How To Face Breastfeeding In Public When It’s Crowded And Cold

Day 9 of #12daysofparenting here, and today’s theme is about babies not stopping at Christmas. Thanks for hopping from My Thoughts on Things if you did. 🙂 Our fab giveaway includes a signed A3 limited edition picture, worth £95 from Fresh Photography‘s recent Iceland blog.  Entries (UK Residents Only) are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post, check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions.

Christmas shopping, and Boxing Day and New Year sales are upon us; so are very busy child friendly spots, with pretty much all tots groups on a break. For some breastfeeding mums, this is a nightmare when out and about; where in the world would you find a place to feed your child with so many people around? At the busy times, in busy crowded public places, how can breastfeeding mums, especially those still finding their feet, confidently and comfortably boob as needed. Continue reading

Outdoor Christmas Displays that make you stop

It’s Day 8 of #12daysofparenting blog, and today’s theme is the obligatory Christmas pic. Thanks for hopping from Having a Baby and Living at Home if you did. 🙂 Entries (UK  residents only) for the fab giveaway, which includes a Cuddle Dear from Cuddle Dry, are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. Check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway .

I take pictures as it occurs to me, and this time of the year is no different; so, no particular obligatory Christmas pic.

My little man and I suited up and went walking the other day, to check out one of the Christmas traditions that I enjoy in our traditionless non-Christmas season.

Residential Outdoor Christmas Displays walk

 Bring on some outdoor Christmas displays that make you stop, stand, and stare!

Residential Outdoor Christmas Displays

First we saw this reindeer with a moving head, I’m not sure what the other animal is; through a gate on our way from home, and over the gate on our way back.

Residential Outdoor Christmas Displays reindeer

Then we saw the most spectacular one I’ve seen this year so far. Oh my word! Whilst the other one was a ‘look at that’, this was definitely a, ‘WOAH, CHECK THAT WOWSER OUT’. I moved back and parked the buggy for us to get a better view. It just felt good to be there; I could see myself sitting on its front lawn and chilling for  while. My picture doesn’t do justice to the display.

Residential Outdoor Christmas Displays lights

And then this one, with quite a few Father Christmas figures, with different moving lights, including running reindeers.

Residential Outdoor Christmas Displays figures

May – my #12daysofparenting code word – I assume that the house owners don’t mind these pictures being taken? I figure they know it will draw more attention than usual and that folks like me might take some pictures.

I must say that I’m quite chuffed with what my camera captured; and thanks to picmonkey for their ‘exposure’ editing tool.

Check out Mummies Waiting‘s obligatory Christmas pic, and for the chance to gain more entries into the grand prize draw.

~ What’s your obligatory Christmas picture, if any? ~

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Residential Outdoor Christmas Displays p

7 Easy And Fun Things To Do With Tots While You Cook

It’s Day 7 of #12daysofparenting blog, and today’s theme is about cooking with children. Thanks for hopping from Glossy Tots if you did. 🙂 Entries (UK  residents only) for the fab giveaway are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post; check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway .

So, cooking with children during this season and beyond … how does that work? Precious Sparkle is not even 2 and I know normal everyday cooking with him adds that bit of challenge to it. It doesn’t help that he is oblivious to kitchen hazards, and wants his diverse needs met whenever he fancies. 😃

It must be that much more stressful, getting through cooking a time-consuming feast like many do during this time of the year, with tots. So I thought I’d share 7 easy and fun things to do with tots while you cook; the ‘that little less stressful’ cooking experience with children is largely achieved from keeping them occupied.

These activities are easier if there is someone else in the house that can do them with your tot(s) whilst you cook, but they’re doable if it’s just you, especially with only one child … or with a mix of older and younger children.

Easy and Fun Things to do with tots while cooking

Here we go …

Easy And Fun Things To Do With Tots While You Cook

1. Reading

It’s never too early to cultivate a love of reading in children, though it’s not always easy to get them to sit down to read. Reading is a favourite pastime at ours and my little one sometimes brings his books to us to read.

In between visits to the kitchen to check on what you’re cooking, reading to tots whilst they stand and stare at accompanying pictures, or sit on your laps resting, is always a special moment.

Babies can play with age-appropriate books in play pens, and toddlers onwards are able to sit down and ‘read’ by themselves for short periods of time (which of course gets longer as they grow older).

For younger children, the more colourful, the bigger the pictures, the more sounds, the easier it is to turn pages for little fingers, the better.

2. Colouring / Doodling

This is fab for young children when supervised, except you want your cushions, floors, and walls covered with pencil / pen marks.

All you need is some paper or colouring book depending on your child’s age, and colouring pencils. This is one to do when you know that you’ll have some considerable gap away from what you’re cooking.

