I was (literally) chomping at the bit to get involved in one of my latest collaborations with bakerdays!! In my opinion every day is a cake day so I was intrigued to see how many designs could be made available in a short space of time…. *** SPOILERS!!! *** there are literally hundreds of designs that cater to Cake Lovers from all backgrounds, bound together in time and space by their love of the good stuff! By good stuff I mean tasty, moist cakey goodness! Layers of delicious happiness in circular form.
bakerdays was founded by Andrea Guzyova and greeting card entrepreneur Alan Hawkes so you can guarantee beautiful design as well as great taste.
Myself, the recipient and only the top cake connoisseur’s in her friends list got to indulge in the beautiful “Peach Butterflies” Letterbox Cake that I lovingly selected for my Mum (good old Nannie H!) for her half century celebrations… or her 25th times 2 Life Experience Anniversary!
If you are not familiar with the concept, the Letterbox Cake is conveniently packaged in a box that slips through your door, so it is guaranteed to make an appearance on the required day of the occasion; be it Birthday, anniversary, a congratulations, new job or just reminding a person that they are important to you through the medium of cake!
The cake is a compact 12cm diameter by 2.5cm height, made to fit through a standard letter box so your Postie can just put it straight into the recipients home so it is perfect for that thoughtful surprise!
My Mother had expressed her wish for a quiet affair for her *cough* 50th *cough* Birthday. With her being less than cheery about the prospect and adamant that she wouldn’t be celebrating she begrudgingly decided on a High Tea at her house, and I was giddy with excitement as this would be the perfect setting for the Letterbox cake I was planning!
I must admit that I was quite nervous about the condition that the cake would arrive in, and what was it about it’s tin vessel that would protect it from serious damage?! I seriously dread the state of deliveries coming from a logistics background; I see first hand packages being poorly handled, bashed around etc and I was impressed yet a smidgen dubious with the claim on the website that the cake would be packaged
“in a way to ensure that it survives the drop from the letterbox to the floor, while remaining in perfect condition.”
Innovative and unique to bakerdays, the Letterbox Cake can be used to deliver any message to the door. It is only limited to the senders imagination as to how they can utilise this edible bulletin! I toyed with the idea of the photo cake options, but found it slightly creepy to devour my own face and the faces of those I love so eventually opted for a pre set design with personalisation in the message.
The website is easy to navigate but the challenge comes in selecting your “Chosen One!”. I spent over 40 minutes pouring over page after page of designs that each have their place and purpose and I could imagine the audience for each one. There were designs that I never knew would be required but when I saw them their relevance just clicked and I would be like “If I were an eight year old boy I would really dig this Dino design”or “If I was a lonely older person I would really appreciate the vintage designs of cakes to remind me that people remembered my favourite flower”for example. Such a broad spectrum of themes are covered.
I am a sucker for all things personalised because I love to work out what makes people tick. Obviously I know my Mother very well so I was able to pick out a Top 5 Of cake designs that would be meaningful and represent her.
As if the design choice wasn’t enough, you then get to select your sponge flavour that’s includes: traditional sponge, rich chocolate chip, lemon drizzle (which was my top choice), fruit or gluten free and dairy free to allow as many people to enjoy the cake as possible (with dietary requirements considered.)
I asked my Mum what she thought about her bakerdays birthday surprise:
What did you find surprising about bakerdays?
“The quality and look even though it dropped through the letterbox!”
What did you like most about your cake?
“The vibrant colours, font and design.”
How would you rate the taste?
“10/10. Moist, tasty, not too sweet.”
Did the cake taste as good as it looks?
Would you send your own letterbox cake in the future?
“Absolutely it’s now in my gift list!”
The Letterbox Cake is guaranteed to put a smile on your recipients face and at just £14.99 with next day delivery (when ordered before 2pm) it is great value for money and could really get you out of a “jam” (pardon the pun!) if you have forgotten a birthday or event. It is a fun and thoughtful alternative to a traditional card delivery.
But it’s not just delicious cakes… bakerdays also provide extras such as helium balloons to accompany your cake as well as gifts that include diffusers, necklaces, mugs and fabulous pop up cards.
I believe that bakerdays could be your one stop shop for all events and highly recommend the service based on quality, innovation, aesthetics and taste. Hurry and use discount festive25 for 25% off all orders.
Negotiating the ocean of baby products that are available on the market can be quite suffocating! Add to that the tides of “advice” and “recommendations” from everyone and their Nan- “Buy this!” “Buy that!” “This helped my LO sleep!” “This contraption is all singing and dancing!” “Buying this product will make you a better parent…”… you get the picture.
I didn’t ask for advice but I was lumbered with it in every direction I turned. I was one of those Mother’s who never picked up a baby book throughout my entire pregnancy because I believe (and still do nearly 8 months down the line of Motherhood) that babies can not come with a manual… they come with a Mother… who learns best the systems that work for her and her child! Don’t try and force your square baby into a round hole (what a strange image! I hope if there is anything you take away after reading this piece is this silly analogy; you have a little smile to yourself at the lunacy of suggesting squishing babies into different shaped crevices, then remember how individual and wonderful your own child is and appreciate all their idiosyncrasies, their love for you and how YOU too are as individual as a Mother!) #DoYouBooBoo!
If my parenting was analysed by textbooks I think it could be labelled “attachment parenting” and I am sure a lot of people would tell me what I was doing was wrong. But so far; there have been no scares and Beatrice and I work together to get through babyhood and Motherhood respectively!
It has taken some time, and a cloak of bravado to finally have confidence in my decisions as a Mummy. And judging by the Little Person who accompanies me on this journey daily, I am now confident in my ability as a ruddy good Momma Bear. And you are too! Did you feed your child enough today? Did you change them when they needed? Did you give them cuddles that sent them into soft slumber?… you did? Then you my friend have done a good job today!
But I digress… this post is primarily targeted at Momma’s-To-Be to ensure that your purchases are streamline, smart and save you money! You may be tempted to go all in, and a lot of recommendations will have suited the child of that particular Mummy. My main message is to stock up on the essentials and take the time to find out what products can be adapted to your personal lifestyle.
It is hair raising how much you could potentially save yourself. I believe a lot of baby companies are capitalising on New-Mother fear or even the fear of being a Mother to another child in this time. Perhaps there has been a 5 year gap between this child and the older child who didn’t have the wealth of products available in 2013 and in that time laws and parenting rules seemed to have changed over, and over so it can be overwhelming and quite confusing! Bam! In sweeps a retail giant with false promises of a happier baby. If they use this version of a rattle their cognitive abilities will advance three fold… blah blah blah.
A lot of products take up space and burn a hole in your pocket, so I also learnt that shopping second hand is not to be sniffed at! The quality is often so high because babies grow so fast that many items are used just a handful of times. It turns out also that one of Bea’s favourite toys was a £5 animal carousel that can be stuck on the highchair or just popped on the floor, that she bashes to spin and it features some adorable, colourful animals (including a tiger, lion, monkey, zebra and bee.) #CheapAndCheerful.
This is my own personal experience and list, but I hope it may help you make decisions at to what you want to include as part of your baby arsenal. I have also taken the liberty of including the savings to be made from either not including these items on your shopping list, or opting for less expensive alternatives.
So first things first…
1) Moses Basket.
Admittedly we had a much longer shelf life with our purchase because our tiny, preemie baby came home with us just over 5 and a half pounds and grew at a slower rate! This meant that she was still comfortably fitting in the Moses basket at 4 months old, by which time we were in the position to replace this sleeping arrangement with a more permanent solution (which has been a very USEFUL transition piece before getting Bea into her own room! More about this shortly!)
