run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Sunday 20 December 2015

Your buggy personality quiz...

Every time I enter the nursery bit of a department store I spot worried-looking parents touring the travel systems and fixated on the fact that they *really, really* need a particular £8350.54 buggy because otherwise their baby won't grow up happy/healthy/middle class.

I know some people bought their pricey buggies second/third/seventh hand and some think they're an excellent investment. But I thought I'd put together a TONGUE IN CHEEK (don't kick me.. I haven't slept in six nights) guide to the simplest way to pick a buggy. Sugar Magazine-style (does that age me?) - just match your personality to your (baby's) ride.

You're rich...

or prepared to go into debt to buy a fabric chair on wheels. You secretly like the idea of having the same buggy as Kate, George, and Charlotte, (but won't tell anyone that). Your bag is Vuitton, your ring is bling, your everyday jeans are Diesel (and you'd love a buggy that matches..). Winter = Ugg biker boots; summer = weekly pedicure. You need to buy the icon of conspicuous consumption for the parent - you need a... Bugaboo Cameleon.

You're having a second child...

and you no longer care how your buggy looks (they're all the same when smeared with the placatory rice cake/yogurt/rusk that you swore you'd never hand over in transit). You want something that folds with one hand because you know the other one will be required to hold your other kid(s), for several hours at a time. You want something that holds its eBay value because you're Definitely Not Having Any More, And you already know what you're buying because everyone's incessantly recommending it: you need a City Mini

You're a banker...

and are happy to spend £1200 (plus accessories) on a buggy, even though you know it doesn't self-steer OR have an engine. The cash is really just a bit of last year's bonus, and if you're going to be dashing to Dinky Dancing rather than running the derivatives desk at JP Sachs for two weeks (that's how long you're going on maternity leave - any longer and you'll be dubbed a skiver), you want to do so in style. You need to head to one of Chelsea's nursery-curating boutiques and stock up on a... Stokke Xplory.
Mary Poppins was your favourite childhood film...

and whilst you can't buy her magical handbag, you really want a sit-up-and-look-at-me old-style pram to stroll around Balham with. The price isn't super important because mummy wants to buy the transport system for her first-ever-granddaughter (you found out it was a girl at an early scan because how could you start shopping otherwise?). So you'll want to buy a... retro Silver Cross Kensington
You work in fashion...

and your buggy needs to show that you do. It's not a matchy-thing - you wear black every day anyway, especially when you've got a bowling ball growing around your middle - but you need to make a statement and go for a Big Name Collaboration. You're friends with the right PRs so you won't be paying full price anyway. Now the only decision left to make is.. Mamas & Papas + Liberty or Maclaren + Orla Kiely?

Why did you pick your pram? I went for a great-value and good-looking Cosatto and love it bar the fact it doesn't fit in my car boot in one piece. What's your buggy-buying advice? Please comment below.

Friday 18 December 2015

Waterbabies: a review

I'm no baby class junkie - at the youngest age, I reckon they're often more for the parents than the babas, so don't recommend spending hours pouring over the benefits of Marmoset Music vs Baby Yoga etc. But I did want to take tiny man to swimming lessons. 

Even if you don't believe the research that starting babies swimming early reminds them of womb-time and makes the learning process easier, getting them used to water and on the path to the life-saving skill of swimming as soon as possible seems like a good idea. In their first few weeks, babies naturally inhibit their own breathing underwater (with their gag reflex), although that lessens at about 6 months - but when properly supervised and with lots of parental know-how babies can naturally swim short distances underwater from very early on. Plus tiny man has always loved splashing in the bath... And as an extra bonus, swimming tires babies out like 12 hours on the treadmill would for us... so leads to biiiig nap time!

Swimming classes were definitely something I wanted to research. The thought of what could happen if your hand slips in the pool for a second... is terrifying. I wanted a great teacher who could give tiny man and me confidence to enjoy the water together. Asking around for recommendations, the name Water Babies kept coming up.

A bit of price research showed the brand to be the Selfridges of the baby swimming world: unashamedly expensive. In London classes are about £300 for a term of ten lessons - it's a big outlay. But, four lessons into our ten, Water Babies is definitely offering good value.

Some might be impressed by the gadgets and wizardy - our brilliant teacher, Frances, at the warm, new and very clean Whitings School pool near High Barnet, has a waterproof iPad with info and to check all the babies in. On signing up, you receive a really detailed info pack, plus a folder with stickers to mark your baba's progress (first underwater dip, etc), and you can also buy branded super-warm wetsuits and have an underwater photo shoot.

