A lot of people don't like baby walkers.
I was told by my health visitor not to use one with my eldest as apparently it slows them walking on their own. Although this may be true, I decided to give it a try with my second one.
He is 9 months and not yet ready to walk but very keen to move around. So I thought a baby walker will give him a bit of independence and allow him to cruise around the room. He loves it and is very happy in it. I am also nmore relaxed as I can bring him with me around the house. So it's a win-win for now.
We got sent the Evo walker to try, if you're thinking about getting one take a peek at my review on the Mums Like You review area.
Here is a picture of the Evo in action
In the past three years I + kids (have got a 3 yr old and a 2 month baby boy) have been through tens if not hundreds of baby products. When I got offered to test the Nikki Bug Activity Mat and Star Wrap with my newborn son I got really excited as these were products I have never come across before.
We got a nice parcel through the post with a lovely personal message (many thanks for this Tippitoes!) and set about trying the mat straight away. I have seen a lot of activity mats (and owned a couple with my first one), but none were quite so soft or brightly colored as the Nikki Bug. Its detachable toys and arches make it versatile and I can see us using it even when Alex is older and starts playing on his tummy. It’s also very well padded and can be placed directly on the floor, something I didn’t do with my previous mats as I was worried my daughter would get cold.
My son loved his new playmat from the start. The first time I placed him on it he looked hypnotised by all the new colors and shapes of the hanging toys. Now he is happily playing every day and seems particularly intrigued by his own face in the hanging mirror J
The Star Wrap we tested on same evening. I decided to swaddle my son in it instead of a sleeping bag and it worked miracles. In fact he slept so well, I had to wake him up for his feed five hours later. The wrap is really cleverly made with the bottom fitting well around your baby’s legs so he can’t kick himself free. At the same time it goes below the arms so that he is free to move in his sleep. It’s also cotton lined and very warm while not getting baby overheated.
The best bit is that you can easily move your baby from his cot into the buggy or the car without waking him up.
Another star product from Tippitoes and one I’ll be recommending to all my mum friends!
When I was first pregnant I found it very difficult to find clothes, which were both comfy and elegant. This became even more of a challenge when I gave birth. True there are many brands on the market and some of them have good pieces, but I find the choice limited or the prices too high. That's why when I came across Bella Mama - an online boutique specialising in maternity and nursing clothes, I was very excited.
I was impressed by how stylish their website was and of the varied range of clothes they carried. And when the owner Kirsten kindly offered the Thalia Breatfeeding Dress for review, I could not resist.
Here are 5 reasons why I love this dress and why it's become an essential in my wardrobe:
it's stylish - very cleverly cut with high-waisted band, which is the perfect disguise for my post-baby tummy
it's comfy - the nursing panel in the front is discreet and at the same time easy to use when breastfeeding on the go
it's practical - made of soft jersey, it does not need ironing - great as I am in a rush most times with a toddler and a newborn baby
it's versatile - can be casual with a nice cardi or really stylish with a jacket and high heels on
it's reasonably priced - at £45 it's not going to break the bank
This website is a treasure cove for breastfeeding clothes. Having had a good look around I am in love with the Milker Striped Woollen Nursing Dress for the winter and the Milk Flirty Halterneck for special occasions. Highly recommend it for pieces that you'll love to see yourself in.
My daughter has always liked to have her face painted and as a result we’ve spent hours on queues in shopping centres to have her face done. She loves to be transformed into a fairy or a butterfly, but most of all she wants to ‘be a tiger’.
So when we were sent the Halloween Snazaroo Face painting Kit and a Special FX Kit to try, I was delighted we could have a fun afternoon at home away from the crowds. We were both very excited to open the beautifully packed box to discover a full kit of 8 face paints together with a page by page instruction on how to create different looks.
There was also a kit for re-creating bloody wounds and scaly skin, which I thought was quite scary and put away from her for now.
So we started with the face-painting kit. I have never done it before and was not sure if I can manage but the guides were excellent with detailed photos of how it actually works.
