. Once the eight weeks were up we tried Luna on a bottle of expressed milk. Not a problem. Great, we thought. We can have a night out, Mr.R can do some night feeds, we’ve got this parenting malarky sussed. HA! This never really happened (and yes this is completely and utterly my own fault). It always just seemed easier for me to feed her than to faff around with sterilising and making up bottles so when the day came that we actually needed her to take a bottle, she refused. And she has continued to refuse to this day. Sure there’s been the odd time we thought we’ve had a breakthrough only for the bitter sting of rejection to rear its head once again. I’m not going to lie, this has been the single most debilitating thing that has happened since becoming a mother. As the land currently lies Luna feeds mostly at night and mostly for comfort. I don’t believe she is actually hungry or actually needs the milk anymore and yet I find myself in a situation that currently feels impossible to get out of. I know it will get better, I mean how many adults do you see that need nursed by their mothers to get through the night? (well apart from that bloke in Little Britain – god help us all if it comes to that)!

Once Experienced, You Will Do Literally Anything To Avoid A Blocked Milk Duct.

If there’s one thing I would say to all breastfeeding mums, it would be to look after your boobs! First and foremost pay attention to your baby’s latch – if that’s even slightly off it can cause you real problems down the line. Secondly get yourself some nice comfy nursing bras (yup those super attractive numbers – usually nude – with the drop down cup). Anything too tight can compress a milk duct, leading to a blockage. I had my first experience of a blocked milk duct after eight months of exclusive breastfeeding. Very soon after working out in a very firm sports bra I realised I had a  problem. My boob was inflamed, rock solid and hot to the touch. It felt like the milk was backing up and had nowhere to go and was just so so painful. To cut a long story short after frantic googling I managed to dislodge said blockage with a mixture of hand expressing, massage, applying heat and (are you ready for this) sticking a pin into my nipple to ease the flow! No, it was not pleasant, nor was it pretty but let me tell you the relief I felt when it unblocked was worth every second!

You Can’t Be Perfect 100% Of The Time 

I was a much better mother before Luna was born! Before she was born, I spent my days blissfully imaging feeding my baby only the freshest of ingredients organically certified meat, no sugar, no junk. Now to be perfectly honest (and not to blow my own trumpet here) but I’ve actually not done too badly in this area. For the most part, I do prepare Luna’s food from scratch. We had a bit of a shaky start with weaning and it wasn’t until about eight months that she actually willingly opened her mouth for food but she now enjoys quite a range of fruits, veg, chicken, and fish although she’s not too keen on beef! I’ve found the Annabel Karmel book and app to be brilliant for keeping me on track as to what foods I should introduce and when and also for great recipe ideas. I tend to batch cook and freeze meals into ice cube trays so I always have something on hand. That being said, there are times when a pouch has been a complete and utter lifesaver – usually on those mornings where I’ve had a particularly bad night and need to grab something without having to give it any thought at all! The guys at ‘My First Savsé’ were kind enough to send me a selection of their baby food pouches which I have to say have gone down a treat! They are all organic and cold-pressed so you do feel that although it’s not home-made, it’s as good as!

Annabel Karmel Recipes

Three Things I've Learned On Our Breastfeeding & Weaning Journey

My First Savse Baby Food

Five Foods That Are Always A Winner In Our House!

  1. Cheese on Toast
  2. Poached Egg with Breadcrumbs and Parmesan Cheese
  3. Courgette, Spinach, Sweet Potato & Sweet Red Pepper Sauce with Pasta Shells
  4. Mango & Greek Yoghurt
  5. My First Savsé Blueberry, Prune, Plum, Apple and Banana Pouch

If anyone has any tips regarding the sleep situation or the bottle and breastfeeding situation I would LOVE to hear them! What are your foody fail-safes for the littles? Do you cook from scratch or are you a fan of the pouch?

*this post contains gifted items & affiliate links

 

Luna’s ‘Flamingo Fantasy’ First Birthday Party

If you’ve read my August Favourites post then you’ll have seen a little sneak preview of Luna’s first birthday bash! It was never in question that we would be hosting a first birthday party – I have pictures from my own and although I can’t remember the day, I almost feel as though I can as the pictures are so familiar to me. I wanted Luna to have those memories as she got older so we set about creating a fun filled family soirée fuelled by pizza, prosecco and with the odd flamingo thrown in for good measure.

