run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Tesco! Nappies are for messing in, not messing with..

Hi Tesco,

You know me, I'm the mum who's in one of your shops every other day. (Usually grappling with trying to stop my baby standing in his trolley seat, because all of the seatbelts on every £1 trolley are *always* broken, but that's another story.)

Anyway, I need to talk about poo. Yeah, sorry. It's your nappies, see. They've always been great. I mean, as great as a faecal receptacle can be. They've done the job - at a fraction of the price of the big brands' nappies, and that's why I've used them for a year. 

But you've changed the 'recipe' for your nappies without telling me. Or the thousands of other parents who rely on you. And seriously, this is even worse than Cadbury's screwing with the Creme Egg recipe. Because your new nappies are rubbish. Sure, all nappies are eventually - but yours are now bypassing the usual waste-collection stage as I put brand new ones straight into the bin. 

Why? A few reasons. About half the tabs in each packet are stuck on backwards, so you can't stick the nappy together. If you notice the faulty tab, you have to whip out a new nappy (which often has the same problem), and which isn't easy when your baby wriggles more than the average octopus.

But if you don't notice, a small paper tab - which is a chocking risk - is floating around in your tiny one's babygrow. It's dangerous.

Or perhaps you don't notice, and the tab is OK, but the nappy isn't stuck on. So you get a poonami. And you have to change your baby's outfit and spend precious nap time hand-washing poo encrusted clothing.

Yuck, right?

But others report worse. Hordes of mums are discussing on online parenting groups that their babies - who've never had nappy rash in their life - have developed it after using these new nappies. 

"My little girl has a really bad rash, which started a couple of days after I opened a new pack of Tesco's different nappies," said one mum. "I've used Tesco Tiny Love nappies for the last year because I've found them better and half the price of Pampers," another wrote. "But last week they seemed to have changed the design and they have leaked every night. This morning our little one woke up with the absorbent gel beads all over her. Be warned." 

I can't verify those claims - but these parents are calling your helpline to report it. Many have received condescending replies along the lines of, "If you are experiencing leakage, it may be due to the nappy not quite fitting your baby correctly. Check that the leg cuffs fit snugly round your baby's legs.." Because the average mum needs a lesson in nappy-application..

I can't believe I've written this much about nappies. But messy bums arn't the most pleasant aspect of baby-care, so it's nice when the things you pay good money for actually work. 

If you had to change a successful nappy's formula - which I suppose was due to cost-cutting - why didn't you tell customers? Stick a label saying 'new, improved formula' (at least we could have a laugh) and then we could stock-pile the old, working nappies. 

And please go back to your former manufacturer!


Your formerly-happy nappy-buyers

Monday, 25 April 2016

"I offered a glass of wine to my one-year-old..." knackered mum stories

You know when you do something really stupid because you're so sleep-deprived/pregnant/knackered? 

At nine months' pregnant, I went to the gym for a long swim. I was gone two hours and when I got ready to leave, I couldn't find my car keys. I searched for half an hour (with the gym team scouring the changing rooms) - and was about to call my husband to ask him to catch a bus to me with our spare key - when I realised the keys were in the ignition of the car... Which was - somehow - still in the car park.

Here honest mums of Facebook reveal their #nosleepmama moments - so we all know we're not alone... Share yours at the bottom of the post.

"I tried to turn my youngest down with the tv remote. Couldn't work out why it wasn't working.."

"I once made up a [baby's] bottle of black coffee."

"I answered the door to the postman with my boob hanging out after breastfeeding - had forgotten to put it away.."

"I thought my dog had gone missing, called the dog warden, had all my family out searching for her. I then realised a hour or so later I'd forgotten to get her out of my car... I was very embarrassed and the doggy got lots of cuddles."

"I normally show my son the fruit and the yoghurt and he chooses which one he eats first. I had already opened the pot so when I showed it to him I poured it over him. Both my partner and my son could not stop laughing.."

