Here’s a quick list of some family events happening in and around Edinburgh at Christmas, these are all things that I’ve been recommended recently by pals, however, I obviously haven’t had the chance to try them all out – so please use your discretion!
Christmas Fairy Trail @ Archerfield Walled Garden, ran by Rogue Village – we were really fortunate to be invited along to this and it was stunning! We would definitely pay to go again. Beautiful immersive experience for adults and kids alike (*gifted experience)
Project Elf @ Fort Kinnaird – elves are roaming Fort Kinnaird during the weekends of December, why not stop by and get an ‘Elfie Selfie’? They are also encouraging shoppers to give back to those in need and have partnered with Forth 1 Mission Christmas Appeal. There are a number of donation points around the centre where visitors can leave a small gift for charity! We’re nipping over the weekend before Christmas to make a donation.
Festive Forest @ Beecraigs – billed as being a ‘mesmerising secret forest’ light show with a Santa’s Grotto amongst other things, we have booked (and paid) to go to this and I really hope it’s as good as it looks!
Breakfast with Santa @ Conifox – on from 21st-24th December. I’ve not been, but I’ve heard that their Superhero Breakfasts are good, so I think this would be too!
Christmas at the Botanics @ Edinburgh Botanic Gardens – this is the events third year and it’s running till 29th December. This has been highly recommended by quite a few pals… maybe I’ll finally make it next year!
Giant Lanterns @ Edinburgh Zoo – This year the theme is Lost World. We went two years ago with Oscar who was 2 and a half and it was our last day out as a family (on Hogmanay!) before Scout arrived a week and a half later. We really enjoyed it, and I remember Oscar loved it – I’d defo go back.
Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets @ Edinburgh City Centre – Food, drink, rides for all ages and a Santa’s Grotto! Great for a day out with or without kids, a bit pricey, but markets always are, aren’t they?! Remember, you get 10% off ride tickets with an EH postcode (we weren’t asked for proof).
Sleighbell Sundays @ Brewhemia – for Sundays in December, Brewhemia in town are putting on a christmas experience for the whole family where you can meet Santa and Mrs Claus, hang out in their Grotto and even watch a festive film all alongside a Sunday Roast dinner… sounds pretty decent!
Spectacle of Light @ Dalkeith Country Park – on from 7th December till the 5th January where you can experience Fort Douglas by night and see the magical Sky Maze all lit up! I very nearly booked this… However, we used to live close to DCP and spent a lot of time there, so went with Beecraigs for a change. I’ve seen a few people go to this though, and it looks great, especially for slightly older kids (and by that, I mean 4+… I always find Scout is a bit too young to enjoy Fort Douglas to it’s full potential!)
Christmas Adventures @ Callendar House, Falkirk – Now, this is supposed to be a VERY good Santa… I’ve booked and paid for tickets to this so I hope it lives up to the hype. Fairly reasonable at £7.50pp – I hope the gift for the kids is good, I’ll report back!
Porter & Bramble Bauble Workshop @ Skapa Studio, Falkirk – Go along and create a custome bauble with your little one! I fear these may now be done for the year and I’m gutted I never made it to one as I know Oscar would have LOVED it! Keep your eyes peeled for next year! On a side note: they do loads of cool workshops all year round!
If you were looking to go along to something, I hope this is helpful, and if you have any suggestions or recommendations, please let me know!
BUT – Most importantly, these are just ideas. Events like these are aplenty, but remember, they are not essential. They don’t come cheap and no one can do everything, and no one should feel guilty if they don’t have the time, money or inclination. Instead, for FREE, why not try –
Walking around the town or your neighbourhood and looking at Christmas lights!
Try making some homemade christmas paper using some kraft paper (I got mine in Wilko for £1) and stamps and/or paint… or ya know, glitter again, if you’re brave.
Toasting some marshmallows at home and having a movie night – current fave in our house is Arthur Christmas (it’s on Netflix just now)
Make some Christmas cookies, or maybe even a gingerbread house – this is something we’ve never got round to… maybe this year?!
Or, why not try putting together a food parcel for the local food bank. Oscar’s old childminder did this a few years ago and he had to take an item every day that he was with her and then just before Christmas all the kids took it down to the collection centre and handed it in. Or maybe donate a few small gifts, picked by the kids to the collection points at Fort Kinnaird mentioned above!
Whatever you get up to this Christmas, have a good one and spend it with the people that matter most!
Kept this short and sweet, hope it’s not too obvious that I threw it together while Scout had been napping today – OVER & OUT!
I was recently asked by Edinburgh Baby Company if I’d like to borrow a Babzyzen YOYO+ for a week to try out and review as part of a wee collaboration, and well, I jumped at the chance, as it’s a buggy I’ve been looking at on and off for a while, and had heard great things about, and I was also already a fan of the shop! On a few of Oscar’s hospital admissions, I’d ended up in their Marchmont store a few times while floating about like a bit of a zombie potato (kids wards are LOUD… all night long), while out getting some fresh air and a quick lunch.
So first off, Edinburgh Baby Company are fab! Single-handedly ran by mum of three Sara for local families and she sells everything from pregnancy, to baby and beyond. The selection of ethical clothing is wonderful, variety of wooden toys incredible and if you’re thinking of making a switch to cloth nappies, look no further… not to mention Sara has great knowledge if you’re in need of some advice on where to start on these, she’s your woman.
So, before I go any further, for transparency sake: I was given a loan of this buggy for a week in exchange for an honest review. Views are of my own and I was not paid!
The Babyzen YOYO+
So what is it? And why’s it supposed to be so special?
So, I thought the YOYO was just a buggy, but upon picking it up, I realised it’s quite a bit more – from a parent-facing newborn cocoon right up to a toddler/child buggy that can be popped up with one hand and folded down small enough to pop in the overhead locker on a plane – the YOYO+ is a pretty cool piece of kit.
The Main Selling Points (as told by Babyzen)
Reclinable and can lie flat (great for napping!)
Featherweight: 6.2 Kgs, with a shoulder strap for carrying
Newborn pack from birth to 9kg – a supersoft sherpa lined cocoon
Parent facing or forward facing
Fabrics are machine washable, cause ya know, kids are minging
Improved 4 wheel suspension
Car Seat Compatibility – Popular car seats can be popped on the chassis
UPF 50+ sun protection canopy which is great for holidays
Fits in the smallest spaces (more on this later) and in the overhead compartment of an airplane
Exclusive soft-drive system: no need to lock the front swivel wheel, even on rough terrain
The Pros… As Told By Me!
