run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Trending

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Tula Explore: the best baby (and toddler) sling for petite mamas


With my first baby, I carried him in a sling most days as we were out exploring in London, jumping on the Tube and around galleries and museums and everything was easier without a buggy. With my second, I used a sling the whole time because it made it so much easier to run around after his big (toddler) brother at the same time. And with my third, a sling is the only way to have two spare hands to hold onto my sons whilst looking after my baby daughter too. So I've been sling-sporting (or baby-wearing as the gurus put it) for about six years, mostly using a BabyBjorn. 

It was fine when the babes were tiny and in the classic model. But then as they grew I needed more back and shoulder support so moved on to the Air model. And that's when it went wrong. I'm small - still wear kids' trainers, have been known to buy clothes in age 12 in Zara, am around 5"1 - and so many slings I tried just didn't get tight enough on their shoulder or back straps.

SHARE:

Friday, 9 April 2021

Family days outside: Berkhampstead

When we want a rural day out but don't want to go too far from NW London, the affectionately-named Berko is a popular option. The drive is short enough to be bearable with a baby who HATES the car, there are lots of animals to spot on route, and it's lovely place to walk around - canal, Rosie and Jim re-enactments, castle ruins, lots of playgrounds, and lots of cafes and non-chain restaurants. Here's our pick of what to do:

SHARE:

Family days outside in London: Canary Wharf

As lockdown loosened we were excited to get out of NW London and explore other parts of our city. On a freezing cold Easter holidays day out, we drove to Canary Wharf to explore its new roof garden, Crossorelle, a new Camilla Walala tunnel bridge, a kids' art trail and just watch the river glide at its own sweet will and, of course, eat some food not cooked by me.

SHARE:

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

NW London family days outdoors: Woodberry Wetlands

With three kids aged five and under, it feels like I’ve already visited most of NW London’s kid-friendly spots ... a lot. If I had a pound for the number of times someone’s asked me if I’ve ever taken the kids to the RAF museum, I’d be able to buy one of its Spitfires. I’ve spent more days in Golders Hill Park than the donkeys who actually live there. 

Now, the kids will happily revisit anywhere with a playground / log to jump on / ice cream. But I get bored. So when I stumble upon a new spot, it's exciting. 

SHARE:

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

20 outdoor days out in NW London post-lockdown (almost all with excellent food)

I once wrote that "soft play is the worst place to be a parent. They're stuffy, stinky, germy holes with no daylight, crappy food and worse coffee..." hahaha how we'd all love a calm morning in one of those places with the sound of kids' happiness now. But! We don't have to stay at home all the time anymore, and there are so many great outdoors days out around NW London that I wanted to write some down for you here.


We have 20-ish places to visit in or near NW (ish) London that aren't just about the babes - you AND your kids will enjoy them all. 

1. Capel Manor. One for the sunny days - Capel Manor is basically a university for gardeners, 30 acres to explore where they've created loads of different, individual gardens (think the children's garden, Japanese garden, water garden, etc) for you to all saunter round. There's a small farm, reptiles, a maze, a fairy garden plus regular activities for kids, like egg hunts at Easter. Take a picnic and you'll have a great day out.


2. Finchley Nurseries - this is a garden centre that's actually a great morning or afternoon out too. There are the usual plenty of plants, which my kids love looking at and playing guess the fruit/herb/vegetable plant etc, but lots more too: a small playground to clamber over, a fish / aquarium area, a cute cafe with really EXCELLENT takeaway cheese toasties and cakes at the mo, pick-your-own flowers in summer, and an area selling who-would-want-these china gnomes where my two could stay all day... Easy parking and lots of walks nearby too.




3. Kentish Town City farm: it's small but in combo with local strolls, makes a lovely afternoon out: oink at the pigs, see the chickens, horses and more then walk down to Boma Garden Centre for cute babycinnos and seriously, seriously good brownies. Must pre-book, opens for the public from 19 April.

Image result for kentish town city farm

4. Broomfield Park has one of London's biggest adventure playgrounds (and a smaller one that's more tot-friendly), a conservatory with bananas growing, crazy golf (albeit it's not such a crazy course), a lake and model boating pond - and the amazing nearby Baskervilles Tea shop, with delicious cakes, babycinnos, etc for takeaway. (Is it obvious that I'm obsessed with the cafes?)