"I put the remote in the fridge and took the butter in the front room with me! After half an hour of watching TV I couldn't figure out why the butter was in the front room.."

"I tried to put on my four-year-old's coat on me, when I was in a hurry to leave the house!"

"I took a dirty nappy to work in my packed lunch bag and when I got home I checked the bin outside my house and I had thrown my lovely sandwich in the bin on my way out.."

"Made  cup of tea, sat down to drink it and I thought, 'oh, where is it?' Looked every where and eventually found it in a kitchen cupboard where our tins are stored! Still no idea how I ended up putting it there.."

"I dropped my husband at the train station one morning very early and quickly popped to the shop for milk. I walked home and only when I noticed I was carrying the car keys and wearing PJ bottoms did I remember that I had driven there...."

"I drove to take the dog for a walk and left the dog at home! Hormones!"

"When my youngest was newborn I had a stinking cold... went to rub Vicks on my chest but accidentally used my husband's hair wax.."

"This morning I squeezed facewash onto my toothbrush.."

"I sat in the passenger seat of my car wondering why I wasn't going anywhere.... Took about a minute for me to realise I was supposed to be in the drivers seat driving! There was no one else..."

"Keep referring to the cot as the hutch (we have a rabbit), as in 'I'll just put the baby in the hutch'.. But nothing beats when I was pregnant and I sat down and did a wee without pulling my knickers down - no rush, I just forgot..."

"I woke up feeling so tired everything was blurry....said to myself I'll wake up in a moment and it wont be blurry anymore. Got into the car with the kids, still blurry, drove a few metres and realise the blurriness is related to the fact I totally forgot to put on my glasses (which I usuallly wear full time. .."

"It was time to feed my youngest and I was on an important phone call. My son came in the room and I automatically laid him on the bed to feed him whist still on the phone. I couldn't understand why he wasn't drinking. I looked at him to find I'd put the wrong child on my breast staring at me in shock with his mouth wide open!!"

"Last week I offered the glass of wine to my 1 yr old instead of the glass of water....turns out he quite liked it, whenever he sees wine now he points and howls!"

"I shoplifted a pair of leggings - put them on top of my pram and forgot about about them, walked out the shop and the alarms went off and they came running after me! I cried and they weren't very sympathetic!!"

"Left an entire trolley full of shopping in the car park... Didn't realise till I got home and opened the boot. Luckily it was still there when I went back!"

"Put the dirty laundry in the bin instead of the washing machine..."

"Once I got into the shower still wearing bra and knickers and turned on the water...."

"Lost my husbands car keys in the bakery when I borrowed his car. Had to get a lift home and didn't realise the keys were in the bakery as I was convinced if only been to the butcher and must have left then there.... A week later I got them back from the baker!"

"I put my one year old's nappy on my three year old and only realised after my daughter shouted at me, 'mummy what are you doing!'"

"Put my daughter in the bath the other day with her socks still on. Didn't notice until she started saying sockies and trying to take them off.."

"Threw my iPhone 6 in the outside green bin, threw away £80 cash inside an envelope and I also threw my Ray Bans away too when I got distracted with a wipe in one hand and glasses in the other - brain thought 'proceed to bin' and as I was so tired I threw them in and realised after the bin was collected the next day.."

"I sat at the table rocking the buggy for ages, trying to get my baby to sleep while having lunch at a restaurant, until my four-year-old niece asked me why I was rocking the buggy - the baby wasn't in there.."

"When my first was a newborn I unloaded the 'tumble dryer' and folded nearly all the clothes before I realised they hadn't been washed... I couldn't laugh at the time because I was steaming with anger at the loss of valuable baby nap time!"

"I tried plugging my phone charger into a Tracker bar.."

"I heard my phone ring & picked up my coffee cup, putting it sideways to my ear. Coffee everywhere. All down my back & over the sofa.. Took me a good few seconds to compute the whole thing.."

"Packed our bags and got into the car this morning with my little girl and drove off for our days activities...leaving our front door wide open.."