So let me say first off, I was impressed from the start, I’d never seen a YOYO+ in real life and honestly, it looks great. It looks sleek, premium and pretty nifty. I was also surprised to see it comes in a variety of colours. I didn’t get to choose but the trial model was a beautiful orangey-red colour, and was the one I’d have chosen. Similar to a Bugaboo (which we currently have) you can buy different colour packs to change the colour of the hood and lining as well as newborn inserts – this is always good if you’re looking to refresh a pram system to use with a subsequent child, or just fancy a change!
With both of our children we’ve bought a pram/travel system to use from birth (with Oscar we had an iCandy Peach3, and with Scout I decided to get a Bugaboo Cameleon3) and then, once they have reached a certain age and we needed something more convenient for popping into the shops or going on holiday, we’ve used a cheaper foldable buggy (in our case, we bought a Mamas + Papas Armadillo)… But here’s the deal, buggy’s are rubbish! They steer like a triple decker bus, can feel rattly, wheels get stuck in cobbles (hello, Edinburgh), never as easy to put up and down as they say, and they can still be bulky when folded… so to be honest, I’ve always hated ours!
This was where I was going wrong though, as I said before, I thought the YOYO+ was “just another buggy”, but in reality, it’s so much more. The YOYO+ can contend with the more traditional prams and travel systems, similar to the Bugaboo Bee I’d say, as a city pram. It would do away with the need to buy an additional buggy/stroller further down the line, making it a truly versatile and a good investment.
Babyzen do all the “extras” you’d want in a travel system, from their newborn pack with a flat nest for infants, a 5-point harness, a 2-position pop-up canopy, a foot cover and a headrest (oh, and it folds flat with this on too – no need to remove first), to YOYO buggy board with seat, to parasols and the new parent essential – cup holder!
On a side note, I also loved that it has a wee zip pouch in the hood for putting your purse and phone if you’re just nipping into the shop. As well as a handy little window on the hood to check if they’re sleeping (spoiler alert: mine never was!)
The YOYO gives a good, comfortable, upright seated position but can be adjusted easily using a toggle on the back of the seat unit to recline… Unfortunately for us, Scout never decided to nap while we were out (standard) but the seat does lie flat which is a selling point for us, because it’s great on holiday for being able to get them to sleep in the evenings and comfortable enough to stay asleep so you can enjoy a cocktail or 5!
Plus, despite the YOYO’s compact size, the seat is a brilliant size. Oscar is 4 and easily fits. A 4 year old might not ordinarily use a buggy, but if you’re on holiday it could still come in handy. Babyzen have thought of everything, and if you have an older child sleeping, you can even buy a leg rest that clips on the front to extend the seat for sleeping.
As well as being comfortable for the wee one being pushed around like a king and/or queen, the YOYO+ is also really nice to push. It feels light and responsive which isn’t always the case for a run of the mill buggy, and a city prams go, it felt great on our little mini adventures. We put it through its paces and it really excelled – even Robin was left impressed and that’s a tough ask (he hatesour Bugaboo Cam).
Teeny Wee YOYO
So I suppose one of the main selling points of the YOYO is it’s size, and it’s impressive! Our current pram (Bugaboo Cam3) and buggy (Mamas + Papas Armadillo) both take up the floor space of the boot of our cars (see below) meaning any shopping or bags have to be placed on top, this is fine until you have any more than 3, then it becomes some sort of balancing act while hoping you can squish the parcel shelf down far enough to be able to peek out the back window… it’s far from ideal.
In comparison, the YOYO+ really is tiny. It folds so easily and can be carried with a shoulder strap before being chucked in the car. A few people have asked to see it in the car, both in the boot and in the footwell in the front (note, the passengers seat was not even all the way back), so here it is! I must admit, even I was surprised at how little room it took up.
The YOYO+ can also be stored in the overhead lockers on a plane, and a separate travel bag can be purchased if needed. I can definitely see the advantages of this having wrestled with a wild toddler while waiting to get through security and to the baggage reclaim to collect a buggy that’s been checked at the gate!
That brings me onto a feature that Sara at EBC told me about that I’d never heard of – YOYO+ twin! Turns out, you can get two YOYO’s and clip them together to make a double pram! How cool is that? Sara herself has twins as was telling me about the struggles of the double buggy and how something that could come apart in this way would have really helped her out and having the option to split them when needed or for subsequent children must be a huge plus.
Where’s The Catch?
Truthfully? I don’t think there is one. However, there are a few wee downsides that I have to mention.
This is a city pram on the whole. We live next to a country park and we did put it through its paces on some bumpier terrain, and although it fared ok, if that’s the sort of environment that you’re looking to explore daily, then the YOYO probably isn’t for you… but you probably knew that already as ultimately it’s not marketed as that and that’s ok – it can’t be everything for everyone.
We also found that the narrow wheelbase means it can feel like its tipping slightly on a tight corner, especially with Scout being partial to leaning out one side to peer behind her. However, the stroller is light enough that this is easily corrected and you never feel ‘out of control’, it’s extremely responsive on the whole.
Robin did mention that he would prefer it to have an extendable handle. He’s 6ft 1 and said it wasn’t uncomfortable, however, it would have been preferable. At 5ft 3, it’s safe to say I didn’t have any problems, but considering most newborn+ prams have this, it’s a shame it doesn’t.
The Babyzen YOYO+ is pricey –
Babyzen newborn stroller from £579 – from birth to 4+
6months+ YOYO+ from £380 – this is the one we have been trying out… Obviously we didn’t need the newborn bit!
Accessories prices are as follows and I think are inline with ‘normal’ accessory prices the likes of Bugaboo, UPPAbaby etc:
YOYO bag £84.95 – we had this, and I completely forgot to photograph it (SORRY!) but it hooks into your YOYO with a small wheeled attachment and can carry up to an additional 10kg! Great if you’re on a full day out and need a picnic or if you’re shopping.