Moses baskets are most aesthetically pleasing and will look adorable… for a few weeks! We had been very lucky that a friend was selling her Clair De Lune Noah Moses Pod (RRP £110 and often these are sold without the stands! Madness!) and we snapped it up for just £35 which was a complete steal!
Knowing the lunacy of the market for these we sold the pod on again for £70 so we never lost money on this purchase, but if I were to “do over” the initial baby shopping experience I would have never opted for a Moses Basket in the first place. Instead the best bet is to spend out on a crib or next to you solution as it can be used until such time as you move your baby out of your room. 7 months of co-sleeping (the definition I use here is baby in same room), so for us the Babystyle Oyster SnuggleCrib has been invaluable!
I was lucky enough to have won this bedside crib through my hobby (some may call it addiction) of entering Facebook and Instagram competitions! So again this saved me over £70. I would however suggest that if you want to invest in a great piece of sleep kit then go for a Next To You style crib like the Chicco Next 2 Me. This is for longevity and is also very useful when breastfeeding.
Saving- £75 on the Moses Basket.
Saving- £80 on the Snuggle Crib.
£35 profit on selling Moses Basket on.
Money in my pocket- £190!!!
2) Sleepyhead of Sweden Deluxe.
I would describe this piece of luxury baby kit as style over substance. Yes… it’s very pretty and makes for some very cute photo opportunities but it is an extortionate price to pay!
Mello Yellow Take 2!
The three occasions that we actually used the SleepyHead!
If you have been living under a rock and are unfamiliar with the Sleepy Head is essentially a pod that can be used as a bed or mat for supervised play or Tummy Time, but it is touted by famous people and those with more money than sense!
I barely used ours and it ended up taking up space in the living room. Sure it is more aesthetically pleasing than your standard, gaudy kiddy pillows or mats but you pay through the nose for that privilege! It is oh so hip, Indie and Scandi and a lovely “prop” to have if you are lucky enough to have a spare £130 knocking around… but in reality that is a sum that most Mothers-To-Be do not have!
There is also hot debate as to whether this pod actually meets the standards of Safe Sleep as defined by the Lullaby Trust etc as it only definitely meets the standards of a pillow which it is not being used as, it is being promoted as a sleeping environment replacement and I would NEVER recommend it as such! The only truly safe sleep environment is a basket/bassinet/cot crib with fitted sheet and NO loose blankets, pillows, cot bumpers or teddies.
Influencers all over social media praise the SleepyHead but I personally found that Bea would not sleep on it any way and an activity mat provided more comfort, play opportunity and she would even fall asleep better on an activity mat after a good twenty minute kick about.
Luckily the SleepyHead was a prize I won in my mad, comping spree before going into labour! This saved me £130 of my own money!
The claims the proponents make about it are slightly ludicrous, especially when they say use it as a changing mat… this boggles my mind! Why would you use a white surface if there is the imminent threat of a PooNami?! Sure the covers are machine washable but I wouldn’t want to get any kind of unwanted staining on this overpriced pillow.
You could quite happily have your child propped on a decent Boppy Pillow at the fraction of the price!
In the first six months there is very little sleep observed by your LO and Bea maybe napped for her 20 minute stints two or three times in the SleepyHead as she much preferred to nap on me!
I would certainly suggest doing your own research on these types of products but I feel like they are marketed to provide a solution for all your worries as a parent and prey on those unwelcome insecurities. Believe that you are able to provide the best comfort for your child without having to part with your cash over it. Not having a SleepyHead will not compromise the care of your child.
I would even go as far as to say that if it does work for your child, it is an excuse for lazy parenting!
To have Bea sleep in the day I would mostly just move my Moses Basket into the living room or have her sleep on me as she never slept/nor sleeps now for longer than an hour and a half at one time. Tummy time was hosted on an activity mat (Bea hated being on her tummy way up until her fifth month!) and changing was and continues to be done here, there and everywhere!
I feel like the SleepyHead very much is a statement to be made about being a fashionable/luxe Momma (that I am not!) and is very nice but not a must have! It is not as functional as the company try to make you believe and it is a bit gimmicky that it only lasts up to 6/8 months before your have to upgrade your Duluxe to the Grand (throwing more money at SleepyHead!!)
Here’s a Boppy Pillow that you could use in exactly the same ways stated in the SleepyHead blurb (“around the house”, “changing”, “playing”, “bonding”, “co sleeping”, “lounging” & “resting” which are clearly not exclusive to this product!) and save you over £95! Sure it’s not as beautiful but it means that you can spend out for other products to use alongside it for the play & tummy time aspect.
3) Burping Cloths.
Luckily our little Bea was not a sicky baby so had I had an experience where she was covering myself and our home in vomit then I may have a different opinion on the matter, but as it is I can not recall a time I have ever used a burp cloth.
Instead just ensure you have a good stock of muslins which are hands down the most useful items to have at your disposal and invest in (other than the essential nappies/wipes). We particularly love the large muslins as they can be used in so many more ways.
As a busy parent, I don’t understand why you would allocate time to removing nappies from their perfectly adequate packaging to organise/stack them in an “organiser”. They are not conducive to bleary-eyed night changes, attempting to grab at a nappy for a prompt response time. In the dark and state of confusion it is likely that you will rifle through and cause disarray to your precisely stacked nappies that can remain in perfect formation in the day time!
4.5) Nappy Bin.
In a similar pooey fashion the idea of a nappy bin disturbs me! Surely it is not hygienic to have poopy sausages festering away for a week?! Why not just make a poo run to the regular bin once or twice a day?
5) An expensive steriliser.
Again I don’t know if this is because I was primarily breastfeeding and it may have been different had I been formula feeding for the majority of the time, but a fancy steriliser took up valuable kitchen top space and was a bit of a bind to maintain. Who knew these sterilisers had to be descaled so often which takes another 20 valuable minutes up of your time when you are running around trying to do 800 other tasks?!
I had the Tommee Tippee “Closer To Nature” 5 bottle steriliser (RRP £58.99) and it was fab because it is literally a push-button-and-go system. Though, I found that its condition deteriorated pretty fast (I initially had no clue about the need to de scale your steriliser on a 3/4 weekly basis!) so think money could have been better spent using the Tommee Tippee Essentials 2-in-1 Steriliser for just £12.99! I would always highly recommend the Tommee Tippee products as I found that their electric pump worked better for me than the Medela Swing!
One thing that many people will argue is an item to avoid purchasing is a changing table as you do become a pro at Ninja Changing on all and any surface. You often just have the baby whipped down to their nappy in seconds on your lap!
However, I have a massive soft spot for my changing station as it was lovingly re-purposed by Nannie H. I paid nothing for the changing station (which was not the most beautiful piece of furniture in its past state!) and my Mum took it on as a fixer-upper project as part of my Baby Shower Gift. She lovingly laboured away on that piece over a series of evenings after work. She sanded it down, painted it, sorted out the shelving and then decorated it with the nursery theme in mind, and it makes a stunning focal point in Bea’s nursery.
I try to use it every few days as part of our Bath, Book, Bottle, Bed routine, but I must confess it is not something I used every day, but I would never say it is an overrated item. I love that changing table with all my heart. I would highly recommend taken on a cheap piece of furniture and doing a little DIY project as it will save you a whole chunk of Baby Budget.
Other things that could be a drain on the purse: designer dummies (you will still lose these like regular dummies!), a wipe warmer, bath thermometer (just use your own judgement! Surely you know the acceptable range of temperature for the water!), baby shoes and one for the Mummies- stretch mark creams (regular lotions works exactly the same!)
Obviously this list is not the definitive list of useless items (there are some really bizarre items that can be found on the internet!) and I am sure people will disagree with the list and had a much better experience with the products I have listed.