Those are all nice extras, but what really stands out is the quality of teaching. Frances is calm, knowledgeable and seriously experienced - she's been teaching tinies swimming for nearly a decade. She talks through every exercise, remembers every baby's name and what they do/don't like (tiny man beams every time he sees her), and shows us the best way to hold and support our babies in the water.

Each class follows a pattern: a warm-up twirling the babies in water to a song, a pattern of saying your baby's name, 'ready', 'go' and gently splashing them as a cue to prepare for going under water, followed by an underwater dip, and learning different water games to teach them skills like blowing bubbles, swimming on the back. At the end, Frances holds up picture cards above the babies' heads as they lie floating on backs - I wouldn't have thought they'd be bothered but tiny man stares and stares and happily kicks his legs.

So whilst we're nearly half-way through the term and I don't yet know if tiny man is going to be the next Ian Thorpe, he loves our weekly swimming lesson and I love the WaterBabies format and confidence-inspiring teaching. The next batch of lessons brings with it an underwater photoshoot, so watch this space...

* Run Out of Womb trialed swimming lessons courtesy of WaterBabies, but rest assured we are seriously gobby and would never rave about something unless we love it.

Monday 14 December 2015

The best last-minute (parent) presents

Whether you're keen to be a 'useful present giver' or just want to send out something super-cute to a new (or not-so-new) parent in your life, these are some things that I reckon any parent would be glad to receive.

First up, my new favourite photo gifts are from Cheerz. Their bright, Insta-alike site lets you easily turn your photos into fridge magnets (my fave), old-style strips of pics (see above.  I've done one of tiny man at 1m, 2m, 3m, 4m and it's so nice to see him grow in them) or boxes of Polaroid-style snaps. They arrive really speedily in gift-friendly boxes. The magnets really jazz up the fridge and the filters mean they look cool, rather than mad-magnet-plastered-house weird. And the strips are an ideal gift for doting grandparents etc - because who wouldn't want a pic of a pouting baba in their purse?

For the 'useful present-givers' out there - generous friends or grandparents who want the parents baby (who are we kidding) to come and visit them, maybe, this Baby Bjorn travel cot *rocks*. In fact, our well-travelled tiny man has slept in loads of these already, and this one comes out top every time. 
Why? It's light - 6kg, which is a lot less arm-straining than any of the other major brands - and, unlike most of the mesh/plastic monstrosities, it looks good enough that I'm planning on using our turquoise in the lounge as an occasional play pen. But best of all is that once you've got the travel cot out of the bag, it almost erects itself - no separate appendages or other parts to attach, the legs pop up automatically, the mattress plops on top and you're ready to go. Which is ideal when you arrive at non-baby-set-up farmhouse hotel at 6pm with a tired baba who really needs their bed ready, now. 

The mattress is also thicker than the usual paper-thin travel cots, (developed with paediatricians which reassured me as travel cots can feel flimsy) and it's easy to wash as the casing just zips off ready for the washing machine. Only downsides are, it's fairly low so bad back-sufferers won't like it, and you do have to buy Baby Bjorn sheets because it's a different size to standard. You do pay a bit more - it's £170 - but it lasts up til around age 3 and it's got the to stage where I'd pay more than that for a good night's sleep!

This cute babygrow (£32) has tiny teddy bears printed all over it, has a matching beany hat and blanket and is seriously soft. Ideal present for prospective parents because it's gender-neutral - and has easy poppers, which, on one hour's sleep and the 9878934th nappy change of the day, can really make a difference... It's from Fine Young Things - a site we love where you'll find loads of other gift ideas: its set up by a group of European parents who pick the best (cutest, long-wearing, and different) products from across the world and pop them all on one website - this set is by Sticky-Fudge, a South African brand which majors in unusual prints. You'll struggle to restrict yourself to just one thing on this site...

Aaaand, at the other end of the market, since tiny people grow out of their clothes twister-fast, the benefits of cheap-o supermarket baby clothes can't be underestimated. Only problem is, much of the Tesc-bury-sda range is cartoon-splattered bore-ville. Which is why I love Morrison's Nutmeg range. Their babygrows are soft, come out the wash as good as they went in, and have really cute designs, but now I'm hoarding their clothes too. We love this amazing cosy and soft Fair Isle hoodie (looks designer-good: costs £10..) and the penguin top and tracky bums (£3 and £4 respectively.. omg). are so comfy for winter days. I happily travel to Morrisons in Camden for their big range of Nutmeg gear. 