Board £99 – buggy board with a seat, similar to the Bugaboo one
Cup holder £24.95
Footmuff £99.95 – beautiful cozy cocoon that can roll up into a small storage bag
Travel bag £59.00 – fab for holidays to keep everything protected
Leg rest £29.95 – this would also be fab for an older child on holiday
If I were buying for a new baby I’d purchase the newborn stroller, cup holder (gotta stay hydrated) and a footmuff at a cost of just over £700. This is still a whopping £500 less than I paid for my equivalent Bugaboo Cam3 and Mamas & Papas Armadillo stroller.
Now, for a buggy that you’re going to use to nip to the shops every so often with or for a holiday or two, it really might not be worth it. However, I think it would be a great alternative to a traditional travel system. When I look back on how often we used our pram in the first 6 months with both Scout and Oscar, it really wasn’t that often. In particular, with Scout, she was always worn in a wrap and could count on two hands how many times we used the carrycot of the pram. I feel like a YOYO+ would have been ideal and actually saved a lot of money. It would even have been worth it if we’d known about it when we bought our rubbish buggy for holidaying with Oscar as I could have paid for the 6month+ stroller then upgraded it with the newborn pack when we found out about Scout… hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?!
I love it. Probably more than I thought I would and I think Scout liked it… she certainly enjoyed eating snacks in it (sorry Sara, I’ll dust the crumbs off before I return it!). All in all, it has lived up to the hype!
Like I said, if you’re on your last baby (as I am) and they’re 1 year or above and you’re looking for something to scoot around town in and nip to the shops, then truthfully, this probably isn’t the buggy for you, it’s a pricey option -I’m pretty gutted that we didn’t discover it before now!
However, if you’re on your first or subsequent baby and looking for something that will see you from birth through till… well, whenever they might still need a buggy (bearing in mind this could be when they’re 4 and you’re on holiday) then this could be the one. It will save you money in the long run, and it’s a great wee piece of kit. You won’t ever have to wrestle in the pouring rain to dismantle it and fold it in the the boot in a car park while your baby screams in the car (been there), you’ll have plenty of room left for all your other baby paraphernalia and shopping and I don’t doubt you’ll enjoy scooting around with it.
In my (humble) opinion, the YOYO+ really is FUN and stands up to its rivals! Safe to say I was sad to return it to Sara today. Happy YOYOing!
Ok, so, CHRISTMAS. Sorry, I know it’s still November, but everyone’s talking about shopping aren’t they? Black Friday fever… even though no one in the UK had even heard about this American phenomenon until about 2 years ago…
I’m not the best at being organised when it comes to the festivities, I usually have the ideas but never get round to actually executing them, and as a result panic buy stuff on Amazon Prime on Christmas Eve Eve. However, I’m trying to be a better person, I’m trying to change this significant flaw in my personality and I thought putting together this little guide might help me do that, and who knows, maybe you’ll find it useful too?
I’ve compiled some ideas for babies, 3 year olds and the Mamas – cause that’s my life. I am not a fan of buying stuff for the sake of it, and I do try to buy things that are quality and have loosely based it around the idea of buying “Something they want, something they need, something they’ll wear, something they’ll read”. This year I will also try with the majority of gifts to ‘shop small’ and support independent as well as local business – this is something my Mum does very well, and always talks about saving our local shops, and she’s right – so I will try and do better. I have chucked in a few more high street bits because sometimes we need a wee bit of convenience!
To The New Mum –
Want: Family Photography
In the form of a Gillian Morton Photography voucher. What could be better than giving new Mum or parents a gift of captured memories? We did a photoshoot with Gillian when Scout was just a tiny baby and the pictures from it are so incredibly special. This is the kind of thing that new parents might find hard to justify financially, I mean, maternity pay is pretty rubbish for most and you just have other priorities. It’s something that is genuinely worth every penny and will be cherished a lifetime. Obviously, if you don’t live near Edinburgh, Gillian might not be the family photographer for you, but there are many many more.
Want: Personalised Jewellery
I was so so fortunate to win a handcrafted Mobius Infinity bracelet from Soremi Jewellery which is personalised with the initials of both our babies – it’s beautiful and I get complimented on it loads. Ghazal has so many other beautiful pieces too at various price-points to find the perfect gift.
I don’t wear a lot of jewellery, I like quite simple pieces, and for a while now I’ve been eyeing up some personalised bits from Lines and Current. My absolute favourite is the Dreamer pendant that you can get personalised with an initial and then add an additional initialed coin for second babies.
Need: Skin Care
Recently I’ve been [trying to] put aside more ‘me-time’, and a small part of that has been trying to introduce a strict skin care routine, which I’ve actually got quite into! I’ve found Nicola Dougan on Instagram to basically be a skin care Queen and have made a few purchases on her recommendation that have helped my skin. One of the biggest changes, for me, has been switching to a facial oil at night instead of a traditional moisturiser. I’ve been using Amaranthine and I’m also going to purchase it as a gift for… well, not going to tell ya who for incase they read this!
My pal, Sarah, over at Brass Buttons and Confidence has been collaborating with L’Occitane and using their Overnight Reset Serum which looks amazing too! It’s not what you’d call cheap though, so it would make a lovely, luxurious gift to someone that really rates skincare… It’s something I might treat myself to after Christmas if I have any vouchers to spend!
On the other end of the scale, you can’t beat The Ordinary for great quality, budget stocking fillers starting at a fiver – my top picks are the Hyaluronic Acid and Glycolic Acid toner – I buy the majority of mine on ASOS as I’m a Premier member so get free next day delivery. Quids in.
If you wanted to go one step further towards self-care goals – how about treating someone to a treatment? Whether that be a facial or a massage or even push the boat right out and get them a spa day! I’m pretty sure I don’t know a parent that wouldn’t LOVE a day at Stobo. It’s a real treat, and you could even offer to do the baby sitting while they go and use their voucher!? I always think experiences mean a lot more than ‘stuff’ (Amma right Kelly @Organised_motherhood_?!)
Wear: Mama Merch
Every new Mama needs at least some kind of merch, and my go-to is usually Mutha.Hood. She’s got your needs covered from amazing Strong Girls Club jumpers (that now come in new colours) to a little branded popsocket to stop you dropping your phone on your babies face #essential.
Pj’s. Because maternity leave jammies are an essential. For those chilled days lounging, snuggling up sniffing your new baby while you binge watch boxsets on Netflix. Well, for those kinda perfect days, I’ve found kinda perfect jim jams and here they are – Sleepy Doe, and you can get them from Bunny.Hop! You’re WELCOME.
