Christmas Crafts (+ a Little Poem) | Bambinista

Christmas Crafts (+ a Little Poem)

Christmas Crafts (+ a Little Poem)

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Cleaning puke out of the tub

The 11 month old trying to climb into the dryer

The children’s bedroom wafting with Vix Vapour rub

A turkey and all the cheeses

Glitter and announcements from No. 10

The baby chewing on the little Lord Jesus

When will life be normal again?

Antibiotics and Calpol too

Raided advent calendars and choking danger

Sweet Moses, not another poo

Check the baby’s mouth, there’s an empty manger

Feeling overwhelmed but reminding ourselves this is just a phase

From us and our motley crew

Although it's been said many times, many ways

Merry Christmas to you

 

I’m writing this surrounded by wrapping paper and ribbons and scissors and cards that need to be written. It all sounds very cosy and if I were in a Christmas film I’d be wearing a cream oversized jumper with leggings and Christmas socks and the most perfect messy bun you’ve ever seen. But as it stands, I’m currently rocking a jumper that is a smorgasbord of my son’s meals throughout the day and a glistening snail trail of H’s snot. Fancy.

I am feeling very overwhelmed. Littlest J and H both have chest infections. Neither of them is very good at expelling the diseased contents of their lungs and as a result, their bodies go all out (tis the season) and empty their stomachs as well as their lungs. H managed to throw up in her bed and then again in her brother’s bed even with a bowl right next to her. Nothing strengthens a marriage quite like cleaning up puke in the dark.

Feeling festive yet?

I just felt like I needed to set the scene as to where we are at at the moment. It’s no Hallmark film. In between feverish chills and worryingly long naps (the children…not me), we have managed to create a Christmas craft or two. I had a completely different picture in my head of what I thought this Christmas was going to look like but as parenthood has taught me, you’ve got to be flexible. So here are three quick and easy Christmas crafts to do in between the turkey eating and Elf watching.

Christmas bauble suncatcher

My go-to craft. Those of you who have read my blog posts will know that I love a contact-paper collage. They’re my favourite way to do collage with little people and I love the finished product.

You’ll need:

  • Contact paper
  • Cut up tissue paper in an assortment of colours
  • Black card
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

Cut your contact paper into two equal size pieces and lay one piece aside for later. Carefully remove the paper from the sticky side of the contact paper and place it on a flat surface. Secure the sides with washi tape or sticky tape. Cut out a bauble frame and place it on the contact paper. Present your littles with the cut up tissue paper and let them loose. Once they’re happy with their creation, take the other piece of contact paper, remove the backing and carefully lay it on top of the collage piece. Cut any excess contact paper off, use a hole punch to make a hole at the top of the bauble, and hang your suncatcher in the window or on your Christmas tree.

Caught in a snow globe

While you have the contact paper out, you may as well make the most of it. For this craft, you will need:

 

  • Contact paper
  • A photo of your Little
  • Black or coloured card
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Snowflake confetti

 

Just like you did with the suncatcher, lay your contact paper carefully on the table. Cut out a circular frame from your card and then place it on the contact paper. You can either use any photo you have of your little or make an activity of it and get them to pose in a variety of wintery outfits – whatever lights your Christmas pudding. Carefully cut out your child and place the cutout on the contact paper within the frame.

Let your Little decorate with the snowflake confetti (and whatever else they want to add) and then carefully place the other piece of contact paper over the top and cut off any excess paper. Create a snow globe stand using the card and display!

We didn’t have any snow confetti so we used stars instead. I had to deal with Littlest J terrorising the Nativity Scene and yeeting the Angel over his shoulder for the 500th time in an hour and H made the most of this time adding whatever she could find to our globe. Not entirely what I envisioned, but the girl had fun.

 

Pipe cleaner snowflakes

H loves a threading activity and I like it when the activity has some kind of specific outcome so this worked well for us both. For this craft, you will need:

  • Pipe cleaners (duh)
  • Beads
  • Scissors

You can use any colour pipe cleaners and beads you like but I tried to stick with icy blues and silvers. Cut a long pipe cleaner into 3 equal size pieces and wrap two of the pieces around the other one so that you end up with a six-sided star shape. Thread beads onto the arms (?) of your snowflake and when you’re satisfied, cut a pipe cleaner into 3cm (roughly) segments and wrap these around the tops of each arm to complete your snowflake shape. Use your snowflake as a tree decoration or card topper or as part of your present wrapping.