5.  Kenwood - there are ducks in the pond and huge grassy expanses to explore outside, walk down the hill from the main house and put 'Hollow Tree' in Google Maps to find a really excellent hollow tree to clamber all over and explore.



6. Ally Pally: swan boats and pedaloes (bonus: great work out) on the boating lake are reopening soon - and there's a great playground with sandpit (the addition of sand adds an extra hour to the average playground session, I find, and about 1.5 billion grains of sand to my car). Few nice cafes, including one inside the garden centre.

7. St Albans. A drive from NW London, but worth it. There's a fantastic playground in the huge Verulanium Park, plus mini golf and a splash park if those ever re-open safely, there's the Waffle House which does a brilliant safe take-away service at the moment, and lakes to walk around too.


8. The Grove, Watford. Also a drive away and also yes, it's a five star hotel but in lockdown they've opened up their grounds to non-residents and still now you can go to walk in their grounds. We went, parked near the Anoushka Kids' Club, explored their brill musical trail in the woods (huge metal/wood structures to play with), then walked along the canal and near the golf course (the kids really wanted a go in all its 'sand pits' but had to desist..).
9. Sunnyfield Park, Hendon. To be honest, this is a fairly average park with an adequate playground and we go mainly because I love the Israel cafe. Really great takeaway shakshuka, wraps, sabich.. And a giant hill to tire the kids out with too.

10. Avenue House / Stephen's House. Being NW London born and bred, I haven't updated the lingo and this beautiful, volunteer-run space in Finchley Central is forever known as Avenue House. They've updated though, and there's a great playground (with extra sand delivered to the playground sandpit just today!), a more wild climbing area (check out the carved owl), wooden gym/exercise areas dotted around, a lovely pond, cafe with outdoor seating and good events too. I'm partial to walking the 10m to Falafal Feast for their yummy lunch and picnicking in the greens. Don't miss the chance to explore the gardens of the Bothy if you hit jackpot and visit on a day when they're open - and there's open-air theatre there again this summer too. Say hi to Spike Milligan from me.

11. Clarenden Playground at Hornsea Park 

Full disclosure: this ridiculously good-looking brand new playground was shut the day we visited, but it looks so good that it's on our list to return ASAP and you should too. Even has sun loungers for parents to relax on (HAHAHA, yes I have a toddler and baby and 5yo.)

12. Stationers' Park, Crouch End

Big playground, tunnel slides, and you can walk to the bajillion excellent eateries of Crouch End, what's not to like?

13. Golders Hill Park
There's the animals, the strange cuboid sculpture that I remember, as a five year old, running up the sides of (but realise now that this didn't happen), the delicious gelato from the cafe, and the tennis courts, duck pond, always-closed butterfly house, climbable trees and rolling hills of the main park, but take a sharp left as you enter from North End Road and keep wandering and you'll find a beautiful pergola, lake and rambling ruins to explore. Along with a whole lot of pouting Instagrammers.

14. Lewis Ice Cream Farm
A speedy drive to Barnet and you'll find yourself in a well-managed, socially-distanced queue for one of a gazillion flavours of perfect ice cream. There's a playground and haystacks to clamber over in normal times, hopefully they'll reopen them soon, and lots of fields to explore. But walk, shmalk, we mainly go for the sundaes...


15. Highgate Wood and Queens Wood

The woods really saved our lockdown. Dens, sticks, the Gruffalo, and bam, the kids have happily played together for an hour. The benefits of these adjoining woods are the excellent large playground of Highgate Woods, with separate section for younger kids and two sandpits, the even better Pavilion cafe (best park food in NW London? I think so.) and the vast wild areas to explore in Queens Wood, which by the way also has a small but perfectly formed cafe. 


16. Lyttelton Playing Fields, Fletchers Park, Northway Gardens and Bigwood

An undulating triple park bonanza here; park on one of the roads around Norice Lea and enter Lyttleton Playing Fields; you'll find a capacious playground, lots of room to run around, a stream, good bridge for Pooh Sticks, and small (Kosher, if that's your bag) cafe. When you want to explore further, cross Kingsley Way to enter the small, recently-jazzed up Fletchers Park with nice planting, and walk through to cross Northway road and enter Northway Gardens. You'll pass Toulous Cafe (which used to be public loos, geddit?) where you'll find nice sarnies and sweet potato chips (currently closed), see beautiful, volunteer-planted rose gardens, a gushing stream, tennis courts and another playground at the tip,  which is perfect for toddlers. If you've still got energy to burn, exit the park near the playground, cross Oakwood Road and enter Bigwood, some not-so-big woods with lots of nooks to explore.