However, if you’re on a tighter budget, and yeah it’s not quite ‘shopping small’, but ASOS have some ace pyjamas in just now! Including these polka dot beauties below that look mega comfy. They all come in around the £30 mark and they also do them in petite and plus size.
Read: Book Club
If you’re looking for a stocking filler, a book is always a good place to start, however, a new parent might not have the time to read War and Peace, so how about The Little Book of Self Care for New Mums instead? A gentle reminder to be kind to themselves!
Ok, so babies don’t really want for anything do they? But it might be nice to gift them something that they can grow into… not necessarily clothes though. How about a nice wooden toy instead? There are so many lovely independent shops selling beautifully crafted toys for babies including these lovely Plan toys from Bunnyhop, who is based in Edinburgh.
I did also write a blog a wee while ago with a bit of a newborn essential list which could come in handy – check it out here!
Need: Nursery Decor
Instead of gifting a baby something for them to use, whether it be clothes or toys, why not think a little outside of the box and go for some kind of nursery decor? Admittedly this can be hard if you haven’t seen the room or if you’re unsure on taste, but there are so many cute little pieces out there that I’m sure most people would love. Mama.Tot, another Edinburgh based shop, has the best collection of interiors including the Liewood Mobile pictured below (pom poms are life) as well as beautiful blankets and cushions.
On the subject of textiles – bedding! Nice baby bedding is so so hard to come by, or at least that’s what I’ve found. Truth is though, a babies cot doesn’t need much, in fact, the safest thing is to have nothing but a cot sheet. Luckily, That Darling Brand makes the most beautiful ones in a variety of floral and unisex fabrics, ranging in size from Moses basket up to cot bed. We have ‘pickle’ (pictured below) and it’s such a great way to liven up the room with a bit of colour! They also come beautifully packaged and boxed which makes for a perfect gift.
Or, what about a nice personalised print? I love to mix a variety of styles and colours in any room with prints, using different style frames and hanging them on the wall as well as in picture shelves. My absolute favourite at the moment is anything from Eleanor Bowmer – her stuff is all the heart eyes, especially this one featured below which can be personalised and is pretty much nursery perfection. She also has some other great unisex designs including her unique leopards, mono space design and bestselling rainbow!
If personalised is what you’re after, I’d also highly recommend Three Penny! Making beautiful name prints in A4 and A3. The story behind the business is a really lovely one too. Oh, and there’s also an amazing limited edition release of Wonder Women flash cards – I’ve got them for Scout and can confirm that they are SO COOL! 😍
Well, these are definitely a need. A 10 times a day need. How about gifting some reusable cloth nappies? These can seem a bit of an investment for parents, so why not give a practical helping hand and kick start their collection… or, add to their existing collection all the while helping the environment. We’ve been using Bambino Mio Miosolo nappies for a while now and love them – they come in great patterns, and they sell other accessories too including muslin cloths and swaddles!
PS. I have it on good authority that they’ll be giving 25% off for Black Friday. I don’t usually subscribe to Black Friday deals because I worry they’re a bit of a con and just railroad you into buying stuff you don’t actually need – but on this occasion I make an exception, because it’s a genuinely great deal if you’re looking to gift any of the items or purchase for yourself!
Wear: Organic Zoo+ Upcycling
I could list a hundred beautiful clothing brands that sell the dreamiest newborn clothes, but I’d be here all day. So instead I’m going to focus on two of my favourites – the shop Organic Zoo and the wonderful Maker Sophie & Co.
I’ve been a fan of Organic Zoo since Oscar was born, and now, Scout has quite a few pieces form them too. For great quality, unisex pieces, ethically produced in Europe at a really affordable price – they’re a great all rounder. The salopettes below are one of my favourite products, Scout had a pair when she was brand new and they were just beautiful… they also have a matching wrap top that we have and is beautiful on!
I discovered Sophie & Co a bit later – Scout has had a few pieces and I have more waiting for her to grow into and I love them all. Her designs are unisex, really classic and super versatile. However, what I really want to talk about is Sophie’s Upcyling project. You can now send her old clothes and fabrics from your own wardrobe to be fashioned into pieces for your littles! Jeans can be come bloomers and your partners shirts can become rompers (like Scout’s below)! It’s a great way of creating a personal item and it’s also great for the environment as it’s reducing waste. It just makes it extra special! There’s loads of examples over on her Instagram!
Read: From The Cat in the Hat To Amelia Earhart
I have a love of children’s books, there’s nothing better than a beautifully illustrated board book (before it gets chewed). For babies, illustrated books can also be a lovely decorative addition to a nursery, and then as they grow, it’s so lovely to find a story that they enjoy. The following list is a mixture of books for babies and toddlers and beyond. Including a few non-fiction books that Oscar in particular loves! For ease I have linked them to Amazon, but shop around – there are so many beautiful and local independent book stores including Golden Hare Books in Stockbridge that would love the support.
So, babies don’t really want for anything but the same can’t be said for a three year old really, can it? I know I’m wanting to get Oscar something that he’ll really love and I can’t wait to see his face light up with a cool toy. But you don’t have to bankrupt yourself (and kill the environment) bulk buying plastic from Amazon. There’s some really cool gifts out there that will help you support a local indy business, and for this section, that business is Bon Tot – another amazing Edinburgh store based in Stockbridge! Aside from all their awesome clothing brands as well as amazing vintage finds, they are also selling some awesome toys and gifts this Christmas – from retro Sonny Angels to the coolest Des Enfantillages slingshots and bow & arrow – I’ve never seen anything like them anywhere else!
Something else I’ve thought about putting together for Oscar is a dressing up rail or box. This is also a great gift that family and friends can add to. Plus, if you have more than one child – they can all get involved! I technically didn’t ‘shop small’ for this and I actually picked some pieces up in the supermarket sales after Halloween. Meri Meri also do some great accessories but I would love to add some Fable Heart pieces over time. They make the dreamiest wands, crowns and capes that would be a perfect addition to any child’s dress up box and a beautiful gift, suitable for a variety of ages.
So, shoes probably aren’t the most exciting thing for a three year old, BUT, their wee feet grow so fast! I know I feel like I’m constantly buying new shoes for Oscar, so an alternative gift could be a voucher for new shoes when required. This could be for an independent local show shop, or for a bigger high street store depending on preference. It’s the practical gift that a parent might appreciate more than the child!