"My husband put a banana through the dishwasher. And put yoghurt in his ear whilst giving the phone to the baby.."

"I tried to add a 'peppa' to my Tesco shop when shopping for vegetables online..."

"I got in the shower once going through the routine of washing my hair I realised I had only just had a shower an hour before and forgot.. I also once got myself and the baby out of the car and left the car door open wide ALL night and of course it rained heavily that night..."

"I walked out the front door with my baby...and my right boob hanging out! Took me a while to realise but good job it was a nippy day..!"

"I tried to give my nan my baby's bottle of formula, and put baby's dummy in husband's mouth.."

"I felt the volume was too high so pointed the remote at tv but wondered why the sound wouldn't wouldn't lower..yup remotes don't work on kids..!"

"Once while reading a printed letter I tried to scroll down the page using my computer mouse and couldn't work out why it wasn't working. Needed sleep so bad!"

"The other morning I opened the dishwasher and threw my laundry inside.."

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Win Win Win! Amazing fathers' day Hotel Chocolat hamper

The ROOW household have a lot of reasons to say thanks to the dad of our house. Right as I type - and tiny man snoozes - his daddy is downstairs washing up the dinner dishes, as he does every night. 

As I'm on maternity leave, I feel bad if I'm too knackered to cook some evenings and ask Mr ROOW to - but he always responds that he thinks any parent works harder than any office worker and rustles up something yummy. 

Every weekend, he always does the early morning shift so I can catch up on zzzzzzzzs (and this weekend I didn't wake til 9am... which hasn't happened since pre-parent life).

Plus, on top of all those boring reasons and all the mundane household stuff that Mr ROOW does to keep on top of things, few people make tiny man so excited, or laugh so hard, as his daddy. 

So we're excited to treat him this Father's Day - and excited, too, to give ROOW readers the chance to win this epic Hotel Chocolat hamper to spoil the dad in your life. 

Worth more than £50, you can win a:

.       Father's Day sleekster box of chocolates
.       Beer collection
.       Pale cocoa beer
.       Cocoa beer
.       Dark old fossil

All in a beautifully-wrapped hamper. So bottoms up and enter here...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 22 April 2016

Review: is Willows Farm baby-friendly?

 Most of my reviews here are of places Mr ROOW and I love to visit - to check out whether these adult-focused hotels, restaurants, or attractions are baby-friendly too. But for tiny man's first birthday, we wanted to take him somewhere he'd love. Local mums raved about Willows Farm - but I wondered if it would be worthwhile for a baby. Here's our verdict.

It's not just a farm, although you are greeted by some friendly alpacas as you drive by their field. The site - near St Albans just outside of London - also has a large soft play, fair-ground style attractions like coconut shy and gold-panning, play tractor driving area, bouncy castles, adventure playgrounds, picnic areas and cafes. 

Its entrance price reflects that - £16.50 per adult, £17.50 per child - but under 2s are free. One thing I immediately liked was Willows' 'we only milk the cows' motto - meaning once you're in, you're in. You don't have to desperately point out non-existent exotic birds in the tree to the kids to avoid them spotting a pricey ride or game, because they're almost all included in the price. The only extras I spotted was buying animal feed for a quid. (Oh, and you have to exit through the gift shop so good luck avoiding buying a going-home present.)

But all that fun is still to come when you're parenting a baby. And tiny man really did enjoy his day at Willows. He loved getting up close to the farm animals - which include horses, tiny lambs, pigs, rabbits, ponies, sheep, alpacas, and guinea pigs. 

He gazed in awe at goats leaning on the gate and standing on two feet, at chickens lying on their eggs, a turkey with a rubber dangly bit (sure there's a more precise term..) that looked like the human brain, and a Shire horse eating out of his daddy's hand. He giggled non-stop as we bounced with him on the smallest castle (there are three, divided into age groups so your 1-year-old won't get stomped on by a six-year-old.), and loved the boat swings and very bumpy tractor ride.

