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

 

A bit of radio silence from us again. Oliver is nearly 8 months old and he’s one busy little boy! We are even busier now and so I’ve had a lot less time to write!

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He’s also sleeping through the night now (high five!?) and I’m also adjusting to this by going to bed later than 9pm 😁 and even doing stuff in the evenings!

Anyway, today I’d like to write a few words about how are we feeling before our first race. Hopefully after the race I will write a little bit less about running, and a bit more about all the fun baby friendly stuff we’ve been up to! Mamas on maternity leave will be pleased that most of them are FREE!

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TWO DAYS TO GO!!

The time on maternity leave has seriously sped up. Week after week it seems to be going faster and faster, so here we are… 2 days to the race.

I’m excited, but also very nervous, and it’s not the old nervousness about getting a PB. It’s more to do with the responsibility I feel taking Oliver around the course with me. Will he be awake to see the crowds? Will the people make him nervous or just curious? I am sure he will be fine, but I just don’t know what to expect. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Let me start with a short summary of our training:

Kilometers ran since January – 260.29

In miles… 161.7

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Longest training run – 20km / 12.5 miles

I never run that far before a half marathon, but I guess, I wanted to make sure I can actually do it!

Terrain

Trail, track and road

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Any injuries?

It takes a year for your body to get to a pre-pregnancy state after giving birth, so yeah… I will be honest and I say that I overdid it a little bit. The tendons behind my right knee are super sore so I will be going to see a physiotherapist 😓after the race.
Music listed

MO, Bonobo, The Streets, Bloc Party, Courtesy, Sampha, Lil Silva, Santigold, A tribe called Red ft. Yasiin Bey
Keep your fingers crossed for the weather on Sunday and for us 😚

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Keep your fingers crossed for the weather on Sunday and for us 😚
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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

Learning about myself: I’d rather be outside

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Quite a few people have asked me about what’s like to run with a pram. In a nutshell? It’s a lot harder than running without a pram, but it also gives me the freedom to go for a run without waiting for Daddy to come back from work and look after the baby. It keeps me fit too, as it’s a full body workout!

This post covers everything that I have learnt so far; from short walks in The Peaks when Oliver was just a few days old to, half marathon training.We are definitely making the most of our off-road pram.

Which pram to choose and when to start running?

There are quite a few buggies designed for running on the market. The difference between normal strollers and the ones designed for running is that the wheels are bigger and they usually have three wheels.

After thorough research we decided to go with an Out’n’About Nipper Sport , as we wanted a buggy that was suitable for off road conditions – people who know us know that we tend to spend a lot of time walking and running in the Peak District, and so we needed gear that would help us safely take Oliver with us. The big 16″ wheels and rear suspension met the brief.
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We got this buggy straight after Oliver was born, but as I mentioned already here, it’s suitable from birth (with a special newborn insert), but we only used it for walking until Oliver was 6 months and could sit up straight unsupported.

What to pack for a run?

Running with a baby reminds me of my ultramarathon training when things weren’t as simple as putting my running kit on and leaving for a run. Running with a baby means that I need to pack some extras, and even more stuff for our long runs while half-marathon training.

The pram has a couple of handy storage pockets and a large shopping pouch, so taking more than I usually pack is not a problem. It’s just like taking a nappy bag, but on wheels!

This is what I usually take with us: food for the baby (usual amount for the expected time + 50%), nappies, tissues, hand sanitiser, energy gel & water (sometimes), bank card in case of emergencies, and obviously a rain cover! I also tend to listen to music, but not too loud so that I can hear Oliver chatting or asking for food.

Planning the route

I run on both roads and trails. Having said that, I always choose a route where terrain won’t be too bumpy for Oliver. I also tend to avoid busy roads as I hate the idea of us breathing traffic fumes, but of course that’s not always possible! I never run with the pram in the dark, so basically, will do everything to make sure that the baby is safe!

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I also plan my long runs so that there’s a loo on the way – silly post pregnancy bladder haha! 🙊

Enjoy your pace!

Running with a pram is actually more difficult than without, and so I never intentionally run to beat my ‘no-buggy’ PBs. However, I keep an eye on my PBs with a pram and we are getting a lot faster!

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Be flexible – feeding pit stops and changes of plans

I used to plan my runs after his feeds to avoid pit stops, but now I prefer to take plenty of food with me and stop whenever he needs to. I have fed Oliver in all sorts of wonderful places so far!
I have also learnt to be more adaptable and know if it’s time to go home if he gets a bit grumpy – I think this has so far only happened once. The buggy has a peek-a-boo window that I use a lot to check whether he’s ok, but I’ve learnt that if he’s quiet, he’s either asleep or enjoying the views.

I guess what I am trying to say is that not all babies will enjoy being in a pram for an hour or longer and so it’s important to listen to them and know when to have a pit stop for a feed, cuddle, or just return home.
I’ll follow the same approach when I run my first half-marathon with a pram next month! I’m fully prepared tol have to make a pit stop for feeding or a nappy change 🙂

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parkrun PB – 26:05

Take care of your posture and find a comfortable position

It’s quite hilly where we live, which is an extra challenge, as steep hills are difficult enough without a pram! It’s easy to find yourself pretty much horizontal pushing the pram, which of course is not great for your back, so I always try to watch my posture.
I also tend to switch between pushing with both hands, or running a bit faster and pushing with one hand while pumping with other arm. I need to switch frequently to make sure that my arms are not getting too sore. It’s slightly easier if Daddy runs with us, as we can very simply adjust the handle and swap the pram between us during the run.

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Thanks for reading and see you 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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