Need: an activity
Parents need this – time. Time to get stuff done. In my experience, the best way to buy some time is to set up some craft activities for Oscar to play with independently. A craft box is also a really cost-effective present to put together!
You don’t need to buy anything fancy and pre-packed. Instead, why not pick up an IKEA storage tub and fill it with some bits and bobs collected from pound shops and even around the house like –
a wee set of child scissors
off cuts of wrapping paper or cards
a few crayons
Or use a craft punch to create some confetti from leaflets, packaging and magazines – reuse + recycle and all that jazz!
Not only is this easy to do and great value but you can also customise it to suit the child’s interests, favourite colours and make it as big or compact as you like. It’s a really versatile gift for all ages!
Wear: Homegrown Brands + Makers
This is where it gets fun because there are so many independent brands out there making some amazing kids clothes! I’ve narrowed it down to four that I love, have bought from in the past, and will buy from again.
First up – Wex Baby – the coolest T-shirt’s and sweatshirts out there lovingly designed and printed by hand . Basically, every kid needs an item of clothing with Pepe on it (PS. They also come in matching adult sizes in some items!). Oscar has a jumper (below) and a gazillion washes later – it’s still going strong & so so soft!
Next up – some unisex personalised tees and sweats from BOB The Brand. Initialled goodies in the coolest mono animal print. I got Scout an initialled T-shirt and Oscar a birthday T-shirt and both are brilliant quality and all designed and handprinted in Manchester! They’ve recently released some new pieces too that are lovely, oh, and they also do adult sizes, so you can twin. What more could you want?!
And lastly, you might want to get some leggings to go with these t-shirts and sweatshirts and for the best prints, quality fabrics, perfect fit, beautifully handmade and great value, hands down, the best leggings I’ve ever found are from The Cotton Barn. I bought Oscar’s first pair when he was around 6 months old and have lost count of how many I’ve had since! They are perfect for boys and girls, babies through to child. My favourite print at the moment is Animal (both Oscar and Scout have leggings in it)
I could have added SO many more shops and brands to this list but I doubt you’d have made it to the end, so I’ll leave it at this. I hope it’s given you some inspiration. I know I don’t go daft at Christmas, I would rather buy small and buy smart – quality items that will last the kids and luxury items for the adults that they may not buy for themselves.
Also, just be bloody responsible, yeah? Christmas is a great time of year, but it’s definitely not worth getting into a complete faff over or worse, ending up in debt. Giving can feel great, but equally, your time is more important – spend it with your family, friends and loved ones. Take the kids to see the Christmas lights, not everything has to revolve around spending. We’ll also be donating toys to charity before Christmas, so that other little girls and boys get gifts. We will also be donating to a local food bank. Oscar’s childminder did this with all her minded kids last year and they went with her to drop it all off and I thought it was a great idea. Stuff is stuff, don’t get hung up on it. But if you can, and you want to – supporting local businesses and makers really will make their day!
I’d love to hear what your favourite shops are, I’m always on the look out!
August is fast approaching… HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? I know right? Seems like just yesterday we were snowed in! Let’s hope the great heatwave returns for the month to maximise our outdoor cider drinking and street food eating in time for the biggest event of the Edinburgh calendar – The Fringe! For us as a family, the Fringe has a special wee place in our hearts, as Oscar was born during our first festival that we lived in Edinburgh for, so now we try and take him to a few shows as a birthday day out as a little tradition. We’ll be doing that again this year with Scout in tow too.
For those of you that might not be familiar (maybe you live under a rock..?) the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world and runs alongside the Edinburgh International Festival, but don’t worry, there’s no real need to get hung up on the difference. I always thought it was just comedy, but it’s so, so much more…
Last year, for it’s 70th birthday, the Fringe featured 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows across 200 venues throughout the city – it’s kind of a big deal.
But ya know, that’s a lot of shows. This year, I picked up my Fringe guide and there are no less than 400 pages of shows – it’s a bit daunting. And so, back by popular demand (well, I did it last year, and at least 3 people told me it was helpful…) I’m doing my annual Fringe Guide – for bigs and smalls.
For The Smalls
Before I had Oscar, I had no idea how many kids shows there were at at the Fringe, but now finding the good ones is one of my favourite things to do. The atmosphere is so good throughout the city during the festival season and kids just lap it up! There is also a great kids area in Pleasance Courtyard so they can make t-shirts while you enjoy a cold cider/beer/wine/gin/whatever – that’s the dream, right?!
I’ve started my research and here’s what I’ve found so far –
Running from 29th July – 1st August, there’s a whole load of FREE events for kids taking place in the courtyard of this Edinburgh pub! Every day is jam packed with activities from arts & crafts to magicians, face painiting, and much more, as well as a different daily theme from fairy-tales to superheros, animals to Lego! Oh, and there’s even a petting zoo on Tuesday 31st July!
There is also a kids cinema event every Sunday of the Fringe at 9am in partnership with Scottish Autism! We will be heading along to the first cinema session on Sunday 29th to see Frozen, but no doubt will be hanging around for the magician and some face painting in the afternoon! Keep an eye on my Instagram Stories! 🎈
There’s loads of info on each days activity over on their Facebook Event.
I took Oscar to see his first ever Fringe show the day after his first birthday, and it was a show by Starcatchers… It was SO GOOD and Oscar was honestly enthralled by the mix of dance, theatre and live classical music. Even though I was a bit unsure as to what to expect, I thoroughly enjoyed it too and it was so lovely to see Oscar so engaged!
I am keen to go back this year with Scout and check out this new show as she loves music too.
We took Oscar to this last year and WOW it was amazing! He’d just turned two, so I’ll be honest with you, tensions were running high and we were worried about whether he’d sit through an hour long show. We needn’t have worried – he was captivated from the moment it started. The lad is the world’s leading bubbleologist afterall.
I reckon this is one we’ll go back to again this year as he’ll get even more out of it now he’s a bit older. Highly recommend you give it a shot!
This one was recommended to me – apparently it’s “funny, fast-paced and bursting with witty songs” so I’m here for it! It looks like a show Oscar would love, so hopefully I’ll get to check it out and report back!
