What To Buy For A First Birthday

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This post has been sat in my draft box for sometime now and this morning I decided that if it’s going to see the light of day it’s now or never, because otherwise the Birthday related posts will continue until the next birthday rolls around!


Let me start this post a little off piste by telling you about a fantastic read by Emily Rollings called ‘Slow Blogging.’ If you use social media- Instagram in particular- or blog then it’s well worth a read. I found it to be both an inspiring yet relatable approach to posting content, with an emphasis on quality over quantity. I like to think that social media is like all good things- worth the wait. Which is why, like Emily, I’m going to stop apologising for not posting regularly enough!

(Starting… now)

Back to the task at hand and can you believe Little Ored is turning one in a matter of days? (Four to be exact) which has thrown up the BIG dilemma of “What do you buy a one year old” Suddenly, the gifts we bought for friend’s children, having not yet had a child of our own, seemed laughable. Wind up wooden musical toys albeit beautiful, are by no means practical especially in the hands of a baby!

So it was time to get our thinking caps on and with Little Ored’s first Christmas a not-too-distant memory toys were 100% out of the question. Quite frankly Father Christmas (aka both sides of the family) spoilt him rotten and whilst he’s come to have his favourites it seemed kind of crazy to buy any more.

Now that we’re a one-income household also had to think about a budget. It would’ve been so easy to get carried away and buy gift after gift, but a) we couldn’t afford to do that and b) would have been overwhelming for Little Ored. (We’ve read a lot online about how children are overwhelmed by too much choice and how less toys = more quality playtime).

So with that in mind we tried really hard to think of gifts that will have a little more longevity; presents that he’ll be able to use/keep for years to come.

So here’s what we’ve opted for, with our reasons for doing so. I really hope that by sharing our thought process behind the presents, it’ll help any parents struggling like we did, and maybe help you to think a little more outside the box.

1. All The Things I Wish For You

This personalised picture book was an absolute no-brainer. Not only does Little Ored adore having books read to him (not to mention how often I catch him flicking through them at leisure when in his nursery) but the story itself has a beautiful, heartfelt message, making it the perfect first birthday present. Not only that but you can include a personal message/dedication making it a wonderful keepsake for your baby to read/look back on when he’s not such a little baby anymore!

2. Tipi

When Little Ored starting pulling his ball-pit over his head, relishing the hiding space, it soon became apparent that a tipi could quite possibly be the BIG birthday gift. Despite the price tag (you can buy them on Etsy from anywhere from £40-£150+) we’re hoping that this will be a gift that will grow with Little Ored, giving him a fun place to play, read and relax until he eventually grows out of it (literally). And I think that’s what I really like about this- it’s not a present that by his next or even third birthday, he’ll be done with. I also like that’s there’s so much choice in design meaning that you’ll get something pretty unique that matches your chosen space, with the ability to make it even more special by adding your own little creative touches (lights, pole flags, bunting, cushions etc).

3. Birthday Letters To My Baby

One of the things I love about Instagram is how random follows lead to random discoveries and that’s exactly how I stumbled upon Emily Rollings. I know writing birthday letters has become popular, but for a couple who are both seriously unorganised and have a penchant for loosing misplacing stuff, having a beautifully bound book seemed like the safest way of storing those thoughts, memories, hopes and dreams that we have for Little Ored.

Also, I very much like that I only have to find the time to sit down once a year to write and reflect because quite frankly I’ve failed at keeping on top of filling out his Baby Book as the months have passed!

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Why You Don’t Have To Throw A First Birthday Party (If You Don’t Want To)

Cheryl Small Photography

You read that right.

And not only do you not have to throw a party but it’s plenty OK not to.

It took me a long time to come to this conclusion but the absence of big celebrations haven’t suddenly made me public enemy No.1 or a terrible Mother. The world as it turned out, didn’t end. But whilst Ored and I were both wrestling with the indecision in the weeks months that lead up to this momentous milestone, that’s exactly what it felt like and suddenly I felt myself bending under a pressure that I hadn’t yet experienced as a first time Mama (and it sucked).

The problem was that everything-and to some, extent everyone– was making me feel like we should be throwing a party. If it wasn’t friends, family and neighbours asking us “When’s the party?” Or “What’s the plan?” then it was a whole world of social media selling us a dream of super popular babies with glamorous/quirky/super cool themed parties were seemingly both sides of the family get on (I could dream) and neither parent has bags under their eyes from late night cake frosting/gift wrapping/assembling paper decorations.

And maybe if circumstances were a little different we might have had some kind of gathering, but with my family spread all over the country and a distinct lack of ‘Mummy Friends’ (I’m the first in my group of friends to have a baby and I find it hard making friends with others when the initial thing we have in common is sex) it seemed like less and less of a party. Not to mention the M word (I’m talking money) which now we’re on a single income means unfortunately, we do sometimes have to times about the cost of things.