 

When I find the energy and the antibiotics have kicked in, we will be attempting stained-glass window biscuits (worth a Google) and the construction and decorating of a gingerbread house – what could go wrong? Until then, I will spend the days leading up to Christmas saving Baby Jesus and his stable guests from the giant mitts of Littlest J and celebrating my return to dairy by eating every kind of cheese. As always, I’d love to see your creations so drop me a message on Instagram. I wish you a very merry (and peaceful) Christmas and happy new year.

Stace x

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Instagram vs Reality | Bambinista

Instagram vs Reality

Instagram vs Reality

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I love that I’m able to share our life in England with my family in South Africa. I’m so very grateful for that. It’s offered a space in which to connect with people in a similar situation as me – South Africans living abroad, teachers, parents, stepmoms, parents of babies with allergies – there seems to be a group for every kind of person.

Minutes before Big J threw up his Christmas dinner...
(Minutes before Big J - then Little J - threw up his Christmas dinner)

On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to engage in this kind of media without falling into the joyless pit that is comparison. Everyone is better than you – better looking, better dressed, a better parent, a better decorator, a better cleaner, a better spouse – basically a better version of you in every way. (Wow. This is a depressing blog post for Christmas, Stace. What the blaze?)  It’s hard to escape the comparison dementor once it has its claws in you. I find this particularly tricky during the festive season. It feels like everyone is trying to outdo each other – bigger tree, more presents, more Christmas events. It’s so difficult because we know that what we’re seeing a highlight reel. We know that we are just getting a snapshot of someone’s reality and yet, if you’re anything like me, I compare myself anyway. It’s a frustrating and disheartening cycle because after all “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

A little while back, I had to reflect on what my motives are. The classes and clubs I had signed my babies up for – had I signed them up for their own good or because I wanted something good to post on my Insta stories? Ouch. For the record, this post isn’t meant to add to your mum-guilt. I just wanted to remind you in this festive season that your children don’t need to be decked head-to-toe in outfits from Claude and Cloud (I totally made that brand up but you know the ones I mean? The alliterative dual name types), gingerbread houses can be eaten without being constructed, and that Elf on the Shelf can remain in quarantine for another year (I’ve made many mistakes in my life, introducing my children to that time-consuming nymph has not been one of them). Obviously if your children enjoy all of those things, then crack on.

A fun-filled Christmas shopping day in Cambridge….Never. Again.

(A fun-filled Christmas shopping day in Cambridge….Never. Again.)

My husband and I have had to reflect on Christmas activities. We both have ideas of how these things will go and we end up disappointed when our children aren’t as excited as we are. Which has led to the realisation that often we are planning these things for us and not for them. A nine year old has very little interest in a Christmas fair held in an eleventh century cathedral, the highlight of a light show for a three year old will be the carousel, and what the family photo doesn’t show on the Christmas tree picking adventure is the boys wrestling each other in the mud and the three year old running around like a maniac while my husband and I chose the tree. Instagram would have you believing that our children decorated the Christmas tree in their bedroom whilst singing along to Buble, when in reality they spent the time rolling each other around in the empty Christmas tree box. So what point am I trying to make exactly? Am I saying that you should give up on planning special festive activities? Not at all. I guess what I’m trying to say is, manage your expectations. Don’t be swayed by what you see on Instagram. Remember that there is a story behind every photo.

I was going to post a photo here to really drive the point home but my husband said that no one would want to see my bare legs covered in the fluorescent yellow glow-in-the-dark poo that can only be produced by a newborn. I should probably give you some kind of context for that description. I had posted a photo of me snuggling my adorable newborn daughter that day with a caption along the lines of “Newborn bliss” or something equally pompous and the reality was that I had spent the morning in tears because my tiny little mini-me had wanted nothing but to be on me and all I wanted (needed) was a shower. I eventually got my shower but it was swiftly followed by my sweet girl creating a faecal Jackson Pollock all over my freshly washed body. I cried. She cried. I ran us a bath and we listened to Enya. There’s a story behind every photo.