Luna's Flamingo Fantasy First Birthday Party | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Invitations

When Mr.R and I got married it very quickly became apparent that I had, shall we say a ‘small weakness’ for stationary. I was all about the invites, reasoning that they were the first indicator of what was to come. This fetish for all things paper and pretty hasn’t let up in the two years since we said ‘I do’. Luna’s Christening invites were a follow on from our wedding stationary with gold foil blocking and envelopes hand written in bright pink calligraphy. I knew I would have to tone it down a little for Luna’s first birthday (not least because this obsession was starting to get rather pricey) but I still wanted something striking and super pretty for my baby girls big day. I’ve stalked the ‘Papier’ website for some time, admired their personalised christmas cards and even pointed friends in their direction for their own wedding stationery, but I had never actually ordered myself.  This was the moment. I fell in love with the ‘Flamingo Bay’ design by Matthew Williamson and just like that, we had a theme! (FYI I was really very impressed with ‘Papier’. The invitations were easy to personalise, delivery was prompt and the quality was completely on point (and as you can see, I’m really quite fussy)).

Birthday Party Invitations

Invitations with matching envelopes

Decor

Mr R. loves to source vinatge furniture and on one of his many ‘scavenging trips’, he returned with two polystyrene flamingos! What he thought we were going to do with said flamingos is anyone’s guess although in hindsight I can’t deny that they were absolutely perfect for the occasion! We stocked up on my favourite blousy blooms – hydrangea for the garden and roses for the house as well as a couple of potted palms and voila – a pretty/semi botanical backdrop for our feathery friends! Our back yard is teeny tiny (and completely unfinished – please avert your eyes from the garage roof) but I wanted to create a glamorous little oasis, an outdoor room if you will. We borrowed a gazebo from my mum and dad and hung pink paper lanterns from the tent which created the most dreamy vibe – it literally could not have been more pretty. Finally, I needed my girls name up in lights – she was the star of the show after all! I bought the light up letters from our local Garden Centre which now look lovely sitting in her nursery – I’m sure they’ll be brought out again year after year!

Decorating A Small Garden

Flamingo Party Decorations

Pink Chinese Paper Lanterns

Light Up Letters

Pink Flamingo Hydrangea

Cake

I was quite determined to make Luna’s first birthday cake myself but had never attempted what I would call a ‘proper cake’ with layers sandwiched together with buttercream.  I did a little bit of research and finally settled upon a dark and white chocolate affair from the Great British Bake Off Recipe Book (where else). I did a trial run just to iron out any potential kinks and was pretty pleased with the end result (even if it wasn’t quite as picture perfect as the book suggested). After a bit of Pinterest stalking, I decided to decorate the cake using fresh flowers, macarons (ordered online from Mademoiselle Macaron – what a find, these were just to die for) and edible gold leaf. For the final touch, I used a custom cake topper from Sophia  obligatory number 1 candle and a table number from our wedding – don’t let anybody tell you I don’t get my money’s worth!

Custom Cake Topper

Decorating A Cake With Macarons

Luna's Flamingo Fantasy First Birthday Party | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Dominoes & Drinks

We run a bar (so drink is always high on the agenda) and despite the fact that this was a first birthday party, the majority of our guests were adults so I fully envisaged a fun filled, Prosecco fuelled afternoon. Catering, on the other hand, was a little trickier. Having hosted parties in the past I was well aware that this can turn into a ball ache of epic proportions leaving you welded to the oven and dishwasher! Well, to be honest, I just wasn’t up for that. I wanted to fully enjoy an afternoon watching the beautiful little girl my baby has become (and toasting myself and what a wonderful job I did growing and birthing her)! So, Mr.R came up with the (quite frankly epic) suggestion of ordering Dominoes! A stack of gold paper plates and 10 large pizzas saw the job done in style (and saved on a fair bit of washing up)!