Then it got cold, so we popped him on a JCB (OK, a tiny one, with our help) and cycled around the driving school warehouse, and finally spent a good hour in the softplay. 
I can imagine this place gets noisy, packed and stuffier than a toddler's nose on a weekend - but on our Monday afternoon visit, tiny man had the run of the under-2s area, with a couple of tots joining him in the ball pond now and then. It was clean and well-equipped and he particularly liked the wind-blowing ball machine, and the toy-packed mini village area where under 4s could pretend they ran shops, houses, garages and more. In fact, he loved them almost as much as my husband - who yearned to drop down the near-vertical slide and ball-shooting machine in the big kids' area. He reckons they should do a Kidzania-style adults' night...
And I wouldn't have minded a free-run on the brand-new Peter Rabbit adventure playground either - an attraction that will definitely go down well with older kids.

So the verdict? Willows has a huge amount for kids - I'd say the optimum age for a visit would be around eight. But it caters really well for tots too. The fact that under 2s go free mean it's a no-brainer for anyone with an older child and younger baby. And for special occasions, we'll definitely be taking tiny man back for a return visit.

* ROOW were guests of Willows Farm on this visit.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tuesday giggle: the Wisdom of Kids...

Sometimes, as a mama, you just need a giggle. Maybe you've been hauled out of bed in the night for longer than you were allowed to stay under the duvet. Maybe your babe who loved tomatoes more than anything in the world last week suddenly won't eat them, or anything else, despite your cooking 15 different dishes. Maybe you're just missing adult company, or work, or just need a laugh. 

On those days social media is so brill for providing support and the reassurance that there are others out there with similarly bonkers/sad/sleep-hating kids out there. And it's why these images - dubbed the Wisdom of Kids - make me laugh. A lot. 

They're compiled and illustrated by Soula, a kind and super talented lady who I first met through work. Parents send in their kids' funniest lines, and she turns them into greeting cards (and a book) which have become bestsellers. Hope you enjoy this midweek giggle:


Party planning with Hobbycraft

You know those nights when you head to bed early and lie down to gorge on sleep (for at least five hours..). But then you have a peak at your phone and suddenly it's an hour later and you've lost your sleep time to image envy on Instagram? 

That was me in the weeks leading up to tiny man's first birthday - ogling Insta baby parties and accessories. Yeah, how lame does that sentence sound? 

But who knew sleek black-and-white-and-flamingo (seriously, this is Instagram) parties could look so good? Or that some parents appear to redecorate their homes for their baba's first birthday? Or that I could find my finger hovering over the 'buy' button on £5 packs of stripey straws? Very cool looking straws, sure. But a fiver to suck liquid out of a glass in a way that the average pair of lips are pretty good at doing anyway? I had to tell myself it was more important to get over the cool party styling fomo... and have enough money to spend on nappies... 

But then I discovered Hobbycraft. 

I had no idea this place (I went to the Staples Corner branch, it's huuuge) also stocked everything you need to throw a super stylish party - but (don't tell anyone.. ) on the cheap.  

Like these fab-looking honeycomb ball decorations, which were £7 per pack from Hobbycraft, were so easy to hang all over the ceiling with masking tape - and tiny man loves them so much we're going to relocate them permanently to his nursery. 

Ditto the balloons - I found every colour so went for three shades of blue. Instead of spending loads on helium (although I did splurge for this cute '1' silver foil balloon) just looping some masking tape and adding a tail gives you the same look.

Their cute rolls of twine and tiny washing pegs were fab for a high-impact 'washing line' of baby photos - it's insane how many I had to pick between after just one year.

Then there's the store's baking section... Another drool-worthy one for me. There are loads of cake tins which make complicated Cake Boss-style bakes really easy - but I went for another cheat. I baked tiny man a two-tier cake and decorated it myself with hot air balloons, clouds and flowers, but used ready-mix packs of icing (again, Hobbycraft has every colour and it's so nice to browse IRL rather than online) to do the decorating. Eliminating that stage of dying another wad of white fondant a particular colour (and getting hands dyed in the process) made the baking process so much more fun.