It all comes back to the point that I initially made that we will find what works for us, so I would hope that this tongue in cheek piece does not serve as an instructional piece. Do your own reading, find what makes you and your baby happy. Just make sure you have the basics and you will have a happy baby.
Remember: a baby doesn’t need THINGS! It just needs you. #FreeHugs
What do you feel like you wasted the most money on? What’s been your Best Buy? Do you buy baby items second hand too?
-Bea’s Mummy x
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You know we are headed on a speedy trajectory to Christmas when you spot the Coca Cola advert on TV. It is an institution in itself these days and the chant of consumerism “Holidays are Coming… Holidays are Coming!” are a cheerful barrage… the friendliest assault and foreshadowing of the mad rush to come. Readying the troops (us as consumers) to buy far too much, then end up closing the year in misery; cursing the extra food we gluttonously gobbled because we have an increased waistline and decreased wallet size! … But we still fall into the trap EVERY year.
At the time you just can’t turn down the extra portion of cold meats on a sandwich despite eating a bird, stuffed in another bird, stuffed in yet ANOTHER bird just hours before! Would we eat this many feathered friends in one sitting ordinarily?… heck no… but as it is the holidays give me more! And a side of pig, cow or little donkey for all I care!!!
My brain says there will be regret come January but in the moment my heart (and belly) says yes, yes, yes!
At Christmas we so easily become “yes” people and marketing teams certainly capitalise on this seasonal pull and the big supermarkets and department stores (looking at you John Lewis!) yank at our heartstrings and pockets, and convince us that their wares are the way forward. I wonder if they have a big meeting where they place bets on who’s advert is going to become the Nations Sweetheart for the year. It really feels that year on year, we are waiting for the gloriously, cinematic and epic adverts.
So just yesterday I finally saw the John Lewis advert, where they have drafted in the Uber talented icon that is Sir Elton John. Savvy move Team John Lewis as he embarks on his retirement tour next year and the film biopic “Rocketman” is also set for release in 2019! So it is going to be a year to come of all things Sir Elton as he hangs up his “old man’s shoes” (that is a reference to one of his tunes in case you didn’t guess!) and there will be countless documentaries and TV movies documenting his life.
John Lewis has gotten there first!
The #EltonJohnLewis hashtag is exploding on social media channels, particularly Twitter and I have seen lots of talk about the advert on my Facebook newsfeed too! I love hashtags. I litter them in my own postings as if they are going out of fashion! This hashtag is just delicious to me. Though it begs the question… will the John Lewis Advert just be remembered as “That Elton John Advert”? Not that that is a terrible thing. But are they relying too heavily on him to create a buzz and will it alienate the general public by making the central figure a star?
The formula for a great Christmas advert is first and foremost a strong, emotional story. The adverts have to take us on a journey and the John Lewis Advert does that in a very obvious way (albeit chronologically backwards) but it take the literal form of a timeline! It is never the less very heartwarming and I couldn’t help but to be taken in as it whizzes back to young Elton receiving his first piano.
Nostalgia and warm, fuzzy memories play such a huge part in the retail/consumer patterns we repeat. It is rather sweet to see an artistic representation of what made a persons dream come true. I think the criticism it has faced about being more about the life of Elton John than the spirit of Christmas is a little harsh as surely what sets our passions alive can be equated to the Christmas Spirit? Perhaps; like Sir Elton, our lives have been shaped by a gift that we have received at Christmas?!
The accompanying piece of music is the enduring “Your Song” (which happens to be one of my favourite pieces of music!) It is timeless and also serves as a nice John Lewis loop with the Ellie Goulding cover of it being utilised in the 2010 Christmas Ad!) That to me screams cohesive marketing! It’s a nod to a nod! There is Your SongCeption going on here! I think we enjoy episodes being wrapped up nicely, so the repetition of the musical choice suits our nature to close a narrative.
It is a nice advert. But it is no “The Man On The Moon” (arguably one of the all time greatest Christmas ads!!) or “The Bear and The Hare”. Also, in my humble opinion it is not the best offering for Christmas 2018!
My favourite is Sainsbury’s “The Big Night”. Everything is just great about it and I am all about the affirmation of self belief and how far it can take you. I think as a Mummy, it made my darn ovaries tingle again! All things child-centric warm my heart and there is something charming about the setting of a school play. It reaches in to my inner thespian that I left behind as I “grew up”.
The whole mini show to the tune of The New Radicals “You Get What You Give” is executed flawlessly and can we just take a minute to appreciate the most hilarious and Meme-Worthy moment where the plug launches himself at a socket?! I laughed out loud at this! How is it that an every day item has been elevated to the status of Godly proportions?! #PlugLife slays me as a hashtag and I loved that M&S gave a huge nod to this spectacular, visual delight in their tweet:
You know your advert is going to be crowned as the King of Crimbo ads when you enlist the creative direction of none other than Michael Gracey who directed “The Greatest Showman”!! It takes the ever familiar setting of the humble “school play” and elevates it to fantastical levels! There is nothing more commonplace in the school setting than a nativity (I always wanted to be the angel but strangely was never selected for this role!) at the end of the year! But this play represents a modern appreciation of the festive period. Queue sparkly bauble, Turkey drumstick and set of fairy lights!
I think it truly hits the mark in all walks of life and is a piece to be proud of because it encompasses the joy of Christmas. The message is full of heart and the children (a tremendous cast of 59 little stars) are just so adorable that I couldn’t help “awww” my way through the advert.
The most talked about (and never seen on TV screen) advert of 2018 is Iceland’s “banned” advert that is central to their ethical and ecological commitment to remove Palm Oil from all their own range products by the end of this year! So; a good year for the environment but not so much for their advert rankings as it is a departure from the Feel-Good festive ads.
It is a beautiful and tragic animation about the impact of Palm Oil production on our endangered species (in this emotive piece an orangutan faced with the consequences of deforestation.)
The advert is certainly more far reaching and “for LIFE (literally!) and not just Christmas!”
The Managing Director of Iceland said:
“Whilst our advert sadly never made it to TV screens, we are hopeful that consumers will take to social media to view the film, which raises awareness of an important global issue. Our commitment to help protect the home of orangutans remains extremely close to our hearts. We are proud to be encouraging consumers to make more sustainable choices, even without the support of TV advertising, ahead of the Christmas shopping season.”
Luckily there is easy social media access to the piece, which is for of heart and social conscious (so in every way goes against the consumer aspect of the holiday season!) I hope that this piece of art sets ripples into action to protect our world and make it a better place for our cosmic community, children and sentient beings. This ad truly is the winning campaign if we disregard traditional channels of Broadcasting.
It is harrowing, yet hopeful… but far too hard to digest over Christmas dinner!
Whilst John Lewis and Sainsbury’s are trying to create an emotional connection with the audience “hey look! We are good/nice people and want to make you feel good/joy/Christmas Spirit too!” Waitrose and M&S are very transparent about their agenda of pushing product, products, product! It is obvious that their quality is superior (heck you know you “have made it in life” when you can do your monthly shop in these two shops!) but do we need that being rubbed in our faces at a time where we feel that we have to provide more and more for our families? Will our Crimbo Dinners be snubbed by the ones we love just because we didn’t invest in M&S Brussels sprouts?!!
Here are my Top 10 Christmas Adverts of 2018. (I am sure many of you will disagree with me! I have strange tastes!)
Whats your Christmas List of Top adverts? Do you agree that having a more political campaign like Iceland is a great step forward? If you were in the Sainsbury’s advert what would you be dressed up as?