But despite all of this I just couldn’t shake the overriding feeling that Little Ored wouldn’t actually enjoy a huge fuss. I mean I’m sure he would’ve of on some level, for an hour or so maybe, but I have no doubt in my mind he would’ve grown tired of the attention very quickly and spent the entire day wanting to be held exclusively by his parents. Cue a fight with the grandparents to comfort him when he cries for us and the whole thing seemed less about fun and more about obligation (and to everyone but the one person who it should be about- our son).

The decider? Simply thinking about what Little Ored would want to do which was the only thing that really mattered. So we thought long and hard about it and in the end we decided NO party. And once we’d made the decision and were committed to it, we felt relieved.

So what did we do instead I hear you cry? Using the money that we would’ve spent on a party, we instead used to book a cake smash and oh boy was it worth it. Not only was it a fun morning for all three of us but Little Ored had an absolute blast devouring/devastating the cake and our photographer Cheryl Small, was able to capture some beautiful memories that we’ll treasure forever.

Afterwards we had a quiet lunch and then headed home for some playtime, all three of us -which is somewhat of a rarity- with the various presents he got from friends and family. And that quite frankly was the fun, stress-free Birthday we imagine our laid back Little Ored would’ve wanted.

And so for every other parent daring to do the unthinkable- be bold, be brave and skip the birthday party if it’s not for your little one and you!

 

Photo Credit: Cheryl Small Photography 

2018- New Year, New Goals

First post of a new year!

January, that time of year for self reflection. Resolutions set in order to make changes that will hopefully make us happier and healthier people, and I of course am no different.

2017 was an exceptional year (and will be a tough one to beat) as it brought Ored and I our bright, beautiful, kind, nosey- and let’s not forget- noisy babe. Motherhood has given my life more meaning than I could ever have imagined, but it has also made me hungry. For the first time in my life I’m starting to think of the future and what that means for our family, because there’s nothing quite like the refocus you have once you have a child.

Maybe you could call it a movie lightbulb moment (ding!) because suddenly, with total clarity you realise just who/what is important in life and who/what doesn’t deserve a second thought. And so I’ve entered the New Year with a spring in my step determined to achieve my goals and make 2018 a year full of love, happiness and success.

  1. Get in front of the camera

It’s difficult to admit but I have struggled with my post pregnancy body far more than I thought I would. It’s not a question of weight, it’s just that everything is different now. My old clothes may fit like a glove once more, but now my face seems a little…off and my hips still seem adamant to show just how wide they had to be to carry a babe…

And so if I’m really honest, this has played a big part in avoiding being photographed. Despite holding our son, I’d actively grimace whenever anyone dared to point a camera in my face and utter the word “smile.” Looking back I’ve come to realise that, rather sadly, I’m the only one missing out. These moments of babyhood will be gone in the blink of an eye and when I’m 60 looking back at photographs, it’ll be hard not to notice how little I appear in them.

So as of now, I’m making a promise to get in front of the camera. No matter how bad my hair may look or how terrible an angle Ored is taking them from. And guess what? The above photos were taken on the 1st so I’m already off to a good start!

2. Exercise

Since turning vegetarian last July my diet has never been better. I can now say I actually cook from scratch (hurrah) and even Ored is more involved in the kitchen, relishing in making homemade pesto. Opting for a baby lead approach to weaning meant that as a family, we all had to be on board, sitting together, eating together and making mealtimes a fun, but healthy, experience.

But having a baby on in my hands 99.9% of the time leaves little time to do anything else and so exercise has fallen to the bottom of that never ending list all parents – but especially Mamas- have of ‘things to do.’

And so it’s for both health and post-pregnancy confidence that I’m vowing to incorporate regular exercise back into my life, be it walking, running or swimming.

3. Write

I made significant headway with freelance writing before falling pregnant. I managed to keep the blog relatively up to date and at the tail end of last year I embarked upon writing my first novel (6,000+ words and counting). But the momentum has slowly ebbed and I know I have to pull it back before I find myself back in that most feared and loathed of spots- writer’s block.

4. Read

I love books and whilst I’m devouring a ton of children’s novels (its something we really enjoy doing as family before bedtime) I’d quite like to read some for myself again. Every year I always set myself the completely unrealistic goal of reading a book a week, and so fail miserably. So now I’m aiming for a book a month, utilising the evenings or breastfeeding sessions instead of being on my phone/tablet (can I add using less technology as a 2018 resolution?) But I’m flexible. Even if I only read a book every two months it’ll still be significantly more than last year!

5. Try something new

I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t have to return to work once my maternity leave finishes. That said I’d love to find something I could do working from home that allows me to be creative whilst spending time with Little Ored. Who knows what will be this time next year- but I’m excited to find out!

6. Be kinder

To myself, to others, to the planet.

So here’s to 2018- may it be a wonderful, magical year for us all!

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