Indeed, depending on how big your kitchen is, and how comfortable you feel about having young children in it, some colouring can be done on the kitchen floor. For this though, I’ll use a really big paper, and make sure I keep a close eye to make sure all they’re doing is colouring.

3. Singing

This is fab for short gaps away from the kitchen … my toddler is now at the age that I can ask him to sing for me, and we can sing together too; such fun. 🙂 Sometimes, they might just be happy to be held, whilst you walk around and sing to them.

If you’re cooking and babywearing, then singing is a fab activity to do together if they’re of age. It is also very soothing for children, especially when they’re younger I think, to hear their parents voice. Singing offers a fab opportunity to keep talking to them without the stress of finding what to talk about to a little person that can’t ‘converse’ back.

If you have a recording set, you could also set singing / recording challenges for children who are old enough, as a little project to do for later sharing with the family … a fab time-consuming activity to positively occupy their attention.

4. Window Watching

This is a calming activity for children who aren’t too big to hold, except you have a safe surface they can sit on and gaze out from.

Gazing out of the window is a distraction that works all the time with Precious Sparkle, and it can be as short or long as I want, except when he particularly wants to stay longer.

We watch the planes flying through the clouds, the birds flocking together, cars passing by, lights etc. He likes pointing out what he sees, and repeating them as his language develops. It really gives him lots to jibber jabber about; and sometimes he just enjoys watching all the goings and comings quietly.

This is definitely an easy peasy low stress activity for short or long gaps between cooking checks.

5. Playing Games

What games you play and how you do this depends on the age of your child.

Play mats are fab for babies, and play pens for older babies until they want to explore beyond it. They are fab to use for quick dashes to the kitchen to check what you’re cooking, or to the loo, or to get the door etc. They might even fit your kitchen if it’s big enough and what you’re cooking has a low potential hazard e.g. doesn’t require the movement of hot food across surfaces etc.

Peekaboo is a fab game and you can make this as high or low energy as you want; not one to play whilst in the kitchen for considerable lengths of time, but one that works with a very quick dash to the kitchen for very quick cooking checks.

I make up games with my toddler that we can play whilst he stands by the kitchen door when I’m perhaps checking the pot on the cooker. For example, I say the names of certain animals and he makes their sounds, or vice versa; or I repeat bits of nursery rhymes that he enjoys and he fills in the verbal gap. He usually lets me know when he’s had enough. 🙂

For older children, there are lots and lots of educational games out there, both offline and online. I must say I’m not keen on online games or children spending lots of time on the computer for a number of reasons that I might explore in another post. Board games like connect 4 or age-appropriate puzzles comes in very handy too.

6. Outdoor Play

This is hard to do if there aren’t other adults around and your child(ren) isn’t old enough to be out on their own.

It can be high energy but also exhilarating for all involved. It can be as simple as running around your garden, balcony, or communal space; you of course need to take necessary precautions for their safety … the last thing you want is a child getting hurt when you’re cooking.

7. Get them involved

The last but not the least is to get them involved in the cooking process, either partly or fully, and of course take care to keep them away from cooking hazards whilst telling them about it.

There are lots of fun ways you can do this, from low hazards / low mess ways like getting a kitchen set for them to play with, to time-consuming / high mess ways like getting them to wear an age-appropriate apron and helping to get ingredients ready. I currently don’t do either of this.

Precious Sparkle now knows he shouldn’t go into the kitchen whenever he fancies, especially when we’re cooking. He understands words like ‘hot’ and he knows an accompanying action which helps to turn discouraging his interest in reaching out for hot things, into a kind of game.

I also sometimes hold him, to take him into the kitchen to observe parts of our cooking, and I take the opportunity to tell him names of food and highlight any obvious kitchen hazards.

So, there you have it, 7 easy and fun things to do with tots while you cook, I hope you’ve picked up an idea that you can try out. ‘Hat’ is my #12daysofparenting code word. 🙂

Check out Mummies Waiting to read her cooking with kids post, and gain more entries into the grand prize draw.

~ Which of these tips work for you? ~

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Easy and Fun Things to do with tots while cooking p

The last #UKBloggers Twitter Chat of the year: Blogholiday

It’s the last #UKBloggers Twitter Chat of the year and I’m hosting it from 9 to 10pm today. Yahhhhh!!!!! I didn’t particularly plan to host the final chat of the year, in fact I just found out a few minutes ago that it is. This is because the last Friday of 2015 is Christmas Day and there is rightly no #UKBloggers chat on this day.