-Bea’s Mummy x
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The internet is saturated with Mummy Bloggers. It was indeed daunting starting up my own, Dear Reader; as I sifted through post after post and thought to myself “all the good post titles have surely been taken now!” and pondered as to where I could even fit myself in the mix.
There are so many funny Mummies (who’s antics have my sides splitting at the parenting fails, reasons to drink wine/gin/other alcoholic beverage and refreshing accounts of how hard being a Mummy truly is!), Slummy Mummies, Unicorn Mummies (who are imperfect but bossing Motherhood in their own way), Luxe Mummies (looking perfectly preened, doing yoga, strutting their stuff about the City in only the most premium brands), “Winging it” Mummies (learning the ropes along the way! I guess most of us Mummies adopt this parenting stupid at some point along the way!), Eco Mummies (saving the planet with one reusable nappy at a time & buying in organic and fair trade items), Mum-Trepreneures (running their own businesses from home in between school runs and after bedtime) and Mummies to a Tribe of 4 maybe 5 Wildings!
Is what I have to say worthy? Will my advice be useful considering I am no expert in the Mum Arena?
Regardless, I took the advice of many of the incredible women’s blogs I had poured over throughout my pregnancy and early moments of Motherhood; judging my ability to Mum against these anecdotes,and jumped in, trusting enough in myself that I could make my own little piece of cyber space work!
Yes there are A LOT of Mum Blogs… but not too many. I think it is only a positive thing because blogs are written by experts in the field and it is encouraging that so many of us “just Mums” feel that we can be so much more than that and have so much pride in the prefix adjectives that describe our style! After all Mum’s make this world go round. We do our best and there are still topics to add our voice to because each experience is unique.
I think it is encouraging that Mummy Bloggers exist to empower other new mums, or even “old hat” mums and doesn’t it mean that our children as a collective are in good hands if more and more mums are writing about their expertise?!!
I think so.
I welcome every new Mummy Blogger.
I am thankful that there is scope to help more and have our voices heard. Not just heard, in fact; but sought out and applied as a means of virtual assistance. Like a warm cyber hug that nurtures the next Mum and reminds her that she is enough and is doing a great job!
Now that’s the kind of positivity and love that we should be spreading. Am I right?!
In a world where there is so much “bad” news, fake news, hatred and attempts to polarise global citizens, I think it’s a welcome breath of fresh air that Mun’s are giving little pieces of themselves to the wider community and bringing a little love and light.
I say… Keep blogging Mamma.
Your experience is valid. Your experience brings comfort on the darker days. Your honesty is refreshing. The love you have to give is a beacon of light.
None of us, yet all of us are pro at this Mothering Thing; an oxymoron yes! But the truth none the less. Blogging starts out for ourselves. A means to vent. To unleash our wildest thoughts. Our passions. But it goes beyond that and you soon find cries of “me too!” It is so important not to feel alienated and to love parenting. Mummy Blogging allows you to do this! If you love it… do it! Simple as!
Yes I am “another Mum Blogger” but if my advice helps just one bleary eyed mum, struggling through a night feed, feeling like she just can’t and one of my friendly reminders empowers her then that is a good thing!
I for one welcome new voices. I love to read, I love to write and I love to Mum! There’s no competition in Motherhood and when we realise this the world will be a better place… so maybe we can start in the virtual world and stand by one another and support each of our messages. We are stronger together and a Mum Collective is what the world didn’t ask for… but certainly needs!
What Mummy Blogs have you been reading? Do you label yourself as a particular ‘type’ of Mum?
In another life before back to back pregnancy I would “treat” myself to a luxurious bath after stressful days at the office (these tended to increase whilst pregnant with Mylo) and if I felt a little bit extravagant I would light a few tea lights and chuck in a Bomb Cosmetics bath bomb because I couldn’t always afford LUSH ones and would keep them ‘for best’; whatever that means! (As it is nearly Christmas… yes it is… there is no point in denying it now! Here is a rather jolly festive version of Bomb’s bath goodies. A lovely little gingerbread fellow!)
I think this perfectly illustrates the woman I was, Dear Reader. I have never been someone that has looked after myself as number one and I think this must have taken an emotional toll on me at the very least. Post childloss I have stopped (or are trying to daily) giving a heck about peripheral people and focus on being the best Mummy I can be to Bea. Afterall, how can you pour from a cup that is itself empty? It’s most pivotal that I am not an empty vessel, and these days I give sparingly to those people who come out of the woodwork when they want something!
But often as a Mum, and I am sure all the #MumArmy will attest to this: I forget about myself still. It’s all very well that works of Self Help or magazine ‘psychologists’ advise to act with intent and put yourself first, but like the most adept chess players in the world; a Mum has to attempt to plan at least 8 moves ahead of the child and account for a million scenarios that could play out, so with all the best will in the world it is not really an option to enforce structure. You just have to find those delicious pockets that pop up in the day where you’re can enjoy a hot cup of tea, read a chapter in the “new” book you started skimming 2 months ago or blow dry your hair. (I am sure it gets easier… I have seen light at the end of the tunnel when I see the updates of Mummies who are Parenting 3/4 year olds… but I do not want to wish away my NOW with Bea, so instead I will look a hot mess and take a hit on the consumption of anything hot and wear mushed carrots as a badge of honour!)
Mums tend to operate in a world of Damned-if-we-do-Damned-if-we-don’t and I think we foster the wrong sort of connection to ourselves. That pesky “Mum Guilt” which is damaging and as much as comparison; a thief of our potential happiness. But where do we even start if we are absent from our own To-Do lists? We have 500 things to do a day, probably don’t get through half of it, promise ourselves we will try again tomorrow. But crucially, we neglect Self Care and I personally believe this is the key to a better balance of commitment to Motherhood and Selfhood.
I have found Motherhood has offered an opportunity for me to enjoy my writing again (hence this blog that I somehow manage to dedicate a few hours a week to!) so I have found joy in my hobby and being able to connect (if only through a phone or computer screen) with other women. I have certainly found myself evolving in taking up the mantel of Mumma Bear and my intentions have certainly taken a change of direction. I feel lucky to be a person who was happy to throw myself into a career pre children but now it is Motherhood that sets my soul on fire. And that, is “enough” for me. If I could just sort this #MomBod I would feel a lot better in myself too. Our inner most passions keep us joyful and fully alive. I am not one of these mums that will ever say that “I lost my identity when I had a child” because for me personally, becoming a Mum made me! I wouldn’t even swap the Poonami’s, teething woes, sleep deprivation and feeling like a Mombiemost days for a pair of sky high heels & nights out.
One thing I have “gifted” myself though is the time for a skincare routine in the morning and evening. This is a ritual that marks the start and end of my pretty full on days. Its terrible to admit, but I wasn’t even moisturising this nearly 30 year old skin until a few months ago. So I was excited to try out Willow Organic’s new range of face goodies called Sorbet Glow. If you are just salivating at the name just wait until your senses are involved- the products are aesthetically pleasing, sound great when squirted from their reciprocals, smell incredible, feel sumptuous on the skin… but please don’t eat them!
The range harnesses the power of the natural world in the delicious and perfect combination of fruits, botanicals and other powerful ingredients such as Gatuline®Expression that sets the brand apart.
-This small plant, which blossoms all year long, has a broad geographical footprint, covering the whole tropical zone in South America, Africa and Asia. Originating from Peru and Brazil, Acmella oleracea is a cultivated non-endangered species, known and used for a very long time in Madagascar and La Réunion.
The extract has scientifically proven myorelaxing properties. However, these myorelaxing properties are totally reversible in 24hours making it perfectly safe.
In vitro & In vivo tests have medically proven that the use of Gatuline® Expression reduces the appearance of crows feet within 24hrs – 83% of participants agreed.