(The Fart - circa February 2021)

This is one of my favourite photos. We call it The Fart. You might see it on my carefully crafted photo patchwork that is my Instagram page and you might think that it is a sweet photo of a precious moment shared together at a National Trust location and you would be right.

Sort of.

It was our first major outing as a family of six and I was still riding high on the rollercoaster of emotions that post-partum hormones serve up. I had already nearly started a fight with a woman that I felt had stared just a little too long as I breastfed Littlest J on the nearest available bench. Anyway, I was very sensitive about how people were perceiving us and I was self-conscious about my post-partum body and I just wanted everything to be Instagram perfect.  

What you don’t get from the picture is that we were attempting a simple photo together and H chose that very moment to let one rip. I am fairly confident that the reverberations measured a solid 8 on the Richter scale. It’s not the photo we set out to capture but it has become one of my favourite photos. The way that Big J is looking at H with shock and pride, you can almost hear Biggest J’s laugh, and my look of disbelief that my girl could produce such a noise from her backside. There’s a story behind every photo.

We thought it would be fun to frolick in the freshly fallen snow with a 5 year old and an 18 month old. We ended up narrowly escaping an encounter with the local crazy lady and had to thaw the 18 month old for 2 hours on our return.

(We thought it would be fun to frolic in the freshly fallen snow with a 5 year old and an 18 month old. We ended up narrowly escaping an encounter with the local crazy lady and had to thaw the 18 month old for 2 hours on our return.)

So, this is what I’m telling myself this festive season: loosen the reins a little. Lower your expectations. Be flexible. Have fun. If things don’t pan out as you’d planned, roll with it. Be sensitive to your little ones. Take the photos but take them for you not for the likes. In the words of someone wise “Don’t count someone else’s sprinkles while your own ice-cream melts”.

Real life happens in the white spaces between those little online squares – it is messy and raw and at times it is ugly. It involves disappointment and bored children and whispered arguments. But it is real and it is yours. I’m not saying that you should post all of this on your page in the name of being realistic and I’m definitely not saying that you should enjoy every moment because that’s just ridiculous. Not every moment is made to be enjoyed but we grow and learn from them and they often make the best stories.

Breathe deep, enjoy a Baileys and don’t feel pressured to take that Elf off of the shelf.

Peace and love to you and yours this Christmas.

Stace

x

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Reunited - and Keeping Long-Distance Family Close | Bambinista

Reunited - and Keeping Long-Distance Family Close

Reunited.

Reunited and it feels so good. After two years, I was finally reunited with my wonderful parents and they got to meet Baby J for the first time.

You know the opening scene of Love Actually where Hugh Grant talks about the happiness and love found at Heathrow’s Arrivals? Well, I feel like we could have been part of that opening montage. Two years. That’s a crazy long time. The last time we saw each other, H had just turned 1 and couldn’t even walk yet. She is now 3 (quick maths) and ran straight into her Grandpa’s arms. I ugly cried and didn’t care.

If you like, you can see a little montag I put together of our reunion @bornforblueskies. 

They were here for just two weeks, but their timing could not have been more perfect. We had originally talked about them coming over for Christmas and staying for New Year’s and Baby J’s first birthday (insert crying emoji face here), but thankfully their impatience meant that they arrived in mid-November which resulted in them just missing South Africa being placed back on the red list. In fact, their flight home was cancelled and they had to rebook with a different airline. We were the lucky ones.

My heart breaks for the many thousands of South Africans whose flights were cancelled, Christmases ruined, and long-awaited reunions yet again postponed.

My parents had asked to do nothing touristy but rather to just be included in our day-to-day lives. I wasn’t sure that they would be satisfied with school-runs and ballet lessons but they loved it.

Everyone always talks about how a woman changes after having a baby, how a man changes, but no one prepared me for the very great honour of watching my parents become grandparents. While I’ve seen them in this role during previous visits, this one in particular really amplified their roles as Granny and Grandpa. I feel as if my heart grew seven times in size with every “Run, Grandpa, run!” and “Play with me, Granny!”. To see their love for our children shine out of their faces and overflow in hugs and cuddles filled my bucket all the way to the top. To have them confirm our beliefs that our offspring are amazing and to have their support and encouragement in our parenting meant the world to us.

