I’m not sure when it started, but I know that having a baby have definitely amplified my hippie tendencies, it made me think more about our environmental impact, and increased my sense of responsibility for OUR planet.

I came across Greenpeace’s plastic calculator earlier this year, and even though I thought I was pretty good with doing my bit for the planet, I was shocked and surprised how much plastic I actually used EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t even think that cotton buds are plastic.

Soooo, one of my New Year Resolutions, that actually lasted even evolved further was to reduce my plastic footprint. This simple calculator made me think about how everything is disposable; from fashion, to plastic spoons that I used to use at work ONCE to stir my cuppa and throw them away, to nappies and baby wipes… and to that extra cup that I was given at Starbucks the other day when I asked for some cold almond milk as my coffee was too hot. It all adds up, and this post is not about guilt tripping, but about my realisation that we all have our bit to add, and about some small changes that I made this year and some that I am hoping to introduce in the near future; money and convenience permitting – as some of the eco products and solutions are more expensive and not as easily available, which I think might be a big barrier for people.

GROCERY SHOPPING

Reuse your bags. I reckon we are all used to taking your own bags when shopping. Unless you’re me and you leave the bags in the car and you end up either taking the trolley back to the car, or leave a supermarket with pockets stuffed with the shopping, or cuddling and balancing the rest of your shopping in your arms!

I read recently here that Tesco will stop selling their 5p carrier bags and will only sell 10p ‘bags for life’, which I personally don’t like, and so I better step up my shopping cuddling act, or always remember to take my bags.

Shopping online. Shopping for grocery online, either delivered to your door or ‘click and collect’ is a game changer. You save your time, it’s likely that you don’t end up with any impulse buys in your trolley, and you can either swap your plastic bags when using Ocado, or chose not to use any when you do Click and Collect with Tesco.

Buy fruit and veg by weight and don’t use individual bags unless you don’t need them. The single most surprising thing when I moved to the UK was that all the fruit and veg is prepacked and wrapped in plastic? Why? What do you do with those bags when you get home? They are usually binned straight away, aren’t they?

I also try to buy my fruit and veg locally (30 minute walk from home), but I understand that once I’m back at work I will not have time to do that :((( However, we ARE GETTING AN ALLOTMENT, so maybe all my dreams of growing our
own veg will come true next summer?

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PERSONAL CARE

Swaps this year include:

Using sugar scrubs (love these from Other stories ) rather than scrubs containing microbeads that are harmful to marine life. From next year manufacturers won’t be able to add microbeads, so better to find your favourite substitute now

I also use natural face brushes and body brushes instead of sponges.

I’m also moving towards using organic soaps, and cruelty free makeup and cosmetic brands. Although I really struggled to find brands that are affordable (as the same price, or just a little bit more expensive than let’s say Max Factor or L’Oreal), so holler at me if you have any suggestions!
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HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS

Oh my! Where do I start! I love my cleaning, so I am still trying to figure it out if I will ever move away from all my lovely toxic cleaning sprays… However, I have started to (sometimes) use lemon and water, or diluted apple cider vinegar for cleaning. I’m also making a conscious effort not to use as many trees, I mean, paper towels for cleaning.

Other swaps include:

Using reusable boxes and bowls and saucers instead of cling film (I’m on my last roll ever now!)

ON THE GO – TAKE AWAY

Simple swaps while on the go, are to carry a reusable water bottle with you (I guess that’s easier up North as the water is decent and you don’t get that limescaley taste that I cannot stand), use reusable coffee cups – love my keepcup and thermos cup.

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I’m also hoping to start using reusable cutlery when I go back to work.

BABY STUFF AND TOYS

Oh…where do I start… you need to be a parent to understand how many nappies and wipes (mainly wipes once babies are bit bigger) you go through every single day.
I was all enthusiastic about using a super cute looking reusable nappies, and laundry services before I had a kid, but once the baby arrived, that was definitely the last thing on my priority list, after keeping the baby alive, sleeping and generally finding my feet.

However, the simple changes I have actually managed to introduce is to try to use a reusable cloth to wipe his face and hands after meals at home rather than wet wipes.

I’m also moving towards using more and more bamboo dishes, and wooden toys, which we often get second hand – they are much more durable than plastic toys. I personally see so many benefits of wooden toys: as well as looking nicer ( hehe), they are educational and they encourage imagination, and ultimately they are biodegradable.
I’ve just googled for the benefits of wooden toys, and this article came up, which is quite helpful if you want to have a read.
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I Bought this activity cube for £6 on facebook market place. New one is about £40.