Daily Cleansing Wash, Radiance Day Cream, Cell Renewing Cleansing Mask, Vitamin Facial Oil, Super Firming eye Treatment, Nightly Rejuvenation Balm and a Vitamin Lip Oil.
All of which this exhausted Mummy got her paws on to see if these products could become my Go-To skincare saviour. The brand boasts certification of true Organic status by both Cosmos and The Soil Association. This means that the products are not just organic content (some brands represent themselves as organic and it is very misleading as their products may only contain 5% organic matter for example!) Terminology does not often reflect the true nature of the product. I don’t know about you but I would rather not be using a product that is labelled as “95% natural” when it contains methylisothiazolinone, a preservative which is also found in window and floor cleaners and air fresheners *cough* Nivea *cough*! That is just fooling the consumer so the advice that I have gleaned from this is to spend out a little more on the certified products if you want the fully organic experience.
Obviously if you just want an affordable product (I totally get it because that’s how I used to shop!) then you are sacrificing the quality of the goods. Willow Organic is certified having gone through its rigorous review by The Soil Association (one of the UK’s most reputable certified bodies) which has meant every ingredient contained is tested to confirm they are Non-GM and have never been subjected to chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or any other artificial processing. All farms from which the ingredients are produced must have been cleared of any chemical fertilizers and pesticides for a minimum of 3 years!
As if this wasn’t a stringent enough requirement, in addition to this factor each product must satisfy a minimum content of 70% organic and Willow Organic have delivered products that meet then exceed this expectation with each product being 75% organic at least!
Scientist I am not, but to me that sounds like a high level of care for the body to me and when you are slathering products in to your skin (the bodies largest organ) you may not be benefiting your body. Skincare products inevitably end up being filtered by our liver so it will pay to be mindful of what we are essentially putting INTO our bodies. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists warned pregnant women from using unnecessary amounts of products with chemicals in on their skin, saying the effects on unborn babies is not yet know but there could be detrimental effects.
“The ingredients for our entire range have been carefully selected to provide effective, hard working skin care for you. We do not test on animals, we do not use parabens, microbeads, sodium laurel sulphates, palm oil or any mineral oils in our products.”
Another plus is that all of the beautiful packaging is 100% recyclable (but with my slight Hoarder Mentality I am struggling to part with the beautiful boxes!) This Brand truly has thought about every aspect including their philosophy, sustainability, ethical compatibility and look. It is luxurious yet soulful. It is organic but hardworking. It is not the cheapest on the market for sure but I would be happy to splurge on my favourites of the range because the brand will not compromise its values and that has got to count for something in this world of business that is just chasing another fast transaction but not necessarily ensuring the future of their customer. Willow’s approach is refreshing and my skin has certainly felt the benefits of this glorious. Sorbet rainbow. I mean, just look how fabulous they look all lined up in their full glory!
So let’s get into it!
These seem like bold statements that I have made above, but the superior quality speaks for itself. When my Mother came to visit me she mentioned my “healthy glow” and thought I had been on a cocktail of vitamins! Being a busy mum, I rarely have time to apply a full face of makeup any more but I have confidently ditched the foundation and concealer (opting just for a light swoop of bronzer) because my skin has been noticeably fuller & more a-glow-glow which has allowed me to shine through the day with very little upkeep and maintenance. I feel confident in my skin (literally) which is one battle won. As Mothers we are very aware of which battles to pick and you can feel like you have one aspect of your life under control so you can just throw your hair up into a Mum Bun and go!
Below I will directly pull from the website the description of the product then a few word review, verdict and star rating for each product used.
Daily Cleansing Wash-
(With Gatuline Expression® & Acai oil.)
“From the new Sorbet Glow range, a gentle yet effective daily cleansing wash which will cleanse and gently exfoliate your skin.
It contains Acai oil and Chamomile oil which have calming and anti-bacterial properties. Finely ground bamboo makes a wonderful natural exfoliant, is rich in skin-protective anti-oxidants and anti-irritants to protect as it exfoliates. Bamboo also has astringent qualities which help to clear oily or blemished skin. Acai is rich in vitamins to leave skin glowing.”
I personally love this product and do see myself investing in this as part of my future skin care regime. It was easy to absorb into my skin and I could feel the difference instantly. About three days in I noticed a change in the properties of my skin. I can tend towards a pinker hue and get rather ‘attractive’ blotches at times (curse this sensitive/combination skin *shakes fist*!) but this was slightly remedied by the daily use.
I coupled this cleanser with my Simple toner and Olay moisturiser. It was easy to slot into the routine and I got used to adding the extra steps of the addition of the eye cream and facial oil. This was a new concept to me. Who knew the daily skincare regime had so many steps to complete?! Well I certainly didn’t but my skin has since thanked me!
I didn’t find the smell to be overpowering but it was certainly fresh. The consistency was full yet easy to absorb and I liked the feel of it on both my hands and face. (Sometimes I can be a bit funny about products being unnecessarily sticky which could be one of the reasons I have previously avoided a full skincare routine!)
As previously mentioned, Willow truly consider their customer and the cleanser comes with a beautiful organic Muslin cloth which just adds to the full experience. I am a sucker for “pretty things” and if there are little extras that company has my heart and loyalty! Freebies go a long way, so this was a nice additional touch.
Verdict– My skin feels great. The pores are well and truly unclogged. There was no residue left on my skin and it was quite happily rinsed with lukewarm water. As an aside: I also used this cleanser to give my makeup brushes a good clean as I had not taken the time to do so since Bea’s arrival (yes I know that is skanky but it’s just something that is not at the forefront of your mind whilst Daily Mumming!)
Rating– 9/10. Does what is claims! No fuss. Easy to adopt as part of daily routine.
Radiance Day Cream-
(With Gatuline Expression® and Pomegranate.)
“Age-preventative hydrating day cream from the Sorbet Glow range, with soothing Shea Butter and collagen rich Pomegranate which helps smooth and firm your skin by promoting collagen and elastin production. Pomegranate has also been proven to help prevent hyperpigmentation through its natural compounds which protect against free radicals and environmental damage. Pomegrante helps oily skin combat breakouts, can reduce scarring and soothe minor irritations.
The Radiance Day Cream also contains Cranberry seed oil which helps improve the skin’s elasticity and encourages cell regeneration.”
This little beauty smells divine. It is thick and luxurious in texture. I didn’t use this every day but I loved how it made my skin feel afterwards.
Verdict– I am unsure as to whether it was this product that stopped my skin getting oily particularly on my T-Zone as I was using all the products at one time, but I have noticed that my skin seems more normal by description and there have been zero breakouts over my 2 week intensive testing period.
Rating– 7/10 – smells dreamy but I wouldn’t necessarily use it every day personally so the value is not in it for me. I would use the daily cleanser over this.
Cell Renewing Cleansing Mask-
(with Gatuline Expression® & Coconut extract.)
“This dual action mask from the Sorbet Glow range is designed to cleanse the skin whilst providing deep nourishment, removing impurities and brightening your complexion.
Coconut oil extract is valued for its hydrating properties; it is highly absorbent and nourishing, enabling moisture to get into the layers of dermis fast. With anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities, it is effective in the fight against a number of bacterial infections, soothing inflammation, fighting acne and pilliates red dry skin which can cause acne.
Coconut extract also gently helps to remove the surface layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother and helps prevent premature aging.”
I think we are all aware by now of the amazing benefits of coconut oil… Bad Skin Day: Rub in coconut oil… Bad Hair Day: wash it in coconut oil… Bad Husband Day: Wipe coconut oil all over him…!! But in all seriousness coconut oil is the Don of all things body care.