The paints were easy to apply with a small sponge (part of the kit) and a brush for the finer details. We spent the whole afternoon trying out different characters – a witch, a fairy and of course a tiger. In the end my daughter took matters in her own hands (literally) and painted her whole body in orange just as a ‘real tiger’.
We had a bit of a scuffle at bath time as she didn’t want to wash off her new look, but in the end I promised we’d do it again tomorrow so she reluctantly agreed. I was surprised at how easy the paints came off with no mess and no stains in the bath.
We had such a great time that we’ve invited some of my daughter’s friends over the weekend for a face-painting Halloween party at home.
I think this is a such brilliant product and priced at £10.99, it’s well worth getting.
Summer has come to an end the days are getting shorter and cooler. As the seasons begin to change it is sometimes difficult to find activities for the little ones. Here are some tips that can help on a cool and grey days:
Get out in the park and be active
A little fresh air and sunshine is good for both of you, especially as the days grow darker. Be sure to dress warm and bring an extra sweater just in case. Your mood will improve and you may even discover that both you and your child sleep better after a little outing. What is more fun than rolling down a leaf-covered hill? Or making piles of leaves and jumping in them? Take advantage of London’s beautiful parks and get out there!
Autumn can be cold and rainy, but there are also glorious sunny days. If you can help your little ones to collect colourful leaves, you can create a simple "collage" art project at home and keep the memories alive.
For toddlers, kicking a ball around is always a good activity to get the blood flowing and to ensure an easy nap time. Luckily Mother Nature provides a little extra padding in the form of leaves! Sometimes the ball is even optional. Kicking leaves can be fun in and of itself
Feed the birds
Put stale bread to good use by feeding the geese and ducks at a nearby park or nature reserve. (Be sure to check local signage first as some parks prefer if you don’t feed the birds.)
Warm up with a cup of tea and a cake
If you and your little one are chilled to the bone, or are just happy but tired after a long day outside, be sure get steaming mug of hot chocolate/milk and a delicious treat at a nearby coffee!
If there was a bag that had all the features a mum could wish for – it would be the Ju Ju be BeAll messenger bag!
I got a sample to test, courtesy of PJP Partnership and loved it at first sight. The bag is compact, yet there is space for all the mum baby essentials and more. There are plenty of pockets which made it easier for me to organise my bits including a sunglasses holder and a mobile phone/keys slots. For baby there are a couple of insulated baby bottle pockets and a memory foam changing mat, which I found very useful for when we go for a quick stroll in the park.
I have had a few changing bags in the past which I thought were quite well made, but the Ju Ju Be is another level altogether. The bag is very practical with a Teflon coated waterproof exterior (so stains don’t stick) and a special lining on the inside to keep the germs away.
Have you ever tried to find something in a changing bag and rummaged in the dark inside for ages before finally getting hold of it? Well, the Ju Ju Be has a light silver lining so that you can see what is inside. There are also ‘Crumb Drains’ – small slits on the bottom – a great feature for all the mess babies make when eating.
And finally just when I thought there is nothing more a changing bag can be, I found the magnet clasp at the front which closes without a sound – brilliant for not waking up a sleeping baby!
I have been using the bag for over a week now and don’t know how I managed without it before!
There used to be times when I had a handbag full of face products –a moisturizer, a serum, a night cream and assorted other little luxuries. I used to have a lot more time (and money) and did make an effort in a bid to maintain the fresh-looking, youthful me.
Fast forward 3 years and here I am with a toddler and a second baby on the way and I hardly have time to look myself in the mirror. Gone are the dozens creams from my bag, and these days I have to rely on a really good moisturizer (with some sun screen for the summers). I like though experimenting with different brands and love simple, natural creams.
So when I was offered to test a sample of the Olay total effects wake up wonder, I was tempted to try out something new with the tantalising prospect of making a difference to my sleep-deprived, dry skin.
I first applied my sample in the morning after not sleeping very well then night before. The first impression I got was of a fresh, flowery smell – pleasantly refreshing. One of the cream’s main ingredients is mint and although I couldn’t smell it, there was a definite refreshing ‘minty’ touch to the skin. I applied generous quantity to face and neck as my skin is usually quite dry in the mornings. The texture was quite light and absorbed quickly with no residue. I also placed small amounts under my eyes, which looked tired and puffy. While other creams have made this sensitive area itchy after application, the Olay moisturizer felt quite gentle to the skin. So far so good!