On first look, there seems to be a lot of shows about Brexit and Trump… there’s probably a few about Russia too – it was to be expected I suppose, but of course, there will also be a multitude of hidden gems. I usually find the best way to weed them out is to wait and let other people find them then try and get them booked for later in the festival. Although, if you’re looking at booking a big name – best to do it soon. I’ve missed out a few times over the years – notably least year when we tried to get tickets for Ian Stirling, ya know, the voice of Love Island… sob.
I’ll be updating this as I go, but here’s a few I’ve picked out that I wanna see!
Jessie Cave @ The Stand
I’m a fan. I follow Jessie on Insta and have one of her doodles, so when I saw she was doing a show about motherhood, Instagram and getting through a breakup, I was intrigued! My friend Megan of It’s The Mother also mentioned that she fancied it – so maybe we can make it a date – what d’ya say?
Adam Kay: This Is Going to Hurt (Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor) @ EICC Pleasance
I saw Adam back in 2016 with his show Fingering A Minor On The Piano (yeah, I know, bear with me…) and it was my shout out show of the year… maybe even one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was lighthearted, interspersed with witty songs and audience participation, and then BANG. The show did not end the way I expected and it genuinely left me a little bit shooketh. It was hard hitting and i’ve spoken about it countless times since. So if this show is anything like it, and Adam is wonderful, so I’m sure it will be – go see it. You’ll laugh and you may cry, but you’ll be talking about it all the way home.
“Baby Daddy is a funny, rude and infectious musical account of life in your twenties with a baby in tow.” – I have a feeling this show could be one of the true hidden gems of the Fringe this year, and it’s gonna be the first ticket I buy… I’m going, even if it means I have to take Scout along for the ride (more about this later…)
Now, I saw a version of this last year at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. I think this show is slightly different to what I saw, but if it’s even half as good, you’ll be blown away!
“An immersive adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s classic, staged in a unique tunnel beneath Edinburgh’s streets. The audience are literally part of the action, including the notorious ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene”
I’d love to go see this and see what it’s like in comparison to the full length theatre version. Let me know if you’ve seen it! Would you recommend?
Until, the other month an amazing theatre producer (who is also a new mum) got in touch with me to chat about what she’s doing to make the theatre culture more accessible to parents of young children. Now, as I’ve said, there are hundreds or shows made for kids… but what about the shows made for adults? What if you’re a breastfeeding mother to a 6 month old baby and really wants to see a show?! That’s where the babes in arms policy comes in – a LOT of Fringe shows will allow a baby to come into the show free of charge as long as they’re under a certain age (often 18 months, or 2). Information on this is clearly noted on the ticket info page so watch out for it – a young baby does not mean you need to miss out on some Fringe Fun, and I’m sure their baby ears won’t be offended by anything rude, yet!
Anyway, like I said, it’s daunting sifting through 400 pages of shows, so listen out for recommendations, that’s what I’ll be doing and updating this blog as I go. If you have any, please get in touch with me, I’m always on the lookout for something to see whether it be with the family, or out with friends!
In April, when Scout was 3 months old, we were invited along to try out level one of Turtle Tots. There are classes held all over the city on every day of the week. We chose to swim on a Wednesday morning at Damhead as this is the day that Oscar’s in his childminder, so I thought it was be a nice way to start our day together!
Oscar started swimming at around the same age, so I knew it was something I was keen to start with Scout as well and I wasn’t disappointed!
But what’s the deal? What makes Turtle Tots different to just taking your baby to the pool yourself? What are he benefits?
Why should you join Turtle Tots? Well, I’m gonna tell ya!
1. Safety Skills
Swimming is an invaluable life skill for kids to learn early and at the heart of this is safety in and around water. Staying safe is at the core of everything Turtle Tots teaches both parents and littles. From stepping into the pool for the first class you learn the safe way to get yourself and baby in and out of the pool – because let’s face it, when they get wet they’re like wee slippy fish…! You learn the best way to hold them to keep them safe should you slip and by the end of the 10 weeks we had also started to teach babies how to hold on when brought towards the pool edge. Even at such a young age, I could see Scout starting to follow these cues.
The classes get babies used to being in the water, at first, close to you, and then, as they begin to gain confidence, further away from the parent, letting them explore the water more and go for swims with the instructor.
On a side note: Our teacher was Jen and she was absolutely brilliant! Funny, friendly and knew exactly what she was doing. This created such a calm and encouraging environment for us all. So important because taking a wee tiny baby into the water can be quite daunting. I was somewhat used to this given it was second time round, however, I remember being terrified with Oscar! Every new skill is reinforced and then progressed in each lesson so I always came away from a class feeling that I’d learnt something new.
As a child I was a keen swimmer and on holidays I spent 90% of my time in the swimming pool and it, and for us as a family, it was important to instil these safety skills in both of our children, not least for going on holiday. Now, we know never to let our children out of our sight around a pool on holiday, but as parents, we’re also all too aware of how quickly things can happen. In a blink of an eye, a toddler can speed off. I remember quite vividly when I was little, my dad diving into a swimming pool to rescue a young girl that had got into trouble while playing in a busy pool as she just wasn’t as confident as she could have been in the water. So knowing that from a young age Scout will be able to get to the surface and hold on confidently is invaluable.
Safety is at the heart of why Turtle Tots teach, but, the classes are also a LOT of fun!
Having dedicated one-to-one time was so important and I really looked forward to our Wednesday morning lesson. The close physical contact strengthens the bond between parent and baby and promotes their metal development.
Over the course of the chapter, you learn cues along with you baby. Through various techniques, your instructor encourages you to tune into your babies reactions and read their cues in the water. They learn to ‘hold their breath’ and by the end of the chapter, even at just 5 months I could see Scout reacting to a variety of cues that we had learnt – it really is impressive!
The techniques learned with floats and with songs are all transferable and can be recreated on holiday rather than just being stuck bobbing about the pool with a little baby – slightly unsure what to do with them (I remember this being the case the first time we took Oscar swimming before we started lessons!)
3. Keeping Active
well, we know that keeping active is important. I’d be exaggerating slightly if I told you that Turtle Tots is a work out, but, it is a great way to start getting active again after giving birth. It’s a gentle way to get back into exercise, and it does work those arm muscles a fair bit too!
Although it’s not quite a ‘work out’ when they’re just babies, I speak from experience when I say it get’s a bit more energetic the older they get which is great and a lot of fun.