Another amazing decorating idea came from Hobbycraft's die-cutting section. I used a Cricut machine (a whole post on this is coming soon.. It's basically the best crafting thing ever) to make a ton of personalised decorations like this one:
and stuck them all over the house. Someone in-store showed me how  die-cutters work - and once you've made a template like the duck above, it's so easy to have hundreds of perfect shapes cut out for you.

Hobbycraft also have great bunting - I went for a natural brown card set which was only £2 but really long. The holes were pre-punched so I just used the Cricut to cut out the letters for happy birthday and tiny man's name, then stuck them on. This is definitely a string of bunting that'll be coming out for every birthday - as will a lot of the decorations: all reusable, including this white twig tree which I forgot to snap but made a fab centrepiece - and I'm lending to a friend for her wedding soon too.
Yes, the cynics will say tiny man will never remember his first birthday party - but we will. 

I'm feeling so happy, proud and pretty emotional to have been his mummy for a whole year - it's gone so fast. We're really pleased to have been able to throw a party full of personal touches that we can keep to show our baby boy in years to come.

* Hobbycraft gave Run Out of Womb spending money for an in-store spree - but rest assured, we only rave about what we love and will definitely be spending far more of our own in the future.. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Sick on my suit: the mama behind The Bright Company

In the Old Days I'd get obsessed with new heels or an Anthropologie skirt sale or a new office trench. Now? My absolute favourite new item of clothing is a pair of PJs. Which match my baby's. Yup, but before you judge, they are pretty amazing...

They're from The Bright Company, and mine - dubbed MamaJyms - are such, such soft cotton that I put them on about 7pm and love lounging in them all evening: cosy grey leggings, a long tunic-style top in beehive print, (only downside being it's a bit chilly to breast-feed in, as you have to lift-up), seriously comfy but not embarrassing to answer the door to the postman in... 
But of course, that's not why they're my favourite thing - that's because my tiny man has a babygrow in matching beehive print. So we can do the whole #twinningiswinning thing and pad around together for excellent selfies. And since this isn't enough cuteness, I'm about to click 'buy' on Dada Jyms so the three of us can have some super-stylish lazy Sunday mornings...

And then I started following TBC on Instagram, and then I started reading about how the business came to being, and it swiftly became obvious that founder Alienor would be a fab candidate for Sick on my suit: Run Out of Womb's series asking working mums, entrepreneurs and high-flying corporates how they do it.

Here company founder Alienor, who is 32 and lives in Brighton, lifts the lid on The Bright Company's inception...

How many kids do you have and what are their ages? 

We have two kids, Corwin 5 and Effie 3

Where did your The Bright Company's idea come from?

I worked in fashion  and after I had Corwin I was keen to seek out more interesting clothes than the usual highstreet offering, I found loads of amazing kidswear but couldn't find any decent nightwear. It seemed to me that nightwear is really important to children to the idea sparked from there.

How did you launch it?

A friend called me when I was back at work deciding if I wanted to quit or not and offered to share a studio space with me. I jumped at the chance and sat there cold calling factories and fabric suppliers until I had one willing to work with us.

Can you describe an average day? EG when you wake up, family time / work time, meals, etc. 

Most days the family all get up together, my husband and I juggle getting ourselves and the kids ready and fed before we have to rush out to work or school. I drop Corwin at school first then Effie at nursery which is two minutes around the corner from our studio. Then the rest of the day I'm working away and I go back to either pick up the kids or to relieve my mum (who looks after them) at supper time. I always see the kids for bed time and at the beginning of the day, I love that. If I'd have stayed working in Fashion I would be missing out on that connection with them.

What's the balance of running family and entrepreneur life?

It's more of a juggle than a balance! Each day is slightly different but we make it work, we now finally feel like we have enough childcare so I'm not trying to work with the kids around which makes us all more relaxed.

What have you had to sacrifice?