Wednesday 2 December 2015

Six people every parent hates

1) The nap-waker

The postmen. The couriers. The Jehovah's Witnesses. The double-glazing contractors. We spent 53 minutes getting our baby to sleep, and your finger resting far too long on the doorbell took two seconds to ruin all of the hard work. Now you've cut into our working/cooking/Facebooking time and left us with a super-grouch for a baby. THANKS.

2) The 'what, you can't do casual anymore?' friend

You spent the morning getting your baby/ies ready and fed and hiding all the clutter under the sofa whilst simultaneously making a Sunday lunch WITH MORE THAN ONE COURSE for non-parent friends. They asked what time was best; you said 12.30; you're feeling smug at your ability to Do It All... until the friends don't turn up... until 1.30pm with a shrugged excuse - "sorry, you know what Sunday mornings are like...". That's about as palatable as inhaling baby sick... because it means your tidied-home is already a tip and you have to get the small one(s) to sleep in the next 10 minutes and lunch burns, and the friends go home bitching about you being in a massive mood.
3) The 'aren't you just making a fuss?' friend

You're on a rare night out with non-parenting friends and mention you're really knackered. They point out they just worked a 12-hour shift at the office and you 'padded around at home all day'. You politely respond that your day started with a screaming baby at 3am, 4am, and 6am and that you've been feeding/bum-wiping/chasing said baby all day and now you've been away for 19 hours and you're pretty likely to face the same schedule tomorrow, because you have done for the past eight months. But their face points out 'you did this to yourself' and you resolve not to go out, ever again.

4) The inventor of Google

Your baby had a tiny red mark. BUT NOW YOU'VE GOOGLED AND IS IT EBOLA YOU'RE TERRIFIED. During the hour your baby slept last night, you lay awake, listening to them breathing on the monitoring, worrying about what Google said. (In the morning, all was fine. Phew.)

5)  The critical stranger

You're on the bus/at a cafe and your baby Won't. Stop. Making. Loud. Noises. It's not crying-noise. It's squawking. They're not hungry. They're not tired. There's nothing you can do. But the lady in the next seat knows otherwise. Of course she does, she's observed your baby for 3 whole minutes. She taps you on the shoulder. "Excuse me, but don't you think you should give your baby something to eat? She's making some noise, you know." You hate the critical stranger so, so much.

6) The smug social media mum

She had a blowdry and mani-pedi whilst she was in labour (to ensure the after-photos were perfect; her baby shower was straight out of a magazine - in fact, Hello! ran a spread on it because her fourth-cousin, who once dated Prince Harry, turned up with cupcakes. Her cream-and-pale-grey nursery has pale cashmere throws for the perfect K Middy-style baby photo background... and there don't appear to be any pale yellow *or* Calpol-coloured sick-stains. What? You hate her. You'd like to say you have no Facebook post to show, because you silenced her on newsfeed. Obvs.


Sunday 29 November 2015

Five best presents for the parent (and baby) with everything

They've got every Lamaze toy going and already own enough cuddly toys to fill the downstairs of their parents' house. What that baby would really like (probably) is a cardboard box, (plus world peace, and a charitable donation in their name - and there are lots of amazing goodwill gifts to do just that here.) 

But if you're *still* looking for that special present idea, for Christmas, Chanukah, a birthday or indeed birth, here are five of my favourites:

* Book of Everyone. This is one to buy now before it becomes ubiquitous (like Not on the High Street presents, which used to be brilliant, but are now the same things everyone gets everyone every year). You enter your recipient's name, gender and date of birth on the Book Of Everyone website, pick cover colours and then scan through the book, adding personal info - like quotes, photos, favourite sayings, etc) whenever you spot a pencil symbol. It then fills in the rest of the pages with things like the toys, hits and headlines of the year of the recipient's birth, a receipt of prices of stamps, cinema tickets, etc, star sign info, and more. Unlike big projects like scrapbook-making, photo-book-making, etc, this one really can only take 10 minutes but looks like you spent aaaaaaaaaaages compiling it. Then you get a cool book swiftly delivered to your home. Which is why you need to buy this now (it's £7 for a digital up to £49 for a posh hardback), before anyone else does.* 