The house feels so empty without them here. Our dramatic H has been wondering around forlornly with her head hanging. When asked what’s wrong, she replies with a sniff “I’ve lost my Granny and my Grandpa."

Being a long-distant grandparent can be so hard and with so many families being separated geographically, I thought it would be helpful to get a few tips from my parents on how to ease the ache of being apart.

  1. Have a set time to talk.

Sunday afternoon tends to be the time that we video chat. Knowing that we have that time set aside gives us a sense of anticipation and becomes something that we look forward to. The children also know that Sunday afternoon means seeing Granny and Grandpa (and their dog Mia) and I think it’s so important to maintain that communication even if 38% of the call is spent watching Mia swimming. We are so fortunate in this day and age to have the ability to make video calls and to see each other this way – make the most of it. 

  1. Videos of the children.

Your friends might not be interested in the video of your 11 month old babbling unintelligibly or your 9 year old’s first attempt at film-making (all 7 minutes of him screaming Blair Witch style around the garden with the camera angled up his nose), but the grandparents will be. It allows them to be part of family outings or occasions or the day-to-day which is so important. It gives them something to talk about during our Sunday afternoon chats and keeps them up-to-date on what is going on in our lives.

  1. Make videos for the children.

It turns out that grandchildren enjoy receiving videos as much as their grandparents. My parents are so good at this and it has allowed our children to get a glimpse of life in South Africa. One of my favourite memories is when Biggest J asked my mom if she could please give them all a virtual tour of their house. I had never thought of giving our children a tour of my childhood home but in the same way that grandparents are curious about their grandchildren’s lives so too are grandchildren about their grandparents’ lives. We have received videos from the Karoo, from various nature reserves, videos including Mia swimming, videos of a swarm of locusts – all of which the children have loved and talked about.

 

  1. Take the time for updates.

As I have already mentioned, we are so fortunate to have a number of technologies at our disposal – use them. Send photos (I am told that there is no such thing as too many). I currently have close to 50,000 photos on my phone (yeah…I know…it’s a problem. I don’t want to talk about it) and 49,000 of those are of our children. Part of the reason is that our children are just that stinking cute, but I’ve also gotten into a habit of taking photos to send to the grandparents. A short message is also an option. I sometimes forget what I’ve said during a Sunday chat and then get a message on the Tuesday asking how baby J’s allergies are or how Big J’s swimming lesson went. A quick text can go a long way.

 

Make the time to connect with your parents. Give your children opportunities to spend time with their grandparents even if it is via FaceTime. H ran straight into the arms of her Grandpa and Granny because she knew them even from 8000 miles away. Give your children the gift of knowing their grandparents because as someone once said “A Grandparent is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend."

If you want to connect with me, add me on instagram @bornforblueskies.

Until next time,

Stace x

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(A Bit of a Late) Introduction | Bambinista

(A Bit of a Late) Introduction

I’ve been writing this blog for a little while now and thought that it was time for an introduction. So, hello. My name is Stacey. I can’t stand luke-warm tea, I love beautiful stationary, I’m a recovering people-pleaser, I collect notebooks, I can sing I’m a Little Teapot in Zulu, I struggle to set boundaries, I had a close encounter with a hippo when I was a baby, I hate conflict, I struggle to make decisions and I love cheese (all of it). Nice to meet you.

I was born and raised in the hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. My childhood was something special. I lived in the same house from the age of 3 until the March before my 21st birthday. My summers were spent in our swimming pool or tubing down the river that ran through our small, rural town. I’m not sure that anything could be as delicious as the freedom of a six week summer holiday that went by in a blur of bike rides, picnics, dam days, and the sweet anticipation of the arrival of the cousins. Our holidays involved camping in some of South Africa’s most beautiful locations, hiking in the Drakensberg or waking up in the dark with a flask of hot tea and tin of rusks for an early morning game drive. It was magnificent.

Unlike my older brother who knew exactly what he wanted to do from a young age, I flitted between professions – dancer, dolphin trainer, actress, marine biologist – my options were somewhat varied. When it came time to make a decision about what I wanted to do, I chose to ignore my English teacher’s comments about my writing being a little on the dramatic side and decided to pursue a degree in media and journalism. Having completed my degree, I found myself living in England (a very long story that I will gladly share over a bottle of gin) and came to the scary realisation that I wasn’t entirely sure I actually wanted to pursue any of the careers that my degree had prepared me for. I tried my hand at “Sales and Marketing” which lasted a whole 6 hours and saw me sell one measly bottle of whiskey. I dabbled in insurance for a bit and then was given the opportunity to work in a small school. The rest, as they say, is history.