Money! Starting a business can be a long road to making money for yourself, if you are aware of that and up for it then it's ok, but there are days when I miss my corporate salary! 

What are your top tips to other working mums? 

Try to organise your time so there are clear boundaries between home life and work life. Nothing makes you feel worse than trying to work whilst the kids need your attention...

How did you feel about going back to work after maternity leave - any tips for those about to do so who feel scared or worried?

Gosh, I can remember it quite clearly. In the lead up to going back it felt quite daunting, I felt like I now had no clue what was going on in the fashion world,and I didn't care that much any more. My time felt so much more precious and I had no time at all for office politics any more. I didn't want to go back but felt like I needed to try it to be sure, I'm glad I did.

Any mistakes along the way?

We did a Christmas market during our first year of trading, we thought it would be amazingly busy, but it was just full of nick-nacks and all the customers were 80+! It was so depressing at the time, we sold two pairs of pyjamas in two days (and didn't come back for the third day) and we lost a few hundred pounds, but we learnt a lot about targeting the right audience! We laugh about how awful it was now...


27 baby snack ideas

You've got the meals sorted: a veg, a carb, protein, a whizz in the blender / chop into small pieces and you're sorted. But snacks? If you're anything like us, you're sick of spending endless cash on Organix biscuits. You want some other ideas. So here they are... Happy snacking, babies!

1. Yogurt drops - kinda love these, especially on hot days or for teething babes: just fill a freezer bag with plain yogurt, mixing in fruit puree if you fancy, snip off a corner and squeeze drops out onto an oiled baking sheet or plate. Freeze, then when solid decant into a pot and serve for finger food dessert or snack.

2. Steamed veg (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower etc) make great bitesize pot snacks

3. Apple and sultana muffins (I make these sugar-free, and into tiny balls, but so tasty I always eat half the batch)

4. Bamba (this Israeli peanut snack could prevent nut-allergies, according to a study. I limit to three or four pieces as they do contain some salt. Available in Tesco's and kosher shops)

5. Pancake pieces (mix flour, milk, egg and mashed banana to make thick pancakes; slice into cubes to eat later)

6. Houmous / peanut butter / cream cheese on rice cakes, breadsticks, or cucumber.

6. Kale crisps. Yeah, you'll be mocked in parenting circles, but they're great: just bake chopped up kale for 10m at 160 degrees, with a little olive oil, plus sesame seeds if you fancy

7. Cheese cubes - again, skip the pricey baby-targeted packets and chop up some cheddar

8. Frittata - make in the morning, chop 

9. Mini sandwiches (cream cheese, meat, or cheese fillings - cut into cubes)

10. Cheese scones

11. Fruit - obvious but so many options. Bananas great for on-the-go, oranges, kiwi, & watermelon all go down well here.

12. Banana ice cream - chop up a banana into three chunks. freeze for two hours, then blend. Delicious, natural ice cream.

13. Cheese straws 

14. Sweetcorn fritters

15. Oatcakes (these easy ones are cooked in the microwave)

16. Veggie muffins - I make these without the sugar - they're sweet enough if you use v. ripe bananas

17.  Rice cakes - no need to buy the baby-friendly pricey ones. Any salt-free and sugar-free variety works.

18. Roasted brocolli - don't overcook or it's too crispy, but this is one delicious healthy snack (we share..)

19. Dried apple bites - no need to buy these in a packet, just slice an apple super thin, and bake (fuller recipe here) and chop into tiny bites for babies.

20. Squares of previously toasted wholegrain bread, with butter

21. Sugar-free banana bread

22. Baby flapjacks

23. Natural yogurt - with banana or other fruit if you fancy

24. Raisins, unsweetened date pieces, etc. (just make sure they're small enough)

25. Tuna bites

26. Pieces of cooked chicken, turkey, or other well-cooked meats/ fish

27. Sweet potato wedges - chop up a sweet potato into thin strips, add a few drops olive oil, and bake for 45m at 180 degrees. Remove skin for younger babies.

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