I happen to be holding the last chat because it’s the day I chose due to the school holiday which starts today. I figured out months ago when I signed up for it that I’ll be more chilled out on this Friday than the other Fridays in December. And I’m right; my shoulders feel less tense and I feel lighter … it’s the start of Christmas break. 🙂

Hosting the chat meant that I couldn’t take up a last-minute availability of my work’s Christmas dinner ticket. It’s okay though, I wasn’t planning to go anyway, for a range of reasons I’ll probably write about later.

So, on to the chat! I’ve decided to explore the issue of blog / blogger holiday. It’s one of the times in the year where talk about holiday is the norm. It’s the end of the year and everyone is tired; but it’s also Christmas and everyone is busy … the irony, right? 🙂

Last UKBloggers Twitter Chat 2015

Blogging being what blogging is … yeah, different frequency for different folks … I wonder what different people do about their blog during this period. When I started blogging at the end of last year, I wasn’t sure what to do? ‘Should I keep blogging through the break, or take a break’?

So, fellow bloggers, let’s chat about what we’re planning to do with our blogs over the next 2 weeks.

I’ll be hosting the chat from @aNoviceMum, supported by @UKBloggers1 via #UKBloggers. Please make sure you use the hashtag when joining in, so that everyone on the chat can see your tweet.

Twitter chats can be fast and furious, but it’s okay to jump in wherever you want; just reply to one of the chat questions, or reply to one of the chat tweets.

Below are today’s main ‘questions’:

  1. Where do you blog and what part of the UK are you tweeting from? 5mins
  2. How much blogging do you plan to do over the next 2 weeks and why? 10mins
  3. Do you have a particular blog / blogger holiday plan during the Christmas break? 10mins
  4. How often do you take breaks from blogging and why? 5mins
  5. How do you manage blogging breaks and how much do you keep your blog active during it? 10mins
  6. What are your top blogging break tips, and tips to round up blogging in 2015? 5mins
  7. Share your top 2 blogging related posts of 2015 in this thread, then read and share at least 3-4 others. 10mins
  8. Join me in thanking Sarah Bailey @Life_BreakDown for her incredible service to UK Bloggers through the UK Bloggers Forum, and UK Bloggers’ Facebook Page and Groups.

This is the 3rd time I’m hosting the #UKBloggers chat and I look forward to sharing some of the ideas from the chat afterwards.

Happy 2015 …. it’s almost a wrap.

All things being equal, see on Friday 8 January for the #UKBlogger’s Twitter Chat of 2016!

How To Survive Breastfeeding During Christmas

Fab to have you here if you hopped from Having a baby and living at home or not :-). Welcome to my 6th #12daysofparenting blog; today’s theme is about top Christmas party survival tips.  There are lots of fab prizes to win, including a cloud 9 collection worth £113 from Younique. Check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway (UK  residents only). Entries are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

It’s the end of the year and Christmas dominates … cards, carols, secret santas …. Christmas lists, tacky and top presents, work Christmas parties and family dinners … jumpers, trees, ornaments … on and on the list goes. And yes, people, people, people … people all around, way more than usual.

It’s the time of the year when we get in touch or see folks we sometimes haven’t seen for a long time. It’s also the time of the year when travelling needs increases, and there are lots of evening events. And as such it’s one that can make us feel somewhat anxious, especially when it comes to aspects of our life like breastfeeding.

I’ve already missed a dinner, as well as a Carol service in the last week, because I chose working with my night breastfeeding pattern over adjusting it to fit Christmas events. I’m also giving my work’s Christmas-do a miss, partly because I breastfeed my 22 months+ old to sleep.

The very thought of rushing or adjusting our sleep process is way too stressful to make it worth my going. “What if we have one of those days when it takes longer than expected to doze off?”, I’ve wondered. The potential frustration of things not working to plan is one I’m not willing to put myself through, especially given that many things don’t go to plan anyway.

How to survive breastfeeding during Christmas

So, how does a breastfeeding mother survive breastfeeding during Christmas, with all its demands?

Below are my top survival tips for breastfeeding during Christmas when deciding about Christmas parties, family get-togethers, and travelling on public or private transport.

1. Remember why you’re breastfeeding

I breastfeed because I want to; not just because others tell me that all things being equal, beyond being the norm, it’s the best for my baby. In fact, my choice to breastfeed my toddler is regularly questioned and ‘jokingly’ ridiculed by someone dear to me. But it doesn’t bother me most of the time because I’m happy with my choice to breastfeed, and I’m convinced it’s the best for my child and I.

This time of the year means more contact with people, and this means more potential for uncomfortable conversations. Confidence about your breastfeeding choices really helps to stay standing tall when questioned by others who have differing views about breastfeeding.