* A photobook from Blurb. I used to get depressed at the thought of 100s of unlooked-at photos festering in my computer. Then I'd get stressed at the thought of having to make a zillion photo books about each holiday / milestone / party/ etc to show them off. Then a few years ago I decided to make a 'book of the year' each year. I tried a bunch of different websites, but Blurb's is the best - easy software, excellent printing quality, and very often discount codes for as much as 40% off. This year, thanks to tiny man and my photographic obsession, I have 2900 photos to whittle down.. Here goes... *

* Last year my mum and I proudly thrust very similar-looking wrapped boxes at each other for our festive gifts. Turned out, we'd bought the same things - Plant-a-box personalised crates with names and anniversaries emblazoned on the side. I love these:

Or you can also opt for toy box ones for indoors - they're all robust, attractive and thoughtful.

* You know in the old days when your parents lovingly noted your height on a wall and it became a family tradition and you looked at it every time you went back home from uni... etc? Nowadays when we're all renting/trying to upgrade flats to small homes and dreaming of a 'forever house' one day, that permanent bit of wall for measurements is less likely. That's where Talltape comes into play - it's a roll-up-able measuring tape with nice graphics that's a great alternative to recording measurements on a wall or door, it won't get left behind or painted over – it just stays with you.*
* Anything from My1stYears. Sure, the kid might already have a toy box / Uggs / rocking horse - but ONE WITH THEIR NAME ON? That changes everything, if you're 1 or 41. Although there's definitely more of a focus on the younger side of the age range. 
* We were sent a trial to test these gifts out, but rest assured we only talk about things we love.. ropey gifts don't get raved about here.

Friday 27 November 2015

The best places in London to visit on maternity leave

When I imagined maternity leave, I thought I'd be hopping all over London to visit the museums, galleries, and restaurants that I'd always wanted to go to but never had the time whilst working full-time. 

The reality is a bit different. I'm not one of those who reckon it's impossible to leave the house with a baby - nappy, boobs/pot of mush, blanket for wriggle time and toy and we're off - but most days intersperse exciting trips to Tesco/library/baby class/Brent Cross with playing together at home. Still, about once a week we like to brave the Tube (tips here) and venture to town to explore something new that I enjoy. Tiny man seems to enjoy staring at everything too and sleeps well on those evenings.

Here, with the help of the mums of Facebook, are the best baby-friendly, rather than baby-focused, places to visit in London:


Geffrye Museum - I went to this Hoxton museum of houses yesterday. It's all on one level, so buggy-friendly (though I usually take a sling too so the baba can see more) and really interesting insight into how we've been living over the past centuries. Nice cafe too, and lots of hipster ville to visit nearby (as in the pic above).

Museum of Childhood - very baby friendly with a nice sensory area and cafe. 

Science Museum. Says one mum: "My friend took hers yesterday as they have a big baby sensory area apparently. I find it's the getting there is a pain with a buggy and the underground! Once I'm there it's fine!"


Royal Academy, Hayward Gallery and Tate Modern - have wide, buggy-friendly spaces and lots of things for babies to stare at. Cafe of the Tate Modern is well-rated by mums too, despite "exceptionally high change mat!"


Baby Cinema - I'm obsessed with this, it's so fun to watch the latest films whilst having a baby sleepy-cuddle on you (when tiny) or play on your lap when bigger. It's definitely easiest when they're small... I love the Phoenix (£7) in east Finchley, and the Everyman chain's dotted around London (£13 but that does include tasty cake and drink delivered TO YOUR SEAT by waiters). Great parent and baby cinema screenings at the Barbican too. Useful weekly listings here: Babes About Town.

Boat trip: take the Thames Clipper to Greenwich and it's really easy to wheel a buggy on and off. Plenty of places to park them next to a seat too.

City Farms are good - Kentish Town, Spitalfields and Hackney, and they're free. 

Now - Winter Wonderland has lots of baby-friendly lights to look at and if you go now during the day it's practically empty.


Southbank - the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre and actually all of the South Bank (albeit better in summer) has plenty to see, do, and space to wander.