I had found my thing. Admittedly, I wasn’t so sure at first but I realised that I had a knack for it. I loved working with children (not so different to dolphin training) and found the whole thing so rewarding that I decided to complete my PGCE and become a qualified teacher. 7 years, 1 divorce (pass the gin) and 2 babies later, and now I am a stay-at-home mom with an ever-increasingly concerning addiction to coffee and granola who dabbles in blog-writing and Pinterest projects. I started this blog as a means of reflection and as a record of this weird journey that parenthood takes us on.

Along the way, I have found my person and together we have four children – two pre-made and two that we have gone halvsies on. Biggest J is 9, Big J is 5, Little H is 3, and Littlest J is nearly 11 months. Some days, we smash this parenting lark. Other days we suck. We are learning and growing as we go. I am figuring out how to be a stepmom and a mom-mom. We’re figuring out how to function on minimal sleep and be the parents that we need to be. How to keep the romance alive whilst fishing beads out of the 3 year old’s nose or mopping up puddles of sick at 2 in the morning. We’re doing the best that we can and we’re learning to be ok with ourselves when being the best we can be isn’t possible. My story is a messy one, but the best ones often are. I am so happy that you have decided to join me.

As always, please feel free to drop me a line on instagram @bornforblueskies.

Until next week,

Stace x

   

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The Wonder of Play | Bambinista

The Wonder of Play

Albert Einstein said that “Play is the highest form of research”. The psychologist Vygotsky said that “A child’s play is not simply a reproduction of what he has experienced, but a creative reworking of the impressions he has required”. Mr Rogers said of play that it “…gives children a chance to practice what they are learning”. It’s no secret then that play is essential for learning, indeed play is learning.

Recently, H’s play has consisted of small world and role play. At two and a half, H started to show interest in small world play and would act out little scenes with her teddies. It would literally only last a minute or two but it was fascinating watching her process her world through play.  This kind of play has since developed and she now has entire back stories complete with different characters – often a mummy and a daddy and an H. Before I go any further, I feel like I need to mention that my kid (like most kids) can turn any object into a character. Blocks, pens, cutlery, and (most recently) milk bottle lids. I love that children are capable of conjuring up characters and props with what they have available – sticks for swords, a wooden block for a hairbrush, and a slipper for a Barbie car (that last one was my chosen mode of transport for my Barbie).

Some children may need a little help developing this skill and so you might like to provide a few bits to encourage their imagination. Puppets are an easy way of doing this and they’re also simple to make (mostly – unless you consider yourself a bit of a Gepetto then please by all means crack on). All you really need is a sock (if you don’t have one, please let me know and I will gladly post you one of the 753 odd socks we seem to have accumulated) and some googly eyes. You could even chuck some wool on top if you’re feeling fancy. Should you be fresh out of socks and my offer to provide you one doesn’t appeal to you, then wooden spoon puppets could be the way forward for you and your littles. All you need are wooden spoons (surprise!) and Sharpies and then get to drawing.

If you’re stuck for ideas for characters, use your child’s favourite fairytale or bedtime story. Nothing develops a child’s speech and language quite like retelling a story they have frequently heard. Lolly sticks are also great for this. You could make a morning out of your puppet-making. Depending on how creative you are feeling (or how much sleep you’ve had), you can make it as simple (sock and googly eyes) or complex (sequins, glue gun, beads, fairy dust) as you like.

We decided that because this type of play seems to be H’s favourite at the moment, it would be worth investing in a toy that would allow her to fully immerse herself in it and so we bought her a dollhouse. I very happily fell down a rabbit hole of different brands but I found my H’s dreamhouse in Tender Leaf Toys’ Foxtail Villa. It was love at first sight – the gorgeous painted details, the sturdy wooden features, and beautifully crafted accessories which aren’t fiddly and can easily be handled by little hands. While the construction of the house took about an hour, it was straightforward and the instructions clear and easy to understand.