Not a park but it's outdoors - crazy golf with pretty terrifying animatronic dinosaurs all over the place, what's not to love?


OK, NW London is a stretch but it's actually in Maida Vale and this is hands-down the best playground in London WITH AN EXCELLENT PIZZA RESTAURANT next to the playground gates. I mean, look at this playground! There are lots of Paddington Bears dotted around too.


19. Teddy Bears Walk, Mill Hill

You'll find it if you put 'teddy bear walk nw7' into Google Maps - a magical path next to a field, filled with cuddly toys in the trees and branches. Tag it on with a trip to Mill Hill Park's epic playground and really excellent cafe and you've had a great morning, even if the rain dumps four years' worth of wet on you in one go, as it did to us...



20. Forty Hall, Myddleton House combo

Between these two institutions (a drive away in Enfield) you'll find animals, lakes, gardens and cafes. You have to book Myddleton House in advance at the moment, but it's free.

Other ideas for days out (some slightly further afield):
Berkhampstead, Cassiobury Park, Friary Park, Oakwood Park, Trent Park, Firs Farm Wetlands, Grovelands, Aldenham, Ashridge Estate (bluebells aplenty), Beckonskot model village, Ivinghoe Beacon, Gruffalo trail in Ealing, Broxbourne sculpture trail.
SHARE:

Thursday, 11 March 2021

The Best Presents for a Sibling from a New Baby

Giving birth is hard enough, but I'm extremely glad I didn't have to also push out the present my baby 'bought' for his new big brother.. It was a toddler version of the etch-a-sketch drawing board. A really, really big version... Good job the new baby Amazon Prime'd his gift rather than buying it in-utero. But it did turn out to be a really good present: his toddler bro loved it, and it was especially helpful in those early weeks when I was feeding the newborn and didn't have free hands all the time - something the new big brother could get along with solo.

Obviously you'll know your own kid's likes and obsessions the best and that will feed into the present - but in my experience of a close gap (mine were born exactly two years, one month and one day apart), you want a toy that your eldest can play with solo, for a long time, and/or which helps them feel involved.

So here are some great ideas for new big brother / sister presents if you've got a toddler (or older kid) who's about to lose his or her I'm The Boss Around Here title...

SHARE:

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Piccolo baby food subscription box

There have been (many!) stressful things about giving birth in lockdown - but when my baby turned six months and another lockdown loomed, I started to worry again! In her first months, where I worried about sourcing my next slot from Ocado/Tesco/random farm someone's said has spare capacity on Facebook, at least I knew my babe wouldn't go hungry as all her food came from my boobs. 

Not so when weaning beckoned and a food delivery slot once again became as rare as a parent happy that schools were shut. So when Cat, the founder of Piccolo, a baby food brand I've written about a few times at work, and told me about her new subscription service.. I was excited!

SHARE:

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Amazing Autumn family photoshoot in London

Giving birth to my third babe two days before the first lockdown, we didn't have a whole lot of family snaps! There was the iPhone one a kind neighbour took from the end of our driveway, a whole bunch of awful phone/timer attempts and some blurry selfie jobs, but..that was it.

Now, I love summer's rays whilst playing in them, but photo-wise, reckon its Autumn's crunchy hues that give the best backdrops. So when I saw Photos By Ruby's amazing leaf-speckled family photoshoots on her Instagram feed, I knew I wanted to book in for our own session.




SHARE:

Monday, 2 November 2020

The Only Guide to Weaning You'll Need To Produce A Perfect Eater

 
After canvassing much advice and as mama of two, here's the definitive guide to raising a baby to be a non-picky, adventurous eater..

One who hits the scales at weight 'perfect' and turns pale at the thought of refined sugar. You've bought the best weaning gadgets... so follow these steps, and you will have an adventurous eater on your hands in a mere 12 days.

1. At the start of the weaning process, remember that your baby will only be used to drinking sweet milk, so ensure their first foods are soft, liquidised sweet fruit puree such as apple mush.

2. This is true except if you want your child to be a sociable eater when older - one who enjoys eating out in restaurants and gobbles everything put on their plate. In this case, never offer a baby pureed foods - doing so is pandying to their inexperience, and lack of teeth. 