Brent Cross is fab - see my post here. And another mum adds: "Please don't laugh ... I went on several trips to IKEA with my first. At the time I was on mat leave, the baby food there was free and they also have excellent feeding with an endless supply of high chairs, excellent changing facilities and cheap food for adults too. Plus lots for baby to look at as I pushed him around the shop... Not particularly cultural except if you think about the Swedish food aspect :)" 


Central London hotels are great  - they are mostly very friendly about babies and there is loads for them to look at so you can just go and have a cuppa and let the babies do their thing. One mum recommends "Bhatt Bloomsbury Hotel off Tottenham Court Road. their lobby is nice and spacious - they have a tea room and fresh juice bar for afternoon tea within the lobby the itself - big art books with pictures for babies to look at and wide corridors for babies on move." Another mum adds: "Mine also loved Selfridges with all the lights and music. Girl after my own heart!"

Sky Garden in the City - it's free and has lovely views (just have to book a time slot in advance). Great cafe and tons of space for rattling around. "They say they don't allow buggies but they totally totally do and staff were v welcoming indeed to a big bunch of us with little ones. Afternoon or morning probs better than lunchtime."

What are your favourite baby-friendly places to visit in London? Please comment below and let us know. Thanks!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Revealed: the seven types of baby group

A caveat: we all love a good baby class. 

It provides structure to a day that might otherwise involve singing Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star 84 times before 10am. 

It provides the opportunity to meet other local parents who you might even like (if they're not cliquey/an entire NCT class who 'booked together!'/weird/Mums of Several Children, whose only spare hour of the week is spent at this class.) And the teachers are often passionate and dedicated, and parents themselves.

But after trying some classes out, you might start to notice some similarities. And start to wonder if your baby might instead prefer to spend his or her class budget on, well, some new clothes for you.. or a Frappe. Because a happy mum is happy baby, right? 

Here are the some of most popular baby classes (or variations of...), explained:

Baby Massage: sing Twinkle Twinkle whilst massaging your baby's tootsies with such love and skill that you would pay someone £90/hour to do the same on your tired body. You note, however, that your baby is more interested in eating the towel belonging to the masseuse-mum next to you. (£84/hour, plus oil bill.)

Baby Sensical: sing Twinkle Twinkle to a new tune, which incessantly sticks in your head All. Day. Long ... but which, for some reason (amazing lawyers?), is untrack-down-able on YouTube. Simultaneously drape material over your baby whilst singing said Twinkle re-mix. (£73/hour, or sign up for life for reduced hourly fee of £69).

Small Swimmers: sing Twinkle Twinkle whilst bouncing your baby around a swimming pool that's hotter than your average summer holiday. (£100/hour, plus your own waxing bill.)

Marmoset Music: sing Twinkle Twinkle whilst shaking small plastic maracas at your baby (£30/hour plus joining fee.)

Rhyme Time: sing Twinkle Twinkle with actions, in the library. Free (but no one counts this in your 'baby class schedule - be warned.)

Baby Yoga: sing Twinkle Twinkle to your baby whilst they balance on your shins, above your head, either sicking on your head or drooling on you. (£59/hour, plus obligatory mat purchase.)

Baby Sign Time: sing Twinkle Twinkle with your hands, whilst being promised that this will help your baby to tell you when they are hungry/tired/just pooped. Try it at home later, realise this is madness. (£73/hour, plus your sanity.)


Monday 23 November 2015

They won't change your life but they will make you smile

It's hard to justify splurging on baby clothes. They're going to get worn for about two days before they're too small or food-splattered to wear again - making their cost-per-wear less justifiable than a Mulberry handbag, basically. 

But here's a good solution: From Babies with Love is a baby brand that donates 100% of its profits to orphaned and abandon children living in SOS Children villages in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Their organic yarn clothes are also super-cute, come in a lovely reusable bag, and aren't crazily priced (about £20 for a sleepsuit). Their new own-label range includes sleepsuits, t-shirts, hats and blankets in styles - The Rabbit, The Duck, The Frog and The Monkey. We're loving the duck sleepsuit - and you can buy them here.

I am not a tech geek. I am not a tech geek. I am not a tech geek... is what I'm having to repeat to myself as I go gaga over a random new phone gadget. It's the Tactus Smootch – an absurdly-named protective iPhone case that turns your phone into a magic sticking marvel. 