2. Accept that people might ask questions and share their views even when it’s not invited.

It’s helpful to know that not every family and friend will feel okay with your breastfeeding choices. This might especially be the case if you’re extended breastfeeding – a term I avoid using – and even more if it involves feeding on request, or ‘worse’ feeding through the night.

This acceptance will help you to feel less tense if others indeed ask questions or express unhelpful views about your breastfeeding choices.

3. Don’t expect negativity

If you feel that someone is going to attack you, it is likely they will; not because they necessarily do, but because you’re more likely to interpret their actions as such.

If you’ve read about lots of negative experiences towards breastfeeding, it is quite natural to go about feeling somewhat backed in a corner about it. This of course means that you might be ready to metaphorically go for the jugular if anyone dares bring their ignorance or differing views your way.

Hence, it is important to remember that many people react positively to breastfeeding and what might seem like a criticism might not be intended as such.

If you’re feeling positive about your choices, you’ll probably reflect this to those around you.

4. Be prepared for challenges to / criticism of your breastfeeding choices, and be assertive and not aggressive in your response

Aggressive responses to breastfeeding ignorance is more likely to breed breastfeeding illiteracy than breastfeeding education, and indeed, spread more ignorance and illiteracy. Challenging ignorance is also not about scoring points, or even about changing people’s minds. I think an important component in discussions about breastfeeding is the hearing of the voice of the breastfeeder, and not just that of the differing view.

La Leche League International (LLLI) have a lovely article that is worth checking out, “how do I respond to and avoid criticism about breastfeeding?“, #10 on the list can be replaced with UNICEF’s 6 months exclusive breastfeeding advice, and their recommendation to breastfeed to 2 years and beyond with solids.

LLLI’s ‘responding to criticism’ article is also worth reading, it includes 5 methods of responding which many will find helpful.

5. Breastfeeding and alcohol

I don’t drink alcohol, but I know some breastfeeders do. LLL has quite a few articles about breastfeeding and alcohol that are worth checking out. It seems the compatibility of breastfeeding and alcohol, not surprisingly, depends on how much is consumed, and indeed the gap between its consumption by the mother and the breastfeeding of the child.

Even then, Drink Aware in its article about alcohol and breastfeeding, states that abstinence is the official stance of UK’s Royal College of Midwives. Nonetheless, as the Telegraph’s recent breastfeeding and alcohol article indicates, moderate and sensible consumption of alcohol is compatible with breastfeeding.

If you breastfeed and drink alcohol, it’s helpful to know the facts. “What about drinking alcohol and breastfeeding?” is the latest LLL’s article that I found on this issue, and it’s worth checking out.

NHS Choices also addresses the issue of the safety of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Lastly, The Breastfeeding Network’s breastfeeding and alcohol downloadable article is a good one to print for quick reference.

Whatever you do, know the facts and plan your alcohol consumption to work for you and your child’s wellbeing.

7. Have a plan

If you’re decide against going to Christmas evening events partly due to your breastfeeding commitments, make sure you’re happy with your decision. You don’t want to be breastfeeding and feeling resentful about being at home when your heart and mind is somewhere else. If needed, it might help to especially treat yourself to a movie, book, food or something else you particularly enjoy.

If you decide to go to these events, it’s helpful to think about how you’ll manage breastfeeding whilst there. If you’re leaving your child at home, it might mean leaving pumped milk for them, or some other age appropriate food item. It is also helpful to decide whether you need to pump or not whilst you’re away, and to plan for the detail of this in advance. This will probably depend on how long you’re away for and how long you’ve been breastfeeding.

If you’re taking your child with you, deciding where you’re happy to feed – in a private place or wherever you are – will help to keep any anxiety about feeding at bay, or at least to minimize it.

9. It’s okay to feed your child on public transport

I wish I knew this at the start of my breastfeeding journey, it would have saved us some tears.

If you’re planning to use a breastfeeding cover, it’s helpful to have it with you when you sit down. I was once in a situation when I didn’t and It was horrible. I couldn’t safely get up with my crying and struggling baby to get my cover from the buggy, whilst the bus was moving. In the end, I stumbled through feeding without a cover whilst putting up a confident front. I wasn’t used to feeding in public without a cover at that time, so you can imagine how uncomfortable I felt.

Feel free to stare back at anyone who stares at you, and remember you are not doing anything illegal. More than these, you’re doing what you’ve got to do to meet your child’s need. In any case, I think many commuters will choose a ‘quietly’ breastfeeding child over a crying hungry one.

You can also pump on public transport if you have the right pumping gear. I’ve never tried it but I’ve read about some who have.