Flamingo Drinks Stirrer

Princess Charlotte Pepa & Co Dress

I’m very pleased to say that everyone seems to have a lot of fun – smiling faces all round and we have some lovely pictures for Luna to look back on when she gets older. I just can’t believe my baby girl is one year old already. It’s a cliche but time has indeed flown. (I quite literally still feell like I’ve just has a baby)! I’m so hugely privileged to be her mummy and can’t wait to watch her grow over the years to come. Now to decide on next years theme…any suggestions???

INVITATIONS – PAPIER

PAPER LANTERNS – THE COTTON BUNTING COMPANY

MACARONS – MADEMOISELLE MACARON

CAKE TOPPER – SOPHIE VICTORIA JOY

FLAMINGO STIRRERS – PARTY PIECES

*this post contains affiliate links* 

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The Sleepyhead Baby Pod – A Review

No sooner have you got your head around the fact that a squishy little person will be joining your family than you are bombarded with a list of gadgets, pieces of kit and so-called necessities that you simply ‘must’ purchase. Some (a cot, a car seat, a pram) are a given. Others (baby gyms, swings, and motor powered bouncy chairs) are lovely to have (if you have a 5000 room storage facility – seriously where are you supposed to house all of this stuff)? but perhaps not a necessity? I’ll be honest – as soon as I became pregnant I fell hook, line, and sinker for The Sleepyhead Baby Pod! It looked the dog’s bollocks (all Scandi and stylish) and would fit perfectly into my Snuzpod Bedside Crib (that’s one for another post but needless to say a whole lotta love is involved)! Put simply, the Sleepyhead Deluxe+ was without any hesitation my most used and most loved piece of baby kit! So much so, nearly we one year on we have moved seamlessly onto the Sleepyhead Grand – this is gonna be one heck of a lovefest!

What Is The Sleepyhead?

Put simply, The Sleepyhead is a portable pod in which the baby can sleep, rest or play. I’ve found that both sizes have fit comfortably into my cots of choice (the Snuzpod Bedside Crib for the smaller pod, the Mokee Mini Cot for the Grand) and made everything seem just that bit more snug and comfortable – perfect for delicate little people!

The Sleepyhead Baby Pod - A Review | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Sleepyhead Baby Pod - A Review | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Pro’s

  1. Portability. I’m sure many new mums can relate to feeling so out of your depth in those first few weeks? Consequently, I spent an inordinate amount of time with the one person who would make it all seem not so scary and overwhelming – my mum! The Sleepyhead travels like a dream. We spent so much time on the road and the fact that we could pack a bag and simply throw the pod into the boot of the car made life in those early days so much easier! No faffing around with a great hulking Moses basket and no worries about where to put the baby when you’re out and about – it’s literally like having their bed with you wherever you go! Even when you’re at home with the baby, The Sleepyhead travels the whole house from the bedroom to the kitchen to the bathroom (I used to put it into the (empty) bath while I had a shower so she was always able to be with me)! We recently went on our first family holiday and, yep you guessed it, The Sleepyhead (Grand) came with us. As I’ve said before (check out all my mum & baby posts HERE), our sleep situation isn’t brilliant at the best of times so the fact that we could take her actual bed with us was such a weight off my mind! The pod literally slipped into the travel cot and we were ready to rock and roll! (n.b You can get actual travel bags for both size pods but we were able to pack ours into my dads travel golf club case)!
  2. Security. When the baby arrives you literally can’t get over how teeny tiny they look in the big wide world. They’ve gone from being all squished and cosy to this tiny dot that’s swallowed up by everything around them. The Sleepyhead just seems to give a lovely cocooned squishy oasis for a delicate bundle with no worries that they will knock their head or get a limb trapped down some random nook! As Luna got a little bigger and could hold her head up, I used her Sleepyhead as a playpen where she would sit and look at a book or play with Tombliboo! Now she’s so much bigger and in her own cot but the peace of mind that The Sleepyhead continues to give me is priceless!. Example. A few nights ago I had to wash the cover of The Sleepyhead and it wasn’t dry in time for bedtime (more on that later) so she went to bed ‘au natural’. I  couldn’t settle…she was all over the place and I had visions of her standing up (her new party trick) and falling back and hitting her head. Long story short, she spent the night in bed with me (luckily Mr. R was away working)!
  3. Looks. It’s a good-looking piece of kit make no mistake and the variety of covers you can now get is insane – there is literally something for everyone! I would definitely advise getting at least one extra cover, particularly for The Sleepyhead Deluxe+ (the smaller of the two) as, you know babies…there’s a lot of explosive sick and poop potential in those early weeks and months! We bought the smaller pod with the classic white cover and went on to purchase the ‘Mod Pod’ and the ‘Silver Lining’ covers, both of which I absolutely adored! When the time came to purchase the ‘Grand’ we bought it with the ‘silver lining’ cover as I had loved it that much! After 8 months continued use, the ‘Delux+’ pod is still pristine – ready and waiting if we are lucky enough to be blessed with baby number 2!