IMG_4968 I sometimes steal his lovely bamboo dishes hehe

Although, of course, we have some plastic toys that Oliver loves to play with (he’s one, so playing means banging to toys together), and walkers, and other stuff. Thankfully we got most of that stuff second hand, and I managed to sell the stuff that he doesn’t use anymore.

Thanks for reading and give me a shout if you can suggest any other swaps and ways to keep our planet tidy x

 

Ahhh long time, no see! I have a surprise, and unexpected post about free and cheap baby groups and activities. You can see that my mat leave is coming to the end and I am broke! I really, really hope that the mummies on mat leave who read my blog will find this useful.

Maternity leave is a funny time as you have all the time in the world to visit “eateries”, stroll around and have “coffees”, but actually no money💰 to do it. Coffees and eateries are in quotation marks, as I’m really referring to stuff to do with babies to get out of the house….

We do go to a couple of paid of classes that I absolutely love – Baby Sensory and swimming with Puddle Ducks, and we used to do baby yoga, which I wrote about here, but the further I get into mat leave the less money I have, and so the more creative I need to get.

As we live in a big city, we are lucky to be able to choose from a wide variety of groups; from local nursery rhyme type of meetups, sign language classes, which apparently can be ‘prescribed’ by your health visitor to mini classical music concerts (the last one is not free). I tend to choose groups and activities that are a little bit more ‘active’ and varied, as I’m definitely not a typical nursery rhymes and cookies for mums type of person.

I hope that other mummies will find this post helpful, and perhaps an inspiration to find or set up similar things in your town if they’re not available already.

The things in this posts are suitable for under ones, so as Oliver will be one this summer (!!!) I’m already on the lookout for groups for older babies and toddlers – any ideas are welcomed!

Artbaby – Musicbaby at the Withworth Gallery

This is a free weekly sensory workshop led by artists and musicians. Basically, the gallery spreads a few blankets on the floor in the middle of one of the rooms, so that you’re surrounded by the gallery’s exhibits, and provide musical instruments, sensory toys and (safe) everyday objects for babies to explore. The format of the class is really laid back, once you sign up, you can just turn up for however long you want, between certain hours.
There’s something really nice about taking a baby for a group at the gallery; the setting is great and it makes you feel like you’re introducing your baby to culture from their early years.

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Time for a rhyme by BookStart

‘Rhyme time is a rite of passage’ said one of my friends to me. So it is, and it’s also a classic hangout for mat leave mums including me 🙂 I blogged about experience before.

The library near us is not very big, but it has a great selection of children’s books, and I quite like an idea of borrowing them in the future to learn about sustainability, sharing, etc…

Crèche / soft play area at the local gym

I have recently discovered that one of our local gyms has a crèche / soft play area that can be used by non-members for a small fee – it’s £1 for under ones. The area for babies is quite small, but there’s enough to keep them occupied for an hour or so. There are mini slides, a mini baby gym and big soft blocks to play with.
There’s also a small cafe with some cheap jacket potato style options and nice coffee. I tend to go there if I don’t fancy trekking to town, or if there’s a half term and our regular paid for classes are not on, and I want to feel like I actually did something that week.

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Sensory Room at a local children’s centre

Again, this is the place to go if you want to do something different with your little one, and not spend a fortune. I met one of my mummy-friends at her local children’s centre and was totally blown away by their sensory room, which we used free of charge. I can’t even name all of the toys, rattles and fluffy pieces of material that were available, but they also had a big lava lamp type of thing that kept both boys occupied.

I have also learnt recently that this centre hires out toys for a small charge of £1 per month! Bargain!

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Finally, I’ve just started going to a Polish Baby & Mums club, which gives me an opportunity to hang out with Polish mummies and speak Polish,  as I don’t have many occasions to do so, and I’m hoping that my little one will be bilingual. This is just an example to show that there are some niche groups out there where you can spend with like-minded people.