10. Plan for breastfeeding breaks on private transport.

A child wants boobing when a child wants boobing, except you do really structured feeding. Plan for extra hours on your long journeys, to accommodate stops to breastfeed and stretch your legs. Driving with a crying hungry baby is of course distracting, and not safe, especially on long journeys. So, it’s worth noting places you can stop to boob, if and when needed, before starting your journey.

Pumping on long journeys is a time saver. It’s worth taking spare batteries for your pump, just in case. Take care not to forget your ice packs and storage bag, but if you do, know that you can keep breast milk at room temperature for 4 hours, and it’s okay up to 8 hours.

See this LLL downloadable breastmilk storage information sheets for more info. Page 4 is especially worth print out for reference.

11. Do what works for you and be kind to yourself

I hope you have a lovely end to the year, perhaps a ‘white’ (my #12dasyofparenting code word) one, without hiccups on your breastfeeding journey. Ultimately, do what works best for you and your baby. It’s your life and no one can walk in your shoes like you can.

Also, don’t forget to be kind to yourself; keep a good supply of water near you, and some lovely munchies. Be confident about your choice, and gently speak out when you need to.

One more thing, if you can, avoid stress; or at least take breaks from it. Have a stress management plan to help you work with potential expected stress. I was told at the start of my breastfeeding journey that breast milk supply and stress aren’t the best of friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Check out The Mad House of Cats & Babies  to read about her Christmas party survival tips, and gain more entries into the grand prize draw.

~ What would you add, and what are your top breastfeeding survival tips in instances like this? ~

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Free Tots Friendly Days Out For A Craftless Christmas

Welcome to my blog if you’ve hopped from Having a baby and living at home or not :-). Here is my 5th #12daysofparenting blog; today’s theme is about Christmas Crafts.  There are lots of fab prizes to win, including a Sand Art Picture; check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway (UK  residents only). Entries are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

I wish I was a crafts kinda person, but I think living with a toddler may yet … actually  … will definitely … most likely … probably … turn me into one … even if I don’t exactly enjoy every aspect of it. So with crafts not being on my list of top things to do, you might guess that Christmas crafts – especially if you’ve read my #12daysofparenting posts so far – is definitely out of the question for me.

But hey, I don’t want Precious Sparkle to be oblivious to the festivity at this time of the year. So, it got me thinking about how I could help him enjoy the atmosphere whilst keeping our hands clean and our pockets full, as much as possible. There are some really good quality fun and free tots friendly days out there.

So, if you’re like me in having a craftless Christmas, below are some ideas on outdoor activities that are as fun and imaginative, and potentially as hands on; albeit with little after-mess to clear up.

1. Check out Christmas decorations outside houses in your area

This is such fun on these shorter days; you don’t have to part with any money to look and enjoy, and you probably don’t have to walk very far. There tends to be a collection of light and ornament displays outside people’s houses at this time of the year, some more fanciful than others.

We have one we gaze at through our bedroom windows, and Precious Sparkle is happy to be held whilst looking, pointing, and conversing in toddler talk about it. There are other arrays of light arrangements and a toddler mesmerizing over the top one that are also close by. They make for lovely sights on quiet walks with the tot tucked cosy, and reclining in the buggy, on dark and cold evenings. I look forward to doing more of this once the school holidays starts tomorrow! Yah ….. 🙂

I must also say that whilst it’s a very green venture for us, I prefer not to think about the financial cost and environmental waste generated as a result of these beautiful displays. Obviously fab for the mood, great for the electric company, but sad for the planet. 🙁 A good talking point with my little boy when he is old enough; I can already think of many questions this activity might generate.

I also value the education bonus in this observational activity, beyond its enjoyment value. It’s another opportunity for language development and new learning. I’m planning to play little games with him on our light display walks, where I’ll ask him to identify colours, shapes, and objects in ; or indeed tell him about them. 😊

2. Visit High streets in the evening

Colour me, ‘feeling good’, when it comes to high streets at this time of the year. The light displays vary from one high street to another but they are always so fab to look at. They really induce positive feelings in the atmosphere, don’t they? For toddlers, I’m assuming they are eye-popping, definitely a different experience.

Depending on how far you live from your local high street, there might be transportation costs to consider; on the plus side, they are free to enjoy. 😏 You can also plan a shopping trip to coincide with this activity; fulfilling two outcomes in one journey.

I can’t wait for us to do this with Precious Sparkle, both in our local area and farther afield. I will also be sure to squeeze out any teachable moment I find from it. 😁

3. Go to one or more Christmas lights switch-on events

Did you know there are Christmas lights switch-on guides for different areas, available on the net? I recently stumbled upon this on google.