My marriage has only been under threat twice – one incident involved rugby, and the other involved the construction of a bicycle which was nearly launched over the fence, so easy-to-understand and clear instructions are important to us.

 

The Tender Leaf figurines stand without trouble which is important when you have a threenager who gets frustrated when things don’t work the way they’re supposed to. I had so much fun setting up each of the three floors of the house and H had fun rearranging it all and making it hers. I’m not sure what my expectations were but I have so enjoyed watching her play with it – currently the house has been overrun by H’s other passion (dinosaurs) and a triceratops is currently rooming with Tender Leaf Girl. I can’t wait to see how H’s play changes as she gets older and what other guests she decides to introduce to her little family.

I’d love to know what this kind of play looks like in your house. How do you foster imaginative play? Let me know at @bornforblueskies.

Love,

Stace x 

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Keeping Halloween Safe and Fun | Bambinista

Keeping Halloween Safe and Fun

There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your Little has a fun Halloween experience. It’s important to remember that sometimes children’s fears do not always make sense to us. A fear of pirates may seem silly and irrational to an adult, but to a child, especially one who has only recently developed an imagination, the fear is very real. Approach Halloween with sensitivity, understanding, and empathy. You are your Little’s safe place – make sure that you provide a space that is free of judgement and dismissal.
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Half Term, Hallowe'en, and Beyond | Bambinista

Half Term, Hallowe'en, and Beyond

The October half-term is my favourite. As a teacher, I always found that it could never come soon enough. There is just so much to look forward to – Halloween, Bonfire Night and (don’t shoot me) Christmas. It’s all so exciting. If you find yourself dreading the thought of half-term, don’t despair! I have got you covered with lots of fun ideas that won’t break the bank...
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Autumn | Bambinista

Autumn

In celebration of my love for this season, H and I have been busy making the most of the crunchy leaves and beautiful colours and we’ve had so much fun making Autumn-inspired arts and crafts...
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Lockdown Love Letter to My Baby: A Reflection on Pregnancy, Birth, & Maternity in Lockdown | Bambinista

Lockdown Love Letter to My Baby: A Reflection on Pregnancy, Birth, & Maternity in Lockdown

With restrictions being lifted, I felt like it was a good time to reflect on what it was like to be pregnant and to give birth during a global pandemic. I felt that the best way to do this would be in the form of a letter to J-Beast, my lockdown baby.
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Sleep (Please?) | Bambinista

Sleep (Please?)

Sleeplessness is a Battle

“Before sunrise, he’s your son”.

A line from The Lion King that hit a particular nerve this morning as I blinked through bleary eyes looking like a missing member of KISS with my panda eyes and forgotten eyeliner.  As new parents, we’ve all seen them. The memes about sleep deprivation:

  • “The last time I slept well” above the sonogram picture
  • The Tired Mums Club
  • the video of the mum rocking the bouncer on the floor while she cradles her sleeping newborn in her arms

...and yet, we are so unprepared for it. While the memes are amusing and I feel like I can identify with all of them, at 3:43 in the morning, they don’t seem so cute. The reality of sleep deprivation is so much darker than social media and films would have us believing – there’s a reason why it’s used as a form of torture.

Sleep deprivation is so much more than falling asleep at your laptop or halfway (LOL. More like 5 minutes) into a film. Coffee is great but all it does is keeps your eyelids open…just. Don’t get me wrong, I love my morning brew and if I weren’t breastfeeding, I’d seriously consider dropping a small fortune on a fancy machine to feed my habit. But coffee simply keeps us ticking over – it’s survival juice.

What no one talks about is the way that sleep deprivation makes you mentally vulnerable. It strips us of our mental gatekeepers and leaves us vulnerable and susceptible to dark and negative thoughts. It also feeds the “Guilty Mum” cycle:

Sleep deprivation leads to impatience and being short-tempered which leads to being snappy which then leads to guilt which leads to negative thoughts which can lead to anxiety which can lead to sleep deprivation (seriously) and so the cycle goes.

If you’ve found yourself awake at 3:23am frantically Googling “why won’t my baby sleep” or “will I ever sleep again”, then you are not alone. So, from one caffeine-soaked, sleep-deprived parent to another, here are some of my survival tricks. I’m still not getting a full night’s sleep, but I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel so that’s something.