In addition to the mental development swimming promoted through close contact, bonding and sensory elements, swimming is also great for your babies physical development. Being moved about the water is like having a massage for them and activities are designed to promote coordination and strengthen muscles.
What’s more, Scout always had a substantial nap after her lesson – but i don’t think this is a guarantee!
What are my Top Tips to ace Turtle Tots
Don’t be put off if baby cries, they all have off days! On our second lesson, Scout cried for most of it and it was a bit disheartening, but we still went back the following week and she was fine thereafter. Persevere – it’s all so new to them, and it can be a bit of sensory overload, so hold them close, comfort them with lots of cuddles and don’t worry. The instructor will have seen it all before, maybe even with their own kids!
Teach your partner! Or even get them to come along and watch to see what’s involved. It’s a great activity to share as a family so teach everyone what you’ve learnt – that way you can help each other out, especially if you’re on holiday! We have some great GoPro footage of Oscar swimming underwater on holiday with both of us, and it’s something I can’t wait to do with Scout too. But it’s not something either of us would have had the confidence to do without classes.
This is a practical one – wear your swimming costume under your clothes to the class. That way it’s easy to get ready quickly and jump in the pool. Turtle Tots were great and supplied changing mats and a playpen for the kids but, ya know what it’s like, they can still get a bit ratty especially when tired after a full on lesson so I always tried to wear easy clothes that I could chuck back on. No one wants to be squeezing damp legs into super skinny jeans at the side of a pool in ten million degree heat…
Lastly, just have fun and enjoy it! Don’t worry about drowning your baby, they’ll be fine… but also don’t wear mascara or that will end in disaster!
Please note: I was offered this course free of charge in return for a review – but all views expressed are my own. I will be continuing with Scout’s swimming! x
Please note: the Suzy Snooze was gifted to me by the lovely folks at BleepBleeps!
Gadgets… I love ’em.
A gadget to help your toddler sleep better and give you a lie-in? SIGN ME UP.
I hadn’t heard of the Snoozy Suzy before and I’m surprised, because she is right up our street.
The Snoozy Suzy by BleepBleeps has the functions of multiple baby products – a smart nightlight, sleep soother and monitor – all rolled into one contemporary, toddler friendly design.
The nightlight function provides a warm orange glow that helps to promote sleep while providing the option to also play soothing music to get the child ready for bedtime.
Now, I’ll admit, I’m quite strict when it comes to our bedtime routine and for Oscar. I’ve always found it to be important to keep it consistent to maximise his sleep quality, so I was a bit dubious about introducing something new at two and a half to our nightly military operation routine.
I needn’t have worried, she’s been a welcomed addition! Oscar switches Suzy on, by pushing down her hat, after bath while he gets his jammies on and she gives us more than enough soothing light to read bedtime stories. In actual fact, I’ve found the light a lot better than the IKEA lamp we used before which was SO bright! After his book(s) we push back down on Suzy’s hat to turn the music off on it and he knows it’s time for bed as the light dims and “Suzy goes to sleep”.
A Bit Of Fancy Tech
As I said, I love a bit of tech, so was a wee bit excited when I realised Suzy could be controlled by my phone via an app (Apple & Android).
This is especially handy for the lie-in function. similar to the concept of a GroClock you can set a time via the app for Suzy to “wake up” in the morning so your toddler knows when it’s ok to get out of bed.
Admittedly, we’re lucky, Oscar very rarely wakes before 8am and we usually leave him in bed until just before 9am. However, he’s still in his cot and therefore can’t escape anywhere! I think when we transition him to his “big boy bed” within the next few months, this function will come in really handy to teach him when it’s ok to get up. I think it’ll help make the transition a lot easier!
The device also acts as a monitor that you can listen to through the phone app. When Oscar was very little I wanted a video monitor to keep an eye on him, but now he’s older, I’m happy with just the audio function – but I’d say that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re buying it to use for a baby!
On a side note: we live in an old house with thick walls and the WiFi on the Suzy has worked perfectly – a big plus for us!
What’s more, it looks great, I mean really great. And the quality is brilliant. The Suzy Snooze feels weighty and well made and a bit funky. The design is suitable from baby to toddler to child as it isn’t too “kiddy” looking while still being engaging for young children.
However, I feel that there is room for improvement in one area in particular and that’s the soothing music. I just wish there were a few more options that you could maybe download onto your phone and choose from whether that be white noise or heart beats for younger babies or soothing sea noises etc for older children – I just think they’ve missed a trick! But it’s a small change and I suppose one that might come in the future, who knows!
All in all, I love it!
Granted, it has quite a high price tag at £179, but, if you haven’t purchased any other products – a fancy monitor, GroClock, Ewan the Sleep Sheep or Slumber Buddy, a nightlight etc then it is definitely good value as a multifunctional product and has great longevity as your baby grows.
And hey, if it can help to give you a lie-in at the weekend then surely it’s worth it’s weight in gold – amma right?!
I knew from day one that I was different. Within the first few hours with Scout being Earth-side a profound difference was obvious. But it took me by surprise.
When I became a Mother
The joy I felt when Oscar was born was immense but there was also a fear – this was a whole new world we were venturing into and one we knew nothing about. Ante-natal classes try and prepare you for the birth of your baby but what about beyond that?! I was completely ill equipped!
I remember the feeling that first night in hospital with a teeny tiny Oscar feeling totally out of my depth. He was the first baby I’d ever held never mind care for. After Robin left the hospital for the night it was just the two of us – I was learning how to hold him, how to feed him, change him and give comfort. It was scary!
But of course, we learnt. The next day I got home and together as a team of three we powered on – learning on the job. It was wonderful, but scary. We’d sometimes second guess ourselves. In the night when he cried and we thought we’d exhausted all resources we got anxious that something might be wrong, of course, there wasn’t anything wrong. Sometimes babies just cry.
Two and a half years later and we waited in anticipation for Scout’s arrival – we didn’t know yet who she would be, but I was nervous. How would it be second time? Would she take to feeding as Oscar did? Would I cope? Can you die from sleep deprivation?
Then along she came and I felt different – I was so completely at ease and content. She made life easy and took to feeding straight away and I didn’t worry about it the way I had with Oscar – I knew she was doing well, I knew I was enough. When Robin left us for the night I felt confident and enjoyed every minute just the two of us.