They tend to be in November, and they usually involve lots of contributions from local businesses. This means that you can expect cute little and lovely stalls to spring up around the area of the event, some streets will be probably be closed, there might be a fun procession at the start, and many other jolly activities. The highlight of the day is the switching on, and there is usually lots of excitement about this.

We went to one last year and it had a mini family friendly carnival atmosphere about it; lots of buggies and children around with their parents. There were lots to taste, lots to see, cute little buys, and a whole load of lovely festive feeling.

4. Visit Christmas Markets

I haven’t been to a lot of these but I’ve been to enough to know they are worth experiencing. They offer so many sights and sounds to enjoy, without the need to necessarily make any purchase. You can of course expect to find unusual buys from there too.

Like the others above, it’s a very happy and cheerful environment, with lots of warmth and coziness especially on cold and dark evenings. It’s also free, though you might have transportation costs depending on how far you live from one; and you don’t have to buy anything though you’ll probably be tempted to.

Many Christmas markets have decorations and areas to amuse children; some of these might involve a small fee, but some free entertainment tends to be available too.

I usually stumble on Christmas markets, but I think I’m going to particularly take Precious Sparkle to one or more this year. It’s another new experience for him, which is both fun and educational.

5. Check out a Winter Wonderland

I’ve only ever been passed through a Winter Wonderland once in my life, but I think this is about to change. They are such a festive place to hang out with family and friends. Some of them are outdoor in parks like the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park in London, whilst others are indoor like the Winter Wonderland in Manchester.

They tend to have a host of activities, shops, and entertainment through the day, and they have a really happy and festive feel about them. The outdoor ones tend to be free to enter … I think; I know the one in Hyde Park has free entry, though you’ll have to pay for key entertainments if you want.

They are opened from morning to night, until Christmas Eve or after the new year. You can really make a day out of it for the whole family; don’t forget to plan in loo breaks and nap / rest times if you don’t want unwanted accidents and cranky children on your hands.

I haven’t thought about Winter Wonderlands for years, but I think we’ll be paying one a visit this year with our little man and other loved ones.

6. Christmas Specials in museums and other places

Lots of places like museums, local authorities, libraries, theatres, shopping centres have one-off family friendly festive events, activities, or/and displays around this time of year to get more people through their doors. Some of these are free, others are not.

I’ll be checking my local event listings in the library and shopping centre, as well as that of local museums / theatres and those further afield, to see their (free) tots friendly events that we can visit over the next 2 weeks.

Some churches or Christian organisations might also have nativity plays with grown ups that might catch your fancy. The nativity play performed by the Wintershall Estate in Guildford is one I’d like to attend sometime. I’m probably already too late for this year’s, which finishes on Sunday.

Whatever you do, especially if it’s far from home, don’t forget to consider its impact on your child’s sleep pattern or routine.

You probably weren’t expecting a post like this for the collaboration theme; even then, I hope you enjoyed reading it.

It is merry / happy Christmas, in Malagasy (the language spoken in Madagascar), Tratra ny Noely – my #12daysofparenting code word. 🙂

~ Are you a craft-y Christmas kinda of person or not? ~

Check out Candyfloss & Dreams to read about her Christmas family traditions, and gain more entries into the grand prize draw.

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The Ultimate Up to Date Social Media Images Cheat Sheets

Are you a blogger, social media manager, digital marketing strategist, author, or someone trying to build an engaged following on Social Media? If you are, then you know that the higher your post reach the higher the 👍 / ❤ / +1 / pin  the higher the clicks  the wider your audience  the more you get your message across.

Consequently, we know how vital images are in maximizing our social media presence: posts, tweets, pins, and videos. They are valuable tools for promoting our point of views, blog links and brands, and indeed increasing your following and engagement.

Hence, as a blogger, I understand that I need to create striking images; what a steep learning curve trying to find one’s style and what works.

I’ve also learnt that size matters when it comes to social media images. When we invest time into creating lovely graphics to accompany our posts, we want to see it fully and effectively displayed on our chosen sharing outlets.

How annoying is it when our images are automatically cropped on Facebook and Twitter, especially when the text on them is partly chopped off. Not good, considering that posts with images perform better on social media than those without.

We’ve all seen many posts on social media that are fully displayed; it’s nice to show off our hard work in all its beauty, isn’t it? We want our potential audience to have full sight of that which we hope will help to draw them in, and inspire them to engage.

I wish there was a one image size fits all for the different networks, but there isn’t. Different platforms have different sizes for images on their headers, profiles, manually and automatically uploaded images for shared links etc. It all gets too much, and way too time-consuming trying to find what works.