The Sleepyhead Baby Pod - A Review | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Con’s

Urrgh, I really can’t think of much negative to say when it comes to The Sleepyhead. The cost. Yes, it’s pretty expensive – prices start from £120 for the smaller pod, £180 for the larger pod and £48 for spare covers (£85 for the grand). However, I can honestly say that considering their continued and sustained use, they are both 100% completely and utterly worth the money and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to all new mums and dads! The only other drawback that I can see is that you can’t tumble dry the covers so you do need at least one spare for when the inevitable accidents occur! It’s a little bit of a faff putting the whole pod back together again after washing but I’ve found a foolproof method that makes this slightly arsey task completely bearable – make it the Mr’s job! (insert thumbs up emoji)!

The Sleepyhead Baby Pod - A Review | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you it would be a love fest! I can honestly say that The Sleepyhead is my most loved and most used piece of baby equipment. There, quite literally has not been a single day since Luna was born that The Sleepyhead hasn’t seen some action – I can’t even say that about the car seat, the pram or the cot! To me it’s a complete no-brainer, a true essential and absolutely should be at the top of every expectant couples shopping list!

The Sleepyhead Baby Pod - A Review | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Have you used the Sleepyhead? Are you giving it all the heart eyes (like me) or do you prefer the traditional Moses basket? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Find the Sleepyhead & Accessories Online HERE

*NOT sponsored just bloody love it!

*this post contains affiliate links* 

 

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My Morning Routine – Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow

So, in the interests of getting to know one another a little better, I thought it might be fun to take you through what an average morning looks like in Casa Rhoades! I have learned over the years that starting my day hungry and in a rush does not make for a productive (or happy) day. In fact, I know if I leap out of bed, into the shower and out of the door (or straight onto the laptop as is more often the case), I’m pretty much setting myself up for failure. So here’s a little insight into how I try to get the most from my mornings with a baby in tow.

Let’s Eat

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it’s drummed into us on what feels like a daily basis. So, it always astounds me the number of people who don’t eat before they start their day. Excuses range from ‘im just not hungry in the mornings’ to, ‘I don’t have time in the mornings’ or even, ‘I feel sick in the mornings’! Well, personally I’m pretty darn starving in the mornings! I’m not talking a little bit peckish here, I’m talking full on, stomach growling in protest hunger! So, (after Luna has her water and her nappy changed) food is my number one priority. I can quite honestly say that breakfast is my favourite meal of the day so I really go to town with a big bowl of warming porridge topped with lashings of fresh fruit, nuts and a generous drizzle of honey. Also tea…a big, unsophisticated, mug of tea!

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Keeping Up With Them Fitness Goals

If you’ve read my posts regarding postpartum fitness, (check them out HERE) you’ll know that I have a bit of a love hate (actually it’s more of a hate hate) relationship with exercise. I am never going to be that girl who loves getting down and dirty in the gym – I’ve waited 30+ years, tried every regime going – it ain’t gonna happen! That being said, being on the wrong side of 30 and having (fairly) recently had a baby, I am in no way prepared to rest on my laurels! So, it’s at this point in the morning that I’m usually to be found having a stern word with myself as the devil on my shoulder systematically delivers today’s excuse as to why I can’t work out. I’m not going to lie – sometimes the devil wins out but more often than not, I suck it up and endure each and every painful minute. Personally, I find that it actually helps to have some level of accountability where fitness is concerned and the fact that I’m paying actual money to do it gives me one less reason to quit.