While I was pregnant, I had read a blog post by Steph_dontbuyherflowers about ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ (well worth a read for anyone expecting a baby regardless or whether it be first or 10th!). It talks about the pressure new mums put on themselves to ‘bounce back’ and basically to be superwoman on the school run 2 hours after giving birth. Back in the day women would spend well over a week in hospital recovering, and now, many people are out within a few hours putting pressure on themselves to get back to normal, despite their body just going through a monumental event – both physically and mentally (seriously, go read, because my summary can’t do it justice). Anyway, it rang true to me – Oscar was a summer baby and I had been so keen to get up and get out in the sunshine and show him off to anyone that cared, and even to those who didn’t! It was so important to me to get ready, do my hair and makeup and trundle on out with the pram – I think part of me was trying to prove to myself that I had my sh*t together and I was doing ok in my new role and not wanting to lose my sense of me.
However, second time round I’ve had nothing to prove – not to myself or anyone else. In those first few newborn weeks we (semi) pulled up the drawbridge – the fact it was January, Baltic & snowing, made this a lot easier. I’m glad that we spent our first weeks together just chilling on the sofa. We put no pressure on ourselves. We had visitors, we welcomed them in, but we didn’t bother apologising for the mess.
The shock to the system that inevitably comes with a first baby seems lesser with the second. I have felt more at ease with the relative surrender of freedom that comes with exclusive breastfeeding – something I struggled with first time even though I knew it was something I wanted to do, something that was important to me and something that ultimately I loved doing.
We have fed, cuddled and napped our way through our first two months as a family of four – sometimes not even changing out of our PJ’s.
Has this made me a better mother this time round?
Nope. I’m just different.
Free of the incessant worry that comes with your first child (the worry that ages you about 10 years in the first month of their life). We’re not worried about routines – they will fall into place sooner or later. If she cries, we pick her up, she spends her days in our arms or sleeping soundly on our chests and we are confident in the knowledge that we cannot “spoil” her in doing so. We can shrug off unsolicited advice and roll our eyes, knowing we’re making the right choices for her and our family. Honestly, it’s refreshing.
In the last two and a half years Oscar has taught us both so much – not least that the months fly in. So I’m soaking up every little detail because I know all too well how quickly each phase will end. Already I feel the end of the newborn phase is coming and with it Scout is spending more time awake and demanding more attention. It’s sad knowing this will be the last time we do it but I’m excited for what’s to come, because that’s something else Oscar’s taught us – just how brilliant it is watching a little human grow and develop their own personality.
I don’t think there is a right or wrong. That drawbridge can be up or down, just so long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing. Make sure whatever it is though, you’re doing it for you – don’t let anyone else get in the way!
Ya know, social media can get a bad name and there are people out there that go out of their way to deceive or just be plain nasty, but for every one of those people, there are 10 looking to help. I found this out first hand recently when I posted a few stories on my Instagram asking for help with Oscar’s eczema.
a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed with blisters which cause itching and bleeding.
Oscar has suffered with his skin to varying degrees since he was quite small, maybe about six months. There are weeks of improvement followed by weeks of flare ups with no rhyme, reason or obvious triggers. We’d been to the doctors numerous times and left with so many creams & bath treatments, and we’d invested in other lotions and potions recommended by friends and family with varying levels of success. We’d try anything.
However, upon returning from Italy we noticed the eczema on Oscar’s legs in particular was getting worse and after him waking up in the morning with blood on his PJ’s from scratching, we were both at our wits end with it. SO I took to Instagram – what was there to lose? Continue reading →
Well, we returned from our Italian trip two weeks ago, and I think we’re just about recovered & back to reality…! Last year, we went to a lovely 5* hotel in Tenerife and sat by a pool. We didn’t do an awful lot, and we also made use of the Baby Club on a number of occasions – but it was some great chill time in the sun with our Little. It was also the week Oscar decided to start walking, so it will always be memorable! However, the week was topped off by a 5 hour flight FROM HELL! Don’t ask. No, actually, I’ll tell you – he basically just screamed in our faces at point blank range for the duration of the flight and we spent the whole time standing with the cabin crew at the back door, hiding from every other human being on the plane. Yeah, was great. Continue reading →
As with every age milestone, I’m not quite sure where the time has gone. But here we are, on the 11th February 2017, having just put our eighteen month old baby toddler to bed (before rapidly scoffing a Chinese takeaway – we know how to live…)
This time last year I was starting to worry about my return to work and couldn’t even imagine what life would be like a year later with a toddler running rings around us. The last six months in particular have flown in and our little boy has flourished in so many ways since he’s started walking (/running everywhere). However, I also think it’s been the most challenging time since embarking on this parenting malarkey – from worrying about his rather limited vocabulary (yes, I know, *eye roll*, it’ll all come in time) to looking up baby boarding schools when he’s been demonstrating rather ‘difficult’ behaviour (like the time he tried to chuck himself in the pond at Holyrood Park and got mud all over my favourite Zara coat). But as always, with the occasional lows, come the unbeatable highs –
He dances like a maniac & loves to strum Robin’s guitars. He has infinitely better rhythm than I do
Often ‘cooks’ poor George Pig in a pot in his little kitchen (if you’re not familiar with obnoxious Peppa + her petulant little brother George then you might find this sinister, but I promise you, they deserve what’s coming to them)
He runs about tidying up the mess he has made like a little house elf which was great, until I discovered he was ‘tidying away’ his dirty pyjamas into the bin
We’re slowly ticking off items from our Adventure List – it’s felt so good to make the most of our days together and have so many more to look forward to in the coming weeks
Gives the best cuddles and the biggest smiles. He is confident, fiercely independent and absolutely loves being around people
In the midst of planning our second family holiday, I can’t help but feel a pang of excitement when I think of all the new experiences he’s going to have (and all the pizza we’ll eat)
These highs serve as a gentle reminder to me to slow down and savour the everyday moments with our little fella. It can be all too easy to wish the time away – “I wonder when he’ll start saying more words” or “I can’t wait until he’ll follow instructions better when we’re out” – but ultimately these things will come and right now we are enjoying him for the little tiny tornado that he is. I definitely needed this reminder tonight when he chucked handfuls of beef stew and rice all down me instead of eating it..!
So despite the odd meltdown, he is still the most smiley little human there is and makes us laugh daily and my heart swell with pride – keep being you Oscar!