Thanks to "micro-suction technology", apparently, you can slap your phone into any smooth surface like glass or mirrors, it hangs there like it's been superglued - then easily comes off (with no residue and no reduction in future stickiness) when you want it. So far I've mainly been using it in the kitchen (stuck on the wall it can't get splattered when I'm using my phone for a recipe) and for Skype chats - it makes selfies really easy without requiring the gimpiest thing in the world, the selfie stick.  And it's only £14.99 from Argos. The ideal present for any narcissist, like a teenager, or, er, blogger.


On the one hand, this Mamas & Papas Timbuktales knitted blanket is just a blanket. On the other, wrapping my tiny man up in it when he's snug asleep to take him from the car to house, or house to buggy is making this oh-so-chilly weather more colourful and cosy than it otherwise would be. It's unisex whilst still being colourful, and currently 20% off so under £24. A really practical-but-beautiful baby shower or Christmas present for some parents-to-be, I reckon.

* Items provided to Run Out of Womb for review... But rest assured, I'm seriously gobby and just don't write about things that don't pass the muster.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

A parent asks a question online...

And hell breaks loose. You go to a site like Face-witter-gram and ask a quick Q, hoping for a simple response, and you do get a response. A lot of response. And it's great but also a bit overwhelming and this is what happens.

1) Someone asks what sounds like a simple question.

 2) A gazillion different people start to give ten gazillion different opinions..

3. Someone calls everyone else idiots, and suggests something preposterous.
4) Someone wants to tell the world about their own (irrelevant) decision.
5) Someone condemns consumerist Western parenting ... 
6) Someone can't *believe* how little research everyone else does...
7) Someone hijacks the post with a weird anecdote
8) Someone is OUTRAGED.
9) Someone spots a business opportunity...
10) And the original poster is left totally confused.


Monday 16 November 2015

Spreading food around your baby's face (or, 'weaning')

Weaning! "It's so exciting," said everyone, "watching your newborn's elation at tasting new foods! Are you going baby-led or purees? Ella's or Organix? Sterilising or just triple-dishwashering-at-60-degrees? Following the gospel according to Annabel or .. Someone Else?"

Tiny man and I are now almost a month into weaning (aka learning to eat). There are definitely lots of fun moments  - like watching his face contort into joy, disgust or confusion every time something new approaches his lips. But creating a zillion different concoctions, then watching, helping and encouragingly-grinning as tiny man grabs the spoon and turns said concoctions into expensive face packs, spread in 29 different places around his mouth, then clearing up afterwards - three times a day - does occasionally get a bit tedious. 

So, screw the 'feeding philosophies': these are the eight gadgets and gear that I recommend everyone includes in their weaning armoury. (They are in a random order because ... I haven't slept enough for logic to come into my brain.)

2. Philips Avent Combined Steamer and Blender. This. Is. Amazing. At first, living in a small London flat, I didn't want to buy any more equipment for a packed kitchen. But after a whole Sunday of spending hours putting chopped veg on top of a sieve then mushing with a blender.. I thought life's too short. This machine makes it so much easier: you put whatever veg/fish/fruit/meat/etc you need in the top, pour in water, let it steam for 10 or so minutes, tip the jug upside down then press blend... and you've got easy, healthy, homemade baby food. 

There are three speeds, so you can make perfectly smooth puree or have more lumps and bits for older babies. Frankly I've started using it for our meals too, because in this one jug you can make soup, houmous, risotto.. with only one pot to wash up: this is the knackered parents' weaning dream machine.

1 and 8. I love Munchkin's baby 'crockery' - it's bright, easy to clean and really practical. These bowls are particularly great: they have a suction ring underneath so when tiny but seriously strong baby fists try to flip the food bowl out of the way, they... can't. Ha! Foiled you! The spoons are soft and chewable for little mouths too.

3. Oh. The. Mess. Pureed food gets everywhere. I found a bit of sweet potato behind my ear earlier - and tiny man ate that for yesterday's lunch. This £10 JoJo bib is really good for covering tiny man all over, and it's wipe-clean so easy to wash too. Worth the extra money.

4. I've got a stack of weaning books and find them really useful for advice on what to feed when - especially River Cottage's because it has really beautiful pictures too and recipes that you can use for your meals too. But I also love Annabel Karmel's app for its practical lists: you click on the meals you want to make, and it'll add the ingredients to your shopping list as well as making a meal planner. 