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Making Plans

As a self-respecting Virgo, I love a good to do list and find it quite therapeutic to at least plan for productivity. The sleep situation is pretty dire in our house so I already feel a bit like I’m starting the day on the back foot so to speak. If I can make a rough itinerary of work to be done, housework that needs to be addressed and meals I intend to eat, then I feel as though I’m giving myself a bit of a leg up for the day to come (though inevitably, with a baby, things do veer off course more often than not).

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Baby Comes First

Everything revolves around Luna – as it should. I can organise and make lists until my heart’s content but if she has other plans then those are the ones we’ll be going with. As she’s not a big sleeper I try to leave the jobs that require the most brain capacity for the half hour she deigns to have a nap (although there are plenty of occasions where the lure of a peaceful shower is too tempting to ignore). If things are going to plan then by mid morning Luna should be ready for a nap and I should be ready to make a start on my to do list.

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Top Tips For A Productive Morning

  1. Buy a playpen. This has pretty much changed my life. No exaggeration. As soon as Luna started to move things became ten times more difficult as I couldn’t simply pop her down on the floor with her toys while I nipped to the loo/put the washing on. It may look a little draconian – putting your baby in what is essentially a cage – but the peace of mind it gives you when you need to leave the room for a moment is beyond priceless!
  2. Lists. I touched on this earlier but I find it so helpful to get everything that’s swirling around my head down on paper. That way I can organise my jobs and commitments in order of precedence and I know I’m giving myself the best possible shot at actually getting them done.
  3. Make a routine. Obviously, not every day will be the same but I think it can be really helpful particularly with a young baby to have a routine to fall back on so you both essentially know what you’re supposed to be doing and when. It certainly helps to keep my mind clear and allows me to move from one activity to the next without getting into that mind fog of ‘what comes next’.
  4. Create a happy space. In terms of getting work done I find if I’m wearing something comfortable have a nice hot drink and perhaps a lovely scented candle on the go then I feel so much more productive and inclined to knuckle down and get things done – for me, if I’m feeling uncomfortable or if I’m in a messy space then I really struggle to get my mind focused on the job at hand.
  5. Sleep. I know, I know, no-one is getting enough sleep and there is absolutely zero most of us can do about it! If getting more sleep just isn’t an option then I have a few ideas to keep you moving forward when you feel like your wading against the tide.
  • Drink a large glass of water. It’s amazing the effect knocking back a pint of water (or liquid life as I like to call it) can have when you’re just about ready to drop.
  • Get some air. I find getting some fresh air – even if it’s just stepping into the garden for five minutes can really give me a much-needed boost.
  • Exercise. It’s usually the last thing you want to do after a sleepless night but getting straight into a workout, gets the blood circulating and actually helps shake that limp, boneless feeling that becomes all too familiar when you have a baby in tow.
  • Product. A friend bought me the ‘Energy Boosting Kit’ from NEOM when Luna was born and it’s amazing how a little luxury and a zingy scent can really give you a lift.

Can We Talk About Tea?

If all else fails there is always tea. (Tetley, Skimmed Milk, No Sugar FYI). Tea is singlehandedly responsible for my sanity remaining largely in tact. I’m usually at least three cups down by lunch time. Tea is life!

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

I hope you have found some of these tips helpful. I’m acutely aware that there is definite room for improvement in my own levels of productivity and I would be delighted to hear any tips or tricks you use to stay focused and positive. Leave me a comment – I’d welcome any thoughts or ideas.

What’s​ In My Changing Bag – The Jem + Bea Jemima

I was really quite excited to purchase my changing bag but was disappointed to be met with an array of spotted, striped and floral designs which, while clearly practical, weren’t really what I had in mind. Losing my sense of self after having a baby was, to a degree, inevitable, but I would be damned if I was going into the experience without suitable arm candy! For some reason, a lot of my hopes and fears seemed bound up in the outward appearance of my changing bag. As if it would be a measure of what kind of mother I was or how well I was coping. I wanted to convey an unruffled, glossy visage of an impeccably groomed woman who clearly had her shit together (and just happened to have a baby). So in my hormone addled pregnancy fog, that meant that by hook or by crook I would have me a killer bag – but where to find it?