I have been using Olay wake up moisturizer religiously over the past week and although I am not sure if all of its promised benefits will hold true(see list below), my skin feels softer, smoother and looking healthier than before
- Line minimisation: Helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Hydration: For a health radiant glow.
- Firming: Hydrates for firmer skin appearance.
- Dullness: Improves skin surface dullness.
- Exfoliation: Smoothes and evens skin texture.
- Pore appearance: Helps minimise the appearance of pores.
- Antioxidant: Helps to prevent free radical damage to skin’s surface layers.
What I love about this product is that it’s light and east to carry around (30ml only) and it has already among my handbag essentials. It’s a one-bottle solution and perfect for busy mums on the go. Last but not least, it’s not going to break the bank at £ 13.99 and Boots are running a special promotion at £ 7.99 at the moment.
Ever since I went on maternity with my first baby I have been looking for a flexible job that would allow me to combine work with family. From my experience and the chats I’ve had with mum friends this remains one of the biggest challenges for mums that want to go back to work.
So when I was offered a chance to talk to two ladies who have started their own businesses as independent Phoenix traders, I jumped at it. I was curious to understand what was it like to run a greeting card and stationery
business and what it takes to become an Independent Trader.
Tammy, a senior Trader with Phoenix Trading and Donna, trading for the past 6 months, kindly offered a telephone interview and one morning I called up with a long list of questions.
Tammy is an ex-advertising executive who started as a Trader 5 years ago. When she had her son, she went back to work. Often she had to take parental leave and could not help feeling guilty that she was letting down her clients and her company. ‘Working for yourself, you don’t have to compromise your commitment to your family while at the same time you can earn some money’, says Tammy. She got involved with Phoenix when she met a Trader in a playgroup, loved the cards and bought loads of them. Ever since she’s been growing her business by selling Phoenix cards via mail order, parties and playgroups, etc. “There is no pressure to meet any targets, you can put in as much or as little effort as you want. The cards are lovely and sell themselves”.
Donna adds “Even if you don’t like doing parties, you can choose what you do enjoy doing and still make it work”
How it works
When I asked how it all works, Tammy explained that all Independent Traders buy stock from Phoenix and re-sell direct to the end customer (no retail). The cards look fantastic (I can vouch for this as I received some gorgeous samples) and are excellent value selling at £1.00-£1.20 compared to nearly double the price at the retail card shops. Each Trader is responsible for finding their own customers, but they get a lot of help from their sponsor. A sponsor is the Trader who introduces you to the business and takes responsibility for guidance and support and will help you achieve your selling and sponsoring goals. ‘It’s your own business but you are not alone’, says Donna.
The earning potential
So my next question was what the earning potential is for mums that are considering becoming traders. Phoenix Trading sells not only cards, they offer a range of nearly 1,000 products including gift wrap, stationery, posters, paper chains etc and the average spend per Phoenix customer is £15-£20, three or four times a year. So you can easily work out how many customers you need in order to meet your income needs.
I decided to do my ‘back of the envelope’ calculation and here is how it looks:
Number of customers per week 10 15 20 30
(NB you could expect 10-20 people at a 90 minute Coffee & Card event)
Ave. sales of £15 per customer £150 £225 £300 £450
Income per week at 30% of sales £45 £67.50 £90 £135
This is the income you would generate if you have no other costs apart from buying the stock and is before taxes. There are further volume-related bonuses which would add 5% to 15% to your earnings. So to undertake this as a main job, you’ll clearly have to sell large volumes – something that takes time and a lot of effort to achieve. You’ll have to sell large volumes either through building up a substantial one-to-one customer base, organising one or two home-selling events a week, or building up a mail order business through your own personal Phoenix website. Typically, Traders settle on a combination of several different selling methods to suit their circumstances.