So, I’ve done quite a bit of googling, experimenting, and wading through conflicting information amidst image size changes on different social media platforms to learn more.

Social Media Images Cheat Sheets b

There are so many social media images cheat sheets and size guides out there!

Below are my top 4 posts and infographic; a fab reference for me, and hopefully, a research time saver for you.

The first 2 have section links, which means that you can jump to information about the platform you want to learn about without having to scroll up and down looking for it.

So here we go … I’m sure you will find the information useful.

Buffer‘s, ‘The Mega Guide of Ideal images Sizes for Your Social Media Posts: Guidelines for All 6 Major Social Networks‘.

What I like most about this post is that it clearly explains how images are cropped on different platforms. It helped me to understand why the featured image on my blog post is never fully displayed when I share it on Facebook and Twitter.

They recommend images sized at 1024 x 512px as suitable for both Facebook and Twitter; though 1200 x 628 are optimal for Facebook.

I left this blog feeling empowered in my knowledge about the dynamics of the displaying of images from links, on different platforms. For me, it explained what you might call, the science and art of social media images sizing.

Mainstreethost‘s ‘Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet‘ includes information on the 6 main platforms, as well as Tweetdeck, Youtube, and Tumblr.

One brilliant thing about this post is its regularly updated google sheet for all the social media images sizes on 8 networks, all clearly arranged in different tabs. You can bookmark it and its first tab tells you how to set up a notification when it’s updated. You can even make a copy of it and edit it to whatever works for you.

I also like the images on this post, one of them clearly shows the part on Facebook’s header that is visible on both desktops and mobiles, and it fully shows the layout of Twitter’s header.

Also, whilst it’s not stated on the post, I’ve learnt that the first and last 70px in the height of Twitter’s header is not actually visible. I wish I knew a program that can overlay my image with a kind of pixel grid, so that I know where the 70px stops, for example. This will be better and quicker than the time-consuming trial and error of making my Twitter header fit within the visible area.

Ben Requena‘s ‘Social Media Image Sizes Guide‘ includes information on the 6 main platforms, as well as Facebook Group header, Youtube, Vine, and Tsu.

I like his guide because of its ‘straight to the point, no explanation’ format.

He recommends using images that are 1280 x 720 pixels on most networks.

This is helpful for those who don’t have time to make different sizes of the same image; I need to experiment more with this.

Last but not the least, I give you this fab infographic from the team at Set Up A Blog Today. It covers all 6 major networks, as well as Tumblr and Youtube.

I like the fact that it’s laid out in a way that helps you to imagine your images on the different platforms, with helpful info in the margin.

~ Do you have any tips or tricks for effective social media images sizing? ~

2015 Social Media Image Size Guide

We Do What We Have To Do

Sometimes we do what we have to do

Not because we want to do

But because we need to do


Not because we feel like doing


But because we should do

Not because we will to do

But because we must do

Motivation Monday 1 We Do

This is life sometimes, right? Fancy if we wait to do things until we really want to, until we feel motivated and inspired to; how much do we think we will get done?

Not much, right?

I mean it would be great if all we have to do are things we feel like doing. Imagine the ease and peace, the comfort and delight; that would be fantastic, won’t it?

However, I find that many of the things we do are what we have to do, whether we feel like it or not. In fact, many times, we can’t afford for our feelings to come into it. If we wait until we feel like doing, we would barely achieve anything.

I’m off to work in a short while; not because I feel like it or want to, but because I have to, should, and actually must.

I am super thankful that I can too.

You know … sometimes we want to do, but can’t do; we do very well to remember this when we have to do but don’t want to do.

And so today, if you’re feeling tired and groggy … if you’re feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, and just really don’t want to do … my challenge to you is to get up and go … go wash your face, go get ready to go, straighten that shoulders, raise your head high, and go do!

Go do, my friend … not because you fancy to do, but because YOU CAN DO!

Yes, you can woman …

Oh yes, you can man …

Definitely, we can people …

Face that challenge head on, take whatever small steps you must take, until you do what you have to do … that which you should and must do … that which you can do.

Yeah, you can do it

I tell you, you can

Tell yourself, you’ve got to do

And I tell you, you will do

Because you can do

And you should do

And you must do

So will to do

And do!

~ What do you think? ~

An Important Catalogue of Your Maternity Experiences

Negative experiences leave the worst and strongest impressions; they stay with us the longest. I think, we’re more likely to remember them and react against them. They sure have a way of bringing us – sharer and hearer – to tears and filling us with such sadness. They also have the potential to fire our determination to change things and make them better; a way perhaps to make some kind of peace with what we’ve been through.