"Sleep when the baby sleeps” is harder than it sounds.


There needs to be a word that describes the sheer panic that is felt by parents when they are overwhelmed with what to do whilst baby sleeps. When H was just a nugget, I remember spending her entire 2 hour nap flitting from the laundry, to the sofa, to her, to the bathroom unable to decide on whether I should get things ticked off of my to-do list or try to sleep or shower. At the end of that nap, I had absolutely nothing to show for it and I remember feeling overwhelming frustration. I have found this to be one of the hardest parts of parenthood – compromising. It’s time to give up the plate-spinning business. For the sake of your mental health and your relationships, give it up. Be gentle with yourself. Remember that you can’t fill someone else’s cup, if yours is empty.

I can picture my husband’s face when he reads this. He has to remind me of these truths on a daily basis.

Some days you will write a short story, wash, dry, and fold 32 loads of laundry and make a cheese soufflé while baby naps and other days you will nap while baby naps. Both of those should be considered successes. Last Saturday, the big boys were home and baby J had woken at 6 which meant that he was ready for a nap at 8. We put a film on for the Big Js and H, put baby J down for a nap and then went for a nap ourselves. It felt scandalous and I loved it and I was a better parent for it.



Download an Audiobook

 

Weird one, I know, but in the early days when Baby J’s sleep pattern was anything but a pattern, an audiobook was my saving grace. Those early morning hours can be some of the loneliest hours and knowing that I had a good mystery book waiting for me, made the wake up marginally easier. Marginally. At first, I made the mistake of downloading something intellectual and ended up putting myself back to sleep. Coming to grips with the psychology of a toddler makes for fascinating listening during the day, but at 4:21am it’s doing nothing except ushering in the sandman. A crime novel kept me interested and there were times when Baby J had happily gone back to sleep and I was still sat there trying to solve the case.

Download “Precious Little Sleep” on your phone or device so that you can refer to it at all hours. This book saved my life and the lives of my babies. I can’t recommend it enough.

Technology and Tricks



You know the sleep tricks already. Dark room, white noise, routine, swaddling…these methods are recommended for a reason. They may not all work for you but they’re honestly worth a try. Plus, technology these days has made life so much easier. The amazing SNOO Bassinet does pretty much everything except feed your offspring but I’m sure, given some time, that’ll be a feature in the future.

We’ve found white noise to be a winner with Baby J which is easily sorted on Spotify or the Alexa but if you don’t want your entire shuffle playlist completely monopolised by rainbow sounds, then a Moonie Humming Friend is the one for you. If you have yourself a little sprog who falls asleep beautifully if they’re being pushed in the pushchair or bounced or patted but you’re at a point where you’re just 7 pushes away from producing The Rock-style biceps, then it may be time to look into purchasing a Rockit portable rocker. This little bad boy attaches to the pushchair and keeps rocking long after your arms have stopped. There’s a reason why this little gadget has won awards.

If you ever find yourself awake at 4:33am and you can hear the birds start chirping (which can be one of the most depressing sounds ever when it starts to dawn on you that the day is just about to start and you’ve had 28 minutes sleep and you’re wondering how on Earth you’re going to make it through the day let alone be the fun and energetic parent you thought you’d be) just know that you’re not alone. Drop me a message on Instagram. Chances are good, I’ll be awake too and we can be lonely and sleep deprived together. No matter how bad it gets, I promise it does get better. You will find yourself trying to unlock the house door with your phone and you’ll find your sunglasses in the fridge, but I promise it’ll get better.

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Happy Birthday, Paddington! | Bambinista

Happy Birthday, Paddington!

Paddington fans will know that P.B, like the Queen, has two birthdays – today, 25th June, and Christmas Day. We decided to celebrate the sweet stowaway for a week with a suitcase packed with a variety of classic Paddington books.
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Half Term Inspiration | Bambinista

Half Term Inspiration

If the lockdown left you short on gin and inspiration and the half-term is filling you with dread and you can’t bear the thought of making yet another batch of slime, here are a few tried and tested ideas that are sure to keep you and the tribe a little entertained. I have divided them into two groups – Sunny Day Activities and Rainy Day Activities because…England, that’s why.

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