Thanks for reading x

 

I’m so glad Rebecca Lupton, a photographer and the creator of The Mothers Project picked up this quote to summarise my interview when I took part in The Mothers Project.
I might look like I’ve got it all under control, but I certainly don’t, not all the time anyway…

I am thrilled to be part of this project – mums sharing their unique stories of motherhood accompanied by beautiful shots by Bec x

You can read the interview here

the mothers

 

I keep saying this, but I am incredibly grateful for all the new mum-friends whom I have met online. There’s a lot of support, sisterhood, mamahood out there x

Living overseas means that I frequently ‘commute’ by plane to see my family. I knew that I would need to take my new baby on the plane asap, and of course once I was ready and comfortable to do so. I have to say that the thought of traveling with someone so small and vulnerable, but someone who requires more luggage than me was a little bit overwhelming!
Speaking to my friends and family, reading online advice and the mum travel blog was very reassuring and helped me to prepare and to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Here’s a quick summary of everything I learnt from my friends, family and our experience. I hope that everyone who likes to be over prepared enjoys this post 🙂

Is my baby old enough to travel?
I waited for my baby’s 8 weeks check-up before I decided to book our plane tickets. We also needed to carefully schedule our trip between his immunisations, which were given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age.
We went on holiday when he was exactly 3 months old, so a week before his final jabs.
I felt so much more confident to travel, or even leave the house once Oliver felt a little bit more ‘solid’. However, babies as young as two days old are allowed to travel by plane. The best thing to do is to check with your airline.

Travel insurance and healthcare
I never bother with travel insurance when I go ‘back home’ to visit my family. This time round we decided that it might be better if we get insurance in case of any emergencies, even getting our buggy damaged. Fortunately it wasn’t needed!
In addition to this we have registered for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The card is free and it gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. Of course this may change after Brexit…

Packing and getting to the airport
We tried to pack lightly and ordered some of the baby stuff to be delivered to Poland so that we are not flying with any excess luggage. In the end we had two big suitcases, one small Ryanair size approved hand luggage, one rucksack, a pram and a nappy bag. The great thing is that on Ryanair you’re allowed to have up to a 5kg nappy bag, which is super helpful. We also got one of those big stroller bags, which we stuffed with our winter coats once we dropped off the pram while boarding.
As for getting to the airport we left an extra early to have as much stress free journey as possible, and allow for any hiccups like tram not going to the airport. Yes, this actually happened!
Food, hold and hand luggage
Once we got to the airport with our mountain of bags it was time to check in and go through security.
I knew from the Government website that we would be able to take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilised water (more than usual max of 100mls) for the journey. However, I was a little bit worried that we would need to open the bottles to prove what they were. In the end there was no need to do this, as the bottles go in a separate tray / scanner.

Up in the air
Once we boarded the plane there was plenty time to ask the person who shared a row of seats with us to swap so that we can have a middle and aisle seat, as we needed some freedom to get up and walk down the airplane, make some food or use the changing facilities. The lovely bloke agreed! I felt a bit sorry for him as he was very tall and broad and so he needed to pretty much fold in half to squeeze into his seat!

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Just chill….
Traveling with a baby is not bad at all! Babies don’t really mind where they are as long as they get the usual amount of cuddles. Whenever things got stressy I started singing to Oliver as this is something (no idea how given my voice) soothes him.
Oliver was very brave and cried only very briefly as he was a bit too hot and we needed to remove some layers. Ascending and descending weren’t a problem, because we’d been recommended to gave him some milk anyway to help his ears pop.
The other things that I found useful were some new toys to help distract him and keep him occupied while we waited for the plane, and of course, some sanitising gel and wipes for the plane.

 

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Overall the flight itself went smoothly and as my friends said, it’s actually easier to fly with a new baby who will be asleep than with a baby a bit older who will want to explore their surroundings. I have another couple of trips planned this year, and I’m already looking for tips on what’s like to fly and holiday with an older baby. Oliver will be 10 months old when we go to Ibiza later on this year. Does anyone have any tips on beach, summer holiday with babies? Can you even call it a ‘holiday’, or will it end up being even more hard work than being at home? Thanks x

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Yoga plays an absolutely huge role in my life! At a very basic level it helps me to look after my physical and mental wellbeing.

Physically it helps me to stretch, which is important for runners, and strengthen my body. Mentally it helps me to relax, it makes me feel grounded and helps me to live in ‘the now’.

I’ve been practising yoga for many years now, and was lucky enough to be able to carry on while pregnant, though I obviously had to make some modifications.

I was super excited to learn that Zoe, my prenatal yoga teacher was also running classes for babies. I wasn’t sure what to expect though! Would I do yoga with Baby in a sling, or will Baby who was mostly asleep at the time also do some yoga? I was intrigued and knew that we would sign up as soon as Oliver was big enough!

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For me, the classes are a very special way to spend time with each other. I enjoy the relaxed and soothing atmosphere, Oliver loves his stretches, swinging and singing. He shows his appreciation by endless smiling, dribbling and trumping during yoga, and a great sleep after (coffee time, bonus!).