Verdict– I have gone #CocoLoco for this mask and it was one of the products I would use on a more regular basis. Everything about it is great. It came out in a very satisfying blob.
I do think my skin has a more youthful glow after using these products and seems to have tightened under my double chin! I feel that incorporating these products into a daily skincare routine really will improve the appearance of your skin even to the level of not ever having to consider cosmetic surgery such as Botox.
Rating- 9/10 – just delicious in use and results!
Super Firming Eye Treatment-
(With Gatuline Expression® and Cacay Oil.)
“Sorbet Glow eye treatment gel, formulated with a combination of Evening Primrose oil and Cacay Oil to soothe the eye area whilst targeting fine lines and wrinkles.
Amma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is found in Evening Primrose oil is known to have a multitude of skin benefits including smoothing wrinkles, whilst Cacay oil (sustainably sourced) is one of the Amazon’s best-kept secrets with high percentages of naturally occurring Vitamin E and Retinol making it a perfect moisturiser and age-prevetative treatment. Reducing wrinkles and replenishing depleted skin cells.”
This is the winning product for me personally. Never do you feel more permanently exhausted than when you are full time Mumming. I NEVER used to get bags under my eyes and heck I feel like I have ages substantially especially around my eyes so I was super excited to use a product that contains miracle ingredients!
Verdict- Even the gel itself glows like gold. It is a very pleasant consistency and is easily applied to the eye area. I always worry about my sensitive skin but it was as though the gel was made for me personally. No nasty side effects like other treatments I have used on the past.
I did see results in just two days of application (I wish I had captured a before and after shot but I have wanted to hide from the camera rather than point out all my flaws!) but trust me when I say that these are the most obvious results, so if you buy just one item from the Sorbet Range go with this pocket pocket. Only downside: 30ml is not enough!!!
Rating- 10/10- Dream product for looking bright eyed and bushy tailed. My star buy of the bunch. Real results and fast!!!
Vitamin Facial Oil-
(With Gatuline Expression® and Rosehip.)
“From the new Sorbet Glow range, a potent Facial Oil loaded with vitamins A, E, C & F. Formulated to hydrate, protect and nourish.
With healing Rosehip and super-hydrating Jojoba. Rosehip naturally contains Retinol, Omega 3, Omega 6 plus anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids which has be known to help to correct dark spot pigmentation and hydrate dry skin, leaving it soft and smooth to touch.
Vitamin C is an incredible multi-beneficial ingredient that works to build collagen and even skin tone.”
Verdict– This is not my favourites of the range and I could have quite happily left this out if my skincare routine. I don’t think I was particularly keen on the Rosehip/jojoba combo. Maybe it was too aggressive for me. But something did not click with this product. That’s not to say it didn’t boast results as with the other products but I did not personally enjoy using this. I think it did help even my skin tone, but not sure if this was due to the combination of products I was using.
Rating-6/10 – to be used for results not the pleasure of using it. It just seemed an unnecessary step between cleansing and moisturising! In my personal opinion I would not spend the money on that- I would double up on the firming eye treatment!
Nightly Rejuvunation Balm-
(With Gatuline Expression® and Acai Berry oil.)
“An age-preventative rich and creamy rejuvenating night balm from the Sorbet Glow range, formulated with vitamin rich Acai oil to deeply hydrate, and Gatuline Expression to plump out fine lines while you sleep.
Açai oil, a powerful emollient which is easily absorbed and effectively relieves dry, cracked skin. Acai berry oil also contains concentrated, nutritious fatty acids, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and is full of anti-oxidants.
The Nighly Balm also contains Cranberry Seed oil which helps to improve skin’s elasticity and encourages regeneration, and Rhododendron Flower extract to soothe inflammation.”
As previously mentioned, I didn’t have any routine when it came to skincare, or even really “Me Time” (which was thrown out the window in full force when Bea decided to make her surprise appearance seven weeks early!) so it was quite the novelty having a specific product for night time! I really enjoyed my ritual face massage I gave myself each evening (the only kind of massage I have received of late) – Top Tip: smooth circular motions to be employed when using these products rather than any scrubbing kind of motion. The trick is to be soft.
Verdict- I am going to be honest now #RealTalk: I used to think that night creams were just a way for cosmetic companies to squeeze more money out of our pockets. I thought it was just down to marketing but this night balm has been a godsend to my skin in this colder weather! This balm was a beautiful texture (much thicker than its day time counterparts!) and it left me waking up with a dewy glow every morning.
Rating-9/10 – a must buy if you are hoping to boost your blood circulation and wake up looking and feeling fresh!
Vitamin Lip Oil-
(With Gatuline Expression and Mango Butter.)
“An amazingly soothing, vitamin rich lip oil with Vitamin E, extracts of Raspberry to provide natural UV filter, Mango Butter which is rich in anti-oxidants, Vitamin A to moisturise without being greasy, and Vitamin C to encourage collagen production for beautifully hydrated and gorgeous lips.
Blended with Orange, Chamomile and Jasmine oils.”
I think this was the nicest smelling products but I am biased towards the exotic breakfast fruit, which also makes a nice sorbet ingredient too. I guess this is why it is included as part of this beautifully, fruity range.
Verdict- I didn’t mind the oil consistency of this product as it was less greasy feeling than the vitamin facial oil (maybe as it is spread on a smaller area.) It certainly made my lips feel kissable and well plumped. It was very hard not to lick my lips.
Rating- 7/10 – Fruity fun and soft lips followed. Perfect for smooching my baby girl!
Overall the range is of a high quality and I felt the difference in the organic content. There is something to be said for organic products (I hope it doesn’t turn me into an Organic Products Snob now but in all honesty I would now opt for these kinds of products and will keep Willow Organics daily cleansing wash and super firming eye treatment in my Self Care routine.) The claims made are substantiated. I noticed results in just 2-3 applications of most of the products. As I mentioned previously, I can not confirm if each product did exactly what it said on the tin so to speak because I used them in combination and didn’t isolated each product for a period of time. Regardless, my skin has bounced back after some seriously tough months (4 month sleep regression was a killer) and I personally think I look much more alert again and not as though I have been exhausted since 2010- those bags were not designer…
I wouldn’t say the range is necessarily affordable, but for the results you get it is not expensive either; but I would certainly have to save up a little to buy the products that I would want to use in conjunction with one another. I would personally say that for my personal useage the vitamin facial oil wasn’t worth the possible expense of it. Obviously it was not out of my pocket because the lovely folks at Willow Organic gifted me the full set as part of an Instagram competition win.
The whole set is valued at £270 which is much less expensive than Botox injections at between £150-£300 a pop! These require top ups and the full effects may not be noticeable for 2 weeks whereas my results from the Sorbet Range were noticeable from Day 3! I still have a good amount of the products left so will continue my routine as best as possible. I had lots of fun using these products and learned a lot about skincare along the way so now I feel like I could justify why Organic products are best for us!
One of their tag lines is “Feel skin confident at any age with Willow” and I truly got the boost I needed! Before writing about these gorgeous products I never realised September was International Organic Month. Willow Organic write a comprehensive blog about all things organic! Here is a handy little guide to the fruity & botanical ingredients used in the Sorbet Range.
Here are some more lovely Willow Organicbeauty products you may also enjoy:
It is difficult to put yourself back at the centre if your world when your baby becomes the whole of it but I think it is a powerful message to illustrate to your child that self care is very important and should be practiced to ensure a happy and healthy balanced lifestyle. For example; you wouldn’t allow your child to miss a healthcare appointment so why should we let our health fall by the wayside. I personally want to be the best version of myself to be the best Mummy I can be so the bottom line is that we should schedule in those annual appointments, cervical screenings, flu shots, mammograms, sight tests and dental checkups.