This also does not take into account sponsors' bonuses. There is a 5% sponsor bonus based on the sales of your personally sponsored team members. There are also substantial bonuses to be gained from further team building. So there is clearly an incentive not only to sell more cards but also to recruit new Traders and help your own team to expand.
So what do you need to do if you want to become a trader and how much does it cost?
Unlike many franchises which involve initial investment of 10-20,000 GBP, becoming an independent trader does not cost an arm and a leg. £45 will get you started, and you can also choose to buy one of three subsidised introductory stock packs from as little as £50. I think this is one of the main advantages of Phoenix Trading as most of us don’t have large amounts of money to start.
Then there is a question of experience and skills needed for this job. Although both Donna and Tamy assured me you don’t need any background in sales or marketing, I do agree with them that you need to enjoy interactive with people as this is the essence of direct selling as a job.
‘You have to like the product and be proud of it. You can’t sell anything which you don’t believe in’, says Donna. You need sales drive and also persistence I would add, as direct selling does takes time to deliver results.
I have been on the lookout for a good pushchair for a while. So when we received the new Graco Symbio to review, both my daughter and I were very excited.
The first thing Yana loved was that she could sit facing forward and talk to me on the move. She had not been able to do that in any of our previous pushchairs and I could see she was enjoying it a lot.
Another immediate plus was how easy it was to push the Graco Symbio. Unlike other pushchairs that are a real effort to guide even with two hands, I could manage it easily with just one hand. This made a real difference especially in the supermarket where I had a basket in one hand and had to manoeuvre the buggy along narrow aisles.
I and Yana spend a lot of time out and about so she is used to taking naps in her pushchair. The Graco Symbio has 3 reclining positions and was really comfortable for her. She felt so cosy that she fell asleep for more than two hours. The raincover doubled up nicely as a wind-shield (it’s got clever side vents to help air circulate) which I am sure had something to do with her long nap.
I was very surprised at how lightweight the Graco Symbio is for all its manoeuvrability. To fold it, you need to take the seat off and then pull the handle underneath. It takes only a few seconds and can be done with one hand – indispensible when you have shopping bags and a toddler to manage at the same time.
If there was something I’d wish for in the Graco Symbio it would be a larger basket. The one it has is ok for small items, but not large enough to hold a day’s shopping.
We tried the pushchair, but if you have a newborn this buggy can also be turned into a baby pram with a Graco flat carrycot. There is also a car seat that is attached to the main frame with a One-Click mechanism. So the Graco can ‘grow’ together with your baby and can be invaluable up to the point where your tot would probably not need a pushchair any more.
Last but not least the Graco Symbio is one of the best looking pushchairs I have come across and it does stand out with its simple and stylish design. I am not surprised it has won the Mother & Baby magazine’s ‘Best Buy’ award and is a finalist in the Practical Parenting awards.
With its functionality and great looks I think it’s an excellent choice for mums on the go.
A few days ago the postman rang on the door to deliver a nice little package I was expecting for the past two weeks. I thought it had got lost in the mail, but luckily it arrived - a makeover set offered kindly for review by Beauty21. The products were nicely packaged complete with a lovely card by Beauty21. The set included Elizabet Arden Bronzer powder, a lip gloss by Benefit and Sexy Curves Mascara by Rimmel
I don't normally like to wear a lot of make-up and the selection of products would be exactly what I'd have in my make-up bag - the essentials for getting a natural look quickly. I decided to try the set before we went out for a walk with my daughter.
I started by applying a little bit of the bronzer, which came in it's own powder box with a mirror and a compact brush. The powder had a luxurious feel and could see the difference immediately - my skin got a healthy sun-kissed glow that I get only after a holiday in the sun. Really pleased with the result I went on with trying the Rimmel mascara. I've used a number of mascara brands and often I end up with sticky, artificially-looking lashes. The Sexy Curves mascara (a cheeky name, but well deserved!) has a long and delicate brush that curled my lashes and gave them a 'longer' look. It worked quickly and with almost no effort on my part.
Finally I put on a little bit of the Benefit lip gloss - a pale pink shade with yummy apricot scent and I was done. I took no more than a few minutes and I was ready to go out.