The Bag

I discovered the ‘Jemima’ by Jem + Bea about half way through my pregnancy. Everything that I had seen up until that point was the stereotypical changing bag outlined above – a bit too wipeable to be chic. Though considerably more expensive than the majority on offer, I reasoned that this was going to be something I carried with me pretty much 100% of the time and would be in need of for at least the foreseeable future. Even before Luna was born I was hyper aware of the psychological impact having a baby could have. I had no idea how I was going to look, what clothes I would be able to wear or how I would feel in my own skin. Having an amazing bag seemed a no brainer.

It should come as no surprise that the girls behind Jem + Bea have some serious fashion credentials. With backgrounds in law and designing for the likes of Mulberry and Anya Hindmarch respectively, these new breed of baby bags were never going to be anything short of impeccable!

Whats In My Changing Bag - The Jem & Bea Jemima | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Changing Bag - The Jem & Bea Jemima | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Jemima is a large tote made from super luxurious textured leather and has a pocket for everything! The ‘Jem + Bea’ logo is subtly embossed in gold (another tick – you know I love my gold) and for an extra £21 you can have a personalised leather tag (if I’m honest that kind of sold it – love me a monogram!) I also snapped up the stroller straps which have made carrying the bag on the pram a breeze.

Whats In My Changing Bag - The Jem & Bea Jemima | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Changing Bag - The Jem & Bea Jemima | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Contents

  • Nappies – I’ve tried a number of brands and always come back to Aldi! Soft, substantial and super cheap
  • Wipes – Water Wipes always. An amazing and very ‘wet’ wipe with no hidden nasties! (I always have a packet stashed on my dressing table for any makeup mishaps)!
  • Spare Babygro and Vest. There is nothing more gorgeous than a baby in a simple white babygro. I’ve tried M&S, John Lewis, and Mothercare but these ones from Mamas & Papas are far and away my favourite! They are ridiculously soft and don’t seem to suffer any shrinkage in the wash!
  • Sippy Cup. I’m very conscious that Luna doesn’t become dehydrated and I’m forever thankful that she LOVES water, so we always have a sippy cup to fill up on the go.
  • Muslin. Brilliant for everything from protecting yourself from projectile vomiting cleaning up said projectile vomit, a makeshift bib, a sun shade or as something to lie on for emergency nappy changes. Aden & Anais make the most gorgeous muslins and I always have one of their ‘Jungle Jam’ styles stashed in my changing bag.
  • Snacks – I usually have some wafer biscuits for Luna and a granola bar for me for munchie emergencies
  • Purse. The Jemima bag comes complete with a small pouch – great for phone, change, keys, lipstick – anything you want to be able to grab in a hurry. (I’ve found this so handy that I’m eyeing up the gorgeous blush ‘Mama’ pouch  as a bit of an ‘extra’).

Whats In My Changing Bag - The Jem & Bea Jemima | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Changing Bag - The Jem & Bea Jemima | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Overspill (I.e the cast of In The Night Garden)

Shhhh. Ok, so one changing bag really isn’t enough – particularly as your baby gets older and needs to be entertained pretty much constantly! Though it’s nowhere near as glamorous as my ‘Jemima’ I love my Fjallraven ‘Kånken’ backpack! I would call it ‘utility chic’ and it really is brilliant for housing the never ending pile of books, soft toys and plastic bleepy rubbish you end up carting about with you! It might seem excessive to lug two bags and a baby around but trust me – there is nothing more likely to spoil your day than forgetting your pre-packed entertainment!

Whats In My Changing Bag - The Jem & Bea Jemima | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Changing Bag - The Jem & Bea Jemima | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Jem + Bea – My Top Picks

  1. The Jemima (which now comes in grey…Be still my beating heart)!
  2. The Amber – It was a toss up between the Amber and the Jemima – the Jemima won on sheer size but oh dear lord the Amber is just to die for!
  3. The Jamie Backpack  – so cool. I think if this had been available this time last year it would have been a serious contender for my back up bag!

I have no doubt that my love affair with Jem + Bea will continue for some time and if we are lucky enough to have a second baby, there is every chance I could be tempted to another. Did anyone else get caught up in the world of the changing bag? What do you keep in yours? Can you have too many baby bags? As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Browse The Jem + Bea Website HERE

*this post contains affiliate links* 

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