5. Ella's Kitchen pouches. Sure, we're all making uber-nutritious delicious impeccable Michelin-starred-style purees almost all of the time. But sometimes, you're too tired to even defrost something from the freezer. Step forward these easily-spoonable purees in a zillion different varieties that, according to my tiny man's licked lips, taste pretty great too. Perfect for the nappy bag too as they don't need to be kept in the fridge, and whilst out-and-about as you don't need a bowl - just squeeze a bit onto a spoon.

6. and 7. If you don't want to spend your one spare daily second meal-making, big batches is the way to go. These Jojo pots (6) can be filled up, frozen, then grabbed whenever you need them - particularly useful when going out. They come with labels, or you can do what I do: forget to label them and take out what you think is a healthy tub of butternut squash that turns out to be a big pot of Ella's mango, which pleases your baby very much indeed. A cheaper option - I do both as the lidded pots are useful for travel but my freezer's capacity is less than that of my pregnancy bras - is to fill up flexible ice trays in freezer bags, then pop out the cubes into bags as soon as they're solid. 

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Think you're ready to be a parent?

Not 'til you can do all of these, you're not... 

Task 1. 10am: Put a just-fed, super-sleepy octopus in a crib. Attempt to get all eight limbs into the small eight holes of an octopus sleeping bag, without it waking up. When you fail, still try to get the eight flailing limbs into the sleeping bag, whilst it screams, because it's a new species of screaming octopus. Focus a CCTV camera on your writhing, screaming octopus, then leave the room, whilst tripping over Lego-shaped needles but holding in your swearing. Spend a painful hour watching CCTV of your much-loved octopus screaming. Then go and pick it up, and spend the rest of the day with your tired, grumpy octopus that refuses to sleep. 

Task 2. 11am: Pick up 10kg of flour from the supermarket. Don't put it down for 12 hours. Whilst carrying it, continue normal tasks, including paying for the rest of your shopping, smiling tightly when strangers poke your flour and ask its gender, travelling home, and unpacking your shopping. At two-hourly-intervals during your day, stick a pencil into the flour so it leaks out everywhere, then wash the ensuing floor mess and your clothes, re-package the flour, and carry on with the rest of your day, whilst never putting down the flour.

Task 3. 12pm: Wearing your best top, pour some water over both boob regions and go out for the afternoon. Every hour, add a splat of smelly thick white liquid to your top (a different area each time), and ask someone to yank on it to create saggy parts. Every meal time, ask your dining companion to throw colourful food at you, ideally staining foods like beetroot. Tomorrow morning, you should gaze at your ruined top and pull it on again, because it's the cleanest thing in your wardrobe.

Task 4. 1pm. Download an app that blares out hissing sounds and place it next to a dozing time bomb. Try to shower, dry your hair, go to the loo, cook a meal, clear up your house, get ready to go out and catch up on emails in the 23 seconds the time bomb stays silent. Fail, and try to do the rest of the tasks whilst holding the timebomb to your nipple.

Task 5. 2pm. Walk to your nearest Tube station whilst pushing two heavy suitcases full of necessities for the day, with your screaming octopus (from earlier) strapped to your front in a Baby Bjorn. Ideally do so on a rainy day, wearing an enormous raincoat that covers you and the carrier, but which makes the octopus ANGRY. Get to the station, stare forlornly at the 73 stairs to the platform, and start beaming hopefully at passing commuters. After they all rush past you, pick on one and ask for help. During your journey, add 10kg weights to the Baby Bjorn every 10 minutes.

Task 6. 7pm. Put an alarm clock in a crib. Pat its snooze button for two hours from 7pm so it stays hush. Enjoy an hour's peace from 9pm til 10pm, when you should settle into your cosy duvet. Now have it go off every hour, when you'll need to hold on to it for 15 minutes, pat its snooze button again for 15 minutes, and then enjoy 30 minutes 'rest' (you'll lie awake listening to its ticking) before it goes off again. Have your alarm clock finally settle down at 6.30, half an hour before your iPhone alarm will go off waking you for the day.

Task 7. Next day: Tell a friend about your day struggling with a wriggling, screaming octopus, crazy sleep-depriving alarm clock, tempestuous time bomb, heavy lugging-about flour, ruined clothing and travel desperation. When they ask whether you ever regret putting yourself through such trials, look at them as if they're crazy. Because you love your wriggling, screaming, sleep-depriving, heavy octopus/baby more than anything in the world and already have nightmares about his/her wanting to leave home one day. Now you're ready to be a parent...
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