I could go on and on about the benefits of yoga, but instead I have invited Zoe Lowrie, yoga teacher and owner of Honeychild Yoga to tell you more about baby yoga, how and when to start and of course the benefits for you and your baby.

Once you have a baby and get into some kind of routine you’re ready to sign up for baby groups to get out of the house and see other mums. However, it’s important to find a class that is suitable for our lovely babies who are very sleepy at the beginning! So when would you suggest starting baby yoga? When is the best for the mums and for babies?

Gentle baby yoga exercises can be started from as young as 4 weeks old, especially the digestive moves such as knees into tummy. I recommend classes from 12 weeks, however. A couple of reasons: it’s very tiring and younger babies will only really take part for 15-20 minutes, head and neck strength is useful for some of the more dynamic exercises like supported sitting, and lastly mums have generally got the hang of routines and getting out and about without too much stress by 12 weeks!

Does the mode of delivery matter in resuming this type of exercise?

Not really. As long as mum has had her post-natal checks. Some of the lifting exercises we do should be approached with care after caesarean birth as it can still impact the abdominal muscles. I often give cues if that’s the case. Also getting up and down off the floor. Often we don’t even think about it, but simply picking baby up off the floor can result in a twinge or discomfort, so there’s a ‘baby yoga way’ of doing it.

Is baby yoga suitable for someone who’s totally new to yoga, or is there any previous experience necessary? What about the equipment and clothes?

The beauty of baby yoga is that any mum (or dad for that matter) can take part and enjoy the sequences. Elements of post-natal yoga only really make up about 25% of the class – and they’re very suitable for any ability. That’s not to say it couldn’t be more, I’d love to spend the whole class teaching just post-natal yoga! But I take the view that you’ve got a fairly short window of opportunity to enjoy yoga with your baby. Although they like to watch us stretching, they get bored pretty quickly if they’re not involved!
No equipment needed – and something you can stretch and feel comfortable in – doesn’t have to be yoga gear (although jeans are not ideal!)

So what are the main benefits for babies?

Ah so many! There’s the purely physical benefits – easing digestive comfort, helping with colic, exercises that unfold and strengthen their little bodies. Then there’s the cognitive and emotional stuff – gentle stimulation that isn’t too overwhelming, co-ordination and discovery of what their amazing bodies can do (I love watching babies smile as if to say “look what I can do now – all by myself!”). That it’s ok to just sit and stare off into the distance while mum relaxes, helping them to self-soothe. As we move through the weeks and babies get older, we explore more adventures and dynamic exercises – flying, rolling and swinging are all fantastic fun but help enormously with baby’s confidence and trust.

We know now about the benefits for our lovely babies. How about the benefits for mums – except getting out of the house obviously?

Baby yoga is one of the few classes that you do together, ‘with’ your baby rather than ‘to’ your baby. It’s a very joyous class – I always encourage enthusiastic singing (which babies adore, even if we don’t think we’re great at it) which is magical for lifting the spirits. It’s an opportunity to stretch out the areas where we hold tension and tiredness, in the shoulders, the upper back and the chest. We practice pranayama, even though it’s often ‘disguised’ as playing with babies – such as bhramari breath (humming) or full abdominal breathing which is amazing for restoring balance. The end of the class features a relaxation – which takes a few times to get used to for mums new to yoga. I notice the hardest thing is for mums to actually close their eyes and turn inwards – using it as an opportunity to restore and heal. When it happens it’s one of the most rewarding parts of the class for me as I can see them literally ‘let go’.

New mums know that there’s nothing like a real schedule with a baby, so feeding and nappy changing can happen anywhere, including a yoga class! Each mum can take a break anytime and for as long as it’s needed. It’s such a lovely, relaxing, and of course baby-lead class, so is there anything else that we should remember about when practicing with our babies?

Yes, always check your baby is happy to do some yoga. Perhaps introducing it in the same way we do in class, with a massage or a little song. Generally speaking, only practice yoga together if baby is happy and alert. Use regular pauses for cuddles and reassurance. Notice which exercises are firm favourites versus those they resist.

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*****

Ahhhhh! I feel totally relaxed after typing up our interview. I hope that you learnt a little bit about how baby yoga can be a beautiful way of spending time with your little one and also about its benefits. If you have any questions just post them in comments below or message me! Finally I wanted to add that even though it’s great to sign up for a class to exercise with other mums and babies, if for some reason this option is not available to you, there are plenty of baby yoga videos and resources online.

Namaste 🙏