As Parents (and particularly Momma Bears) we are always on the go, but we shouldn’t be burning ourselves out. Yes raising a tiny human being is exhausted but it shouldn’t be what defines us. We need to stay positive and invigorated. I love this piece at Motherly that reminds us that small acts can keep us a little bit more sane. If the mood strikes you here are a few self care “presents” you could treat yourself to.
How do you ensure that you also remain a priority in your life? What’s your self care tip? Do you have a skincare routine and do you buy Organic?
– Bea’s Mummy x
I am part of the Amazon Affiliate UK scheme whereby I may earn commission on any of the above links you may use to buy a product, at no extra cost to you. This will allow me to keep my blog relevant and have access to the products you may want to see a review for.
I won the Willow Organic Sorbet Range as part of an Instagram competition when the range launched.
Nothing brings me more joy in this world than watching our little Bea explore it; curiously and fiercely. I love how unburdened she is. A tiny package of innocence and pure love. It makes my heart swell, then it drops… when I think about the other little person that could have been in our lives. I always say could now rather than should…because I could not imagine my life without our beautiful Bea and if Mylo were here then she would not be. In a perfect world I would have BOTH our children. But the world is not perfect. However, my life with Bea is.
We now hold her up to the mirror and she is fascinated by the face that stares back quizzically at her! She loves to “kiss the mirror baby”. Slobbery mouth touching the glass, she coos and looks back at us to make sure that we are finding her utterly hilarious (which we always do!) as we chorus “awww do you love mirror baby?”And Bea throws her head back in laughter and delight.
Then I get to overthinking and the imagery of a “Mirror Baby” ties an awful knot in the very pit of my stomach and my heart breaks for the baby boy that is not in my arms today, a one year old bouncing boy who also loves to laugh a his funny little sister.
I wonder if Bea is the image of her big brother. She has been the baby that has lived all the milestones so far that Mylo never did. From their scan pictures alone, I assume Bea is Mylo’s little feminine double. At my 12 week scan it surprised me just how much Bea looked like her big brother.
This post comes at the beginning of a difficult couple of months for our little family as the 1st birthday’s of Bea’s cousins approach. This year I asked for birthday cards for Mylo and it stung when only 6 turned up. This year there will be the obligatory birthday announcements and messages for the cousins who were born after Mylo and these first birthdays (quite rightly) will be celebrated. But we could have been celebrating three first birthdays in a row- October through to December. Instead I will watch the other two babies become a year older as our little boy remains ageless.
It’s almost as if there are two other Mirror Babies of Mylo that I watch, full of utter adoration yet sadness that Mylo was not in the 2017 1st Christmas photos of the other two dressed as elves, and not in a 1st birthday photo with his cousins. I completely adore my niece and nephew to bits and watching them both grow offered me comfort and a sense of healing as we came to terms with the loss of our little boy.
In one sense though, it was particularly hard as I had spent lots of time with my sister in law as our bellies grew and we talked about how our babies would grow up together. But the reality is they will not. My body gave Mylo up to the world in June 2017 and my sister in law kept cooking her little lady away until December. I am sure she felt guilty that she continued with her pregnancy in relative ease. But I have never felt bitter.
A lot of Parents Of Loss have admitted that they feel negative emotions towards others who are pregnant/have had their baby, and that is a perfectly valid emotion to experience whilst navigating the journey of Baby Loss; but I never let myself project feelings of hurt, jealousy or anger on to other families. Babies are a blessing and as such every successful pregnancy should be celebrated. I knew our time was to come, so as hard as it was I would enjoy other people’s joy. It brought me comfort.
The joy comes from seeing life flourish and seeing a little of what Mylo could have become (especially watching his cousin Fred whom I imagine he would have caused great havoc with!) Being able to enjoy (for better lack of a word) the life of another baby is not a betrayal to the memory of your lost child. I learn this every day as Bea becomes her own little person and we tick off her list of firsts.
No, I will never stop thinking that Mylo not being here is astronomically unfair. It will always hurt a little when I see his cousins do all the things he will never get to do… but then I have the utter joy of living these things with our little Bea and that means the world to me.
The imagery of a mirror is beautifully poetic and apt. I see Mylo reflected in our little Bea but she’s sees herself staring back and she will know herself as Bea; not just Mylo’s little sister because she is loved irrespective of the circumstances of her conception (as a Rainbow Baby.)
Mylo will always be a part of all our lives but I want more than anything for Bea to know that she is our entire world. There is no Magical Mirror realm where we can pull Mylo back into being but he will be reflected in my heart and thoughts for a lifetime, whilst we move forward (but never forget) as Bea becomes the little person she is.
It’s swiftly heading towards “that time of year” again… I must admit that despite my ability to spring up and at em in the morning for the majority of the year, I find Winter Mornings more testing and there could be good reason for that!
I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that most of us (to some degree at least) suffer with typical Winter Depressive symptoms of fatigue, hypersomnia, lowered levels of motivation and sociability, and an increase in irritability (Winter= “I am not a morning person!”) and eating for a small army! I readily accept some causal link between my declining mood and the change in season. I am forever saying things like “The weather/cold is really affecting me!” or “I am struggling to do anything because of the Winter Days”.
Obviously, as with most syndromes or “illnesses” there is a continuum of severity which can range from a little lethargy (the most common side effect of SAD) to functional disability. Luckily if you are on the lesser end of the spectrum a few well placed Self Help Books may be all you need to negotiate the Winter Months more cheerfully and energetically!
I recently started reading around the premise of HYGGE (there must be a reason our Scandi European cousins consistently stand out in studies as an overall happier nation!) The Danish people spend a lot of time in the Winter Season so really embrace an active solution to their potential Winter “blues” by fully embracing this ethos (which is not directly translatable into an English word but is more about capturing a feeling of ‘cosiness’ and embracing the colder months!) Just type Hygge into Pinterest and you will be bombarded with boards of glorious roaring fires, cosy toes in thick knitted socks, huge drinking receptacles filled with warming goodness from tea, to hot chocolate to a cheeky tipple and living rooms lit with candles! This is the most basic level and in my opinion a very inviting premise to explore further.
Really it’s great success comes in the positive mindset to find that warmth and intimacy in every day life when it becomes more difficult to remember in the Winter months. Worldwide there is clearly a need to embrace this pro activity towards finding a passion for all things Winter because 4-6% of people experience clinical depression related to Winter and a further 10-20% may additionally experience mild symptoms of SAD over the Winter Months. So this is a very real problem.
In this post I have included a few ideas on how best to manage your potential symptoms of SAD from easy home hygge to the introduction of Light Therapy in the form of the Lumie Zest that I have been testing out over the last few weeks. As always the opinions in the review section are my own and I have not been compensated by Lumie.
(This post is not officially sponsored by Lumie but I will be including affiliate links whereby I will gain commission on any purchases made from my links on this post.
This post also includes a Giveaway hosted by Bea and Me [see full terms and conditions at end of post.] )
The charming thing is that Hygge can take any form and there is no set template so it is really about opening yourself up to an inner creative process. So launch yourself into a new way of being which will not only see you through the Winter Months but also benefit further aspects of your life. I took the following lessons from “The Little Book of Hygge” that one of my lovely Mummy friends passed on to me last year when my work had started getting me down in the dumps!
I have distilled my own version of Hygge into the below points but by no means is this an exhaustive list. There are so many options to Live Hygge so start living your best life.
1) Get Mindful!