Even then, I’m sure most, if not all, will choose a positive experience over a negative one everyday, and definitely when it comes to birth and all things maternity. They are so much more enriching, and inspiring. They are brilliant for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being; and we could definitely do with more of them.

Maternity Experiences Catalogue

This start of the parenting road is filled with so many challenges for so many of us. Even then, it’s littered with so much compassion and good will too. I’m sure I’m not the only one that comes across lots and lots of stories of when things don’t go well. And oh, the delight of reading about when things go well … the warm feelings … the heart of gratitude … so lovely, isn’t it.

I often read and engage (often silently) with so many valuable discussions about maternity on the MatExp campaign Facebook group. I had a light bulb moment the other day whilst participating in a discussion in the group. I read some positive maternity stories that got me thinking; ‘won’t it be nice to have a place to just read about positive maternity experiences?’

‘Positive’, not because it’s all right, but positive because it signposts what is acceptable in maternity, what could be good in maternity, what needs to be adequate in maternity, and what should be standard in maternity.

It’s helpful to know that things go right some of the time, and to consider that some things tend to go right most of the time, for most people. Maternity is such a tender period in people’s lives and a positive outlook definitely helps.

I’ve decided to start a monthly series on the MatExp blog, to share stories of ‘positive’ maternity experiences, and create a bank of maternity stories.

This series is an opportunity to shine more light on what doesn’t make the news

… to relive what was good about our maternity experiences

… to shout out about the compassion of others to us in our most fragile moments

… to celebrate the good things about our maternity services

… to support others who might need a dose of positivity for their birth related journey

… to feed back on what went well

… to highlight what could be better

… to share good practice about what is possible

… and so much more.

All maternity stories and voices are welcome – the good, the bad, the ugly … the beautiful and difficult!

There is no shame in negative maternity experiences; they are not wasted though they are often costly, albeit to different degrees to all those involved. It is very important to share these experiences; they teach us lots and lots about what could be better … what needs to be better … what has to be better. This is core to the ethos of the MatExp campaign – harnessing all relevant skills to improve our maternity services, and consequently our maternity experiences.

There is no superiority in positive maternity experiences; they are useful examples of what should be, and valuable deposits of good practicce. They are easier to keep to oneself, but they need to be shared. They show us so much about what adequate maternity support looks like for different people in different situations. They are beacons of what maternity could be like when relevant services work as intended.

There is no regret in a mixture of positive and negative maternity experiences; my guess is that this is what it is for most of us. They help dampen the sadness about what could have been better, and help us to see what went well. They starve off the misery of solely negative experiences, whilst sharing the joy of the positive. They give us a unique taste of what can be if certain variables were different.  They motivate us to bother, to help improve what can be better.

Maternity Experiences Story

So let’s pool our voices together; maternity services providers and users … let’s get sharing, and building a bank of Positive Maternity Stories!

Positive, not because it’s all good; but positive because it highlights the maternity goals we want to achieve for both maternity providers and users.

Complete the following form and I’ll let you know when your story is added to the catalogue.

November 2015 Submision Deadline: Wednesday 25

December 2015 Submission Deadline: Monday 28

Please save your pictures on a picture storage site like Flickr, Photobucket, or Picassa; and insert its URL (web location address) within your story. This helps to reduce my editing time. If you have to submit your pictures directly, you will have to DM them to me on Twitter @aNoviceMum. Please save them to a 640 width using the ‘Resize’ tool on a photo editing site like Picmonkey, and then save it as the smallest size (choose the ‘Roger’ option to save via Picmonkey).   

Stories will be published during the 1st week of every month, and collected during the 2nd and 3rd week of every month.

  • Stories are welcome from individuals and professionals with all kinds of maternity related experiences.
  • Your story could be a narrative, a poem, a prose, a letter of thanks, or whatever format that you want; it’s your story!

Thanks for joining in and sharing your experiences to encourage, inspire, motivate, teach, and even challenge others to do better.

Thanks for helping to strengthen and improve our maternity services through sharing the good practices that worked for you.

Please note that the MatExp blog has editorial control over what is published on its site; however, your permission will be sought if any editing is needed.

You are also welcome to submit a summary of your story, with a link back to a more detailed version that you’ve already published on another site.

Feel free to comment below with any questions or thoughts you have about this series. Thanks for reading, and hopefully joining in with this fab project.

Breastfeeding and I Linky 14


Skip to: Rules and Badge | Linkup

It’s Breastfeeding and I Linky again; opened until Wednesday 11.55, and back here next Friday from 00.00.

Thanks to @juliecookies and @mummysmonkey for joining in last week; with their posts about flying with breast milk and reflections on the ending a breastfeeding relationship. ‘Helpful and touching reads to check out’, I say.

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