SHARE:

Monday, 19 October 2020

Jumping in Muddy Puddles: the Scamp Suit


There are a handful of baby/kid inventions that they really need to extend to adult usage. Gro-bags; naps; teethers (hey, my wisdom teeth really hurt..). 

Now, after tiny man tested out a new outdoor outfit, Muddle Puddles' Scamp Suit this weekend, I've immediately added it to my list.

I mean, I think I might look a bit like an oversized Teletubby if there was an adult one, rather than the cosy bundle of energy that tiny man looks like in his Scamp Suit. But it'd be worth it. This outfit is ideal for outdoors-loving toddlers (all of them, right?). 
SHARE:

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Parents Selling Stuff Online BINGO

It must be something to do with all those broken nights' sleep. But when people turn into parents, some go bonkers. Nowhere is that clearer than in buying and selling groups on Facebook. . . where someone's actually selling a dummy ("lightly used") for 50p. And someone else has something advertised as "could do with a clean.." (so clean it before flogging it?). And someone actually bought a "baby wipe warmer".. and thinks someone else might want to buy this pointless ("Invaluable!") gadget off them.

Most of the time, these groups are a really useful way to get hold of stuff you need, or nab a bargain, without adding to that enormous child-rearing plastic landfill. But sometimes people are a bit, er, strange in their sales ads. So next time you're browsing a group, why not play PARENTS SELLING STUFF ONLINE BINGO?

SHARE:

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Family travel: Woodend Villa, Torquay

The three things we missed most in lockdown were family (especially as our little lady was born on the day that schools shut and we all had to stay home..), then restaurants (remember how we used to just pop out for a quick dinner without even thinking twice about touching a pepperpot/door/working out if we could avoid the rain if we ordered and ate really fast?!) and... swimming. 

I got really into swimming whilst pregnant and Mr 5 had JUST learnt to swim when pools shut. I was pretty sad thinking that we wouldn't be able to have a dip for who-knows-how-long whilst Covid lingers. 

SHARE:

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Tonies: the screen-time-bashing hifi that your kids will love

 During lockdown, screen addiction got real. I gave birth to my third child on the day that schools were closed.. So some days, turning off Paw Patrol or trying to de-grapple an iPad from a toddler's paws involved the kinds of screams more usually heard in an abattoir. Or a banshee meet-up. Or foxes making sleep-shattering midnight, er, love. Screen time addiction is real.


But then we trialled a kids' gadget that gives them the time they need to chill out (often solo!), but still use their imagination. Step forward the Toniebox - like a foolproof hifi for kids, so they can listen to music or stories (including ones you can buy and others that you/grandparents/friends record, and read out). Here's what we think about it:
SHARE:

Monday, 2 March 2020

Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller review: the screen-time killer your kids will love

Turning off Paw Patrol or trying to de-grapple an iPad from a toddler's paws usually involves the kinds of screams more usually heard in an abattoir. Or a banshee meet-up. Or foxes making sleep-shattering midnight, er, love. In short, screen time addiction is real.
And yet, that black box of pixels is sometimes so fricking useful. When you're knackered. Or need to do some work. Or just want to make dinner without also simultaneously acting as a referee between squabbling siblings who just so happen to want the same toy. 
SHARE:

Monday, 27 January 2020

Winter Things to Do in London with Toddlers and Kids


Summers in London are great - endless places to go, city beaches and parks to play in, fruits to pick, playgrounds to explore. 

But Winter? It's trickier but there's still a lot of fun to have - I really hate soft play so always try to think of other places to fall back on. Here's a list of a load of great, often indoor London places to go when the weather's not all that warm...
They're all within an hour's travel from NW London, cos that's ROOW HQ and I'm not *that* adventurous. So, enough chat... Bookmark it, share it, but most of all visit them - and let me know what I've missed...
SHARE:

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Review: Dinotropolis, Bluewater




The prospect of soft play normally gives me sweaty palms. Especially on the weekend. Hot, sweaty, packed, scream-filled. No thanks. But we've just visited the brand-new Dinotropolis centre in Bluewater - it's soft play, but with a twist. It's actually really good.

What is it? A massive dinosaur-themed adventure playground, with a decent-sized area for tots (ball pond, two slides, squashy things to hurl around) and a huge expanse of twisty slides, climbing areas, soft ball-shooting machines to control, massive spacehopper-style balls to jump around - all surrounded by huge, animatronic T-rexes and more, who moved their heads, twisted around, and generally delighted kids, and, er scared my toddler!