A great starting point is to be in the present and put a little distance between yourself and the world of social media. Hygge doesn’t ban electronic devices but it certainly shows that it is worth putting your phone down to foster genuine connections with people and your true self again.
The calm acceptance of your own thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations moment by moment is a way to improve your overall mental wellbeing & this can certainly be applied to Winter. We can accept that Winter has arrived and look at ways to enjoy it, rather than count down to Spring!
2) Get Soft!
Who isn’t partial to a good snuggle?! Personally I am a very tactile person and Hygge is very much not just about an aesthetic but how things FEEL. So in my home I have selected fabrics and interior furnishings that are cosy, homely and soft to the touch. It has been about almost creating a womb-like experience of warmth and comfort, so throws, blankets & rugs are a must. I guess it is about transforming your space into your own little nook of goodness!
3) Slow Down!
Alongside the mindfulness component a big part of Hygge is to eat cosy! Love your kitchen and find the joy in waiting for your food. The longer something takes to cook the more Hygge it is but it’s also about simplicity so no need to worry about julienating veggies & complex glazes… it could be as simple as a nice, warming soup. Slowing down to eat and drink and perform processes such as searing foods allows you to appreciate food not just because it sustains your energy, but because it makes you feel whole.
4) Do Good!
There is undoubtedly a link between your levels of happiness and helping others. It’s worth getting out there and spending time on social initiatives that increase the feeling of “togetherness”. An isolationist mindset that Winter can bring is damaging to our mental health. So try to increase your human interaction (no matter how difficult it starts to get!) What better way to remember the true goodness of humanity than being part of groups of people that have a passion for people and changing someone’s day for the better?!
5) Put the Kettle On!
We Brit’s are no strangers to a good cup of tea solving (most of) life’s problems! 85% of Danes equate Hygge to enjoying a hot drink of some description (Meik Wiking found this is his research for his book “The Little Book of Hygge”.) It is such a simple way to evoke a happy and cosy feeling. I love adding seasonal flavours to my drinks as I associate certain flavours with winter.
6) Light Up The Room!
I am personally obsessed with Yankee Candles and love nothing more than treating myself to a new scent each season. I particularly love the winter varieties. Currently we are burning a rather delicious limited addition candle called “Frosty Gingerbread” and it fills up the room with such a beautiful aroma like Christmas baking!!
The Danes purchase more candles collectively than any other European Country and are a key component in any Hygge Nook! What’s great about Hygge is that the expensive scented varieties are not essential as all flames are equal! “Hygge is about enjoying the simple pleasures in life and can be achieved on a shoestring budget.” So buy bulk of cheap little tealights because a little candlelight enhances any space!
7) Get Outside!
Its difficult to pry yourself out of your sofa fort in the winter, I get it! There is certainly an Amber Shaped crevice in my sofa around this time of year and it makes me feel bad because I know I am missing out on this he majesty of nature. It is rude not to get out and about living in stunning Devon as we are sandwiched between moorland & coast so opportunities aplenty to explore incredible scenery.
Even mustering one purposeful walk a day means you can practice your mindfulness daily so grab some comfy boots and go experience the outside world. You can really live the value of moment-by-moment then afterwards treat yourself to a fat, warming hot chocolate & slice of cake because, Dear Reader… What’s more Hygge than that?!
Happiness is about simplicity and in a world that is always on the go, with consumerism, technology, capitalism and the next fad we are often exhausting ourselves trying to keep up and live a life that is not our own; often just a set of tick boxes. Our achievements and dreams are not our own. We are told what to strive for… no wonder we are often miserable. We are moving too fast, not cocooning ourselves both physically and metaphorically in enough softness and barely giving ourselves enough time to connect to the world on a truly meaningful level!
I wanted to Think Myself Happy this Winter. I have found that it certainly helps being on maternity leave. I returned to work just last week to complete a Kit Day (Keeping In Touch) and I completed my decreased hours that I agreed before Maternity Leave and it left me frazzled. I tried to maintain my breathing techniques that I have implemented since being at home, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was drowning in other peoples problems… yes I guess that is what you should expect from working in customer care, but all I could think about was being with my Little Bea; crunching through leaves, getting read noses and then having big cuddles under our fluffy blanket!
I think getting up for work would have been EVEN harder had I not started training myself into a morning wake up routine with my Lumie Zest for the week before heading back to the grind.
Science has proven that just 30 minutes a day exposed to natural light (with at least 2000 lux – a measure of it’s brightness) can be enough to stimulate feel good hormone and keep your body cycle in check!
The Lumie Zest is a dedicated “SAD Lamp” and is a certified medical device. Lumie have been pioneers in the light therapy arena and it’s not hard to see why as the Zest practically punches you in the face with light in the morning. Other reviews had warned of this so I was ready to face the glow… by having the Zest positioned on my bedroom floor rather than on my bedside table! Even from below; the 2000 Lux of light is a very effective wake up call (most other SAD lights output is only between 100 & 300 Lux) so the Zest truly is the Don of lamps! It pushes out 10 times as much light as most other SAD Lamps on the market so I found that I was feeling refreshed as I woke up to the lamp each morning!
I was skeptical before I set the Zest up to sort out my rather broken body clock. The Zest is simple to set up and it doesn’t have some of the features other lamps now have such as radio or nature sounds, but as a purist that really doesn’t matter to me. I like simple designs with proven results so the Zest perfectly complimented my lifestyle and personality.
So what’s the scientific bit?
The Lumie Zest can be utilised as a 2-in-1 device: SAD Lamp & Waking Up Lamp.
The brightening light brings you more gently out of sleep, prompting your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin, while increasing the levels of hormones like cortisol that help you get up and go.
This provides a fantastic start to the day for sufferers of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and the winter blues, and helps anyone who is not naturally a morning person to feel brighter and more energetic first thing.
It’s not just a nicer way to wake up. Waking to natural light every day resets your sleep/wake cycle and has been shown to boost your mood, productivity and energy levels throughout the day. Our physiological body clocks are aligned by sunrise and sunset.
As most of us experience a mix of early starts, late nights, weekend lie-ins and sometimes travel disruption, our internal sleep rhythms are thrown into disarray. We feel tired and stressed trying to wake up for work, school or sports training.
A dawn simulator device re-sets your body clock to run in time with your day, helping you feel more awake during the day and more ready for sleep at night.
Compact, easy to use, no fuss and fast results. I found by Day 4 my body was back into a useful rhythm and my sleep was better. I did accompany the use of the Zest with other techniques that promote better sleep such as unplugging from the digital world an hour before my bedtime and I used Feather & Down Pillow Spray. Clearly the combination worked for me as I was consistently getting 7/8 hours of sleep (only being woken by Bea) but my mornings did in fact feel a lot easier to combat and my feelings of dread were noticeably low level (I wouldn’t say that the morning struggle has fully been rectified) but exposing myself to more light has had noticeable benefits. No SAD symptoms currently so I will continue using the Zest for a brighter future (literally!)
Due to the obvious positive changes to my sleeping/waking/wellness experience I have also purchased a Lumie Bug for Bea for when she makes it into her own room in the next few weeks. I can only assume that as she still shares the room with us she has also benefited from the use of my Zest as she has been sleeping better through the night again! I will be reviewing the rather adorable bug when Bea is in her nursery. (Wish us luck for that change!!!)
Now having experienced happier mornings I would love to spread love and light by running a competition to win a Lumie Vitamin L light (worth £90) It is slim & about the size of a tablet so it is easy to transport from room to room or between home and the office. It can be positioned both landscape or portrait. It is proven to treat symptoms of SAD.
Enter below to win (competition running until 20th November & winner will be contacted within 48 hours directly and posted on site thereafter.) Here are the full terms and conditions.