SHARE:

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Family-friendly brunch in Kensington, London

Remember what brunch was like in the pre-kids days? Leisurely, long; there'd be newspapers, steaming-hot coffee, endless courses... Relaxing... And a not-to-be-repeated for 18 years memory?!

Because even the best-behaved kids won’t sit for *that* long - and you can't even leisurely stroll around the buffet table when you've got people hanging onto your legs, begging to have yet another chocolate croissant...

Or that's what we thought, until we hit up a new family-friendly brunch at the NH Hotel in Kensington this weekend.

SHARE:

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Ten NW London Places to Take Your Kids .. That You'll Actually Enjoy Too

Soft play is the worst place to be a parent. They're stuffy, stinky, germy holes with no daylight, crappy food and worse coffee. There's only one bearable one (Ally Pally's Little Dinos, where at least you can get a great juice and it's small enough not to lose sight of the offspring you like enough to have bought to soft play). 


But as I jumped reeeally high on a trampoline yesterday whilst watching my kids racing around beaming next to me, inspo struck. Here are ten places to visit in or near NW (ish) London that aren't just about the babes - you AND your kids will enjoy them all. (And if not, tell me where's better. More days out that aren't soft play are always appreciated.)
SHARE:

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Learning to swim with Swimming Nature

I'm not the kind of parent who's always carting kids to after-school classes. Tiny man does a whole lot of activities at nursery; afterwards, he's happy playing at home or out on an adventure with me and his brother. I don't think a packed timetable is a good way to grow up. But there's one class I do think is worth the effort and investment: swimming. 

It's not only a life-saving skill, it's fun exercise, it's hours of pool-play on holiday, it's an amazing feeling to love the water. Swimming lessons are a ticket to a love of one of the best activities there is - and one you can do solo, at any age, and for as long as you like.

But when I think back to my swimming lessons as a kid, I think, ugh. I only got in the pool due to the promise of Pom-Bears afterwards. Lessons meant hanging to the side by your fingertips, waiting your turn to splash around and be told what to do by a teacher on dry land. 

SHARE:

Friday, 30 August 2019

Paw Patrol Afternoon Tea at Family-Friendly Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

How do you make afternoon tea - officially the best meal of the day, given it covers cakes, biscuits, scones, more cakes, more biscuits - even better for kids? Sprinkle a bit of Paw Patrol on top of the biscuits and cakes, stir in a massive playroom packed with every Paw Patrol toy you can imagine and the Ryder-starring programme itself on a loop on a projector... And sit back and watch your tots have the time of their life!

We took the Tube to Park Plaza Westminster Bridge last week and immediately realised how family-friendly the hotel is, with posters about the kids disco that evening, the (supervised) Paw Patrol playroom available to all guests as well as afternoon tea-gobblers, amazing art installations that double up as play places for kids (like these amazing swinging face chairs) and views of Big Ben, the Thames and the Houses of Parliament. 



SHARE:

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park: the best family theme park

“It’s the REAL PEPPA PIG!” the beam on my toddler’s face as he squealed with joy at the enormous cuddly Peppa handing out high-fives and cuddles made our 730am trafficky drive out of London to Paultons Park worth it. It’s the theme park that hosts Peppa Pig World - a paean to the pre-schooler’s porcine favourite - and our two- and four-year-olds had the “best day ever!” (I quote.) So did we. Here’s why we rate it:

SHARE:

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Review: Picnic hampers from Carluccio's

Before I became a parent I loved the occasional summer picnic: a lovingly-prepared smorgasbord of cheese and crudites and cakes and olives and... 
Then parenthood meant making picnics A LOT. Most days out involve some kind of outside lunch prep: slices of bread rapidly whacked together to form a sandwich; a bag of Babybels. Fruit that's likely to squash and/or explode en-route. A pack of crisps, if they're lucky. Shoved in a bag with a bottle of water.
The picnic has never been so unglam. And it takes a surprisingly long time to put together every time too! All the wrapping, veg chopping, fridge-ransacking.. 

So you can imagine how excited I was to check out Carluccio's brilliant picnic hampers - especially the kids' one..


SHARE:
© run out of womb. All rights reserved.
Blogger Designs by pipdig